The Technium

Making the Inevitable Obvious

The Essential Workshop Tool Kit


My young adult son needs a tool kit. He needs a small set of versatile tools to make and repair things. Projects could be making simple furniture, doing home repairs, creating his art projects, building sets for his photography, making gifts, crafting Halloween costumes, inventing equipment for his adventures, etc. I have assembled what I consider to be an essential set of modern tools that would enable him, or anyone, to make 90% of whatever they imagined. For the most part, I tend toward cheap tools, because I believe in starting cheap and earning better tools through experience, so you know what you want. The core of a modern tool kit is a set of cordless power tools. With basic cordless power tools you can go quite far. I went with a combo set, because it is hard to beat the price, especially when they are on sale. (Check camelcamelcamel.com). The total cost of all these is $1200. This may seem to be a lot, but considering that you get a full workshop of tools and some of them will last a lifetime, it is quite a bargain. Anyone who knows tools will look at my list and see an essential tool that is missing. That’s the nature of a list like this. I’ll leave the joy of adding to the collection to my son.

The tools in this list link to Amazon, where you can see more details about the tools. (The affiliate link is my son’s. As an Amazon Affiliate he earns from qualifying purchases.)

The tools:

Cutting mat — Perfect surface for cutting with blades, also soft mat for working on delicate projects, also protects bench surface. 24″ x 36″.

Long metal straight edge — used for drawing lines and cutting materials.

Retractable utility blade — Big exacto knife. Main thing is replaceable break-off blade. Olfa retractable.

Staple gun — Basic for stapling fabric, mesh, sheets.

Spring clamps x 4 — Used for holding wood, paper, dowels, pipes, anything thinner than an inch.

Bar clamps x 2 — Used for wider pieces. 12 inches.

16 foot tape measure — Big enough for rooms, small enough for projects. Komelon Gripper.

Small level — All that is needed.

Step drill set x 3 — For drilling thin materials like plastic or sheet metal.

Vise grips x 3 — Small and large and long.

Speed square — For right angles.

CA glue + Accelerator — Accelerator turns super glue instant.

5 minute Epoxy — Two part bottles will last a long time.

Wire stripper — Makes electronics so much easier. Irwin vise grip stripper.

Solder gun — Basic kit with solder and solder remover.

Electrical twist connections — Assortment for connecting wires.

Silicone Wire rolls — 22 gauge for easier electronic projects.

Multimeter — For electronic projects and troubleshooting.

Masking tape — Used for masking and more. 2 inch wide.

White out — For labeling everything.

Digital calipers — For measuring small things.

Center punch x 2 — For making starter holes.

Set of drill bits — Basic, titanium, Dewalt.

Japanese hand saw — Basic saw.

Pliers x 5 — Assorted set of channel locks, needlenose, nippers.

Basic hammer — Standard 16 ounce.

Snips — Straight cut for cutting metal.

Pipe wrench — For plumbing.

Pipe cutter — For cutting copper pipe, conduit, and other lightweight pipes

PVC pipe cutter — For cutting plastic pipe

Vise — Basic workshop vise.

Cordless tool combo set — Makita 7-piece cordless tools: drill, impact driver, circular saw, recipo saw, grinder, blower.

Cordless jig saw — Makita jig saw.



68 Bits of Unsolicited Advice


It’s my birthday. I’m 68. I feel like pulling up a rocking chair and dispensing advice to the young ‘uns. Here are 68 pithy bits of unsolicited advice which I offer as my birthday present to all of you.

• Learn how to learn from those you disagree with, or even offend you. See if you can find the truth in what they believe.

• Being enthusiastic is worth 25 IQ points.

• Always demand a deadline. A deadline weeds out the extraneous and the ordinary. It prevents you from trying to make it perfect, so you have to make it different. Different is better.

• Don’t be afraid to ask a question that may sound stupid because 99% of the time everyone else is thinking of the same question and is too embarrassed to ask it.

• Being able to listen well is a superpower. While listening to someone you love keep asking them “Is there more?”, until there is no more.

• A worthy goal for a year is to learn enough about a subject so that you can’t believe how ignorant you were a year earlier.

• Gratitude will unlock all other virtues and is something you can get better at.

• Treating a person to a meal never fails, and is so easy to do. It’s powerful with old friends and a great way to make new friends.

• Don’t trust all-purpose glue.

• Reading to your children regularly will bond you together and kickstart their imaginations.

• Never use a credit card for credit. The only kind of credit, or debt, that is acceptable is debt to acquire something whose exchange value is extremely likely to increase, like in a home. The exchange value of most things diminishes or vanishes the moment you purchase them. Don’t be in debt to losers.

• Pros are just amateurs who know how to gracefully recover from their mistakes.

• Extraordinary claims should require extraordinary evidence to be believed.

• Don’t be the smartest person in the room. Hangout with, and learn from, people smarter than yourself. Even better, find smart people who will disagree with you.

• Rule of 3 in conversation. To get to the real reason, ask a person to go deeper than what they just said. Then again, and once more. The third time’s answer is close to the truth.

• Don’t be the best. Be the only.

• Everyone is shy. Other people are waiting for you to introduce yourself to them, they are waiting for you to send them an email, they are waiting for you to ask them on a date. Go ahead.

• Don’t take it personally when someone turns you down. Assume they are like you: busy, occupied, distracted. Try again later. It’s amazing how often a second try works.

• The purpose of a habit is to remove that action from self-negotiation. You no longer expend energy deciding whether to do it. You just do it. Good habits can range from telling the truth, to flossing.

• Promptness is a sign of respect.

• When you are young spend at least 6 months to one year living as poor as you can, owning as little as you possibly can, eating beans and rice in a tiny room or tent, to experience what your “worst” lifestyle might be. That way any time you have to risk something in the future you won’t be afraid of the worst case scenario.

• Trust me: There is no “them”.

• The more you are interested in others, the more interesting they find you. To be interesting, be interested.

• Optimize your generosity. No one on their deathbed has ever regretted giving too much away.

• To make something good, just do it. To make something great, just re-do it, re-do it, re-do it. The secret to making fine things is in remaking them.

• The Golden Rule will never fail you. It is the foundation of all other virtues.

• If you are looking for something in your house, and you finally find it, when you’re done with it, don’t put it back where you found it. Put it back where you first looked for it.

• Saving money and investing money are both good habits. Small amounts of money invested regularly for many decades without deliberation is one path to wealth.

• To make mistakes is human. To own your mistakes is divine. Nothing elevates a person higher than quickly admitting and taking personal responsibility for the mistakes you make and then fixing them fairly. If you mess up, fess up. It’s astounding how powerful this ownership is.

• Never get involved in a land war in Asia.

• You can obsess about serving your customers/audience/clients, or you can obsess about beating the competition. Both work, but of the two, obsessing about your customers will take you further.

• Show up. Keep showing up. Somebody successful said: 99% of success is just showing up.

• Separate the processes of creation from improving. You can’t write and edit, or sculpt and polish, or make and analyze at the same time. If you do, the editor stops the creator. While you invent, don’t select. While you sketch, don’t inspect. While you write the first draft, don’t reflect. At the start, the creator mind must be unleashed from judgement.

• If you are not falling down occasionally, you are just coasting.

• Perhaps the most counter-intuitive truth of the universe is that the more you give to others, the more you’ll get. Understanding this is the beginning of wisdom.

• Friends are better than money. Almost anything money can do, friends can do better. In so many ways a friend with a boat is better than owning a boat.

• This is true: It’s hard to cheat an honest man.

• When an object is lost, 95% of the time it is hiding within arm’s reach of where it was last seen. Search in all possible locations in that radius and you’ll find it.

• You are what you do. Not what you say, not what you believe, not how you vote, but what you spend your time on.

• If you lose or forget to bring a cable, adapter or charger, check with your hotel. Most hotels now have a drawer full of cables, adapters and chargers others have left behind, and probably have the one you are missing. You can often claim it after borrowing it.

• Hatred is a curse that does not affect the hated. It only poisons the hater. Release a grudge as if it was a poison.

• There is no limit on better. Talent is distributed unfairly, but there is no limit on how much we can improve what we start with.

• Be prepared: When you are 90% done any large project (a house, a film, an event, an app) the rest of the myriad details will take a second 90% to complete.

• When you die you take absolutely nothing with you except your reputation.

• Before you are old, attend as many funerals as you can bear, and listen. Nobody talks about the departed’s achievements. The only thing people will remember is what kind of person you were while you were achieving.

• For every dollar you spend purchasing something substantial, expect to pay a dollar in repairs, maintenance, or disposal by the end of its life.

•Anything real begins with the fiction of what could be. Imagination is therefore the most potent force in the universe, and a skill you can get better at. It’s the one skill in life that benefits from ignoring what everyone else knows.

• When crisis and disaster strike, don’t waste them. No problems, no progress.

• On vacation go to the most remote place on your itinerary first, bypassing the cities. You’ll maximize the shock of otherness in the remote, and then later you’ll welcome the familiar comforts of a city on the way back.

• When you get an invitation to do something in the future, ask yourself: would you accept this if it was scheduled for tomorrow? Not too many promises will pass that immediacy filter.

• Don’t say anything about someone in email you would not be comfortable saying to them directly, because eventually they will read it.

• If you desperately need a job, you are just another problem for a boss; if you can solve many of the problems the boss has right now, you are hired. To be hired, think like your boss.

• Art is in what you leave out.

• Acquiring things will rarely bring you deep satisfaction. But acquiring experiences will.

• Rule of 7 in research. You can find out anything if you are willing to go seven levels. If the first source you ask doesn’t know, ask them who you should ask next, and so on down the line. If you are willing to go to the 7th source, you’ll almost always get your answer.

• How to apologize: Quickly, specifically, sincerely.

• Don’t ever respond to a solicitation or a proposal on the phone. The urgency is a disguise.

• When someone is nasty, rude, hateful, or mean with you, pretend they have a disease. That makes it easier to have empathy toward them which can soften the conflict.

• Eliminating clutter makes room for your true treasures.

• You really don’t want to be famous. Read the biography of any famous person.

• Experience is overrated. When hiring, hire for aptitude, train for skills. Most really amazing or great things are done by people doing them for the first time.

• A vacation + a disaster = an adventure.

• Buying tools: Start by buying the absolute cheapest tools you can find. Upgrade the ones you use a lot. If you wind up using some tool for a job, buy the very best you can afford.

• Learn how to take a 20-minute power nap without embarrassment.

• Following your bliss is a recipe for paralysis if you don’t know what you are passionate about. A better motto for most youth is “master something, anything”. Through mastery of one thing, you can drift towards extensions of that mastery that bring you more joy, and eventually discover where your bliss is.

• I’m positive that in 100 years much of what I take to be true today will be proved to be wrong, maybe even embarrassingly wrong, and I try really hard to identify what it is that I am wrong about today.

• Over the long term, the future is decided by optimists. To be an optimist you don’t have to ignore all the many problems we create; you just have to imagine improving our capacity to solve problems.

• The universe is conspiring behind your back to make you a success. This will be much easier to do if you embrace this pronoia.

 

I made a video recording of me reciting these 68 bits of advice from a rocking chair, here.

[You can follow me @kevin2kelly. Join my newsletter Recomendo for 6 recommendations per week.]

Translation in French. Portuguese. German. Arabic. RussianItalianSpanish 1. Spanish 2. Greek. Finnish. Korean. Vietnamese. Chinese. Lithuanian. Danish. Indonesian. Other translations welcomed. Improved translations also welcomed.



Second Order Risk


There are two orders of risk: First Order and Second Order.

We see car accidents and we read about plane accidents yet we use both cars and planes. We wear a seat belt, and we fly on planes, because we know the risk profile of automobiles and planes — high risk for cars, low risk for planes. The risks of flu, Ebola, lightning, vaccinations, skydiving, of most things are known statistically. Since we know the risk profile we can calculate our response, and how much risk we want to accept. This known risk profile is First Order Risk. We can research the risk and then evaluate our response.

The issue with the novel covid-19 is that its risk profile is completely unknown. It is what we can call a Second Order Risk. We don’t know how contagious it is; we don’t know how lethal it is; we don’t know the age, condition, type of person it favors. And we probably won’t know with any certainty for several years. So we can’t calculate our response. It’s a known unknown. (The unknown unknown is a Third Order Risk.)

Therefore this great uncertainty about the covid-19 virus creates a Second Order Risk profile, and that profile with its huge range of limits suggests extraordinary caution is warranted — even if it laters proves to be a low First Order Risk.



Virus Scenarios


[Written 28/02/2020. Updated 05/03/2020. Updated 15/05/2020.]

My guess is that we’ll be wrong about our assumptions and first impressions about the Covid-19 virus. I just don’t know how we’ll be wrong. In an attempt to not be wrong myself, I am trying to open myself it unexpected scenarios, since whatever does eventually happen will probably be unexpected.

There are a lot of expected scenarios for the virus. One expected scenario that it will be a massive truly global pandemic that kills hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people. It started in China, then hops around the world, constantly escaping the noose of containment, until every country is eventually affected. That scenario is entirely possible; no one would be surprised if it happened, including me. After all, the flu virus kills hundreds of thousands of people even year, so this virus needs to be “only” as mortal as flu.

Another expected scenario is that this is a deadly disease that needs drastic efforts like massive quarantines, and that through great effort like these measures, the disease is stamped out early without huge loses. And with enough global cooperation, Covid-19 could be eradicated like SARS was. Also possible.

Another scenario being articulated in recent days is that this coronovirus will sort of be controlled in the coming months, that it may diminish as summer comes, but not be eradicated, and will show up next winter as fierce or even fiercer. It might even become like flu, a perennial plague. Very possible.

But I don’t think these are unexpected enough. So I am working on more unusual ones. One unlikely but possible scenario is that this “novel” virus is not really novel. Because its symptoms are generally mild and very similar to other symptoms from flu and other viruses, it may have been circulating around the globe for a while, without a name. It can be transmitted by people who have no symptoms at the time or even while they have the virus. If the majority of people infected don’t ever get sick, but easily pass it on, then it can spread widely unseen. Evidence for this is new virus DNA sequencing which suggests the first cases of Covid-19 in Washington state may have been there 6 weeks earlier, but was completely undetected. So for six weeks the virus is spreading with little damage. But once people begin to look, and devise a test, the next person to get sick is tested, and it seems as if the virus just appeared, when it has been there a while.

But a few are susceptible to it and die. Because the symptoms are not unique to it,  this illness is assumed to be flu or something else. Then something happened in China to produce notice — maybe someone created a test for it — and then as people died, the new test found many people positive. So the test was spread around and with that we suddenly find many positive results. Then when a few people later get sick in distant countries like Iran, the test shows positive results because the virus was already there, maybe even years earlier.

In this scenario, cases will start to pile up very quickly, not because the virus is spreading, but because testing is spreading.  One way to check the real rate of infection is to begin to test random asymptomatic people to see what percent are infected. It could very well be at least 2% of the random population right now.

If this scenario is true then at some point in the future there’ll be evidence found for the virus in samples way before the “first” known case in Wuhan in fall of 2019. Perhaps the virus underwent a mutation in Wuhan, a mutation that current tests don’t distinguish from earlier forms.

Yet another alternative scenario: Perhaps today there are already more than one variant of Covid-19, and these mutations are not equally detected by current tests. A recent study says there may be two variants with different levels of potency, which could explain why some clusters are more deadly than others. There could be multiple variants in the wild with different rates of contagion. It’s possible the current test may be unreliable in detecting all the variants, either way, over-reporting and under-reporting different strands.

Another scenario is that there is more than one variant of the virus and each of these variants have different lethality and infection rates. So the virus that is raging through Italy and causing a lot of damage may not be the same virus that is creeping through the US. There is some suggestions that the virus in the US is related to the one from Wuhan, but the actual details of difference may matter greatly. As far as I can tell the tests the US is using to identify the virus is not the same test that is being used in Italy or Iran. So it is possible that different tests are masking the different viruses, which may be creating different symptoms.  An extension of this same scenario is that there may be more than two variants of the disease with different behaviors circulating in the same population, and that the current tests are not detecting this difference.

In the same vein, another scenario is that the virus is being over-reported because it is being over-diagnosed. Perhaps the tests that are being used in places like Iran, Italy or Korea are not all testing the same thing. How did all these stations get the same test so fast? How was Korea able to test 10,000 people per day, as they claim. What exactly are they testing. Who made these tests? What equipment are they using? Because I was curious I found two firms making Covid-19 test kits. PrimerDesign is UK-based and claims to be shipping kits to the US. No price is given on their website. The other is Chinese firm Sansure, which seems to have a device or system, rather than a kit. There seems to be a suggestion that either/both of these are selling their systems to public health departments round the world and this is what is being used to test for the virus, but it is not clear to me they are. If not them, what is the test they are using in the hundreds to test for this virus?

From recent New York Times news reports from Italy (Feb 28, 2020) it seems that if you use one kind of test and test people who have no symptoms, many will test positive for Covid-19. What’s odd is that the positive tested have no contact with anyone with symptoms either. Likewise, as reported, in Germany, officials spent great effort to determine the chain of infection for a German man who tested positive for Covid-19 but were unable to link him to anyone infected. The virus might be especially transmittable with zero symptoms, or the tests are inaccurate.

It’s possible this virus will join the flu virus as a perennial plague, one that we never get rid of, that continues to mutate and returns every year. It could be another flu that we try to deal with vaccines but will still prey on the old and infirmed.  It might be that there will not be some moment, so week when the epidemic is declared over. Instead, there’s just a background level of outbreaks as it migrates around the world.

Some conspiracists offer the scenario that the virus is man-made and escaped from China’s first level 4 biohazard research lab which was built recently in Wuhan. A deliberate release of a pathogen seems very unlikely given how much it hurt China. It is possible some research experiment could have escaped but since the Level 4 facility is designed against this, I’d call this unlikely, but possible.

Another radical scenario that is also in the conspiratorial camp is that there have been massive numbers of cases and deaths in China, maybe hundreds of times more than they are reporting, which suggests that the virus is extremely potent and contagious, far more than current data suggests. The top-level secrecy and censoring in China make this scenario believable but it’s also unlikely given the virus’s behavior in other countries outside of China. And the scale of the cover-up needed seems very unlikely given my own experience in China: they would be the first to report it to each other.

If my scenario about Covid-19 being older and already global, here are some predictions that would be testable: 1) We would find retro samples of symptom-free blood more than a year old will test positive. 2) Consensus that in 2019 and in early 2020 multiple mutants and variants of Covid-19 were on the loose. 3) Because of its asymptomatic transmission it will still be found in the wild a year from now.

There are probably more scenarios that I have not considered, but should. Please leave a comment if you have one.



Recent Readings 14


The emergence of YouTube sites that provide virtual friendship, companionship, and cater to loneliness. Link.

The Economist interviewed an AI to ask it about the future of AI. It gave coherent answers. But they weren’t what the AI thought. The answers it gave were what the AI thought the internet thought. Still, impressive. Link

Science has not destroyed religion. Link.

Important uncertainty: the untested legality of streaming video games, particularly for profit (see Twitch). Link.

Innovation and discoveries are becoming more expensive because the easy ones have already been found. Future innovations will cost more. Link

Pure Gibsonian future: Red state American farmers hacking their tractors with Ukrainian pirateware. Link

Universal translation by AI will increase global prosperity. When eBay improved its translation functions it increased their commerce by 11 percent. Imagine what prosperity will come from earbuds that give instant, free, real time language translation to all workers. Link.

Bill Gibson had some interesting things to say in this interview about his new book Agency.

“I have a nagging suspicion that evolution (a wholly random process, though too few of us understand that) has left most of us unable to grasp the idea of an actual apocalypse being possibly of several centuries’ duration. The jackpot began one or two hundred years ago, it seems to me. I myself can dimly recall a world before utterly ubiquitous injection-molded plastics. Toys were of metal, wood, rubber. Styrene was as exotic as Gore-tex, briefly. I’m yet to discover any record of a culture whose imagined apocalypse was a matter of centuries. I doubt anyone has ever stood out on a street corner wearing a sandwich board reading, “THE WORLD IS COMING TO AN END IN A FEW HUNDRED YEARS.” Even before we became as aware as some of us now are of climate change, and of the fact that our species has inadvertently caused it, we seemed to be losing our sense of a capital-F Future. Few phrases were as common throughout the 20th century as “the 21st century,” yet how often do we see “the 22nd century”? Effectively, never.”



Recent Readings, 13


 

One of the best future scenarios of the next decade — 2020s —  by @fredwilson. It is hard to be not obvious and not implausible at the same time, but Fred is neither. It helps he is optimistic. What Will Happen In The 2020s.”

This is true: “To a degree still difficult for outsiders to absorb, China is preparing to shape the twenty-first century, much as the U.S. shaped the twentieth.” From the must read article:

The question “why do the Chinese people like their current government?” is answered here with great intelligence, insight and empathy. I think this article is 100% correct from my personal experience of my extensive time in China. Link.

Deep fakes are getting better each day. Here is a holiday melody of one actor doing a series of impressions speaking, while the AI does an impression visually. Link.

It is a thing: Mukbang (mook bong) are live streaming videos of the host eating, often over-eating huge meals. It started in Korea and is now a sizable global phenom. Link.

Quibi is a $1 billion experiment in video streaming. Some if its ideas will work, many won’t. We won’t know which until it launches. Link. 

New trend: naming boys with action-words, like Charger, Trooper, Stryker. Great article about new styles in naming children. Link.

The case for a 100-year bond. Link.

Using state-of-the-art technology to add a glowing trace of a hockey puck on TV was a brilliant innovation that did not stick. Perhaps it was too early to be accepted, but it did change sports viewing. And perhaps the time is right to bring it, or something like it, back. The history of the glowing puck:

In response to highly overworked urban lives, some young Chinese are dropping out, almost becoming Chinese hippies. Here is a short video on early hippy pioneers.

Major change brewing: “Before long, most of our food will come neither from animals nor plants, but from unicellular life.” Good summary anticipation. Link.  

 

 



Recent Readings, 12


An emerging alternative theory for chronic diseases such as Alzheimer’s and diabetes (among others) is that the underlying cause is bacterial. If true, this is huge. Link.

Great TED talk on the 7 principles of building a livable city by Peter Calthorpe. Based on his experience doing urban planning in California and China. Link.

The superiority of knobs. The US navy is reverting back to physical throttles after sailors reject touch screen controls because they were too complex. Link.
Further steps toward a virtual movie studio. One step is a combined real and virtual model. Short video clip.

By trying to model oceans in detail, astronomers hope to simulate possible Earth-like planets capable of detectable life, and are concluding that oceans play a huge role in creating diverse life on Earth. It may be that other planets, with other oceans, may yield even life more diverse than on this planet. Link.

How to get really good — world class — at something. Don’t just practice the flow. Try to fail in practice. More tips here.

In biology the Red Queen hypothesis is well known. I had not heard of the Black Queen hypothesis: organisms shed genes for functions adjacent organisms provide. Link.

Ghost-kitchens are virtual restaurants that are visible only as an app on a phone. The kitchen is not opened to the public, often hard to find, but serves food delivered via online sales. Uber Eats, Grubhub and other apps cater niche food prepared by hidden kitchens.



Recent Readings, 11


Walking is a superpower. When you walk you increase many cognitive functions. I know that is true for me. A scientist offers some evidence in a new book In Praise of Walking (I have not read). Article about the book here.

A job for humans: teaching the AIs to see. It’s now a big business. See this article on the startup, Scale.

Using virtual reality to swap bodies and give your self advice. Weird, but early experiments suggest it works. Link.

Forgetting may not be a malfunction of memory, but a key component of memory. In other words you may not be able to remember or deal with the future unless you forget. Recent science. Link.

“Why Humans Will Never Colonize Mars” is a very strong argument, one that I agree with. Link.

A well-argued proposal for a new science of progress and setting up a new discipline of Progress Studies. I think this would be a highly productive investment for society. Link.

Are you up to speed? DYK “China has more than 425 million live-streamers.” Many earn money live-streaming. Some use face filters to make them look more beautiful. Except when they break. Story link:

Insightful article about the business models of online/video games. Says “it turns out the most effective way to generate billions of dollars is to not require a player spend a single one.” Link.

This album of tiny video experiments is sweet, lovely, brilliant, useless and cool — in other words, art. Link.



Recent Readings, 10


So-called Influencers don’t influence. According a 2007 paper by Duncan Watts, “large scale changes in public opinion are not driven by highly influential people who influence everyone else, but rather by easily influenced people, influencing other easily influenced people.” Link.

This is super great! A chat bot wastes the time of a scam telemarketer. I want one of these. Link.

In-depth exploration of the real dilemma in video game architecture between “free to act” and “guided story.” A super fan of Red Dead Redemption goes deep with entertaining analysis in long YouTube episode. Link.

Extensible games is a neat new concept. When you gain levels, powers, tokens, characters in one game, you can transfer them, securely and honestly, to other games via a blockchain technology. Link.

By 2025 the next car you buy will probably be an electric car manufactured in China. Link. /

I recommend this deep dive into the precarious state of grocery chains in the US, and why their future is moving away from transactions (owned by Amazon) and into the realm of experiences. This move is not just about grocery stores. It applies to all product and industrial businesses. Link.

New Coke didn’t fail because it tasted bad. It failed because it was new and its brand was nostalgic and the cranks took over. Great writing about the true story.  Link.

The science of video gaming, and an appreciation. Excerpt: “I might go further and say traveling in imaginary spaces rivals the experiences of traveling in real ones, like Venice and Rome, Lima and Machu Picchu, as I have in my life. Both the imaginary and real are emotionally moving and immersive.” Link.



Recent Readings, 9


Global Greening: Increased CO2 in the atmosphere is plant food. Wild plants of all kinds are growing faster around the world, sequestering CO2 into biomass. This is not the whole climate story, but it should not be ignored. Good summary by Matt Ridley here.

Once a modern heresy, non-Darwinian inheritance, aka Lamarkism, increasing can be shown to sometimes happen in nature. Case in point this recent paper. Question is: how common or important is it ordinarily.

One necessary aspect of the Mirrorworld is scanning the real world in full volumetric 3D. This demo of Matterport’s scanning ability is pretty impressive. They scan Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West.

TikTok, Chinese-owned video music platform, is creating a whole new genre of music video — the music meme, or memetic music, in 15 second clips that spread virally. This ear-opening article is a good introduction. Link.

There’s a yearly contest run by JPL for the best strategy to settle 100,000 star systems with human habitation 10,000 years from now. If you have a plan, you submit a simulation based on technology yet to be invented. Link.

The US is headed down a risky path toward 5G that is different from the rest of the world, while China is leading the rest along the other more doable path. Good explanation in @WIRED.  This was a solid, essential, correct piece. I have not seen the argument made elsewhere. It was the article I hoped Wired would run. Link.

What color is the future? If you google “futuristic” you get images in blue and black. Why is that? Good thread on Twitter here.