Small but important things

Below are a few short clips that I found profound yet easy to understand. Hope you’ll enjoy them as much as I do

The value of independence

In this clip (starting 31:30 and I tried to make the embedded video start at that point), Morgan Housel talked about his own experience with the independence and freedom that money provides. The older I grow, the more I take this lesson to heart. Fortunately, my wife shares the same perspective and that makes everything a bit easier.

Enough

My wife and I took a walk this evening to enjoy an awesome weather that is going to be sorely missed in a month. We talked about what would have been like if we were living in the 1920s. There would be no Internet. We would have no Google. We would have to look up things on newspapers. We would have to write to our family back home in Vietnam instead of Facetiming. We would be in more danger because drugs and medical procedures were much less advanced, etc. We both came to a conclusion that we were happy to be where we are. A lot of people that I interacted with asked me why I chose Omaha and why I haven’t moved to a bigger city. Many of them actually left themselves. We have a different opinion. We like it here. It’s not too hectic nor is it too expensive. It’s quiet and if we look long enough, we can always find something to do. We may change our minds in a few years, but for now we are content. We have enough. Which is what Morgan Housel talks about here:

What is winning?

Hasan Minhaj brought up a great point in this clip. We idolize celebrities and put them on a pedestal. Many of them earn that respect, love and adulation. There are dedicated fans who know every achievement and every single detail of an athlete’s career. There are even university courses on some superstars. But how much do we talk about the other side of the equation? How much do we talk about the strained relationship, the mental breakdown or the sacrifices? Envy is arguably the worst sin. If you envy someone, envy the whole package. The good and the bad. Which is something that I am working hard on every day.

We and everything we do will fade. So take it easy

I am not a fan of Naval on Twitter. In fact, I blocked him. But that doesn’t negate the fact that he made a great point here. Stand in a forest, an ocean or a mountain and you’ll see how small we are against nature. Zoom it out to the whole planet and we become microscopic. Zoom it out a bit further and we’re absolutely nothing. As great as some civilizations and great individuals in the past, they are all gone and some of their work will already fade eventually. We won’t be any different and that’s life. Knowing that brings a whole new perspective in life.

Weekly readings – 27th June 2020

What I wrote

I wrote about this European hard discounter that has been in the US since 1976 and a great success so far

Hasan Minhaj talked about the winner-takes-all system in the US that causes all sorts of problems

Vietnam’s success in handling Covid-19

I finished and reviewed a book called The Art of Thinking Clearly

Business

Why Figma wins

A collection of business memos by Sriram. He also collected some good posts on business strategy

Horace Dediu on ecosystems and the App Store specifically

A primer on marketplaces

A couple of posts summarizing WWDC event and what’s new from Apple by MacStories and WSJ

Craig Federighi on new privacy updates

But in the fullness of time, in the scope of hundreds of years from now, I think the place where I hope people can look back and talk about the places where Apple made a huge contribution to humanity is in helping people see the way of taking advantage of this great technology without the false tradeoff of giving up their privacy to do it.

Source: Fast Company

Other things I think are interesting

Low carb diet leads to “clinical remission” in three case studies of adults with type 1 diabetes

56% of wild animals in Vietnam’s restaurants have a coronavirus, study says

A great essay on the value of appreciating your being alone and facing yourself

Countering illegal hate speech online by EU Commission

How People Read Online: New and Old Findings

THERE’S NOW AN EVEN WORSE ANTI-ENCRYPTION BILL THAN EARN IT. THAT DOESN’T MAKE THE EARN IT BILL OK. I left it capitalized for a reason. It’s alarming

Winner-takes-all election and Trump’s new suspension of work visas

Yesterday, the Patriot Act team released an excellent segment on the US election. It discussed the core issue of the elections in America, the issue that leads to so many malfunctions in the way this country is governed. Yes, we are familiar with voter suppression, electoral college and gerrymandering, but Hasan Minhaj went to the root cause of all: the winner-takes-all system. I’ll let him explain it to you.

Hasan said something pretty significant in his piece: America is a minority-ruled country. Democrats won more popular votes than Republicans in many of the last elections, on many levels, but the party that has controlled the three branches and even the judicial system is Republican. Worse, more than 50% of eligible voters want a 3rd party candidate, yet they can’t have it.

If a country is minority-ruled, does it still have a democracy? The two parties hate each other and increasingly over the years. I don’t see the end of such extreme and toxic partisanship in the future. The implications include the erosion of America’s competitiveness. When the parties in the government are busy fighting with each other and cancelling out the other’s policies, where would progress come from?

At the end of the piece, Hasan made a proposal on how to eliminate the winner-takes-all system and help with the partisanship. The proposal was actually tested in Maine and brought promising results. However, given the politicians on both sides are more concerned with keeping their seats, I don’t see it happening soon.

Speaking of the erosion of America’s competitiveness, Trump signed an executive order today to suspend H1B and other work visas till the end of the year. America relies on foreign talent a lot. After all, it calls itself: The land of opportunity. People around the world, including myself 4 years ago, looked to America as the land to make our lives better and realize our dream. The anti-immigrant rhetoric since Trump took office has been anything, but welcoming to immigrants. Yet, the action today took it to another level. American companies, universities and research academia can’t attract foreign talent for the next 6 months. The executive order seems easy on paper, but significant in real life as it affects thousands of lives. People will go somewhere else for higher education and jobs. People who are already in the US will ponder what to do next. Personally, this action today will mean that I won’t be able to see my family in Vietnam in the next few months. If I visit Vietnam before this Executive Order ends, I won’t be able to come back.

People around the world used to hold America to a very high standard. You guys often like to say it: we are a beacon of hope. I bet many still do now. If you ask my dad, he’ll tell you how much he admires America. So, it’s sad to see the standard being lowered every day.

Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj & the man himself

I was told to watch Hasan Minhaj’s new show on Netflix called Patriot Act. If you don’t have a Netflix account, rest easy. The first three episodes are available on YouTube.

I like the show and Hasan. For some reasons, I am not a big fan of most of the late night comedy shows any more, except Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. Celebrity interviews or games or only “anti-Trump” rhetoric that sometimes comes with lame jokes don’t engage me. I prefer learning something new from a show or a funny take on the current issues. So far, John Oliver and now Hasan deliver that in my opinion. While John Oliver has a knack for choosing overlooked issues in our society, Hasan is a masterful story-teller. He just sucks you in the story he is telling whether it is a story on his family after 9/11, his take on that John McCain debate during 2008 presidential debate, or his being bullied in high school.

I was in the gym today, listening to his commencement speech at high school. He told the story of him being bullied, of being rejected from his dream of playing basketball in high school and of how that forced him to comedy. I recommend listening to his speech. In the end, he got real.

“It doesn’t always get better. The world doesn’t care one bit about your dream. But if you keep working, you’ll find something that you are meant to do. You’ll eventually find where you are supposed to be. If you can’t get into the front door. Go through the side. If you can’t go through the side, go through the backyard. If you can’t go through the backyard, go through the window. No matter what. Never stop fighting through the pick”.

Or something along that line. He has other great interviews on YouTube, but I’ll let you discover them.