Marvin’s Best Weekly Reads August 29th, 2021

"I've got a theory that if you give 100% all the time, somehow things will work out in the end." - Larry Bird

  1. "The Taliban are fully in charge. Militarily perhaps, but not as a functioning government. After all, most of them only know how to fight.

The Taliban clearly knew how to win the war, but are struggling to figure out how to govern, especially how to pay for it all. If they can't show the Afghan people they are really in control, that'll undermine their legitimacy in the eyes of the population and at least some of the nations they want to do business with (obviously not most democracies).

To run a country, you need a plan, and Durrani says they simply don't have one: "Military men can never do public policy."

  1. Supply chains really matter. This is why prices are going up almost everywhere. This is also why I expect we will see reshoring of more manufacturing in the West.

"If you want to understand what’s driving inflation in the U.S. economy right now, look no further than Jani the giraffe. Jani used to cost around $87. Now she’s around $116, as costs went up on every step of her journey."

  1. "The world is going to keep changing. Technology will keep rewriting the rules. Jobs will come and go. Entire professions will disappear. 

You can’t only focus on getting better at what you do since what you do may no longer be relevant 10, 15, or 20+ years from now.

For you to have lasting value, you have to change the rules of the game and be willing to stop chasing what everyone else is. 

Focus on what you, and only you, can bring to the table; your unique knowledge, personal experiences, and hard-earned wisdom. Be able to communicate this and make it useful for others, and you’ll remain relevant forever."

Invincible Career®
How to Future-proof Your Career
We get hung up on job titles, responsibilities, and the tasks we perform in our daily work. We get too focused on what we do. For example, I have friends who would define their profession as one of the following: Designing websites Repairing car engines…
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  1. "You no longer *need* to become a $100M+ revenue company to have optionality in the “Capital Markets”. We’re using quotes because it will no longer be called “Capital Markets” but rather “Crypto Markets”.

Each Sovereign Individual will be able borrow/lend/exchange based on what they own and the value they are delivering. 

Therefore? It’s time to build out your individual value… Before it is too late."

DeFi Education
Understanding the Long-term DeFi Ecosystem - Everything is an NFT
Welcome Avatar! We’ve been quite busy building out the paid substack. And. We think it would be wise to integrate traditional finance, NFTs and even the stock market into a single post. The world is changing fast and the “metaverse” - meaning the Virtual Reality world (similar to Ready Player One) is being built out aggressively as we type this sentence…
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  1. "Each of those heists, police alleged, had been the work of individuals with apparent connections to crime families, particularly a rising network of clans of Lebanese origin that have turned Berlin into one of the gangland capitals of Europe.

“They were allowed to stay, but they were not integrated into society,” says Benjamin Jendro, a spokesperson for the Berlin Police Union who has studied the families for years. “They had no access to the labor market, no official residency status. And some of them turned to crime.”

Initially, experts say, the newcomers focused on muscling in on Germany's drug trafficking, prostitution, and protection rackets, at the time dominated by the Russian Mafia. More recently a second generation, born in Germany, has nudged the clans toward more sensational criminal exploits, like robbery and murder."

  1. Whoa: this also seems timely: Foundation.

  1. "The bottom line: groundbreaking technologies of the past decade have finally diffused through society and are shifting us out of the late industrial/early information age into the digital age.

And that is fundamentally changing the narrative. Creating conflict between the status quo of the past age and the advocates of change."

  1. This is why Crypto is so exciting. Entering the Web 3.0 world.

  1. "In 1937, the economist Ronald Coase theorized that companies exist because they minimize transaction costs, like search and information costs. And as the internet has reduced those costs, outsourcing and offshoring have risen, just as Coase would predict. The gig economy was really one more step along this path — the use of technology to expand the set of labor markets that could use temp work and day labor, which are a sort of micro-outsourcing. 

But it’s possible that the gains from that sort of micro-outsourcing are simply inherently limited in a lot of markets. Driving yourself somewhere, or riding a bike, is still usually cheaper than hiring a chauffeur. Vetting porn actors to make sure they’re not trafficked or underage cuts down massively on the transaction cost of legal liability. And so on. Gig platforms definitely cut down on transaction costs somewhat, but maybe not enough to justify huge valuations and a massive investment boom in most cases."

Why has the gig economy been a disappointment?
Startup investment tends to go in waves; there’s usually one or two “big things” that a lot of people are rushing to put money in. Right now it’s crypto, a little while ago it was A.I. But back in the misty dawn of time — i.e., about five years ago — it was…
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  1. "Since we’re in inning one of this transition we focus primarily on the main tools to help you maximize your chances of being a player in the metaverse (instead of a NPC). That strategy? 1) high paying career or work from home at minimum, 2) build a side business asap based on your niche knowledge online and 3) invest in secular growth technology stocks and a little bit of trad fi to remain sane during the volatile ride!"

BowTied Bull
Crypto vs. Global Money Supply and The 2001 Tech Bubble
Welcome Avatar! It is time to zoom out. After numerous interactions on Twitter, we get the sense that people are not thinking big enough. Most are still emotionally attached to US Tokens. On the other side of the fence, we find that the younger generation is concerned that they “missed it”. They didn’t miss anything…
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  1. "At our office, we tell founders things they’re not used to hearing: That high valuations can be the kiss of death—they inevitably lead to down rounds and less founder equity; that a strong business plan from the get-go is essential; and that if everybody’s doing it, you probably shouldn’t, etc., etc.

Some founders listen, some don’t. That’s to be expected. Every one of them is smart, but many have already been brainwashed into believing the hype that sustains both the VC world and most media outlets that cover it."

  1. "But real diversification takes a very big picture view of risks– country risk, currency risk, systemic risk.

If you’re 100% exposed to a single country, you’re not diversified. If you’re 100% exposed to a single currency, you’re not diversified. If you’re 100% exposed to a single asset class, or even asset ‘type’ (i.e. ‘paper’ assets versus physical assets), you’re not diversified.

Yes, shares in very large companies do represent some country and currency diversification since they earn money all over the world. But they’re still paper assets concentrated in a single asset class.

Proper diversification include things like foreign companies and/or stock indexes; shares of privately-held operating businesses; digital assets like cryptocurrency; high quality cash equivalents; intellectual assets like royalties; and physical assets like gold and silver."

  1. "In the meme economy, the market performance of a stock or cryptocurrency is less about forecasting business revenue than it is about gauging a traded asset’s “memeability.” This user-generated, virality-based investment strategy can best be explained by René Girard’s mimetic theory of desire, which argues that “human desire is not an autonomous process, but a collective one. We want things because other people want them.” And when those things are also scarce, like stocks or NFTs, they become immensely valuable."

  1. This is why they are both a menace to modern civilized society. Down with the extreme left and right.

"Progressives and right-wing Christians aren’t ideological enemies, they’re co-religionists. Seen from outside the Christian worldview, this is a purely internecine conflict. Both avowed Christians and the woke activist agree on the moral script for our world, they merely disagree on the casting."

The Pull Request
The Christ with a thousand faces
This is a follow-on piece to my biblically-long interview with Tom Holland, which spurred as many thoughts as the interview had digressions. Assuming I don’t experience a reader revolt over my sudden detour into theological anthropology, there’s at least one more piece in the hopper about the Christ myth in cont……
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  1. Lots of food for thought about the debacle in Afghanistan and how our own brain dead culture wars continue unabated. I really have to get out of America soon.

Pirate Wires
American Taliban
The long fall down. At 16, glued to the television with the rest of world, I watched in horror as the Twin Towers burned and buckled, and finally collapsed. On every station there was screaming, and also on the radio, where eventually clips of people crying and narrating the unimaginable catastrophe would be cut into a hit Jewel song and played on a loo……
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  1. "In the past, deals that we were looking at were getting done in two to three weeks; now the average time is probably a week to a week-and-a-half to make a final decision. I’d say the fastest we’ve moved is in five days, in a situation where we’ve known the entrepreneur for years so there was strong validation on a personal level. There was also good founder-market fit in terms of what they wanted to do.

EH: We just pull ourselves out of certain rounds that are moving [super fast] and/or valuation expectation upfront is just crazy. You see a lot of pre-seed rounds right now that are pre-product, pre-traction, pre-revenue that are done at $15 million or $20 million or $30 million post-money valuations. We’ll certainly flex for the right things, but there is just a lot of froth in the market right now."

  1. I did not see this one coming.

  1. "While the funding mix will likely continue to evolve, venture capitalists will have no shortage of investment opportunities available to them. In fact, there are more gaming entrepreneurs today than ever. Talented games industry leaders with proven track records are increasingly choosing to pursue entrepreneurship over the safety of a job with an industry incumbent.

Several factors are contributing to this trend. First and foremost is the friendly environment for gaming investments, outlined above. Not only is it easier to get funded and make a living with a games studio, but the work itself has been simplified: remote work has allowed talent to collaborate from anywhere, while a variety of services have popped up to support smaller developers, assisting with everything from analytics to market research to user acquisition funding."

  1. Grifters everywhere it seems......

Ex-Trump Spy Chief Grenell Celebrates Pro-Moscow Serb Strongman
While all eyes were on Tucker Carlson’s televised swoon for Hungary’s anti-democratic, pro-Russian strongman Viktor Orban earlier this month, another prominent Donald Trump acolyte was elsewhere in Eastern Europe celebrating yet another would-be dictator who’s fallen into Moscow’s orbit, Serbia’s Aleksandar Vučić…
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  1. This is a great idea and much needed. More and better VC funds is a good thing. Stress on the better piece.

“What I’m trying to do is help emerging VCs become better versions of themselves,” Mead said. “I can quickly identify what are areas of improvement, but I think room for improvement is on both sides.”

  1. "The truth is we’re in a radically different place than we were in the first half of 2020. We need new mental models to make sense of the pandemic as it exists right now, because early-pandemic thinking is steering us in the wrong direction

But it’s now become blatantly obvious that caring only for our local community or our country is counterproductive: The more we allow the virus to spread unchecked in other parts of the world, the more chances we give it to mutate into dangerous variants like delta."

  1. This guy can be a kook but I share the same fears of the growing political class (gerontocracy on top of that). West slipping into illiberalism but thankful not as bad as in China and other parts of the world.....yet.

"The financial and economic problems in the world are serious and accelerating. But as we go deeper into the Greater Depression, your biggest risks aren’t financial or economic. They’re political.

The only way to solve that problem from a practical point of view is to diversify politically the way you would diversify financially.

That means you should have a crib in a second or third country—as well as businesses and financial assets in others besides your home country. That’s the only thing that you can do at this point."

"Everybody should read Neal Stephenson’s book, The Diamond Age.

The ideas that he developed, essentially of nation-states falling apart and being replaced with phyles, was very prescient.

Humans are social animals; we like to hang out with other people.

This is especially true with people that are like us. In other words, people that believe in the same things, that have the same values, and have the same outlook on the world."

  1. I love the term "Soaring Twenties"

"though I believe this current decade will be a great one, I also believe it will get worse in the short term.

Our Paris is the Internet. Our Paris is DM groups and Discord channels and Telegram chats. It is Zoom calls and podcasts, newsletters and message boards.

Perhaps as the decade progresses our Paris will be less in thrall to Silicon Valley overlords and their platforms. Perhaps the Occupation by the artless tech corporations will end, or at least wane. After all they rule by our consent. We can simply ignore them if we choose.

You have to give the vampire permission to pass the threshold.

So perhaps Web 3.0 will evolve in lockstep with the growing decentralised artistic impulse. Artists go where the freedom is, as my friend Cody Clarke likes to say. And so perhaps freedom-centred tech will also grow in the slipstream of the decentralised artistic vanguard."

The Commonplace
The Soaring Twenties
Welcome readers new and old to the latest of Thomas J Bevan’s weekly essays on life, literature and flâneury. Thank you to everyone who has shared my best essays in recent weeks. I am delighted to say that we have now passed the 1000 sign-up milestone…
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  1. Jonah Hill looking good.

"Okay, I’ll be totally real. My neighbor here is 92. His name is Geoff. And he’s the reason I moved to the beach, because I was talking to him one day on the deck—I would have lunch with him once a week on the deck. I said, “What’s the deal, man? You’re the happiest guy I’ve ever seen in my life. Why are you so fucking happy?” And he’s like, “I don’t look around at what anybody else is doing. I just live my life, and I don’t look at what other people are doing.”

And he passed away two days ago. And the reason I bring this up is because my hero used to be Mike Nichols, but now my hero is Geoff. Literally, if you said, “Who’s your hero?” I’d say Geoff, because this guy lived happy, not giving a fuck about the stupid rat race, and then died at 92 at the beach."

  1. "Allow me to say this more simply, by building an online writing presence you can compete with the best VC firms in the world."