Newsletter – January

Great conversation about technology, with a focus on the bad. Touches many topics. I still agree with Kevin Kelly’s 51% vs 49% view.
Nick bilton is also the author of one of my favorite books last year – American kingpin. A must read.Is Facebook Becoming Marlboro? – Inside the Hive with Nick Bilton

Tay Tay Cowen speaks with A16Z. Tyler is consistently asking the best questions and getting fantastic interviews. Also look for his podcast conversations with Tyler.
a16z Podcast: Talent, Tech Trends, and Culture – with Ben, Marc, and Tyler Cowen – a16z

If Tay Tay Cowen was born in the late 80s, he would be much like Paddy C.
All interviews with Patrick is worth reading, so is this podcast.
#353: Patrick Collison – CEO of Stripe – The Tim Ferriss Show

Josh Zeps talks to bettina Arndt about sex and modern sexuality.
Second half is very interesting where they talk about disenfranchisement/ loss of agency of young women and how they can’t be responsible with the path set forward by 3rd wave feminists.
Women losing agency over their sex life.

Sam Harris and Peter Atia sits down for a chat about mindfulness.
An interesting thing that Peter said:

The inability to recognize how distracted we are are seems to be one of the greatest drivers of misery.

Which he follows up with 3 quotes spanning 1700 years.
Seneca: We suffer more in our imagination than in reality.
Shakespeare (Hamlet): for there is nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so.
Pascal: Distraction is the only thing that consoles us for miseries and yet it is itself the greatest of our miseries.”

Add this with another Pascal quote: sole cause of man’s unhappiness is that he does not know how to stay quietly in his room.

David Foster Wallace also had a good take on this

“To me, at least in retrospect, the really interesting question is why dullness proves to be such a powerful impediment to attention. Why we recoil from the dull. Maybe it’s because dullness is intrinsically painful; maybe that’s where phrases like ‘deadly dull’ or ‘excruciatingly dull’ come from. But there might be more to it. Maybe dullness is associated with psychic pain because something that’s dull or opaque fails to provide enough stimulation to distract people from some other, deeper type of pain that is always there, if only in an ambient, low-level way, and which most of us spend nearly all our time and energy trying to distract ourselves from feeling, or at least from feeling directly or with our full attention. Admittedly, the whole thing’s pretty confusing, and hard to talk about abstractly…but surely something must lie behind not just Muzak in dull or tedious places any more but now also actual TV in waiting rooms, supermarkets’ checkouts, airport gates, SUVs’ backseats. Walkman, iPods, BlackBerries, cell phones that attach to your head. This terror of silence with nothing diverting to do. I can’t think anyone really believes that today’s so-called ‘information society’ is just about information. Everyone knows it’s about something else, way down.”

Sam Harris, Ph.D.: The transformative power of mindfulness (EP.34) – The Peter Attia Drive

The third plate by Dan barber –
How the prairie was difficult to toil and how the story of John Deere of tractor fame and Lincolns homestead act are intertwined.
The book also talks about the correlation between soil nutrients and the military draft in WW2. The soils close to Mississippi was nutrient deficient and the soils in Illinois was richer. per 1000 drafted the former group had 400 unfit for duty and the latter had 200. An area in between had 300. Is there a modern parallel to the economy and poverty of the areas?

Stranger in the woods by Michael Finkel
was a really interesting book. It’s about a man who moved out in the woods when he was 20 and was found at 47. In those 27 years his only human interaction was with other humans was saying “hi” to a hiker in the 90s. The book tells two stories, both interesting – one about Chris Knight and the other about the science and history of hermits, nature, and solitude. Short and interesting look into a strange mans life.

Mythos and Heroes by Stephen Fry is interesting. I’ve always been interested in mythology in general and the greek ones are the big ones. The book reminds me of Neil Gaimans Norse Mythology in a good way. Fry writes, as always, in a funny and interesting way.

The convo about David Foster Wallace is great, it’s in the middle. But the whole thing is good.
Paul Conti, M.D.: trauma, suicide, community, and self-compassion (EP.15) – The Peter Attia Drive

Most people are waiting for someone to make the first move.


The United States is Underpoliced and Overprisoned – Marginal REVOLUTION

For a long time I’ve been a fan of putting on KEXP videos in the background when I do stuff around the house. It’s like putting on music, but the interviewer asks great questions and you’ll get a somewhat different take on the songs from the artist you like. Most of them are around 30 min. NPR Tiny Desk concerts are in the same vein.
A great place to start is with an evening with Ben Gibbard. Its longer than normal, but its special, you’ll hear why.

January is also when I have my birthday so here the toast:
The Farewell Toast

59 – Bjørn Lomborg – The Jordan B. Peterson Podcast
Discount rate on the future. Interesting mental model.
How important is the future? We do many things for the future to be better. But not a lot, we still want Starbucks and not lower our living standard. 1$-42$ the best future for all. Cost benefit analysis on climate change.

#147 – Stephen Fry – Waking Up with Sam Harris

The names says it all

PS: I want feedback!:)

Oslo City Flag

The city flag. All cities has a flag, just like all countries. Flags represent the history and identity of a country. It’s the symbol we rally behind.

The Norwegian flag was designed by Statesman Fredrik Meltzer. It used to look like this:

Norwegian flag from 1814-1821

If you look really close, like super duper close, a keen eye might see that it looks rather Danish. Norwegian history 101 – Loads of Danish and Swedish hostile takeovers and a few acquihires. So the flag needed to change.

Fredrik removed the lion, as it would not been seen on the ocean where the boats are far away from each other. We don’t want to be mistaken for Danish. Even to this day the gravest injury you can inflict a Norwegian is to confuse us with the Danish, so we needed a better flag. And Fredrik thought it should be red, white, and blue. It symbolised freedom. Red, white, and blue had united the Dutch, the British, the Americans, and recently the French had rallied behind the tricolor after the storming of Bastille. After several centuries of being having some very one sided mergers and acquisitions by Danes and Swedes, Fredrik thought the three colours was a nice tip of the hat to our previous owners and our national history, but more importantly to our future.

Flags are fashion. The Stars and Stripes are seen more often on clothes than on a flagpole. Geri Halliwell eternalized The Union Jack. But these are big national flags. What about city flags? Roman Mars makes the case for city flags. Have a look at 99% Invisibles Roman Mars TED Talk for an intro to city flags. It’s a great talk. It will entertain and give you a quick intro to vexillology, the study of flags.

Now that you know a bit about flag design. Imagine what incredible flag Oslo has. Norwegian capital, Scandinavian design etc. Just take two seconds to conjure up an image. Remember that image.

Lets jump back in time to 1924. Kristiania has just turned 300. Kristiania was Oslo’s old name, before we rebranded in 1925 for a better domain name and to attract more top talent. The flag is blue and white. Its pretty and simple, or pretty simple if you’d like.

Old Kristiania Flag

Its symbolic meaning is not known, but feel free to impose your meaning and logic.

Now letz zip forward to 2000, Y2K is over(phew!), and Oslo is getting another rebranding. Am pretty sure we rebranded this time because a consultancy agency said we needed to make our value proposition stand out and to change our brand portfolio – I mean, why not, it’s kinda plausible. The rebranding consisted mostly of Tigers and a new city flag. So what is this new beautiful flag?

The new Oslo flag

Its Oslo’s Patron Saint Halvards seal on a blue background… Yeah, I know it’s not a flag, it’s a seal on a blue background. And just so its mentioned: St Halvard is not from Oslo, he is from Lier in Drammen and died in the Drammen Fjord. It’s 30-40 minutes with car outside of Oslo. But I digress – What’s so wrong with the flag?

Now it’s the time to use the knowledge Roman gave you.

Lets see how the Oslo flag stands up to the 5 rules of Vexillology.

  1. Keep it simple
    Remember how Fredrik simplified the Norwegian flag, so it can easily be recognized from a distance. The current flag is not where near simple
  2. Use meaningful symbolism
    There is a lot of symbolism going on in the seal. Because its a seal.
  3. Use two or three basic colours
    The seal has 5…
  4. No lettering or seals of any kind
  5. Be distinctive
    Bad is distinctive right?

The Oslo flag is the same as Oslos manhole covers upon a blue background. A manhole cover is not a flag.

Manhole Cover in Oslo

There is only one good thing about Oslos flag. Its illegal. The flag is not legal. Yeah, not illegal. According to a law from 1933, flags on government property and buildings needs to be approved by the King. The Oslo flag is not approved. Which means that certain people in the Oslo government is eligible to a prison sentence up to 3 months. Which seams a little short considering how ugly the “manhole cover flag” is.

This information leads us to the ultimate question: what does it mean to be human. I mean: Can we have a nice flag please? Either take back the old blue and white or design a new one. Something we can actually use since it’s legal and has a good design. Something Geri Halliwell can wear.

As Roman said “All cities deserve a beautiful flag”. Even Oslo. Let Oslo join the Vexillonaire Club, an imaginary club for nice flags.

If we must have a seal on a blue background – I nominate this flag:

Seal on blue background