Remote Losers

Competition legitimizes the winners. A job candidate chosen after interviewing and testing 1000 candidates is considered more legitimate and assumed to be more qualified than someone who was hired without an elaborate and intense process.

But that's not how it works, according to two studies from researchers at Oxford and The University of Gothenburg. In Does the cream rise to the top?, Thomas Noe and Dawei Fang try to determine whether the winners of highly competitive, high-stakes contests are talented or merely lucky.

My high school football coach always said that luck is when preparation meets opportunity.

If that’s the case, putting yourself in a position to get more opportunities is really the best way to win in a remote market.


How Pixar Uses Hyper-Colors to Hack Your Brain

You can't buy these colors for your house. But Pixar does have a prototype of what that TV might be like. It's in a room next to the screening room. I convince Glynn to show it to me in action, and when he fires it up to maximum brightness, it's actually painful to look at. The light leaves an afterimage like one caused by staring at the sun.

:Steve Buscemi voice: Man, I gotta get me one of those.


40 Life Lessons from 40 Years

I always get suckered in by these types of posts (certainly they’ve been sprinkled throughout the archives of this blog).

This one is exceptionally well done. There are simply too many to choose a pull quote from, but I’ll share the two reasons why I wanted to post about this article.

First, it’s heavy on the minimalism. It’s hard to participate in our society and not strive to be a maximalist. Capitalism is all about growth, after all, and if you aren’t expanding your footprint on this planet, what’s the point, right?

I’ve been working on being content lately. That contentment comes in several forms, like being content to spend time with my kids, being content to live in a smaller house than my neighbors, being content to drive an older car.

This post gives a lot of good snippets to keep in mind while maintaining the pursuit to think through what truly matters and what truly makes you happy.

Which leads me to my second reason: labeling my spiritual beliefs. This post contains a lot of axioms which seem to gel nicely with Buddhism.

I would not call myself a Buddhist. Frankly, I’m not sure what I’d call myself. But lately, the tenets of Buddhism have been appealing to me, and again, there are a lot of thoughts around how to deal with pain and suffering within this collection.


The Hunchback Of Notre Dame At 25: An Oral History Of Disney's Darkest Animated Classic

I remember seeing this movie once as a kid and I have very few memories of it. Anyone who knows me knows that’s a startling admission because nearly 75% of what I say originated from media I consumed as a kid.

I love these “oral history” articles, and when I saw this one, I almost dismissed it because of my vague recollection of the movie.

Reading it, however, caused me to want to rewatch it. I’m so glad I did, because while this movie is definitely not for children, it’s quite enjoyable to watch as an adult.

It is layered with subtext, and for a society who is currently vilifying Disney for a lot of things, I think the way they re-tell the Victor Hugo story should be agreeable to someone who insists on modest decorum.

If you are like me and have no recollection of this movie, do yourself a favor and spend an evening reading this article and then watching it. You’ll have a ton of appreciation for how this movie advanced animation forward.

You should also check out this video mentioned towards the end of this article of pandemic-produced cover of “The Bells of Notre Dame.” Just sent shivers up my spine.


Contra Chrome

Anyone who's spoken with me over the past eighteen months knows that I've been contemplating what to do with my life.

I think one area that I want to explore is helping normal people understand how technology works.

Digital privacy is one of those areas that people vaguely agree with but also dismiss as something that is not that a big deal.

Whenever I hear that argument from here on out, I'm gonna use this comic book as a way to change their minds. It's an easy to understand explanation for how Chrome tracks everything about you.

There's an old adage in tech that goes "if you are not paying for something, you are the product." I think it's only fair that people understand what it is they're actually selling.


The War Prayer

My wife sent me this poem written by Mark Twain. It was originally written as a reflex of outrage surrounding the Philippine-American War of 1899, but wasn’t published until the beginning of the First World War.

The intent of it is to call out the unspoken part of prayer, the part that calls everything into balance. If you wish for your own victory, that means you wish for the defeat of someone else.

It is a great reminder that there are always two sides to every story. Life is subjective. Your experiences are just one data point. It doesn’t mean your feelings are invalid; it just means everyone experiences life in different ways.


Four Questions To Ask Yourself Before Taking on a New Project

  1. Do I have the time?

  2. Do I have the mental space?

  3. Is this project aligned with my values and the change I want to create in the world?

  4. Will it energize me?

I posted these questions here for a quick reminder to my future self, but you should read the whole thing to get clarity around how to answer these questions.


The Tyranny of Time

Capitalism did not create clock time or vice versa, but the scientific and religious division of time into identical units established a useful infrastructure for capitalism to coordinate the exploitation and conversion of bodies, labor and goods into value.

Clock time, the British sociologist Barbara Adam has argued, connected time to money. “Time could become commodified, compressed and controlled,” she wrote in her book “Time.” “These economic practices could then be globalized and imposed as the norm the world over.”

One thing that often bothered me while working at JMG was our tendency to boil down what we do to basically selling other people’s time (developers, designers, and so forth).

I suppose that’s what capitalism actually is at the end of the day, but it doesn’t mean I feel real good about doing it.


Liberal Education

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal:

Why do we want a liberal education? Because everyone in the modern university is living in its opposite, and it sucks.

Oof, this was a great one. Makes me wonder what would make for a better collegiate experience. Perhaps not charging an insane amount for it, making it more accessible for a diverse set of students, allowing more people to participate in the free flow of idea exchange?


The Lesson to Unlearn

For example, I had avoided working for big companies. But if you'd asked why, I'd have said it was because they were bogus, or bureaucratic. Or just yuck. I never understood how much of my dislike of big companies was due to the fact that you win by hacking bad tests.

I've always considered curiosity to be my biggest asset, using it to really understand how things worked.

I never put two-and-two together, though, that the reason I wanted to understand how things worked was to "win" at it.

Paul Graham's theory here is just one revelation after another for me.

Here is another juicy nugget:

Instead of looking at all the different kinds of work people do and thinking of them vaguely as more or less appealing, you can now ask a very specific question that will sort them in an interesting way: to what extent do you win at this kind of work by hacking bad tests?