tl;dr: Went about as expected, i.e. no obvious effects, with a few mildly interesting observations. Publishing this mainly to push back against the file-drawer effect, and to highlight an example of an experiment which has both a positive expected value and a ~95 per cent chance of failure. What is the ketogenic diet good for? At the time of writing, […]
The harshest critics and strident boosters of crypto-land are engaged in an ever-escalating contest to see who can project the most lurid vision of the future. Nothing in this arena can be taken at face value, which makes it unusually fertile ground for battle-testing your own critical thinking skills.
My adventures down the rabbithole have given me a lot of ideas for blog posts, but experience suggests I won’t get round to publishing most of them.
Instead, I want to call my shots right now:
My initial impulse was to delete the blog, de-list the book, and generally disappear quietly into the ether. Then, after sleeping on it a while, I figured I could just mothball Deep Dish, and start a new, pseudonymous blog elsewhere with no audience, zero expectations, and a clean slate.
…finally, I decided to stop being a drama queen and start posting again right here, unabashedly rejoining my fellow mentally disturbed people who insist upon Having Opinions in public.
So that’s what I’m gonna do (with a few small changes)…
Over the last couple of years, my reading time has mostly been chewed up by research for my own book. So it came as a great relief to find myself with much more scope to read for pleasure in 2020.
My favourites of the year are a mixture of classics that were so good that I have no choice but to include, along with some lesser-known works where I might actually be able to add a useful signal…
I have held off on sharing my true feelings about Bitcoin until now, as it soars past its all-time high, so that it will be maximally humiliating when the bubble bursts and all the funny Internet money becomes worthless again.
See, I have something to get off my chest: I don’t think Bitcoin is stupid.
No, not even at these apparently ridiculous prices. Not even when financial illiterates are making grandiose claims about where it’ll end up.
People much smarter than me have made the case for Bitcoin using careful technical or fundamental arguments. I’m not going to attempt that in this post, or regurgitate the basics of cryptocurrency (I’ll suggest some resources later on).
Instead, I want to make two points I haven’t seen addressed elsewhere…
What is optionality? If you want a thorough answer, check out the big juicy book I spent the last couple of years writing.
In the meantime, I’ve written a post that links together everything I’ve written in one place, and gives a taste of what the book is about for new readers.
Here’s my definition of optionality, adapted from the introduction of the book, followed by 10 principles for navigating an uncertain world…
Despite having grown up in the country and attended my fair share of the agricultural shows and carnivals that pass for entertainment, I have never known the joy of chasing a pig—greased, or otherwise.
I no longer feel a desperate need to address this glaring gap in my childhood experience, because the last couple of years have given me a pretty good sense of what it must feel like.
Happiness is a greased pig chase. I don’t mean this in the ‘happiness is a warm blanket’ Peanuts sense, although clearly rural folks get a big kick out of it. I mean it in the sense that the concept itself is extremely difficult to pin down…
As many of you know, I’ve been working on a book project for the last few years. Now I can finally announce it officially: Optionality: How to Survive and Thrive in a Volatile World is a thing that exists in the world!
This is a synthesis of everything we’ve been thinking about here on the blog, and much more. I’m really proud of it, and excited to make it accessible to as many people as possible.
Briefly, the book lays out a strategy for not only becoming resilient to future shocks, but positioning yourself to profit from an unpredictable world: investing, insurance, social support networks, health and fitness, and skills, all viewed through the lens of making confident decisions under uncertainty.
It takes a village to write a book. I’ve tested some of the ideas here on the blog, and have benefited enormously from having readers give feedback on the structure, title, design, and early drafts.
It also takes a village to launch one. As a first-time author, I’m asking you, dear readers, for help in marketing the book and spreading it to communities and groups that would benefit from it…
Blogging is an endurance sport. It takes a while to hit your stride, but as Deep Dish’s 4th birthday approaches, and with it, a million views and a thousand comments, I think I have a decent sense of whether it’s all been worth it. Is blogging really that rewarding? Did I waste my time on this thing? Should you start […]
What comes to mind when you think of the word frugality? For me, it’s a used tea bag sitting in a saucer, waiting to be re-dunked. Or arguing with the store manager to try to get a discount. Or ‘mum says we have food at home’.
And that’s coming from someone who loves this thing. The first post I ever published was my viral 2016 ‘coming out’ essay on the life-changing power of frugality. This is still the best experiment I’ve ever run, and set me up for everything that followed.
But longtime readers might have noticed that I’ve moved away from this kind of material over the years. Partly, it’s because I find early retirement blogs interminably boring. If I see another ‘monthly income report’ post I will scream.
I’ve also been feeling a little uneasy about the virtues of frugality and the early retirement movement. My upcoming book is about how I fell out of love with these ideas, and my attempt to build a more well-rounded philosophy. Whether or not you read the book, I feel like I should explain how my thinking has changed in recent years…
CLEARANCE SALE! VANS SHOES CHEAP! I was as surprised as anyone to hear that I’d pivoted from blogging to hawking knock-off footwear on Facebook. After pulling down the scam posts and changing my password, I checked my activity log. At least three interlopers had somehow managed to access my account, one of them several years ago. Creepy, but unimaginative: they didn’t lock me out, or steal my identity, or use my password to access other sites. As far as I know, my nudes are still between me and Zuckerberg.
Then there was the second incident: I changed my Google password, immediately forgot it, and couldn’t get back in. I filled in the account recovery forms over and over, and sat there silently panicking as each robotic form rejection destroyed a tiny piece of my soul. There was no way to get in touch with a human being. With one moment of carelessness, I was sure I’d lost all my work, and years of treasured memories.
On both occasions I got lucky: it could have been much, much worse. Screwing up for a third time was probably tempting fate, so I decided it was time to actually sit down and sort out my online security…
One of the immutable laws of the Internet is that it’s impossible to write a LinkedIn morning routine parody so ridiculous that it couldn’t be mistaken for the real thing.
This genre of hustle-porn sucks, but not because the hustlers are wrong. I’m annoyed because they’re right—at least, in theory—but they spray so much fluorescent orange Cheez over everything that any sensible person is immediately repulsed. If we dismiss the ‘morning routine’ trope as the performative humblebragging of grifters and Silicon Valley narcissists, we’re throwing the baby out with the (essential oil-infused) bathwater…
Everything compounds. Momentum is an underappreciated force of nature: not only in finance, but waistlines, populations, popularity, curiosity, and information.
Ideas want to propagate themselves. When two ideas have sex, most of the offspring are hideous mutants: the shower thoughts, the drunken 3am kitchen ‘creations’. Ramen pizza is probably not going to catch on. But very occasionally, you get something beautiful.
The last post was about collecting and curating the best ideas. This post is about earning compound interest on your collection. The magic happens in the nooks where ideas collide and fuse, but we have to create the right conditions for recombination—the equivalent of turning down the lights and piping Barry Manilow through the speakers.
To earn compound interest on your money, you need somewhere to put it, like a bank account, and a practice for making it grow—an investing strategy. Same goes for information. I suggest the ‘somewhere to put it’ should be a Commonplace Book, and the ‘practice for making it grow’ should be the Zettelkasten Method.
If this is all German to you, no fear. Here’s what we’re going to cover…
Note taking is overrated. Underlining key passages, scribbling insightful observations in the margin of library books to amuse a future stranger—we get it, you read Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince—the colour-coded set of highlighters, etc. This kind of thing is very cute, and at the risk of offending my favourite productivity pornographers, almost certainly misses the point…
No-one is ever forcing you to act on a recommendation, this is just another data point to factor into your decision, and more information is always better. Right?
…no. Search costs are a thing that exists. Bad information is worse than no information, so we have a responsibility to find and boost genuine signals, rather than spray out more noise. As Tyler Cowen says, giving someone your favourite book imposes an obligation on them: now they have to read it, or skim enough to convincingly pretend they read it, or at least feel guilty about not having read it.
Format, context, preference, timing: unless all these factors happen to line up, specific recommendations sound a lot like random monkey noises.
I say all of this as a prelude to the fact that I’m about to…lay a bunch of recommendations on you.