July 2022 BenGoldhaber(.com) Newsletter
Tinkerings, Product Recommendations, and More
Ahoy-hoy (is this actually how I’ll be starting these emails from now on? Sure, why not).
In August I’ll be driving across the country, taking the southern route (I-20 E) - if you have recommendations for must see attractions along the way please let me know. Don’t worry, Biosphere 2 is already on the list.
Passive Coaching as a Service: An idea I had where people would share video snippets of their workflows, and others would suggest strategies and products for improving it.
The video would be short, and could be automatically cut up into random 15 second snippets. Other users would watch the clips and, if they see something that could be improved - ex. someone writing code w/o using an automated linter - they could suggest it. Better yet, they could share a video of themselves performing the task.
If the suggestion is accepted, the user receives internet points. Premium versions could involve paid rewards to get the highest quality feedback quickly.
I love the Bose Sleepbuds. I am a very light sleeper, and living in the city I’m frequently woken by cars, drunk people, or some kind of experimental motorcycle being tested next door engineered to produce the world’s most annoying revving sound. The sleepbuds work phenomenally well to mask these outside sounds with white noise, and they last three nights on a single charge. They’re also quite comfortable - it only took me one or two nights to get used to sleeping with them in. My favorite new gadget (thanks to Kelley Kidd).
The Maintenance Race: A tale of the world’s first solo, around-the-world yacht race, told through the lens of how the sailor’s maintained their craft. Features a good Aesop on attitudes towards maintenance and is a very compelling story.
‘JOSHUA is just simple’, Moitessier once told an interviewer. ‘Simplicity is a form of beauty.’ That principle governed everything for him. ‘Given a choice between something simple and something complicated’, he wrote, ‘choose what is simple without hesitation; sooner or later, what is complicated will almost always lead to problems’. Only simple things, he noted, can be reliably repaired with what you have on board.
Notes on the Balkans: I knew very little about the Balkans and I enjoyed this colorful opinionated take by one traveler on the history and culture of the Balkan countries.
Kosovo loves America. It loves America more than America loves America… Kosovo is the only country besides the United States which celebrates the Fourth of July.
Pay more for results: A brief summary of the important and common sense idea that we should pay people when they achieve good, measurable outcomes. I think this idea sums up a big portion of necessary public policy reforms.
We have some good basic theory on paying for results. For example, paying your agents for results works better when you can measure the things that you want sooner and more accurately, when you are more risk-averse, and when your agents are less risk-averse. It is less less useful when you can watch your agents well, and you know what they should be doing to get good outcomes.
Nvidia’s Canvas: A drawing tool that renders beautiful landscapes derived from your MS-paint sketches. ‘End-to-end’ tools that make use of generative AI are still rare, and it’s nice to find and play with a complete prototype.
A thread on the difficulties facing military recruiters, which stem from a combination of reduced access to high schoolers and more stringent data reporting.
I can attest this technique works:
The Rehearsal: Nathan Fielder’s newest show where he creates… elaborate simulations of ordinary people’s lives. The first episode had him building a 1:1 replica of a Manhattan bar filled with actors to help someone practice a difficult conversation. Nathan Fielder continues to push the comedy frontier.
Blown Away: Season three came out, and it remains a fun, low-stress reality TV show competition where people blow and sculpt glass and make bad puns.
Temeraire: A set of fantasy novels by Naomi Novik (author of the previously recommended A Deadly Education) set in the 19th century where European powers have bred dragons for warfare. She retells the Napoleonic wars from the perspective of a British Lieutenant; it’s excellent worldbuilding and (obviously) extremely original.
The Network State: Balaji’s call-to-arms to start new nations. If you’ve already read Balaji’s essays on the subject I’m not sure how much you’ll get from it, but it’s a useful all in one place manifesto for experimenting with new governing entities. Related: Vitalik’s take on the Network State.
Have a great August,