Tangential Tuesday #36

The lottery of fascinations, Mt. Shasta ⛰️, Ownership, EdTech, Wealth, Naval..

Hi team - I’m back this week after summiting Mt. Shasta last weekend 😅. I’ve been feeling in a bit of a rut lately, but spending last weekend in the mountains + this weekend at the beach definitely has me back and feeling rejuvenated (and a bit sunburned!)

Let’s get on with the newsletter.

Hiking Mt. Shasta is hands down the craziest, and one of the most memorable outdoor experiences I’ve ever had. If you’ve never heard of it, it’s a volcanic mountain in northern California clocking in at 14,179 ft tall.

It’s the 5th tallest mountain in California, but in my extremely biased opinion the coolest 😍.

For our ascent, we decided to hike the less popular Hotlum/Bolam ridge trail. Due to snow/glacier conditions, this trail is probably only in good condition for ~4 weekends a year. We got super lucky that everything came together and we were able to time it right.

This was also the first hike I’ve ever done where you need to break it up into 2 days if you want to have any reasonable shot at summiting. There is of course this hilarious trip report of people starting the hike at 2am but even broken up over two days it’s a grueling hike. It’s only ~6 miles, but over 6000 feet of elevation gain. There’s 1 mile that clocks >2k elevation gain.

Overall, it was an amazing trip - one that I will remember for quite awhile. It left be thinking about all of the possible adventures and trips I’m surrounded by just by living in California. Next time - I want to splitboard it 👀.

🎲 The Lottery of Fascinations [*Highly Recommend*]

It’s not that I don’t recognize that math is awesome. If there were “Pray the lack-of-interest-in-math away” camps, I would totally go to one. But just as a gay guy may recognize the many ways his life would be easier if he were heterosexual but this recognition does not immediately lead to finding women attractive – so discoursing on the beauty and importance of math does not suddenly make math books any more readable to me.

This article is both hilarious and genius. It’s something most people don’t think about enough. I do think there’s ways to nurture your curiosity and help it grow in ways that benefit both you and society - but there is absolutely a huge component of luck.

One interesting trend is that more so today than in any other time in history, it’s possible to make a career out of your fascination. No matter how obscure or useless it might seem.

You can now commentate video games professionally. You can start a podcast or Youtube channel dedicated to the history of the maps. Or a Youtube channel dedicated to hypnosis. None of these things are easy - but the fact that they are even possible is wild.

Read the article here.

🧠 Ownership is resistance

I’ve talked a lot about ownership on this newsletter before - largely advocating for a society where we rent more and own less.

This article is a great antidote to my views. I might even change my mind 😉.

When we give up ownership, we’re giving up freedom. What we don’t own, we do not have freedom over. Ultimately - someone else is in control.

Now though, if we ask ourselves who owns our personal data online, and how it’s collected, distributed or shared, not many of us can answer “I do.”

The original idea behind the internet as a completely distributed network is dying. It’s being replaced by what Harvard Business School calls “surveillance capitalism” where companies are essentially monetizing human beings (i.e. our data). Think about it: Amazon, Facebook, Apple, Google, all operate huge server farms—a term that’s fairly new, with the advent of owned platforms. But, have you ever thought about what they’re “farming”? It’s us, by extension of the personal data we give them. Digital activist Aral Balkan calls them “factory farms for human beings.”

Read the article here.

👚 They See It. They Like It. They Want It. They Rent It.

… And here’s another article about the rise of renting. Despite the convincing argument made by the last article - I generally LOVE the experience of renting.

Renting has become a luxury. It’s also become a way of focusing on the present. Honestly - I have no idea where I will want to live or how I will want to live in 5 years. Owning lots of stuff will just make those hard decisions harder.

Super curious to see what direction this space will go, especially companies like Omni.

Read the article here.

👨‍🎓 Bloat Does Not Explain the Rising Cost of Education

The price of a college education has increased 1,375% since 1978. That’s pretty insane. But where do these increases actually come from? Some of it is inflation, some of it is bloat.

But most of it is neither of these things.

Read the article to find out more.

✏️ Educated Guesses About EdTech

Conversely, there’s a group of utopian tech evangelists who believe we’re maybe a decade away from the four-year degree becoming a meaningless trinket, replaced in full by smart apps, on-demand tutors, and an endless library of educational video content. The zealots who hold this view tend to be maximally focused on the enabling technology, and less so the credentialing infrastructure, signaling value, and social benefits that traditional education institutions provide.

This is a balanced, rational view on where education + technology will go in the coming years.

I am certainly guilty of this overly utopian tech mindset when it comes to the future of education. There’s a ton of the opportunity in the EdTech space, but it’s also a brutally tough market. Colleges are a behemoth and still have a ton of advantages despite all of their problems.

k-12 schools have no money, most parents do not want to pay for online education. College students are already broke and in debt. Despite these barriers - I believe some great companies will be created in the space in the next 5-10 years. But probably not in the way we expect.

Read the article here.

Some thoughts on building wealth

I was recently turned onto Elizabeth Yin’s blog. I like her modest take on building wealth.

  • You make money from investing – not salaries. You don’t have to be a professional investor, but you should take cash from your job to invest in order to amass a lot of wealth.

  • Think about your own liquidity needs and start to move towards some riskier and higher reward investments as you amass more cash than you need.  Everyone will have a different amount that makes sense, but this is how you should be thinking about investing.

  • Start early — even as early as today.

  • If you don’t have an investment mindset, change it — regardless of what profession you are in. Your salary doesn’t make you wealthy.

Read the article here.

Naval : Joe Rogan

If you’ve been following the newsletter for awhile, you’ll know I’m a huge fan of Naval Ravikant. There’s something about the way he explains things so clearly and concisely that makes him hard to dislike.

This recent podcast with Joe Rogan is no exception. In classic Joe Rogan style it’s over 2 hours long. There’s two many gems to list:

  • Work in sprints and output

  • Why small companies are always better than big companies

  • Why environmentalism needs technology

  • Meaning of life

  • Everyone can get rich.

Listen here.

A rare true beach day in SF 🏖️.

That’s all for this week. Thanks for being here :)

- Taylor