Tangential Tuesdays #51

Monopath v Polymath, Nothing is ours, Biology is eating the world

Hey 👋 - feels super nice to be writing this on a Sunday morning (with an extra hour thanks to daylight savings!) and drinking some Saint Franks

Master of many trades [*Highly Recommend*]

Continuing with the topic of education, this is my favorite article I read this week.

We hear the descriptive words psychopath and sociopath all the time, but here’s a new one: monopath. It means a person with a narrow mind, a one-track brain, a bore, a super-specialist, an expert with no other interests — in other words, the role-model of choice in the Western world.

Over-specialisation, eventually retreats into defending what one has learnt rather than making new connections

Honestly, this article just gets me excited about learning. I often question how much of my career is just monetizing the ~2 years of super hard, intense work I put in to get good at programming.

I think it’s more than I care to admit. But the exciting part is that I don’t have to do it forever. Before reading this article, I tweeted:

This article captures the why behind this intuition.

But the tricky part is, even though humans are natural polymaths, and most people that are great at their job have a huge variety of interests, division of labor and capitalism tends to reward people best for specialization.

If I decide to work as something other than a software engineer - it’s almost certain that I will make less money. But not necessarily in the long-term, especially if I am good at learning. How can we lower the switching costs of starting a new career?

Read the article here.

Online Education Continued

I think we are still in the very early days of online education.

After last week’s discussion on learning & music production, Valentin reached out to me to share that he recently co-founded Learnmonthly (!) - a website dedicated to immersive 30-day classes.

They even have a class on Music Production taught by Andrew Huang

Going to *hopefully* take a class with them in 2020… if I do I’ll definitely bring the newsletter along for the ride.

Everything is Amazing, But Nothing is Ours

This article touches on another newsletter-favorite topic: Ownership vs “Renting”.

Access feels like the real thing, until it’s taken away from you.

years ago websites were made of files; now they are made of dependencies.

I joke sometimes that my generation’s version of “Sorry I’m late, the car broke down” is “Sorry I’m late, the car got lost.” It makes me laugh because cars are obviously better than they used to be: they don’t break down like they used to, they’re safer, and best of all, you don’t even have to drive it anymore. You just push the Uber button and somebody comes and picks you up. But it’s also not funny, because we’ve all experienced the particularly modern frustration of seeing the Uber drive in the opposite direction, spin around 4 times, then cancel.

Ownership has obvious, up-front costs while services tend to have hidden, long-tail costs.

Read the article here.

Biology is Eating the World

This is exciting (!!!)

Today, modern tools like CRISPR and gene circuitry enable us to to program biology with greater and greater precision and sophistication, from bacteria that is engineered to produce new chemicals and proteins, to cells that are engineered to attack cancer. The explosion of “programmable medicines” (in the form of genes, cells, microbes, even mobile apps and software that can improve our health itself) are today leading us closer than ever before to that holy grail of medicine, the cure.

We live in a wild time.

Read the article here.

More to Check Out


It’s been a pretty hard last month for me. I’ve been dealing with some decently severe back problems that have come to affect almost every aspect of my life. I didn’t really want to share this with the newsletter because well, it’s embarrassing to have back problems at age 24.

Luckily, I’m on the path to recovery and fixing these issues is my top priority for the next few months. It sucks that I had to reach a low point to fix my back problems… but sometimes we need it to be at its absolute worst for things to get better.

If it never got dark, we’d never become so desperate for light.

Take care of yourself ya’ll.

ANYWAYS - in more positive news: I can unicycle now! I would post a video but my roommate and I broke the unicycle practicing over the weekend 🙄

Can you guess the costume?

Happy November!!!

- Taylor