it’s our smartphones.

This may seem like a semantic difference, but I contend it’s more meaningful than just that. The big problem is constant access to information, however it’s delivered. Just think of all the dead time 20 years ago: on the toilet, smoke breaks, walking anywhere, waiting for a friend to arrive, etc. That time was reserved for you and your thoughts. You still read and watched the news, yes, but these activities were necessarily limited because you had to be near a TV, computer, or a newspaper. Those limits were destroyed by the smartphone combined with unlimited, cheap cellular plans.

This is not about how we’re all lacking attention now; this is about how ever more of our attention is devoted to the news. Yes, the maximum-outrage bent of social media plays a role. Still, if the news was only delivered in prosaic terms, the problem of thinking wayyyyy too much about politics would exist so long as looking at a phone was more interesting than doing nothing. And just about anything can surpass doing nothing.

A sucker is born every minute, and today that sucker happens to be username “Peninsula FOL.” See, PFOL was once the owner of the book you now hold in your hands and apparently didn’t understand its worth. Lesson #1: know what you and your possessions are worth – then add at least 22% as a negotiating starting point.

“Big Wolf and Little Wolf” happens to be just about the most coveted kid’s book in the world because it’s beautiful, endearing, and so perfectly speaks to human emotions, and also because of supply constraints. Lesson #2: prices rise when demand outstrips supply, a.k.a. a “seller’s market.”

So in a “seller’s market” with used book prices like $51.50 (, $74.50 (, $99.95 (, and $58.90 (, the sucker that is PFOL prices at … $25.[1] A hanging offer if I’ve ever seen one. This price was so low I wondered if I might, in fact, be the sucker. After brief consideration, I charged forward given’s credibility and my credit card’s fraud protection. Lesson #3: no financial opportunity is 100% certain (and anyone who talks of “easy” or “free” money is a charlatan or worse) – act swiftly when the expected reward outweighs the expected risk.[2] Lesson #4: whenever you can cheaply offload risk onto someone else without capping upside, do it, a.k.a. always buy with credit cards when possible.[3]


your life doesn’t revolve around Twitter. But for many of the people “capitulating” to the “Twitter mob,” their life is significantly lived on Twitter.

Now, you may say this is stupid, that they should invest in the physical world. You may be right. Your initial point, though, wasn’t a normative one. Instead, it was a claim that the millennial in question was overreacting to something that didn’t matter … except that what happens on Twitter does truly matter to them.

This dynamic is similar to most times when you downplay another’s anguish. You shouldn’t care so much about your 16-year-old boyfriend; Who cares about that stupid stuffed animal – it’s just a toy; Stop crying over something so minor. Incidents of this variety are mere projections of how you would feel if you were the person in question. But of course you aren’t that person, and you don’t have his experiences and preferences. So, if anything, you should be attempting to understand why the thing you view as trivial is far from trivial for someone else. You still may up being correct that the person should reprioritize, but rarely will you find irrationality in the suffering.

re: Housing

Ben Felix

  • Can’t compare rent to mortgage payments
  • Can compare unrecoverable costs: a cost you pay w/ no associated residual value
    • Rent: the rent
    • Buy: not mortgage payment, property taxes, maintenance cost, and cost of capital
  • Property taxes ~ 1%; generally higher in states w/o income taxes (like 2%)
  • Maintenance costs ~ 1% of the home’s value
  • Cost of capital
    • Cost of debt: interest costs ~ 3% (add with pt, mc = 5% rule)
    • Cost of equity capital: you put down 20% on real estate instead of an alternative asset.
      • Globally real estate returned 1.3% from 1900 – 2017; stocks returned 5.2% after 1.7% inflation. So a nominal return of 3% for real estate; 6.9% for stocks. Round it to 3% cost of equity capital in real estate.
  • 5% rule: take value of the home you are considering, multiply by 5%, and divide by 12. If you can rent for less than that, renting is sensible.
    • $500,000K home would have $25,000 in unrecoverable costs or $2,083 per month
    • Can go the other way. Rental of $3k, multiply by 12, and divide by 5 is $720k. SO renting for 3K is financially equivalent to buying a $720k home.
  • 5% rule becomes 4% if you are holding a less aggressive stock portfolio, if you are taxed harshly on those investments, etc.
  • Housing best investment ever?
    • Real estate return = net rental income + price increase in the home
    • If you live in the house, you don’t get the rental income
    • So really, if you are living in the house, you already aren’t the subject of most claims about real estate’s great returns
    • 1870-2015 for GLOBAL housing 7.05% compared to 6.89% for stocks
      • but that means that you had to invest in housing in ALL countries
      • plus, housing, unlike stock, is not homogenous
      • and if you could buy housing across the world, you still have to manage all the properties
      • investing in any one asset is not a compensated risk. uncompensated risks can usually be diversified away by investing in a whole asset class, but that is hard with real estate.
    • If your monthly housing cost is higher than what you could rent it for, that loss will decline over time assuming your mortgage is fixed and there exists some level of rent inflation
    • Missing a single month of rent per year crushes returns
    • You basically have to be perfect to match the stock market
    • And if you buy in a single locality, you are in a similar situation to buying a single stock: the idiosyncrasies of the locality profoundly affect you
  • Why rent instead of buy?
    • Less risk: Short-term (<10 yrs) price fluctuations can crush a buyer who has to move. Not to mention the risk of taking on debt.
    • Predictable cost: maintenance costs for homes that can be random
    • No investment illusion: homeowners will spend heavily on a variety of things under the guise of increasing the price of the home even though there is no such guarantee that such efforts will pay off
      • Buildings can never go up in value. Ever. Period. Only land can go up in value.
  • Homeowners also pay “rent”
    • Renting services from the city in the form of property taxes
    • Unrecoverable maintenance costs just to keep their house inhabitable
    • Renting money from the bank while they have a mortgage
  • What about once the mortgage is paid off?
    • $500k home. Could sell and keep $475. Could invest that money at 6% while the long-term expected return on real estate is only 3%. That difference is op cost or $14k per year. Plus you still have maintenance and taxes post-mortgage.
  • People think their homes are better investments than they actually were. Big numbers. Failing to understand compound returns and the costs along the way.  Not to mention inflation.


that have enabled so many elder athletes to continue excelling past their expected primes. Perhaps, instead, it’s the coddling of younger generations that’s produced a bevy of mentally weak challengers. It’s not like health improvements have made 35-year-old athletes more physically fit than their 20-year-old counterparts. And it’s not like experience was irrelevant in previous generations. Which leaves the way kids used to be mentally cultivated versus how they are today (and there is absolutely a difference – we once widely beat our kids) as the explanatory factor.

If you can sharpen your media criticism from “untrustworthy” to “untrustworthy for x,y,z reasons and on a,b,c topics,” you’ll be in a powerful position to sort the news appropriately while also enhancing your critical thinking skills.

  1. You should hear the best one-sided argument for the untrustworthy matters
  2. You should be able to spot the angles intentionally not being pursued
  3. You can think of the questions that should have been asked
  4. You can try to form on-the-fly counter-arguments
  5. You can assume information based on omission

Your truth is true but not necessarily TRUE.

Let’s accept that this one number from this one study is accurate: 6.25% of e-commerce transactions are attempted (or successful) fraud.

Now imagine we have three internet consumers:

  • Buyer #1 has completed 100 transactions and 6 of them were fraudulent.
  • Buyer #2 has completed 25 transactions and 3 of them were fraudulent.
  • Buyer #3 has never completed 500 transactions and 0 of them were fraudulent.

Each buyer has a truth about e-commerce. Each of those truths is based on real experiences and real feelings. But only Buyer #1 is likely to have his truth correctly map onto TRUTH. Buyer #2, on the other hand, is likely to have overlearned the lesson that fraud is possible due to his unlucky set of outcomes; if he transacted 1000 more times we would confidently expect his 12% fraud rate to drop by 50%. Sadly, those 1000 transactions may never occur since Buyer #2’s truth blinds him from TRUTH. We can dub him too skeptical, which protects his downside at the expense of his upside. Buyer #3 suffers the opposite fate. After a remarkable string of good luck, Buyer #3 is too trusting, which exposes him to all upside and downside.


Your truth is true but not necessarily TRUE.

If you had a particularly unlucky run of events, you “overlearned” about risk and probably hold a personal truth that limits downside at the expense of upside. Think of an online shopper who bought five straight fraudulent products and declares he’ll never shop online again.

On the other hand, if you had an extremely lucky run, you have “underleaned” about risk and probably hold a personal truth that maximizes upside by being completely exposed to downside. Think of a person who has never been ripped off or robbed and so stops locking his doors.

One should want his truth to correctly map onto TRUTH. Determining if you are remotely close to the meeting this standard is the challenge of a lifetime.

Eleven to 20: 2020

I mean, my music isn’t just music – it’s medicine. I want my song to touch people, to give them what they need. Every time I make an album I’m trying to cure cancer, musically. That stesses me out!

  • Kanye West

Pride or fear or kindness will motivate you. But so does money, and because responding with urgency is usually expensive, money makes it easier to indulge your kindness.

  • Russ Roberts

To fail to forigive is to grasp some hot coal of suffering which you can actually release.

  • Sam Harris

Score points.

  • Chip Kelly


Damn near everyone is cracking. Smart and dumb, black and white, religious and atheistic, rich and poor: there seems no discernible pattern to the great moral failing of our time. Before cracking, though, they were all convinced they never would, that their own moral rectitude would allow them to correctly determine right from wrong when the screws were tightened.

In even the best-designed system, there will be incentives to cheat, lie, and steal. When it comes to areas where the legal system has no say, society must hope that members have been imbued with some form of Kant’s categorical imperative: Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law. If you merely follow that directive, systemic weakness can remain unexploited. Which sounds so simple and seems so obvious during 2:30AM dorm-room trolley-problem debates but becomes quite another thing entirely when one must actually choose his community over self-interest. This is why your alignment between stated ethics and practiced ethics is so commendable.