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Weekly Review #16

I saw Dave Mcclure speak here in SD this week – here’s his deck. Man, that guy is foul mouthed. Key points:

  • It’s better to fail at building your own startup than succeed at reading about someone else’s #gradschool
  • The minimum viable team has a Hacker ( developer), Hipster (UX), and Hustler (Marketing)
  • Silicon Valley isn’t unique – it’s just had a big head start.

If you read only one of the articles this week, read The Dark Power of Fraternities. Incredibly thorough, hilariously written, and deeply though provoking.

  • Universities are beholden to a steady stream of undergraduates, who only come if the experience sounds fun, which it does in large part due to the Greek system. “But college education, like weddings and funerals, tends to prompt irrational financial decision making, and so here we are. Add another pesto flavor to the pasta bar, Dean Roland! We just lost another kid to online ed!”
  • An 1857 letter that a Sigma Phi member named Jenkins Holland sent to one of his fraternity brothers suggests the new system was already hitting full stride: “I did get one of the nicest pieces of ass some day or two ago.”
  • “In fairly short order, a paradox began to emerge, one that exists to this day. While the fraternities continued to exert their independence from the colleges with which they were affiliated, these same colleges started to develop an increasingly bedeviling kind of interdependence with the accursed societies.” Mainly from housing.
  • “Joe Jr. may be slow to grasp even the most elemental concepts of math and English (his first two years of expensive college study will largely be spent in remediation of the subjects he should have learned, for free, in high school), but one look at the Fiji house and he gets the message: kids are getting laid here; kids are having fun. Maybe he ought to snuff out the joint and take a second look at that application Mom keeps pushing across the kitchen table.”
  • The 21 year old drinking age forces drinking out of public bars and into private fraternity houses, to disastrous results.
  • “FIPG regularly produces a risk-management manual—the current version is 50 pages—that lays out a wide range of (optional) best practices. If the manual were Anna Karenina, alcohol policy would be its farming reform: the buzz-killing subplot that quickly reveals itself to be an authorial obsession.”
  • Fraternity members pay hundreds in insurance money to nationals, who then shifts the blame to them ASAP after an incident rather than back them up .
  • “the editors of published an editorial with a surprising headline: “Abolish Fraternities.” It compared colleges and universities to companies, and fraternities to units that “don’t fit into their business model, fail to yield an adequate return or cause reputational harm.” The comparison was inexact, because colleges aren’t businesses, and fraternities do not operate as divisions of a corporate structure helmed by institutions of higher learning. They are private societies, old and powerful, as deeply woven into the history of American higher education as nonreligious study. A college or university can choose, as Wesleyan did, to end its formal relationship with a troublesome fraternity, but—if that fiasco proves anything—keeping a fraternity at arm’s length can be more devastating to a university and its students than keeping it in the fold.”

 $1 of every $2 an American spends is on housing or transportation. That’s crazy!

The four stages of competence: unconscious incompetence, conscious incompetence, conscious competence, and unconscious competence. tells you what WordPress theme any URL you plug in was built on. Super handy.

The Perry Bible Fellowship comics is full of edgy hilarious short comics. I guffawed repeatedly as I browsed through the entire catalogue.

Ken Layne walks through Silicon Valley, ostensibly to prove how boring the fount of modern tech is, but really just to skewer tech in general. Surprise surprise – America’s car centric landscape is not much fun to walk around anywhere – SV is no exception. I found this article needlessly mean-spirited: to true technophiles, there are things to see there, just not the touristic pay-to-enter type of attractions. Why would private businesses invite randos off the street to come see their offices? Mr Layne would have been better off using his Gawker credentials to try and wrench his way inside one of them than lingering on the street, which I doubt he does even at home.

McSweeneys continues to be hilarious.

Big Verge article on why American internet providers are whack. Overly dramatic, but he is right – the internet is a utility, and should be treated as such. The FCC is only scared of one thing – actual people.