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Weekly Review #43: Clever startups, Harry Potter Rationality, and liberal housing flaws

Lots of clever startups this week: ShareSomeStyle contracts stylists by the hour, StoryWorth emails relatives weekly questions and aggregates a family history, MineMyMail extracts everyone you’ve ever emailed into a contact list, QuitBit is a lifelogging cigarette lighter/app that tracks your quit attempts, Detour guides you on immersive walks using location aware tech, Shake auto populates legally binding agreements, Knowtify auto populates digest emails for you, and PaperLater turns the web into a physical newspaper. I’m also intrigued by Bop.fm, which lets you listen, share, and discover music from any service with any other. In a world where I discover on Soundcloud, share with Spotify, download from Youtube, and store on iTunes, this is becoming increasingly important.

I’m completely engrossed in Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, which is an unlikely HP fanfiction written by one of the geniuses trying to puzzle out Artificial Intelligence at the Machine Intelligence Research Institute. In this version Harry is raised by an Oxford biochemist to become the ultimate rational scientist, and goes on to demystifiy magic, get sorted into Ravenclaw, and un-break the game of Quidditch. It’s incredibly well written (I’ve never given fanfics the time of day before), is a fun primer to rationalist thought, and does a fantastic job of playing by Rowling’s rules while still making drastic changes. I can’t recommend it enough!

This Vox article was interesting, claiming that American liberalism has a mortal flaw in the form of housing laws, which make blue cities so expensive as to be unlivable, prompting a mass exodus to cheaper red (conservative) cities. There’s just not enough semi dense mid rise housing in the cities where everyone wants to live. “Whatever else Blue America has going for it, it’s done a terrible job of generating enough housing supply.” Food for thought.

Another Medium ‘X things I learned at X age’ article has popped up, and despite the vanilla title there’s still great learnings here. She stresses the importance of gratitude, exercise, freedom from fear, openness, curiosity, spontaneity, reading, presence of now, travel, lack of TV, and self improvement – all things I can get behind.

Sam Parr put the principles behind the 4 Hour Workweek’s side business plan to work for him with a clever anti-itch cream that nets him 2k a month. Check out how he did it.

Mark Manson’s 5 things learned from 5 years on the road was great. I especially like the idea that the best things about countries are also the worst (American consumerism, Brazilian devil may care attitude, German efficiency), and that the fact that nobody cares about you in the world is empowering.

Jason Evanish is another avid reader who writes down what he’s learned from all his books, in a huge list way more comprehensive than my own. Lots of new To-Dos found here, as well as overlapping interests.