A weekly outpour of 5 of the things I consume every week. A coalescence of art, podcasts, articles, essays, newsletters, movies, web series and any other form of media you can imagine.
While Bhumika takes a programming break this week for her CFA exam (let us annoy her by spamming her LinkedIn with wishes), I am here to fill in her physically tiny and metaphorically huge shoes of keeping the streak of this segment unbroken.
By the way of introduction, I am Malliketh (@malliketh). I work for a bank 5 days a week and cram in reading, salsa dancing, workouts in the wee hours and weekends. I will take you through 5 things I consumed this week which I believe would strike a chord of interest within you.
Let’s dive in.
1. Bitcoin Uses More Electricity Than Many Countries. How Is That Possible? on The New York Times (Article, 11-min read)
Bitcoin has us polarized. There are believers, non-believers and a thin spectrum of somewhere in between (I like to call them optimistic skeptics). Regardless of where you fall on this spectrum, there is no hiding under the rock from implications and impact of Bitcoin on our lives and environment, it will mine you out (let the pun games begin!). Bitcoin (which I consider as proxy for blockchain currencies given its sheer size) is here to stay, and I say this based on global actions (SGX Adoption, VISA adoption). As global citizens, it is imperative to understand the impact bitcoin currently has on our environment, especially given recent background of COP26 discussions.
Fun Fact: The process of creating Bitcoin to spend or trade consumes around 91 terawatt-hours of electricity annually, more than is used by Finland, a nation of about 5.5 million. This article covers in simple graphics and words how a bitcoin is generated (it takes a couple of re-reads to fully understand) and how energy consuming it is (spoiler alert: very). Next time you’re at a party where someone can’t shut up about Bitcoin, you will have the tools necessary to retort and shut them up.
Complement this reading with Investopedia’s in-depth technical article on mining process: https://www.investopedia.com/tech/how-does-bitcoin-mining-work/
2. Internal vs External Benchmarks by Collaborative Fund (Blog, 4-min read)
How often do you find an investment firm giving you life advice? The first time I found this blog, I had to double check what do they actually do. This is how this New York based VC firm defines their purpose ‘Our funds center around two macro themes: the growth of the creative class, and the concept of the collaborative economy’.
So that was about the unlikely source. Now here’s my theory about self-help anything (book, blog, podcast, instagram pages), it just repeats what you already know. Is that a bad thing? No. We are forgetful creatures very much like cars who require tuning. Every thousand kilometers, after going through smooth and rough patches, we require re-alignment to keep us going steady. Self-helps are those friendly re-alignments for me and that is the purpose of this blog post. It is a friendly reminder to re-align your mental benchmark (if this reminded you of peer comps, log off from work!).
External benchmarks are deceiving because accomplishments are advertised while the ugly, hard, and painful parts of life are often hidden from view’. Have a read and allow yourself to self-reflect on how far you have come compared to 1 or 5 years ago.
3. Why Elon Musk thinks we’re characters in a computer simulation on The Vox (5-min read)
I got away with talking about Bitcoin without mentioning Elon Musk or ‘Technoking of Tesla’, which is his official title at Tesla. I can’t make this up, I swear. This is a snapshot from Tesla’s SEC filing. Certainly, he can't be ignored any further.
I am certain, most of you would have at least heard of this ludicrous idea from 2016 when Elon claimed that we all are certainly living in a computer simulation. Interesting. However, ‘ludicrous' is subjective, hear me out or rather hear the article out. Before admonishing the idea as just something that is a product of lit grass (wink wink), give this article a shot to understand the possibility of existing (which is 20% apparently). Allow your mind to indulge in the possibility of being in a simulation and the graphics from this article will not disappoint you (Vox always knows what they’re doing). The article explores being in a simulation^2, i.e. being inside a simulation inside a simulation. Remember to put on your tin foil hat before reading.
Complement this with:
Nick Bostrom’s (an Oxford Professor) FAQ: https://www.simulation-argument.com/faq.html
and Nick's conversation with Lex Fridman: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rfKiTGj-zeQ
4. The World Atlas of Coffee by James Hoffman (Book)
Let us talk about the world’s largest unregulated drug that we comfortable giving to kids and adults alike. If you love coffee, this book is sure to intrigue you. Motivation to read this book comes from a humble realization about how little we know about so many of daily use items. For a long time I believed coffee beans grew as is (I know, what a nincompoop). Also, if you’re a nincompoop too, this is what coffee cherry fruit looks like.
This book is written by James Hoffman, a World Barista Champion (in case you’re wondering what they hell do they do in a ‘World Barista Championship’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_DwZV17bek4&t=263s ).
Back to the book - it covers A to Z of coffee from the time it is grown till it reaches your nearest Starbucks or Blue Tokai, ranging from history of coffee, picking, fermenting, drying, grinding, roasting, packing, and tasting. It also discusses unspoken aspects such as fair trade (highly encourage you read up on this). More than 50% of the book is in-depth description of coffee from each coffee-producing countries, based on altitude, climate and technology. One question that will never stop bothering me is this - what made someone take a coffee cherry, process it and brew it without knowing what they’re doing?
Complement this with:
Michael Pollan’s take on caffeine: https://michaelpollan.com/books/caffeine-how-coffee-and-tea-created-the-modern-world/
James Hoffman’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCMb0O2CdPBNi-QqPk5T3gsQ
5. Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman (Audible, 6 hour 30 mins)
Continuing with the theme of nincompoop behavior, did you know Thor and Loki are part of actual Norse Mythology that people in Nordic countries believe in and not a product of Stan Lee’s imagination? Luckily on this one as well, turns out I wasn’t the only one. I highly recommend the Audible version (which I used) to listen to Norse Mythology through Neil Gaiman’s pacifying voice. In my opinion, listening to fiction on Audible at night is the adult version of bedtime stories and what better story to listen to than about the almighty gods of Asgard, covering their adventures.
How did Thor come to possess his Mjlörnir? Why did Odin, the Allfather lose his eye and why is he called the Allfather? You’ll find out. You also get an insight into lesser discussed figures such as Baldr the beautiful, Freyja, Fenrir the Great Wolf and many more. If you’re a Marvel Universe fan, you’re in for a treat. Complement this with Thor and Loki’s movies and TV series, and everything makes a lot more sense.
P.S.: even if you have no idea about the Marvel Universe, this book on a standalone basis has merit. I end this post with a punny meme (you were forewarned, don’t come at me).
Hope you enjoyed reading this edition. If any of the recommendations hit a chord with you or if you have recommendation in return for me, do let me know on Instagram (@malliketh). I will not take criticism on my puns well, forewarned again. You can also check out my blog.