Welcome to Issue 19 of TheFireside!
The CoronaVirus (pardon, COVID-19) has taken the world by storm in the last couple of months and some countries (like Italy, where my family lives) has already seen the sad consequences of mass-hysteria (supermarkets emptied like there’s going to be a nuclear winter, attacks to Asian people, etc).
Health considerations aside, this entire matter shows how incredibly fragile the world is becoming. We had a taste in 2008, when a bubble in the American real-estate market triggered a financial crisis of global scale. People who had nothing to do with either real-estate or finance, or who had never been to America, lost their jobs or had to close down their company or worse.
Now a virus that started (supposedly) in China, transmitted (supposedly) by bats, is wreaking havoc on people, economies and industries that have nothing to do with China (or bats).
Our economies and societies are becoming more and more interconnected but we are not really considering the systemic weaknesses that such interconnectedness creates.
Perhaps the silver lining of this terrible event is that more companies we’ll start adopting remote work as a default but I wouldn’t hold my breath for that. And in the meantime, I’d buy a mask 😷
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On to the Fireside…
➤ The links
We are taught from a young age to always think in terms of our goals and to be optimistic. Yet one of the crucial skills of great thinkers, artists, and innovators is the ability to think forward and backward. In other words, to consider the opposite side of things by asking themselves a simple question: What if the opposite was true?
What city you live in. Who you date or marry. Which job you choose. What clothes you wear. We all think we make these choices ourselves. But the constraints of these decisions are created by the mechanism and math of network effects. This article outlines how network effects impact nearly every aspect of your life. With that lens, it lays out a perspective on how to make the 7 most important decisions of your life.
This Youtube channel is packed with amazing mini documentaries (~10 min) about interesting things and I will admit I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of time watching one too many of them. I particularly liked these ones about how airports make money and How Africa is becoming China’s China.
When people think about democracy they often talk about ancient Greece, which is surprising because Athenians democracy wasn’t based on elections at all but instead on random selection. As reckless as it sounds, random selection can help fix many problems with the current democratic system, such as the importance of personal wealth, campaign contributions, media manipulation, gender and racial biases, etc.
In the previous issue of TheFireside, I talked about the importance of living a deliberate life. One of the key elements of a deliberate life is to have some principles to guide our decisions, or as Shane Parrish calls it, an “Operating System for Life“.
★ Other things from the internet
(That may or may not make you look smart at dinner parties)
It’s been almost 120 years since the Wright brothers’s legendary first flight but apparently we still don’t know exactly why planes stay in the air.
If something is true in one field it’s probably true in others. This article contains a few laws – some scientific, some not – from specific fields that hold universal truths.
Real-time dashboard of the global situation with COVID-19 with data pulled from reputable sources such as the WHO and the CDC, by the Johns Hopkins University.