Per My Last E-mail #18
Finding Our Place
Hi Friends 👋,
This week, I’m posting a four part series on the rise of IRL Member Communities, starting today with the introduction and continuing with one post each day this week. I won’t bombard the e-mail list with those, so follow along on twitter or check out packym.com for new posts.
Introduction: Finding Our Place
Taken together, this series represents the beginning of a thesis that I’m forming:
We have shifted too quickly from doing everything offline to doing most things online, creating disconnection and unhappiness, but the rise of IRL Member Communities is one step towards a state of online-offline equilibrium in which we take advantage of the convenience and capabilities the internet enables to reconnect in real life.
I’m just at the very beginning of exploring this idea and its implications, so if you read (and I hope you do!), I would love to hear your feedback, your challenges, and your ideas. And of course, if you want to meet up to discuss IRL, nothing would make me happier.
Links & Listens
I’m going to ask you to read over 5,000 words in the Finding Our Place series this week, so I’ll keep the Links & Listens light. One article, one paper, one docuseries, and one castle.
🏢 How Adam Neumann’s Over-the-Top Style Built WeWork by Eliot Brown in the WSJ
Eliot Brown has been on a tear with his WeWork takedowns, but this one is his best. I don’t want to ruin the article, but it starts with Neumann smoking weed on his G650 private jet and just gets crazier from there.
And then yesterday, Brown reported that Softbank wants Neumann to step down as CEO.
If you’re as fascinated by this topic as I am, also check out Alex Danco on how Silicon Valley will try to explain away WeWork’s failure and Scott Galloway’s second brutal takedown of the company (including a Neumann / Elizabeth Holmes comparison).
Oh, you want more? Ok, ok. This 30-minute CNBC interview with Neumann and Ashton Kutcher is the funniest video you’ll watch this week.
🏀 Is it a Fallacy to Believe in the Hot Hand in the NBA Three-Point Contest? by Joshua Miller and Adam Sanjurjo
If you ever played NBA Jam growing up (you can actually play on your computer at that link), you remember being ON FIRE 🔥When you hit three shots in a row, the announcer yelled, “HE’S ON FIRE!” and then you practically couldn’t miss no matter where you shot from until someone on the other team hit a shot. The game gave you a “hot hand.”
The concept of the hot hand - the idea that when you have a string of successes, you’re more likely to have continued success - had been dismissed until Miller and Sanjurjo released the results of their study of the NBA’s Three-Point Contest. Turns out NBA Jam was right.
🧠 Inside Bill’s Brain: Decoding Bill’s Brain on Netflix
Puja was out of town for a bachelorette party this weekend, so I did what any cool guy does when his wife is away: watched a three-part docuseries on Bill Gates. It strikes a good balance of Gates’s background, the Microsoft years, and the incredibly ambitious work Bill and Melinda are doing at the Gates Foundation, and provides a rare look into the mind/computer one of the world’s richest people and greatest philanthropists. Watch it.
🏰You Can Rent the Castle from Downton Abbey on Airbnb
Really. Click the link to go to the Airbnb listing. 👆🏻
What I’m Reading
Rules of Civility by Amor Towles
I’m a sucker for a good New York City quote, and Rules of Civility is full of them. Here are my [x] favorites:
Manhattan—this city where all things beautiful are welcomed and measured and, if not immediately adopted, then at least tried on for size.
Where for so many, New York was ultimately the sum of what they would never attain, for this crew New York was a city where the improbable would be made probable, the implausible plausible and the impossible possible.
New York has such courage and enthusiasm, he writes, that everything can be begun again, sent back to the building yard and made into something still greater.
That’s the problem with being born in New York, the old newsman observed a little sadly. You’ve got no New York to run away to.
America may be the land of opportunity, but in New York it’s the shot at conformity that pulls them through the door.
Like all the rest of the world’s warring tribes, these two made their way to New York City and settled side by side. They dwelt in the same neighborhoods and the same narrow cafés, where they could keep a watchful eye on one another. In such close proximity, time slowly strengthened their sentiments while diluting their resolve.
For wasn’t it just a matter of time before we crossed each other’s path? Despite all the hoopla, wasn’t Manhattan just ten miles long and a mile or two wide?
For however inhospitable the wind, from this vantage point Manhattan was simply so improbable, so wonderful, so obviously full of promise—that you wanted to approach it for the rest of your life without ever quite arriving.
Without looking back she said: —Doesn’t New York just turn you inside out?
Saving the most seasonally-appropriate for last. Fall in New York is the best:
The very question that the song asks of us about autumn, we could ask ourselves of the song: Why does it seem so inviting? Presumably, one factor is that each city has its own romantic season. Once a year, a city’s architectural, cultural, and horticultural variables come into alignment with the solar course in such a way that men and women passing each other on the thoroughfares feel an unusual sense of romantic promise. Like Christmastime in Vienna, or April in Paris. That’s the way we New Yorkers feel about fall. Come September, despite the waning hours, despite the leaves succumbing to the weight of gray autumnal rains, there is a certain relief to having the long days of summer behind us; and there’s a paradoxical sense of rejuvenation in the air.
DEBATE CLUB WEEK IS HERE.
In addition to being the best form of competitive learning that I’ve experienced and a lot of fun, Debate Club is also an attempt to put my money where my mouth is and connect people IRL through a shared interest.
We will be debating in Soho on Wednesday night at 7pm. I’ll post some pictures and videos next week, but if you want to see it live, for yourself, e-mail me and I’ll let you know the details.
Last but not least, if you’re enjoying Per My Last E-mail, I would really appreciate it if you share it with your friends and co-workers :)
Thanks for reading,