Per My Last E-mail #35
Not Boring, Consciousness, Data, Networks, Surveillance, Unbundling Religion, Yang, and Nutty Coffee
Hi Friends 👋,
Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day!
Last week, we opened up applications for Not Boring, a club for curious thinkers, creators, and explorers who want to build more interesting lives outside of work together. We're starting with an online community that meets in real life in New York City for interactive group learning activities like debate, improv, and Jeffersonian dinners.
The response so far has been amazing - big thanks to many of you for applying and sharing with friends! I’m extremely excited about the group of people we’re putting together and the ideas people have submitted:
I really believe that we have the opportunity to create something special, and I need your help to make it happen.
In order for this club to truly be Not Boring, it needs people from diverse backgrounds and cultures, with diverse viewpoints, hobbies, life experiences, skills, and passions. A group that looks and thinks too much like each other is boring.
As comedian Bryan Callen put it on The Portal when discussing the salons he throws with people ranging from MMA fighters to musicians to theoretical physicists:
What you see typically is people who’ve read the same books, listened to the same TED Talks, who watched the same programs, have similar backgrounds, educational backgrounds. I think that’s, um, boring. I just do man.
So my ask is: help me spread the word so that we can reach a wider, more diverse audience. My network is only so wide, but together, we know most of the Not Boring people in New York.
Here are a few ways to share:
📧 Forward this e-mail to the most Not Boring person you know 🐦
Tweet about Not Boring
(feel free to edit & personalize) 📲 Text the
to your friends 💬 Share
in Slack, WhatsApp, and Signal groups 🔙 Give me feedback - what would make Not Boring more appealing to you and the most curious people you know? The fun part is, we get to build this together.
We’ll be starting to accept members in early February, so if you haven’t yet, apply to join Not Boring by clicking the button:
To give Not Boring a little more color, here’s a sample of events we’ll be throwing:
Cocktails x Consciousness
On Tuesday night, we held a Not Boring pilot event: Cocktails x Consciousness. We picked a topic (consciousness), each person read a relevant paper or article on their interpretation of consciousness ahead of time, and we met for drinks at the Freehand to discuss the science, philosophy, and personal opinions around consciousness.
A few of the most interesting ideas we discussed:
Language influences consciousness. (Russian-speakers have more words to describe different shades of blue, so they see blue differently than English-speakers)
The Biblical story of Adam & Eve can be interpreted as a separation of limited human consciousness from a universal consciousness.
Time is an illusion created by our consciousness. (I need to read Carlo Rovelli’s The Order of Time to understand this one better and report back)
The night was casual and fun, and we all made new friends and learned new things. We’ll definitely be throwing more Cocktail x Topics.
On February 1st, we’re holding the first ever DataDay Workshop with Data Culture. The workshop perfect for anyone who wants to understand how to work with data to find and solve business challenges or wants to sharpen their data skills. Plus, it’s a great chance to meet other smart, growth-minded people.
Spots are filling up, but we’ve gotten feedback from founders and employees at small companies that they don’t have an L&D budget to buy tickets, so Leah and Gabi have generously offered to open up a few $100 tickets for founders, early-stage startup employees, and people paying out of pocket. If you’re interested, reply to this e-mail and I’ll send you the code.
Links & Listens
Our networks shape our lives, and there are only seven major turning points in life that shape our networks:
What family you're born into
High School network
Marriage / Choosing a life partner
Where you live
Here’s the crazy thing: I’m 32 and living with Puja in a city that we love a short drive from both of our parents. That means that with (hopefully) two-thirds of my life left, six of my seven turning points are in the rearview mirror. If you agree with Currier (and he uses math, so…), that means that my path is pretty much set. And most likely, it means the same for you.
I’m hoping that Not Boring can be a Reassessment point for members - an opportunity to broaden networks and hobbies and open up new paths.
My operating assumption is that everything I do, online and offline, is being tracked. If you’re reading this, you already know that I’m not a very private person. So this article didn’t scare me as much as it made me think about what the world will look like if the trend towards increasing surveillance continues. A couple of out-there predictions:
Alcohol is going to become less and less popular. This trend is already happening, and I think a rise in surveillance will accelerate it. In the past, if you had a couple of drinks and did something stupid but harmless, you were pretty safe. Unless a police officer caught you in the act of littering, the cost of tracking you down after the fact far outweighed the benefits. Now, if they have you on camera and can run your face through a database in seconds to find your name, the cost to generate $100 in fine revenue from you is near $0. People will want to have more control and memory of their actions.
Rise of Surveillance Speakeasies. Humans are humans, and laws don’t change hard-wired desires. During Prohibition, people didn’t stop drinking. They moved their drinking underground, to homes and speakeasies. I could see something similar happening with surveillance-free spaces, camera-less, Faraday cages where people can behave like people in private. Either connected to residential buildings or with car service to take you directly home after the revelry. Privacy will be a luxury.
Masks Will Become Fashion.
There’s a scene in Joker where the police chase the Joker onto a subway then lose him in a crowd of people wearing identical clown masks. Art imitates life. Hong Kong protestors have been wearing masks to shield their identities from Chinese authorities, despite a mask ban. As technology that instantly identifies our faces becomes more widespread, I bet we’ll see more people wearing masks, starting as a statement and evolving into fashion.
A spiritual descendant of How We Gather, Clark’s essay examines the companies and movements that are “fill[ing] the gaps that have emerged in the numerous networks that have historically been directed by religious organizations.” She points to opportunities for new organizations to address seven core considerations traditionally addressed by religion: Mindfulness, Meaning, Community, Inspirational Engagement, Ritual, Morality, and Charity.
Andrew Yang famously gets no love from CNBC. So he turns to the Intellectual Dark Web to get his message out in this episode of The Portal, the podcast I’ve become obsessed with since discovering it last week.
I’m not sure who I’m voting for yet, but I was really impressed by Yang’s flexibility and intellect in this conversation. He more than held his own with one of the smartest people in the world. Plus, according to this Washington Post Quiz, Yang agrees with me on more issues than any other candidate.
This one might seem like I’m shilling for Puja’s company, and yes, my dream job is running the nuts.com Twitter account, and this might get me one step closer to that dream. But I went from paying $10 for coffee every day to paying $58 for a bag of delicious ground coffee that might never run out. If I’d found the Nuts.com 5lb bag of coffee 10 years ago, there’s a good chance I’d be retired by now on the savings. The bag is huge (check out my grownup man hand in the picture for scale). We’ve been making 3-5 cups of coffee every day and we’ve barely made a dent. Sometimes I can hear the bag laughing at me when I dip a tiny spoon into it to scoop out enough grounds for a 14 oz. cup. Trying to get to the bottom of the bag feels Sisyphean. There’s a good chance, decades into the future, that I’ll be buried with the 5lb bag of coffee pictured above, and I’m OK with that.
Next week’s Per My Last E-mail might be delayed by a day for an excellent reason. We’re going to Disney World! to celebrate one of our friends Mike and Jaimie’s, wedding! Harry Potter World tickets are locked and loaded; if you have any other recommendations for us, let me know!
Thanks for reading,