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This time he covered a lot more ground and was willing to talk about the mundane details of presidential existence. “You have to exercise,” he said, for instance. “Or at some point you’ll just break down.” You also need to remove from your life the day-to-day problems that absorb most people for meaningful parts of their day. “You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits,” he said. “I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.” He mentioned research that shows the simple act of making decisions degrades one’s ability to make further decisions. It’s why shopping is so exhausting. “You need to focus your decision-making energy. You need to routinize yourself. You can’t be going through the day distracted by trivia.” The self-discipline he believes is required to do the job well comes at a high price. “You can’t wander around,” he said. “It’s much harder to be surprised. You don’t have those moments of serendipity. You don’t bump into a friend in a restaurant you haven’t seen in years. The loss of anonymity and the loss of surprise is an unnatural state. You adapt to it, but you don’t get used to it—at least I don’t.”

Michael Lewis — Obama’s Way

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One archetype that hits me very forcefully, as it does many people, is that when I’m wandering around the Himalayas, for example, most of the people that I see are Westerners from Germany, California, or the Netherlands, who are wearing sandals, Indian smocks, and are in search of enlightenment, antiquity, peace, and all the things they can’t get in the west. Most of the people they meet are Nepali villagers in Lee jeans, Reeboks, and Madonna T-shirts who are looking for the paradise that they associate with Los Angeles — a paradise of material prosperity and abundance.

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Los Angeles famously in its school district now teaches 82 different languages. It is the second biggest Thai, Salvadoran, and Korean city in the world. I was just spending a lot of time in Los Angeles Airport and there you really see the future landing with a bump all around us and not really knowing what to make of it.

What is also interesting about Los Angeles is that more and more of the world is made up of these generic cities. So it’s not just the global village, but it’s also a global metropolis. When you fly to Toronto to London to Singapore to Sydney to Los Angeles, say, you really feel as if you are just going along five different suburbs of the same city because they all have the same constituency. When you are flying from here to Toronto, most of the people on the plane will be Chinese and most of the people that are waiting to greet you at Toronto airport are Indian. The same pattern is repeated in London and Hong Kong and whatever. So more and more cities are just becoming part of a global culture.

Postmodern Tourism: An Interview with Pico Iyer

The Man Who Makes the Future: Wired Icon Marc Andreessen

Andreessen: Airbnb makes its money in real estate. But everything inside of how Airbnb runs has much more in common with Facebook or Google or Microsoft or Oracle than with any real estate company. What makes Airbnb function is its software engine, which matches customers to properties, sets prices, flags potential problems. It’s a tech company—a company where, if the developers all quit tomorrow, you’d have to shut the company down. To us, that’s a good thing.

Anderson: I’m probably a little bit elitist in this, but I think a “primary technology” would need to involve, you know, some fundamental new insight in code, some proprietary set of algorithms.

Andreessen: Oh, I agree. I think Airbnb is building a software technology that is equivalent in complexity, power, and importance to an operating system. It’s just applied to a sector of the economy instead. This is the basic insight: Software is eating the world. The Internet has now spread to the size and scope where it has become economically viable to build huge companies in single domains, where their basic, world-changing innovation is entirely in the code. We’ve especially seen it in retail—with companies like Groupon, Zappos, Fab.

“Amazon is a force for human progress and culture and economics in a way that Borders never was.”

The Man Who Makes the Future: Wired Icon Marc Andreessen

How Zach Seward gets his news

Chiefly, though, I make sure I don’t rely on other people to find stuff for me to read. I mean, I do, of course; everything I’ve described so far is powered by other people. But I feel strongly about also hunting for material on my own, which is why RSS remains a huge part of my life. I subscribe to 881 feeds, although recently, in a moment of sanity, I decided to focus on about 200 of them that I find most valuable. (To pick those choice feeds, I mostly followed the advice of Marco Arment: “RSS is best for following a large number of infrequently updated sites.”)

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RSS is frequently said to be a dead technology, which is silly on a lot of levels, but I don’t begrudge the many people who say that, for them, Twitter has replaced RSS. It’s just that I place a premium on reading stuff that others aren’t and don’t find that my Twitter stream reliably reaches into the bowels of the Web.

Zach Seward — Getting the News

The Setup: An Interview with Amber Case

I sometimes run a very old version of The Sims to optimize living conditions for two people with busy lives who want to achieve maximum happiness and self actualization. I run simulations of floor-plans and then try to find places that are similar to those floorplans. It took two years to find my current place of residence, and not only is it cheap, but I can run Sims whenever something seems odd in the house. Turns out that an errant chair or a table configuration might cause undue friction and, over time, decrease joy and happiness. It’s difficult to step outside of life and watch it from an isomorphic architecture view in 30x speed, but the Sims allows you to do that. It’s kind of my version of debugging life, and it’s another reason why I have a PC lying around. I don’t play the game unless I’m trying to figure out a more optimal living condition. I don’t use this religiously by any means, but as more of thought experiment.

Amber Case — The Setup

Aside

The Local-Global Flip, Or, “The Lanier Effect”. Absolutely fascinating interview. Two technologies on the cusp of going mainstream: self-driving cars and (dis)assembling robots. Also, technological efficiencies tend to have a positive benefit to the already wealthy (you save more money) but a negative benefit to the already middle-class or poor (you don’t have any money to begin with). What do we do when machines can do it better?