225: TSMC Culture Clash, Costco, NFT Tax Fraud?, Dave Portnoy & YOLO Wolf, Clubhouse, Stellantis, Psilocybin, Healthcare, and Rodrigo y Gabriela
"you will live more curiously if you write"
Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them.
(for that, there’s Obsidian 🐙)
🏋️♂️ Here’s one I don’t hear much about: The importance of being skilled at modulating motivation, both from internal and external sources.
For example, when I was first working on becoming a full-time investor, it was easy to become discouraged because it seemed so far away.
To help keep the fire burning, I read a lot of stuff from people who did what I was attempting. In later years, I read the whole archives of Mr. Money Mustache’s blog chronologically, not so much for the practical advice, but to maintain a proper baseline of motivation (if you’re not familiar with MMM, the best place to start with is this video — people get hung up on “retirement”, but the real core is that whatever you do — work or play — it’ll be more fun if you’re financially secure).
Lately, I’ve been getting some motivation from Cal Newport’s podcast for when it comes to improving as a “knowledge worker”.
✍️ I like this post by James Somers on why “more people should write”:
🚨 Ok, this one is kind of important so I'm trying to attract your attention to it 🚨
You should write because when you know that you’re going to write, it changes the way you live. [...]
What it teaches you, over and over again, is that the difference between you and a zoologist or you and a botanist is that the botanist, when she looks at a flower, has a question in mind. She’s trying to generate questions. [...]
That’s the promise: you will live more curiously if you write. You will become a scientist, if not of the natural world than of whatever world you care about. More of that world will pop alive. You will see more when you look at it. [...]
When I have a piece of writing in mind, what I have, in fact, is a mental bucket: an attractor for and generator of thought. It’s like a thematic gravity well, a magnet for what would otherwise be a mess of iron filings. I’ll read books differently and listen differently in conversations. In particular I’ll remember everything better; everything will mean more to me.
Isn’t that great?
🐎 Follow-up on speed from edition #224:
There’s no speed limit [to learning]
“I’ll bet I can teach you two years of [music] theory and arranging in only a few lessons. I suspect you can graduate in two years if you understand there’s no speed limit. Come by my studio at 9:00 tomorrow for your first lesson, if you’re interested. No charge.” [...]
The pace was intense, and I loved it. Finally, someone was challenging me — keeping me in over my head — encouraging and expecting me to pull myself up quickly. I was learning so fast, it felt like the adrenaline rush you get while playing a video game. He tossed every fact at me and made me prove that I got it.
In our three-hour lesson that morning, he taught me a full semester of Berklee’s harmony courses. In our next four lessons, he taught me the next four semesters of harmony and arranging classes.
When I got to college and took my entrance exams, I tested out of those six semesters of requirements. [...]
Kimo’s high expectations set a new pace for me. He taught me that “the standard pace is for chumps” — that the system is designed so anyone can keep up. If you’re more driven than most people, you can do way more than anyone expects. And this principle applies to all of life, not just school.
♠️♥️♣️♦️ Here’s a new hobby I started a few weeks ago. I don’t remember how it began, but I decided I wanted to learn how to shuffle a deck of cards doing the riffle shuffle with a bridge flourish at the end. Like this:
It’s not a big deal, it’s very common, but I didn’t know how, so I checked a tutorial video and over the next few days practiced and practiced (“How do I get to Carnegie hall? Practice, man, practice”).
Now I can do a decent version of it. I even split the deck at the beginning doing a half-riffle-then-flip move that is kind of cool.
Next, I’m trying to master a new one: Cutting a deck with just one hand, like this:
I can do it, but not perfectly fluid yet.
Someday I’d like to be able to do stuff like this:
But I doubt I’ll ever get to this level. What’s your pointless hobby?
💚 🥃 Yesterday, walking in the woods with my two boys, having random thoughts while they were running around, I pictured what a crowd we’d be if all the supporters of this newsletter were gathered together with us, and felt overwhelming gratitude.
Thank you for your support, it means a lot 🧡
If you haven’t made the jump to paid support yet, come on over, the water’s nice 🏖
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Investing & Business
Tax fraud via NFTs? 🤔
Is transferring your precious NFTs to a different controlled wallet and then claiming they were stolen the hot new tax scam to have a huge write-off?
I’m just speculatin’, it’s not my area, but seems like it could be done…
Culture Clash at TSMC’s Arizona Fab
TSMC faces challenges managing employees at its new fab in Arizona who are unaccustomed to the long work hours and management culture that in Taiwan have helped make the company the world’s largest chip foundry. [...]
To maximize profits, fab operators need to keep expensive and highly sensitive capital equipment running 24/7. To help prevent production halts resulting in billions of dollars of losses and scrapped silicon wafers, production engineers must monitor and tweak their equipment constantly. TSMC engineers remain on-call after ordinary working hours in the event of an emergency.
“The reality for people from Taiwan is that they are doing even more than 12-hour days often,” said the American engineer on Glassdoor. “There’s also the night shifts and weekend shifts on duty and/or on call.” [...]
In 2020, the company hired about 8,000 workers, or more than 10 percent of the total headcount of 60,000. In 2021, the company hired a similar number, she added.
Sounds like you need to be very over-qualified for a lot of those jobs:
The company has the perhaps undeserved reputation for using Ph.Ds to monitor a single piece of equipment on a production line.
“Basically, one machine does not require a Ph.D to look after it,” said Lai I-Chung, president of The Prospect Foundation, a think tank run by the Taiwan government. “But since we have these over-educated engineers managing the process, they can deal with problems onsite very quickly. That’s how the competitiveness of TSMC really emerged.
“We are fielding our Ph.Ds as foot soldiers, but actually many of them could be colonels. That kind of culture wouldn’t work in the United States.” (Source)
Why is Costco’s App and Website so bad? 🤔
They basically require me to log back in almost every time I use them, while I never have to do that with Amazon.
Feels like this improvement alone would be worth a few billions in extra revenue...
Thankfully for them, their core value proposition is *so good* that people will put up with a lot before being driven away. But they still should aim to grab these low-hanging fruits (also: live store inventory, faster and less janky app, better search, etc)…
Wait, what? Fiat Chrysler changed its name to Stellantis?!
Makes me wonder what else I missed lately… 🤨
*checks the new ticker symbol*
Oh, I get it. They wanted something that looked like “TSLA” to get some of that valuation lift1…
Dave Portnoy’s Day-Trading Era, Random Memory Edition
I just realized I haven’t heard about Dave Portnoy in a really long time. It reminded me of when he was live-streaming his day-trading and nobody could talk about anything else for months (he saw a 🦌 so bought John Deere)?
Man the past few years were weird…
It now feels like a prelude to the initial rise of the meme stocks like GME and AMC that nobody could talk about anything else for weeks a little later.
Oh wait, this has opened a memory vault… remember this guy? YOLO Wolf was the OG moment for this whole genre:
May as well regain the storage space, it’s not like I’ve opened the app in months… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Clubhouse created a very useful new protocol, but without much barrier to entry. Other networks could graft it on top of their existing graphs, and it’s always harder to convince people to leave where they already are for a new thing than to just follow pillow-shaped and tropical-weather-warm inertia (see my recent comments about Signal).
In some ways, their idea was almost *too good*, and their incredible ascension attracted immediate competition. Once in the spotlight, the model was obvious enough that everybody understood the appeal.
It may have been easier for Clubhouse if they had ramped up more slowly and been misunderstood or underestimated for a while as they built a lead over competitors.
But even in that case, success was pretty uncertain since even in such a scenario, there’d be little barrier to entry.
As Steve Jobs told the Dropbox guys when he was trying to buy the company:
“What you have is a feature, not a company.”
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Science & Technology
Psilocybin study finds no detrimental short or long-term effects
The effects of psilocybin on cognitive and emotional functions in healthy participants: Results from a phase 1, randomised, placebo-controlled trial involving simultaneous psilocybin administration and preparation
Results: In total, 511 TEAEs were reported, with a median duration of 1.0 day; 67% of all TEAEs started and resolved on the day of administration. There were no serious TEAEs, and none led to study withdrawal. There were no clinically relevant between-group differences in CANTAB global composite score, CANTAB cognitive domain scores, or emotional processing scale scores.
Conclusions: These results indicate that 10 mg and 25 mg doses of psilocybin were generally well tolerated when given to up to six participants simultaneously and did not have any detrimental short- or long-term effects on cognitive functioning or emotional processing.
Of course, these things are complex and it doesn’t mean that there can’t be *any* negative effects — I’m looking forward to more research, but it’s certainly an encouraging result.
Just-in-time, lean-manufacturing, but for healthcare?
This tweet is about Canada, but the US isn’t too far ahead.
This reminds me a bit of what Ryan Petersen said about the global logistics system, and how companies obsessed with optimizing financial metrics like ROE shed as much assets as possible, and when there was a shock to the system, there were no shock absorbers.
Seems like a similar thing is going on with healthcare. We’ve got “just in time” hospital capacity, with little slack in the system to absorb shocks.
I understand that healthcare is expensive and nothing in this is easy, but a lot of what is expensive about healthcare is administrative bloat and the fact that relatively little tech is being used to increase productivity (vs other sectors). There may be some very popular reforms that, if explained to the public well, could get mandates to slash the parts that don’t benefit the public and beef up those that do.
Update: After writing the above, I saw Robyn Urback’s piece on this same topic:
Canada is among the highest spenders on health care per capita among comparable countries, but we boast some of the poorest results. Canadians wait longer for a specialist appointment than do residents of all other peer countries, including those in Britain, France, Switzerland, Germany and the U.S. We have among the fewest hospital beds per 1,000 people (2.5 in 2019, compared to 5.8 per 1,000 people in France, and 7.9 per 1,000 people in Germany) and rank nearly last for acute care spaces relative to population. [...]
This pandemic should prompt Canadians to reckon with the reality that our health care system isn't working. Indeed, when a province of millions is brought to a virtual standstill by the prospect of a few hundred additional people in acute care beds, that fact is undeniable. [...]
Unfortunately, whenever discussion of substantial health care reform is raised in this country, Canadians are spooked into believing that changes to the system would de facto result in an American-stvle health
Exactly. Instead of creating this false dichotomy between the current Canadian system and the also-very-flawed US system, how about looking elsewhere too, or inventing new solutions.
The way to ensure that things never change is to always reflexively say: “It’s too hard, it’ll never happen”.
Take a newborn from 100,000 years ago and raise it today, and you likely wouldn’t see a difference, and yet:
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The Arts & History
Rodrigo Y Gabriela, Tamacun live in Japan 💃
I really like this duo. They’re from Mexico, and played together in a metal band before switching to this nuevo flamenco style.
Gotta love how much percussive energy they can get out of two guitars. It sometimes feels like there’s a drummer hidden somewhere. 🥁
If you want to explore more, I recommend their 2006 self-titled album.
I'm kidding, but you know, stranger things have happened on the market lately, so kidding doesn't even mean you're *necessarily* wrong these days ¯\_(ツ)_/¯