290: Amazon vs FedEx vs UPS, Apple M2 and Macbook Air, Aging Aircrafts, Housing Affordability, Heat Pumps, MRIs, a Passwordless Web, Psychos, and E.T.
"documentaries about other psychopaths and dirtbags"
If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.
🍎 💻 Apple announced an all-new Macbook Air with M2 (much more on that chip in the sci-tech section below ⬇️).
It’s probably going to be what we buy to replace the 2015 Macbook Pro that my wife and I use as our “around the house” computer (I have a Mac Studio desktop that I’m writing this on right now). We somehow sidestepped the whole ‘butterfly keyboard’ fiasco and mediocre Intel mobile chips era! 🥳🍾
🔒 🔑 One of the most exciting things at WWDC was PassKeys, a big step toward the passwordless utopia that we deserve!
This is based on the FIDO Alliance standards that they’re working on in collaboration with Google and Microsoft (I wrote about it in edition #276).
If all the big platforms can get together and make this happen, once this is fully rolled out, one of the weak links in security will be massively improved.
You’ll be able to sign in to websites and apps more quickly and securely because your devices — which you’ve authenticated on through biometrics or hardware keys or whatever — will send over a cryptographic token rather than a static password. You won’t have to manage or remember any of this, you just need to focus on securing your device, and the device will in turn grant you access to other things (this may sound like a single point of failure, but right now, people’s weak & re-used passwords are typically stored on their devices in browser or OS keychains anyway).
🏥 I’m getting an MRI scan for the first time on Friday (my shoulder). That should be an interesting experience… I hope the noisy tube won’t make me claustrophobic.
They asked me a bunch of questions on the pre-flight call about, basically, anything that may be magnetic in my body. 🧲
It made me wonder how often it happens that someone has some metal in their body, but they’re not aware of it. What happens then? Are any security systems built in the process to detect this before someone has a tiny bit of metal ripped out of their skull? 😬 🤕
😈👺 You’ll often hear about psychopaths, malignant narcissists, sexual abusers, abusive romantic partners, or cult leaders having certain well-known and recognizable patterns of behavior…
Like, they’ll gaslight you this way, they’ll cut you off from friends and family, they’ll control you through money, spread rumors about you to cut you off from your support system, be incredibly charming in public so others side with them, they’ll flatter and manipulate you in way X at first and progressively switch to Y over time, whatever.
But where do these assholes learn to do this stuff? It’s hard enough to teach regular people anything complex that it makes me think these patterns are either emergent behaviors that arise from the situations these people put themselves in, or they’re some kind of evolved adaptation.
But what if some is learned elsewhere…
In the same way that in The Sopranos the gangsters have watched mafia movies and reference them frequently, I wonder if real-world abusers sometimes look up resources for victims and get inspiration from them. Or if they watch movies and documentaries about other psychopaths and dirtbags and learn tricks from them. 🤔
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📬 Amazon vs FedEx vs UPS: U.S. Market share of select package carriers, by volume 📦
Interesting, I would’ve expected Amazon’s AMZN 0.00 share to grow faster during the pandemic, not slower than before, but I suppose every carrier got a big bump and AMZL may have been more supply-constrained at first — remember in 2020 when they stopped selling many things to free up capacity — while they were making their massive investments to pretty much double capacity.
I’d be curious to see the same graph but with 2021 and 2022 YTD included.
Carriers collectively generated $188 billion in parcel revenue – a 16 percent increase year-over-year from $163 billion
By volume, USPS shipped 6.9 billion parcels in 2021 down from 7.3 billion in 2020; UPS shipped 5.3 billion parcels in 2021, up from 4.9 billion; and FedEx shipped 4.2 billion, up from 3.7 billion
Parcels generated by Amazon reached 8.4 billion in 2021, of which 57 percent or 4.8 billion parcels were delivered by Amazon Logistics and 43 percent or 3.6 billion parcels were passed to carriers for last mile delivery. In 2020, Amazon passed 2.8 billion parcels to carriers for last mile delivery
How long until they pass UPS UPS 0.00 and, eventually, USPS?
Source. h/t Modest Proposal
✈️✈️✈️ Age of aircraft fleets by model (in 2024) 🛩 💺
This graph is from 2018, so it isn’t up to date, but there’s a lot of inertia in the system, like with demographics, so it gives a good idea of what’s going on.
🧭 🗺 Think as long-term and strategically about your future happiness as you wish CEO did about their businesses 🤔
Every investor will say that CEOs should think long-term, strategically, keep their eyes on the things that really matter, etc.
But do the people for whom all this seems evident actually do the same for their own lives (not just financially, but for all important aspects like career, relationships, self-education, etc)? Do they walk the talk?
Friend-of-the-show Jack Raines has a good post that touches on many concepts that also interest me and that I’ve covered in multiple places before.
He calls it “The Future of You”. Here are some highlights (I like his Tetris metaphor to drive home the point of infinite games with extrinsic motivation):
As you progress through Tetris, the game gets more difficult. New pieces appear and fall quicker and quicker. Eventually, no matter how skilled of a player you are, you will lose.
You can't beat Tetris. You can set new high scores, and you can compete with your friends. But you can't win. [...]
Your career is Tetris: no matter how well you do, you will never win.
If your primary motivation for pursuing a career path is to "win" the game of success, you have lost before you left the starting block. If you "win" the rat race, you're still a rat.
You shouldn't play the game to win, you should play the game for the sake of playing.
Buffett’s inner scorecard strikes again!
First, find yourself an infinite game that you really like to play, but then make sure that you are doing it for largely internal reasons, because if you base your feeling of success/accomplishment on external approval and factors outside your control, you’ll always be at the mercy of these things jerking you around and making you miserable for no good reason, without much ability to consciously improve.
Are you going to be satisfied if you stay on your current career path for 10 years? [...]
To find the path that you should take, you need to actively avoid the paths that you know you shouldn't take.
This reminds me of a great CGP Grey video that makes the point very well with his tutorial on how to maximize misery:
While avoiding these things that are *known* to make people miserable, look for examples of what to do in the real world, rather than in your imagination, because we’re notoriously bad at forecasting what will make us happy and fulfilled.
Don’t imagine you’d be doing great if you had X, find people who are doing great, and see how they actually got there (everybody’s different and there’s survivorship bias, but it’s still a better guide than not using hard-won real-world experience to navigate).
🏡 ‘U.S. Housing affordability collapses to lowest level on record’ 🏚
🧪🔬 Liberty Labs 🧬 🔭
🔥 🍎 M2 Apple Silicon SoC seems pretty badass 🔥
The first thing that jumped at me is that they achieved a 18% CPU performance improvement while staying on a 5nm feature size, though it is TSMC’s upgraded 5nm (not the same as the M1).
That’s still impressive. AMD’s AMD 0.00 new Zen4 had about 15% improvement (per core) while jumping from TSMC’s 7nm to 5nm — Apple somehow beat that without a major process shrink and without ballooning transistor count too much (most of the new ones went to the GPU, not CPU)!
It’s also interesting to note that the vanilla M2 got the pro media engines that were reserved for the Pro, Max, and Ultras on the M1 line. It makes me wonder what the M2 Pro/Max/Ultra will get to differentiate from the M2 🤔
Maybe just scaling the number of these media blocks will be enough to make them stand apart for pros, or maybe they’ll further widen the difference in number of cores, supported RAM, etc…
They ‘spent’ a lot of the performance budget on faster GPU and ML-engine this time (35% and 40% improvements in performance, respectively). It’s clear that these aren’t ‘specialized things off to the side’, but are increasingly on the frontline of compute and being taken advantage of by an increasing number of workloads.
It’s not their business, but can you imagine if Apple AAPL 0.00 created a server version of their M2 chips. If they took all the space used by GPU and ML-accelerator cores and just crammed as many high-performance CPU cores in there, on a die the size of the Ultra. This thing would be insane! 🔥 It’ll never happen, but fun to think about…
US Bill for ‘tax credit through 2031 for energy-efficient heat pumps and heat pump water heaters.’ 🥶↔🥵
Back in edition #286, I wrote about the magic of heat pumps, and how every air conditioner is a heat pump that could, with very small manufacturing changes, become a bi-directional system that could both cool *and* heat.
It looks like even politicians are thinking about this, which means it’s *really* obvious. There’s a new bill in the US Senate proposing a tax credit that would incentivize this:
A key provision in the recently introduced HEATR Act encourages manufacturers to convert their whole supply of traditional central ACs — which can only cool — into devices that both heat homes and cool them: heat pumps [...]
Central ACs and central heat pumps are often nearly identical machines. Think of them as two cars of the same make, except only one of them has a reverse gear. For manufacturers, the main difference between the two technologies is just a few hundred dollars’ worth of parts to make the heat move in two directions. But that small initial cost difference gets inflated by supply-chain markup and installation costs, so by the time consumers are buying a central heat pump, the upfront cost difference can be substantial. [...]
A program like the one proposed by the HEATR Act would give companies the confidence to go all-in on heat pumps. Because the cost difference would be covered, wholesale and consumer heat-pump prices could fall to the level of current AC prices. And because participation is voluntary, it would just speed up a market transition that’s already underway. (Source)
HVAC systems last a long time. A few hundred dollars upfront can have a huge impact on 15-20 years of energy usage, and heating/cooling bills for customers.
If modern heat pumps can displace natural gas being burned for heat on most days of the cold season in most regions of the US (even in places where the electrical grid is largely powered by natural gas, because it’s way more efficient to move heat around than the generate it), it would be a massive win.
And over time as the grid gets cleaner, everybody’s heating would automatically get cleaner, unlike with gas furnaces. Any saved gas can go to higher uses, like making fertilizer (let’s stop burning ‘food’ for heat!).
h/t Friend-of-the-show and supporter (💚 🥃) Brad Slingerlend.
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Watching Spielberg’s ‘E.T. the Extra Terrestrial’ (1982) with my kids (4yo and 8yo) 👽
It was fun to look at their faces during various parts. (They’re a bit too young for Star Wars — the original trilogy, of course — but I’m looking forward to seeing how they react to the reveal about who Luke’s father is, if I can keep them spoiler-free that long).
It was a special experience for them because they’ve seen so few live-action films or TV.
When I was their age, entertainment was very limited, so I ended up watching whatever was on TV (not always age-appropriate stuff, I guess) and the same VHS tapes over and over again. But they have a million Pixar/Disney films, animated TV series, they watch people playing Minecraft or Zelda on Youtube, etc.
I think Elf with Will Ferrell is one of the rare live-action films they’ve seen.
Every time there was a big special effect shot, the 8yo asked me: “How are they doing that if this is real life?!”
The second act when E.T. is sick, looks deathly pale, and the guys in spacesuits burst into the house like zombies crawling through the windows was a bit intense for them, but the 3rd act is thrilling and wholesome enough that they had forgotten about being sad by then.
When I was discussing the film with my kids, I was trying to teach them about this era before their own... like, "notice how different that is" — the boxy cars, small TV, no cellphones or computers, wired phones, parents not caring what kids do all day, etc.
Random things I noted:
Those early basement scenes and bike scenes are such a big influence on Stranger Things.
It’s a much darker — visually — film than I expected. Even when they’re inside the house during the day, things are very dark. I understand why Spielberg shot it that way (it makes the effects look better, the same reason why so much of Jurassic Park’s action takes place at night).
I like that the ‘scary government guy with the dangling keychain’ isn’t a mustache-twirling villain once you meet him in the tented-house scene. He’s also been dreaming of aliens since he was a kid and clearly thinks this is all amazing.
"It made me wonder how often it happens that someone has some metal in their body, but they’re not aware of it. What happens then? Are any security systems built in the process to detect this before someone has a tiny bit of metal ripped out of their skull?"
It happens from time to time, but very rarely that one of the screening questions doesn't trigger a memory. If you just ask "do you have any metal in you?" you might miss a lot, but when you go through the various ways people can get metal in them and ask "have you ever had a stent put in? Have you ever been in a war zone or had a shrapnel injury? Do you have an artificial joint?" you tend to pick up on the risks.
There are ~150 adverse events/year in the US for MRIs, but the vast majority of those are thermal, with some external projectiles. Metal doesn't typically get pulled out of peoples' bodies even in the accidents -- most metal that's magnetic enough to do that isn't biocompatible in the first place, and in the very rare case where someone passes the screening question with unknown metal and goes in, they might feel it try to move as they get close and back off. Aneurysm clips and vascular stents are the biggest concern from what I recall (tiny movements or heating can have very bad outcomes), but medical device manufacturers have been making most of them (all?) MRI-compatible for the last 20+ years.
Most implanted bits of metal are not a safety risk, but screw up the images. Dental work, for instance, leaves the area around the jaw just a black void. Or they are conductive but not magnetic, so they don't get moved around but can heat up (those thermal AEs). The most common source of unknown metal/conductive material is bad tattoos.
Every now and then a company tries to pitch a metal detector for MRI suites, but they don't work well enough to bother with. The questionnaire and the metal macarana are the security systems.
Wild to think that in the US most AC/heat-pump units are for cooling, whereas in the UK heat pumps are almost exclusively for heating. I wonder if this is also true for areas of the US where heating demand is equal to cooling?