Bet against self control and sonic weapons

3 minute read

Interesting things I’ve read this month

Betterment’s behavioural scientist recently wrote about his cash flow management plan. It’s not for everyone, but could provide some inspiration [1].

  • “I only budget for the “boulders”—the large and/or recurring items I know about. After that, I spend whatever I want, however I want”
    • I personally track all that I spend, but find what works for you. This seems to be an easier heuristic
  • “I only look at or track my personal checking account. As long as I don’t go overdrawn, I’m ok.”
  • “One of the hardest lessons I’ve learned is that I should bet against my own self control”
    • I agree, try to position yourself so that the tempting choice is also the better choice

I generally agree with the point here that lives are lived by default, and I’m thinking about how to fix this. The article provides high level guidance, and if anyone has tangible suggestions do reach out

  • “So what does this mean? It means if you’re a normal person you can expect that a lot of categories of your life are set up in highly inefficient ways, by default. Certain areas of life could be all wrong for you and you have no idea how good it could be on other side of the fence.”
  • “Making conscious changes to the aspects of life you’ve accepted by default can result in dramatic and immediate changes to quality of life.”
  • “At any given time, the prospect of a major change will tend to seem out of the question. This is because you believe you are what you’ve been doing this whole time.”

And if you’re interested in not settling for friends by default, here’s something to think about. I’d take with a grain of salt since sample size seems small [2]:

  • “takes roughly 50 hours of time together to move from mere acquaintance to casual friend, 90 hours to go from that stage to simple “friend” status and more than 200 hours before you can consider someone your close friend.”
  • “Hall said he extrapolated his latest work from previous studies that established that a person’s brain can only handle about 150 friendships”

Lastly, some interesting data on VC returns here

  • “My main two learning’s here are that a) we should not be investing in small markets, even with a great team and b) we should usually avoid investing in companies with highly competitive markets unless we think the team is incredible.”
  • “Firstly, that at the seed stage, product and business model are not good reasons for rejecting a company”

Other miscellaneous

  1. I’m no expert on diet and nutrition, but it also seems like the self-proclaimed gurus are even less qualified. This article though seemed to have sensible advice
  2. Cuban sonic weapons, chainsaw puffins, and tortoise sex: this piece is even more interesting than the description indicates
  3. When even the explanation of the philosophical work is hard to understand, I’m left wondering if the philosopher was a genius or just a waste of time. Still trying to decide on Wittgenstein after reading this piece. I do like misusing a quote of his out of context though: “that which cannot be said we must pass over in silence”
  4. Homelessness sucks, but knowing the causes of the problem rather than virtue signalling with ineffective solutions should be encouraged. Stats here are something to think about (if true, which I haven’t verified):
    • “The reality, […] is that 80 percent of the homeless suffer from drug and alcohol addiction and 30 percent suffer from serious mental illness”
    • “More rigorous academic studies in San Francisco and Vancouver suggest that 40 percent to 50 percent of the homeless moved to those cities for their permissive culture and generous services”
    • “O’Brien and his allies argue that the street homeless want help but that there aren’t enough services. Once again, county data contradict their claims: 63 percent of the street homeless refuse shelter when offered it by the city’s Navigation Teams”


  1. Not investment advice. Nothing I write is ever investment advice. Never ever.
  2. Could be a tongue twister. More to the point, the replication crisis in social sciences is a topic for another day…