Are Covid Restrictions the New TSA?

Richard Hanania, always provocative and interesting, has a great piece up on the TSA and Covid restrictions. If we’re not careful, the overreaction to 9/11 that led to an insane, ineffective, permanent security theater that we deal with to this day — the same could happen with masking, lockdowns, and other restrictions related to Covid. What would enable this possibility is our illiteracy with risk & statistics and our collective PTSD from the worst chapter of the pandemic (within the U.S.).

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On a related topic, I recently tweeted: “Obviously the pandemic has caused mental health problems. But our pre-existing mental health problems have also caused bad responses to the pandemic. America leads the world by # of people who suffer from anxiety disorders. People with anxiety issues can’t think clearly about risk.”

The Future of VC and Lessons from Village Global

I was delighted to chat with Samir Kaji on his podcast Venture Unlocked about the history and strategy of Village Global, and a range of other inside baseball VC topics like portfolio construction. We launched the firm a few years ago; it’s been an amazing journey. Here’s the Spotify link or in Apple Podcasts. And embedded below.

By the way, if you’re starting a company this summer, apply to our Accelerator for a personalized, white glove experience alongside our investment. And also: A few months ago, we announced a $125 million Fund II.

Disclaimer: This presentation does not constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy any security. No representation is being made that any investor or portfolio will, or is likely to, achieve profits or losses similar to those discussed. Targets discussed have been established based on several assumptions that may vary depending on the type of investment.  There is no guarantee that the conditions on which such assumptions are based will materialize as anticipated and will be applicable to Village Global’s portfolio investments.

Brad Feld on Nietzsche and Entrepreneurship

I spoke to Brad Feld for an hour about Nietzsche and his new book (co-authored with Dave Jilk) of The Entrepreneur’s Weekly Nietzsche.

The audio version is on the Village Global podcast here or YouTube version here.

My favorite part of the conversation was about how difficult it is to “see the world clearly.” We covered a bunch of interesting entrepreneurial topics.

The Code Breakers

I read and enjoyed Walter Isaacson’s new book The Code Breaker, about Jennifer Daudna, mRNA, and gene editing. Here’s Isaacson’s claim about the importance of this topic:

The invention of CRISPR and the plague of COVID will hasten our transition to the third great revolution of modern times. These revolutions arose from the discovery, beginning just over a century ago, of the three fundamental kernels of our existence: the atom, the bit, and the gene. The first half of the twentieth century, beginning with Albert Einstein’s 1905 papers on relativity and quantum theory, featured a revolution driven by physics. In the five decades following his miracle year, his theories led to atom bombs and nuclear power, transistors and spaceships, lasers and radar.

The second half of the twentieth century was an information-technology era, based on the idea that all information could be encoded by binary digits—known as bits—and all logical processes could be performed by circuits with on-off switches. In the 1950s, this led to the development of the microchip, the computer, and the internet. When these three innovations were combined, the digital revolution was born.

Now we have entered a third and even more momentous era, a life-science revolution. Children who study digital coding will be joined by those who study genetic code.

Since reading the book, I’ve been thinking about whether I should invest more time and energy to understand biology (and related life sciences trends) more thoroughly.

Isaacson does a fine job explaining the basics of mRNA in this book, but there’s at least another 30-40 hours of reading/studying that I could do would likely be both accessible to a novice and beneficial. And if this is truly a third and “even more momentous” era as the physics and computer revolutions, then it may well be worth it.

So many topics, so little time…

Planet of Cops

Freddie deBoer’s short essay Planet of Cops, from 2017, I hadn’t read until now, but it perfectly captures an element of our culture today. It’s also an example of a well written polemical style.

The irony of our vibrant and necessary police reform movement is that it’s happening simultaneously to everyone becoming a cop. I mean everyone — liberal, conservative, radical and reactionary. Blogger, activist, pundit, and writer, obviously, but also teacher, tailor, and candlestick maker. Cops, all of them. Cops everywhere. Everybody a cop.

And then:

The woke world is a world of snitches, informants, rats. Go to any space concerned with social justice and what will you find? Endless surveillance. Everybody is to be judged. Everyone is under suspicion. Everything you say is to be scoured, picked over, analyzed for any possible offense. Everyone’s a detective in the Division of Problematics, and they walk the beat 24/7. You search and search for someone Bad doing Bad Things, finding ways to indict writers and artists and ordinary people for something, anything. That movie that got popular? Give me a few hours and 800 words. I’ll get you your indictments. That’s what liberalism is, now — the search for baddies doing bad things, like little offense archaeologists, digging deeper and deeper to find out who’s Good and who’s Bad. I wonder why people run away from establishment progressivism in droves.

And the end:

See, the panopticon says we all get watched all the time, but there’s still a division between the guards and the prisoners. There’s still people who do the watching separate from the watched. And that’s not real life. No, in real life we’re all guards and prisoners at the same time. We are all informants on each other. Contemporary political culture is an autoimmune disorder. Do you enjoy living like this? Are you not exhausted? Don’t you want to break out? Or are you happy here, content to judge and judge and judge and never stop judging? Then congrats. Welcome to the nation of finks, planet of cops. Enjoy. Enjoy.

Enjoy. Enjoy.