Outside Context 5: Indoor Air Quality

Welcome to the roaring twenties. Time moves ever onwards. I hope your holiday was full of that which brings you the most joy: family, solitude, a good book, puppies, sports, whatever, and I hope you begin this new year with intention and a sense of what's possible in a year that cannot be accomplished in a day.

We left our co-working space and have taken up residence in a food hall/coffee shop because of indoor air quality issues. We found that CO2 levels in our little office regularly exceeded 3,000 PPM. It only occurred to us to measure this after noting how lethargic we frequently felt in this room, vs how productive we were whenever working out of a coffee shop nearby. Set and setting: Not just for acid trips.

This newsletter has grown a bit. What began as a small collection of friends has expanded to include a wonderful group of curious, thoughtful humans. I'll be moving more detailed Sublime updates elsewhere, and occasionally mention major stuff here. Look for these occasional updates in Other random stuff.

What i'm reading

Les Misérables by Victor Hugo. I suspect this will take a great while to finish. At first, I thought I must be reading the wrong book. Instead of Les Mis, I'd picked up a biography of a rustic French bishop. I was right and wrong.

Musashi) by Eiji Yoshikawa. I've just finished this today. The heroes and villains that populate this Japanese epic are so very different from those found in American and European equivalents. This was one of the greatest works I've fiction I've read, and I daresay if it wasn't so long it would be a staple of undergraduate literature courses. I'm saddened that my experience of reading this book is over, and thankful for the questions it created in my mind.

It may be possible to do machine learning on encrypted data without decrypting it. Exciting research from Keno Fischer et al at Julia Computing.

I mentioned Summit in my last newsletter, and first time Summiter Diana has put together a write-up of her experience.

"the Fleabag problem: why it's impossible to relax" - Carrie Tian writes about the struggle and root of being unable to relax.

James Hatch, a 52 year old retired Navy SEAL, writes about his recent experience as a Yale student in "My Semester With the Snowflakes". One of the more hopeful things you'll read this month.

Upgrade your understanding of sex and gender with this lucid tweetstorm from a biologist.

Working at a venture-backed startup? Feeling like your success is inevitable? Ash Alhashim beautifully communicates a lesson that's easy to learn the hard way, and hard to learn the easy way in "Overconfidence in high-stakes situations: Why inferior products sometimes win".

What I'm listening to

Technically this is also a video, but you should absolutely enjoy "Ghost" by Delta Heavy, featuring Clippy. Yeah, that Clippy.

Sam Harris had a recent podcast (#176 Knowledge & Redemption) wherein the Bard Prison Initiative was discussed. The program is fascinating, and its success suggests we should be exploring how to expand programs like this one nationwide.

Panic Room by Au/Ra. I've mentioned a remix of this previously, but the original is also worth a listen.

Cool to You by Teenage Priest. If Tame Impala were insecure.

Big Iron by Marty Robbins. I don't remember where I stumbled across this song, but I love it. My mother's parents listened to this sort of music, and hearing this song brings up fond memories from my early childhood.


Identify the surprisingly popular answer to a question you're struggling with to make better decisions.

Spotify user? You're probably listening to subpar audio. Set streaming quality to max and volume level to quiet. Details are in Spotify's audio quality documentation.

Awesome humans

Andrew Brandeis


OK Capsule

and is working on streamlining the backend for direct-to-consumer services selling supplements. The result: more personalization and less time spent opening and closing 5 pill bottles every day.

Nezar Kadhem

was in town for New Year's Eve. He was my first ever cofounder (along with Franco Capurro) back in 2011. Today, he runs the OpenTable of the middle east:



Other random stuff

I'm excited to say that my cofounder Josh Kamdjou will be giving a 50 minute talk at


in February! The talk is titled "Voight-Kampff for email addresses: Quantifying email address reputation to identify spear-phishing and fraud". Bladerunner fans will surely enjoy the reference.

Auth0 now has an EmailRep integration! Read more on the

Auth0 blog: "Checking Users Email Reputation Score During Authentication"


Someone built

an image host that doesn't sell your data and charges money instead

. Novel concept. The copy is hilarious. The

creator's responses to HN comments

are also A+.

The New York Times wrote a piece about my building in Brooklyn!

They also interviewed one of my housemates, the talented

Kira Hooks


Betelgeuse is dimming and may soon go supernova

, which would make it visible during the day and brighter than a full moon at night. Fingers crossed over here.

Aerolite sells meteorites. Right now you can buy a

50g piece of Mars that somehow made its way here for just shy of $500,000

. What a fascinating (and probably very fun) business.

If you're familiar with

Long Bets

, enjoy this

quick critique of the structure of these bets

and how it may disincentivize (at least financially) the same long term thinking it seeks to encourage.

Active or aspiring D&D player?

This is the ultimate toolkit for dungeon masters

. Given how hard it can be to find a dungeon master, I hope this encourages some of you to try your hand at it!