Weekend Briefing No. 448

Welcome to the weekend.

I love September in the city. Everybody’s back from vacation and filled with optimism. This month’s playlist is an attempt to capture those good vibes. Generally my playlists are mostly new music, but this playlist is comprised of great songs from classic artists like U2, Coldplay, Temper Trap, David Gray, The Cure and more. Click here to check it out. Enjoy!

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Prime Numbers

16%—Marijuana use just passed cigarette use in the U.S. for the first time on record. Eleven percent of American adults report smoking nicotine cigarettes, per a Gallup poll published last week and 16% say they smoke weed.

11—Here are 11 songs inspired by Lord of the Rings.

7—Reading and math scores among U.S. fourth-grade students fell to their lowest levels in at least two decades during the pandemic. Average scores this year fell by five points in reading and seven in math compared to 2020 (pre-pandemic), out of a possible 500 points. This represents the largest dip in reading since 1990 and the first-ever drop in math.

Designer Mice

A team of Chinese scientists successfully created the world’s first mammal with fully reprogrammed genes, a mouse called Xiao Zhu or “Little Bamboo.”

The Chinese researchers used Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR) gene-editing technology to take each single chromosome from a mouse, break it down, then reorganize it into a new combination. They did so inside a single, unique reproductive cell that was tailor-made by the team to grow into a living mouse. Donut (4 minutes)

FastMoving Water

Technology and markets are like a river. Some parts are running faster, some slower and some are eddies sending you backward. As a founder, you need to cultivate the rare skill of assessing the speed and direction of the water surrounding you at all times to find fast-moving water. Here are three signs of fast-moving water: (1) Look for technology shifts that enable something new to happen. (2) Look for a low-quality example that’s doing suspiciously well. If you see a company that’s growing absurdly quickly, despite having a mediocre product or a middling management team, that suggests there’s a larger current helping them along. (3) If you show your idea to a customer and they have a physical reaction, you’ll notice your target user physically leaning forward and their pupils will open up. Oxytocin and dopamine surges and can help the physical reaction. NFX (11minutes)

HighValue First Impression

Your website is often your company’s first impression for a potential client, and it’s the only member of your sales team working 24/7—validating your value proposition and educating each prospect. Would you keep a salesperson not functioning at full capacity or who simply couldn’t tell your story effectively? Eighty-eight percent of online consumers are less likely to return to a site after a bad experience. It’s time to take a look at your website performance. As a long-term web partner for Westaway and the Weekend Briefing, GruffyGoat delivers high-end design and functionality for an affordable price. They’re also great to work with. GruffyGoat (Sponsored)

Gigaverse

A pizzeria owner in Kansas realizes that DoorDash is hijacking his pizzas. A Lyft driver conquers the streets of San Francisco until he unwittingly puts his family in danger. A Shipt shopper in Denton, Texas tries to crack the code of the delivery app that is slashing his pay. In RadioLab’s latest podcast episode “Gigaverse,” guests dive into the human side of the gig economy. RadioLab (52 minutes)

Tyranny of Structurelessness

This interview is between two people I highly respect: Noah Smith (author of Noahpinion) and Vitalik Buterin (one of the founders of the cryptocurrency Ethereum). The whole interview is worth a read, but here are some highlights: (1) Vitalik on the current crypto bull market: When the prices are rising, lots of people say that it’s the new paradigm and the future. When prices are falling, people say that it’s doomed and fundamentally flawed. The reality is always a more complicated picture somewhere between the two extremes. (2) Vitalik on blockchain governance: In my opinion, there’s actually a lot of wisdom in our current “tyranny of structurelessness.” Particularly, it does a good job at capturing the idea that a relatively small group of core devs should be able to independently decide on detailed technical decisions that don’t really affect the core vision. However, they need a much deeper buy-in for something philosophically major like a hard fork to rescue coins or a switch to proof-of-stake. Noahpinion (18 minutes)

Paying Taxes in Crypto

The Province of Mendoza in Argentina now supports stablecoins as an option for tax payments in an effort to move toward modernization and innovation. Argentina—a nation with a history of state bankruptcies and severe inflation—is no stranger to crypto. With a 64% inflation rate year-over-year as of August, it may not be surprising that the Mendoza government sees value in giving residents the ability to use cryptocurrency that’s being touted by some as a hedge against inflation. With U.S.-backed stablecoins tied to the U.S. Dollar, America’s 8.5% inflation rate may be a more appealing option for many. Decrypt (4 minutes)

Sustainable Architecture

From amazing abodes to centers of care and hard-working offices, this beautiful photo spread shows some of the world’s best examples of sustainable architecture, buildings that not only look good but also do good. Enjoy. Wallpaper (5 minutes)

Should We Work Together?

Hi! I’m Kyle. This newsletter is my passion project. When I’m not writing, I run a law firm that helps startups move fast without breaking things. Most founders want a trusted legal partner, but they hate surprise legal bills. At Westaway, we take care of your startup’s legal needs for a fixed, monthly fee so you can control your costs and focus on scaling your business. If you’re interested, let’s jump on a call to see if you’re a good fit for the firm. Click here to schedule a call.

Weekend Wisdom

Grief is the price we pay for love.Queen Elizabeth II

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