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September 19, 2021 -

Reading Time: < 1 minute

Ed Luce, one of my favorite writers at the Financial Times, looks at how English-speaking democracies have been battling Covid. Australia, New Zealand, and Canada are doing decently well, but the other two aren’t:

The pandemic record of these three English-speaking democracies belies the notion that “Anglo-Saxon cultures” are too individualistic to stick to social distancing. If New Zealanders and Australians can wear masks, so could Americans and British. Ignoring common sense never used to be an anglophone stereotype. What separates the US and the UK from other democracies is extravagant self-belief. Half a millennium of potted history tells Anglo-Americans they are destined always to be on the winning side. It blinds both to how the rest of the world increasingly views them, which is with sadness and growing mockery.

Ed Luce, Financial Times

This is bang on.

September 16, 2021 -

Reading Time: 2 minutes

I remember coming across the word ‘schadenfreude’ pretty early on as it was adopted into English vernacular. Its quick embrace by English-speakers is evidence that we badly needed a more precise term to describe the emotion schadenfreude refers to. People just ‘got it’, because we’ve all felt it, at some point.

To build on that success, I now humbly suggest we adopt another word: “Jantelagen”.

I first came across the term ‘Jantelagen” during an episode of This Is Pop, a Netflix show on popular music, that examined Sweden’s extraordinary success in the music industry. The country’s best producers and songwriters have influenced decades of pop music around the world, from Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys to The Weeknd and Dua Lipa.

You would think, with this kind of success, Swedes would be shouting about it from the rooftops — but they aren’t. With the host of This Is Pop badgering one songwriter to list the famous artists he’s worked with, he finally blurts out the word “Jantelagen”, before adding “the law of Jante.”

Being a Canadian, I immediately got it — in the very same way I got schadenfreude. Jantelagen loosely translates to braggart, or show-off, something frowned upon in Canada, too, although not to the same degree.

Hej Sweden:

Often times, when people at first have little and suddenly an excessive amount of something special – a lot of success, money or fame – they have the tendency to brag about it.

Swedes on the other hand remain relatively unnoticed when they reach something extraordinary. They are less prone to bragging. This is because they follow a common rule called the Jantelagen, literally translated: law of Jante. Basically it says that “You are not better than anyone else“.

I absolutely love this.

One of the songs I listened to when I was younger contained the phrase, “halfway to coal, halfway to diamond,” a reminder that anybody could end up at the top — or the bottom – quickly. It’s not that life is dependent on luck, it’s that we don’t entirely control our destiny. A bit of humility recognizes one’s good fortune, and that is usually followed by gratitude — something we all seem to lack these days.

July 3, 2021 -

Reading Time: 4 minutes

July 1 is Canada Day. It’s a fun, energetic and beer-filled day for people inside Canada, but almost completely unknown outside of the country’s borders (except for Canadians abroad). The small Canadian celebrations here in Hong Kong usually have to compete with another major anniversary on the same day: the return of Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty, or “Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Establishment Day” (just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?) This has traditionally made planning social events for July 1 rather difficult!

There’s actually a third anniversary on July 1 that usually flies under the radar: the anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China.

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April 20, 2021 -

Reading Time: 2 minutes

I am a person who loves to work late into the night. I’m busy during the day, with phone calls and text messages and assignments and meetings, so my productivity and focus is lower than it should be. Once the sun sets and everyone goes to bed, a peaceful calm descends, creating a serene environment for reading, working, studying, whatever it might be.

The problem with working late is the waking up part. If you start work in the afternoon, then fine. But, if like me, you still need to wake up relatively early in the morning to head to work, then you’ve probably suffered from sleepiness or even dozed off from time to time.

We already know that sleep is imperative to our health, energy, thinking, and other cognitive abilities, but cheating on a full night’s rest is easy to do because it seems like the consequences will be short term: “I’ll be tired tomorrow. I can deal with it.” But it looks like that’s the wrong answer.

I first heard of a possible link between Alzheimer’s and lack of sleep many years ago. Since then, I’ve heard unscientific anecdotes about how many people in seniors’ care homes with dementia had demanding careers and senior positions with lots of responsibility. There was already speculation that years of just a few hours’ sleep may have caught up to them.

Then I saw this from the New York Times: Sleeping Too Little in Middle-Age May Raise Dementia Risk, Study Finds. It’s the first large study to draw such a strong connection between sleep and memory loss:

It followed nearly 8,000 people in Britain for about 25 years, beginning when they were 50 years old. It found that those who consistently reported sleeping six hours or less on an average weeknight were about 30 percent more likely than people who regularly got seven hours sleep (defined as “normal” sleep in the study) to be diagnosed with dementia nearly three decades later.

“It would be really unlikely that almost three decades earlier, this sleep was a symptom of dementia, so it’s a great study in providing strong evidence that sleep is really a risk factor,” said Dr. Kristine Yaffe, a professor of neurology and psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, who was not involved in the study.

If you take pride at how much you can accomplish on such little sleep, read this — now. The article details how the study was conducted and how other variables that could have impacted the results were removed, so you can make up your own conclusions.

It’s a scary read, but better to come across it now than when it’s too late.

March 11, 2021 -

Reading Time: < 1 minute

This was just too funny not to share.

A satirical Twitter account (which I’m very late to discovering) called VC’s Congratulating Themselves makes fun of VCs for their gaffes, adoration of money, ginormous egos, and occasional tone-deaf public statements. It’s definitely worth following for a bit of humor while doomscrolling.

Jason Calacanis, a well-known investor who has literally made billions betting on startups, is unquestionably successful. But in the Silicon Valley VC world, it’s not enough to be rich and successful — they want to make sure you know how rich and successful they are.


December 19, 2020 -

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Big news dropped on Friday regarding Microsoft’s plans to develop new Arm processors for its servers, and maybe even its popular laptop computers.

From Bloomberg:

The world’s largest software maker is using Arm Ltd. designs to produce a processor that will be used in its data centers, according to people familiar with the plans. It’s also exploring using another chip that would power some of its Surface line of personal computers. The people asked not to be identified discussing private initiatives. Intel’s stock dropped 6.3% to close at $47.46 in New York, leaving it down 21% this year.

If you’ve been paying attention to the technology space this year, this news shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. It comes mere weeks after new Apple computers running proprietary Apple processors were released, trouncing many high-end, ridiculously expensive machines with much more powerful chips.

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October 29, 2020 -

Reading Time: 2 minutes

I came across Marques Brownlee, a.k.a. MKBHD, earlier this year when he was mentioned in the comments of some article I was reading. Curious, I clicked through to his YouTube channel and ended up subscribing.

It turns out MKBHD is a YouTube star with nearly 13 million subscribers — and I can understand why. Brownlee has an earnestness and humility about him that is endearing and builds trust, which is crucial for anybody doing product reviews. I’ve watched several of his videos since that day, and found his coverage to be fair, easy to understand, and thorough. It’s a nice contrast to the legions of YouTubers who rely on yelling at the camera, stunts, fancy graphics or by manufacturing controversy.

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October 25, 2020 -

Reading Time: 3 minutes

I have to admit, I was a bit disappointed by the new documentary White Noise, which was recently released by The Atlantic. I first learned of the doc from an article in the same publication titled “Why the Alt-Right’s Most Famous Woman Disappeared” by Daniel Lombroso, which profiled a young woman named Lauren Southern. Despite following news and politics pretty closely, it was the first time I had come across her name. What surprised me, though, is she hails from Surrey, British Columbia, which is part of Greater Vancouver. She grew up in the same environment I did.

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September 30, 2020 -

Reading Time: 2 minutes

The rise of newsletters, which has been underway for several years now, is finally on the media’s radar. They’ve become a legit path for journalists to pursue their own beats at their own pace while building their own audiences. The latest is Casey Newton, longtime technology reporter for The Verge and writer of The Interface. Newton recently announced he would launch a newsletter on Substack called Platformer on October 5.

He writes:

Something special happens when a publication shrinks down all the way to a single reporter’s point of view. The publication feels more trustworthy: you know who the writer is, and where they’re coming from. It promotes expertise: the reporter is free to explore their given subject at great depth, sharing what they learn in an iterative way. And because their publications are about something specific, they can create real communities. Intimate, fascinating, generative communities.

No doubt Newton has the chops to pull this off. He has the name recognition, deep knowledge of his subject area, a great network of contacts, and the dedication and discipline to make it a success. Then there’s the matter of timeliness: Newton says the newsletter will focus on the intersection of social networks and democracy, something not well understood yet critical to elections and the long-term sustainability of democracy.

I heartily support journalists who take this step, and have long admired and subscribed to two of the best who helped blaze this new path to profitable newsletters: Ben Thompson from Stratechery and Bill Bishop of Sinocism. That said, it feels like there is a clear limit to how many newsletters people can — or would want — to subscribe to. There will be a point at which it will be exceedingly difficult to break through if you don’t have name recognition already. I don’t know where that point is, but it’s possible we’re already at it.

Regardless, I’m rooting for Newton. I’ve signed up for the annual plan and already look forward to his first installment next month.

September 23, 2020 -

Reading Time: < 1 minute

Chinese President Xi Jinping blasting the United States and calling for solidarity in the fight against COVID-19 at the United Nations on September 22 (emphasis added by me):

All countries are closely connected and we share a common future. No country can gain from others’ difficulties or maintain stability by taking advantage of others’ troubles. To pursue a beggar-thy-neighbor policy or just watch from a safe distance when others are in danger will eventually land one in the same trouble faced by others. This is why we should embrace the vision of a community with a shared future in which everyone is bound together. We should reject attempts to build blocs to keep others out and oppose a zero-sum approach. We should see each other as members of the same big family, pursue win-win cooperation, and rise above ideological disputes and do not fall into the trap of “clash of civilizations”. More importantly, we should respect a country’s independent choice of development path and model.

So who in China made an ‘independent choice’ about any of those things?

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