Moontower #18


This tweet grabbed my attention this week:


A “talented consumer?”

A clever turn of phrase. Multiply a negative connotation word by a positive connotation word and get a negative connotation expression. I’ll pause while you check if this word arithmetic holds more generally.

Back to our gut reaction to the tweet. There’s probably a spectrum of responses amongst you. I’d bracket the range between these boundaries:

  • Didactic and pompous. Screaming on the internet. Trying to sell a book (he is)
  • I need to watch less Netflix and get off my bum

Predictably, the truth is somewhere in the middle. There’s no reason to get aggro if you thought he was too preachy after all Twitter is a 280 character playing field. Nuance and caveats come after the game. The reason this tweet resonated with me is that it surfaced a tension I’ve always had:

Analysis vs action

I took a much broader view of his use of the terms “creation” and “consuming” than the tweet probably allows for. We consume for entertainment and for learning. There’s overlap. Love Island is more the former. Your latest hardcover is more the latter. Nature documentaries are a guiltless way to watch TV. Eating at Per Se or hitting a distillery tour can be rationalized to skew more towards learning than hedonism. Different strokes, no judgment.

For me the distinction of how I use my time isn’t concentrated on the value of what I’m consuming but whether I’m consuming or doing. Am I just onboarding, or am I deploying? There’s always a balance and you may feel that you aren’t in your sweet spot. Are you moving too fast and need to stop to backfill, or are you consuming too passively and need to make more impact? The tweet is a status check. I used the discomfort as a chance to locate myself on the spectrum.

Consuming is great and necessary but it scratches a different itch than seeing your efforts play out in the wild. I don’t mean that in a ‘give back’ kind-of-way since the impact may simply be on yourself. The point is that the ‘creating’ enzyme binds to a different receptor than the ‘consuming’ enzyme.

Watching Chef’s Table vs serving your own custom Manhattan cocktail. Listening to Hendrix vs trying your hand at ProTools. Reading Wired vs writing your own automation script. Attending a lecture at your community library vs hosting your own purposeful gathering.

The get-off-your-ass starter manual

If you have ever shared my pang of being too inward, too ‘in your own head’, too much ‘analysis paralysis’ then the antidote is to see your mental energy manifested in some physical outcome in the world. Maybe it will be a piece of art. Maybe it will be a financial plan with a spreadsheet. Maybe it will exist by proxy — you have planted a seed in someone else who in turn produces something you end up consuming. A virtuous, recursive loop that you set in motion.

If you want a push I strongly recommend Austin Kleon’s short book Steal Like an Artist. I read it on New Year’s Day 6 years ago and just re-read it on vacation (twice!) last week. It takes about 30-45 minutes to read. It’s the kind of book that every reader can really take something different from because the ideas apply to creations of all kind.

I don’t want to influence your own lessons if you choose to read it but if you were curious, I did post my own.

And going back to that original tweet for a moment — I could not help responding:

Climb Higher

The last post you will need for understanding credit card points including these awesome resources that Adam has compiled.

Taking directly from his post:

  • Award Hacker: Shows you how many points it takes for a given flight. Much quicker than looking up redemption tables
  • Award Mapper: Shows hotel categories and their required number of points for a given destination
  • Credit Card Tune Up: Based on your spending inputs it will show the card with the highest value for your everyday spending
  • Transfer Partner Calculator: Shows the conversion rate of transferring points between partners

He covers point devaluations, strategy, and the reasoning behind his own approach. It’s worth a look for anyone who uses credit cards.

Bookmark it and never have to search the topic again.

Last Call

  • AI is coming for no-limit Texas hold’em poker now. Read here
  • You don’t know how big Africa is. Try this
  • I’ve pulled at least 4 articles in Moontower from Chris Spark’s curated favorites. Check out more for some good beach reading. Unless you think Trump is capable of “4D chess”, you will find the 2016 New Yorker feature on Trump’s ghostwriter nod-worthy.
  • I was into surfing and bodyboarding in my high school days. My bedroom walls didn’t have posters of Michael Jordan or L.T. (the original) but of Kelly Slater and Rob Machado. Surf movies and the punk soundtracks were a culture all their own. One of my favorite HBO documentaries is Momentum Generation which came out last year. A great doc to enjoy this summer. Trailer here
  • If you are following the Jeffrey Epstein saga the prevailing theory in the finance world is he wasn’t an asset manager by any standard measure. He had almost no footprint in the bank or fund community and he would suspiciously turn away very lucrative clients. Many big names are coming around to a theory put forth by this anonymous but well-followed twitter account. See what you think of it here.

From my actual life 

If you live in CA, these days it’s hard to escape the clickbait earthquake headlines foretelling the next “big one”. In the midst of all the faultline porn, I can’t help but remind you of one of my favorite movie plots. In the original Superman with Christopher Reeves, Lex Luthor buys all the land in CA’s central valley. Think Modesto. Yinh’s old stomping grounds. Anyway, he proceeds to catalyze an earthquake that is so powerful it would cast the western part of CA into the Pacific, leaving him a tidy profit on his now waterfront property. And yet here’s the part I can’t suspend my disbelief of — why is this genius supervillain’s grand plan nothing more than some Frankencousin of a weary old insider trade? How boringly commercial. It wasn’t clear to me whether he was just financing a plot for world domination or if he just wanted to be on the Forbes list. His lair under Grand Central was as gaudy as Trump Tower, it’s not like he was worried about his pension.

Speaking of Trump, I’ve never seen him and Lex in the same room. Deep thoughts by Jack Handey.

Have a great week friends!

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