The Dann Chronicles: December 🎄
A public act of self-destruction, eco-crypto, all your to-dos, predicting the future, and tapping your heart out.
It's easy to get lost in the day-to-day minutiae. That's why I always like to take a moment in December, breath, and take stock of how much changed in the past year.
In my previous December newsletter, I said I was "bullish" on the future of New York City. I'm still bullish, but way more confidently now. Last December, we were still 2-3 months away from the first vaccines being poked in arms, and the future still seemed so uncertain. There's still a level of uncertainty today, especially with Omicron spreading through New York like wildfire, but there's a sense of optimism that just wasn't there last year. It seems like COVID mutations are making the virus more transmissible but less severe. That's exactly how the 1918 influenza pandemic petered out.
So while we still can't totally predict the future (more on that below!), we can definitively say we're in a better place today than we were 365 days ago. Here's to hoping we'll have the same outlook in 365 days from now.
☠️ Honest to a fault
Can a documentary series be an act of self-destruction?
If you've ever seen Caveh Zahedi's The Show About The Show, you know that the answer is a definitive "yes."
I first got into The Show About The Show after reading this NYTimes profile, which describes the project in a very straightforward way:
A filmmaker bared his soul. It ruined his life. Caveh Zahedi’s abject, self-defeating, ethically questionable, maddeningly original approach to documentary.
The article was one of the wildest things I've read, and I couldn't imagine the show actually being that subversive. But I'm here to report that, yes dear reader, it is.
The premise is quite meta: each episode is about the filming of the previous episode. It's totally scripted, by Caveh himself, based on his interpretations of past events, and where ever possible the filmmaker gets the actual people to play themselves. Where it gets tricky is that Caveh's recollection of events isn't neutral by any means, and his desire to tell his "truth" above all else makes everything around him implode. Some of the confessionals are simply jaw-dropping.
You can find episodes one through twelve (produced by Brooklyn-based BRIC Media) on YouTube. Note that the content is definitively Not Safe For Work. The two most recent episodes are available (the latest of which was published December 3rd of this year) are on the filmmaker's Vimeo.
I've mentioned before that one of the reasons I like Solana is because it's one of the more eco-friendly than other blockchains. Solana released their Energy Use Report for November 2021 and the results are so extreme that I couldn't help but share.
You can find the full list in the report, but here's how the energy use of *a single Solana transaction* compares to other common activities (in Joules):
1,837 J - A single Solana transaction
36,000 J - Keeping an LED light bulb on for one hour
44,676 J - Using a fully-charged iPhone 13 on battery
692,820,000 J - One Ethereum transaction
6,995,592,000 J - One Bitcoin transaction
Not only that, the Solana Foundation is also working on a program to make the validator network carbon neutral to completely offset the footprint of the ecosystem.
If you've been curious to dip your toes into the world of web3, DeFi, and Crypto but have been feeling guilty about the environmental impact, Solana is a great place to start.
The underlying technology is here to stay, and I think it's important to throw support behind chains that won't destroy the planet (at least from an environmental standpoint).
✅ All The Things
When it comes to productivity apps, I realized that I've shared two of the three apps that make up my personal stack. I talked about personal knowledge management (PKM) with Obsidian in October and Tot as an ephemeral scratch pad in November.
The last piece of the puzzle for me is the to-do app Things. I've tried a lot of different to-do apps over the years (notable ones being Omnifocus, 2Do, Todoist) but Things provides the perfect balance between simplicity and complexity.
I have two keyboard shortcuts for Things that I use almost daily:
Control-Space - Create a new To Do item
Control-Option-Space - Create a new To Do item based on the current active website
Everything I want to do or remember goes into Things, and it's saved to my Inbox by default. I'll regularly go through this Inbox and categorize them into Projects, with an organizational structure loosely based on Tiago Forte's PARA system.
Then, and this is the hardest part of the routine, I'll review every item in Things to help plan what I want to be working on right now, adding items to Today (which for me doesn't necessarily mean today-today, but just what I want to actively accomplish next).
The Obsidian/Tot/Things stack packs a powerful punch. And it's flexible enough to mold to your habits.
🔮 The Us in Nostradamus
Predicting the future can be tricky business. Even experts have difficulty predicting future events in their own specialized fields. But a funny thing happens when you pool many brains together: the results can be more accurate than even the smartest individuals.
Metaculus is a "community dedicated to generating accurate predictions about future real-world events by aggregating the collective wisdom." You can see the odds of things like Russian invading Ukraine by 2023, or how big the first crew sent to Mars might be.
But I think the real value of Metaculus is its ability to hone your own thinking. When you sign up for a new account, they have a required "training" exercise that teaches you how to use their system and make your own informed predictions. Even if you're not interested in being an active part of the community, I highly recommend going through the course.
If you want to take it a step further, like Avi and I did, you can then come up with 30-40 predictions of your own (we just did it in a Google Doc). These can be anything: from the results of the next political election to whether you think some friends of yours will get married in the next year. Mark your predictions next to each one.
As events happen, take note of the results and grade yourself. Use that to calibrate your own thinking. Are you personally really good at predicting the future, or just mediocre? And how would knowing that change how you're thinking about the future today?
🎶 Tap it out
I loved playing Guitar Hero back in college. When I got my iPhone, I likewise sunk a good chunk of time into the now-defunct Tap Tap Revenge, a similar game for your fingers. Tap Tap Revenge has been missing from the App Store since 2014, and I've quietly longed for a replacement since.
A lovely new version of this classic tap-to-the-beat game is here, and I've been having a blast. Beatstar (iOS, Android), isn't perfect, but it certainly scratches the itch.
It's a free-to-play model, but I don't mind taking it slow and never paying a dime. And I'm surprisingly impressed with the music selection. My only complaint is that most of the taps are to the vocals, rather than the music, which can be especially tricky when it decides to switch back and forth.
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Thanks for reading. Until next time,