Best posts, books, newsletters, podcasts, TV—and a look into 2023
Note: I just released the second episode of my new show co-hosted with Dan Romero and Antonio Garcia Martinez, featuring Marc Andreessen again as a guest. ICYMI, here’s the first episode from the other day. In the next few weeks I’ll release another two hour episode with Marc, as part of a solo podcast I’m launching soon. Stay tuned.
2022 was a big year for this blog. Let’s recap with favorite books, newsletters, podcasts of the year, followed by my favorite posts and ideas for 2023.
Full-list on my Twitter. Four books listed below:
TLDR: For 99.9% of our existence, Western society has been a fascist-communist cult that joined ethnicity, religion, culture, and space. Any variation off of that is abnormal and easy to lose.
The main conclusion I drew from the book is that we aren’t intensification of the past, we are dilution. Our modem concepts of politics, religion, ethnicity, etc are significant dilutions of what people experienced thousands of years ago. Same patterns, incredibly attenuated.
The religions in medieval times were a combination of ancestor worship and nature worship. This leads to the enticing theory that this is also where we've ended up today: ancestor worship = identity politics; nature worship = environmentalism.
By destroying the big religions, perhaps we've ended up back right where we started.
One of the amazing twists of the last 50 years is that "self esteem" is a concept from Ayn Rand's collaborator Nathaniel Branden. It started out meaning something like what Nietzsche would say and then transformed into the exact opposite: feeling good about yourself even when you have no reason to.
This is one of the things Jordan Peterson always pointed out in amazement from his world tour. He said, "I go to all these cities and I tell these people, you shouldn't have self esteem because you haven't yet done anything with your life to be proud of, and they don't get mad at me, they clap and cheer!"
"Why are they clapping and cheering? Because they've been lied to their whole lives, and they know it, and it's making them miserable, and finally someone tells them the truth."
"And now they have a way to think about what they should actually do!"
The blame the system mindset says that if you're not achieving the American dream, then it's because the American dream is a myth. America is oppressive, capitalism is exploitative, and these systems are so rigged that you can’t possibly rise up.
The blame the victim mindset says that if you're not achieving the American dream, it’s because you individually have failed. You haven’t worked hard enough, you haven’t worked smart enough, you haven’t done the things you were supposed to do to succeed.
Both of these are incomplete narratives. Ian Rowe reconciles them in “Agency”.
The End of The World is Just the Beginning, by Peter Zeihan
Deglobalization combined with depopulation changes everything. It breaks everything that we understand of how trade and economics and agriculture and manufacturing and transport and the rest works.
The concept of global complex supply chains goes away, the idea of a single price for oil goes away. The idea that we can feed 8 billion people goes away.
I covered his initial thinking here.
There are many conversations that will be emerging as tech forces us to ask fundamental questions: How do we feel about artificial wombs? How do we feel about Artificial intelligence replacing core human activity? How do we feel about genetic editing? Even Wizards are not equipped to answer these questions. What happens when we become post-human?
Richard Hanania on a psychological theory of the culture war
Brett Andersen on the reevaluation of all values
Ruy Texeira (a democrat) on a three point plan to fix the democrats and their coalition
Paul Klingsnorth on What Progress Wants
Brian Chau on Open AI’s woke catcheism
Freddie DeBoer on The Gentrification of Disability
Rob Henderson on expectations of men
N.S Lyons, Reality Honks Back
Adam Mastroianni, The Rise and Fall of Peer Review
Erik Hoel, The Gossip Trap
Packy McCormick on Decentralization
Mike Solana on The Fifth Estate
Katherine Boyle on The Case for American Seriousness
Sam Hammond on AI
Brink Lindsay on The Permanent Problem
Nadia Asparouhova on Idea Machines
Molly Mielke on Commitments
Neal Brennan’s standup set
Louise Perry & Michelle Goldberg and Freddie DeBoer and Richard Reeves on Bari Weiss’s podcast
Nadia Asparouhova and Tyler Cowen on Dwarkesh Patel’s podcast
Parker Conrad on Cartoon Avatars
Ian Rowe on Conversations with Coleman
Tyler Cowen and Marc Andreessen on Richard Hanania’s podcast
Carl Trueman and Yoram Hazony on Andrew Sullivan’s podcast
Patrick Collison on Ezra Klein’s podcast
Richard Hanania on Brian Chau’s podcast
John Vervaeke on Jim Rutt’s podcast
Balaji Srinivasan on Eric Jorgenson’s podcast and The Boyscast podcast
Erik Hoel on Sam Harris’s podcast
Peter Zeihan on Modern Wisdom
Ezra Klein on Oddlots
David Sacks on The Realignment
Yoram Hazony and Darryl Cooper on Subversive
Eric Weinstein on Uncomfortable Conversations
Emil Michael on Execs
We looked at how elites preach the opposite of what they practice, and how this was a shift based on class and political realignments. I talked about how economic changes means it might be the end for surplus elite email jobs.
We looked at how status works, how signaling evolved, and how beliefs are fashions.
We explained how The Current Thing works, how it leads to Bizarro Current Things, and how returning to an era of rational conversation is futile because…it never existed.
We looked at how hatred of one’s own tradition emerges, and how religions and traditions persist nonetheless.
We remarked how Elon taking over Twitter signals the return of entrepreneurial capitalism, as well as the unexpected challenges he’ll face as it relates to implementing free speech.
I did a series on Careers: Reconsidering Career Optionality, Navigating Career Transitions, and How to Know When to Leave a Company. My best career posts are Build Personal Moats and Take Asymmetric Bets.
I wrote about meritocracy, ambition, and hustle culture, as well as how egalitarianism takes over, and how it penetrates organizations.
Other favorite posts include On Solitude, Death of the Middle, Truth, Status, and Tribes, More Christian Than We Know, and Whoever Generates the Demand Captures the Value.
As I plan my writing for this next year, to borrow from Mike Solana’s great wrap up post, please reply in the comments below with ideas on any of the following questions: What did I write that you enjoyed this year? What did you not like? What do you want more of? Who would you like to see me collaborate with next year? What other questions should I be asking that I’m not asking, or what other feedback do you have for me? I plan to do much more on the newsletter and podcast front in 2023, so hearing from you will help guide my plans. Thank you for all your support this year.
Happy new year,
As far as I'm concerned, change nothing! I am enthralled with your Substack just the way it is, and have never felt like there's something you could do better to make me like it more.
In terms of topics, I would be interested to hear your take on ChatGPT and what society looks like when even a computer programmer feels like they might be at risk of losing their job. I'm going to post a book review in a week or two of the "The Great Rupture." Here's a quote that's stood out,
"Over the next decade or two, almost all occupations will experience a sinking feeling of declining functionality and marginal pricing power. However, even that will not be the end of the story, as doctors, lawyers, educators, composers, and writers will also be swept into the same maelstrom of irrelevance. By the time a truck driver or a PhD in computer science feel that their contribution is eroding, it is doubtful that there will be any other jobs that will still be available for them."
At any rate, I look forward to reading your work in 2023.
Happy new year!
Erik, Happy New year!
Discovered your Substack with "The Hypocrisy of Elites", which made me think about things for weeks! I changed my attitude toward some things and how I think about others.
The most influential insights always caught me by surprise from places I wouldn't expect. I don't have topic requests, would love to read about anything u find interesting. The only humble ask - quality over quantity.
I've just listened to both episodes of MoZ and liked the second episode much more (I was probably one of the two listeners 😉). I can learn about SBF from "the worlds's best moderator" but never thought that you now can't portray a positive character building "an empire".
Thank you for the work, and looking forward to new ideas this year!