Nate Meyvis

My Favorite Stuff: 2020

My information diet, generally

I read Byrne Hobart every day. I think it makes me smarter every day.

I read Matt Levine every day (and have felt the absence of Money Stuff during his leave). I learn useful stuff every day, and it makes me laugh out loud, too.

I try to read everything Patrick McKenzie writes. These days a lot of his output is on Twitter.

I guess this means that I’ve taken a lot of mental inputs from (a certain fragment of) the world of finance this year. That’s not really how I think about my interests, but hey, follow the evidence where it leads…

Podcasts and episodes

  • Tim Ferriss’ interview with Tyler Cowen is self-recommending.
  • Accidental Tech Podcast #374 demonstrates what’s great about the show.
  • And The Richard Marx episode of The Moment demonstrates what’s great about that show and where Brian Koppelman’s comparative advantage is (in podcasting). The view of the music industry, the reflections on jingles, and the story about Right Here Waiting’s composition were all wonderful.
  • The Business of Emoji is much more interesting than I knew. How many other important tech niches am I so completely ignorant about? (Mac Power Users is, by the way, a very fine show generally.)
  • 30 Years of TidBITS on John Gruber’s The Talk Show brought back some great memories (though much of the discussion was of things that were before my time). There’s also a lot of material about cultural institutions there.
  • Agnes Callard, Adjective was a delightful and high-density (intellectual sustenance per minute) discussion with Agnes Callard, one of my very favorite current public intellectuals.
  • Weird Al Yankovic’s Weirdly Enduring Appeal,” a Sunday Read from the NYT’s “The Daily,” was great fun and my favorite artifact from any NYT franchise this year (second place: Wirecutter reviews of small saucepans). [Update 2020-12-01: This article just came out and it is now my favorite NYT artifact of 2020 by a mile.]
  • The Talk Show #293, with Anil Dash. This one I listened to twice for its combination of entertainment and argument. I disagree strongly with Anil, and he’s so likable and eloquent that it takes real work to figure out exactly where the disagreement comes from (and where each of us is most likely to be going wrong).
  • The Curbsiders is a useful and fun window into medical epistemology, and episode 228 was particularly listenable and fun for an outsider.
  • RecDiffs #140 is the show at its best. Fun; informative; just focused enough; personal but relevant.
  • Agnes Callard went on EconTalk in January and again in September, resulting in quite possibly my two favorite podcast episodes of the year.
  • Matt Ridley made for another great EconTalk episode. The material and the guest are perfect for long-form podcasting: plenty of lively anecdotes and facts but also plenty of depth, and enough poise and focus to bring everything together.

Twelve books I loved reading in 2020

  • Crime and Punishment.
  • The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen, Jacques Pépin.
  • East of Eden.
  • Geeking, Grifting, and Gambling Through Las Vegas, David Sklansky.
  • Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, Samin Nosrat.
  • We Are in a Book!, Mo Willems.
  • The Dream Machine, M. Mitchell Waldrop.
  • Fluent Python, Luciano Ramalho.
  • Effective Debugging, Diomidis Spinellis.
  • How Innovation Works, Matt Ridley.
  • A Moveable Feast, Hemingway.
  • The Great Gatsby (yearly reread).

Favorites from other genres

TV show: Ted Lasso

Movie: [didn’t watch any recent movies; A League of Their Own was my favorite of very few movie-watching experiences]

New album: folklore, Taylor Swift

Old album: Out of Time, R.E.M.

Technical blog post: this one about deep learning and NLP, from Nikolai Yakovenko.

Non-technical blog post: this one about guns and alcohol from Marginal Revolution. It’s been on my mind for years and has rewarded extra attention in 2020. (And not because doing so reinforces beliefs I have.)