Loads of passive entertainment

Was getting stuck in the house due to the lockdown and the cold, so have been spending lots of time reading, and listening to audiobooks, podcasts and watching YouTube videos, and sometimes on Netflix, exclusively with Womanfriend. Erm, that’s because I don’t have a Netflix account and she does.

Funny enough, I’m not hooked on Netflix. They have good stuff, but the streaming industry is so fragmented that no platform has all the content from all different competing companies to allow me to watch whatever I want, whenever I want.

What made it worse, is that I’m not even a captive audience anymore - it used to be that watching movies are all about the exclusivity, that if I wanted to see something, I had to go to the cinema to watch the latest and the greatest, and no matter how potentially-bad the film isn’t up to my expectations, I’ll sit through the film. These days, pause, fast forward and stop has made me the ficklest of watchers, that I’m finding it is hard to keep my attention for any passive viewing having a format of greater than 30 minutes.

YouTube videos are ironically better suited for me - they have such varied subject matter and aren’t limited to neatly classified genres, which is part of its appeal. I mean, how would you classify and justify production of:

  • How to roast chestnuts, and other random cooking stuffs
  • Looking at nice apartments NYC, and how the market situation is right now (bad)
  • People reviewing the computer gadgets and gizmos
  • DIY techniques, home improvement showcases
  • People exposing scammers
  • People living in the great outdoors, or off-grid
  • Solar cells, SpaceX, Mind-control or whatever else Elon Musk is up to
  • How some millennials do the hustle and make millions in a year
  • Comedians that got famous via the Internet directly
  • Cyberpunk 2077 bug glitches, and before it’s release, all the various showreels
  • Snippets of news carried by actual broadcasting networks
  • TED talks or some other content presentations by subject matter experts

It’d be hard pressed to find any other platform that carries such a wide array of content that doesn’t neatly fit into buckets that the TV and Movie industry likes. In fact, it’s hard to classify what thing YouTube is, aside from a repository of videos random people upload to.

It’s basically that, and it’s massive network-effect that I think YouTube has such a defensible moat that barring some serious mis-steps, I don’t think any video-streaming platform can ever compete with.

Back in 2006 when Google bought YouTube, it didn’t make any sense in my head; Internet speeds were terrible, video-streaming was unreliable and there just wasn’t enough CPU processing power to handle videos satisfactorily. Then, the quality of the content posted were random, sporadic, sparse and poor. It seemed a little crazy then for Google to have bought it for $1.65B. 15 years after, I have to say, that $1.65B was money very well-spent.

Reading List

I have been reading a fair bit more these days, partly because of the lack of other activities, but more because I have been enjoying quite a fair bit more of doing some financial education lately. A lot of the reading list has actually been from indirect references from blog posts and side-remarks in videos, rather than any direct dedicated searches of my own. In no particular order, these are the books that I have been reading:

  • Principles, Ray Dalio
  • Thinking in Bets / How to Decide, Annie Duke
  • Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction, Philip Tetlock
  • Unknown Market Wizards, Jack Schwager
  • The Psychology of Money, Morgan Housel

Indirectly, some of these books were referenced from a YouTube talk by Aswath Damodaran mentioning his favourite book ‘Moneyball’, which led me to watch the film ‘Moneyball’ on Netflix (thanks to Womanfriend), which kept me interested enough to not fast-forward the film, and somehow piqued my interest in understanding probabilities and decision making with uncertainty itself.

That was followed with a recent article featuring Annie Duke promoting her latest book, How to Decide, which got me reading her older book, Thinking in Bets as well as Superforecasting which was referenced as a source. Somehow that got me looking up Jack Schwager writing about super traders (not investors), who obviously had real probabilistic edge rather than down to just people with inconceivable luck and chance, to which I picked up his earlier book ‘Market Wizards’ that featured ‘Ray Dalio’, and brought me to reading his own book, ‘Principles’.

However, it’s quite unfortunately coincidental that just after reading about Ray Dalio writing about the birth of his first son, who is exactly the same age as I am, then in short order, knowing that he just died in a car crash few days ago.

It’s to much sadness and condolences to the Dalio family.

Just a little unreal right that I happen to be reading about this new person being born into the world in Ray’s book, that he has ‘so quickly’ passed. That made me reflect on my own fleeting mortality a little more than usual, and certainly is a real-time reminder to how uncertain life can be.