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28 Aug

What we are reading this Sunday

The Elite Overproduction Hypothesis

The essay goes into the details of how, basically, America produced a lot of highly educated people with great expectations for their place in American society, but its economic and social system was unable to accommodate many of these expectations, causing them to turn to leftist politics and other disruptive actions out of frustration and disappointment.

When you've got university graduates without jobs, that leads to a huge conflict between perceived status — educated, thus high — and actual status: jobless and thus low. The result is you get people whose self-image doesn't match their reality, and this leads to all kinds of turmoil — both on the level of the individual and of the society.

So much so that 'Elite Overproduction' has been cited as a root cause of political tension in the U.S., as so many well-educated Millennials are either unemployed, underemployed, or otherwise not achieving the high status they expect.

Is It a Cheetah?

"The child who does well in school, gets good grades, wins awards, and "performs" beyond the norms for his or her age, is considered talented. The child who does not, no matter what his innate intellectual capacities or developmental level, is less and less likely to be identified, less and less likely to be served."

Education is a big way in which individuals make themselves legible to society and get a chance to participate in status games — simply because education is the primary barrier to entry in a lot of them. But this legibility is only limited to the kinds of traits the prevailing education system permits. The result is that every trait that can't be easily captured by the system is devalued.

Embrace the Grind

"You will be fooled by a trick if it involves more time, money and practice than you (or any other sane onlooker) would be willing to invest. My partner, Penn, and I once produced 500 live cockroaches from a top hat on the desk of talk-show host David Letterman. To prepare this took weeks. We hired an entomologist who provided slow-moving, camera-friendly cockroaches (the kind from under your stove don’t hang around for close-ups) and taught us to pick the bugs up without screaming like preadolescent girls. Then we built a secret compartment out of foam-core (one of the few materials cockroaches can’t cling to) and worked out a devious routine for sneaking the compartment into the hat. More trouble than the trick was worth? To you, probably. But not to magicians."

There is no secret sauce. Put in the work, more than others are willing to, and you will soon have people asking you something like they ask us:

"How do you come up with this level of writing every single day? Where do you get your ideas from? What does your writing process look like?"

The team is just into it. It's as simple and as complex as that. And when you're into something, you're willing to go the extra mile. You're willing to embrace the grind.

Some food for thought

"The second character trait of a great investor is that he is obsessive about playing the game and wanting to win. These people don't just enjoy investing; they live it. They wake up in the morning and the first thing they think about, while they're still half asleep, is a stock they have been researching, or one of the stocks they are thinking about selling, or what the greatest risk to their portfolio is and how they are going to neutralize that risk. They often have a hard time with personal relationships because, though they may truly enjoy other people, they don't always give them much time. Their head is always in the clouds, dreaming about stocks. Unfortunately, you can't learn to be obsessive about something. You either are, or you aren't. And if you aren't, you can't be the next Bruce Berkowitz."

— Mark Sellers

Okay folks, that's all for today. I'll see you tomorrow with another crisp edition. Till then, take care and enjoy your Sunday!

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