Discover more from SatPost by Trung Phan
My most popular posts and tweets for 1H 2023.
Thanks for subscribing to SatPost.
Many of you readers are probably gearing up for an upcoming break (I got Canada Day juking today). So, this email is a quick round-up of my most read SatPost articles and best tweets from the first half of 2023.
Also this week:
FTC sues Amazon over Prime
McDonald’s demented TikTok trend
And them fire tweets (including Barbie vs. Oppenheimer)tr
Most read SatPost in 1H 2023
I did a scan through my emails and site analytics to see which articles have slapped in 2023.
It seems that the writing that gets shared the most is when I tie together a number of different idea threads into one article. It is reminiscent of high school when every writing assignment was some version of “compare and contrast”. Here are the 5 most popular articles and the titles are pretty self-explanatory:
Apple Demos vs. Amazon Memos: How two tech giants bring ideas into the world.
The Family Guy TikTok Pipeline: Family Guy mixed with mobile game clips are absurd (and an attention black hole).
The Camera, Van Gogh and “The Starry Night”: How the invention of the camera changed art and led to Van Gogh's classic painting.
Steve Jobs, Rick Rubin and “Taste”: The Apple co-founder and the super-producer share similar ideas regarding taste and creativity.
Nike, Tiffany and The 3% Rule: Why is slightly editing an idea so powerful? Because humans desire two competing things: familiarity and novelty.
Super-producer Rick Rubin — who has an incredible beard and is the subject of one of the articles — recently wrote a book called The Creative Act. In it, he says the first phase of the creative process is referred to as the “seed phase”:
In the first phase of the creative process, we are to be completely open, collecting anything we find of interest. We can call this the Seed phase. We’re searching for potential starting points that, with love and care, can grow into something beautiful. At this stage, we are not comparing them to find the best seed. We simply gather them.
A seed for a song could be a phrase, a melody, a bass line, or a rhythmic feel. For a written piece, it may be a sentence, a character sketch, a setting, a thesis, or a plot point. For a structure, a shape, a material choice, a function, or the natural properties of a location. And for a business, it could be a common inconvenience, a societal need, a technical advancement, or a personal interest.
[…] It’s generally preferable to accumulate several weeks’ or months’ worth of ideas and then choose which of them to focus on, instead of following an urge or obligation to rush to the finish line with what is in front of us today.
Over the years, I have accumulated a lot of random idea seeds in my iPhone Notes and endless Google Docs. When I am writing, the seeds just pop up and I type them into something semi-coherent. I am sure many of you have a similar process.
Either way, I hope that something you've read from SatPost — or my demented Twitter feed — has become a seed that you’ve gathered for future use.
Some popular tweets in 1H 2023
Speaking of my demented Twitter feed, I continue to spend an aggressive amount of time on the platform. One reason I use to justify the time spent: Twitter has replaced my previous forms of digital entertainment including binge-watching TV, playing video games and losing money on fantasy sports.
Also, Twitter gives me the added benefit of learning new stuff, laughing my face off and meeting a ton of interesting people (including many of you readers).
For the purpose of digital entertainment, I go on Twitter to whip up an insightful take or dumb meme about the trending topic at any moment.
Below are 6 notable topics from 2023 and my related tweets:
1. Apple releases its spatial computing headset, Apple Vision Pro.
2. The King Charles coronation ceremony takes place on the same day as Berkshire Hathaway’s annual general meeting (AGM).
3. Adobe releases a new generative AI tool for Photoshop that can fill out any image with just a simple text description.
4. WarnerBos Discovery re-names its streaming service from “HBO Max” to “Max”.
5. That wild weekend when Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) collapsed after a bank run.
6. Last week, the head of Wagner Group — a Russian paramilitary group — mutinied against Vladimir Putin and the country’s Ministry of Defense.
Today’s SatPost is brought to you by Bearly.AI
Why are you seeing this ad?
Because I co-founded an AI-powered research app called Bearly AI. And I really like putting blue buttons in this email. If you press this blue button below, you can try AI-powered tools for reading (instant summaries), writing (ChatGPT) and text-to-image art (literally type some text and get a wild image).
It’s all available in one keyboard shortcut (and an iPhone app).
Links and Memes
Some other baller links for your content needs:
Ari Emanuel’ Superpower: Ari is the hard-charging CEO of the $7B talent agency Endeavour Group (he is also the source material for Entourage’s Ari Gold). He gives a fascinating interview on Freakanomics about:
Youngest brother syndrome: He grew up with two extremely accomplished brothers: 1) Zeke is an oncologist who’s worked in two White House administrations; 2) Rahm was Obama’s Chief of Staff, Mayor of Chicago and now Ambassador to Japan.
Economics of representation: Endeavour represents talent but also owns entertainment properties. The company chooses which route to go (representation vs. owning) based on labour costs. In the NBA, players get ~50% of the league’s revenue (relatively high) so the agency reps the players. However, in MMA, fighters get only 10-20% of the sport’s revenue (relatively low), so Endeavour made a play to own the UFC, which it bought for $4B and recently merged with WWE.
His Superpower: Ari says his competitive advantage is his willingness to get on the phone and call anyone at any time to extract information and mediate.
The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sued Amazon over its Prime subscription service. The lawsuit says Amazon deceives people into subscribing for Prime and makes it difficult to cancel the subscription. I have tried to cancel Prime in the past and it did take a lot of steps, but I don’ think the site uses “dark patterns” (aka design tricks). Comparatively, have you tried cancelling your phone or internet plans? You need to block off an entire weekend for that and then spend the entire next week recovering.
Anyways, Hacker News has a very interesting discussion debating the merits for and against the lawsuit.
Travel tips from a guy that has flown 23 million miles. In 1990, Tom Stuker spent $290,000 to buy a lifetime First Class Seat pass with United Airlines. The airline quickly ended the promotion because anyone who bought it got the deal of a lifetime (imagine the experience of trying to cancel your internet plan, except the exact opposite). In a chat with The Washington Post, Stuker — who has flown more miles than anyone in history (23 million) — gave four travel tips:
Lie to the first flight attendant you meet inside the door when you board. “She’s the head attendant. I always say, ‘I remember you! You gave us such great service last time. I wanted to thank you again.’ Even if I’ve never met her. I guarantee she’ll bring you all kinds of free stuff.”
If you couldn’t book the seat you wanted, keep your phone open on the seat map app as you board. If a blocked seat that you wanted opens up, just take it. “They won’t care,” he says. “They never sold it.”
Never check a bag. Never, ever, never. And under-pack. “Every town has laundromats. And stores.”
Don’t be a jerk and use your cell without headphones. That way, people won’t hate you. “Whenever somebody takes a long business call on speaker, I always say, ‘Hey, next time you’re going to have all of us to your business meeting, bring doughnuts.’”
McDonald’s TikTok trend: So, Mickey Ds has that purple mascot named Grimace. For the character’s “birthday”, the chain released a purple shake drink. There’s a (demented) viral trend of TikTokers drinking the shake and pretending to pass out or become incapacitated in increasingly bizarre scenarios.
MTV Cribs profiled over 110 celebrity homes. What was the most popular episode? It wasn’t a big mansion or exotic getaway. It was Wu-Tang rapper Redman touring his modest Staten Island townhome. Before filming, the MTV producers offered to rent the rapper a mansion but he had zero interest in faking it because he says his mom would have called him out.
The episode is very real: Redman doesn’t hide his X-rated DVDs, his cousin is sleeping on the ground and you ring the doorbell by touching two exposed wires. It is easily the best 5 minutes of content that MTV has ever produced.
…and here some other gold tweets.
Orcas have been ramming yachts in European waters at an alarming rate this year. Based on two minutes of internet research, there are a few possible reasons for their attacks: 1) it could be a game they invented to entertain themselves; 2) it could be a form of revenge for being hit in the past; or 3) it could be to give humans material for hilarious tweets (see below).
Finally, we need to talk about July 21, 2023. That is the day that two diametrically opposed Hollywood blockbusters are competing for eyeballs: Oppenheimer (Christopher Nolan’s story about the making of the atom bomb) and Barbie (Margot Robbie as Barbie and Ryan Gosling as Ken). Barbie has been putting on a marketing blitz with some wild collaborations as documented in this Twitter thread.
This meme captures the brewing feud perfectly: