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> I am Clay
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January 2022

This newsletter is a collection of things I have found in the last month that I enjoyed, found interesting, or simply wanted to share.

You can follow me more closely at my personal website or if you or someone you know is looking to buy or sell a home, you can point them to my real estate website.

My Media Stats from 2021

  • 406 podcast episodes totaling over 457 hours
  • 58 movies totaling over 112 hours
  • 21 books
  • 18 television seasons

About a Roy

On “Succession,” Jeremy Strong Doesn’t Get the Joke

Kendall is the show’s dark prince, a would-be mogul puffed up with false bravado. He is often ridiculous in his self-seriousness, especially when he’s trying to dominate his indomitable father. Strong was perfectly cast: a background player who had spent his life aspiring, and often maneuvering, to fill the shoes of his acting gods. “Kendall desperately wants it to be his turn,” Strong said. Last year, he won an Emmy Award for the role.

Strong, who is now forty-two, has the hangdog face of someone who wasn’t destined for stardom. But his mild appearance belies a relentless, sometimes preening intensity. He speaks with a slow, deliberate cadence, especially when talking about acting, which he does with a monk-like solemnity. “To me, the stakes are life and death,” he told me, about playing Kendall. “I take him as seriously as I take my own life.” He does not find the character funny, which is probably why he’s so funny in the role.

Mall Rats

Everything Must Go: Why we’ll never stop mourning the American mall

For most of my life, the shopping mall was the symbol of the capitalist experiment. Everything about it celebrated consumerism and the illusion of plenty, and fueled the suburbanite’s need for a real-world simulacrum—one that could replace scary diverse downtowns with “safe,” artificial Disneyland-ish approximations that substituted commerce for community. The choices in a mall were simultaneously endless and extremely constrained: You could try on every shoe in the world. Eat six different kinds of foods at the food court. Watch one of five movies. Maybe there was a fountain or a carousel. The actual activities you could do were limited, but there were so many products to choose from that it felt—to lame teenage me, certainly, covered in zits and longing to belong—like a place where rehearsals of glamour and independence and self-fashioning were possible (even if I never quite managed to access them myself). And yet, they’re dying. A 2017 report by Credit Suisse predicted that 1 in 4 malls would close by 2022. That was before the pandemic. How are these castles to consumerism crumbling while the system they so ably represented lives on?

If It’s Brown…

Why Does Coffee Make Me Poop?

This communication between the stomach, brain and colon, called the gastrocolic reflex, is a normal response to eating. But coffee seems to have an outsize effect; one study published in 1998 found that eight ounces of coffee stimulated colonic contractions similar to those induced by a 1,000-calorie meal. Researchers have hypothesized that coffee’s gut-brain messaging is likely caused by one or more of coffee’s many chemicals, and perhaps mediated by some of our own hormones that play important roles in the digestive process, like gastrin or cholecystokinin — both of which can spike after coffee drinking.

Links

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Thanks for reading. Have a great month,

Clay

December 2021

This newsletter is a collection of things I have found in the last month that I enjoyed, found interesting, or simply wanted to share.

You can follow me more closely at my personal website or if you or someone you know is looking to buy or sell a home, you can point them to my real estate website.

‘But, like, what is money, man?’

How Credit Cards Make Money

Payments are deceptively complicated—everyone has used them and thinks they have good intuitions for how they work. However, payments require coordination of a dance between different parties who have extremely different incentives, both on a transaction-by-transaction basis and what they get out of participating at all.

Taking a Step Back

Underrated Reasons To Be Thankful

That humans didn’t evolve under strong alpha selection, meaning that 99% of us don’t get eaten by birds in our first moments of life as we crawl down the beach towards the ocean, which is nice.

Rich Uncle Pennybags

Monopoly’s Origin and The Landlord’s Game

Today, the “real story” behind the invention of Monopoly, America’s most iconic board game, is well-known. But, as the game’s popularity began to intensify, executives at Parker Brothers wanted to keep the origin of Monopoly a secret. LeRoy Howard, a game designer and developer at Parker Brothers, advised George S. Parker about purchasing Monopoly from Charles Darrow in 1935. During the acquisition, Parker Brothers learned that Darrow’s commercially-produced version of the board game was based on Elizabeth M. Phillips’s previously-patented creation, The Landlord’s Game. In the end, Parker Brothers purchased the original patent from Phillips for $500. The document, titled “The Origin of the Game of Monopoly,” includes a handwritten annotation that reads “Not for Publication, L.H.” and was originally marked “Confidential.”

Links

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Do not hesitate to reply to this months email to share links, wisdom, or thoughts.

Thanks for reading. Have a great month,

Clay

November 2021

This newsletter is a collection of things I have found in the last month that I enjoyed, found interesting, or simply wanted to share.

You can follow me more closely at my personal website or if you or someone you know is looking to buy or sell a home, you can point them to my real estate website.

The Big Rick

IoT Hacking and Rickrolling My High School District

On April 30th, 2021, I rickrolled my high school district. Not just my school but the entirety of Township High School District 214. It’s the second-largest high school district in Illinois, consisting of 6 different schools with over 11,000 enrolled students.

This story isn’t one of those typical rickrolls where students sneak Rick Astley into presentations, talent shows, or Zoom calls. I did it by hijacking every networked display in every school to broadcast “Never Gonna Give You Up” in perfect synchronization. Whether it was a TV in a hall, a projector in a classroom, or a jumbotron displaying the lunch menu, as long as it was networked, I hacked it!

No Time to Die

An in-depth analysis of James Bond’s exposure to infectious agents

Global travelers, whether tourists or secret agents, are exposed to a smörgåsbord of infectious agents. We hypothesized that agents pre-occupied with espionage and counterterrorism may, at their peril, fail to correctly prioritize travel medicine. To examine our hypothesis, we examined adherence to international travel advice during the 86 international journeys that James Bond was observed to undertake in feature films spanning 1962–2021. Scrutinizing these missions involved ∼3113 min of evening hours per author that could easily have been spent on more pressing societal issues. We uncovered above-average sexual activity, often without sufficient time for an exchange of sexual history, with a remarkably high mortality among Bond’s sexual partners (27.1; 95% confidence interval 16.4–40.3). Given how inopportune a bout of diarrhea would be in the midst of world-saving action, it is striking that Bond is seen washing his hands on only two occasions, despite numerous exposures to foodborne pathogens. We hypothesize that his foolhardy courage, sometimes purposefully eliciting life-threatening situations, might even be a consequence of Toxoplasmosis. Bond’s approach to vector-borne diseases and neglected tropical diseases is erratic, sometimes following travel advice to the letter, but more often dwelling on the side of complete ignorance. Given the limited time Bond receives to prepare for missions, we urgently ask his employer MI6 to take its responsibility seriously. We only live once.

Drowning in Genres

Every Noise

Every Noise at Once is an ongoing attempt at an algorithmically-generated, readability-adjusted scatter-plot of the musical genre-space, based on data tracked and analyzed for 5,676 genre-shaped distinctions by Spotify as of 2021-10-26. The calibration is fuzzy, but in general down is more organic, up is more mechanical and electric; left is denser and more atmospheric, right is spikier and bouncier.

Links

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Do not hesitate to reply to this months email to share links, wisdom, or thoughts.

Thanks for reading. Have a great month,

Clay

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