270: TZ Discussion – Pricing for the Apocalypse

Justin and Jason discuss the TZ summit, the prospect of establishing a colony on Mars and what that process might look like, the prospect of an Ebola pandemic, betting on black swans and counterparty risk, why the TV show Lost was unable to close so many of it’s story lines, the idea for a productivity app modeled after Lost’s Swan computer, Justin’s vintage terminal app and his new cardio solution, what motivates people to change themselves, whether Justin has any regrets about selling Pluggio, why Jason gets satisfaction from helping other people and why he’s more excited about teaching the math class than any of his other projects, the fake legend of Walter O’Brien and Scorpion, the This American Life episode The Super, The Cracked Podcast, the upcoming content sites Nautilus, Quartz, Medium and Svbtle, productivity and anti-productivity habits, the apps Self ControlHabitRPG and EpicWin, an update on Operation Superhero, what happened to Jason’s screenplay concept, the latest with the math class, why Jason put learning electrical engineering on pause and the progress being made by MVCC.

  1. Matt S says:

    RE: Jason’s excitement about teaching

    I immediately thought back to all the times Jason has mentioned the large influence that Steve Sigur (math teacher) had on him. I have a feeling you are channeling that spirit, consciously or not 🙂

  2. Joe says:

    I’m going to reiterate something I’ve been saying all week — the Techzing Summit was fantastic, and every single person I met there was great. Somehow the self-selection process of deciding to go to the Summit created a group of people who were the perfect combination of smart/nice/interesting.

    Essentially what I’m saying is that “you people” should go to the next summit if you get the chance. I’m here to say that whatever concerns you might have, dismiss them. You’ll have a great time.

  3. Jason says:

    @Matt S – Yeah, I’ve been thinking about that as well. I certainly have a completely different style than Steve – he was much more laid back and exploratory, whereas I’m more competitive and goal driven, but you’re probably right. Steve was an amazing human being who had a profound effect on me and my view of the world.

    Speaking of comparisons, I think of Steve almost like a kind of ancient Kung Fu master or sage from the Middle Ages, while I’m more like Dewey Finn from School of Rock. Just ask Sandy, she’ll tell you. 😉


    Here’s a video about Steve, which should give you an idea:


  4. Jason says:

    @Joe – Thanks so much for that. I’m very happy to hear that you enjoyed the summit and felt it was worth the time and money. There was a big part of me that doubted whether it was going to work and there was an even bigger part of me that was constantly grumbling about having to organize yet another ‘thing’, but ultimately I thought it really worked out and I’m very glad that we did it. Like you said, the people were awesome, including yourself, and that’s what made all of the difference. Although, … the restaurants and Old Pasadena didn’t hurt either. 😉

  5. Matt S says:

    Another of the high quality online magazine I’ve been reading is Cabinet (http://www.cabinetmagazine.org/). There was a story about wooden pallets that got some traction on HN that I really enjoyed: http://www.cabinetmagazine.org/issues/52/hodes.php

    I’ve been thinking of getting the quarterly subscriptions as they would make nice coffee table reading material 🙂

  6. Good show guys, glad you all had good time during Techzing summit!

    @”Vintage terminal app”: There is rather cool retro terminal project over here: https://github.com/Swordfish90/cool-retro-term

    @Jason: thanks for recommending “Cracked” podcast, after listening to one episode I know there’s awesome week of podcast listening while commuting in front of me, thanks to you 🙂

    Also, I admire your goal of dunking basketball… And believe you can do it. Mostly from personal experience. Couple of guys from my high school were around and bellow 5’11” and could dunk it almost effortlessly… With regular and proper training who knows, thumbs up Jason!

    ps. I’m 6’4” so I don’t know what’s all the fuss about 😉

  7. Jason says:

    @Vladimir Jankovic – Cool, I’m glad you liked Cracked. It’s definitely one of my favorite podcasts.

    “Couple of guys from my high school were around and below 5’11” and could dunk it almost effortlessly”

    Wow, that’s amazing. I’ve literally played basketball with/against thousands of players over the past 30 years and I could probably count on one hand the number of guys I’ve run into who were under 6′ foot and could “dunk effortlessly”. Okay, maybe it was more than that because I’ve seen my share of incredible athletes, but it’s rare enough that when I’ve seen it, my reaction has generally been like “holy shit, that’s amazing!” 😉

    Anyway, my measured reach is exactly 91 inches, which means I’m 29 inches from even touching the rim. If I timed my jump perfectly, I’d probably need to jump 37 inches to dunk, but to dunk effortlessly (or even just consistently) it would likely need be more like 40 inches. Looking at the most recent NBA combine stats, that would theoretically put my max vertical near the top end of the very top NBA prospects:


    Basically, what I’m saying is this. As challenging as this goal sounds (and I’m guessing it sounds borderline ridiculous), multiply that difficulty rating by at least 10 or more and you might be getting close to the reality of it.

    To give you an idea, here’s my initial jump test from July 18th – and yes, I know it’s pathetic ;):


    And here’s my second jump test from Aug 6th, which is a pretty solid improvement for just a 19-day period – if I do say so myself. 😉 Basically, all I was doing (about twice per week) was standing pause jumps (4×5), squats (3×5 to parallel) and deadlifts (3×8).


    Unfortunately, I tore my left hamstring later that day, which took me out of training for 6 weeks and then I started this vertical jump workout for a month that turned out to be ineffective, so I’m just now a few weeks back into training and trying to regain what I lost, which was everything I had previously gained. Based on a jump test I did a few days ago, I think I’m just about back to where I was on Aug 6th. While that’s kind of depressing, I’m pretty confident that with my new training regimen I should start hitting new PRs in the coming weeks. Stay tuned! 😉

  8. @WhiteManWhoWantsToJump 😉

    Didn’t seem that rare to me at that time… Out of 15 guys in my class, 5 were over 6’3”, one was 6’8”. Those two ‘small’ ones had a lot to prove 🙂

    One of those jumpers was kind of born-that-way freak of nature, fast as lightning, playing basketball from dawn till dusk without slowing down. The other one was not so born as much as he was stubborn and determined to finish what he started. I bet his willpower alone increased his jump height by couple of inches 🙂

    Thanks for showing those videos! Progress is obvious.

    You’ve probably read thousands of pages on jumping theory by now, but one thing I’ll mention is that you should start doing running vertical jumps. That kind of jump can take you higher than any standing jump and is a special skill that takes lots of training to perform efficiently.

    Anyway… Thanks to you, I’ve started jumping like a lunatic outside my house every morning trying to touch roofbeams. Wife asked: “What gave you that idea?”. Me: “Jason from Techzing.” 😀

    Good luck man !

  9. Hey guys, just wanted to say that I really enjoyed this episode. Loved the Qs from the audience, although it was a shame that some of the questions/comments weren’t picked up by the mic.

    I hope you all had an awesome remainder of the summit. Hope there will be one next year 😉

  10. Richard says:

    On the subject of high quality content sites – Steven Levy joined medium recently and is editing/writing Backchannel: https://medium.com/backchannel. I’ve found some fascinating articles on there, especially the one on Google Scholar and the latest Google X story.

    Enjoyed the live show, looking forward to a full report of the summit.

  11. Jason says:

    @Will Sewell – Thanks, I’m glad you enjoyed it. The summit was a blast!

  12. Jason says:

    @Richard – Great, that’s just what I need. Another site with great content to distract me from what I’m supposed to be doing. Right, what was it I was supposed to be doing again …? 😉

  13. Stuart says:

    Great episode! Loved the audience questions / accountability 🙂 Any thoughts on making them a regular feature with written in questions or a regular listener as a cohost? The Techzing Inquisition!

  14. Jason says:

    @Stuart – Yeah, we’d have no problem answering listener questions if people want to send them in. I’ll try to remember to mention it on the next show.

  15. Nice Show! I can definitely empathize with hitting the “wall” in weight loss. Oddly enough, it’s also occurring for me at around 180. As for Ebola, I think the key is Don’t Panic 🙂 So far, with one exception, the cases that we’ve had in the US have been medical professionals. I think we need to focus more on treating it at its source.

  16. Thom says:

    Really really enjoyed this episode, as others have said it was great to have the ‘Live Studio Audience’ chipping in with questions and comments.

  17. Jason says:

    @William R. – Yeah, my weight loss has stalled and in fact has started going in the other direction, but based on the tape measure I’m pretty sure it’s been muscle gain. That said, I think I need to dial back the calories a bit and try to lose at least a little fat while adding muscle. It’s amazing how much difference 250 calories per day can make. For me that amounted to an extra piece of wheat toast at breakfast and a Fuji apple after my workout. ;(

    In regards to Ebola, I agree that we shouldn’t panic, but like you said, we need to cauterize this open wound at the source. If we don’t deal with it aggressively and quickly, it’s exponential nature could be catastrophic. In fact, I just saw something the other day where Nassim Taleb was echoing the exact same sentiment:


    Also, I’m glad you liked the show!

  18. Jason says:

    @Thom – Well, it was Justin’s idea, so I guess he gets the credit. 😉 But I am glad we ended up doing it because it really turned out to be a lot of fun.

  19. Dennis says:

    If you like the story about the fake Scorpion guy with the 190 IQ, it’s hilarious to read the reddit AMA he tried to do. If you’re going to fake being a hacker the LAST thing you should do is expose yourself to reddit – it’s like throwing raw meat to a pack of hyenas. So funny!


  20. Jason says:

    @Dennis – Yeah, that’s really asking for it. With a supposed IQ of 197, you’d think he’d know better.