A happy one year FTB anniversary -
A year ago, Taro and I bought the domain name for fortheboys.club via GoDaddy for $25. Even though no one visits the site, I'm happy to say the e-mail newsletter now has over 100 subscribers and has generated hundreds of recommendations. In honor of the one year, I have some special news regarding Ryan Holiday's new book Ego Is the Enemy that I'll share next month (hint: it may be related to this link). And a word on the status of t-shirts for those who ordered them and don't live in Boston - they're coming, I promise!
I've been on vacation for the last week in London, so very excited to share some of the reading I completed, as well as all the recommendations I received from you guys over the last month:
Max recommended this 4-part WBY series on Elon Musk to me, and I liked it so much after reading it the first time that I bought it on Kindle and read it again on the plane to London (**aside: at least for me, I find the experience of reading WBY much more enjoyable on Kindle since you can read over multiple days and not lose your place. These posts are often 10,000+ words long and read better as a book than as a blog. It's $7.50 for the Kindle edition, but money well spent). I thought Ashlee Vance's bio on Musk was excellent; I actually think Tim Urban's blog entries are better, as they go into more detail on Tesla and SpaceX than the book (which is more about Musk himself). If you only have time for one part, check out Part 3, which in awesome detail presents Musk's plan for a million person Mars colony, with manned missions beginning in the next decade. Urban lays out how Musk intends to establish a Mars colony - by pricing a Mars ticket at $500,000, increasing the number of people a spacecraft can hold, and reusing rockets. Musk's plan, according to Urban (who conducted dozens of exclusive interviews and e-mail exchanges with Musk for the blog), looks like the below:
In 2004, Bush Jr. entertained the idea of sending Americans to Mars. NASA said it would cost $50 billion. $10 billion a seat. Still 20,000 times too high... The MCT (Mars Colonial Transporter) will be a giant, powered by a much more powerful SpaceX engine, called the Raptor... and its spacecraft will be able to hold at least 100 people... they've cut the current cost-per-seat estimate by at least 20.
But there's another thing -- SpaceX has, through its Falcon innovations, already reduced the cost of a launch to 1/5th of the industry standard, and Musk believes it'll be down to 1/10th of the industry standard in the coming years. Since the Bush Jr. figure was assuming industry standard costs, that brings things down to only 100 times too expensive...
If SpaceX can create what they call "a fully and rapidly reusable rocket system" - leaving the only launch costs as fuel, maintenance and interior support systems, just like an airplane - it'll reduce the cost of space travel by a factor of 100. Maybe more.
Urban goes on to say that SpaceX reasons that a $500,000 Mars ticket will attract at least a million people to Mars, which should be enough for a self-sustaining colony. We will see.
I'm sure a lot of you have probably read Andre Agassi's autobiography Open, but I wanted to share it anyways, as I finished it last night and couldn't put it down on the plane home. I have been hearing about this book constantly since it came out a couple years ago, most recently on Tim Ferriss's podcast with Shaun White. It lives up to and exceeds all the hype, perhaps because this is the rare sports book where a Pulitzer prize author is intimately involved (J.R. Moehringer). I had no idea Agassi went from being #1 in tennis to unranked to #1 again, and it's refreshing to finally read straight from the athlete what happened as opposed to some fluffy journalist narrative. I wish more athletes would do stuff like this.
Many of you probably noticed the Ringer is live, and as at least half of the readership for this newsletter are sports fans and former Grantland readers, this is pretty exciting news for all of us. The best thing I've read on The Ringer so far is Katie Baker's feature on Mike Breen, and Bryan Curtis on Joe Buck. It's interesting that Breen got his start working for Don Imus and making lots of R-rated jokes; the Buck article made me gain a new perspective on someone who I haven't typically enjoyed on TV.
If you haven't read Ben Thompson's blog (Stratchery), I recommend taking a look. Andrew sent me a good piece on Stratchery about podcasts, and prior to that I had read his two cents on Tesla. I wrote a little bit last week about how podcasts have become an essential part of my morning and afternoon commutes; this write-up did a lot to explain the current success of podcasts, and the challenges that lie ahead for podcasts:
A major challenge in podcast monetization is the complete lack of data: listeners still download MP3s and that’s the end of it; podcasters can measure downloads, but have no idea if the episode is actually listened to, for how long, or whether or not the ads are skipped. In a complete reversal from the online world of text, the measurement system is a big step backwards from what came before: both radio and TV have an established measurement system for what shows are watched, and the scale of advertising is such that surveys can measure advertising effectiveness
Stratchery is a shorter, slightly more formal Wait But Why. Thompson has opinions but doesn't "hot-take" and drone on in his blog, preferring instead to explore subjects in detail and support his points with lots of links and infographics (just like Tim Urban).
Max recommended Esquire author Chris Jones to me, and I enjoyed reading his piece Home, a deep dive on the astronauts living in the ISS when the Columbia tragedy happened. This article is unsettling at times and gets into the hardships associated with living on the ISS when an astronaut's ride home is unpredictably delayed.
I wrote a little piece on Medium that goes into details about how I gather reading material for the month for FTB. Take a peak and let me know if you have any suggestions for how to write this e-mail better.
That's it for this month. Tune in next month for the aforementioned special Ryan Holiday news. As always, Iooking forward to hearing everyone's reading recommendations.