Officially Old—Weekly Wisdom

Also, how all businesses turn into banks, the failure of GDP as a metric, Piracy as an access solution, and what to do in a knife fight.

Hello Subscribers, New and Old.

Welcome to Weekly Wisdom, your weekly dose of highlights, quotes and notes from my notebook. If you would like to receive this in your inbox, subscribe now.

I turned 35 yesterday. Officially an old man. I am already shining my dad jokes and buying books on World War II. I spent the day playing video games, which made me think I may be too old for video games.

On to the main event.

Something I learned

I have nothing to share in this section so I will impart you with some unsolicited old main advice: When you’re in a knife fight, don’t stab. Instead, slash. They can’t kill you if they are trying to keep their insides from going outside.

That is a joke by the way. I have not been in a knife fight, yet.

Something to read

  • The Long Shadow of Deobandism in South Asia: A very well written summary of history of the most important Islamist movement in the subcontinent.
  • Age of Invention: Knowledge Lost and Found: There is a lot of knowledge lost, especially in the medical realm. A lot of ancient ‘old-wives’ tales and traditional medicine was cast aside in the 19th and 20th century. Because the now premitive chemical analyses deemed them ineffective. However modern analysis is proving their efficacy again.


  • The Sample: The Sample lets you try the best newsletters based on your interest. With one-click you can subscribe if you like.
  • Morning Brew: I love Morning Brew. You can get daily business news every morning for free. It is one of the most important part of my media diet. I can stay up to date with the latest business happenings in just 5 minutes. Plus, their Saturday crosswords are very good.

Some Quotes, Notes, and Media

“When a measure becomes a target…

it seizes to be a good measure.” GDP has turned into one such metric. As this quote reveals.

It’s a clumsy analogy but this is how economists currently determine whether we’ve had a good year. A figure resembling how much value we produced offers very limited insights into how well we’re actually doing, not to mention whether that ‘doing’ occurs within the reality of our planetary boundaries.

— Kai Brach, Dense Discovery 168

Either businesses die or they become banks

By October 2021, $91.5 Billion had been invested in fintech startups. VCs and Private Equity firms are salivating over getting access to over 1.7 Billion unbanked adults of the world. This is not just startups. Apple and Google, owners of the top mobile platforms have been actively competing to become part of the contactless payment system for years. Apple even issues a credit card. It seems that all businesses want to be banks, like Airlines and their points system. This also explains the obsession with crypto.

Piracy is Access

90% of ideas that shaped me I got access through illegal downloading. Most of the texts, videos and music was legally inaccessible or illegal outright. In this profile for podcast media reporter Nick Quah reveals a similar point for him.

But he was also interested in film, thanks in part to the “huge pirated DVD market” in Malaysia at the time, and happened to hear of a scholarship to the film program at Wesleyan University in Connecticut. He didn’t get the scholarship, but he did get admission — and decided to go. “In hindsight, I really do not understand why my parents didn’t raise more of a stink,” he says

— Rob Walker, How Nick Quah Became the Podcast Whisperer

Thank you for joining me this week. If you know some who might enjoy this, please forward this email to them. See you next week.

Mudassir Chapra

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