The Long Game 31: Insulin Resistance, How Will You Measure Your Life, Information Diets, Uploading Your Mind

👽 Alien Worlds, China's New Vision of Globalization, The Three-Body Problem, Venture Deals, and Much More!

Hi there! It’s Mehdi Yacoubi, co-founder at lifetizr, and this is The Long Game Newsletter.

Greetings from Montenegro 🇲🇪

If you missed the past episodes, you could catch up here.

In this episode, we explore:

  • Insulin resistance

  • How will you measure your life?

  • A different take on information diets

  • Venture deals

Let’s dive in!

City of the future — Cyberpunk 2077


🥑 Health

💉 Insulin Resistance

This week, I listened to this episode of The Drive: Gerald Shulman, M.D., Ph.D.: A masterclass on insulin resistance—molecular mechanisms and clinical implications. It’s a great—although technical—masterclass on insulin resistance.

I’m particularly interested in the topic because I discovered I had insulin resistance, which led me to build lifetizr and work to fix the metabolic crisis of our time.

Why is it so important to understand insulin resistance?

“If we can understand insulin resistance, then that's going to be the best way to fix diabetes, heart disease,. . .fatty liver disease, and slow down cancers.” — Gerald Shulman.

Here’s how Dr. Peter Attia described insulin resistance to his patients:

  • Insulin resistance is “the foundation upon which the major three chronic diseases sit.”

  • In addition to the direct complications of diabetes, Peter believes that most diabetes-related mortality comes through amplification of atherosclerotic disease, cancer, and dementia – all of which are “a force multiplied in spades by type 2 diabetes.”

  • Peter also describes insulin resistance as a continuum starting with hyperinsulinemia and leading to impaired glucose disposal, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), and eventually type 2 diabetes.

“That continuum makes up a plane upon which all chronic disease get worse. If we’re going to be serious about the business of delaying the onset of death, we have to be serious about the business of delaying the onset of chronic disease. If we want to do that, we must fix our metabolisms, and that’s my thesis.” —Peter Attia

How big is this problem of insulin resistance? Gerald estimates up to half the people in the U.S. actually have insulin resistance but are asymptomatic.

Then, the conversation explains in detail the difference between a person with a healthy metabolism and a person who is insulin resistant.

The good news is that even with a damaged metabolism, we can still do a lot. Exercising and finding the optimal nutrition for your individual metabolism are potent tools to improve your health and even reverse insulin resistance.

One thing to always keep in mind is that live a long and healthy life is equivalent (for now!) to delay the onset of chronic diseases, and to do so, having an optimal metabolism is the most important pillar.

If you want to make sure your metabolism stays optimal, request lifetizr early access, and we’ll work with you to achieve this goal.

Get early access


🌱 Wellness

⚖️ How will you measure your life?

When I was younger, I thought getting some achievements done (school, etc.) would automatically make me happy. It’s obviously a cliché at this point, but I realized that these things that most people chase (fame, money, status…) don’t make you automatically happy when you get them.

I’ve been watching the show Billions lately, and it’s fascinating to see these billionaires having such a miserable life, playing status games, seeking revenge… No one would argue that it’s a particularly happy life, yet they are on top of the status game.

After failing to enter Ecole Polytechnique (the first French engineering school) and getting Ecole Centrale Paris instead (the second one), I quickly understood how much it didn’t matter and how much I’ve been obsessing over the wrong thing for so many years. I think this “failure” (it’s always a subjective matter) is the best thing that happened to me. At this point, I started asking myself the question, “How will I measure my life?” to avoid wasting my existence seeking validation from things that won’t make me happy.

Of course, this question doesn’t have a clear and straightforward answer. It takes a long process of self-reflection to find your answer. One thing is certain, though, not asking yourself this question will only delay the moment you’re truly going to understand how to live.

Clayton M. Christensen wrote a great book about it, and here’s a short introductory article.

On the last day of class, I ask my students to turn those theoretical lenses on themselves, to find cogent answers to three questions: First, how can I be sure that I’ll be happy in my career? Second, how can I be sure that my relationships with my spouse and my family become an enduring source of happiness? Third, how can I be sure I’ll stay out of jail?

For those who like the metrics, this is a good article to give some ideas of the parameters to consider when assessing how you want to live. I do like using metrics, but I think they’re only one part of the answer; some things can’t be translated in metrics, and even more, trying to translate them into metrics would kill them.

Here’s a good—and opposed—way to view metrics from Thomas J Bevan:

Like a vampire, metrics can only drain the life from you if you first invite them in to your life. Taking numbers for what they are, extracting the good from them and otherwise keeping them in their place is merely a decision.

And once you do this, once you are no longer tyrannised by numbers you will find that intuition, discernment and the appreciation of the intangible, the ephemeral and the beautiful will grow in their place.

Things like work-life balance are hard to figure out for most people; asking yourself, “how will I measure my life” could help resolve some of these dilemmas.


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🧠 Better Thinking

📄 A Different Take on Information Diets

We already talked a lot about information diets on The Long Game (episodes 22, and 28 for example), and this week I read a very interesting attempt by Venkatesh Rao to reconcile the “always plugged in” with the “monk living in a cabin in the woods.”

Here’s how the article starts:

For several years now, I've been developing a growing discomfort with a philosophy of relating to technology I call Waldenponding (after Thoreau's Walden Pond experiment on which Walden is based). The crude caricature is "smash your smart phone and go live in a log cabin to reclaim your attention and your life from being hacked by evil social media platforms."

Then, the author gives his ideas on the optimal attention management system.

The way to manage your attention is not to "unplug" or do some sort of bullshit Classical Liberal virtue signaling crap of "I only read Ancient Greek authors" but to be sensitive to your current mind size (small to great) and consciously target the zone you want to be in, moving fluidly between small/great mind.

There are dangers both on the snob—I only read philosophy—side and on the—I never read books—side.

There are THREE ways to fail at this: a) Thinking you can be Great Minded all the time. b) Trying to be Great Minded purely on a low-latency information diet (upper-left red box) c) Trying to consume a high-latency information diet without aspiring to more than small-minded thoughts (lower-right red box)

As often, it seems that the best approach is to do a bit less of what feels comfortable for you, a bit more of what’s uncomfortable. As Matthew McConaughey eloquently said, “take the dirt road,” but if you’re used to actual dirt roads, then the “dirt road” for you might be the highway.

You can and should go the other way as well. If you can only read big philosophy books by dead people and processing the chaotic churn of a Toxic Day on Twitter is too much for you, try handling it for 15 minutes, then an hour. Try posting instead of just reading. This is like low-weights/high-volume endurance training. Harder than it looks.


⚡️ Startup Stuff

🤝 Venture Deals

When you’re building a company, there are necessarily going to be many things you love doing and many things (hopefully less!) you don’t. The point is that you still need to do them and get good at them.

One of the things a founder must understand quickly is how the VC (Venture Capital) world works. To that end, the book Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist is a great starting point.

Here’s a tweet from Nik Sharma I found particularly true 👇

Related to this topic, I enjoyed re-reading Airbnb co-founder Brian Chesky’s 7 rejections article. Always good to keep in mind!


📚 What I Read

⚗️ The Three-Body Problem, by Cixin Liu

I didn’t grow up reading science fiction, and I think I missed out on great and mind-expanding books. Of course, it’s never too late. I asked for sci-fi recommendations, and The Three-Body Problem was the top recommendation, so I decided to begin my sci-fi journey with it.

I just started the book; I’ll give more details in next week’s episode!

🇨🇳 China’s Radical New Vision of Globalization

We didn’t talk about China for a while here! I read this great article this week about China’s radical new vision of globalization by James Crabtree explaining why President Xi’s vision of “dual circulation” is a darkly pessimistic economic strategy and fits for a new Cold War.

After years of expecting political liberalization in Beijing (the way Fukuyama predicted in The End of History), experts now agree that liberalization isn’t coming anytime soon in China:

Many experts have noted a changing Western consensus on China, as leaders in Washington abandoned the idea that economic modernization would inevitably lead to political liberalization in Beijing.

In this context, a Chinese block and a Western block seems very likely:

“China expects the U.S. and its allies to act ever more aggressively to deny China the technology it needs.”

“Beginning with semiconductors but potentially expanding to all manner of other technologies, China now expects it will have to develop economically on its own.”

“This gradual decoupling between China and the West will be far more significant than the divisions of the Cold War.”

To go further on this topic:

Rather than reactive, defensive, and besieged, the Party’s pursuit of modernity, power, and international status for China has been strategic, active, and purposeful.


🎙 Podcast Episode of the Week

I’m preparing new episodes of The Long Game Podcast for next week; in the meantime, here are some episodes from the archive and some episodes I enjoyed from other shows:

On The Long Game Podcast:

On other shows:


🍭 Brain Food

🧠 Uploading Your Mind

The game Cyperpunk 2077 was released recently (here’s Lex Fridman discovering the game). In the wake of the release of the long-awaited game, Kurzgesagt published an excellent video exploring the potential of uploading your brain and living forever.

It’s both fascinating and scary; I’ll let you decide on which side you want to lean on!

In the meantime—before we can actually upload our brains—it seems we’re getting closer and closer to designer babies:

The twins, called Lulu and Nana, reportedly had their genes modified before birth by a Chinese scientific team using the new editing tool CRISPR. The goal was to make the girls immune to infection by HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Now, new research shows that the same alteration introduced into the girls’ DNA, deletion of a gene called CCR5, not only makes mice smarter but also improves human brain recovery after stroke, and could be linked to greater success in school.


🎥 What I’m Watching

👽 Alien Worlds

I started this show recently, and it’s fantastic. I was tired of pessimistic sci-fi, and with Alien Worlds, I find it beautiful and fascinating to imagine how life on other planets could be.

Netflix finally listened to what the people want (and need!).


🔧 The tool of the Week

🔒 Nord VPN

You always think you’re safe until you’re not. I had a conversation with a cybersecurity expert a few days ago, and I understood it was time to step up my online security. In short, here is her advice: use long and complex passwords, never reuse the same one, use a password manager, connect to the internet through a VPN.

I already use Dashlane as a password manager; it was time to complement it with a VPN (I don’t like Dashlane’s VPN service.)

A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, allows you to create a secure connection to another network over the Internet. VPNs can be used to access region-restricted websites, shield your browsing activity from prying eyes on public Wi-Fi, and more.

I’ve been getting many ads for VPN services, and I decided to start using a VPN before experiencing any bad experience online. I took a great deal from Nord VPN during Cyber Monday, and I love it. It connects automatically, you can use it on all your devices, and the design is great.


🪐 Quote I'm Pondering

"One of the bittersweet rewards of success is, in fact, that as companies become large, they literally lose the capability to enter small emerging markets. This disability is not because of a change in the resources within the companies—their resources typically are vast. Rather, it is because their values change."

— Clayton M. Christensen


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👋 EndNote

Thanks for reading!

I will see you next week. As always, if you're finding this newsletter interesting, give me your feedback; you can respond to this email or tweet at me!

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Have a great day,

Mehdi

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