Paul Graham Profile picture
3 May, 4 tweets, 1 min read
Banning plastic straws achieves nothing. Or at least, nothing good. It does achieve a couple bad things though: it gives people a false sense that something is being done to address ocean plastics, and misleads people about the true sources of them.
It's not types of plastic that are the problem, but the places they're discarded. This is where ocean plastics come from:
The US, Canada, and all of Europe combined account for .87% of plastic emissions. The Philippines accounts for 36%.
The reason the Philippines emits so much is not that it's emitting waste shipped from the US, Canada, and Europe. Even if every kilogram of plastic waste shipped by the US to the Philippines ended up in the sea, it would account for less than 1% of the Philippines' emissions.

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More from @paulg

9 Apr
Something I explained to 12 yo: The biggest startups are always where two basic forces meet. E.g. Facebook = social relationships + internet. But these ideas are rarely found by looking for such intersections. They start as side projects you only later realize have this quality.
One exception is Amazon, which Bezos started after he realized the internet would be a powerful force and asked what he could intersect it with.
YC is at the intersection of venture funding and mass production. We realized this a few weeks after starting it, but it was not our original motivation. Originally we just wanted to make it easier to start startups.
Read 5 tweets
28 Feb
I haven't read all the analyses of the famous NYT article on Scott Alexander, but this is likely to be the best. It's written with calm wisdom and a deep knowledge of both sides.…
His diagnosis is that the article was not a deliberate hit job but something closer to a bug — a bad interaction between the NYT's editorial bias and the sloppiness of the individual reporter writing the story.
Basically the reporter knew his job was to make tech look bad, but when he investigated SSC and the "rationalist community" it turned out to be a bunch of harmless nerds, so he had to make shit up.
Read 4 tweets
25 Feb
What novel technology will do for cryptocurrency what GUIs did for personal computers and the web did for the internet? If you have even an inkling of the answer, the expected value of that insight is enormous.
One of the things standing in your way is that such ideas have to come from cryptocurrency experts, and yet most cryptocurrency experts are proud of their mastery of the currently difficult user experience, and thus minimize it.
Present-day cryptocurrency experts are like neckbeard hackers in the 80s saying "who needs more than a command line?" and thus failing to invent GUIs. Or if you want a more recent example, the people who said "just write a cron job" and thus failed to start Dropbox.
Read 4 tweets
19 Feb
@tlbtlbtlb I would write about how the startup model is spreading into industries far removed from "tech."
@tlbtlbtlb It's not software eating the world. It's very specifically startups eating the world, meaning new companies started by a couple people that make progress really fast. This model seems to work in more domains than it doesn't.
@tlbtlbtlb It started in tech, but it looks like it's going to take over many if not most industries. If so, the world economy is going to be remade.
Read 4 tweets
15 Dec 20
One difficulty when trying to ban ideas on social networks is that it's the edge cases that matter most, but bans are enforced by low-level employees who don't understand them.
I've thought enough about this problem that I'm pretty sure there are no obviously good solutions. Ergo if there are solutions at all, they'll be counterintuitive.

Two possibilities: Have the users do it. Have smart people do it, aided by staff and software.
Both of those potential solutions have big drawbacks. That's why I describe them as counterintuitive. But perhaps there are clever ways to overcome them. It's still too early in the evolution of this technology to know what's possible.
Read 4 tweets
25 Nov 20
"Make something people want" is fundamentally advice about being empirical, instead of assuming you already have all the answers. The equivalent for investors would be "Let founders teach you what people want."
That has been the m.o. at YC from the beginning: that founders both should and can understand their users better than we could.
That rule cuts both ways. If we see signs founders don't understand their users as well as we do, it's a reason for rejection. But if founders can teach us things about their users, based on real data, they become very convincing.
Read 5 tweets

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