May recommendations

The Gambler Who Cracked the Horse Racing Code
Bloomberg article, by Kit Chellel
30 minutes

“In pursuit of mathematical perfection, he became convinced that horses raced differently according to temperature, and when he learned that British meteorologists kept an archive of Hong Kong weather data in southwest England, he traveled there by plane and rail.” Such is the extent of horse racing gambler Bill Benter’s obsession in Kit Chellel’s story of two card counters turned multi-millionaire horse racing gamblers. Benter and his co-founder Alan Woods are studies in opposites; Benter as data-oriented and methodical as Woods is fearless and ambitious. The pair’s rise to fame - and subsequent falling out - is a trip through logit models (using different factors to determine which horse will win), the Kelly criterion (how much money to bet on a given horse), and Hong Kong gambling regulations (lax to encourage more action), all captured in Chellel’s knack for storytelling.

How Fortnite Captures Teens' Hearts and Minds
New Yorker article, by Nick Paumgarten
15 minutes

The idea that addiction comes from something cutesy, innocent and super competitive is at the core of Paumgarten’s essay on the video game sensation Fortnite. Paumgarten additionally delves into how technology has aided the rise of Fortnite, from the graphics and video game design platform Unreal Engine 4 to the streaming platform Twitch. This New Yorker piece theorizes why players are willing to spend dollars on purely cosmetic virtual items, suggesting that the game has exploited a deep cultural desire; our love of zany, colorful worlds and Hunger Games like competition.

Captain Fantastic
Directed by Matt Ross, Starring Viggo Mortensen
2 hours - free on Amazon Prime

Viggo Mortensen is Captain Fantastic, a modern-day Tarzan who has chosen to raise his family in the woods of the Pacific Northwest. When he’s forced to re-enter society, a reckoning takes place that reveals some ugly truths about America. Look out for a pivotal scene involving the Bill of Rights that will make you laugh before sending you into an existential tailspin. Education, consumerism, and our general lack of resourcefulness are all subject to fierce examination as this film unfolds. 

Michael Pollan -- Exploring The New Science of Psychedelics
The Tim Ferriss Show
 2h14m - Podcast

Michael Pollan, author of Cooked and The Omnivore's Dilemma, sits down with Tim Ferriss to discuss his new book: “How To Change Your Mind: What The New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence.” The fascinating conversation covers the fundamentals of psychedelics and focuses on the effects of psilocybin (aka “shrooms”) when used to treat depression, anxiety, addiction, PTSD, and fear of death in terminal patients. Pollan describes his own trip experiences with incredible detail in an effort to show just how powerful (and equally beautiful) “the journey” can be. The curious and agnostic listener will leave with a better understanding of why researchers at John Hopkins, NYU and Yale are dedicating significant resources to better understand psychedelics and their potential to create a tectonic shift in how we tackle mental health

Ben Brostoff