26 March 2022 |

Was David Bowie from the future? 

By Trung Phan

Was David Bowie from the future? 

PLUS: Why are Doritos so addictive? Netflix Biz Model. 

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Quick announcement. Last week, I officially teamed up with Workweek, a banging business media startup founded by my former colleagues from The Hustle (Adam Ryan and Becca Sherman).

The TLDR: Nothing really changes on my end. I will keep writing this newsletter and doing random stuff on Twitter. The Workweek team is taking all the non-creative stuff off my plate (admin, growth, monetization etc) and will help me launch some new projects. Meanwhile, I will dedicate 100% of my energy to making the dumbest memes possible. As mentioned last week, I’m moving off of Substack and will host everything on my personal website (ok, that’s one difference). 

Now, on to the email:

• A summary of last week’s reader survey 
• David Bowie was from the future
• Why are Doritos so addictive? 
• Links + Memes 

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The reader responses were lit 

Last week, I sent out a survey to get a better understanding of the SatPost readers.

A few takeaways:

  • The majority of you work in tech and finance 
  • A lot of readers aren’t on Twitter all day (smart) and enjoy me rounding up Twitter shenanigans 
  • In addition to the Saturday newsletter, there is appetite for me to send a smaller Wednesday email with just a few links and memes (82% of respondents voted “Yes” to the proposal). I’ll keep this in mind but won’t do it yet. 

Thank you for taking your time on the survey. Here are some actual reader replies:

“This newsletter sucks!! (That’s why I totally read it every week – I love torturing myself)”

“Eat a bag of d***s. Just kidding! I like your stuff. Keep it up, my man!”

“On a scale of zero to one stars, I give you one star.”

And here was the wildest response: 

“My explanation of Kanye’s behavior is that he is a time traveler who had it all planned out, only it isn’t quite working the way it was supposed to. In this theory, he and David Bowie are best friends in the future, and they both decide to go back in time to be rock stars. Bowie opts for the 70s, West decides on the 90s. This means Bowie has to go back first and furthest, and so he said he’d send a signal, which we find on the cover of the Ziggy Stardust album (check it out).

Things seem to go great, but then Bowie gets sick and passes away, and now Kanye is alone in this timeline without his buddy to keep him on track. Also his plan involved doing the things someone else had done, but a couple years earlier so he could seem even more advanced. Trouble is it just isn’t hitting like it was supposed to, and with all that he is slowly going crazier and crazier and trying more and more shit that is supposed to work but suddenly doesn’t because he has changed this timeline so much.

I realize this all sounds crazy, and true, I can’t prove Kanye IS a time traveler.

But can you prove to me that he isn’t?”

Lesson: I need to run more reader surveys.

Was David Bowie from the future? 

I can’t speak to Kanye’s behavior but there’s a non-zero chance that the “David Bowie is a time traveler” claim is true. 

Before passing away in 2016, the legendary artist foresaw the development of many media and cultural trends (although I guess this is less impressive if he was actually a time traveler). NME has a good round-up:

The Kanye connection?  

As noted in the reader reply above, the “signal” that Bowie sent for Kanye is on the cover of the 1972 Ziggy Stardust album. The building sign reads “K. West” which could mean anyone or anything…or maybe not: 

“…if you then take a look at the album’s tracklist, you come across a song entitled ‘Five Years’, which foretells the end of the world (“We’ve got five years, that’s all we’ve got”). And guess who was born five years and two days after Ziggy’s release? One Kanye West, that’s who.”

The internet & social media 

This is probably the most famous foresight. In a 1999 interview with BBC, he fully grokked the power of the internet.

That year, he rolled out an early “social media” site called BowieNet that gave “users access to a voluminous archive’s worth of music, photos and videos as well as providing space for the creation of the user’s own personal page within the site.”

(Pre- Facebook, MySpace and Friendster)

And in the face of skepticism from BBC interviewer Jeremy Paxman, Bowie said of the internet: 

“The potential of what the Internet is going to do to society, both good and bad, is unimaginable…I don’t think we’ve even seen the tip of the iceberg…I think we’re actually on the cusp of something exhilarating and terrifying…[it’s not just a tool], It’s an alien life form [laughing], is there life on Mars? Yes, it’s just landed here…The actual context and state of content is going to be so different to anything we envisage at the moment…Where the interplay between the user and the provider will be so in simpatico it’s going to crush our ideas of what mediums are all about.”

Music streaming 

In 2002, Bowie laid out the entire music streaming playbook: 

“Music is going to become like running water or electricity. I don’t even know why I would want to be on a label in a few years, because I don’t think it’s going to work by labels and by distribution systems in the same way. The absolute transformation of everything that we ever thought about music will take place within 10 years, and nothing is going to be able to stop it. I see absolutely no point in pretending that it’s not going to happen… You’d better be prepared for doing a lot of touring because that’s really the only unique situation that’s going to be left. It’s terribly exciting. But on the other hand it doesn’t matter if you think it’s exciting or not; it’s what’s going to happen.”

Financialization of everything 

The rise of music streaming over the past decade has led to massive deals for artist catalogs:

• Bruce Springsteen: $500m for his entire publishing catalog 
• Bob Dylan: $300-400m for 100% of his publishing catalog 
• Neil Diamond: $300m for complete song catalog 
• Neil Young: $150m for 50% of his career catalog 
• Stevie Nicks: $100m for a “majority” of her song catalog 

Per A Journal of Musical Things, Bowie’s estate sold his catalog for $250m earlier this year. Bowie — ever the time traveller — was way ahead of this trend. In 1997, he created a financial instrument (Bowie Bonds) backed by the royalties from 25 of his albums recorded pre-1990. 

The deal was put together by Prudential Insurance and raised $55m on the following terms: 10 years with a 7.9% interest rate.

In the aforementioned BBC interview, he said one of the reasons for the raise was that he required money to “start a new internet company”. Needing cash to burn for a tech startup may have been the most time traveler thing he did. 


Ok, I know what you’re thinking: “eh, some good calls but not really time traveller stuff.” Fine, fair enough.

The last thing I can offer is this Tumblr page — BoweiBranchia — that matches Bowie outfits to color slugs and snails. Dude had some futuristic-looking swag (I refuse to believe this means nothing). 

Why are Doritos so addictive?

Well obviously people love fat and carbs (Doritos has a nearly perfect 50/50 calorie split between the two). I wrote a Twitter thread with some more details: 

  • Humans have affinity for cooked compounds. Evolutionarily, this makes sense since the act of cooking itself helps us consume calories efficiently. Doritos chips have numerous cooking processes to bring out these compounds: 1) corn is boiled; 2) corn chips are toasted; 3) and then fried.  
  • Flavour enhancers: There are so many (MSG, salt, garlic/onion/pepper/tomato/ powder). This mix is called “non-specific aroma”. No flavor is dominant enough to cause satiety (feeling full) and there is no “taste memory” which means you don’t get sick of it. Coca-Cola has a similar property. 
  • Contrasting texture: A Doritos bite starts with a crunch but quickly dissolves in your mouth. This is a phenomenon known as “vanishing caloric density”. The feeing of food “vanishingly in your mouth signals to the brain that you “need” more.

Another point I brought up is that the powder cheese on the chip “releases a compound called casomorphine, which attaches to the same brain receptors as heroin. This leads to a satisfying dopamine hit.”

A professor wrote me to say that “You physically cannot eat enough cheese to get a pharmacological effect from casomorphines, let alone eat enough Doritos to activate the opioid receptor. The dose is just too low.”

It makes a lot of sense to me. But when I posted the comment in the thread, it fired up this pretty hilarious reaction:

Place an open bag in front of him. hand in a spring trap and give him a single Dorito. Later, while bandaging his hand ask if the casamorphine argument is still invalid.

Anyways, here’s a GIF of Doritos being made: