Friday, December 4, 2020

Friday Night Links

  • To make matters worse, if the value of the bonds increased, so too did their insurance premiums. Eric Yip, who had been in the trade at least a full year longer than MP, found himself in the grip of this reality. Alder Hill was bleeding money, and the hemorrhaging caught up with his fund. In September, 2019, Yip backed out of the trade, swallowed the losses he had accrued, and shut down Alder Hill. Another firm, Sorin Capital, also shuttered its fund that traded in CMBX. Things didn’t look much better for MP, who, thanks to the crushing premiums, found themselves in a 37 percent hole by the end of 2019—a roughly $92 million loss. “It felt like we were getting kicked in the teeth every single day,” McNamara said. Things became contentious with their pool of investors, who began pulling their money out of the fund. “It felt like a run on the bank,” Rosenthal said. “I said, ‘I need you to have confidence in me that we are right.’ [Investors] were like, ‘I don’t care.’” The firm had to lay off three employees. It was a dark time. [Esquire]
  • The quadrennial Vendée Globe competition is going on right now, three months from France to Cape Horn, then around Antarctica, then around the Cape of Good Hope and back to France … single handed, solo, one guy on a 60-foot boat. The boats are IMOCA 60 class, mostly ultralight carbon fiber hydrofoil boats, with hulls that are only 2 or 3 millimeters thick. These things rise up over the waves and fly … but this is Antarctica, so there is ice and the whole thing seems crazy to me, one guy who basically cannot sleep for three months on a flying boat in iceberg waters. One of the boats, the Hugo Boss-sponsored boat, has already started to fall apart, and the repair videos are getting a lot of viewership. At any rate, I notice that with normal sailing videos, solo or couples, that women really seem to struggle with the rigging ropes. This requires a lot of upper body strength. To be honest, the older guys also struggle (a lot of sailers are well-off older retired guys). The younger and middle-aged men don’t seem to struggle, or at least they look like they have things under more control. The big competition boats often have push-button electrical sails that spool into the mast or the boom. This would be a big equalizer I would think. [Sailer]
  • Piotroski's findings that especially thinly traded stocks with high F-scores perform best is very encouraging It confirms what Benjamin Graham always said; that low volume in a stock should not discourage an investor taking a position in an issue that shows compelling quantitative readings. It is a huge advantage for the small investors over the big investment boutiques. We don't have too many and it would be a negligent act not to monetise on that one! [Undervalued Japan]
  • With the automotive industry investing billions in the development of autonomous systems, Tesla’s risky first-mover behavior sets a dangerous precedent. By moving quickly to rein in Tesla, the Biden administration can protect today’s road users while paving the way for safe development of autonomous technology throughout the industry. [Slate]
  • No company better exhibits vertical integration than Apple. Something I have always been shocked about is “what could Apple be spending their absolute dollars of R&D on” but as time has gone on it’s clear what it is, and that’s building their in-house semiconductor expertise. Something I wanted to note is that every single company mentioned so far spends more on absolute R&D than Intel! Samsung, a company that is out of the scope of this discussion rounds out the list of the companies that spend more than Intel on R&D worldwide. [mule]
  • But fortunately for AMD and Intel, Apple doesn’t sell their chips on the market. So PC users will simply have to put up with whatever they are offering. PC users may jump ship, but that is a slow process. You don’t leave immediately a platform you are heavily invested in. [link]
  • This is an astounding chart – smoking hardly even mattered! Similar charts are in the article for hypertension and physical activity: in terms of heart disease, if your trig/HDL ratio is low, you can get away with having lots of other risk factors. Basically, as I see it, insulin resistance trumps everything in terms of heart risk, going by this study at least. [Mangan]
  • In this cohort, 118 patients (64%) had vitamin D insufficiency at recruitment (including 41 patients with vitamin D deficiency), and 16 patients died of the infection. With a covariate-adjusted relative risk of death of 11.3, mortality was much higher among vitamin D insufficient patients than among other patients. When translated to the proportion of deaths in the population that is statistically attributable to vitamin D insufficiency (“population attributable risk proportion”), a key measure of public health relevance of risk factors, these results imply that 87% of COVID-19 deaths may be statistically attributed to vitamin D insufficiency and could potentially be avoided by eliminating vitamin D insufficiency. [link]
  • Psychologically prepare the population. This is most easily accomplished by making movies for the plebes. See Pearl Harbor (May 2001) and Pandemic (January 2020). You need an “invisible enemy” that “knows no borders,” one that is impossible to definitively eradicate. But don’t use terrorists or a virus again. That’s played out. You’ll have to come up with something bigger and better next time. Aliens might be cool. Make the epicenter the Big Apple, because those folks are generally on our side and always easy to work with. Also, take a cue from Hollywood: Godzilla didn’t invade Charleston, and I Am Legend doesn’t take place in Helena. There is a reason for this. [Lew Rockwell]
  • Patent owners should take care when preparing and licensing patents to ensure that infringement claims for complementary products or use cases associated with patented products are not exhausted by the sale or licensing of the patented products, as shown by the Federal Circuit case of Helferich Patent Licensing v. New York Times. [IP Watchdog]
  • The semiconductor space is almost uniformly expensive, save for perhaps Intel. Financials like Visa, Mastercard, S&P, Moody’s are also way above average. Large cap Tech (MSFT, AAPL) and Industrials (HEI, TDY, DHR, DSV), particularly stocks that screen high on Quality and Organic Growth, are both pretty crazy right now. Tobacco is dirt cheap (I’ve written about that). Some retail stuff like EA, Autozone and Domino’s are not that inflated, which is surprising. EA and Domino’s seem to be COVID beneficiaries and yet valuations haven’t deviated much from the norms. Facebook and Alphabet, despite being part of FANMAG, are not materially expensive relative to their past valuation ranges. [link]
  • Previous studies have documented association between wider retinal venules and dementia. However, to date, it has not been clear whether vessel caliber is related to neuropsychological status prior to declines seen later in life or to those declines associated with illness and disease. To us it seems unremarkable that venular caliber in the eye is abnormal in elderly individuals who have documented vascular disease, yet rather more remarkable that venular caliber in the eye is related, however modestly, to mental test scores of individuals in their thirties, and even to IQ scores assessed in childhood. Taken together, these findings suggest that the developmental processes linking retinal vessel abnormalities to neuropsychological functioning begin at much younger ages than previously assumed in studies of retinal vasculature and memory loss in the elderly. It appears that digital retinal imaging may serve as a tool for testing the theory that general intelligence represents brain/body system integrity across the life course. [NLM]
  • Based on molecular data, a population bottleneck among ancestors of modern Finns is estimated to have occurred about 4000 years ago. This bottleneck resulted in exceptionally low diversity in the Y chromosome, estimated to reflect the survival of just two ancestral male lineages. The distribution of Y chromosome haplotypes within Finland is consistent with two separate founding settlements, in eastern and western Finland. The Finnish disease heritage has been attributed to this 4000-year-old bottleneck. The geographic distribution and family pedigrees associated with some Finnish heritage disease mutations has linked the enrichment in these mutations to multiple local founder effects, some associated with a period of "late settlement" in the 16th century. [Wiki]
  • Conclusions: We have revealed a biochemical link between vitamin D, LL-37, and COVID-19 severity. SPR analysis demonstrated that LL-37 binds to SARS-CoV-2 S protein and inhibits binding to its receptor hACE2, and most likely viral entry into the cell. This study supports the prophylactic use of vitamin D to induce LL-37 that protects from SARS-CoV-2 infection, and the therapeutic administration of vitamin D for the treatment of COVID-19 patients. Further, our results provide evidence that the direct use of LL-37 by inhalation and systemic application may reduce the severity of COVID-19. [bioRxiv]

Thursday, December 3, 2020

"If you use the benchmark, you will have to have Tesla"

My cynical prediction was right: Tesla will be included in the S&P 500.

This is not new information, but the question is what investors should do about it. There is the primary effect of adding a new stock that will be the sixth largest to the index and will represent 1% of the index. If you use the benchmark, you will have to have Tesla. All passive investors are now betting on Tesla.

Tesla had to go into the S&P 500 index once the price was squeezed high enough, because to exclude it on the basis of skepticism or suspicion would have been an active choice of security selection. It would have implied that the market could be hugely inefficient, that the entire philosophical predicate of indexation was wrong.

I do have one prediction about how things will go post-inclusion. As a Tesla bear for the past several years, one thing I have found is scorn for the "TSLAQ" skeptics from others in the marketplace and the media. If you pointed out a problem with Tesla, people's attitude was "why do you care?" There was a general sense that this is a company owned by dorks and making cars for dorks, and why would anyone but a TSLAQ autist take it upon himself to go probing into the situation?

That is about to change. First, the valuation is so much higher than it was before. It is now $562 billion while just one year ago it was only $62 billion. But more importantly, practically everybody in the country is going to own some of the stock now, and it is going to be their sixth largest holding in any market-capitalization weighted vehicle. 

It was not too big of a story when an "intoxicated driver of a Tesla Model S on autopilot mode crashed into a Department of Public Safety patrol car" on the freeway in Arizona. Or when a Tesla payables person got indicted for keeping two sets of books - and then disappeared without a trace.

The valuation and forced ownership by the entire country should attract more attention. Remember, $562 billion is as big as Home Depot and Walt Disney combined. Profitable household names like Starbucks, Wells Fargo, Union Pacific, and so on have tiny market capitalizations in comparison.

We should also note that the half-trillion dollar valuation has attracted the attention of autistic Big Short Michael Burry. You think that Elon's scam can withstand a guy like that?

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Sunday Night Links

  • The central point is that: (1) for fully a century the logical proof of the impossibility of socialism has been known and accepted as the central, indeed fatal, flaw in the socialist project, and (2) that with the fall of the Soviet Union, to say nothing of the real-time, parallel path experiment provided by East and West Germany across four decades, the logical proof was borne out in empirically, in social and behavioral form, and in real time. Even socialist economist Robert Heilbronner had to fess up in 1989 declaring, “Mises was right.” So, with the awareness that one can deduce axiomatically the conditions that produce human poverty, misery, and state-sponsored genocide of its own populace (“democide”), how is it even remotely possible that there can be an active political movement, comprised of millions of people, who seek to reenact the most destructive political and economic experience in human history? And even more to the point, since the statistical analyses put forth in The Black Book of Communism (1999), to say nothing of the revelations of the Venona decrypts, what kind of human being can countenance the notion of reviving any of the ingredients of this kind of inhumane catastrophe for the reenactment of globally-scaled human misery for life in the twenty-first century? In Misesian terms, how is the Left even possible? [link]
  • All Ponzi Schemes collapse under their own weight and this one will too, but first Bitcoin is going to have a supernova squeeze higher as the free float continues to be restricted as GBTC corners the market, driving the price higher. [AiC]
  • At the same time, the Governor has chosen to impose no capacity restrictions on certain businesses he considers “essential.” And it turns out the businesses the Governor considers essential include hardware stores, acupuncturists, and liquor stores. Bicycle repair shops, certain signage companies, accountants, lawyers, and insurance agents are all essential too. So, at least according to the Governor, itmay be unsafe to go to church, but it is always fine to pickup another bottle of wine, shop for a new bike, or spend the afternoon exploring your distal points and meridians. Who knew public health would so perfectly align with secular convenience? [SCOTUS]
  • Veblen distinguished between “production”—the actual development and manufacture of new goods—and “business,” what we would today call financial engineering. True production, he argued, raised society’s standard of living, while the aim of business was “getting something for nothing.” Businessmen made their fortunes through accounting schemes and political manipulation, seizing the wealth created by inventors, engineers and laborers. Because the corporation was a creature of business rather than production, the industrial system was a monument to organized waste. In the urbane field of economics of the day, this idea that corporate management could be “unproductive” was shocking. Surely all work that went into production must be of value—why else would the associated wages and costs be tolerated? But Veblen was drawing on his rural experiences. [WSJ]
  • In terms of what actually happened I’m too dumb to follow all the physics debates and whether it was 3 shots or 4 or if he got sprayed by six teams in pillboxes with MG-42s. I just look at the CIA connections to Oswald and Jack Ruby, both of which are undeniable and both of which the CIA lied to the warren commission and the House Select Committee on Assassinations about.  George De Morenschultz, David Atlee Phillips/Maurice Bishop, Jolly West, Oswald’s Mexico trip, etc. They were all involved with the CIA in some capacity and the fact that the government is keeping thousands of pages related to this classified to this day makes you ask the question ‘why even bother if you didn’t whack the guy?’ Also Cord Meyer using the JFK assassination as a chance to have his ex-wife clipped was a real dudes rock moment. Just another example of dudes finding innovative solutions to alimony. [Sean McCarthy]
  • Ed Thorp claims that he discovered it too but kept quiet about it and used it to make money trading options. The story of increased efficiency in options pricing is another example of how profitable trading opportunities go through a lifecycle where the innovation diffuses and they become commodities. No evergreen investment strategies! Simultaneous invention makes biographies of inventors philosophically uninteresting. Who cares about the idiosyncrasies of somebody who discovered something at the same time as two other people? [CBS]
  • Drop the romantic yearnings for some lost Golden Age. These are the good old days. I’ll paraphrase my friend John Anderson from the Incremental Development Alliance. Brooklyn, Carmel, and Santa Fe don’t need your sorry Hipster ass. There’s a whole big continent out there full of places that could use some love and they’re dirt cheap. Many of them are gorgeous even though they may not get much publicity. Others are seriously ugly, but have their own gritty appeal. And quite a few of these amazing undervalued spots have at least a few charming and engaged people knocking around doing cool shit. Go find one that speaks to you and create your own intellektuelle Kunstgemeinschaft. The world you want is one you make yourself from spare parts, not one you discover and purchase. [Granola Shotgun]
  • We yearned for ventilators and, by the time they were available, realized that we didn’t need or want them (since they actually harm the typical COVID-19 patient). Currently we yearn for vaccines, but perhaps we won’t need or want them by the time they’re available in significant quantity. [Phil G]
  • Biden leads in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin because of an apparent avalanche of black votes in Detroit, Philadelphia, and Milwaukee. Biden’s ‘winning’ margin was derived almost entirely from such voters in these cities, as coincidentally his black vote spiked only in exactly the locations necessary to secure victory. He did not receive comparable levels of support among comparable demographic groups in comparable states, which is highly unusual for the presidential victor. [Spectator]

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Thanksgiving Eve Links

  • Let’s look at a few bank management teams who respect investor capital and deserve thanks this holiday season, vs. a few burning the turkey. [Colarion]
  • The community of institutional investors who focus on bank stocks has struggled this year. Many bank stock investors focus on small-cap banks with less liquidity. We observed forced selling by this group of investors from March to September as these funds had to raise cash to meet investor redemptions. In talking with other bank investors, there is consensus that bank stocks are cheap, but everyone is already fully invested. This community is looking for new capital to put to work. [Gator Capital]
  • In terms of numbers, beetles are the most successful creatures on earth: about 350,000 species of beetles have been described since 1758. They range from tiny to gigantic, occupy sundry habitats, and eat everything. [Inordinate Fondness]
  • Participants were randomised to receive daily 60 000 IU of cholecalciferol (oral nano-liquid droplets) for 7 days with therapeutic target 25(OH)D>50 ng/ml (intervention group) or placebo (control group). [BMJ]
  • I’ve talked about the tenancy and eviction statutes in MA before. After going though six months to a year or more of struggle to evict a tenant while maintaining all the utilities and other service obligations (trash/recycling/snow removal), paying for lawyers, paying for Constables, paying for Sheriffs, and paying to store the evicted tenant’s belongings, I know of several people who simply gave up and decided never to to rent their available space again, or renovate it and seek more upscale tenants who have spotlessly clean criminal background checks and credit ratings. In MA you are less a “landlord” and “property owner” than you are a “provider of housing” under the law. Once you hand over the keys and sign the lease, the tenant takes “legal possession” of the dwelling with a “right to quiet enjoyment” and the only person who can return legal possession to the property owner and order an eviction is a judge. P.S.: This concern becomes particularly acute for a landlord if a minor child is involved. Housing court judges can be extremely reluctant to order the eviction of a delinquent tenant when there are one or more children involved. In cases that I know of personally, the soon-to-be deadbeat tenant knows this and uses the child as a shield against eviction. Move in, pay three or four months, stop paying rent, and then ride out the rest of the year or more for free while the landlord pays and jumps through the hoops. Once you’ve been on that rollercoaster once, do you don’t want to risk it again, so you decide: “No Children!” [Phil G]
  • There’re a bunch of useful qualities in founders, but I’ve narrowed it down to the 3 most important. The most important quality is determination. There’s got to be at least one founder who's super determined. I've seen so many smart and talented people fail because they couldn't stick with it when things got tough. Startups are really hard and take a really long time. There has to be at least one founder who's just a tower of strength. Part of being determined is being able to withstand rejection. People will think your idea is lame, customers won't be interested, investors will say no, reporters won't care. And they might not be polite about it either. But you can't let rejection discourage you. This is really hard for a lot of people. [Jessica Livingston]
  • The Aztek was noted for its styling, which was instantly controversial. Pulitzer Prize-winning automotive critic and syndicated columnist Dan Neil, in naming it one of the 50 worst cars of all time, said the Aztek "violate(d) one of the principal rules of car design: we like cars that look like us. With its multiple eyes and supernumerary nostrils, the Aztek looks deformed and scary, something that dogs bark at and cathedrals employ to ring bells. The shame is, under all that ugliness, there was a useful, competent crossover. [Wiki]
  • What is fascinating to me is that these tobacco stocks seem cheap at the same time that nicotine is making a huge comeback. Nicotine is a drug that, like ethanol and caffeine, has stood the test of time. Does society crave it now after having cut back so sharply? Maybe people will resume consuming nicotine at very high rates, but in a different form.  It is a concern that MO paid such a high valuation for its stake in Juul. On the other hand Facebook paid what seemed like high prices for two investments to defend its monopoly - and it worked. [CBS]
  • Remarkably, despite New York’s lofty number 1 rank, legislation was recently introduced in Albany to hike the state cigarette tax by another $1.89, to $6.24 per pack. If adopted, our model indicates that the state’s smuggling rate would leap to almost 61% of the market and cigarette tax revenue would actually decline by 15% as a result of increased tax avoidance and evasion. [Mackinac]
  • It often happens that of the forces in action in a system some vary as one power and some as another, of the masses, distances, or other magnitudes involved... the strength of an iron girder obviously varies with the cross-section of its members, and each cross-section varies as the square of a linear dimension; but the weight of the whole structure varies as the cube of its linear dimensions. It follows at once that, if we build two bridges geometrically similar, the larger is the weaker of the two, and is so in the ratio of their linear dimensions. [CBS]
  • Powell thought that only a tiny proportion of western lands - closest to water sources - were suitable for agriculture. He proposed to irrigate as much as could be irrigated economically, and to redraw the western states' boundaries based on their watersheds. His proposed map is great but would never appeal to people who like straight lines. For those lands that couldn't be irrigated economically, he thought that they should either be "conserved" or grazed with cattle. [CBS]

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Estimating the Elasticity of Demand for Cigarettes

It took a gigantic price increase in Australia to crimp demand for cigarettes.


A correspondent writes in,
Starting out, I paid 16 cents a pack, in 1955. I can understand why it took a gigantic price increase to crimp demand. It's a tough addiction to break. It took me 8 years to quit.

If you think it will take a gigantic price increase to crimp demand, you should probably buy cigarette stocks.

Most recently regarding tobacco: outlawing vaping, Cigarette Sales Stabilizing?, Opportunity in the Big Tobacco Duopoly?.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Friday Links

  • Since during the life of the patents 'Shredded Wheat' was the general designation of the patented product, there passed to the public upon the expiration of the patent, not only the right to make the article as it was made during the patent period, but also the right to apply thereto the name by which it had become known. [Kellogg Co. v. National Biscuit Co.]
  • Imagine that Facebook begins with a positive price for both readers and advertisers (PR>0 and PA>0). Readers, however, are likely to be sensitive to the price so a small decrease in price will cause a large increase in readers (very elastic demand). Thus, imagine that Facebook lowers the price to readers and thus increases the number of readers. With more readers, Facebook can charge its advertisers more, so PA increases. Indeed, if the demand for advertisers increases enough, it can even pay Facebook to lower the price to readers to zero! Thus, the key to Facebook’s decision is how many more readers it will get when it lowers the price (the reader elasticity), how much those readers are worth to advertisers (the externality of readers to advertisers) and how high can it increase the price to advertisers (the advertiser elasticity). [MR]
  • Bitcoin believers rely entirely on the idea that bitcoin is limited in supply making it far more attractive than fiat currencies that are being printed like mad by central bankers around the world. However, bitcoin has already hard forked several times, multiplying the number and type of bitcoins in circulation. In fact, if you put together all the hard forks Bitcoin has undergone since it was first created, the number of total bitcoins has actually grown faster than the number of dollars. That’s a fact. [Felder]
  • The hedge fund sports owner hex strikes again. The latest victim: Harbinger Capital Partners’ Philip Falcone. Last week the minority owner of the Minnesota Wild ice hockey team agreed to settle civil charges with regulators, which will result in the Minnesota native winding down his hedge funds. Falcone thus becomes at least the third hedge fund manager in the past few weeks who either owns or has made a bid to buy a professional sports team who has suffered a big setback in his day job. [II]
  • Everything in biology is like this. It’s all exceptions to the rule. But biology, like computing, has a bottom, and the bottom is not abstract. It’s physical. It’s shapes bumping into each other. In fact the great revelation of twentieth-century molecular biology was the coupling of structure to function. An aperiodic crystal that forms paired helices is the natural store of heredity because of its ability to curl up and unwind and double itself with complements. Hemoglobin, the first protein studied in full crystallographic detail, was shown to be an efficient store of energy because of how oxygen atoms snap into its body like Legos, each snap widening the remaining slots, so that it loads itself up practically at a gulp. Most proteins are like this. The ones that drive locomotion twist like little motors; the ones that contract muscles climb and compress each other. Cells, too, are constantly in conversation, and the language they speak is shape. It’s keys entering locks: a protein might straddle the cell membrane, and when a cytokine (that’s a kind of signaling molecule) docks with it, it changes its shape, so that its grip loosens on some other molecule on the interior side of the membrane, as though fumbling a football—that football might be a signal itself, on its way to the nucleus. [James Somers]
  • Molecules that come close to an organelle tend to remain close to it for a while, and brush against it many times. The result of this is that if receptors for a protein p cover even a small fraction of the surface of an organelle, the organelle will be surprisingly efficient at recognizing p. As an example, if only 0.02% of a typical eukaryotic cell’s surface has a receptor for p, the cell will be about half as efficient as if the entire surface were coated with receptors for p. [A Computer Scientist’s Guide to Cell Biology]
  • That the western side of Glacier National Park was dense with bears was clear enough from the maps and signs, and clearer still from the dozen clumps of fresh scat along a nearby trail. My friend saw one just outside the campsite; so did that couple—they said it was massive. They said, too, that they heard another one poking around last night. In fact this place was so conspicuously teeming with bears that in the event of my tragic mauling my family and friends could very sensibly think to themselves, “He was asking for it.” [James Somers]
  • I began to wonder: what’s the relationship between the length of a road trip and the complexity of the route? Do most trips, long or short, require roughly the same number of steps? How many steps are there in the most complex route in the country? What’s the distribution of step counts for every possible route in the contiguous United States? [James Somers]
  • I suggest writing emails to your friends. Writing with an audience in mind makes the writing better, and writing to a friend means you won’t get hung up on how you sound. You’ll become closer, too, to whoever you share your thoughts with, and odds are you’ll draw the same thoughtfulness out of them. Your inbox will become less of a place for coupons and bullshit than for the thoughts of humans you like. Walk around with a pen and a scrap of paper. Write some meaty emails. Engage more intensely with this place. [James Somers]
  • The present study summarizes the data on Cannabis use, caloric intake, and BMI, establishing conclusively that Cannabis use is associated with reduced BMI and obesity rates, despite increased caloric intake. It then provides a theoretical, causative explanation for this paradox. This theory encompasses the causative role in obesity of dietary disruption of the eCB system by an elevated omega-6/omega-3 fatty acid ratio. Cannabis(or THC) results in downregulation of CB1R, leading to reduced sensitivity to AEA and 2-AG, leading to significant health benefits in the context of this diet. [NLM]
  • The President is allowed to use any means that he (and again, he needs no one else) considers necessary. This includes using the armed forces (which enables him to bypass the Posse Comitatus Act) and using the militia (which we’ll discuss in more detail below). The President’s ability to use force isn’t restricted to actual rebellion or insurgency. He can act against merely unlawful combinations and conspiracies. To be clear: If the President decides that a conspiracy has deprived people of a right and believes that authorities fail or refuse to protect the right, he can send in the troops. [Alexander Macris]
  • The President, by using the militia or the armed forces, or both, or by any other means, shall take such measures as he considers necessary to suppress, in a State, any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy, if it so hinders the execution of the laws of that State, and of the United States within the State, that any part or class of its people is deprived of a right, privilege, immunity, or protection named in the Constitution and secured by law, and the constituted authorities of that State are unable, fail, or refuse to protect that right, privilege, or immunity, or to give that protection. [10 U.S. Code § 253]

Monday, November 16, 2020

Monday Night Links

  • That moment was notable not just because the McLaren had finally been beaten. It marked the arrival of a new era of performance cars, one in which software would play an ever larger role. The McLaren requires its driver to conquer a challenge. The Veyron is as much computer as car, incorporating a dual-clutch gearbox, all-wheel drive, and launch control. This phenomenon cascaded. Supercars became quicker and easier to thrash. More accessible cars became faster than they had any right to be. When five-second 0-to-60 runs became leisurely, and times under three seconds grew common, stats became less impressive. After all, smaller numbers are harder for humans to perceive and are therefore less intuitive. And as cars rely more on computers to hit baffling figures, involvement and engagement are sacrificed. Instead of managing the car, drivers manage laws: the laws of society on the road and the laws of physics on the track. [Road and Track]
  • There’s another game genre that has become popular recently. These are games like Football Manager or Europa Universalis 4. Games that require immense time investment, thinking and strategizing. These games were fun when I played in them university or grad school. But I tried to play them recently and I couldn’t. They resembled jobs to me. And I already had a job. I was burning out trying to keep my team winning, scouting talent in obscure places in latin America and Africa. Europa Universalis is basically a spreadsheet simulation manipulating your dormant nationalist and religious impulses. If you take these games seriously as an adult you’ll burn out and lose your real job. That’s not fun. [Paul Skallas]
  • Yglesias explained why pushing back against the “dominant sensibility” in digital journalism is important to him. He said he believes that certain voguish positions are substantively wrong—for instance, abolishing or defunding police—and that such arguments, as well as rhetorical fights over terms like Latinx, alienate many people from progressive politics and the Democratic Party. [The Atlantic]
  • While researching the paper I found this quote from Neely and when I read it I knew we were going to be published in a good journal: "As long as I am allowed to redistribute wealth from out-of-state companies to injured in-state plaintiffs, I shall continue to do so. Not only is my sleep enhanced when I give someone’s else money away, but so is my job security, because the in-state plaintiffs, their families, and their friends will reelect me." That is what you call anecdotal gold. To be clear, when Neely was looking for a law clerk he advertised: "America’s laziest and dumbest judge” seeks “a bright person to keep (the judge) from looking stupid,” and gave preference to University of Virginia law students “who studied interesting but useless subjects at snobby schools." [Marginal Revolution]
  • Participants were randomised to receive daily 60 000 IU of cholecalciferol (oral nano-liquid droplets) for 7 days with therapeutic target 25(OH)D>50 ng/ml (intervention group) or placebo (control group). Patients requiring invasive ventilation or with significant comorbidities were excluded. 25(OH)D levels were assessed at day 7, and cholecalciferol supplementation was continued for those with 25(OH)D <50 ng/ml in the intervention arm. SARS-CoV-2 RNA and inflammatory markers fibrinogen, D-dimer, procalcitonin and (CRP), ferritin were measured periodically. Greater proportion of vitamin D-deficient individuals with SARS-CoV-2 infection turned SARS-CoV-2 RNA negative with a significant decrease in fibrinogen on high-dose cholecalciferol supplementation. [BMJ]
  • For the last four years half the country was all “Trump is illegitimate! He’s not my president! He stole the election!” so on and so forth, and that was all based upon nebulous ideas about “Russian Interference”, The Russian Interference mostly boiled down to them buying ads on Facebook, or having fake bots trolling on Twitter last time. This time the actual giant megacorporations, Facebook, Twitter, and Google themselves have actively censored stories in order to protect their candidate. So you think after this pile of suspicious election clusterfucks that makes the game look totally rigged, the other half of the country is going to accept Joe Biden as legitimate? [link]
  • I think mature adults should have the freedom to undergo medical transition. But teenagers are another matter. Social contagions exist, and teen girls are particularly susceptible to them. The book takes a hard look at whether the sudden spike in transgender identification among teen girls is yet another social contagion to befall girls who, in another era, might have fallen prey to anorexia or bulimia. [WSJ]
  • Other friends who are still stuck abroad (unable to get a flight or a visa) are missing a succession of delicacies: the crayfish season, the lychee season, the waxberry season, the durian season, the gordon euryale seed season, the sugar fried chestnut season, the pork mooncake season have all gone by. Will they catch the end of the mitten crab season, or will they have to wait another year? [LRB]
  • For instance, Zoom Communication's peak market capitalisation was recently about US$200bn. Even to trade on a relatively high 20x earnings, it would need to earn US$10bn after tax. Are investors aware of how few companies there are in the world that actually make US$10bn? It's about as much money as Coca-Cola and Visa make, for instance - two of the world's finest enterprises. Very few companies make more than US$10bn, because that is a lot of money, and the world is not infinitely big. [LT3000]
  • Some Tesla skeptics think that the S&P 500 selection committee can be talked out of adding Tesla to the index. I doubt it. The market cap is now $350 billion and growing. What are they going to do, not have a top ten (by market cap) company in the index? To exclude it on the basis of skepticism or suspicion would be an active choice of security selection. It would imply that the market could be hugely inefficient, that the entire philosophical predicate of indexation was wrong! No, the whole philosophy of the S&P 500 index is one of freeloading: the active participants in the market are supposed to set prices, which passive investors can then take as fair. So if the market says that Tesla is worth $350 billion, that is not something for index investors generally or the S&P committee to second guess. [CBS]
  • There are dozens of entities also hoovering up coins, many of which are not likely sellers in the near term. Almost every week, we learn of a new vehicle with big marketing resources behind it. Do you think Fidelity is launching their Bitcoin vehicle without a substantial marketing campaign? In their mind, unless they raise a few billion dollars, their fund has been a failure. Just think about what that sort of inflow would do to such an illiquid market. [AiC]