Friday, January 19, 2018

Friday (January 19th) Links

  • Johns Hopkins study in which broccoli extract applied to the skin of nude mice prevented oxidative damage from UV light for a period of several days, even after it was washed off the skin. The absorbed sulforaphane could only act as an antioxidant for 30-60 minutes, at best a short-term effect. However, the induced upregulation of antioxidants in the skin protected the skin from UV for two days! To put it in chemistry terms: antioxidants are stoichiometric and used up quickly, whereas the endogenous antioxidant enzyme system is catalytic and long-lasting. [Getting Stronger]
  • Possibly one of the most frequent requests we get is a recommendation for the best pencil for the New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle. [link]
  • Recipes for chocolate require the addition of extra cocoa butter to cocoa liquor, leading to a cocoa solids surplus and thus a relatively cheap supply of cocoa powder. This contrasts with the earliest European usage of cocoa where, before milk and dark chocolate was popularized, cocoa powder was the primary product and cocoa butter was little more than a waste product. [Wiki]
  • With much fanfare, Starbucks introduced a light-roast espresso blend to its shops across the country on Tuesday, marking the first time in more than 40 years that the coffee behemoth has used anything other than a dark, robust blend for its espresso, whether as an individual shot or as part of lattes, cappuccinos and other drinks. [Wapo]
  • Weeds are elegant masters of adaptation and procreative success, and the Genghis Khan of weeds—the one most hellbent on total domination—is pigweed, aka Palmer amaranth. It can grow as high as 10 feet in the shape of a ponderosa pine, with a stalk the width of a corncob. A single plant can produce a million seeds, and a pigweed-infested field will spew hundreds of millions, raising the probability that a mutation of the plant will come along that can resist an herbicide. "To a farmer, pigweed"s like a staph infection resistant to every antibiotic," Heraud says. [BB]
  • Grouse moors cover at least 550,000 acres of England, with at least 300,000 of these acres owned by just 30 huge estates – a number of which are owned offshore, and most of whom rake in large public farm subsidies. This survey's far from complete, however, with many more grouse moor estates yet to be listed and mapped. [link]
  • Mother Nature embedded the Nrf2 signaling pathways in us intentionally, because she didn't want us to get cancer. She cleverly invented a molecule (sulforaphane) which could both activate Nrf2 then be incorporated into one of Nrf2's greatest weapons (glutathione). [link]
  • Mr. Hummer went out to meet Joe Buttram, 27, for drinks. As a mixed martial arts fighter, Mr. Buttram said he would fight for a couple hundred bucks, sometimes a few thousand, and worked security at a start-up, but his main hobbies were reading 4chan and buying vintage pornography, passions that exposed him to cryptocurrency. [NYT]
  • But seriously, it's way healthier than I thought. This has been in-and-out of the news a few times over the years, but I was always like, "duh," until I finally looked at the data. In some cases glucose & insulin excursions are down 20, 30, even 50%! (mostly depending on distance covered, but also speed) (but mostly distance). [Lagakos]
  • One of the great benefits of eating low-carbohydrate whole, unprocessed foods is that it reduces your hunger. In trials of low-carbohydrate diets, one thing that's been seen again and again is that people spontaneously reduce their caloric intake on this diet. That's one of the keys to the success of this diet right there. [Mangan]
  • In humans under normal conditions, I believe pro- and anti-oxidants are balanced by our own endogenous processes. If we ingest something that produces a bit too much ROS, they'll be neutralized. If we ingest something that induces antioxidant processes, they'll be used if necessary and degraded if not. In other words, as long as you're not mega-dosing beta-carotene or smoking 2 packs a day, etc., then none of this should matter. [Lagakos]
  • The city of Seattle is getting more apartments this decade than in the prior 50 years combined. For the Puget Sound region as a whole, the current construction frenzy rivals the record apartment boom from the late 1980s, which was centered in the suburbs. [link]
  • Immense vertical skyscrapers can autonomously lift these driverless rooms and their passengers hundreds of meters up, where they're slotted into position before the wall panels open to reveal other connected room modules. [link]
  • Every time miners figure out how to hash faster or cheaper, the difficulty increases. When difficulty increases, each hash becomes less valuable. Your hashrate may stay the same, but you get paid less and less. In this way, Proof of Work forces miners to constantly re-invest revenue. Miners only profit through constant spending, constant optimization, constant competition. Miners that can't compete fall off the treadmill. [link]
  • In 1865, the English economist William Stanley Jevons observed that technological improvements that increased the efficiency of coal-use led to the increased consumption of coal in a wide range of industries. He argued that, contrary to common intuition, technological progress could not be relied upon to reduce fuel consumption. [Wiki]
  • With tinkering, syrup scientists at Japan's Hayashibara chemistry company finally figured out a novel enzymatic method to make [trehalose] on the cheap from starch. The method brought costs down to just $3 per kilogram. By 2000—just before the rise of C. diff.—the company got approval from the US Food and Drug Administration to use it as an additive in food. Approval for use in Europe came the following year. Manufacturers started pouring trehalose into a variety of foods, from pasta to ground beef to ice creams. [link]
  • Kigali, Rwanda's gleaming capital, pulses with African charm. About 23 years after the horrific genocide in Rwanda, Kigali has reclaimed its narrative and emerged as a proud and progressive city, buzzing with tech hubs, creative start-ups and cafes serving some of the best coffee in East Africa. [NYT]
  • Ms. Felstein turned to the New York Foundation for Senior Citizens, a Manhattan-based nonprofit. The group has been operating a home-sharing service since 1981, matching people who have space in their homes with those in need of affordable housing. It is one of a number of similar programs that have emerged across the country as the population of older Americans grows, as a way to help people stay in their homes. [NYT]
  • Port-au-Prince, Haiti, is one of the largest cities in the world without a central sewage system. There are no sewers connecting sinks, showers and toilets to hulking wastewater treatment plants. Most of the more than 3 million people in the metro area use outhouses, and much of that waste ends up in canals, ditches and other unsanitary dumping grounds where it can contaminate drinking water and spread disease. [NPR]
  • His primary message is that you will not achieve financial security and personal happiness by working harder to get ahead of the pack; you will find these things by carefully studying what the pack is doing and then doing the opposite. [link]
  • One of the key Principles of Mustachianism is that any and all lineups, queues, and other sardine-like collections of humans must be viewed with the squinty eyes of skepticism. Because if so many people simultaneously decide to do something that they are forced to stand or drive in a queue to do it, there’s a good chance it is something that is not worth doing. [MMM]
  • Thoren's intravenous magnesium load test for diagnosing magnesium deficiency: Provide ~360–480 mg of magnesium intravenously over 1 hour. If under 70% of the magnesium load comes out in the urine over 16 hours, this is highly suggestive of magnesium deficiency. [BMJ]
  • Brits saying that the NHS was designed for a country of hard-working laborers who died young and now is dealing with "sedentary workers who eat too much and exercise too little" and then keep living more or less indefinitely. [Greenspun]
  • I was offered a job in Denver once and have visited many times. The attraction has always been lost on me. Someone once described it as Akron with a mural. [Granola Shotgun]
  • "I am convinced we are living through a mass hysteria of the sort one would read about in Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds." [Sailer]
  • I'm a vodka soda guy. I get a fair amount of grief over it from my friends who are cocktail enthusiasts. The most important part is to have a fresh, supercrisp 10-ounce club soda. I have a bunch of them in the fridge at home, and it drives my wife crazy because there are all these bottles in there with two-thirds gone. [NYT]
  • The current CAPE10 is 33.33, which is 136% above its historical average. By taking out the financial crisis, the CAPE7 falls to 28.44, which is 105% above its historical average. [link]
  • "As smaller, more efficient planes flood the market," he said in an email, "new city pairs are being created almost every day, killing the case for larger aircraft." [NYT]
  • I did not enjoy all three books equally. The first, Three Body Problem, is excellent. The second, The Dark Forest, is very good. The third, Death’s End, is too dismal for words. [Dan Wang]
  • The fewer the manufacturing workers and engineers, the more removed everyone is from the particulars of industrial processes, and the more remote that knowledge becomes in each successive generation. We become think tankers and app designers and restaurant hosts, while the details of the industrial world become further and loftier abstractions. How many of our grandparents were familiar with the details of ball bearings, wire production, concrete mixing, industrial chemicals, while we are not? [Dan Wang]
  • This year, I had the chance to visit every part of the Sinosphere (or places where people are majority Chinese): I live in Hong Kong, and I've visited mainland China, Macau, Taiwan, Vancouver, and Singapore. [Dan Wang]
  • The growth of "zero-sum" activities may, however, be even more important. Look around the economy, and it’s striking how much high-talent manpower is devoted to activities that cannot possibly increase human welfare, but entail competition for the available economic pie. Such activities have become ubiquitous: legal services, policing, and prisons; cybercrime and the army of experts defending organizations against it; financial regulators trying to stop mis-selling and the growing ranks of compliance officers employed in response; the huge resources devoted to US election campaigns; real-estate services that facilitate the exchange of already-existing assets; and much financial trading. [link]
  • In just a matter of months I'll depart old age to enter deep old age — easing ever deeper daily into the redoubtable Valley of the Shadow. Right now it is astonishing to find myself still here at the end of each day. Getting into bed at night I smile and think, "I lived another day." And then it's astonishing again to awaken eight hours later and to see that it is morning of the next day and that I continue to be here. "I survived another night," which thought causes me to smile once more. I go to sleep smiling and I wake up smiling. I'm very pleased that I'm still alive. Moreover, when this happens, as it has, week after week and month after month since I began drawing Social Security, it produces the illusion that this thing is just never going to end, though of course I know that it can stop on a dime. It's something like playing a game, day in and day out, a high-stakes game that for now, even against the odds, I just keep winning. We will see how long my luck holds out. [NYT]
  • The CreditSights analysts called the structure a "SuperHoldCo PIK note", while several investors have dubbed it more simply a "super PIK". "It's definitely a sign of where we are in the cycle right now," said a manager at a US credit hedge fund. "I've never seen a 'super PIK' before." [FT]
  • In 1940, for example, when the roaring '20s had been fully liquidated, the Fed's gold backed its liabilities by 88%. There was very little credit in the dollar system, which made it a good time to own stocks. By the top of the 1960s bubble, the Fed had monetized so many government bonds that, at the pegged and London market price of $35 per ounce, gold backed the Fed's liabilities by just 12%. That was a great time to own gold (had it been legal for Americans to do so). On January 21, 1980, the spot price of gold hit a peak of $875, which meant that the gold on the Fed's balance sheet backed its liabilities by 133%—in order words, its liabilities were overbacked by 33%. That was not a good time to own gold. Today, the Fed reports it holds 8133 tonnes of gold, worth $349.4 billion at $1330 per ounce, which equals 7.9% of the Fed's reported $4.4 trillion in liabilities. [link - pdf]
  • Modern universities are insane. For the vast majority of human history universities as we conceive of them did not exist. The modern university system did not produce the Mahabharata, The Aneaid, or The Tale of Genji. The modern university system did not produce Ibn Khaldun, Thomas Aquineas, or Alexis de Tocqueville. The universities John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison attended looked or functioned very little like Harvard, Columbia, and Princeton do today. Men like Abraham Lincoln are evidence that a deep reading and appreciation for the liberal arts do not require formal education at all. Let's not kid ourselves: the humanities existed before the modern university department was conceived; they will exist long after the modern university department has been destroyed. [link]
  • "Liquor is everything," Healy says. "The best thing you can do for a restaurant is order a vodka soda." [link]

1 comment:

Bill said...

Thanks for the shoutout! (Nrf2)