Thursday, March 1, 2018

March 1, 2018 Links

  • This left Tancítaro without police or a government, whose officials had fled. Power accumulated to the militias that controlled the streets and to their backers, an organization of wealthy avocado growers known as the Junta de Sanidad Vegetal, or Plant Health Council. Citizens sometimes call it the Junta. [NYT]
  • Furthermore, it used to be always correct to drink one or more Manhattans after breakfast, back when the cocktail was young. "Midmorning was the first well-established masculine cocktail hour," Lucius Beebe wrote in The Stork Club Bar Book. "This practice... originally carried with it no least suggestion of relinquished moral control or decline in individual deportment." [Bloomberg]
  • Many clergy in the established church feared that new doctrines promulgated by the Methodists, such as the necessity of a new birth for salvation, of justification by faith and of the constant and sustained action of the Holy Spirit upon the believer's soul, would produce ill effects upon weak minds. [Wiki]
  • After 18-year-old Liza Hankins was thrown through the closed sunroof of her sport-utility vehicle during a crash and paralyzed, her family sued the truck's maker, claiming it had failed to live up to its safety responsibilities. The carmaker, Ford, won the case after it pointed out that no government regulations required a sunroof — even a closed one — to keep someone inside a vehicle in a crash. [NYT]
  • Spain is the right place to ponder the past and future of the Southern love for the pig. Spanish explorers introduced pigs to the Americas (as well as diseases that decimated the native population). When de Soto landed, he loosed Ibérico pigs from Extremadura to roam the Southern countryside. They prospered. And so did the settlers who employed Native American techniques to smoke them and adapted European traditions to salt and air-cure them. From those pigs came country ham, redeye gravy, and lard-rich cat-head biscuits. From that landing came Benton’s livelihood. Today, Spain produces the most dry-cured ham of any country in the world. By the measure of many palates, it also produces the best. [link]
  • The best way to experience this part of the Bernese Oberland is on foot, following the well-marked hiking trails that meander from one bucolic scene to the next — brushing against raging rivers, to the base of (and sometimes over) glaciers, up steep rock faces, along the tops of ridges, through dense forests, and in and out of lush Alpine meadows. [NYT]
  • "OUR descendants," a social worker re- marked to me, "will look back on the nineteenth century as our Golden Age, just as we look back on Greece." Thoughtful people whose work takes them into the slime at the bottom of our foreignized cities and industrial centers find decline actually upon us. A visiting nurse who has worked for seven years in the stock-yards district of Chicago reports that of late the drinking habit is taking hold of foreign women at an alarming rate. [Edward Alsworth Ross]
  • The genetic variants associated with high levels of the anxiety/tension and worry/vulnerability factors are associated with affluence, higher cognitive ability, better self-rated health, and longer life. [link]
  • Oh yeah, I wanted to mention a cool tracking thing YouTube provides. As you might assume, you can easily track when a click on the ad results in a sale. But the cool part is that you can also track when someone views your ad, and then a bit later types in your web address to make the purchase without ever clicking the link. In other words you can track both people who click through an ad directly, or who see your ad and then visit your site a bit later (this is known as a "view-through conversion "). It's magic. Magical enough that you'll have to take Google's word on it that these customers actually did view the ad, since you won't be able to detect it yourself. [link]
  • For most of recorded history, almost every human was a subsistence farmer, likely under-using their cognitive abilities, yet no middle-paying jobs materialized to use their full potential. Then, during the first century or so of the industrial revolution, most people in industrialized countries were assembly line workers, jobs even less cognitively demanding than subsistence farming, and still no middle-paying jobs appeared until most of that low-skilled factory work could be automated. There is nothing in standard economic theory that predicts that jobs that allow average people to use their full cognitive ability should exist and pay middle-class wages. In fact, there is nothing that predicts that a middle-class should exist. [SSC]
  • For months, the husband-and-wife team behind a cryptocurrency project known as Tezos has been locked in a fierce battle for control of the funds with the head of the board of a nonprofit foundation that sold the digital coins. More than 30,000 participants in that coin offering, one of the biggest of 2017, were in limbo while the two sides duked it out. Now, the head of the nonprofit foundation, Johann Gevers, has said he would step down. This clears the way for new leadership at the foundation, opening up the $232 million to be used by Arthur and Kathleen Breitman to develop the Tezos project. [WSJ]
  • Great cities attract ambitious people. You can sense it when you walk around one. In a hundred subtle ways, the city sends you a message: you could do more; you should try harder. The surprising thing is how different these messages can be. New York tells you, above all: you should make more money. [Paul Graham]
  • Carlson pauses, tosses another piece of Nicorette gum into his mouth, and laughs. It's not a bitter laugh, but one of seeming disbelief. While he can be abrupt and sometimes even brutal with guests on his nightly program, one-on-one he's good humored and ebullient. He's that way, according to those who know him, even during breaks with on-air guests he is about to behead. He is exceedingly pleasant company for a leisurely lunch at swank Bistro Bis near the Fox headquarters, within walking distance of the U.S. Capitol. (The former smoker orders a plate of cheeses, which seem not to interfere with the gum, which he says both "sharpens the intellect and calms you down at the same time. It’s great." [TAC]
  • Army ants form colonies of millions yet have no permanent home. They march through the jungle each night in search of new foraging ground. Along the way they perform logistical feats that would make a four-star general proud, including building bridges with their own bodies. [link]
  • Based on petitions filed by Mylan Pharmaceuticals, Inc., we instituted these inter-partes review proceedings on December 8, 2016. At the time of institution, the undisputed owner of the patents being challenged in these proceedings was Allergan, Inc. On March 31, 2017, we granted motions joining Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc. and Akorn Inc. (collectively with Mylan, "Petitioners") as parties in each of these proceedings. In each proceeding, Allergan filed Patent Owner Responses and Petitioners filed Replies. A consolidated oral hearing for these proceedings was scheduled for September 15, 2017. On September 8, 2017, less than a week before the scheduled hearing, counsel for the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe contacted the Board to inform us that the Tribe acquired the challenged patents and to seek permission to file a motion to dismiss these proceedings based on the Tribe's sovereign immunity. [pdf]
  • I have a half-baked, three-quarters-joking theory of cryptocurrency, which is that it is a magical incarnation of a sort of male internet grievance. People -- mostly men -- sit around on Reddit complaining that they are underappreciated geniuses and that it is unfair that they have not been rewarded with vast wealth. They feel dispossessed and betrayed: They expected the modern world to reward computer literacy, but then they grew up to realize that the modern world, much like the old world, rewards mostly people skills and creativity and emotional intelligence. And then Bitcoin came along, and paranoid computer-literate people who spent a lot of time on the internet were the early adopters, and it became the world's first economic system that allocates wealth basically for hanging around on Reddit. What Bonatsos describes is not an accident; cryptocurrency seems almost custom-designed as a way for the men to get all the wealth, again. I know you are going to email me to complain about this theory, but what I want to propose here is: What if you didn't? [Bloomberg]
  • "Wine experts! They cannot tell white from red, if you blindfold them. There's a famous experiment, where they tinted a white wine with food colouring, and they end up writing them up like a red wine." (I looked up this cruel exercise and found that it was done by Frédéric Brochet of the oenology department of the University of Bordeaux in 2001. He fooled 54 critics into thinking two glasses of the same white wine were different, simply by adding food colouring to one of them. The red was praised for being "jammy" and having a savour of "crushed red fruit".) [1843]
  • To express his enthusiasm for My Fair Lady, Roger Ebert aped its premise, writing, "It is unnecessary to summarize the plot or list the songs; if you are not familiar with both, you are culturally illiterate, although in six months I could pass you off as a critic at Cannes, or even a clerk in a good video store, which requires better taste." [link]
  • The standard way for an enthusiast to see airliners parked at Marana is to hire a private aircraft and pilot to fly them from Tucson to Marana, performing a number of low approaches, or a landing and slow taxi for takeoff, snapping photographs frantically in the hope of catching everything parked there, and preferably the registrations. Then a period of research would begin to work out exactly what was seen. [link]
  • The new tax reform legislation, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), created a significant new economic development tool alongside a meaningful tax deferral and abatement mechanism, "qualified opportunity zones." The new provision provides a flexible deferral mechanism for short and long term capital gains for current investments in nearly all asset classes. Unlike Section 1031 "like-kind" deferral, qualified opportunity zones will provide: (i) the ability to invest only the gain rather than the full corpus of a current investment, (ii) a broader range of investments eligible for the deferral, (iii) a potential basis step-up of 15 percent or substantially more of the initial deferred amount of investment, and (iv) an opportunity to abate all taxation on capital gains post-investment. This program will provide businesses, projects, and commercial property in eligible low-income census tracts attractive financing and what could amount to a substantial long-term subsidy for economic development. The provision will also provide opportunities for investors, individual and corporate, to defer current capital gains, significantly increase basis in their current investments, and abate all future capital gains on the investment. Sophisticated fund managers should be able to find complex structures and entity planning to optimize return for investors and maximize subsidy for low-income businesses and property investment. [link]
  • Now we've got a new data point in that the FBI was tipped off to Nikolas Cruz's likely behavior (Miami Herald) and yet failed to prevent the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. The local police also got some tips. Compared to screening potential immigrants, this was an easy situation for law enforcement. The people offering the tips were native English speakers describing events that had occurred within the U.S. The potential criminal was a native English speaker. There was no need for an interpreter and no need to verify information about an event that had occurred on the other side of the planet. [Greenspun]
  • If someone is too drunk for the Waste Management Phoenix Open — and dear god, would that be a level of intoxication indiscernible from actual damnation — the drunk tank next to the jail nearby has snacks, a TV, and some chairs waiting. [link]
  • Ultimately, the crypto bubble will collapse because blockchain is a useless technology. The current VC enthusiasm is similar to the early 2000s, except this time around the VCs are backing useless technology and have no chance of finding the next Paypal. Will Coinbase be one of the first companies to break? We'll find out soon. [Glenn Chan]
  • If you ever go visit a plant nursery and want to know if it is a good nursery or not, ask if they sell Bradford pears. All reputable nurseries are well aware of the evils of this tree, and refuse to sell them. Don't let someone talk you into a Cleveland Select or other pear tree, all varieties of "ornamental" pear trees are equally bad. [link]
  • If a person didn't make tens of thousands of dollars while doing 1,000 transactions in 2017 in cryptocurrencies then, bluntly, there is something wrong with that person’s ability to make good decisions. [Patio11]
  • MBA programs are more of a sorting mechanism or a job placement service than anything else. Getting into the program in the first place — and demonstrating ambition afterwards — is what companies want to see. [link]
  • My primary concern now is that the Fed’s focus is on preventing overheating, the shift to an even more accelerated pace of rate hikes could occur very quickly. [link]
  • Salicylate appears to offer many of the anti-cancer and anti-aging properties of aspirin without as many side effects, mainly the tendency to bleed when that's not wanted. However, at least some of the protective effect of aspirin against heart disease is necessarily entwined with the bleeding tendency, since inhibition platelet function both increases the risk of bleeding and prevents clots from forming in arteries. Aspirin has another mode of protection against atherosclerosis though, and that's the ability of salicylate to chelate iron and lower body iron stores. The first, anti-platelet, mode works quickly, which is why aspirin taken by people having a heart attack; the second, iron-chelation mode is longer term, over a period of months to years if low-dose aspirin is used. [Mangan]
  • The clinical correlation between platelet dysfunction and cancer progression is supported by the finding that platelets have an essential role in numerous models of experimental metastasis. Depletion of platelets by a variety of mechanisms reduces the number of metastases to lung and bone in both xenograft and syngeneic tumor transplant models. Importantly, this phenomenon seems to be quite general, as cancerous cell lines from many tissue types give similar results. [link]
  • For the years ended December 31, 2015, 2016, and 2017, we generated €1,940 million, €2,952 million, and €4,090 million in revenue, respectively, representing a compound annual growth rate of 45%. For the years ended December 31, 2015, 2016, and 2017, we incurred net losses of €230 million, €539 million, and €1,235 million, respectively. For the years ended December 31, 2015, 2016, and 2017, our EBITDA was €(205) million, €(311) million, and €(324) million, respectively. [EDGAR]


Anonymous said...

Fairholme's 2017 annual letter came out, and it's a bit crazy to me that Fairholme shareholders get a one paragraph explanation after a decade long windmill tilt of realizing Sears' value. As recently as 2015 Fairholme was arguing Sears was worth ~$150/share!

It's really interesting to reread some old Sears' old annual letters (Here's their 2009 letter which is particularly on my mind, but all are interesting)and financials (here's their 2010 10-k and 2009 earnings release).

Anonymous said...


Time spent streaming per Netflix sub is up ~10% YoY; people are basically putting all of their free time into streaming Netflix. People used to pay $70-$100/month for cable TV that included advertisements and they spent less time watching that $100 package than they do Netflix today for <$15/month. The untapped pricing power of Netflix is unbelievable.

Anonymous said...

Reading the bio of Rabbi Ruttenberg, a Religious Studies major at Brown, is exhausting. I had this naive assumption that being a rabbi was the last of the pleasant sinecures for non-self-starters, like being a curate in an old English novel. But intense Tiger Daughters like Ruttenberg are taking over the rabbi racket too, just like all the other SJW jobs.