Monday, December 17, 2018

December 17th Links

  • And the officers shall speak further unto the people, and they shall say, What man is there that is fearful and fainthearted? let him go and return unto his house, lest his brethren's heart faint as well as his heart. [Deuteronomy]
  • One thing that occurs to me reading this: if caffeine-free tea bushes can survive and routinely occur in the wild, the genetics of caffeine synthesis are probably quite simple. It's usually a lot easier to 'knockout' a gene than to 'knockin' or edit it (it's easier to break a gene than fix it), and for good decaf tea, that's precisely what you want. (Not necessarily the specific ones Jin et al 2018 identify.) And Chinese genetics research is hugely focused on practical agricultural applications, so using, say, CRISPR, to knockout a caffeine gene to create a decaf line of an existing popular tea bush which can then be propagated clonally, would probably be very easy for them. [Gwern]
  • People may not understand why, but perhaps they sense that in these states the state and local government services and benefits they get seem to be a good deal compared with the state and local taxes they pay. Not because of efficiency, as they might claim. Not because, as in the past, the federal government is draining the Northeast and Midwest to subsidize them, because they are richer now and less subsidized. But because past residents' and politicians robbed them less. In fact, many of the people and businesses leaving the states with the most sold out futures for the states with the least sold out futures are those who benefited from that future selling in the past. Retired NY public employees moving away from the tax burden of their own pensions, for example. It's like rats leaving the sinking ship they caused to rot before it goes down. [Littlefield]
  • Are high stock prices good? They are good for rich people and older people who have lots of stock and are selling, but really, really bad for young people buying stock to save for retirement. If they buy at these artificially high prices, they become locked into a future cash return that is so low that it falls below inflation, so they would actually be getting poorer. Similarly, are high housing prices good? They are good for older sellers, their lenders, speculators and flippers, but bad for younger buyers seeking an affordable place to live. They end up locked into decades of house poverty, during which they might not be able to sell for the value of their mortgage. It isn't too far fetched to say that for nearly 20 years the goal of U.S. economic policy has been to keep asset prices high, so older and richer Americans can sell to poorer later-born Americans at high prices, but [keep] the wages of later-born Americans low, to prevent "cost push inflation." [Littlefield]
  • Might most people now under the age of 60 have been better off if the whole thing had been allowed to collapse in 2008? That might be worth thinking about, because none of the real problems have been solved, and with asset prices re-inflated far past any income available to support them, another economic heart attack is inevitable. And when it happens, most of us who are not Silicon Valley billionaires will not be able to flee to a bunker in New Zealand. [Littlefield]
  • In our view, Illinois's best option is to impose a statewide residential property tax that expires when its unfunded pension liability is paid off. In our baseline scenario, we estimate that the tax rate required to pay off the pension debt over 30 years would be about 1%. This means that homeowners with homes worth $250,000 would pay an additional $2,500 per year in property taxes, those with homes worth $500,000 would pay an additional $5,000, and those with homes worth $1 million would pay an additional $10,000. [Chicago Fed]
  • I always wash my model 3 on my back yard and noticed that every time I back out after washing there's a long trail of water about 50' long right on middle of driveway. This is even after the car sitting there for hours. I looked under car and saw it dripping from rear undercarriage. I started searching online and found photos of other model 3's with rear bumpers falling off and composite material breaking apart. I then opened my trunk and poured water around weatherstripping seal and water runs off to the sides and down but most of the water runs behind rear tail lights and and ends up inside on the rear bumper. The rear bumper has edges which act as a wall holding a lot of water. Once it fills or during driving water shoots forward drenching the composite material. This will be a big problem for many during winter when all that water on bumper freezes adding weight and stress to rear bumper. I then drilled a small 5/16" drain hole on center of bumper and poured more water but a single hole was not enough and water still drained off to the composite material. I added two more holes close to the first one but no water drained from there so I ended up drilling 2 more closer to where bumper meets composite material. One of these last holes ended up being where it drains the best. I did kind of crappy job drilling as drill motor didn't fit under car so I drilled at an angle. I don't know it having those holes will hurt the aerodynamic functionality of car but at least I won't have a bumper full of water. [Tesla]
  • Lexus of the '90s were so overbuilt. They were still concerned with quality over quantity. My '99 LX470 (Toyota Land Cruiser) is nearing 300k miles and looks and runs like it has 30k miles. Every single item on the car works. The leather is in unbelievable shape with no cracks or splits. [Bring a Trailer]
  • One element I have decided to restore to some extent is my library. I lost, counting those stored in the garage, some 3,000 volumes. To be honest the very thought of moving them… AGAIN… was exhausting to contemplate. Well, problem solved. [American Digest]
  • "Paragon conducted the offering of PRG tokens to raise capital to develop and implement its business plan to add blockchain technology to the cannabis industry and work towards legalization of cannabis. In connection with the offering, Paragon described the way in which PRG tokens would increase in value as a result of Paragon's efforts and stated that PRG tokens would be traded on secondary markets. Paragon raised approximately $12 million worth of digital assets during the offering. Paragon did not register the offering pursuant to the federal securities laws, nor did it attempt to qualify for an exemption to the registration requirements." [SEC]
  • The three Horween leathers with such resilience that they will accompany you to even the world's end: waxed flesh, roughout, and reverse chamois. These leathers won't need any conditioning for a long time. The wax makes the roughout very resilient to rain, scuffs, and other elements. [link]
  • "Tesla had a Model S on display at the mall the other day and my wife and I sat in it. She wanted to see what the interior looks like after hearing my thoughts on the matter. She agreed with you that it isn't bad so I asked the sales rep the MSRP - $165k he gleefully replied! Both my wife and I nearly choked with laughter! I love and support Elon Musk's vision for the future, and the Model S is a helluva car, but when Porsche is a year away from offering equal performance in a much more refined package for at least $60,000 less...well, I can be patient. I could be convinced to lease a 911 in the interim, however my wife has been putting the kibosh on that idea for 10+ years now! doh!" [Rennlist]
  • Such a failure would put SpaceX in a very awkward position, when there were already many questions about whether Starlink would go forward, not least because the satellites may not reach the correct orbit to bring SpaceX's ITU filing into use, and the FCC's experimental authorization was based on the assumption that mission operations would be conducted at 1125km. And if SpaceX cannot build satellites with a reliable propulsion system, that would reinforce concerns expressed by FCC Commissioner Rosenworcel in SpaceX's license grant that "the FCC has to tackle the growing challenge posed by orbital debris." [link]
  • This seems to be the norm for people like Warmenhoven - engineers as annoyances, replaceable cogs that better behave, not a vital part of the technology development or company, but rather the true irreplaceable geniuses are the CEOs who are the innovators and aren't held back by such things as fraud, physics, or Post-Its. This ties with statements I've heard C-level execs make with all sincerity "I told the engineering team what they needed to do, they just didn't understand/weren't good enough". There's some school of MBA that says engineers are fungible units, and are lazy and always say they can't do it, and so need pushed. [Lies and Startup PR]
  • The chart shows mortality rate for all individuals who had normal weight at the time of the survey, divided into whether they were always normal, or at one time overweight or obese. Those with a maximum BMI greater than normal had much higher death rates than those who had always been normal, exaggerating the risk of being normal, and underestimating the risk of overweight/obesity. [Mangan]
  • Seated on the transom was what seemed to me a most uncommon and surprising figure. It turned out to be Captain Bildad, who along with Captain Peleg was one of the largest owners of the vessel; the other shares, as is sometimes the case in these ports, being held by a crowd of old annuitants; widows, fatherless children, and chancery wards; each owning about the value of a timber head, or a foot of plank, or a nail or two in the ship. People in Nantucket invest their money in whaling vessels, the same way that you do yours in approved state stocks bringing in good interest. [Herman Melville]
  • In many ways, skyscrapers represent our increasingly artificial world, a physical manifestation of societal and corporate detachment and inequality. Like distant watchtowers of a foreign enemy, they make a mockery of the world below, oblivious of their damage. They are symbols of the abuse of technological progress and environmental recklessness, and party to a system of urban development where land is disposable, nothing more than a resource to be exploited, and beauty not even a consideration. Which is why the answer is the same as it has always been, and as it always will be: build human-scaled cities full of beautiful buildings that delight the senses in all seasons of the year and that work with the local climate. [reCities]
  • From the very beginning, fire has defined Malibu in the American imagination. Sailing northward from San Pedro to Santa Barbara in 1835, Richard Henry Dana described (in Two Years Before the Mast) a vast blaze along the coast of Jose Tapia's Rancho Topanga Malibu Sequit. Despite (or, perhaps, because of) Spanish prohibition of the Chumash and Gabrielino Indians' practice of annual burning, mountain infernos repeatedly menaced the Malibu area throughout the 19th century. During the boom of the late 1880s, the entire ex-Tapia latifundium was sold at $10 per acre to the Boston Brahmin millionaire Frederick Rindge. In his memoirs, Rindge described his unceasing battles against squatters, rustlers and, above all, recurrent wildfire. The great fire of 1903, which raced from Calabasas to the sea in a few hours, incinerated Rindge's dream ranch in Malibu Canyon and forced him to move to Los Angeles, where he died in 1905. [LA Weekly]
  • To me, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (or what I think of as West London) is the most beautiful urban residential area in the world. Unlike most European cities, it is largely composed of houses rather than apartment blocks. Even though many have now been converted into apartments, that more human and domestic scale remains. West London is also the greenest part of Central London, with dozens of garden squares interspersed among the elegant terraces and Hyde and Holland Parks never far away. The level of greenery is evident just by looking at a satellite image. The difference with other large European cities is staggering. This is an area I have photographed more than any other, as this is where I spent most of my free time (when I could spare a break from studying architecture). There are few things I would rather do than take a walk through these neighborhoods. As charming as I find a North West area like Hampstead, West London stretches for miles, a huge cluster of unique streets. It's the closest thing to an amusement park I've ever found. It's the first place I go to every time I visit London, and I'll be going back regularly for as long as I live. To me these areas represent the true London, where London is at its best and most unique. You'll have noticed I specifically avoid featuring Piccadilly Circus, Oxford Street, the City, and other popular areas. They may be fine places to work and shop, but today are far too busy and modern. Especially for someone like me, in love with Georgian and Victorian architecture, there is no better place in the world than West London. [reCities]

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