Monday, February 25, 2019

February 25th Links

  • We take no pleasure in Windstream's resulting financial predicament. Windstream could easily have averted it – first by not playing fast and loose with its noteholders in 2015, hoping nobody would hold the company to account, and second by settling. Instead, Windstream wasted an exorbitant amount – more than would have been needed to settle with us at the time – on an ineffective exchange offer and then on litigation. In our view, a management and a board with an extreme and unwarranted assessment of Windstream's legal case chose to bet the company. The company lost. [link]
  • "This whole thing arose, credit market participants say, in part because there was not much better to do in distressed debt at the time, so bored former lawyers sitting at hedge funds trolled old bond documents looking for something to do." [Bloomberg]
  • Earth's history is the history of failed civilizations. Most never industrialized. Nobody here cares about long-term survival or puts significant resources into mitigating existential risks. Isn't it obvious why there are no signs of advanced extraterrestrials? We've accumulated plenty of evidence that planets like ours are common. They probably develop life. They probably develop intelligent life. That intelligent life probably builds civilizations much like our own: lame ones with no hope of ever building a Dyson sphere. Note the role that AI plays in all far future fantasies now: some researcher or entrepreneur creates a 'seed AI', which becomes superintelligent, and then THAT does all the cool stuff (builds megastructures, takes over the galaxy) we now know we're too lame to do. [mr_scientism]
  • If it hadn't been for the "60 Minutes" piece I don't know if I would have recognized her. She doesn't wear the turtleneck or the deep red lipstick anymore. But the voice was deep. Later she came over to the bench where I was sitting and thanked me again, and stuck out her hand and said "I'm Elizabeth." I said "Yes, I thought I recognized you. That deep voice." [Reddit]
  • Everything you've been writing is bullshit, because everything you've been writing is based on the belief that political power comes from the ballot box, from being elected. Here was Robert Moses, a guy who was never elected to anything, and he came up to Albany for one day and changed the entire state government around, from the governor to the assembly. How did he have the power to do that? You have no idea and neither does anybody else. I said to myself, If you really want to explain political power, you're going to have to understand that. [Paris Review]
  • David's not drinking anymore, and he's going to bed early, and he's talking about what's cool on Netflix. Then my staff was going to bed early and watching Netflix. My comptroller said staff drinking is down like crazy. We have the numbers. We used to give out 30 or 40 glasses of wine at the end of the shift, and it's down to 10, and half the staff is drinking kombucha. [Bon Appetit]
  • "I have been to Thailand roughly 50 times in the past 27 years, for periods ranging from 3-12 weeks at a time. Your post does nothing to alter my thinking. But perhaps I am missing something. I concede that. Although I will at this point probably never again leave the small town where I currently live in Japan, from which I administer my internet empire, I would, if I had it to do all over, prefer to visit the west coast of South America from top to bottom, and all around the east coast (again)." [Marginal Revolution]
  • Holmes is currently living in San Francisco in a luxury apartment. She's engaged to a younger hospitality heir, who also works in tech. She wears his M.I.T. signet ring on a necklace and the couple regularly post stories on Instagram professing their love for each other. She reliably looks "chirpy" and "chipper." She's also abandoned the black-turtleneck look and now dresses in athleisure, the regrettable attire of our age. [Vanity Fair]
  • YC has more than 200 startups in their winter 2019 batch (!!) By comparison, the spring 2018 group was just 132 teams. (For the statistically inclined, that's at least a 51 percent increase batch-over-batch.) In order to accommodate this truly wild amount of elevator pitches, the accelerator is moving to a new venue in San Francisco for its Demo Day event March 18 and 19. [Tech Crunch]
  • Once it landed on the shores of Latin America, the empanada shrank to its current handheld size and adapted to local climates, evolving with every incoming colonizer. As it spread, dough variations lost the yeast, some morphing into a more pastry-style crust, cut with beef fat or butter (especially in the cattle-raising regions of Argentina), while others lost the wheat flour entirely: empanadas in Venezuela and Colombia are made with corn flour, and in Caribbean countries, yuca or plantain serves as the starch. What's inside divides empanada geography even further, with specific states often staking their claim to a specific style of beef filling (with or without olives, raisins, eggs, or peppers), while others focus on cheese or even sweets such as dulce de leche or guava. Finally, there is the greatest divider of empanada lovers of all: fried or baked? [Serious Eats]
  • I love just about every metric in this table; bank profitability is top-notch, capital ratios are great, and asset quality is strong. But in digging in to the loan book, one sees a ~16.5% allocation to Consumer Loans (on its face, this not a bad thing). Digging deeper, the bank has ~$57 million of purchased student loans on the books, and this little kicker of a note in the quarterly filings: "Initially, all student loans were fully insured by a surety bond, and the Company did not expect to experience a loss on these loans. Based on the loss of insurance after July 27, 2018 due to the insolvency of the insurer, management has evaluated these loans individually for impairment and included any potential loss in the allowance for loan losses; interest continues to accrue on these TDRs during any deferment and forbearance periods." So, after a review, this bank has an uninsured student loan allocation totaling ~80% of its Total Capital. It is not my intent to infer that this bank is overvalued, poorly-operated, risky, or anything of that sort. [link]
  • Michael Eisner [owner, the Tornante Company]: Told that there was a meeting in Steven Cohen's office with a well-respected young writer, I happened to be in the hall as the meeting ended. In a one-minute hallway conversation, I was told three ideas. One of which being: "This one is about an animated show about a living 'person' who has a body of a man and a head of a horse." Thinking that sounded interesting, original, and theatrical in this century — yet harking back to my youth of Mister Ed, the talking horse from the early '60s — I simply said, "Yes, let's do that one." [Vulture]
  • The transition from unicellular to multicellular life was one of a few major events in the history of life that created new opportunities for more complex biological systems to evolve. Predation is hypothesized as one selective pressure that may have driven the evolution of multicellularity. Here we show that de novo origins of simple multicellularity can evolve in response to predation. We subjected outcrossed populations of the unicellular green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii to selection by the filter-feeding predator Paramecium tetraurelia. Two of five experimental populations evolved multicellular structures not observed in unselected control populations within ~750 asexual generations. [Nature]

1 comment:

Midwest Pete said...

From MR comments, I liked this one as much as the one you posted.

"I often tell less traveled Westerners who are overwhelmed by Thailand that it is Switzerland in comparison to India. Every person who subsequently went to India has conceded the point."