Friday, July 10, 2020

July 10th Links

  • COVID-19 is exposing the fact that delivery platforms are not actually in the business of delivery. They are in the business of finance. In many ways, they are like payday lenders for restaurants and drivers. They give you the sensation of cash-flow, but at the expense of your long term future and financial stability. Once you "take out this loan" you will never pay it back and it will ultimately kill your business. In the case of restaurants, these platforms slowly siphon off your customers and then charge you to have access to them. They are simultaneously selling these same customers to your competitor across the street, but, don’t worry, they are also selling their customers to you. For drivers, they are banking on a workforce that is willing to mortgage their assets, like cars and time, well below market value, in exchange for money now. They know that most delivery drivers are simply not doing the math on the actual cost of providing delivery (time, gas, car maintenance, payroll taxes...etc). If they did, drivers would realize that they are actually the ones subsidizing the cost of delivery. Delivery platforms are "hyper-growth" businesses that are trying to grow into a no-growth industry. Food consumption really only grows at the rate of population growth, so if you want to grow faster than that, you have to take market share from someone else. Ideally, you take it from someone weaker, who has less information. In this industry, the delivery platforms have found unsuspecting victims in restaurants and drivers. [Doordash]
  • People who don't believe in God have never slept alone in a bear-infested forest with someone they love. Grand Teton National Park was empty. We got one of the best tent sites in the entire park. Normally, it's impossible to get a spot on a weekend, but the park was practically abandoned because of coronavirus restrictions. These days, even the environmentalist demographic has been neutered. My girlfriend was worried about the bears in the park after the ranger warned us about possible attacks. We drank some whiskey under the stars and forgot about them. I slept great, although it was pretty cold that night. Before leaving, I took an aesthetic photo of our REI tent and lined up my 328i xDrive BMW in the background. I deserved something nice after all the effort I put in, I mean, it all had to be worth something right? [Present Witness]
  • Old-school scotch production philosophy prioritized the right mix of cask and age to highlight the innate qualities of the distillery - whether sweet, funky, smoky, or malty. The trend lately is in power, not grace. Distilleries have found people equate intensity of flavor with quality - as if more were de-facto better. Accordingly, modern scotch tends to select for the strength of "certain" flavors. Boring malt? Just juice it up with a ton of sherry / peat / sweet / wood notes and ship it out. [BadaBingWhiskey]
  • One of the funny things about Suntech attorney Gilbert Samberg's line of argument at the summary judgment motion hearing was that he simultaneously disputed the bondholders actual ownership of any bonds (implicitly accusing all three of them of submitting forged documents to the court) while at the same time protesting that the bondholders had been invited by Suntech to participate in restructuring negotiations. [CBS]
  • There's reason to believe that HIV crossed over to humans between 1900 and 1910. Haitian medical workers were in the Congo after the Belgians left in June 1960 and brought it back to Haiti no later than 1966. A fellow named Joseph Gorinstein, based in Miami, created a plasmapheresis center called Hemo Caribbean to extract plasma from Haitians and bring it back to the U.S. The plasma extraction not only spread HIV among the Haitians but also brought it back to the U.S. By 1981, physicians in the U.S. notice homosexuals dying of normally harmless fungal infections (causing pneumonia). So HIV was in Africa for 70 years and in Haiti for around 20 years and no one noticed anything wrong! It is a good example of how cheap life is in r-selected, short life history places. Quammen's overall thought is that there is an outbreak of humans, combined with unprecedented expansion of human activity into biomes that are teeming with pathogens, which will lead to pandemics of zoonotic spillover diseases. At CBS, we have a rule that "anything parabolic is a short". Considering Quammen's twitter feed, I doubt he would be able to entertain the hypothesis that this particular pandemic was the result of a Chinese bioweapon. Also, even if the wuflu was an innocent spillover virus, Quammen would never go so far as to propose a cordon sanitaire around countries with bushmeat wet markets. Just like his fellow Bozeman writer, I am sure he thinks we should continue constant daily flights between all the world's viral sewers, and the intelligent readers of books like his should soberly decide not to have any children. (He's 72 and has "a family of large white dogs and a cat".) [CBS]

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