Friday, January 1, 2021

New Year's Day Links

  • I’d like to go a step further and praise its innate bounciness and personality. If you boil bucatini for 50 percent of the time the box tells you to, cooking it perfectly al dente, you will experience a textural experience like nothing else you have encountered in your natural life. When cooked correctly, bucatini bites back. It is a responsive noodle. It is a self-aware noodle. In these times, when human social interaction carries with it the possible price of illness, bucatini offers an alternative: a social interaction with a pasta. [Grubstreet]
  • All we need to know is that whatever incubus sparked the divine wind that early on that dark, fateful morning struck so many swing cities, first pausing the dutiful clerks, then lifting up China Joe like Bilbo saved by the eagles, the noble and venerable American judiciary seems unlikely to want to look closely at it. On behalf of the short-fingered vulgarian? In just a couple of months, he will be on the phone with his lawyers. For the rest of his life. No one will ever forget what he did here. No one will ever forget anyone who even tried to work with him. If someone shot him on Fifth Avenue, they’d get a ticket for unlawful discharge of a firearm. And when he does go to jail, it will not be for being strong, but for being weak. [Gray Mirror]
  • I was a Covid hardliner when the NYT was a Covid denier. I always hate changing my mind. In principle, I have always preferred the hard lockdown to get to zero fast. But while I did demand a flight cutoff in January and human-challenge trials in March, I myself was by no means above illusions in this strange year. At first I thought the virus was a lot more like the Soderbergh virus, or even just SARS-1, than it turned out to be. In fact the age dropoff in its infection fatality rate is extremely steep. Yet this isn’t the flu and you don’t want it, however old you are. The flu doesn’t attack random tissues around your body. Covid doesn’t kill healthy young people, but young and even middle-aged people have organs with an enormous amount of surplus and regenerative capacity. They might barely notice a significant depletion in their organ capacity. It seems quite plausible that even a not very serious case of covid could still take a few years off your life, fellow middle-aged people—but on the far end. And in fact, a very high percentage of middle-aged people report lingering symptoms. [Gray Mirror]
  • Used the remaining cash in retirement account today to buy VPU @ 134.748. I’m now all in on the Vanguard Utilities ETF. Other than reinvesting dividends on autopilot, the only trading I intend to do in this account is withdrawing to meet minimum IRA distributions. That starts in about 14 years. This also means that I’m officially an old geezer. Don’t expect any more fireworks in my retirement account, unless the entire United States power grid someday fails. Of course, in that instance cash would have hardly been a much better investment. [Illusion of Prosperity]
  • That is the way and the only way to’ make a lastin’ success in politics. If you are goin’ to cast your first vote next November and want to go into politics, do as I did. Get a followin’, if it’s only one man, and then go to the district leader and say: “I want to join the organization. I’ve got one man who’ll follow me through thick and thin.” The leader won’t laugh at your one-man followin’. He’ll shake your hand warmly, offer to propose you for membership in his club, take you down to the corner for a drink and ask you to call again. But go to him and say: “I took first prize at college in Aristotle; I can recite all Shakespeare forwards and backwards; there ain’t nothin’ in science that ain’t as familiar to me as blockades on the elevated roads and I’m the real thing in the way of silver-tongued orators.” What will he answer? He’ll probably say: “I guess you are not to blame for your misfortunes, but we have no use for you here.” [Plunkitt of Tammany Hall]
  • I became marginally involved with Bitcoin in its early development because cryptocurrency, and the application of block chains to cryptocurrency in particular, are interesting.  I ceased to be involved in Bitcoin when the next steps would necessarily involve salesmanship, frequent talking, and social interaction, because those things are not interesting. [Ray Dillinger]
  • Bitcoin mining has encouraged corruption (Because it's often done using electricity which is effectively stolen from taxpayers with the help of government officials), wasted enormous resources of energy, fostered botnets, centralized mining activity in a country where centralization means it's effectively owned by exactly the kind of government most people thought they *DIDN'T* want looking up their butts and where the people who that government allows to "own" this whole business work together as a cartel. There's a pretense of monitoring the network to guard against a 51% attack, but to me it seems pretty clear that what they're guarding against is merely the mistake of the cartel failing to give the latest warehouse full of miners a distinct network identity.  The whole idea of proof-of-work mining is broken the instant hardware comes out which is specialized for mining and useless for general computation because at that point the need to have compute power for other purposes is absolutely irrelevant in having any effect on mining, and there ceases to be any force that causes mining to be distributed around the world. It becomes a "race to the bottom" to find where people can get the cheapest electricity, and then mining anywhere else - anywhere the government tries to make sure ordinary people actually get the benefit from electricity bought for tax money, for example - becomes first pointless, then a net loss. [Ray Dillinger]
  • Mazda stayed true to the mandate given to the Miata as it entered production more than 30 years ago: a pure driving experience with no drawbacks; a delightful, willing friend that makes every minute behind the wheel unforgettable. There is no car in the same price galaxy that feels as special, as involving. It becomes difficult to justify buying other cars that will give you half the thrill of the Miata for two, three, or four times the price. Especially when you can buy a wonderful used one for far less than $10,000.
    [Road and Track]

1 comment:

Stagflationary Mark said...

By mentioning my blog, you have summoned me yet again. I may not comment much here (or anywhere else, for that matter), but I do read what you post. As always, I enjoy the variety of your link posts. It’s like a box of chocolates. Never know what you’re going to get.

The funny part, at least to me, would be charting how many words it takes me before I realize that what I’m reading is actually something I wrote. I think it only took me 4 words today. Might be a personal best. Ha! ;)

You have inspired me to write a bit more about why I decided to buy VPU.

Illusion of Prosperity: Thoughts on VPU