Monday, January 17, 2022

January 17th Links

  • UChicago claims to rely upon “expert” opinion in structuring its COVID regime. Yet, even advisory committees at the FDA and CDC initially declined to recommend the COVID booster for those under the age of 65. The FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee made an official recommendation to approve Pfizer’s application for boosters only for those 65 and older and certain high-risk populations after rejecting, in a 16-2 vote, Pfizer’s application for broader approval for the general population. The committee cited a lack of data on potential adverse effects, particularly the risks of developing myocarditis and pericarditis. However, the FDA chose to cast aside this concern and granted “approval” anyways. ​​But even this “approval” is itself questionable. The FDA only granted approval to Comirnaty, a legally distinct version of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine that isn’t actually available in the United States. The version of the vaccine currently available in the US remains under Emergency Use Authorization, not formal approval. [The Chicago Thinker]
  • As a complement to vaccines, small-molecule therapeutic agents are needed to treat or prevent infections by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) and its variants, which cause COVID-19. Affinity selection-mass spectrometry was used for the discovery of botanical ligands to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. Cannabinoid acids from hemp (Cannabis sativa) were found to be allosteric as well as orthosteric ligands with micromolar affinity for the spike protein. In follow-up virus neutralization assays, cannabigerolic acid and cannabidiolic acid prevented infection of human epithelial cells by a pseudovirus expressing the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and prevented entry of live SARS-CoV-2 into cells. Importantly, cannabigerolic acid and cannabidiolic acid were equally effective against the SARS-CoV-2 alpha variant B.1.1.7 and the beta variant B.1.351. Orally bioavailable and with a long history of safe human use, these cannabinoids, isolated or in hemp extracts, have the potential to prevent as well as treat infection by SARS-CoV-2. [NLM]
  • Ten years(!) have passed since I wrote Why bitcoin will fail. And yet, here we are, still talking about bitcoin. Did it fail? According to the many cryptobots who pester me, apparently not. They still gleefully repost my old article periodically, pointing out that at the time, bitcoins were worth maybe three dollars, and now they're worth infinity dollars, and wow, that apenperson sure must feel dumb for not HODLING BIGTIME back when they had the chance, lol. Do I feel dumb? Well, hmm. It’s complicated. Everything I predicted seems to have come true. If your definition of “failure” is “not achieving any of the stated goals,” then I guess bitcoin has profoundly... not succeeded. But that doesn’t really tell the whole story, does it? A proper failure would be in the past tense by now. What I do know is I’ve learned some stuff in 10 years. [apenwarr]    
  • Every day, an individual will conduct a few economic transactions with other people, but they will partake in a far larger number of transactions with their future self. The examples of these trades are infinite: deciding to save money rather than spend it; deciding to invest in acquiring skills for future employment rather than seeking immediate employment with low pay; buying a functional and affordable car rather than getting into debt for an expensive car; working overtime rather than going out to party with friends; or, my favorite example to use in class: deciding to study the course material every week of the semester rather than cramming the night before the final exam. In each of these examples, there is nobody forcing the decision on the individual, and the prime beneficiary or loser from the consequences of these choices is the individual himself. The main factor determining a man's choices in life is his time preference. While people's time preference and self-control will vary from one situation to the other, in general, a strong correlation can be found across all aspects of decision making. The sobering reality to keep in mind is that a man's lot in life will be largely determined by these trades between him and his future self. As much as he'd like to blame others for his failures, or credit others with his success, the infinite trades he took with himself are likely to be more significant than any outside circumstances or conditions. No matter how circumstances conspire against the man with a low time preference, he will probably find a way to keep prioritizing his future self until he achieves his objective. And no matter how much fortune favors the man with a high time preference, he will find a way to continue sabatoging and shortchanging his future self. [The Bitcoin Standard: The Decentralized Alternative to Central Banking]
  • The advocates of the new minimalism are, by and large, urban dwellers, tied to stratospheric real estate markets in prime locations.  (Prime locations are, tellingly, never considered material “things” to be shunned.)  In a downtown studio, one simply cannot afford to have that many material goods.  As the dream of homeownership fades further away, it makes total sense to economize by buying a few, high-quality items and just accept the loss of capability from not having, say, a well stocked toolshed.  But what cities can provide are experiences, both new and interesting events in town and opportunities for international travel.  So “buy experiences, not things” is less a bold new philosophy than a mere rationalization of life choices that people have already been forced to adopt. But what this rationalization ignores is the extent to which tools and possessions enable new experiences.  A well-appointed kitchen allows you to cook healthy meals for yourself rather than ordering delivery night after night.  A toolbox lets you fix things around the house and in the process learn to appreciate how our modern world was made.  A spacious living room makes it easy for your friends to come over and catch up on one another’s lives.  A hunting rifle can produce not only meat, but also camaraderie and a sense of connection with the natural world of our forefathers.  In truth, there is no real boundary between things and experiences.  There are experience-like things; like a basement carpentry workshop or a fine collection of loose-leaf tea.  And there are thing-like experiences, like an Instagrammable vacation that collects a bunch of likes but soon fades from memory. [harold lee]
  • Housing costs are largely driven by zero-sum competition for good school districts and safe neighborhoods, which were in much greater supply in 1960. It’s true that houses have gotten larger, reflecting improved construction technology, so people are getting more house for their money. But part of the reason people are buying more house than they used to is that they’re using laws that indirectly discriminate against people you’d rather not have as neighbors, since the most effective ways to discriminate against bad neighbors have become infeasible. Minimum lot sizes, maximum occupancies, various environmental initiatives, and migration to exurbs all increase the amount of housing purchased. But people are buying more house not because they intrinsically like McMansions, but because what they’re buying is good neighbors and good peers for their children. Right now, McMansions are now the easiest way to do that. [harold lee]
  • Submission has been advertised as a dystopian novel about the Muslim takeover of France. But the dystopia he paints is not the Muslim takeover, but rather the state of French culture as it exists today. And on the personal as well as the political level, it shows the consequence of a culture without courage, and of a life lived on the principles of maximizing niceness and avoiding discord. In the long run, Houellebecq shows, it doesn’t look anywhere near nice, and its peacefulness is the peace of the grave. [harold lee]
  • What kind of peace do I mean? What kind of peace do we seek? Not a Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war. Not the peace of the grave or the security of the slave. I am talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living, the kind that enables men and nations to grow and to hope and to build a better life for their children--not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women--not merely peace in our time but peace for all time. [John F. Kennedy]
  • She is passionate about climate change, fighting racism and labor rights. And her political hero is Senator Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent. “Bernie Sanders is my everything,” Ms. Carter said. “I love him more than anything.” Perhaps more disconcertingly for Starbucks as it tries to contain the union campaign, Ms. Carter appears to be representative of the kinds of people the company has hired over the years to reinforce its progressive branding. [NY Times]
  • There has been a big stride in the American public’s acceptance of the style of baking that I do – rustic, dark crusty breads. Obsessively laminated croissants baked with a slight mahogany hue. In my first few years in the early 2000s (Ken’s Artisan Bakery opened in 2001), my breads looked different to many people, over-baked or I often heard the work “burnt”. Fast forward 19 years later, I’m no longer one of the only bakers who bake it dark, or one of the only bakers who specialize in levain breads. This style of baking has become quite common. It was not back in the day. [Ken Forkish]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great links! Especially the Bitcoin book
Excerpt reference regarding the present versus the future self. Really pertains to the tradeoff of what you want to eat today and the consequences for your future self.