Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Wednesday Night Links

  • To save the planet, pastoralism is the intelligent solution. The brain is 60% fat, and omega-rich fat from grass-fed meat is excellent for mental health. The sine qua non of free thinking. Beef and liberty! More meat, less wheat! [link]
  • "Historically, the battery price cost curve had been declining at a pace of 3% to 7% annually for so many years in a row it almost seemed inevitable. "But molecules don't play by the same rules as Moore's Law. The world has changed, and along with it is a new paradigm of input costs," [ZH]
  • Slack is hard to precisely define, but I think this comes close: Definition: Slack. The absence of binding constraints on behavior. Poor is the person without Slack. Lack of Slack compounds and traps. Slack means margin for error. You can relax. Slack allows pursuing opportunities. You can explore. You can trade. Slack prevents desperation. You can avoid bad trades and wait for better spots. You can be efficient. Slack permits planning for the long term. You can invest. Slack enables doing things for your own amusement. You can play games. You can have fun. Slack enables doing the right thing. Stand by your friends. Reward the worthy. Punish the wicked. You can have a code. Slack presents things as they are without concern for how things look or what others think. You can be honest. You can do some of these things, and choose not to do others. Because you don’t have to. Only with slack can one be a righteous dude. Slack is life. [Zvi]
  • As to the substance of Defendants' challenge, the Supreme Court long ago held: “Whenever a general rule as to property or personal rights, or injuries to either, is established by State legislation, its enforcement by a Federal court in a case between proper parties is a matter of course, and the jurisdiction of the court, in such case, is not subject to State limitation.” Chicago & N.W. Ry. Co. v. Whitton's Admin., 80 U.S. 270, 286 (1872). [Trondheim Capital Partners LP v. Life Ins. Co. of Ala.]
  • Mr. Halstead had a theory that every image lingers like “photographic lint on the mind of the photographer,” as he put it, whether or not the image was published. When the scandal involving President Clinton and Ms. Lewinsky broke in early 1998, Mr. Halstead had a vague memory of having seen Ms. Lewinsky’s face before. He hired a researcher to go through thousands of images he had shot in the past few years, and he was rewarded: The researcher found a shot Mr. Halstead had taken in 1996 at a gathering at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, with Mr. Clinton, his back to the camera, embracing the smiling Ms. Lewinsky. [NY Times]
  • He wasn’t a big fan of Russia or Russians, which is as it should be for a diplomat serving in Russia. In fact he wasn’t a big fan of Americans either; Kennan was a consummate outsider. This sort of remove from normal society everywhere made him able to do the one thing a skilled diplomat should be able to do: analytically empathize with the people he was conducting diplomacy with. To the point he could get inside their heads and understand their motivations and emotional infrastructure. Because he was an outsider he could explain this to other people, rather than simply experiencing it. [Scott Locklin]
  • The "military ranking" thing seems hard to figure now. There is one and only one country that can deliver an army complete with fuel, personal pan pizzas and air conditioning anywhere on earth. The purported "#2" can't reliably supply forces 50 miles from it's border. There are lots of countries that can provide a deterrence to invasion. But Russia can no more invade France than France can invade Russia. China could perhaps hurt the USA in it's own backyard, but zero ability to operate globally against the USA. In other words, most countries could repel an invasion by most other countries, but few/no countries could actually complete the invasion and conquest of any other nation. No other nation could even meet the US as a peer in an extra-territorial battlefield. I suppose you could put China as #2 now. Very little possibility that Russia could compete with China in a war in the Russian Far East, for example. If China wants it, I guess they can take it. Unlikely though. [Empty_America]
  • These outdated competitions are all a complete waste of time, particularly since they stress outdated math that nobody uses to do real calculation anymore. It is quite telling that the last Putnam Fellow anyone ever heard of was 83 years ago. Here are last year’s problems from this Putnam archive site: anyone who actually knows some math and science/engineering want to make a case for having these kids learn to solve them? Given that nobody solves such analytic problems in science and engineering today, unlike when Feynman was doing science a century ago before computers, this is yet another antiquated way in which adult morons abuse children, like HS football or youth ballet. Not quite so bad as this may take some creativity, but still stupid that people are doing it. In any civilization in decline, old customs that once served a purpose ossify into worthless rituals over time, simply because external circumstances inevitably change but the internal culture doesn’t. That’s what we’re seeing with the Putnam, and we should feel sorry for these Asian kids being abused and pushed into this crap by their idiot Tiger moms. [Sailer]
  • In the competitive U.S. higher education market, institutions differentiate themselves to attract both students and tuition dollars. One understudied example of this differentiation is the increasing trend of “colleges” becoming “universities” by changing their names. Between 2001 and 2016, 122 four-year colleges—nearly 25% of those called colleges in 2001—made such conversions. [link]
  • Turning to the impact of higher oil, certainly in the short-term it is clear that the pent up demand for air travel is extremely strong, given two years of lockdowns around the world, coupled with high levels of household savings. If higher commodity prices persist, we will have to see what impact they have. But please bear in mind, the industry was able to cope with $100 oil between February 2011 and September 2014. Airlines in Europe benefit from higher average fuel hedging than their North American counterparts. And recent statements from the airlines suggest they are confident that they can pass through higher oil prices as yields remain strong. One recent example was that Delta has their highest ever day of sales, despite being at approximately 80% of 2019 capacity. So what we can clearly see on a global basis is that the propensity to travel has not diminished and that the industry has proven itself to a higher oil prices even following the financial crisis. We have every confidence that it will do so again this year. [AerCap Holdings N.V.]
  • Chart #1 compares the slope of the Treasury yield (measured by the difference between 1-yr yields and 10-yr yields) to the level of real short-term interest rates. Note that two things reliably precede recessions: a flat or inverted yield curve (red line) and very high real interest rates (blue line). The yield curve inverts when the market senses that the Fed is so tight that the economy is at risk of collapsing, and that collapse would then prompt the Fed to ease. As many have noted, there are parts of the yield curve that today are inverted: 5-yr Treasury yields today closed at 2.50%, while 10-yr yields closed at 2.40%. But it would be premature to think that this materially increases the chances of a near-term recession. [Scott Grannis]

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