Thursday, June 16, 2022

Thursday Night Links

  • Perhaps the best way to describe this list is “the most Republican counties with a Whole Foods Market.” These are places with nearly unlimited economic and professional opportunities that also have extraordinarily Republican electorates. Montgomery County, Texas (largest city The Woodlands), is far and away an extreme, incomparable outlier, its score composite more than double the second-place county, Utah County, Utah (largest city Provo). Parker County, a suburb of Fort Worth, has the distinction of being the only county to make both lists. Overall, the states of the Gulf Coast dominate this list as the most conservative region in the country. One could say that the Gulf Coast is a great place to be based. [The Tom File]
  • There is one way to square tightening Fed policy—where balance-sheet shrinkage starts in June as interest rates rise another half-point amid already flagging growth—with recession-avoidance. Inflation would remain high because the Fed stops fighting it. [Barron's]
  • Here we show that Omicron variant infections were associated with substantially reduced risk of progression to severe clinical outcomes relative to time-matched Delta (B.1.617.2) variant infections within a large, integrated healthcare system in southern California. Adjusted hazard ratios (aHRs) for any hospital admission, symptomatic hospital admission, intensive care unit admission, mechanical ventilation, and death comparing cases with Omicron versus Delta variant infection were 0.59 (95% confidence interval: 0.51-0.69), 0.59 (0.51-0.68), 0.50 (0.29-0.87), 0.36 (0.18-0.72), and 0.21 (0.10-0.44) respectively. This reduced severity could not be explained by differential history of prior infection among cases with Omicron or Delta variant infection, and was starkest among cases not previously vaccinated against COVID-19 (aHR=0.40 [0.33-0.49] for any hospital admission and 0.14 [0.07-0.28] for death). Infections with the Omicron BA.2 subvariant were not associated with differential risk of severe outcomes in comparison to BA.1/BA.1.1 subvariant infections. Lower risk of severe clinical outcomes among cases with Omicron variant infection should inform public health response amid establishment of the Omicron variant as the dominant SARS-CoV-2 lineage globally. [Nature Medicine]
  • Electricity use soared to an all-time high in Texas amid a searing heat wave, topping levels last seen before the coronavirus pandemic. With air conditioners humming across the nation’s second most-populous state, demand on the power grid topped 74.9 gigawatts at 4:50 p.m. local time, surpassing a record set in August 2019, according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which runs the system. [Bloomberg]
  • Time will tell how much Central Banks will be able to hike nominal Rates, but in our view 1) will not hike as much as it is currently priced in 2) there is a non-negligible probability Central Banks will be forced to reverse course and unwind some of the hikes (similar to what happened in 2018, when the Fed was in "auto-pilot” hiking rates but had to reverse the hikes to contain the hostile markets of 4Q18), and 3) there is a non-negligible probability that we may see zero nominal rates, QE, and even Yield Curve Control “YCC” in response to distressed global markets. Faced with systemic risk and inflation, they will always choose inflation. [link]
  • One of Longwood’s most iconic and stately spaces was inspired by Pierre’s desire to grow citrus fruit out of season. During a return trip from Hawai’i with his wife, Alice du Pont, in the winter of 1920, they stopped in Santa Barbara, California. There he purchased an impressive collection of mature specimens intended for his grand glasshouse at home, including tangerines, grapefruits, Valencia oranges, and navel oranges. All were planted in a grid-like pattern between the columns, which were adorned with creeping fig (Ficus pumila)—a plant that still grows there today. [Longwood Gardens]
  • Think about it: peptic and duodenal ulcer were fairly common, and so were effective antibiotics, starting in the mid-40s. Every internist in the world – every surgeon – every GP was accidentally curing ulcers  – not just one or twice,  but again and again. For decades. Almost none of them noticed it, even though it was happening over and over, right in front of their eyes. Those who did notice were ignored until the mid-80s, when Robin Warren and Barry Marshall finally made the discovery stick. Even then, it took something like 10 years for antibiotic treatment of ulcers to become common, even though it was cheap and effective. Or perhaps because it was cheap and effective. This illustrates an important point: doctors are lousy scientists, lousy researchers. They’re memorizers, not puzzle solvers. Considering that Western medicine was an ineffective pseudoscience – actually, closer to a malignant pseudoscience  – for its first two thousand years, we shouldn’t be surprised. Since we’re looking for low-hanging fruit,  this is good news. It means that the great discoveries in medicine are probably not mined out. From our point of view, past incompetence predicts future progress. The worse, the better! [West Hunter]
  • Now progressives are moving to censorship phase two, which is shutting down debate over climate “solutions.” “Now it’s not so much denying the problem,” Ms. McCarthy said in an Axios interview last Thursday. “What the industry is now doing is seeding doubt about the costs associated with [green energy] and whether they work or not.” [WSJ]
  • Why do educated people believe in obvious stupidities like the crushing power of hybrid warfare in such a herdlike way? A big reason of course is class interest—they are getting rich off it. Now there is also the role of Twitter and other networked social platforms in reinforcing the dominance of the mass mind, and punishing dissenters from the consensus from which everyone else is making money. A reason that is less well-explored, I believe, is the West’s war on nicotine. The massive brain outages we see throughout the West, and particularly in America, are in no small part due to the war on smoking, which both makes people smarter and kills them before they become senile. [David Samuels]
  • Still, when you do the pre- flight inspection, you check the fuel. You look for the blue colour, which indicates its 100LL avgas. The LL stands for "Low lead". Surely, this isn't like the leaded gasoline of the 70's I thought. I asked my instructor how much lead was in "low lead". Oh, its low lead, not much. He didn't really know though. Anyways, after a while I decided that I should go for a private pilot's license, as opposed to just taking lessons for the hell of it. And maybe even some day buy an airplane. And I told people of my thoughts. Then at some point I started to wonder about the lead thing again. A quick google search got me the figures I was looking for, although not what I had hoped. Turns out that the 100LL avgas contains two grams of lead per gallon. Much more than the auto gas of the 70's. And airplanes use a lot of gasoline, 4 gallons per hour and upwards, often much more. And that's quite the amount of lead. They have to add special chemicals so the lead goes out the exhaust, and doesn't clog up the engine or ignition. Still, some of it ends up in the engine oil, you can actually see it shimmer from the lead. You aren't allowed to burn that oil - it has to be specially disposed of because of the high lead content. If the oil is so bad, what about the rest of the lead, which gets spread all over the atmosphere? [Matthias Wandel]
  • Based on a new requirement called a "Standing General Order on Crash Reporting for Level 2 Advanced Driver Assistance Systems," NHTSA has required automakers to report an accident if "Level 2 ADAS was in use at any time within 30 seconds of the crash and the crash involved a vulnerable road user or resulted in a fatality, a vehicle tow-away, an airbag deployment, or any individual being transported to a hospital for medical treatment." Of course, these reports are likely imperfect because there may be issues such as access to the crash data or incomplete data from the incident report, among other issues. Of crashes reported by manufacturers, Tesla had the most with 272 reports. [Car and Driver]
  • The house he ultimately bought wasn’t even for sale. He made an unsolicited offer for $36 million, then spent about 19 months haggling over the price with the seller, Vadim Shulman, a businessman with ties to Ukraine. Mr. Shulman couldn’t be reached for comment. Mr. Cardone’s new house sits on pilings driven into the sand. He said he knows the ocean’s proximity will take a toll on the house and make it vulnerable to sea-level change, but he likes the salt residue on the windows in the morning and the sand piling up on his deck. [WSJ]
  • The troubles at Three Arrows ricocheted to Finblox, a platform that offers traders 90 per cent annualised yields to lend out their crypto. Finblox, which is backed by venture capitalist firm Sequoia Capital and received an investment from Three Arrows, reduced its withdrawal limits by two-thirds late on Thursday London time, citing the situation at the hedge fund. Three Arrows, run by Zhu and his co-founder Kyle Davies, is known for its bullish levered bets on crypto. Zhu had espoused a “supercycle” view of crypto, in which increasing mainstream adoption meant prices would continue rise without falling back into a near-term bear market. [FT]

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