Sunday, November 13, 2022

Sunday Night Links

  • The quickest way to become a “billionaire” is to create a billion FruitTokens (FTK), and list the token on an unregistered offshore crypto exchange. Then, make a FTK/USD market by selling yourself one FTK token for one US dollar, and voilà, you are a mark-to-market crypto-fruit-billionaire. Now, sell as many FTK tokens to new investors for as many real US dollars as you can. [link]
  • To be fair, Gensler was not the only one suckered by SBF. Nearly everyone else—myself included—fell for the narrative that SBF, with his cute afro and aw-shucks demeanor, was exactly the savior crypto needed to shake off its dodgy reputation and emerge as part of the mainstream financial system. The problem is that cop-on-the-beat Gensler not only failed to spot the crime—he appeared set to go along with a legislative strategy that would have given SBF a regulatory moat and made him king of the U.S. crypto market. [Fortune]
  • Readers likely know that what SBF does is for the greater good. One reason I was so keen to do a story on Sam was his devotion to making money for the sole purpose of doing good in the world. In fact, Sam is so committed to Effective Altruism™️ that he isn’t even giving any of his money away yet, so that it can compound and he can do even MORE good. Incredible. [link]
  • Juul Labs Inc has secured financing from some of its early investors to avoid bankruptcy, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, citing company officials. The company told employees that it has stopped its bankruptcy preparations and is working on a cost-cutting program, the report said, adding that the e-cigarette maker also plans to lay off about 400 people and reduce its operating budget by 30% to 40%. Juul did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment. The financing is the first piece of a bailout package under discussion with two of Juul's biggest investors, Hyatt Hotels heir Nick Pritzker and California investor Riaz Valani, the report said. In a major blow to the once high-flying firm, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in June banned the sale of Juul's e-cigarettes which have been tied to a surge in teenage vaping. The FDA order was later temporarily stayed. The company, partly owned by Marlboro maker Altria Group Inc (MO), in July said it was exploring several options including financing alternatives. [WSJ]
  • R.J. Reynolds has filed a legal complaint to challenge the constitutionality of California's ban on flavored tobacco products one day after voters decisively approved upholding it, POLITICO has learned. The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California. [link]
  • This suggests that perhaps a normal First World diet is choline-deficient. If even well-fed humans must economize on choline & acetylcholine, then surely our ancestors, who were worse off nutritionally, had to economize even more severely. Evolution would frown on squandering acetylcholine on idle thoughts. [gwern]
  • All these considerations are even stronger with nootropics. There shouldn’t be universally effective nootropics, for the same reason there’s no chemical you can pour on your computer to double its processing speed: evolution put a lot of work into making your brain as good as possible, and it would be silly if some random molecule could make it much better. Sure, there are exceptions – I think stimulants get a pass because evolution never expected people to have to pay attention to stimuli as boring as the modern world provides us with all the time – but in general the law holds. If you find a drug does significantly help you, it’s probably because your brain is broken in some particular idiosyncratic way (cf. mutational load), the same way you can double a computer’s processing speed with duct tape if one of the parts was broken. If everyone’s brain is broken in a different way, then not only will no drug be universally effective, but drugs with positive effects for some people are likely to have negative effects for others. If (to oversimplify) your particular brain problem is not having enough serotonin, a serotonin agonist might help you. But by the same token, if you have too much serotonin, a serotonin agonist will make your life worse. Even if you have normal serotonin, maybe the serotonin agonist will push you out of the normal range and screw things up. [SSC]
  • Some of the biggest falls have been at Rolex. The brand isn’t especially rare—Rolex makes around a million watches a year—but its steel sports watches are heavily traded in the secondhand market. Speculators like them because they are liquid, and they also are popular with shoppers who can’t afford more expensive brands like Patek. A Rolex Daytona currently costs around $30,800 to buy secondhand, compared with a store-bought price of $14,550. Earlier this year, speculators could offload them for $47,000. With sellers flooding the market with inventory, prices are likely to drop further. The number of Rolex, Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet watches available to buy secondhand had roughly doubled by the end of September compared with the start of the year, data from WatchCharts shows. In time, this could sap some of the primary market’s strength. Take Richemont’s brand Vacheron Constantin. During the pandemic, it sold secondhand at a premium to new prices for the first time. Now, the trend is reversing and the markup has shrunk to 6%. With prices falling, speculators may lose interest in the brand, slowing sales in its boutiques. [WSJ]
  • Her home with husband Stephen Hill in the University Park neighborhood of Dallas boasts 24,000 square feet and is covered in the same Bulgarian limestone Greece is using to renovate the Parthenon. Earlier this year she had it on the market for $43 million. In this rarified air, even a $100 million bonus doesn’t last long. [Forbes]
  • When Boothby's underworld associations came to the attention of the Sunday Express, the Conservative-supporting newspaper opted not to publish the damaging story. The matter was eventually reported in 1964 in the Labour-supporting Sunday Mirror tabloid, and the parties were subsequently named by the German magazine Stern. Boothby denied the story and threatened to sue the Mirror. His close friend Tom Driberg—a senior Labour MP, and also homosexual—also associated with the Krays; hence, neither of the major political parties had an interest in publicity, and the newspaper's owner Cecil King came under pressure from the Labour leadership to drop the matter. The Mirror backed down, sacked its editor, apologised and paid Boothby £40,000 in an out-of-court settlement. Other newspapers became less willing to cover the Krays' criminal activities, which continued for three more years. [Robert_Boothby]
  • A Catholic school cannot affirm a student's identity as transgender, gender-nonconforming, non-binary, gender-fluid, gender-queer, or any other term that rejects the reality of the student's given male or female sexual identity; any asserted identity that rejects the reality of biological sex is incompatible with Christian anthropology. [link]
  • For years, Florida was a fairly evenly divided “lean red” state. This last election, however, DeSantis’ Florida flew far right. Ron DeSantis was rewarded for many reasons, but the greatest reasons are twofold: (1) he pushed back against Fauci to keep Florida mostly open throughout Covid [except for a minor closure for a few weeks early on at the behest of then President Trump]; (2) he took on Disney, the largest single private employer in Florida, when they pushed for transgender education for kindergarteners. Floridians rewarded bravery and did not forget that he not only fought the federal government and arguably the most powerful entertainment company in the world, he also directly fought woke ideology. He banned CRT in schools including terminating teachers who taught CRT curriculum; fired District Attorneys who arrested Christian pastors during Covid; he made it a felony to harm historic monuments; he implemented a Confederate monument protection law; he deployed sheriffs, the FDLE, and the National Guard to immediately crush George Floyd protests in major Florida cities; he is the only governor, to date, to create a statewide Antifa Task Force, to identify, arrest, and prosecute far left extremists. In all, DeSantis literally went to war against the left – but how did he get away with it? Redistricting and disarming. [link]

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