Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Tuesday Morning Links

  • "[H]e who is the most bullish on the market, or has the lowest cost of capital, or has some other personal motivation for doing a deal, or ideally all three, wins the ship. Everyone else does nothing but talk about the very good and rational reasons they have for not doing deals. The simple fact is that you must take a view on the market." [The Shipping Man]
  • "[E]vangelicals, who were already a lower status group in the country, are now increasingly viewed with hostility and as the leading threat to the new public moral order and even to the republic itself. The various attacks against 'Christian nationalism' are an expression of this. In this environment, support from evangelicals will perhaps ultimately become more of a liability than an asset to Israel." [Aaron Renn]
  • The rise of the internet has a historical parallel in the invention of the printing press in the West. Moderns don’t think about this too much, but the printing press was cataclysmic to the powers that existed in Europe in 1450. It was the end of the medieval era, the end of the rule of Kings by force and Church by fear of the fires of hell, and the beginning of the devolution of power to …. people who controlled the printing press. This was recognized by the powers of the time and various attempts at censorship were made. Censorship before this era was trivial: the Church had a  near monopoly on literate people and books and the powers that be employed the rest of the literate people to keep an eye on each other. After the printing press, all kinds of local elites grew up around distribution of information: Martin Luther probably would have been leader of some obscure sect like the Waldensians or other proto-protestant heretics who originated before the printing press. There probably wouldn’t have been a thirty years war, to say nothing of the eighty years war and the Dutch Republic (they were espanich before), no Switzerland, and the Pope might still have an army. The type of country we typically think of as “democratic” (aka pluralistic merchant Republics) came about from the Dutch Republic, which means the political organization most of the world pretends to use today took its shape in part because of the printing press. [Scott Locklin]
  • It’s my impression the average American person was more angry with the Japanese, since they were the ones who actually attacked Americans. It brings to mind the weird hysteria about Germans in post-WW-1 among physicists like Hale (who if you recall didn’t want to allow any German physicists to visit America post WW-1; including Einstein who was a Swiss Jew). Before WW-1, German was the most common spoken language in the US, and Germans had substantial parallel social institutions; there were over 500 German language newspapers in the US in 1910 and thousands of high schools were taught exclusively in German. This is something which fundamentally changed American society, but is little remarked upon today, and seemed to be entirely top-down elite driven. Some huge fraction of Mencken’s less popular writing from 1917 to the 1930s is his grousing about this: this is more or less unintelligible to contemporary readers without this historical context. Ordinary people were made uncomfortable enough by this moral panic, they’d change their names. There should be a history book: imagine if, say, all Spanish speakers and Spanish speaking institutions disappeared in the next decade, and Latinos changed their last names en-masse. That would be pretty noteworthy, and I bet someone would write a book about it. I’m pretty sure there were more German-Americans in 1910 than there are Latinos in the US today, at least as a fraction of the population, and their influence and institutions were much greater. Some of this change was coordinated by British intelligence and propaganda, but it was more complicated than that. Probably it was a moral panic the same way the last couple of years have demonized Russian people and culture in the US. [Scott Locklin]
  • Let me take you inside Amazon for a moment. During my tenure, company leaders used words like “fluff” and “puffery” to describe disciplines like design and copywriting. The site was bare-bones on purpose, so customers could shop without wading through slow-loading pages or annoying pop-ups. Our copy was also functional to the extreme. The vendors who paid for promoted ‘co-op’ weren’t thrilled with our austerity. Other online retailers provided them with beautiful custom campaigns, while at Amazon even a holiday graphic was just a regular product shot with a sprig of holly slapped on it. [Big Technology]
  • I've been predicting the demise of inflation for at least a year now, and today's CPI report makes it official—there's no denying that inflation has fallen to within spitting distance of the Fed's target. Not coincidentally, the market has finally acknowledged what I've been expecting for many months: the chances of another Fed tightening at this point are zero. The only issue now is when the Fed starts to cut rates; the market thinks the first cut comes at the May 1st FOMC meeting, while I think it happens much earlier. [Scott Grannis]
  • Some sources claim rather vaguely that triangulation was acquired by the Europeans from the Arab mathematicians during the Renaissance but fail to give any source for these claims or to reference any Arabic works on the subject. More directly some sources claim that the great Islamic scholar al-Biruni, who wrote extensively on geography and geodesy, used triangulation. This claim is simply false. He used geometrical methods to determine the longitude and latitude of various cities but his calculations did not just use triangles and he had no measured base line and made no sightings. He merely constructed geometrical models of the positions of the towns respective to each other based on travellers’ tales of the scale of their separations. Historically there is very little doubt that the technique of triangulation emerged once and once only in a pamphlet written and published by Gemma Frisius in 1533. It is a strange fact that relatively insignificant scientific discoveries and inventions proudly carry the names of their discoverers and inventors but most people, including the people who write books about it, never stop to consider who invented triangulation, which until the invention of GPS, was the only tool, and a very powerful one, capable of producing accurate maps with their incredible economic, political, military and scientific significance. Gemma Frisius belongs in the pantheon of great modern scholars for his invention and not forgotten and ignored even by those who earn money writing about the incredible applications that this invention made possible. [The Renaissance Mathematicus]
  • Certain invading ethnic groups were more successful than others, with Germans and Czechs being the most effective, Scandinavians an intermediate category, and old Colonial Americans being eager to sell and leave. The same process of invasion took place in Nebraska, in Minnesota, even in the Texas Hill Country. In the struggle for living space the German farmer always won, because from his point of view to sell his land was to rob his children. "When the German comes in, the Yankee goes out" was the proverb, Kathleen Conzeen says. [Uriah]
  • Uranus was the first planet to be added to the seven ‘wanderers’ that had been known since antiquity. In order to determine the orbit of a planet it is not enough to simply discover it, one has to observe it systematically over many years or even decades carefully measuring and recording its positions. In the decades following Herschel’s discovery this is exactly what happened to Uranus; however in the course of time it became clear that the orbit of Uranus displayed several perturbations (irregularities) that were not compatible with its theoretical orbit as determined through Newton’s law of gravity. This meant that either Newton was wrong or that some unknown gravitational factor was affecting the orbit of Uranus. Both Le Verrier and the British astronomer John Couch Adams determined that the perturbations must be the result of a relatively large planet and calculated the theoretical orbit of it. Armed with Le Verrier’s calculations Galle and Heinrich d’Arrest discovered the planet Neptune only one degree away from the position predicted by Le Verrier on the day that they had received the information. This was a stunning confirmation of Newton’s theory and remains till this day one of the greatest triumphs of science. [The Renaissance Mathematicus]

No comments: