Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Tuesday Night Links

  • Did Donald Trump save the Union? He appointed conservative judges, providing a legal "shield" for social conservatives to exist in the USA. Otherwise the progressive attack against dissenters might have become so aggressive and unchecked as to generate real instability. It's a big deal. Post-Trump, the ~30% of the US population who are convinced social conservatives have some confidence that "Bake the Cake" style persecutions can be successfully fought via the Federal Courts. Otherwise the brakes would be off, no limit. As opposed to the late-Obama era, it just feels much more plausible now for Conservatives to participate on a national level, rather than entirely focusing on enclavism in certain southern states, etc. This tone comes from the top, from SCOTUS, etc. Dobbs was a "super signal" that the era of unilaterally imposing progressive social values onto every community/family in the USA by force was coming to an end. A deal was made.  It was accepted that Conservatives weren't just going to go away or utterly surrender. In an alternative Hillary timeline, in the face of a totally hostile Fed Gov, blue states conservatives would have had a very strong incentive to move places like Tenn, FL, etc. Would have greatly increased regional sorting and polarization. A "partition" effect. [Empty America]
  • Am starting to see evidence that inventory is surprisingly starting to build in some housing markets, particularly in FL, TX, and AZ. I am a structural housing bull, believing that the US is massively under inventoried, so that struck me as odd. The local charts data that I have seen so far has shown that the inventory situation in these markets has all changed in the last few months, I.e. all of the sudden everyone wants to sell at once. So here is the thesis: Everyone thinks the housing market is up 50-100% since Covid, but that is based on an abnormally low number of transactions.  Most owners are sitting there thinking they have this massive amount of equity they can unlock whenever they want because 2 houses in their neighborhood have traded in the last 12 months at ATH prices. I think people are waiting for the first FED cut to put their house on the market as they think value increases when that happens, and instead what we are going to see is more houses come on the market than expected, all at once. A few of those sellers will actually need to sell as they held out too long and will start offering their houses at lower and lower prices and it will cause a cascading effect.  Put another way, I think high rates have caused the market to seize, and the values most are using as benchmarks for pricing will turn out to be a mirage when the market starts functioning again. [Gunwale Capital]
  • A friend of mine was invited by a FAANG organization to visit the U.S a few years ago. Many of the talks were technical demos of impressive artificial intelligence products. Being a software engineer, he got to spend a little bit of time backstage with the developers, whereupon they revealed that most of the demos were faked. The products didn't work. They just hadn't solved some minor issues, such as actually predicting the thing that they're supposed to predict. Didn't stop them spouting absolute gibberish to a breathless audience for an hour though! [Ludicity]
  • An apocalypse is also the subject of Paul Kingsnorth’s first novel, The Wake. Buccmaster of Holland is a socman, a member of the wapentake, an owner of three oxgang of land, and fiercely proud of his standing in his community. Unfortunately, the year is 1066 and the world as he knows it is about to end. Buccmaster knows something is coming. First, there was the strange bird with eyes of fire and fingers like a man flying over the village. Then there was the appearance of a hairy star in the sky. No one knew what these signs meant, and no one wanted to listen to Buccmaster. What was coming, of course, was the Norman invasion and the end of Anglo-Saxon England. Buccmaster’s sons go off to fight for King Harold—first at Stamford Bridge and then at Hastings. They never come home. When Buccmaster and his neighbors refuse to pay tribute to their new Norman overlords, the village is burned, Buccmaster’s wife is killed, and all the animals are destroyed or taken. Buccmaster misses all this while away in the fens. He takes to the forest and lives as a “grene man,” a kind of Anglo-Saxon partisan looking for opportunities to strike at the Norman conquerors whenever opportunities present themselves. [Mr. and Mrs. Psmith’s Bookshelf]
  • The heat and pressure of the mantle cause the iron and magnesium in the mantle to be in a chemical state that wants to give away some electrons (a reduced state). The atmosphere due to the sun’s UV splitting water and subsequent hydrogen escape is in a state that wants to suck up electrons (an oxidized state). Separate these two conditions with a barrier (the crust) and focus where they meet to specific points (vents) and you get in essence a battery that runs on the reduction-oxidation difference or redox potential. The amount of energy that’s doled out in this process is the perfect amount and type to do the organic chemistry that’s central to life. Other sources of energy are either too diffuse (the Earth’s heat) or too energetic (light) to be good for life’s chemistry. (Photosynthesis now harnesses light, but it’s a complex process that involves breaking the huge amount of photon energy into smaller manageable chunks of chemical energy.) [Fermi's Envelope]

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