Monday, January 8, 2018

January 8th Links

  • "In real philosophical and physiological terms we don't know how anesthesia works." The root of the problem is that no one understands why we are conscious. [New Yorker]
  • Plants are sensitive to several anaesthetics that have no structural similarities. As in animals and humans, anaesthetics used at appropriate concentrations block action potentials and immobilize organs via effects on action potentials, endocytic vesicle recycling and ROS homeostasis. Plants emerge as ideal model objects to study general questions related to anaesthesia, as well as to serve as a suitable test system for human anaesthesia. [link]
  • The legislation which set the price to 49 cents was enacted as a temporary measure and as an "exigent surcharge for mailing products and services". However, this legislation was set to expire in April 2016. As a result, the Post Office retained one cent of the price change as a previously allotted adjustment for inflation, but the price of a first class stamp became 47 cents: for the first time in 97 years (and for the third time in the agency's history), the price of a stamp decreased. [Wiki]
  • In California, where the minimum wage will be $11 per hour starting Jan. 1, Miller's labor costs are up 50 percent from 10 years ago, he said. The cost of a full-price sub has risen only 20 percent. "It's a hard cost per sandwich," Miller said. "People can only make so many sandwiches per hour. We find it's about seven." [WP]
  • Today's inhabitants of Silicon Valley are no slouches at self-promotion, but even they could learn something from The Call, which published a report calling its new headquarters "the crowning achievement of mankind in the Western world." [NYT]
  • The amount of propaganda damage Trump could have wreaked on the Democratic Party if he opted to quote Chavez and Gompers (or even 2015 Sanders) on uncontrolled immigration's effects on socioeconomic power dynamics rather than embracing McConnellism and the Gospel of Wealth is pretty hard to understate. Trump might be too much of a preening moron to tap into this political potential of further underlying how united the two parties have become on our essentially pro-oligarchic socioeconomic outlook, but that doesn't mean the next right-wing insurgency figure has to be. [Sailer]
  • Minimizing turnover is important, because empty apartments have to get cleaned, repainted and repaired. And there is often at least a one-month gap between tenants, with no rent coming in. Some landlords avoid raising the rent at all when they have a good tenant, preferring to catch up to the market the next time they list the apartment. [NYT]
  • I currently go to the gym once every 4 days. I need the recovery time; while I'm dedicated to increasing my fitness and muscularity, I dread the feeling of utter exhaustion that happens starting about 24 hours after a hard workout, or when I've gone into the gym more frequently than I should. In my lifting sessions, I move from one exercise to another as quickly as possible, taking time only to catch my breath, or to break down or set up equipment. The big compound moves such as deadlifts and squats, when done in a high-intensity style, will leave you gasping for breath, which confirms the aerobic aspect of lifting weights. When you work out in this way, moving quickly to the next exercise, it appears that everyone else in the gym isn't doing much work. You see them sitting between sets, playing with their phones, talking; and when they are actually lifting, you notice them jerking the weights around through use of momentum, not going to true failure, taking 5 minutes between sets, doing lots of isolation — not compound — exercises, in short, working out ineffectively and not making good use of their gym time. [Mangan]
  • Tron, The $14 Billion Whitepaper With No Product [link]
  • It looks like Tiffany & Co. may have given holiday shoppers just the sort of gifts they were prowling for: A sterling silver ice cream scoop, or maybe a classy ruler. Both luxury products -- part of the company's recently introduced Everyday Objects collection and priced at $375 and $450 respectively -- are currently displayed as sold-out online, joining more traditional paperweights and small storage items, according to a check of Tiffany's website. [BB]
  • The degree of life extension conferred by the SERPENTINE1 mutation was large, 10 years or so. As we've seen above, the result confirms the importance of hypercoagulability, insulin resistance, and cellular senescence to aging. It's likely possible to get the same results through the lifestyle and other factors outlined in this article. [Mangan]
  • The financial guys that really love bitcoin are some of the guys that either blew up or closed funds due to poor performance. The two most prominent fund manager bitcoin boosters are like that. It almost feels like they are so happy to have found their Hail Mary pass. And the most prominent guys that have good performance and didn't blow up tend to be the guys that don't like bitcoin and think it's stupid, a bubble or whatever. [Brooklyn]
  • No society in the history of humanity has ever devoted as much of its resources to litigation as the U.S. does, but we cranked out so many lawyers that, after the collapse of 2008, there was a surplus. Will the #metoo movement help turn this around to the point where going to law school becomes rational? [Greenspun]
  • One of the most expensively educated Americans who will ever go to the polls is unaware of a government program that consumes $565 billion per year, roughly 3 percent of GDP. [Greenspun]
  • There was enough home equity to make the lawsuit worthwhile for both plaintiff and lawyers. I think that this is conventional for the US states where real estate has run up in value. It is common story in California, for example, for the litigators ultimately to split all of the home equity. Don't forget retirement funds. The shift from defined benefit to 401k has created a lot of ready fuel for the divorce litigation fire. People withdraw their 401k funds, pay a penalty to the Feds, and give the rest to the divorce industry. [Greenspun]
  • A knowledge of geography is essential if you are running a tiny, 100-watt radio station. Hills are bad, for example, as are tall buildings. Salt water, though, which lies at this city's doorstep, can boost a radio signal for miles, like a skipped rock. For a low-power FM radio station, anything measurable in miles is good. [NYT]
  • Hawaii's unemployment rate is exceptionally low. The preliminary seasonally adjusted reading for November was 2.0 percent — the lowest of any state since the Labor Department started keeping track in 1976, and less than half of the 4.1 percent national rate reported in November. [WP]
  • The yield curve has 'inverted' (10 year yields less than 2-year yields) ahead of every recession in the past 40 years (arrows). The lag between inversion and the start of the next recession has been long: at least a year and in several instances as long as 2-3 years. On this basis, the current expansion will last into late 2018 at a minimum. [link]
  • The black bars in Chart 1 compare monthly bars for the S&P 500 to a 14-month RSI line. Readings over 70 show a major overbought condition. The last two times that happened was in the 2006/2007 period and in 2014 (circles). The earlier condition led to a major downturn in 2008. The later version led to a downside correction in 2015 in excess of 10%. What really jumps out in Chart 1, however, is that the monthly RSI reading of 86 is higher than both of those two prior peaks. In fact, it's now at the highest level since the late 1990s. That puts the S&P 500 at the most overbought level in twenty years. [link]
  • The December reading of the AAII stock allocation jumped from 69% up to 72%. That marks the highest level of stock allocation since the heady days of the 2000 dotcom bubble. Furthermore, the 3% jump in allocation was the largest monthly increase in 4 years. [link]
  • In retirement, the baby boomers will likely choose to de-risk, first selling their equities in exchange for safer assets, then becoming valuation-indifferent sellers, willing to sell regardless of price or yield because they need to convert financial assets into consumption goods. This de-risking should push stock market yields higher and CAPE ratios lower, and eventually push real bond yields higher too. [link]
  • What we observe at present may be distressing, but we think it's also accurate. In order for the S&P 500 to be priced for a 10% expected long-term annual return, the Index would presently need to trade at roughly 884; less than one-third of present levels. An 8% expected long-term return would correspond to a level of roughly 1281 on the S&P 500. Indeed, the Index reached this range of prospective returns even by the completion of the most recent market cycle, and the valuation level associated with an 8% expected return exceeds the actual value of the S&P 500 at nearly every point in history except the period surrounding the 1929 peak and the extremes of recent years. The only reason the S&P 500 has posted even 5.2% average annual total returns since the 2000 peak is that the recent extreme has restored the most offensive valuations in U.S. market history. [Hussman]
  • "We're still very much in the early days of making self-driving cars a reality. Those who think fully self-driving vehicles will be ubiquitous on city streets months from now or even in a few years are not well connected to the state of the art or committed to the safe deployment of the technology. For those of us who have been working on the technology for a long time, we’re going to tell you the issue is still really hard, as the systems are as complex as ever." [link]
  • In dimensional analysis, a dimensionless quantity is a quantity to which no physical dimension is applicable. It is also known as a bare number or a quantity of dimension one and the corresponding unit of measurement in the SI is one (or 1) unit and it is not explicitly shown. Dimensionless quantities are widely used in many fields, such as mathematics, physics, engineering, and economics. By contrast, examples of quantities with dimensions are length, time, and speed, which are measured in dimensional units, such as metre, second and metre per second. [Wiki]
  • Local orchard owners, who export over $1 million in avocados per day, mostly to the United States, underwrite what has effectively become an independent city-state. Self-policing and self-governing, it is a sanctuary from drug cartels as well as from the Mexican state. Tancítaro represents a quiet but telling trend in Mexico, where a handful of towns and cities are effectively seceding, partly or in whole. These are acts of desperation, revealing the degree to which Mexico’s police and politicians are seen as part of the threat. Visit three such enclaves — Tancítaro; Monterrey, a rich commercial city; and Ciudad Nezahualcóyotl, just outside the capital — and you will find a pattern. Each is a haven of relative safety amid violence, suggesting that their diagnosis of the problem was correct. [NYT]
  • Seagate Technology invested in the Series A and B of Ripple, owner of 61% of XRP, a top-three cryptocurrency. Ripple holdings of XRP are currently worth over $180B on the market. If Seagate still has its Ripple investment, it could plausibly be worth $7.8B, two-thirds of its market cap. The street has given zero credit for its crypto-investing prowess. [SA]
  • Which takes me to crypto (naturally). If you are sitting on 20x, 50x, 100x your money on a crypto investment, it would not be a mistake to sell 10%, 20% or even 30% of your position. Selling 25% of your position on an investment that is up 50x is booking a 12.5x on the entire investment, while allowing you to keep 75% of it going. I know that many crypto holders think that selling anything is a mistake. And it might be. Or it might not be. You just don't know. [A VC]
  • Rather than diverting somewhere in the United States or even Canada, some airlines played it safe and diverted back to their origin. Several flights over the middle of the Atlantic Ocean — and already more than halfway to JFK — simply turned around and went back to Europe. [Points Guy]
  • This is consistent with my experience visiting a local Air Force base at least weekly (our flight school helicopters live in a hangar on the military side of Hanscom Field). Every building has at least a few posters about sexual assault, but I've never seen a poster advocating for aggression against the enemy (or even for any kind of success against an enemy). [Greenspun]
  • Palmer, who hasn't been actively involved in the project since 2015, thinks this is all kind of crazy. "It says a lot about the state of the cryptocurrency space in general that a currency with a dog on it which hasn't released a software update in over 2 years has a $1B+ market cap" [link]

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