Monday, October 22, 2018

October 22nd Links

  • Former Tesla service supervisors and regional managers said Tesla's disparate homemade programs made it hard to know when their purchase orders were going to be approved and when spare parts were coming in for them to fix customers' cars. Across the many programs, it can be easy to lose track of information about people, expenses or any particular part and its whereabouts. Some service employees said they were surprised to learn that when they sent mechanics to help out with "bursts" to build new vehicles in the Fremont factory, their time was billed either to "training" or "research and development," rather than service or vehicle assembly. One said he was relieved that travel, per diem expenses and overtime wasn't charged to his region. [CNBC]
  • We have to completely rethink and rebuild the social sciences. Steven Pinker said: "For most of the twentieth century it was assumed that psychological traits were caused by environmental factors, called nurture." This was completely wrong. Problems like p-value fishing and the current 'replication crisis' are nothing compared to the tsunami that's coming. Indeed, social scientists have done such a terrible job that it's hard to see how the field can be repaired. They wanted the false results they got, and they still do. I'm sure their descendants will as well. Isn't heritability grand? We need a different kind of social science researcher, smarter, less emotional, and more curiosity-driven. [West Hunter]
  • A year ago, a buyout fund financed the acquisition of company G by one of its portfolio companies with 100% debt and took out a dividend for itself. The deal was marketed with an adjusted EBITDA figure that was 190% of the company's reported EBITDA. Based on the adjusted figure, total leverage was more than 7x, and based on the reported figure it was 13.5x. The bonds are now trading above par, and the yield spread to worst on the first lien notes is below 250 bps. [Howard Marks]
  • Koum stayed. He would accrue time toward his final stock grants, even if he rarely went to the office ("rest and vest," in Silicon Valley parlance). Koum was "able to get through it," finally leaving this April, the month after Acton's #deletefacebook tweet, announcing via a Facebook post that he would focus on collecting air-cooled Porsches. In August 2018, when Forbes sat down with Acton, another source said Koum was sailing on a yacht in the Mediterranean, far away from everything. [Forbes]
  • During these years, the Manhattan was also running a path from "up" drink to "rocks" drink. By 1959, you could order a Manhattan on ice aboard Capital Airlines. A decade or so later, with New York lurching toward financial ruin, newspaper jokesters began to refer to the drink as a Lindsay, after the city’s beleaguered mayor John Lindsay. (Manhattan on the rocks—get it?) [link]
  • As long as I live under the capitalistic system, I expect to have my life influenced by the demands of moneyed people. But I will be damned if I propose to be at the beck and call of every itinerant scoundrel who has two cents to invest in a postage stamp. [link]
  • Raising the issue 10 years later was unfair and disingenuous: unfair because, while she may well have been offended by his coarseness, there is no evidence that she suffered any emotional or career damage, and the punishment she belatedly sought was in no way commensurate with the offense; and disingenuous because she has lifted a verbal style that carries only minor sanction in one subcultural context and thrown it in the overheated cultural arena of mainstream, neo-Puritan America, where it incurs professional extinction. If my interpretation is correct, Judge Thomas was justified in denying making the remarks, even if he had in fact made them, not only because the deliberate displacement of his remarks made them something else but on the utilitarian moral grounds that any admission would have immediately incurred a self-destructive and grossly unfair punishment. [NY Times]
  • Judge Kavanaugh always takes law students from Yale. The symbiotic relationship there is that Yale can say their students always get great clerkships, and in exchange Yale law professor Amy Chua makes sure Kavanaugh always has a stream of female law school students who look like models. [link]
  • The combination of naiveté and hubris on the part of U.S. companies seeking to enter the Chinese market, coupled with a sophisticated Chinese effort to extract technology has been a lethal combination. [WSJ]
  • The rapid federalization of traditionally state- created and state-enforced areas of criminal law is reflected in both the scope and substance of the modern federal criminal code. There is now the potential for the exact harms the Double Jeopardy Clause was designed to prevent – retrial after acquittal and double punishment after conviction – for countless crimes that were traditionally the states’ responsibility to define and punish. And neither sovereign’s interests nor the federalist system is well-served as a result. This Court should overrule its prior decisions upholding the due sovereignty doctrine as no longer consistent with the interests of federalism nor the liberty protections of the Double Jeopardy Clause. [SCOTUS]
  • There will be no swing justice in the mold of Anthony M. Kennedy, Sandra Day O'Connor or Lewis F. Powell Jr., who forged alliances with both liberals and conservatives. Instead, the court will consist of two distinct blocs — five conservatives and four liberals. The court, in other words, will perfectly reflect the deep polarization of the American public and political system. [NY Times]
  • Putting strict constructionists, relatively young, on the courts for lifetime appointments is the best way to have a long-term positive impact on America. And today is a seminal moment in that effort. [Politico]
  • The rich non-haters of Santa Monica (80 percent voted for Hillary) say that they want affordable housing. They also want to get rid of the crazy rich folks enjoying their Gulfstreams so they're shutting down their local airport. Will the 227 acres of land free up by closing the airport be used to build public housing? As it happens... No! At the density of Co-op City in the Bronx (47,000 per square mile), the 0.355 square miles of the former airport would hold 16,685 people. That's a healthy fraction of the homeless population of LA County. [Phil G]
  • Lotka's law, named after Alfred J. Lotka, is one of a variety of special applications of Zipf's law. It describes the frequency of publication by authors in any given field. It states that the number of authors making x contributions in a given period is a fraction of the number making a single contribution, i.e., an approximate inverse-square law, where the number of authors publishing a certain number of articles is a fixed ratio to the number of authors publishing a single article. As the number of articles published increases, authors producing that many publications become less frequent. There are 1/4 as many authors publishing two articles within a specified time period as there are single-publication authors, 1/9 as many publishing three articles, 1/16 as many publishing four articles, etc. Though the law itself covers many disciplines, the actual ratios involved (as a function of 'a') are discipline-specific. [Wiki]
  • People don't understand maintenance. German approach to maintenance is "we will engineer our car to a specific maintenance schedule, and everyone will follow it", Japanese approach to maintenance is "we will overbuild our cars on old and proven platforms, because people won't maintain them anyway", American approach to maintenance is "maintain it or not, we couldn't care less, we sell you a product". All of those require different mindset when you maintain your car. People don't understand depreciation. The repair costs don't diminish progressively as the car depreciates. If a guy spent $15k to get a 350 hp twin-turbo luxury car that originally cost $70k, and it needs $5k spent on a new turbo, a fuel pump, and a few coils, should he really be that surprised? It's not a $15k car, it's still a $70k car that's seen some wear and is more likely to need service. People don't understand reliability. If a $150k E55 AMG needs to have a $15k supercharger rebuild at 100k miles, it's not because it's unreliable. A $250k Ferrari isn't unreliable because it needs a $20k engine-out service every 20k miles. People get high-maintenance luxury cars for a price of a new Civic and then expect them to be equally as cheap to run. Upon realizing their mistake, they throw a bitch fit and blame the car rather than themselves. That's not how reliability works. [Reddit]
  • Suppose that you wanted to create a generation of people who did not enjoy working and whom employers did not want to hire. What would you do? You'd provide financial incentives for people without jobs to have as many children as possible, e.g., free apartments with extra bedrooms as extra children are born, free health care, free food, and a free smartphone. You'd provide disincentives to people with demanding jobs to have children by concentrating jobs in a handful of cities with expensive market rents (even a two-income couple in a coastal U.S. city probably can't afford a 3 BR or 4 BR apartment) and providing comfortable welfare benefits to anyone who might otherwise have been motivated to work as a nanny for working parents. [Phil G]

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