Monday, March 25, 2019

March 25th Links

  • Per Olson the Navajo, being roving bandits (with respect to both people and fixed resources) would have had a far higher Laffer maximum extortion rate and thus were not able to accumulate wealth to support a level of civilization nearly as high as the Anasazi under stationary bandits had supported. The Pueblo Indians and later the Mexicans who bordered the Navajos and other roving bandit cultures were able to support agriculture, but were far poorer than other most other fully agricultural regions of the time due to the costs of Navajo and Apache raids. The fall of the Anasazi was hardly the first time roving bandits had conquered stationary bandits causing a massive decline in wealth and civilization: it is a common pattern throughout history. [Nick Szabo]
  • "And every pound of it is dependent on my personal exertions." Here spoke a sea-valve that communicated directly with the water outside, and was seated not very far from the garboard-strake. "I rejoice to think that I am a Prince-Hyde Valve, with best Para rubber facings. Five patents cover me - I mention this without pride - five separate and several patents, each one finer than the other. At present I am screwed fast. Should I open, you would immediately be swamped. This is incontrovertible!" Patent things always use the longest words they can. It is a trick that they pick up from their inventors. [Rudyard Kipling]
  • The amount of time I've spent on low-value business administration has declined from about 10~20% of my week (really!) to functionally zero. A surprising portion of running my own businesses was contract negotiation, making sure vendors got paid, and wiring profits in time to make rent. We have people who specialize in all those things so I no longer have to. (I miss getting woken up because a server had... just kidding, I do not miss that at all.) [Kalzumeus]
  • People say that your house is the biggest purchase you'll ever make, but it won't be the most consequential negotiation. If you're sane only about 25% or so of your gross income is subject to the results of real estate negotiations. Close to 100% is subject to the results of salary negotiations. Thus, your salary negotiations are probably going to be the most important financial decisions you will ever make. We socialize middle class Americans to go into them unprepared, demotivated, and fearful of success. The reality is that rich, successful people negotiate. (This is one important way in which they get — and stay — rich.) It is an all-day-every-day thing in much of the business world, which is where most rich people get their money. [Kalzumeus]
  • I moved to Spain from New York City in 2002, and the Prado was absolutely part of the reason I chose to live in Madrid over Barcelona or Seville. My first assignment as a journalist was a story on the Prado's expansion, designed by Rafael Moneo, though I would have to wait five years to write it as legal battles and construction delays pushed the opening to 2007. Later, I followed Gabriele Finaldi, currently the director of London's National Gallery, but then deputy director of the Prado, on the whirlwind 45-minute highlights tour he often gave to visiting heads of state. And whether they want it or not, visiting family and friends are subjected to my own highlights tour of the Prado. [NY Times]
  • Yak shaving is a sign that you are living with problems waiting to crash down. And living in a situation where you don't have time to do the sort of maintenance that would fix things and keep smoulders from bursting into flames. Yak shaving is a sign that you are living with problems waiting to crash down. And living in a situation where you don't have time to do the sort of maintenance that would fix things and keep smoulders from bursting into flames. [Less Wrong]
  • Tesla also trades at an extreme premium compared with its peers, says Bapis. "They're trading at per units sold to market cap of $120,000. Daimler and BMW trade at $30,000. So it's four times any other market cap per units sold out there," he said. [CNBC]
  • Is it fair to think of immigration as the reverse of the Black Death? We're dramatically growing our population via immigrants and children of immigrants. What seems surprising, then, is that the people who say that they want to see all of the economic results of the Black Death simultaneously say that they want to adjust U.S. demographics in precisely the opposite direction of the Black Death. [Phil G]
  • At the mid-point of the offering range $18bn, the price to revenue multiple is roughly 5x (18/3.5) and the multiple of net revenues (what Lyft keeps after paying drivers) is roughly 11x (18/1.6). [A VC]
  • Indeed, this is why most of the other self-driving projects use LIDAR. Musk believes that cars should be able to drive with just their cameras, since people drive with just their eyes. I'm sure we will get there one day, but LIDAR works better in the short term for exactly this situation. It will be really interesting to see how the LIDAR / no-LIDAR debate plays out. [Reddit]
  • Around this point, my thumb started to hurt. To move forward on the scooter, you have to push the throttle down with your right thumb. It starts to hurt after a while. Maybe one day we will merge with the technology in a scooter singularity, but until then, the scooters aren't made for long trips. Also, it should be noted that they are pretty janky. Despite their intended use in urban areas, their shoddy construction and tiny wheels seem ill-equipped to handle aging, bombed-out city streets. They could be felled by the smallest of potholes. Should we be letting anyone ride around on these things, unsupervised? I say this as someone who spent much of his adult life bike-commuting around New York: The scooters seem incredibly dangerous. [Gizmodo]
  • Holmes provided the media with a glorious example of what women can do in tech. See, peasants, women can create the next Apple and Google! See, note she is a woman, too, not some ugly lesbian who would reinforce the idea that one has to think like a man to be good at computers! The media could not have conjured up a character to hit all of their needs in one package. Holmes is a cute, young woman. She is thin with pretty eyes and nice hair. She is white, so there's no awkward Asian math exceptionalism at play. She looks like she could be your daughter if your daughter cleaned up for business interviews. Holmes was too good of a symbol for the media to resist using. [Social Matter]

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