Monday, October 7, 2019

October 7th Links

  • One can fly to Japan from anywhere, but from Japan one can only fly to the Third World, and it hardly matters whether one lands in Kinshasa, London, New York or Zurich: they are all places where one must be constantly watchful and distrustful, where one cannot leave a suitcase unattended even for ten minutes, where women strolling home through town at 3 a.m. are deemed imprudent, where the universal business model is not to underpromise and overdeliver but if anything the other way round, where city streets are clogged at rush hour because municipal authorities mysteriously fail to provide ubiquitous, fast and comfortable public transport, where shops need watchful staff or cameras against thieving customers, and where one cannot even get beer and liquor from vending machines that require no protection from vandalism. Japan was the world’s only really different country when I first visited forty years ago, and it remains so now, despite many misguided attempts to internationalise its ways to join the rest of the world. [LRB]
  • To get some industry and competitive background, it pays to follow Arcosa's (ACA) - investor presentations. Their Inland Barge Division is a competitor to Conrad. Their two facilities are based along the Mississippi River system (hence the name "inland") -- one in Missouri and the other in Tennessee. I've attached some of snippets from their presentations in 2018 (when their parent Trinity Industries split off parts of its business including Inland Barge). [CoBF]
  • On foreign policy, too, Sailer has been a pervasive if subtle presence on the right. During the mid-2000s, he popularized the phrase "Invade the World, Invite the World" to parody the apparent bipartisan foreign policy consensus of the last two decades around large-scale military intervention abroad and large-scale immigration at home. It took some time, but by the summer of 2016, the mood of the country had caught up with Sailer. [NY Mag]
  • I can.t overstate the benefits of knowing the demand curve. In my friend.s case, the auction let them sell far above their initial price and revealed that the market was deep enough to justify a larger production run. In the context of an ongoing concern with multiple production runs, having email addresses associated with price-levels allows for very effective targeted email marketing: "Hey, we just did a larger run with lower unit-costs, so now we can afford to sell you a board for $X — you still in?" Given these benefits, why aren't such auctions more common in artisan manufacturing niches? [Kevin Lynagh]
  • After 12 years in Portland, Oregon USA, my girlfriend and I decided to evaluate other cities where we might want to live. In 2017 September, we each packed a duffel bag, put our stuff into storage, and skipped town. We're not vacation traveling — eating at fancy restaurants, sightseeing castles, skydiving, etc. — but rather just moving to a new city every few weeks/months. [Kevin Lynagh]
  • I needed an "optician kit" consisting of: Trial lenses: A large number of lenses with varying corrections. Trial frame: A pair of glasses without lenses into which you can insert the trial lenses. Turns out, you can order these kits online from very trustworthy Chinese resellers for around 190€. Fast-forward two weeks later. It's a long weekend, I'm standing in my flat, 10 lenses scattered across the desk in front of me. I'm wearing the trial frame with some lenses stuck into it. I squint out of the window, trying to read number plates of cars parked in the street. [Eidel]
  • What do you do if you're meeting someone in four hours and that person decides to change plans two hours before by sending you a message which you won't see due to DND? You might have to deactivate DND in those situations. The underlying problem however is that nowadays everyone assumes that plans can be changed frequently at no cost. [Eidel]
  • Don't bother with The Better Angels of Our Nature. I think you have to be very careful before buying anyone's ponderous 800 page tome. (I wasn't fooled into buying Piketty, but look how many copies of his are going to have to be pulped.) Unless the author is an utter genius crystallizing some subject for the rest of us, the result is going to be a muddled mess. Since Pinker uses "'six trends' interacting with 'five inner demons,' 'four better angels,' and 'five historical forces,'" to attempt to explain his hypothesized decline of violence, I think we can tell it fits squarely in the muddled mess category. (Twenty degrees of freedom in the model!) [CBS]
  • After your cliff, the valuation required for you to stay rises, but pretty slowly. In reality, you might want to be more aggressive with quitting than this. A company whose valuation has stagnated for 3 years seems bad enough to quit. If the model incorporated something like, say, variance going down over time, or fatter tails, then it might reproduce that effect. At 4 years, the model tells you always to quit, because your vesting is over, which means there's no point in sacrificing the higher earnings from the bigco job. Obviously in real life startups do things like refresher option grants etc. that make it more worthwhile to stay. [link]
  • In addition to being a function of price, demand for transactions is a function of the level of security provided. If equilibrium fees are not enough to provide adequate security, then demand will fall further and the price in the fee market will fall further, resulting in even less security. This is a potentially unraveling market, and I think it is what Satoshi meant when he said, "in 20 years there will either be very large transaction volume or no volume." The fee market is only stable when block sizes are sufficiently small and demand is sufficiently inelastic to sustain full blocks with high-enough fees to be secure. We know that given today's prices, volumes, and subsidies the market doesn't unravel and security is maintained. But we also know that the subsidy is going to zero in the long run and is halving next year. [link]

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