Thursday, April 1, 2021

April 1st Links

  • Between November 3, and January 31, Trump raised more than $255 million from voters on the claim that the money would fuel the legal warfare needed to contest the election results. According to Bloomberg, however, by December 4 the total spent on overturning the election was just $8.8 million. [American Greatness]
  • To be honest, the regular reading of weird twitter feeds is one of the things I miss since giving up twitter. It was a complete sewer, a cesspit of aggravation deliberately made to encourage rage-clicks and anxiety, run by people who hate me, and you, and everyone reading this. And yet, there is still material on there that you just can't find anywhere else. If you read the same things as everyone else, you will think the same things as everyone else. Not many of those people acquire life-changing amounts of money, except by pure chance. [Holmes]
  • The late archaic humans (Neanderthals) sourced protein predominantly from the red meat of wolves, large felids and hyenas. There was no evidence of fresh water aquatic species or marine sources of protein in the bone collagen of the Neanderthal samples. In striking contrast, seafood consumption was a “staple” of the diet of the early modern humans (Mid-Upper Paleolithic period). Depending upon geographical region, freshwater or marine sources of protein constituted between 10-50% of the diet for the early modern humans. Freshwater sources occurred along rivers and included fish and/or water fowl and marine sources were coastal and included fish, shellfish and small slow-moving animals such as turtles/tortoises. [NLM]
  • I dream of buying an old, abandoned railroad tunnel in the Cascade Mountains. It would have a constant gradient of 1.5%, and being in the mountain, the temperature would never change. I’d surface it with smooth and rough asphalt, and various types of gravel, install doors (no wind!) and a sophisticated timing system, then build a cabin nearby where we can stay while testing tires. [Rene Herse]
  • [I]n extreme situations, arbitrageurs trying to eliminate the glamour/value mispricing might lose enough money that they have to liquidate their positions. In this case, arbitrageurs may become the least effective in reducing the mispricing precisely when it is the greatest. The glamour/value anomaly is one of several that our approach might explain. The analysis actually predicts what types of market anomalies can persist over the long term. These anomalies must have a high degree of unpredictability, which makes betting against them risky for specialized arbitrageurs. [CBS]
  • YOU UNDERSTAND THAT IF BITCOIN UNDERGOES A HARD OR SOFT BLOCKCHAIN FORK, SPONSOR MAY CHOOSE, IN ITS SOLE DISCRETION, WHETHER OR NOT BITCOIN PRIZE WILL ALSO INCLUDE SUCH FORKED CHAIN. Bitcoin Prize winners will receive the Bitcoin Prize as a deposit into their US based custodial wallet. Bitcoin Prize winners must have a regulated US based custodial wallet with either Coinbase or Gemini.  If a winner does not have a US based custodial wallet, the winner can create an account for free at [Chipotle]
  • 11 months. 11 months to hammer home a green energy agenda while we're consuming less, driving less, and using less. 11 months to convince the masses that an energy transition was easy if only we threw money at it; that an energy utopia was within reach because the technology to capture and store it has matured enough to replace our current unhealthy diet. The message couldn't be further from the truth, but nevertheless, the idea that "we have to change" and "we should change" morphed into "we're able to change" and "we can change, quickly and painlessly." A sensible message morphed into intentional obfuscation. While 11 months were not enough to change our behavior, it was enough to hobble an entire industry. So as we revert to our old habits of traveling, socializing, and entertaining, and as we resume our higher-energy consuming lifestyles with our padded pocketbooks, we're doing so with an industry ill-equipped to power our recovery. Years of underinvestment in long-lead projects, the impacts for which are beginning to be felt this year, are now compounded by capital scarcity, spending restraint, and the demands of green energy investments. [Seeking Alpha]
  • Kimberly-Clark Corp., one of the biggest tissue producers, told U.S. and Canadian customers that it’s raising prices for most consumer products to offset “significant” commodity cost inflation, with percentage increases in the mid-to-high single digits. [Bloomberg]
  • What is fascinating is that not only are most Mexican publicly traded stocks selling for very attractive valuations, the country’s near-monopoly stock exchange Bolsa Mexicana (Mexico: BOLSAA), is itself publicly traded and sells for an absurdly low valuation. Bolsa trades at a growing 9% unlevered free cash flow yield based on 2021 estimates. If capital flows accelerate into Mexico, the stock exchange will be a prime beneficiary. Investors have come to realize that stock exchanges are phenomenal businesses yet are overlooking Bolsa. Just look, for example, at the last ten-year performance of Intercontinental Exchange (NYSE: ICE), the company that owns the New York Stock Exchange. The stock is up almost four times in the last eight years and now trades at 32 times earnings. And ICE’s valuation is not an outlier, take a look at the valuations of some of the leading stock exchanges from around the world that are publicly traded. [Aaron Edelheit]
  • AMLO is bad for business. The President mishandled COVID -- its 9.8% mortality rate is among the highest in the world, and instead of providing stimulus, the government implemented austerity measures. Of specific concern, AMLO’s government blames Coca-Cola for the country’s high mortality rate. More Coke = more obesity and diabetes = higher COVID mortality rates. In October, the government imposed regulations that will force Coca-Cola to put big octagonal black warning labels on its products by December 1st. That’s bad news for FEMSA’s cash cow. AMLO hit FEMSA’s cash more directly in May, when the company agreed to pay $398 million in taxes to “resolve interpretive differences over taxes paid outside of Mexico.” Walmex also agreed to pay $358 million. [notboring]
  • DNP is a mitochondrial uncoupling agent. Remember, mitochondria are the powerhouse of the cell. They pump protons across a membrane, creating pressure for electrons to follow. This forms an electrical gradient which your body exploits to create the "energy currency" ATP. To "uncouple" mitochondria means to punch holes in the membrane, letting the protons leak back through and "wasting" the energy as heat. This makes your body's energy production less efficient, meaning you have to burn more calories per amount of metabolism you want to do. Hence the weight loss. But replacing otherwise-useful energy with waste heat can have some nasty consequences. [Slate Star Codex]
  • The class distinction in garden flowers is not as arbitrary as Scott makes it sound. The "prole" flowers are all annuals - exotic tropical flowers that have to be replanted every year in most of the US because they can't survive freezing temperatures. They are the Caribbean cruise of garden flowers. They are also cheaper than perennials in the short run but have to be replaced every year. Perennials, the upper-class flowers, are theoretically cheaper in the long run because they keep coming back year after year, but you only save money if you plant them in the right conditions, take good care of them, and stay in the same house long enough to reap the rewards. (Basically, perennials save money in the same way that a "timeless" wardrobe of quality pieces saves money.) [Slate Star Codex]
  • As you learn stuff throughout the day, your brain builds new synaptic connections representing what you learned. For example, as you read this article connecting depression and sleep, your brain might be forming new synapses between neurons storing information about these two concepts (or strengthening existing synapses). That means as time goes on your brain will get more and more synapses, the synapses will become stronger and stronger, and everything will be more and more connected to everything else. But synapses take lots of energy to maintain. And "everything is maximally connected to everything else" works well for conspiracy theorists and Zen masters, but less well for neural networks trying to perform specific computations. So you want to do what the AI people call "renormalization". You scale down all your weights by some function, until they're a set of smaller weights that represent the same information. For an oversimplified example, if you have three synapses with weights 90, 50, and 30, you can divide all of them by 100 to get 0.9, 0.5, and 0.3; the ratio between them is still the same. If the brain does this regularly, it can keep learning new information and keep the same average number/strength of synapses over time. You can't renormalize while the network is running; you want to turn it off first. Tononi thinks this is the point of sleep. You turn off the network. You send a bunch of brain waves through to figure out average synapse level. Then you gradually downgrade and prune synapses until they're back at your set point. He cites lots of research showing that people gradually accumulate more and stronger synapses during the day, then lose them again during sleep, plus lots of reasons to think that the processes that happen during sleep are the sort of processes that would renormalize synapses. [Slate Star Codex]
  • Ancient Phoenicia was antifragile! ...yes, this is definitely a Taleb book, with all that implies. Expect love-it-or-hate-it digressions on how Taleb's intellectual opponents have poorly defined jaws and would lose to him in street fights, long rants against modernity, and a lot of pithy sayings from Lebanon - a country with so much folk wisdom relevant to managing risk and avoiding fragility that it's really quite surprising their economy is in freefall. I feel bad trying to summarize Antifragile, not just because the medium is the message, but because it's hard to figure out what the message is without it. Taleb launches an ambitious project to tie all of his personal interests and hobbyhorses into the idea of antifragility, and it sort of works and sort of doesn't. [Slate Star Codex]

No comments: