Thursday, August 18, 2022

Thursday Night Links

  • The process over the past month and a half were not easy. During this period, there was one EIA report, in particular, that shocked the world. EIA reported on a 4-week moving average basis that the US implied gasoline demand fell below that of July 2020. That was a real head-scratcher and we wrote about how that data point is highly unlikely to be accurate. But fast forwarding to today, we are starting to see the impacts lower oil prices have on consumer demand. All of these charts indicate to me that the oil market has accomplished its goal of figuring out where demand starts to rebound (or finding the lower band). This level appears to be between $85 to $90 WTI and the 3-2-1 crack spread to be around $32/bbl. This puts the lower band at $117/bbl to $122/bbl or far lower than the $140 to $150 we previously assumed. [HFI Research]
  • The people who really run the United States of America have made it clear that they can’t, and won’t, if they can help it, allow Donald Trump to be president again. In fact, they made this clear in 2020, in a series of public statements. Simply for quoting their words in an essay for The American Mind, I was mercilessly mocked and attacked. But they were quite clear. Trump won’t be president at noon, Jan. 20, 2021, even if we have to use the military to drag him out of there. “Anti-Trump hysteria is in the final analysis not about Trump.”If the regime felt that strongly back then, imagine how they feel now. But you don’t have to imagine. They tell you every day. Liz Cheney, Trump’s personal Javert, has said that the 45th president is literally the greatest threat facing America today—greater than China, than our crashing economy, than our unraveling civil society. [Michael Anton]
  • He has backed away from a formerly held conviction. "I was always in favor of the plan to phase out nuclear power," the 54-year-old says of Germany's plan to take all of its atomic energy plants offline by the end of this year. He says the situation changed because of the crisis with Russia. He says he supports keeping nuclear power plants online to prevent having to use natural gas to generate electricity. "We should use the existing nuclear power plants for as long as the crisis lasts," he says. [Der Spiegel]
  • I started smoking at age fifteen, and smoked for thirty-eight years. I wish I had tried e-cigarettes much earlier, because after dozens of attempts over many years to quit smoking -- using every "approved" cessation method and product -- I realized the moment I inhaled and blew out a stream of vapor that this would work. After a couple weeks of using both, I finally left burning tobacco behind for good. That was November 17, 2012. I would very much like all smokers to have the option to use quality e-cigarettes as a legal alternative to smoking. [Jim McDonald]
  • The United States has shipped about a third of its existing arsenal of Stinger anti-air and Javelin anti-armor missiles to Ukraine – systems that are not quickly replaced – two experts on Pentagon buying said Tuesday. Testifying before the Senate Armed Service Committee, Ellen Lord, who served as the Defense Department’s top acquisition official, said Stingers cannot be replaced “within the next couple of years” because its production line has been shut down. Even simple items, such as diodes, used to regulate voltage for these systems could be difficult to obtain. [link]
  • Global Positioning System (GPS) navigation devices and applications have become ubiquitous over the last decade. However, it is unclear whether using GPS affects our own internal navigation system, or spatial memory, which critically relies on the hippocampus. We assessed the lifetime GPS experience of 50 regular drivers as well as various facets of spatial memory, including spatial memory strategy use, cognitive mapping, and landmark encoding using virtual navigation tasks. We first present cross-sectional results that show that people with greater lifetime GPS experience have worse spatial memory during self-guided navigation, i.e. when they are required to navigate without GPS. In a follow-up session, 13 participants were retested three years after initial testing. Although the longitudinal sample was small, we observed an important effect of GPS use over time, whereby greater GPS use since initial testing was associated with a steeper decline in hippocampal-dependent spatial memory. Importantly, we found that those who used GPS more did not do so because they felt they had a poor sense of direction, suggesting that extensive GPS use led to a decline in spatial memory rather than the other way around. These findings are significant in the context of society’s increasing reliance on GPS. [NLM]
  • Is any phrase today more mellifluous than “our democracy”? At once sanctimonious, dishonest, and accusatory, there is almost no end to the way these two words are weaponized by our elites to gaslight, admonish, and offend. But for now, let’s focus on just one. An implicit assumption of those who use the phrase is that no other form of government works nearly as well—or is even, in the final analysis, legitimate. These sentiments underlie our elites’ extraordinary hostility to those nations of central and eastern Europe that don’t toe the neoliberal line: above all Hungary, but really any outliers anywhere in the world. [Michael Anton]
  • Previously, “the venture capitalist said any proposal to “choke off” immigration “makes me sick to my stomach” (from “Asked why he supports Clinton over Trump, Marc Andreessen responds: ‘Is that a serious question?’”). What would happen if a Greg Abbott caravan of migrants showed up in front of Mr. Andreessen’s house and asked for the housing that is their legal and moral right? Separately, the robot geniuses behind Twitter and Facebook are showing me a lot of information about Beto O’Rourke, running to replace Governor Abbott in Texas. I’m wondering if real estate owners in Florida should be donating to Mr. O’Rourke’s campaign. What could possibly be better for Florida real estate values than a true believer in the tax-and-spend-and-lockdown religion taking power in Texas? Imagine if all of the California businesses that have moved to Austin, Dallas, and Houston (HP!) in the past few years had instead moved to Orlando, Tampa, and Miami. [Phil G]
  • Why does the Pfizer CEO want to tell people that four shots of a purported “vaccine” from his/her/zir/their own company are so ineffective that he/she/ze/they needs to take an emergency use authorized medicine designed to prevent obese elderly unvaccinated people from being killed by COVID-19? He/she/ze/they got four shots and nonetheless faced an “emergency” situation requiring an experimental drug? The big questions…. First, why wasn’t Dr. Bourla (a veterinarian so he/she/ze/they knows a lot about ivermectin!) smart enough to never take a COVID-19 test that could call into question his/her/zir/their company’s product? Second, assuming that such a test was somehow unavoidable, why disclose the reason for taking a week off? Why not simply say “I prefer not to work for the next five days?” Or “I have read so much about opioid addiction that I need to stay home and consume Pfizer’s own opioid for a week”? [Phil G]
  • Covid changed everything in K-12 education. Parents were able to see what their children were being taught via Zoom videos. They were also able to see the lack of rigor and expectation in these classrooms. They saw this pervasive CRT that’s been discovered in so many different districts. And parents were rejecting that, along with the heavy-handed mandates around vaccines and masking, while they saw little to no focus on math, reading, science, character formation, or American civics. We had a lot of parents who were not politically engaged, or had been sitting on the sidelines, saying, “I want to have a say in what happens in my children’s education.”[Christopher Rufo]
  • In 2020, pre-pandemic, I was at $1.75M. My assets (Tesla and cryptocurrency) exploded to $10M last November. I started thinking about buying my own plane. Then, the Fed started tightening and my assets collapsed to $3M. I'm 60 y/o and my job is ending this year. I'll be fine, but I do wish, in retrospect that I had taken more profit when my NW went way above what I had planned for. At my age, I've probably only got one more boom period and it will be important to start selling to cash when that happens. Best wishes to you. [reddit]
  • Caplan's argument that the reader (who is presumably an educated professional) should have more children is that today's American middle and upper class parents artificially inflate the cost of having children, which of course leads to a suboptimal quantity being demanded. By making some parenting changes the cost can fall and lead to an increased quantity demanded. (He also makes the point that many of the benefits of children come later in life, while at the beginning they have "high start-up costs.") He focuses on behavior that I would call "overparenting," i.e. the way that "moms and dads tag along with their kids as supervisors, or servants." He also makes the point that "families earning six figures have plenty of fat to cut. If you have two kids, a part-time nanny will probably do more for your quality of life than a new car." (Since he's a lolbertarian economist, he also says "a nanny doesn't need fluent English or a driver's license to provide loving care for your children.") A big chunk of the book is a summary of nature over nurture arguments, with the purpose of convincing blank-slatist SWPLs that they can helicopter parent less because their children are genetically destined to strongly resemble them. (He says, "Behavioral genetics offers parents a deal: Show more modesty and get more happiness. You can have a better life and a bigger family if you admit that your kids' future is not in your hands." He even says, "trust not in your parenting but in your genes... pick a spouse who has the traits you want your kids to have"!) [CBS]

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