Thursday, October 13, 2022

Thursday Night Links

  • On every lengthy European trip, there’s always one “mistake” and Lagos takes the honor this time. Although the hotel is lovely, the town itself is a tawdry tourist trap. For example, I needed to run a wash at the lavanderia since I couldn’t find a nice Airbnb option here and the charge was €6! And I also had the pleasure of a 90-minute wait because of the endless cycles. For Northern Europeans, Lagos is probably a paradise; but Sagres is the only place I’d recommend in the Algarve. Early tomorrow I head back to Lisbon by train, with a perilously short time to change trains. My Nashville neighbors arrived in Lisbon today and I’ll be meeting them tomorrow for dinner at the chef’s table at Bel Canto. [Curated Carlos]
  • Today, State Surgeon General Dr. Joseph A. Ladapo has announced new guidance regarding mRNA vaccines. The Florida Department of Health (Department) conducted an analysis through a self-controlled case series, which is a technique originally developed to evaluate vaccine safety. This analysis found that there is an 84% increase in the relative incidence of cardiac-related death among males 18-39 years old within 28 days following mRNA vaccination. With a high level of global immunity to COVID-19, the benefit of vaccination is likely outweighed by this abnormally high risk of cardiac-related death among men in this age group. Non-mRNA vaccines were not found to have these increased risks. As such, the State Surgeon General recommends against males aged 18 to 39 from receiving mRNA COVID-19 vaccines. Those with preexisting cardiac conditions, such as myocarditis and pericarditis, should take particular caution when making this decision. [link]
  • It is unclear whether the Minnesota Supreme Court will uphold the applicability of Minnesota's usury statute to litigation-financing agreements, or reject it, as it did with the doctrine of champerty. Courts outside Minnesota have reached varying conclusions. For example, in Anglo-Dutch Petroleum Intern., Inc. v. Haskell, the Texas Court of Appeals determined that a litigation financing agreement was, as a matter of law, not usurious. The Texas Court determined there was no absolute obligation to repay the amount, because the obligation to repay was contingent on the claimholder's successful recovery on her claim. Id. Citing Anglo-Dutch Petroleum, the Supreme Court of Georgia has reached the same result. See Ruth v. Cherokee Funding. Michigan, however, has struck down litigation financing agreements as unenforceable where the interest charged exceeded that permitted by Michigan's usury statute. See Lawsuit Financial, LLC v. Curry. The Michigan Court of Appeals, however, did not analyze the issue of whether the obligation to repay was in fact contingent; although language in the contract made repayment technically contingent on recovery, the claimholder did not sign the contract until he had already received a favorable judgment, and all that remained to be litigated was a motion for remittitur and a determination of damages. [link]
  • I’m quite happy with and committed to staying on enclomiphene citrate as my hormone optimizing supplement as long as it is readily available from compounding pharmacies.  However, it has been getting some (absurd) pushback from the FDA.  Plan B:  if it ever becomes unavailable and my supply runs out, my backup plan is oxandrolone.  This is a rather ridiculous situation that the FDA could drive weightlifters from a benign supplement with limited side-effects to a far more impactful one.  But the FDA doesn’t really care about performance optimization.  It would be fun to show up to the next advisory committee meeting with a pullup bar.  “Okay, cool that you’re into health.  We’re each going to knock out 100 pullups then continue the meeting with everyone who finishes”. [Chris DeMuth
  • Biotin is so universally regarded as irrelevant to modern nutrition that when I looked in 2019 the USDA had no entry for it in its food database. At some point since then, it added a rather pathetic 3-page list of entries that doesn’t even include the main dietary sources of the nutrient. When I was in graduate school, my department head was teaching my macronutrient metabolism class. I looked at the biochemistry of biotin he was teaching and said, “Couldn’t diabetes just be a biotin deficiency?” It looks like that, he replied, but there is no evidence anyone in modern society has a biotin deficiency. It is made by the intestinal bacteria, so we probably don’t even need to eat it. In that vein, a 1968 case report of human biotin deficiency began with the sentence, “Biotin is so widely distributed in foods and so abundantly produced by intestinal bacteria that doubt has been expressed concerning the occurrence of a deficiency state in man on the basis of inadequate dietary intake.” It is generally assumed that in order for your diet to make you deficient, it has to contain large amounts of raw egg white. Egg white contains avidin, a protein that binds biotin, and typical cooking methods destroy a lot of it but not all of it. The older biotin literature refers to deficiency as “egg white injury.” [Chris Masterjohn]
  • I started a newsletter business, where revenue would be steady as long as I could produce content people wanted to read and where growth would show up if the writing was what people wanted to share. But, as it turns out, paid subscription growth now rises and falls with the market—the r-squared between recurring revenue growth and one month lagged market performance was roughly zero for the first couple years of publication, but has been about .25 this year. A month after the market peaked at the end of last year, growth stalled; a month after the market started rallying in June, growth came back. If you're not going to be in the business of running dollar stores or repossessing stuff, your job will eventually have positive beta. Oh well! [Byrne Hobart]
  • Nootropics Depot is a supplement company that actively engages with the supplement community on Reddit. A big part of the engagement is their CEO, who goes by the Reddit username MisterYouAreSoDumb, talking about his experiences running the company and answering customer questions. A common feature of his experiences is worrying that his competitors are doing a bad job with lab testing, or getting an unfair advantage by skimping on active ingredient in their product. His writings on this have shaped my understanding of this area and I wouldn’t feel comfortable posting this essay without including some of them. Obviously these are potentially biased (he owns a competing company!) but I still find them useful. I’m going to err on the side of posting many of his very long comments, because I love this stuff - but if you get bored, read one or two and then skip down to the conclusion section. [Scott Alexander]
  • Japan’s ostensibly private rail companies have gone bankrupt and been bailed out so many times I’ve lost count, racking up billion dollar yearly deficits year after year. Indeed, as far as I know there isn’t a single HSR route anywhere on Earth that operates profitably on ticketing revenue, and so operation always requires substantial subsidies. I should probably mention here that actual ridership and thus fare revenue is, as a rule of thumb, typically around a third of projections. One can argue that aviation and any other kind of transport also benefits from various subsidies, such as expenditure on the US Navy guaranteeing freedom of navigation, without which the global oil trade wouldn’t work. Or that CO2 emissions from aircraft are an unpriced externality that HSR partly alleviates. But if we care about HSR and its ability to enable people to travel with fewer emissions or lower costs, we need to understand why it’s so expensive, no matter who is building it or where. Why is HSR so expensive? I will discuss three main groups of reasons: rail is suboptimal, HSR grading requirements are really tough, and steel-on-steel rolling is less perfect than you might think. [Casey Handmer]
  • After only 1 week of boron supplementation of 6 mg/d, a further study by Naghii et al of healthy males (n = 8) found (1) a significant increase in free testosterone, which rose from an average of 11.83 pg/mL to 15.18 pg/mL; and (2) significant decreases in E2, which dropped from 42.33 pg/mL to 25.81 pg/mL. All of the inflammatory biomarkers that were measured also decreased: (1) interleukin (IL) 6, from 1.55 pg/mL to 0.87 pg/mL; (2) high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) by approximately 50%, a remarkable decrease, from 1460 ng/mL to 795 ng/mL; and (3) tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α) by approximately 30%, from 12.32 to 9.97 pg/mL. Levels of dihydrotestosterone, cortisol, and vitamin D increased slightly. [NLM]
  • The first and most important feature of the S&P 500 is that it does not employ a passive selection strategy. Managers of index funds employ such a strategy, since they engage in no active stock selection. But the S&P 500 is an actively selected index. Its stocks are chosen from the nearly 9000 publicly traded securities on the New York, American and NASDAQ markets by a committee using specific investment criteria. The returns of the S&P 500 are the best evidence of the long-term advantage of active portfolio construction. It has consistently beaten broader, passively constructed indices, such as the Wilshire 5000, the Russell 2000, and the NYSE Composite. That it has also beaten other active money managers is not an argument against active management, it is an argument against the methods employed by most active managers. The S&P 500 is a long-term oriented, low turnover index employing a buy and hold strategy, which is by nature tax efficient. It lets its winners run, and selectively eliminates its losers. It never reduces a successful investment no matter how far up the stock has run, and it does not arbitrarily impose size or position limits on holdings, either by company or industry..." "The contrast with the typical active manager is stark. The average mutual fund is short-term oriented, has high turnover, is tax inefficient, and employs a trading oriented investment style. Most funds systematically cut back winners or rotate out of stocks that have done well into those expected to do better. Position limits and industry weightings are usually rigidly maintained in the name of either investing discipline or risk control... The overall portfolio is constructed in accordance with some style the manager erroneously believes is likely to outperform the long-term, low turnover approach of the S&P 500." [MFO]
  • Meanwhile, somewhere a dork's Tesla is catching on fire in his driveway. As he waits on indefinite hold with Tesla Insurance, he checks his Robinhood app and watches his portfolio of unprofitable fad stocks crumble. He didn't realize that even the profitable companies (the tech monopolies) were over-earning and trading at high multiples, which made the long thesis an error of double-counting, one that smart resource investors know better than to make. Already, storm clouds were on the horizon; catalysts appearing that would crunch the earnings and the multiples at the same time. The only thing Lindy about the Tesla dork being short value against growth was that so many had made the same mistake before. [CBS]


russ said...

I started taking Boron supplements after reading this. In two weeks, the results are extremely noticeable. I know you've mentioned supplements before. Is there any way I could discuss your body of knowledge with you?

Allan Folz said...

As the resident supplement stack maxxer, tell us more about the boron.

Anonymous said...

Guest writer @PdxSag shares his supplement regimen
"Since Covid hit the headlines the running gag among myself and a couple online friends has been that everything on my vitamin and supplement shelf is eventually shown to treat Covid."