Friday, March 17, 2023

Friday Night Links

  • In Dickens's novels anything in the nature of work happens off-stage. The only one of his heroes who has a plausible profession is David Copperfield, who is first a shorthand writer and then a novelist, like Dickens himself. With most of the others, the way they earn their living is very much in the background. Pip, for instance, ‘goes into business’ in Egypt; we are not told what business, and Pip's working life occupies about half a page of the book. Clennam has been in some unspecified business in China, and later goes into another barely specified business with Doyce; Martin Chuzzlewit is an architect, but does not seem to get much time for practising. In no case do their adventures spring directly out of their work. Here the contrast between Dickens and, say, Trollope is startling. And one reason for this is undoubtedly that Dickens knows very little about the professions his characters are supposed to follow. What exactly went on in Gradgrind's factories? How did Podsnap make his money? How did Merdle work his swindles? One knows that Dickens could never follow up the details of Parliamentary elections and Stock Exchange rackets as Trollope could. As soon as he has to deal with trade, finance, industry or politics he takes refuge in vagueness, or in satire. This is the case even with legal processes, about which actually he must have known a good deal. Compare any lawsuit in Dickens with the lawsuit in Orley Farm, for instance. [George Orwell]
  • Mindbody founder Stollmeyer is the key protagonist in this drama. Stollmeyer is an impressive person. He started his business career as a child helping in his parents’ retail lighting fixture store. He attended the United States Naval Academy and served as a nuclear submarine officer for six years after graduation. He next landed a position as a program manager at Vandenberg Air Force Base, which took him to California’s Central Coast. In the mid-1990s, a friend showed Stollmeyer software he had written to support owners of yoga, Pilates, and spinning studios. This software inspired Stollmeyer to launch Mindbody with his friend. By fall 2000, Stollmeyer “leapt off a cliff,” in his words, by quitting his engineering job and taking out a second mortgage to start Mindbody in his garage in San Luis Obispo. From these humble beginnings, Stollmeyer grew Mindbody into a software-as-a-service (“SaaS”) platform that serves the fitness, wellness, and beauty industry. Stollmeyer took Mindbody public in 2015. By 2018, Stollmeyer had grown Mindbody to over $1 billion market capitalization, yet Stollmeyer had never experienced a big liquidity event. And he had made substantial financial commitments in the meantime. Stollmeyer had (i) invested nearly $1 million into his wife’s wellness company, (ii) invested at least $300,000 into “Stollmeyer Technologies, LLC,” (iii) loaned his brothers and his former business partner money for their own real estate purchases, and (iv) pledged $3 million to a local college, of which $2.4 million was unpaid. Stollmeyer described his unhappiness with his pre-Merger financial situation in a post-Merger interview for Alejandro Cremades’s “dealmakers” podcast. During the interview, Stollmeyer described how “98% of [his] net worth” was “locked inside” Mindbody’s “extremely volatile” stock, while Stollmeyer could only sell “tiny bits” of his stake in the public market under his 10b5-1 plan. Stollmeyer described those sales as “kind of like sucking through a very small straw”. [In re Mindbody, Inc. Stockholders Litigation]
  • Most Americans have happily moved on from the 2020 Black Lives Matter (BLM)-driven ransacking of some 200 American cities, which resulted in as much as $2 billion in property damage and at least 25 deaths. But that time must be remembered for more than rioting and destruction. The BLM pressure campaigns, harassment, and moral blackmail also amounted to possibly the most lucrative shakedown of corporate America in its history. Today the Claremont Institute's Center for the American Way of Life published the most comprehensive database to date tracking corporate contributions and pledges to the Black Lives Matter movement and related causes from 2020 to the present. Companies and corporations pledged or contributed an astonishing $82.9 billion to the BLM movement and related causes. This includes more than $123 million to the BLM parent organizations directly. These figures, while shocking, likely underrepresent the true magnitude of the shakedown as some companies failed to make known their contributions, and many BLM organizations remain unknown. [Claremont Institute Center for the American Way of Life]
  • Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company’s Copenhagen Classic Snuff, a loose moist snuff smokeless tobacco product, to be marketed as a modified risk tobacco product (MRTP). Copenhagen’s moist snuff smokeless tobacco product is a pre-existing tobacco product that has been marketed in the U.S. for years without modified risk information. Today’s action now allows the product to be marketed as a modified risk product with the claim: “IF YOU SMOKE, CONSIDER THIS: Switching completely to this product from cigarettes reduces risk of lung cancer.” [FDA]
  • I have a theory: the [epi]genetics that provide the foundation for some of the greatest physiques may be suboptimal for cardiorenal function, so we see a lot of heart & kidney-related disease in this population. Ultra-high intensity exercise (at intensities much higher than what normal humans can muster) plus high dose chronic year-round PED abuse = recipe for disaster as some of those compounds are specifically toxic for heart, kidneys, and liver (and remember, these people may have suboptimal organ function to begin with). [Bill Lagakos]

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