Saturday, March 4, 2023

Saturday Morning Links

  • Whatever structure has been reared by a long sequence of years, at the cost of great toil and through the great kindness of the gods, is scattered and dispersed by a single day. Nay, he who has said "a day" has granted too long a postponement to swift-coming misfortune; an hour, an instant of time, suffices for the overthrow of empires! It would be some consolation for the feebleness of our selves and our works, if all things should perish as slowly as they come into being; but as it is, increases are of sluggish growth, but the way to ruin is rapid. [Lucius Annaeus Seneca]
  • Museum boards now diversify by getting Jews to resign. A well-respected Jewish curator at the Guggenheim is purged after she puts on a Basquiat show. At the Art Institute of Chicago, even the nice Jewish lady volunteers are terminated for having the wrong ethnic background. There’s an entire cottage industry of summer programs and fellowships and postdocs that are now off-limits to Jews. In 2014 there were 16-20 Jewish artists featured at the Whitney Biennial. After a very public campaign against a Jewish board member with ties to the Israeli defense establishment, the curators got the message. The 2022 biennial featured just 1-2 Jews. Comb through the dozens of Jewish names for the 2012 Guggenheim Fellowship (I count 30-40). You’ll have a much harder time finding them 10 years later (14-16). There were 3-4 Jewish Marshall Scholars in 2014. I don’t see any in 2022. From 2010 through 2019 there were at least three Jews in every MacArthur Fellowship class, sometimes as many as five or six. The Forward would write effusive columns celebrating the year’s Jewish geniuses. Since 2020, just 0-1 Jews a year have been awarded grants. The Forward hasn’t bothered to take note. [Tablet]
  • My project here is to analyze, in the detail required for all necessary understanding, the thought of Curtis Yarvin, who wrote under the pseudonym Mencius Moldbug.  Yarvin is the most prominent figure of what has been called the Dark Enlightenment, one thread of modern reactionary thought.  My short summary is that he offers mediocre analysis with quite a few flashes of insight.  Even so, his thought is mostly worthless, because his program for political change is silly, since it fails to understand both history and human nature, and is ultimately indistinguishable from the program of the Left.  Overall I was very disappointed, and this write-up is shorter than I expected when beginning my project, since there is not all that much interesting to talk about. [The Worthy House]
  • Competently illustrating this weak-kneed and incoherent line of thought among the modern Right, Peter Hitchens wrote a recent piece in First Things about Franco. Hitchens was, in fact, also reviewing Moradellios’s book, and his review exquisitely demonstrates this intellectual confusion and theological incoherence. He goes on at great length about the evils of the Republicans and how their victory would have been disastrous for Spain. But then he goes on at greater length telling us that Christians cannot look to Franco, because he committed “crimes,” none of which are specified in the review (or, for that matter, in the book being reviewed), probably because to specify them would make them seem not very crime-like. We must therefore reject Franco, Hitchens tells us, for an unspecified alternative that was most definitely not on offer in 1936, and is probably not going to be on offer if, in the future, we are faced with similar circumstances. This is foolishness. [The Worthy House]
  • Before children, years sometimes go by without looking very different. One winter might be much like another. Now every single season is new, completely new, because it brings with it a completely new child. The growth is startling as it happens, and is almost more startling in retrospect: To look at pictures from two months ago is to see a completely different human. I do not think it very accurate what they say of childhood, that “It goes by so fast.” If anything, children slow time down to noticeable dimensions. But I can forgive people for saying this, because there is no easy way to express having seen your child occupy, briefly and successively, a thousand different ephemeral personalities, flickering in and out, like he is sampling the menu of civilization and never quite satisfied, until he learns to crawl and speak and adopt your manners and language and tools, and more. [Simon Sarris]
  • Choline, like vitamin D and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), can be synthesized in the body but not in amounts sufficient to meet metabolic demands. In 1998, choline was recognized as an essential nutrient by the Institute of Medicine (now National Academy of Medicine) when it established dietary recommendations in the form of adequate intakes. The choline adequate intake level is 425 mg choline/day for women of reproductive age with upward adjustments to 450 mg choline/day during pregnancy and 550 mg choline/day during lactation. Although widely distributed in the diet, choline is absent from most prenatal vitamins currently on the market, and less than ten percent of pregnant women achieve target intake levels. [NLM]
  • In a stroke of genius, Leonard Horowitz formulated a plan to spruce up the dated and worn Deco properties of Miami. This idea was the Miami Color Palette, a grouping of 40 colors created by Horowitz, an interpretation of the tropical flair of the seaside community. Though it was a break with the tradition of pure white deco aesthetics, Horowitz knew that the emotional influence of color would bring interest to structures long ignored. ''I formulated my palette on the basis of sunset, sunrise, the summer and winter oceans and the sand on the beach, which used to be much more golden,'' Horowitz said. ''They all are natural sources, and they are the same ones that the original designers used. Within them are an infinite variety of pastels.'' [Hedge Apple]
  • Pastels or pastel colors belong to a pale family of colors, which, when described in the HSV color space, have high value and low saturation. They are named after an artistic medium made from pigment and solid binding agents, similar to crayons. Pastel sticks historically tended to have lower saturation than paints of the same pigment, hence the name of this color family. The colors of this family are usually described as "soothing." [Wiki]
  • You can measure how hard an industry was hit by the pandemic by how long they kept quoting performance "compared to 2019" instead of the traditional year-over-year comparison. US airlines may finally leave this behind: seven-day passenger count in the US is now at 99.7% of its 2019 level for the same week of the year. Movies, however, have not. Sometimes external disruptions temporarily shake up an industry but ultimately leave it with roughly the same economics, minus a few very bad years of losses. And other times, they're big enough to completely restructure it: theatrical releases will still be around for a long time as marketing events, just as video game retailers kept doing midnight release events well after gamers had mostly switched to downloading. But the theater model has been permanently impaired by the growth of streaming, which has created more ways to release a movie and meant that IP owners who also have streaming services have a stronger bargaining position with other distribution channels. [The Diff]
  • Vertical integration is a good idea in new industries, both because the supplier and retailer ecosystem is smaller and less dependable and because it's never clear where the value will eventually accrue. For example, Henry Ford's River Rouge factory, which ingested iron ore and rubber at one end and spat out ready-to-drive Model As at the other. This was partly a big bet on the scale gains from having one giant factory, but it was also a hedge—what if the way the industry shook out was that fifty different companies could make equivalently-priced cars but one central parts company cleaned up making uniquely good brakes or transmissions? "Just do all of it in-house" is also a comparatively cheap option in a young and unspecialized industry, when "It all" isn't all that much. [The Diff]
  • Note that most of these bargains are not being sold "voluntarily". Owners of insolvent enterprises always want to extend and pretend. They talk about the "option value" of their far, far out of the money equity claims. The forced selling happens via lender foreclosure, but also via open-ended investment vehicles like mutual funds, where redemptions force the managers to sell the investments indiscriminately. The scarcity of cash results in lots and lots of political conflict over the value of money, which is part of a broader political conflict between creditors and debtors. Creditors need to be careful about thinking they have debtors cornered. Debtors outnumber creditors, so the rules can be changed. Drawing out the foreclosure process buys debtors time for reflation to rescue their claims. Another rule change is devaluation, which first was by going off the gold standard and then was through money printing. The post-2009 restructuring (no public auctions, quantitative easing) seemed to be designed to make sure that only the elites could get the benefit of the reflation. [CBS]

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