Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Tuesday Night Links

  • In a way, marriage is a legal recognition of a biological fact: once two people have three or more kids, their largest genetic investment is in the kids they share, not in themselves. Long-term reproductive pair bonds whose offspring follow the same path creates a sort of rolling decrease in time preference. Not only would you expect people with kids to think one generation further ahead on average, _but_ within large groups that behave that way, there’s positive selection pressure on thinking even further ahead. One generation of kids should shift the locus of your net present value calculation forward by about a generation, but kids followed by the expectation of grandkids and great-grandkids should keep dragging it further forward. And suddenly a bunch of weird traditionalist virtues become more salient. [Byrne Hobart]
  • NRP generated $73 million of free cash flow in Q1, which I believe is a record for the company. Including a paydown that occurred subsequent to quarter end, NRP has paid down 33% of the $250 million outstanding preferred equity at par. This is the maximum amount that the preferred equity holder can elect to redeem in one year. From this point forward I believe that all 2023 free cash flow not allocated to distributions will go towards debt reduction. [Nat Stewart]
  • Rapamycin (sirolimus) is an FDA-approved drug with immune-modulating and growth-inhibitory properties. Preclinical studies have shown that rapamycin extends lifespan and healthspan metrics in yeast, invertebrates, and rodents. Several physicians are now prescribing rapamycin off-label as a preventative therapy to maintain healthspan. Thus far, however, there is limited data available on side effects or efficacy associated with use of rapamycin in this context. To begin to address this gap in knowledge, we collected data from 333 adults with a history of off-label use of rapamycin by survey. Similar data were also collected from 172 adults who had never used rapamycin. Here, we describe the general characteristics of a patient cohort using off-label rapamycin and present initial evidence that rapamycin can be used safely in adults of normal health status. [GeroScience]
  • Aspirin, when administered at low doses, has emerged as a powerful anticancer drug due to both chemopreventive activity against many forms of cancer and its ability to block metastases when administered postdiagnosis. Platelets, which are often elevated in circulation during the latter stages of cancer, are known to promote epithelial–mesenchymal transition, cancer cell growth, survival in circulation, and angiogenesis at sites of metastases. Low-dose aspirin has been demonstrated to block this procarcinogenic action of platelets. In this article, we present evidence that aspirin's unique ability to irreversibly inhibit platelet cyclooxygenase-1 is a key mechanism by which aspirin exerts anticancer activity. [Cancer Research]
  • Although Fehrenbach insisted that Lone Star “was not written to destroy myths but so far as possible to cut through them to the reality underneath,” the book established a creation story all its own, rooted in the idea of “blood and soil” (the title of an entire section of the book as well as a chapter within it), a slogan popularized in Nazi Germany to explain the relationship between race and nation. According to Fehrenbach, the brutal contest among different racial and ethnic groups for control of Texas was more violent and protracted than anywhere else in what became the United States, cultivating among its white victors the “sense of being a chosen people,” which imbued them, in their minds, with “immediate moral superiority, in action, over their enemies.” This perspective may explain Fehrenbach’s intense focus on the crucible of the nineteenth century—the twentieth century is confined to around 10 percent of the latest edition’s 725 pages—as well as the book’s enduring appeal, given his crowd-pleasing attention to heroic episodes in Anglo-Texan history, from the Texas Revolution to the rise of the cattle kingdom. [Texas Monthly]
  • It may actually be giving these people too much credit to accuse them merely of preaching a false religion. The more cynical take is that they don’t believe any of their claptrap about running out of natural resources, it’s all just a big exercise in managed decline. Energy has never been more abundant, there are zettajoules of it just lying around in crustal thermal energy alone, but our exhausted ruling class is too lazy and vain and stupid to gather it, and finds it easier to bleat about efficiency. But efficiency has diminishing returns, efficiency is zero-sum thinking, efficiency is a dying old woman scrutinizing every cent in her checking account, not a hungry young civilization with free energy raining down on it like manna from the heavens. Efficiency produced the poverty and stagnation of premodern East Asian agricultural involution. Efficiency will not allow us to inherit the stars. [The Psmiths]
  • The dead giveaway is in the last sentence, because it’s an iron law of history that revolutions never, ever come out of popular uprisings. The wheels of history are turned by political entrepreneurs — individuals or close-knit groups who notice ahead of everybody else that the world has changed in some fundamental way. This unstable situation where material conditions have shifted but society keeps rolling in its groove creates a sort of potential energy, like a charged electric field or a boulder perched at the top of a cliff. In the world of business we call this a market opportunity, and we admire those with the gumption to seize them. In the world of war and politics, market opportunities often look more like a forest full of dry tinder, and the would-be entrepreneur needs an additional quality, fanaticism, that enables him to calmly light a match and flick it over his shoulder. [The Psmiths]
  • The first century glory days of Rome, the time that we moderns consider the height of her power, were actually a moment of deep institutional and social decay. Like an exothermic reaction — a bonfire or an explosion or a fireworks display — what we notice immediately is the ebullient, magnificent blaze. But it's easier to miss all the fuel that's being consumed: solidarity, economic resilience, social technology, all of it woven through with the tight bands of ancient law and custom that Fustel de Coulanges documents. Just as the Greek philosophy we love was an uncharacteristic flash in the pan, an evanescent moment that subverted and destroyed the culture that had given rise to it; so too the Roman imperial achievement was an engine fueled by a society and a citizen-soldiery that it quickly burned to cinders. I wonder if every civilizational golden age would turn out to have this unsustainable character if you inspected it closely. If so it would explain a historical mystery, which is why these epochs are rare, and why they never last long. From this angle history looks a bit like a 2-stage cyclic phenomenon wherein the long “dark ages” are actually epochs of patient stewardship of economic, cultural, and demographic resources, whilst the short “golden ages” are a kind of manic civilizational fire sale of the accumulated inheritance. Maybe we need a new historiography founded on the idea that what we have heretofore considered dark ages are the true golden ages, and vice versa. This transvaluation of values would be like a temporal version of James Scott's attempted reversal of civilization and barbarism. Alas, while peasants could vote with their feet and migrate across the imperial frontier, our options for time travel are a bit more limited. Would we prefer to live in the cozy but constricting deep prehistory of a civilization, or in the wild glory of its last days? No doubt it would depend a lot on who we imagine being in each of these phases, but at the end of the day it doesn't matter, because we don't have a choice. May as well sit back and enjoy watching the blaze. It will be beautiful and exhilarating while it lasts. [The Psmiths]
  • It’s hard to describe what “it” is if you haven’t gotten it, but I’ll try to explain. The moment I first held my child, I had a vision of every human being who had ever done the same. I stood paralyzed, rooted to the spot while before my eyes a whole field of ancestors stretched back into the forgotten past, each cradling a baby just like I was doing. What was I without them? Nothing at all. A cosmic joke, a fluke, or a random collection of atoms. But with them, I was one stage of a process, a chapter of a story. And not only that, but I was also no longer alone. [The Psmiths]
  • Sam Zell got in trouble recently, but this is the autobiography of his real estate and distressed investing career. He started investing in apartment buildings while in law school. Law firms were not that interested in hiring him because he talked about doing deals on his resume, and they figured he wouldn't be able to stick to legal work. He acknowledges that the real money he made early on in real estate came from having nonrecourse, fixed rate debt during a big inflation. He actually did not see the Great Recession coming, he is just value oriented enough that when he got an offer he couldn't refuse for Equity Office, he sold. Since he did not see the crash coming, right before the crash he bought the troubled Tribune Company newspaper business. (He sold EOP in February 2007 and bought Tribune later that year.) The problem with buying something crappy and "cheap" at the top of the market is that the problems with it become a huge distraction as the cycle turns. [CBS
  • Zyn has been dominating the U.S. pouch market, but if you go to SnusDirect you can see that the pouch market in Scandinavia is very crowded. You can get a JalapeƱo Lime flavored pouch from LOOP or an extremely strong Skruf mint flavored pouch. Perhaps the managers of Swedish Match sold the company because they knew an onslaught of competition would eventually reach America? They had two-thirds market share with Zyn in the U.S., but only about ten percent market share in Scandinavia! [CBS]
  • Over the past several decades South Africans have mainly chosen to emigrate to Western, Anglosphere countries. These emigrants concluded that the time has come to move, and that movement closer to the cultural and political power centers of the Western-dominated global order was their best bet. As Russell Lamberti put it: “[w]e now live in a world of people on the run.” But the problem with constantly moving to higher ground to escape the rising tide is that you eventually run out of higher ground. If you recently emigrated, or semigrated to what you deem a more defendable position, you now have a duty to take root and hold your ground there. The harsh reality is that, at some point, you will have to make a stand. If not you, it will be your children. And isn’t there something abhorrent about “outsourcing” the responsibility of solving the biggest problems and challenges of your time to future generations? [IM-1776]

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