Last week’s Economist (highlights)Posted: October 31, 2020 Filed under: business Leave a comment
- A Royal Marine describes an encounter with Somali pirates:
The pirates misread the troops’ intentions, and thought they were about to be abandoned at sea; a few jumped into the water while the rest attacked Mr Tennant’s team.
Temporary chaos and confusion gave way to swift action:
His team acted that way, Mr Tennant argues, because they were used to working with each other and they had wargamed what might go wrong. In contrast, the pirates were suffering from fear, stress and fatigue and acted on gut instinct. “If you haven’t gone through the decision-making process in advance, then gut instinct tends to kick in,” Mr Tennant says.
I recall hearing once that you should actually practice moving your fingers on the phone to the buttons 9-1-1.
- A profile of NextEra:
It is already the world’s top generator of wind and solar electricity… It was quick to take advantage of generous tax credits to build wind farms across the Midwest.
- From a piece on millennial investors:
When most boomers began saving a handful of investment firms loomed large, offering high-fee mutual funds. But electronic trading makes it much easier and cheaper to buy and sell directly. The cost of investing $100 on a stock exchanged has fallen from $6 in 1975 to less than a thousandth of a penny today.
- Consideration of Peter Turchin’s idea of “elite overproduction:
“The next decade is likely to be a period of growing instability in the United States and western Europe, he asserted, pointing in part to ‘overproduction of young graduates with advances degrees.’
Is that a supply problem or a demand problem? I’d expect The Economist to offer an answer. A price signalling breakdown for sure.
- There’s a whole piece about the Great Barrington Declaration. Great Barrington, Massachusetts seems to get itself in the news a decent amount. W. E. B. Dubois, alternating current, Alice’s Restaurant. I remember hearing of a rare tornado there in more modern times.
From the Declaration’s website:
Who initiated the Declaration?
Dr Kulldorff invited Dr Bhattacharya and Dr Gupta to Massachusetts to record a video outlining an alternative to the current COVID-19 strategy. While meeting, the three spontaneously decided to also write a short Declaration to summarize the thinking.
Why was the Declaration signed in Great Barrington?
The Declaration was written and signed at the American Institute for Economic Research, located in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. The Institute kindly offered to help with the video recording, providing a location, equipment and a camera man pro bono.
When you hear about an institute for economic research, look for the agenda of the rich far-right donors.
- Studies of the unintended consequences of wildlife fences:
Pangolins curl up into a ball when endangered, in order to protect their soft underbellies. This is generally a wise move, but not when it causes them to embrace the wire of an electrified fence.
- Review of Rod Dreher’s Live Not By Lies.
Visiting Russia, Mr Dreher learns how honest Soviet citizens tried to avoid having much to do with the system. Geology was a popular discipline among scientists, as it let researchers spend a good portion of their lives in far-fling and unsullied places.
From a piece on what Biden would mean for Britain:
Bill Clinton was annoyed with John Major because Conservative activists publicized his dope-smoking at Oxford.
(Shouldn’t we encourage prospective politicians to smoke dope? It might take them off the path of ambitious grasping, or at least chill them out a hair).
- Similar topic, different article:
in 2018, ABCD, a German-marketing firm, estimated that Delhi and Mumbai are among the top six cannabis-consuming cities in th world, together burning more than 70 tonnes each year.
Alberto Bonadona, an economist in Bolivia:
There is no lithium industry. What we have is salt for a good barbecue.
What is Amazon? by Zack KanterPosted: October 30, 2020 Filed under: business Leave a comment
First, what is Wal-Mart?
Few people outside of Walmart realize Walmart’s historical scope of innovation. It built the largest private satellite communications network, enabling unprecedented coordination at enormous scale. Computerized point of sale systems, a massive trucking fleet to enable best-in-class logistics, innovations in EDI, the Sam’s Club format. The list goes on. But all of these innovations were really just developed in order to optimize what was a very simple formula: that is, the selection, pricing, and inventory of SKUs in, say, a 30,000-200,000 square foot store.
there are enough of these guysPosted: October 30, 2020 Filed under: business Leave a comment
that you can always find one of them to say anything. (that one from Bloomberg but could’ve been Wall Street J)
Also, new (to me) term:
That from Joe Wallace in WSJ.
Stock market narrativesPosted: October 26, 2020 Filed under: business Leave a comment
The invention of narratives to explain why there are more total sellers than buyers in particular stock indices can seem to me like an act as creative and fanciful as astrology or reading meaning from sheep entrails.
Maybe “the stock market” is down because people are starting to realize the holidays will be a bummer, or the election picture feels less clear than it did a week ago, or weather has turned in gloomy ways, or the elections in Chile and Bolivia indicate the left is on the march and the right is in retreat, or it’s foggy in New York City today, or instability in general is in the air when the President storms out of his 60 Minutes interview and the other guy is hardly at the top of his game.
Or just because October is spooky, to markets and in general.
Maybe it’s down because it’s been overinflated for a long time, and it doesn’t take much to make it turn. The market is a herd. Herds can turn on a sudden startle, on almost nothing, as Larry McMurtry tells us:
Long ago, when I was a young cowboy, I witnessed a herd reaction in a real herd – about one hundred cattle that some cowboys and I were moving from one pasture to another along a small asphalt farm-to-market road. It was mid-afternoon in mid-summer. Men, horses, and cattle were all drowsy, the herd just barely plodding along, until one cow happened to drag her hoof on the rough asphalt, making a loud rasping sound. In an instant that sleepy herd was in full flight, and our horses too. A single sound on a summer afternoon produced a short but violent stampede. The cattle and horses ran full-out for perhaps one hundred yards. It was the only stampede I was ever in, and a dragging hoof caused it.
Maybe the vibe is just off.
I’m not saying this headline is wrong, just that it might be. Words like “on” or “amidst” can be made to do more work than they ought to. The idea stock market study or business analysis is a hard science is silly. There’s absolutely room to consider the role of unquantifiable vibes. You might as fairly say Stocks Fall On Gloomy Animal Spirits.
Further, the human need to put a story on events is unstoppable. Narrative investing is kind of becoming a thing, but I still feel there’s a flawed sense that you can make a science of it.
Intrigued by what was on TV in 1940Posted: October 20, 2020 Filed under: business, TV Leave a comment
From Larry McMurtry’s review of Connie Bruck’s bio of Lew Wasserman, in the newly unlocked NYRofB archives.
From those same archives, Renata Adler’s savage attack on Pauline Kael drops a parenthetical on TV:
Marilyn Monroe’s best everPosted: October 18, 2020 Filed under: Hollywood, sexuality Leave a comment
They trade sex stories. Capote tells of a homosexual fling he had with Errol Flynn. Marilyn: “It’s not as if you told me anything new. I’ve always known Errol zigzagged. I have a masseur, he’s practically my sister, and he was Tyrone Power’s masseur, and he told me all about the things Errol and Ty Power were doing…. So let’s hear your best experience. Along those lines.”
Capote: “The best? The most memorable? Suppose you answer the question first.”
Marilyn: “And I drive hard bargains! Ha! (Swallowing champagne) Joe’s not bad. He can hit home runs. If that’s all it takes, we’d still be married. I still love him, though. He’s genuine.”
Capote: “Husbands don’t count. Not in this game.”
Marilyn (nibbling her nail, really thinking): “Well, I met a man, he’s related to Gary Cooper somehow. A stockbroker, and nothing much to look at– sixty-five, and he wears those very thick glasses. Thick as jellyfish. I can’t say what it was, but–”
Capote: “You can stop right there. I’ve heard all about him from other girls… He’s Rocky Cooper’s stepfather. He’s supposed to be sensational.”
Marilyn: “He is. Okay, smart-ass. Your turn.”
That, from Truman Capote’s Music for Chameleons, quoted in this fantastic post about Marilyn’s social networks by the always interesting Randall Collins, frequent Helytimes subject.
Who was this mysterious man?
Veronica “Rocky” Cooper. From her Wikipedia:
Veronica Balfe was born to Veronica Gibbons and Harry Balfe, Jr. Following her parents’ divorce, she lived in Paris with her mother. Balfe did not see her father for many years, but kept in touch with her grandfather, who owned a ranch in California. Balfe saw her father a few years before his death in the 1950s. Her mother married Paul Shields, a successful Wall Street financier.
An avid sportswoman, Balfe was known to her friends by the nickname, “Rocky.” 
Aside from that and this, the man seems to slip through the internet. But what else do you need to know, really?
Always the possibility that Truman Capote made all this up for whatever reason.
Trader JoePosted: October 14, 2020 Filed under: business Leave a comment
Great interview with Joe Coloumbe, Trader Joe himself, from Coriolis Research (ht somebody or another on Twitter.
They have all kinds of great reports over there by the way. Should I grow mungbeans in Northwest Queensland??
Rich people paying for electionsPosted: October 13, 2020 Filed under: Uncategorized Leave a comment
This is “good” in a way I guess, but this isn’t supposed to be how this works:
CASH SPLASH — “Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan donate $100 million more to election administrators, despite conservative pushback,” by WaPo’s Michael Scherer: “Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, announced Tuesday an additional $100 million in donations to local governments to pay for polling place rentals, poll workers, personal protective equipment and other election administration costs over the coming weeks.
“The donation, which follows a previous gift of $300 million for state and local governments to help fund U.S. elections, comes in the face of a lawsuits from a conservative legal group seeking to block the use of private funds for the state and local administration of elections, an expense that has historically been paid for by governments. But Zuckerberg has been unmoved by legal threats, arguing in a Facebook post expected to go live Tuesday that his decision to fund election administration does not have a partisan political motive.” WaPo
Via Politico. Shouldn’t states and local areas tax appropriately to have the money needed to run elections, rather than rely on the largesse of billionaires? Troubled. Are we veering to more of a straight-up oligarchy/democracy hybrid?
Absalom, AbsalomPosted: October 9, 2020 Filed under: Uncategorized Leave a comment
Finally finished this one. How about this part, about New Orleans:
I can imagine him, with his puritan heritage – that heritage peculiarly Anglo-Saxon – of fierce proud mysticism and that ability to be ashamed of ignorance and inexperience, in that city foreign and paradoxical, with its atmosphere at once fatal and languorous, at once feminine and steel-hard – this grim humorless yokel out of a granite heritage where even the houses, let alone clothing and conduct, are built in the image of a jealous and sadistic Jehovah, put suddenly down in a place whose denizens had created their All-Powerful and His supporting hierarchy-chorus of beautiful saints and handsome angels in the image of their houses and personal ornaments and voluptuous lives.
The Civil War approaches:
And who knows? there was the War now; who knows but what the fatality and the fatality’s victim’s did not both think, hope, that the War would settle the matter, leave free one of the two irreconciliables, since it would not be the first time that youth has taken catastrophe as a direct act of Providence for the sole purpose of solving a personal problem which youth itself could not solve.
The cover of my 1987 edition:
MW tells me he doesn’t approve, because Sutpen’s beard is supposed to be red (I myself didn’t clock that in the text, which probably requires a couple readings).
The barebones plot of this book: ambitious youth sets out to make his fortune, rises through courage and violence, through will hacks out an empire for himself, is dest on its own could make for a pretty sexy TV miniseries or something: ambition, pride, violence, incest. But the way it’s told, with the story embedded in retellings of retellings, and sentences that fold upon themselves for six or seven pages isn’t too breezy. From Wikipedia:
The 1983 Guinness Book of World Records says the “Longest Sentence in Literature” is a sentence from Absalom, Absalom! containing 1,288 words. The sentence can be found in Chapter 6; it begins with the words “Just exactly like father”, and ends with “the eye could not see from any point”. The passage is entirely italicized and incomplete.
Strange analogy but some of the verbal pyrotechnics of this book sort of reminded me of the FX show Dave.
when Dave busts out one of his long raps. Indisputably impressive feat of language and cognition but… to what end? A stunning demonstration of what a person might be capable of, itself maybe a worthy achievement, but do I need to pretend that it made me feel anything other than kind of numbed? At what point are we just showing off, or just pounding the reader’s head in?
I don’t think Faulkner would necessarily appreciate that comparison.
Shelby Foote, in one of his interviews, tells us that Faulkner had hopes this would be a bestseller:
I wonder if more people last year read Absalom, Absalom or Gone With The Wind.
The story of David’s rebellious son Absalom is recounted in the Bible and the subject of a popular (?) Sacred Harp song.
Cocoanut milkPosted: October 8, 2020 Filed under: Uncategorized Leave a comment
I’ve been adding a dash of cocoanut milk to my cold brew in the mornings. Recommend! Just when you think, “there can’t be a new milk to play with!”
Time for a walk?Posted: October 8, 2020 Filed under: Uncategorized Leave a comment
Important to remember: Bruce Chatwin made stuff up all the time.
The Kun Lung mountains are no joke:
ImaginePosted: October 3, 2020 Filed under: Uncategorized Leave a comment
Imagine being the anonymous stranger who inspired Stevie Nicks’ whole style. From an LA Times/Yahoo profile by Amy Kaufman.
beautiful poemPosted: October 1, 2020 Filed under: business Leave a comment