Friday, July 30, 2021
Thursday, July 29, 2021
Tuesday, July 27, 2021
This is Joseph.
I was reading Andrew Gelman's post on potential outcomes and it reminded me of the classic problem with this parameter in epidemiology, namely chronological age. I like potential outcomes for a lot of questions -- what happens if we change an exposure and create a counterfactual outcome is a very logical way to think about things like prescription drugs, milk in the diet, and water purity. There is a reasonable causal contrast between exposed and unexposed that could be estimated (e.g., it is true in expectation in a randomized controlled trial).
It gets trickier with other variables. Sex (as opposed to gender) is difficult to imagine being anything but a theoretical contrast (gender, on the other hand, is a lot more complicated). Similarly, disentangling the effects of race as a genetic piece (usually very small) versus racism is a very challenging causal inference problem. You can imagine changing the racist nature of society but not really genotypes. Smart people work on this problem, but I think of it as quite hard (and thus I am glad for the smart people).
But the biggest challenge is age. Age is a very important etiological factor in driving key diseases like cardiovascular disease and cancer. You probably won't understand risks for these diseases very well should you not control for age. But what is the counterfactual for age? If I say taking drug X doubles your risk of a stroke, that is easy -- the contrast is taking/not taking the drug. But if I say aging 15 years doubles your risk for a stroke what is the potential outcome, as age is not in any sense a fully controlled variable.
Now, some people say age is a correlated for a whole mess of biological processes and if we measured them all then we could create this contrast, piece by piece. But that simply sidesteps the blunt fact that age is a super powerful predictor and we don't have a great sense of all of the pieces of aging.
It seems easy because the first thing that we consider when studying (for example) mortality, is age. But what is the counterfactual -- a person being 15 years older or younger with the same life-course exposures. It is an area where the (extremely useful) tool works . . . awkwardly. And that is a good lesson -- models (even conceptual models) are useful tools but need to be carefully thought about in the context of the specific question under study.
Monday, July 26, 2021
We previously said that at least in the US, covid-focused anti-vaxx hysteria is currently the prime example of previously domesticated disinformation gone wild.
This has put the sane vampires of the GOP in quite the spot. Not be crazy, they know that in the medium and long term, you seldom want to be associated with the con side of a vaccination debate, but in the short term, introducing truth from the right is... challenging.The Conservative Movement spent decades depicting the scientific establishment as alarmist and corrupt because undermining it served a clear political purpose at the time. Recently this narrative took on an added usefulness as the Republicans tried to contain the fallout from the pandemic. It was an unspeakably evil position to take, greatly adding to a horrific death toll, but it had a certain ends-justify-the-means logic, "had" being the operative word.In 2021, being the anti-vaxx party is not in the Republicans' best interest. It devastates areas that voted for Trump and it makes the most comically crazy people imaginable the face of the GOP. On top of that, it's bad for business.The best messaging for the Republicans at this point would be to start referring to the "Trump vaccines" and to work the phrase "Operation Warp Speed" into every statement and interview response, regardless of topic, then take credit for the end of the pandemic. That is, however, not an option. Control of the narrative has been lost, Things have gone feral.
Some have risen to that challenge.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey held a press conference sounding the alarm bell about the rapid spread of COVID in the state and put a significant amount of the blame on people who haven’t gotten vaccinated. “Let’s be crystal clear about this issue. And media, I want you to start reporting the facts. The new cases of COVID are because of unvaccinated folks. Almost 100% of the new hospitalizations are with unvaccinated folks. And the deaths are certainly occurring with the unvaccinated folks. These folks are choosing a horrible lifestyle of self-inflicted pain,” she said at the event yesterday in Birmingham.
Some started out boldly enough then lost their nerve.
And some have tried to lie their way out of it. (I'm from the Bible Belt, and some of my best friends, etc. etc., but take it from an old Arkansas boy, the Huckabees are soulless.)
Sanders writes: "Harris said in debate she wouldn't take any vaccine the Trump administration had a hand in creating"— John Harwood (@JohnJHarwood) July 25, 2021
Harris said she wouldn't take it on Trump's word
but also: "if Dr. Fauci, the doctors, tell us we should take it, I'll take it"
Regardless, the sane see what's coming.
Final thought: "Does the name Custer mean anything to you?" -- Robin Williams
I think Brian really gets it here. Most of the adult population is vaccinated. Those people are starting to see that we're now going backwards because a big minority is refusing. People are getting pissed. That's what's driving the GOP switcheroo. https://t.co/j8pwJcM0eY— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) July 25, 2021
Friday, July 23, 2021
Another one for the lexicon.
Disinformation has gone feral when:
1. It is no longer in the control of the group that created it.
2. It has continued to grow in popularity and influence.
3. It has started to evolve in such a way that the nuisance/threat it presents is as as great to the people who created it as it does to the original targets.
The most prominent example of the moment is the right wing movement opposing covid vaccines and increasingly vaccination in general.
The Conservative Movement spent decades depicting the scientific establishment as alarmist and corrupt because undermining it served a clear political purpose at the time. Recently this narrative took on an added usefulness as the Republicans tried to contain the fallout from the pandemic. It was an unspeakably evil position to take, greatly adding to a horrific death toll, but it had a certain ends-justify-the-means logic, "had" being the operative word.
In 2021, being the anti-vaxx party is not in the Republicans' best interest. It devastates areas that voted for Trump and it makes the most comically crazy people imaginable the face of the GOP. On top of that, it's bad for business.The best messaging for the Republicans at this point would be to start referring to the "Trump vaccines" and to work the phrase "Operation Warp Speed" into every statement and interview response, regardless of topic, then take credit for the end of the pandemic. That is, however, not an option. Control of the narrative has been lost, Things have gone feral.
Over the past the past week, the GOP establishment made a coordinated effort to move away from this disastrous message.
"Why aren’t conservatives pounding away that it was their guy who started the development of the vaccine under his overstated moniker Operation Warp Speed?" https://t.co/v9zOPzShFy— Jay Rosen (@jayrosen_nyu) July 21, 2021
There are answers to this, but it's a good question. By @Sulliview
It's amazing how much everyone gets in line once the bat signal goes out. https://t.co/e4MAiCL5Wz— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) July 20, 2021
sounds like there’s a fight inside fox management over whether to kill off their audience, or not…— Rick Wilson (@TheRickWilson) July 19, 2021
Steve Doocy Implores Fox & Friends Viewers to Get Vaccinated https://t.co/vjmxvFiD3X
SEAN HANNITY: "Please take Covid seriously. I can't say it enough. Enough people have died. We don't need any more death. Research like crazy. Talk to your doctor... I believe in science. I believe in the science of vaccination." pic.twitter.com/tOi5ebpqSf— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) July 20, 2021
The pivot is not going well.
imagine the choices you have to make In life to find yourself pleading, begging a national television audience at the end of a pandemic to not believe reports that you recommended the life-saving vaccine that you definitely took. pathetic. pic.twitter.com/YvbPWfGf1I— John Whitehouse+ (@existentialfish) July 23, 2021
Thursday, July 22, 2021
For those of you who joined us recently (after 2013), I thought I'd rerun this favorite passage from Pauline Kael
In 1971, people took film so seriously that they actually starting taking film criticism seriously. Critics were major celebrities. They appeared on talk shows receiving equal billing with the stars they wrote about. Their serious debates (and often childish feuds) were covered extensively. Your position on auteurist theory might not be as divisive as your stand on Vietnam but among the intelligentsia, it could be competitive.
Kael was the most influential and controversial critic at the time. Today she is the best remembered (and most misremembered). One of these days, when my schedule clears and I regain the ability to focus, I need to revisit her work (long form only. Short form is best avoided by any but the completist).
Still relevant and still badly needed.
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 2, 2013
Wednesday, July 21, 2021
“Once you know how it all ends, the only use of time is…how do I buy more bitcoin? But take all your money and buy bitcoin. Then take all your time, figure out how to borrow more money to buy more bitcoin. Then take all your time and figure out what you can sell to buy bitcoin. And if you absolutely love the thing, that you don’t want to sell it, go mortgage your house and buy bitcoin with it. And if you’ve got a business that you love because your family works for the business and it’s in your family for 37 years, and you can’t bear to sell it, mortgage it, finance it, and convert the proceeds into the hardest money on earth, which is bitcoin.” – Michael Saylor
Fast forward about 20 years to mid-2020. MicroStrategy is a no-growth (but free cash flow positive) software provider sitting on about $500 million in cash. Saylor, who owns 25% of MicroStrategy’s stock, makes a fateful decision. With a market cap of $1.2 billion, his ownership of MicroStrategy is worth approximately $300 million. As we’ll see, Saylor isn’t the settle-for-being-a-centi-millionaire type, so he decides to do something totally unique. He goes all in on bitcoin.
On August 11, 2020, Saylor and MicroStrategy shocked the investing world by revealing they had spent $250 million of shareholder money to purchase 21,454 bitcoins at an average price of $11,652 each. Recognizing the significant risk of a negative market reaction, Saylor hedged his bluff. MicroStrategy’s stock had closed at $123.62 the day prior. Concurrent with the bitcoin announcement, the company also revealed it was willing to repurchase up to $250 million of the company’s stock at up to $140 a share, a 13% premium to the prior close. Here’s the text from the 8K filed with the SEC:“On August 11, 2020, the Company also issued a press release announcing that the Company has commenced a “modified Dutch Auction” tender offer to purchase up to $250.0 million in value of shares of its issued and outstanding class A common stock, or such lesser number of shares as are properly tendered and not properly withdrawn, at a price not greater than $140.00 nor less than $122.00 per share. A copy of this press release is attached as Exhibit 99.2 to this Current Report on Form 8-K.”
The bluff worked, and so did Saylor’s bet on bitcoin. MicroStrategy’s stock quickly rose to above the repurchase offer. Ultimately, the company only ended up spending $60.5 million on the modified Dutch auction and used the remaining money to, wait for it, buy more bitcoin!
Saylor also continued to put his shareholder’s money where his mouth was, regularly using the rest of the company’s cash (and any new cash flow generated by the underlying software business) to buy more bitcoin. When those funds ran dry, Saylor officially crossed the Rubicon. On December 7, 2020, with the stock trading at $330 a share and bitcoin trading at $19,000, MicroStrategy announced its intent to issue debt in the form of unsecured convertible bonds to buy more bitcoin. Naturally, the deal was oversubscribed and upsized to $650 million. Stonks and whatnot.
On February 9, 2021, with bitcoin over $47,000, MicroStrategy stock reached an intraday all-time high of $1,315 a share, a ten-fold increase since Saylor embarked on his bitcoin adventure. His stake in MicroStrategy soared to above $3 billion, on paper at least.
What is a responsible steward of shareholder value, err, degenerate gambler to do? This might come as a surprise to you, but Saylor isn’t the settle-for-being-a-low-single-digit-billionaire type either. A week after MicroStrategy’s stock topped, he went back to the debt market, this time raising $1.05 billion in a new unsecured convertible debt offering to buy yet more bitcoin. This time, however, he seems to have nearly top-ticked the bitcoin price. After reaching $57,000 in the aftermath of Saylor’s latest gambit, bitcoin treaded water for the next three months, before collapsing by ~50% in mid-May to the mid-$30,000s.
Just when I thought Saylor was out of Rubicons to cross, he found another. Having tapped out the unsecured debt market, Saylor literally mortgaged MicroStrategy’s software business to raise yet another $500 million of debt, but this time it was of the secured variety. That’s right, by issuing a straight bond with a 6.125% coupon, secured by the assets and future cash flows of the software business, Saylor simultaneously screwed over the previous buyers of the unsecured convertible debt (by cramming them down the cap table behind the new bondholders) and tripled down on his bitcoin parlay.
The latest development is MicroStrategy selling up to one billion new shares of equity, undoubtedly to buy more bitcoin. The closest analogy I can think of for all this is a mafia bust out but with the CEO doing it to his own company.
But no one seems to care. Not the regulators, of course, because this is the 21st century. Not the stockholders who have given this bitcoin holding company a market cap of more than one and a half times the bitcoin it holds. More than twice if you figure in the massive debt the company has taken on.
Here's the kicker. Even though the company is obviously obscenely overvalued, Doomberg DOES NOT recommend betting against it. "In today’s market, the more outrageous a CEO behaves, the higher their stock can go." It may have always been true that "the market can stay irrational longer than you can stay liquid," but it's never been this true.
Tuesday, July 20, 2021
One of the fundamental lies of early 21st century investing is that making it easier and cheaper to play the markets with tools including a full range of derivatives will democratize the system and finally let the little guy compete on an equal footing.
This isn't just wrong; it's dangerously wrong, but far too many journalists have been too timid to call this out. Fortunately, here is LA we have Michael Hiltzik.
The cost of the settlement is $70 million, including $12.6 million in restitution to customers. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, or Finra, which imposed the settlement, calls the fine the largest in its history.
Robinhood settled the Finra case without admitting or denying the allegations, but “consented to the entry of FINRA’s findings,” the regulator said. Stripped of its jargon, that statement implies that you can interpret Finra’s allegations as true.
That’s not a good look for a company about to issue stock to the public for the first time, especially since Finra’s case is so comprehensive. Nor is it particularly consistent with Robinhood’s corporate boast that its mission is “democratizing finance for all.”
The company founders say in a letter to shareholders and customers attached to its SEC stock registration filing that “we believe that it’s important ... to be able to own stocks directly in the companies you love, without any middlemen.” (Of course, Robinhood itself is a middleman, but leave that aside.)
Indeed, Robinhood’s performance thus far raises the question of whether Wall Street will look askance at any alleged wrongdoing as long as there’s money to be made. The date for Robinhood’s public offering on Nasdaq hasn’t been set, but the whisper number on the street is that the firm could be worth $30 billion.
That’s possible because the details of Finra’s findings haven’t been as widely reported as the size of the settlement, which is broadly seen as Robinhood putting its problems behind it.
We’ll take a closer look. Finra accused Robinhood of plying millions of customers with “false or misleading information” about their account balances, of leaving millions of customers unable to trade because its IT systems broke down at crucial moments, and of approving thousands of customers for options trading even though it should have known they were unqualified to play the options market.
Its app was crafted to resemble a video game, with features that appear designed to get customers’ blood flowing, including a digital confetti shower to mark customers’ first trades and other milestones.
“Our app is simple, easy-to-use, bright — maybe even delightful,” its website says. But it scrapped the confetti thing after Massachusetts regulators filed a complaint that it was luring inexperienced customers into treating investing as a game.
The mystery of why Robinhood would be so cavalier about exposing its customers to options trading risk may have been solved by its stock registration filing. That document reveals that the firm made handsome revenues from options trading, through a process known as “payment for order flow.”
This is a controversial practice through which retail brokers such as Robinhood steer customer orders to big trading firms, which appreciate the volume, for a fee. (Robinhood’s alleged failure to fully disclose this practice to customers and how it might affect the prices at which they bought and sold securities is what brought the SEC down on its head in December.)
According to the filing, Robinhood collected about 0.2% of the value of its customers’ holdings of stocks as payment for order flow as of the end of the first quarter of this year — $133.3 million in “transaction-based revenues” on holdings of $65.1 billion. But it received 9.7% of its customers’ option holdings as payment — $198 million on holdings of only $2 billion. Obviously, the options market was a cash cow for Robinhood, compared with the stock market.
That brings us to one more aspect of Robinhood’s business that became known through its stock registration filing: It has become a big player in the cryptocurrency market, especially in Dogecoin.
Dogecoin, as it happens, is a cryptocurrency that was originally launched as a parody of Bitcoin. But since nothing in the crypto market makes any sense in terms of financial fundamentals, it has gained a foothold as a tradable instrument.
Among the “risk factors” Robinhood listed for would-be investors in its SEC filing is its immoderate dependence on revenues from Dogecoin trading. In the quarter that ended March 31, they amounted to about 6% of total revenue of $420.4 million, or about $25 million.
Monday, July 19, 2021
🤬فقط في مصر 🤬 pic.twitter.com/omo4Im5hwU— Error 404 (@Error4019082820) July 11, 2021
One of the lessons of the education reform movement was that defunding an institution is generally the worst way to reform it. Politically speaking, the only thing worse would be to associate your party with defunding while the other party was actually doing it on the sly.
Worth reminding that in each of the four previous years, the GOP White House proposed large cuts in police spending. https://t.co/q34gT0AwI1— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) July 11, 2021
Back to the strap-on wings configuration
At 104 years and running, the "Here comes the flying car" story is one of journalism's most durable genres. https://t.co/YSZzClLthn— Mark Palko (@MarkPalko1) July 12, 2021
[The 1917 Curtiss Autoplane]
It is difficult to overstate Andrew Sullivan's impact on American jornalism, and I do not mean that in a good way.
This is the lead "story" in this morning's Mike Allen Axios newsletter. It's an entire post about all the "elites" now being in the Democratic party and based entirely on a post by Andrew Sullivan. (washington remains wired for the gop ...) pic.twitter.com/wG5T5DA16Z— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) July 17, 2021
Last week I spoke to over 5000 people in rural Georgia. Most were not vaccinated because they still had questions. EVERY question they asked was legitimate and important.— Rhea Boyd MD, MPH (@RheaBoydMD) July 17, 2021
Stop telling people to “just get vaccinated” if you aren’t willing to put in the work to help them do it.
COVID vaccine refusal was not some unprompted, spontaneous reaction among pro-Trump Americans. It was manufactured: first as part of a larger program of denial to cover for Trump's pandemic failures; then after Trump lost, in order to stoke feelings of victimhood and persecution. https://t.co/F3EGOqsuOV— David Frum (@davidfrum) July 17, 2021
Utah Republican Governor Spencer Cox: “We have these talking heads who have gotten the vaccine and are telling other people not to get it. That kind of stuff is dangerous, it’s damaging, and it’s killing people.” https://t.co/bbmVFJS2pI— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) July 16, 2021
Where we’re at …. pic.twitter.com/6zvON7ZERB— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) July 16, 2021
I am old enough to remember when childhood diseases - now controlled by vaccines - terrorized families, wreaking pain and heartbreak. This is lunacy. https://t.co/t84c8DKIUG— Dan Rather (@DanRather) July 13, 2021
Gallup:— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) July 17, 2021
Republicans' confidence in science is nearly 30 points lower than in 1975.
1975: 72% of Republicans had confidence in science
2021: 45% of Republicans have confidence in science
I am begging you to make me show my vaccination card— Starlee Kine (@StarleeKine) July 16, 2021
One for both the education and Tucker-Carlson-is-a-horrible-person threads.
Backing up a bit... IMHO, many of the misconceptions about how schools actually work are colored by folks misremembering gow their own school operated decades ago. Too many refuse to even consider that their memories may be a bit clouded https://t.co/6r1aJqQrit— Jersey Jazzman (@jerseyjazzman) July 14, 2021
The economic niche for dancing robots is smaller than you might think.
It seems prudent that I should surface this comment yet again: https://t.co/6dqNqikT70— Adam J. Cook (@AdamJosephCook) July 17, 2021
A good point about the hiacking metaphor.
To my former colleague Adam Kinzinger I say, respectfully, bullshit. Our party hasn’t been “hijacked.” THIS IS WHO OUR PARTY IS. This is what our party has been for a long time, and the leaders of our party ignored it. And now our party is fully radicalized. That’s no hijacking. https://t.co/eKAV3iz6H4— Joe Walsh (@WalshFreedom) July 11, 2021
The conclusion might be getting just a bit ahead of its skis, but still interesting
The Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol hurt the Republican Party, new research finds https://t.co/JnhbrQcQLk— Monkey Cage (@monkeycageblog) July 16, 2021
Best thing you’ll see today… https://t.co/NyO3UVatOf— Rex Chapman🏇🏼 (@RexChapman) July 16, 2021
Friday, July 16, 2021
Let's just get this out of the way at the top.
There is no way to have a blanket objection to the filibuster in principle and not object to the actions of Democratic state legislators in Texas. If you use the framing of anti-majoritarian = bad then there is simply no way to support (or even defend) this tactic. Under these assumptions, placing constraints on the will of the majority is simply wrong. They also make the Bill of Rights more than a bit problematic (it's basically just a list of things even a democratically elected government isn't allowed to do), but that's a topic for another day.
We’re witnessing another of these state legislators abscond across state lines dramas in Texas. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, it hearkens back to a similar drama in 2003 which presaged much of our current politics. But I’d like to take this in a different direction. What we’re seeing right now with these efforts to short-circuit the legislative process is what the legislative filibuster in the Senate should be like.
Now, I’m not suggesting that we move to a system where Senators run off to Canada or I guess in some cases Russia. It gets a bit more complicated in jurisdictional terms. But Texas Democrats clearly believe these laws are of an extraordinary character. Texas legislative Democrats get outvoted all the time. But they view this law as different from other laws they oppose. And most critically their actions are public and self-limiting.
It’s very publicly clear what’s happening here. Democrats are making a huge spectacle. No one’s going to miss that. They also have to be very clear why they’re doing it. It’s because of an assault on voting rights in the state. They have to own that. And they’re taking this step because they’re clearly quite willing to own that.
Just as clear, this can only go on for so long. How do I know? Basically logic really but also history. We’ve seen this in Texas, Oregon, Wisconsin and various other places. Legislators are only willing to stay on the lam for so long. Over time there are various tools legislative majorities can use to get their way. (That’s not a bad thing. Majority rule is our fundamental system.) You also need a really good reason for doing it. Otherwise public opinion will rapidly turn against you.
The whole effort is best seen as an effort to stall, buy some time and they hope either slow the process down or shift public opinion in their favor. It’s not pretty but there’s some value in having that kind of escape valve in the legislative process. It’s public. It’s self-limiting. You have to own it and be politically accountable for your actions.
Reading between the lines a bit (because the post, while well reasoned, does not follow through with what seem like fairly obvious conclusions), Marshall apparently sees the filibuster as bad because it can be used by a minority without restraint, transparency or cost. Since the Texas action looks like a good filibuster, this implies good filibuster is possible.
It's also worth noting that, as far as I can tell, everything Marshall says about what a filibuster should be applies to the talking filibuster. He stops short of an endorsement but it's pretty much the inescapable next step.
I believe the underlying logic here (which I happen to agree with) is that while the support of 50.01% of the population should not give you unconstrained power and there are rare cases where a minority should be able to at least delay the majority's will, there must be constraints on those constraints. The process has got to be transparent, costly and difficult to sustain and it must come with real accountability. A talking filibuster meets these conditions; supermajority rules do not.I realize abolishing any form of the filibuster has become a point of principle for many. I'm just not sure if those principles are well thought out, let alone a hill worth dying on.
Thursday, July 15, 2021
And un grand nudge à la française already at work this evening. Macron announces tight upcoming restrictions for the unvaxxed (no restaurants, bars, flights etc) and French anti-vax sentiment crumbles in real time: 20,000 vax appointments being made each minute since he spoke https://t.co/8Ey2kKhVcD— Sophie Pedder (@PedderSophie) July 12, 2021
Wednesday, July 14, 2021
Remider: Musk used his other entities to raise capital for SolarCity, including @SpaceX. SpaceX had $255 million of SolarCity bonds and Musk bought $65 million worth of SCTY bonds himself. For a deep dive, read this: https://t.co/TfA32F0oUw— Dana "Vaxxed & Masking Indoors” Hull 👩🏻💻 (@danahull) July 13, 2021
Tesla’s board initially balked at the proposal. So did Evercore Inc., one of the banks it brought in to evaluate the deal. (Not that they felt their guidance would be heeded: “It’s Elon’s world. We just live in it,” an Evercore banker joked in an email.) Even Tesla’s then-Chief Financial Officer Jason Wheeler raised concerns. “We have Model 3 happening. We have a lot of things going on. We ourselves have a large debt load,” Wheeler said in his June 2019 deposition. “Why do we need to do this now, Elon?”
Then there were the jarring conflicts of interest. Besides his cousins Lyndon and Peter Rive running SolarCity, its board and Tesla’s had complicated overlaps. Six of Tesla’s seven directors were Musk associates (including his brother, Kimbal) with SolarCity ties. Antonio Gracias was on the board of both companies. What’s more, Musk had used his other entities to raise capital for SolarCity: SpaceX, for example, had purchased $255 million of SolarCity bonds. Musk bought $65 million worth. Tesla’s directors had to grapple with this apparent self-dealing as Musk pushed them to reconsider the acquisition in May 2016. Musk said he recused himself from these deliberations, but court filings indicate he remained actively involved, even advocating for the move directly with bankers and investors.
To win over shareholders, Musk came up with the concept of a “Solar Roof” that resembled a traditional rooftop shingle but could capture power from the sun. At a joint Tesla-SolarCity event in Los Angeles in October 2016, Musk showed off the product to an impressed audience. The demos he unveiled weren’t functional, but the acquisition received approval a few weeks later.
Musk may still dodge this bullet but if he does, it probably says more about the legal system than it does about his case.
Musk's argument that Tesla needed SolarCity deal to aid its Powerwall battery business is, uh, a stretch. Every solar installer in the U.S. touts Powerwall batteries to would-be customers. They aren't exclusive to people who order Tesla solar systems 🤔 https://t.co/QKXzVc0NFD— Alan Ohnsman 🚶🏼♂️🚲🚌🚄 (@alanohnsman) July 13, 2021
Perhaps the most telling testimony came from Kimbal Musk in an earlier hearing. The whole thread is highly recommended.
6/ On October 20th, 2015, SolarCity stock is starting to fall, and Kimbal is facing a potential margin call. He is asking Elon for a loan or considering selling SpaceX stock. He knows he is going to sell some $TSLA stock in November via his predetermined 10b5-1 plan. $TSLAQ pic.twitter.com/nmJt2I0bpp— TC (@TESLAcharts) October 29, 2019
Tuesday, July 13, 2021
Remote work wasn't a very sexy topic back when we first started talking about it a few years ago. All of the cool kids were into urban density, yimby-er than thou. Everyone was focused on the rise of the creative class and the utopian urbanists had firm control over the narrative (and that was a group that really didn't like it when someone brought up telecommuting).
At the beginning of the pandemic, we wondered if the upheaval would finally nudge knowledge work into the 21st century. A couple of months later, we suggested that business travel would also be radically different on an age of virtual offices.
This is a story we've followed closely and I would have thought we had heard all of the arguments on both sides, but this piece from Josh Marshall pointed out a disadvantage of remote work that we had never even thought of.
Work from home has been a boon or a loss for people across the US. Now it’s deprived just-fired former Social Security Commissioner Andrew Saul of some what appears to be some much-desired drama. In their write-up of Saul’s firing, which didn’t note that TPM reported the news first but we totally don’t care about those things, the Post quotes Saul as saying he does not recognize the legality of his dismissal and plans to show up for work Monday morning like any other day.
Monday, July 12, 2021
Perhaps "the most energy-efficient, environmentally clean, and cost-effective space conditioning systems available" is something we should be talking about
But of course we aren't. It's a mature, proven technology that could substantial decrease the energy we use on heating and cooling and it would also go a long way towards protecting the grid from seasonal overloads. What could be less sexy than that?
There are any number of boring, workable policies and technologies that couldn't get the attention of the press unless they showed up in a celebrity sex tape. There are some exceptions in the media -- ProPublica is strong and public radio (particularly Marketplace) has its moments -- but on the whole, an interest in solutions guarantees you'll never be one of the cool kids (but if you're reading a blog originally called Observational Epidemiology, cool was never really on the table).
As of 2004, there are over a million units installed worldwide providing 12 GW of thermal capacity with a growth rate of 10% per year. Each year, about 80,000 units are installed in the US and 27,000 in Sweden. In Finland, a geothermal heat pump was the most common heating system choice for new detached houses between 2006 and 2011 with market share exceeding 40%.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has called ground source heat pumps the most energy-efficient, environmentally clean, and cost-effective space conditioning systems available. Heat pumps offer significant emission reductions potential, particularly where they are used for both heating and cooling and where the electricity is produced from renewable resources.
GSHPs have unsurpassed thermal efficiencies and produce zero emissions locally, but their electricity supply includes components with high greenhouse gas emissions unless the owner has opted for a 100% renewable energy supply. Their environmental impact, therefore, depends on the characteristics of the electricity supply and the available alternatives.
Friday, July 9, 2021
See how we’re celebrating being part of the Hyundai Motor Group!— Boston Dynamics (@BostonDynamics) June 29, 2021
Check out Spot meeting BTS at @Hyundai_Global and visit our blog for the behind the scenes story: https://t.co/n7WB2XUxCD pic.twitter.com/xwFcEPtmFn
This is an extremely useful framing.
Not just further to the right, but further from the real. That’s the direction the Party is moving in.— Jay Rosen (@jayrosen_nyu) July 7, 2021
Deadliest case: vaccination rates in the red states. There’s nothing inherently “conservative” (or pro-life) about being anti-vax.
But you can express your GOP-ness that way.
It also goes along with one of our long-running threads.
We’ve discussed this before, but the pandemic has given us a wealth of new examples.
What possible ideological basis is there for arguing for the relative contagiousness of one virus over another? Or of insisting on the efficacy of a particular drug? And yet, how one answers questions like these have become arguably the defining political positions of the day, particularly in conservative media and the far right.
I’m certain someone out there is working on a painfully epicyclic model to explain this (does R have a spirograph package?), but the picture becomes remarkably straightforward if you approach it in partisan terms.
From a conservative/Republican standpoint, when it comes to a potential collapse in support for President Trump, timing matters more than magnitude. A bad Q3 is worse for them than a terrible 2021 would be. Prematurely lifting lock downs is unlikely to buy them more than a dead cat bounce, but might be enough to avert a GOP bloodbath.
Add to that the constraint of not infuriating Trump. The base is (for the moment at least) personally loyal to him, not to the party, and temperamentally he is more than willing to bring the temple down with him.
Obviously, the memes and narratives of Fox et al. are often ideological and partisan, but when you look at the odd quadrants, you see lots of stories that advance a partisan aim with no significant ideological component, relatively few that go the other way.
"...longer than you can stay liquid."
If, over the last 5 years, we had gotten long every <$200 mil company as soon as I had conviction that they were a fraud, we'd have had so many 5-10 baggers that it makes me laugh. The efficiency of capital allocation in the U.S. must be at a multi-decade low.— Midwestern Hedgie (@MidwestHedgie) June 28, 2021
The legacy of Silicon Valley
Software is eating the world, but software culture keeps on whiffing in businesses that are nothing like software (construction, auto manufacturing, etc).— E.W. Niedermeyer (@Tweetermeyer) June 29, 2021
Go figure! https://t.co/YLuCU9gp2X
Beter red and dead
The Communist Party staging protests against mandatory vaccinations – ostensibly to defend the individual’s right to be a moron anti-vaxxer – could be Russia’s most ironic post-Soviet antics yet. And that’s saying a lot.— Kevin Rothrock (@KevinRothrock) June 30, 2021
If they would have tried really hard, they could have worked in a vampire reference.
Lord of the Roths: How Tech Mogul Peter Thiel Turned a Retirement Account for the Middle Class Into a $5 Billion Tax-Free Piggy Bank https://t.co/tyvoA60BU3— Mark Palko (@MarkPalko1) July 1, 2021
One for the secular evangelicalism thread.
For the life of me, I can't think of a JIT pun
The company that invented just-in-time supply chains was one of the only OEMs to not get caught with their pants down in a major supply chain interruption (which typically slam JIT chains hardest).— E.W. Niedermeyer (@Tweetermeyer) July 1, 2021
There's a really important lesson there... maybe even a couple. https://t.co/OzipkrjEf7
And one for the OTA television thread.
Voter suppression file.
A law banning people from turning in someone else's mail ballot for them may seem like a minor inconvenience, but it isn't on Native reservations. Most residents live in remote areas & lack adequate postal service or a car, making many reliant on trusted community members to vote https://t.co/FRkhwrIRGI— Stephen Wolf (@PoliticsWolf) July 1, 2021
Let this sink in.👇— Marc E. Elias (@marceelias) July 1, 2021
"Kansas groups halt voter registration drives to avoid being jailed under new law"https://t.co/phTgSh33og
Vaccines and variants
🚨In a new piece, I lay out and explore 3 principles that now define the pandemic.— Ed Yong (@edyong209) July 1, 2021
1) The vaccines are still beating the variants.
2) The variants are pummelling unvaccinated people.
3) The longer 2 continues, the less likely 1 will hold. https://t.co/T7izwOXWgA
Unlike Western megafires, the relationship between tropical cyclones and climate change is direct and undeniable.
"On average, the Atlantic does not crank out its fifth named storm until the end of August." Tropical Storm Elsa forms, becoming earliest fifth named storm on record https://t.co/tcHOipfXe8— Deborah Blum (@deborahblum) July 1, 2021
6% of Robinhood's revenue comes from enabling Elon Musk to execute the Dogecoin scam— TC (@TESLAcharts) July 1, 2021
A tale of two cults and one very unlucky woman.
When I heard the shot ring out in this chamber on #January6th I was immediately transported to a day more than 40 years ago, after I was shot 5x and left for dead on an airstrip, & thought 'I survived Guyana but I'm not going to survive this attack in the House of our Democracy.' pic.twitter.com/bljoAyi6mi— Jackie Speier (@RepSpeier) July 1, 2021
In a case brought by the Kochs’ political arm- Americans For Prosperity- the Court’s conservatives just made dark money even darker. https://t.co/yoTgSiQXKq— Jane Mayer (@JaneMayerNYer) July 1, 2021
Conversation with student today:— Missy Cummings (@missy_cummings) July 5, 2021
Me: Do you know how to conduct statistical tests on experimental data?
Student: No but I am a good coder so it can't be that hard.
He's perfect for Silicon Valley.
Epic nerd thread.
Alan Moore's GOOFUS/GALLANT (1987), of course, famously shocked readers by revealing that the two were the *same* boy - and that Goofus was the original, with Gallant an artificial personality created by U.S. government research. https://t.co/z625cRHryl— James Palmer (@BeijingPalmer) July 5, 2021
The Wages of Strauss
My #FauxFoxViewing Family in St. Louis has no idea the state is in this crisis. Fox News is killing people by telling lies abt #COVID19 & hiding truth abt how #TFG handled entire pandemic. Followed by #BigLie It should be a crime to turn a medical emergency into a political issue— Susie, Fully Vaxxed, Still Masked (@susie_lastname) July 5, 2021
As someone actually from the Ozarks, I can't believe anyone actually fell for this fake.
The heavy toll of ambition. https://t.co/5czD3YsW6R— David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) July 5, 2021
And in closing.
We made it. pic.twitter.com/lkcoLdGZxs— Declan Garvey (@declanpgarvey) July 1, 2021
Thursday, July 8, 2021
Not surprisingly, the humble billionaire bit was too good for a hack reporters to resist. Here's a representative sample from the NY Post.
Elon Musk lives very modestly by billionaire standards. Only 1 residential house (plus 1 for events).@ElonMusk uses less resources than most multi-millionaires despite working way harder.— Matt Wallace ⚠️ (@MattWallace888) June 9, 2021
Plus $ sitting in stocks, makes each $ outside worth more exactly proportionally.
The idea that the world's second richest man cares not for material things didn't start here. It's been part of the Musk myth for years. No less a luminary than David Roberts assured us back in 2016 that "Musk is not in it for the money." (Which was pretty damned funny when you consider what was going on at the time.) Monastic living quarters fit in perfectly with the narrative.Elon Musk may be one of the world’s richest people, but he’s not living large.After selling much of his real estate portfolio in the past year and listing his final property earlier this month to focus on his mission to Mars, the Tesla and SpaceX CEO is taking the phrase “Live below your means” to another level.Musk, who turned 50 in June, revealed in a tweet that he is now living in a humble $50,000 home that he rents from SpaceX on its launch site in Boca Chica, Texas.
Funny thing about that tiny house, though. Elon Musk does most of his traveling in his private jet, the flight plans of which are a matter of public record. Assuming these gives us a good indicator of Musk's location, he divides his time between LA, the Bay Area, Austin (where his girlfriend and infant son live) and Brownsville 300+ miles away.
Wednesday, July 7, 2021
Business travel is still down as much as 50% from pre-pandemic levels, and that matters to airlines and hotel chains.“They make up 10 to 15% of travelers, but they can contribute up to 75% for a company’s revenues,” said Joanna Piacenza at Morning Consult.They buy premium air tickets at the last minute, book hotel suites, dine out on expense accounts. Morning Consult finds three in 10 pre-pandemic business travelers aren’t planning a trip this year.Alan Lewis at consulting firm L.E.K. said some of that’s thanks to “lessons-learned” during the pandemic:“Technology — Zoom and Teams — will replace some meetings that would have occurred live, going forward,” he said.Lewis said other kinds of travel resistance come from management and employees.“CFOs have been able to reduce their travel budgets. Reopening those purse strings will take time. The productivity that people have discovered — they’ve found that they can be more productive by not investing time in travel,” he said.
WEDNESDAY, MAY 20, 2020
Tuesday, July 6, 2021
The Netflix story is definitely post-modern. The narrators are unreliable. The facts are incomplete. The versions participants and observers tell themselves can't be entirely right but may not be all that wrong.
There are important caveats here. Netflix’s content costs are high in part because it now buys out all the rights (e.g. home video, syndication, EST) for its Originals on a global basis, while traditional networks (e.g. FX or ABC) will typically buy only select content rights and on a single market basis. Furthermore, buying out all rights means that the talent involved in a hit series (e.g. cast, writers, producers) don’t have access to any of the economic upside from participating in a hit series. As such, Netflix must also pay extra (and upfront) to compensate the talent responsible for their Originals for this lost income opportunity (albeit on a risk-adjusted basis). As a result, Netflix’s costs for a given volume of original content is substantially higher than that of linear and/or domestic networks with the same output. That said, this same dynamic means that while most of its traditional networks hedge their content investments, Netflix quadruples down.
I don't want to put too much weight on this one data point. Netflix is a major company that may well justify its valuation one day, but journalists have gotten in the habit of letting these press releases set the narrative for them and ignoring contradictory details. That's not good for the profession.