03 May 2020
Welcome back to the Week That Was series where I highlight a few things from the interwebs which I thought were interesting, noteworthy and probably worth your time.
Articles📝, Tweet(s)📱, Videos🎥, Charts 📈 all fair game with or without attendant commentary.
🏟️🛫❕❔ Potential Changes
The virus has disrupted:— Balaji Srinivasan (@balajis) April 27, 2020
- supply chains
- meat packing
- movie theaters
- aircraft carriers
Do you think it all snaps back?
🧐💰 Visualising Wealth
Once the numbers get past a certain point, all true sense of perspective starts breaking down.
This is an interesting visual tool to help one appreciate the true scale of the enormous fortunes ascribed to the mega-rich.
Worth following the link: Wealth Shown To Scale
Each week brings a fresh batch of loopy market stories it seems.
Graphics like the one below, continue to proliferate - betraying the bemusement currently being experienced by market participants as they see a QE & hopium-infused market drift further away from any visible tethering to reality.
Even legendary investors like Warren Buffet seem bemused; so much so Berkshire Hathaway is now sitting on an incredible $137 Billion in cash, as they wait to see if/when they’ll deploy capital into the current tumult.
Of course it’s hard to be shocked now when you’ve got a market which recently saw Zoom Technologies (the other Zoom) stocks skyrocketing and eventually having trading halted by the exchange, because people were piling into the wrong stock; thinking they were buying the video-conferencing unicorn.
My favourite markets moment has to be Elon Musk’s latest run-in with Tesla stockholders; namely him suggesting the stock is overpriced, during a eyebrow-raising tweetstorm.
As you might imagine it had quite an effect on the stock price, wiping about $13Bn off Tesla’s market cap - a fact which will again pique the interest of an SEC which put Musk on a social media good behaviour probation of sorts a year ago.
When asked by the Wall Street Journal if he was joking (or hacked) - his was a simple answer: “No”.
I guess that means if you’re long cash, his house very well may just be for sale
🌲🕸️🌲 Cosy Webs & Dark Forests
Not only is there a Balkanisation of the internet happening at state level (e.g. Russian internet, Chinese internet, Iranian internet etc) but increasingly our own usage of the internet is striated and happens at different levels.
Venkatesh Rao articulated the observation some time ago in his excellent piece, The Extended Internet Universe which references the equally insightful one by Kickstarter co-founder Yancey Strickler, where he refers to The Dark Forest.
This graphic by Maggie Appleton is a beautiful synthesis of the ideas explored in both.
She sketched it in about an hour while listening to Strickler further outline his Dark Forest thesis on this podcast.
An excerpt from Venkat’s piece:
“Unlike the main public internet, which runs on the (human) protocol of “users” clicking on links on public pages/apps maintained by “publishers”, the cozyweb works on the (human) protocol of everybody cutting-and-pasting bits of text, images, URLs, and screenshots across live streams. Much of this content is poorly addressable, poorly searchable, and very vulnerable to bitrot. It lives in a high-gatekeeping slum-like space comprising slacks, messaging apps, private groups, storage services like dropbox, and of course, email”
“You will become your best self when you begin having conversations with the dead”
I’m unsure of the attribution - it’s a quote I heard in a recent podcast.
Point being, the wisdom of the ages awaits, in our books & recorded history; one need only seek it out in order to interact with mankind’s greatest minds and stand on the shoulders of giants.
As most of us enter the Dance part of the Hammer & Dance outlined in this article, CGP Grey drops some quirkily animated tips for keeping one’s head in the game as the social distancing, lockdown & WFH dance plays out over coming months.
Some welcome perspective of course, from NYT.
These two threads offer similarly themed observations and advice
Academic peeps: I've lived through many disasters. Here is my advice on "productivity". First, play the long game. Your peers who are trying to work as normal right now are going to burn out fast. They're doomed. Make a plan with a longer vision. /1— Dr Aisha Ahmad (@ProfAishaAhmad) March 18, 2020
My thoughts about video conferencing for work and for play, gathered over several years of working with remote teams. A thread 🧵: (1/29)— Jimmy (@jimmylittle) April 24, 2020
Important to keep in mind though are the various markers to look out for in one’s own region and it’s response to the pandemic to get a sense of how the near future is likely to proceed.
This video from the Vihart team is a very well-sourced look at what reopening strategies look like and the reasoning behind various interventions.
As the US and China ratchet up tensions, it’s fascinating to see how their information war is starting to take shape. This clip from Xinhua News is emblematic of the messaging Xi’s administration is now pushing more aggresively to counter what they perceive as politicisation of the crisis.
China: We discovered a new virus.— China Xinhua News (@XHNews) April 30, 2020
America: So what?
China: It's Dangerous
America: It's only a Flu
China: Wear a Mask
America: Don't wear a Mask
🌌🕳 Interstellar Observation
“This is the first accurate image of the appearance of a black hole, made in 1978 using punch cards on an IBM 7040. Notice how closely resembles the model used for the movie ‘Interstellar’ and how it’s not that different from the real one captured in M87” (Nature)
When, last year, researchers released the most complete map of our galaxy to date, they didn't try to plot all its hundreds of billions of stars. Rather, they set their sights on something a bit more subtle—the Milky Way's bends, bulges, and bunches https://t.co/QkITp4HGJI pic.twitter.com/aPPWGsUWqC— Massimo (@Rainmaker1973) April 26, 2020
🔢🤓 Number Magic
It really do be like that
🏘📹 Oh…and one more thing
We featured Vice co-founder Suroosh’s recent Iranian sojourn here not too long ago.
Here his co-founding partner in crime Shane, takes time with Edward Snowden to unpack state responses to the covid19 crisis and things to watch for as rights & liberties are negotiated & compromised for health & safety.
Thanks for reading. Tune in next week. Stay indoors. Keep in touch with your loved ones