Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

Letter from a lawyer to Musk (who seems to have bitten off more than he can chew)

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Letter from lawyer to Musk, threatening legal action if Musk does not honor commitments regarding severance.

Written by Leisureguy

1 December 2022 at 8:02 pm

Carbon emissions per capita by country

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From the graph:

Highest carbon emissions per capita

1 Middle East oil producing countries – Bahrain/Oman/Kuwait/Qatar/UAE
2 Canada
3 Saudi Arabia
4 US
5 Australia/NZ
6 Russia
7 South Korea
8 Kazakhstan/Turkmenistan
9 Taiwan
10 Japan

Only 9.5% of France’s electricity production comes from fossil fuels, much lower than many other developed countries like the U.S. at 60% and Japan at 69%.

From Visual Capital:

Written by Leisureguy

30 November 2022 at 11:23 pm

Suburbia is Subsidized: Here’s the Math

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Written by Leisureguy

30 November 2022 at 2:04 pm

Highly Processed Foods ‘as Addictive’ as Tobacco

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Highly processed foods are detrimental to health, as has been demonstrated — but they are also highly addictive, which means they are lucrative: repeat customers are guaranteed. So it comes down to whether the economic structure of the society responds to health or to money. In the US, certainly, the driving motive of any company is purely profit, so for a corporation the choice is simple.

Becky McCall writes in Medscape:

Highly processed foods meet the same criteria as tobacco for addiction, and labeling them as such might benefit public health, according to a new US study that proposes a set of criteria to assess the addictive potential of some foods.

The research suggests that healthcare professionals are taking steps towards framing food addiction as a clinical entity in its own right; it currently lacks validated treatment protocols and recognition as a clinical diagnosis.

Meanwhile, other data, reported by researchers last week at the Diabetes Professional Care (DPC) 2022 conference in London, UK, also add support to the clinical recognition of food addiction.

Clinical psychologist Jen Unwin, PhD, from Southport, UK, showed that a 3-month online program of low carbohydrate diet together with psychoeducational support significantly reduced food addiction symptoms among a varied group of individuals, not all of whom were overweight or had obesity.

Unwin said her new data represent the first widescale clinical audit of its kind, other than a prior report of three patients with food addiction who were successfully treated with a ketogenic diet.

“Food addiction explains so much of what we see in clinical practice, where intelligent people understand what we tell them about the physiology associated with a low-carb diet, and they follow it for a while, but then they relapse,” said Unwin, explaining the difficulties faced by around 20% of her patients who are considered to have food addiction.

Meanwhile, the authors of the US study, led by Ashley N. Gearhardt, PhD, a psychologist from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, write that the ability of highly processed foods (HPFs) “to rapidly . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

30 November 2022 at 6:27 am

Thinking about taking your computer to the repair shop? Be very afraid

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Dan Goodin writes in Ars Technica:

If you’ve ever worried about the privacy of your sensitive data when seeking a computer or phone repair, a new study suggests you have good reason. It found that privacy violations occurred at least 50 percent of the time, not surprisingly with female customers bearing the brunt.

Researchers at University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, recovered logs from laptops after receiving overnight repairs from 12 commercial shops. The logs showed that technicians from six of the locations had accessed personal data and that two of those shops also copied data onto a personal device. Devices belonging to females were more likely to be snooped on, and that snooping tended to seek more sensitive data, including both sexually revealing and non-sexual pictures, documents, and financial information.

Blown away

“We were blown away by the results,” Hassan Khan, one of the researchers, said in an interview. Especially concerning, he said, was the copying of data, which happened during repairs for one from a male customer and the other from a female. “We thought they would just look at [the data] at most.”

The amount of snooping may actually have been higher than recorded in the study, which was conducted from October to December 2021. In all, the researchers took the laptops to 16 shops in the greater Ontario region. Logs on devices from two of those visits weren’t recoverable. Two of the repairs were performed on the spot and in the customer’s presence, so the technician had no opportunity to surreptitiously view personal data.

In three cases, Windows Quick Access or Recently Accessed Files had been deleted in what the researchers suspect was an attempt by the snooping technician to cover their tracks. As noted earlier, two of the visits resulted in the logs the researchers relied on being unrecoverable. In one, the researcher explained they had installed antivirus software and performed a disk cleanup to “remove multiple viruses on the device.” The researchers received no explanation in the other case.

Here’s a breakdown of the six visits that resulted in snooping: . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

30 November 2022 at 6:21 am

Total household wealth held by the wealthiest 10%

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Conrad Hackett points out on Mastodon:

total household wealth held by the wealthiest 10% 

🇺🇸  US 79%
🇳🇱  Netherlands 68%
🇩🇰  Denmark 64%
🇩🇪  Germany 60%
🇨🇱  Chile 58%
🇦🇹  Austria 56%
🇬🇧  UK 52%
🇨🇦  Canada 51%
🇫🇷  France 51%
🇳🇴 Norway 51%
🇦🇺 Australia 46%
🇪🇸  Spain 46%
🇫🇮  Finland 45%
🇮🇹  Italy 43%
🇯🇵  Japan 41%

Written by Leisureguy

29 November 2022 at 6:27 pm

Posted in Business, Daily life

The New York Times Is in the Tank for Crypto

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I’ve noticed this, too. The NY Times rather too often has feet of clay — the effects of privilege and poor priorities (“access is everything” does not provide good guidance). Robert Kuttner writes in The American Prospect:

In a recent post, I noted in passing the oddly soft coverage of the collapse of Sam Bankman-Fried in The New York Times. The Times managed to compare the woes of FTX to a bank run, to blame Bankman-Fried’s competitors for undermining his credibility, and to take his professed charitable intent at face value.

Since I wrote, the Times coverage has only gotten worse.

A piece on the interconnections between Bankman-Fried’s exchange (FTX) and the investment company he controlled (Alameda) soft-pedaled the outright illegality of his making trades with customer funds. To hear the Times tell it, “Alameda’s need for funds to run its trading business was a big reason Mr. Bankman-Fried created FTX in 2019. But the way the two entities were set up meant that trouble in one unit shook up the other as crypto prices began to drop in the spring.”

But that’s not what happened. When customers demanded their money, Fried didn’t have it, because he had been using it and losing it, illegally, for his own trades.

And this: “Alameda’s methods borrowed many aspects from traditional high finance. It was a quantitative trading firm, similar to Wall Street hedge funds that use mathematical models and data to inform decisions. It used ‘leverage’—or borrowed money—to fuel its trades and make bigger returns.”

Note the alibis, and the passive voice. The subhead tells the reader “things got out of control,” as in Nixon’s infamous “mistakes were made.” The comparable Wall Street Journal piece ran rings around the Times version, explaining the interlocks and the sheer illegality.

More from Robert Kuttner

But the most appalling recent Times piece was . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

28 November 2022 at 4:58 pm

The story behind the Equality v. Equity meme

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On the left three children standing on boxes to see over the fence to watch a baseball game. The tallest boy on a box stands way above the fence, but the shortest, even standing on a box, cannot see over the fence. On the right, the tallest boy no longer has a box but can still see over the fence, and his box, added to the box the shortest boy already had, enables the shortest boy to now see over the fence.

Craig Froehle, who created the idea behind the meme above, has an interesting article in Medium on how the idea came about. He wanted to shift the focus from equality of aid to equality of outcomes.

Written by Leisureguy

28 November 2022 at 1:55 pm

How much public space is surrendered to cars

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Saw this on Mastodon. It’s by Swedish artist Karl Jilg.

An illustration of a street scene in which the spaces used by cars — the roadway and parking spots — are rendered as an abyss, the sidewalks narrow ledges clinging to stores.

Written by Leisureguy

28 November 2022 at 4:21 am

Corporations are reporting record profits — but there’s something wrong with the picture.

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Chart showing how, from 1985 to 2018, the median male income lost ground against rising expenses until the expenses (college, transportation, health care, and house) exceeded the income.

An article by Oren Cass in American Affairs, published Spring 2020, has some disturbing content. The article begins:

It sounds like an absurd riddle, or perhaps a kindergarten-level math problem: the median male full-time worker earned $314 per week in 1979, while his counterpart at the median in 2018 earned $1,026;1 who was better off? In fact, the question proves fiendishly difficult, even as its answer lies at the heart of understanding America’s economic progress and challenges.

The easiest answer is that $1,026 is 227 percent larger than $314, case closed. People lacking even rudimentary training in economics know that’s not right, however. Inflation reduces the value of money over time, so $1 in 2018 is not the same as $1 in 1979. But how much inflation has occurred? Economists have numerous methodologies and indices for making estimates, and they have engaged in long-running battles over which are most appropriate in which circumstances.

Unfortunately, the most common estimates produce opposite an­swers to our question. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’s “Consumer Price Index” (CPI), the 2018 worker’s $1,026 in 2018 earnings is worth only $297 in 1979 dollars—or 6 percent less than the $314 in 1979 dollars earned by the 1979 worker. But according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis’s “Personal Consumption Expenditures Price Index” (PCE), the 2018 income is worth $353 in 1979 dollars—a 13 percent gain.

Fortunately—though, in a larger sense, most unfortunately—we need not litigate between them to answer our question, because nei­ther offers an appropriate benchmark. Price indices are not intended to, and do not, describe all the forces acting on a household budget against which a changing wage might most reasonably be compared. To put rising nominal wages in context, inflation is not the right technical mechanism. Nor is it conceptually valid. What does it mean, after all, to say that a 2018 dollar is worth twenty-nine or thirty-four 1979 cents? No currency exchange counter exists at which one can be swapped for the other. Our worker cannot travel back in time to spend today’s earnings in a market of yore. . . 

Continue reading.

The whole article is worth reading, but let pick out one factoid from it:

Weeks the median male worker needed to work to afford a year’s worth of major expenses (house, a car, health care, and education) for a family of four in:

1985: 30 weeks (out of 52)
2018: 53 weeks (out of 52)

But corporations are doing great.

Written by Leisureguy

27 November 2022 at 6:21 pm

Why sci-fi alien planets all look the same

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Written by Leisureguy

27 November 2022 at 2:01 pm

The gods of Silicon Valley are falling to earth. So are their warped visions for society

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Moya Lothian-McLean writes in the Guardian:

The new gods are running into a bit of trouble. From the soap opera playing out at Twitter HQ, the too-big-to-fail bankruptcies in the cryptocurrency space, to mass tech layoffs, the past month has seen successive headlines declaring a litany of woes facing the bullish tech boyos in Silicon Valley and beyond.

The minute-by-minute coverage of Elon Musk’s escapades and the global levels of interest in the FTX collapse both go well beyond what you’d expect from a business story. I’m willing to gamble a few Bitcoins that the popular fixation has little to do with any particular interest in successful software engineering; rather it is the personalities who inhabit these spaces, and the philosophies that propel them in their godlike ambition. What is their end goal, we wonder. What drives them, beyond the pursuit of growth? It is easy to assume that money is all that motivates the likes of Mark Zuckerberg, Musk and Jeff Bezos. Except, when you start to examine the mindsets of these men, it’s clear that cash is far from the whole story.

The concept of “effective altruism” has had its day in court after FTX, the world’s second largest cryptocurrency exchange announced that, oops, it was mysteriously short of $8bn and would be filing for bankruptcy, post haste. As the dust – and fraud allegations – settle, the personal guiding principles of FTX’s millennial chief executive, Sam Bankman-Fried, have come to the fore. Bankman-Fried ostensibly was driven into crypto by an adherence to the “effective altruism” movement. Originally espousing giving as much targeted time and money to philanthropy as possible, EA has been morphed by its most prominent practitioners into getting very, very rich and then spending that money on projects that better the human race. This “earn-to-give” philosophy is dependent on data-driven analysis of what causes offer the best returns of “betterment”. It’s utilitarianism with a god complex.

Since Bankman-Fried’s spectacular fall from grace, it seems as if this doctrine may be doomed to the same downward spiral as its most famous disciple. It’s hard to argue that you possess the best instincts to improve the prospects of the human race when you can’t even keep your own affairs – or billions in customer funds – in order.

Then there was the allegation last week by the Insider journalist Julia Black that Musk, along with other billionaires, appear to be engaged in their own personal eugenics programme via a movement called “pronatalism”. Black writes that pronatalism – an ideology centred on having children to reverse falling birthrates in European countries, and prevent a predicted population collapse – is “taking hold in wealthy tech and venture-capitalist circles”, with the aid of hi-tech genetic screening.

Musk has championed pronatalist ideas publicly. Privately the Tesla co-founder is, in his own words, “doing my part”; he has 10 children known to the public, two of whom are twins he fathered with an AI expert who serves as an executive for his Neuralink company. But the ideas go beyond Musk and into the canyons of Silicon Valley; the world’s richest and most powerful people see it as their duty, Black claims, to “replicate themselves as many times as possible”.

Black’s subjects also namecheck effective altruism, longtermism (which prioritises the distant future over the concerns of today), and transhumanism (the evolution of humanity beyond current limitations via tech), as complementary philosophies. The concept of legacy is key to understanding our tech pioneers. As one interviewee tells Black,  . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

27 November 2022 at 1:04 pm

Rebecca Solnit comments on class warfare in the US

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Rebecca Solnit comments in Facebook on that post. (And at the link you can see additional comments she made):

My friend Nancy posted this and I said Please Lord, just one movie in which city folk represent decency and sanity and country folk are wacked to hell and back (besides Cold Comfort Farm, which is great, but English and from the 1930s). To which I might add the old conceit in which the city represents decadence and the countryside wholesomeness has bedeviled the English-speaking world for several centuries and is now a fixture and a curse upon American politics, the right having convinced rural people that, first, they are the wholesome Real Americans and second that we city folk despise and hate them.

Hate them for their wholesome traditional ways, rather than maybe we don’t hate them or maybe we hate intolerance and racism and the repression that hides abuse of all kinds (and maybe not a few city people are refugees from those idyllic-looking rural places that want to kill queer people, unsubmissive women, immigrants, and dissenters). I will give it to Barbara Kingsolver’s new book Demon Copperfield, in that it portrays a lot of violence, cruelty, trapped ness, and addiction in rural America. Aunt June who went to Knoxville is maybe the strongest moral force in the book and the most cleareyed character. Thanks to Susan for reminding me that Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” is another portrait of rural America as unwholesome, and so is Jane Smiley’s retelling of King Lear in A Thousand Acres. What other classics of the unwholesome countryside are there? I think Thomas Hardy straddles the divide, loving some things and recognizing the cruelty and repression of others.

I grew up in a suburban cul-de-sac, the last subdivision before the country, on the edge of dairy farms. Our street was a spur off a long street, and I and learned to ride (western, of course) at the end of the long street become dirt road dead-ending in a horse pasture. I’ve spent many of the best days of my life in rural and wild places, and I admire the skill and toughness of people who work the land and tend it, but it’s probably assumed that since I’m urban, left, and environmental I hate rural people. And it’s true that I grew up among middle-class white people who mocked and ridiculed Dolly Parton and country music and southern accents, but I haven’t heard that nastiness in a long while.

I got an essay out of it years ago, titled “One Nation Under Elvis”: “The story that racism belongs to poor people in the South is a little too easy, though. Just as not everybody up here, geographically and economically, is on the right side of the line, so not everyone down there is on the wrong side. But the story allows middle-class people to hate poor people in general while claiming to be on the side of truth, justice, and everything else good.” In other words, a vile class war pretends to be an anti-racist war. I’ve met rich urban/northern racists and poor southern/rural antiracists. Categories are leaky.

To all this I’ll add a few paragraphs from this great column from four years ago by Paul Waldman (but please note that just as far from all conservatives/MAGA nuts are rural, so not all rural people are conservatives/MAGA nuts). Waldman writes: In the endless search for the magic key that Democrats can use to unlock the hearts of white people who vote Republican, the hot new candidate is “respect.” If only they cast off their snooty liberal elitism and show respect to people who voted for Donald Trump, Democrats can win them over and take back Congress and the White House.

The assumption is that if Democrats simply choose to deploy this powerful tool of respect, then minds will be changed and votes will follow. This belief, widespread though it may be, is stunningly naive. It ignores decades of history and everything about our current political environment. There’s almost nothing more foolish Democrats could do than follow that advice.

Before we proceed, let me be clear about what I’m not saying. I’m not saying that the desire for respect isn’t real. As a voter says in “The Great Revolt,” a new book by conservative journalist Salena Zito and Republican operative Brad Todd, “One of the things I really don’t get about the Democratic Party or the news media is the lack of respect they give to people who work hard all of their lives to get themselves out of the hole.”

But the mistake is to ignore where the belief in Democratic disrespect actually comes from and to assume that Democrats have it in their power to banish it.

It doesn’t come from the policies advocated by the Democratic Party, and it doesn’t come from the things Democratic politicians say. Where does it come from? An entire industry that’s devoted to convincing white people that liberal elitists look down on them.

It’s more than an industry, actually; it’s an industry, plus a political movement. The right has a gigantic media apparatus that is devoted to convincing people that liberals disrespect them, plus a political party whose leaders all understand that that idea is key to their political project and so join in the chorus at every opportunity. https://www.washingtonpost.com/…/why-democrats-cant…/

[I’d also add that the Democrats reliably advocate for legislation–access to healthcare, education, social services, clean water, etc.– that would benefit anyone poor or struggling and most people who are rural (if not big farming and ranching interests), but this is often ignored by the mainstream media and the right just plies them with the red meat of ideological issues, with the help of conservative Christian churches obsessing about abortion, sexuality, “traditional families” aka patriarchal repression, and lately critical race theory, trans kids, and other us-vs.-them frames.]

p.s. Eric Michael Garcia, the author of this genius tweet, is the author of a book on autism titled We’re Not Broken: Changing the Autism Conversation. Link in comments. [Comments here – LG]

Written by Leisureguy

27 November 2022 at 10:57 am

Embrace what may be the most important green technology ever. It could save us all

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George Monbiot writes in the Guardian:

So what do we do now? After 27 summits and no effective action, it seems that the real purpose was to keep us talking. If governments were serious about preventing climate breakdown, there would have been no Cops 2-27. The major issues would have been resolved at Cop1, as the ozone depletion crisis was at a single summit in Montreal.

Nothing can now be achieved without mass protest, whose aim, like that of protest movements before us, is to reach the critical mass that triggers a social tipping point. But, as every protester knows, this is only part of the challenge. We also need to translate our demands into action, which requires political, economic, cultural and technological change. All are necessary, none are sufficient. Only together can they amount to the change we need to see.

Let’s focus for a moment on technology. Specifically, what might be the most important environmental technology ever developed: precision fermentation.

Precision fermentation is a refined form of brewing, a means of multiplying microbes to create specific products. It has been used for many years to produce drugs and food additives. But now, in several labs and a few factories, scientists are developing what could be a new generation of staple foods.

The developments I find most interesting use no agricultural feedstocks. The microbes they breed feed on hydrogen or methanol – which can be made with renewable electricity – combined with water, carbon dioxide and a very small amount of fertiliser. They produce a flour that contains roughly 60% protein, a much higher concentration than any major crop can achieve (soy beans contain 37%, chick peas, 20%). When they are bred to produce specific proteins and fats, they can create much better replacements than plant products for meat, fish, milk and eggs. And they have the potential to do two astonishing things.

The first is to shrink to a remarkable degree the footprint of food production. One paper estimates that precision fermentation using methanol needs 1,700 times less land than the most efficient agricultural means of producing protein: soy grown in the US. This suggests it might use, respectively, 138,000 and 157,000 times less land than the least efficient means: beef and lamb production. Depending on the electricity source and recycling rates, it can also enable radical reductions in water use and greenhouse gas emissions. Because the process is contained, it avoids the spillover of waste and chemicals into the wider world caused by farming.

If livestock production is replaced by this technology, it creates what could be the last major opportunity to prevent Earth systems collapse, namely ecological restoration on a massive scale. By rewilding the vast tracts now occupied by livestock (by far the greatest of all human land uses) or by the crops used to feed them – as well as the seas being trawled or gill-netted to destruction – and restoring forests, wetlands, savannahs, natural grasslands, mangroves, reefs and sea floors, we could both stop the sixth great extinction and draw down much of the carbon we have released into the atmosphere.

The second astonishing possibility is breaking the . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

26 November 2022 at 3:06 pm

Frontline Work When Everyone Is Angry

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Christin Porath is professor of management at Georgetown University, a consultant who helps leading organizations create thriving workplaces, the author of Mastering Community: The Surprising Ways Coming Together Moves Us from Surviving to Thriving and Mastering Civility: A Manifesto for the Workplace, and a coauthor of The Cost of Bad BehaviorShe has  an interesting article in Harvard Business Review:

Editor’s note: This article mentions threats of violence and sexual assault.

In October 2020 Dr. Adrienne Boissy, then the chief patient experience officer at Cleveland Clinic, had a big problem, and it wasn’t just Covid-19. Caregivers at the hospital, already stretched thin by the pandemic, were coming to her with alarming reports of abusive behavior from patients and visitors: mean comments, screaming tirades, even racist insults. “It’s never been so bad!” she told me.

I’ve studied incivility — defined as rudeness, disrespect, or insensitive behavior — in workplaces for more than 20 years, polling hundreds of thousands of people worldwide about their experiences. But after that conversation with Dr. Boissy, who is now the chief medical officer at Qualtrics and a neurologist at Cleveland Clinic, I wondered whether incivility is getting worse over time, particularly for frontline workers, who labor in person and often interact directly with customers and patients. These workers’ industries include health care, protective services (think police officers), retail, food production and processing, maintenance, agriculture, transportation (including airlines), hospitality, and education.

My research has found that reports of incivility are indeed on the rise — as evidenced not just by viral videos of airline passengers refusing to wear masks or café patrons hurling racial epithets but also by my recent survey that asked more than 2,000 people around the world how they have experienced rudeness lately. Even amid a global health crisis in which frontline workers were heralded as essential and heroic, these employees still became punching bags on whom weary, stressed-out, often irrational customers (and sometimes fellow employees) took out their anxieties and frustrations.

This kind of incivility leads to negative outcomes not only for the workers who experience it directly but also those who witness it — all of which harms businesses and society. In this article, we’ll explore those consequences and discuss how leaders can help to improve things.

Note that incivility takes many forms, from ignoring people to intentionally undermining them to mocking, teasing, and belittling them. For this article, it does not refer to physical aggression or violence, although incivility can spiral into aggressive behaviors.

Where We Are

Identifying and studying incivility can be difficult, because . . .

Continue reading.

Later in the article the author lists various causes (e.g., stress), but I found this one particularly interesting:

Lack of self-awareness.

One of the biggest takeaways from my decades of research is that incivility usually arises from ignorance — not malice. People lack self-awareness. According to research by Tasha Eurich, an organizational psychologist and a collaborator of mine, a whopping 95% of people think they’re self-aware but only 10%–15% actually are. That means 80%–85% of people misunderstand how they’re perceived and how they affect others. We may have good intentions and work hard to be patient and tolerant, but our tones, nonverbal signals, or actions may come across differently to the people we interact with and those who witness the interactions.

Written by Leisureguy

26 November 2022 at 12:22 pm

Per country: Health spending vs. longevity

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Conrad Hackett posts on Mastodon:

Here’s a scatterplot of health spending per capita (x axis) and life expectancy (y axis) in OECD countries. The lines represent averages.

One country sits alone in the bottom right quadrant due to its much higher health spending and below-average life expectancy.

Source: oecd-ilibrary.org/sites/ae3016

Scatterplot showing averages by country of health spending vs. longevity. The trend is strongly that greater spending means greater longevity, with the US as outlier: great spending, low longevity.

Written by Leisureguy

25 November 2022 at 5:06 pm

Media-opoly

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From a Mastodon post:

Aired only once in 1998 on the live SNL show for which it was written and effectively banned and never aired again.

I wonder why.

Written by Leisureguy

25 November 2022 at 3:11 pm

China’s gold stockpiling is dollar warning sign

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I’m wondering whether this time the GOP will actually force the US to default on its debt. Certainly the GOP has flirted with that in the past, and today more than ever before the GOP has aligned itself with Russia and seems inclined to act as Putin wants. The article by David Troy I just blogged talks about this, and now it looks like China is expecting it to happen. William Pesek reports in Asia Times:

One of the worst-kept secrets in global central banking is the extent to which Chinese officials are swapping dollars for gold.

Governor Yi Gang’s team at the People’s Bank of China isn’t admitting as much. The PBOC doesn’t have to, though, given the clear policy trajectory Chinese leader Xi Jinping has pursued in recent years: internationalizing of the yuan as the top rival to the dollar.

Xi’s position hasn’t changed so much as other governments are catching on that trust is waning in the global reserve currency and an alternative to the dollar is badly needed.

Particularly as the US national debt zooms past $30 trillion, inflation is at 40-year highs, the Federal Reserve is pushing the biggest economy into recession and a band of firebrand Republicans threatens to play politics with Washington’s debt limit again.

Not surprisingly, central banks that once hoarded dollars are buying gold at the fastest clip on record. In the July-September quarter, central banks more than quadrupled gold purchases from a year earlier — adding nearly a net 400 tonnes to already sizable stockpiles.

These figures from the World Gold Council are no aberration. The year-to-date flurry of gold buying already well surpasses any 12-month period since 1967. This has traders guessing who the real whales are here.

Punters doing the math can confirm that about 90 tonnes worth of purchases can be traced to Turkey (31.2 tonnes), Uzbekistan (26.1 tonnes), India (17.5 tonnes) and other developing nations. The other 300 tonnes, it’s widely assumed, bear Chinese fingerprints.

Xi’s ambitions to . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

24 November 2022 at 6:28 pm

An impressive animated video on climate change

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Written by Leisureguy

24 November 2022 at 6:02 pm

Musk’s Twitter Buy Makes No Sense – Unless It’s Part of Something Bigger

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Dave Troy writes in Byline Times:

Ever since Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, plunged the world into an endless stream of speculation and condemnation around his purchase of Twitter, the biggest unanswered question has been: why?

For many, his ultimate goals seem to be a mystery. As someone who has followed the company and its role in information warfare closely, I believe we need to use a different set of lenses to evaluate what’s happening.

First, it’s not a very attractive business, and it probably isn’t worth what Musk paid for it based on business metrics alone. He will struggle to service the debt payments associated with it, and he could try to improve profitability by slashing headcount and charging for services like Twitter Blue (which will provide a verified “checkmark” but may not include identity verification). That subscription feature may generate around $100 million a year if it has high uptake — nothing compared to the company’s $3.7bn in 2021 revenues.

It’s also important to realise that co-founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey endorsed Musk’s takeover bid. Why? Dorsey actually believes Twitter never should have been a company, but rather a foundational protocol on which a Twitter-like service could be built for the benefit of all — rather like the foundational Internet protocols that have enabled the web and email. Dorsey retained his shares in Musk’s Twitter; he said in April, “Elon is the singular solution I trust,” and he seems to be standing by that assessment.

Twitter cost Musk and his consortium of investors about $44 billion — denominated in United States dollars. That seems like quite a lot to pay. However, just as home mortgage payments get less expensive in real terms as time goes on, if you had a high degree of confidence that the value of a dollar would go down, perhaps dramatically, you might not care very much about price — especially if you thought your new asset could help you devalue the dollar.

Looking closer at the biggest investors (among them Musk, Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz, Qatar, and Dorsey), all of them have an interest in challenging the US dollar. Musk and Dorsey are major Bitcoin fanatics, and believe it’s the future of money. Saudi Arabia and Qatar have expressed interest in displacing the dollar as the world’s reserve currency. It is a peculiar characteristic of the investor list that all of them are interested in displacing the dollar.

Of course, this strategy is also one favoured by Vladimir Putin. His disastrous war in Ukraine is about more than territorial gains — it’s also a challenge to the West and what he perceives as unreasonable Western hegemony. He intends to . . .

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Written by Leisureguy

24 November 2022 at 5:53 pm

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