Thursday, May 2nd, 2019


Bada Bing!

The company has more subscribers than Netflix. It collects more cloud computing revenue that Google. Over the past few months, it's occasionally been the most valuable company in the world. In short, it has become the start-up story of the year. Only, the company started up in the year 1975. Yes, they seemed to miss the early promise of the internet, they wildly misjudged the potential of the iPhone and couldn't create a half-decent competitor, and the social networking movement passed them by. (And I'm not even mentioning Clippy.) But these days, the evil empire turned unlikely underdog is back on top. And did I mention they also do Windows? From Bloomberg: Satya Nadella and the Miracle of Microsoft. Did I just say Microsoft? Word.



"For science, profit, and pride, China, the U.S., and private companies are hunting for resources on the lunar surface." Rivka Galchen in The New Yorker: The Race to Develop the Moon. (We're really getting ahead of ourselves. We should finish ruining the earth first and then move onto to new projects...)


Barr Brawl

William Barr opted out of a scheduled House committee hearing on Thursday, a moved that triggered threats to hold him in contempt. And then things got even more heated. From Nancy Pelosi: What is deadly serious about it is the attorney general of the United States of America was not telling the truth to the congress of the United States. That's a crime ... He lied to Congress. And if anybody else did that, it would be considered a crime. Nobody is above the law. Not the President of the United States and not the attorney general." Here's the latest from CNN.

+ "Barr has now acted, and we can now evaluate his actual, rather than his hypothesized, performance. It has been catastrophic. Not in my memory has a sitting attorney general more diminished the credibility of his department on any subject." Benjamin Wittes: The Catastrophic Performance of Bill Barr.


Cap and Grown

"He returned to that theme in his talk, asserting that lack of income growth among the bottom 60% of the population had lead to a loss of hope reflected in rising death rates linked to suicides and opiate abuse. Dalio contrasted that with the New Frontier years of the Kennedy administration, when the nation thought it could eliminate poverty and set a goal to reach the moon. 'I think that is the magic of the United States and we are losing that.'" How do you know when capitalism is in crisis? When a conference that hosts billionaires focus on the urgent need to reform capitalism or face revolution.

+ Bridgewater's Ray Dalio: Why and how capitalism needs to be reformed. "Most people in the bottom 60% are poor. For example, only about a third of the bottom 60% save any of their income in cash or financial assets. According to a recent Federal Reserve study, 40% of all Americans would struggle to raise $400 in the event of an emergency." (Many interesting, and pretty depressing, stats in this piece.)

+ "For the past several decades, inequality has been on the rise in developed and developing countries alike. But in an age of widening divides between rich and poor, South Africa stands out because of its squandered hopes." Time: What South Africa Can Teach Us As Worldwide Inequality Grows.



"Stories about college hunger have been largely anecdotal, cemented by ramen and macaroni and cheese jokes. But recent data indicate the problem is more serious and widespread, affecting almost half of the student population at community and public colleges." NYT: Tuition or Dinner? Nearly Half of College Students Surveyed in a New Report Are Going Hungry.

+ LA Times: The family of a Chinese student admitted to Stanford paid $6.5 million to the man at the heart of the college admissions scandal. (For the sake of this family's future, let's hope the student majors in math. I mean, $6.5 million to get one kid into college? These parents must have read a translated version of The Art of the Deal.)


Check Yourself

"As Tuesday, April 30, began, the United States and its allies thought they finally had checkmate, after months of building up the opposition leader Juan Guaidó as Venezuela's legitimate president and recruiting more than 50 nations to their cause. By the end of the day, the board had been flipped upside down, pieces were scattered everywhere." The Atlantic: How an Elaborate Plan to Topple Venezuela's President Went Wrong.


Forecast Away

"The administration objected to language that, while nonbinding, could be read as a collective commitment to address the effects of climate change in the Arctic, diplomats said. One official familiar with the preparations for this year's meeting said that at meetings last month, the United States 'indicated its resistance to any mention of climate change whatsoever.'" WaPo: Trump administration pushed to strip mention of climate change from Arctic policy statement. (It's unclear where they're going to hide all the melting ice.)

+ Wired: Jakarta Is Sinking. Now Indonesia Has To Find A New Capital. (Wouldn't it be easier to just deny that it's sinking?)


Drug Repellant

"With more and more common medications losing their ability to fight dangerous infections, and few new drugs in the pipeline, the world is facing an imminent crisis that could lead to millions of deaths, a surge in global poverty and an even wider gap between rich and poor countries." UN Issues Urgent Warning on the Growing Peril of Drug-Resistant Infections.

+ OneZero: Inside the Global Scavenger Hunt to Beat the Antibiotic Apocalypse.


Rice the Roof

From Bloomberg: Eating More Rice Could Help Fight Obesity, Study Suggests. (I don't know if I buy the results of this study. But this edition has been pretty heavy, so I figured I'd give some hope that eating more of something can help you lose weight.)


Bottom of the News

"The Ancient Greeks named four virtues: temperance, wisdom, courage and justice. Aristotle added more, but cheerfulness wasn't one of them. The Greek philosophers didn't seem to care about how we felt compared with how we acted. Aristotle said that we would ideally feel good while acting good, but he didn't consider pleasure necessary for beautiful action." Mariana Alessandri: Against Cheerfulness. "Practising the Greek virtues of wisdom and courage is one thing. But being cheerful the American way borders on psychosis." (If that's true, I could be the most sane person alive.)

+ "People from all over France came to the hospital to receive wine treatments, which were exactly what they sound like: up to two bottles a day of wine to treat various ailments." BBC: France's Fascinating Wine Treatment. (Next, you're gonna tell me people are smoking weed for medical purposes...)