. . . for my haters! I’m back.
[Excess deaths in Germany] are at the very top of the normal range. People have spent two years avoiding routine medical check-ups, getting very little exercise, eating terrible food, dealing with depression – and yes, being vaccinated and revaccinated with our miraculous mRNA elixirs. They’re not doing great, but they’re not dying in droves either.
Timeless finance lessons from the last three years:
Everything is cyclical. In April 2020, the price of oil went negative. In the 5 years leading up to that fateful day in which it felt like something had been broken in the most important commodity in the world, energy stocks as a group were down 50%
In those same five years the S&P 500 was up more than 50% while the Nasdaq 100 had risen more than 110% in total.
Since that negative oil print, energy stocks are up almost 150% while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 have gained around 30% each in total.
It’s easy to get swept up in the recency bias when investing but nothing works always and forever in the financial markets.
Every asset class, strategy, sector and investor goes through a rough patch on occasion.
In search of a new religion:
Like most problems, Woke will not be solved, but dissolved. The path is forward, not back. The affluence that allows us to abandon the main castles to the Woke also allows us to build cozier bunkers closer to home. 2020 was the first time that many of us had to think about our values from first principles: what do I, as a parent, want in a school? How do I get it? What about defending my home? How do I get information in a world where the New York Times has become Pravda and Nature become Lysenko? What does university offer that isn’t available free on YouTube? In every case, we discovered that we could get more for less, that the “commons” so fetishized by statists is nothing but a sprawling flea market with West Elm pricing. Home schooling, gun sales, and home remodeling were through the roof last year, and that is great news. High quality journalism flourished on Twitter and Substack, while medical journals and newspapers beclowned themselves in tantrums of mendacity. That, too, is great news. The decay of the public sphere is compensated for by the reinvigoration of the private sphere. As you watch our institutions burn, don’t grab the fire extinguisher, grab marshmallows.
Stanford’s war on social life:
Since 2013, Stanford’s administration has executed a top-to-bottom destruction of student social life. Driven by a fear of uncontrollable student spontaneity and a desire to enforce equity on campus, a growing administrative bureaucracy has destroyed almost all of Stanford’s distinctive student culture.
What happened at Stanford is a cultural revolution on the scale of a two-mile college campus. In less than a decade, Stanford’s administration eviscerated a hundred years of undergraduate culture and social groups. They ended decades-old traditions. They drove student groups out of their houses. They scraped names off buildings. They went after long-established hubs of student life, like fraternities and cultural theme houses. In place of it all, Stanford erected a homogenous housing system that sorts new students into perfectly equitable groups named with letters and numbers. All social distinction is gone.
Pop culture has become an oligopoly:
Caleb loses his job:
Someone wrote a bad review, took my picture, said the barista wasn’t friendly. People don’t want an angry ape steaming their milk. Fine. The American public’s standard for most things is in the toilet but its standard for friendly service is out beyond the moon. I don’t spit in faces or piss in drinks, I greet people, ask what they want and give it to them. It’s my look, my brooding aura, my reserve. They want a friend for two minutes. Someone who helps them feel welcome. They want lively banter and a break from their boring routines. I want to keep my head down and go home.
American society doesn’t just force you to work. That would be normal and unavoidable. It forces you to want to work. Not only to want it, but to show that you want it, to convince everyone that you want to mop floors and talk to strangers all day. They won’t let you have your melancholy. They want to know how you’re doing, as long as you’re doing well. Just as everyone wants you to be free, as long your free choice suits them.
Where I worked, you could show up late day after day, you could spend half the shift on your phone. You don’t need to know how to make good coffee, the syrup will cover the flaws, the decor will mask the rot. People don’t taste and feel, they consume with their eyes. They consume through the eyes of others.
The only thing you can’t do is tarnish the brand. Displease a customer. Bad reviews matter more than bad lives, bad days. A thousand good reviews shrink before one man who didn’t get his balls cradled when he ordered a latte.
I once had a customer-facing position and got in trouble for being unhappy. The boss told me, “You can’t just come in here and mourn!’ Naturally cheerful people probably get an unfair advantage in working life, like pretty girls or tall men.
Kenya alarm after carrier bag mistaken for stray lion:
The strange reason Yakuza bosses don’t use smartphones (not security).