Sunday, January 23, 2022

Hey, Did You Know BuzzFeed Was Publicly Traded?

When BuzzFeed published the Steele Dossier in 2017 I thought* they, like the Nazis in 1940, were a lock for a bet-the-ranch, they're going on a thousand year run kind of action.

Instead it looks like they took a perfectly fine SPAC that was trading right around its cash per share value and

I wonder if cornerstone investors NBC Universal and Andreessen Horowitz made it out alive.
*That's a big fat whopper. Here's your humble blogger on Mr. Steele's Dossier, January 13, 2017 :

More Just as importantly, after reading the schlocky, amateur, borderline retarded "35 pages" thing, how could anyone ever again justify paying Orbis Business Intelligence actual money for anything they produce?

Well, at least we still have the 2014 Wolf of BuzzFeed video:


They probably should have stuck with listicles.

Looking back there were signs, like when you are getting sued and plaintiff's counsel decides to ridicule you in their response to your motion to dismiss and the court allows it:

Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Best Court Filing This Week: Libel Case Against BuzzFeed Edition
From the

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT  SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF FLORIDA  MIAMI DIVISION

ALEKSEJ GUBAREV, XBT HOLDINGS S.A., and WEBZILLA, INC. Plaintiffs,
v.
BUZZFEED, INC. and BEN SMITH Defendants.

Case No. 0:17-cv-60426-UU

In a somewhat remarkable Motion to Dismiss, Plaintiffs Buzzfeed, Inc. (“Buzzfeed”) and Ben Smith (“Mr. Smith”) intimate that their ties to Florida are so sparse that, collectively, they can barely find Florida on a map and that, as a result, the present case should be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction or transferred to the Southern District of New York....
....MORE

"Svalbard Minute by Minute"

Can you feel the excitement?

From NRK, Norwegian public television, January 27, 2020:

The Norwegian public broadcaster, NRK, marks the 100th anniversary of the Svalbard Treaty by offering the longest slow TV-broadcast ever: A nine-day Arctic expedition around Spitsbergen, the largest of the Svalbard islands. The broadcast premieres Friday, January 31.

Viewers will be dazzled by jaw-dropping scenery and close encounters with natural wildlife during the nine-day, five hour and 59-minute long broadcast. Or: The 13 319 minutes of slow TV - uninterrupted.

The journey will be broadcast in its entirety on channel NRK2 in Norway from 6 PM (CET) January 31. until February 9, 2020. International viewers can follow the spectacular expedition online: https://www.nrk.no/svalbard/

The NRK team joined Hurtigruten's expedition ship «MS Spitsbergen» in August of 2019.

– Through 17 cameras, an abundance of stories, history and information, all accompanied by Norwegian and Sámi music, we offer viewers from all over the world the closest and most sustainable way possible to experience the real deal. This is the slowest – and at the same time the most amazing slow production so far, promises NRKs Project Lead, Thomas Hellum. Hellum is the master mind behind all the previous slow-TV productions from NRK: Slow TV....

....MORE, now on video rather than live but with the addition of instant-replay so you don't miss any of the action.

When the show was first announced our reaction was
"Norway's Slow TV to feature Svalbard round the clock for nine days"
Sounds good but I don't see how anything can top National Knitting Night.*
 Jus' sayin'
*****
* "National Knitting Night":
https://cbsnews3.cbsistatic.com/hub/i/r/2017/05/04/b9c6c64b-79be-486f-a19f-55dc33559616/resize/620x/07f58ea55ea169d5d63c2080d9293294/slow-tv-knitting-eve-620.jpg
which was followed by the sequels
  • National Knitting Evening
  • National Knitting Morning
because, as Rune Moklebust, one of the the producers said:
"Well, it has to be unique -- not a copy of the last one,"
"So we have to push the boundaries for each show, I think."
We'll be back with 18 hours of salmon swimming upstream if I can find it.
(not quite as soothing, you start rooting for the salmon and, well it can get intense) 

Food Queues, USSR Style

Coming Soon, To A Store Near You!

From the queue management mavens at Qminder:

Back in the USSR: The Art of Soviet Queues

Queues are a thing that came to happen naturally in many countries around the world, but there’s been one country where queues were an important part of life. This country is not even on the map anymore — it’s the Soviet Union.

Queue-standing in the USSR was not only a means of getting something — it was almost a sport, an activity in itself. Queues were a good enough reason to socialize, share news, gossip and pass time.

Have you ever complained about how long you had to wait? Let’s roll back a few decades and see whether you don’t have it as bad as you think.

A Brief History of the Soviet Union Breadlines
We can’t talk about Soviet queues without talking about breadlines.

The word “breadline” is something that, in itself, has become almost synonymous with communism. Soviet economy was, to quote Peter Gatrell, “an economy of absolute shortage”.

In fact, even the October Revolution of 1917 was caused partly by bread shortages. The subsequent Civil War did nothing to help the situation, and in 1920, grain production was only at 60% of its prewar numbers.

The failure to provide the population with bread, capitalize on the country’s agricultural potential, and create reasonable allocation policies led to several famines in the first half of the 20th century. Most infamous, the Povolzhye Famine, claimed lives of five million people.

This scarcity spread over to other products. In post-Stalin era, there were efforts to improve the lives of citizens by increasing wages and mass-manufacturing basic consumer goods (soap, shoes, clothes, etc.). Despite all that, queues remained the central part of the existence in the USSR.

Scarcity of food and consumer goods went uninterrupted for the entire durations of the Soviet Union’s existence. It is Gorbachev’s refusal to change the state price policy that worsened the shortages.

It’s arguable what exactly led to the USSR’s eventual collapse in 1991, but it’s self-evident that shortages became the tell-tale sign of the degradation of the centrally-planned economy.

And has the USSR tried to fight against its growing queues and unsatisfactory customer experience? It has, but as you might have guessed from us discussing this topic right now, not to great effect.

Reports from the NKVD mention thousand-people long queues in city stores in the late 30s and early 40s. Instead of trying to improve the situation, law enforcement agencies went about it their own way.

In 1940, queues were practically outlawed: there could be a queue inside a store during its working hours, but queues outside the store were punishable by fines.

That’s like putting on makeup on a leper — it’s a surface-level “cure” that only serves to make you not notice open sores.

Queues and Life in the USSR
But the question remains, where did queues come from in the USSR?

Naturally, queues form whenever the number of people seeking a product or a service exceeds the number of available products or service providers.

This situation, familiar to everyone in our modern capitalist times, was grossly exacerbated by the Soviet-style planned economy, where most products — with the exception of military equipment — were produced in inadequate quantities.

No matter how people may wax nostalgic about the USSR’s supposed superiority in quality, most Soviet products were far from top-grade items.

And the reason? No free market and no commercial competition, which means no matter the quality, the products were going to be snatched from the shelves, either way.

To put it simply, there was no incentive for manufacturers to do better. In a closed economy, buyer has limited choice and thus also limited rights....

....MUCH MORE

And from Young Pioneer Tours*:

7. Soviet Shopping
A man walks into a shop. He asks the clerk, “You don’t have any meat?” The clerk says, “No, here we don’t have any fish. The shop that doesn’t have any meat is across the street.”
*Low cost tours including:
And many, many more

"The Wild World of Threats" The Perils of Bluster and Bluff

From Nautil.us, January 19:

The Wild World of Threats
Animals, including us, evolved to bluster and bluff at their peril.

You’re confronting a spider, up close, womano-a-womano. The tiny creature rears back on its hindmost legs and assumes a threatening posture, ridiculous given that you could easily squash it with your shoe. Yet everyone understands the gesture, even though to locate the most recent common ancestor shared by the two of you, you’d have to go back roughly half a billion years. The basic language of threat is nearly as old as that other basic language, DNA. Threats between living things have long been grist for the evolutionary mill. And human beings aren’t immune.

As I write this, Russia’s Vladimir Putin is threatening to invade Ukraine. He sees Ukraine as a threat to his power and country were it to join NATO. Ukraine, NATO, and the United States are responding with counterthreats. For all we know, the threats are real; certainly, none is ridiculous. The consequences are immense, with war in the balance.

A threat, as I consider it here, involves an effort at deterrence, communicating that if someone does something that the threatener seeks to prevent, the consequences—typically some form of retaliation—will be sufficiently aversive to prevent the potential perpetrator from perpetrating in the first place. Living things are typically equipped with a range of intimidating options, not just baring teeth and claws, but also displaying horns, antlers, poison fangs, bony shields, uttering scary hisses and formidable roars, puffing body up, flattening ears down, rattling, hissing, spitting, screaming, flapping wings, staring unwaveringly, even sometimes becoming weirdly quiet. 

 

Heavy Armor: Pound for pound—more accurately, gram for gram—
the mantis shrimp is among the most heavily armed of all animals. 
worldclassphoto / Shutterstock

Things get interesting when threat-purveyors exaggerate their capabilities, leading recipients, on occasion, to call their bluff, which in turn results in the threatener trying to maintain credibility while the target seeks to determine whether the threat is genuine. Most people wouldn’t take a spider’s threat seriously, but it’s a different story for another spider, or a would-be spider predator, who might well be uncertain what to do next. Believe the threat or see through it?

When threatening another animal, standard procedure is for threateners to make themselves seem larger, more dangerous, imposing, stronger, healthier, more experienced, and more motivated than they really are, all in the service of avoiding actual combat while preventing an opponent from taking their food, nest site, mate, or, quite simply from attacking. For the threat to work, the threatener must signal that it has weapons and is willing to use them. Even if neither is true. Talk is cheap, certainly cheaper than fighting, so getting your way via a threat is often a good deal.

It’s fine to speak softly and carry a big stick, but if your stick is small, why not speak loudly anyhow, and hope that will work? Animals no less than people often do just that, bluffing and blustering and threatening to blow the other guy’s house down. One might expect no limit to the aggressive braggadocio out there in the natural world; the payoff to exaggerated threat-making can be great, while the costs appear small.

Bertrand Russell likened the U.S. and the Soviet Union to battling scorpions,
which may have been unfair to scorpions.

But the costs could be high—notably if your bluff is called. When a threat is “honest,” that is, backed up with inclination and ability to meet a push with a shove, there is little payoff to calling a threatener’s bluff. But the more widespread and the more “dishonest” the bluffing, the greater the temptation to question its legitimacy. Honesty, we like to think, is the best policy. Natural born liars, in the biological world, must confront a practical problem that is often shared with their human counterparts: Deceivers run the risk of being tripped up in their dishonesty, especially if their bluff is called. The key is credibility, or rather, the problem of achieving it.

Animals with effective weapons that can intimidate their rivals are not shy about calling attention to their armament, which often carry what biologists call a “reliability component”—characteristics that are impossible to fake—baked into the structure of the weapons themselves. Their threats are likely to be credible and effective....

.... MUCH MORE

"French cannibal Jeremy Rimbaud escapes psych ward, attacks woman"

There's a headline you don't want to see more than about one in a lifetime.

From the New York Post:

A French cannibal who murdered a farmer and cooked his heart and tongue with white beans escaped from a psych ward this week — and brutally attacked a random woman walking her dog, according to reports.....

....MUCH MORE

Apparently the Post is the go-to source for cannibal news:

Evelyn Farkas Says: "The US Must Prepare for War Against Russia Over Ukraine"

In 1970 Ozzy Osborne said:

Generals gathered in their masses, 
just like witches at black masses. 
Evil minds that plot destruction, 
sorcerers of death's construction. 
In the fields the bodies burning, 
as the war machine keeps turning. 
Death and hatred to mankind, 
poisoning their brainwashed minds. 
Oh lord, yeah!

From DefenseOne, January 11, 2021:

If Putin is not deterred from seizing another chunk of sovereign territory, he won’t stop there.

President Vladimir Putin is more likely than not to invade Ukraine again in the coming weeks. As someone who helped President Barack Obama manage the U.S. and international response to Russia’s initial invasion of Ukraine in 2014, and our effort to keep Moscow from occupying the whole country into 2015, I am distressingly convinced of it. 

Why? I see the scale and type of force arrayed by the Russian military, the ultimatums issued by Putin and his officials, the warlike rhetoric that has until recently saturated Russian airwaves, and the impatience with talks expressed by his foreign minister. Add to that the likely anxiety produced in Putin by the demonstrations last week in Kazakhstan—and Moscow’s success in tamping them down. 

But the basic reason I think talks with Russia will fail is that the United States and its allies have nothing they can immediately offer Moscow in exchange for a de-escalation. 

The United States must do more than issue ultimatums about sanctions and economic penalties. U.S. leaders should be marshalling an international coalition of the willing, readying military forces to deter Putin and, if necessary, prepare for war. 

If Russia prevails again, we will remain stuck in a crisis not just over Ukraine but about the future of the global order far beyond that country’s borders. Left unrestrained, Putin will move swiftly, grab some land, consolidate his gains, and set his sights on the next satellite state in his long game to restore all the pre-1991 borders: the sphere of geographical influence he deems was unjustly stripped from Great Russia.....

....MUCH MORE

Farkas was deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia at the time of the 2014 U.S. backed coup in Ukraine, serving President Obama from 2012 through 2015.

In the Opinion piece above Farkas continues:

....The horrible possibility exists that Americans, with our European allies, must use our military to roll back Russians—even at risk of direct combat. But if we don’t now, Putin will force us to fight another day, likely to defend our Baltic or other Eastern European allies....

but does not mention that the Baltic countries as well as the four frontline nations that border Ukraine are all members of NATO with its Article 5 mutual self-defense clause which makes them such an immensely different case that her conflation of them with Ukraine is straight-up deception.

Additionally, just on a tactical level, should Russia invade eastern Ukraine, every mile the tanks roll past the Donbas region, the Russian-speaking states of Donetsk and Luhansk:

https://www.abc.net.au/cm/lb/5297958/data/ukraine-ethnic-divide-data.png

 (ABC.au)

the more popular resistance, backed by the western powers, the Russians will face. Putin knows this.

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Followup: "Confusion over UK claim that Putin plans coup in Ukraine"

 Following on the post immediately below, UK Gov. Press Release: "Kremlin plan to install pro-Russian leadership in Ukraine exposed".

From The Guardian:

Foreign Office claim of plot to install pro-Moscow government in Kyiv comes with scant detail

The Foreign Office has said that it had exposed evidence of a plot to install a pro-Moscow government in Ukraine, and Boris Johnson promised to “ramp up pressure on Russia”, as his own domestic political troubles deepened.

Saturday’s rare reference to intelligence-gathering went into almost no detail about a conspiracy that, if accurate, could mean a serious escalation in the threat to Ukraine. Politicians there were sceptical that the government could be replaced without a full-blown invasion of the capital, Kyiv.

The Foreign Office also said it had information on former Ukrainian politicians who had links with Russian intelligence services, and listed five men. “Some of these have contact with Russian intelligence officers currently involved in the planning for an attack,” the statement added.

However four of the five men live in exile in Moscow, making their ties to Russia’s leadership less a matter of subterfuge than public record.

The Foreign Office’s claims were thrown into further confusion when the man it named as a “potential candidate” as Moscow’s presidential pick told the Observer he would make an unlikely candidate to head a puppet government for Moscow.

“You’ve made my evening. The British Foreign Office seems confused,” said former Ukrainian MP Yevhen Murayev, laughing....

....MUCH MORE

This may all just be a Foreign Office diversion for a different coup, via The Times:

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/imageserver/image/%2Fmethode%2Fsundaytimes%2Fprod%2Fweb%2Fbin%2Fb9bc4a22-79f1-11ec-846f-fcbd721f9c02.jpg?crop=1600%2C900%2C0%2C0&resize=1200 

UK Gov. Press Release: "Kremlin plan to install pro-Russian leadership in Ukraine exposed"

 Why, why, that would reverse the 2014 U.S. backed coup that ousted pro-Russian Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and got us into this mess in the first place.

1000 Canadian Trucks On The Way To Ottawa To Protest The Cross-Border Vaccine Mandate

From ChatNewsToday.ca (Alberta Canada), January 21:

Trucker protest to Ottawa to pass through Medicine Hat

MEDICINE HAT, AB — Expect to see a big convoy of semi trailers on Highway One soon – as part of a protest of vaccine mandates for truckers.

Organizers say up to a thousand trucks will pass through Medicine Hat Monday morning.

“We do not want to specifically block roads, we’re just gonna continue down the right hand lane doin’ our thing,” protest organizer Colin Valentim told supporters on Facebook this week....

....MUCH MORE

 

With Germany Basically Out Of The Military Alliance Would Europeans Fight For Ukraine?

And if the Europeans wouldn't why on earth would the Americans?

First it was Germany's demand that Britain avoid German airspace to deliver weapons to Ukraine:

And then it was Germany's demand that Estonia not ship formerly East German weapons to Kiev (below).

We post the announcement of the German–Soviet Commercial Agreement of 1940 in most of our stories on Nord Stream 2 and/or Polish opposition not simply as a sly reference back to the 1939 Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact and its secret annex on how Germany and the USSR would split-up Eastern Europe:

"Berlin, Moscow Negotiate New Trade Accord".
—Reading Eagle
Feb. 12, 1940

but because it is being repeated in this century.

And I haven't, since 2018, been posting on the close personal relationship between Putin and Schröder only because, well, true bromance:

...As the kids say: Find someone to look at you the way Putin looks at Gerhard Schröder.
https://img.zeit.de/wirtschaft/unternehmen/2017-08/gerhard-schroeder-wladimir-putin-rosneft/wide__820x461__desktop

They also hug a lot.
 A lot.

Herr Schröder was Germany's Chancellor before Mutti came in.
Gazprom has paid him a lot of money. 

but because it sets the table for what is being served up.

And this bit in 2021 from Steinmeier: "We owe Russia the Nord Stream pipeline over Nazi atrocities, says German president".

Rather we post because we are trying to tease out how the cards will fall should tensions boil over. And with this latest from the Wall Street Journal the answer is crystal clear:

 WSJ  Updated Jan. 21, 2022 3:20 pm ET 
Germany Blocks NATO Ally From Transferring Weapons to Ukraine

Refusal to permit Estonia to transfer artillery that originated in Germany points to strains in Western alliance over Ukraine 

Germany is blocking North Atlantic Treaty Organization ally Estonia from giving military support to Ukraine by refusing to issue permits for German-origin weapons to be exported to Kyiv as it braces for a potential Russian invasion.

Unlike the U.S., Britain, Poland and other allies, the German government has declined to export lethal weapons directly to Ukraine.

In the case of Estonia, a small country on Russia’s northern border, Berlin is also refusing to allow a third country to send artillery to Ukraine because the weaponry originated in Germany, according to Estonian and German officials.

The issue is being seen by Western security specialists and Ukraine as a test of Berlin’s arms-transfer policy during a mounting crisis in Europe and points to the difficulties the U.S. and its European allies are facing in forging a common response to Russia’s military buildup near Ukraine and demands.

“Germany, they have a lot of hesitation to deliver to us,” Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.

German officials said the impasse results from a longstanding policy regarding arms exports to tense regions.

“The principle governing arms exports is always the same—whether they come directly from Germany or from third countries—and no permission has been issued at this stage,” a German government spokesman said. “It is not possible to estimate the outcome of the process at this moment,” he added.

An Estonian government official said that his government is still trying to persuade Germany to change its mind....

....MUCH MORE

With those cards on the table it would be stupid for the frontline countries, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary or Romania to do anything to defend Ukraine, much less risk a single soldier's life in the name of NATO.

In the case of Poland it would be doubly stupid considering their history with the Ukrainian frenemy and the fact that huge chunks of eastern Polish territory annexed by the Soviets remain with Ukraine.

"Police: Truck with 100 monkeys crashes, some of them missing"

The primates are wising up.

From the Associated Press, January 22:

A truck carrying about 100 monkeys was involved in a crash Friday in Pennsylvania, state police said as authorities searched for at least three of the monkeys that appeared to have escaped the vehicle....

...The truck had been on its way to a lab, Pelachick said....

HT: Investment Hulk who, as we noted on Thursday is responding to recent market moves by  scouring the internet for crazy.

Probably related to the coming uprising: Breaking Quarantine: "Baboon ready for vasectomy escapes with 2 female pals".

Although I don't much care for baboons or chimpanzees, I am partial to orangutans:


"Web3 doesn’t eliminate the problems posed by social media; it capitalizes on them"

From Real Life Magazine:

Money-Go-Round

A towering wave of hype and speculation is forming around “Web3,” fueled by speculative windfalls, blockchain boosterism, and a general dissatisfaction with the established social media platforms. Cryptocurrency-based forms of interacting with internet content — e.g. NFTs — are the essence of what passes for Web3 innovation. They have moved into such fields as gaming, the art market, and the sales pitch for Facebook’s Metaverse; they have been touted as designer accessories, Twitter profile-pic bling, and as a means to try to legitimate exclusive ownership in digital marketplaces. 

Yet the idea that “Web3” constitutes some new framework that corrects or repudiates the problems of the previous “Web 2.0” paradigm misrepresents the emerging interactions and continuities between them. As interested parties try to push NFTs and crypto into the mainstream, they don’t upend the current platforms’ mass markets and cultures of virality but become embedded within them.   

Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok — the bedrock of what’s being post-scripted as Web 2.0 — may appear to focus on publishing user-generated content, but their main product is virality. Their interfaces, replenishable feeds, audience metrics, and ranking algorithms are all aimed at creating and rewarding viral content. Its spreadability and instantaneity connects people, refashioning user bases into industrial-sized audiences, or “communities,” as those platforms tend to euphemistically describe them. Virality connects audiences and attracts advertising revenue; it determines the spaces and markets that social media currently monopolize.   

After all, it’s not as if any content is intrinsically contagious. Virality depends not on really great dance moves or memes but global distribution systems that take advantage of digital media’s easy reproducibility while simultaneously tracking its circulation. It is a product of platforms operating at scale, which requires a global user base and the computational power to track and support a massive number of user interactions — millions per second for the likes of Google and Facebook. Viral content is dependent on the platform architectures and underlying legal structures on which it transpires and flows. The larger the platform, the more it operates at scale and centralizes its distribution mechanisms, and the more widespread, instantaneous, and valuable virality becomes....

....MUCH MORE

Analyzing Market Madness

Someone really, really knows their stuff.

From the comments:

“Changes his handles and switches to crypto” is a good summary of 2020-2021 FinTwit

@pelotonholder calling it a "generational buying opportunity" 

And from Buyback Capital:

Friday, January 21, 2022

NFT's And The Metaverse: "When the Stagnation Goes Virtual"

"But there is no natural scarcity in the digital world.
All the scarcity in this metaverse economy has to be imposed,
against the nature of the medium, at great effort and energy cost.
In the physical world, competition exists by necessity.
In the metaverse, it exists for its own sake—or maybe for the sake of investors."

 From Palladium, January 21:

It was day three of NFT.NYC, and I had a headache. I had spent the night before in a series of Ubers from Brooklyn to Times Square and back again, fielding texts about which VC-sponsored rave was happening when. As I queued for this morning’s event, a “Digital Fashion Breakfast” on 6th Avenue, I was still trying to convince myself that all those parties counted as networking.

NFT.NYC was a 5,000 person extravaganza described by The New York Times as a coming-out party for the emerging NFT subculture. The event itself consisted of a $600-per-ticket conference held in Times Square, as well as over a hundred satellite events spread across New York. Early adopters and speculators came to New York to revel in their newfound cachet and meet their internet friends in real life.

NFTs (non-fungible tokens) are a notation in a blockchain that indicates a certain account owns the material hosted at a particular URL. The term “NFT” has become synonymous with digital art, but the object of an NFT can technically point to anything: an animation, a sound file, or even virtual real estate. Most of the time, NFTs are used to indicate ownership of easily copyable digital assets like JPEG images.

The fashion breakfast was hosted by a startup called DressX, an LA-based project that makes virtual clothing you can project on your body like a Snapchat filter. Attendance required spotting the invitation in an invite-only Telegram group for NFT.NYC attendees, then emailing one of the hosts to plead your case.

Despite the attempts at secrecy, the DressX venue was overflowing. DressX had booked the entire café, a moderately chic spot called L’Adresse, and people poured in from the street long after the 9:30 am start time. The crowd was young, female, and impeccably dressed, a far cry from the grungy twenty-eight-year-old traders who populated most of the conference. I was seated across from a bleach-blond lawyer wearing a tweed dress and a nose ring. She recently left her corporate job to focus on “web3 law” full-time.

She asked me what I was doing in New York. I told her that I am a student trying to learn more about NFTs.

The lawyer worked for the startup founder seated next to me. His company made virtual helmets for the metaverse. He showed me a mockup of the helmet design on his phone. The helmets had a blank rectangle in the front where users can display their personal NFT collection.

The helmets are just a proof of concept, he told me. Long term, he wants to make digital suits with lots of surface area for brand sponsorships.

“Like NASCAR?” I joked, imagining an army of avatars running around in flight suits covered in Burger King logos.

“Exactly,” he said. “Like NASCAR.”

* * *

After another half-hour of small talk, the DressX founders got up to the front of the café, and the room quieted down. They were both young women from Ukraine, maybe twenty-five or twenty-six. Someone pulled up a Powerpoint, and the two founders started walking us through the logic of DressX.

Fashion, one of the founders began, is one of the most wasteful industries in the world. Hundreds of millions of pounds of clothes go into landfills every year, and for what? So that you can wear an outfit once for an Instagram photo and then discard it. In contrast to wasteful, impractical physical fashion, digital fashion is instant, perfectly sustainable, and accessible to anyone. Just buy the NFT for some digital earrings or a digital sweater and voila. No wait, no waste. (And don’t look too closely at the energy burned to secure digital scarcity.) She flicked to a selection of photos showing a mix of real-life Instagram models and virtual avatars mugging in stylish virtual dresses.

The crowd was nodding along. At this point, the second founder piped up. “Plus, we will need clothes for the metaverse!”

The metaverse comment struck a nerve. People started clapping, louder and louder until the café was ringing. The DressX girls giggled and took their seats as the applause continued.

Later, when everyone returned to small talk, there was a buzz in the air I can only describe as hope.

We will need clothes for the metaverse....

....MUCH MORE

Dogbert On Publishing, Consulting And Podcasts

I was about to add blogging to the headline but realized Joel Achenbach had it covered.

From Dilbert:

January 18

https://assets.amuniversal.com/e01651505201013a90d6005056a9545d

January 19

https://assets.amuniversal.com/e2cb63e05201013a90d6005056a9545d

And from the Washington Post's Joel Achenbach in 2008:

"...When in doubt, go with the most hysterical headline.
(Rule one of blogging is that the End Of The World will be good for page views.)"

Truckers Entering The U.S. From Canada and Mexico Will Now Be Required To Show Proof Of Vaccination, No More Critical Worker Exemption

From the Department of Homeland Security:

DHS to Require Non-U.S. Individual Travelers Entering the United States at Land Ports of Entry and Ferry Terminals to be Fully Vaccinated Against COVID-19

Release Date: 
January 20, 2022

En español

New Requirements at Land Ports of Entry and Ferry Terminals Will Protect Public Health While Facilitating Cross-Border Trade and Travel

WASHINGTON – Beginning on January 22, 2022, DHS will require non-U.S. individuals seeking to enter the United States via land ports of entry and ferry terminals at the U.S.-Mexico and U.S.-Canada borders to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and provide related proof of vaccination, as COVID-19 cases continue to rise nationwide. These new restrictions will apply to non-U.S. individuals who are traveling for both essential and non-essential reasons. They will not apply to U.S. citizens, Lawful Permanent Residents, or U.S. nationals.

“Starting on January 22, 2022, the Department of Homeland Security will require that non-U.S. individuals entering the United States via land ports of entry or ferry terminals along our Northern and Southern borders be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and be prepared to show related proof of vaccination,” said Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas. “These updated travel requirements reflect the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to protecting public health while safely facilitating the cross-border trade and travel that is critical to our economy.”

These changes – which were first announced in October 2021 and made in consultation with the White House and several federal agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – will align public health measures that govern land travel with those that govern incoming international air travel.

Non-U.S. individuals traveling to the United States via land ports of entry or ferry terminals, whether for essential or non-essential reasons, must:

  • verbally attest to their COVID-19 vaccination status;
  • provide proof of a CDC-approved COVID-19 vaccination, as outlined on the CDC website;
  • present a valid Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI)-compliant document, such as a valid passport, Trusted Traveler Program card, or Enhanced Tribal Card; and,
  • be prepared to present any other relevant documents requested by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer during a border inspection.

COVID-19 testing is not required for entry via a land port of entry or ferry terminal....

....MUCH MORE

This follows on the Canadian mandate last Saturday and appears to be a deliberate attempt to cause chaos to no good effect. If interested see especially the second article in "U.S. vaccine mandate on freight drivers coming from Canada may exacerbate auto supply chain shortage" as well as: 

As noted in the outro from "White House Ready To Deploy "Tools" For Oil Price Control":

Keeping in mind the Chaos prism through which we view such situations, it would appear this is exactly the position someone or someones desired.

"In politics, nothing happens by accident. 
If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way."
—Franklin D. Roosevelt

Attention Chefs, Cooks, and Chemists: "NASA Offering $1 Million Prize for Better Space Food"

From ExtremeTech, January 21:

Human space exploration has been limited to low-Earth orbit for decades, but that period of stagnation is coming to an end. NASA aims to return humans to the moon in the coming decade, and the goal is to set up a long-term presence there to help with future missions to Mars. There are rockets, space stations, and other equipment in development, but the food menu is still sparse. To remedy this NASA has announced a new round of the Deep Space Food Challenge, and this round of the competition comes with $1 million in prizes for teams that can come up with innovative foods that can be prepared in space. 

To address this, NASA partnered with the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) to launch the Deep Space Food Challenge in 2021. The agency awarded $450,000 total to teams based on concepts for stable, nutritious space foods. Now, NASA is inviting teams from the first round as well as newcomers to participate in phase 2. Teams that participated in phase 1 are automatically invited to phase 2, but everyone else needs to apply before the end of February. In addition, the cash prizes are only available to US-based teams (although anyone can participate). The CSA is running a parallel process with its own judges and prizes for Canadian teams....

....MUCH MORE

Could You Use A Second Brain? "The Filing Cabinet: A Vertical History of Information"

Information storage and retrieval, very important.

From New York Magazine's The Cut, December 22, 2021:

The 20th century brought with it a deluge of paper. As American businesses expanded in both number and scale in the wake of the Civil War, so did their printed material; there were graphs, memos, charts, forms, and more correspondence than ever. This “paperization” eventually spilled into the home, where a rise in personal documentation meant that houses were filling up with bills, letters, tax forms, receipts, birth certificates, recipes clipped from magazines. As these archives ballooned, a new technology rose in popularity: the filing cabinet, whose history the scholar Craig Robertson documents in The Filing Cabinet: A Vertical History of Information. One 1918 advertisement described the filing cabinet as “oracle-like” with a “great gigantic memory”: “It is only a bit o’ steel, yet no brain was ever made / That could wholly supersede it with the busy business man.” The filing cabinet, then, was better than a human brain — it could hold and organize the entire contents of one’s professional and domestic life, broken down into discrete bits of information and made retrievable at will.

Not everyone was happy with the invention. The writer Montrose J. Moses was wary of how filing cabinets externalized personal memory: What would be the consequences of trying to turn every aspect of your life into “information” to be hoarded for later? “You can’t expect yourself to say, when you give your wife the first kiss, ‘File that, my dear, for future reference,’ ” he wrote in 1930.

Nearly a century later, Moses’s anxiety has become our reality. We are constantly turning our lives into data, much of it nonphysical: photographs and screenshots and stray notes, reams of text messages and bookmarked tabs and other digital detritus. I could tell you with a glance at my iPhone exactly where I was on October 24, 2015, or how many hours of sleep I got last night. This compendium of self-knowledge seems only to expand, prompting our devices to expand along with it: The first iPhone’s maximum storage space was 16 gigabytes, while the newest release offers a terabyte. By now, we may even rely on our devices’ memories so completely that we’ve lost our ability to recall things without them. But the contents of our digital memories have themselves grown unwieldy, fractured across multiple devices and accounts, impossible to process.

Possibly related: 

Information Infrastructure: The Filing Cabinet
I admit it. I get a bit obsessive with information storage and retrieval. As noted in an April 2020 post:

The shipping industry will need a $200 price on carbon to get to zero emissions

The policy prescriptions being chosen guarantee higher prices. There is no way around that fact, it is the goal. 

Reducing temperature is not the goal. If a person asks the question, "How many degrees will this policy decrease the temperature" you get blank stares, followed by handwaving, followed by vilification.

Yet it is very straightforward, if the goal is to limit temperature rise, there is this tool that scientists (and others, many others) use called math that would give us the answer but you never see things put in terms of degrees. We have targets expressed in degrees (stay below 2° or 1.5° or whateber, we have targets that reference megatonnes of carbon but we never get the answer to the question "How much, in degrees Celsius, will $200 carbon reduce the temperature?"

Regarding this basic question, almost childlike in its simplicity, "How much will your plan reduce the temperature? (not how much CO2 is avoided or removed)" that no one really cares to answer in a forthright manner, we have the example of the Kyoto Protocol. 
....This has helped form my personal belief that carbon trading is not going to lower world temperature by even a half-a-degree.

For example, in an October 1998 article in Nature, Martin Parry (Co-chair of the IPCC's Working Group II) said the effect of the Kyoto Protocol (and it's associated carbon trading, CDM etc. [articles 6,12 and 17 of the protocol]) would be a reduction of –0.05°C by the year 2050.
Tom Wigley of the National Center for Atmospheric Research estimated that Kyoto would result in a reduction from baseline of 0.06°C to 0.21°C . (under one Kyoto scenario 0.06 to 0.11°C, under another 0.11 to 0.21).

And the headline story from Quartz, January 21:

For decades, the global supply chain has been powered by the dirtiest, cheapest fuel, a sludgy byproduct of oil refineries, called bunker fuel or marine fuel oil. Black smoke billowed from the world’s fleet of 50,000 cargo vessels, accumulating to 3% of annual global carbon emissions, a larger share than all but six countries. But cheap fuel meant cheap shipping, and there was little incentive to do anything about it.

In the last two years or so, the drumbeat has grown for the shipping industry to decarbonize and the path to zero-emissions shipping had begun to coalesce around hydrogen-derived fuels—which emit no carbon when burned—and its carriers, like ammonia or methanol.

However, hydrogen generation is a nascent industry, and the fuel is currently being produced in small quantities at prices expected to be two to five times more expensive than marine fuel oil. For cargo ships, which fuel up with more than a 1,000 tons at a time, those prices are unattractive, if not prohibitive.

As long as fossil fuels are cheap, zero-carbon fuels won’t take off. A carbon tax changes the calculus of which fuel an industry uses by making fossil fuels more expensive.

Making bunker fuel as expensive as hydrogen

According to a report (pdf) released this week by the Getting to Zero Coalition, an industry group led by the think tank Global Maritime Forum, to make zero-emissions fuels competitive, each metric ton of carbon emitted by burning marine fuel oil will need to be taxed at an average of $200 per ton of carbon emitted to phase out emissions-belching fuels between 2030 and 2050. For comparison, the European Union’s carbon trading scheme has a price, as of December 2021, of about $100 per ton of carbon.

Burning a ton of marine fuel oil releases 3.2 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere. A carbon tax of $200 per ton would therefore add $640 on top of the price of a ton of marine fuel oil, which today is roughly $600 per ton, totaling to $1240, more than doubling the cost of fuel at the bunkering station for each ship. There are a lot of moving market forces that will determine the future price of green ammonia fuel, but estimates put it in the range of $1300 to $2400 per ton, once it is being generated at scale.

Government policy, such as tax credits per ton of emissions reduced, could help bridge the gap further.

The technology is there, but not the political will

The Forum’s report lays out multiple market and regulatory scenarios around effective carbon prices.

For now, $200 is the average price, based on beginning as low as $11 and potentially climbing to as high as $360, depending on what other mechanisms are in place. Kasper Søgaard, head of institutional strategy at the Global Maritime Forum, says that a carbon price lower than $200 could be effective, particularly if the funds are funneled to building out and scaling green hydrogen and ammonia production, driving down the price. Eventually, perhaps around 2040, once a global green hydrogen infrastructure is built out, banning fossil fuels may be more efficient than disincentivizing its use with carbon prices....

....MUCH MORE

If you can find where they answer the introductory question, send up the Bat Signal.  

Wait. On second thought, no bats.

Are You Feeling Too Chipper? Afraid You Might Lose Control And Buy The Dip? Talk To The Curisosity Mars Rover

Cheerfulness can be a killer so it might be wise to take heed of the between-the-lines-message of this eleven-year-old post:

Thursday, December 20, 2012
Ask the Curiosity Rover

The press release from Curiosity on Tuesday (yes, it is handling its own p.r.) that there was one last leg of the Yellowknife Bay traverse before the Holiday break got me thinking about what else the rover was up to.

I mean besides the whole "I'm so into myself" self-shot thing:

On the 84th and 85th Martian days of the NASA Mars rover Curiosity's mission on Mars (Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, 2012), NASA's Curiosity rover used the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) to capture dozens of high-resolution images to be combined into self-portrait images of the rover.

Lo and behold it turns out the rover is filling its spare time in a constructive manner.
From the New Yorker:

Relationship advice from a doomed machine on a one-way trip to a (probably) lifeless planet.
Q: My boyfriend has been dropping hints about wanting a “more open relationship.” If I’m completely honest I have to admit this creeps me out a little, but I love him and don’t want to lose him. What should I do? —Allison F., Grand Rapids, Mich.

A: This is an excellent question, Allison, and it reminds me of something that happened the other day here on Mars. Maybe this will be of some use to you.

I was performing my usual sequence of boot diagnostics when suddenly, without warning, the solar wind blew in. I don’t know if you have any experience with solar wind, Allison—I’m guessing you don’t, because you’re back home on earth, safe and sound. Let me tell you about solar wind. Solar wind blows in at about six hundred kilometres per second, peeling chunks from the Martian atmosphere like you’d peel the skin from a tangerine, and if you’re not paying attention, if you’re performing a complicated matrix of computational chores or something, it can catch you unaware and really knock you back on your treads. When something like this happens your first thought is to look around, as if someone will be there and you can say, “Wow, did you feel that?” Or, “Hey, are you O.K.?” And then you realize that you’re all alone three hundred million miles from home and unless things take a very unexpected turn you’re going to remain that way until your plutonium core depletes and you slowly freeze to death in a sand pit.

Q: My wife and her mother talk on the phone at least three times a day, and sometimes I walk into the room and my wife will stop talking and wait for me to leave before she continues. I know they’re close, but it makes me uneasy to think my wife may have things to say about me that she doesn’t want me to hear. Should I bring this up with her? —Frank D., Philadelphia, Penn.

A: Boy, that’s a tough one. Women, huh? As the old saying goes, “Can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em.” But the thing is, Frank, that’s just an expression. It’s not literally true. To take just one example, I’m living quite without women, and also men, and if you really want to pull that thread, the fact is I’ll never again know the affectionate touch of the human hands that built me. I’ll just continue doing their work in a silent, diligent fashion until the tiny distant speck that is earth winks out of existence for the final time and I slowly freeze to death in a sand pit....MORE

I am a bit worried about the transcriber of this piece, Bill Barol.
Back in October he translated one of the funniest things I've ever seen on the web, "Le Blog de Jean-Paul Sartre".

I fear however that Barol has internalized Sartre's dictum "We are left alone, without excuse" and, combined with a too-close reading of Albert Edwards' recent output, is descending into the pit formerly occupied only by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, with writing that runs the gamut of emotions from despondent to suicidal, or, as some refer to it, in the style of the Rosenbergii.

Here's Curiosity's homepage.

And yes, it is still trundling along, making the odd discovery here and there:

Curiosity rover finds 'tantalizing' signs of ancient Mars life
—LiveScience, January 19, 2022

But we all know how this ends. It will join its sister rover, Opportunity (Oppy):

....Deputy Project Scientist Abigail Fraeman spoke about what it was like when they realized the June [2018] dust storm was going to be particularly bad, and that Oppy’s life was in danger. They told it to conserve energy.

“It’s hard, because you know [the storm’s] coming … but there’s nothing you can do to stop it,” Fraeman said.

“By Thursday, we knew that it was bad. And then by Friday, we knew it was really bad, but there was nothing we could do but watch. And then it was Sunday, we actually got a communication from the rover and we were shocked,” she said. “It basically said we had no power left, and that was the last time we heard from it.”

John Callas, the project manager, offered another poignant detail about the final communication with Oppy: “It also told us the skies were incredibly dark, to the point where no sunlight gets through. It’s night time during the day.”

“We were hopeful that the rover could ride it out. That the rover would hunker down, and then when the storm cleared, the rover would charge back up,” he said. “That didn’t happen. At least it didn’t tell us that it happened. So, we don’t know.” 

—LAist, February 16, 2019

Still feel like taking a flyer on Cathie Wood's ARK Innovation ETF (ARKK)?

Do You Have A Right To Defy Criminal Demands?

From UCLA Professor of Law Eugene Volokh,* writing at The Volokh Conspiracy

The Right to Defy Criminal Demands: Introduction

I've just finished up a rough draft of this article (6 years in the making), and I thought I'd serialize it here, minus most of the footnotes (which you can see in the full PDF). I'd love to hear people's reactions and recommendations, since there's still plenty of time to edit it. You will also be able to see all the posts, as they come up, here.

[* * *]

Craig is trying to force Danielle to do something, by explicitly or implicitly threatening to criminally retaliate if she doesn't go along. And, as often happens, Craig's threatened crime is endangering not just Danielle but also innocent bystanders.

Should the legal system require Danielle to comply with the demands, on pain of civil liability (for negligent injury or nuisance), or even of criminal punishment (for disturbing the peace or perhaps reckless endangerment)? Or should Danielle have, in effect, a right to defy Craig's demands, even if this means a higher risk to bystanders?

These questions can arise in many different situations:

  1. Danielle's abortion clinic has been firebombed in the past, by people who want it to close or at least to leave town. Neighbors sue the clinic, claiming its operation is a nuisance, because it makes them fearful that future attacks will harm them as well.[1] If the neighbors win, that in effect means that Danielle had a legal duty to comply with the arsonists' demands (at least to the extent of moving to a place that may be more expensive for her, and less convenient for patients).
  2. The clinic is indeed attacked again, and neighbors or visitors who are injured sue the clinic for negligently increasing the risk of such attack. The same can of course apply to any controversial business or enterprise, such as a church, synagogue, or mosque; an animal experimentation facility; a political organization; or a bookstore that sells books that contain the Mohammed cartoons or other material that highly offends some people.[2]
  3. A store is being robbed. Danielle, a store employee, refuses to go along with the robbers' demands that she turn over money, so they injure a customer to accentuate those demands. The customer sues the store, claiming the employee's actions foreseeably increased the risk of the injury.­­­ If the customer wins, that in effect means that Danielle had a legal duty to comply with the robber's demands.
  4. Craig kidnaps Danielle's employee, and demands ransom. Danielle refuses to pay, so Craig kills the employee; the employee's family sues Danielle for negligence, claiming that she had a duty to pay the ransom.
  5. Danielle and her fellow protesters carry signs insulting a religion. Craig and a group of his friends start throwing things at the protesters. The police order the protesters to leave, hoping to keep the confrontation from escalating,[3] and threaten to punish them with prosecution for breach of the peace or for resisting a lawful order if they don't comply.

A version of this problem also arises when Craig hasn't expressly demanded that Danielle do something, but rather Craig obviously doesn't want Danielle to do it:

  1. Danielle dances suggestively with a new lover in front of her estranged husband Craig (whom Danielle knows to be jealous). Craig shoots the lover, whose relatives sue Danielle for wrongful death, claiming her actions created a risk of injury by enraging Craig.[4] Again, their prevailing would mean that Danielle in effect had a duty to comply with Craig's implicit demands not to show romantic affection for others in front of him.
  2. Danielle lets her niece stay at her home, because the niece is fleeing Craig, the niece's violent estranged husband. Craig comes to Danielle's house to attack the niece and Danielle, and the gardener gets caught in the crossfire. The gardener's relatives sue Danielle for wrongful death, claiming her actions created a risk of injury by foreseeably enraging Craig.[5]

And a version of this problem arises with the "duty to retreat" that thirteen states still recognize in self-defense cases, and the more general "duty to comply with a negative demand" that seven states still recognize. These "duties" don't threaten criminal punishment or civil liability just for defying a criminal's demands (whether the demands are just "leave," as in the duty to retreat, or "stop doing X" in the duty to comply). But the "duties" do provide that a victim who refuses to go along with certain demands is stripped of her legal right to use lethal force in self-defense should such force be required.

  1. Danielle dances suggestively at a bar with a new lover in front of her estranged husband Craig. Craig demands that they stop, but they don't. Craig tries to knife Danielle, but she shoots him in self-defense. Danielle is then prosecuted, because state law provides that deadly force can't be used in self-defense if "[t]he actor knows that he can avoid the necessity of using such force with complete safety … by complying with a demand that he abstain from any action which he has no duty to take."
  2. A racist mob demands that Danielle leave the place where she lawfully is. She refuses, and she is attacked with deadly force; she defends herself with deadly force, and is then prosecuted because she failed to retreat.[6]

All these cases, I think, involve a tension between two approaches to the risk of retaliatory violence. We might call one approach the immediate pragmatism approach:....

*I hate him.
From his UCLA faculty profile:
Volokh worked for 12 years as a computer programmer. He graduated from UCLA with a B.S. in math-computer science at age 15....
Here are the rest of his posts in this serialization including the endearingly titled:  

Creighton University: "Rural Mainstreet Starts Year Off Strong: Soaring Farm Input Prices Greatest Threat for 2022"

 From Creighton's Heider College of Business, January 20:

January Survey Results at a Glance:

  • Overall index moved above growth neutral for the 14th straight month indicating healthy, consistent growth for the region.
  • Bank CEOs overwhelmingly named rising farm input prices, such as fertilizer outlays, as the top 2022 farm threat.
  • On average, bank CEOs expect the Federal Reserve to raise short-term interest rates by 0.70% (70 basis points) in 2022.
  • Approximately 18.5% of bankers expect four or more one-quarter percentage point rate hikes in 2022.
  • Over the last several months, surveys have recorded the fastest pace of agricultural equipment sales since Spring of 2011.

OMAHA, Neb. (Jan. 20, 2022) –The Creighton University Rural Mainstreet Index (RMI) declined in January, though it remained above growth neutral the for14th straight month, according to the monthly survey of bank CEOs in rural areas of a 10-state region dependent on agriculture and/or energy.

Overall: The region’s overall reading for January fell to 61.1 from December’s 66.7. The index ranges between 0 and 100 with a reading of 50.0 representing growth neutral.

“Solid grain prices, the Federal Reserve’s record-low short-term interest rates, and growing agricultural exports have underpinned the Rural Mainstreet Economy,” said Ernie Goss, PhD, Jack A. MacAllister Chair in Regional Economics at Creighton University’s Heider College of Business.

This month, bankers were asked to identify the greatest 2022 risk for farmers in their area. Bankers overwhelmingly named rising farm input prices, such as fertilizer, as the top farm threat.

Bankers ranked disruptions of the delivery of farm inputs and rising interest rates as the second and third greatest 2022 threats to farm operations.

“Inflation is a serious problem here. Gasoline prices have nearly doubled since November 2020,” said Jim Eckert, president of the Anchor State Bank in Anchor, Illinois. “Food prices are up well above what's claimed by the government. Poor fiscal policy in D.C. is sinking all ships!”

Jim Brown, CEO of Hardin County Savings Bank in Eldora, Iowa, reported that, “Increased input costs have raised our average farmer break even points, but current commodity prices still produce moderate gains in all areas of financial statements.”

Farming and ranching: The region’s farmland price index decreased to a very strong 88.5 from December’s record high of 90.0. January’s reading represented the 16th straight month the index has moved above growth neutral.

The January farm equipment-sales index slipped to a very healthy 72.4 from 74.1 in December. This is the 14th straight month that the index has advanced above growth neutral. Readings over the past several months are the strongest string of monthly readings recorded since Spring 2011.

Banking: The January loan volume index plummeted to 28.8 from December’s 61.7. While January farm loans are normally low, this reading was below normal January readings....

....MUCH MORE

So...you're telling me that farmers are flush with cash and don't need to avail themselves of the services provided by their friendly neighborhood banker?

ECB: "Looking through higher energy prices? Monetary policy and the green transition"

All is proceeding according to plan.

From the European Central Bank:

Remarks by Isabel Schnabel, Member of the Executive Board of the ECB, at a panel on “Climate and the Financial System” at the American Finance Association 2022 Virtual Annual Meeting

Frankfurt am Main, 8 January 2022

In 2021 the global economy was shaken by a major energy crisis. Prices for oil, gas and electricity surged as our economies reopened after the shutdowns imposed in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Though last year’s events were extraordinary on many levels, spikes in energy prices are a common phenomenon. Since the 1970s, sharp movements in energy prices have been a recurring source of economic dislocations and volatility.

And yet, the roots of today’s shock are likely to go deeper. While in the past energy prices often fell as quickly as they rose, the need to step up the fight against climate change may imply that fossil fuel prices will now not only have to stay elevated, but even have to keep rising if we are to meet the goals of the Paris climate agreement.

In my remarks today, I will discuss the challenges that such prospects pose to both fiscal and monetary policymakers in an environment in which the supply of cheaper and greener sources of energy will only gradually be able to meet rapidly rising demand.

I will argue that governments will need to push the energy transition forward, while at the same time protecting the most vulnerable members of society from energy poverty.

Central banks, in turn, will have to assess whether the green transition poses risks to price stability and to which extent deviations from their inflation target due to a rise in the contribution from energy to headline inflation are tolerable and consistent with their price stability mandates.

I will explain that there are instances in which central banks will need to break with the prevailing consensus that monetary policy should look through rising energy prices so as to secure price stability over the medium term.

Fast rise in carbon prices helps accelerate the green transition

The world economy will have to undergo a far-reaching transformation to be able to live up to the Paris agreement to limit the increase in the global average temperature to 1.5° Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

At the heart of these efforts is the need to radically cut greenhouse gas emissions.[1] According to the United Nations, global emissions would need to drop by 7.6% each year between 2020 and 2030 to reach the Paris target.[2] By way of comparison, in 2020, when global economic activity came to a virtual standstill, emissions fell by only 5.8%.[3]

There is broad agreement that meeting these ambitious targets requires putting a global price on carbon, and it requires doing so swiftly.[4] At present, only 21.5% of global emissions are covered by carbon pricing instruments and only 4% are covered by a price of more than USD 40.[5]

According to a recent survey, most climate economists think the price of carbon should be above USD 75 to reach net zero emissions by 2050.[6] The median response of USD 100 is consistent with what Nicholas Stern and Joseph Stiglitz recently estimated to be the carbon price in 2030 necessary to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.[7]....

....MUCH MORE

She pretty much lays it all out right there. As with European carbon, it appears that we have an upwardly moving market price created by rules and regs. If the above doesn't communicate what has been decided let's try:

Got a good reason for taking the easy way out
Got a good reason for taking the easy way out now
She was a day trader, one way ticket yeah
It took me so long to find out, and I found out

She was a day trader

One way ticket, yeah 

—apologies to Sir Paul McCartney and the literary estate of John Lennon

We have achieved the dream of HODLers throughout history, a market that only goes up.