Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Despite His Support Of Slavery The Statue of Roman Emperor Constantine Will Remain in York

That's Constantine the Great, not to be confused with his father Constantine the Pretty Good.
Senior died in York and Junior was acclaimed Emperor in York so it's somewhat understandable there's a statue outside the big church to the guy who quit with the 'Let's send some Christians to fight lions' schtick.

From Yorkshire Live, June 30:
Constantine the Great statue will remain despite Church of England review of monuments
The review was launched in response to the Black Lives Matter movement

The statue of Constantine the Great at York Minster is not under threat – but the Church of England has launched a review of all their monuments in response to the Black Lives Matter movement.
A spokesperson for the Minster said the statue of the former Roman emperor in Minster Yard is not under threat – despite reports in national media.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has said the Church of England will look at statues 'very carefully' to see if they should be there....MORE
Meanwhile in St. Louis Missouri some guy named Umar Lee is leading protests demanding the removal of a statue of the city's namesake, King Louis IX who is a pretty big deal for both Catholics and the French in general, being the only French King raised to sainthood.

I know enough about the history to be able to riff on Capetians vs Carolingians but I couldn't remember how far back Louis IX lived.
The 1200's Mr. Lee.
The freakin' 1200's 

Via his Facebook page
Umar Lee
This statement is inadequate, ineffectual, and hurtful. It does nothing to address the antisemitism and Islamophobia of Louis IX. Nor does it address the issue that local Catholics are in alliance with White Nationalists and the alt-right in defense of the statue. Take it down!

So now he's going to go protest the Archbishop:

House Vist To Archbishop Mitchell Rozanski

· Hosted by Umar Lee
  • Wednesday, July 1, 2020 at 1:00 AM CDT
    Starts in about 1 hour21°C Partly Cloudy
  • 4510 Lindell Blvd, St Louis, MO 63108-2002, United States
12 Going · 18 Interested
This Saturday we held a successful rally with over 200 people calling for the removal of the King Louis IX statue in Forest Park due to his violent, antisemitic, Islamophobic, and anti-black legacy. To continue the momentum of that great event in which we successfully ran off White Nationalists we will attempt to meet with the new Archbishop of the St. Louis Archdiocese and ask him to help to mediate and diffuse the situation by buying the monument from the city and putting it on private church property. The date and time listed here isn't the exact date and time. Sign up to attend and you will later be advised.

In the meantime please sign-up to canvas and lobby your member of the Board of Alderman on the issue.
Hosted by

Aquaculture: Where Is The Return On the EU's Investment?

From The Fish Site, June 29:

Where’s the return on the EU’s aquaculture investment?
The latest statistical analysis shows that the EU’s attempts to step up and revive aquaculture production have proved to be costly, and have had very limited results. We investigate why this might be the case.

Recently we took an in-depth look at the lack of uptake of tuna farming technology in the Mediterranean region, and what we found inspired us to investigate whether there is a commonality between the depressing status of closed-cycle tuna farming in Europe and the status of fish farming in the European Union (EU) in general.

Recent news articles suggest that aquaculture in the EU is thriving. In order to evaluate this view, we consolidated a number of production figures from a variety of reliable sources, while also having a look at the level of subsidies made available to the sector. We believe that doing so gives a clearer comparison of the costs and benefits generated by aquaculture in the EU.
To us, the outcome was rather shocking.

EU production in terms of volume and value
Consolidating production volumes by country and species from information provided in reports by FEAP and APROMAR – two reliable sources for long-term production figures – we can see that from 2008 to 2017 total finfish production in the European continent increased from almost 1.8 million to just under 2.3 million tonnes. Surprisingly, however, output by the EU member states decreased from 667,733 tonnes to 648,935 tonnes.

Although some European countries have increased their production volumes over the past decade, the major contributors to this growth – namely Norway and Turkey – are not members of the EU. For example, by far the largest contributor to the growth in European aquaculture production has been the salmon sector, which in Norway alone grew from under 900,000 tonnes in 2008 to 1.3 million tonnes in 2016. Turkey, which is also included in the European statistics provided by FEAP, increased its production of sea bream and seabass from 149,000 tonnes to 247,000 tonnes in a similar timeframe....

Natural Gas: Projects Will Be Deferred At Current Prices, Some Production May Be Shut In

A twofer. First up S&P Global Platts Interview with EY's head of oil & gas, Andy Brogan, June 25
  • Gas demand will eventually outpace supply growth
  • Oil shortage unlikely despite IEA warning
  • Brogan says oil like coal, reserves easy to tap
London — Fears of a crude supply crunch in the coming years are overblown, as economically driven shut-ins, particularly in the US shale patch, could be reversed with relative ease, but that is not the case for gas as the spate of project deferrals could eventually lead to shortages, the head of oil and gas for consultancy EY, Andy Brogan, said in an interview with S&P Global Platts.

While gas prices were currently depressed and looked likely to remain so for the next few years due to overcapacity, overall gas demand was expected to continue rising. Eventually, demand would outpace new supply additions, given that a number of new LNG projects had been canceled or deferred due to market conditions, Brogan said.

"There's a lot of capacity available from projects where most of the cost has already been sunk," he said. "In the medium term, you can see that these project deferrals will begin to have an impact. But in the short term, gas kind of looks stuck where it is."

Oil demand, however, was likely to remain impaired for a while as the global economy recovered from the coronavirus pandemic. Between lower demand and OPEC+ production cuts, there remained ample spare capacity to supply the market's foreseeable needs, Brogan said.
Should demand fully rebound and new production be needed, wells could easily be reactivated or drilled in fields where production had been reined in, whether due to OPEC+ cuts or economic factors, such as in the US and Canada.

"There are substantial resources available that can be converted into reserves and produced if the price signal sort of points in that direction," Brogan said. "Now you could say that's always been the case. But I think now those resources can be converted into reserves and produced in a six-month time frame, not a five-year time frame."....

And from OilPrice, June 28:
Natural Gas Price Plunge Could Soon Lead To Shut-Ins
Natural gas prices plunged to new lows this week, falling below $1.50/MMBtu, a catastrophically low price for U.S. gas drillers.  The factors afflicting the gas market are multiple. Prices had already fallen below $2/MMBtu at the start of 2020, weighed down by oversupply. But it wasn’t a problem confined to the U.S. There was also a global glut of LNG due to a wave of capacity additions in 2019.  

That was the situation heading into 2020. But just as the Covid-19 pandemic tore apart the oil market, natural gas also went into a tailspin. Global gas demand is expected to fall by 4 percent this year, “largest recorded demand shock” in history, according to the International Energy Agency. 
Buyers of U.S. LNG are now cancelling shipments at a rapid clip. U.S. LNG exports have declined by more than half compared to pre-pandemic levels.

“There would have been too much LNG in the world even without Covid-19,” Ben Chu, a director at Wood Mackenzie’s Genscape service, said in a statement. “Covid-19 has made it worse.”
Buyers abroad are willing to pay a cancellation fee instead of receiving shipment from U.S. exporters, a sign of how badly the market has deteriorated. For August delivery, between 40 and 45 cargoes have been cancelled, nearly double the rate of cancellation in June. 
Typically, cheaper gas can stimulate demand, particularly in the electric power sector. But that outlet is not as large as it may have been in the past, not least because gas has already been cheap for quite some time. Thus, the coal-to-gas option is limited. Without an export route, and without larger uptake from utilities, the gas glut has deepened. 

“As a result, we see US gas production shut-ins, which we had been discussing as a risk, as now part of our base case for this summer,” Goldman Sachs warned in its report. The bank sees roughly 2 Bcf/d of shut in gas supply for about two months in order to head off storage congestion. 

The shut-in process can be thought of as “the last shoe to drop in a global gas rebalancing process,” Goldman added. The logic goes something like this: the LNG market was oversupplied, Asian LNG prices fell, more LNG was routed to Europe, that pushed European gas prices down, which then led to the closure of the economic window for sending American gas abroad. ...

And via the CME the response of the futures to Chesapeake's bankruptcy announcement on Sunday the 28th:

Hong Kong's Carrie Lam: "The Leader Who Killed Her City"

From the Atlantic, June 18
The sunny, humid Saturday should have been a day of cautious relaxation in Hong Kong. The city had not tallied a new case of COVID-19 in a week, and people were returning to markets, restaurants, and the popular hiking trails that traverse its sylvan hills.

But by that afternoon, social-media posts and alerts on messaging apps began to spread, initially in frantic, disjointed bits, raising alarm—not about new coronavirus infections, but about the movements of the Hong Kong police. Officers, it would become clear, were making their way across the city, arresting prodemocracy figures.

In a coordinated sweep that day, April 18, police rounded up 15 people, spanning generations and ideologies: Martin Lee, Hong Kong’s octogenarian “godfather of democracy,” was greeted by seven officers at his door; the media tycoon Jimmy Lai was walked from his home, his glasses slipping from the bridge of his nose onto his blue surgical mask; and Margaret Ng, a veteran lawyer, made her way into a police station clutching in her arms a copy of the book, China’s National Security: Endangering Hong Kong’s Rule of Law?

The arrests, police later explained, stemmed from the individuals having taken part in unauthorized marches held in August and October 2019, at the height of the territory’s prodemocracy protests, a movement sparked by a bill that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China. Months of enormous, and sometimes violent, demonstrations in Hong Kong laid bare the fear and despondency of an identity and way of life being forcibly pulled away, as well as the rage toward a government and its overlords in Beijing who were unwilling to listen or compromise. Along the way, as the relationship between residents and the police fractured, Hong Kong’s population grew familiar with the choking sting that follows the explosion of tear-gas canisters, and the severity of bruising inflicted by rubber bullets.

The pandemic put the protests on hold as the city battened down to wait out the virus. The territory, gleaning lessons from the SARS outbreak more than a decade ago, contained the spread enviably as deaths mounted elsewhere across the globe. But unlike other leaders, who saw their political fortunes rise on their deft handlings of the outbreak, Hong Kong’s success did little to help its chief executive, Carrie Lam. Residents continued to seethe as pro-Beijing lawmakers and mainland officials blatantly disregarded norms and expedited China’s chokehold on the city while the world largely turned its attention to the public-health crisis. The flurry of activity came to a stunning culmination this May, when Beijing announced that it would circumvent the territory’s legislature to force a national-security law on Hong Kong. The law has not been fully detailed but will target acts of subversion, secession, terrorism, and foreign interference in the city. The move ended 23 years of resistance to such regulations, and proved hollow the “one country, two systems” framework under which the city is supposed to be run until 2047.

Officials in Beijing nowadays speak of Hong Kong in terms normally reserved for Xinjiang and Tibet, describing it as a restive city whose traitorous foreign-backed residents seek independence, language parroted by Lam herself. (Lam has said that she has no evidence of these hidden hands from abroad, while polling shows that only a small but boisterous minority of people in Hong Kong favor independence.)

Lam’s hard-charging attempt to sideline her own people to please her bosses in Beijing has had the opposite effect. The extradition bill, legislation pushed by Lam herself, catastrophically backfired, to the extent that she and her staff now appear entirely cut out of the loop by mainland officials who have taken the reins of Hong Kong’s most important policy-making decisions. Her administration has been unable to answer even the most basic questions about the national-security law, desperately trying to reassure people that things will be fine despite the litany of warning signs to the contrary. Lam, in recent days, has pivoted from the pleasantries, referring to those who oppose the law as “enemies of the people.”

Along the way, she has emerged as the perfect tool for Beijing: a convenient shield for those actually in charge, and so despised by her people that most have entirely given up on her.
Lam is already the most unpopular and calamitous leader in Hong Kong’s modern history, her decisions and failures of governance having borne consequences that are global in reach. Though yet to fully come into focus, even a truncated list of the repercussions of her leadership is staggering for its breadth and the speed at which they have unfolded.

The past year of protests, and some 9,000 arrests stemming from the demonstrations—while telling figures of street-level unrest—do not begin to capture the full fallout. Even before the pandemic struck, Hong Kong had sunk into a recession. The city’s police force, once lionized in big-screen films, is now widely viewed as a marauding band of occupying enforcers, free to act with impunity. The United Nations—as well as rights groups, business associations, and the city’s legal community—is calling for an inquiry into their actions, though it will likely never materialize. Hong Kong has slipped in the global business rankings prized by Lam. In local elections last year, seen as a referendum on her handling of the protests, prodemocracy candidates made historic gains, while the scales of Taiwan’s election were also tipped in favor of the Beijing-skeptic incumbent due to the deteriorating situation in Hong Kong. The United States no longer believes the city to be highly autonomous from China, and Britain is overhauling its immigration policies to accommodate Hong Kongers. Even LeBron James and the NBA, video-game developers, and e-sports stars have not escaped the cascading ramifications of Lam’s mistakes.

Pundits long speculated that Hong Kong would meet its demise if the People’s Liberation Army came out of its barracks, but that no longer seems necessary. History will perhaps judge Lam as the leader who killed her city without needing any tanks.

Because she is not directly elected, Lam, who is 63, does not carry a popular mandate, instead serving as Beijing’s conduit. Through her decades-long career in government, Lam has excelled at pleasing those above her, swiftly transitioning from a hardworking colonial subject during British rule to China’s loyal apparatchik. (Lam’s office declined to comment for this story.)
This transformation has been so all-encompassing that someone who has been friendly with Lam for almost two decades and worked closely with her said they would struggle to describe Lam’s thinking, mindset, or behavior today—she has become so wholly unrecognizable. From the symbolic shedding of her “Margaret Thatcher–like suits” in favor of traditional Chinese cheongsams after the British left in 1997, she has now styled herself after a “very mainland-Chinese bureaucrat,” this person, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.

“Carrie Lam embraces this very valueless mindset,” they told me of Lam’s ability to seemingly serve those in power without question, “which is actually a colonial legacy.”....

It's Good To Be King: "YouTubeTV jacks up pricing to $64.99, most expensive cable TV alternative"

From USA Today:
Cutting the cord fans: Streaming cable TV alternatives are getting to be almost as expensive as cable TV. 
On Tuesday, Google-owned YouTube TV announced a monthly $15 price hike, bringing its streaming package of channels to $64.99 monthly, from $49.99. When YouTube TV launched in 2017, it was $35. 

In a company blog post, YouTube defended its decision by announcing the availability of additional channels from Viacom, including MTV and Nickelodeon. 
The move is effective Tuesday for new members, while existing subscribers will see their rates rise after July 30. 

"This new price reflects the rising cost of content and we also believe it reflects the complete value of YouTube TV, from our breadth of content to the features that are changing how we watch live TV," YouTube said....

Roger that, reflecting complete value.Over.

"Newsonomics: The next 48 hours could determine the fate of two of America’s largest newspaper chains"

From NiemanLab:

Tribune and McClatchy are both approaching critical deadlines that could lead to mergers, divisions — or even the first big nonprofit newspaper chain in the United States.
The next 48 hours may decide the fate of two of America’s largest newspaper chains that collectively serve almost a fifth of all American local newspaper readers.

And what happens in those hours could prompt a wave of other moves across the rest of the industry.
The dates June 30 and July 1 have called out from the calendar for a while now. On Tuesday, Tribune Publishing will reach the end of two “standstill” periods. Tribune’s two major shareholders — Alden Global Capital, with 33 percent of the company’s shares, and Los Angeles Times owner Patrick Soon-Shiong, with 25 percent — had promised not to actively buy or sell any shares until June 30.
When that restriction ends, you can expect Tribune’s uneasy status quo to come to an end quickly. After a chaotic decade, the chain had been briefly semi-stable after Michael Ferro’s departure from management. But then Alden bought up those shares in November, and since then Tribune has given Alden two board seats, imposed Alden-style cuts, and created Alden-style management chaos.
Then, on Wednesday, final bids for McClatchy’s 30 newspapers are due, as the country’s second-largest chain prepares to wind toward some exit from bankruptcy....

"Human IPO wants you to buy shares in regular people"

Um, it this a good idea?
On a couple dozen different levels.
From The Hustle, June 24:

These days, everyone’s going public. 
Finally, we have a viable counterpart to Michael Scott’s iconic announcement, “I declare bankruptcy!” Now every midlevel worker in Silicon Valley is shouting into their apartments, “I’m going public!”

That’s right: You can now invest in humans. Entrepreneurs and futurists are selling up to 500 hours of their time — priced at 1 hour per share — over at Human IPO.

The NASDAQ is shaking 
Human IPO has been around since October, but it didn’t hit most people’s feeds until recent weeks.
The idea is this: As the people behind the IPOs become more successful, their time will get more valuable.

Let’s say you bought 10 shares — 10 hours — of Mark Zuckerberg’s time back in 2003, before Facebook launched. Probably pretty cheap. But now that 10 hours with Zuck is worth millions.
For now, you can set your own share price. But Human IPO is working on an algorithm that uses LinkedIn and Glassdoor to automatically give you a price....MORE

"Google positioned to dominate the ‘O2O economy’ (online-to-offline)" GOOG

From Search Engine Land, June 29:

Online-to-offline: Nearly $12 trillion in offline economic activity is likely impacted by the internet.
Google is the company in the strongest position to capitalize on the massive online-to-offline (O2O) economy. I discussed Google’s dominant position linking the digital and physical worlds, Google My Business’ evolution and the future of local search as a more distributed phenomenon in my SMX Next keynote last week.

Nearly every ‘enterprise’ is a local business. The term “local business” is often misunderstood and typically conjures up images of mom and pop stores and very small businesses. But any business that transacts offline or sells products and services in a physical place is effectively a local business. The logos below are just as much local businesses as are small merchants. That’s because the majority of their transactions happen in the physical world (COVID-19 is changing that but more in a minute).
National and global brands that are ‘local businesses’ 
Online-influence offline spending. Most marketers have heard a statement that goes something like this: “roughly 80% of U.S. disposable income is spent within 10 to 20 miles of home.” It turns out this is common sense but not grounded in any single dataset or study. One could do an in-depth analysis of U.S. consumer spending data and you’d probably get to the same conclusion. But it’s largely apocryphal.

However in 2017, Access Development conducted a survey that found, “more than 90% of consumers make most of their purchases within 15 minutes of home or work.” This includes things like fuel, groceries, food, personal care, home and garden, entertainment and retail shopping.
The COVID lockdowns have forced more of those purchases online and e-commerce has grown by triple digits in many categories. E-commerce spending in the U.S. in 2019 was about $600 billion. But the amount of consumer spending influenced or affected in some way by the internet is roughly 20 times larger than that....

"Chesapeake asks to cancel pipeline contracts, sets drilling cuts" (CHK)

From Reuters June 29:
Chesapeake Energy Corp on Monday sought bankruptcy court approval to cancel $311 million in pipeline contracts, setting up a battle with U.S. regulators and operators including Energy Transfer LP, according to court filings.

Chesapeake on Sunday became the largest U.S. oil and gas producer to seek bankruptcy protection in at least five years, falling to heavy debt and the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on energy markets.

The company separately said in a filing it plans to operate six to eight drilling rigs for the next two years, about half the 14 rigs active on average in the first quarter, as it battles a historic downturn in oil prices.

The shale pioneer wants to walk away from contracts with units of Energy Transfer, Boardwalk Pipelines, and a Crestwood Equity Partners and Consolidated Edison gas joint venture. The contracts involve about $293 million with Energy Transfer’s Tiger Pipeline and $18 million with Boardwalk’s Gulf South Pipeline....

Also at Reuters June 29:
Bankrupt Chesapeake plans to cut drilling further this year

"There’s a New Virus-Themed ETF and It Trades Under Ticker GERM"

Half the companies or institutes currently in trials for a coronavirus vaccine are in China.
Sounds like a sweet little racket.
Unfortunately they won't be included in the ETF.

From Bloomberg, June 18:
ETF Managers Group launched an exchange-traded fund tracking companies focused on testing and treatments of infectious diseases.

The ETFMG Treatments, Testing and Advancements ETF, which started trading Thursday under the ticker GERM, gives access to both established biotechnology companies and “unsung heroes,” the firm said in a statement. The fund tracks an index whose biggest holding is Moderna Inc., a company that’s seen its stock price more than triple this year on news of its vaccine development progress.

As global coronavirus cases exceed 8.3 million, companies, health authorities, drug regulators and research institutes are working around the clock to come up with the world’s first effective vaccine for Covid-19. Concern over a second wave of the pandemic threatens recent efforts to relax restrictions and revive businesses after months of lockdowns.

“Everyone is thinking about treatments and vaccines,” said Sam Masucci, chief executive officer and founder of ETF Managers Group. “It touches them very personally. We tried to develop a product of all the companies at the forefront that will hopefully get us back to a more normalized life.”
The fund has a 0.68% expense ratio.

Earlier this year, Pacer Financial filed for a BioThreat ETF (VIRS), which is focused on companies combating biological threats to human health....MORE

Remember "Dutch Scientists Have Genetically Altered the H5N1 Bird Flu Virus to Make it More Contagious (could kill half humanity) "

This morning's flu news "Flu virus with 'pandemic potential' found in China" brought back memories of November 2011:
UPDATED--Dutch Scientists Have Genetically Altered the H5N1 Bird Flu Virus to Make it More Contagious" (could kill half humanity)
.... Perfect.  
So deadly it scares the anthrax guy.
And the debate is whether to publish the recipe?

A month later: "UPDATE: Dutch Scientists Agree to Redact Details of Super-lethal (50% Kill Rate) Genetically Modified Bird Flu"
From the American Association for the Advancement of Science' ScienceInsider:
Grudgingly, Virologists Agree to Redact Details in Sensitive Flu Papers....
The third chapter of the nuttiness:
Psychotic Dutch Scientists: "Killer flu doctors: US censorship is a danger to science"

Chapter the Fourth:
World Health Organization: Okay to Publish Super-lethal Bird Flu Recipe

And in other science news from The Netherlands we had:
More Wacky Dutch Scientists: "Dutch to send mobile clinics to euthanise people in their own homes"
Let's hope they get the right address.

Earlier we posted on the Dutch scientists who
a) Weaponized bird flu to the point that it could kill half the people in the world.
b) Planned to publish the recipe.
c) Got crabby when told that might not be a good idea.

Here's another group....
I think they're still pissed that they were once the richest country in the world and aren't anymore.

"Flu virus with 'pandemic potential' found in China"

From the BBC, June 30:

A new strain of flu that has the potential to become a pandemic has been identified in China by scientists.
It emerged recently and is carried by pigs, but can infect humans, they say.
The researchers are concerned that it could mutate further so that it can spread easily from person to person, and trigger a global outbreak.

While it is not an immediate problem, they say, it has "all the hallmarks" of being highly adapted to infect humans and needs close monitoring.

As it's new, people could have little or no immunity to the virus.
The scientists write in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that measures to control the virus in pigs, and the close monitoring of swine industry workers, should be swiftly implemented.

Pandemic threat
A bad new strain of influenza is among the top disease threats that experts are watching for, even as the world attempts to bring to an end the current coronavirus pandemic....


It was just Friday that we introduced "The Chinese Communist Party is Snared in a Multidimensional War" by saying:
"....It would seem the CCP has a lot on their plate at the moment, what with their belt-and-road "partners" unable to make the payments and swine fever and coronavirus and who knows what else running through the vectors and the very likely demographic outcome that China gets old before it gets rich and on and on and on and on."  

Media—Daily Mail Honcho: Google and Facebook Are Information Monopolies

Or are they a duopoly?
From the Daily Mail, June 23:

Google and Facebook behave like 'monopolies' and distribute news using a secret 'black box' algorithm that can change overnight, newspaper executive reveals
  • Peter Wright says news industry has 'no idea' how Facebook and Google work
  • Says Google and Facebook 'behave in the way market dominant companies do'
  • MailOnline saw traffic from Google fall by 50% last June after algorithm change 
  • Also says upturn in BAME applicants for Mail's trainee scheme is 'encouraging'
A newspaper executive today criticised Google and Facebook for changing search algorithms without telling publishers and warned how they now have 'all the power' in online news and advertising.
Peter Wright, editor emeritus at DMG Media, MailOnline's parent company, said the news industry has 'no idea how they work' and they 'behave in the way that market dominant companies do', accusing them of 'monopoly behaviour'.

He slammed Google after MailOnline saw its daily traffic from the search engine fall by 50 per cent last June following an algorithm change 'without any warning'.

Giving evidence to the House of Lords Communications and Digital Committee via videolink, Mr Wright said: 'Google and Facebook in our view are market dominant companies and they behave in the way that market dominant companies do.

And it also has an effect on our journalism. Google and Facebook both distribute our content via algorithm. Those algorithms are what is known in the digital world as a 'black box' - they are secret, you have no idea how they work. But we can see and measure the results.

'Over recent years there have been a number of occasions when both Google and Facebook have changed their algorithms overnight without any warning which not only has a dramatic effect on our businesses but it also means that people searching for news are suddenly not finding our news.
'This happened to us with MailOnline in June last year and over the space of three days, our search visibility, which is the measure of how often your content is appearing against a basket of search terms, dropped by 50 per cent, and it was particularly marked against some particular terms. One of them for instance was 'Brexit'.

'Now, why they do this, we don't know, we protested, we got an explanation which made no sense at all. Eventually three months later, equally without warning, it was restored.
'But this is monopoly behaviour. You can't do this if you're in a business relationship with someone where there's any semblance of equality of power.'....

That certainly sounds like the GOOG is making editorial decisions which is fine but in the U.S. should mean they have forsaken any claim to section 230 protections.
And just two weeks ago Google made what could be a huge strategic error which makes that very case.
More on that later this summer.

ICYMI: "Volkswagen sinks another $200 million into solid-state battery company QuantumScape"

We learned long ago that wonderful as a battery technology or manufacturing technique may sound, it is very hard for them to scale from lab to driveway. Hence the paucity of posts on batteries in recent years, it's interesting, even fascinating stuff but tough to make a buck from. Better to make your almost perfectly timed cobalt trade than hope for something new(ish) to scale up)
This is one that might.
From TechCrunch, June 16:
Volkswagen said Tuesday it has invested another $200 million into QuantumScape, a Stanford University spinout developing solid-state batteries as the automaker bets on a next-generation technology that will unlock longer ranges and faster charging times in electric vehicles.

Volkswagen’s relationship with QuantumScape, which had early backing from Kleiner Perkins and Khosla Ventures, actually stretches back to 2012. The two companies formed a joint venture in 2018 to accelerate the development of solid-state battery technology and then produce them at commercial scale.

Volkswagen made an initial $100 million investment into QuantumScape in September 2018. The additional $200 million aims to accelerate that joint development work, according to Thomas Schmall, chairman of the board of management of Volkswagen Group components, which has end-to-end responsibility for batteries....

A couple posts as background for solid state batteries:
October 2019
The Guy Who Just Won The Nobel for the Lithium-ion Battery Has An Idea For the Next Generation of Batteries
November 2018 
"A Chinese startup may have cracked solid-state batteries"

And contra, September 2018:
"Why lithium-ion may rule batteries for a long time to come"
You won't find many of the battery "breakthroughs" on Climateer Investing.
So many new chemistries or manufacturing techniques look good in a lab and just don't scale.

We could post a breakthrough every single day to no greater effect than wasting the reader's time.
If we see something that might be profitable we'll probably post it, a recent example is turning positive on lithium producer Albemarle after being in thrall to cobalt for twenty-four months.

From MIT's Technology Review:....
And maybe 300 more on batteries in general, companies that have come and gone and ideas the never panned out. Use the 'search blog' box if interested.

Monday, June 29, 2020

So You Think You're Smart: The Last Person To Know Everything

One of the final posts on Cat 6 (Wunderblog) before they shut down is "Alexander von Humboldt: Scientist Extraordinaire", June 17 so I asked myself if we had anything on von Humboldt on the blog.
I wish I hadn't looked, I hate these people, what with their three-digit I.Q.'s and all...
A repost from 2015:
From The Encyclopedia of Human Thermodynamics, Human Chemistry, and Human Physics:

Last person to know everything
In genius studies, the last person to know everything or the “last man to know everything” is a title or epitaph that has been attributed to a number of individuals over the years. The following page gives an overview of oft-cited names attributed with this title. 
At least three, Thomas Young, Joseph Leidy, and Athanasius Kircher, shown adjacent, have had books written about them, with the epitaph "last man to know everything" attributed or affixed to their name. [7] 
Intellectual breaching point
Sometime between 1700 to 1900, predominately, people began to profess the view that the body of "known knowledge" had become so large that it was no longer possible for one person to know everything. To situate this postulate in the context of a date, French philosopher Pierre Levy argues, in his 1994 Collective Intelligence, that the publication of Frenchman Denis Diderdot and Jean d’Almbert’s Encyclopedie (1751-1772) marks “the end of an area in which a single human being was able to comprehend the totality of knowledge.”
Schiller, Humboldt brothers, Goethe
An intellectual roundtable: Friedrich Schiller (IQ=175), Wilhelm Humboldt, (IQ=175), Alexander Humboldt (IQ=185), a cited last person to know everything, and Johann Goethe (IQ=230), another well-cited last person to know everything, Jena 1797, discussing, in Goethe's own words, “all of nature from the perspectives of philosophy and science”. [36]

English mathematician-physicist Karl Pearson, in his science overhauling 1892 book Grammar of Science (the first book on Albert Einstein's "Olympia Academy" study group reading list) stated his view that naturalist Alexander Humboldt, pictured adjacent, was someone at the cusp of total knowledge possession (as was his associate Goethe, also pictured): [35]
“At the beginning of this century it was possible for an Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) (IQ=185) to take a survey of the entire domain of the extant science. Such a survey would be impossible for any scientist now, even if gifted with more than Humboldt’s powers. Scarcely any specialist of today is really master of all the work which has been done in his own comparatively small field. Facts and their classification have been accumulating at such a rate, that nobody seems to have leisure to recognize the relations of subgroups to the whole. It is as if individual workers in both Europe and America were bringing their stones to one great building and piling them on cementing them together without regard to any general plan or to their individual neighbor’s work.”
Humboldt is one of the cited "last persons to know everything" (below); a Cattell 1000 (top 100); was one of the first to propose that South America and Africa were both joined; in 1797, in Jena, with his brother Wilhelm (IQ=175), Friedrich Schiller (IQ=175), and Johann Goethe (IQ=230), the four discussed, in Goethe's own words, “all of nature from the perspectives of philosophy and science”.

Multiple cited all-knowers | Chronological
The following group of individuals, listed in chronological order by reaction end (death), gives a listing of the known referenced opinions on the matter of who considers who to be the last person to know everything, ranked by:
(a) prevalence of citations claiming that person was the last to know everything;
(b) age of the citation, e.g. Leibniz (1914) and Young (1921);
(c) a weighting factor addition for known established IQs,
AristotleAristotle 75(384-322BC) IQ_B \,=180
“Aristotle, described by some as the last man to know everything there was to know, wrote his classic books on rhetoric some 2300 years ago.” (1986) [30]

“His combined works constitute a virtual encyclopedia of Greek knowledge. It has been said that Aristotle was probably the last person to know everything there was to be known in his own time.” (2009) [4]

“Aristotle may have been the last person to know everything there was to be known in his own time.” (2009) [5]
Roger Bacon
Roger Bacon 75(1214-1294)IQ:175|#188
“Roger Bacon—the founder of English philosophy whose knowledge of chemistry and mathematics led him to recognize the value of deductive reasoning, establish a scientific method, and invent spectacles—who has been called the last man to know everything, the last man to bridge the two cultures.” (2003) [18]
Leonardo da VinciLeonardo da Vinci(1452-1519) IQ_C \,=180
 IQ_B \,=220
 IQ_{CB} \,=200
 IQ_O \,=210
“The last person to know everything was Leonardo da Vinci.” (1985) [12]

“Da Vinci, the last man to know everything, was overwhelmed by waves of depression, which left him shy and insecure.” (2004) [28]
...MORE (15 additional contenders)

Here's the EOHT homepage.

If you still think you're smart here are some "Uncommonly Difficult IQ Tests"

And yes, I think I'm up to speed on Nassim Taleb's: 
"'IQ' measures an inferior form of intelligence, stripped of 2nd order effects, meant to select paper shufflers, obedient IYIs." 
I'm also pretty sure that if Mr. Taleb walked up to that table with Schiller, the Humboldt boys and Goethe and asked "Hey guys, whatcha talkin' about" he would be reducing the average I.Q. from the estimated 191.25.

"Barcelona’s Epic Tourism Boom Is Over, Now the Crisis Begins...."

It wasn't that long ago that residents were angry about the influx of airbnb (and Russian mobsters) pricing folks out of the city.*
From Wolf Street: 

Owner of a small cafe that specializes in fine cakes and sandwiches tells me: “We’ll be lucky if we get half the normal number in July and August.” It’s now “all about damage control.”
By Nick Corbishley, for WOLF STREET:
Yesterday, my wife and I took our first walk to the beach since Spain entered lockdown almost three and a half months ago. From there, we meandered through El Born, which together with Sant Pere and Santa Caterina, forms one of the four barrios that make up Barcelona’s old town. El Born’s shaded cobbled streets and plazas are — or at least were — ground-zero for Barcelona’s bustling tourism trade. But that trade has been decimated by the virus crisis, and the streets of El Born are half empty, many of the hotels are still closed and an eerie quiet pervades the once-thronged plazas.
In some parts, there are already visible signs of crisis. As in the darkest days of Spain’s last housing crisis (2010-13), boarded-up shops, bars, restaurants and other street-level businesses are everywhere. In one narrow three-block street called Flassaders, I counted nine shuttered businesses. Eight were already up for rent. Here are some samples:...
.... Spain’s biggest property website, Idealista, is currently advertising 244 retail properties in El Born, Sant Pere and Santa Caterina. They range from tiny little shops on tucked-away alleyways to sprawling bars, restaurants and stores on some of the barrio’s busiest thoroughfares.
After years of relentless gentrification, El Born was already in trouble before Covid arrived. Retail rents had reached levels that many businesses could no longer pay. Petty street crime, much of it targeting tourists, had become rampant, and in some cases violent. And many tourists had begun to explore other neighborhoods such as Gracia and Sant Antoni. The only way for shops and other businesses to pay their rents and still survive was to target big-spending foreign tourists. But now they’ve gone. And when they come back, it will be in smaller numbers and shallower pockets.
Facing the prospect of continued sluggish sales, many local traders in El Born, rather than taking out more debt to pay their rents, have simply shut up shop. Yet despite the glut of properties on the market, the rents being advertised are still absurdly high, suggesting that many of the property owners — most of them well-heeled local families — haven’t quite accepted that market conditions have changed dramatically.

In Spain’s last financial crisis, El Born, and Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter as a whole, escaped the worst of the fallout, thanks to the rapid recovery and resurgence of the tourism industry. This time, it’s the travel and tourism industries that have been sledgehammered by the covid-inspired lockdowns, travel bans and other restrictions, leaving barrios like El Borne and Sant Pere on the front lines of this new crisis.

According to Barcelona Comerç, 91% of the city center’s shops have reopened. In a recent survey, around half of the association’s members said their sales have fallen by up to 25% while another a quarter said that sales had dropped by 50%.
So far, just over 3% of local traders in the city center have shut their stores, but this is likely to soar to 15% soon, since many stores have only stayed open to liquidate their stock. And “this figure could rise to 30% if structural measures are not taken to help the sector out,” says Barcelona Commerc’s president, Salva Vendrell....

Related from the New York Post, June 29:
Airbnb CEO: ‘Travel will never, ever go back to the way it was’

*July 6, 2017
Russian Gangsters and Airbnb Are Pricing the Locals Out of Residential Real Estate in Barcelona

Good News For Arctic Ice: China's Black Carbon Emissions Decreasing

We've been harping on how devastating the stuff can be for a very long time.* Here's a post from January 2020 that quickly makes our case:
IMO 2020 Low-Sulfur Rules May Result In More Black Carbon Emissions in the Arctic
This could be very not good.
Spreading black carbon on the polar ice caps was one of the geoengineering proposals during the Global Cooling scare of the 1970's. It's also one of the concerns associated with China's coal-fired power plants. (mostly soot, larger diameter than what emerges from VLSFO combustion)
The stuff lands on the ice and reduces the albedo. It also directly absorbs infrared.
Very not good.....
From the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC, also one of our big four sources for ENSO info)

Major Reduction in Black Carbon Emissions from China Over the Past Decade – A revision of the emission inputs to IPCC climate models is needed
1. Key Points ♦Highly accurate observations of air pollution on Fukue Island, western Japan, have revealed a rapid reduction in black carbon emissions from China by as much as 40% over the past decade.
♦The fine particulate (PM2.5) emissions reduction measures in China are considered to have driven the reduction in black carbon emissions.
♦In the Sixth IPCC Assessment Report, which is to be published in 2021, the effects of black carbon emissions on climate are assessed assuming that these emissions increased until 2014; however, this should be revised in the seventh assessment.

Dr. Yugo Kanaya of the Earth Surface System Research Center (ESS) in the Research Institute for Global Change (RIGC) at the Japan Agency for Marine–Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) and colleagues have worked jointly with Kobe University and the National Institute for Environmental Studies to conduct long-term atmospheric observations on Fukue Island in Nagasaki Prefecture, Japan. Their efforts have revealed a substantial reduction, by as much as 40%, in black carbon (BC) emissions from China over the past decade. Black carbon particles, also known as soot, are emitted into the atmosphere as a result of the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels and biomass. As BC contributes to global warming as CO2, it is important to understand changes in BC emissions and to assess their effects on the global climate.

Black carbon emissions have been estimated based on socioeconomic statistics, but the range of uncertainty remained wide, at 0.5–2 times the median value. Additionally, there has been no consensus on whether or not emissions from China, considered to account for as much as 30% of global emissions, were increasing or decreasing. Therefore, in the study summarized here, atmospheric BC concentrations on Fukue Island, where air pollution from China tends to arrive via the prevailing westerlies, were monitored continuously for more than 10 years, from 2009 to 2019, and based on these trends, the emissions and changes therein of BC were estimated. As a result, the uncertainty in BC emissions from China was narrowed to ±27%, and a substantial reduction in emissions – by as much as 40% over the past decade – was discovered. In the Sixth Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Assessment Report (IPCC AR6), which is currently being compiled for publication in 2021, the effects of BC emissions from China on the climate are assessed based on the assumption that these emissions increased until 2014. However, the results of this research clearly show for the first time that the trend is in the opposite direction. The reason for this declining trend is thought to be that policies aimed at reducing the atmospheric particulate matter <2 .5="" in="" m="" size="" sub="">2.5
) in China have also curbed BC emissions, which are a component of PM2.5. This means that the effect of BC on global climate change is, in fact, lower than the assessment in the forthcoming IPCC AR6. It is hoped that these results will be of use for improving simulations in the seventh IPCC assessment cycle, and that they will also be applied in the creation of inventories for short-lived climate forcer (SLCF) emissions, due to be considered therein.
This research was conducted as part of the Environment Research and Technology Development Fund (ERTDF) of the Ministry of the Environment of Japan (Grant No. 2-1803) and the Arctic Challenge for Sustainability (ArCS) Project. The findings were published in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics on June 5, 2020 (JST).....
*A very long time. Here's a post from 2007:
NASA Examines Arctic Sea Ice Changes Leading to Record Low in 2007
...The findings appear in the latest issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It is authored by Makiko Sato, James Hansen and others from NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) and Columbia University, New York; Oleg Dubovik, Brent Holben and Mian Chin of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.; and Tica Novakov, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, Calif.
And many more in between those bookends

"Singapore government commits $40m to growing ag and aquaculture startups"

There is something going on in Singapore with agricultural investment that may make sense for Hong Kong to look at.
From AgFunder News:
Enterprise Singapore, the city-state’s startup agency, is earmarking S$55 million ($39.5 million) to help accelerate “promising” agriculture and aquaculture companies.
Koh Poh Koon, the country’s senior minister for trade and industry, announced the fund while visiting local indoor farming startup Singrow last week.

[Disclosure: Singrow is an investee of AgFunder, which is AFN‘s parent company.]

“We see agritech as a promising industry sector to develop for the longer [term], not just because of Covid-19. Using agritech can help to make our food supplies more resilient by building a bigger margin of local food capacity,” Koh said during his visit.

“The overall market size for agritech will continue to grow as the world now looks at trying to fulfill its needs for food, and using technology to multiply production capacity, doing more with less, is one of the areas where Singapore can play to its strengths” in areas such as biotech, chemical engineering, and advanced manufacturing, he added. 

AFN understands that the $39.5 million will be distributed by Enterprise Singapore in the form of grants to companies that successfully apply via the government’s Business Grants Portal.
The grant “builds on Enterprise Singapore’s ongoing efforts to develop a vibrant agrifoodtech ecosystem […] to meet evolving needs,” the agency said in a statement....

Who's Who In Asian Alt-Protein 100 Companies, 35 VC's
Singapore's Olam Receives $250 [Million] Sustainability-Linked Credit Facility
Why Is Singapore Becoming A Hub of Next Generation Agriculture?
I've mentioned that we keep tabs on Temesek because they "don't make headlines, just money."
But at $225 billion assets they can't really do much with the smaller companies so we watch that stuff separately, with one source being AgFunder.
And recently there have been a lot of stories in and about Singapore:

Shipping: Rates to Hire Very Large Crude Carriers Dive As Floating Storage Declines

From S&P Global Platts:

Commodity Tracker: 4 charts to watch this week
As oil markets begin to recover from the shocks of recent months, side-effects like falling VLCC rates and congestion at Chinese ports are emerging, write S&P Global Platts news editors. Plus, competition heats up among corn exporters amid low ethanol demand, and UK power prices reflect improving demand.
1. Freight rates dive as call on VLCCs for floating oil storage lessens

VLCC rates fall as crude oil price recovers
What’s happening? The amount of crude stored on tankers is showing signs of a descent in response to the waning economics for storage, as production cuts and a measured demand recovery aids a rebalancing of the global oil market. The slowdown in storage is already starting to have a significant impact on freight. Rates on VLCCs have plunged dramatically in the past month as a gradual fall in floating barrels prompts an influx of tonnage, which has coincided with fewer spot crude cargoes due to the OPEC+ production cuts. Freight rates for a West Africa-Far East voyage, carrying a 260,000 mt cargo, dropped to an almost year-low last week, according to S&P Global Platts data. Rates on this voyage were assessed at Worldscale 37.50 or $13.51/mt on June 26.

What’s next? “The direction of spot rates will now be dictated by how quickly vessels engaged in floating storage are returned to active trade, and the timing and magnitude of the reversal of the OPEC+ production cuts implemented in May,” S&P Global Platts Analytics said. There are currently close to 190 million barrels of crude on floating storage compared with 200 million barrels earlier in the month, according to data from Platts trade flow software cFlow.



Google takes on Amazon with free retail listings in search results

From c|net:
The search giant has been expanding its shopping efforts
Google on Monday said it will be free for businesses to list products in the company's search results, a change that escalates Google's already fierce rivalry with Amazon.
Previously, Google showed shopping listings as a panel of sponsored links from advertisers bidding on specific search terms, like air fryers or home gyms. Now listings in that panel will be free, though the company will also show paid ads elsewhere on the page. 

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The change comes after Google in April brought free retail listings to the search engine's shopping tab. Monday's update puts the listings directly in Google's search results, some of the most prized real estate on the internet. The change is first coming to the US before expanding more broadly....

"Beyond Meat Gets Double Downgrade at Barclays to Underweight" (BYND)

As we've said over the years, it is just so dangerous to short on a valuation basis during a bull market.
Safer to find a fraud Wirecard. However....
There is a lot of air under BYND's stock price, meaning any news perceived as negative means downdraft.
$129.60 down $12.08 (-8.53%)

From TheStreet:
'Headwinds related to foods service channels being closed due to lockdowns' led to the action against Beyond Meat, Barclays said.
Beyond Meat  (BYND) - Get Report shares fell in an up market Monday morning, after Barclays analyst Benjamin Theurer downgraded the plant-based meat seller to underweight from overweight.
Theurer's move was based on “near- to medium-term headwinds, mostly related to foodservice channels being closed due to lockdowns,” he wrote in a commentary cited by Bloomberg.
The restaurant/foodservice sector has accounted for most of Beyond Meat’s recent sales growth. In 2019, restaurant/foodservice made up about half of the company’s revenue....MORE
Possibly more important was this bit late last week:
Beyond Meat shares fall after McDonald's ends Canadian trial of meatless burger