The weekend is here! Pour yourself a mug of Danish Blend coffee, grab a seat by a snowbank, and get ready for our longer form weekend reads:
• The Shocking Meltdown of Ample Hills — Brooklyn’s Hottest Ice Cream Company What happened to the ice cream company the New York Times dubbed “Brooklyn’s Most Beloved”? The bankruptcy filings tell a straightforward story: “In practical terms, Ample Hills built out a factory in order to increase volume and lower costs, but the opposite happened, and the losses have mounted.” While the factory was “probably the financial decision that ultimately led to the bankruptcy, in a way it’s too simple a hook to hang your hat on.”. (Medium)
• Speculation & The Underdog “The NYSE short-interest ratio is another great metric used to determine the sentiment of the overall market. The NYSE short-interest ratio is the same as short interest except it is calculated as monthly short interest on the entire exchange divided by the average daily volume of the NYSE for the last month. For example, say there are five billion shares sold short in August and the average daily volume on the NYSE for the same period is one billion shares per day. This gives us a NYSE short-interest ratio of five (five billion /one billion). This means that, on average, it will take five days to cover the entire short position on the NYSE. In theory a higher NYSE short-interest ratio indicates a more bearish sentiment towards the exchange.” (Investor Amnesia)
• 77 Days: Trump’s Campaign to Subvert the Election An examination of the 77 democracy-bending days between election and inauguration shows how, with conspiratorial belief rife in a country ravaged by pandemic, a lie that Mr. Trump had been grooming for years finally overwhelmed the Republican Party and, as brake after brake fell away, was propelled forward by new and more radical lawyers, political organizers, financiers and the surround-sound right-wing media. (New York Times)
• Cabin pressure: the turbulent history of flight attendants Flight attendants are the face of the airline — and now, they’re pleading with passengers to wear masks. The airline industry has always had its ups and downs, from recessions to gas prices to coronavirus. But when things get unstable, flight attendants are the first to feel the pain. (The Verge)
• The Terrifying Warning Lurking in the Earth’s Ancient Rock Record We live on a wild planet, a wobbly, erupting, ocean-sloshed orb that careens around a giant thermonuclear explosion in the void. Big rocks whiz by overhead, and here on the Earth’s surface, whole continents crash together, rip apart, and occasionally turn inside out, killing nearly everything. Our planet is fickle. When the unseen tug of celestial bodies points Earth toward a new North Star, for instance, the shift in sunlight can dry up the Sahara, or fill it with hippopotamuses. A variation in the composition of the Earth’s atmosphere of as little as 0.1% has meant the difference between sweltering Arctic rainforests and a half mile of ice atop Boston. That negligible wisp of the air is carbon dioxide. (The Atlantic)
• The Egghead Gap: Science and technology support innovation, economic growth, and military might, making them central pillars of geopolitical competition. For the last three decades, the United States has been mostly unchallenged in its role as the world’s leader in scientific and technological research. But in recent years the country has come to face an explicit challenger in China. As the United States seeks to shore up weaknesses and ensure leadership for this century, we must recognize the key role that global talent plays in driving progress on the frontier, our country’s long history of recruiting this talent, and how to fully leverage this advantage with a more proactive approach. (New Atlantis)
• The Five Things to Get Right Before the Next Pandemic In late 2019 every infectious disease expert knew something like the novel coronavirus was coming sooner or later, just as they know today that Covid won’t be the last pandemic. As depressing as the current situation is, though, the next one—and there will be a next one—doesn’t have to be this bad. Shortly before his inauguration, President Biden proposed spending $20 billion to speed up vaccination rollouts. That’s a start. But a complete plan—one that can protect the U.S. from mass death, catastrophic economic damage, and (let’s hope) incompetent political leaders who squander the public’s trust—will have to be more comprehensive. (Businessweek)
• A Vast Web of Vengeance Outrageous lies destroyed Guy Babcock’s online reputation. Public smears have been around for centuries. But they are far more effective in the internet age, gliding across platforms that are loath to crack down, said Peter W. Singer, co-author of “LikeWar: The Weaponization of Social Media.” The solution, he said, was to identify “super-spreaders” of slander, the people and the websites that wage the most vicious false attacks. “The way to make the internet a less toxic place is setting limits on super-spreaders or even knocking them offline,” Mr. Singer said. “Instead of policing everyone, we should police those who affect the most people.” (New York Times)
• Q and the Jews: Among the radical rightwing groups that converged on Washington on January 6th and stormed the Capitol, the one commanding the largest following was QAnon. In those last weeks of his presidency, as mainstream Republicans gradually broke with Donald Trump to acknowledge the outcome of the election, QAnon figured large in the diminished ranks of his diehard supporters. Other groups, even more outré, were also in evidence on January 6th, including neo-Nazis—highlighted by one man whose shirt was emblazoned with the chilling insignia, “Camp Auschwitz.” Where did QAnon come from, what attitudes does the conspiracy movement take toward Jews and Judaism, and will it become more dangerous or fade away? (Mosaic)
• An Interview with Joyce Meadows After making her screen debut, in 1956 in the low-budget American international western Flesh and the Spur, Meadows would go on to appear in over a 100 films and television shows. She played varied roles in films ranging from Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) to The Christine Jorgensen Story (1970) to westerns like Frontier Gun (1958). Throughout the ’50s and ’60s she became a familiar face to American television viewers, appearing in what seems like every show on the air at the time. She worked opposite Lee Marvin, Lloyd Bridges, Joan Crawford, Audrey Hepburn, Steve McQueen, Chuck Conners and John Forsythe, to name just a few. While she was never typecast, the tall and beautiful Meadows imbued all her roles with an intelligence and gravity far beyond what one would expect from most female characters of the era. (Believer)
Be sure to check out our Masters in Business this week with Kevin Landis, Firsthand Funds. The firm’s Firsthand Technology Opportunities Fund (TEFQX) was created in 1999, and has gained 21.1% annually over the past 10 years vs 13.9% for the S&P500 and 18.5% for the Nasdaq Index. It gained 102% over the past 12 months.
More than 1 million Americans filed first-time unemployment claims for the 46th consecutive week last week, the Labor Department reported
To learn how these reads are assembled each day, please see this.