The weekend is here! Pour yourself a mug of Danish Blend coffee, grab a seat on the deck, and get ready for our longer form weekend reads:
• How the U.S. Is Vaccinating Its Way Out of the Pandemic After a year of anxiety and isolation, millions of Americans a day are getting immunized against Covid-19, and starting to get their lives back. The nation’s first Covid-19 vaccine started to arrive at hospitals across the country, nine months after the coronavirus shuttered the U.S. economy, killed hundreds of thousands and wreaked havoc on every aspect of American life. That day reflected both a landmark scientific achievement and a logistical triumph. (Bloomberg)
• The Secret to Interviewing Asset Managers, From One of the Best to Ever Do It Interviews are conversations with a purpose. For the most part, interviewers ask the questions and interviewees answer. An allocator’s purpose in a manager interview is to gather information and evaluate the manager on both content and persona. CIOs seek to confirm or refute the validity of their hypothesis for investing in the manager. At the same time, each interview offers an opportunity to learn about social interactions and trustworthiness for a partnership that may last years or decades. These interviews require focus and attention in every aspect of the conversation. (Institutional Investor)
• Liquid Alts Were Complex, Pricey, and Underperforming. That May Be Changing. Liquid alternatives—mutual and exchange-traded funds that mimic the investment strategies of hedge funds—have long been a solution in search of a problem. Popularized after the financial crisis, very few have done well in the years since. But as investors try to predict the outcome of our current health and economic crisis, liquid alts seem to be increasingly attractive. And their returns have begun to show signs of life. For the first time since 2014, alternative funds are seeing inflows, after years of poor-to-middling performance. (Barron’s)
• How mRNA Technology Could Change the World Like so many breakthroughs, this apparent overnight success was many decades in the making. More than 40 years had passed between the 1970s, when a Hungarian scientist pioneered early mRNA research, and the day the first authorized mRNA vaccine was administered in the United States, on December 14, 2020. In the interim, the idea’s long road to viability nearly destroyed several careers and almost bankrupted several companies. mRNA’s story likely will not end with COVID-19: Its potential stretches far beyond this pandemic. (The Atlantic)
• The Beauty of 78.5 Million Followers How social media stars like Addison Rae gave the cosmetics industry a makeover. As beauty has become a pop phenomenon, a radical change in the perception of the cosmetics business has also taken place. In our new virtual society, the same beauty industry that was once maligned has been embraced as a universal good. Beauty companies are lauded for providing us with tools of self-expression and celebrating the human desire to adorn the face using something other than the tricks of social media (filters, lighting, Facetune). And many individuals and companies within the industry have capitalized on this impression. (New York Times)
• Facebook Built the Perfect Platform for Covid Vaccine Conspiracies You’d think during the worst pandemic in a century virtually everyone would be desperate to get their hands on a vaccine that promises to help them get their life back. But you’d be underestimating the power of Facebook and Instagram to provide all the necessary tools for anti-vaccine activists and other wellness hucksters to suck in converts. Over the years, these opportunists have cultivated a strategy optimized for the social era. They drip anti-science skepticism into Facebook groups and Instagram stories and posts, where algorithms reward content that elicits strong emotional reactions, further amplifying the misinformation. (Businessweek)
• American Special Ops Forces Are Everywhere Within the span of a few decades, the United States has utterly transformed its military, or at least the military that is actively fighting. This has taken place with little fanfare and little public scrutiny. U.S. Special Operators were involved in the successful hunt for the drug lord Pablo Escobar, the subject of Killing Pablo, and they conducted the raid that ended the career of Osama bin Laden, the subject of The Finish. By seeking out dramatic military missions, I have chronicled the movement of Special Ops from the wings to center stage. (The Atlantic)
• An Atlas of the Cosmos: We’ve mapped Mars, the Moon, the solar system, even our own galaxy. Which means there is only one thing left to understand in this symbolic way and that is the entirety of the cosmos. After traveling many billions of years, the journey of the light from all 40 million galaxies will end in a clean room inside of a dome on a mountaintop in Tucson, Arizona. (Longreads)
• How the SF treasure behind one of Anthony Bourdain’s favorite burgers in the world survived COVID-19 “San Francisco was transforming before the pandemic, and the pandemic made it 10 times harder to survive if you were a historic San Francisco place,” Emad says. “People who have come in, and just say, ‘I really hope you can make it through this. You’re one of the few places left that remind us of original old school S.F.’ Especially as you kind of hear about a place like the Cliff House that’s been around for 125 years — when places like that shut down, it really gives people a scare.” (SF Gate)
• The Best, Loudest, and Filthiest of AC/DC, According to Angus Young With 18 albums, dozens of songs with “rock” in the title, and several lineup changes due to tragic deaths and less-tragic arrests, you know what you’re getting into before pressing play on AC/DC: It’s going to be loud, the finger-lickin’ riffs will give you blunt-force trauma, and the double entendres will make even the most prolific of lotharios blush. Don’t like their style? Think they’re a little too lowbrow? Who cares. Their longevity has made them one of the most poignant stories in rock music, and they created one of the best-selling albums of all-time, second only to Thriller. (Vulture)
Be sure to check out our Masters in Business interview this weekend with Shirl Penny, founder and CEO of Dynasty Financial Partners. Dynasty has 50 RIA offices, 250 advisors + over $60B in assets on their platform. Penny was recently named to Investment News’ 40 under 40 list.
130 million Americans now live in a state where marijuana use is legal
To learn how these reads are assembled each day, please see this.