The weekend is here! Pour yourself a mug of Danish Blend coffee, grab a seat on the couch, and get ready for our longer-form weekend reads:
• Secrets Of The Great Families How do these families keep producing such talent, generation after generation? One obvious answer would be “privilege”. It’s not completely wrong; once the first talented individual makes a family rich and famous, it has a big leg up. And certainly once the actual talent in these families burns out, the next generation becomes semi-famous fashion designers and TV personalities and journalists, which seem like typical jobs for people who are well-connected and good at performing class, but don’t need to be amazingly bright. Sometimes they become politicians, another job which benefits from lots of name recognition. (Astral Codex Ten)
• A Crypto True Believer Makes His Case Dispatches from a weird economy Separating the technology from the culture of crypto is hard. Because some of this is cultural technology. NFTs are as much culture as technology. But I think what people are missing is that crypto is more like the whole internet than it is like one social network. It encompasses many people who are in opposition to each other. Crypto is a whole ecosystem. (The Atlantic) but see The Bored Apes take Manhattan Members of Bored Ape Yacht Club, the internet’s hottest NFT project, monkeyed around IRL at Ape Fest 2021. How long can the party last? (Input)
• Why a California Bartender Won’t Stop Trolling Citadel’s Ken Griffin The GameStop saga brought retail investors into a larger debate on how trades are executed — from payment for order flow to latency arbitrage. (Institutional Investor)
• In Praise of . . . Enron? Twenty years have passed since the notoriously corrupt energy-trading company collapsed. Maybe it’s time to acknowledge that it wasn’t all bad for Texas. Twenty years later, however, Clemmons isn’t alone in waxing nostalgic about Enron. Interviews with nearly a dozen former employees paint a similarly rosy picture. Working there was “an amazing experience,” one said. “An awesome place to be a young person,” said another. Still, their memories contain contradictions. Enron was an invigorating, dynamic workplace (managed by unapologetic criminals). The company fearlessly pioneered several new markets and industries (while looting others). (Texas Monthly)
• Will Real Estate Ever Be Normal Again? After a decade of too little development, the pandemic made the low inventory lower. Construction stopped. Sellers, afraid of inviting the virus into their homes or reluctant to move in uncertain times, didn’t list, and inventory declined by nearly a third from February 2020 to February 2021, falling to the lowest level relative to demand since the National Association of Realtors began record-keeping almost 40 years ago. (New York Times)
• Flying Cars: What, How, When, and Why? Although flying car technology has been around for nearly a hundred years, these machines face an uncertain future. The current models are noisy, expensive, require heavy batteries, and present safety and security issues for passengers and anyone in their path. Assuming engineers can overcome the technical hurdles, are there compelling reasons to develop flying cars? And are their benefits greater than their potential risks? (Quillette)
• The Federalist Society’s newest enemy: Corporate America. America’s most powerful legal organization has lost faith in the market’s power to impose its values on the nation. (Vox)
• The Lab Leak Fiasco For over a year the media enforced falsehoods about the pandemic’s origins, never evaluated the evidence, never apologized, and was never held accountable. It’s a truism that China wields extraordinary influence over American business, but it’s often forgotten that “American business” includes, of course, the national news media. The nature of that influence does not necessarily entail paying off journalists or news organizations for desired coverage. There is simply an awareness that when the CCP bares its teeth, or, if necessary, goes on the attack, it can alter the fortunes of billion-dollar companies, thousands of employees, and millions of shareholders in the United States and elsewhere. (Tablet)
• American Hippopotamus: A bracing and eccentric epic of espionage and hippos. This is a story about hippopotamuses, as advertised, but it’s also a story about two very complicated and exceptional men. These men were spies. They were also bitter enemies. Each wanted to kill the other and fully expected to feel really good about himself afterward. Eccentric circumstances—circumstances having to do with hippopotamuses—would join these men together as allies and even dear friends. But then, eventually, they’d be driven into opposition again. (Atavist)
• The Pentagon’s $82 Million Super Bowl of Robots The competition was a major test of the proposition that someday teams of robots could help first responders assess disaster zones before risking human lives. It also marked an audacious step toward robot independence, since the robots would have to do their work mostly beyond human control. Inside a three-year competition that raises the question: How long until humans are obsolete? (Washington Post)
Be sure to check out our Masters in Business this week with Edwin Conway, Global Head of BlackRock Alternative Investors (BAI), which runs over $300 billion in total assets. BlackRock’s global alternatives business includes Real Estate, Infrastructure, Hedge Funds, Private Equity, and Credit, and is one of the fastest-growing parts of the investment giant.
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To learn how these reads are assembled each day, please see this.