The times change, and we change with them.” - Proverb

Not much new under the sun: the world is still run by old rich people with patently broken ideas and theories. The world is still warming up rapidly and people believe that electric cars can save the day. We continue to use ‘free’ products that help a handful of companies gather tremendous amounts of information about ourselves that are then used for commercial purpose.

It is sometimes overwhelmingly depressing, yet each of us has the responsibility to assess its lifestyle and identify areas of improvements: reduce waste and your overall carbon consumption, become vegetarian and eat locally grown foods, engage in local activities and increase your knowledge of the current politics, stop using services from ‘disruptive’ companies such as Uber or Airbnb and reduce smartphone and social media use… The list can go on indefinitely.

The key is to actually identify high impact behaviors that will help the overall state of the world. These small actions will help you feel better, commit to a cause, but also engage others by leading by example.

Science, General Knowledge & Environment

Bees Are Bouncing Back From Colony Collapse Disorder – The number of bees increased in the US but the bees are still fighting blood sucking mites, various diseases, and the mysterious Colony Collapse Disorder.

Climate change to cause humid heatwaves that will kill even healthy people – Business as usual scenario for climate change (the most probable outcome in years to come) will lead to extreme weather events such as hot humid bubbles that will result in the death of even healthy individuals. The ones at most risk are the ones who contributed the less to global warming (in this case Indian peasants). Many places such as the Gulf region are expected to become humanely untenable.

Only Wealthiest and Best Educated Benefit from Mediterranean Diet – A large scale study (19,000 respondents followed over 5 years) in Italy found that only the top educational and income bracket benefits from the Mediterranean diet. The researchers have no explanation for the disparity. It may come from food quality, stress, genes, cooking habit… In any case, this is an example of class warfare at work.

Australia’s vanishing back yards a health risk – Australia’s new urban constructions leave little space for gardens, which are important for children’s brain development, adult’s anxiety and stress, and general living standards including cooler environments.

Electric vehicle realities – Electric vehicles (EVs) are hailed as the transportation of the future but its environmental, financial, economical and technological impact are seldom discussed. It appears that EVs are currently not sustainable and that their future is full of uncertainties.

Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation? – Yes: iGen (those born since 1995) spend less time with friends and family, have higher levels of anxiety, depression and suicide, less sleep time, less social skills, less likely to have dated or have had sex… Their experience of teen years is something completely different from those born without smartphones.

You Are the Product – On Facebook, the monopolistic company that seemingly offers free service, only to sell huge and thorough information about you to marketers.

Google’s chief search engineer legitimizes new censorship algorithm – In an effort to combat ‘fake news’, Google effectively blocked web searches from showing up news websites outside of the web of mainstream media and are incidentally left wing, anti-war and progressive, leading to a sharp drop in views for these platforms.

Economics & Finance

In retrospect: Das Kapital – Karl Marx remains the author that produced a powerful economic and social analysis, which then evolved to produce the fruitful social democracy of post war Europe and North America.

Original Shareholder Value Article – Milton Friedman to GM: Build Clunky Cars – Milton Friedman’s theory that managers duty was to increase shareholder value at the expense of other stakeholders resulted in poorer quality of products and services for companies following this mantra. Instead, companies that focused on their employees and customers saw their sales go up as consumers shifted away from crap services. This should have been obvious then. It still isn’t for many companies now.

Japan Buries Our Most-Cherished Economic Ideas – Japan has a huge amount of debt outstanding, a tight labor market and no inflation. This runs against mainstream economic theories and is a rub in the face of the hyperinflation scaremongers in Europe and the US. However, no inflation means the country’s debt burden cannot be reduced and the Bank of Japan has to keep rates close to zero to evergreen the bonds. In effect, Japan is no longer in control of its economy.

Fake Unicorns: Study Finds Average 49% Valuation Overstatement; Over Half Lose “Unicorn” Status When Corrected – Unicorns are tech start ups that reach valuation above USD 1 billion. It turns out that these companies have been adequately named: their valuations are blatantly overvalued by PE funds, blindly relayed by the media and uncritically bought by investors (including financially savvy names). Ironically, the world’s largest Unicorn is Uber, a financial sinkhole that has never showed profit and will never do.

Picture of the week: The Gospel Love Tones keep on spreading the good news

About Carlito Riego

"Great perfection may appear imperfect, but its usefulness is inexhaustible. Great abundance may appear empty, but its usefulness cannot be exhausted. Great correctness may appear twisted, great skills appear crude, great eloquence appear awkward. Activity conquers cold; inactivity conquers heat. Clear serenity governs the world." - Lao Zi