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MartinEdic

MartinEdic

1 year ago

Russia Through the Windows: It's Very Bad

More on Current Events

Isaiah McCall

Isaiah McCall

1 year ago

There is a new global currency emerging, but it is not bitcoin.

America should avoid BRICS

Photo by Artyom Kim on Unsplash

Vladimir Putin has watched videos of Muammar Gaddafi's CIA-backed demise.

Gaddafi...

Thief.

Did you know Gaddafi wanted a gold-backed dinar for Africa? Because he considered our global financial system was a Ponzi scheme, he wanted to discontinue trading oil in US dollars.

Or, Gaddafi's Libya enjoyed Africa's highest quality of living before becoming freed. Pictured:

Twitter

Vladimir Putin is a nasty guy, but he had his reasons for not mentioning NATO assisting Ukraine in resisting US imperialism. Nobody tells you. Sure.

The US dollar's corruption post-2008, debasement by quantitative easing, and lack of value are key factors. BRICS will replace the dollar.

BRICS aren't bricks.

Economy-related.

Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa have cooperated for 14 years to fight U.S. hegemony with a new international currency: BRICS.

BRICS is mostly comical. Now. Saudi Arabia, the second-largest oil hegemon, wants to join.

So what?

The New World Currency is BRICS

Russia was kicked out of G8 for its aggressiveness in Crimea in 2014.

It's now G7.

No biggie, said Putin, he said, and I quote, “Bon appetite.”

He was prepared. China, India, and Brazil lead the New World Order.

Together, they constitute 40% of the world's population and, according to the IMF, 50% of the world's GDP by 2030.

Here’s what the BRICS president Marcos Prado Troyjo had to say earlier this year about no longer needing the US dollar: “We have implemented the mechanism of mutual settlements in rubles and rupees, and there is no need for our countries to use the dollar in mutual settlements. And today a similar mechanism of mutual settlements in rubles and yuan is being developed by China.”

Ick. That's D.C. and NYC warmongers licking their chops for WW3 nasty.

Here's a lovely picture of BRICS to relax you:

BRICS

If Saudi Arabia joins BRICS, as President Mohammed Bin Salman has expressed interest, a majority of the Middle East will have joined forces to construct a new world order not based on the US currency.

I'm not sure of the new acronym.

SBRICSS? CIRBSS? CRIBSS?

The Reason America Is Harvesting What It Sowed

BRICS began 14 years ago.

14 years ago, what occurred? Concentrate. It involved CDOs, bad subprime mortgages, and Wall Street quants crunching numbers.

2008 recession

When two nations trade, they do so in US dollars, not Euros or gold.

What happened when 2008, an avoidable crisis caused by US banks' cupidity and ignorance, what happened?

Everyone WORLDWIDE felt the pain.

Mostly due to corporate America's avarice.

This should have been a warning that China and Russia had enough of our bs. Like when France sent a battleship to America after Nixon scrapped the gold standard. The US was warned to shape up or be dethroned (or at least try).

We need to go after the banks and the representatives who bailed them out, again. (Source)

Nixon improved in 1971. Kinda. Invented PetroDollar.

Another BS system that unfairly favors America and possibly pushed Russia, China, and Saudi Arabia into BRICS.

The PetroDollar forces oil-exporting nations to trade in US dollars and invest in US Treasury bonds. Brilliant. Genius evil.

Our misdeeds are:

  • In conflicts that are not its concern, the USA uses the global reserve currency as a weapon.

  • Targeted nations abandon the dollar, and rightfully so, as do nations that depend on them for trade in vital resources.

  • The dollar's position as the world's reserve currency is in jeopardy, which could have disastrous economic effects.

  • Although we have actually sown our own doom, we appear astonished. According to the Bible, whomever sows to appease his sinful nature will reap destruction from that nature whereas whoever sows to appease the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit.

Americans, even our leaders, lack caution and delayed pleasure. When our unsustainable systems fail, we double down. Bailouts of the banks in 2008 were myopic, puerile, and another nail in America's hegemony.

America has screwed everyone.

We're unpopular.

The BRICS's future

It's happened before.

Saddam Hussein sold oil in Euros in 2000, and the US invaded Iraq a month later. The media has devalued the word conspiracy. The Iraq conspiracy.

There were no WMDs, but NYT journalists like Judy Miller drove Americans into a warmongering frenzy because Saddam would ruin the PetroDollar. Does anyone recall that this war spawned ISIS?

I think America has done good for the world. You can make a convincing case that we're many people's villain.

Learn more in Confessions of an Economic Hitman, The Devil's Chessboard, or Tyranny of the Federal Reserve. Or ignore it. That's easier.

We, America, should extend an olive branch, ask for forgiveness, and learn from our faults, as the Tao Te Ching advises. Unlikely. Our population is apathetic and stupid, and our government is corrupt.

Argentina, Iran, Egypt, and Turkey have also indicated interest in joining BRICS. They're also considering making it gold-backed, making it a new world reserve currency.

You should pay attention.

Thanks for reading!

Johnny Harris

Johnny Harris

2 years ago

The REAL Reason Putin is Invading Ukraine [video with transcript]

Transcript:

[Reporter] The Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Momentum is building for a war between Ukraine and Russia.
[Reporter] Tensions between Russia and the West
are growing rapidly.
[Reporter] President Biden considering deploying
thousands of troops to Eastern Europe.
There are now 100,000 troops
on the Eastern border of Ukraine.
Russia is setting up field hospitals on this border.
Like this is what preparation for war looks like.
A legitimate war.
Ukrainian troops are watching and waiting,
saying they are preparing for a fight.
The U.S. has ordered the families of embassy staff
to leave Ukraine.
Britain has sent all of their nonessential staff home.
And now the U.S. is sending tons of weapons and munitions
to Ukraine's army.
And we're even considering deploying
our own troops to the region.
I mean, this thing is heating up.
Meanwhile, Russia and the West have been in Geneva
and Brussels trying to talk it out,
and sort of getting nowhere.
The message is very clear.
Should Russia take further aggressive actions
against Ukraine the costs will be severe
and the consequences serious.
It's a scary, grim momentum that is unpredictable.
And the chances of miscalculation
and escalation are growing.

I want to explain what's going on here,
but I want to show you that this isn't just
typical geopolitical behavior.
Stuff that can just be explained on the map.
Instead, to understand why 100,000 troops are camped out
on Ukraine's Eastern border, ready for war,
you have to understand Russia
and how it's been cut down over the ages
from the Slavic empire that dominated this whole region
to then the Soviet Union,
which was defeated in the nineties.
And what you really have to understand here
is how that history is transposed
onto the brain of one man.
This guy, Vladimir Putin.
This is a story about regional domination
and struggles between big powers,
but really it's the story about
what Vladimir Putin really wants.
[Reporter] Russian troops moving swiftly
to take control of military bases in Crimea.
[Reporter] Russia has amassed more than 100,000 troops
and a lot of military hardware
at the border with Ukraine.

Let's dive back in.
Okay. Let's get up to speed on what's happening here.
And I'm just going to quickly give you the highlight version
of like the news that's happening,
because I want to get into the juicy part,
which is like why, the roots of all of this.
So let's go.
A few months ago, Russia started sending
more and more troops to this border.
It's this massive border between Ukraine and Russia.
They said they were doing a military exercise,
but the rest of the world was like,
"Yeah, we totally believe you Russia. Pshaw."
This was right before this big meeting
where North American and European countries
were coming together to talk about a lot
of different things, like these countries often do
in these diplomatic summits.
But soon, because of Russia's aggressive behavior
coming in and setting up 100,000 troops
on the border with Ukraine,
the entire summit turned into a whole, "WTF Russia,
what are you doing on the border of Ukraine," meeting.
Before the meeting Putin comes out and says,
"Listen, I have some demands for the West."
And everyone's like, "Okay, Russia, what are your demands?
You know, we have like, COVID19 right now.
And like, that's like surging.

So like, we don't need your like,
bluster about what your demands are."
And Putin's like, "No, here's my list of demands."
Putin's demands for the summit were this:
number one, that NATO, which is this big military alliance
between U.S., Canada, and Europe stop expanding,
meaning they don't let any new members in, okay.
So, Russia is like, "No more new members to your, like,
cool military club that I don't like.
You can't have any more members."
Number two, that NATO withdraw all of their troops
from anywhere in Eastern Europe.
Basically Putin is saying,
"I can veto any military cooperation
or troops going between countries
that have to do with Eastern Europe,
the place that used to be the Soviet Union."
Okay, and number three, Putin demands that America vow
not to protect its allies in Eastern Europe
with nuclear weapons.
"LOL," said all of the other countries,
"You're literally nuts, Vladimir Putin.
Like these are the most ridiculous demands, ever."
But there he is, Putin, with these demands.
These very, very aggressive demands.
And he sort of is implying that if his demands aren't met,
he's going to invade Ukraine.
I mean, it doesn't work like this.
This is not how international relations work.
You don't just show up and say like,
"I'm not gonna allow other countries to join your alliance
because it makes me feel uncomfortable."
But what I love about this list of demands
from Vladimir Putin for this summit
is that it gives us a clue
on what Vladimir Putin really wants.

What he's after here.
You read them closely and you can grasp his intentions.
But to grasp those intentions
you have to understand what NATO is.
and what Russia and Ukraine used to be.
(dramatic music)
Okay, so a while back I made this video
about why Russia is so damn big,
where I explain how modern day Russia started here in Kiev,
which is actually modern day Ukraine.
In other words, modern day Russia, as we know it,
has its original roots in Ukraine.
These places grew up together
and they eventually became a part
of the same mega empire called the Soviet Union.
They were deeply intertwined,
not just in their history and their culture,
but also in their economy and their politics.
So it's after World War II,
it's like the '50s, '60s, '70s, and NATO was formed,
the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
This was a military alliance between all of these countries,
that was meant to sort of deter the Soviet Union
from expanding and taking over the world.
But as we all know, the Soviet Union,
which was Russia and all of these other countries,
collapsed in 1991.
And all of these Soviet republics,
including Ukraine, became independent,
meaning they were not now a part
of one big block of countries anymore.
But just because the border's all split up,
it doesn't mean that these cultural ties actually broke.
Like for example, the Soviet leader at the time
of the collapse of the Soviet Union, this guy, Gorbachev,
he was the son of a Ukrainian mother and a Russian father.
Like he grew up with his mother singing him
Ukrainian folk songs.

In his mind, Ukraine and Russia were like one thing.
So there was a major reluctance to accept Ukraine
as a separate thing from Russia.
In so many ways, they are one.
There was another Russian at the time
who did not accept this new division.
This young intelligence officer, Vladimir Putin,
who was starting to rise up in the ranks
of postSoviet Russia.
There's this amazing quote from 2005
where Putin is giving this stateoftheunionlike address,
where Putin declares the collapse of the Soviet Union,
quote, "The greatest catastrophe of the 20th century.
And as for the Russian people, it became a genuine tragedy.
Tens of millions of fellow citizens and countrymen
found themselves beyond the fringes of Russian territory."
Do you see how he frames this?
The Soviet Union were all one people in his mind.
And after it collapsed, all of these people
who are a part of the motherland were now outside
of the fringes or the boundaries of Russian territory.
First off, fact check.
Greatest catastrophe of the 20th century?
Like, do you remember what else happened
in the 20th century, Vladimir?
(ominous music)

Putin's worry about the collapse of this one people
starts to get way worse when the West, his enemy,
starts showing up to his neighborhood
to all these exSoviet countries that are now independent.
The West starts selling their ideology
of democracy and capitalism and inviting them
to join their military alliance called NATO.
And guess what?
These countries are totally buying it.
All these exSoviet countries are now joining NATO.
And some of them, the EU.
And Putin is hating this.
He's like not only did the Soviet Union divide
and all of these people are now outside
of the Russia motherland,
but now they're being persuaded by the West
to join their military alliance.
This is terrible news.
Over the years, this continues to happen,
while Putin himself starts to chip away
at Russian institutions, making them weaker and weaker.
He's silencing his rivals
and he's consolidating power in himself.
(triumphant music)

And in the past few years,
he's effectively silenced anyone who can challenge him;
any institution, any court,
or any political rival have all been silenced.
It's been decades since the Soviet Union fell,
but as Putin gains more power,
he still sees the region through the lens
of the old Cold War, Soviet, Slavic empire view.
He sees this region as one big block
that has been torn apart by outside forces.
"The greatest catastrophe of the 20th century."
And the worst situation of all of these,
according to Putin, is Ukraine,
which was like the gem of the Soviet Union.
There was tons of cultural heritage.
Again, Russia sort of started in Ukraine,
not to mention it was a very populous
and industrious, resourcerich place.
And over the years Ukraine has been drifting west.
It hasn't joined NATO yet, but more and more,
it's been electing proWestern presidents.
It's been flirting with membership in NATO.
It's becoming less and less attached
to the Russian heritage that Putin so adores.
And more than half of Ukrainians say
that they'd be down to join the EU.
64% of them say that it would be cool joining NATO.
But Putin can't handle this. He is in total denial.
Like an exboyfriend who handle his exgirlfriend
starting to date someone else,
Putin can't let Ukraine go.
He won't let go.

So for the past decade,
he's been trying to keep the West out
and bring Ukraine back into the motherland of Russia.
This usually takes the form of Putin sending
secret soldiers from Russia into Ukraine
to help the people in Ukraine who want to like separate
from Ukraine and join Russia.
It also takes the form of, oh yeah,
stealing entire parts of Ukraine for Russia.
Russian troops moving swiftly to take control
of military bases in Crimea.
Like in 2014, Putin just did this.
To what America is officially calling
a Russian invasion of Ukraine.
He went down and just snatched this bit of Ukraine
and folded it into Russia.
So you're starting to see what's going on here.
Putin's life's work is to salvage what he calls
the greatest catastrophe of the 20th century,
the division and the separation
of the Soviet republics from Russia.
So let's get to present day. It's 2022.
Putin is at it again.
And honestly, if you really want to understand
the mind of Vladimir Putin and his whole view on this,
you have to read this.
"On the History of Unity of Russians and Ukrainians,"
by Vladimir Putin.
A blog post that kind of sounds
like a ninth grade history essay.
In this essay, Vladimir Putin argues
that Russia and Ukraine are one people.
He calls them essentially the same historical
and spiritual space.

Kind of beautiful writing, honestly.
Anyway, he argues that the division
between the two countries is due to quote,
"a deliberate effort by those forces
that have always sought to undermine our unity."
And that the formula they use, these outside forces,
is a classic one: divide and rule.
And then he launches into this super indepth,
like 10page argument, as to every single historical beat
of Ukraine and Russia's history
to make this argument that like,
this is one people and the division is totally because
of outside powers, i.e. the West.
Okay, but listen, there's this moment
at the end of the post,
that actually kind of hit me in a big way.
He says this, "Just have a look at Austria and Germany,
or the U.S. and Canada, how they live next to each other.
Close in ethnic composition, culture,
and in fact, sharing one language,
they remain sovereign states with their own interests,
with their own foreign policy.
But this does not prevent them
from the closest integration or allied relations.
They have very conditional, transparent borders.
And when crossing them citizens feel at home.
They create families, study, work, do business.
Incidentally, so do millions of those born in Ukraine
who now live in Russia.
We see them as our own close people."
I mean, listen, like,
I'm not in support of what Putin is doing,
but like that, it's like a pretty solid like analogy.
If China suddenly showed up and started like
coaxing Canada into being a part of its alliance,
I would be a little bit like, "What's going on here?"
That's what Putin feels.
And so I kind of get what he means there.
There's a deep heritage and connection between these people.
And he's seen that falter and dissolve
and he doesn't like it.
He clearly genuinely feels a brotherhood
and this deep heritage connection
with the people of Ukraine.
Okay, okay, okay, okay. Putin, I get it.
Your essay is compelling there at the end.
You're clearly very smart and wellread.
But this does not justify what you've been up to. Okay?
It doesn't justify sending 100,000 troops to the border
or sending cyber soldiers to sabotage
the Ukrainian government, or annexing territory,
fueling a conflict that has killed
tens of thousands of people in Eastern Ukraine.
No. Okay.

No matter how much affection you feel for Ukrainian heritage
and its connection to Russia, this is not okay.
Again, it's like the boyfriend
who genuinely loves his girlfriend.
They had a great relationship,
but they broke up and she's free to see whomever she wants.
But Putin is not ready to let go.
[Man In Blue Shirt] What the hell's wrong with you?
I love you, Jessica.
What the hell is wrong with you?
Dude, don't fucking touch me.
I love you. Worldstar!
What is wrong with you? Just stop!
Putin has constructed his own reality here.
One in which Ukraine is actually being controlled
by shadowy Western forces
who are holding the people of Ukraine hostage.
And if that he invades, it will be a swift victory
because Ukrainians will accept him with open arms.
The great liberator.
(triumphant music)

Like, this guy's a total romantic.
He's a history buff and a romantic.
And he has a hill to die on here.
And it is liberating the people
who have been taken from the Russian motherland.
Kind of like the abusive boyfriend, who's like,
"She actually really loves me,
but it's her annoying friends
who were planting all these ideas in her head.
That's why she broke up with me."
And it's like, "No, dude, she's over you."
[Man In Blue Shirt] What the hell is wrong with you?
I love you, Jessica.
I mean, maybe this video should be called
Putin is just like your abusive exboyfriend.
[Man In Blue Shirt] What the hell is wrong with you?
I love you, Jessica!
Worldstar! What's wrong with you?
Okay. So where does this leave us?
It's 2022, Putin is showing up to these meetings in Europe
to tell them where he stands.
He says, "NATO, you cannot expand anymore. No new members.
And you need to withdraw all your troops
from Eastern Europe, my neighborhood."
He knows these demands will never be accepted
because they're ludicrous.
But what he's doing is showing a false effort to say,
"Well, we tried to negotiate with the West,
but they didn't want to."
Hence giving a little bit more justification
to a Russian invasion.
So will Russia invade? Is there war coming?
Maybe; it's impossible to know
because it's all inside of the head of this guy.
But, if I were to make the best argument
that war is not coming tomorrow,
I would look at a few things.
Number one, war in Ukraine would be incredibly costly
for Vladimir Putin.
Russia has a far superior army to Ukraine's,
but still, Ukraine has a very good army
that is supported by the West
and would give Putin a pretty bad bloody nose
in any invasion.

Controlling territory in Ukraine would be very hard.
Ukraine is a giant country.
They would fight back and it would be very hard
to actually conquer and take over territory.
Another major point here is that if Russia invades Ukraine,
this gives NATO new purpose.
If you remember, NATO was created because of the Cold War,
because the Soviet Union was big and nuclear powered.
Once the Soviet Union fell,
NATO sort of has been looking for a new purpose
over the past couple of decades.
If Russia invades Ukraine,
NATO suddenly has a brand new purpose to unite
and to invest in becoming more powerful than ever.
Putin knows that.
And it would be very bad news for him if that happened.
But most importantly, perhaps the easiest clue
for me to believe that war isn't coming tomorrow
is the Russian propaganda machine
is not preparing the Russian people for an invasion.
In 2014, when Russia was about to invade
and take over Crimea, this part of Ukraine,
there was a barrage of state propaganda
that prepared the Russian people
that this was a justified attack.
So when it happened, it wasn't a surprise
and it felt very normal.

That isn't happening right now in Russia.
At least for now. It may start happening tomorrow.
But for now, I think Putin is showing up to the border,
flexing his muscles and showing the West that he is earnest.
I'm not sure that he's going to invade tomorrow,
but he very well could.
I mean, read the guy's blog post
and you'll realize that he is a romantic about this.
He is incredibly idealistic about the glory days
of the Slavic empires, and he wants to get it back.
So there is dangerous momentum towards war.
And the way war works is even a small little, like, fight,
can turn into the other guy
doing something bigger and crazier.
And then the other person has to respond
with something a little bit bigger.
That's called escalation.
And there's not really a ceiling
to how much that momentum can spin out of control.
That is why it's so scary when two nuclear countries
go to war with each other,
because there's kind of no ceiling.
So yeah, it's dangerous. This is scary.
I'm not sure what happens next here,
but the best we can do is keep an eye on this.
At least for now, we better understand
what Putin really wants out of all of this.

Thanks for watching.

Scott Galloway

Scott Galloway

1 year ago

Text-ure

While we played checkers, we thought billionaires played 3D chess. They're playing the same game on a fancier board.

Every medium has nuances and norms. Texting is authentic and casual. A smaller circle has access, creating intimacy and immediacy. Most people read all their texts, but not all their email and mail. Many of us no longer listen to our voicemails, and calling your kids ages you.

Live interviews and testimony under oath inspire real moments, rare in a world where communications departments sanitize everything powerful people say. When (some of) Elon's text messages became public in Twitter v. Musk, we got a glimpse into tech power. It's bowels.

These texts illuminate the tech community's upper caste.

Checkers, Not Chess

Elon texts with Larry Ellison, Joe Rogan, Sam Bankman-Fried, Satya Nadella, and Jack Dorsey. They reveal astounding logic, prose, and discourse. The world's richest man and his followers are unsophisticated, obtuse, and petty. Possibly. While we played checkers, we thought billionaires played 3D chess. They're playing the same game on a fancier board.

They fumble with their computers.

They lean on others to get jobs for their kids (no surprise).

No matter how rich, they always could use more (money).

Differences A social hierarchy exists. Among this circle, the currency of deference is... currency. Money increases sycophantry. Oculus and Elon's "friends'" texts induce nausea.

Autocorrect frustrates everyone.

Elon doesn't stand out to me in these texts; he comes off mostly OK in my view. It’s the people around him. It seems our idolatry of innovators has infected the uber-wealthy, giving them an uncontrollable urge to kill the cool kid for a seat at his cafeteria table. "I'd grenade for you." If someone says this and they're not fighting you, they're a fan, not a friend.

Many powerful people are undone by their fake friends. Facilitators, not well-wishers. When Elon-Twitter started, I wrote about power. Unchecked power is intoxicating. This is a scientific fact, not a thesis. Power causes us to downplay risk, magnify rewards, and act on instincts more quickly. You lose self-control and must rely on others.

You'd hope the world's richest person has advisers who push back when necessary (i.e., not yes men). Elon's reckless, childish behavior and these texts show there is no truth-teller. I found just one pushback in the 151-page document. It came from Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal, who, in response to Elon’s unhelpful “Is Twitter dying?” tweet, let Elon know what he thought: It was unhelpful. Elon’s response? A childish, terse insult.

Scale

The texts are mostly unremarkable. There are some, however, that do remind us the (super-)rich are different. Specifically, the discussions of possible equity investments from crypto-billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried (“Does he have huge amounts of money?”) and this exchange with Larry Ellison:

Ellison, who co-founded $175 billion Oracle, is wealthy. Less clear is whether he can text a billion dollars. Who hasn't been texted $1 billion? Ellison offered 8,000 times the median American's net worth, enough to buy 3,000 Ferraris or the Chicago Blackhawks. It's a bedrock principle of capitalism to have incredibly successful people who are exponentially wealthier than the rest of us. It creates an incentive structure that inspires productivity and prosperity. When people offer billions over text to help a billionaire's vanity project in a country where 1 in 5 children are food insecure, isn't America messed up?

Elon's Morgan Stanley banker, Michael Grimes, tells him that Web3 ventures investor Bankman-Fried can invest $5 billion in the deal: “could do $5bn if everything vision lock... Believes in your mission." The message bothers Elon. In Elon's world, $5 billion doesn't warrant a worded response. $5 billion is more than many small nations' GDP, twice the SEC budget, and five times the NRC budget.

If income inequality worries you after reading this, trust your gut.

Billionaires aren't like the rich.

As an entrepreneur, academic, and investor, I've met modest-income people, rich people, and billionaires. Rich people seem different to me. They're smarter and harder working than most Americans. Monty Burns from The Simpsons is a cartoon about rich people. Rich people have character and know how to make friends. Success requires supporters.

I've never noticed a talent or intelligence gap between wealthy and ultra-wealthy people. Conflating talent and luck infects the tech elite. Timing is more important than incremental intelligence when going from millions to hundreds of millions or billions. Proof? Elon's texting. Any man who electrifies the auto industry and lands two rockets on barges is a genius. His mega-billions come from a well-regulated capital market, enforceable contracts, thousands of workers, and billions of dollars in government subsidies, including a $465 million DOE loan that allowed Tesla to produce the Model S. So, is Mr. Musk a genius or an impressive man in a unique time and place?

The Point

Elon's texts taught us more? He can't "fix" Twitter. For two weeks in April, he was all in on blockchain Twitter, brainstorming Dogecoin payments for tweets with his brother — i.e., paid speech — while telling Twitter's board he was going to make a hostile tender offer. Kimbal approved. By May, he was over crypto and "laborious blockchain debates." (Mood.)

Elon asked the Twitter CEO for "an update from the Twitter engineering team" No record shows if he got the meeting. It doesn't "fix" Twitter either. And this is Elon's problem. He's a grown-up child with all the toys and no boundaries. His yes-men encourage his most facile thoughts, and shitposts and errant behavior diminish his genius and ours.

Post-Apocalyptic

The universe's titans have a sense of humor.

Every day, we must ask: Who keeps me real? Who will disagree with me? Who will save me from my psychosis, which has brought down so many successful people? Elon Musk doesn't need anyone to jump on a grenade for him; he needs to stop throwing them because one will explode in his hand.

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Jay Peters

Jay Peters

1 year ago

Apple AR/VR heaset

Apple is said to have opted for a standalone AR/VR headset over a more powerful tethered model.
It has had a tumultuous history.

Apple's alleged mixed reality headset appears to be the worst-kept secret in tech, and a fresh story from The Information is jam-packed with details regarding the device's rocky development.

Apple's decision to use a separate headgear is one of the most notable aspects of the story. Apple had yet to determine whether to pursue a more powerful VR headset that would be linked with a base station or a standalone headset. According to The Information, Apple officials chose the standalone product over the version with the base station, which had a processor that later arrived as the M1 Ultra. In 2020, Bloomberg published similar information.

That decision appears to have had a long-term impact on the headset's development. "The device's many processors had already been in development for several years by the time the choice was taken, making it impossible to go back to the drawing board and construct, say, a single chip to handle all the headset's responsibilities," The Information stated. "Other difficulties, such as putting 14 cameras on the headset, have given hardware and algorithm engineers stress."

Jony Ive remained to consult on the project's design even after his official departure from Apple, according to the story. Ive "prefers" a wearable battery, such as that offered by Magic Leap. Other prototypes, according to The Information, placed the battery in the headset's headband, and it's unknown which will be used in the final design.

The headset was purportedly shown to Apple's board of directors last week, indicating that a public unveiling is imminent. However, it is possible that it will not be introduced until later this year, and it may not hit shop shelves until 2023, so we may have to wait a bit to try it.
For further down the line, Apple is working on a pair of AR spectacles that appear like Ray-Ban wayfarer sunglasses, but according to The Information, they're "still several years away from release." (I'm interested to see how they compare to Meta and Ray-Bans' true wayfarer-style glasses.)

Tomas Pueyo

Tomas Pueyo

11 months ago

Soon, a Starship Will Transform Humanity

SpaceX's Starship.

Source

Launched last week.

Four minutes in:

SpaceX will succeed. When it does, its massiveness will matter.

Source

Its payload will revolutionize space economics.

Civilization will shift.

We don't yet understand how this will affect space and Earth culture. Grab it.

The Cost of Space Transportation Has Decreased Exponentially

Space launches have increased dramatically in recent years.

We mostly send items to LEO, the green area below:

I always had a hard time remembering that LEO stands for Low-Earth Orbit. Now I imagine a lion orbiting the Earth, and that did the trick.

SpaceX's reusable rockets can send these things to LEO. Each may launch dozens of payloads into space.

With all these launches, we're sending more than simply things to space. Volume and mass. Since the 1980s, launching a kilogram of payload to LEO has become cheaper:

Falcon Heavy is the heavy rocket from SpaceX. Notice this is a logarithmic scale! The Falcon Heavy was SpaceX’s biggest rocket yet. It will soon be superseded by Starship.

One kilogram in a large rocket cost over $75,000 in the 1980s. Carrying one astronaut cost nearly $5M! Falcon Heavy's $1,500/kg price is 50 times lower. SpaceX's larger, reusable rockets are amazing.

SpaceX's Starship rocket will continue. It can carry over 100 tons to LEO, 50% more than the current Falcon heavy. Thousands of launches per year. Elon Musk predicts Falcon Heavy's $1,500/kg cost will plummet to $100 in 23 years.

In context:

Angara was the rocket that previously held the record for cheapest transportation to LEO.

People underestimate this.

2. The Benefits of Affordable Transportation

Compare Earth's transportation costs:

Source: US Department of Transportation.

It's no surprise that the US and Northern Europe are the wealthiest and have the most navigable interior waterways.

The Mississippi River is one of the biggest systems of navigable waterways on Earth. And on top of that, navigation along the US’s Mexican Gulf and East Coast is protected by a series of islands, making sea shipping easier than in the open ocean.European navigable waterways

So what? since sea transportation is cheaper than land. Inland waterways are even better than sea transportation since weather is less of an issue, currents can be controlled, and rivers serve two banks instead of one for coastal transportation.

In France, because population density follows river systems, rivers are valuable. Cheap transportation brought people and money to rivers, especially their confluences.

Look at the population. Can you see dark red lines? Those are people living close to rivers. You can guess where the rivers are by looking at the map. Also, you can see the bigger cities are always at the confluence between rivers.

How come? Why were humans surrounding rivers?

Imagine selling meat for $10 per kilogram. Transporting one kg one kilometer costs $1. Your margin decreases $1 each kilometer. You can only ship 10 kilometers. For example, you can only trade with four cities:

If instead, your cost of transportation is half, what happens? It costs you $0.5 per km. You now have higher margins with each city you traded with. More importantly, you can reach 20-km markets.

However, 2x distance 4x surface! You can now trade with sixteen cities instead of four! Metcalfe's law states that a network's value increases with its nodes squared. Since now sixteen cities can connect to yours. Each city now has sixteen connections! They get affluent and can afford more meat.

Rivers lower travel costs, connecting many cities, which can trade more, get wealthy, and buy more.

The right network is worth at least an order of magnitude more than the left! The cheaper the transport, the more trade at a lower cost, the more income generated, the more that wealth can be reinvested in better canals, bridges, and roads, and the wealth grows even more.

Throughout history. Rome was established around cheap Mediterranean transit and preoccupied with cutting overland transportation costs with their famous roadways. Communications restricted their empire.

This map shows the distance from Rome in terms of days of travel. The size of the Roman Empire was about five weeks of travel. This is not a coincidence. Source: Orbis, the Stanford Geospatial Network Model of the Roman World

The Egyptians lived around the Nile, the Vikings around the North Sea, early Japan around the Seto Inland Sea, and China started canals in the 5th century BC.

Transportation costs shaped empires.Starship is lowering new-world transit expenses. What's possible?

3. Change Organizations, Change Companies, Change the World

Starship is a conveyor belt to LEO. A new world of opportunity opens up as transportation prices drop 100x in a decade.

Satellite engineers have spent decades shedding milligrams. Weight influenced every decision: pricing structure, volumes to be sent, material selections, power sources, thermal protection, guiding, navigation, and control software. Weight was everything in the mission. To pack as much science into every millimeter, NASA missions had to be miniaturized. Engineers were indoctrinated against mass.

No way.

Starship is not constrained by any space mission, robotic or crewed.

Starship obliterates the mass constraint and every last vestige of cultural baggage it has gouged into the minds of spacecraft designers. A dollar spent on mass optimization no longer buys a dollar saved on launch cost. It buys nothing. It is time to raise the scope of our ambition and think much bigger. — Casey Handmer, Starship is still not understood

A Tesla Roadster in space makes more sense.

Starman, the roadster, and the Earth. Source.

It went beyond bad PR. It told the industry: Did you care about every microgram? No more. My rockets are big enough to send a Tesla without noticing. Industry watchers should have noticed.

Most didn’t. Artemis is a global mission to send astronauts to the Moon and build a base. Artemis uses disposable Space Launch System rockets. Instead of sending two or three dinky 10-ton crew habitats over the next decade, Starship might deliver 100x as much cargo and create a base for 1,000 astronauts in a year or two. Why not? Because Artemis remains in a pre-Starship paradigm where each kilogram costs a million dollars and we must aggressively descope our objective.

An overengineer at work

Space agencies can deliver 100x more payload to space for the same budget with 100x lower costs and 100x higher transportation volumes. How can space economy saturate this new supply?

Before Starship, NASA supplied heavy equipment for Moon base construction. After Starship, Caterpillar and Deere may space-qualify their products with little alterations. Instead than waiting decades for NASA engineers to catch up, we could send people to build a space outpost with John Deere equipment in a few years.

History is littered with the wreckage of former industrial titans that underestimated the impact of new technology and overestimated their ability to adapt: Blockbuster, Motorola, Kodak, Nokia, RIM, Xerox, Yahoo, IBM, Atari, Sears, Hitachi, Polaroid, Toshiba, HP, Palm, Sony, PanAm, Sega, Netscape, Compaq, GM… — Casey Handmer, Starship is still not understood

Everyone saw it coming, but senior management failed to realize that adaption would involve moving beyond their established business practice. Others will if they don't.

4. The Starship Possibilities

It's Starlink.

SpaceX invented affordable cargo space and grasped its implications first. How can we use all this inexpensive cargo nobody knows how to use?

Satellite communications seemed like the best way to capitalize on it. They tried. Starlink, designed by SpaceX, provides fast, dependable Internet worldwide. Beaming information down is often cheaper than cable. Already profitable.

Starlink is one use for all this cheap cargo space. Many more. The longer firms ignore the opportunity, the more SpaceX will acquire.

What are these chances?

Satellite imagery is outdated and lacks detail. We can improve greatly. Synthetic aperture radar can take beautiful shots like this:

This radar image acquired by the SIR-C/X-SAR radar on board the Space Shuttle Endeavour shows the Teide volcano. The city of Santa Cruz de Tenerife is visible as the purple and white area on the lower right edge of the island. Lava flows at the summit crater appear in shades of green and brown, while vegetation zones appear as areas of purple, green and yellow on the volcano’s flanks. Source.

Have you ever used Google Maps and thought, "I want to see this in more detail"? What if I could view Earth live? What if we could livestream an infrared image of Earth?

The fall of Kabul. Source: Maxar

We could launch hundreds of satellites with such mind-blowing visual precision of the Earth that we would dramatically improve the accuracy of our meteorological models; our agriculture; where crime is happening; where poachers are operating in the savannah; climate change; and who is moving military personnel where. Is that useful?

What if we could see Earth in real time? That affects businesses? That changes society?

David Z. Morris

1 year ago

FTX's crash was no accident, it was a crime

Sam Bankman Fried (SDBF) is a legendary con man. But the NYT might not tell you that...

Since SBF's empire was revealed to be a lie, mainstream news organizations and commentators have failed to give readers a straightforward assessment. The New York Times and Wall Street Journal have uncovered many key facts about the scandal, but they have also soft-peddled Bankman-Fried's intent and culpability.

It's clear that the FTX crypto exchange and Alameda Research committed fraud to steal money from users and investors. That’s why a recent New York Times interview was widely derided for seeming to frame FTX’s collapse as the result of mismanagement rather than malfeasance. A Wall Street Journal article lamented FTX's loss of charitable donations, bolstering Bankman's philanthropic pose. Matthew Yglesias, court chronicler of the neoliberal status quo, seemed to whitewash his own entanglements by crediting SBF's money with helping Democrats in 2020 – sidestepping the likelihood that the money was embezzled.

Many outlets have called what happened to FTX a "bank run" or a "run on deposits," but Bankman-Fried insists the company was overleveraged and disorganized. Both attempts to frame the fallout obscure the core issue: customer funds misused.

Because banks lend customer funds to generate returns, they can experience "bank runs." If everyone withdraws at once, they can experience a short-term cash crunch but there won't be a long-term problem.

Crypto exchanges like FTX aren't banks. They don't do bank-style lending, so a withdrawal surge shouldn't strain liquidity. FTX promised customers it wouldn't lend or use their crypto.

Alameda's balance sheet blurs SBF's crypto empire.

The funds were sent to Alameda Research, where they were apparently gambled away. This is massive theft. According to a bankruptcy document, up to 1 million customers could be affected.

In less than a month, reporting and the bankruptcy process have uncovered a laundry list of decisions and practices that would constitute financial fraud if FTX had been a U.S.-regulated entity, even without crypto-specific rules. These ploys may be litigated in U.S. courts if they enabled the theft of American property.

The list is very, very long.

The many crimes of Sam Bankman-Fried and FTX

At the heart of SBF's fraud are the deep and (literally) intimate ties between FTX and Alameda Research, a hedge fund he co-founded. An exchange makes money from transaction fees on user assets, but Alameda trades and invests its own funds.

Bankman-Fried called FTX and Alameda "wholly separate" and resigned as Alameda's CEO in 2019. The two operations were closely linked. Bankman-Fried and Alameda CEO Caroline Ellison were romantically linked.

These circumstances enabled SBF's sin.  Within days of FTX's first signs of weakness, it was clear the exchange was funneling customer assets to Alameda for trading, lending, and investing. Reuters reported on Nov. 12 that FTX sent $10 billion to Alameda. As much as $2 billion was believed to have disappeared after being sent to Alameda. Now the losses look worse.

It's unclear why those funds were sent to Alameda or when Bankman-Fried betrayed his depositors. On-chain analysis shows most FTX to Alameda transfers occurred in late 2021, and bankruptcy filings show both lost $3.7 billion in 2021.

SBF's companies lost millions before the 2022 crypto bear market. They may have stolen funds before Terra and Three Arrows Capital, which killed many leveraged crypto players.

FTT loans and prints

CoinDesk's report on Alameda's FTT holdings ignited FTX and Alameda Research. FTX created this instrument, but only a small portion was traded publicly; FTX and Alameda held the rest. These holdings were illiquid, meaning they couldn't be sold at market price. Bankman-Fried valued its stock at the fictitious price.

FTT tokens were reportedly used as collateral for loans, including FTX loans to Alameda. Close ties between FTX and Alameda made the FTT token harder or more expensive to use as collateral, reducing the risk to customer funds.

This use of an internal asset as collateral for loans between clandestinely related entities is similar to Enron's 1990s accounting fraud. These executives served 12 years in prison.

Alameda's margin liquidation exemption

Alameda Research had a "secret exemption" from FTX's liquidation and margin trading rules, according to legal filings by FTX's new CEO.

FTX, like other crypto platforms and some equity or commodity services, offered "margin" or loans for trades. These loans are usually collateralized, meaning borrowers put up other funds or assets. If a margin trade loses enough money, the exchange will sell the user's collateral to pay off the initial loan.

Keeping asset markets solvent requires liquidating bad margin positions. Exempting Alameda would give it huge advantages while exposing other FTX users to hidden risks. Alameda could have kept losing positions open while closing out competitors. Alameda could lose more on FTX than it could pay back, leaving a hole in customer funds.

The exemption is criminal in multiple ways. FTX was fraudulently marketed overall. Instead of a level playing field, there were many customers.

Above them all, with shotgun poised, was Alameda Research.

Alameda front-running FTX listings

Argus says there's circumstantial evidence that Alameda Research had insider knowledge of FTX's token listing plans. Alameda was able to buy large amounts of tokens before the listing and sell them after the price bump.

If true, these claims would be the most brazenly illegal of Alameda and FTX's alleged shenanigans. Even if the tokens aren't formally classified as securities, insider trading laws may apply.

In a similar case this year, an OpenSea employee was charged with wire fraud for allegedly insider trading. This employee faces 20 years in prison for front-running monkey JPEGs.

Huge loans to executives

Alameda Research reportedly lent FTX executives $4.1 billion, including massive personal loans. Bankman-Fried received $1 billion in personal loans and $2.3 billion for an entity he controlled, Paper Bird. Nishad Singh, director of engineering, was given $543 million, and FTX Digital Markets co-CEO Ryan Salame received $55 million.

FTX has more smoking guns than a Texas shooting range, but this one is the smoking bazooka – a sign of criminal intent. It's unclear how most of the personal loans were used, but liquidators will have to recoup the money.

The loans to Paper Bird were even more worrisome because they created another related third party to shuffle assets. Forbes speculates that some Paper Bird funds went to buy Binance's FTX stake, and Paper Bird committed hundreds of millions to outside investments.

FTX Inner Circle: Who's Who

That included many FTX-backed VC funds. Time will tell if this financial incest was criminal fraud. It fits Bankman-pattern Fried's of using secret flows, leverage, and funny money to inflate asset prices.

FTT or loan 'bailouts'

Also. As the crypto bear market continued in 2022, Bankman-Fried proposed bailouts for bankrupt crypto lenders BlockFi and Voyager Digital. CoinDesk was among those deceived, welcoming SBF as a J.P. Morgan-style sector backstop.

In a now-infamous interview with CNBC's "Squawk Box," Bankman-Fried referred to these decisions as bets that may or may not pay off.

But maybe not. Bloomberg's Matt Levine speculated that FTX backed BlockFi with FTT money. This Monopoly bailout may have been intended to hide FTX and Alameda liabilities that would have been exposed if BlockFi went bankrupt sooner. This ploy has no name, but it echoes other corporate frauds.

Secret bank purchase

Alameda Research invested $11.5 million in the tiny Farmington State Bank, doubling its net worth. As a non-U.S. entity and an investment firm, Alameda should have cleared regulatory hurdles before acquiring a U.S. bank.

In the context of FTX, the bank's stake becomes "ominous." Alameda and FTX could have done more shenanigans with bank control. Compare this to the Bank for Credit and Commerce International's failed attempts to buy U.S. banks. BCCI was even nefarious than FTX and wanted to buy U.S. banks to expand its money-laundering empire.

The mainstream's mistakes

These are complex and nuanced forms of fraud that echo traditional finance models. This obscurity helped Bankman-Fried masquerade as an honest player and likely kept coverage soft after the collapse.

Bankman-Fried had a scruffy, nerdy image, like Mark Zuckerberg and Adam Neumann. In interviews, he spoke nonsense about an industry full of jargon and complicated tech. Strategic donations and insincere ideological statements helped him gain political and social influence.

SBF' s'Effective' Altruism Blew Up FTX

Bankman-Fried has continued to muddy the waters with disingenuous letters, statements, interviews, and tweets since his con collapsed. He's tried to portray himself as a well-intentioned but naive kid who made some mistakes. This is a softer, more pernicious version of what Trump learned from mob lawyer Roy Cohn. Bankman-Fried doesn't "deny, deny, deny" but "confuse, evade, distort."

It's mostly worked. Kevin O'Leary, who plays an investor on "Shark Tank," repeats Bankman-SBF's counterfactuals.  O'Leary called Bankman-Fried a "savant" and "probably one of the most accomplished crypto traders in the world" in a Nov. 27 interview with Business Insider, despite recent data indicating immense trading losses even when times were good.

O'Leary's status as an FTX investor and former paid spokesperson explains his continued affection for Bankman-Fried despite contradictory evidence. He's not the only one promoting Bankman-Fried. The disgraced son of two Stanford law professors will defend himself at Wednesday's DealBook Summit.

SBF's fraud and theft rival those of Bernie Madoff and Jho Low. Whether intentionally or through malign ineptitude, the fraud echoes Worldcom and Enron.

The Perverse Impacts of Anti-Money-Laundering

The principals in all of those scandals wound up either sentenced to prison or on the run from the law. Sam Bankman-Fried clearly deserves to share their fate.

Read the full article here.