To Be And To Last #40

This week we explore calendar candy, the possibility that stocks have been flat for the last year, and the cryptocurrency that Elon should start.

🍫 Kit Kat’s brilliant ad campaign

I don’t tend to like most campaigns, as brands seem to care more about winning an award than winning us over. But Kit Kat’s bus ads speak to me during this crazy work-from-home pandemic period.

Maybe this is a sign that I need to cut back on meetings.

😹 Fictional Cryptocurrencies

Astral Codex Ten published an enjoyable list of fictional cryptocurrencies, and why these cryptos were (fictionally) banned by the SEC. Essentially some fascinating ideas, along with likely reasons they’d fail.

Driverify: Developed by Tesla's self-driving-car division. Cars mine Driverify with spare computing power while idling, and spend it bidding against each other for right-of-way if they arrive at a four-way stop sign at the same time (users can preprogram how aggressively their cars bid in these auctions). Compatible Teslas would also have fenders that send electrical pulses, transmitting data into the receiver fender of another car. If two Teslas got in a fender-bender, they could use their now-connected fenders to have the at-fault car recompense the victim by transferring an appropriate amount of Driverify.

Banned because: in the Phoenix suburb where the system was being tested, a pedestrian and Driverify-equipped car reached an intersection at the same time. The car dutifully wired a bid, but the pedestrian failed to respond. The car interpreted this as a bid of zero and ran into her. The pedestrian might have survived, except that the car realized it was at fault and tried to wire a fortune in Driverify directly into her nervous system, causing cardiac arrest. Elon Musk agreed to voluntarily withdraw the project until Neuralink could find a way to make pedestrians Driverify-compatible.

- Astral Codex Ten

🚀 Why do stocks keep going up?

Despite an initial drop early in the pandemic, the dollar value of the US stock market rapidly recovered and has since broken repeated records. Was 2020 truly a banner year for industry, or could something else be at play?

Pieter Levels noted that the total money supply of USD has dramatically increased, which means that in real terms the stock market is perhaps more flat than up.

What’s left to be discovered is whether consumer inflation will keep up with money supply, or whether much of this newly printed money will simply flee to assets.

What we already know is that this has had a terrible impact on wealth equality, since those with assets have seen their wealth keep up with inflation, while those with income are unlikely to see similar wage increases.


To Be And To Last: Thinker Nate Desmond’s weekly roundup of long reads, contrarian thoughts, and hidden jewels that aren’t getting enough attention.

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