Discover more from Liberty’s Highlights
301: Nasdaq, TSMC, TikTok, Facebook, Amazon Robotics Patents, E-commerce, Amazon vs SpaceX, Coal Surge, and F/A-18 Super Hornet Karaoke
"You don’t realize how special something is until it’s gone!"
Your mind will take the shape of what you frequently hold in thought, for the human spirit is colored by such impressions.
🇺🇸🎆 Looks like I’m continuing my tradition of mostly ignoring holidays, but I still want to wish a happy 4th to all my American friends!
It’s cliché to say, but nonetheless true: Don’t take your country for granted, and actively work hard to keep and expand what’s good about it, and to reduce and mitigate its worst aspects.
You don’t realize how special something is until it’s gone!
You don’t have to be a politician or titan of industry to have an impact — you can start with yourself, your family, your friends, your community… It all ripples outward.
When you create a difference in someone's life, you not only impact their life, you impact everyone influenced by them throughout their entire lifetime. No act is ever too small. One by one, this is how to make an ocean rise. –Danielle Doby
🔌⚡️ ▇⛓ We keep hearing about how much energy it takes to run all those ASIC and GPU miners for proof-of-work cryptocurrencies — how about when they stop? Has this crash been noticeable for utilities ye? (especially in areas where there were the most miners)? Has anyone seen anything on this?
📈😀📉😟 Good tweet by Morgan Housel (📚):
Will Smith writes in his biography that: - Becoming famous is amazing. - Being famous is a mixed bag. - Losing any amount of fame is miserable. Same with money. I think for a lot of people the process of becoming wealthier feels better than having wealth. [...] I think "that's how dopamine works" is a good enough answer. You get a hit for anticipating more vs. what you have now.
That’s why I focus so much on infinite games that I can keep playing, rather than destinations and static goals.
If you enjoy the journey, you want to keep going.
If you have a big goal far off in the distance, until you reach it you may feel like a failure (because you haven’t reached it yet, and may not feel anywhere close). And when/if you do get there, then what?
The moment of celebration doesn’t last long (remember Michael Jordan in The Last Dance?). You then rapidly switch back to being far away from whatever next goal you have, or feel aimless if you can’t find a new goal that feels as motivating.
People are bad at predicting what will make them happy. It’s a very common mistake to think “if only I had X, then I’d be happy”.
Happiness isn’t a destination, it’s a byproduct of a bunch of other fairly obvious things. ie. Do you enjoy what you’re doing *today*? Do you have good relationships? Are you healthy, moving your body, getting good sleep, and eating well? Are you avoiding the classic mistakes that people who don’t enjoy their lives make?
💚 🥃 The *best* way to support this newsletter is to become a paid sub, but the *second* best way is word-of-mouth recommendations to people who you think may enjoy it too (only people who you genuinely think may like it!).
I’m not taking Superbowl ads or buying three billboards outside Ebbing, so word-of-mouth is the primary way that people find their way here.
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🏦 💰 Liberty Capital 💳 💴
‘Rolling 6-month returns for Nasdaq composite since inception.’ 📉
Only 1974, 2001, 2002 and 2008/09 [are] worse.
Kind of wild its tied with the Crash of 87 and worse than Covid.
If you click the link above, he also has similar graphs for the S&P 500 and the Russell 2000.
It was just a few months ago that TSMC seemed bulletproof, everybody was talking about how it was the most important business in the world and semiconductors were supply-constrained in a tsunami of demand, with very few competitors at the leading edge (basically just Samsung, and Intel trying to claw its way back)…
All that is still true, but it hasn’t really helped the stock in the interim. Down about 45% right now, by far the most in the past decade. To get a bigger decline, you have to go back to 2008.
Of course, this probably has something to do with it (via machine-translation, it says that their top 3 customers are cutting orders at the same time).
⏳ TikTok’s time running out? — tic toc tic toc… 🕰
The way it almost happened may have been totally and utterly bonkers, but it seems to me like it’s highly likely that at some point Bytedance will have to spin-off the international operations of TikTok or risk some painful body blows to its crown jewel asset:
A Federal Communications commissioner is calling on Apple and Google to remove TikTok from their app stores over concerns that user data from the wildly popular social media platform is being accessed in China. [...]
[FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr] can’t single-handedly compel them to ban TikTok, since the FCC doesn’t regulate app stores. But the request nonetheless underscores the scrutiny that the leading tech firms continue to draw from powerful regulators in both parties and marks yet another chapter in TikTok’s complicated dance with the U.S. government.
Carr, one of three Trump-appointed FCC commissioners still in office, referenced a recent BuzzFeed News report that revealed that Beijing-based employees of TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, had repeatedly accessed private information on U.S. users, despite company assurances to the contrary. (Source)
In many ways, TikTok has a lot less information than, say, Facebook, because it’s *a lot less social* than most social networks.
It’s primarily a bunch of pseudonymous accounts and both Google and Apple (especially Apple) severely sandbox apps, so it’s not like they have full access to what else someone is doing on their device. And people don’t really message each other on TikTok the way they do with Whatsapp or iMessage.
The issues are more about being commanded to censor certain things or promote others via the discovery algorithm at the center of the product. That’s more worrisome to me (though there’s also been plenty of issues with Western companies on that front, but at least they face more backlash and accountability from shareholders and regulators than if they were in a totalitarian country).
Anyway, I get that at this point the question is more political than technical. I guess what I’m trying to say is that if I had a choice between having TikTok or Facebook be based in China, I’d definitely pick TikTok as the more benign choice.
💇🏻♀️ Facebook cuts hiring plans, pushes for attrition 🔪
Elon Musk was early with his “super bad feeling”, it seems. Now Zuck feels the same:
"If I had to bet, I'd say that this might be one of the worst downturns that we've seen in recent history," Zuckerberg told workers in a weekly employee Q&A session, audio of which was heard by Reuters.
Meta has reduced its target for hiring engineers in 2022 to around 6,000-7,000, down from an initial plan to hire about 10,000 new engineers [...]
"Realistically, there are probably a bunch of people at the company who shouldn't be here," Zuckerberg said.
"Part of my hope by raising expectations and having more aggressive goals, and just kind of turning up the heat a little bit, is that I think some of you might decide that this place isn't for you, and that self-selection is OK with me," he said.
E-commerce in the U.S. 🚚 📦📦📦📦 📫
h/t friend-of-the-show WTCM
‘Patents covering core parts of Amazon's e-commerce technology will expire in the next couple of years’ 🤖📦📦
Yuheng Tom Zhang (“lawyer, patent agent”) has been digging into Kiva and Amazon’s robotic patents:
In 2022 and 2023, portions of Amazon’s intellectual property portfolio, namely its patents, that protect Amazon’s robotic order fulfillment technology will start entering the public domain.
Amazon got its hands on this robotic order fulfillment technology via its acquisition of Kiva Systems in 2012. [...]
The earliest patent family covering Kiva’s robotic order fulfillment system (and that I could locate via a simple search in Google Patents) has its genesis in U.S. patent application no. U.S. 10/196,772, which was filed on July 15, 2002 (and led to granted U.S. patent no. 6,950,722).
These patents are not offering protection in China, so unsurprisingly:
Unsurprisingly, this technology has been adopted by another well-known e-commerce giant… Alibaba in China [...]
The fact that Alibaba uses what appears to be essentially the same technology illustrates the extent to which this technology adds value to e-commerce operators.
Of course, they kept improving the robots and filing new patents, but the original ones still seem like a big piece of the puzzle:
We should understand that Kiva Systems did obtain later patents for incremental improvements to its core robotic order fulfillment technology up until its acquisition by Amazon in 2012. Of course, Amazon also continued this patent protection strategy after 2012. These later patents should offer some extension of Amazon’s patent protection of its robotic order fulfillment technology beyond 2022 and 2023. However, one wonders whether the expiry of Amazon’s earliest patents covering its robotic order fulfillment technology will mark the start of an erosion of Amazon’s industry leadership position.
Amazon asks FCC to slow Starlink’s roll, not approve 30,000 Gen2 satellites yet 📡 🛰🛰🛰🛰🛰🛰🛰🛰🛰
Amazon, who also wants to build a LEO constellation of satellites (Project Kuiper) wrote in a letter to the FCC:
SpaceX recently urged the Commission to expeditiously grant the application for its second-generation system (the “Gen2 System”) of nearly 30,000 satellites “so that consumers and businesses around the country . . . left on the wrong side of the digital divide . . . can take advantageof next-generation satellite broadband.”
But no NGSO FSS operator will close the digital dividealone, and Amazon and others are also investing heavily to connect the unserved and underservedwith their own NGSO FSS systems. Just months ago, Amazon announced a historic purchase of launch capacity to deploy the majority of the 3,236 satellites now authorized as part of its KuiperSystem.
In addition to Amazon, eight other NGSO FSS operators—as well as NASA and the National Science Foundation—have raised concerns about the effects of SpaceX’s massiveconstellation on their operations and plans.
How much is 30,000 satellites?
The most difficult questions in this proceeding arise from the unprecedented size ofSpaceX’s proposed deployment. To name a few raised by commenters: the space safety implications of “deploy[ing] about 10 times as ma[n]y satellites as mankind has deployed sinceSputnik in 1957”; how to share spectrum and manage interference when “the massive number of SpaceX satellites in the Gen2 system” will “create geometric in-line events for all of the satellitesof another co-frequency NGSO FSS system 100% of the time”; and how to address the fact thatSpaceX can only demonstrate that its massive system will comply with equivalent power fluxdensity (“EPFD”) limits by “splitting the constellation into 18 subsystems” and measuring each separately
Amazon recommends that only one of the 18 subsystems be granted approval at this point to demonstrate SpaceX’s safety and compliance with radio regulations.
I can’t judge the technical merits here, so I’m not sure if it’s just a slower-moving competitor going to the ref or if SpaceX is really cutting some corners by going too big too fast, but it’ll be fascinating to see how to plays out.
🧪🔬 Liberty Labs 🧬 🔭
Stuart Phillips, PhD, on Building Muscle with Resistance Exercise and Reassessing Protein Intake 🏋️♀️ 🥩
Fascinating stuff, especially to set yourself up better for aging, when muscle mass declines and frailty can lead to downward spirals (ie. one accident leads to bed-rest, which leads to rapid loss of muscle, which leads to loss of autonomy and much lower quality of life, etc).
Audio version if you prefer:
🏭🏭🏭 ‘Soaring Global Coal Use Is Obliterating Emission Reductions Achieved in the U.S. Since 2005’
In April, China announced it will increase coal output by 300 million tons this year. In May, India said it aims to increase domestic coal production by more than 400 million tonsby the end of next year. According to the Energy Information Administration, burning a ton of coal releases about 2 tons of carbon dioxide.
Thus, the 700 million tons per year of new coal consumption in China and India will result in an additional 1.4 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions. According to BP, that’s about the same volume of emission reductions that were achieved in the U.S. between 2005 and 2020.
There’s more 🇩🇪🇳🇱🇵🇱:
German Economy Minister Robert Habeck announced last week that his government is “taking additional measures to reduce gas consumption,” including a big increase in the use of coal-fired power plants. [...]
At about the same time that Germany announced it was reviving its coal-fired capacity, the Netherlands announced it would do the same. [...]
Austria, which has been getting 80% of its gas supplies from Russia, announced on June 19, that it was going to convert a gas-fired power plant to burn coal. [...]
Poland’s Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, said his country needs to ramp up its domestic coal production to reduce energy costs in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (Source)
🇨🇦 🇸🇪 Canada and Sweden looking to add SMR nuclear reactors ☢️
The Canadian province of Saskatchewan is a huge uranium producer, yet it has no nuclear power on its grid.
That may change in the next decade (everything takes soooo long), as they’re looking to follow Ontario’s lead and build the country’s second small modular reactor (SMR):
GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy's BWRX-300 SMR selected for Saskatchewan
OPG has already selected the GE-Hitachi BWRX-300 for their Darlington New Nuclear Project in Ontario, where Canada's first commercial, grid-scale, SMR could be completed as early as 2028. SaskPower's selection of the same technology helps enable a pan-Canadian, fleet-based approach to SMR deployment, it said, which offers advantages including lower regulatory, construction and operating costs while also eliminating first-of-a-kind risk.
The Government of Ontario said it supported SaskPower's choice. "By selecting the same technology developer, Saskatchewan is following Ontario's lead to build their first SMR, and build on Canada's legacy of leading the world in clean nuclear power," it said. "Saskatchewan-produced uranium linked with Ontario nuclear knowledge and expertise will create exciting new opportunities for both provinces at home and abroad."
Vattenfall in Sweden is in the early stages of considering “at least two” SMRs:
Swedish state-owned energy company Vattenfall announced it is initiating a pilot study looking at the conditions for constructing at least two small modular reactors (SMRs) adjacent to the Ringhals nuclear power plant.
Vattenfall CEO Anna Borg [said]: "No investment decisions have been made but, during the spring, Vattenfall's management team have been working on the issue of new nuclear power in Sweden. Provided that a pilot study concludes that it would be profitable and all other conditions for a future investment decision are met, in particular, new regulations for nuclear power, it should be possible to have the first SMR reactor in operation by the early 2030s."
Primer on modern artillery + 8 years of Sabotage 💣💥
It’s not the cheeriest of topics, but with Putin’s barbaric invasion of Ukraine now in an artillery-heavy phase (along with attacking shopping malls with cruise missiles), I think this excellent primer is worth a read to better understand what is going on:
There’s also this piece about how Russia had been preparing for the war for years by sabotaging Ukraine’s artillery shell stockpiles and threatening potential suppliers. It makes it very clear that Western help is crucial the longer the war goes on:
🎨 🎭 Liberty Studio 👩🎨 🎥
Fighter Jet Karaoke: 32 singer impressions in a F/A-18F Super Hornet 🎤🎵
This one is just fun, and pairs perfectly with Top Gun: Maverick!
Note that there’s a G-force counter in the bottom left corner. 1 G is the Earth’s gravity, so at 6 Gs, you weigh 6 times your normal weight.
h/t Friend-of-the-show Cedric Chin (💚 🥃 🇸🇬)