Discover more from Liberty’s Highlights
332: Lithium, Semiconductors Cycle, Europe's Losses, Automotive Chip Shortage SNAFU, France & US Power Stack, Faster Horses, Detroit Pizza, and Breaking Bad AI
"we’re more limited by imagination than by capabilities"
Reading books is the real-life version of collecting mushrooms in Super Mario.
🍄🍄 This one ☝️ is for you, David 😉
🍕🧑🏻🍳 Follow-up on the Detroit-style pizza that I wrote about in the intro of edition #330:
This video 👇 by Ethan shows what is involved, and makes it seem very attainable at home. I’ve talked about it with my wife, and we’re going to try it out (not sure when). I’ll try to take some photos and report how it went!
This is making me wish you and I and the steamboat crew lived near each other and could do a Great Pizza Bakeoff™️ to see who makes the best pizza on this boat! haha 🚢 🧑🏻🍳🍕🤤🥇🏆
“A great life is just a string of great days”
What a great line.
Simple and seemingly obvious — like most of the important things in life — but also profound in how it can help you shape your life if you truly internalize what it means.
It felt very familiar, so I figured it couldn’t originally be from Malone and the book. Imagine my surprise when a Google search turned this up:
Can’t be! Google must be broken:
Well, that’s just 😯
🧫🔬👩🔬 In a podcast by Peter Attia, guest Matt Kaeberlein made a point that seems blindingly obvious when he said it, but that I had never thought about before:
When you’re looking at long-term scientific studies, like for example a study of cancer over decades, you have to take into account changes in the environment and changes in the technology used in the field.
The amount of air pollution in Los Angeles probably changed a lot over the past 50 years. The average diet has changed over that period. Gasoline went from having lead to being unleaded. Etc etc etc… It’s endless!
Cancer screening technology has also changed a lot (paraphrasing Peter: Radiology is a very physics-based field). Various pieces of equipment got more precise, the cost of some screening went down so it became more frequent, more software is used to do things that used to be purely ‘dumb’, etc.
All those changes matter when comparing individuals and groups across the gulf of time. You never step in the same river twice, because the river changes, but also because you change…
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Lithium 📈 💰 🔋🔋🔋🔋🔋
John Arnold: “Virtually every commodity is well off its 2022 high except lithium, which should raise alarm bells given significant ramp in global battery demand expected in coming years.”
🇪🇺→🏭🧑🏻🏭⚙️💰→🇺🇸 Europe’s loss is partly America’s gain…
Speaking of high energy and commodity prices:
A big winner from the energy crisis in Europe: the U.S. economy.
Battered by skyrocketing gas prices, companies in Europe that make steel, fertilizer and other feedstocks of economic activity are shifting operations to the U.S., attracted by more stable energy prices and muscular government support.
As wild swings in energy prices and persistent supply-chain troubles threaten Europe with what some economists warn could be a new era of deindustrialization, Washington has unveiled a raft of incentives for manufacturing and green energy. The upshot is a playing field increasingly tilted in the U.S.’s favor, executives say, particularly for companies placing bets on projects to make chemicals, batteries and other energy-intensive products. [...]
While the U.S. economy is facing record inflation, supply-chain bottlenecks and fears of a slowdown, analysts say, it has emerged relatively strong from the pandemic as China continues to enforce Covid lockdowns and Europe is destabilized by war. New spending by Washington on infrastructure, microchips and green-energy projects has heightened the U.S.’s business appeal.
I’m sure a bunch of that business is also moving to Asia…
Rich Templeton of Texas Instruments on the semiconductors cycle 📈📉📈📉📈 🤪
And the other thing, Chris, I know you're a historian in terms of trying to keep track of this stuff. To me, potentially the different -- the cycle you may want to go back and look at is '95-'96 and -- because 2000-2001, the Y2K cycle, emerged into a really pretty weak personal electronics market. The 2008-2009 cycle emerged into a pretty weak global economy because of the structural impact from global financial crisis.
And if you go back to '95-'96, you actually had what turned out to be an 8-year -- 7-, 8-year secular run with the growth of PCs and cell phones. Well, it isn't going to be PCs and cellphones in this secular run. It's going to be industrial and automotive because of semiconductor content. And so that may be -- and if you actually look at how pricing -- and it's a dangerous thing because of the way it's calculated as an average.
🚙 Automotive chip shortage SNAFU 😬 ⏳
Looking at some headlines:
The chip shortage claims another victim as Honda cuts 40% of vehicle production in Japan
Toyota's October vehicle output to be weighed down by chip shortage
Volkswagen Expects Chip Shortage To Continue Into 2024
Stellantis and Renault halt Spanish assembly lines as chip shortage persists
GM CEO Mary Barra Says Chip Shortage Could Stretch Beyond 2023
etc etc etc
I kind of can’t believe that this is *still* going on that long after the problems started.
Vehicles worth many tens of thousands of dollars are not being sold because a few wire harnesses and $10 chips are missing…
You’d think that by now, one of the largest industries in the world, the heart of manufacturing in many countries, would’ve been able to throw its weight around and figure something out in partnership with foundries and politicians. Muscle its way to the front of the queue for wafers… 💪
Maybe I’m just irritated by the situation because I’m starting to think about buying a vehicle, and if you had asked me 2 years ago about the situation in near-2023, I’d have expected that the self-correcting nature of the market would’ve been able to do better than this by now. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
🇫🇷 France’s former EDF CEO on energy policy 😬
“We’d been told for years: please, prepare yourselves to shut reactors,” Jean-Bernard Lévy, the outgoing chief executive of state-controlled French nuclear site operator EDF, told a conference in Paris in August. He was flanked by a government minister as he delivered his rebuke and warned of a lack of qualified construction staff.
“Clearly, we didn’t hire people to build 12 reactors, we hired people to dismantle them,” he noted. [...]
“Since 2011, the only discourse had been that [extending the life of existing plants] would not be allowed. That narrative had really affected recruitment,” says [Valérie Faudon, executive director of Sfen], underscoring one of the main obstacles to getting the industry back into shape, as highlighted by EDF and its suppliers.
The country that built 56 reactors in a couple decades was able to do it because it was a program. You prepare for it and coordinate the various resources across time and space, create some certainty around it.
If instead you spend years talking about dismantling things…
France’s plan, outlined by president Emmanuel Macron in February, is to spend €52bn on at least six next generation European pressurised reactors. They are meant to replace ageing sites from 2035 and mark the first order for new plants in almost 20 years.
Macron (having in 2020 backed the now much-criticised shutdown of the Fessenheim plant in north-eastern France) called for all reactors that could be viably extended beyond their 40-year lifespan to be kept open for at least 50 years, potentially up to 60.
🧪🔬 Liberty Labs 🧬 🔭
🇺🇸 🔌 The U.S. Power Generation Stack ⚡️
Nice graphs by our friend-of-the-show at Enersection.
☢️ Thanks for coming to Isabella’s TED Talk 💡
As Mark Nelson was telling me, opposition to nuclear is really more about the memes than about the actual molecules or power plants… Spreading good memes* is the first step to getting a change of direction.
*In the original meaning of the word, which is more like a viral idea, not ‘funny image from Reddit’.
🐎 Horse-drawn stagecoach speed improvements (400%?!)
It’s too easy to think of certain old-timey technologies as pretty static — maybe because we don’t think about them much? — but in fact, they were improving over time (at least in recent centuries — for most of humanity’s existence, very little progress happened, and that’s when you were lucky because at least things didn’t go backwards because of war/famine/plagues/etc).
Stagecoach speeds increased from 1.96 journey miles per hour in 1700 to 7.96 journey miles per hour in 1820. This was due to improvements in the road network, stagecoach design, and the number of way-stations. By 1840, Britain had twice the road density of France or Spain.
This is from the book How the World Became Rich by Mark Koyama and Jared Rubin.
Compare that improvement to today, where the average speed of people moving around may be decreasing in some countries, depending on what infrastructure looks like…
I’m sure if we looked at pre-electric lighting we’d see a similar progression with wax candles and paraffin/whale oil/kerosene lanterns, with some designs being invented that had more efficient combustion and were directing more light in useful directions, etc. Same for stoves, sewing machines, plows & scythes, grain drying and storage, etc.
h/t Jason Crawford (🚀)
🎨 🎭 Liberty Studio 👩🎨 🎥
Breaking Bad Dolls, as Created by Midjourney AI 🎨🤖
These Breaking Bad characters as dolls made out of felt don’t physically exist.
The photos were created using the Midjourney generative AI from only a text prompt.
In the full scale versions available here, you can see tons of details in the texture of the materials, and the light & shadows and depth-of-field effects are very good. But a lot of the effect also comes from facial expressions. Not perfect (yet), but amazing it’s this good at all!
We’re barely scratching the surface of what these transformer-based generative-AI models can do — and will *soon* do.
I think we’re more limited by imagination than by capabilities (well, to be fair, that’s been true of all our tools... the world could be so much better if we used what we have more effectively)…
What happens when these generative models are used to help design new electric cars, power plants, big box stores, furniture, websites, derivative contracts, video game content, TV show scripts, and blockbusters special effects..?
How a graphic designer deconstructs the designs of two EVs (interior & exterior) 🚘 🚗 👨🎨
I’ve been looking up EVs recently, because we’ll have to replace our car at some point, and I found this video very interesting at a meta level.
Two EVs built on the same platform are compared, and what I found most interesting is how Bembli thinks about the design cues, what he notices and how he ties it all together in his mind.
Even if you don’t care about these vehicles, I think it’s an interesting video to learn how to think visually and deconstruct designs into themes and lines.