12/11/20 Recommended Issues: Robin Hood, Why Dec 25th?, Slack

12/11/20 Recommended Issues: Robin Hood, Why Dec 25th?, Slack

Good day!

Each week we handpick newsletter issues by independent writers you may have missed that provide new or unique perspectives. 

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Here's what's worth reading this week...enjoy!




A Midweek Pause in Erick Erickson’s Confessions of a Political Junkie on Dec 9 

Many of us grew up learning that the date of Christmas was set around the time of important pagan holidays to make co-opting those holidays easier...but, fascinatingly, it sounds like that theory developed somewhere around the 12th century and took off in the 18th century. Erik launches into two older theories and explains how both could have led Christians to set Jesus’ birth date as Dec 25 (with the earliest known records of setting his birthday in year 200AD, 1k years before the pagan theory erupted). It’s a pretty short read, but quite intriguing, and if nothing else, will leave you with a good conversation starter for a holiday party... (649 words; 2.5 minutes) Read it…


Pandemic Villains: Robinhood in TK News by Matt Taibbi on Dec 9

The Robinhood app for stock trading came into a lot of fame (and use and users) this year after the pandemic started. Its 2020 Q1 trade volumes were 9x e-trade’s and 40x Schwab’s-- ie HUGE! If you’ve been curious about how Robin Hood actually works and want to better understand some societal pros/cons and risks of their goal to “democratize investing for the millennials”, it’s an intriguing read. You’ll be left pondering whether you’re in support of Robin Hood (or not) and whether you think they have a societal obligation to do anything differently (or not).  (2636 words; 9.5 minutes) Read it…



An Economy of Godzillas: Salesforce, Slack, and Microsoft in BIG by Matt Stoller on Dec 6
Slack-Salesforce and The Next $10B+ Software Acquisition in Next Big Thing by Nikhil Basu Trivedi

This week, the world of newsletters had a lot to say about the $27B Slack-Salesforce merger. Matt, a strong anti-monopolist, discusses why it’s a defensive merger, why such mergers shouldn’t be allowed to happen, and how mergers like this cause more roll-ups (which he also views as harmful).  He also highlights some smaller industries which have been unfortunately (and perhaps disturbingly) consolidated into monopolies as well. (2858 words; 10.5 minutes) Read it…   Nikhil in The Next Big Thing takes a bit of a rosier outlook on the merger and also discusses other companies, like Dropbox, that should perhaps look for a similar merger opportunity to stay competitive.  (1588; 5.5 minutes) Read it...

Some interesting facts for the week:

  • The home ownership rate in New Zealand (64.5%) hasn't been this low since the 1950's -- and it's currently just slightly lower than the US (65.3%, 2019) and UK rates (65.2%, 2018). Interestingly, Romania leads globally with home ownership rate of 95.8% (2018)...and Hungary, Slovakia, Singapore and Cuba are the only other countries with rates over 90%.(The Bulletin 12/8....and wikipedia & New Zealand Gov't)

  • Of US households in the top 1% of income distribution, 19 out of 20 were propelled there by the household man's income; only 1 in 20 by the women's income. Hrm... we've got a long way to go... (Culture Study 12/9)

  • Hot hot hot!!!  South Korea’s magnetic fusion device K-Star has set a new world record in maintaining the super-hot plasma – it successfully operated at a temperature of 100 million degrees Celsius for 20 seconds. (Exponential View by Azeem Azhar 12/5)

  • 90% of the US population lives within 5 miles of a pharmacy. And the US has ~327K pharmacists, which is a ratio of almost one pharmacist to every person in America! (Out of Pocket 12/6)

  • A billion seconds is 31 years... and a question has been flowing 'round the internet: would you rather have a billion extra seconds or a billion dollars? (Empty your cup 12/8)

  • WOW - livestreamed e-commerce brought in ~$130 billion in sales this year in China, up from ~$63 billion in 2019. Currently in the US, the market is only at ~$5B. It will be interesting to see if it ever takes off in the US like it did in China (Napkin Math 12/8)


I hope you learned something!

And if you're on the hunt for any specific newsletters to read, feel free to email me or to take a gander through narrowSCALE.

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Thanks and have a great weekend,



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