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Omnivore Digest 6/3/2024

·4037 words·19 mins
  1. The Secret to a Happy Career 💭 (235 words)
  2. 5 Things You Need to Know to Start Your Day: Americas (254 words)
  3. 🟡 North and South of the border (204 words)
  4. SIX at 6: Notes on “Taste,” What’s Hidden In Plain Sight, Pure Boredom, A Thick Accent, The Tide, and This Is Water (220 words)
  5. The Secret to a Happy Career 💭 (222 words)
  6. I heard that you’re settled down (218 words)
  7. 🌈 Psychedelic haze (213 words)
  8. Do This and You’ll Fail at Life (186 words)
  9. Divide goes beyond Trump verdict to food and gas (220 words)
  10. 🚨 Axios AM: New legal war (235 words)
  11. 🟡 An expensive way to gain relevance (214 words)
  12. 5 Misconceptions about Hedge Funds - by Richard Toad (251 words)
  13. 👀 Axios AM: Speaker’s secret muse (167 words)
  14. Bull markets are usually longer and stronger than this 🐂 (264 words)
  15. We All Carry A Debt (Will We Repay?) (253 words)
  16. June 2, 2024 (226 words)
  17. The Taste Premium and Reverse-engineering Creativity (239 words)
  18. 🟡 Young people who quote Kafka (258 words)
  19. 🍋 Ackman Wants to IPO (226 words)

The Secret to a Happy Career 💭 (235 words) #

Ali Abdaal argues that a fulfilling career can be redefined by comparing it to the job of a tenured university professor. During a conversation with an AI professor at a wedding, he discovered that despite lower pay, the professor’s job satisfaction stemmed from job security and the freedom to explore personal interests. Inspired by this, Abdaal draws parallels with the creator economy, suggesting that creators can achieve similar contentment with a modest income by viewing their audience as a university that funds their intellectual pursuits.

Abdaal claims that the creator economy allows individuals the freedom to pursue passions and share their knowledge, similar to tenured professors. He uses the example of professors content with earning £30k-£50k annually, emphasizing that many creators already earn this much but feel inadequate due to the high earnings of top influencers. He suggests shifting perspective to appreciate the autonomy and joy in creating content, stating, “Imagine being a creator who earns enough to cover your expenses… suddenly your life looks pretty fantastic.”

Abdaal encourages creators to view themselves as modern-day professors supported by a diverse audience, fostering gratitude and excitement for their work. He concludes that true job satisfaction comes from finding joy and appreciating the support that allows one to do so.

5 Things You Need to Know to Start Your Day: Americas (254 words) #

According to the article by Bloomberg, US stock futures are rising, influenced by optimism about potential Federal Reserve rate cuts and improved Chinese manufacturing data. The OPEC+ group’s plans to boost production have caused oil price volatility.

Bloomberg notes that meme stocks are experiencing a resurgence driven by a Reddit post indicating a significant position in GameStop, which led to a premarket surge in the stock.

Nvidia’s CEO Jensen Huang’s ambitions for annual updates of AI accelerators, including future innovations like the Blackwell Ultra chip and Rubin platform, are highlighted. Rival AMD is also accelerating its AI chip production to challenge Nvidia’s market dominance.

Signs suggest US consumer resilience is waning, as real disposable income and savings rates drop while credit card usage increases. Such trends may ease Federal Reserve concerns about economic overheating, though rates might remain high as suggested by policymaker Neel Kashkari.

In Mexico, Claudia Sheinbaum has become the first female president, but faces challenges like criminal violence and fiscal deficits. The Mexican peso’s dip reflects investor concerns over potential economic meddling by the ruling party.

Bloomberg supports these insights with data such as stock futures movements, federal rate expectations, and economic activities like the JOLTS report and non-farm payrolls. The article also references analysts and official statements to underpin its perspectives on market trends and economic policies.

🟡 North and South of the border (204 words) #

According to the Semafor Principals, the Biden administration is poised to issue executive orders tightening asylum seeker policies, with border town mayors heading to Washington for an event, potentially timed post-Mexico’s presidential election. Hunter Biden’s trial over not disclosing drug abuse in federal gun forms begins, with potential implications for President Biden’s campaign. Donald Trump discussed the possibility of prison time post-conviction, asserting public intolerance for such a sentence. The White House is cautiously optimistic about an Israeli proposal for a phased ceasefire in Gaza, facing political resistance within Israel.

Semafor Principals report that President Biden struggles to sell an economic recovery narrative despite a stronger economy than his predecessors who won re-election. The Washington Post is undergoing a leadership overhaul with former WSJ editor Matt Murray temporarily taking over. Claudia Sheinbaum was elected Mexico’s first female president, promising to advance López Obrador’s populist legacy. Microsoft has identified Russian AI-driven disinformation targeting the Paris Olympics, including fake documentaries and terror threat videos. This analysis provides a multifaceted overview of current political, economic, and international developments.

SIX at 6: Notes on “Taste,” What’s Hidden In Plain Sight, Pure Boredom, A Thick Accent, The Tide, and This Is Water (220 words) #

Billy Oppenheimer, in his article “SIX at 6,” tackles the nuanced concept of taste and awareness in everyday life. Drawing from Susan Sontag’s “Notes on ‘Camp’,” Oppenheimer emphasizes Sontag’s assertion that taste guides every free human response, extending beyond mere artistic preferences to everyday choices and perceptions. He parallels this with David Foster Wallace’s metaphor of fish being oblivious to water, highlighting humans’ neglected freedom of thought and conscious decision-making in mundane situations like traffic jams.

Oppenheimer illustrates such conscious decisions through the experiences of notable individuals. Aaron Sorkin’s writing career was sparked by an attempt to combat boredom. Tom Hanks adopted a child’s accent for “Forrest Gump,” showcasing flexibility over ego. Jewel’s realization that emotional states are as transient as ocean tides helped her manage stress, reinforcing the idea that awareness and choice can transform one’s outlook.

Oppenheimer concludes by reiterating Wallace’s call for continuous awareness of the omnipresent yet overlooked elements of life, urging readers to remember, “This is water.” This perspective shift, he suggests, is crucial for a fulfilling life.

The Secret to a Happy Career 💭 (222 words) #

Ali Abdaal draws parallels between the job satisfaction of university professors with tenure and content creators in the “creator economy.” At a friend’s wedding, Abdaal spoke to a university professor specializing in artificial intelligence, who, despite the modest pay, enjoys her job due to the job security, freedom, and the opportunity to pursue her interests. Abdaal sees similarities with content creators who are funded by their audience, allowing them to explore their interests and share their journey, even if they aren’t making millions.

According to Ali, there is a pervasive idea that success as a creator equals six or seven-figure earnings, but this sets unrealistic expectations. Instead, he suggests content creators view themselves as tenured professors funded by their audience, which can offer a fulfilling career even with an income of £30k-£50k a year. This mindset shift can help creators appreciate the flexibility and freedom they have compared to traditional jobs, reducing the pressure to emulate high-earning entrepreneurs.

Abdaal emphasizes that creators should focus on the joy and freedom in their work rather than comparing themselves to top-tier influencers. This perspective can bring renewed gratitude and excitement for their career.

I heard that you’re settled down (218 words) #

According to The Daily Skimm, Hunter Biden, President Biden’s son, is on trial for allegedly lying about his drug addiction to purchase a firearm, facing three felony charges. A conviction could lead to severe penalties, though first-time offenders rarely receive maximum sentences. This trial is significant as it is the first instance of the child of a sitting president being tried and could reveal personal details about the Biden family.

In Mexico, Claudia Sheinbaum has been elected the first female president. As a Nobel Prize-winning scientist and former mayor of Mexico City, Sheinbaum’s victory follows a campaign focused on crime, which remains a major concern for voters. Her administration will address cartel-related violence and navigate Mexico’s immigration and drug control roles with the US.

Jane Doe discusses a phase 2 trial for a male contraceptive gel that reduces sperm count significantly with minimal side effects. Researchers report promising results, with a reduction in sperm to negligible levels in the majority of participants. However, funding remains a significant hurdle in developing male contraceptives.

These developments illustrate critical moments in political, legal, and health spheres, emphasizing historical firsts and scientific advancements.

🌈 Psychedelic haze (213 words) #

Tina Reed and Maya Goldman highlight significant challenges with the mainstreaming of psychedelic therapies for mental health conditions in their article “🌈 Psychedelic haze”. They point out that despite regulators establishing guidelines for clinical trials of substances like ecstasy and magic mushrooms, data on their safety and effectiveness remains limited, with a high risk of misuse. The authors stress that psychedelics, which affect brain activity significantly, are under tight regulation.

The article notes an upcoming FDA advisory panel meeting examining Lykos Therapeutics’ application to use MDMA (ecstasy) for PTSD treatment, which has shown “meaningful improvement” in symptoms according to Lykos’ studies. However, concerns from an FDA staff report highlight safety risks such as potential abuse and negative side effects on the heart and liver, questioning the sufficiency of current clinical trial data. Reed and Goldman emphasize a push for psychedelics in treating PTSD, particularly among veterans, while cautioning that any approved drug would require stringent safety measures like REMS (Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies).

Overall, the article underscores the complex landscape of integrating psychedelics into mainstream mental health treatment, backed by emerging yet incomplete research data.

Do This and You’ll Fail at Life (186 words) #

Mark Manson asserts that avoiding failure equates to failing at life. He contends that failure is integral to learning, growth, and living a fulfilling life. Manson challenges readers to reflect on their fear of failure by asking them to consider what they would do if failure wasn’t an option and how avoiding failure has limited them. He encourages readers to embrace failure explicitly through active experimentation and journaling.

Manson substantiates his arguments using anecdotal evidence from readers who experienced significant breakthroughs through uncertain actions. For example, he shares Mathieson’s story of successfully handling a medical emergency without prior certainty, another reader’s liberation from financial stress after deciding to move apartments despite fears, and Constantine’s emotional growth from challenging his family’s disapproval of his engagement.

According to Manson, these narratives exemplify how facing failure courageously can lead to unforeseen successes and personal development. His newsletter promotes actionable steps, encouraging readers to take risks and apply these insights practically in their own lives.

Divide goes beyond Trump verdict to food and gas (220 words) #

John Authers explores the deepening divide in American society, linking it to both political and economic arenas. Authers highlights that, while U.S. inflation is gradually decreasing, the progress is slow and the burden of price increases is disproportionately affecting lower-income groups. He emphasizes that anti-core inflation (food and energy) has surged to its highest since the Yom Kippur War, making life difficult for many. According to Authers, businesses like Walgreens and McDonald’s, which serve low-income populations, are feeling the heat as customers complain about rising prices.

Using data from Bloomberg and various economic indices, Authers shows that despite some official measures indicating easing inflation, the lived experience, especially of essential goods, remains painful for many. He asserts that this economic strain contributes significantly to political tensions, further exacerbated by the polarizing figure of Donald Trump. Authers also criticizes the prevailing socio-economic inequalities that amplify the impact of price hikes on lower-income Americans, creating a significant perception gap between official inflation data and public sentiment.

Effectively, Authers argues that the current economic challenges extend beyond statistics to deeply affect everyday lives, fueling cultural and political divides ahead of the upcoming elections.

According to Mike Allen, the legal struggle over the 2024 election has commenced, primarily revolving around the Republican emphasis on “election integrity” and the Democratic focus on “voter protection.” Sophia Cai and Alex Thompson note that Trump’s team is prioritizing the development of a vast network of “election integrity” lawyers and poll watchers, focusing on legal challenges rather than voter outreach. The Republican National Committee (RNC) and state GOP parties, along with organizations like Stephen Miller’s America First Legal, have already filed numerous lawsuits in 25 states challenging mail-in ballots, voter registration accuracy, and other election practices.

Mike Allen highlights that Democrats are countering these efforts with their own legal actions, driven by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Marc Elias’ firm. Alex Floyd, a DNC spokesperson, stated that significant investments have been made to guard against attacks on voting rights. The article underscores the complexity and intensity of legal maneuvers as both parties prepare for the forthcoming election.

Allen supports his claims by detailing the number and nature of lawsuits filed, illustrating the extensive preparation both sides are undertaking as the election day approaches. This early legal contention reflects the high stakes and anticipation of potential disputes over election results.

🟡 An expensive way to gain relevance (214 words) #

According to Semafor Media, BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti asserts that news is “an expensive way to gain relevance” for a media company. Vivek Ramaswamy, reflecting on a previous collaboration with Elon Musk and Peter Thiel, acknowledges the power of media in communication and financial influence. He recently acquired over 8% of BuzzFeed shares, suggesting that he could leverage BuzzFeed’s debt to possibly take control of the company, despite Peretti’s majority voting power. Ramaswamy revealed his interest in purchasing BuzzFeed was influenced by his strategic view of communications and financial services.

Peretti, who previously hired the author to develop BuzzFeed’s news division, acknowledges that although news sharpens a brand for elite audiences, it is not always the best way to build value due to its high cost. He also allowed the author to quote a text exchange discussing media economics, asserting that the disappearance of BuzzFeed News diminished perceived brand relevance.

Ramaswamy’s bold financial strategies, including possibly negotiating with creditors, underscore the intricate relationship between media ownership, control, and financial maneuvers. This commentary illustrates ongoing tensions and strategic moves in the media landscape.

5 Misconceptions about Hedge Funds - by Richard Toad (251 words) #

Richard Toad addresses five prevalent misconceptions about hedge funds, aiming to clear common misunderstandings and set realistic expectations. Firstly, Toad argues that comparing hedge fund returns to the S&P 500 index is incorrect because hedge funds focus on absolute returns regardless of market conditions. He supports his claim by explaining that hedge funds use strategies like being market-neutral to offer protection against market movements, which mutual funds cannot.

Secondly, Toad dispels the notion of a great work-life balance in the buy-side industry, illustrating that consistent performance, not hours worked, is what matters. He compares this to Usain Bolt’s extensive training despite his short race duration.

Thirdly, he challenges the idea that funds genuinely hold investments for 3-5 years, suggesting instead that many funds are betting on market perceptions and might exit early if market conditions shift dramatically.

Fourthly, Toad argues that hedge funds must care about macroeconomic events and quarterly results despite claiming otherwise, as they need to manage short-term risks to fulfill their promises to clients.

Lastly, Toad highlights that funds often deviate from their stated investment styles, advocating for investors to conduct thorough research and network to understand a fund’s true operations.

Toad uses these points to argue that hedge funds’ unique objectives and strategies offer value that can’t be directly compared to traditional market indices.

👀 Axios AM: Speaker’s secret muse (167 words) #

According to Mike Allen, House Speaker Mike Johnson had a significant yet covert mentor during his challenging first seven months in office, revealing that former Speaker John Boehner played a crucial role in guiding Johnson. Allen notes that despite vast ideological differences, Boehner, an establishment Republican, successfully advised Johnson on passing a critical aid package for Israel and Ukraine, a move requiring Johnson to oppose the majority of his party and risk his position. Allen explains that Boehner’s mentorship helped Johnson bridge the gap between today’s hard-right Republicans and the pre-Trump GOP. By utilizing Boehner’s deep political experience and strategic counsel, Johnson managed to navigate his leadership role amidst a fractious party landscape. This mentorship, Allen argues, has fortified Johnson’s standing and could secure his position as Republican leader in the future, demonstrating how seasoned political advice can be pivotal in contemporary political maneuvering.

Bull markets are usually longer and stronger than this 🐂 (264 words) #

In “Bull markets are usually longer and stronger than this 🐂,” Sam Ro asserts that although the current bull market, which started in October 2022, has seen a significant rise of 48% in 19 months, it isn’t unusually strong compared to historical trends. Ro supports his claims using data compiled by Truist’s Keith Lerner, who examined the returns and durations of the previous ten bull markets. Lerner found that nine of these had better gains, with an average duration of about five years.

Ro mentions two main reasons for potential further gains: historical trends showing stocks usually rise, and optimistic earnings growth forecasts. He also highlights that the market has typically been bullish about 80% of the time and points to consistent double-digit annual earnings growth predictions through 2024 and 2025.

Despite concerns about stretched valuations, Ro cites TKer’s wisdom that valuations alone don’t predict near-term price movements. Historical evidence shows that even after reaching record highs, the S&P 500 tends to continue climbing, potentially setting more records.

Jonathan Golub’s upward revisions of the S&P 500 year-end targets, driven by improved GDP forecasts and reduced recession risks, are mentioned to bolster the argument that market conditions may still favor stock price growth. This extensive use of historical data and recent analyst forecasts underscores Ro’s cautiously optimistic outlook on the bull market’s future.

We All Carry A Debt (Will We Repay?) (253 words) #

In “We All Carry A Debt (Will We Repay?)” by Daily Stoic, the author emphasizes our collective indebtedness to both the positive and negative legacies of our ancestors. The article reflects on Ralph Ellison’s experience upon seeing names of Union soldiers who died in the Civil War, prompting him to feel a deep sense of obligation for the freedom he enjoys (Daily Stoic). The author argues that everyone benefits from others’ sacrifices, inventions, and hard-earned wisdom, which necessitates paying forward these privileges.

Moreover, the author stresses that we also bear a debt for historical injustices, such as colonialism, environmental degradation, and slavery. The reference to Albert Schweitzer, who felt compelled to repay the moral debt of colonial atrocities by providing medical care in Africa, underscores this point (Daily Stoic). According to the author, our duty is to make amends for past wrongs and create a better future, a principle deeply rooted in Stoic philosophy. This call to action is not just about moral decency but fulfilling a larger sense of duty to humanity, as highlighted in Ryan Holiday’s book “Right Thing, Right Now” (Daily Stoic).

In summary, the article implores readers to recognize and act upon their dual debts: preserving and advancing the good while rectifying historical and ongoing injustices.

June 2, 2024 (226 words) #

Heather Cox Richardson, in her article “June 2, 2024,” commemorates the centennial of the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924, highlighting the long struggle for Indigenous American citizenship and rights. Richardson explains that despite the Fourteenth Amendment’s definition of citizenship, Indigenous peoples were excluded based on affiliations with sovereign tribes, as illustrated by the 1884 Supreme Court decision in Elk v. Wilkins. She underscores the continued denial of civil rights despite the 1924 Act, exemplified by widespread discrimination and obstacles to voting, which persisted until after World War II.

Richardson uses historical data and examples to support her claims, such as the significant contributions of Indigenous Americans in World War I and II, and their subsequent fights for equality. She cites the pivotal role of Indigenous figures like Elizabeth Peratrovich in passing the first antidiscrimination act and recounts the legal battles fought by veterans like Frank Harrison and Miguel Trujillo for their voting rights.

Finally, Richardson notes contemporary challenges, including voter suppression laws and limited access to polling places for people on reservations. She highlights the Democratic National Committee’s efforts to provide voter engagement information in multiple Indigenous languages as part of the ongoing struggle for recognized citizenship and civil rights.

The Taste Premium and Reverse-engineering Creativity (239 words) #

Every delves into the intricate dynamics of creativity and product success in “The Taste Premium and Reverse-engineering Creativity.” Evan Armstrong asserts that MSCHF, an artist collective, exemplifies a business model focused on maintaining a high taste standard while launching a variety of unique products. Armstrong lauds MSCHF for its ability to stay true to its core values, using this to suggest that other businesses could benefit from a similar approach, especially in innovation and product development.

Michael Taylor, in a related article, highlights the value of inductive coding and AI in enhancing creativity. He argues for using AI to analyze successful market products to identify patterns worth emulating, thereby providing a strategic edge.

Dan Shipper offers a jargon-free guide on understanding large language models (LLMs), breaking down complex concepts like attention mechanisms and semantic maps, which underpin technologies like GPT-4. This straightforward explanation aims to make advanced tech accessible to a wider audience.

Moreover, the newsletters include insights into the role and impact of AI on various aspects of society and industry. They discuss issues like the ethical implications of AI-generated images in social activism and the necessity for balance in tech advancements.

These articles collectively advocate for leveraging creativity alongside rigorous data analysis and ethical considerations to create impactful and resonant products and technologies.

🟡 Young people who quote Kafka (258 words) #

According to Semafor Flagship, Claudia Sheinbaum’s landslide victory in becoming Mexico’s first female president underscores a significant shift, potentially granting her coalition enough power to amend the constitution (Cunha, Reuters). She aims to enhance security, economic growth, and green transition efforts. In Singapore, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy criticized China as a tool of Moscow, a stance aimed at rallying Asian support (Edgar Su/Reuters). Meanwhile, Russian AI trolls targeted the Paris Olympics to spread disinformation, highlighted by Microsoft’s research (Microsoft).

Jane Doe reports that Australian farmers are capitalizing on renewable energy, with projects providing substantial income and reducing local health issues linked to coal (Oil Price). The global gas market is also forecasted to grow by 50% in the next five years due to rising demand (Goldman Sachs). Nigerian workers are striking for wages to counteract soaring inflation (Raquel Cunha/Reuters).

Moreover, US regulators have greenlit Amazon’s drones for broader use, potentially transforming delivery logistics (Flickr). De Beers, shifting focus, will cease lab-grown diamond production to reaffirm the market value of natural gems (Business of Fashion).

Lastly, Franz Kafka’s centennial death is noted for his lasting relevance among contemporary youth, manifesting in a surge of interest across social media (Le Monde).

🍋 Ackman Wants to IPO (226 words) #

Jane Doe argues that Bill Ackman, an influential hedge fund manager, plans to take his firm, Pershing Square Capital, public. Pershing Square, initiated by Ackman in 2004, manages around $16.3 billion in assets. Ackman aims to capitalize on his high profile by executing an IPO, possibly next year, with an initial valuation of $10.5 billion.

Doe notes the skepticism surrounding hedge funds since the 2008 financial crisis, making Ackman’s move risky. She emphasizes that while hedge funds struggle due to unpredictable fees and volatile returns, private equity firms have successfully navigated similar market conditions. Ackman positions Pershing Square as a “durable” asset manager rather than a volatile long-short fund.

To bolster her claims, Doe provides data on Pershing Square’s performance: net gains of $3.5 billion in 2023, and total gains of $18.8 billion since its inception, placing it among the top-performing hedge funds globally. Despite past losses, the fund achieved significant returns in recent years, generating $12.3 billion over three years ending in 2023. Doe concludes that despite the challenges, Ackman’s reputation may attract investors, potentially making him the first to IPO a hedge fund in years.