Welcome to Bespoke Brunch Reads — a linkfest of the favorite things we read over the past week. The links are mostly market related, but there are some other interesting subjects covered as well. We hope you enjoy the food for thought as a supplement to the research we provide you during the week.

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Retail Rippers

Penny-Stock Peddlers Piling Into Reddit Forum Prompt Rule Change by Sarah Ponczek (Bloomberg)

After an influx of schemes and promotions, moderators of a subreddit focused on low-price shares have moved to ban discussion of cryptocurrencies and any services, newsletters, or other social media accounts. [Link; soft paywall]

TikTok and Discord Are the New Wall Street Trading Desks by Caitlin McCabe, Gunjan Banerji and Mischa Frankl-Duval (WSJ)

There has been rabid interest in hot stocks promoted on social media, driving stampedes of small buyers in to obscure stocks which suddenly go parabolic thanks to the promotion on a range of social platforms. [Link; paywall]

Food & Drink

In Search of Ragu by Matt Goulding (Roads & Kingdoms)

The author goes searching for the plate that best captures the platonic ideal of pasta: rich, complex, and loaded with flavor buried in the depths of Bologna. [Link]

The Seven Essential Southern Dishes by Sheri Castle (Bitter Southerner)

While it’s impossible to completely distill a cuisine as varied and diverse as the South’s into a few dishes, the author gives it a shot. The results may surprise you, but don’t fret: each comes with a recipe to try. [Link]

This artificial ‘nose on a chip’ can sniff out wine, coffee, and noxious gas by Luke Dormehl (DigitalTrends)

A German company has developed a chip that can detect the chemicals that make scents smell to us the way they do. [Link]


Lost Passwords Lock Millionaires Out of Their Bitcoin Fortunes by Nathaniel Popper (NYT)

Early adopters that stored bitcoin wallets on hard drives or other external media have millions of dollars at their finger tips but just out of reach. [Link; soft paywall]

Exclusive: Large bitcoin payments to right-wing activists a month before Capitol riot linked to foreign account by Jenna McLaughlin (Yahoo!)

A French programmer sent millions of dollars worth of bitcoin payments to far right activists in the month before the riot which sacked the US Capitol earlier in January. [Link; auto-playing video]

Real Estate

Manhattan Bargain-Hunters Drive a 94% Jump in Apartment Leases by Alex Wittenberg (Bloomberg)

With rents dropping sharply, the number of lease signings for Manhattan apartments has doubled versus a year ago, putting a bid under a bedraggled Manhattan market. [Link; soft paywall]

U.S. banks cast wary eye at mortgage borrowers as forbearance periods end by Imani Moise (Reuters)

With millions of borrowers receiving forbearance on their mortgages, banks are having a hard time trying to figure out whether non-payers are actually financially struggling or are just taking the opportunity to save some payments. [Link]


Why Joe Biden Can’t Bring His Peloton to the White House by Courtney Linder (Popular Mechanics)

Not averse to an occasional spin class, the President-Elect will have to leave his Peloton bike in Delaware because its Android tablet, internet link, microphone, and camera pose security risks in the West Wing. [Link]

Every Deleted Parler Post, Many With Users’ Location Data, Has Been Archived by Dell Cameron (Gizmodo)

After right-wing social network Parler was kicked off a number of services that were part of its core architecture, hackers exploited a number of vulnerabilities and managed to capture almost the entirety of the social network. [Link]

Medical Breakthroughs

Bupropion and Naltrexone in Methamphetamine Use Disorder by Madhukar H. Trivedi, M.D., Robrina Walker, Ph.D., Walter Ling, M.D., Adriane dela Cruz, M.D., Ph.D., Gaurav Sharma, Ph.D., Thomas Carmody, Ph.D., Udi E. Ghitza, Ph.D., Aimee Wahle, M.S., Mora Kim, M.P.H., Kathy Shores-Wilson, Ph.D., Steven Sparenborg, Ph.D., Phillip Coffin, M.D., M.I.A., et al. (NEJM)

A new study compared the effects of two drugs designed to reduce addiction to methamphetamines and found that while imperfect, there was a significant effect versus placebo. [Link]

Cancer Death Rate in U.S. Falls by Largest Yearly Amount on Record by Brianna Abbott (WSJ)

Thanks mostly to novel treatments for long cancer, recent data shows another huge drop in the cancer death rate to the lowest on record for women and near the lowest on record for men. [Link; soft paywall]


He Just Wanted to Play Catch. They Got Relief From Troubled Times. by Mike Wilson (NYT)

A quest for a partner to play catch with led to a full pickup game that allowed all participants to escape the stresses of 2020 and just play ball. [Link; soft paywall]

Mickey Mantle card crushes record after selling for $5.2 million by Dan Martin (NYP)

A 70-year-old baseball card topped the previous record price by more than 20%; it’s one of only about three left in good shape according to experts. [Link; auto-playing video]

Personnel Change

James Simons Steps Down as Chairman of Renaissance Technologies by Gregory Zuckerman (WSJ)

After a huge year for the internally-managed funds at Renaissance Capital but a very bad one for clients, one of the firm’s founders is stepping down. [Link; paywall]


Invasion of the hippos: Colombia is running out of time to tackle Pablo Escobar’s wildest legacy by Sarah Kaplan (WaPo)

Hippos that escaped the mansion of Pablo Escobar after his fall have become an invasive species in Colombia, and one that is very close to making a permanent mark on the region’s biosphere. [Link; soft paywall]


‘It Was a Joke’: Some Small Businesses Got $1 Relief Loans by Stacy Cowley (NYT)

A small number of the five million companies that got loans through the Paycheck Protection Program got loans of less than $99, which comes across as something like a cruel joke. [Link; soft paywall]

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Have a great weekend!

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