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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The Secretive Company That Might End Privacy as We Know It (DNYUZ)

An Australian technologist and app developer has launched a massive new surveillance tool designed to identify people in public places based on a complex algorithm. [Link]

Clearview AI Says Its Facial Recognition Software Identified A Terrorism Suspect. The Cops Say That’s Not True. by Ryan Mac, Caroline Haskins, and Logan McDonald (Buzzfeed News)

A controversial new company claims to have amassed a database of billions of photos which can be used to identify suspects using public sources. But the big claims – and the dystopian future they represent – are being called into question. [Link]

Metro Matters

Houston Is Now Less Affordable Than New York City by Peter Holley (Texas Monthly)

While land is cheap in Houston and wage levels are lower, reducing costs of living, the huge sprawl and lack of public transit actually makes it a relatively expensive city to live in. [Link]

NYC Moves to Ban Cashless Stores in Blow to Visa, Mastercard by Jennifer Surane (Bloomberg)

With some companies saying they will no longer accept cash at storefronts in New York City, the local government may enforce cash acceptance in order to protect access for customers that have a low income and lack access to electronic payments. [Link; soft paywall]

Eastern Europe

Belarus’ hi-tech export close to $15bn in 2019 (BelTA)

It’s unusual to think about Belarus when you mention high tech exports, but the tiny country is developing its focus on those types of goods and has made huge strides given their tiny size. [Link]


98.6 Degrees Fahrenheit Isn’t the Average Anymore by Jo Craven McGinty (WSJ)

Changes in the human body over the last couple of centuries tied to more sedentary lifestyles have reduced the “normal” temperature of the human body. [Link; paywall]

Wuhan coronavirus may have been transmitted to people from snakes by Jessica Hamzelou (NewScientist)

The spreading coronavirus which started in Wuhan, China came from an animal, but the specific one in question may have been a snake. [Link]

Tired Nation: Americans Now Averaging Less Than 6 Hours Of Sleep Per Night by John Anderer (Study Finds)

While the amount of sleep every person needs varies, broad averages for the amount of sleep Americans get has made a new low. [Link]

Size Does Matter

Daily Fantasy Player Files Lawsuit Against MLB Over Astros Scandal by Darren Rovell (Action Network)

A New York daily fantasy player has named MLB as well as two teams in a cheating scandal that has rocked the league after unravelling this winter. [Link]

The IRS Decided to Get Tough Against Microsoft. Microsoft Got Tougher. by Paul Kiel (ProPublica)

An effort by the IRS to seal a massive tax dodge by Microsoft (via Puerto Rico) was stymied by a combination of administrative dancing, lawsuits, and Congressional lobbying that ultimately led to a change in the law in the software company’s favor. [Link]


The Black Swan Chart Of 2020 (Global Macro Monitor)

After a multi-decade high in voter turnout during 2018 midterm elections, voters are indicating rabid enthusiasm for the coming Presidential contest. That sort of turnout surge would create chaos for modelers and present a very different set of challenges for campaigns than low-turnout elections like 2016. [Link]


Did someone put this Baltimore drug corner on Google Maps? by Dan Rodricks (Baltimore Sun)

An enterprising Google Maps user created a Google Maps listing for a drug corner in south Baltimore. This corner is known for its easy heroin availability. [Link]

Sonos Will Soon End Software Support for Its Older Speakers by Lauren Goode (Wired)

After 10+ years of use, the oldest generation of popular Sonos speakers are set to have their support cut off, in a move that may be poorly received by some of the company’s original customers. [Link]


Guggenheim Says Central Bank-Driven ‘Ponzi Scheme’ Must Collapse by Ross Larsen, Sonali Basak, and Sridhar Natarajan (Bloomberg Quint)

The head of Guggenheim Investment Partners has decided to use some pretty ridiculous language to assess the current state of markets, but it speaks to still-restrained sentiment that people are regularly saying this sort of thing in public. [Link]

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Have a great weekend!

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