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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A Michigan woman tried to hire an assassin online at RentAHitman.com. Now, she’s going to prison. by Jonathan Edwards (WaPo)

A website run by a North Carolina man has served as a honeypot for those with murderous intentions for over a decade, with a Michigan woman angry at her ex-husband the latest would-be killer to be ensnared by law enforcement after requesting information from the site. [Link; soft paywall]

Hiding in plain sight: How one of the country’s most-wanted fugitives led a quiet life in Lynnfield by Emily Sweeney (Boston Globe)

A 1969 bank robbery was never solved after a teller walked out with the equivalent of $1.6mm in today’s dollars, slipping into obscurity as a resident of a Boston suburb. [Link; soft paywall]

Metaverse Madness

A plot of virtual land that went for $4.3 million in The Sandbox is the most expensive metaverse property sale ever by Carla Mozée (Business Insider)

Republic Realm, a firm focused on the purchase and development of digital real estate and assets, purchased space in the Sandbox metaverse for $4.3mm this week. We wish we knew what that meant, exactly. [Link]

Metaverse Real Estate Piles Up Record Sales in Sandbox and Other Virtual Realms by Konrad Putzier (WSJ)

This explainer on the process of digital land sales offers some further explanation as to what exactly is going on with the process, but we still have many questions, not least of which being how the supply of land is constrained. [Link; paywall]

Macy’s Turns Thanksgiving Day Parade Balloons Into NFTs by Joseph Pisani (WSJ)

Just about everything is being turned into an NFT these days, with the iconic balloons floating above Manhattan the latest unique items being assigned an arbitrary value and slapped on the blockchain. [Link; paywall]


America’s First Banned Book Really Ticked Off the Plymouth Puritans by Matthew Taub (Atlas Obscura/Pocket)

One of the country’s first banned books was a jeremiad against the leadership of Puritan New England’s early colonial management. The 1637 tome wasn’t the only thing its author did to enrage the other colonists. [Link]


Ford teases a new cable capable of charging electric cars in 5 minutes by Mark Wilson (Fast Company)

Ford (F) is researching a new cable that would allow a massive dump of electricity into a vehicle battery and turn a charging stop into the same layover time as a gas station visit in an ICE vehicle. [Link]

Auto chip shortage shows new sign of easing as inventories rise by Ryosuke Eguchi (Nikkei Asia)

Semiconductors which find their way into new cars are finally becoming easier to lay hands on as major suppliers reported higher inventories for the first time in at least 9 months during the month of September. [Link]

Extreme Biology

Microsoft Makes Breakthrough in the Quest to Use DNA as Data Storage by Phillip Tracy (Gizmodo)

DNA is a remarkably dense storage medium, with every movie ever made able to fit in a volume the size of a sugar cube. It’ll be some time before DNA-based memory storage is viable commercially but researchers are getting closer to that holy grail of cheap data warehousing. [Link]

World’s vast networks of underground fungi to be mapped for first time by Fiona Harvey (The Guardian)

Huge networks of underground plants in the same family as mushrooms are a critical support for biological systems like forests. A new initiative seeks to understand and map the networks around the world. [Link]

Labor Markets

The US is facing an unlikely shortage: Santas. by Sarah Al-Arshani (Business Insider)

Lots of people are looking for Santa, with inquiries to hiresanta.com surging 121% this year compared to the last two years. At the same time, many Santas are retiring, and others are worried about the pandemic; still more have passed away thanks to COVID. [Link]

North Carolina’s Furniture Hub Is Booming. What Comes Next? by Jeanna Smialek (NYT)

The surge in demand for furniture fueled by the pandemic is proving a temporary boon for furniture makers in North Carolina, but factories fear orders will drop off and as a result are hesitant to ramp up hiring and capacity expansion. [Link]


Today’s date is rare: It reads the same way forward, backward and upside down by Jay Cannon (USAToday)

Not only was the 2nd of December a palindrome, reading the date also reads the same upside down. Another such palindrome date is due until March 2nd of 2030. [Link]

Mining Bitcoin with pencil and paper: 0.67 hashes per day by Ken Shirriff (Righto)

There is some very complicated math underpinning cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, but that doesn’t mean it can’t still be done by hand. [Link]

Easy Marks

Notable Bets: November among worst months ever for betting public by David Purdum (ESPN)

Amidst an explosion of gambling legalization and betting apps, 60% of November NFL games had seen underdogs cover the spread, leading to a historic route among bettors. [Link]

Stock Funds Took in More Cash in 2021 Than Two Decades Combined by Ksenia Glouchko (Bloomberg)

Nearly $1trn has followed into ETF and mutual funds this year, more than each of the last 19 years…combined! [Link; soft paywall]


Do childhood colds help the body respond to COVID? by Rachel Brazil (Nature)

Children who are exposed to a given strain of flu are better at fighting that strain off the rest of their lives. It’s an open question whether the same process will play out with COVID. [Link]

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