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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What Could Go Wrong

Researchers revive bacteria from the era of the dinosaurs (The Economist)

Using novel techniques, scientists have extracted bacteria from a layer of sediment at the bottom of the sea. Bacteria are part of “marine snow”, trapping beneath them older bacteria deposited from the part of the ocean closer to the sun. [Link; soft paywall]

Domino’s New Zealand drops ‘free pizza for Karen’ offer after backlash (BBC)

In a misguided effort to appeal to all the Karens out there, Dominos’ New Zealand and Australia division tried to “reclaim” that name used to describe racist middle-aged white women. The results were predictably quite bad. [Link]

Manhattan DA Made Google Give Up Information on Everyone in Area as They Hunted for Antifa by Albert Fox Cahn (The Daily Beast)

The Manhattan DA is using a novel technique to identify anti-fascist protestors from a conflict outside the Manhattan Republican Club last October. “Reverse search warrants” turn the very concept of a search warrant on its head, seeking to identify everyone fitting a condition rather than limiting government access to specific, factually-supported intrusion into what would otherwise be private spaces. Broader use of this technique would be a huge challenge to civil liberties in general. [Link]

Homes Is Where The Heart Is

RV shipments surge as Americans opt to carry home with them to avoid airports, hotels by Timothy Aeppel (Reuters)

While airplanes can be dangerous transmission zones if flyers don’t wear masks, and hotels create lots of contacts with the potentially infected, an RV is a safe zone that allows for comfortable travel without any concern about catching coronavirus. [Link]

The Cold War Bunker That Became Home To A Dark-Web Empire (The New Yorker)

A cold war bunker went on the market for €350,00 in 2012, and was eventually picked up by one of the stranger characters the 90s tech-utopian period ever produced in order to host whatever customers wanted to put online. [Link; soft paywall]

Norms Come, Norms Go

Americans are getting more nervous about what they say in public (The Economist)

While free speech absolutists may cringe at the notion that people should be careful with their words lest they hurt those listening, Americans appear to be feeling a bit more considerate when it comes to voicing their political views. [Link; soft paywall]

‘Hey, You Free on Friday for a Meeting and a Bank Heist?’ by David Segal (NYT)

Virtual meeting places are expanding from the boredom of Zoom calls into the drama and excitement of video games; clients and the firms catering to them have fled into that space for the same reasons they used to go to bars or restaurants together instead of just meeting rooms. [Link; soft paywall]

MacKenzie Scott Donates $1.7 Billion to Charity Within Months by Sophie Alexander (Bloomberg)

The world’s 13th-richest person, MacKenzie Scott, has donated 2.8% of her net worth to charities that promote racial equity, fight climate change, and protect public health. [Link; soft paywall]


Herd Immunity May Be Developing in Mumbai’s Poorest Areas by Ari Altstedter and Dhwani Pandya (Bloomberg)

More than half of Indians living in some of the largest slums around Mumbai show antibodies for COVID-19, suggesting that those populations are nearing herd immunity for the pandemic; estimates of where that broad level of protection kicks in are around 80% and higher. [Link; auto-playing video, soft paywall]

A national teachers’ union says its members can strike to ensure schools reopen safely. (NYT)

The second-largest teachers’ union said this week that they would support strikes in districts or states that moved to reopen classrooms without safety protocols in place. [Link; soft paywall]

Covid-19 infections leave an impact on the heart, raising concerns about lasting damage by Elizabeth Cooney (Stat News)

A pair of German studies identified significant damage to COVID patients hearts after recovery (including high prevalence of biomarkers that are present after a heart attack) and significant levels of the virus in the hearts of deceased patients. [Link]


When Tesla Hits the S&P 500, It’ll Spark the Wildest Passive Trade Ever by Sarah Ponczek (Bloomberg)

It’s uncommon for very high market cap stocks to be added to the S&P 500, but Tesla fits the bill after reporting four consecutive quarters of positive net income with its most recent quarterly release; its addition to the index could spark some pretty wild trading. [Link; soft paywall]

Dumb Money Making Smart Stock Picks in Yearlong Robinhood Rally by Vildana Hajric and Saraha Ponczek (Bloomberg)

Data suggests that Robinhood investors are basically the opposite of the “dumb money” tropes which are typically used to describe high frequency retail trading. [Link; soft paywall]


Falling giants: Britain’s vanishing cooling towers by Michael Collins (FT)

Coal cooling towers (also associated with nuclear power plants) have become a less common part of the national landscape in Europe as the continent has shifted away from that form of electricity. [Link; paywall]

Europe steams towards coal exit – research by Isla Binnie (Reuters)

The drop in electricity demand brought on by COVID has expedited a plunge in the volume of coal burned at power plants, with renewable sources now producing 40% of EU electricity. [Link]

Future Forecasts

Everybody’s An Expert by Louis Menand (The New Yorker)

The science of prediction is somewhat loose, but it does suggest that there are many ways to make mistakes with too much expertise. [Link; soft paywall]

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Have a great weekend!

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