Medley 207: New Tricks, Tallow, Stats, Cartels, Texas, Amazon, Chickens, Mice, Farmers...

This is the Monday Medley, a newsletter that goes out, you guessed it, every Monday. I republish it here for sharing and referencing, but if you'd like to sign up you can do so right here:

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Happy Monday!

I published a new article this week about how applying new tricks to old businesses can be a great source of new business ideas. Especially now that the whole world has been turned on its head.

I also finished up Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat and will be adding my notes to The Brain. It was a fantastic book on mastering basic cooking fundamentals, strong recommend.

Alright, on to the Medley!

The World of Sponsorship

🐮 This week's Medley is brought to you by White Oak Pastures! I knew White Oak had great meat, but what surprised me is how nice their artisan tallow products are. Keeping with their pledge to be a carbon negative farm, they use every part of the animal, including using leftover beef fat to make candles and moisturizers. I gotta say the moisturizer is one of the nicest I've ever used, and I've replaced all my soaps with their bar and foaming soap. They all have squeaky clean ingredients, and they're good for the environment.

The World of COVID-19

🕵️‍♀️ Here's a lesson in How to Lie With Statistics. Whether you think Sweden is doing great, or terribly, with its experiment largely depends on how the graph is framed.

👮‍♂️Cartels aren't all bad, it turns out they're helping out in Mexico in places where the government has failed to provide sufficient relief. Good reminder that governments and cartels are essentially the same thing. If that statement surprised you I'd recommend reading The Sovereign Individual and Seeing Like a State.

🌵 Texas has decided to start relaxing their stay at home orders starting on May 1st. Of course we'd be one of the first states to do so, despite having one of the worst testing rates. I'm not 100% sure how I feel about this. On the one hand, it's good that we're starting to make progress towards getting back to normal. On the other, it's hard to know if this is premature or not. I guess we'll see if cases spike in the next few weeks. We'll probably keep the cafe closed for now, though.

🎅 If you're deciding how to weigh your own risks with COVID-19, there's one factor that seems to be getting passed over a lot: metabolic disease. Being overweight, obese, or even being pre-diabetic seems to be a huge risk factor for complications and death from COVID-19. Here are a few quotations from the research:

"Data from the first 2204 patients admitted to 286 NHS ICU’s with COVID- 19 reveal that 72.7% of them were overweight or obese."

"A recent commentary In Nature states that “patients with type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome might have to up 10 times greater risk of death when they contract COVID-19” and has called for mandatory glucose and metabolic control of type 2 diabetes patients to improve outcomes."

"Public Health England have said now is the best time to quit smoking, citing research from China concluding that smokers were 14 times more likely to get severe disease after contracting COVID-19. But why not also ask the public to “quit ultra-processed food”?"

🤔 I'm getting more and more in the camp that if you're young, not overweight, not a smoker, and have no other underlying conditions you're pretty safe. Obviously there are exceptions to that (just as there are with the flu, etc.), but I do think the narrative around "young healthy people are dying too" is neglecting to mention that many of those people have metabolic disease. Everyone staying home indefinitely is not sustainable, we're going to have to start taking some risks eventually.

The World of Business

😱 Amazon implemented some absolutely brutal changes to their affiliate program last week. The payouts for some categories decreased by as much as 75%, which is awful for anyone running an affiliate site that primarily earned money on Amazon referrals.

🦸‍♂️ But all hope is not lost. My friend Casey came up with some great advice. Basically, you can do some clever hacks to find websites that were linking to your Amazon pages. Then reach out and offer them a much higher affiliate rate to link to your ecommerce store instead. More money for them, more money for you, and you get a backlink out of it. Everyone wins except old Jeffy, but I think he can handle it.

The World of Finance

💥 Taylor Pearson wrote a great piece on "Volatility Clusters," and how the rapid 25% decline in the market may have happened from "all the ladders being tied together." It's a very accessible intro to some systems theory and finance, and shows how his fund thinks about investing and risk.

The World of Food

🐓 Tyson says the food supply chain is breaking from all the lifestyle changes related to COVID-19. I'm tempted to say "good." What they're really saying is their massive industrial food complex is breaking, not all food supply chains. If lifestyle changes from COVID-19 kill the giant factory meat farms, that's good to me.

👨‍🌾 Similar to what Taylor talked about in the Volatility Clusters article, all of the ladders in farming have been tied together by having most food be controlled by a few big brands. If we were more reliant on smaller local farms for our food, there'd be no supply chain disruptions like this and we'd all be a lot healthier. Now's a great time to start supporting local farms, or regeneratively maintained ones like White Oak Pastures.

The World of Science

🐭 Bret & Eric Weinstein had a fascinating discussion on Eric's podcast "The Portal" a few weeks ago about Bret's work before his Evergreen State fame. The most surprising thing to come out of it is how the mice that we use for research testing may be unreliable test subjects due to having exceptionally long telomeres from the breeding practices used to supply them to labs, and how basically no one has done anything about that issue since Bret discovered it.

🔍 If you're like me and that whole convo sounded a little too weird to be believable, I did some digging and found this reddit thread discussing it. This comment in particular makes some good points about what Carol Greider's side of the story might be.

The World of Just For Fun

🕯 Want to read something spooky? What do you suppose happened to the Eilean Mor lighthouse keepers?

End Note

As always, if you're enjoying the Medley, I'd love it if you shared it with a friend or two. You can send them here to sign up. I try to make it one of the best emails you get each week, and I hope you're enjoying it.

If you want to support the Medley and my other writing, there are many ways you can do that here.

And should you come across anything interesting this week, send it my way! I love finding new things to read through members of this newsletter.

Have a great week,
Nat

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