Longreads + Open Thread
Ports, Bits About Money, Sneakers, Carbon, Omakase, Nietzsche
Ryan Peterson of Flexport has a great thread on the port backlogs, with suggestions for solving them. A lot of it is about the gap between generalizations like "there are supply chain bottlenecks" and specific problems like "Long Beach's zoning code only allows empty containers to be stacked two high, so trucks can't unload their empty containers without more space." It concludes with some reasonable policy changes that could alleviate the backlog. (Update: containers can now be stacked 4 high, or 5 with safety approvals.)
From the new Patio11 newsletter Bits About Money (subscribe!): a good writeup on community banks as financial dark matter. Especially noteworthy: the equilibrium is that community banks have political pull disproportionate to their assets, but also have weaker engineering chops, so efforts to modernize banking infrastructure will tend to flounder because the smaller banks can't implement it.
The NYT on the arms race between sneaker sellers and bots: secondary prices for collectible sneakers are partly a function of how fast they sell out, so in an iterated game the sneakers sellers have an economic incentive to let the bots win so their next sale happens at a higher price. Of course, this is frustrating to anyone who wants to actually buy sneakers themselves. (In a nice bit of recursion, one popular bot for buying sneakers only has 5,000 licenses, and they, too, sell at a premium on the secondary market. One can only hope that when a new batch of licenses becomes available, they'll be snapped up by Sneaker Buying Bot Buying Bots.)
Bloomberg on Google's efforts to go low-carbon. It's partly a story about the complexities of supply chains: regardless of what Google wants, utilities have assets that they built decades ago under different operating assumptions. And yet, the company can push things in the direction it wants, both by paying a premium for renewables and by subsidizing R&D that lowers its power consumption. One interesting subtext of the renewables story for big tech companies is that investors tolerate high capital expenditures from them, and renewable power is a lot cheaper on an incremental basis. (It's nice to run a power company when your fuel is delivered for free, straight from the sun, shipment guaranteed to happen at the speed of light.)
Luke Burgis on "Omakase Creators." There's an important balance between iterating in response to market feedback and completely ignoring market feedback because your customers won't understand the product until they've tried the finished version, at which point they'll love it.
The Entrepreneur's Weekly Nietzsche: A Book for Disruptors: Dave Jilk and Brad Feld have a wonderful meditation on applying Nietzsche's thought to startups. Nietzsche, like Machiavelli, has a reputation for turning precocious teenagers into raging sociopaths, but also made some indispensable contributions to modern thought. Part of what the book does is to make Nietzsche as accessible as he would have been at the time that he was writing, by connecting aphorisms to modern examples.
Drop in any links or books of interest to Diff readers.
Management thinkers go in and out of fashion, and there's often a cycle where a given approach gets overdone and turns from wisdom to dogma. Who is due for a comeback?
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