Money Stuff – From Intern to Co-Defendant

From July 28:

but I do want to spend a minute enjoying the headline, which is “From Intern to Co-Defendant.” That is really the dream career path. You start out as an intern just making copies and getting coffee — “aboard Barrack’s private planes, Grimes would graciously serve tea and crackers, and was sometimes called upon to book restaurant reservations” — but if you work hard and are a good team player you will rapidly progress. You’ll get face time with the boss, take on increasing responsibility, be put in front of clients, lead your own deals — Grimes “was also president of a related special purpose acquisition vehicle” — and, if everything works out just right, you’ll end up charged in the same federal criminal prosecution as the boss. That’s how you know you’ve made it.

Find Matt Levine at Bloomberg.

Defunding the Police in Rochester, NY

From The Independent:

In 2020, the city passed a budget that cut police funding of $95 million by 4 per cent. It also reallocated $130,000 set aside for police overtime to youth services. This year it again cut police funding by some $4.5 million (£3.2 million), with money being diverted to expanding the person in crisis team, which was officially launched in February after a pilot programme.

The Independent spent two days with the team as they responded to calls across the city. The ride-a-long offered a window into the kind of alternative policing that racial justice protesters across the country have been calling for, and which many hope could be replicated. This is what de-funding the police looks like.

Smarter allocation of resources. This is what defunding the police looks like.

The Senate’s E-BIKE Act could make electric bikes a lot cheaper

From The Verge:

Much like the House bill, Schatz and Markey’s legislation would offer Americans a refundable tax credit worth 30 percent of a new e-bike’s purchase price, capped at $1,500. All three e-bike classes would be eligible for the tax credit, but bikes with motors more powerful than 750W would not. The credit would also be fully refundable, which would allow lower-income individuals to claim it.

This would be nice.

Opinion | Good Riddance, TurboTax. Americans Need a Real ‘Free File’ Program.

From The New York Times:

Intuit, the tax preparation giant, performed a public service last week by announcing its exit from a federal program that let some Americans use a free version of its TurboTax software.


Indeed, dogged reporting by the journalism nonprofit ProPublica has shown the ways that Intuit, in particular, tried to steer people to pay for tax preparation.

In 2019, ProPublica reported that Intuit added lines of code to the free version of its TurboTax website so that the site would not appear in search results on Google.

Just have the IRS do Free File, already. This is the most pointless drama.

An interesting alternative to a Free File program is to just simplify the tax code to the point of filing your return on a post card. Simple tax code, simple return! This could be a good solution, but we would be giving up the ability to effect fiscal stimulus and drive behavior through the tax code.

Mortgage interest deduction? Doesn’t fit on the post card.

Child tax credit? No space, sorry.

Encouraging people to have children and encouraging people to buy homes are two huge levers the current tax code allows us to pull on.

Nobody Wants to Be a Serf Anymore

From McSweeney’s:

Surely you are already aghast, but I fear the problem does not stop there, my good, rich, sirs. Be sure to be seated upon your golden chairs for this next bit of news. Not only do our current serfs refuse to labor, but the serfs we ejected from our fiefdoms when we feared the plague would harm our profits now don’t want to come back and replace the workers we kept who then subsequently died of the plague. Did they not know that we banished them with the expectation they’d come crawling back at our earliest convenience? What has the world come to when the whims of noblemen no longer control the lives of the masses?

Last Week on My Mac: A tendency to panic

From Howard Oakley:

Try connecting a dock to your M1 Mac while it’s asleep, then waking it up. Although you might be lucky and get away with this, it seems that a panic is a common result, as if the Mac woke up next to someone who they didn’t expect to be sharing their bed.

Unfortunately, true. The silver lining might be that over time kernel panics reduce as the new M-series matures. All new technology and platforms requires a learning and stabilization curve, even ones as tightly integrated as Apple’s new silicon.

Fingers crossed on that.

Deirdre O’Brien: ‘We Believe That In-Person Collaboration Is Essential to our Culture and our Future’

From John Gruber at Daring Fireball:

And like I wrote a few weeks ago, it’s not that Apple’s leadership isn’t listening or hasn’t learned much from the last 16 months — they have, and this hybrid model is the result. But the decision was made, so there’s nothing to “back down” from.

These last few takes have come off as oddly defensive of a trillion dollar company that can make its own decisions and face the resulting criticism. This isn’t a case where Apple needs someone to defend their actions and explain them. It’s simply a big company making a decision which is in line with a lot of other (albeit less modern) companies. Large companies that have existed before the modern tech age have known in-person work, and it’s tough to change their minds – pandemic, or no. Other modern companies like Facebook, Twitter, etc have embraced remote work. They are newer, and aren’t carrying the baggage of those older ones who are more reticent to change.

Perhaps it’s defensiveness over thinking of Apple as “an older company” or “less tech savvy and modern” when compared to Facebook.

Not to be fooled, though, remote work is almost certainly going to follow the Hype Cycle to some degree.

It remains to be seen how low into the Trough of Disillusionment remote work falls, and where the Plateau of Productivity lands. We could all be working remotely in 10 years; or remote work could disappear entirely. Most likely is that remote work remains, and some percentage of us are doing it. What percentage? That’s the interesting question.

Why Fauci Advised Against Wearing a Mask Early in the Pandemic

Three points Fauci makes, paraphrased here:

  1. We [the Administration] were told right in the Situation Room that there would be a shortage of masks, because people were going to buy N95’s. We did not want to create a situation where health care providers wouldn’t get those masks.
  2. There was no real evidence (at the time) that masks worn outside hospitals actually worked to protect you.
  3. We did not know at the time that half (or more) of infections were transmitted by people with no symptoms.

Sounds reasonable.

Why did he change his mind?

  1. There was no mask shortage, because cloth masks were found to be effective. [This means regular folks could be encouraged to buy those, and not take N95’s from health care workers who needed them.]
  2. Analysis was published that showed (for the first time) that masks worked outside of a hospital setting to prevent infections.
  3. We learned that about 50% of infections were being transmitted by people who didn’t even know they were infected.

That’s why he changed his mind.

Again, sounds reasonable!

We Can’t Teach Our Nuclear Plant Operators About Critical Reactor Theory and Risk Them Learning About Radiation

From McSweeney’s:

As the chief engineer of this nuclear power plant, it is my responsibility to ensure that the plant continues to operate as safely and efficiently as possible. But recently, there has been a growing fringe movement among certain scientists and academics advocating a dangerous educational doctrine that threatens the very fabric of our operation.

They’re trying to teach everyone about radiation.

The doctrine they’re pushing, known as Critical Reactor Theory, is the notion that nuclear power plants, if not properly maintained, can reach uncontrolled supercriticality — a state of runaway nuclear fission chain reactions that can lead to reactor meltdown. The theory claims that nuclear power plants have a long history of such meltdowns, and that even after years of efforts to eliminate them, meltdowns still happen to this day. This extremist dogma has now reached the hallowed halls of our beloved plant, where activists are calling for us to educate employees on the causes of meltdowns and how to prevent radiation from getting out of control.

Well, not on my watch.