Project LinX 11/16/2019: The Everything Bubble, Russian Ice Capades, Real Fantasy Baseball, And More

Today on Project LinX: The Everything Bubble, spirits in the material world, Russian Ice capades, the black box future, and baseball is becoming fantasy baseball…

+”Blackstone Group Warns of the Mother of All Bubbles” | Investopedia

“The failures in the repo market, negative-yielding debt, a deeply negative term premium, trade conflicts around the world and a collapse in manufacturing all seem unrelated right now, but I don’t think they are random,” Joseph Zidle (chief investment strategist at Blackstone’s private wealth solutions group) wrote in a recent note to clients. His biggest concern is negative yields on sovereign debt worth $13 trillion, what he believes may be “the mother of all bubbles.”

Everything counts in large amountsThe Everything Bubble will pop for everyone. The only questions are who’ll get hit first and who’ll get hit hardest.

+”Why Do So Many Spiritual People Seem So Flaky?” | Psychology Today

“ I think there is something like a spiritual affinity that people are born with, just as we are born with musical ability, or a talent for painting, sculpture, or math. Some people naturally resonate with spiritual teachings and truths, and when all they see around them is the blaring headlines of the latest political infighting, corporate earnings, who’s hot and who’s not in music or movies or books — well, they are just going to feel out of step with this culture. These things just don’t seem to them that important because they aren’t. The vast majority of what we fret over, fight over, and worry about has no lasting importance. Spiritual truths on the other hand are timeless, which is why the Bible, the Koran and the Bhagavad Gita continue to be revered and read by billions of people thousands of years after being written while best sellers are forgotten within a decade.”

Spirits in the material world. The glass we see through is dark indeed. Its darkness perpetuates itself by convincing us it’s the only kind of clarity we can have, and that there’s no alternative to systems, ideologies, and interests that are only backed by power, as if the visible light we see is all there is within the spectrum of what’s possible.

+”Climate change could make Russia great again” | Haaretz

“A decade ago, geologists estimated that 30 percent of the world’s natural gas reserves and 13 percent of its petroleum deposits were trapped beneath the ice floes of the Arctic Circle, along with rare minerals and other valuable resources. As the rising temperature melts the icebergs, not only will those resources become accessible but, as U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in May, “Steady reductions in sea ice are opening new passageways and new opportunities for trade. This could potentially slash the time it takes to travel between Asia and the West by as much as 20 days. Arctic sea lanes could become the 21st century Suez and Panama Canals.””

Russian Ice Capades. While scientists and politicians are deeply concerned about climate change, Russia sees this looming crisis as an opportunity  to make more money, grow more food, shorten trade routes, extract more fossil fuels, and control Arctic sea lanes. The key to dominance in the short term is icebreakers. Russia has 41, with 8 more on the way. The United States has two, one of which has only a few years of service left. Russia has a detailed Arctic plan it’s deploying on multiple fronts. Likewise, Beijing has arctic aspirations via its One Belt, One Road initiative, and has pledged to work more closely with Moscow. The U.S. risks losing out, perhaps because certain leaders and their sycophants don’t believe Russia is a threat (though the Pentagon does) and don’t believe climate change is real (though major corporations do.)

+”The government keeps its use of facial recognition tech secret. The ACLU is suing.” | Vox

“What we learned at the time was that the FBI had been doing these sort of backroom deals with the states to get access to their mugshot databases and build up the FBI’s own face recognition database. And all of that was without explaining what they were doing to the American public. A few years back, we got access to a PowerPoint presentation that the FBI gave [in which] they talked about sometime in the future wanting to be able to track people as they move from event to event. But we don’t know anything more about how far along they are in developing that kind of technology.

So I think the ACLU’s lawsuit will get at information like that: Where is the FBI now or the Department of Justice or the DEA on implementing that kind of technology?

The other interesting thing about this ACLU lawsuit is that they aren’t limiting their request to face recognition. They are also interested in other forms of remote biometric identification technologies.

So, for example, gait recognition allows you to identify somebody based on how they walk. And if you were to combine gait recognition with face recognition, you could identify somebody who’s coming towards you and you can identify them as they’re walking away. We are starting to see these kinds of technologies used in concert with one another in China. And China’s selling their technology to other parts of the world, like Ecuador.”

Behold the black box future. Facial recognition is a black box technology. How inputs are processed into outputs is known only to the owners of its intellectual property. Because it’s proprietary software, and because 4th Amendment safeguards protect us from unreasonable searches and seizures, the thus far unanswered question posed by facial recognition will eventually be whether its results will be able to stand up in court. Were I a defense attorney I’d get into this business tout suite. Without a defendant’s ability to access algorithms and data that could send him to jail, it would be easy to convince a jury that technology it can’t know and therefore can’t trust can guarantee my client a fair trial.

+”So how long will this rebuilding take?” | MASN Sports 

“Just how long the Orioles rebuild will take “[J]ust doesn’t have an answer. You can guess, but that’s really all you will be doing. No one knows for sure, including general manager Mike Elias, who is heading up this rebuilding, how long it will take to work or even if it will work. This is the American League East, home of two big spenders, one sharp cookie and one team with a lot of young talent that has a whole country to back its efforts. Piece of cake, right?

Starting in 2011, the Houston Astros won 56, 55, 51, 70, 86, 84, 101, 103 and 107 games. Over the last five years, all winning seasons, Houston has averaged 96.2 wins and won the 2017 World Series. They lost in Game 7 this year. But they’ve been to the playoffs four times in the last five years. The Orioles strive for such consistent contention and brought some of Houston’s staff here to try and make it happen.

Starting in 2012, the Chicago Cubs won 61, 66, 73, 97, 103, 92, 95 and 84 games. They parted with manager Joe Maddon at the end of the 2019 season. They went to the playoffs every year from 2015–2018 and won the World Series in 2016.

Houston saw win jumps from year to year of 19 and 16. They gained 35 wins over the course of two seasons. The Cubs gained 24 wins between seasons on their way up.

The Orioles have won 47 and 54 games the last two seasons. So what comes next? Another 100-loss year, which seems quite possible, or can the club make the move toward 75 or 80 wins to make it more interesting sooner than hoped and expected?”

Real baseball is the new fantasy baseballl. One of my general views on how things work now is that there are aspects of life that are more virtual than real. From this it follows that those who understand and can leverage the virtual rather than the real will have greater chances of success than expected. This is now true of baseball where the rise of ultra-sophisticated analytics has made running a real major league team more like running a fantasy baseball team than ever before. Players enter their peak production years earlier in their careers while older players decline more quickly than previously thought. More pitchers are throwing 100+ mph fastballs, while hitters are hitting more home runs. These developments are changing how teams are built. And they’re also changing the risk/reward calculations of bad teams deconstructing their rosters and rebuilding quickly with new, lower salaried talent very much in the way a fantasy baseball team would. Data-driven teams like the Astros and the Rays have given us a glimpse of baseball’s virtual future. As a fan for life, I’m hoping something similar can happen for the Orioles. That’s why I’m OK with a few 100 games lost seasons (the Astros weathered three.) Rebuilds take time, but in today’s baseball, they can pay off big.

Image Source: Image by Kisalay Kishan from Pixabay

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