5 min read

Oh Elon

Elon Musk has done a lot of things; it's a guessing game as to when China will reopen; how long until Australia is in recession; and how daylight savings persists despite the evidence against it.
Oh Elon

1—Oh Elon

Elon Musk purchased Twitter and immediately "began doing things". There has been a lot of chatter, both positive and negative, about those things. For those who want to know more, The Zvi has gathered them up, posted his thoughts on them, and tried "to put them into a semi-coherent format". One excerpt:

"There is a report that employees are being encouraged to build something and show it off to Musk.

I think this is good. Twitter already works and is stuck in a rut. Twitter is a place where there are lots of potential new features that could add (or subtract) a lot of value. Those features are mostly much more about 'figure out what the right feature is' rather than 'this is a hard engineering problem.'

Having many employees throw stuff at the wall seems like a good fit to me. It gives Musk data. He learns who is good at such things and who is bad. He learns who is willing to do such things and who is not. I checked with a friend who I know to get good work out of engineers, and he too thought this was a good idea."


"One thing this [Musk's support of free speech] points out is that it is inevitable that it will be impossible to comply with all the laws. This is already true of regular people trying to live normal lives, so it is not shocking that it is true of an international social network. It is more shocking that it hasn't been more of an issue yet. Germany says [take] 'hate speech' down quickly or else, Texas says 'no viewpoint discrimination and no discrimination against Texas' or else, and you still have people making fun of Moti's beard. Now what?

Meanwhile, there are some content moderation decisions on Twitter that have absolutely very much been purely about the partisan or political or 'scientific' content of what was posted. I expect Musk's Twitter to make very different decisions, on the margins, about those cases. I do not expect this to make Twitter fall apart, unless this causes blue tribe voices to successfully convince enough blue tribe people to flee on the basis of this change.

Also, I expect a lot of things that have nothing to do with Musk to now be loudly blamed on Musk, especially moderation decisions, and for it to be hilarious. This has started with the 'fact checking' Birdwatch operation, which is high variance."

You can read The Zvi's full post here (~39 minute read).

2—China's guessing game

Beijing will have to abandon Xi Jinping's suffocating, growth-sapping 'dynamic zero-COVID' strategy at some point. But when, and how quickly? The WSJ reports that "Chinese officials have grown concerned about the costs":

"But they are weighing those against the potential costs of reopening for public health and support for the Communist Party.

As a result, they are proceeding cautiously despite the deepening impact of the Covid-19 policies, the people said, pointing to a long path to anything approaching prepandemic levels of activity, with the timeline stretching to sometime near the end of next year."

Given that China's COVID policy is inseparable from President Xi, any reversal will have to involve some deal of face saving for the recently anointed dictator-for-life. That means barring an uncontrollable outbreak, a reopening will likely be gradual:

"A combination of new viral variants, an underequipped public-healthcare system and the approach of winter has left Beijing worried that a potential surge in Covid-19 infections, hospital admissions and deaths could undermine confidence in the ruling Communist Party's legitimacy.

Chinese health officials have been monitoring the fatality rates and public reactions in Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea, which share cultural roots with China and where governments had until recently imposed similar measures, the people said."

You can read the full article by Keith Zhai here (~5 minute read), which concludes that while rising costs "are pointing to the beginning of preparation for an eventual reopening... The actual reopening is still months away as elderly vaccination rates remain low".

3—How long until the recession?

4—Hitting snooze on daylight savings

Most of the United States rolled back their clocks by an hour last weekend, part of the annual "fall back" tradition – that is, unwinding daylight savings time.

But should the tradition be happening at all? The health science on daylight savings has settled overwhelmingly in the negative, because it "abruptly disrupt[s] this important relationship between our brains and the sun", reducing sleep at both the start and end of your usual cycle.

Daylight savings time "has been associated with more heart attacks and strokes. Automobile and other types of accidents also increase".

Several months ago lawmakers in the United States tried to make daylight savings time permanently replace standard time (i.e., no "fall back"), but the bill "quietly died in the House". Dan Diamond explains why:

"Lawmakers like @janschakowsky, who chairs the key panel reviewing the bill, say they've been deluged by calls and e-mails arguing both sides.

Keeping daylight saving time in winter = bad for kids heading to school, good for businesses later in the day.

There's also been a steady stream of warnings from doctors who say that daylight saving time throws off our body's rhythms, and that if we make a switch, it should be to *permanent standard time*. But because it's Washington — and the legislation has ground to a halt — I wondered: have lobbyists gotten involved?"

No prizes for guessing the answer. You can read Diamond's full twitter thread here (~6 minute read), which shows how "Big Sleep" successfully killed the bill and ensured that daylight savings time will persist in the United States for at least another year.

5—Further reading...

🔫 The city of Baltimore is "currently offering potential criminals $375 a month in a separate program if they refrain from shooting other people... If participants remain crime-free, the city vows to provide educational opportunities, housing assistance, and stipends for completing a resume, going on a job interview, and meeting with a life coach".

🧪 I believe this would qualify as 'unproductive': "A report suggests that in China's first- and second-tier cities, the total cost of implementing normalized nucleic acid testing has reached about RMB1.7 trillion per year – accounting for around 1.3% of China's GDP."

📉 According to Nomura, "China's Covid controls negatively affected 12.2% of national GDP, up from 9.5% a week ago... while Beijing may fine-tune some of its Covid measures in coming weeks, those fine-tuning measures could be more than offset by local officials’ tightening of the [zero-Covid strategy]".