Twitter Bans Political Advertising

Jack Dorsey says that Twitter will stop all political advertising.

We’ve made the decision to stop all political advertising on Twitter globally. We believe political message reach should be earned, not bought.

Jack specifies this policy includes both candidate and issue ads.

Best news from a social media company in a really long time. Unusual for a social media company, Twitter is putting the right thing to do ahead of profits. I wish other social media companies like Facebook would adopt the same policy.

How To Maintain Control Of Your Company

Venture capitalist Fred Wilson on founders like Adam Neumann who have supervoting shares and control a majority of board seats:

If you want to maintain control of your company, focus on running it well or find a team to run it well, and make sure you have plenty of cash to operate your business and that you never find yourself in a position where you are running out of cash and have nowhere to go but your exisiting [sic] investors. Do those two things well and you will be in control for as long as you want to be in control.

We saw that play out with WeWork this week. The founder had a 10:1 supervoting provision and controlled a majority of the board seats.

Until he didn’t.

WeWork is Done

That didn’t take long. Today SoftBank takes control of WeWork. Co-founder Adam Neumann gets $1.7 billion windfall, but has to leave the board. He now has no involvement in the company other than as a shareholder.

Mr. Neumann is clearly very good at lighting other people’s money on fire. The only explanation for the enormous payout to the disgraced former CEO is that SoftBank believes this gives them a chance of keeping the value of WeWork above $0.

WeWork Close To Insolvent

Previously: The We Company Is A Dumpster Fire

Professor Scott Galloway, who is way smarter than me, tore them apart on the same day I did, and his short video on this topic is pure gold.

Since then, they fired Adam Neumann, their founder and CEO. They had to pull their IPO. The new CEO’s (co-CEO’s are a terrible idea, so of course that’s what WeWork would do) are trying to sell the corporate jet and all the side projects, including an education unit called WeGrow, and a fitness club called Rise by We. Fitch downgraded their bonds, putting them deep into junk territory; those bonds are trading at about 84 cents on the dollar.

It now appears that WeWork will run out of cash in November. At this pace the company will crash from a $47 billion valuation to insolvent in less than 6 months.

I’ll give them the sandwich wrapper I previously withheld: they are going to need it for toilet paper.

The Two Hour Marathon

On July 26, 1855 in London, Charles Westhall set a new record for the fastest time in the one mile run with a 4:28 time. In 1991, Dr. Michael Joyner published a paper proposing a mathematical model for marathon performance:

A variety of combinations of these variables from elite runners results in estimated running times that are significantly faster than the current world record (2:06:50). The fastest time for the marathon predicted by this model is 1:57:58 in a hypothetical subject…with exceptional running economy.

Dr. Joyner’s theoretical max for the marathon requires a pace of 4:30 per mile, nearly the same time as the world record mile in 1855. In 2017, Nike sponsored an attempt to run a two-hour marathon in controlled conditions. Eliud Kipchoge just missed the goal, with a time of 2:00:25. In advance of that attempt, Wired Magazine produced a video showing how difficult this feat really is.

Today, in a similarly controlled event in Vienna, Mr. Kipchoge ran the marathon in 1:59:40. His time does not count as a world record, because it was not run in a real race, which seems fair to me. There were no other competitors in the field, forty-one professional runners rotated on and off the course as pacers and formed an aerodynamic pocket around Kipchoge, and an electric timing car projected the ideal path on the road with green lasers.

Mr. Kipchoge holds the world record in the marathon: 2:01:39 set in 2018 in Berlin. It seems inevitable that the two-hour barrier falls in a competitive race.

Red Meat Is Not Unhealthy

Nineteen scientists author a new paper published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, a well regarded peer-reviewed journal:

Contemporary dietary guidelines recommend limiting consumption of unprocessed red meat and processed meat. For example, the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting red meat intake, including processed meat, to approximately 1 weekly serving. Similarly, United Kingdom dietary guidelines endorse limiting the intake of both red and processed meat to 70 g/d, and the World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research recommend limiting red meat consumption to moderate amounts and consuming very little processed meat. The World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer has indicated that consumption of red meat is “probably carcinogenic” to humans, whereas processed meat is considered “carcinogenic” to humans.

Their paper provides solid evidence that these long time recommendations for both red meat (i.e. steaks) and processed meat (i.e. deli ham, hot dogs) are wrong. In fact, their evaluation of the data shows only a weak recommendation with low-certainty evidence for the current guidelines. In other words, there is no data to show that consumption of red meat or processed meat has ill health effects.

You may have other reasons to avoid beef and pork – the environmental cost of production, religious beliefs, or taste – but there is no scientific basis for the assertion that eating red meat is unhealthy.

Some of Yesterday’s News Today

Today I’m staying at the Inn at the Union League of Philadelphia, a very old school gentleman’s club originally founded to support the policies of Abraham Lincoln. Old school like have to wear a coat and tie. Official policies now allow women and Democrats as members, but both would feel very out of place.

This morning they left a copy of the USA Today outside my room door. Every hotel used to do this; it’s hard to pin down exactly when they stopped, but nobody does it now. It seems like it’s been years since I even saw a newspaper. I remember them as fat wads of newsprint, full of articles and advertisements. When I was a kid, the A section of the hometown newspaper we subscribed to often had more than 20 pages. The thing outside my door this morning was gaunt, with hardly an ad to be seen, a mere shadow of its former self. The A section contained one full sheet and one half sheet, for a total of 6 pages. I skimmed through it and didn’t see a single thing I hadn’t already read about in my RSS feeds. The only ad in that section was a half page proclamation that “New Hemp Technology Is 450% Better For Discomfort Relief Than Regular Hemp Oil” with a crappy stock photo.

My children will never have the pleasure of fingers blackened by an hour reading and refolding some of yesterday’s news today. I appreciate the improvement in variety, availability, and timeliness that online information provides, but I miss the pride in craftsmanship of the writing and the experience of reading the newspaper.

Project Possible: Summit All Fourteen 8,000m Peaks in Seven Months

In May, Nirmal Purja took a picture showing the traffic jam of climbers at the summit of Mount Everest. His photo was widely publicized and it caused the Nepalese government to change their permitting requirements to reduce the number of climbers per season.

Nirmal, who goes by Nims, started Project Possible. He wants to summit all 14 peaks higher than 8000m. The current world record for this feat is 8 years. Nims wants to do it in 7 months. He has already completed the first two phases, which included 11 of the 14 peaks. Today, Nims summited Cho Oyu, leaving two remaining mountains.

Along the way, Nims and his team of Nepali climbers set 6 new world records. If they were from California or Austria, they would be as famous as Alex Honnold. I was therefore very pleased to see this interview with Nims in the New York Times.

Fighting the Dragon

The ongoing protests in Hong Kong might be the decade’s most important development says George F. Will in the Washington Post:

The Economist recently editorialized: “The West’s 25-year bet on China has failed.” The wager was that “market totalitarianism” is an oxymoron. Embedding China in the global economy supposedly would open it to the softening effects of commerce, which would be solvents of authoritarianism. The West’s tardy but welcome disenchantment is, as the Economist says, “the starkest reversal in modern geopolitics.” If Hong Kong’s heroic refusal to go gentle into Beijing’s dark night is accelerating this disenchantment, the summer of dissent has been this decade’s grandest and most important development.

A must read piece by Maciej Cegłowski on his Idle Words blog (which has the best blog tagline ever: brevity is for the weak) describes his first hand experience at a protest in Hong Kong. He carefully outlines the tension between the various factions of protesters, and how their overarching sense of general responsibility and social order keeps 7.5 million Hong Kongers united against a totalitarian regime which controls 1.3 billion people. At the end of a peaceful weekend of protests, some of the frontliners (protesters who are willing to engage in violence) are circling the police station on Harcourt Road, itching for a fight. However:

Some combination of social media, personal pleading, sense of duty, and whatever alchemy keeps these protests going convinced the angry fighters to do the hardest thing a young person can do in such a conflict-go home.

And that’s when I understood the Hong Kongers may actually win.

My Flag Pin

In the weeks after the horrific events of September 11, 2001, Americans felt a wide range of powerful emotions: mourning, loss, anger, and fright. We also felt the strong resurgence of patriotism and the desire to care for each other. Every merchant in the country from restaurants to car dealerships sold some sort of patriotic momento. The most popular item by far was a US flag lapel pin. It seemed like everyone was wearing one, and not just on their suit lapels; they could be found pinned to blouses, backpacks, hats, and t-shirts. When I saw someone wearing one of these pins we shared an unspoken communication: “I’m proud to be an American, and I’m feeling all the same things that you are.” In that moment I could both offer and receive solace and strength from another. No matter our differences of race, political party, state of residence, religion, sexual orientation, or social status, I knew we were more alike than we were different, and that sense of community compounded with every shared glance.

I wore my flag pin nearly every day for months. In 2001, I wore it for healing. This week I wore it to remember the many lives that were lost on that blue-skied day, and to honor the many more lives which have been irrevocably changed as a result. I also wore it as a symbol of hope, that once again we could feel our similarities more than our differences.