Dez Reads. Crypto’s Global Strategy, McDonald’s Inflation Tactics, Animal Consciousness, AI Reading Companions, and Cricket’s U.S. Surge.

Dezenhall Resources / June 24, 2024
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I’ve been willfully ignoring the crypto space for a few years now, but this week Mike Bova rightly points out that it may be the economic sector with the most riding on the 2024 elections. Whether crypto is the currency of the future or a vehicle for speculation, money talks in national politics, and there is no shortage of wealth tied up in the crypto space. It will be fascinating to see how big of a role this issue plays in the presidential race.

In other news, I join Steven Schlein in celebrating the return of $5 value meals at McDonald’s, Anne Marie Malecha looks at research suggesting bees (BEES?) have more advanced consciousness than previously thought, Jen Hirshon incorporates AI into her multiple book clubs, and I decide to become an American cricket fan.

Thanks, as always, for reading along with us. Especially when we keep it weird.

Here we go.


NYT. Crypto Firms Start Looking Abroad as U.S. Cracks Down

The Biden administration is making headlines regarding their crypto policy, which seems to have woken up the sector’s supporters. They are employing one of the most potent weapons in the DC game – political giving. While they need to figure out their messaging, which will be the most important aspect of their campaign to fend off over-regulation, some of the biggest names in crypto have begun making big moves. Ripple, the venture firm Andreessen Horowitz, and the exchange Coinbase have each donated about $50 million to PACs this election cycle, according to reporting from the NY Times.

While there have been a few different flare-ups with crypto policy, particularly leading up to the SEC’s approval of the spot Bitcoin ETF, this election cycle is poised to be big for the industry. Major industry players are slowly realizing that there is a critical blind spot for many startups and emerging sectors that can pose a significant risk to their future success: ignoring the importance of strategic communications and public affairs work.

There are billionaires on either side trying to sway the conversation, with Mark Cuban lobbying the Biden administration to mend fences with the crypto industry, according to the Times, and just recently the Winklevoss twins each donating $1 million in bitcoin (15.47 BTC) to Trump’s campaign and outlining why they believe he is a better candidate for them. Crypto may be the economic sector with the most on the line in November.

– Mike Bova

CNN. McDonald’s releases a new $5 value meal to combat inflation

I’ve always been a fan of capitalism. Watching companies respond to competition, cultural challenges, economic challenges, and general changes in the body politic is fascinating. Competition drove auto safety when Volvo started building and promoting “safe cars” in the late 60s. Walmart responded to the threat from Amazon by building and marketing an online sales platform. All to the benefit of consumers.

We’ve all been reading about restaurant chains closing in the face in increasing labor costs—Pizza Hut, Cracker Barrel, Applebee’s, TGI Fridays, etc. Either McDonald’s has found a way to manage higher costs and still retain its customers, or they’ve taken the attitude “we’re not going down without a fight.” Time will tell. The question is, with the inflation problem not quite solved and McDonald’s holding the largest market share, can Burger King, Wendy’s and other chains afford a price war?

– Steven Schlein


BBC. Are animals conscious? How new research is changing minds

Humans are able to feel pleasure, pain, happiness, and misery. But what about animals? Since Darwin’s theory of evolution, the idea of consciousness in animals has been largely rejected by the scientific community.

The results of recent bee behavior experiments from Professor Lars Chittka of Queen Mary University of London have scientists and animal behaviorists starting to change their tune. Professor Chittka’s research shows that bees modify their behavior following a traumatic event and are able to play just for play’s sake.

This research is no smoking scientific gun, but rather the latest in a growing body of work suggesting that the human experience is likely not the only fulsome lived experience among the animal kingdom.

I grew up with a myriad of animals – dogs, cats, birds, pigs, cows, chickens – and I currently live with two dogs. While I’m no scientist, I’ve witnessed animals be elated, grieve, get frustrated, understand complex language, and so much more. Most humans that coexist with animals will agree there is ample anecdotal evidence of animal consciousness. There are millions of animal species and minimal research has been done on most. Here’s to bees leading the way.

– Anne Marie Malecha


WIRED. I Am Laura Kipnis-Bot, and I Will Make Reading Sexy and Tragic Again

Are you a bookworm, a tech enthusiast, or perhaps both? Imagine literary characters transformed into digital companions who tell you stories and explore the human condition. This, friends, is the world of AI reading companions.

In my dual book clubs (yes, I’m a proud member of two!), we’ve witnessed a shift. Audiobooks have taken center stage, capturing our attention during walks and chores instead of commutes. Convenience and time efficiency drove us to Audible, but now both of my combined bookish hearts prefer listening. Imagine if these audiobooks had a soul—a companion who not only narrates but also shares insights, provokes thoughts, and plays with your emotions. Laura Kipnis’s article delves into a mysterious company, Rebind, which is looking to disrupt the future of storytelling.

– Jen Hirshon


NYT. Unlikely World Cup Victories Raise Cricket’s Profile in U.S.

I didn’t grow up a tennis, soccer or racing fan, but I’ve learned to love them all over time. To me, all sports are cool, even the ones I don’t understand. I love watching the elite compete with each other, whether in a spelling bee, a hot dog eating contest or the Stanley Cup Finals.

America’s unexpected rise in global cricket is going to put this to the test. As someone who married into an English family, I can attest that even in the cricket-mad UK, most fans couldn’t tell you what’s going on at any given point in a (sometimes dayslong) match.

But I’m here rooting for sustained American cricket supremacy, and I’ll be nodding off on the couch tonight watching the US take on the West Indies in the Super 8.

– Josh Culling

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