S1: This ad free podcast is part of your Slate plus membership. Hello and welcome to the normalized Venison episode of Slate Money, your guide to the Business and Finance News of the Week. I’m Felix Salmon of Axios. I’m here with Emily Peck Fundrise. Hello. We’re here with Stacy-Marie Ishmael no affiliation.
S1: And when I say we are here, I mean we are literally physically here. We can touch each
S2: other, although we have. But we could.
S1: It’s a very exciting in-person episode. Stacey is in New York City. We are all in Brooklyn. We are recording the show, which is why we sound so good. Many thanks to June Thomas for making that happen. We are going to talk about all manner of types of inflation. Inflation is a big topic right now in the economy, blogosphere, insofar as such a thing exists anymore. So we’re going to talk about inflation. We’re going to talk about a little bit about cars, a lot about food. We’re going to talk about one food in particular, which is Venison. We are going to talk about video games and whether Netflix is going to be able to successfully get into such things. We have a whole Slate plus segment on French pastry Brack’s. Stacey is going to drop some incredible knowledge about almond croissants, which you need to basically subscribe to Slate. Plus for that alone, you can do that for a dollar. It’s awesome. Introductory rates. We love them. All of that and more coming up on Slate Money. So let’s start with inflation, because we now have what the finance folks would call a five handle. Oh, no. If you look at a basket of consumer prices, it turns out that the stuff in that basket is more than five percent more expensive than it was a year ago. And there were lots of caveats and asterisks. We can apply to that number, but it is the highest it’s been in a while, in quite a long time. And it is also higher than most people were expecting. And it has got a lot of people worried. And so we should talk about whether they should be worried or is this merely a temporary blip? And if it is a temporary blip, what does temporary mean? We had a long conversation in the axios slack about the meaning of the word transient or temporary and people no one can seem to understand what that means. Emily, what’s your view?
S3: OK, my view is that everybody needs to calm down. It’s one month. It’s what it’s
S1: been like two or three months
S3: of months. All right, guys, my other May from that. The other thing is that coming out of the pandemic, it’s a very weird time and it continues to be a weird time. We haven’t settled from weird into a new normal yet. I think cars is the best example, right? Used car prices are still really high. And really, I think the pushed up the number that was reported
S1: roughly, yeah, roughly half of the monthly inflation in June was due to cars.
S3: Yeah. So let’s not go crazy and raise interest rates because used cars and regular cars are more expensive because automakers, chip makers, which remember are like the problem here, are going to figure it out at some point. And this isn’t a macroeconomic problem. The fact that the the car supply chain is all messed up, this is because the pandemic happened and automakers didn’t respond in the way that would have made sense only in hindsight, like they didn’t know. Right, that this was going to want to buy lots of stuff with chips.
S1: And that was that. And there was also the fact that there was a massive fire and a chip making factory in Japan. There was actually his favorite ice storm in Texas, which caused a huge problem because these are not high tech chips that were some of the more high tech chips. The vast majority of them are very low tech chips. They’re what’s known as trailing edge chips, which chip manufacturers don’t have a lot of interest in investing a lot of money in manufacturing facilities for 40 nanometer chips, which they’re not even going to be making much of in the future. So there’s a bunch of reasons why the chips shortage is is probably going to be around for a while. My favorite fact I have to drop this in here is that some cars have 1400 separate computer chips in them. It’s not like you build a car and then you plug it in, Chip, and then it works. There were so many, which actually makes sense when you think about it, because, like, if the chip goes Kruijff, which we all have electronics and we know what happens when they go to school,
S3: it’s an English thing. Is that what they say?
S2: Because I use most
S4: because how do you sargassum on that?
S1: If the chip breaks, then like, you know, if it’s a chip that is in charge of the left rear window going up and down, then the worst thing that happens is the left rear window starts going up and down. If it’s one chip governing the entire car, then that’s much more of a problem. So you want lots of chips, but it does make this chip problem more complex, a bit bigger,
S3: although some automakers are now leaving chips out and going back to manual a couple. There’s a few examples that I can’t read and write down
S1: what they are. There’s some auto makers like shipping cars without some of the high tech features, other automakers basically just pushing the few chips they can get into their really high end cars, which means that no one’s making the cheaper cars anymore. There’s a bunch of work arounds. We’re hoping that it will get better in the second half of the year. But according to Volkswagen, it probably won’t.
S3: But the main point is that we shouldn’t freak out about inflation broadly because there’s a problem with cars specifically.
S1: So you said something really interesting earlier. You said we shouldn’t start raising interest rates just because blah, blah, blah. And so I think this is the subtext to the inflation freakout thing. No one is actually saying, oh, my God, inflation is so bad we should hike rates right now. That’s a little bit of a straw man. But it is the reason why people get very upset whenever anyone mentions inflation is because the logical inference of if there’s inflation is, oh, well, in that case, the Fed has to hike rates.
S2: Right. And you can definitely see this sort of in the rhetoric among economists themselves where there’s, oh, God, Larry Summers is going to come out and say something again, Felix his favorite person. But I also think that then extends into in fairness. Some dismissal of the reality of inflation, right? There’s an overcorrection of we don’t want to freak out because then someone at the Fed is going to be like, oh, inflation is a problem for people. But simultaneously, I think we can acknowledge that if you are in the market for a car, your cost of living has significantly increased in the way that it would not have been true if you were trying to do that two years ago.
S3: I would say, though, that not freaking out around inflation is really important because if everyone does start to freak out about inflation, there will be inflation like if everyone’s like, oh my God,
S1: so this is
S3: going up. I got to go buy a car right now because soon they’ll be even more expensive, blah, blah, blah. Then there’s more demand for stuff because people are afraid it’s going to get even more expensive. That’s the way the argument goes.
S1: Right. So there’s two different versions of this argument, right. One is inflation expectations are actually a good thing because they cause people to buy now instead of tomorrow. And if people are front loading their purchases today, that means you get more economic activity today, you get faster GDP growth. Today, you get the opposite of Japan. You get and you get a bunch of people contributing to the economy to the maximum they can. And that’s great for the economy. Right. The flip side of the argument about why inflation expectations are bad is this idea that they become self-fulfilling and everyone’s well, if I’m going to be raising my prices tomorrow, I may as well raise my prices today. And then you wind up getting inflation that is literally caused by inflation expectations. And this is what I call the 1970s argument. Everyone’s like, if we have inflation, we’re going to go back to the 1970s and it’s going to be the 1970s all over again. And for those of you who are bad at math, the 1970s are 50 years ago. We are not in the 1970s. And I’m honestly sick and tired. And I think actually Robin Sloan made this point a few weeks ago. Really? Well, if someone is just using 1970s as a bogeyman, they’re not actually being serious about inflation. And that basically since the early 80s, this kind of self-fulfilling inflation expectations, vicious circle has never been seen in any rich country anywhere on the planet.
S3: All right. Let me give you one more thing to tell me I’m wrong about, which is I was reading a post from an EPA economist and one of the points he made about the 1970s inflation inflationary cycle, blah, blah, blah, was that workers used to have power. They used to see workers used to play a role in inflation because prices will go up and workers with actual power boggles. The mind would be like, give me a raise. Prices are going up and companies would be like, OK, here, you raise them, they raise prices. Then they would ask me. And then that’s what happened. Since then, 50 years ago, as you’ve pointed out, workers have lost all their power workers. Backs have been broken by the Reagans and the WHO. What’s in the Larry Summers? I don’t know. I just like to see him as a bogey man.
S1: But I mean, just really
S3: not Larry Summers, blah, blah, blah. But anyway, workers really don’t have that power anymore. So the true reason for that 70s inflation is like
S1: and when we say workers, we specifically mean unions and we specifically mean unions who are negotiating union contracts on a one year or two year basis, looking forwards and saying, like over the next two years we expect there’s going to be a bunch of inflation. So you need to pay us more money now in order to make up for the fact that there’s going to be inflation in the future. And even if more people are slowly unionizing now and workers have slightly more power now than they did a few months ago, because this worker shortage and so literally, this is not an argument that anyone is making. Exactly.
S2: So let’s not
S3: and I mean are like, are you guys seeing prices go up for things you buy?
S2: One of my favorite examples is like oxtails.
S1: Oh, this is going to be a very heavy show going in here.
S2: So where I grew up, oxtail is it’s a delicious first of all, oxtails, delicious. Second of all, it’s been Colombus. And so a few years ago, you know, the idea of, you know, Caribbean brown, black people are like oxtails. Great. It’s amazing. And then something like food bloggers and Bon Appetit are like, oh, OK, still have you heard Columbus’? It’s the same thing that happened to me when Whole Foods started selling either like, here’s this guy is going to cause you eat 99. You go to the Patel brothers and they’re like, are you out of your mind? So I have been actually actively monitoring the price of oxtail and my own personal like basket of goods. That includes what I would consider to be various types of staples that are cooked by the kinds of people who are not reading Bon Appetit necessarily. And I have definitely noticed, I’d say food price inflation over the past. Whoever is going into the pandemic, certainly, but after and one of the weirder things that I saw in the inflation coverage is that where there’s been the biggest spike in food price inflation is vending machines. Right. That’s the cost of a Snickers bar. And a vending machine is like increased significantly, partly because of supply chain madness, but also a bunch of people going back to offices like restocking and everything else. And so I’m always fascinated. I do think Emily to your point, there are certain things in which the expectations of different kinds of behavior do drive price adjustments. And for me, so, you know, avocados, limes, oxtail or some of my kinds of examples of like where I’m like, no, actually it is true that when more people are like, oh, we should get in on this particular thing because it’s like getting popular.
S1: When the Austin hipsters discover a food, it goes up in price. I mean, yes, I do have to say that we had over the past couple of years major price spikes in both avocados and limes, which then came back down again. So a higher
S2: level than they were before. Right. So they normalized more expensively than previously, whereas lumber’s given up, all the
S1: gains is way back down to like before where it was at the beginning of
S3: food prices are a little higher. There are people for whom that is going to be a really significant thing. But there are ways to ameliorate that, like sending out checks to parents every month or more funding for SNAP, things like that.
S1: Yeah. And again, one of the huge differences between now and the 1970s is that in the 1970s, food expenses were 20 percent of your household budget and now five percent. In general, I can’t afford to buy feed my family thing. Well, it does still exist, is much less prevalent than it was back then. And also food prices. What the government does when it releases inflation statistics is it always has what they call core and headline. And for the core inflation, they strip out food and energy prices, energy being like gasoline and stuff like that, because food and gasoline are, by their nature, just very volatile commodities. And you can’t really extrapolate from whatever’s happened this month to the price of oil.
S2: So as I learned during that same winter storm in February, there are people on Non-fixed Street electricity and gas pricing all over Texas. And so when those prices spiked, people were looking at tens of thousands of dollars in bills. It was Wild’s while
S3: oh, everyone should also listen to this recent episode of the Indicator on Planet Money, where they talk to a lady economist inside the BLS whose job it is to call around to places and find out how much stuff costs. Oh, that was incredible. She called one store, asked about Buttar. They gave her the wrong number. She was like, Are you sure about that? And then the guy had to go check. And he was like, I was wrong about the butter.
S1: But you know what they should do? Add some value to that butter is just melt it, skim off the top and call it GI
S2: and then Whole Foods will sell it to you 899.
S3: Okay, so this is inflation then. We did it.
S1: But we should stick on food, right. Because I have a solution to food price inflation.
S3: Oh Felix. My daughter is really mad at you.
S2: I don’t have a daughter to be mad at you, but I’m sure she would be very.
S1: My solution to food price inflation is very simple. There are too many deer. They are pests. They are rats on legs. We do not like them. They are the deadliest animal in America. So this is the thing. Yeah, exactly. They cause Lyme disease, the deadliest animals in America, even if you don’t include Lyme disease. Oh, just from like car crashes. And we all understand supply and demand here in Slate, many towers. And so what we understand is if you increase the supply of food that is available to people and especially the supply of meat that is available to meet these, then that will decrease the price of it and everyone will be happy and there’ll be deflation rather than inflation. And that’s good because food becomes more affordable. So what we should do is eat the deer.
S3: And what Felix is talking about is eating the deer that roam free through your suburban town. This morning I was I went for a jog and I ran into at least five deer, possibly more. I don’t know if they’re repeats. I thought, should I be out here running with a rifle?
S1: Yes, that would be awesome.
S2: Mark Zuckerberg of you is like you do what you eat.
S3: But there was this whole essay in The Wall Street Journal, right, by a horticultural horticulturalist.
S1: Yeah. Because they’re very bad for the argument.
S3: Well, they’ve taken over the suburbs. There are more deer now than ever before, even at the founding of the nation. Right.
S1: According to this guy. And it’s not just bad for humans, it’s bad for animals. The songbirds. Do we care about songbirds? Songbird We love the songbirds, but they tend to nest on the ground in the brush. But the deer come along and they eat all the brush and then the songbirds can’t nest and they die.
S2: I feel like I’m being radicalized against deer. Like you’re undoing like. Be propaganda
S1: by me is total propaganda,
S3: everyone in the suburbs hate the deer. I was at a party a few years ago and the woman hosting it was just like when I first moved here, I was like, Oh, Bambi. And then after they ate all the flowers in my garden, I was like, How do I kill Bambi?
S1: There’s this person on my Tick-Tock who literally invites deer into his garage and feeds them. And I’m like, You are the Antichrist. What are you doing? No, they are not cute animals. They are terrible pests.
S3: But how do you regulate people just going around shooting deer and eating them? That seems like a recipe for bad vibes.
S1: So this is something that already happens, right? That there is hunting in America. Remember, this is the country of the Second Amendment. Everyone who supports guns, they never say this for killing people. They say that it’s for killing deer and other animals. And so everyone has guns and they’re allowed to use these guns in
S2: New York to
S1: be clear, to kill deer. And there are pretty strict rules about where you can shoot at the time of year. There are very regulated places that will hang them and butcher them and turn them into good meat for you. And this is all like this is a solved problem. The only unsolved bit of the problem is this bizarre rule which exists in the United States and in no other country that I have ever come across in my life, that you can’t sell a game, you can’t sell any meat. You have a shop that has been wild. Wow. So if you order Venison in a restaurant, which is quite easy, it turns out, get this, it is farmed Venison. It is deer that have been raised on like corn in the Midwest somewhere. And you’ll be really to be and like this is pointless. We already have way too many of you. Why don’t we just take the deer that are out there which are genuinely tastier than the farm Venison and eat them instead
S2: till so many things? This reminds me of when I was kind of covering. I was starting to understand how people in Texas were trying to get around like alcohol rules. And one of the things that folks were doing and they were like, the alcohol is free, but this sandwich will cost twenty five. Ninety nine. Could that if you’re technically not selling the Venison, you’re just bundling it with something else that costs money, like would that infringe the spirit of the law.
S1: And I think well I mean this it’s very hard and there are definitely one or two food banks that have managed to work out a deal that if you donate your game to them, that’s OK because you’re not selling it. So there are ways of doing this and providing food to people that, you know, how do you get
S2: those people who what is the, like, big lobby group? Someone has to support to get this.
S1: And it’s it’s Venison farmers of America should rise up against. The real answer is that, you know, bless America for being a federal government like you just have one or two states starting to say, like, OK, if we’re going to allow you to kill it, it’s OK to sell it. And we’re going to loosen up the restrictions on when and where you can kill them. And we’re going to make sure that, you know, if you killed it to sell them and you’re doing it in the right way and you’re making sure that people don’t get some nasty prion disease or whatever else it is that people are worried about, but just normalize Venison because there is not nearly enough of this really delicious, low fat, nutritious, fantastic meat in this country.
S2: OK, I am persuaded I
S3: am curious because I feel like we are on Felix aside about the Venison. I wonder what if listeners will write us and tell us why we’re wrong. Yeah, I
S2: love to be told why we’re wrong.
S1: So as the person as the person who has
S3: no personal stake,
S1: as the person who wrote this article for Axios dot com, I can tell you that I got pushed back along a lot of different lines, one of which was prion disease, another one of which was this is my favorite one. You say the deer deadly because they caused a lot of car crashes. But really, it’s not the deer, it’s the cars. So I
S4: mean. I mean, of course.
S2: Yeah, if fine. Take them both away, which is more bicycle’s.
S3: Here’s our creepy to again, a running story, but like recently was running in the heat and was so hot and I was very unhappy and I looked over and there was just a deer in the woods staring at me. They do. And I felt like I was going so slow in slow motion and it was all hot and hazy and was like your eyes staring at me. It was I
S1: went I went snowshoeing over the summer and I was just trudging along the path. And there was this deer just smack dab in front of me on the path. And I was trudging along towards this. Yeah. And he would just look at me and not move. It was creepy as fuck. Seriously.
S3: Super creepy. Yeah. OK, I’m really
S2: sorry about and as my shirtless that’s currently like pigeons and rats so but I mean I’m not eating pigeons or rats but I will consider Venison.
S3: Yes. Do not come back here next week and make the case for.
S1: What do you remember that guy who was running around Trafalgar Square with a big cardboard box and like scooping up all the pigeons and then selling them to Greek restaurants?
S3: What I do not remember,
S4: this is a horrifying story.
S2: I’m not going to look this up. I would prefer to believe that this is not true. Move on.
S1: What are we moving on to
S3: talk about games and Netflix?
S2: Oh, the moment I’ve been waiting for this entire.
S1: OK, Stacey, what is Netflix doing?
S2: Among as many things as Netflix is doing is they are getting into video games. I want to just remind our audience that a couple of years ago, Reed Hastings made headlines because he said that Netflix, his biggest competitor, is Fortnights, which was at the time one of the most popular video games in the world, still makes a bunch of money for all involved. If you play fortnights, if you don’t play fortnights, you’ve probably seen it. It’s like really infiltrated popular culture in interesting ways. And this is coming at a time when various of the other major platforms have also been trying to figure out video games. So you have Stadio from Google, you have Apple Arcade from Apple. Amazon’s foray into video games is less successful, shall we say, on Twitter, as they do on Twitch, which and that’s definitely part of, I think, the video games content ecosystem in the same way that folks are very interested in Dischord, which was like it started off Aslak for video games. So there’s a lot about this in terms of stickiness. That makes a lot of sense for Netflix. Right. Because people who play video games, which spoiler alert very many of them are women and women, are the ones who believe who spend more money on video games, particularly mobile games, across a range of different categories. But once you sort of get into video games you like, it gets into other parts of your life. Right. And I think for Netflix being like, oh, we were actually competing with how you spend your evenings or how you spend your time on your phone. So we’re still going to get your money for Netflix. We’re just going to give you another thing that you were looking to do that you were looking to a substitute to do previously.
S1: So the big question I have here is around the fact that. Netflix is an app in the Apple App Store. Hmm, and Apple is famously very strict about video games and it says if you want us to approve a video game, you need to submit that video game as its own app. And then we will say yes or no. And what you cannot do is just give us a platform and just say,
S2: yes, you can have a minigames app store.
S1: You cannot have a minigames app store within the app. And it’s Netflix. If we take this at face value, not basically becoming a little mini games, App Store is going to be running its own games within the Netflix app, which is totally against the Apple rules.
S2: There are various possible permutations to get around this. So, for example, they could have a system in which they make those games available as what are called individual binaries on the App Store. But you log in to them with your Netflix account, for example. Right. So it’s sort of like this idea of a distributed delivery mechanism which would still then conform to the letter, if not necessarily the spirit of the guidelines. They may argue, for example, that they’re only going to make those games available on certain platforms, like there is a tremendous number of people who play games on desktop, which will be, you know, there are fewer people who download apps on desktop through the Mac App Store and Mac. And then, of course, you have the entire universe of PC gaming, which is really dominated by steam. So I think that if I were them, if I were somebody that’s like trying to figure this out, I would absolutely be looking at do we want to make this a big screen play? Right. And Netflix has for years been about the idea of the living room, about really being like the destination for when you want the bigger screen to really enjoy something, or might they look into ways to say, OK, it’s going to be a little bit more fiddly for you as a consumer, but you will still be able to like through your Netflix subscription, access this potential library of games.
S1: So when Reed Hastings talks about Netflix and competing with fortnight, the reason why the very big reason why front line was so dominant and successful was precisely because it is completely intolerable. It works on desktop, it works on phones, it works on TV, theoretically interoperable.
S2: The experience is very different. The experience is different.
S1: The experience is very, very different across platforms. But the fact is that people use it on all those different platforms and they prefer to use it on one particular type of platform, even though like that one platform will change from person to person. And it does mean that if you are talking to your friends because it’s a social network and it’s all about talking to your friends, that you can be on one kind of device, they can be on another kind of device. You don’t all need the same hardware to be able to play this game together. And Netflix, too, is an app that lives on every single kind of device. And it makes all the sense in the world to me. And it’s increasingly social and it makes all the sense in the world to me that if Netflix goes down this route, then they’re going to want people to be able to play games together across different devices. So even if the value proposition is big screen things that you play on the TV in your living room, like they’re going to want that to work on an iPhone, too.
S3: I think this is just a really smart move by Netflix, if they can pull it off, because Reed Hastings, in addition to saying Netflix biggest competitor is for tonight, has also said its biggest competitor is sleep. In other words, like they just think they want your attention all the time, like when you are awake. And video games definitely take up a lot of people’s time. It is a big a big competitor. And unlike a TV show that Netflix has to spend a bunch of money on, like your binge, the TV show, and it’s over like in a maybe a week for some of us. But a game, you know, you can you can play for a long time. You can get really up to ladybirds.
S2: Right. So there are and this is, again, Felix kind of elaborating on your point. Certain types of games are designed for certain types of experiences. And a lot of the games that are what was traditionally kind of described as like either desktop centric or console centric are going to take over your life. Right. You know, you’re looking at hundreds to thousands of hours. Some of them are open world. There’s a lot of variability and permutations. And for a long time, the games that were on mobile were really thought as like kind of more standalone. There’s this feeling that they need to be finite. That’s less and less true, especially in certain categories of games. But again, depending on if Netflix is like, hey, this can be something that you do for half an hour while talking to your friends, that is one approach versus we’re going to try to compete with Breath of the Wild, too. Although none of your friends we’ve seen for
S3: weeks, like The New York Times, you probably don’t think of them as a gaming company, per say. But I swear I log on to The New York Times every day to play Spelling Bee, and they do that. They have all these new they just waiting
S2: for games like. Yeah, it’s
S1: also but also everything is a game right now, you know. I mean, Duolingo is a game.
S2: It’s classified. It’s not a game. Yes. No, absolutely not.
S3: But I think as more media companies, whether it’s Netflix or The New York Times, they’re all competing for your attention when you’re not sleeping. And they’re going to have to do stuff like give you a game. So if you get bored of. The TV show, if you get bored of the articles, you can play a game or something like it just makes sense.
S1: So I agree that the strategy is logical. I’m just going to take the under on this, actually.
S2: This is hard to do.
S1: I think they are going to try and I think they are going to fail.
S2: I mean, from the licensing, the IP, the development timelines, if you are actually going to say, hey, this has to be somebody has to be able to play this on iOS and Android and desktop and TV like there is.
S1: And is is Nintendo going to allow Netflix to go onto the PlayStation?
S2: Many PlayStation, Sony
S4: Felix, Hyman, Nintendo physically console. I’m sure I would like to control what’s on the PlayStation
S2: in principle. Sure. So, yeah, how they will proceed with this is going to be like there’s a whole bunch of devil and a whole bunch of details. So but it is ambitious and it will be interesting.
S3: One thing I don’t understand, they keep saying Netflix has hired someone from Facebook to head up gaming. And I’m like, why is that exciting? Facebook, what they do Farmville like
S2: Facebook didn’t do Farmville. They bought it so well, they made a big deal.
S1: That was true with the rise and fall of Zynga.
S2: Zynga was the company that figured out that you would pay in your and your friend’s attention for non conceivable items in a game. And that mechanic is really at the heart of a lot of games now where it’s like a fortnight, including fortnights. Right. It’s like, oh, you want this really cool emotes or you want this bunny costume. You can pay us real money or you can unlock it through other sort of social mechanisms. And that’s why I do things like the social element of this is interesting. You know, like Netflix has mostly allowed third parties to solve the problem of how do I watch a show with my friends? So this may also be a way to try to figure out, like, how to own the do something with my friend’s experience and then apply that to other parts of the business.
S1: Quick prediction here is, as I say, I’m pessimistic. I don’t think it’s going to succeed in games. I don’t think it’s going to succeed in becoming a social network. Stacy-Marie slightly more optimistic with me.
S2: Not about video games, no video games, a hard sell.
S1: Do you think Netflix will ever be a social network?
S2: I hope to God not like I just want to be able to do things without other people.
S4: So Emily I don’t know.
S3: I am off predictions. So I would like to sidestep this question. I think Netflix is a very successful company that’s proven to do things that a lot of people said they couldn’t or wouldn’t do. So I have high expectations. I think they could do it. Sure. Do you play games? Felix. That’s what we want to know. That’s really what we want.
S2: I so Lingoa is not
S1: there is there is an amazing game developer who we ought to have on this show one day called Zach Gage. You’ve the smartest people I know, Mr. Solitaire. He has a game, let me call it up on my phone because I can never remember which it’s called Pocket Run Pool. I love that one. I play that one. There’s another game, which is a million years old called Strategic, which I play on my phone. If that little thing for I like it just, by the way, a few minutes. But yeah, I feel like in terms of the sort of quick dopamine hit that I get from going up those games and playing them for one minute is basically the same as the quick dopamine I get from opening tick tock. You know, I feel like they’re not as far away as Stacy would like to know.
S2: I actually think the dopamine is identical. But you said, tick tock, I’m not Duolingo is OK.
S1: It’s tick tock again.
S2: Oh, tick tock has again, like many social networks, gamification elements. Right. So there are loops. Right. We’re going to we’re going to get you into this. There are rewards, whether you are a streamer or a participant, you know, they attempt to kind of incentivize you with like here are ways you can customize your experience. So a lot of I remember I think it was at one of those times when everybody’s trying to make both QR codes and gamification happen in New York. And like the early 2000s, that very specific window. And I remember like listening to all these people talking about how gamification is the future of technology, and it was immediately apparent, like how you would use that shit for evil. Right? Because the thing that video games have figured out is how to keep your attention on a completely fantastical, zero stakes set of tasks to such an extent that you are willing to pay real world money to better achieve those tasks for absolutely meaningless awards and streaks and other things like that. And so I do think that things like Tick-Tock, when we talk about algorithms or machine learning, I think we underestimate how many of those dynamics are pulled directly from what video games figured out how to do
S1: the seven numbers around. What’s the number?
S2: My number is nine hundred and twenty six thousand.
S3: Solid. Good. No, it’s how many French people.
S2: Booked their first dose of the vaccine within a day of being told that they would not be allowed to go to cafes, bars, shelves unless they were vaccinated, and hundreds of thousands of people immediately were like, excuse me, pardon, and went and took their vaccines. And one of the things I keep thinking about is we’re living through a nightmare set of social experiments about nudges and what people will respond to in terms of public health campaigns. And so it seems like telling people who have a very strong cafe culture that they can’t go to cafes is even more effective than like a lottery or a Molli million prize or anything that the US has tried so far to get folks vaccinated.
S3: What is the U.S. equivalent of the cafe? It’s not the cafe.
S1: One of the things that I take great heart in here is that it disproves what I was worried about in the early days of the pandemic, long before we actually had vaccines, which was this question of people just lying. If you’re French and you go up to a cafe and you want your Hyman Chocola, which we all talk about in slimness, then you have two choices at this point. Either you make sure you’re vaccinated or you just lie and say that you’re vaccinated. And one of the interesting things that I have been quite heartened by is that unvaccinated people, the overwhelming majority of them, do not want to lie and won’t lie and they won’t go in somewhere where they’re not allowed or if they’re told, 8:00 a.m. wearing masks and people being honest about it. And given the choice between lying and getting the vaccine, they don’t get the vaccine.
S3: Yeah, that is heartening.
S1: I guess my number is eleven point seven million dollars, OK, which is the average price for a single family home in Palm Beach in the second quarter.
S4: Oh, what’s
S1: up? You say there’s no inflation.
S2: I super did not say that, but
S3: usually what was it? Wow. How much increase. What are we talking about?
S1: I mean, yeah, this is a single family homes. Right? So it was definitely I mean, OK, it was probably an unreasonable question. I don’t have a year on year inflation percentage wise, but yeah, the Palm Beach is going crazy right now. There’s a lot of hedge fund types who don’t want to pay tax and they want to live somewhere expensive. And I
S3: almost forgot.
S1: I honestly do not understand the attraction of Palm Beach, but apparently there are only twenty five homes for sale in all of Palm Beach right now. So yeah.
S3: Oh, my feet are up everywhere. 14 percent.
S1: My favorite one my favorite Palm Beach home was this guy, you know, the Toll Brothers who build houses. One of the biggest one of the Toll Brothers bought a little sort of manmade private island in Palm Beach, just over two acres. And he paid, I think, seven dollars million for it. And it came with this twelve and a half thousand square foot house with a swimming pool. And it has its own pier for your yacht and all of that stuff right on most. And he just sold it to a developer on spec who bought it for eighty million dollars. And who has this plan that because clearly twelve and a half thousand square feet isn’t big enough. He’s turning he’s turning the twelve and a half thousand square foot house into like one wing of a much bigger house. He’s adding a second swimming pool.
S2: You need exactly like if you have to sort of drive from one to another.
S1: The house comes with this. He comes with its own Segway. So you can get around
S2: perhaps if one is into roller blading, I don’t know. That could be fun.
S1: But, yeah, Palm Beach Property Man is going crazy right now.
S3: That’s disappointing because I was very seriously considering
S1: if you don’t if you don’t have 11 million dollars,
S2: you should have bought it two years ago.
S1: Yeah. Emily hosken no.
S3: Well, apparently I have a new beat. You’ll see what I mean a second. My number is one hundred and fifty
S1: eight beats per minute.
S3: No my new beat my friends bowling balls. There are one hundred and fifty eight bowling balls found underneath the staircase out David Olsen’s house in the small Michigan town. The small Michigan town was home to a bowling ball plant and it operated there for one hundred years, 1996 to 2006, the Muskegon Bowling Ball plant. And I don’t know why, but this guy’s house underneath the foundation, there were all these bowling balls. He put a video of it on Facebook and it’s pretty incredible. There’s a shot of him with his baby and all these bowling balls. Some are blue, most are black, some have no finger holes.
S2: OK, weirder and weirder are the cannonball,
S3: their bowling balls. From the plant, I don’t know, and he’s not going to get rid of them, he said in the Facebook video and in the news report, he’s going to use the balls,
S1: the bowling balls for good. Is he going to put them to a good cause?
S3: Yes, he’s they’re going to be decoration and his garden because we know he cannot send them to recycling plant, as I have already reported on state money. And that’s been Emily Peck
S2: bowling ball up here for it. Yes, we got brilliant.
S1: Absolutely brilliant.
S2: I have learned so much more about bowling balls than I ever thought I would need to know in my life. We should probably
S3: go bowling next.
S2: I’m terrible at
S3: bowling. No, I’m bad too.
S1: It’s just this is something which gets better if you’re good at it.
S3: Yeah, because everything’s better when you’re good at it.
S1: I’m not sure that’s true. Really.
S3: That’s probably true. Well, doing dishes I guess doesn’t really get better.
S1: I’m glad your mind went straight to big business.
S3: I was just trying to think of things that I like. I don’t like that much doing.
S1: I feel like doing things badly can be a lot of fun.
S3: I don’t think that’s true.
S4: Oh, yeah. All right. So what do we do? So.
S1: So wait. So first of all, I need to ask all of you lovely sleep money listeners to please write in to sleep money. It’s like they’ll come with examples of things which are more fun if you’re bad at them than they are good at. Fantastic. And I need to thank you all for the emails and the ratings and everything. It’s wonderful that you’re still listening to this show after how many years we are very thankful and that you’re subscribing to Slate plus where we are going to talk more about weird foods. We’re going to talk about the power of chocolate and rotisserie chickens. All of that’s coming up.
S3: Those are delicious things.
S1: They are delicious things. And I need to just give a big thanks to Jun Thomas, who opened up the Slate offices in Brooklyn, New York. And we are all together in person and it feels fantastic. And we are sounding good this
S2: week because these mikes are awesome.
S1: It’s all thanks to the amazing Jean Thomas. Thank you. And yeah, and thanks to Jessamine Molli for turning this whole show into some vaguely coherent show. So we will be back on Tuesday with another slate. Money goes to the movies this week. It’s going to be a parasite. We have Doti Stuart from the Times talking about parasites. I shout out to Doda, we love her. She’s our favorite person here. We’ll be back with a regular slate next September. So sleepless, folks, we love you, and because we love you, Stacy-Marie Ishmael is going to give you the dirty secret of almond croissants that you did not know.
S2: Yes, well, so our prisons, which are objectively delicious, are a way to take the old croissants and sell them to you again, because the trick is you take questions that have been out for 24 hours or the ones that didn’t sell in the bakery the night before. You glaze them in a lovely, like layer of sugary goodness. You apply the thinly sliced almonds on top of that glaze and you put them in your display case. And someone comes in is like, oh, those old fantastic.
S3: Always true. This is blowing my mind.
S2: Some people will make them fresh. But one eye, because this is the sort of thing I did was in France. I taste Usted
S1: and they’re better. They realise
S2: they are better if they already are old. But yes, it’s kind of one of those examples of it’s a food that exists to avoid waste.
S3: Like French toast.
S2: I guess so, yeah.
S1: Fried rice.
S3: Oh yes.
S2: One must use the old you have
S1: to use daily basis.
S2: This is not even negotiable. If you are making fried rice with rice that you just cooked, you are doing it wrong.
S1: Croutons you need be for that. Yeah. OK. And and rotisserie chickens if you go to not
S2: do that
S3: is right. I don’t think that’s true
S1: that this is, this is. Have you ever wondered you may or may not have won the dish and you go to the supermarket and you see the fresh chicken sitting in their plastic bags and costing like twenty bucks and then there’s the same size chicken cooked for you
S2: for 499 at Costco,
S1: which is for nine tonight. And they are generally cheaper than the fresh ones. How is it possible the chicken plus cooking winds up at a lower price than just the chicken without being cooked? And the answer is that the chicken, when it’s getting to the end of its shelf life, they don’t know what else to do with it. They cook it and that extends the shelf life and they can sell it.
S3: I’ve also thought about this, though, and I’m not saying what you’re saying isn’t true, but I’m also saying that the really expensive chickens that you could buy raw in the supermarket are usually like twice the size of the rotisserie chicken, which may be why it’s more expensive, because of how it’s bigger is also a factor. And also, I’ve read that Costco under charges for the chicken because everyone loves it. It’s kind of like a lot cleaner.
S1: So I thought that was the hot dog.
S3: Also a loss leader, apparently.
S2: The Chicago no, it’s the Home Depot hot dogs in Chicago that are elite, like hogs. Supposedly. It’s like a thing.
S3: Whatever is a hot dog, a sausage
S1: or is it a taco?
S3: I’m sorry, but I don’t know what this is about.
S2: I don’t have a lot of concerns about. But Costco has, despite rising food prices, committed to keeping rotisserie chicken at four ninety nine.
S1: I will also say in the contract inflation, unless there was a big article in Bloomberg about fresh direct, which has been losing a lot of market share to insta cut in New York City, and they were like, the way that we are going to compete with this guy, it’s by lowering prices. And I think that makes sense. It’s not like everyone is raising raising prices. Some people are lowering prices.
S2: If you are the kind of consumer that can afford to use instruments and fresh direct, this is a boon for you.
S3: Yeah, that’s that was my question. Ask if you’re ordering fresh, direct or in cart and you live in like Manhattan, you’re probably not that price sensitive, like to the eggs being fifty cents cheaper.
S1: It is. It is actually interesting to me how price sensitive rich people can be. More there is like wanting to save money is a necessity if you don’t have money. But it’s something that basically everyone likes to do, even if they do have money,
S3: unless it’s buying a house.
S2: And because then you flip it for 80 million, it’s still exactly an investment property.
S1: Yeah, that’s a liability. It’s an asset.
S3: I guess it does feel good to save money, no matter how ridiculous and how you’ve been conned into thinking you’re saving money like the voucher I got for the hundred dollars for a wine club that you have to spend sixty dollars to get the hundred dollars. That really makes sense since probably only sixty dollars worth of wine anyway. And they’re just
S2: marketing is incredible. This did made me think of that Arrested Development scatch, which is like how much could a banana cost. What is it like. So I think the president’s deputy only goes so far.
S3: It’s bananas are really cheap and also chocolate croissants are not chocolate croissants.
S2: OK, so a croissant is defined by a shape. The shape is a crescent. There’s also a certain kind of do. This receives a Penneshaw galore is a panel chocolate and a chocolate. Cozzens would be a thing that’s shaped like a croissant with chocolate. Those things do. Exist, they do
S3: they do sound
S2: they’re they’re they’re the chocolate will be on top sometimes it’ll be stuffed just to throw an additional Venison. There are parts of France that called Chocolate Tin, and they used to be different things, but they’re pretty much now converged into one type of history.
S1: You see, this is why you subscribe to Slate. Plus Stacy-Marie Ishmael will drop knowledge, French, French pastries. Thank you. Thank you for listening.
S2: Thank you for subscribing slate plus your.