1/1/21 Power Five

1. The Economics of Christmas Trees – “A Christmas tree begins its life as a seedling, which is typically purchased from a timber firm like Wayerhauser for $0.50 to $1. When the tree is around 2 years old, it graduates from the nursery to the “big leagues” and gets its own 6’x6’ plot of land out in the field. Most Christmas tree farmers aim to plant ~1.2k trees per acre of land. What makes a Christmas tree an unusual crop is its extremely long production cycle: one tree takes 8-10 years to mature to 6 feet…But even if all goes well, Christmas tree farmers still have to forecast what the market is going to look like 10 years out: Planting too many trees could flood the market; planting too few could cause a shortage.

2. 64 Reasons to Celebrate Paul McCartney – “Perhaps this is a good moment to take a step back, the better to observe something astonishing: Paul McCartney has been writing and performing music more or less continuously since 1956. That’s sixty-four years. For the best part of a century, he has been creating songs that people sing in the shower and belt out in the car; songs to which people dance, run, cook, kiss and get married; songs we sing in crowds; songs we get stoned to; songs we sing with our kids; songs that wrap themselves around us when we’re down; songs that fill us to the brim with joy. His finest work is undoubtedly frontloaded by the miraculous accident of The Beatles, but there are gems scattered throughout his career, right up to the present day. For sheer fecundity, I can’t, with the exception of Bob Dylan, think of any other songwriter who comes close. There are very few artists in history, in any field, who have produced so much work at a high level over such a span.

3. Red State Rebellion – Utahns voted to expand Medicaid, allow medical marijuana, and create a non-partisan redistricting committee…the Legislature had different ideas.

4. Where Year Two of the Pandemic Will Take Us – “In December, an average of 2,379 Americans have died every day of COVID-19—comparable to the 2,403 who died in Pearl Harbor and the 2,977 who died in the 9/11 attacks. The virus now has so much momentum that more infection and death are inevitable as the second full year of the pandemic begins. “There will be a whole lot of pain in the first quarter” of 2021, Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told me.”

5. The Case of the NBA’s Most Stolen Play – “The play at the center of this global heist involves all five players on the court and utilizes four deceptive elements that unfold with precise timing. It packs touch, skill, acting, salesmanship and trust into a few seconds.”