Things we are reading today- February 27, 2023 - Family businesses, job scams on linked in, Netherlands nitrogen problem, climate friendly fuel, annoying wellness tech and more

Family businesses that once ruled India are withering away

The family businesses that dominated India have withered away. Eg Ruias of Essar etc. The dominant group now is what the author calls the “New Capitalists,” which are business groups or firms that have emerged since the 1980s. The dominant new capitalists are considered to be supporters of PM Modi with political funding mobilized through electoral bonds (1.34 billion usd since march 2018).

Crony capitalism needs to be grasped in a deeper sense to reflect not the odd favors bestowed on this or that industrialist by the government of the day, but the system that cemented the ties between state and capital. This piece has an interesting take on crony capitalism.

IBC and centralisation of capital: Under the IBC, companies bid for other companies that have declared bankruptcy. The key point to note about these bids is that they are a powerful means of centralizing capital since the strongest bids come from rivals within the industry who have the deepest pockets. Eg Arcellor Mittal and Essar steel.

Voice ID is not that secure

Banks in the U.S. and Europe use voice ID as a secure way to log into your account. This guy proved it’s possible to trick such systems with free or cheap AI-generated voices.

Jobseekers beware

Job seekers on Linkedin are being defrauded out of money after taking part in fake recruitment processes set up by scammers who pose as employers, before obtaining personal and financial information.

Netherlands nitrogen problem

The Netherlands can no longer build urgently needed infrastructure without cutting nitrogen emissions elsewhere, notably in the agriculture sector.

The Netherlands has pledged to halve its nitrogen emissions by 2030. Agriculture accounts for 46% of the country’s output of the potent greenhouse gas. It is also the world’s second-largest agricultural exporter by value after the US.

It is trying to convince farmers to reduce livestock herds or leave the industry to cut emissions. That’s not working out well. Angry farmers, worried about their livelihoods, have staged multiple protests.

Rural folks believe politicians are damaging their economic prospects and wiping out a centuries-old way of life that they do not understand.

Beyond meat

This article talks about Beyond Meat. An artificial meat producer. It was hoping to entice carbon-conscious carnivores with the plant based meat, creating a massive new market in the process. Of course, it failed spectacularly.

In spite of this Beyond Meat expects to turn cash flow positive in the second half of 2023.

Climate friendly but carcinogenic fuel

The US Environmental Regulator recently allowed the creation of fuel from discarded plastics to boost alternatives to petroleum. But, the production of one of the fuels could emit air pollution that is so toxic, 1 out of 4 people exposed to it over a lifetime could get cancer.

Perils of ultra processed food

Nutrition science focuses on nutrients. Eat less saturated fat, avoid excess sugar, get enough vitamin C, and so on. This article looks at a new way of categorizing food that emphasized how products were made, not just what was in them.

It’s not just ingredients that make food unhealthy. It is the whole system: how the food is processed, how quickly we eat it and the way it is sold and marketed.

Avoid ultra processed food.

The new fat loss wonder drug

Semaglutide, sold under the brand names Ozempic, Wegovy and Rybelsus, is an anti diabetic medication used for the treatment of type 2 diabetes and as anti-obesity medication for long-term weight management.

It costs about 1000 usd a week and is in short supply. The problem for diabetics is exacerbated by the fact that it has now become a wonder drug for fat loss thus creating an even more acute shortage.

Wellness tech is getting annoying

Do fitness trackers and ever expanding gadgets and associated apps and notifications bother you? You’re Not alone. It can get really annoying.

There are many flaws with how we have gamified health. Apart from super users (people already highly motivated towards improving their health) most people are suffering from wellness tech fatigue.

But the market for wellness products seems to be growing. Hopefully we will see better devices and better systems around them which annoy us less and are more suitable to our needs. The next iteration of wellness tech will need to be more thoughtful, less disruptive, and better individualized, but without too much tweaking input.

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