Weekly reading – 28th May 2022

Business

Apple Looks to Boost Production Outside China. It’s good for Apple to at least consider operations in other countries to hedge risks. However, it’s not easy to move out of China completely. The book “After Steve” mentioned an episode in which Apple practically had to beg Foxconn to help stand up an assembly line for Apple Watch (I am not 100% about the product in question) overnight because the other chosen supplier screwed up. Foxconn had the resources to do wonders. Replicating such expertise and capabilities in other countries will be very time-consuming and difficult. Plus, doing business in China certainly helps Apple cultivate a relationship with the government. In such a regime, that’s critical.

Cannes: How Japanese Anime Became the World’s Most Bankable Genre. Japanese Anime has incredible IPs. Streaming introduces viewers to content that they had never seen before. Even in my 30s, I am still following some of the anime franchises that I read as a kid. I’d love to explore more if I had the time. It’s not just for kids. Adults love anime too

It’s TikTok’s World Now. Facebook Just Tries to Make People Care About It. The biggest takeaway I have from this piece is that Facebook seems to have trouble dethroning TikTok more than it did any challengers before. Creators still make money on Instagram, but that doesn’t seem to stop TikTok from growing. Interestingly, Facebook had a chance to buy TikTok years ago, but passed. Now, they must rue that decision every day.

Plant-Based Dairy Reinvigorates Milk Category. I do think the popularity of plant-based dairy results from the fact that consumers are more health-conscious. Have you looked at the difference in calorie per serving between meat-based and plant-based milk?

50 years in: Nike’s game plan for winning with women. For obvious reasons, I don’t know anything about women clothing, but it is interesting to read about Nike’s approach to winning this category. Unless there are specific reasons, I naturally support a simple product portfolio. Consumers don’t get confused. Brands can put more marketing dollars and focus behind each product.

Google Takes Yet Another Run at E-Commerce—and Amazon. A super interesting read on Google’s latest efforts into e-Commerce. Based on the article, this time, Google may be onto something. Consumers start to use Google to search for products more than previously, a territory that used to belong to Amazon. E-commerce was also a leading contributor to the bump in search revenue in 2021. With that being said, 2020 and 2021 were great for e-Commerce, but since the economy opened up and folks went back to stores and office, e-Commerce has seen its growth dampened. Whether this trend will affect Google’s effects in the future remains to be seen

Other stuff I find interesting

The Trouble With Lithium. This grim ripping read on Lithium is in line with what I read so far about the element. Demand far outweighs supply, pushing the price to unprecedented heights. The trend will persist for a few years to come. For good measure, even though extracting and producing Lithium have adverse impact on the environment, there doesn’t seem to be an alternative on the horizon.

The butterflies we may never see again in Britain. Super beautiful

The Science Is Clear: Gun Control Saves Lives. For the life of me, I don’t understand how an 18-year-old who cannot get a beer from a bar legally can buy an automatic weapon and shoot dead 19 people. It’s just insane. Take driving as an example. Try driving after either 3 beers or 2 Old Fashioneds and see if you get a DUI. We ban people who consume alcohol from driving, but we close our eyes at folks who may have malicious intent and try to get a weapon. How does that make sense? Look up how Japan regulates gun possession and usage. Then compare the deaths in mass shootings between the two countries. To be perfectly clear, nobody is arguing to take away the right to bear arms. Just like nobody wants to take away the right to drive. We just want access to fire arms to be regulated and controlled so that the tragedies stop. And I read the 2nd Amendment. I don’t think the proponents of the Amendment understand it well…

Stats

Domestic air fares in April 2022 were up 27% compared to April 2019 and 8% month over month

US online grocery sales in April 2022 declined by 4% year over year

45% of devs that earned more than $1 mil in 2021 were not on the App Store or had less than $10,000 in earnings five years before

US Hotel room rates in April and first two weeks of May 2022 were 10-14% higher than the same period in 2019

Source: STR

Do you want to live in a society like that?

I never drove before in my life. Since I have been taking lessons with an instructor and some of my friends who are experienced drivers, I really appreciate knowing the signs, the rules and nuances in driving. Otherwise, the consequence could be very expensive financially and potentially fatal.

Imagine a society where anyone above 18 could drive outside without taking any class or license. Everyone could just drive outside with a state ID to prove that they are 18 or older. Even those whose track record is blemished with DUI or multiple accidents due to reckless accidents are allowed to drive. Would you want to drive or even live in that society? Would you feel safe? Would you want your kids to live in that world? Luckily, we live in a world where everyone needs a license to operate a vehicle. The bigger and more powerful vehicle, the higher license is required. We don’t take away vehicles. We just require everyone to prove that they are capable of operating the vehicles safely.

Well, replace cars in the example above with guns and you pretty much get something very similar to the US nowadays. This weekend saw another mass shooting in Texas that killed 8 people. The shooter used a military grade weapon and didn’t pass the background check. How does it make any sense that this kind of horrifying tragedies keeps happening and worse, at an alarmingly fast rate? If we require everyone to prove they can operate a car safely and take away that privilege if they have a DUI or a terrible record, why aren’t we doing the same for guns?

Gun lovers argue that background checks or measures to ensure guns don’t fall into the wrong hands will take away their guns and freedom. As mentioned above, a driving license doesn’t take away any car. Why would it be different in the case of guns? Because cars are a necessity in our life and still require driving licenses, why would it be easier to own an unnecessary material such as guns?

New York Times has an excellent article explaining steps taken to own a gun in different countries. Here is how it looks between the US and Japan. Take a look and see if you can spot a difference.

United States 

1-Pass an instant background check that considers criminal convictions, domestic violence and immigration status. 

2-Buy a gun.

 Japan 

1-Take a firearm class and pass a written exam, which is held up to three times a year. 

2-Get a doctor’s note saying you are mentally fit and do not have a history of drug abuse. 

3-Apply for a permit to take firing training, which may take up to a month. 

4-Describe in a police interview why you need a gun. 

5-Pass a review of your criminal history, gun possession record, employment, involvement with organized crime groups, personal debt and relationships with friends, family and neighbors. 

6-Apply for a gunpowder permit. 

7-Take a one-day training class and pass a firing test. 

8-Obtain a certificate from a gun dealer describing the gun you want. 

9-If you want a gun for hunting, apply for a hunting license. 

10-Buy a gun safe and an ammunition locker that meet safety regulations. 

11-Allow the police to inspect your gun storage. 

12-Pass an additional background review. 

13-Buy a gun.

Results?

Source: NPR

It is absolutely mind-blowing that we still let this happen and that nothing has been done

Facing threats and uncertainty in America as an immigrant

The last weekend was a horrific one. Two consecutive mass shootings took place, killing 30 people in total and injuring many more. They are not the first mass shootings in the US this year. Heck, they are not even among the first 100. What’s even scarier is the rhetoric and motivation behind the atrocious actions by the shooters. The anti-immigrant stance.

As an immigrant living in this country, the threat of getting killed suddenly by some random person on the streets has never truly left my mind. I never felt that way in Vietnam, Finland or Canada, even though people do own guns in the latter. In the US, I strive to stay away from states where mass shootings take place more often than others such as Texas, Florida and Virginia. One time, there was a shooting downtown Omaha, 5 blocks away from where I live. It’s truly mentally unraveling to think that one day, you may die through no fault of your own. Personal safety is one of the most fundamental needs of humans. We use a product or service because first of all, we feel safe with it to some extent. We travel to a country because we feel safe to some extent. If we don’t even feel safe, how can we truly be 100% productive and happy?

I honestly don’t think I need to spell it out, but here we are. As an immigrant, I experienced first hand how horrible the bureaucracy is and how difficult it is to find a good-paying job in America. Immigrants don’t start from the same level as Americans. We don’t speak English as the first language. We come with the baggage of visa and sponsorships which can deter employers. We don’t know fully the culture here. To just even have a shot, we need to abide by the rules and avoid as much as possible any legal trouble. One felony or DUI can significantly sink any chance of getting paperwork or jobs. I believe that any immigrant who wishes to stay here and build a career doesn’t want to break the laws. We just want to get on with our lives and be left alone. Yet, the anti-immigrant rhetoric doesn’t seem to abate. It has gotten worse and worse. The policies have become more unfriendly.

Despite all these, we still come here to study and work. We find full-time jobs, work and pay taxes. Some work low-paying jobs that not every American agrees to do. This begs the question: what have we done wrong?

The sad thing is that in spite of all technological advances, the hope that this situation, whether it is immigration or just gun control, will be fixed is very slim in my opinion. The divisiveness and partisanship in the government will stop anything from happening. Everyone in the public shows no signs of discussing a solution. No matter how much logic is put forward, there are always denial, attacks and steering the conversation to another direction. I tried to reason with a few individuals I knew with different opinions than mine on the gun control issue. I stopped trying. And I know that feeling is not exclusive to me. But when we stop trying, the only way ahead is downhill.