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Hi Friends,

Memorial Day Weekend.  Summer has officially begun, although with the rain in New York it doesn't feel that way. 

Today's Contents:

  • Weekly Song: Praise The Lord And Pass The Ammunition 
  • Two Thoughts
  • Good Reads
  • Community Corner

Weekly Song: Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition

As you know, I take user feedback and recommendations from DS community members.  My grandfather has long been agitating that songs classified as 'oldies' still didn't register as anything he recognized from his youth.  So, I asked for a few suggestions. Of course, I didn't recognize any of them. 

However, given that it's Memorial Day Weekend in the U.S., a day dedicated to celebrating fallen men and women of the US military, Praise the Lord And Pass the Ammunition seems appropriate.  It's catchy song!  I suppose if you were a young boy, it would be a strong expression of a time that shaped your worldview.

The songs origins are from the attack on Pearl Harbor, which brought the United States into WWII. The story goes like this:

Lieutenant Edwin F. Woodhead, who was the officer in charge of an ammunition line on the USS New Orleans later recounted that during the attack, "I heard a voice behind me saying, 'Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.' I turned and saw Chaplain Forgy walking toward me, along the line of men. He was patting them on the back and making that remark to cheer and keep them going. I know it helped me a lot, too." 

The line 'Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition' spread and was composed into the song.  It is certainly befitting of the attitude of a generation. 

Here is a fantastic interactive video on 'The Fallen of WWII'. 

Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition composed by Frank Loesser, 1942 and performed by Kay Kyser

Praise the Lord and swing into position
Can't afford to be a politician
Praise the Lord, we're all between perdition
And the deep blue sea

Yes, the sky pilot said it, you gotta give him credit
For a son of a gun of a gunner was he

Shouting, 'Praise the Lord, we're on a mighty mission
All aboard, we ain't a-goin' fishin'
Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition
And we'll all stay free'

Two Thoughts. 

First, on the economics of scale in education:

"Lambada School: the Forbidden Coding Bootcamp" is the title of Ryan Craig's excellent newsletter this week.  His publication is called Gap Letter, which I highly recommend to anyone interested in the future of higher education and upskilling.  

I agree with Ryan's points and would go further on two truths:

1) Students are not commodities.  For education providers, economics of scale are difficult to materialize because students are not homogenous.  They come in with various degrees of prerequisites to be successful in a program, e.g., preparation, experience, mindset, time they can devote to their studies.  There are negative economies of scale as inevitably all education institutions who seek scale begin to serve students who require more remediation and have less ability to pay.  Thus, delivering learning outcomes should be measured, in part, on the degree of the challenge for the student who comes in, not just on the success rate of the entire cohort (e.g., x% graduation rate or placement rate). 

2) ISAs are not a silver bullet for economics of scale. Often, by the time the ISA issuers get their underwritten return, there is little remaining for the institution.  The low repayment rate destroys the profitability and cashflow of the business. This becomes more acute as student populations become more vulnerable/from lower socioeconomic status because the underwriting criteria are stricter and withholding becomes higher.  Institutions suffer an economic penalty for serving students more in need of their upskilling service. 

Second: As trust in government goes down, private solutions will take their place.  Here are a few examples this week.
  • Citizen App launches private security force as a service
  • Valisure is an independent lab testing company that measures the quality of prescription drugs to reduce variability.  This week they announced that they found 72 sunscreen products with an unsafe level of benzene, a known carcinogen.  Buried in the petition, you can find the list (pg 12) of those that tested high, including many Neutrogena sprays.  They have petitioned the FDA for a recall.  You would have thought that this would be the job of the FDA.  

Sensible Investing: Good Reads

Economic charts on the Caribbean and Central America.  By Adam Tooze.  Here.

Peloton Deep Dive by Blind Squirrel.  Great analysis of the 'fitness as a service' company and broader industry. 

Interaction Effects by Brendan Florez in his Thoughts on (x) blog.  Important reminder that "we as humans are not particularly good at understanding the relationships between things that are separated by time and space."

Startup Post-Mortum: Atrium.  Written by CEO and founder Justin Kan.  I have to say that this one was obvious from the outside. 

Stanley Druckenmiller Interview from The Hustle.  Worth a listen. 

Best practices on how to use Calendly.  You know I love Nick Gray articles.  This one doesn't disappoint. 


Community Corner

I see you, friends. 

Congrats to Sabrina Manville whose startup, Edmit, leading provider of data on the investment return of various college degree programs, was acquired by Vemo, which was co-founded by Lorne Abony.  Announcement is here

Elliott Wolf, Chief Data Scientist at Lineage Logistics was named to the CNBC Disruptor 50 list. Congrats!

Thanks for reading, friends.  Please always be in touch. 


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