NYC’s King of Sugar: Posh Pop Bakeshop

I first passed it about two years ago. The sight of towering, beautifully crafted cakes stopped my wife and I cold. Of course, we had to go inside.

Posh Pop Bakeshop sits on a quiet block of Bleecker Street in New York City’s West Village. It specializes in dessert bars topped in mountains of buttercream frosting. I particularly love their Butterfinger bar, a gooey chocolate and caramel brownie topped in peanut butter flavored icing.

Posh Pop also happens to be entirely gluten free, but even for someone like me whose diet is mostly gluten, its sugary treats always hit the spot. Their staff is also very friendly and happy to answer questions about their ever-changing menu of confections.

Last summer, I loved getting a massive brownie and taking it to nearby Washington Square Park, where passersby would often ask me where it came from. Their creations are so visually stunning you may find yourself making new friends. But don’t worry, you don’t have to share your brownie. 🙂

Posh Pop has survived COVID and is thriving, turning out tempting treats that will spell the end of any diet. If you’re in the area, give it a try!

Have a great weekend everyone!

More on food:

THE BEST MEXICAN FOOD IS IN…NEW JERSEY?

THE BEST BAKERY IN NYC (IT’S NOT LEVAIN)

I ATE THE BEST BURGER OF MY LIFE OUTSIDE IN THE DEAD OF WINTER

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Save Money on Stuff I Use:

Fundrise

This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 and returns have been good so far. More on Fundrise in this post.

If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get your management fees waived for 90 days. With their 1% management fee, this could save you $250 on a $100,000 account. I will also get a fee waiver for 90-365 days, depending on what type of account you open.

iHerb

The only place I buy vitamins and supplements. I recently placed an order and received it in less than 48 hours with free shipping! I compared the prices and they were lower than Amazon. I also love how they test a lot of the vitamins so that you know you’re getting what the label says. This isn’t always the case with supplements.

Use this link to save 5%! I’ll also get 5% of however much you spend, at no cost to you.

Misfits Market

My wife and I have gotten organic produce shipped to our house by Misfits for over a year. It’s never once disappointed me. Every fruit and vegetable is super fresh and packed with flavor. I thought radishes were cold, tasteless little lumps at salad bars until I tried theirs! They’re peppery, colorful and crunchy! I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

Use this link to sign up and you’ll save $10 on your first order. I’ll also get $10.

Hedge Funds Get Special Treatment During Margin Calls

A major feature of the run-up in stocks like AMC has been a battle between short selling hedge funds and bullish retail investors. The small investors have often sensed they’re not being treated fairly.

And when it comes to margin calls, it turns out they’re quite right.

A margin call happens when a trader borrows to fund a trade and the trade moves against him. If he doesn’t post more funds, the broker will close out his trade, whether he likes it or not.

An average investor generally gets two to five days to resolve a margin call. But the rules for the big boys are very different.

According to a new report from Credit Suisse, it gave troubled hedge fund Archegos Capital Management weeks to meet a margin call. The tactic Archegos used to deflect the demands for more cash was incredibly simple: claim they were too busy to respond.

On February 23, 2021, the PSR [Prime Services Risk] analyst covering Archegos reached out to Archegos’s Accounting Manager and asked to speak about dynamic margining. Archegos’s Accounting Manager said he would not have time that day, but could speak the next day. The following day, he again put off the discussion, but agreed to review the proposed framework, which PSR sent over that day. Archegos did not respond to the proposal and, a week-and-a-half later, on March 4, 2021, the PSR analyst followed up to ask whether Archegos “had any thoughts on the proposal.” His contact at Archegos said he “hadn’t had a chance to take a look yet,” but was hoping to look “today or tomorrow.”

No retail investor would ever get away with this. If Robinhood or any other retail broker didn’t get a response in an exact time window, they would liquidate the shares. And the special treatment extended to Archegos here would likely apply to any big client, like Citadel, Melvin Capital, or others.

This gives hedge funds a systematic advantage. They can borrow money and magnify their bets, and if the trades go against them, they can stall indefinitely and hope their position recovers.

All I can tell you is what I do: never buy on margin. Investing is risky enough without adding to the risks with borrowed money. But whatever strategy one chooses, hedge funds and small investors should at least be treated equally.

More on AMC and hedge funds:

EXPLOSIVE CLAIMS IN LAWSUIT AGAINST ROBINHOOD

AMC SHORTS LOST $642 MILLION YESTERDAY

SHORT SELLERS LOSE $44 BILLION IN 30 DAYS

Photo: “Bank Robbery In Progress” by foilman is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

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Save Money on Stuff I Use:

Fundrise

This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 and returns have been good so far. More on Fundrise in this post.

If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get your management fees waived for 90 days. With their 1% management fee, this could save you $250 on a $100,000 account. I will also get a fee waiver for 90-365 days, depending on what type of account you open.

iHerb

The only place I buy vitamins and supplements. I recently placed an order and received it in less than 48 hours with free shipping! I compared the prices and they were lower than Amazon. I also love how they test a lot of the vitamins so that you know you’re getting what the label says. This isn’t always the case with supplements.

Use this link to save 5%! I’ll also get 5% of however much you spend, at no cost to you.

Misfits Market

My wife and I have gotten organic produce shipped to our house by Misfits for over a year. It’s never once disappointed me. Every fruit and vegetable is super fresh and packed with flavor. I thought radishes were cold, tasteless little lumps at salad bars until I tried theirs! They’re peppery, colorful and crunchy! I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

Use this link to sign up and you’ll save $10 on your first order. I’ll also get $10.

Explosive Claims in Lawsuit Against Robinhood

As it prepares to IPO this week, Robinhood Markets, Inc. is facing several class action lawsuits from its users. Inside those lawsuits, an explosive claim:

High level executives and employees of Robinhood and Citadel Securities were in contact around the time Robinhood restricted trades, according to the complaint.

This lawsuit grows out of buying restrictions that Robinhood imposed on stock in AMC, GameStop, and others this January as their prices skyrocketed:

Retail investors suing Robinhood Market Inc and others over trading restrictions in the wake of a social media-fueled rally that squeezed short sellers have filed complaints seeking potentially billions in damages.

One of the proposed class actions filed on Tuesday in Miami federal court accuses Robinhood and clearing brokerage Apex Clearing Corp of acting negligently in cutting off trades in late January. The other lawsuit alleges they and others were part of an antitrust conspiracy with Citadel Securities LLC to spare the market maker losses on short bets.

Citadel plays an interesting dual role here. Citadel Securities handles many of Robinhood’s trades, but its hedge fund arm invested money in Melvin Capital, a fund that was imploding due to losses shorting meme stocks.

I see two possibilities:

  1. Citadel Securities handles a lot of Robinhood’s trades, so Robinhood naturally talked with them about issues it was facing holding enough money to back trades in volatile stocks like AMC and GameStop.
  2. Citadel tried to influence Robinhood to stop its users from driving up the price of meme stocks, which would hurt its positions in Melvin (and perhaps elsewhere)

I don’t think we have enough information yet to determine which it is. We need to find out what was said in conversations between Citadel Securities and Robinhood, and what contact Citadel Securities staff had with people on the hedge fund side of the firm. The lawsuit will likely expose phone records, e-mails and more that could shed light on what really happened.

That said, we definitely have at least the appearance of impropriety here. Citadel is exposing itself to a huge risk of regulatory crackdown and legal judgments. And Robinhood customers may be skeptical enough that they move on to any of the countless other brokerages available.

Major financial institutions are in the habit of saying “just trust us.” What they don’t understand is that after decades of bailouts and conflicts of interest, that’s a very hard sell.

More on AMC:

AMC SHORTS LOST $642 MILLION YESTERDAY

HEDGE FUND LOSSES COULD TAKE DECADES TO RECOVER

SHORT SELLERS LOSE $44 BILLION IN 30 DAYS

Photo: “Fruit of the fireball machine” by SiamEye is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

If you found this post interesting, please share it on Twitter/Reddit/etc. using the buttons at the bottom of the page. This helps more people find the blog! And please leave your comments at the bottom.

Save Money on Stuff I Use:

Fundrise

This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 and returns have been good so far. More on Fundrise in this post.

If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get your management fees waived for 90 days. With their 1% management fee, this could save you $250 on a $100,000 account. I will also get a fee waiver for 90-365 days, depending on what type of account you open.

iHerb

The only place I buy vitamins and supplements. I recently placed an order and received it in less than 48 hours with free shipping! I compared the prices and they were lower than Amazon. I also love how they test a lot of the vitamins so that you know you’re getting what the label says. This isn’t always the case with supplements.

Use this link to save 5%! I’ll also get 5% of however much you spend, at no cost to you.

Misfits Market

My wife and I have gotten organic produce shipped to our house by Misfits for over a year. It’s never once disappointed me. Every fruit and vegetable is super fresh and packed with flavor. I thought radishes were cold, tasteless little lumps at salad bars until I tried theirs! They’re peppery, colorful and crunchy! I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

Use this link to sign up and you’ll save $10 on your first order. I’ll also get $10.

At the Sopranos Convention! (Part 2)

We all know The Sopranos is the greatest television show of all time. And yes, I’m a little obsessed. So when I had the opportunity to the attend Sopranoscon on Saturday in Atlantic City, NJ, I had to do it!

The best part about the convention was seeing the show come to life right in front of me. There were the characters I loved, just a few feet away! I even got to sit in Tony’s seat in his Cadillac Escalade. The car that’s pumped full of bullet holes in the final season as Patsy and Sil desperately try to escape New York’s hitmen was there too!

In Tony’s Escalade!
Patsy and Sil’s car!

One of the biggest highlights of the day was the costume contest: the winner did a perfect impression of Sil’s “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!” I haven’t smiled as wide in a long time.

A very convincing Tony Soprano look-a-like who was actually a stand-in for Gandolfini in the series, bookable here!

Since this was Mobmoviecon in addition to Sopranoscon, there were actors from other gangster classics. One of my favorites was Armand Assante, who played a pitch perfect John Gotti in the 1996 HBO movie. Since I’ve done some extremely minor acting myself, I had to ask him: what makes a great actor?

Armand Assante, interviewed by real-life former gangster Michael Franzese

“Will,” he told me. Like when a baseball player says “I’m going to hit this out of the park,” an actor has to will himself to deliver a great performance, whatever it takes. When we connect our will to our talent and imagination, we can become great actors, Assante added.

The convention also had a major announcement: there will be a Gotti 2, starring Assante, and production is beginning now!

You’re at the precipice of an enormous crossroads.

To top it off, I took second place in The Sopranos trivia competition! The prize: a signed copy of a fascinating book about the series written by another big fan!

I’m a winner, baby!

About the only negative of the convention is that you have to pay $20-40 extra to meet any of the actors or get a picture/autograph. But this may be the only way to make the economics work: paying dozens of high profile actors and renting out a major resort isn’t cheap! Perhaps in the future, they can host a mixer for everyone to allow more interaction.

The organizer of the convention, Michael Mota, has huge plans for the future: not only is he producing Gotti 2, he hopes to buy Tony Soprano’s house and turn it into an Airbnb for fans of the series. If he does, I’d love to visit!

More on The Sopranos:

AT THE SOPRANOS CONVENTION!

WELCOME TO SAL “BIG PUSSY” BONPENSIERO’S HOUSE FROM THE SOPRANOS

VISITING UNCLE JUNIOR’S HEADQUARTERS FROM THE SOPRANOS

If you found this post interesting, please share it on Twitter/Reddit/etc. using the buttons at the bottom of the page. This helps more people find the blog! And please leave your comments at the bottom.

Save Money on Stuff I Use:

Fundrise

This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 and returns have been good so far. More on Fundrise in this post.

If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get your management fees waived for 90 days. With their 1% management fee, this could save you $250 on a $100,000 account. I will also get a fee waiver for 90-365 days, depending on what type of account you open.

iHerb

The only place I buy vitamins and supplements. I recently placed an order and received it in less than 48 hours with free shipping! I compared the prices and they were lower than Amazon. I also love how they test a lot of the vitamins so that you know you’re getting what the label says. This isn’t always the case with supplements.

Use this link to save 5%! I’ll also get 5% of however much you spend, at no cost to you.

Misfits Market

My wife and I have gotten organic produce shipped to our house by Misfits for over a year. It’s never once disappointed me. Every fruit and vegetable is super fresh and packed with flavor. I thought radishes were cold, tasteless little lumps at salad bars until I tried theirs! They’re peppery, colorful and crunchy! I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

Use this link to sign up and you’ll save $10 on your first order. I’ll also get $10.

At The Sopranos Convention!

I’ve been an huge Sopranos fan for many years. I’ve seen every episode at least 5 times. So when I got the opportunity to attend Sopranoscon this Saturday in Atlantic City, NJ, I was so excited!

Me and Richie Aprile!

As I came to the head of a long line of Sopranos fans, many dressed as their favorite character, I entered a grand ballroom decorated for the “Feast of St. James.” Set up like the Italian church feasts that are all over New York and New Jersey this time of year, the feast was dedicated to James Gandolfini, who died too young but left us with so many memories.

Past the food vendors selling sausages, espresso and cannolis was a board of all the shows best quotes. My favorite:

“I’m sorry I stole your prosthesis. But it did bring me to the Lord.”

Janice Soprano

Giggling like a school girl, I rounded a corner and suddenly saw all my favorite Sopranos stars! It was incredible to see them suddenly appear, alive and moving and freed from screen. It was quite a lineup: Dominic Chianese (Uncle Junior), Lorraine Bracco (Jennifer Melfi), David Proval (Richie Aprile), Jerry Adler (Hesh), John Fiore (Gigi Cestone), and many more.

Uncle Jun!

And since this Sopranoscon doubled as Mobmoviecon, there were amazing actors from other gangster tales as well, like Paul Sorvino (Paulie in Goodfellas) and Giancarlo Esposito (the terrifying Gus Fring in Breaking Bad)!

Gigi!

I took a picture with David Proval, whose portrayal of Richie Aprile I found chilling and memorable. In reality, he is a nice, quiet man, nothing like the loud and dominating gangster he played. As we took a picture together, I told him how I loved his performance. It was wonderful to be able to thank him for all the happiness he brought me. He thanked me and I went on my way to…

Tony’s Escalade

Tony Soprano’s Escalade! Yes, the very same car Tony rode in for the last few seasons of the show. Not only did I see it, I even got to sit in Tony’s seat and take a picture!

This convention was a wonderful experience, and I have way more amazing things to tell you. See you soon!

More on The Sopranos and the mafia:

WELCOME TO SAL “BIG PUSSY” BONPENSIERO’S HOUSE FROM THE SOPRANOS

VISITING UNCLE JUNIOR’S HEADQUARTERS FROM THE SOPRANOS

THE MAFIA’S HOBOKEN FORTRESS

If you found this post interesting, please share it on Twitter/Reddit/etc. using the buttons at the bottom of the page. This helps more people find the blog! And please leave your comments at the bottom.

Save Money on Stuff I Use:

Fundrise

This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 and returns have been good so far. More on Fundrise in this post.

If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get your management fees waived for 90 days. With their 1% management fee, this could save you $250 on a $100,000 account. I will also get a fee waiver for 90-365 days, depending on what type of account you open.

iHerb

The only place I buy vitamins and supplements. I recently placed an order and received it in less than 48 hours with free shipping! I compared the prices and they were lower than Amazon. I also love how they test a lot of the vitamins so that you know you’re getting what the label says. This isn’t always the case with supplements.

Use this link to save 5%! I’ll also get 5% of however much you spend, at no cost to you.

Misfits Market

My wife and I have gotten organic produce shipped to our house by Misfits for over a year. It’s never once disappointed me. Every fruit and vegetable is super fresh and packed with flavor. I thought radishes were cold, tasteless little lumps at salad bars until I tried theirs! They’re peppery, colorful and crunchy! I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

Use this link to sign up and you’ll save $10 on your first order. I’ll also get $10.

The Best Mexican Food Is In…New Jersey?

On a quiet side street in Union City, NJ is a small storefront. Inside: some of the best Mexican food in the country.

La Piedra del Sol is run by a lovely family from Oaxaca, Mexico, a region known for its cuisine. While we often think of California or Texas as the best places for Mexican food in America, I submit this may be the best Mexican north of the Rio Grande.

Chips and salsa are no afterthought here. Everything is housemade.

I first tried this wonderful restaurant on a frigid Valentine’s Day night. The shrimp fajitas oozed flavor. The guacamole was creamy and delicious. Simple chips and salsa were an incredible experience: multiple salsas with deep, rich flavors and crispy tortilla wedges, all housemade.

Guacamole served with flair!

Service is attentive and friendly. Everything is done in-house. As the end of our meal came, the owner sent out a delicious tres leches cake, free of charge. It was moist, milky, wonderful. This happened to be one of the last meals out my wife and I had before COVID, and it was memorable.

I visited again on a recent evening and the food was better than ever. I’m very grateful the shutdowns didn’t force this wonderful spot out of business.

La Piedra del Sol is open every day but Sunday and in addition to wallet friendly prices, it’s also BYOB. If you’re in the area, you’d be crazy not to visit.

Have a great weekend everyone!

More on food:

THE BEST BAKERY IN NYC (IT’S NOT LEVAIN)

I ATE THE BEST BURGER OF MY LIFE OUTSIDE IN THE DEAD OF WINTER

HOW I LEARNED TO COOK

If you found this post interesting, please share it on Twitter/Reddit/etc. using the buttons at the bottom of the page. This helps more people find the blog! And please leave your comments at the bottom.

Save Money on Stuff I Use:

Fundrise

This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 and returns have been good so far. More on Fundrise in this post.

If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get your management fees waived for 90 days. With their 1% management fee, this could save you $250 on a $100,000 account. I will also get a fee waiver for 90-365 days, depending on what type of account you open.

iHerb

The only place I buy vitamins and supplements. I recently placed an order and received it in less than 48 hours with free shipping! I compared the prices and they were lower than Amazon. I also love how they test a lot of the vitamins so that you know you’re getting what the label says. This isn’t always the case with supplements.

Use this link to save 5%! I’ll also get 5% of however much you spend, at no cost to you.

Misfits Market

My wife and I have gotten organic produce shipped to our house by Misfits for over a year. It’s never once disappointed me. Every fruit and vegetable is super fresh and packed with flavor. I thought radishes were cold, tasteless little lumps at salad bars until I tried theirs! They’re peppery, colorful and crunchy! I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

Use this link to sign up and you’ll save $10 on your first order. I’ll also get $10.

Hedge Fund Losses Could Take Decades to Recover

Melvin Capital, among other hedge funds, has taken severe losses on bad bets in AMC, GameStop and others. They are now down by almost half:

Melvin Capital Management, which lost more than $6 billion in January, is now down 46% for the year through June, the fund recently told investors. Maplelane Capital is down 39% for the period.

Until Melvin recovers all of those losses, it will not earn any performance fees. This juicy 20% fee is what induces traders to set up hedge funds in the first place.

The average long/short equity hedge fund, the class Melvin belongs to, has returned just 3% annually over the last decade. At that rate, it would take Melvin 21 years to recoup its losses.

Here’s what could come next:

  • Manager Gabe Plotkin shuts the fund down, locking in investors’ losses. If he starts over with another fund, he can get performance fees right away.
  • Top traders leave the firm for other hedge funds that are earning performance fees, and hence can pay hefty bonuses. Only the B Team remains.
  • Melvin and similar funds make increasingly risky bets, desperate to quickly recover what they have lost, thereby losing even more. After all, 21 years is a long time to wait.

I think you will soon see more and more hedge funds either shutting down or getting desperate. If I were invested in any fund that saw big losses in meme stocks, I’d sell now before I lose it all.

More on AMC:

AMC SHORTS LOST $642 MILLION YESTERDAY

SHORT SELLERS LOSE $44 BILLION IN 30 DAYS

HEDGE FUNDS LOSE $12 BILLION ON AMC AND GAMESTOP

Photo: “Forever is Binding and Freeing” by Lomo-Cam is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

If you found this post interesting, please share it on Twitter/Reddit/etc. using the buttons at the bottom of the page. This helps more people find the blog! And please leave your comments at the bottom.

Save Money on Stuff I Use:

Fundrise

This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 and returns have been good so far. More on Fundrise in this post.

If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get your management fees waived for 90 days. With their 1% management fee, this could save you $250 on a $100,000 account. I will also get a fee waiver for 90-365 days, depending on what type of account you open.

iHerb

The only place I buy vitamins and supplements. I recently placed an order and received it in less than 48 hours with free shipping! I compared the prices and they were lower than Amazon. I also love how they test a lot of the vitamins so that you know you’re getting what the label says. This isn’t always the case with supplements.

Use this link to save 5%! I’ll also get 5% of however much you spend, at no cost to you.

Misfits Market

My wife and I have gotten organic produce shipped to our house by Misfits for over a year. It’s never once disappointed me. Every fruit and vegetable is super fresh and packed with flavor. I thought radishes were cold, tasteless little lumps at salad bars until I tried theirs! They’re peppery, colorful and crunchy! I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

Use this link to sign up and you’ll save $10 on your first order. I’ll also get $10.

AMC Shorts Lost $642 Million Yesterday

Short sellers in AMC Entertainment Holdings, Inc. got slaughtered yesterday:

Dusaniwsky, managing director at short-selling data provider S3 Partners, told Barron’s he estimates 75.8 million AMC shares are sold short, or roughly 15% of shares available for trading. There has been some covering, as he estimates shares shorted are down by about 4 million over the last week. But with the stock up $8.47 on Tuesday, short sellers were down $642 million in mark-to-market losses on Tuesday alone, bringing the year-to-date losses to $3.82 billion.

AMC surged upward as it consolidated two new theaters into its company and announced discussions with landlords to reopen closed locations.

Short sellers, largely hedge funds, have already lost nearly $4 billion betting against AMC. Their total losses in meme stocks exceed $12 billion.

The only way I can make sense of their stubborn behavior is this: that they’re desperate to recover what they’ve already lost. A gambler who has lost 90% of his life savings in poker may have to keep playing: how else can he 10x his money and get back to where he started? Conservative bets won’t do that.

The only difference is, the hedge funds are playing with someone else’s money.

More on AMC:

SHORT SELLERS LOSE $44 BILLION IN 30 DAYS

HEDGE FUNDS LOSE $12 BILLION ON AMC AND GAMESTOP

HEDGE FUNDS’ AMC DEATH SPIRAL

Photo: “the Great Hedge Fund Hei$t” by eyewashdesign: A. Golden is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

If you found this post interesting, please share it on Twitter/Reddit/etc. using the buttons at the bottom of the page. This helps more people find the blog! And please leave your comments at the bottom.

Save Money on Stuff I Use:

Fundrise

This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 and returns have been good so far. More on Fundrise in this post.

If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get your management fees waived for 90 days. With their 1% management fee, this could save you $250 on a $100,000 account. I will also get a fee waiver for 90-365 days, depending on what type of account you open.

iHerb

The only place I buy vitamins and supplements. I recently placed an order and received it in less than 48 hours with free shipping! I compared the prices and they were lower than Amazon. I also love how they test a lot of the vitamins so that you know you’re getting what the label says. This isn’t always the case with supplements.

Use this link to save 5%! I’ll also get 5% of however much you spend, at no cost to you.

Misfits Market

My wife and I have gotten organic produce shipped to our house by Misfits for over a year. It’s never once disappointed me. Every fruit and vegetable is super fresh and packed with flavor. I thought radishes were cold, tasteless little lumps at salad bars until I tried theirs! They’re peppery, colorful and crunchy! I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

Use this link to sign up and you’ll save $10 on your first order. I’ll also get $10.

How to Get Internet to Cuba

Amid deepening poverty, escalating COVID cases and a lack of vaccines, Cubans are doing something very brave: protesting against the Communist dictatorship in the largest demonstrations in six decades.

I can’t even imagine how afraid they must be, but they’re out there. And activists need to be able to coordinate with each other. The Cuban government knows this, so they’ve taken a cue from dictatorships in Iran, Myanmar and elsewhere: restricting the internet.

Cuba’s government has disrupted access to WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, Telegram and YouTube, per London-based watchdog NetBlocks. These disruptions have gone on for over a week so far and show no signs of ending.

As an American with a love of freedom and a background in tech, I thought I’d research some options for our Cuban friends:

  • Alternative social platforms: Twitter is not yet blocked, although it could be at any time. Less used video platforms like Vimeo or Dailymotion are also available.
  • Privacy tools: VPN’s continue to work, as does Signal, the encrypted messaging app used by Edward Snowden. This could be a superb WhatsApp alternative. Tor is a great option for browsing. It’s available for desktop or mobile in a convenient browser form. It routes data through many servers, making your traffic untraceable. Unlike most VPN’s, Signal and Tor are free. I use them myself.
  • Satellites: Not viable. These need ground infrastructure that Cuba doesn’t have and their government won’t allow.
  • Balloons: Much discussed and a great potential solution, but I fear the implementation will take too long to be of use to Cubans. These balloons exist today, cost in the tens of thousands (chump change to the US government), and float in international airspace. They could be positioned over international waters as well.

    Cuba would be taking an extreme step to shoot them down, if they could even accomplish it. And in any case, we could always launch many, many more.

If anyone knows of any good charities working on these issues, please leave a comment at the bottom of the page. I’d be happy to contribute to any good effort in this area.

Patria y vida, amigos!

More on tech:

CHINA IS CRUSHING ONE OF ITS MOST INNOVATIVE COMPANIES

INSIDE A STARTUP ACCELERATOR DEMO DAY

CHINA IS KILLING ITS TECH INDUSTRY

Photo: “Project Loon balloon” by douglas_coldwell is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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Save Money on Stuff I Use:

Fundrise

This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 and returns have been good so far. More on Fundrise in this post.

If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get your management fees waived for 90 days. With their 1% management fee, this could save you $250 on a $100,000 account. I will also get a fee waiver for 90-365 days, depending on what type of account you open.

iHerb

The only place I buy vitamins and supplements. I recently placed an order and received it in less than 48 hours with free shipping! I compared the prices and they were lower than Amazon. I also love how they test a lot of the vitamins so that you know you’re getting what the label says. This isn’t always the case with supplements.

Use this link to save 5%! I’ll also get 5% of however much you spend, at no cost to you.

Misfits Market

My wife and I have gotten organic produce shipped to our house by Misfits for over a year. It’s never once disappointed me. Every fruit and vegetable is super fresh and packed with flavor. I thought radishes were cold, tasteless little lumps at salad bars until I tried theirs! They’re peppery, colorful and crunchy! I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

Use this link to sign up and you’ll save $10 on your first order. I’ll also get $10.

The Best Bakery in NYC (It’s Not Levain)

One evening, my wife came home and presented a bunch of small, colorful bags. Inside: some of the most delicious baked goods I’ve ever had.

Their outstanding chocolate chip cookie. Don’t worry, I was gentle.

Eclair Bakery, founded by French pastry chef Stephane Pourrez, is on a side street near the United Nations. Despite eight years in the city, it’s fairly obscure, especially compared to famous spots like Levain. But I’ve never had a Levain cookie as delicious as those from Eclair. They’re moist, chewy, and deeply suffused with brown sugar and butter.

Their namesake eclairs are also the best I’ve ever had. A caramel version I tried had a light, airy pastry filled with rich, smooth caramel cream. It was beautiful to look at and even better to eat!

If you’re in New York City, I strongly suggest giving this under-the-radar spot a try!

More on the NYC area:

THE BEST NYC COMEDIANS YOU HAVEN’T SEEN (UNTIL NOW)

WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE ON LAW & ORDER: SVU

I ATE THE BEST BURGER OF MY LIFE OUTSIDE IN THE DEAD OF WINTER

If you found this post interesting, please share it on Twitter/Reddit/etc. using the buttons at the bottom of the page. This helps more people find the blog! And please leave your comments at the bottom.

Save Money on Stuff I Use:

Fundrise

This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 and returns have been good so far. More on Fundrise in this post.

If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get your management fees waived for 90 days. With their 1% management fee, this could save you $250 on a $100,000 account. I will also get a fee waiver for 90-365 days, depending on what type of account you open.

iHerb

The only place I buy vitamins and supplements. I recently placed an order and received it in less than 48 hours with free shipping! I compared the prices and they were lower than Amazon. I also love how they test a lot of the vitamins so that you know you’re getting what the label says. This isn’t always the case with supplements.

Use this link to save 5%! I’ll also get 5% of however much you spend, at no cost to you.

Misfits Market

My wife and I have gotten organic produce shipped to our house by Misfits for over a year. It’s never once disappointed me. Every fruit and vegetable is super fresh and packed with flavor. I thought radishes were cold, tasteless little lumps at salad bars until I tried theirs! They’re peppery, colorful and crunchy! I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

Use this link to sign up and you’ll save $10 on your first order. I’ll also get $10.