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We serve the world better if we mostly stick to our areas of expertise, and where we have no expertis
 
April 21 · Issue #82 · View online
Daily Brief
We serve the world better if we mostly stick to our areas of expertise, and where we have no expertise, we are better off asking to understand. The alternative is we reverse thousands of years of human progress and start questioning things that have made sure we are alive today like vaccines and risk our species continued existence. - Tefo

I was sitting just going through some things I need to do work-wise, headphones on, sons tussling, wife watching something on Netflix, and I also had one eye on Twitter. It then caught my attention, WTI CRUDE OIL futures price (May 2020) was under $10 a barrel. That’s a sharp drop I thought but somehow expected given significantly reduced air travel and road traffic.
As my eyes were receding into their normal position after popping out, within half an hour WTI CRUDE was $1.50. What I thought was the unthinkable then followed.
The same WTI CRUDE OIL futures contract hit $1.50 before a sudden drop to - $0.22 (that’s negative $0.22) and then finally settling at - $37. I was dumbfounded, shocked, and some point exclaimed, albeit jokingly “Lefatshe le a fela!
A compilation of the first depictions of the now-extinct dodos (if you want to be fancy and call them correctly - Raphus cucullatus) on the island Mauritius (Indian Ocean), made during the voyage of the VOC Gelderland in 1602. The caption reads "These birds are caught on the island of Mauritius in large quantities because they are unable to fly. They are good food and often have stones in their stomachs, as big as eggs, sometimes bigger or smaller, and are called 'griffeendt' or 'Kermis goose'." It is rumored the dodos finally went extinct in 1680 or 1681 as a result of being easy meat for sailors and other animals because they were nice and chunky and also couldn't fly. Something of a cross between a chicken and a duck. I mention dodos because I get the feeling that as humans we could easily go extinct if we continue with our stupidity of not letting science lead the way and more scarily, just mostly being good at consumption and not producing much to sustain the planet or ourselves in a sustainable manner. 📷 Fuller, Errol: Dodo - From Extinction To Icon, 2002
A compilation of the first depictions of the now-extinct dodos (if you want to be fancy and call them correctly - Raphus cucullatus) on the island Mauritius (Indian Ocean), made during the voyage of the VOC Gelderland in 1602. The caption reads "These birds are caught on the island of Mauritius in large quantities because they are unable to fly. They are good food and often have stones in their stomachs, as big as eggs, sometimes bigger or smaller, and are called 'griffeendt' or 'Kermis goose'." It is rumored the dodos finally went extinct in 1680 or 1681 as a result of being easy meat for sailors and other animals because they were nice and chunky and also couldn't fly. Something of a cross between a chicken and a duck. I mention dodos because I get the feeling that as humans we could easily go extinct if we continue with our stupidity of not letting science lead the way and more scarily, just mostly being good at consumption and not producing much to sustain the planet or ourselves in a sustainable manner. 📷 Fuller, Errol: Dodo - From Extinction To Icon, 2002
Now, I believe rightfully so although there’s more nuance to this, that a price of a barrel of WTI CRUDE OIL (May futures contract) at - $37 meant in layman’s terms that whoever was buying the barrel of oil was getting paid to take delivery of it instead of paying to buy it. Technically, this was relatively true. In reality, it was more nuanced than that.
The most important piece of nuance is that (and somehow I forgot we are talking futures contracts) the May contract for WTI CRUDE OIL expires today. Alex Gilbert articulates it better:
“Oil traders that still have contracts are selling at whatever price they can get because they do not (all) have the ability to take physical delivery.Storage and refiners are not buying. The $1/barrel is a trading dynamic when there are many sellers and limited buyers,”
With that clarified and me having to own my stupidity at the time on this, what transpired was still unprecedented.
A screenshot for the history books. The contract ended up settling slightly lower than -37.06 📷 CNBC
A screenshot for the history books. The contract ended up settling slightly lower than -37.06 📷 CNBC
This over-zealousness on my side reminded me of something that started on Sunday on my Twitter feed and continued until Monday. Except for this time, another person was over-zealous without fully comprehending what had just happened. (Bear with me, I will get to the crux of this newsletter).
It all started with me posting (tweeting) an article link about how Somali shop owners in Strand, South Africa had partnered and decided to donate food parcels to 400 families in need in their community. Now, if you know South African current affairs, Somali shopkeepers are among the first to suffer xenophobic attacks when such protests flare-up (as they usually do) in the country. So I found the story to be a great sign of kindness on their side for being able to donate to South Africans that usually attack them.
What followed was a strange exchange.
Shop owners donate food parcels to needy families Shop owners donate food parcels to needy families
The tweet got over 300 RTs and close to a thousand Likes, and then it caught the attention of who I shall assume is the friend of the journalist who wrote the article. Not to bore you with the details, the friend then accused me of first “stealing” the tweet, and then later “copying” the article. As I always do on Twitter when someone tries to pick a trivial fight, I ignored them.
It was only when the journalist who wrote the article responded that I realized that I am dealing with people who genuinely don’t understand (despite being active on Twitter and using the social media share buttons on articles themselves) what it means to share an article (or link) on social media:
“This my article broe, I wrote it and published it. I later tweet it this way” - Veve (The journalist)
Both this exchange that lasted 2 days and my over-zealousness regarding WTI CRUDE OIL futures contract for May illustrated to me that sometimes it is better to first ask and clarify than sustain an energetic argument for several hours or days with little or no understanding. Even better, it is better to stay within one’s area of expertise and ask others if you are not competent in their field of expertise (however you define expertise).
You might think I am being pedantic, but this sometimes can have real-life consequences that put our existence as humanity as a whole at risk. It is actually happening.
In 2019, the world’s supposedly leading civilization and democracy, the USA, experienced a measles outbreak. This was a result of people, who have now reached quite a critical mass, who refuse to vaccinate their kids against diseases that thanks to scientific research, we have figured out how to contain. Anti-vaxxers are similar to what I illustrate above - no idea how something works yet highly opinionated on it with little scientific facts to back up their thoughts. Ending up putting all of us in danger.
Here is what worries me, not only do anti-vaxxers put their children at risk (the irony is they themselves wouldn’t be alive were it not for vaccines they received) but given the contagious nature of the diseases, they put other children and people at risk.
So, next time something is out of my lane, I will pause, ask around and seek to understand before putting all of us at risk. 😃
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