THE WEEK’S ITEMS OF INTEREST

These were items that attracted my attention during the week:

1 – Both the NAND and DRAM memory chip prices have slipped recently – the former by 37%, the latter by 16%.  Memory chips are used in everything from smart phones to self-driving cars, and, in 2017, growth in demand for the chips had outrun supply, thus driving up the prices.  The current slip in their pricing reflects stepped up manufacturing production of the chips – supply and demand, right – plus sluggish growth in smartphone sales.

2 – Copies of the first issue of Vegetarian Times appeared in 1974, hand-delivered by its founder, Paul Obis.  The topic was so obscure at that time that Obis felt he needed to specify “for non-meat eaters.”  By the mid-1990s the magazine was a slick nationwide production and featured health tips and recipes, as well as profiles of those celebrities who were in the ranks of non-meat-eaters such as Madonna and Fred Rogers, from, you know, that Neighborhood.  And, then in 1997 the shock: Obis admitted that he had returned to a meat-eating routine.  Having passed after suffering from Lewy body dementia, Obis was 66.  Should we assume that by his admission of a meat-eating return, he had possibly realized (too late) that a diet consisting wholly of vegetables wasn’t supplying all the nutrition that his body needed?

3 – Under the ice of the South Pole, researchers have an unusual observatory that has been deveopled to map the universe using neutrinos, which are subatomic particles nearly impossible to detect because they usually are unaffected by normal matter, radiation or gravity.  Using the new observatory, scientists for the first time have traced a burst of powerful cosmic particles (neutrinos) to a black hole firing like a ray gun aimed at Earth.  Scientists announcing the discovery this week indicate that the breakthrough may pinpoint the first known source of high-energy cosmic rays.

4 – Activist investors have plagued CEOs and boards in recent years, and that effort continues unabated, with these investors mounting increasing campaigns to, both, pressure fund managers to find ways to beat the market, as well as managing to get themselves onto increasing numbers of corporate boards.  During the first half of the year, activists spent $40 billion targeting 136 companies with market value of more than $500 million.  As a result, activists won 119 directorships on boards during this time period.  Thus, it stands to reason that the pressure will continue, just inside the boardroom rather than outside.

5 – With the exit of Papa John’s founder, John Schnatter, from the position of chairman of the board at the company, share prices of the stock rose 11%.

6 – The federal racketeering lawsuit filed by Summer Redstone’s former live-in girlfriend, Manuela Herzer, against his daughter, Shari Redstone, and her son, Tyler Korff, was dismissed by a federal judge this week as having no merit.

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