Another TBB post featuring the most eclectic links around the web such as Michael Lewis ‘Going Infinite’ book is ripped apart, our divided America, the best ice hotels, the 90k Chase Ink cards are back, we catch up with the markets, HSAs are like extra-strength Roth IRAs, US consumers are ready to take on that recession that has been coming for the past two years and counting, Xi Jinping may not be that sharp after all, the evolution of beer, latest on the updated Covid vaccines, amazing photography always, domain name riches, I travel to pick up my Chicago Marathon shirt, we catch up on the latest in the crazy world of frequent
flyer spender miles and points, enjoy the weekend!
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This blog publishes every Friday. If not Friday, it will be Monday. This is a one man labor of love operation, enjoy it white it lasts.
If you are here primarily for the miles and points content, please scroll way down to find it.
I want to single out one article that blew my mind. Amazing gems in this link, enjoy! You are welcome.
The third quarter was not very good, the charts in this link will show the damage: 13 Charts On The Changing Market Mood in Q3. This is completely normal of course, you need to stick with a long term perspective and not one of a trader you see all over the financial media. Trader types playing short term market moves seldom win in in the end.
There is chatter in Congress making changes to improve Health Saving Accounts (HSAs) even more. With the current dysfunction in Washington DC I am not holding my breath. Presently, the HSA is amazing enough. This account is like an ‘extra strength’ Roth IRA, advisor says. Here’s when to use it. Article explains all the benefits very well, in addition to the main advantage below:
HSAs offer a unique “triple tax advantage,”… contributions are tax-free, investment growth is tax-deferred and withdrawals are tax-free if used for eligible medical costs.
I have been around the financial markets so long that it never ceases to amaze me how the mood can change in an instant. You need to stay grounded and invested. And also focus on the positives, such as the health of the US consumer, a lot of cash in the sidelines, plenty of home equity, very strong job market, wages are growing, inflation is falling and on and on. How Prepared Are Consumers for a Recession?
SAM BANKMAN-FRIED FTX TRIAL AND MICHAEL LEWIS
Update: I am sorry for the length of this section, I should have held it up to do a Best of Web special post on the new book “Going Infinite” from Michael Lewis on SBF. Just like I did on the whole crypto/blockchain/Bitcoin/Web3/NFTs/Metaverse/Cryptocurrencies thing back in early 2022, hopefully someone read it just in time to avoid going down this rabbit hole…
Are you as disappointed at Michael Lewis as me and so many others with his latest book on Sam Bankman-Fried? He thought he had yet another amazing story with a unique character and I think he fell for his BS 100%. Where is the inherent skepticism quality all journalists should have huh? After being around Sam for six months I guess he just could not change the book to portray him as a fraudster in the end. Anyway, the book coming out the same day Sam’s trial starts is, well, this guy sure knows how to sell books. And I was also one of the many who were shocked what he said in 60 Minutes basically excusing the fact that this guy stole billions. Best article was this one the Los Angeles Times: In Michael Lewis, Sam Bankman-Fried found his last and most willing victim. Michael Lewis could have changed course with his book but…
To the end, he treats Bankman-Fried as sort of an endearing scamp who got in over his head, essentially by an adorable habit of inattention. He accepts the self-image of Bankman-Fried and his parents, Stanford law professors Joe Bankman and Barbara Fried, as people with “basically zero interest in money” — never mind allegations in a lawsuit filed by Ray that they profited by tens of millions of dollars from their son’s enterprise, including the purchase of luxury property in the Bahamas, or that Bankman, according to a lawsuit by FTX’s new management, complained that his salary with the company was only $200,000 rather than $1 million.
Some of the characters who will be hearing from during the trial: Sam Bankman-Fried’s Closest Friends Will Testify Against Him. Here’s Who Else We’ll Hear From. Some I learn about for the first time, grab your popcorn.
Wait, as the few last days rolled by more have come out with the same feelings about Michael Lewis and I thought I was being harsh at him…
“Going Infinite” was intended to be a success story. Unfortunately, when its main character turned into a failure overnight, so did the book.
The fact that Lewis is more critical in the last 20 pages of how the FTX bankruptcy is handled than he is of how FTX is run in the first 200 says all that you need to know about this book. If I didn’t know that Sam was under house arrest during its writing, I’d imagine that he had been dictating the pages in a whisper to stenographer Lewis over his shoulder.
Molly White: Review: Michael Lewis’s Going Infinite. The most damning review of the book…Read the whole thing, this is how it ends:
Far from providing an incisive inside view into a historic collapse that saw billions of dollars go up in flames at the expense of multitudes of people who were financially ruined, Lewis has still produced the hero story he originally set out to write. By the end of Lewis’s first ever conversation with Bankman-Fried, he writes: “I was totally sold”. By the end of the book chronicling the same man through his company’s dramatic collapse, that doesn’t seem to have changed.
There are a few things I would like to add before finally moving on from this section.
The few defenders (about this book, not his career obviously) come back and say “read the book and you decide”. Well, nope. The reviews and the 60 Minutes interview were enough for me and have other things to do. Like, this blog is not going to write itself you know.
What if SBF is found innocent in the end? Long shot but that could save Micheal Lewis some face I guess…
Out of so much these guys diverted from FTX customers to blow on so much crap, including many startups, there is one company that may actually make it and when it IPOs lots of FTX customers may see a big portion of their money recovered, the company is Anthropic. That would be the irony hey, SBF gets acquitted and Anthropic’s IPO goes nuts and…I guess Michael Lewis can do a follow up on SBF that boy genius after all woohoo.
Remember the two Three Arrows Capital crypto hedge fund geniuses in Singapore who blew billions and have evaded justice? One even did a ridiculous interview hanging out in Bali with the Wall Street Journal a few months ago, I posted it here. Anyway, the other one was hiding in Singapore and tried to leave the country and was caught. And thrown in jail for at least four months, who is laughing now huh? Three Arrows Capital co-founder Su Zhu jailed for four months.
Linda Yaccarino had a great career and reputation with NBC Universal. Only to throw it away to pretend to run Twitter, now called X, while Elon Musk calls all the shots. And she keeps kissing Elon’s ass trying to right the ship only for Elon to sabotage her and show her who is the real boss. And she keeps going along with this, so ridiculous imho. The Chief Embarrassment Officer of X (Formerly Twitter).
And she hardly appears to have the ability to defend X or Musk in a capable manner: When Yaccarino shared a new video advertisement last week promoting X as an “everything app,” she had to delete the video and reupload a new version after users pointed out that the scrolling feed used in the clip featured quite a few posts criticizing Musk.
I think we are all coming to realize this: What If Xi Jinping isn’t that competent. I think two years later the author of the original article is being proved right…And I wonder if this will happen at some point:
But if growth keeps slowing, big plans keep fizzling, and bellicosity and cruelty keep backfiring, I wonder how long it will be before people both inside and outside China start to question the narrative.
Must read from Robert Gates warning us all: The Dysfunctional Superpower. Can a Divided America Deter Russia and China? Are the members of the US House of Representatives even listening, hello?
ODDZ & ENDZ
I like the new CDC Director, the previous one was over her head imho. Great podcast. CDC Director Dr. Mandy Cohen sits down with Andy to answer your most pressing questions about this year’s new COVID booster. When will the new vaccine be available to everyone who wants it? How will it hold up against new variants like XBB.1.5, EG.5, and BA.2.86? When should I get vaccinated to best protect me and my loved ones this holiday season?
OneStopRadio. Amazing site, search for radio stations by country/language/genre/network.
Amazing house wow!
I have never stayed in an ice hotel yet, you? Best Ice Hotels of 2023.
This pilot has super amazing photos from his flights, must click. Santiago Borja Portfolio.
How many tiny countries make money selling domains, .ai .tv .dj and more: What’s in a domain name? Maybe one day .tbb will be popular lol.
The rewards from selling web addresses are considerable: Cate estimates the revenue generated by Anguilla’s .ai domain — around $3 million per month — currently accounts for around a third of the government’s monthly budget. Following a deal with GoDaddy in 2022, some reports said Tuvalu could make $10 million per year from the .tv domain — one-sixth of its GDP. That revenue has allowed Tuvalu to pave its roads, expand electricity access for its residents, and even pay its first annual United Nations membership in 2000.
Since we will be in Chicago this weekend, this View From the Clouds site with amazing pics of skyscraper buildings in the city seems very appropriate.
The Chicago Marathon is almost here this Sunday. My training for it was going amazingly well until mid July. It’s been one issue after another since then, Morton’s neuroma in right foot, ongoing metatarsalgia in left foot. And then mid September I got Covid for the first time. I could not defer to 2024 nor I could downgrade to the half marathon. So I am going to line up and see if I can go past 13 miles with a mixture of walking and jogging hoping the pain is tolerable and of course sensing I am not going to do long term damage. I started the running journey back in early 2018 and did my first marathon in Detroit in October 2019 aiming to do 10 full marathons by 2027. I have done five, will this be my sixth? Most likely not and I am okay with it at this point. We are staying at the Hyatt Place Chicago River North, on World of Hyatt points of course.
A section where I go on and on about some stuff that happens in my life and anything else that just does not fit in another section above
Greece lost his best basketball coach this week: Legendary basketball coach Yiannis Ioannidis dies. Legend indeed, universally well respected and winner of almost 20 titles, the coach with the most wins, all 418 of them, his nickname was “the blonde one”. He came to my hometown Larissa very early in his coaching career and got our main team with the initials GSL to the First Division after winning the Second division championship. First time elevated to the First Division and then he goes on a streak and starts beating the much richer clubs from Athens and Thessaloniki. We used to go to the games in this tiny gym and it was pure ecstasy beating those big teams with the rich stars. You can say he revived basketball in the city and then he went on to win his titles with those big teams for many years. He coached the National team as well. So full of energy, he was one of a kind. Think Bobby Knight antics in every game. I recently found out that the guy who helped me and my brother get tickets to see the Greek national soccer team in the Brazil World Cup was a player in those GSL teams, we are talking 1979-1981 and I did not remember him, I noticed his Facebook post expressing his condolences to the coach’s family. He said he rode the bench those years but still…what a small world. RIP Coach.
This blog started with a focus on miles and points and travel. It has evolved since then. Everything below deals with the hobby of collecting frequent flyer miles and points. If you are not interested, you can stop here, thank you.
MILES & POINTS NEWS/PROMOS/MY ACTION
I burned 7,500 British Airways Avios points to get me to New York City again for Christmas and managed to find a seat on the same flight with my daughter. She is going there of course with another 7,500 British Airways Avios points and we are flying American Airlines. I swear I have burned numerous BA Avios points for New York over the years and I still have over 100,000 of these points.
My kids do not share their dad’s enthusiasm about this hobby. Which is understandable, this is not suited for most people. Son now has 130,000 Air Canada Aeroplan miles after transferring his Chase Ultimate Rewards points to it and I let him try to handle this account on his own. And then I also told him to just book travel on the Amex portal to finally burn some of his Amex Membership Rewards points, so he did and burned 73,900 points to fly round trip on Delta non stop Honolulu-JFK for Christmas. So, out of curiosity, I went to Delta and checked how many Skymiles Delta wanted for the same flights. And shockingly it was only 64,000 Skymiles. But he would have to transfer Membership Rewards points to Delta and then try to book it and who knows if the same 64k fare was still there, I doubt it. So be it. After burning 1.6 Million miles/points in 2022, I am now again at over 1 Million miles/points redeemed so far in 2023 #winning.
Secured message sent to close my wife’s personal Chase Freedom Unlimited card. I also closed my (second) Chase Ink Business Cash card. Because I am definitely going for one, if not two, of the 90k Chase Ink Business cards, see below. These 90k offers may be valid until October 10 I think. Being away to Singapore/Thailand may complicate things but not too much #developing. My Hyatt points are starting to go low and I am nearing the 3Million miles/points era after being in the 4Million+ club for a long time #firstworldproblems.
For newbies, please ask questions before you jump into this ok? I am going to have more content posted HERE to help you out.
The blog ecosystem will not tell you that this hobby’s golden days are in the past. Why frequent-flier miles are no longer worth bothering with. The bang is not what it used to be. And the work to redeem them is not what it used to be as well. But I do have a hard time if a bank wants to give me 90k+ miles/points for a no annual fee card you know.
Always check my TOP THREE TRAVEL REWARDS CREDIT CARD OFFERS RIGHT NOW below. At this point, the two no brainer cards are the two 90,000 NO Annual Fee Chase Business Ink cards, by far! 4 Reasons to Get a Chase Ink Cash or Unlimited Card Right Now. Available HERE. Chase will give you around $1,000 for free, come on! And also available with my REFERRAL link.
Anyway, here is a post that is designed to make you feel more at ease stepping up to apply for business instead of personal credit cards: You Might Be Eligible for Business Credit Cards & Not Know It.
Got to 35 World of Hyatt nights and here came another free Hyatt night award for hitting the 30 night target. 19 nights are booked, six more night to hit 60 and requalify as Globalist.
There goes Amex again trying to get more money from you for annual fees: American Express Revamps Business Gold Card ($80 AF Increase, $240 Business Credit & More).
The game has changed, Amex continues to restrict how many of its cards (and points through the Signup Bonuses) we can get out of them, so sad: American Express Adds Family Language To Blue Cash Cards.
Anyone knows what this can be?
Thanks to the one reader who got a credit card using my links in September. And for the one Chase referral. And for the four readers who supported the blog buying me a coffee, thank you.
MILES & POINTS
HOT CREDIT CARD OFFERS: 90k CHASE Ink Business Cash, 90k CHASE Ink Business Unlimited, 75k CAPITAL ONE Venture X, 150k CAPITAL ONE Venture X Business, 75k CAPITAL ONE Venture Rewards, 100k CHASE Ink Business Preferred, 60K CITI Premier, $1,000 Cash Back CHASE Ink Business Premier, 140K CHASE IHG Rewards Premier (with $100 Statement Credit), 60k CHASE Sapphire, 60K CHASE Sapphire Reserve, 60k US BANK Business Altitude and many more including many AmericanExpress cards such as Delta Airlines, Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors cards! Please check out my Affiliate links. Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more. If you do not see a credit card with my affiliate links, perhaps I could refer you?
This section is about my
hobby addiction of collecting frequent flyer miles and hotel points since the early 1990’s! SKIP if you are not into it!
As of today, I have burned 1,021,850 miles/points year to date in 2023 and have 4,124,820 miles/points in the bank. Some do drugs, I do miles lol!
Thanks to US banks, very lucrative travel rewards credit card offers come and go all the time. This section will act as a reference point on the best CURRENT offers. I will designate new material preceded by NEW.
TOP THREE TRAVEL REWARDS CREDIT CARD OFFERS RIGHT NOW
Ok, the amazing 90k Chase Ink Business Cash and Chase Ink Business Unlimited card offers are back! These are NO ANNUAL fee cards. The Ink Business Cash earns 5% on office supply stores and internet/cable/phone services and 2% on gas and restaurants. Why don’t you go to Office Depot and buy gift cards of the stores you usually buy from, hello 5% Amazon! The Ink Business Unlimited works differently, it just earns 1.5% on everything…so if you were going to use a card to earn 1% why don’t you pull this one out instead? Bottom line, I think these are the BEST business travel rewards cards out there right now! The 90k Signup Bonus can be earned after $6k of spend on the cards in the first three months. you can apply HERE to support this blog, thank you (they can be found under Category/Business).
The Capital One Venture X card offers a 75,000 point Signup Bonus after a minimum spend of $4k in the first three months. If you like simplicity and looking for one (premium) card, I highly recommend this card (and yes, I have it myself!). It has an annual fee of $395 but it comes with an easy $300 statement credit for travel booked on its excellent travel portal, essentially turning it into a $95 annual fee card. But wait…there is more! On each card anniversary you earn 10,000 points essentially making it FREE! Every dollar of spend earns 2 points and flights booked on the travel portal earn 5 points per dollar. You get access to Capital One and Plaza Premium airport lounges and a Priority Pass Select lounge membership and, this is important, you can add FOUR authorized users FOR FREE who can also have their own Priority Pass Select airline lounge membership. You can transfer your Capital One points to up to 18 Transfer Partners. No foreign transaction fees. Free Hertz President’s Circle rental car top elite status. Cell phone protection and PRIMARY rental car coverage. Awesome seats at baseball stadiums for just 5k points each. And lots more. Available with my Credit Card Links, thank you for your support!
Remember, you are NOT allowed to ever carry a credit card balance if you ever get a credit card here!
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Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.