The WC – Let’s journey to the centre of the Earth

Welcome to The WC, a selection of five useful and interesting things shorn from my smooth brain and dropped into your inbox every Weds.

Trying something new at the end today…

Wyatt

China is digging a deep hole

China is ​digging​ a hole for itself. An 11km (nearly 7 mi) hole that will penetrate through ten layers of the earth’s crust and allow their scientists to study rocks 145m years old.

Most of the noise they’re making is to do with the scientific merits of the project, but I suspect it’s more to do with the search for rare earth metals — the ones that power the exploding electric vehicle industry.

While this hole — which will take precisely 457 days to dig — will be very deep, it won’t be the deepest manmade hole ever.

That honour belongs to the Kola Superdeep Borehole in Russia, which was carved out during the Cold War. The Soviets made it 12km down before abandoning the project and welding it shut — the temperature in the hole was over 500 degrees Fahrenheit, and the tools kept melting.

Russia’s hole was dug in response to the ​America’s Project Mohole​, which only made it a few hundred meters before the initiative was abandoned. ​Sounds​ like they had a lovely time, though:

In the late 1950s, the wonderfully named American Miscellaneous Society came up with the first serious plan to drill down to the mantle. The society-turned-drinking-club was an informal group made up of the leading lights of the US scientific community.

​Germany​ had a go in the late 1980s and early 1990s but gave up when reunification took priority.

Digging very deep holes takes very deep pockets.

Back to China…this hole is part of president Xi’s four-pronged national security strategy outline in 2021: “deep Earth, deep sea, deep blue (meaning information technology), and deep space.”

I’ll check in again in 457 days to see how they’ve got on.

Dig deeper into alternate Cold Wars:

Saudi Arabia presses ahead

Three weeks ago I said ​Saudi Arabia will continue to press ahead in its bid for international recognition​ and legitimacy.

And so it continues.

Just this week, the Kingdom added three more notches to its bedpost.

First, it ​bought​ the PGA. Through Saudi-owned LIV’s merger with the Professional Golfers’ Association, the Kingdom is now the only outside investor in the only remaining professional golfing league.

Second, the Kingdom’s Public Investment Fund acquired the four winningest football clubs in the Saudi Pro League (SPL).

Those four teams have won the sixteen-team league 23 times in the last 25 years. Based on recent years, the league wasn’t very competitive before, but this will further skew the competition.

Third, and related, Real Madrid star Karim Benzema ​signed​ for reigning SPL champions Al Ittihad.

Seven more stars — including all-time great Leo Messi — are on the Kingdom’s ​radar​ this summer.

In addition to locking in high-profile spokesmen ahead of the 2030 World Cup bid, the ambition here feels bigger than domestic dominance, though. Because regardless of how many ageing stars Saudi Arabia can lure to the SPL, no one’s going to watch the matches. The Chinese Super League ​tried​ this several years ago, and the players ​languished​ in their well-paid obscurity.

Unless…

UEFA holds the world’s biggest international football competition — The Champion’s League.

If I’m Saudi Arabia, maybe I can convince UEFA to let me join. Nearby Israel, Turkey, and Cyprus are members. Why not me?

That would give the four privatised clubs — and the stars the PIF is luring in — a massive global stage.

All in service of the Kingdom’s larger ambition for legitimacy.

Living the good life

And now for something completely different.

Every so often, The FT ​curates​ the most egregious perks companies offer the C-Suite. Here are a few recent highlights:

  • The CEO who was paid $2.2 million in relocation expenses.
  • The $4.4 million in private air travel Sheryl Sandberg racked up before she left Meta. Zuck used half that.
  • Rush Co spent $100k hosting its CEO at the company ranch.
  • LiveNation spends $600k on the CEO’s personal security and another $585k on his private air travel. But more interestingly, the company’s general counsel and CFO were comped over $80k worth of event tickets.

I only got one Alts.co hoodie, and it’s got a spaghetti stain.

What’s rising faster than sea levels? Flood insurance prices.

Do you own a home in either/both Florida or California?

Because of the increased risk of flooding and wildfires, respectively, you’re probably struggling to insure it at a reasonable price all.

Between the increasing number of catastrophes and rising cost to rebuild structures, many insurers are ​pulling out​ of those markets entirely.

​California​ has tried to cap price rises and overall costs, but that’s just led to insurance companies refusing to operate in the state. In ​Florida​, where there’s no cap, home insurance costs are up 57% since 2015 and are nearly triple the national average.

Businesses are struggling too. If a restaurant, winery, or tire change shop can’t afford to insure the building anymore, the doors shut and jobs go away.

So what’s worse? Having no insurance or not being able to afford the insurance available?

Solar power in the dark

The problem with solar energy is that it stops working when it’s nighttime. Or it’s cloudy. But you know where it’s never cloudy? Or nighttime? Outer space.

The nerds at Caltech have ​figured​ out how to collect solar energy in outer space and send it to earth as a microwave beam.

And they’ve done it in a cheap, robust, and efficient way.

It’s early days, but if this thing can scale with the help of ever cheaper rocket launch tech, we may be able to launch constellations of solar-collecting satellites into outer space and them send solar power anywhere in the world as easily as we do satellite TV signals.

And hopefully attach receivers to some ill-tempered sea bass.

Bonus Section!

Trying something new this week. If people find it helpful, I’ll continue. If not, I’ll crush it faster than insomnia has crushed my soul.

What I’m reading

​Market Briefs​ — daily financial news that makes writing Alts Cafe easier.

What I’m listening to

​Rage Against the Machine​ — it’s one of those days.

What I’m learning about

​Alternative fuels​ — this is the way.

That’s all for this week; I hope you enjoyed it.

Cheers,

Wyatt

Disclosures

  • This issue was sponsored by Franshares and we get a couple bucks if you subscribe to Prequel or Market Briefs.

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Wyatt Cavalier

With a background in finance & intelligence analysis, Wyatt has an unhealthy obsession with finding the best blue chip investment opportunities. His previous newsletter, Fractional, resonated deeply with subscribers, bringing actionable insights and unconventional trading strategies. His rare book collection specializes in banned editions. He currently lives in Spain with his beautiful wife, three young boys, and dog Monty.

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