Friday, December 10, 2021

Friday Night Links

  • There’s a lot of hiking in through-hiking. One of the people in my trail family (Dusty) started with a long-time friend who quit pretty quickly into the hike. I think he forgot the primary activity of a through-hike, is well, HIKING. There are cool stories and such but they are just small punctuations between the reality of day-in, day-out hiking. That’s what we really did, we hiked 12 to 14 hours a day, day-in, day-out. All the other moments of serendipity came as but brief breaks between the primary directive, HIKING. And man did we HIKE! Toward the end of my hike, I would split my day into quarters and hike whatever that amount would be, and then take a break. So let’s say I hiked 28 miles a day, that would mean four 7-mile blocks of hiking. At 3 mph that is ~2 hours and 20 minutes of hiking before a ~30-minute long break and then repeating that process three more times. Afterward, I would sleep and repeat it all again. [Mule
  • I told Banach about an expression Johnny had used with me in Princeton before stating some non-Jewish mathematician's result, "Die Goim haben den folgenden satz beweisen" (The goys have proved the following theorem). Banach, who was pure goy, thought it was one of the funniest sayings he had ever heard. He was enchanted by its implication that if the goys could do it, then Johnny and I ought to be able to do it better. Johnny did not invent this joke, but he liked it and we started using it. [Adventures of a Mathematician]
  • In September, 1999 I took a vacation with my wife in Italy. We spent a memorable week biking in Tuscany, and on our second day I distinctly remember a wine tasting that would forever change my life. To this point, wine was something I enjoyed but of which I was largely ignorant. I had always wanted to take the time to learn, but I found the topic to be hopelessly intimidating. Anyway, the tasting featured four Tuscan wines representing different DOCG's: Chianti Classico, Chianti Classico Riserva, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, and Brunello di Montalcino. I was blown away by the wines, most of all because they were made from essentially the same grapes (or clones of them) within a fairly small region. However, each wine had a thoroughly different personality due to varying environmental factors (terroir) and winemaking differences. [Cellar Tracker]  
  • Banks' 2020 results have been rolling in the past few weeks, and the standouts in various categories tend to capture our attention. The highest ROEs we have seen, which happen to trade at big discounts to TBV too, are Allied and CIB Marine (CIBH). The cheapest bank to TBV, and one of the most overcapitalized, is Bank of Utica. Another observation is that OTC banks with the same or even better ROE, capitalization, NPAs, demand deposits, and buyback history trade far cheaper to TBV than banks that are NASDAQ listed. [Oddball Stocks]
  • What is your favorite sport to watch?” The Gallup Poll first posed this survey question in 1937. At the time, and for decades thereafter, baseball was preeminent. In 1948, 39% of those Americans polled named baseball as their favorite sport, far more than football (17%) and basketball (10%). The margin was narrower in 1960—34% for baseball against 21% for football—and completely reversed by 1972, when 38% preferred football and 19% baseball. By 2017, Gallup’s most recent survey that included the question, baseball had fallen to 9%, placing it third behind football (37%) and basketball (11%), and barely ahead of soccer (7%). This is a startling decline for the “national pastime,” a term journalists were applying to baseball as long ago as 1856. American exceptionalism is about many things, but disdain for soccer—a sport where competitors pretend they lack arms and hands while running back and forth to secure an insurmountable one-to-nothing lead—is one of its salient and proudest features. That baseball is, in the land of its birth, scarcely more popular than soccer indicates not only how far baseball has fallen but that it could decline even farther. The New Yorker reported this year that baseball executives are “terrified of losing younger fans and worry that the sport is at risk of becoming the next horse racing or boxing”—niche competitions that haven’t had a mass audience since men wore fedoras. [Claremont Review of Books]
  • When “the left” becomes the party of wealthy elites and state security agencies who preach racial division, state censorship, contempt for ordinary citizens and for the U.S. Constitution, and telling people what to do and think at every turn, then that’s the side you are on, if you are “on the left”—those are the policies and beliefs you stand for and have to defend. It doesn’t matter what good people “on the left” believed and did 60 or 70 years ago. Those people are dead now, mostly. They don’t define “the left” anymore than Abraham Lincoln defines the modern-day Republican Party or Jimi Hendrix defines Nickelback. [Tablet]
  • A memoir by Betty Fussell, the ex-wife of Paul Fussell who wrote the important Class, a true 5/5. Her writing isn't that great, would suspect that she road Paul's coat-tails and resents the fact that everyone realizes it. Funny quote from Betty: "to cook French, eat French, drink French (California wines didn't yet count, and couldn't be mentioned in polite conversation unaccompanied by the word 'varietal') was to become versant in the civilized tongues of Europe as opposed to America's barbaric yawp." She mentions that Paul "took to wearing nylon bikini briefs in Day-Glo colors" and also started took a strong liking to his male students. (Which led to their divorce.) She's still alive at age 92, he died in 2012. [CBS]
  • Value traps are facts of life for value managers. A stock suffering from some temporary dark clouds appears temptingly cheap, and like the call of Sirens, it entices the intrepid Value manager. Alas, the company’s fundamentals disappoint yet again. It was a trap. The clouds were not temporary. And the market rightfully punishes the stock price further. Cautionary tales of Value traps are taught in finance texts around the world, and the term is a longstanding part of investment lexicon. Although most investors have never heard the term, “Growth traps” are even more insidious. The seduction is different, borne from grand narratives of disruptive technologies, hyper-growth, and breathtaking breakthroughs. But Growth stocks are no less prone to disappointment – there’s actually evidence they are slightly more likely to disappoint at certain points in the cycle1 – and their punishment can be even more dire. The chart above tracks a basket of Value and Growth trap stocks over 25 years. Value traps have underperformed their respective universe by a painful 9.5% per year. Growth traps have underperformed by an excruciating 13.0% per year. This makes sense: Growth stocks have lofty investor expectations, so when they fail to deliver, investors are merciless. [GMO]
  • Our plan is to buy a tree in a 5 gal container and keep it alive on our deck, bringing it in for Christmas and then planting it once it's too big for the house and starting over. In 50 years we'll have a Forest of Christmas Trees Past. Maybe just a Clump of Christmas Trees Past. [VictoryIllinois]

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