Thursday, September 1, 2022

Thursday Night Links

  • The inactive 74-year-old’s quadriceps has degenerated into mostly fat and highly marbled*, weak muscle, whereas the active 74-year-old is almost indistinguishable from a younger fit person. These illustrations show that our own agency has a very significant effect on how we experience aging. People who take care of themselves really can enjoy at least a decade of additional productive life. (*Cattle are “finished” for market by being confined in pens where they are inactive all day and fed corn byproducts, much like the typical modern consumer.) The only way to avoid sarcopenia is through resistance training. This is best done with weight lifting but can be done without any cost through bodyweight routines. Even so, a set of weights is pretty cheap and so are many gym memberships. In my own experience, resistance exercise has major psychological and even spiritual effects that are at least as beneficial as the physical effects on the body. It seems to tap into a part of the human spirit, of high agency against the forces of decay, that Nietschze lionized but took too far in his conclusions. [The Tom File
  • Though in the course of ages catastrophes have occurred and may yet occur in the heavens, though ancient systems may be dissolved and new systems evolved out of their ruins, the molecules out of which these systems are built — the foundation-stones of the material universe — remain unbroken and unworn. [James Clerk Maxwell]
  • The New York State Board of Regents in 1951 drafted a prayer to be read in the state’s public schools. The final prayer was adopted unanimously after consultation with priests, ministers, and rabbis. It read as follows: “Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers and our Country.” If local school boards approved the prayer, it would be recited daily in the district’s public schools before classes began. The prayer was uncontroversial. America was predominantly Christian. Even its non-Christians wanted their children to believe in God. And New York was not alone. By 1949, at least 37 states had one or more public schools where morning prayers were recited. Richard Dierenfield’s analysis from 1960 found that nearly 88 percent of U.S. public schools held Christmas celebrations, more than 40 percent read the Bible, and one in three recited a school prayer in homeroom. [The American Conservative]
  • On September 1, 2022, FFBW, Inc., the holding company for First Federal Bank of Wisconsin, announced it has completed a program to repurchase 625,000 shares of its common stock and adopted a new program to repurchase up to an additional 400,000 shares of its common stock, which is approximately 7% of its remaining outstanding common stock.  This is the Company’s fourth stock repurchase program since completing its second step conversion and related stock offering in January 2020. [FFBW
  • In practice, does anyone really eat too much protein?  No.  Even at a steakhouse, you might get too many calories, but that is the bread and martinis.  You are safe with steak.  Even at McDonald’s you can get a healthy meal of a black coffee and order of eggs and just the quarter pounder patties off menu (hat tip to Dr. Cam Sepah for this trick).  The great thing about protein is that it is so satiating that I feel stuffed far before I exceed the 3,300-3,500 calories that I need to maintain my weight.  The only trick to it is to hit your macros with as little extra junk in your fuel as possible. Watch for anything advertising protein but sneaking in sugar.  This is addiction of pandemic proportions. Deciding to consume “normal” levels of sugar in a standard American diet is synonymous with deciding to be obese and pre-diabetic by middle age.  To opt out, you essentially need to opt out of corporate food, because they sneak it in everything, not just desserts, in order to addict you. Every dude should take enclomiphene citrate.  The highest dose studied in a clinical setting is 25 mgs/day.  That should be standard for anyone over 18 years old with XY chromosomes.  Beyond that, I’m curious about higher doses as well as combining it with Kyzatrex. [Chris DeMuth]
  • Our Canadian oil majors are trading for less than five times earnings because, supposedly, there is going to be an electric vehicle transition that brings us battery electric vehicles powered by "renewable" (wind and solar) energy. Well if that is true, we are going to need vast quantities of steel, copper, concrete, and other basic materials. Yet when we look, we find that the investors who espouse this transition have not invested in the production of any of those materials, and shares of those companies are going begging at very low valuations. Professional investors seem to have lost the ability to translate a worldview into a portfolio if it involves natural resources. [CBS]
  • We are really interested in finding royalties and tollbooth businesses that we can hold through a significant coming inflation. An operation under the influence of greater or less mischances is something that we may be forced to sell because of poor capital allocation by or other disagreements with management. That would expose us to loss or to paying taxes on partly illusory (nominal) capital gains. We should do better over time with investments that have lower volatility of operating profits and the highest percentage of revenue returned to shareholders, provided that we buy them at attractive prices. Remember our discussion of hydrocarbon royalties and pipelines? Profits that fluctuate into the red are signs of weak business models and poor competitive position. Royalty trusts never lose money, by definition. Pipelines basically never lose money. The cigarette companies may have to take a non-cash writeoff of a stupid acquisition, but their operations are always profitable. Public sector employees (university professors with tenure, as an example) do very well for themselves, when you consider that they are paid public sector wages and are selected for a lack of interest in wealth creation. This may be because of the lack of volatility in their earnings - they are never unemployed. This is a theme worth exploring further - slow, boring consistency as a path to long-term survival. [CBS]
  • If you look around the world, you will notice tons of countries with fiat currencies are running high inflation rates. Meanwhile, deflationary collapses are rare. Can you imagine the central banks of Brazil, Argentina, or Ghana tightening enough to cause a deflationary collapse? It has never happened, because the path of least resistance is inflation. Betting on inflation is the cynical bet. But we have to be cynical enough to realize that the central bank doesn't want us hoarding real assets and is going to try to trick us with jawboning talk. People will believe the talk and there will be violent selloffs. This is why we like "first class" inflation protected assets and not leveraged junk. [CBS]

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