Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Best Reads - Summer 2017

  • "My expectation is that reform will come by other means. We aren’t going to sit down and rationally formulate a plan to solve all our festering troubles. Instead failure will overwhelm our current set of arrangements and involuntary change will result. New institutions will emerge that will work better – until they too become sclerotic and dysfunctional. That’s just the way the world has functioned for 5,000 years." [Granola]
  • "The first anonymous multibillionaire is being absolutely hardcore about demonstrating to the world that he is not ripping anybody off. He is not even using his privileged early-miner position for personal gain. Just stop and think about that for a minute, before you go on." [link]
  • "After the past 8 years, I look at investing and central banking less naively, through a political lens. One job of a central bank is to periodically pull the rug out from under would-be elites by tightening money when their me-too investments are coming online, so that the real elite can buy them at auction." [CBS]
  • "I think it’s time to go the route of what I’d planned to do if Hillary had won, and just decide the country is over and wash my hands of it" [Coulter]
  • "A strong association between lipid levels and heart disease risk has been found in the ratio of triglycerides to HDL cholesterol. In Fasting Triglycerides, High-Density Lipoprotein, and Risk of Myocardial Infarction, researchers found that those with the highest triglyceride to HDL ratio, in the top quartile, had 16 times the heart disease risk of those in the lowest quartile. The ratio in the lowest quartile in this study was about 1.3. Other studies have found similar results. These lipids are likely not causal of heart disease either, but are related to insulin resistance and are markers for it; diabetics, who have 2 to 4 times the heart disease risk of non-diabetics, typically have elevated triglyceride levels and low HDL levels." [Mangan]
  • "The startup and venture capital businesses are based on a general idea that you can and should invest heavily into your business in order to increase value creation, amplify it, and accelerate it. These investments mostly take the form of operating losses, driven by headcount, where the monthly expenses are larger, often much larger, than revenues." [AVC]
  •  "There are at least 35 well-defined tumor suppressor genes, and many others that are proposed, in our genome, to help keep cancer in check. We can case-harden these genes against mutations in various ways. A famous tumor suppressor gene is the p53 gene, so called guardian of the genome. What you see here is a map of the mutations that arise in cancer. What you can see first of all is that almost all of these mutations are in one part of the gene and they are extremely variable. There are some spots that are off-the-scale here, and these are the hot spots, and then there are others that are much less frequently mutated. The impact is huge in that p53 is mutated in 50% of human cancers and therefore by implication one could, if one never had mutations in p53, one would anticipate a major impact on the probability of cancer, and most of these mutations occur in these hot spots. Of those 9 hot spots, 7 fall in codons that contain the CPG... all of those codons could be recoded to other codons that didn't contain CPG, which could then specify the same amino acid, but then would lose their ability to be hot spots for the mutation. This is a somewhat specialized case because p53 is unusual in having many point mutations. Many suppressor genes are lost by deletion and other loss of function changes. The inspiration from nature is that some very long lived animals have extra copies of p53." [link]
  • "So if I absolutely had to dive, I'd be willing to risk another full month of hospital treatment, convalescence, and imprisonment in Australia. But who absolutely has to SCUBA dive? Most of the good coral reef sights are within 10 meters of the surface, oftentimes closer to 5 meters. And the shallower they are the more vibrant the colors from sunlight. You can see these sights just floating on the surface with a snorkel and see them well by getting good at free diving (the dive instructors on Spoilsport would regularly free dive down to 15 meters to secure lines and oftentimes to 30 meters or more for fun). I very happily snorkeled a full mile across a bay in Hawaii once and then snorkeled a mile back in the other direction. I saw eagle rays, sea turtles, and a school of dolphins. The beauty of the snorkel is that you can breathe while floating at your natural level. So you can just stop and rest at any time. Still, if you're lazy or out of shape SCUBA is a good crutch for getting below the surface but being out of shape is probably an increased risk for DCI." [Greenspun]
  • "The universe is a dark forest. Every civilization is an armed hunter stalking through the trees like a ghost, gently pushing aside branches that block the path and trying to tread without sound. Even breathing is done with care. The hunter has to be careful, because everywhere in the forest are stealthy hunters like him. If he finds another life — another hunter, angel, or a demon, a delicate infant to tottering old man, a fairy or demigod — there’s only one thing he can do: open fire and eliminate them." [link]
  • "I’ll never forget the day my wife and I were riding bikes and I noticed a realtor escorting buyers into a new luxury condo. Suddenly and unexpectedly, I yelled, 'Don’t do it, it’s a bubble!'" [Cinnamond]
  • "At the stroke of 5 p.m., a doorbell announced the arrival of Princess Noor Pahlavi, 24, a daughter of Iran’s exiled crown prince, Reza Pahlavi, and granddaughter of the late shah. She brought cheese. Mr. Milstein, who graduated from Yale in May, paired a green Fendi blazer with a Club Monaco top, Rag & Bone trousers and Gucci fur-lined leather slippers, personalized with tiger appliqués. A light coating of tinted foundation smoothed out his cheeks and forehead." [NY Times]
  • "Afghanistan is the sort of quagmire that ideally, you’d lure your greatest enemies to attempt to occupy. 'Oh no, stay out of Afghanistan! It’s the strategic center of Asia, controlling all of the mountain passes. It’s a veritable Gibralter or Constantinople of strategic world locations.'" [Sailer]
  • "Is it really a ponzi scheme? Sounds just like any other startup mentioned here where they burn a tonne of cash while working out how to be profitable." [Hacker News]
  • "Two months ago, it was P&G which fired the first shot across the 'adtech' bow when not long after it announced it was slashing its digital ad spending because it thought it was not getting the kind of return on investment it desired, it made a striking discovery: 'We didn’t see a reduction in the growth rate.' CFO Jon Moeller said 'What that tells me is that that spending that we cut was largely ineffective.'" [ZH]
  • "The way to fight the fascist state is to show that it is inherently morally corrupt, and that any attempt to make it slightly less corrupt is simply putting the monstrosity on life support. Let it go belly-up as soon as possible." [Gary North]
  • "I suspect most of the indexers who believe markets are efficient have never tried to liquidate a multi-million dollar small cap position in a market with few bids. I’ve seen it. It’s sloppy, illiquid, and very inefficient. I believe the great passive investing unwind could be one of next attractive buying opportunities for disciplined absolute return investors. I’m ready and looking forward to owning small cap stocks again." [Cinnamond]
  • "In recent months, Nike realized it was losing negotiating leverage to argue for better brand presentation or eliminate counterfeits as long as Amazon could make money off unsanctioned sales of its product, according to one of the people familiar with the deal. That triggered internal conversations among senior Nike executives about its relationship with Amazon, according to people familiar with the deal." [WSJ]
  • "'Inquiring minds want to know' originally came from E. F. Hutton (Stock Brokers) commercials on TV. Probably as early as the late 70's. They were funny, too. You'd see these two business types in the middle of a crowd and one of them would say, 'Well, my broker is E. F. Hutton, and he says...' and, in the next scene, you'd see the whole crowd stop in their tracks and look over at the guys, straining to hear what he'd say. Then, the commercial would end with 'Inquiring minds want to know' across the screen" [Quora]
  • "Right now, sitting in an office somewhere there is a fund manager you have never heard of who is going to be famous in the coming years.  This person will have absolutely spectacular performance during the next bear market." [Bason]
  • "As Lewis Cantley, the director of the Cancer Center at Weill Cornell Medicine, once put it, 'Metformin may have already saved more people from cancer deaths than any drug in history.' Nobel laureate James Watson (of DNA-structure fame), who takes metformin off-label for cancer prevention, once suggested that the drug appeared to be 'our only real clue into the business' of fighting the disease." [MR]
  • "It is often argued that our societies are old, with a graying population, and so we need immigrants. When these theories are challenged—by asking, for instance, why the next generation of Germany’s workforce might not come from unemployed Greece rather than Eritrea—we are told that we need low-skilled workers who do not speak our languages because it makes Europe more culturally interesting. It is as though some great hole lies at the heart of the culture of Dante, Bach and Wren." [WSJ]
  • "'Stocks with low expected returns based on the Valuation anomaly variable are also the stocks that are likely to provide the most investment banking business' - mostly likely to raise new capital. In other words, there was a conflict of interest." [AA]
  • "I've raised some fictional money to start a fictional cloud computing company, DeceptiCloud. My plan is simple: in the first year, the company will spend $1 billion building out its cloud data center, selling the same types of services sold by other cloud infrastructure providers like AWS. In each following year, the company will ramp its spending by 50% -- it is a fast-growing industry, after all." [MF]
  • "This has worked fine for companies so long as the economy has remained relatively strong and interest rates have remained low. However, should we enter another recession or a period of rising interest rates this may change. A economic slowdown or another pop in interest rates (or both, a phenomenon called 'stagflation') could precipitate a reversal in this trend towards 'de-equitization' in which companies are forced into debt-for-equity swaps in order to meet these new and growing fixed obligations." [Felder]
  • "The single biggest change in the American diet over the 20th century was the increase in seed oils, which increased 1000-fold" [link]
  • "I've watched Lampert sell off the crown jewels, and hey, maybe there *is* no future in retailing, but I'm absolutely sure there's no future if you don't have any products worth selling, and if your here-to-fore best brands are now available down the street or across the plaza for less. Craftsman Tools. Land's End. Kenmore. DieHard. What's left, the real estate? OK, but they don't even have that now, as Eddie's fist is in that pie, too" [MF/Roark]
  • "The degree to which the level of depression in a country correlates with the amount of fish eaten in that country is staggering" [SSC]
  • "the ability of participants to integrate disconfirmatory evidence showed a significant linear dopaminergic modulation pattern (highest with haloperidol, intermediate with placebo, lowest with L-dopa)" [link]


Anonymous said...

I don’t love packing; it’s inside work and mostly tedious. I do enjoy packing stemware, china, sculpture, and fine art, but that stuff is getting rarer in American households. Books are completely disappearing. (Remember in Fahrenheit 451 where the fireman’s wife was addicted to interactive television and they sent fireman crews out to burn books? That mission has been largely accomplished in middle-class America, and they didn’t need the firemen. The interactive electronics took care of it without the violence.)

ADL said...

Nonanecdotally, book sales actually seem to be increasing faster than population: