Monday, February 11, 2019

February 11th Links

  • Birding is a life-long lesson in biology, distribution and geography, and keeping a list of all the birds I have seen in my life pushes me to find new places and habitats on the road. A birdwatcher learns to see in a very different way than non-birders; making anybody who pursues birds on the road much more likely to observe things about a place than those who don't. I talk about this in my notes from the Bahia Palace in Marrakech, Morocco. [Notes from the Road]
  • A superior man, in regard to what he does not know, shows a cautious reserve. If names be not correct, language is not in accordance with the truth of things. If language be not in accordance with the truth of things, affairs cannot be carried on to success. When affairs cannot be carried on to success, proprieties and music do not flourish. When proprieties and music do not flourish, punishments will not be properly awarded. When punishments are not properly awarded, the people do not know how to move hand or foot. Therefore a superior man considers it necessary that the names he uses may be spoken appropriately, and also that what he speaks may be carried out appropriately. What the superior man requires is just that in his words there may be nothing incorrect. [Confucius]
  • Let's say you have a family and you love performance cars, but you can't have two cars. You need one car that'll do it all. That'll take the kids to school, the family to dinner, get stuff from Home Depot, and something that's fun to drive. You have very few options that'll tick all those boxes. Sure, you could buy a fast SUV or crossover, but do you really want to do that? Everyone has crossovers these days, and they just aren't that much fun to drive no matter how quick they are. A fast sedan might work, but not if you want to haul a lot of people and things. No matter, Mercedes has the solution for you with this, the E63 S Wagon. [Road And Track]
  • The difficulty people have with getting rid of items is so tough to overcome that she has to set a high bar for these clients to merit keeping them. Sparks joy might as well be top five. What is your top five of anything? Keep those. Junk the rest. It is junk. Kondo comes in and brings order to these homes filled with junk. The ritual matters. This is basic maintenance of a home, yet the rich and poor alike of California all fail to keep orderly homes. If you watch this, you will see pricey looking homes cluttered with kitsch and crap. There are entire rooms of shoes like Imelda Marcos. [American Sun]
  • On ZH one finds a catechism of victimhood where it's "the Fed," "the Banksters," etc. who choreograph the entire macabre dance. Just this day one comment stated that low interest rates drove people to load up on debt. That is, of course, irrational. Interest rates are set by debt PRICES. Interest rates are thus simply a product of the meeting between people who want to buy debt and people willing to go into debt. It's simply another way to state a price. And what did low rates tell us? That the desire to buy other people's IOU's was nearly insatiable for a time. Is this not, like enthusiasm for foreigners, migrants, immivaders, and political promises hither and yon, simply an expression of giddy optimism and openness? It sure seems like it to me. [K]
  • There's a sort of prisoner's dilemma now facing a federal judge in the ongoing Harvard race discrimination court battle. As you know, the prisoner's dilemma is a game theory that suggests self-interest will compel two confederates to betray each other when cooperation would benefit their mutual self-interests. For those unfamiliar with the court proceeding, in it plaintiffs allege that Harvard's diversity regime is racially discriminatory against Asians rather than merely the whites against whom it was intended to be racially discriminatory. As a result a race other than whites was denied legal protections, which runs counter to the country's principles. [K]
  • The first indictment of a war criminal is losing the war. Some generals understand this innately and so endeavor to keep their morality pristine by plowing over as many corpses as their infantry can burn. By this measure William Tecumseh Sherman may have been the most ethical fighter of his age. One of his most famous assertions was that War is Hell. It was a quote he strived to uphold. [K]
  • Ethereum sucks. Either the devs are too incompetent to make the code work or they are being bribed to forestall upgrades; either way is bad news for Ethereum. This bodes poorly for future upgrades such as Caspar and Sharding. Ethereum will continue to fall relative to Bitcoin and other coins as people lose faith in the project. A trade that is 'short' Ethereum and long a combination Bitcoin, Tron, Stellar, Monero, Ripple should be successful. [Grey Enlightenment]
  • Remove TV, news and social media from your daily routine or limit them each to five minutes per day. Then when you feel the inevitable pull to check in, use this as a "keystone habit" to grab your paper to-do list and start working on something from the list – even if it's just ten push-ups, or picking up an old-fashioned paper book you are working through. [MMM]
  • Before the bear market in 2000 began, Lancaster Colony was trading at 13x earnings and was priced as a value stock. Given its relatively low valuation, Lancaster Colony's stock provided investors with a healthy margin of safety heading into the bear market of 2000-2002. In fact, its stock was so attractively priced, it actually increased 58% while the Russell 2000 declined -44% from the 2000 peak to 2002 trough! During this period, owning Lancaster Colony and quality worked magnificently. Currently trading at 35x earnings, I no longer consider Lancaster Colony a value stock. And that of course is the big difference between high-quality this cycle and when quality worked in the past – valuation! In the case of Lancaster Colony, the difference between 13x and 35x earnings is considerable. From a risk management perspective, it's the difference between swimming with a life jacket and a bag of cement. [Cinnamond]
  • Assuming the current market cycle's peak is behind us, it appears the 2-year yield that caused something in the financial markets to crack was approximately 2.75%. Not long after stocks began to fall, the 2-year yield peaked at 2.98% (November 8, 2018). It's not exactly a high yield for a cycle peak, but one needs to keep things in perspective. The fed funds rate was between 0-1% for nine years! A tremendous amount of debt accumulation, asset inflation, and capital allocation occurred while rates were pegged near 0%. As such, it didn't take many rate hikes (along with QT) to cause investors to revise their "lower for longer" valuation assumption. [Cinnamond]
  • We were too tired to think much about it that evening, but the next day we – Brad and the two remaining members of the coding team – had a meeting. We talked about what we had. Blake gave it its name: Shiri's Scissor. In some dead language, scissor shares a root with schism. A scissor is a schism-er, a schism-creator. And that was what we had. We were going to pivot from online advertising to superweapons. We would call the Pentagon. Tell them we had a program that could make people hate each other. Was this ethical? We were in online ads; we would sell our grandmothers to Somali slavers if we thought it would get us clicks. That horse had left the barn a long time ago. It's hard to just call up the Pentagon and tell them you have a superweapon. Even in Silicon Valley, they don't believe you right away. But Brad called in favors from his friends, and about a week after David and Shiri got fired, we had a colonel from DARPA standing in the meeting room, asking what the hell we thought was so important. [SSC]
  • The representativeness heuristic (RH) has been proposed to be at the root of several types of biases in judgment. In this project, we ask whether the RH is relevant in two kinds of choices in the context of gambling. Specifically, in a field experiment with naturalistic stimuli and a potentially extremely high monetary pay-out, we give each of our subjects a choice between a lottery ticket with a random-looking number sequence and a ticket with a patterned sequence; we subsequently offer them a small cash bonus if they switch to the other ticket. In the second task, we investigate the gambler's fallacy, asking subjects what they believe the outcome of a fourth coin toss after a sequence of three identical outcomes will be. We find that most subjects prefer "random" sequences, and that approximately half believe in dependence between subsequent coin tosses. There is no correlation, though, between the initial choice of the lottery ticket and the prediction of the coin toss. Nonetheless, subjects who have a strong preference for certain number combinations (i.e., subjects who are willing to forgo the cash bonus and remain with their initial choice) also tend to predict a specific outcome (in particular a reversal, corresponding to the gambler's fallacy) in the coin task. [link]
  • I see Ferraris drive by and I think, "That's neat." I see a W8 AWD 6sp Passat wagon, snap my neck hard enough to induce whiplash, and think, "WHOA this guy is a glutton for punishment and/or knows his stuff. How can I be friends with him?" [Opposite Lock]
  • In 2010 or so, VW had exactly no – zero, zilch, nada – new W8 engines in stock (at least in the US warehouses). When they were available, they listed out at $24,000 for a long-block. We replaced none of them out of warranty. [Jalopnik]
  • Yes, that's the friggin' trunk hinge, not a piece of sculpture. Those hinges were made by Campagnolo, the bicycle company. They commissioned an Italian bike company as a vendor to make just the hinges! I had not seen anything like this before and have not seen anything like it since. [Jalopnik]

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