Friday, December 11, 2020

Friday Night Links

  • The stock market is another of Streisand’s passions. She wakes up most mornings at 6:30 a.m. to check the opening in New York. If she finds the action “interesting,” she trades. Then she goes back to bed. [NY Times]
  • The world changes as snow and cold test one's fiber and ingenuity, something that brings far more satisfaction than just living easily. You become both more contemplative and more alert. The fire you make and tend against winter is one of the great things in life if only because it stands for life itself opposing the forces that someday will end it. And this may be the heart of it, that winter even as we fight it is both a measure and cause of our vitality. That though it may exist as an enemy, it is something of extraordinary beauty. And that though in representing the last season of our lives it symbolizes our death, year after year experience teaches us that, miraculously and invariably, after winter's inescapable conquests the new life of spring comes nonetheless. [WSJ]
  • In lieu of granting interim relief, this Court could simply reach the merits summarily. Cf. FED. R. CIV. P. 65(a)(2); S.Ct. Rule 17.5. Two things are clear from the evidence presented at this initial phase: (1) nonlegislative actors modified the Defendant States’ election statutes; and (2) the resulting uncertainty casts doubt on the lawful winner. Those two facts are enough to decide the merits of the Electors Clause claim. The Court should thus vacate the Defendant States’ appointment and impending certifications of presidential electors and remand to their State legislatures to allocate presidential electors via any constitutional means that does not rely on 2020 election results that includes votes cast in violation of State election statutes in place on Election Day. [Ken Paxton]
  • Trump has been a decent counterpuncher, but he’s a poor conspirator. He’s seldom been cynical enough about how low his foes would go against him. He doesn’t have the attention span to obsess enough over what his enemies are planning to do to him in the future. So he’s not often paranoid enough ahead of time about what his foes are up to. He’s just not cynical enough, expecting people to like him rather than to try to do him down. [Sailer]
  • When dating a birder, everything—from religious beliefs to daily habits—is affected by avifauna. Jessie refers to children as “offspring.” Homes become “nests.” Noteworthy hair becomes “plumage.” A few weeks ago, lounging on the couch, Jessie said she was roosting. On another occasion, she showed me videos of colorful birds doing bizarre, elaborate mating dances—one male in front of a creative lean-to he had built worthy of Andy Goldsworthy, decorated with purple flower petals. I looked around the house and then at myself, pasty and unremarkable, and pondered my underwhelming bank account as a freelance journalist. I wasn’t sure what Jessie was trying to suggest. [Outside]
  • Although Porter’s conceptual framework could "help explain excess profits in retrospect, it was almost useless in predicting them in prospect." As Stewart points out, “The strategists’ theories are 100 percent accurate in hindsight. Yet, when casting their theories into the future, the strategists as a group perform abysmally. Although Porter himself wisely avoids forecasting, those who wish to avail themselves of his framework do not have the luxury of doing so. The point is not that the strategists lack clairvoyance; it’s that their theories aren’t really theories— they are ‘just-so’ stories whose only real contribution is to make sense of the past, not to predict the future.” [Forbes]
  • Howard Koeppel greets a visitor at his posh Upper East Side apartment, with its million-dollar views of midtown Manhattan. “Welcome to Gracie Mansion annex,” he says with a grin. “I’m the first lady.” He’s only half-kidding. In a turn of events tailor-made for this city’s tabloid headlines, Republican Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani separated from his wife, Donna Hanover, and then did something that has even many I’ve-seen-it-all New Yorkers baffled: He vacated the mayoral mansion to become roommates with a gay couple and their pet Shih Tzu, Bonnie. Since June, Giuliani and his bodyguard have taken residence in the elegant 3,000-square-foot home of old friend Koeppel, a 64-year-old Queens car dealer, and his 41-year-old partner of 10 years, Mark Hsiao. Traveling with the lightness of a soon-to-be divorced man, Giuliani brought only a few suits and some toilet articles to the residence. He sleeps on a bed laden with throw pillows, one proclaiming: “It ain’t easy being king.” “He hasn’t exactly moved in,” Hsiao says. “We prefer to call it ‘crashing.’ He makes his own bed, takes away his dirty laundry and tiptoes in when he comes in late at night. Sometimes I feel like I have two husbands.” [LA Times]
  • All of this agony is for a reasonably successful Net-Net investment. Others in your portfolio will be duds in that you lose money or the stock goes nowhere for years. It will feel worse to own these. And you’ll have the occasional name that’s a disaster. To be a successful Net-Net investor, you have to be comfortable owning non-sexy stocks. Most people will think you’re crazy if you explain why you own the stocks that you do. You have to do your own research. You need to believe the company will be around and sustain it’s Net-Net value. You’ll need to have faith that the strategy will continue to work, despite the drawdowns. For this reason, I suggest you stay reasonably diversified if you choose to invest in Net-Nets. And once you do the work and make your investment, it’s best not to look too closely. Any style of investment is difficult. It requires commitment to the strategy, and discipline in executing it. Following a Net-Net strategy is no different. [Nothing but Net Nets]
  • “We believe ExxonMobil needs a more disciplined and forward-thinking approach to capital allocation strategy, including a long-term commitment to only funding projects that can break-even at much more conservative oil and gas prices. Upstream projects that do not easily exceed the Company’s target returns when factoring in all costs (including SG&A) under probabilistically-weighted demand scenarios should be cancelled or rejected and this capital should be returned to investors or put to work strengthening ExxonMobil for the long-term.” [Reenergize XOM]
  • Most suspiciously treatments have been politicized. Any and every cheap prophylaxis has been ignored and proponents of them attacked for being anti-science. To my mind, this is the peek behind the curtain. If Covid was an existential threat to those in power, they would not be picky about the cure or where it came from. Instead, they inserted themselves between doctor and patient in an entirely unprecedented fashion. HQZ was treated like it was a schedule 1 narcotic. [@pdxsag]

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