Friday, December 8, 2017


"It has been my experience that there is no substitute for time where thinking is concerned. Why is it so? The answer seems to be that in many cases to think means to be able to allow the mind to stray from the task at hand. The mind must be able to be 'elsewhere.' This needs time." - Eric Hoffer

Peter Kiewit – The Story of Warren Buffett’s Mentor (LINK)
Related book: Intelligent Fanatics: Standing on the Shoulders of Giants
Ray Dalio talks with Barry Ritholtz (podcast) (LINK)
Related book: Principles
The regulatory case against tech giants: What path will lawmakers choose? (LINK)

Scott Galloway on The James Altucher Show (podcast) (LINK)
Related book: The Four
Exponent Podcast: Episode 134 — Human Problems (LINK)

LinkedIn co-founder and Greylock partner Reid Hoffman on the Recode Decode Podcast (LINK)

Steve Keen on the FT Alphachat Podcast (LINK)
Related book: Can We Avoid Another Financial Crisis? [For my thoughts on the book, see the bottom of THIS post.]
StarTalk Radio (podcast) -- Cosmic Queries: Mysterious Cosmology, with Sean Carroll (LINK)
Related book: The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself
How to Tell If a Dinosaur Is Fake - by Ed Yong (LINK)

Today's Audible Daily Deal ($0.99): On Power by Robert A. Caro

Curiosity and Observation

From Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson:
In addition to his instinct for discerning patterns across disciplines, Leonardo honed two other traits that aided his scientific pursuits: an omnivorous curiosity, which bordered on the fanatical, and an acute power of observation, which was eerily intense. Like much with Leonardo, these were interconnected. Any person who puts “Describe the tongue of the woodpecker” on his to-do list is overendowed with the combination of curiosity and acuity.  
His curiosity, like that of Einstein, often was about phenomena that most people over the age of ten no longer puzzle about: Why is the sky blue? How are clouds formed? Why can our eyes see only in a straight line? What is yawning? Einstein said he marveled about questions others found mundane because he was slow in learning to talk as a child. For Leonardo, this talent may have been connected to growing up with a love of nature while not being overly schooled in received wisdom. 
...His curiosity was aided by the sharpness of his eye, which focused on things that the rest of us glance over.... The acuteness of his observational skill was not some superpower he possessed. Instead, it was a product of his own effort. That’s important, because it means that we can, if we wish, not just marvel at him but try to learn from him by pushing ourselves to look at things more curiously and intensely. 
In his notebook, he described his method—almost like a trick—for closely observing a scene or object: look carefully and separately at each detail. He compared it to looking at the page of a book, which is meaningless when taken in as a whole and instead needs to be looked at word by word. Deep observation must be done in steps: “If you wish to have a sound knowledge of the forms of objects, begin with the details of them, and do not go on to the second step until you have the first well fixed in memory.”

Thursday, December 7, 2017


Bill Gates: Holiday Reading 2017 (video) (LINK)
The books: 1) Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City; 2) The Sympathizer; 3) The Best We Could Do; 4) Energy and Civilization: A History; 5) Believe Me: A Memoir of Love, Death, and Jazz Chickens
Howard Marks at the Goldman Sachs US Financial Services Conference (LINK)
Everybody who manages money has to end up somewhere on the spectrum between cautious and aggressive, and I don't see any encouragement for aggressiveness today. I'm not worried about missing opportunities today. I'm worried about losing money. And so in my opinion, that calls for caution. Not out of the market. Oaktree's mantra is and has been for a while move forward but with caution. Move forward means make investments. We're not terrified. We're not hesitant to make investments. We are, in most of our accounts, we are fully invested, but with caution. And we are a cautious firm, so that means more caution than usual. And fully invested with caution has actually been a good posture for the last several years. You look at last year, you look at this year, I think that in both years, the returns have come as a surprise. So the point is, we would've had a somewhat higher return if we hadn't been cautious, but our caution gave us the courage to be fully invested, which was the right thing.
Howard Marks says tax cut won't trickle down 'too much' to regular worker (LINK)

Muddy Waters Shorts OSI Systems on Bribery Concerns (video) (LINK)

How To Read Financial News - by Morgan Housel (LINK)

Mary Hull – One of the First Female Intelligent Fanatics - by Sean Iddings (LINK)

Andrew Lo on the Odd Lots Podcast (LINK)
Related book: Adaptive Markets: Financial Evolution at the Speed of Thought
Grant’s Podcast: Value Hunt (LINK)

Freakonomics Radio (podcast): Why Is the Live-Event Ticket Market So Screwed Up? (LINK)

Masters of Scale with Reid Hoffman (podcast): Infinite Learner (Part I) — with IAC's Barry Diller (LINK)

Benedict Evans presentation: 10 Year Futures (vs. What's Happening Now) (video) (LINK)
This autumn I gave the keynote at Andreessen Horowitz's annual 'Tech Summit' conference, talking about the state of tech today and what's likely to happen in the next decade: mobile, Google / Apple / Facebook / Amazon, innovation, machine learning, autonomous cars, mixed reality and crypto-currencies. 
Max Tegmark: "Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of AI" | Talks at Google (LINK)

Apparently This Is What a Swimming Dinosaur Looks Like - by Ed Yong (LINK)

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

François Rochon: "The Art of Investing: Analyzing Numbers and Going Beyond" | Talks at Google

Link to video


Related link: Giverny Capital Letters To Partners

Practice and theory...

“Those who are in love with practice without theoretical knowledge are like the sailor who goes onto a ship without rudder or compass and who never can be certain whither he is going.... Practice must always be founded on sound theory.” - Leonardo da Vinci



Related previous post: Clayton Christensen and Charlie Munger on theory

Tuesday, December 5, 2017


Maker vs. Manager: How Your Schedule Can Make or Break You (LINK)

While he thinks it's possible though not probable, Thomas Peterffy warns that Bitcoin futures could cause a Lehman-style collapse [H/T Will] (LINK)

SEC Halts a Silly Initial Coin Offering (LINK)

Invest Like the Best Podcast: A Sober View on Crypto, with Adam Ludwin (LINK)

The Pollyannish Assumption - by Ben Thompson (LINK)

Matt Ridley‏ on the perils of confirmation bias (2012) (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)

The Desirability of Storytellers - by Ed Yong (LINK)

Book of the day [H/T @stevenbjohnson]: The Woman Who Smashed Codes

A Conversation with Mr. Warren Buffett at the Purpose Built Communities 2017 Annual Conference

Warren Buffett, an American businessman and philanthropist, is a co-founder of Purpose Built Communities. In this conversation with CNBC Anchor, Becky Quick, he discusses what lessons he has learned from his successes and failures and why initiatives like Purpose Built Communities give him hope for our country’s future. This conversation took place on October 3, 2017 in Omaha, NE.

Link to video

[H/T Will]

Monday, December 4, 2017


"When bargains are scarce, value investors must be patient; compromising standards is a slippery slope to disaster. New opportunities will emerge, even if we don’t know when or where." - Seth Klarman

CBS Sunday Profile: Warren Buffett (video) [H/T Linc] (LINK)

Buffett's Fruit of the Loom Tries on Subscription Underwear [H/T Linc] (LINK)

The Interesting Story of the Founding of the Fed - by John Huber (LINK)
Related book: America's Bank: The Epic Struggle to Create the Federal Reserve
Tax Cuts, Debt, & The Pretense of Knowledge - by Frank Martin (LINK)

Platform business models are transforming insurance – by Sangeet Paul Choudary (LINK)

Bitcoin, Ignorance, and You - by Jason Zweig (LINK)

The Winklevoss twins' September 17, 2013 Value Investing Congress presentation on Bitcoin (LINK)

Bitcoin Storms Wall Street (LINK)

And to repeat from last week... Howard Marks' comments about Bitcoin in his last memo ("Yet Again?"), which he wrote after chatting with the Horizon Kinetics team and others, are also worth revisiting (starting on page 4).

The cannibalizing effect of share buybacks. Are there parallels with Japan’s bubble years? (LINK)

Tim O'Reilly: "WTF?: What's the Future and Why It's Up to Us" | Talks at Google (LINK)

Exponent Podcast: Episode 133 — Two Terrible Options (LINK)

Reading at work - by Seth Godin (LINK)

Voyager 1 Fires Up Thrusters After 37 Years [H/T Linc] (LINK)

Scallops Have Eyes, and Each One Builds a Beautiful Living Mirror - by Ed Yong (LINK)

We Might Absorb Billions of Viruses Every Day (And that’s a good thing.) (LINK)

The Complicated Legacy Of A Panda Who Was Really Good At Sex [H/T @edyong209] (LINK)

Book of the day [H/T Evan Osnos]: The China Fantasy

"When people are free to do as they please, they usually imitate each other." - Eric Hoffer

Thursday, November 30, 2017


John Hussman made a 19-minute video with his thoughts on the proposed tax bill (LINK)

The Senate’s tax bill is a sweeping change to every part of federal health care [H/T @Atul_Gawande] (LINK)

Would all Industry Titans of the 19th Century be in Prison Today? - by Ian Cassel (LINK)

Leithner Letter No. 215-221 (LINK)
Related book: The Bourgeois Manifesto
Tyler Cowen chats with Douglas Irwin whose book, Clashing over Commerce: A History of US Trade Policy, Cowen thinks is the best history of American trade policy ever written (podcast) (LINK)

Freakonomics Radio (podcast): Are We Running Out of Ideas? (LINK)
Economists have a hard time explaining why productivity growth has been shrinking. One theory: true innovation has gotten much harder – and much more expensive. So what should we do next?
“Light Touch”, Cable, and DSL; The Broadband Tradeoff; The Importance of Antitrust - by Ben Thompson (LINK)

a16z Video: The API Economy (LINK)

The new generation of computers is programming itself | Sebastian Thrun and Chris Anderson (video) (LINK)

Authors@Wharton Speaker Series presents Sir Richard Branson (video) [H/T ValueWalk] (LINK)

Gary Taubes talks with Shane Parrish on The Knowledge Project Podcast (LINK)
Related book: The Case Against Sugar
Hummingbirds Are Where Intuition Goes to Die - by Ed Yong (LINK)

Tuesday, November 28, 2017


"The doctor is not infallible and does not know everything, and it's a shame that we need to thrust him into a position where he has to seem infallible in order to make everybody feel good. Because we are much better off if he's very aware of how highly fallible he is and how little we do know. That's how progress happens. You start by acknowledging what you do not know." - Michael Lewis

Why a Value Investor Decided to Buy Bitcoin (LINK)
Bitcoin isn’t exactly your classic value investment. It’s one of the most volatile assets in the world, and it doesn’t have much of a “book” value – unlike a company that owns physical assets, Bitcoin can’t sell its headquarters if things get rough. There is, of course, no Bitcoin headquarters. 
But Murray Stahl, a longtime value investor who now manages $5.5 billion at his New York-based investment firm Horizon Kinetics, considers Bitcoin “the ultimate value investment.” His original $7 million investment from two years ago has ballooned as Bitcoin’s price has soared, and he now holds about $100 million worth. As of Monday, each Bitcoin is worth about $9,500.
Note.... Howard Marks' comments about Bitcoin in his last memo ("Yet Again?"), which he wrote after chatting with the Horizon Kinetics team and others, are also worth revisiting (starting on page 4).

Michael Lewis chats with Eric Topol (LINK)
Related book: The Undoing Project
Pro-Neutrality, Anti-Title II  - by Ben Thompson (LINK)

Soft Robots Acquire Origami Skeletons for Super-Strength [H/T Linc] (LINK)

A review of some of the bids to woo Amazon’s HQ2 to other cities and states shows it’s not all about the money. In some cases democracy itself is a bargaining chip. [H/T Techmeme] (LINK)

Invest Like the Best Podcast: Angel Investing and Trend Spotting, w/ Joanne Wilson  (LINK)

Tim Urban talks with Tim Ferriss on Tribe of Mentors Podcast (LINK)

The Decades-Long Quest to Make Virus-Proof Mosquitoes - by Ed Yong (LINK)

Sputnik at 60 - by Vaclav Smil (LINK)

The 2nd edition of Smil's Oil - A Beginner's Guide also appears to be available to purchase in paperback early next year (available on Kindle now).