Friday, April 19, 2019


"The best investment you can have, for most people, is in your own abilities." --Warren Buffett

Some presentation slides are available from the Ben Graham Centre's 2019 Value Investing Conference [H/T @chriswmayer] (LINK)

Prediction is Difficult, Especially About the Future (LINK)

When You’ll Believe Anything - by Morgan Housel (LINK)

Hard Truths for the Inflation Truthers - by Cullen Roche (LINK)

Secrecy, Self-Dealing, and Greed at the N.R.A. (LINK)

Exponent Podcast: Family-Friendly Disney (LINK)

Longform Podcast: Michael Lewis (LINK)

Freakonomics Radio: The Most Interesting Fruit in the World (LINK)

Radiolab Podcast: Americanish (LINK)

Scientists Partly Restore Activity in Dead-Pig Brains - by Ed Yong (LINK)

The Predator That Makes Great White Sharks Flee in Fear - by Ed Yong (LINK)

TED Talk: Inside the black hole image that made history | Sheperd Doeleman (LINK)

Wednesday, April 17, 2019


"The history of much of which we don’t like in modern corporate capitalism comes from an unreasonable expectation, communicated from headquarters, that [corporate] earnings have to go up with no volatility and great regularity. That kind of an expectation from headquarters is not just the kissing cousin of evil. It’s the blood brother of evil. And we just don’t need that blood brother in our headquarters." --Charlie Munger (2005)

 "Businesses do not meet expectations quarter after quarter and year after year. It just isn’t in the nature of running businesses. And, in our view, people that predict precisely what the future will be are either kidding investors, or they’re kidding themselves, or they’re kidding both. Charlie and I have been around the culture, sometimes on the board, where the ego of the CEO became very involved in meeting predictions which were impossible, really, over time. And everybody in the organization knew, because they were very public about it, what these predictions were and they knew that their CEO was going to look bad if they weren’t met. And that can lead to a lot of bad things." --Warren Buffett (2005)

Michael Mauboussin: Looking for Easy Games in Bonds (LINK)

A compilation of Q1 investor letters [H/T @MineSafety] (LINK)

CNBC’s interview with ValueAct’s Jeff Ubben (video) (LINK)

Invest Like the Best Podcast: Katherine Collins – Impact and ESG Investing (LINK)

Against the Rules with Michael Lewis (podcast): The Alex Kogan Experience (LINK)

WorkLife with Adam Grant (podcast): Bouncing Back from Rejection (LINK)

The Knowledge Project with Shane Parrish (podcast): Catalyzing Success (LINK)

Business Wars Podcast: Ferrari vs. Lamborghini (Part 1, Part 2)

Edge #535: Machines Like Me - A Talk By Ian McEwan (LINK)

The world’s deadliest shapeshifter - by Bill Gates (LINK)

Exploding Aphids Plaster Holes in Their Home With Bodily Fluids - by Ed Yong (LINK)

Monday, April 15, 2019

The Big Ideas, Discover Magazine, and a request...

In a talk last year at Cal Poly Pomona, Peter Kaufman said the following:
I tried to learn what Munger calls, ‘the big ideas’ from all the different disciplines. Right up front I want to tell you what my trick was, because if you try to do it the way he did it, you don’t have enough time in your life to do it. It’s impossible. Because the fields are too big and the books are too thick. So my trick to learn the big ideas of science, biology, etc., was I found this science magazine called Discover magazine. Show of hands, anybody here ever heard of Discover magazine? A few people. OK. 
And I found that this magazine every month had a really good interview with somebody from some aspect of science. Every month. And it was six or seven pages long. It was all in layperson’s terms. The person who was trying to get their ideas across would do so using good stories, clear language, and they would never fail to get all their big ideas into the interview. I mean if you’re given the chance to be interviewed by Discover magazine and your field is nanoparticles or something, aren’t you going to try your very best to get all the good ideas into the interview with the best stories etc. OK. So I discovered that on the Internet there were 12 years of Discover magazine articles available in the archives. 
So I printed out 12 years times 12 months of these interviews. I had 144 of these interviews. And I put them in these big three ring binders. Filled up three big binders. And for the next six months I went to the coffee shop for an hour or two every morning and I read these. And I read them index fund style, which means I read them all. I didn’t pick and choose. This is the universe and I’m going to own the whole universe. I read every single one. 
Now I will tell you that out of 144 articles, if I’d have been selecting my reading material, I probably would have read about 14 of them. And the other 130? I would never in a million years read six pages on nanoparticles. Guess what I had at the end of six months? I had inside my head every single big idea from every single domain of science and biology. It only took me 6 months. And it wasn’t that hard because it was written in layperson’s terms. And really, what did I really get? Just like an index fund, I captured all the parabolic ideas that no one else has. And why doesn’t anybody else have these ideas? Because who in the world would read an interview on nanoparticles? And yet that’s where I got my best ideas. I would read some arcane subject and, oh my god, I saw, ‘That’s exactly how this works over here in biology.’ or ‘That’s exactly how this works over here in human nature.’ You have to know all these big ideas. 
As I've tried to find all 144 articles, I've had trouble getting them all. For example, if one subscribes and goes to the archives, I can see ones for the first few months of 2009, but not for May 2009. Has anyone else tried to find all of these? There is a good Discover Q&A page HERE, which has 74 interviews. Of those 74 interviews, 67 of them don't require a subscription, and I've compiled those for interested readers in chronological order HERE, but I'm having trouble figuring out exactly what Peter Kaufman was referring to when he mentioned the 144 number. If anyone has any thoughts, feel free to email me at Thanks!


Terry Smith, Fundsmith LLP, March 2019 Presentation (video) [H/T @iancassel] (LINK)
Related book: Accounting for Growth
Disney and the Future of TV - by Ben Thompson (LINK)

Disney CEO Bob Iger lays out details on company’s Netflix competitor (video) (LINK)

GMO White Paper - Thinking Outside the Box: How and Why to Invest in a Climate Change Strategy (LINK)

Interview Transcripts Tell Story of Fed Over Past 50 Years ($) (LINK)
Transcripts of more than 50 interviews with top Federal Reserve officials and staffers offer an inside view of central bank-operations over the past 50 years, including internal debates and pressures from the White House. 
Among the documents released Friday are interviews with former Fed leaders Paul Volcker, Alan Greenspan and Janet Yellen as part of an oral history project in advance of the central bank’s centennial in 2013.
Notes from Toronto - by Chris Mayer (LINK)

Uber's Coming out Party: Personal Mobility Pioneer or Car Service on Steroids? - by Aswath Damodaran (LINK)

Venture Stories Podcast: Robert Greene on his book “The Laws of Human Nature” (LINK)

Exponent Podcast: A Community of Loonies (LINK)

HBR IdeaCast Podcast -- HBR Presents: After Hours (LINK)
Harvard Business School professors and hosts Youngme Moon, Mihir Desai, and Felix Oberholzer-Gee discuss news at the crossroads of business and culture. In this episode, they analyze the current food delivery wars and garner some lessons in crisis management from Boeing.
FT Alphachat Podcast: Odette Lienau on the most complicated debt restructuring in history (LINK)

The Peter Attia Drive (podcast): Matthew Walker, Ph.D., on sleep – Part III of III (LINK)
Related book: Why We Sleep
Cracking the Code: A Toddler, an iPad, and a Tweet - by Evan Osnos (LINK)

Hubble lights up Saturn’s aurorae - by Phil Plait (LINK)

A Natural History Museum Is Under Fire for Hosting Brazil's New President - by Ed Yong (LINK)

'Extraordinary' 500-year-old library catalogue reveals books lost to time (LINK)

Thursday, April 11, 2019


"Once you talk about something that’s an asset appreciation investment, ignoring the underlying economics of what you’re lending on, you’re really talking about the bigger-fool game. You’re saying...this is a silly price but there’ll be a bigger fool that comes along. And that actually can be a profitable game for a while. But it’s nothing that bankers should engage in." --Warren Buffett (2005)

"It’s obvious that the easy lending on houses causes more houses to be built and causes housing prices to be higher, probably, in the new field. Eventually, of course, if you construct enough of new anything, you can have a countervailing effect. If you build way too many houses, you’d eventually cause a price decline." --Charlie Munger (2005)

Jeff Bezos' 2018 Letter to Shareholders (LINK)

Cullen Roche on Minsky's Financial Instability Hypothesis (LINK)

A review of Merger Masters: Tales of Arbitrage (LINK)

Previously unknown human species found in Asia raises questions about early hominin dispersals from Africa (LINK)

Wednesday, April 10, 2019


"The idea that you risk what you need and is important to you for something that you don’t need and it is unimportant, is just craziness." --Warren Buffett (2005)

You Have To Live It To Believe It - by Morgan Housel (LINK)

Congress Is About to Ban the Government From Offering Free Online Tax Filing. Thank TurboTax. (LINK)

Making Uncommon Knowledge Common (LINK)
Preface: This is part of a longer private memo analyzing Zillow and its recent shift towards Opendoor’s model. May publish rest of memo at some later point. But wanted to share first part, on Rich Barton and Zillow’s initial rise.
Edge #534: Is Superintelligence Impossible? - David Chalmers and Daniel C. Dennett (Video and Transcript, Podcast)

Bill Gates discusses Melinda Gates' new book, The Moment of Lift (LINK)

Peering down the cliff of infinity: The first image of the event horizon of a black hole - by Phil Plait (LINK)
For the first time in human history, astronomers have combined the power of telescopes from across our planet to create an image that shows the event horizon of a black hole.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019


Released today: The Great Mental Models: General Thinking Concepts

A Regulatory Framework for the Internet - by Ben Thompson (LINK)

Frackers, Chasing Fast Oil Output, Are on a Treadmill ($) (LINK)

Why is a good management so important? A talk with Robert Vinall on his approach (video) (LINK)

Against the Rules with Michael Lewis (podcast): The Seven Minute Rule (LINK)

The Tim Ferriss Show: Eric Schmidt — Lessons from a Trillion-Dollar Coach (LINK)

WorkLife with Adam Grant (podcast): How to Remember Anything (LINK)

Venture Stories Podcast: Tyler Cowen On His New Book: “Big Business: A Love Letter To An American Anti-Hero” (LINK)

Invest Like the Best Podcast: Geoffrey Batt – The Nature of Transformational Returns (LINK)

The Investing City Podcast: Portfolio Manager, Gautam Baid: Joyful Compounding (LINK)
Related book: The Joys of Compounding

Monday, April 8, 2019


"In economics, it’s far easier to tell what will happen than when it will happen. I mean, you can see bubbles develop and things, but you do not know how big the bubble will get.... I’ve just never been successful at [predicting timing] nor do I try to do it." --Warren Buffett (2005)

Ray Dalio on "60 Minutes" (video) (LINK)
Related paper: "Why & How Capitalism Needs to be Reformed"
The Investors Podcast: Sanjay Bakshi (LINK)

a16z Podcast: Fintech for Startups and Incumbents (LINK)

Exponential Wisdom Podcast: Flipping the Insurance Industry (LINK)

The Peter Attia Drive (podcast): Matthew Walker, Ph.D., on sleep – Part II of III (LINK)

You Could Have Today. Instead You Choose Tomorrow. - by Ryan Holiday (LINK)

The Disturbing Walrus Scene in Our Planet - by Ed Yong (LINK)

Book of the day [H/T @paulg]: Medieval Technology and Social Change

Friday, April 5, 2019


"It’s hard to know just which companies can pass through the increases in costs that come from higher commodity prices. And it’s also important to know." --Charlie Munger (2005)

"We like buying businesses where we feel that there’s some untapped pricing power.... One of the questions we asked ourselves [when we bought See's], and we thought the answer was obvious, was: if we raised the price 10 cents a pound, would sales fall off a cliff? And of course, the answer, in our view at least, was that no, there was some untapped pricing power in the product. And it’s not a great business when you have to have a prayer session before you raise your prices a penny. You are in a tough business then. And I would say you can almost measure the strength of a business over time by the agony they go through in determining whether a price increase can be sustained." --Warren Buffett (2005)

Masters in Business Podcast: Michael Lewis Discusses the Culture of Finance (LINK)

Against the Rules with Michael Lewis (podcast): Ref, You Suck! (LINK)

Sam Walton Stole All His Best Ideas From This Guy [Sol Price] (video) (LINK)
Related books: 1) Sol Price Retail Revolutionary & Social Innovator; 2) Sam Walton: Made In America; 3) Intelligent Fanatics Project
The Brooklyn Investor blog on JP Morgan, and other things (LINK)

Why & How Capitalism Needs to be Reformed - by Ray Dalio (LINK)

Apple Plus - brand versus subscription - by Benedict Evans (LINK)

Does Ridesharing Increase Traffic Deaths? - by Russ Roberts (LINK)

Ford CTO Ken ​Washington on AI and self-driving | Recode Decode Live | Full interview (video) (LINK)

Exponent Podcast: YouTube and the End of Friction (LINK)

oGoLead Leadership Podcast: Jack Nicklaus (Part 1, Part 2)

Here’s Why You’ve Never Heard Of the Most Successful People In The World - by Ryan Holiday (LINK)

Thursday, April 4, 2019


Jamie Dimon's 2018 Letter to Shareholders (LINK)

The Berkshire Empire Is Quietly Collaborating More Than Ever ($) (LINK)

What seven years at Airbnb taught me about building a company - by Lenny Rachitsky (LINK)

The avocado principles - by Seth Godin (LINK)

Future of Higher Education: Apprenticeships vs. Business School (LINK)

Robert A. Caro on L.B.J., Understanding Power and Nearing Completion (LINK)

Jane Goodall’s original tale of chimpanzees still astonishes today (LINK)
To celebrate her 85th birthday, National Geographic revisits Jane Goodall’s 1963 article about the chimpanzees of Gombe Stream Game Reserve.
Book of the day (released next week): The Joys of Compounding: The Passionate Pursuit of Lifelong Learning - by Gautam Baid 

Wednesday, April 3, 2019


"Really, the only way a smart person that’s reasonably disciplined in how they look at investments can get in trouble is through leverage. I mean, if somebody else can pull the plug on you during the worst moment of some kind of general financial disaster, you go broke.... But absent leverage, and absent just kind of going crazy in terms of valuation on things, the world won’t hurt you over time in securities. And...the financial cataclysms — they don’t need to do you in. If you have any more money during periods like that, you buy." --Warren Buffett (2004)

Fees vs. Fines - by Morgan Housel (LINK)

Andreessen Horowitz Is Blowing Up The Venture Capital Model (Again) (LINK)

Jeremy Grantham at the 2019 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit (video) [H/T Linc] (LINK)

a16z Podcast: A Podcast About Podcasting (LINK)

Trailblazers with Walter Isaacson (podcast): Public Transportation: Moving Us Forward (LINK)

Marcus Aurelius’ Psychological Toolkit: An Interview With Donald Robertson (LINK)
Related book: How to Think Like a Roman Emperor: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius

Tuesday, April 2, 2019


The 2018 Broyhill Book Club (LINK)

After Autoplay: 'Interactive, Personalized & Immersive' Entertainment - by Matthew Ball (LINK)

Aramco's Big Reveal: What We Learned About the Saudi Oil Giant (LINK)

Should We Worry About the Slowing Economy? (LINK)

Invest Like the Best Podcast: Brian Singerman – Investing in the Best Founders (LINK)

The Knowledge Project Podcast: Becoming a Model Thinker (LINK)
Related book: The Model Thinker: What You Need to Know to Make Data Work for You
The Tony Robbins Podcast: Becoming Michael Phelps (LINK)

The unexpected way we might one day diagnose Alzheimer’s - by Bill Gates (LINK)

EconTalk Podcast: Jacob Stegenga on Medical Nihilism (LINK)
Related book: Medical Nihilism
The Day the Dinosaurs Died [H/T Linc] (LINK)
A young paleontologist may have discovered a record of the most significant event in the history of life on Earth.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Howard Marks Memo: Growing the Pie

Link to Memo: Growing the Pie
"The unequal sharing of blessings" vs. "the equal sharing of miseries." 
Winston Churchill posed this dilemma in 1945 with regard to post-World War II demobilization. Howard Marks revisits the idea in the context of today's contentious political debate.


"If you’re picking associates, pick out those whose behavior is somewhat better than yours, and you’ll drift in that direction. And similarly if you hang out with a bad bunch, you’re very likely to find your own behavior worse over time. Like Charlie says, the trite advice which Ben Franklin was handing out a few hundred years ago, really works.... Look at the people you like to associate with. What qualities do they have that you can have if you want to? Look at the people that you can’t stand to be around. What qualities do you have that they have? Can you get rid of them? You can do all of that at a young age. It gets harder as you go along. It’s not very complicated." --Warren Buffett (2004)

Sanjay Bakshi: The Practical Utility of Seven Math Ideas (video) (LINK)

What Sports Teaches Us About Investing - by Ian Cassel (LINK)

What Does Everyone Hate MMT? - by James Montier (LINK)

Odd Lots Podcast: From MMT Advocate To Outspoken Critic (LINK)

The Absolute Return Letter, April 2019: Is Life Expectancy Falling? Really? (LINK)

The Lyft I.P.O. and the Lessons of Tech-Stock Bubbles - by John Cassidy (LINK)

Acquired Podcast: The Lyft IPO (LINK)

Andreessen Horowitz three-part video miniseries on network effects (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)

Capital Allocators Podcast: Dan Ariely – Investing in Irrationality (LINK)

The Peter Attia Drive (podcast): Matthew Walker, Ph.D., on sleep – Part I of III (LINK)
Related book: Why We Sleep
The Worst Disease Ever Recorded - by Ed Yong (LINK)

Netflix’s Our Planet Says What Other Nature Series Have Omitted - by Ed Yong (LINK)