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The Digest #76
Envy, Sugar, Astrophysics, Chipotle, Paradoxes, The Man in the Arena
“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.”
— F. Scott Fitzgerald
Musings From a Coffee Shop, April 6, 2021. One week after receiving the second dose of the Moderna vaccine, I sat inside a coffee shop for a few hours and typed out some thoughts regarding the pandemic and the future. Spending time inside a coffee shop might not seem like a big deal, but it has been over a year since I last did something this mundane. And the mundane now seems like a milestone. (The Rational Walk)
Envy Is the Cancer of the Soul by Lawrence Yeo, April 2021. As Charlie Munger once said: “Envy is a really stupid sin because it's the only one you could never possibly have any fun at.” In this brilliant illustrated article, Lawrence Yeo characterizes envy as cancerous for the soul and I completely agree, especially regarding his observations of how social media has made the envy trap much easier to fall into. (More To That)
Gary Taubes: Is Sugar Slowly Killing Us? In last week’s newsletter, I mentioned that I recently read The Case Against Sugar, a compelling account of the history of sugar and its role in the diabetes and obesity epidemics that have grown more severe in recent decades. After reading the book, I discovered that Shane Parrish interviewed the author of the book some time ago on his Knowledge Project podcast. (Farnam Street)
Thomas Zurbuchen: Adventures in Astrophysics The latest Knowledge Project podcast is an interview of Thomas Zurbuchen, a high level official at NASA. If you are interested in space exploration, including the Mars mission, you will want to listen to this podcast. As an aside, I recently became a paying member of Farnam Street, which includes early access to podcast episodes as well as member-only podcasts. From what I have seen so far, I can recommend the membership. (Farnam Street)
Teddy Roosevelt’s Advice for Those Who Get College Rejections by Mike Kerrigan, April 7, 2021. This short op-ed is a good one to give to any high school student in the midst of navigating the college admissions process. Rejection is a part of life and how one deals with it builds character and self-esteem. As Teddy Roosevelt said, credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena. (WSJ)
Berkshire Hathaway would be hurt by shareholder proposals by Lawrence Cunningham, April 6, 2021. There are two shareholder proposals on Berkshire Hathaway’s 2021 proxy statement. Lawrence Cunningham argues that these proposals are misguided and could harm Berkshire’s culture: “While shareholder proposals during proxy season can be a cheap and convenient platform to advocate for social change, they can also be a disservice to particular companies, as well as the causes themselves, as these two illustrate. For Berkshire, these proposals would erode its trust-based culture that has been of great value to its shareholders for six decades.” (Market Watch)
Chipotle: Simplicity as the Recipe for Success, April 7, 2021. Business Breakdowns is a new podcast series from Colossus which also publishes the popular Invest Like the Best podcast which I’ve linked to several times. Each business breakdown provides an overview of a specific business and is a good primer for those who want to quickly get up to speed. I researched Chipotle in late 2016 and early 2017 when the company was in the midst of a food safety scandal. I didn’t see a sufficient margin of safety in the stock trading at $410 in February 2017. But following hitting a low of $247 in February 2018, Chipotle stock has rallied to around $1,500 today! (Business Breakdowns)
How to Invest Like the Best with Ted Seides, April 3, 2021. In this podcast, Ted Seides talks about subjects including where retail investors can have an edge, when to invest in a hedge fund, the backstory behind his famous bet with Warren Buffett and what Seides has learned from Buffett in general over the years. (We Study Billionaires)
The Big Lessons of the Last Year by Morgan Housel, April 2, 2021. “Covid-19 is far from over, but we’re now more than a year into this tragic mess. Enough has happened that we can start to ask “what lessons have we learned?” If you’re a doctor or a health regulator, some of those lessons are hyperspecific. But for most of us the biggest lessons are broad.” (Collaborative Fund)
The Paradoxes of Modern Life by David Perell, April 2021. This very brief article rings true when it comes to the oddities of modern life. One example is that true professionals make what they do look easy to the casual observer. This is true in all sorts of fields including writing: “The Paradox of Writing: Great writing looks effortless. But because the ideas are so clear, casual readers don’t appreciate how much time it took to refine them.” (Perell.com)
Citizenship in a Republic
This is an excerpt from a speech given by Theodore Roosevelt, former President of the United States, at the Sorbonne in Paris, France, on April 23, 1910:
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
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