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What's the most interesting thing you read / learned lately?


Nell-e
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I'm starting this thread and hoping it will continue.  I welcome people to post links for books, articles, blogs, Youtube videos, etc.  I prefer current events material which disproves conventional wisdom or gives greater insight into specific industries/businesses/trends. 

 

To start off, I'll post a book about the healthcare industry given the news of Walmart/CVS talks - https://www.amazon.com/American-Sickness-Healthcare-Became-Business/dp/0143110853/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

 

And Bill Gates' recommendations 

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Not sure how I can help with the thread but am interested in the book mentioned about healthcare.

Have you read it?

 

Yeah, it's a good read especially if you're clueless about the healthcare industry as I am.  There are other Youtube videos about the author but link below is a shorter one. 

 

 

My main takeaway from the book is that making assumptions about behavior in the health industry is stupid.  For example, unfortunately a lot of people over trust medical professionals.  Shouldn't assume that hospital has patients' best interest at heart.  Shouldn't assume stakeholders are rational ie profit maximizing

 

Healthcare stocks did really well in past several years but a lot of that was from the Obamacare tailwind.  The industry is especially susceptible to regulatory disruption.  There's money to be made but the risks are plentiful.

 

Also, no need to overthink with this thread.  If it's timely and interesting, share it.  I'm sure someone will find it helpful.

 

 

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That it is fairly easy and interesting to read and learn but much harder to actually implement certain changes in oneself for a complete habit change (mental or physical).  Rewiring oneself can be really hard. 

They say if you really know something, you do it.

 

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I am learning wood works, first building a raised bed for planting. Ultimately my wife hope I can become skillful enough to build a chicken coop. My wife is more excited than I.

 

I had a friend who's wife made him build a chicken coop too.  Not say this applies to you but I hear that it's becoming a yuppie thing.

https://sf.eater.com/2018/3/5/17081232/silicon-valley-chicken-coop-backyard-status-symbol

 

 

 

 

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I had a friend who's wife made him build a chicken coop too.  Not say this applies to you but I hear that it's becoming a yuppie thing.

https://sf.eater.com/2018/3/5/17081232/silicon-valley-chicken-coop-backyard-status-symbol

 

I sort of know the woman who run a monthly subscription box for chicken owners.  I had been in a group of small business owners who were trying to get their business off the ground and she was in the same org but with a different set of people.  I heard about her and met her for coffee one day.  She was very discouraged and going to sell the business because the time was just too much.  She called me about 6 months later and wondered if I wanted to buy it. She gave me the numbers and I was immediately interested.  She stalled with cold feet and then 2 months later decided she didn't want to.  She had outsourced the prep of boxing/shipping to let her focus on the other stuff.  I've been told she makes $20k/month + on it now at about 10-20 hours a week.  Damn.

 

 

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https://www.amazon.com/hidden-life-trees/s?ie=UTF8&page=1&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Athe%20hidden%20life%20of%20trees

 

Mind blowing book on tree life. The idea of collective intelligence, communications etc. I had no idea about. Nothing to do with investing but glad to have read it.

 

Thank you for sharing, longinvestor. Fascinating stuff! I used the "Look Inside" feature and got hooked. I just ordered two copies. One for ourselves, and one for a close friend to the Lady of House for many, many years. She's an avid environmentalist, and she considers all plants, trees etc. living creatures. Personally, I have always thought she has been "overdoing" this approach & angle. It's never too late to learn something new, and adjust personal view on anything. Giving her this book will at least also be good for my personal score sheet at her for this "always fact based "jerk"". [ ; - ) ]

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I find anything related to massive population trends to be interesting.  Link is for Economist YouTube video documenting declining fertility.  In the long run, developed countries are going to have less and less children and developing countries are going to account for greater percentage of population.  I have a really hard time imagining wealth disparity not increasing.

 

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"Link is for Economist YouTube video documenting declining fertility."

Interesting topic.

 

To link with other topics in general including investing, what is particularly interesting is that, despite the very significant downward trend in sperm counts that has been documented in the western world (where most studies have been done) in the last decades and despite the fact that the threshold for infertility has been reached, relatively little attention has been attributed to this "problem".

 

In terms of potential causes, some talk about extrinsic exposures to a relatively toxic environment but I tend to think (belief, opinion) that the problem is more intrinsic (lifestyle choices).

 

If you like to think in evolutionary terms, nature has a long-term tendency to reward behaviors that can sustain the species.

In the investment world, Mr. Buffett refers to this phenomenon as a "moat".

 

 

 

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I was at a internal company conference last week (semiconductor industry) and attended a workshop on neural networks/AI.  It blew me away both how much can be easily done and how little resources (silicon area/power consumption) you actually need to do it.  I was under the impression that for AI to be useful you needed some serious GPU/matrix math horsepower or super wide and deep custom silicon neural nets that suck up power.  The current research that was presented here shows that isn't necessarily the case.  You can do a hell of a lot with a very little resources.  The silicon neural nets can be simple and be relatively small. There are going to be small to medium sized low power consumption neural networks on all kinds of chips in the very near future.  I was bullish on AI before, but now I think it is going to simply explode.  This research/methodology was less than a year old.  The products/advances of the next 10 years are going to simply dwarf what we've seen in the last 30.  I'm not going to say anymore because even though much of this was done in partnership with a few different universities I'm not sure how much is proprietary to my company.  Exciting stuff though.

 

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A couple of books that caught my attention recently are:

 

- Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari - this is one of those books that I found hard to put down - its a fascinating narrative of human history, well told. One of the author's more insightful conclusions is that one of humanity's unique strengths is in communicating and collaborating in larger groups (and in other ways). The author's discussion of the tie between agriculture and the "domestication of humans" was also thought-provoking.

 

- The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee - fantastically interesting. One random thing that I learned from this book is that every human has a common (female) ancestor, known as "Mitochondrial Eve". She lived in Sub Saharan Africa ~100,00-200,000 years ago. 

 

 

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One of the author's more insightful conclusions is that one of humanity's unique strengths is in communicating and collaborating in larger groups (and in other ways)

 

Perhaps when "madness of the crowd" goes right?

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A couple of books that caught my attention recently are:

 

- Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari - this is one of those books that I found hard to put down - its a fascinating narrative of human history, well told. One of the author's more insightful conclusions is that one of humanity's unique strengths is in communicating and collaborating in larger groups (and in other ways). The author's discussion of the tie between agriculture and the "domestication of humans" was also thought-provoking.

 

I'm reading Sapiens right now, liking it so far.

 

Also reading "Boyd", and liking it a lot: https://www.amazon.ca/Boyd-Fighter-Pilot-Who-Changed/dp/0316796883/

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One of the author's more insightful conclusions is that one of humanity's unique strengths is in communicating and collaborating in larger groups (and in other ways)

 

Perhaps when "madness of the crowd" goes right?

 

Exactly. Ironic in these times, right? Perhaps a bit of a double-edged sword.

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A couple of books that caught my attention recently are:

 

- Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari - this is one of those books that I found hard to put down - its a fascinating narrative of human history, well told. One of the author's more insightful conclusions is that one of humanity's unique strengths is in communicating and collaborating in larger groups (and in other ways). The author's discussion of the tie between agriculture and the "domestication of humans" was also thought-provoking.

 

- The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee - fantastically interesting. One random thing that I learned from this book is that every human has a common (female) ancestor, known as "Mitochondrial Eve". She lived in Sub Saharan Africa ~100,00-200,000 years ago. 

 

 

+1 to Sapiens. Despite the size of the book I could not put it down. Enjoyed the early part more than the later part.

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Yes, Sapiens is the best book I read in 2018 so far. Will read Homo Deus soon as well. I will reread Sapiens within the next two years.

 

Also liked Influence, Priceless and man's search for meaning YTD. Priceless not really recommended maybe if you already read Kahneman's book.

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One of the author's more insightful conclusions is that one of humanity's unique strengths is in communicating and collaborating in larger groups (and in other ways)

 

Perhaps when "madness of the crowd" goes right?

 

Exactly. Ironic in these times, right? Perhaps a bit of a double-edged sword.

 

Alexis de Tocqueville has a passage in "Democracy in America":

 

If man was forced to prove for himself all the truths he employs each day, he would never reach an end...he is reduced to the taking on trust a host of facts and opinions which he has neither the time nor the power to examine and verify by his own efforts...

 

I think think this mechanism partially explains how humans were able to advance as a species and the corresponding danger of the madness of crowds.

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Not new but a book I loved is called Ubiquity:Why Catastrophes Happen.  The book is a great introduction to power laws if you are not familiar with them.  It also really highlights how outcomes of events are not really correlated to the "trigger" of the event but to the configuration/make-up of the underlying system.  It looks at natural disasters like avalanches and forest fires as well as man made ones like market corrections.

 

I think it is a great companion book to Fooled by Randomness and can really open one's eyes to how vast the range of potential outcomes for all sorts of events really are.

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