Links for late Jan 2018

Yuval Harari author of Homo Deus and Sapiens
Homo Deus Interview
Very interesting conversation on potential outcomes for society. A ‘pacification of the masses’ scenario is discussed.
MIB: Yuval Noah Harari – The Big Picture – Ritholtz

What Other Industries Teach Us About Investing – Morgan Housel

#90 – Dan Rasmussen – “The Crown Jewel of the Alternative Universe is Private Equity” – The Meb Faber show
In Episode 90, we welcome Founder and Portfolio Manager of Verdad, Dan Rasmussen. We start with a brief walk-through of Dan’s background. It involves a Harvard education, a New York Times best-selling book, a stint at Bridgewater, consulting work with Bain, then his own foray into private equity. Turning to investments, Meb lays the groundwork by saying how many people misunderstand the private equity market in general (often confusing it for venture capital). He asks Dan for an overview, then some specifics on the state of the industry today. Dan clarifies that when he references “private equity” (PE), he’s talking about the leveraged buyout industry – think “Barbarians at the Gate.” He tells us that PE has been considered the crown jewel of the alternative world, then provides a wonderful recap of its evolution – how this market outperformed for many years (think Mitt Romney in the 80s, when he was buying businesses for 4-6 times EBIT), yet its outsized returns led to endowments flooding the market with capital ($200 – $300 billion per year, which was close to triple the pre-Global Financial Crisis average), driving up valuations. Today, deals are getting done at valuations that are nowhere near as low as in the early days. And so, the outsized returns simply haven’t existed. Yet that hasn’t stopped institutional investors from believing they will. Dan tells us about a study highlighting by just how much institutional managers believe PE will outperform in coming years…yet according to Dan’s research, their number is way off. Dan then delves into leverage and the value premium, telling us how important this interaction is. He gives us great details on the subject based on a study he was a part of while at Bain Consulting. The takeaway was that roughly 50% of deals done at multiples greater than 10x EBITDA posted 0% returns to investors, net of fees. Meb asks about the response to this from the private equity powers that be… What is their perspective on adding value improvements, enabling a higher price? Dan gives us his thoughts, but the general take is that doing deals at 10x EBITDA is nuts. Next, the guys delve into Dan’s strategy at Verdad. In essence, he’s taking the strategy that made PE so successful in the 80s and applying it to public markets. Specifically, he’s looking for microcap stocks, trading at sub-7 EBITDAs, that are 50%-60% levered. With this composition, this m

Hiring the Best People – Harvard Business Review
Patty McCord, Netflix’s former Chief Talent Officer, sees hiring as constant matchmaking. Building a team of people that gets amazing work done, she says, requires managers to really know what they need, and for HR to actually understand the workings of the business. She says money should not be the reason someone leaves and that we should stop using words like “poaching” and “firing.” McCord is the author of “How to Hire,” in the January–February 2018 issue of Harvard Business Review.

The Art of Tracking, with Boyd Varty – [Invest Like the Best, EP.32]
This week’s episode is the most unique to date. My guest is Boyd Varty, who grew up in the South African Bush, living among and tracking wild leopards. The main theme of our conversation is tracking, and how the same strategy for pursuing animals in the wild can be applied to all aspects of our lives. Boyd’s family has been tracking animals for four generations, and he is bringing what they have learned to a larger audience around the world.

Links for mid Jan 2018

#109 — Biology and Culture: Sam Harris
“In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Bret Weinstein about the moral panic at Evergreen State College, the concept of race, genetic differences between human populations, intersectionality, sex and gender, “metaphorical truth,” religion and “group selection,” equality, and other topics.
Bret Weinstein has spent two decades advancing the field of evolutionary biology. He has made important discoveries regarding the evolution of cancer, senescence, and the adaptive significance of moral self-sacrifice. He is currently working to uncover the evolutionary meaning of large-scale patterns in human history, and applying evolutionary insight in the quest to prototype a liberating, sustainable anti-fragile governance structure for humanity’s next phase.”

Automate This! Yuval Harari on how the coming A.I. revolution could leave most of humanity behind

Full episode:

Episode 18 of Farnam street Podcast: Naval Ravikant on Reading, Happiness, Systems for Decision Making, Habits, Honesty and More
Naval Ravikant (@naval) is the CEO and co-founder of AngelList. He’s invested in more than 100 companies, including Uber, Twitter, Yammer, and many others.
In this wide-ranging interview, we talk about reading, habits, decision-making, mental models, and life.

Creative Investing, with CoVenture’s Ali Hamed – [Invest Like the Best, EP.71]
The conversation, with a 26-year old investor named Ali Hamed, serves as an example of what’s possible when you think creatively.
Ali views the world with a fresh set of eyes, and has already become an expert at identifying new investment opportunities where others have not. As the second prodigy 26 year old in as many weeks on the podcast, these young guns are making me feel like an ancient 32 year old.
We talk a lot about “alpha” in our world, earning returns better than the market. But the key word in that last sentence isn’t alpha, it’s earning. Hopefully you, like me, will use this conversation as a reminder of what it takes to earn differentiated returns. It’s not just the hard work, but also the mindset. We explore many examples of how to create new investment opportunities, from rolling up Instagram accounts, to financing perishable fruit like watermelons, to heavy machinery software.

Ep.28: Industrial Society and Its Future | Machine Intelligence, Encryption, and the Will to Power
In this episode of Hidden Forces, host Demetri Kofinas lays out his vision for a possible future driven by the emergent forces we have been covering in 2017. He reads passages from Ted Kaczynski’s “Industrial Society and its Future,” as well as from Bill Joy’s “Why the Future Doesn’t Need Us.” He plays clips from interviews with Barack Obama, Tim Cook, and Jamie Dimon, as he considers how power, privacy, and control, all factor into the emerging technological landscape.
What is the goal we seek to attain with our technologies? What are the benefits and the costs associated with allowing the technological, political, and economic forces of the modern age to continue unabated?

Your smartphone is making you stupid, antisocial and unhealthy …

Ten years into the smartphone experiment, we may be reaching a tipping point. Buoyed by mounting evidence and a growing chorus of tech-world jeremiahs, smartphone users are beginning to recognize the downside of the convenient little mini-computer we keep pressed against our thigh or cradled in our palm, not to mention buzzing on our bedside table while we sleep.

The 3 Tricks That Made AlphaGo Zero Work
There were many advances in Deep Learning and AI in 2017, but few generated as much publicity and interest as DeepMind’s AlphaGo Zero. This program was truly a shocking breakthrough: not only did it beat the prior version of AlphaGo — the program that beat 17 time world champion Lee Sedol just a year and a half earlier — 100–0, it was trained without any data from real human games. Xavier Amatrain called it “more [significant] than anything…in the last 5 years” in Machine Learning.

Steve Keen on Debt Deflation and modelling the economy using Complex Systems Theory
Steve Keen interview with FT
Interview with Macrovoices Dec 2017

Health Book Notes to start the new year

I used the principle of reading in parallel to look at some recent popular health books. I’m finally getting around to typing up the notes, since its the new year! I used a similar approach as Brett describes below:

“Reading for information is a bit different than reading for fresh thinking. Often, when we read a book, we simply absorb the ideas of the author. When we read for fresh thinking, we actively play with those ideas and create new ones.

An exercise I’ve mentioned in the past–and that I’ve used in writing my books–is reading in parallel. Select a topic of interest and then purchase at least four highly rated, well-reviewed books related to that topic. Skim each book in advance and mark off the sections most relevant to your selected topic. Then take turns reading from those sections of each of the books, freely moving from an idea in one of the books to related ideas from the other books. So, for example, I might read four books on creativity, but will read the sections on “problem finding” (how to arrive at worthwhile questions to ask) from each of the books. Then I might read the sections on brainstorming from each of the books.

Rarely will I get through every section of every book. The idea is to create a kind of dialogue among the authors, identifying points of overlap and difference. Very often, the ideas from one book will trigger ideas that have you scouring the other books for elaboration. The mixture of ideas from several books will lead to a thought that is not contained in any of the books. When you read in parallel, it’s like being in the room while the authors are conversing. The intersecting of ideas almost always stimulates fresh ways of thinking about (and applying) the topic at hand.”

Health books read in 2017:

The end of heart disease – Dr Joel Fuhrman
Nutritarian Diet Principles
-Nutritionally dense unprocessed foods,high in plants, low animal products (3/week, no dairy)
-ANDI scores: nutrient per calorie. Although I would prefer something that takes into consideration volume and cost
-No white processed carbs
-Salad as a meal, Lots of plants
-No sweetners
-Low sodium
-Oil = procssed, no nutrients and fiber, spike blood sugar, eat nuts instead.
-Score food: Glycemic load, Micronutrient Content, Resistant Starches + Fiber
-Glucose curve, most hunger is toxic hunger not real
-Doesn’t like eggs/oils
-“We likely will always find some vocal people who wan to believe anything, no matter how unsubstantiated so they can rationalize why they don’t need to change their diets and continue”
-Evaluated a lot of nutritional studies

Whole foods diet
-Plant based unprocessed foods, low in fat and refined carbs
-Whole grains better than unprocessed
-Low animal products
-Oils are nutrient poor and calorie dense
-Blue zones: Areas with highest longevity
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Plant Paradox by Dr Gundry
-Microbiome restoration/gut bacteria replenishing focused diet with some Keto, more fringe
-Claims to help with autoimmune diseases
-Eliminate lectins
-analogy: fix the ecoyssytem by pluggin holes instead of pouring in good nutrients that leak out
-Olive oil: use plants as delivery mechanism
-Only eat high quality meats/animal products: reduce steroids/antibiotics/lectin accumulation in tissues. Pastured chicken, wild fish in limited amounts
-Eat foods high in Resistant Starches: before this book I had not heard of these starches which convert to oils in a health gut
-We’ve evolved mechanisms to prepare foods in certain ways to reduce lectins in our diet: use a pressure cooker
-Has a lot of good points about how our food supply is manipulated: roundup pesticide on wheat to harvest more easily, then not washed off when given to animals as feed
-Whole grains worse than unprocessed because they contain more lectins,
-GMO increases planet resistance to bugs and to the human microbiome
-Very selective in plants (no nightshades,beans,legumes), almost no fruits (just avacado)
-Lots of toxin’s in the environment: carbon paper
-He seems to be light on published research, heavy on promoting supplements
-Glucosamine may bind to lectin’s and reduce inflammation through that path
Plant paradox shopping list

Between all the books:
Pain points: Whole grains vs white, Olive Oil (processed, stripped of nutrition and low fiber), Fruit, Beans/Legumes (but not according to the blue zones)
Agreement: Low animal protein, High amount of plants, Mostly unprocessed foods, Low sugar/refined carbs

Update: This is not the only health/diet/nutrition review so i’ll add some interesting links from my previous research

How to Live a Longer, Higher Quality Life, with Peter Attia, M.D. [Invest Like the Best, EP.27]
Healthspan vs Lifespan:

Intermittent Fasting and Leangains

Dom D’Agostino on Fasting, Ketosis, and the End of Cancer

Everything You Need to Know About the Slow-Carb Diet™

People have the tendency to cluster around ideas as if they were tangible things and hold on for dear life. When we find something we like, or something that makes sense, like religion or a political stance or a diet, roots are planted and – for most of us – they are permanent. They’re permanent mainly because it’s easier that way. It takes less work to blindly cling to dogma. It’s hard (and humbling) to reevaluate an entire belief system and start over. We prefer the path of least resistance, and we’d simply rather not think too hard. Once the roots of a dogmatic belief find purchase in the hard packed earth of the lazy mind, they’re staying put.
Everyone who learns about nutrition through the usual channels, be it fitness magazines, mainstream diet books and forums, gets cursed with the prevailing belief system of what constitutes a good diet.
Though specific dietary recommendations vary slightly depending on who you listen to, there are many common denominators and “rules” that you are told you must adhere to. Call it broscience, incompetence or ignorance, same thing. We’ve all been there and we’ve all followed these rules. Led like sheep, not knowing better. Trusting that those we listen to knew what they were talking about. While these dietary myths run rampant in the bodybuilding and fitness community, you’ll find that many are being endlessly propagated in the mainstream as well.
Upon closer scrutiny, the great majority lack scientific basis. They are born out out of half-truths, faulty conclusions drawn from poorly conducted studies or created when a study gets cited out of context.