The Digest #41

Published on September 23, 2020

Interesting Links

Ultra-Low Interest Rates Are Driving Insurers Into the Arms of Private Equity by Amy Whyte, September 17, 2020. The low interest rate environment is making it difficult for insurers to earn meaningful returns on float. As a result, insurers have started to look at alternative investments, such as private equity, in a search for returns. However, greater risk of permanent capital loss exists when insurers venture beyond traditional fixed income. (Institutional Investor)

They Know How to Prevent Megafires. Why Won’t Anybody Listen? by Elizabeth Weil, August 28, 2020. Wildfires are again plaguing western states this year and accusations regarding who is responsible are getting louder. This article presents a balanced view of how fire suppression over many decades has caused a buildup of fuel leading to catastrophic megafires. (ProPublica)

The Billionaire Who Wanted To Die Broke . . . Is Now Officially Broke by Steven Bertoni, September 15, 2020. Chuck Feeney is a former billionaire, a characterization that is normally coupled with a story of a business blowup or similar misfortune. However, Feeney is “broke” by design. He intentionally gave away almost all of his money and now, at the age of 89, has officially closed his foundation. He gave away $8 billion over the past four decades. (Forbes)

Scientist Solved Mysteries of the Sun and Magnetic Fields by James Hagerty, September 18, 2020. Almost everyone knows who Richard Feynman was, but who knew that his sister was also a highly accomplished physicist? At the age of 8, Joan Feynman was told by her mother that “women can’t do science because their brains aren’t made for it” but she didn’t stop her. This is a fascinating obituary of Dr. Feynman who died in July at the age of 93. (WSJ)

The Long Tail of Negative Emotions by Lawrence Yeo, September 16, 2020. After struggling with road rage while driving in Los Angeles traffic, the author came to a realization that the key to dealing with negative emotions is not to try to counteract the inevitable anger that comes with a negative experience but to reduce the duration of the anger. In another compelling illustrated essay, Yeo explains how he uses the “hammer of awareness” to reduce the duration of negative emotions – dampening the long tail. (More To That)

Millions Are House-Rich but Cash-Poor. Wall Street Landlords Are Readyby Ryan Dezember, September 18, 2020. Recent appreciation has left many homeowners with home equity but the pandemic has reduced their ability to service debt. Some homeowners are choosing to sell in order to unlock their equity and are deciding to rent instead. Long dominated by mom-and-pop landlords, Wall Street has become increasingly involved in single family home rentals in recent years. This article explores the implications. (WSJ)

Remote Schooling Out of Reach for Many Students in West Virginia Without Internet, Kris Maher, September 13, 2020. High speed internet was once considered a luxury but has increasingly become a necessity, especially as schools open this fall on a remote basis. The longer the COVID pandemic lasts, the more it will change society. One such change might be the expansion of fast internet to rural parts of the country that lack adequate service. (WSJ)

Evolution of the foot, running injuries, and minimalist shoes, September 14, 2020. Peter Attia interviews Irene Davis regarding her research into the biomechanics of the foot, how modern footwear contributes to running injuries, and how minimalist shoes helps to resolve certain issues. This podcast is probably of interest mainly to runners, especially those who have suffered injuries that have limited their participation in the sport. (Peter Attia Podcast)

Obvious Things That Are Easy to Ignore by Morgan Housel, September 16, 2020. “A thing that’s obvious but easily overlooked is that feeling wealthy has little to do with what you have. It’s more about the gap between what you have and what you expect. And what you expect is driven by what other people around you have.” (Collaborative Fund)

Remembering my father by Bill Gates, September 15, 2020. Bill Gates reflects on the life of his father who had a profound impact on his early development as well as the philanthropic efforts of the Gates Foundation. He concludes: “The experience of being the son of Bill Gates was incredible. People used to ask my dad if he was the real Bill Gates. The truth is, he was everything I try to be. I will miss him every day.” (Gates Notes)

Golden Autumn

Ivan Shishkin (1888) – Public Domain, via WikiArt

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The Digest #41