The Digest #169

Published on October 18, 2023

Apple Watch

Can the cure for excessive use of electronics involve acquiring yet another piece of expensive technology? While this idea might seem far-fetched, apparently some parents have given their children smartwatches as a substitute for phones. This allows kids to make phone calls and send texts, which is important for many parents, while otherwise limiting excessive online activities that are so damaging for children.

Last month, I received a very generous gift of an Apple Watch Ultra 2 for my birthday. After using the watch for three weeks, I am not surprised that it could work as a cell phone substitute for kids. For models equipped with cellular connectivity, the watch can handle calls and texts very well. If most other notifications are turned off, the watch will not interrupt concentration. A rudimentary web browser is provided but the small screen size makes any extended use impractical and unrewarding.

On several occasions, I have been able to leave my iPhone at home and go out with just the Apple Watch. Features such as Apple Pay are available and I’m able to make and receive calls and see all texts, so I am not completely out of touch in case of emergencies. I can see how this device could be a very attractive solution for children.

Of course, the watch can do far more than allow for calls and texts. The Ultra 2 has advanced GPS capabilities that provide extremely accurate measurements for outdoor activities such as running. Sleep tracking and other health insights are valuable as well. I’m generally a late adopter of technology and was highly skeptical of adding yet another device to my life but I am glad I have the Ultra 2. I might write a longer review of it at some point focusing on how I use the health/fitness capabilities.

New Paid Articles

Over the past week, I published two articles for paid subscribers. Both articles have free introductions prior to the paywall that are available for all readers.

The first article contains a discussion of initial public offerings focusing on the process from the perspective of current owners, executive management, investment bankers, and rank-and-file employees. There’s a great deal of confusion regarding the IPO process and the incentives of major players which I attempt to clarify.

The second article is a follow-up to two prior articles about Dollar General. The company recently announced the return of its former CEO less than a year after his retirement. Investors were enthusiastic about the move but I am more skeptical.

I’ve received inquiries regarding the difference between free and paid subscriptions. The following points should clarify the benefits for free and paid subscribers:

  • The Digest will continue to be emailed to all readers free of charge. 
  • I plan to publish an average of three to four paid articles per month. These articles will only be emailed to paid subscribers but I will mention all paid articles in The Digest so free subscribers will be aware of their existence and have an opportunity to read the free introductions prior to the paywall.
  • I plan to publish occasional free articles which will be sent to all subscribers via email. The frequency will be approximately once per month.

Longtime readers know that my typical pace has exceeded what I’ve described, but I would prefer to deliver more than expected rather than fall short. What is changing is that I will paywall more articles and will not email previews of paywalled articles to free subscribers, primarily because some readers consider preview emails to be an overly aggressive sales tactic or even spam. I don’t want to get anywhere near that line.

Note to Readers: In order to make the links to articles and podcasts easier to scan and read quickly, I have shortened or entirely omitted my commentary from links where the title is sufficient to convey the contents. I have also eliminated most article excerpts.


The Many Different Ways to Guess a Business’s Future Revenue by Geoff Gannon, October 13. 2023. This is the first article in a new weekly newsletter. Readers can subscribe to receive new articles via email. (Focused Compounding)

Good Intentions, Perverse Outcomes: The Impact of Impact Investing by Aswath Damodaran, October 12, 2023. Impact investing has made little progress on the social and environmental problems that it purports to solve. (Musings on Markets)

Mind-bendingly nuts by Rudy Havenstein, October 13, 2023. Inflation has taken a heavy toll on Americans and there are reasons to doubt that the consumer price index is as an accurate measure of the actual cost of living. (A Havenstein Moment)

It’s Difficult to Teach a New Dog Old Tricks by Kingswell, October 16, 2023. A complete transcript of Warren Buffett’s 1988 interview with Adam Smith. (Kingswell)

The Speed of Information by Trungphan2, October 13, 2023. War reporting has dramatically changed as technology increases the speed of communications. (SatPost)

A Few Laws of Getting Rich by Morgan Housel, October 15, 2023. This article is also available as a podcast narrated by the author. “Measuring wealth is easy. You just count it up. Measuring some of the downsides of wealth is so much harder and more nuanced. They can be so nuanced and hard to measure that many people won’t even believe they exist. A downside to wealth? How could that possibly be?” (Collaborative Fund) 

12 Lessons From 7 Years Of The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday, October 17, 2023. I have been reading The Daily Stoic this year and recommend it. (

This is the largest map of the human brain ever made by Gemma Conroy, October 12, 2023. Researchers have created the largest atlas of human brain cells so far, revealing more than 3,000 cell types — many of which are new to science. (Nature)

Podcasts and Videos

Interview of NVIDIA’s CEO Jensen Huang, October 15, 2023. 1 hour, 30 minutes. This interview is also available as a video or a written transcript(Acquired)

Ben Gilbert, David Rosenthal – From Obsession to Profession, October 16, 2023. 1 hour, 38 minutes. Transcript. Ben Gilbert and David Rosenthal are hosts of Acquired. They discuss their background and the origin of the podcast. (Art of Investing)

Connectivity, Global Fragility, and the Added Danger of AI, October 3, 2023. 1 hour, 24 minutes. Nassim Taleb discusses several topics in a recent interview at Dartmouth. (Dickey Center for International Understanding) h/t Value Investing World

Corporate Governance and the Power of Ownership, October 15, 2023. 29 minutes. Geoff Gannon and Andrew Kuhn discuss governance issues. (Focused Compounding)

John Collison, Patrick Collison – A Business State of Mind, October 17, 2023. 1 hour, 18 minutes. Transcript. Interview of the co-founders of Stripe. (Invest Like the Best)

WEX: Fleet Cards, October 13, 2023. 43 minutes. Transcript“WEX is a leader in the fleet card market – they offer trucking businesses special credit cards which help secure advantaged rates on fuel among many other things.” (Business Breakdowns)

The Life and Tragic Death of R101, The World’s Largest Flying Machine, October 12, 2023. 45 minutes. In the 1920s and 30s, airships were considered a better solution than airplanes for long-distance travel. Seven years before the Hindenburg explosion, the largely forgotten R101 disaster cost even more lives. (History Unplugged)

Dr. Mark Plotkin on Coffee, the World’s Favorite Stimulant, October 13, 2023. 1 hour, 16 minutes. A very detailed history of coffee. (The Tim Ferriss Show)

Pennsylvania Station

I’m always horrified when I think of the destruction of the old Pennsylvania Station and what replaced it. The Culture Critic provides a few photos in this thread.

Copyright, Disclosures, and Privacy Information

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The Digest #169