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Thursday 27 February 2020

Weekend Reading

Reading across disciplines is one of the best ways to improve our investment acumen. Here is a summary of some of the best articles I read this week.

The ends of the world are melting
he ends of the Earth are melting at a rate not seen in at least 115,000 years.  And over the past few months, there’s been increasing evidence that the changes we’re seeing at our planet’s poles are only growing more severe. These changes in the most remote places on Earth have huge consequences for our daily lives because our daily lives have huge consequences for the most remote places on Earth. Decades of routine human activities – going to work, driving a car, eating a hamburger, choosing a stock portfolio – have transformed the frozen parts of this planet on a scale never seen before. If we do not change our behaviour drastically to slow down and eventually stop the Arctic melt, rising sea levels and even faster rising global temperatures will threaten our very way of life.

The Japanese toilet - a marvel of technology
Japanese toilets are marvels of technological innovation. They have integrated bidets, which squirt water to clean your private parts. They have dryers and heated seats. They use water efficiently, clean themselves and deodorize the air, so bathrooms actually smell good. They have white noise machines, so you can fill your stall with the sound of rain for relaxation and privacy. Some even have built-in night lights and music players. It's all customizable and controlled by electronic buttons on a panel next to your seat.

The last great thing about the internet
Wikipedia is the eighth-most-visited site in the world. The English-language version recently surpassed 6 million articles and 3.5 billion words; edits materialize at a rate of 1.8 per second. It is the only not-for-profit site in the top 10, and one of only a handful in the top 100. It does not plaster itself with advertising, intrude on privacy, or provide a breeding ground for neo-Nazi trolling. Like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, it broadcasts user-generated content. Unlike them, it makes its product de-personified, collaborative, and for the general good. More than an encyclopaedia, Wikipedia has become a community, a library, a constitution, an experiment, a political manifesto—the closest thing there is to an online public square. It is one of the few remaining places that retains the faintly utopian glow of the early World Wide Web. A free encyclopaedia encompassing the whole of human knowledge, written almost entirely by unpaid volunteers: Can you believe that was the one that worked?

Subscription for your monthly coffee!
Panera Bread is hoping to disrupt the morning coffee. The company is unveiling a subscription plan for its most popular caffeinated drinks. For a flat rate of $8.99 a month, customers can get unlimited coffee (hot or iced) and tea at all of its stores nationwide. Coffee is an imperative component of the breakfast wars. Both Starbucks and Dunkin’ have been seeing a surge in coffee sales, thanks to the steady growth of mobile orders placed via smartphone apps. But coffee is only the start. Having a menu that reflects Americans’ desire for healthy, protein-rich breakfast items is now an industrywide mandate.

Online buying in India is fuelled by discounts
Digital buyers in India are going to reach 330 billion by the end of 2020. The phenomenon of online shopping has taken India by a storm. What sets online shopping from traditional offline stores is the practice of discounts.  Online stores, save a few exceptions, do not have to pay sales taxes- the explanation being the absence of a physical sales storefront, an office or a warehouse. While major players like Amazon and Flipkart do have warehouses, not paying sales taxes means a great deal for smaller sellers, resulting in lower prices automatically.

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