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Thursday 10 December 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.

I especially try to not post Corona related articles as that is all one gets to read in all traditional media.


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Bio-manufactured material Hyaline can change our gadgets

Biology is the most advanced manufacturing technology on the planet. Hyaline may be the first fermented electronic products and is already in use in flexible circuits, display touch sensors, and printable electronics. The product merges the benefits of advanced bio-fabrication with traditionally manufactured materials.

Increasingly, companies are demonstrating fermentation can be used to make things like jet fuel, vanilla, nylon, beauty products, and other items that ordinarily depend on petrochemicals. In addition, the petrochemical toolbox is limited, expensive and is running up against manufacturing bottlenecks.

Hyaline can be used to create thinner films that are foldable, flexible, and more durable. It can be used to develop full-screen touch sensors with new mechanical, physical, and optical properties.

Performance-wise, Hyaline has high-temperature features that enable faster processing times in manufacturing. As a printed circuit board, Hyaline can be printed and used at high temperatures, while eliminating epoxy and acrylic adhesive layers to create systems that are thinner and more flexible.



After meatless meat, here is fishless fish

Many of the most popular seafoods now suddenly face direct competition from dozens of startups offering animal-free alternatives. The industry is still tiny, but sales of plant-based foods have surged 29 percent in the past two years, compared with just 4 percent overall for U.S. retail foods, and many expect the category to follow the arc of plant-based milks, which now account for 14 percent of all retail milk sales.

Fish-Free Tuna was made using a blend of six legumes—soybeans, peas, chickpeas, fava beans, lentils, and navy beans—with some algal oil and seaweed powder mixed in for “Real Seafood Taste.”



Distraction is not about tech

Plato complained about how distracting the world was 2,500 years ago. Clearly Plato never struggled with an iPhone, so I take issue with the current narrative that technology is hijacking your brain and that it’s addictive. It promotes learned helplessness: We stop trying to change something because we think there’s nothing we can do.

Most people don’t want to acknowledge the uncomfortable truth that distraction is always an unhealthy escape from reality; the drive to relieve that discomfort is at the root of all our behavior. So instead of blaming technology, look for the discomfort that precedes it. By identifying an uncomfortable internal trigger — for example, loneliness, boredom, anxiety, or discontentment — and exploring the sensation with curiosity, we can more easily disarm it.




Of business longevity

Japan is an old-business superpower. The country is home to more than 33,000 with at least 100 years of history — over 40 percent of the world’s total, according to a study by the Tokyo-based Research Institute of Centennial Management. Over 3,100 have been running for at least two centuries. Around 140 have existed for more than 500 years. And at least 19 claim to have been continuously operating since the first millennium.

Most of these old businesses are, like Ichiwa, small, family-run enterprises that deal in traditional goods and services. To survive for a millennium, Ms. Hasegawa said, a business cannot just chase profits. It has to have a higher purpose.Those kinds of core values, known as “kakun,” or family precepts, have guided many companies’ business decisions through the generations. They look after their employees, support the community and strive to make a product that inspires pride.

The Japanese companies that have endured the longest have often been defined by an aversion to risk — shaped in part by past crises — and an accumulation of large cash reserves.



You’re only as good as your worst day

We tend to measure performance by what happens when things are going well. Yet how people, organizations, companies, leaders, and other things do on their best day isn’t all that instructive. To find the truth, we need to look at what happens on the worst day.

Products and services are only as good as they are when they break, not when everything is functioning fine. From a financial standpoint, companies prove their worth when they show how they cope when something fundamental changes in the market or there’s a financial crisis.


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