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Friday 11 March 2022

Weekend Reading: 11-Mar-22

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. If you like this collection, consider forwarding it to someone who you think will appreciate it.

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Surprise, Shock, and Uncertainty

What Covid-19 and the Ukrainian invasion have in common is that both have happened many times before but westerners considered them relics of history that wouldn’t resurface in their own modern lives. Maybe the common lesson is that there are difficult parts of humanity that can’t be outgrown.


However crazy the world looks, it can get crazier. History is just a long story of the unthinkable happening, precedents being broken, and people reading the news with bewilderment and denial.


“History doesn’t crawl; it leaps,” says Nassim Taleb. The most important events tend to be abrupt, out of the blue, changing the world before people have time to rub their eyes and understand what’s happening.




Bacteria Converting Sunlight Into Electricity Via 3d-Printed ‘skyscrapers’

Researchers have 3D-printed miniature “skyscrapers” that are designed to allow colonies of bacteria to grow and potentially harvest energy from the Sun.


The project also suggests that ‘biohybrid’ sources of solar energy could be an important component in the zero-carbon energy mix while having a lower carbon and environmental footprint than traditional renewables, such as solar power.


Photosynthetic bacteria, or cyanobacteria, are the most abundant lifeform on Earth. For several years, researchers have been attempting to ‘re-wire’ the photosynthesis mechanisms of cyanobacteria in order to extract energy from them. In order to grow, cyanobacteria need lots of sunlight. e.g. as seen on the surface of a lake in summertime. In order to extract the energy they produce through photosynthesis, the bacteria need to be attached to electrodes.


The Cambridge team 3D-printed custom electrodes out of metal oxide nanoparticles that are tailored to work with the cyanobacteria as they perform photosynthesis. The electrodes were printed as highly branched, densely packed pillar structures, like a tiny city.



It is not really an advantage if your father is really rich

Growing up in a family where your father’s pretty wealthy is much more complicated than growing up in a family where your father is not wealthy. When your family is not wealthy, you’ve got to really achieve something or you’re not going to get anywhere. You’re on your own.


Whereas my own children, and the children of families like mine, I think have a bit of a disadvantage. As a general rule of thumb, the people running the world are people from blue-collar families who are lower middle class. It’s rarely the case that somebody whose father was a billionaire turns out to be better than his father, becoming a multibillionaire or running the world.



Sitting vs Walking

Sitting at a desk all day, it’s easy to start feeling like a brainless polyp, whereas walking and talking, as we are this morning, while admiring the Great Sugar Loaf mountain rising beyond the city and a Huguenot cemetery formed in 1693, our minds are fizzing. “Our sensory systems work at their best when they’re moving about the world,” says O’Mara. He cites a 2018 study that tracked participants’ activity levels and personality traits over 20 years, and found that those who moved the least showed malign personality changes, scoring lower in the positive traits: openness, extraversion and agreeableness.


There is substantial data showing that walkers have lower rates of depression, too. And we know, says O’Mara, “from the scientific literature, that getting people to engage in physical activity before they engage in a creative act is very powerful. My notion – and we need to test this – is that the activation that occurs across the whole of the brain during problem-solving becomes much greater almost as an accident of walking demanding lots of neural resources.”



Hell Yeah!

Use this rule if you’re often over-committed or too scattered.


If you’re not saying “HELL YEAH!” about something, say no.


When deciding whether to do something, if you feel anything less than “Wow! That would be amazing! Absolutely! Hell yeah!” — then say no.


When you say no to most things, you leave room in your life to really throw yourself completely into that rare thing that makes you say “HELL YEAH!”


Every event you get invited to. Every request to start a new project. If you’re not saying “HELL YEAH!” about it, say no.


We’re all busy. We’ve all taken on too much. Saying yes to less is the way out.



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