Week of August 26, 2019

Colin Dismuke / August 26, 2019

3 min read

A few things of note from around the Internet this week:

Hong Kong

Maciej Cegłowski on his experience in the Hong Kong protests:

All that prelude is to say, coming in to the Hong Kong protests from a less developed country like the United States is disorienting. If you have never visited one of the Zeroth World cities of Asia, like Taipei or Singapore, it can be hard to convey their mix of high density, mazelike design, utterly reliable public services, and high social cohesion, any more than it was possible for me or my parents to imagine a real American city, no matter how many movies we saw. And then to have to write about protests on top of it!


Morgan Housel on the Laws of Investing:

What’s an investing law? There’s no definition, so I’ve taken some liberties here. I try to limit them to forces that influence all types of investments, in all sectors, in all countries, throughout all of history, with few exceptions, and some explanation for why it will continue indefinitely. A theme here is that investing is not just the study of finance. It’s the study of how people behave with money. So most of these “laws” describe a universal feature of how people respond to risk, reward, and scarcity. They are simple. But they are, I think, part of a foundation that governs most of what happens in investing, and will keep happening as long as investing exists.


The story of Knight Oil Tools:

It was June 4, 2014, and Bryan, then 54 years old, was incredibly stressed out. He had just left a mediation meeting in Lafayette, Louisiana, with his elder brother, Mark; his younger sister, Kelley Sobiesk; and their team of respective lawyers. Mark and Bryan had for a decade been locked in a battle over control of their family company, Knight Oil Tools, the largest privately owned oil-and-gas-equipment-rental company in the world. That might not sound like much to boast about, but the company was worth an estimated \$800 million; each sibling was worth over \$100 million. The meeting, at which Bryan’s inheritance was at stake, had been contentious, and he found it supremely coincidental that, after pulling him over, the sheriff’s deputy almost immediately asked to search his vehicle.

The end of this saga is so depressing.

Peter Brannen looks at human civilization on a geological timeline:

The idea that we’re in a new epoch is a profoundly optimistic one, for it implies that we’ll persist into the future as an industrial technological civilization on something like a geological timescale. It implies that we are at the dawning of the astrobiologist David Grinspoon’s “Sapiezoic Eon”—that expansive, creative, open-ended future in which human technology represents a new and enduring feature of the planet on par with the biological innovations of the Cambrian Explosion—rather than heading for the impending, terminal consummation of a major mass extinction, ending with all the conclusive destruction of apocalypses past.

Until we prove ourselves capable of an Anthropocene worthy of the name, perhaps we should more humbly refer to this provisional moment of Earth history that we’re living through as we do the many other disruptive spasms in Earth history.


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