What We’re Reading

Downfall:

Sears’s widely trusted appliance brand, Kenmore, was divided between the appliance division and the branding division. The former had to pay fees to the latter for any transaction. But selling non-Sears-branded appliances was more profitable to the appliances division, so they began to offer more prominent in-store placement to rivals of Kenmore products, undermining overall profitability.

Education:

Harvard, which typically admits approximately 5 percent of its applicants, reports acceptance rates as high as 88 percent for athletes endorsed by its coaches. “Parents see the numbers,” says Luke Walton, an Olympic rower and the founder of Rower Academy, a San Diego–based recruiting consultancy for high-school crew athletes. “They see that if their child can get the backing of a coach, they are likely to get in. That’s a shiny object—a fishing lure for parents. They look at that and say: ‘That’s the answer. Sports is the answer.’ ”

New York:

Veterans of the 1970s crisis are saying that this one could be more threatening than the one the city faced in those days. The urban rot of the 1970s was at the margins; this time, it is the core that is hollowing. Even in the depths of 1977, the year of the blackout and the Son of Sam, Manhattan was vibrant — “a luxury fantasyland,” in the words of one contemporary journalistic account. Manhattan boasted the headquarters of a fifth of the Fortune 500 companies, a third of the largest law firms, and almost all of the big ad agencies and investment banks. Residential real-estate values rose by 30 percent. Celebrities were crowding Studio 54. The Yankees won the World Series, drawing more than 2 million fans.

Quiet:

Last March, as Covid-19 lockdowns were coming into force in Europe, seismologist Thomas Lecocq of the Royal Observatory of Belgium noticed that the Earth was suddenly stiller. Every day, as humans operate our factories, drive our cars, even simply walk on our sidewalks, we rattle the planet. Incredibly, these rattles can be detected as if they were infinitesimal earthquakes. And they had stopped.

Investing:

No amount of reading or paper trading will prepare you for how it truly feels in the heat of battle.

There is a great scene in ‘Bridge On The River Kwai’ where Jack Hawkins brings a young soldier in and hands him a knife, asking him if he thinks he could use it in cold blood. The boy doesn’t know. “Well, at least he’s honest.” The fact is, none of us know until we face that enemy whether you can thrust that blade home or pull the trigger on your order.

Have a good weekend, stay safe.


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