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Good Reading -- October 2016

Good Reading -- October 2016

Philip C. Ordway Books

  • Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike -- I didn't prioritize Phil Knight's autobiography until three friends with good reading taste (thanks John, Mike and Liz!) raved about it and convinced me to read it. I'm reallyglad they did. I can't put my finger on the exact reason, but this is a really compelling book and I couldn't put it down. If you like biographies, business or sports -- let alone all three -- I think you will love this book.

  • All I Want to Know Is Where I'm Going to Die So I'll Never Go There: Buffett and Munger: A Study in Simplicity and Uncommon, Common Sense -- I bought this book at the Berkshire annual meeting and just got around to reading it. As the title suggests, this book is...unusual to say the least. But like Bevelin's other books it is packed with worthwhile ideas. In this case, Bevelin has made up a "conversation" between Buffett and Munger, using actual quotes that are strung together by common themes. It is also an excellent collection of soundbites with an awesome 1,827 footnoted references and an authoritative bibliography.

  • The author's interview on Farnam Street is also a good read.

Facts and Figures

  • In 2005, passive funds managed by Vanguard controlled more than 5% of shares in just three companies in the S&P 500. Today, Vanguard controls more than 5% of shares in 468 companies in the S&P 500. (Source: WSJ/Morningstar)


  • Jamie Dimon at The Economic Club of Washington D.C. -- This is a wide-ranging interview conducted by Carlyle CEO David Rubenstein, and Dimon is as insightful as ever. If you need further motivation, none other than Warren Buffett called it "off the charts – one of the best I’ve ever heard." Some excerpts:

  • “America has the best hand ever dealt of any country on this planet today and ever. And Americans don’t fully appreciate what I’m about to say. We have peaceful, wonderful neighbors in Canada and Mexico. We have the biggest military barriers ever built called the Atlantic and the Pacific. We have all the food, water, and energy we will ever need. We have the best military on the planet and we will for as long as we have the best economy. And if you’re a liberal, listen closely to me in that one. OK, because the Chinese would love to have our economy. We have the best universities on the planet. There are great ones elsewhere, but these are the best. We still educate most of the kids who start businesses around the world. We have the rule of law, which is exceptional. If you don’t believe me we can talk about Brazil, Russia…Venezuela, Argentina, China, India. Believe me, it’s not quite there. We have a magnificent work ethic. We have innovation from the core of our bones. You can ask anyone in this room…It’s not just the Steve Jobs. We’re the widest, deepest financial markets the world has ever seen. I just made a list of these things. Maybe I missed something. It’s extraordinary. It’s extraordinary. And we have it today.”

  • Regarding his management style and personal investment in the company: “I wear the damn jersey. I’m not a hired gun. I’m gonna bleed for the company and give it everything I got.”

  • The Way Ahead -- Agree or disagree (in my opinion there room for both) but I think everyone should read and consider this essay by President Obama.

  • The Power of Jeff Bezos -- Walter Isaacson interviews the Amazon CEO.


  • Many doctors and nurses believe in the "full moon effect" despite plenty of evidence to the contrary (and not one shred of scientific logic on their side).

  • "In hospitals all over America, doctors and medical staffers—supposedly pragmatic professionals rooted in science—are convinced that full moons are harbingers of chaos in their emergency rooms and delivery wards. [They] say a full-moon night, particularly right before Halloween, triggers a flood of admissions, notably among patients suffering psychotic episodes, sporting strange injuries or going into labor under unusual circumstances."

  • To no one's surprise, "Multiple scientific studies indicate that doctors’ full-moon superstitions are lunacy. Research shows there is no link between the full moon and hospital admissions. The American Journal of Emergency Medicine published a report in 1996 analyzing 150,999 admission records of an emergency department over four years. A full moon occurred 49 times during that period, and not once did it boost admissions."

  • But don't tell that to this guy: "John Becher, who spent 40 years as an emergency-room doctor in New Jersey and Philadelphia, says any research contradicting the power of full moons is flat-out wrong" because one time something goofy happened. "'I’ve become a believer to the point where I don’t want to work on a full moon,' Dr. Becher says."

  • And it gets worse! There is some black magic to blame. "The Wall Street Journal decided to investigate during Saturday’s full moon. At Yale New Haven Hospital, home of the nation’s third-busiest emergency department, it was hard to find a doctor or nurse who didn’t believe in the full moon effect or have an explanation for why it occurs. 'Our bodies are 70% water, and because the moon moves the oceans, it moves the water in your body—people flip out,' says Michelle Schusky, an X-ray technologist who has worked in hospitals for 40 years. After hours of relative calm, however, staffers had to admit that, well, the night was dead. There were a couple of trauma patients—a gunshot wound, a stroke victim—and the usual round of intoxicated people stumbling in at 3 a.m., shouting and punching and spitting. Yet otherwise crowded rooms were dark, and hallways usually crammed with stretchers were empty. Nurses claimed this was unusual. The believers had an explanation. Too many doctors and nurses who are 'white clouds'—staffers who carry good luck—were working that night. (A black-cloud doctor means the night will be full of mayhem.) 'It’s obviously a staffing issue,' said Heidi Gaudio, a nurse who has worked at the hospital for more than 20 years."

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