This Week I Learned #7

“Go to bed smarter than when you woke up”
— Charlie Munger


  • Wise: Learned more about the history camp 731 in Manchuria during World War 2. I historically new of the human experiments the Japanese army performed on Korean civilians through a Korean documentary. Through the podcast I was able to learn other accounts of the history of the facility and more of what went on. 731 was established for the Japanese to develop biological weapons to use on the US and Russians given their limited human army size. So they tested it all on Chinese, Korean, Russian, American and other Asian prisoners (i.e. soldiers and civilians). These involved life dissections (vivisection), injecting various disease to various sexes, ages (mainly 20 - 40s but also some children and pregnant women), and races. They'd freeze people to death, cut out parts, freeze body parts, dehydrate to death, pressurize people till they exploded, cut body parts then sow on other body parts. Everything. They referred to these people as Marutas. Which means "log wood". So they referred to people as experimental logs. Some 3000 people were murdered in that camp. But turns out there were many more camps that experimented on people in different ways. Some officers spoke of how they would learn medical surgery by vivisection on the Chinese or do bayonet practice by stabbing real Chinese prisoners. After Japan lost the war the orchestrators of 731 were given immunity by the US government because they wanted to bargain for all the biological warfare data as they got ready for the cold war against Russia. So, many of these criminals were never tried in court and went on to live prosperous lives as presidents of Japan's top medical universities with what they learned from all the live human experiments.


  • Wealthy: "Cloning" has been a commonly adopted tactic among individual investors where you look at the 13Fs of great investors and use that as a way to make investments. Numerous quantitative studies have shown its favourability to outperforming the index, even with the 3 month lag. Following investors who have very low turnover and super-long time horizons make sense for this kind of strategy. One thing to keep in mind with this strategy is to be mindful of how the investor operates. Most great investors started solo but many end up building a team around them No matter how good the main investor the team around the investor will never be the same. Different people with different experiences and perspectves to base investment decisions on. So just because a fund has historically done well, doesn't mean their next recent pick will be good because you don't know if that was the pick of some 24 year old new grad who doesn't have the similar experience set as the lead investor who built the reputation. Thus, just think for yourself. 


  • Wise: listened to a podcast interview with the co-founder of stripe, Patrick Collison. It’s a fascinating podcast on knowledge accumulation and a systematic way of thinking about designing life. From not finishing high school in Ireland to dropping out of MIT to creating Stripe. He is a proponent reader and avidly studies great businesses like Berkshire. It seems more the case that people who end up building great companies require such similar traits of being curious learners. He considers people who don't read a lot to be the ones to be weird for reading to learn is common sense. His tactic of skimming to middle of books to see if he would want to journey to that destination is something I should consider. It is the idea of killing many books quickly to see if they are worth the time. Much like how I would view stocks. He also recommends learning about the person that the person I admire admires. Getting to the source for your own interpretations. A key habit he had was reaching out to people who inspired him or excited him and thanking them. This turned into dialogue at times and built into mentee/mentor relationships.


  • Wealthy: Elon Musk commented before the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting that Warren's definition of moats was not useful. To which Charlie Munger and Buffet responded when asked the question directly in the annual meeting. They do admit moats have seen faster erosion due to technology but the definition of a moat is competitive advantage and companies can react to expand it or have it eroded by entrants. Buffet invests in profitable businesses that have established competitive advantages. Elon's businesses have yet to be profitable (PayPal was still burning cash with a focus on topline when they got acquired by eBay, SpaceX generates no profit, and Tesla still has no profits). Sure, there is the tactic of investing in growth to built the moat, Bezos has done that with Amazon. I don't think Elon has done the full cycle yet of bringing something to profitability. But it just shows a difference of investing thoughts. I know the people around me are all focused on super fast sales and no profit companies because those are also the sexier names. More food for thought on the thinking process. An investor that doesn't think is just a dayime gambler whose opinion is no different from a dog's bark in my view.


  • Healthy: Podcast between Kevin Rose, founder of Digg, and Matthew Walker, Sleep PhD, on the effects of sleep. Lot's of amazing facts that has led me to add Matthew's book to my reading list. Someone who is awake for 20hours has the same levels of impaired cognitive functions as someone who is legally drunk. Yet companies praise the person who forgoes sleep and shuns the one who drinks. Both are the same in cognitive ability. Irrationality born from ignorance no doubt. Environment construction is important to aid higher quality sleep. Some methods are: no screens 1 hour before bed, sauna/hot-shower before bed to cool the body at night, train the brain to think the bedroom is only for sleeping so don't watch shows or read in bed, slowly dim the lights as it gets closer to bed time to help your melatonin.


  • Healthy: Spoke with one of the trainers at my gym today and he observed my posterior deltoids were underdeveloped compared to my strength level. Despite performing rotator cuff exercises 2x a week it seems to be lacking. He also mentioned how given how much weight I'm moving focusing on strengthening such stabilizers would pay dividends to not result in any form of dislocation in my shoulders. He recommended working on a full spectrum of my posterior delts in the 12-15 rep range with real slow time under tension. 

  • Wise: In listening to the song “the sound of silence” I learned that it was sung and produced by Simon and Garfunkel. Turns out when they released it in 1964 it was flunked. They broke up at the failure of their first album. Then, the song hit popularity by 1965, then into 1966. After which Simon and Garfunkel got together again to produce their second album. Sometimes. Things take time. 


  • Wise: Anders Eriksson, the professor to perform the study on the famed "10,000 hour rule" made famous by Malcolm Gladwell's book "Outsiders", has been vocal in saying Gladwell got his research wrong. This is old news. But I was reminded of it recently with an added perspective of Eriksson's study coining the 10,000 hours as having been the "average" hours of "deliberate" practice. Deliberate practice has often been mentioned as a requirement to achieve mastery, literally in Robert Greene's book "Mastery". With the study saying it took an average of 10,000 hours it's more evident that the number of hours is dependent on the method of deliberate practice and the competition in the market. Widely adopted skills like playing the piano were noted as requiring 25,000+ hours of deliberate practice because of the large number of competition out there. A skill that is relatively new with less competition would require less hours to become world-class at. Seems logical but given how widely people have gone to believe in the initial misinterpretation without questioning it is indicative of the minimal utilization of logic at times. 


Daniel LeeTWIL