Saturday , August 24 2019
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Tag Archives: In Brief

Does It Make a Sound?

This is Hong Kong right now. The image is powerful. The audio is more powerful. The people in this image and this video are singing “Do you hear the people sing,” from Les Mis. It is a common protest song, but not the kind of thing that is allowed in 2019 China. If you know the curtain-dropping line from the play, you’ll know why: Do you hear the people sing?Singing a song of angry men?It is the music of a peopleWho will not be slaves again – Les Miserables (1980) Here...

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The Country HOA and other Control Stories

Ahchoo: You don’t have to do this. Look, this ain’t exactly the Mississippi. I’m on one side, see? I’m on the other side. I’m on the east bank. I’m on the west bank. It is NOT that critical. Robin of Locksley: Not the point! It’s the principle of the thing. Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993) I visited my parents in Texas last week. They live on the periphery of Houston exurbs and East Texas country, although – and this is not unusual for Texas – their home is in a development....

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What You Call Love

Don Draper: What you call love was invented by guys like me. To sell Nylons. In certain circles, it’s fashionable to assert that “words are violence.” That is to say, certain language is used to perpetuate and reinforce existing (typically oppressive) social power structures, and this is a form of coercion on par with physical violence. For brevity, I’m going to lump everyone who espouses these beliefs together under the broad umbrella of postmodernism. In other circles, it’s...

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The Patsy, Revisited

As they say in poker, “If you’ve been in the game 30 minutes and you don’t know who the patsy is, you’re the patsy.” – Berkshire Hathaway Chairman’s Letter (1987) This is the ur-quote. The True Source from which all hedge fund investor letter quotes spring. I’m not criticizing. It’s a great quote. I’m also not pointing fingers. We’ve used the true-to-Buffett ‘patsy’ version of the quote at least once in past Epsilon Theory notes. We have used the ‘sucker’ version at least six...

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So I got that goin’ for me

Dry a subject as you’d imagine they would be, buybacks have become a topic every bit as polarizing as some of our political discussions. No matter how nuanced your view, it will be auto-tuned to some extreme by the obedience collar-wielding ideologues on one end of the spectrum or the dog whistle-wielding ideologues on the other. Even now, someone is preparing a “stop with the bothsideism – it’s just math” response without reading any further. Sigh. It’s not about the...

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The Problem with Brussels Sprouts

I think it started in 2010. Within six months of patient zero, they were everywhere. Every gastropub. Every upscale comfort food concept. Every ‘American Brasserie’ in a gentrifying neighborhood. Every farm-to-table that became an OK-maybe-a-little-Sysco-to-table after six months of food cost realities. Brussels sprouts. No, not the actual vegetable. That would be gross. No, I mean Brussels sprouts! These things that we quartered, soaked in olive oil and butter, bathed in...

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Mailbag: A Modern Vocational Curriculum

Few topics seem to arouse the kind of interest, creativity and occasional rancor as our diversions into higher education. When we wrote about a vocational curriculum that we thought would do a far better job achieving the true professional preparation aims of a mixed post-secondary educational system, we received a lot of thoughtful comments – enough that it made sense to make sure all of our readers saw them: Interesting selection. You might be interested to know that something...

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Every Shot Must Have a Purpose

I rather enjoy playing golf. But there’s no denying golf is infested with raccoons trying to sell you stuff. Swing trainers. Special clubs. Systems “guaranteed” to lower your handicap. This ranges from the oversold… …to the utterly ridiculous. Not to mention a fair bit of coattail riding on anyone with an aerospace engineering background. Golf’s a lot like investing that way. And a lot like life, for that matter. Once I realized this, I began to enjoy the game...

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ET Pack Gathering #1 – Northeast US

At the urging of some pack members – and because we thought it was a great idea – we will be hosting the first official Pack Gathering in our headquarters town of Fairfield, Connecticut. The idea is, well, ideas. Genuine connection. But if you’re part of the Pack already, we think you probably already know what you’d want to get out of a time like this. We want an intimate affair, so we are keeping the event to thirty pack-members, solo and sans family for this first event. Because...

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Narrative Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry

Being a full-time missionary – someone who leans on the power of memes and narrative to nudge others into some particular way of looking at the world – often requires a certain amount of sociopathy. Not always, of course. We’ve written several times about when and how we think narrative can be marshaled to serve worthier causes than the interests of a nudging oligarchy. To wit: Still, it is no coincidence that when we run down our list of professions we collectively associate with...

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