Index Fund Beats Hedge Funds

September 18, 2017

Warren Buffett apparently made a bet 10 years ago that a basic S&P index fund with low fees would outperform hedge funds on aggregate. He put his money where his mouth was, offering a $500,000 bet to any hedge fund manager. The manager would have to pick 5 hedge funds and they would compare how the 5 performed against the Vanguard S&P 500 index fund.


I publicly offered to wager $500,000 that no investment pro could select a set of at least five hedge funds – wildly-popular and high-fee investing vehicles – that would over an extended period match the performance of an unmanaged S&P-500 index fund charging only token fees. I suggested a ten-year bet and named a low-cost Vanguard S&P fund as my contender. I then sat back and waited expectantly for a parade of fund managers – who could include their own fund as one of the five – to come forth and defend their occupation. After all, these managers urged others to bet billions on their abilities. Why should they fear putting a little of their own money on the line?

What followed was the sound of silence. Though there are thousands of professional investment managers who have amassed staggering fortunes by touting their stock-selecting prowess, only one man – Ted Seides – stepped up to my challenge. Ted was a co-manager of Protégé Partners, an asset manager that had raised money from limited partners to form a fund-of-funds – in other words, a fund that invests in multiple hedge funds.

Like Warren Buffett needs more money, but he won the bet. None of the five hedge funds individually outperformed the S&P 500 and on average the hedge funds returned 7.1% compared to the S&P 85%. Not even close.


Bacon, Egg and Cheese with Political Analysis on the Side

September 17, 2017

This NY Times article, “Hold the Egg Sandwich: Egyptian TV is Calling” is amazing. An Egyptian guy who owns a bodega is Queens appears on Egyptian TV offering political analysis from America. I love the low budget “set” in the back with some maps of the US taped up.


“Sometimes I’ll be busy with an order with my customer, then I will have to jump. It’s — ‘One. Two. You’re live.’” he said, imitating the booming voice of a newscaster. “It’s, ‘Mr. Gamasy, are we going to war in North Korea?’”

Next week, Mr. El-Gamasy said he will report from the United Nations General Assembly for several stations in Egypt. He sees his role as part translator of the American people to his homeland, and part good-will ambassador for a country where he feels more at home than where he was born. “With Mr. Trump as president, I feel compelled to explain America more to the Middle East,” he said.

“Over here, the sky is the limit,” Mr. El-Gamasy said. “And I’m living proof of it.”

Only in New York…


How Not to Land a Rocket

September 14, 2017

From SpaceX, a blooper reel of the failed attempts to land a rocket…

Jackasses of the Week

September 13, 2017

I first heard this via a political writer on Twitter:

In response to:

He followed the first tweet with more amusing snark, but then I read John Gruber’s post, Jackasses of the Week, on Daring Fireball:

I don’t write much about “Silicon Valley” as a culture, because I don’t live there and, frankly, I don’t care. But the fact that this startup is being taken seriously is absurd. It’s a company named Bodega, and Fast Company’s headline says it all: “Two Ex-Googlers Want To Make Bodegas And Mom-And-Pop Corner Stores Obsolete”.

First, all they’ve done is make a fancy vending machine. That’s great. Vending machines are a real thing, and maybe there’s a market for better ones. But better vending machines are still just vending machines.

Second, what kind of sociopaths are these people that they want to put mom-and-pop corner stores and bodegas out of business? Local family-owned stores are what make for great neighborhoods. They’re good people running good businesses that people love. Good startup ideas are things that replace products or services that people hate. Taxis suck, for example. That’s why ride sharing services are so popular and successful. Bodegas and corner stores are great.

Third, as Helen Rosner argues in this thread, they’ve got a crummy business model.

Fuck these guys.

Can’t top that.


One Born Every Minute

September 12, 2017

I’m sure I never would have heard of this, except a science writer posted something mocking this product for claiming to use the same material used in NASA space suits (claim since retracted). There is a product called Body Vibes. They are wearable stickers. It is believed by some they might do something.


According to their site:

Body Vibes contain frequencies believed to have various harmonizing effects on the human body. Of course, not all human bodies are the same, so the effects may be different. Through a proprietary technology, these frequencies are recorded, condensed, and stored within the Body Vibes sticker, in much the same way that you would save a file to your computer’s hard drive. When the Body Vibes sticker is properly applied to your skin, it begins broadcasting the stored frequency, which may influence the mind/body bio-field with signals transferred through sympathetic resonance. This interchange of frequencies is believed to have balancing effects on particular systems within the body.

That’s the most spectacular gibberish I’ve read in a while. It manages to be meaningless while still hedging the benefits with “may” and  “believed to”.

The Anti-Anxiety 10 pack is only $60, so get them while you can…


September 11, 2017

Hard to believe it’s been 16 years


I Love Art Because…

September 7, 2017

Via SMBC, as usual…

It's a shame there wasn't ever a snake-biting-someone's-dick movement in art.