C&B Notes

Investing is a discipline built on cumulative knowledge, and it requires a continuous evaluation and assessment of new information. The purpose of C&B Notes is to pass along the ideas, concepts, stories, and information that are informing, influencing, and updating our worldview. We use them to build on our “latticework of mental models” that help us make better decisions.

123 articles in list

Redefining the Odds

This remarkable story about Bill Benter, who built an algorithm that cracked the code of horse racing and generated billions in winnings, reminded us of Charlie Munger’s analogy of the stock market as a pari-mutuel betting system.  Both John Kelly,…

Read More

Not Just Via Funerals

Much more often than not, scientific findings that violate existing assumptions, patterns, or laws of nature are the result of bad data or misinterpretation. But scientists who have the courage to pursue an aberrant finding, if they are in fact…

Read More

Scorched Earth Reveals the Past

A heat wave in Northern Europe has revealed the outlines of a number of ancient buildings and towns. The scorching weeks of the summer of 2018 left crops shrivelled and gardens scorched. It has also revealed the lines of scores…

Read More

Data in the Deep

Microsoft recently made a splash with Project Natick, a nascent program that is submerging data centers in the ocean to capture a series of important benefits. Project Natick had no shortage of hurdles to overcome.  The first, of course, was…

Read More

The Pre-Pythagoras Pythagorean Theorem

History is sometimes written for neatness of narrative (more than for accuracy): a discovery happens, the world starts recognizing it, a discovery has a transformational and lasting impact.  This process is rarely that neat.  As chronicled in Megalith, a book that examines…

Read More

Pigmentation Experimentation

In 2009, Mas Subramanian accidentally discovered the first new blue pigment in more than 200 years, which could be useful for a surprisingly wide array of applications in the multi-billion dollar “color” industry.  Next on his list is red, a…

Read More

Southern Stonehenge

Chile’s Atacama desert has preserved a series of cairns for over 500 years.  Scientists are still figuring out their significance. On the winter solstice in 2017, a team of researchers waited in the pre-dawn chill of the Atacama desert.  Before…

Read More

Decoding Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence is an ill-defined term.  This nebulousness is perhaps necessary given how broad and technical the discipline is, but the enormous amount of jargon used to explain AI does not help the lay person understand something that — over…

Read More

As the Stone Turns

We are not surrounded by winter sports down here in Alabama, but that fact does not diminish our love of curling that is revived every four years during the Winter Olympics.  We enjoy the game strategy but a group of…

Read More

Incentives Matter: Dolphin Edition

A dolphin named Kelly at the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies responded to incentives in an extraordinary way by demonstrating a pronounced ability to delay gratification and think ahead to the future. All the dolphins at the institute are trained…

Read More

Titanic on a Different Scale

Late this summer, astronomers witnessed an incident that happened millions of years ago, but whose evidence just got to Earth.  The event, a “titanic collision” of two neutron stars (the densest things in the universe besides black holes) clarified a…

Read More

Progress in Six Acts

We have shared from Max Roser’s site ‘Our World in Data’ before, and we found his recent summary of worldwide progress striking.  By broadening the view beyond the immediate — in terms of time, location, etc. — he demonstrates just…

Read More