Rules for Investment Success by Sir John Templeton

Quality is a company strongly entrenched as the sales leader in a growing market.  Quality is a company that’s the technological leader in a field that depends on technical innovation.  Quality is a strong management team with a proven track record.  Quality is a well-capitalized company that is among the first in a new market.  Quality is a well-known trusted brand for a high-profit-margin consumer product.

The hunt for quality.  That’s what’s cool about investing.  Hidden quality.

It can’t be all Warren Buffett all the time.  Sir John Templeton has been getting my attention.

The hunt for points of maximum pessimism.  Templeton worked above a grocery store in the Bahamas.  His grand-niece keeping the flameAn interview from circa 1985.  Later in life he devoted himself to spiritual searching.

Remember, in most cases, you are buying either earnings or assets.
This is a slight book, almost like a pamphlet, containing reprints of a series of columns Templeton wrote for the Christian Science Monitor in 1993.
The only reason to sell stocks now is to buy others, more attractive stocks.  If you can’t find more attractive stocks, hold on to what you have.

Santa Anita, you had one job!

Santa Anita racetrack is a beautiful place.  There’s history. Seabiscuit raced there, a statue honors him.  It’s good to sit in the stands, look at the mountains, and drink a beer, watch the horses race.  Read the little horse newspaper.

Santa Anita’s been having problems though.  Horses keep dying there.

Since December 36 (!) horses have died.

On Saturday at Santa Anita they had the Breeders’ Cup, a nationally televised race.

Santa Anita!  This is your big moment.  All eyes on you.  You’re on TV, time to shine.

Please.

Don’t let any horses die.

They had ONE job.  And what happened?

A green screen was rushed onto the track to block Mongolian Groom from the view of 67,811 fans and a prime-time television audience. He was loaded onto an equine ambulance and taken to a hospital on the backstretch.

Cup officials said in a statement about two hours after the race that Mongolian Groom had been euthanized after suffering a serious fracture to his left hind leg.

Guys!

Couldn’t we pretend we were giving him tender care? euthanize him later?!

I’ll be sad if Santa Anita closes down.  It’s like some enchanted time capsule of southern California.  But, if you’re in the horse business, you can’t get me excited about horses and then keep killing them.

Start of the Juvenile Sprint by Jlvsclrk for Wiki

 


Around LA

Just a small street scene.  I like when cities look like themselves.

Disney + has paid (I guess) to put these signs over all the bus stations in West Hollywood.  Now it looks like shitty Disneyland.  This is a bad brand move for Disney, in my opinion.  When you see a Disney sign, that should mean you’re somewhere wonderful and fun like Disneyland, not West Hollywood.  West Hollywood and Disney aren’t a good brand fit.  Maybe Pasadena?


Grant’s Memoirs

This picture of Grant at City Point, VA 1864 was taken by Egbert Guy Fowx

“Man proposes and God disposes.”  There are but few important events in the affairs of men brought about by their own choice.

So Grant begins his memoirs.  Grant’s voice is clear and unashamed and humble.  The role of chance, fate, circumstance, God in determining the course of events, and the much smaller role played by character or our actions, is a key theme.

Grant never would’ve gotten to West Point if not for what happened to young Bartlett Bailey:

Finding before the January examination following that he could not pass, he resigned and went to a private school, and remained there until the following year when he was reappointed.  Before the next examination he was dismissed.  Dr. Bailey [his father] was a proud and sensitive man, and felt the failure of his son so keenly that he forbade his return home.  There were no telegraphs in those days to disseminate news rapidly, no railroads west of the Alleghenies, and but few east; and above all, there were no reporters prying into other people’s private affairs.  Consequently it did not become generally known that there was a vacancy at West Point from our district until I was appointed.  I presume Mrs. Bailey confided to my mother the fact that Bartlett had been dismissed, and that the doctor had forbidden his son’s return home.

Grant later notes:

Major Bailey was the cadet who had preceded me at West Point.  He was killed in West Virginia, in his first engagement.

A poignant family story between these lines.

Maybe it’s no surprise that Grant is an excellent, understated writer.  Much of his job as a general was to communicate clear, succinct orders and directives under stressful conditions.  Many written orders are included in the book.  Compact expression of clear meaning must’ve been a key skill to a Civil War general.  Probably a military commander in any era.

Then again I tried to read Sherman’s memoirs and can’t recommend them.

a thick book, as well. almost twice as long as Grant’s?

Grant didn’t really want to be a soldier.

Going to West Point would give me the opportunity of visiting the two great cities of the continent, Philadelphia and New York.  This was enough.

Later he mentions:

a military life had no charms for me, and I had not the faintest idea of staying in the army even I should be graduated, which I did not expect.

Grant says at this time, he hoped to become a math professor.

The Mexican War breaks out.  Grant doesn’t approve, but there he is.  He rides from Corpus Christi to San Antonio without seeing a single person until he’s within thirty miles of San Antonio.  He joins the expedition to Mexico City.

Considering in tranquility some movements during the Mexican War:

It has always seemed to me that this northern route to the City of Mexico would have been the better one to have taken.  But my later experience has taught me two lessons: first, that things are seen plainer after the events have occurred; second, that the most confident critics are generally those who know the least about the matter criticised.

Occupying Mexico City he sees a bullfight:

The sight to me was sickening.  I could not see how human beings could enjoy the sufferings of beasts, and often of men, as they seemed to do on these occasions.

Grant is sent to California:

Many of the real scenes in early California life exceed in strangeness and interest any of the mere products of the brain of the novelist.  Those early days in California brought out character.

He leaves the army.  But the Civil War is approaching:

The great bulk of the legal voters of the South were men who owned no slaves; their homes were generally in the hills and poor country; their facilities for educating their children, even up to the point of reading and writing, were very limited; their interest in the contest was very meagre… Under the old regime they were looked down upon by those who controlled all the affairs in the interest of slave owners, as poor white trash who were allowed the ballot so long as they cast it according to direction.

Grant, quickly, is elevated to command, and starts marching down the Tennessee River, taking Forts Henry and Donelson along the way.  But his army is almost driven back into the river on the first day at Shiloh.

Shiloh, as you’ve probably heard, was not a good scene.  Two big armies ran into each other and murdered each other for pretty much an entire day.  The night after the first day, Grant tries to sleep under a tree in pouring rain:

Some time after midnight, growing restive under the storm and the continuous pain, I moved back to the log-house under the bank.  This had been taken as a hospital, and all night wounded men were being brought in, their wounds dressed, a leg or an arm amputated as the case might require, and everything being done to save life or alleviate suffering.  The sight was more unendurable than encountering the enemy’s fire, and I returned to my tree in the rain.

Yet, he’s confident:

So confident was I before firing had ceased on the 6th that the next day would bring victory to our arms if we could only take the initiative, that I visited each division commander in person before any reinforcements had reached the field.  I directed them to throw out heavy lines of skirmishers in the morning as soon as they could see, and push them forward until they found the enemy… To Sherman I told the story of the assault at Fort Donelson, and said the same tactics would win at Shiloh.

After day two:

I saw an open field, in our possession on the second day, over which the Confederates had made repeated charges the day before, so covered with dead that it would have been possible to walk across the clearing, in any direction, stepping on dead bodies, without a foot touching the ground.

Jason Robards read the Grant parts in Ken Burns Civil War

Robards, from Wikipedia

On promotions:

Every one has his superstitions.  One of mine is that in positions of a great responsibility every one should do his duty to the best of his ability where assigned by competent authority, without application or use of influence to change his position.

After Vicksburg fell, Grant was almost killed in New Orleans by a horse that was scared by a locomotive and fell on him.  But he makes it out, though he’s on crutches for a bit.  Imagine all the times when Grant could’ve been killed, and it was a spooked horse in occupied New Orleans that almost got him.

During the movements around Chattanooga, Grant pauses to consider:

There was no time during the rebellion when I did not think, and often say, that the South was more to be benefited by its defeat than the North.  The latter had the people, the institutions, and the territory to make a great and prosperous nation.  The former was burdened with an institution abhorrent to all civilized people not brought up under it, and one which degraded labor, kept it in ignorance, and enervated the governing class.  With the outside world at war with this institution, they could not have extended their territory.  The labor of the country was not skilled, nor allowed to become so.  The whites could not toil without becoming degraded, and those who did were denominated “poor white trash.”  The system of labor would have soon exhausted the soil and left the people poor.  The non-slaveholders would have left the country, and the small slaveholder must have sold out to his more fortunate neighbor.  Soon the slaves would have outnumbered the masters, and, not being in sympathy with them, would have risen in their might and exterminated them.  The was was expensive to the South as well as to the North, both in blood and treasure, but it was worth all the cost.

That’s enough of Grant’s memoirs for now.

 


Santa Ana Winds

If you’re a reader of Helytimes you’ve probably come across these quotes about the dry, spooky winds that originate in the desert and blow into Los Angeles.

The definition of these winds in common use gets kind of loose.  Any wind that’s blowing not the cooling, perfume air of the Pacifc, but the dry, harsh air off the desert, can get counted as a Santa Ana wind.

One of the oldest references to the Santa Ana winds appears to be in a January, 1943 issue of California Folklore Quarterly.  Luckily we have that issue handy, and present it here for any interested California scholars.

Maybe next week we’ll look into The Vanishing Hitchhiker


Daily (?)

If you had a Catholic or any sort of Christian upbringing, you’ll know this one:

Our Father who art in heaven,

Hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come.

Thy will be done

on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread,

and forgive us our trespasses,

as we forgive those who trespass against us,

and lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from evil.

The most famous prayer in the world?  Maybe.  But what about “daily” there?  While reading a list of hapex legomenon,

a word that occurs only once within a context, either in the written record of an entire language, in the works of an author, or in a single text.

I learned that “daily” in this case is an ancient Greek hapex legomenon.

Epiousios, translated into English as ″daily″ in the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:11 and Luke 11:3, occurs nowhere else in all of the known ancient Greek literature, and is thus a hapax legomenon in the strongest sense.

So, this word, that’s only used once, epiousios, what exactly did it mean?  Wikipedia:

The difficulty in understanding epiousios goes at least as far back as AD 382… At that time, St. Jerome was commissioned by Pope Damasus I to renew and consolidate the various collections of biblical texts in the Vetus Latina (“Old Latin”) then in use by the Church. Jerome accomplished this by going back to the original Greek of the New Testament and translating it into Latin; his translation came to be known as the Vulgate. In the identical contexts of Matthew and Luke—that is, reporting the Lord’s Prayer—Jerome translated epiousios in two different ways: by morphological analysis as ‘supersubstantial’ (supersubstantialem) in Matthew 6:11, but retaining ‘daily’ (quotidianum) in Luke 11:3.

The modern Catholic Catechism holds that there are several ways of understanding epiousios, including the traditional ‘daily’, but most literally as ‘supersubstantial’ or ‘superessential’, based on its morphological components. Alternative theories are that—aside from the etymology of ousia, meaning ‘substance’—it may be derived from either of the verbs einai (εἶναι), meaning “to be”, or ienai (ἰέναι), meaning both “to come” and “to go”.

Other ideas:

Kenneth E. Bailey, a professor of theology and linguistics, proposed “give us today the bread that doesn’t run out” as the correct translation. The Syriac versions of the Bible were some of the first translations of the Gospels from the Greek into another language. Syriac is also close to Jesus’ own Aramaic, and the translators close in time and language to Jesus should thus have had considerable insight into his original meanings. In Syriac epiousios is translated as anemo, meaning lasting or perpetual.

Wrote to my friend BVZ who’s a pastor out in Oklahoma, he sent me some Biblical commentaries that suggest a connection with words that meant “ration.”

Today’s? Every day’s? Tomorrow’s? A day’s worth of? Earned? Special? Sacred? Eternal? Magic? Holy? Sustaining? Nutritious?

What did epiousios mean?

Maybe the prayer should go:

give us this day, our wonder bread.


Will the future be primitive?

Down in Manhattan Beach on a small mission, I stopped into Brothers Burritos, recommended as a Beach Cities lunch spot by Travis of El Segundo / Hood River.  “You get two mini burritos.”  Sold.

At Brothers, the Pacific just a few streets down, they have a rack of old issues of surfing mags, including Surfer’s Journal.  This magazine has gripped me before, it’s really impressive, almost as much a journal of travel and philosophy as it is of waves.

In this issue was a piece by Jamie Brisick where he walks a stretch of Hawaii’s North Shore, “from Velzyland to Log Cabins,” a stretch he’s visited and lived in, on and off, for something like thirty-five years.  He remembers legends, has encounters, studies the changes to the beach, shares memories.

This struck me:

Blacksmiths.  Yvon Chouinard of Patagonia began as a blacksmith.  How about Primitive Technologies guy?

Primitive technology is a hobby where you make things in the wild completely from scratch using no modern tools or materials. This is the strict rule. If you want a fire- use fire sticks, an axe- pick up a stone and shape it, a hut- build one from trees, mud, rocks etc. The challenge is seeing how far you can go without modern technology. If this hobby interests you then this blog might be what you are looking for.

Also It should be noted that I don’t live in the wild but just practice this as a hobby. I live in a modern house and eat modern food. I just like to see how people in ancient times built and made things. It is a good hobby that keeps you fit and doesn’t cost anything apart from time and effort.

from his website.

Out in the Mojave there are pockets of people into permaculture, imagining perhaps that the future may be primitive.

I’m not sure how primitive the future will be.  Some skills and trades are ancient and seem to endure.  The future may not be as futuristic as we once, collectively, seemed to dream.  Maybe the primitive sense is just an adjustment of expectation.  Does technology have to move forward all the time?  The primitive future.  Could there be a world where the past seems futuristic?  The language of backwards and forwards almost suggests a direction History moves.  But History also tells of times when life became more primitive, even for centuries.  How dark were the Dark Ages is a good debate, too big for this space.  Leave that out and there are still times where civilizations dissolve or collapse or just kinda retreat or fade out.

No matter how primitive the future gets, there’s something soothing about practicing ancient arts and crafts and trades.  Simple, without being primitive — could that be a future to hope for?

Very satisfying burritos.  I’ve since been to the Brothers in Hermosa Beach, which I also liked but just not quite as much.

The Manhattan Beach Public Library has got to be, real estate wise, one of the best public libraries in the nation.  You can sit in a nice chair and stare at the ocean.