(Not) boring finds for March 2015

March 4, 2015 | Kara Lilly Print

Our team occasionally uncovers signal in the daily parsing of noise. Since such information can be easily passed over, we thought we’d make it a habit to share some links that we’ve liked recently.

Not everything below is technically about investing—but everything relates back to investing or decision-making in some way.



Serial – An investigation into murder and truth, NPR

What do you get when you combine a murder mystery with Sarah Koenig’s masterful storytelling? NPR’s latest podcast creation, Serial.

Serial investigates the murder of Hae Min Lee, a popular high-school senior who disappeared after school one day in 1999. Through twelve gripping episodes, Koenig takes viewers on a journey to unravel the major question behind the show: did Adnan Syed – the boy eventually convicted of the crime – actually do it? Koenig does an impressive amount of investigation to get to the bottom of what is ultimately a highly unusual case.

One can understand why Serial is the most downloaded podcast ever. Listeners to Serial not only get addicted to the mysterious case, but learn through Koenig’s investigations how difficult it can be to get to the truth. Investors will learn a thing-or-two about scuttlebutt.

Fearless – Invisibilia, NPR

What would life be like if you felt no fear? This was the central question asked by NPR in their first Invisibilia podcast.

This podcast focuses on “SM”, a woman who cannot experience fear. Due to an extremely rare condition in which calcium deposits have built up around SM’s amygdala, she is completely incapable of experiencing fear in any form. Her strange condition highlights not only the debilitating role that fear can play in our lives but also its importance. It also reminds us that fear is simply information.


Citizen Four

Citizen Four is the story of Edward Snowden in the days immediately preceding and following the NSA leaks. This compelling film shows just how pervasive the state of surveillance has become in modern times. And watching Snowden wait anxiously for the story to go live while he awaits his fate in a Hong Kong hotel room, only adds to the intensity of the film.

Inside the Dark Web

In a similar vein, Inside the Dark Web is a documentary by the BBC on the topic of internet surveillance. For anyone unfamiliar with the issues at play in the current Snowden controversy, this film does a decent job of providing a balanced look at the pros and cons of internet surveillance, while giving the audience a decent foundation of how surveillance actually works.

The two films introduce audiences to what is surely a major issue of our time. People assume that the Internet is an anonymous, free, and public tool—one that will never disappear. Yet the future of the Internet is not a certainty.

Monthly Mental Model – The Black Hole

A Black Hole in investing occurs when a company is so big and so far gone that it sucks everything around it down, too. When the American automakers went bankrupt in 2008, they did not just trigger bankruptcies in car service suppliers—they nearly killed Detroit.



  • Rosalind Cooper-Key 24/03/2015 9:38pm (6 years ago)

    I'd like to congratulate you Kara on your excellent article on the pyramid scheme. You did not waste 2 1/2 hours that evening but used it to show others the importance of being aware of specious arguments. Unfortunately, it is too often necessary to listen to what people are not saying, in order to figure out what they really mean: no easy task, as most of us are not suspicious by nature. Have you considered submitting this article to the "Facts & Arguments" page of the Globe & Mail?

    Penny Farthing (my pen name)

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