Friday, December 28, 2018

Catching Fire

How did our brains become so powerful relative to our primate cousins? In Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human Richard Wrangham explores this topic through reason and by applying archaeological evidence.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Sold Gafisa

Amidst the market carnage, I have sold one of my longest held securities, Gafisa. Following a successful proxy contest by a dissident shareholder, new management has taken a lot of steps to cut costs. As such, the stock has done well. Well enough that it's time I said goodbye.

Changing How The World Does Business

Some business moats get built by accident. Fedex was no such accident. Its founder, Fred Smith, knew exactly what he was doing when he created the most reliable business in the world for overnight delivery. Roger Frock ran the numbers for Smith as a consultant before Fedex was launched, and then became one of the company's earliest executives, as he too saw the potential for this business. He writes about the company in his book Changing How the World Does Business: FedEx's Incredible Journey to Success The Inside Story

Friday, December 14, 2018

You've Got RAIL

One of my favourite types of purchases is a stock that I've already owned and sold for a profit. A lot of brain damage is saved from the fact that I already know the company. This is the case with FreightCar America (RAIL), shares of which I have previously purchased and sold as discussed here and here.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Spy The Lie

Wouldn't it be nice to know if someone was being dishonest with you? In Spy the Lie, former CIA officers teach you how to detect deception.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Hidden Colours

I plan to read more novels. I used to think they were a waste of time, but I've changed my mind about that. I now believe I can learn as much or more from a novel than I can from a non-fiction book. One such example is Hidden Colours by Nillu Nasser.

Monday, November 19, 2018

The Scarlet Pimpernel

I wish I knew more about the French Revolution. This 100 year old plus novel, The Scarlet Pimpernel, put me there. The crowds have gone mad; their only satiety is the blood of aristocrats or those suspected of coming to their aid.

Friday, November 9, 2018

EURN or You're Out

I think Paddy Rodgers is doing a tremendous job running crude oil shipper Euronav, but I've decided to sell my shares.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

World After Capital

In World After Capital, Albert Wenger argues that capital is no longer scarce. We have all the capital we need to meet our "needs", and so our society should be restructured to instead maximize what's scarce. What does he deem scarce? Attention.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

The New Home Company

Beazer is not the only home builder I like right now. The New Home Company is also a profitable home builder that I think trades at a big discount to its intrinsic value. I bought it last week on some extreme volatility as the markets tanked.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

The Billionaire Raj

India is the largest democracy in the world, but its institutions have not met the standards necessary to propel the country into the group of "developed" countries. Perhaps that's an unfair ask, however, as the country is a relatively young one, having come out from under British rule only after World War II. In The Billionaire Raj: A Journey Through India's New Gilded Age, James Crabtree compares India today to the United States during the era of the robber barons.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Beazer, Again

I appear to have an on-again off-again relationship with Beazer Homes because it's price is so darn volatile. As previously discussed, I've bought and sold this one in the past. Now that the price has tanked once more (its down about 60% over the last year), I'm back in.

Friday, October 12, 2018

The Laws of Medicine

Medicine is a lot further from being a "science" than most people think. Physics has certain laws wherein things can be predicted given a number of factors. The state of the art of medicine is nothing like that. What works for some doesn't work for others, and in most cases nobody knows why. In The Laws of Medicine: Field Notes from an Uncertain Science, surgeon Sid Mukherjee makes an argument for some very general laws that, once understood, can go along away towards improving our health processes.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Karsan Value Funds: 2018 Q3 Results

Karsan Value Funds (KVF) is a value-oriented fund, as described here. Due to securities regulations, the fund is not open to the public at this time. Should that change in the future, there will be an announcement on this site.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

The Foundation Trilogy

I've heard such good things about Isaac Asimov that I had to try one of his books, or in this case three of them. THE FOUNDATION TRILOGY: Foundation; Foundation and Empire; Second Foundation is sci-fi fiction, which is not my usual category, but not totally unknown to me either, especially on the heels of the fantastic Ready Player One.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Chaos Monkeys

Antonio Martinez built a company that was somewhat acquired by both Facebook and Twitter at the same time (you'll have to read the book to understand). In Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley, he talks about his journey and the challenges he faced while subsequently working at those firms.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

How We Did It

Karl Subban was a poor immigrant from Jamaica, but somehow all three of his sons were drafted to the NHL. The eldest is already a superstar. In How We Did It, he discusses what he considers to be the key principles that led to his family's success.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Tools of Titans

I'm not a huge fan of this "compilation" type of book, but I'm such a huge fan of two of Tim Feriss' previous books that his stuff has become must-read for me.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Nuvo Gets Old

I generally stay away from pharma companies, because it's hard to predict what they are going to earn a few years out. What they earn right now could go up in smoke when the patent expires, and what they have spent in R&D could turn out to be totally worthless. This makes it very difficult to estimate any kind of margin of safety, which is a key component to anything I invest in.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Long Walk to Freedom

Nelson Mandela's autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, was terrific. What a leader. At great personal sacrifice to himself, he helped bring about massive change in racial relations in South Africa.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Eh, me: Yeah!

I was too chicken to buy shares of Aimia when they crashed last year. But thankfully I did pick up a position in the preferred shares, as discussed here. The price of those preferreds rose slowly, and then abruptly, so KVF no longer owns any shares.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Viemed Flies

Just a few months ago, I wrote about the potential of Viemed as a value stock. Since then the share price has pretty much doubled, without much of a corresponding change in the business. As such, I have sold my shares.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

How To Get Rich

Felix Dennis was an entrepreneur who made hundreds of millions of dollars running a magazine business. He eventually founded Maxim, having made his start selling Bruce Lee magazine/posters with a friend of his to whichever distributors would take them. In How to Get Rich: One of the World's Greatest Entrepreneurs Shares His Secrets Dennis shares his thoughts on how almost anyone can become rich.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Kitchen Confidential

I've now unintentionally read consecutive books where the author has recently passed away. Writers beware if your book is about to be profiled on this site! Anthony Bourdain was a celebrity chef and author who hanged himself last month at age 61. In Kitchen Confidential Updated Edition: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly he shares suggestions for life and business based on his experiences as a top chef.

Thursday, July 12, 2018


I can't believe the author of this 2018 book has already passed away. His enthusiasm and manner of speaking were contagious (I have discussed him on this site way back in 2010), and I found myself reading Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World in his voice.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

The Day Freedom Died

If you think US politics is a dirty business now, you ain't seen nothing. Following the US Civil War, politics was violent, personal and sometimes even uncivil. The Day Freedom Died: The Colfax Massacre, the Supreme Court, and the Betrayal of Reconstruction describes one such incident in which a group of white supremacists massacred a group of freedmen and went free.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Karsan Value Funds: 2018 Q2 Results

Karsan Value Funds (KVF) is a value-oriented fund, as described here. Due to securities regulations, the fund is not open to the public at this time. Should that change in the future, there will be an announcement on this site.

Monday, June 25, 2018

A Gentleman in Moscow

A Gentleman in Moscow is a novel about the life of a Russian aristocrat who goes from the top of society to somewhere around the middle following the Bolshevik revolution. Over the course of his life and through his eyes, we see the gradual degradation of society into an inefficient, authoritarian/centrally-planned regime that makes life suck.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Bad Blood

I didn't follow the Theranos story too closely over the years. It was a private company, unprofitable, new-ish and had a ridiculously high valuation, keeping it squarely outside of my investing sweet spot. And yet it was so famous that I still knew so much about it: the charismatic, young and attractive CEO, and a technology that was going to change the world. But it was a fraud: a fake it till you make it promotion which couldn't deliver that was eventually exposed thanks in large part to Wall Street Journal reporter John Carreyrou. In his fantastic book Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup, he details the rise and fall of this now disgraced company.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Why We Sleep

Some of us look for a lot of ways to improve ourselves and our outcomes. But in so doing, we often neglect perhaps our most important tool: sleep. The benefits of a full eight hours are numerous, and fully detailed in Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Harvey Nash Mashed

About a year ago, I discussed Harvey Nash as a potential value play. Not much has changed with respect to the company; operating profit is about the same as it was last year. But the stock price has seen a huge shift.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Shadow Divers

There are a group of hobbyists who put their lives on the line every time they perform: deep water divers. They dive to such extremes that they often lose the ability to be rational, resulting in a great number of fatalities. Shadow Divers is about the guys who found a U-Boat in American waters and their quest in finding out how it got there.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

City of Thieves

Russian citizens seemed to be struggling against two enemies in World War II. Most obviously, the Nazis. But also their own government. City of Thieves: A Novel is a fantastic book that puts the reader in the shoes of those who (barely) lived through it.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Skin In The Game

I always look forward to Taleb's books, and Skin in the Game: Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life was no different. I generally agree with the major themes of his books, and have found reading his books to be revelations of thoughts I feel like I already had even though I likely didn't.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Cooper Tire

Cooper Tire (CTB) makes tires for vehicles. The industry is going through a difficult period, with recent sales below expectations, causing promotional pricing that further compounds the problem. Because it is a high fixed-cost industry (manufacturing), revenue shortfalls like those experienced right now cause big changes on the bottom line. For example, this year's headline Q1 profit was down 54% from last year's on just a 6.5% decline in sales.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Ordinary Men

There are a lot of Holocaust books written from the point of the view of the victims. But what about the ordinary people that turned into killers? How does this transition occur? How do they justify their actions? What do they feel as they go through these steps? In Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland Christopher Browning documents the story of a particular group of Germans who went from ordinary citizens to cold-blooded killers.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Liberated Syndication

Podcasts are a huge and growing market. In the spirit of selling shovels in a gold rush, Liberated Syndication (LSYN) hosts podcasts and provides other services (e.g. advertising) to podcasters.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Karsan Value Funds: 2018 Q1 Results

Karsan Value Funds (KVF) is a value-oriented fund, as described here. Due to securities regulations, the fund is not open to the public at this time. Should that change in the future, there will be an announcement on this site.

Monday, March 26, 2018

The Great Beanie Baby Bubble

Somehow, there was a giant bubble in Beanie Babies in the late 1990s. It doesn't really fit the usual pattern of bubbles that I have come to understand, which I guess goes to show that when a narrative gets going and people start to herd, you can get a bubble in anything! The Great Beanie Baby Bubble: The Amazing Story of How America Lost Its Mind Over a Plush Toy--and the Eccentric Genius Behind It is all about this bewildering phenomenon.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Inner Game of Tennis

The Inner Game of Tennis: The Classic Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance is not really about tennis. It's about getting your frame of mind right to be able to practice and play at your best, in any sport.

Monday, March 19, 2018


Viemed Healthcare (VMD) provides home respiratory services to those who need breathing assistance. As an investment, I believe it has a lot going for it, and so I bought shares in early February.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

How Democracies Die

As Trump takes the world by storm, I've wondered whether there is a real reason to worry that America could become a politically unstable country, or whether that kind of talk is just fear-mongering. On the one hand, he has done some things which you would not expect from a democratic leader (e.g. attack the press, appoint family members to prominent roles, blur the lines between the presidency and personal business relationships, politicize institutions like the FBI etc.). But on the other hand, it seems improbable that we should live in exceptional times; considering America has been around for 240+ years, surely this kind of demagoguery has come and gone before...right? So it was with these ideas in mind that I read the fantastic book How Democracies Die.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Escape In Time

I generally love books about the Holocaust, and Escape in Time: A novel based on the true story of how a Jewish family in Hungary survived the Holocaust is no exception. It's a bit different from the others in that the main characters, by staying astray of the law, managed to avoid concentration camps by blending in with their Christian persecutors.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Soul of an Octopus

The common ancestors we share with molluscs like octopuses lived eons ago. So in some ways they are so different from us that learning more about them can be fascinating. And yet, life found some tools so valuable that they were developed by both us and them in parallel. In The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness, Sy Montgomery explores this world of differences and similarities between us and the octopus.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Color of Law

All my life I had just assumed that the racial segregation we see in inner city communities was a "natural" occurrence. What a naive schmuck I was. The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America has opened my eyes to how it was mostly government policy that has created what we now call ghettos/slums etc.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Nothing To Envy

What a book! Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea is a fantastic work that allows the reader to understand life in North Korea to the extent that it's possible.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Leonardo Da Vinci

I've never really understood the fine arts:

What does the subject's smile convey?
What do the background plants represent?

I've never been able to answer questions like these, and have often wondered if the whole industry isn't made of the same squishy, stinky stuff that drives the wine-tasting industry). But after reading Isaacson's biography of Leonardo da Vinci, I now realize that doesn't mean I can't have an appreciation for a true artist.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018


Ray Dalio's firm Bridgewater manages more than $160 billion of assets. In his book, Principles: Life and Work, he offers some suggestions to the reader who seeks to improve his lot in life.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Interserve Me Up Some Value

Interserve is a UK services and construction company that I have been following for some time. The price has taken a big hit recently, and therefore become a lot more interesting.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Ghost in the Wires

Kevin Mitnick was once the world's most famous hacker. But his deeds got him into trouble with the law, causing him to constantly change identities to stay on the run. In his book Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World's Most Wanted Hacker he tells us how he did it.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Fortune's Children

Cornelius Vanderbilt was once the richest man in America. Yet none of his descendents just three generations below him could count themselves as millionaires! How did this happen? Fortune's Children: The Fall of the House of Vanderbilt tells the tale.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Francesca's HODL'INGS

I can't help myself when it comes to train-wreck stocks. Francesca's has gotten smoked over pretty much any time period you can think of. It's down 78% from its IPO price many years ago, 79% from its price five years ago, 68% over the last year, and 41% over the last six months. It's safe to say that there are no momentum investors excited about this one.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Monday, January 8, 2018

Ready Player One

Ready Player One: A Novel is an absolute page-turner. I had a hard time putting it down, and I probably understood less than 10% of 1980s pop culture references on which the book is based.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Karsan Value Funds: 2017 Q4 Results

Karsan Value Funds (KVF) is a value-oriented fund, as described here. Due to securities regulations, the fund is not open to the public at this time. Should that change in the future, there will be an announcement on this site.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Barbed Wire

A book about barbed wire sounds pretty boring, but it's not really about wire, but about people. People have sought to control their environments, and the invention and spread of barbed wire resulted in unmatched control over animals and other humans. Barbed Wire: An Ecology of Modernity is a history book about how people came to control environments they never could before.