Weekly Learning Journal 2 (24/08/2020)

Hi RIP readers,

Yes, another WLJ episode.

The main risk of having a weekly side series like this one is that if I don’t publish enough “main content” the blog will be bloated with side content.

I have a “main” post almost ready but, you know… it’s summer, amazing weather, will get back to work in a week… time to relax and enjoy the family.

Let’s keep the format of WLJ weekly for now, maybe I’ll switch to bi-weekly later on.


Watchmen, the original comic book (9/10)


I finally took time to read the entire Watchmen original comic book. I’ve heard about it so many times that I decided to set time aside last week to devour it.

I’m not a huge fan of Superheroes, but I’m interested in anything related to philosophy, ethics, meaning, human nature, evil vs good, alternate (but realistic) realities, and speculations about the future.

For the few of you who don’t know Watchmen, it’s a 12 episodes comic book series from the late 80s about superheroes, but not the superheroes you’re used to thanks to Marvel and co… Good and Evil are twisted, the world is on the verge of a nuclear war between US and USSR, a kind of a “God” superhero emerged but… ok, no spoiler ๐Ÿ™‚

Liked it a lot, would like to re-read it soon. There’s something (maybe it was unrealistically high expectations) that prevents me to give a 10/10 score, but this is a solid 9.

Note: I’ve read the original book series (Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, 1986). There are prequels, sequels, Movies, TV series… one very recent by HBO. I’ve not took a look yet.

Alt Shift X video “Watchmen Explained” (8/10)


Once I finished reading Watchmen, I needed a rabbit hole of explaining videos, related material, Easter eggs and so on.

I started with the “Thug Notes Summary” on Wisecrack (link), then another amazing video on Wisecrack about “Satire vs Parody” where Jared compared Watchmen to One Punch Man (link) – Note to self: need to watch One Punch Man as well! – and ended up on this Alt Shift X video.

Very well explained, nice new channel discovery.

Enjoy. Mind that the video contains spoiler!

Alt Shift X videos about The Expanse universe (8/10)

Link, Link

The rabbit hole continued on the Alt Shift X channel, where I discovered a few videos about The Expanse, a book series I started reading few years ago. I completed the first book (Leviathan Wakes), but stopped halfway through the second one (Caliban’s War).

The first book was a page turner while the second one bored me a bit. I should give Caliban’s War a second chance though.

SyFy (then Amazon) produced a TV Series about it which is also pretty good.

The videos on Shift Alt X channel are accurate and well done. The one about Leviathan Wakes contains a lot of spoiler, of course. The other one on The Expanse universe doesn’t, and it’s a good intro to the book series.


Nick Maggiulli explaining the All Weather Portfolio (6/10)


The All Weather Portfolio is a popular lazy portfolio model (a bit US centric) introduced by Ray Dalio.

Nick explores the returns and max drawdown of the AWP over past decades.

My personal take is that all the asset classes of the AWP are overpriced now, and the bonds (especially the long term ones) are kind of doomed… But there’s nothing cheap and safe these days, I myself am scared to death and don’t know what to do with my money!

Anyway, Nick’s article is a good intro to AWP: who should follow this model, who should not.

Brain Pickings about Walking Meditation, quoting Sylvia Boorstein (7/10)


Brain Pickings is one of my latest discoveries in the “food for the brain” category. It’s a “blog” by Maria Popova, a talented writer.

This article is about Walking Meditation, a practice I never heard before that looks interesting to me: I do love walking, and these days I struggle to find mental peace while taking long walks (> 1 hour).

Michael Batnick and Josh Brown “What are your Thoughts?” (7/10)


I like the Ritholtz Wealth Management guys, and I follow almost all their blogs and their YT channel “The Compound”.

This bi-weekly (now weekly) series called “What are your Thoughts” shows Michael and Josh asking each other questions live, without up front answer preparation. I like the topics of last week episode, especially the ones about Dividends, and the Investor Dilemma.


James Altucher: New York is Dead (8/10)


A cold analysis on what’s happening to NYC during this Covid-19 time.

Scary read… but hey, the S&P500 is at all time high. I can’t put the two things together.

Ok, James tends to exaggerate a bit to get attention, but this post seems very lucid to me.

Sloww and his relationship with Money (7/10)


Nice article by a former spendypant, turned into extreme frugalism and guilty about spending who claims to have found the “middle way”.

A nice read.

Paul Graham on How to study Philosophy (9/10)


This is a 2007 essay by Paul Graham. I’m trying to slowly read all of his material.

Paul Graham is the best essayist in the world in my opinion.

This post is a critique to Philosophy.

You know how I love to have my belief turned upside down all the time, don’t you? Well, this essay is a cold shower. The missing manual in my contrarian bookshelf. My brain is still shattered.

I don’t have a clear opinion about the essay’s arguments yet. I bet I should re-read few more times to form one, but I can anticipate this essay is going to impact my future as a lifelong learner.

I took notes:

  • My note: this article makes me feel like my “mission” to knowledge and wisdom is an impossible one, and giving up on it would be the easiest way to achieve inner peace… nope! Not today!
  • Words are imprecise. Math is the science that studies “terms that have a precise meaning”. Everyday words are fuzzy. They’re good enough like Newtonian physics.
  • It seems most of the arguments in philosophy are driven by fuzzy words. Even the debate around “Free Will” depends on how you define “Free”.
  • Wittgenstein is popularly credited with the idea that most philosophical controversies are due to confusions over language.
  • Take for example the Sokal Affair. in 1996 a physics professor submitted a fake article to an academic journal on social study and it got approved. This is a demonstration of how “social sciences” are not adequately peer reviewed, and how playing with words can make random stuff appear deep.
    • To “social sciences” defense, even “real science” could be gamed ๐Ÿ˜‰
  • Because philosophy’s flaws turned away the sort of people who might have corrected them, they tended to be self-perpetuating.
    • My note: so sad… what Paul is claiming here is that philosophers are those still in the room once the smartest people have gone. A bit… merciless.
  • But Philosophy won’t go away: there’s a market for “writing that sounds impressive and can’t be disproven”.
    • My note: holy shit, so even philosophy is a waste of time… even climbing up into the mount of eternal wisdom is a waste of time. What is noble? What is the highest intellectual pursuit I can take?
  • Paul makes a proposal though: the utility principle. Instead of trying to answer the question: What are the most general truths? Let’s try to answer the question: Of all the useful things we can say, which are the most general? Whether we cause people who read what we’ve written to do anything differently afterward.
  • What philosophy should look like: quite general observations that would cause someone who understood them to do something differently.
  • Here’s the exciting thing, though. Anyone can do this. Getting to general plus useful by starting with useful and cranking up the generality may be unsuitable for junior professors trying to get tenure, but it’s better for everyone else, including professors who already have it. This side of the mountain is a nice gradual slope. You can start by writing things that are useful but very specific, and then gradually make them more general. Joe’s has good burritos. What makes a good burrito? What makes good food? What makes anything good? You can take as long as you want. You don’t have to get all the way to the top of the mountain. You don’t have to tell anyone you’re doing philosophy.
    • Awesome, it’s on the same page with The Age of the Essay! But I wouldn’t call it philosophy though.
  • Judging from their works, most philosophers up to the present have been wasting their time. So in a sense the field is still at the first step.

Barry Ritholtz on Why Markets Donโ€™t Seem to Care If the Economy Stinks (8/10)


Ritholtz man himself about WTF is happening in the stock market vs WTF is happening in the real economy.

Market capitalization explains it.

Department stores, travel services, oil and gas equipment and services, resorts and casinos, hotel and motel real estate investment trusts… These are highly visible industries, with companies that are well-covered by the news media with household names known to many consumers. Retailers are everywhere we go. Gas stations, chain restaurants and hotels are ubiquitous in cities and suburbs across the country. So although high visibility industries may be of considerable significance to the economy, they are not very significant to the capitalization-weighted stock market indexes.

Department stores may have fallen 62.3%, but on a market-cap basis they are a mere 0.01% of the S&P 500. Airlines are larger, but not much: They weigh in at 0.18% of the index. The story is the same for travel services, hotel and motel REITs, and resorts and casinos.

Ben Carlson about Emerging Markets (7/10)


What’s happening in EM? Are they undervalued? Are they the new S&P500?

A good article by Ben Carlson about sector composition of MSCI EM index, and the top companies.

Ok, enough RWM guys on this list ๐Ÿ™‚

Marketwatch article about why the S&P 500 is not to be trusted now (6/10)


Call it confirmation bias, but I’m reading a lot of articles on the stock market who confirms what I think.

This one explains how diversification is at risk if you invest in a S&P500 tracking ETF, and how you could benefit from investing equal-weights in a random selection of 30 stocks these days.

Interesting read, I won’t follow through.

Italian โ€“ Chiara Galeazzi about the Immuni App (7/10)


Italian app “Immuni” didn’t penetrate enough to solve contact tracing for real.

Chiara is a TV author, writer, podcaster, and involved in the world of Italian stand-up comedy.

This funny post is about her experience with the app, and what happened when you get notified you’ve been in close contact with someone infected.

Fun read ๐Ÿ™‚

Markiplier (7/10)

Link, Link, Link

Ok. I’m very close to publish another episode of My Story, again about Hooli. While digging my saved documents and bookmarks for the post, I’ve resurrected one of the most… problematic video during my Hooli Videos time. Markiplier complaining about Hooli Video problems.

I worked a couple of quarters on a reverse index of Channel Members to speed up pages loading in the Hooli Video Creator Studio. In a previous post I mentioned that I had a couple of nice coding weeks, and it was when I wrote the algorithmic part to solve this problem. I was so proud. We had few top creators thanking us “personally”.

Well, not personally personally of course. That would have meant I was working in a sane job, where you do something good and someone says “thank you”. That’s not how things work in software engineering… but I don’t want to go there here.

Anyway, I watched a Markiplier video few days ago, and wanted to see “what’s up in this guy’s life these days”. Markiplier was one of the top creator, and THE channel with most members by large.

He is a gamer/streamer with 26 millions subscribers, and like any top creator his personal life and his creator life are merged. He published video on his anxieties, burnout, fears… a honest guy, with an amazing voice and on-stage skills.

I watched few videos of him being interviewed outside YouTube, and wanted to share them here ๐Ÿ™‚

It’s a Survivorship Bias biased snapshot into the life of someone who followed his passion and became successful.


Ryan’s World and Kids Diana Show (WTF/10)

Link, Link

Thanks to Markiplier I’ve discovered the existence of YouTube “creators” who are not even 10 years old that have 20-60 Millions subscribers.

What. The. Fuck.

Take a look at the second link, the Kids Diana Show… this video has been watched almost a billion times.

As I read on the Wikipedia page: In 2019,ย Business Insider estimated that the yearly earnings of the channel are from $2.8 million to $44.7 million.

Holy shit.

But hey, Diana’s brother Roma (cool name for a kid) has a channel as well, but that loser has only 11 million subscribers! Noob!

The Plain Bagel about Hedging (7/10)


Richard Coffin’s new video about hedge funds, and hedging strategies via derivatives, and the inefficiency of edging in the long terms.

Nice watch ๐Ÿ™‚

John Green vlogbrothers video about Mental Health and being Lonely (8/10)


I like the Green brothers and all their creative and educational endeavors. I don’t watch all their vlogbrothers videos (they’re sending each other a video every day for than 10 years), but when I do I always find it’s been a good use of my time.

John Green fights with mental health problems since forever, and he doesn’t hide that.

In this video he touches Loneliness during the pandemic.

Also, he shared other cool resources, like the Netflix show “Connections”, and the podcast “The Other Latif”. Need to check them out!

I’m the vice president of Panic, and the president is missing

— John Green

[TED-Ed by Fabio Pacucci about the Three Body Problem (8/10)


Are you interested in gravity and orbital mechanics?

Ok, this is aimed at high school student, and very short. But you might like it, it’s perfectly done!

He also mentioned Cixin Liu’s fiction book (series) “The Three Body Problem”, that I guiltily have not read yet, despite having told myself hundred times it’s the next fiction book I should read!

Jacob Falkovich on Not Working (8/10)


Jakob is the author of the blog PutANumOnIt, a rationalist, a smart guy.

This article is about he having hard time working these days, and deciding to “go through” to solve it.

It’s a very good read if you’re facing mental malaise and hard time getting anything accomplished.

One thing thatโ€™s important to know about my job is that it is utterly lacking in intrinsic motivation. The work is not very fun, challenging, impactful, or meaningful. No one is cheering on me as I do it or admiring me for it. It is something that the world needs in the abstract sense of someone willing to pay for it in a fair market, but I would certainly not care whether it was done or not if it wasnโ€™t my responsibility.

Iโ€™m quite grateful to my company for paying us a fair salary instead of trying to sell us on some vision of how our work is world-changing or pride-worthy. Weโ€™re paid in real cash rather than made-up meaning โ€” itโ€™s an honest deal and I appreciate it. At least, part of me does.

Bonus: it would be awesome if we, programmers, had something like kids cheering while we write code ๐Ÿ™‚

The Plain Bagel on Negative Yield Bonds (8/10)


Another Plain Bagel video, this one on bonds.

I’ve a draft and many ideas on a series about bonds, and this video is very timely. I should get pieces together and start writing about bonds. I think there’s no good guide on bonds out there.

Take a look at this video, well worth your time ๐Ÿ™‚

Casually Explained on People who are into the Stock Market (8/10)


Ok, we’re entering the entertaining section of this WLJ episode ๐Ÿ™‚

Casually Explained is a funny YT channel that tries to explain… things… in a casual way.

This time it’s about various figures among the DIY investors, and it’s hilarious! Are you a Security Analyst?


Robot Dancing (3.1415…/10)


Ok, it was Thursday evening and I and Mrs RIP were relaxing on the sofa after a tough day at the swimming pool. Baby RIP went to sleep incredibly early because she made us mad at the pool.

Let’s do at least once per year what “normal people” do most of the time: let’s watch some TV.

An Italian TV channel was airing a shitty B movie titled “Step Up Revolution”. Seriously guys, this is complete crap. Acting quality: my neighbors’ dog. Story line: a marvel movie.

I wanted to destroy the remote and cut the cable with scissors, but my wife seemed to be enjoying the movie so I kept watching it with her.

It’s a shitty movie, but it’s about street dance, break dance, and these things. Like a “musical”. The dancing was good and at one point I found myself wanting to see more. Right after the movie finished, the same channel aired “Step Up 3D”, which was the previous movie in this “Step Up” movie series. We watched it all of course. Went to sleep at 1am. Next Thursday the same channel will air “Step Up: All in”, fifth movie in the series, I can’t wait ๐Ÿ˜€

Ok, seriously. It was mostly shitty, but I saw beauty in the improvisational dance. It’s something in a parallel universe I could see myself devoting creativity resources to.

And I always loved Robot Dance! Int he movies we watched a couple of characters performed it amazingly. That’s something I might want to explore more…

RIP, you’re 43…


Enjoy this Robot Dance-ish performance by Kenichi Ebina at America’s got talent few years ago:

P.S. this Step Up franchise grossed 650 Million USD to date…

Kottke showing Eddy Torigoe’s project: putting Bill Murray in every painting (11/10)


Do I need to add anything?

That’s all for this week ๐Ÿ™‚


    1. Will do, sooner or later ๐Ÿ™‚
      I’ve not had a pleasant experience reading first few pages. The writing style is clearly not familiar to my Western-only fiction tradition

  1. Well, the Sokal affair was the first in a long series of hoax.

    Hard sciences can be gamed with some effort, but the bar to game the social sciences is quite low, and the results openly hilarious, to the point that the hoax papers look patently outrageous even to non-specialist.
    In 2018 there was a flurry of ridiculous fake papers that managed to get through peer review in a variety of social science journals.
    It was widely reported at the time, but this is the only link I have at hand now, where the perpetrators give a summary of what and why they did it (yes, they had an axe to grind, of course):

    You might manage to game Physics Review D, but the way you do it will not be accessible to non-specialists, and definitely not entertaining. You can just make up some simulation of dark matter scattering by pulling the number out of thin air and probably get it published (once), if you try hard enough, but it’s nowhere near the entertainment value of a paper titled “Human Reactions to Rape Culture and Queer Performativity in Urban Dog Parks in Portland, Oregon”.

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