Welcome to Bespoke Brunch Reads — a linkfest of the favorite things we read over the past week.  The links are mostly market related, but there are some other interesting subjects covered as well.  We hope you enjoy the food for thought as a supplement to the research we provide you during the week.

CRISPR

A simple guide to CRISPR, one of the biggest science stories of 2016 by Brad Plumer and Javier Zarracina (Vox)

Some background on Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR), an unproven technology that has the potential to open incredible new doors for genetic engineering. [Link]

Rewriting The Code of Life by Michael Specter (New Yorker)

Hopeful potential for CRISPR, which has the potential to help species adapt and end diseases. [Link]

Food

There’s A Massive Restaurant Industry Bubble, And It’s About To Burst by Kevin Alexander (Thrillist)

More than half of American spending on food takes place at restaurants but the explosion in eating out has what can only be described as shaky underpinnings. [Link]

Americans Eat 554 Million Jack in the Box Tacos a Year, and No One Knows Why by Russell Adams (WSJ)

A fascinating dive into the world of America’s worst – and one of the most frequently consumed – tacos: the “gooey, deep-fried beef envelope” which sold over half a billion units in the US last year. [Link; paywall]

Investing

When do you average down? by John Hempton (Bronte Capital)

A thoughtful consideration of when and how to add to a loser from Australia’s most frequently blogging hedge fund manager. [Link]

How Merrill Tamed Its Herd, Pushing Brokers to Pitch Bank Products by Michael Wursthorn (WSJ)

The massive army of brokers who used to earn commissions relative to the number of stock sales they make has been reoriented to pitching accounts which come with an annual fee. [Link; paywall]

Byron Wien Announces Ten Surprises for 2017 (Blackstone)

While we wouldn’t classify all of these as surprises, they make interesting reading and are part of what’s frankly become a Wall Street tradition. Wien’s long experience and deep insight makes his opinions worthy of consideration, if not automatic acceptance. [Link]

Pitfalls

No One Questioned This Hedge Fund’s Madoff-Like Returns by Zeke Faux (Bloomberg)

A review of the fraud at Platinum Partners, which totaled more than $1 billion per the charges leveled by the government. [Link]

One Winner, One Loser in Brothers’ Lottery Worth Billions by Devon Pendleton and Yaacov Benmeleh (Bloomberg)

Despite every effort to make the distribution of their fathers’ assets equitable, the brothers Ofer have seen twists of fortune that deliver remarkably different fates. [Link]

Retail

How Credit-Card Data Might Be Distorting Retail Stocks by Miriam Gottfried (WSJ)

Investors place a lot of faith in the first looks on store revenues they get from research providers, and in many cases it’s too much, generating wild performance swings…and reversals. [Link; paywall]

The Brutal Truth Is That America Still Has Way Too Many Places to Shop by Brian Sozzi (The Street)

In purely quantitative terms, there are too many stores in the United States, with square footage running well above other countries with similar economies. [Link]

Millennial Myths

Millennials are entitled, narcissistic and lazy – but it’s not their fault: Expert claims ‘every child wins a prize’ and social media has left Gen Y unable to deal with the real world by Belinda Cleary (Daily Mail)

Is it really the fault of current twenty-somethings that their Baby Boomer parents demanded that their children get treated to trophies at every turn? [Link]

The Media’s Favorite ‘Millennial’ Is 55 Years Old by Ben Collins (The Daily Beast)

AP, Vocativ, Forbes, and Cosmopolitan are just a few of the outlets that have presented a man in his 50s as being a Millennial. [Link]

Driving

States Wire Up Roads as Cars Get Smarter by Paul Page (WSJ)

Speed limits that adjust for weather, driverless cars talking to asphalt, and the need to run wires under millions of miles of roadways. [Link; paywall]

Humanitarians

‘James Bond of Philanthropy’ Gives Away the Last of His Fortune by Jim Dwyer (NYT)

Giving away $8 billion isn’t as easy as it sounds, but Charles F. Feeney has managed to do it…becoming one of the greatest philanthropists in history in the process. [Link; soft paywall]

Farmer on Trial Defends Smuggling Migrants: ‘I Am a Frenchman.’ by Adam Nossiter (NYT)

“Liberté, égalité, fraternité” can be a bit difficult to square with national borders, as a unique case featuring an underground railroad for migrants shows. [Link; soft paywall]

Reviews

tom wolfe’s reflections on language by E.J. Spode (3am Magazine)

While we enjoyed The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, The Right Stuff, Bonfire of the Vanities, and I Am Charlotte Simmons as much as the next person, this frankly gutting review of Wolfe’s most recent effort at non-fiction gives us serious pause. [Link]

Media Matters

Megyn Kelly’s Jump to NBC From Fox News Will Test Her, and the Networks by Jim Rutenberg (NYT)

The cable TV star is hoping her sharp, plain-spoken brand of questioning and presentation will work on a larger scale. [Link; soft paywall]

Miscellaneous

Good Luck, Morons by Sara Estes (Bitter Southerner)

The hardest ultramarathon in the world is found in Eastern Tennessee, but the story of the man that dreamed it up is one that’s harder to believe than the fact that human beings run scores of miles for fun! [Link]

Carrie Fisher, Script Doctor: Her Unknown Legacy Examined by Peter Sciretta (Slashfilm)

The story behind Carrie Fischer’s under-appreciated work on major scripts that salvaged dialogue, plots, and the films themselves. [Link]

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