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.


A rare and expensive investment book tearing up the Amazon Kindle charts is actually an illegal copy by Tae Kim (CNBC)

“Margin of Safety”, Baupost manager Seth Klarman’s tome on investing is rare and carries extreme secondary market prices. So its appearance on Amazon Kindle for $9.99 seemed a bit out of step. [Link]

Buffett Starts to Say Goodbye to a Pile of Equity-Index Options by Katherine Chiglinsky (Bloomberg)

A series of extremely long-term equity options written between 2004 and 2008 are starting to expire, having added billions in income to Berkshire over the past decade and a half. [Link; soft paywall, auto-playing video]

Carceral State

Out of Prison & Out of Work: Unemployment among formerly incarcerated people by Lucius Couloute and Daniel Kopf (Prison Policy Initiative)

In addition to the specific penalty paid by spending time in prison, the formerly incarcerated pay extreme labor market penalties, with significantly higher burdens in terms of unemployment for black or Hispanic/Latino former prisoners. [Link]

Manhattan District Attorney Demands Access to Police Records by James C. McKinley Jr. (NYT)

The NYPD is refusing to give the Manhattan DA access to disciplinary records which the office wants in order to weed out potentially bad arrests. [Link; soft paywall]


The Story Behind Why Soccer Players Sit In Race Car Seats by David Tracy (Jalopnik)

Why do soccer players have benches made out of racing bucket seats? The answer is found in an obscure sponsorship of a German team in the mid-90s. [Link]

We’ve Exhausted America’s Supply of Retro-Fitness Fads. Maybe It’s Time to Try Communism by Oliver Lee Bateman (MEL Magazine)

An investigation of the athletic sorting and training techniques deployed by Soviet Union, with possible application to our own techniques in the gym. [Link]


Don’t blame Ed O’Bannon for the death of the video games. Blame the NCAA. by Alex Kirshner (SBNation)

A 2014 class action law suit against the NCAA found that video games based on NCAA football and basketball used players’ likenesses. As a result, NCAA sports video games are no more, but it didn’t have to be that way. [Link]

Something I Changed My Mind About Recently by Ben Carlson (A Wealth of Common Sense)

Making the case that e-sports (competitive video games) are not only here to stay, but likely to get even bigger than they are today. [Link]


Historic blunders: 50 worst product flops of all time by Michael B. Sauter, Evan Comen, Thomas C. Frohlich and Samuel Stebbins (USA Today)

A review of the most intense product failures ever, including tech hardware, video games, TV shows, and so forth. New Coke, Cheetos lip balm, and Coors sparkling water are all interesting examples we enjoyed. [Link]


Hunting the Con Queen of Hollywood: Who’s the “Crazy Evil Genius” Behind a Global Racket? by Scott Johnson (Hollywood Reporter)

A racket has bilked hundreds of thousands of dollars from freelancers who fly to Indonesia and provide upfront funds for projects which never pan out. [Link]


States launch investigation targeting fast-food hiring practices by Jeff Stein (WaPo)

So-called “no poach” agreements can hold down wages for the lowest-credentialed workers. State attorney generals are starting to investigate the practice. [Link; soft paywall]


Russia Is Building $320 Million Icebreakers to Carve New Arctic Routes by Eric Roston (Bloomberg)

Icebreakers designed to haul liquid natural gas out of the high Arctic are under construction, each one capable of hauling 1mm barrels of oil equivalents. [Link; soft paywall]

Trade Wars

China Has Arsenal of Non-Tariff Weapons to Hit Back at Trump by Enda Curran (Bloomberg)

The large trade imbalance between the US and China means direct Chinese tariffs on US goods can’t keep up with new US tariffs. But there are many, many alternative means that can be used to interdict US activity in China: increasing regulatory oversights of US subsidiaries onshore, slowing down regulatory approvals, cancelling orders, or encouraging consumer boycotts. [Link; soft paywall, auto-playing video]

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Have a great Sunday!

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