8 Fascinating Reads
Here are 8 great things I read this week.
We're living longer than ever:
— U.S. life expectancy for a child born in 2012 was 78 years and 9½ months, up about six weeks from life expectancy in 2010 and 2011. That's a record.
— For someone 65, the CDC estimates that men have about 18 years of life left and women about 20½ years. The gaps between men and women grew slightly, compared to 2011.
— There were 2.5 million deaths in 2012, or about 28,000 more than the year before. The increase was expected, reflecting the nation's growing and aging population, Anderson said.
Here's how teens spend their money:
The federal budget deficit is now below its 40-year average:
The Congressional Budget Office now estimates that the deficit for 2014 was 2.8 percent of G.D.P., down from 4.1 percent last year. The deficit is now smaller than its average over the past 40 years of 3.1 percent.
Marc Andreesen has fascinating thoughts about finance:
We have a chance to rebuild the system. Financial transactions are just numbers; it's just information. You shouldn't need 100,000 people and prime Manhattan real estate and giant data centers full of mainframe computers from the 1970s to give you the ability to do an online payment.
Companies will spend almost as much on share buybacks this year as they'll earn in profit:
They're poised to spend $914 billion on share buybacks and dividends this year, or about 95 percent of earnings, data compiled by Bloomberg and S&P Dow Jones Indices show. Money returned to stock owners exceeded profits in the first quarter and may again in the third. The proportion of cash flow used for repurchases has almost doubled over the last decade while it's slipped for capital investments, according to Jonathan Glionna, head of U.S. equity strategy research at Barclays Plc.
This is a great read about how we learn:
"When you are cramming for a test, you are holding that information in your head for a limited amount of time," Mr. Carey says. "But you haven't signaled to the brain in a strong way that's it's really valuable."
One way to signal to the brain that information is important is to talk about it. Ask a young student to play "teacher" based on the information they have studied. Self-testing and writing down information on flashcards also reinforces learning.
I loved this piece on the science of truth:
Truthiness is "truth that comes from the gut, not books," Colbert said in 2005. The word became a lexical prize jewel for Frank Rich, who alluded to it in multiple columns, including one in which he accused John McCain's 2008 campaign of trying to "envelop the entire presidential race in a thick fog of truthiness." Scientists who study the phenomenon now also use the term. It humorously captures how, as cognitive psychologist Eryn Newman put it, "smart, sophisticated people" can go awry on questions of fact.
Here's a great video with value investor Mohnish Pabrai:
Have a great weekend.
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