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May 19

Weekly Wrapup #4


Politics. Australia’s federal election was held this weekend and, in a shocking result, the Liberal party won re-election and Scott Morrison will continue as Prime Minister. Bookies and pundits alike were predicting a sure Labor victory, but a mixture of complacency, faulty polling, and policy miscalculations appear to have undone Labor leader Bill Shorten. Pocketbooks won out over climate change. (For my non-Australian readers, Labor is left leaning, and Liberals are right leaning.)

+ I don’t closely follow Aussie politics these days, but a Whatsapp group I’m on with a few Aussie mates felt reminiscent in tone of the conversations I was having locally after Trump’s 2016 victory.

+ To the glee of many, former PM Tony Abbott lost his seat to former Olympic medallist, Zali Steggall. Abbott had held the seat for over two decades.

+ Also, Engadine Maccas 1997.

Law. Lots of media attention this week over states passing draconian and extreme anti-abortion laws. In Alabama, a bill was signed into law by its female governor which will outlaw abortion procedures from the moment of conception with no exceptions for rape or incest. The penalty is up to 99 years imprisonment – in other words, a life sentence. Even Trump thinks that goes too far.

+ Under existing precedent, the law is obviously unconstitutional, but the Alabama legislature has made clear that it was designed as a vehicle to press the issue with the Supreme Court in an effort to overturn Roe v. Wade. And they have also made it clear that they don’t really care about the collateral damage that occurs to women in the meantime.

+ The NY Times has a compelling feature about the impact of laws like this on women.

Finance. (1) Uber IPOed. It ended the week below its IPO price with a market cap of about $70bn. One problem was that, in raising billions of dollars in years past, the investors who would normally be investing in the IPO already were shareholders. But folks, it’s early days.

(2) The worst of the 2008/09 financial crisis is now 10 years in the past. That means some metrics on fund returns now look a lot better than they did a couple months ago:

The standard long-term metric used by financial-services companies on your quarterly statements is 10 years. But “recall that before stocks began rising with the start of the long bull market on March 9, 2009, they had fallen sharply.” The S&P 500 plummeted more than 50 percent in the previous two years. But — poof! Thanks to “the arbitrary logic of the calendar,” those miserable bear market figures are no longer incorporated in the 10-year returns. Don’t be misled by great-looking numbers that can provide an incomplete picture.

Startups. A classic article on finding product-market fit.

In other news… (1) Game of Thrones is ending tonight, and based on leaked reports, this earlier comment from showrunner Dan Weiss is looking quaint: “I’m hoping for the Breaking Bad [finale] argument where it’s like, ‘Is that an A or an A+?'”. Uh, yeah. (2) Big Bang Theory wrapped up its run earlier in the week with a touching finale. (3) The Warriors are going to roll through to their fifth straight NBA championship finals. (4) Architect I. M. Pei died. (5) Grumpy Cat died.

Getting Personal

It’s an uncharacteristically rainy and cold May in the Bay Area…

Susanne and I are finally getting around to putting an estate plan in place with an estate attorney. She asked for recommendations from work and received a dozen. After getting quotes and speaking with a few of those attorneys, we settled on one we really liked and who offered us a flat fee billing model.

Estate planning is more than putting a will in place. To execute a will, it needs to go through a probate process, which is expensive and public. To avoid this, assets get placed in a trust, which allows them to be distributed more efficiently and privately. In addition, there are advanced health care directives, HIPAA consents, guardianship nominations, and powers of attorney to consider.


In case you haven’t been watching what has been happening to Bitcoin recently…

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