Thursday, March 15, 2007

Whole Foods (2016)

I attended Whole Foods' 2016 shareholder meeting.  Whole Foods (WFM) is under pressure after Target, Walmart, and other retailers copied its model and began selling organic and other food.  Although WFM opened stores with unique layouts, such as the one in downtown San Jose, California, to attract customers, it's still facing intense competition.  Its meeting was business-like and efficient.  Only water, sparkling water, and sodas were served in a S.F. hotel conference room.

Disclosures: I have an insignificant number of WFM shares.  My positions may change at any time.  The picture above is with co-CEO and co-founder John Mackey.

This post was published on March 15, 2016.  

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Interesting Quotes

Published on November 10, 2015 and updated thereafter. (See "Sunday Quotes" post for more if this appeals to you.)

Andrew Gelman: "Statisticians are special because, deep in our bones, we know about uncertainty. Economists know about incentives, physicists know about reality, movers can fit big things in the elevator on the first try, evolutionary psychologists know how to get their names in the newspaper, lawyers know you should never never never talk to the cops, and statisticians know about uncertainty. Of that, I’m sure."

Cary Tennis: "Because I assume that you and I belong to a quiet society of secret sufferers, that we recognize each other on the street like an underground, that we know each other to be different because we don't react like others do. We're more driven, more crazy, more desperate, hungrier, touchier, louder, always breathlessly skating on thin ice above the dragon; we know better than to stop skating and sink into the water." (2004)

Clarence Thomas: "I didn't think it was a good idea to make poor blacks, or anyone else, more dependent on government. That would amount to a new kind of enslavement, one which ultimately relied on the generosity--and the ever-changing self-interests--of politicians and activists... [T]he dependency it fostered might ultimately prove as diabolical as segregation, permanently condemning poor people to the lowest rungs of the socioeconomic ladder by cannibalizing the values without which they had no long-term hope of improving their lot." [page 56, My Grandfather's Son, 2007 hardcover]

C.S. Lewis: "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."

George Orwell: "The real division is not between conservatives and revolutionaries but between authoritarians and libertarians."

Isaac Asimov (1980): "There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'"

John Galbraith: "One cannot defend production as satisfying wants if that production creates the wants. Were it so that a man arising each morning was assailed by demons instilled in him a passion sometimes for silk shirts, sometimes kitchenware... there would be every reason to applaud the effort to find the goods, however odd, that quenched this flame. But should it be that his passion was the result of his first having cultivated the demons [through advertising], and should it also be that his effort to ally it stirred the demons to ever greater and greater effort, there would be question as to how rational was his solution. Unless restrained by conventional attitudes, he might wonder if the solution lay with more goods or fewer demons." (from The Affluent Society (1998), pp. 125.)

Joseph Campbell: (1988) “When a judge walks into the room, and everybody stands up, you’re not standing up to that guy, you’re standing up to the robe that s/he’s wearing and the role that s/he’s going to play. What makes [that person] worthy of that role is integrity, as a representative of the principles of that role, and not some group of [personal] prejudices... [In order for the system to work, s/he] has to sacrifice personal desires and even life possibilities to the role that s/he now signifies.” ("The Power of Myth," Copyright © 1988 Bill Moyers, Apostrophe S Productions, and Joseph Campbell Foundation)

Junot Diaz: "Beli at thirteen believed in love like a seventy-year old widow who's been abandoned by family, husband, children, and fortune believes in God." (from The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao)

"He had secret loves all over town, the kind of curly-haired big-bodied girls who wouldn't have said boo to a loser like him but about whom he could not stop dreaming." (Id.)

‎"For the record, that summer our girl caught a cuerpazo so berserk that only a pornographer or a comic-book artist could have designed it with a clear conscience." (Id.)

Karl Marx, 1875: “Freedom consists in converting the state from an organ superimposed upon society into one completely subordinate to it.” 

Mark Lawson: "The tourist and the journalist have much in common. Both are dropped in strange places and expected quickly to interpret them -- though one is paid to do it and the other pays." -- The Battle for Room Service (1993) 

"Australia had struck me... as a sensible America. It was a nation with the same wild range of landscape, from beach to desert to throbbing metropolis, but discreetly peopled--5% of the US population in a nearly equal acreage--and these including considerably fewer psychopaths and neurotics. Australia was an America in which the populace was not possessed of the belief that it was specially blessed and directed by God, with a particular vocation to bully smaller nations." 

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi: "We shall realize that science cannot be value-free after all... Chemistry that shrugs at pollution is foolishness, Economics that discounts politics and sociology is just as ignorant as are politics and sociology that discount economics."

Pablo Neruda: I crave your mouth, your voice, your hair. / Silent and starving, I prowl through the streets. / Bread does not nourish me, dawn disrupts me, all day / I hunt for the liquid measure of your steps.

Peter Brandt (2011): "I have no respect for Congress. With the exception of perhaps two dozen members, I think Congress is worthless. I think they, as a body, have sold out the financial future of our children and grandchildren. I think the baby-boomer generation is the most selfish generation in the history of the world. I believe it is the right of all Americans to have access to health care (but I believe the current health care reform is a travesty). I have as much disgust for Republicans as I have for Democrats. I think we should scrap our current political system and start from scratch."

Robert Frost (1960): "The greatest adventure of man is science, the adventure of penetrating into matter, into the material universe. But the adventure is our property, a human property, and the best description of us is the humanities."

"Poetry has always been a beggar. Scholars have also been beggars, but they delegate their begging to the president of the college to do for them."

Steve Jobs: "I believe that what is wrong with our schools in this nation is that they have become unionized in the worst possible way. This unionization and lifetime employment of K-12 teachers is off-the-charts crazy."

Steve Jobs: "I’m a very big believer in equal opportunity as opposed to equal outcome. I don’t believe in equal outcome because unfortunately life’s not like that. It would be a pretty boring place if it was. But I really believe in equal opportunity. Equal opportunity to me more than anything means a great education. Maybe even more important than a great family life, but I don’t know how to do that. Nobody knows how to do that. But it pains me because we do know how to provide a great education. We really do. We could make sure that every young child in this country got a great education. We fall far short of that…. The problem there of course is the unions. The unions are the worst thing that ever happened to education because it’s not a meritocracy. It turns into a bureaucracy, which is exactly what has happened. The teachers can’t teach and administrators run the place and nobody can be fired. It’s terrible."

Unknown: "Without data, you are just another person with an opinion."

Warner Herzog: "School has not given me anything. I have always been suspicious of teachers. I do not know why."

Warren Buffett: "At bottom, a sound insurance operation needs to adhere to four disciplines. It must (1) understand all exposures that might cause a policy to incur losses; (2) conservatively assess the likelihood of any exposure actually causing a loss and the probable cost if it does; (3) set a premium that, on average, will deliver a profit after both prospective loss costs and operating expenses are covered; and (4) be willing to walk away if the appropriate premium can’t be obtained." (2016 Shareholder Letter) 

Albert Einstein (1929): "The only progress I can see is progress in organization. The ordinary human being does not live long enough to draw any substantial benefit from his own experience. And no one, it seems, can benefit by the experiences of others. Being both a father and teacher, I know we can teach our children nothing. We can transmit to them neither our knowledge of life nor of mathematics. Each must learn its lesson anew." 

Andrew Bacevich (2021): "[T]he era of American primacy has ended. We may date its demise from the March 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq... In the roughly two decades since, as the U.S. was squandering trillions of dollars in failed military campaigns, the global order has undergone a transformation." 

Amine Ghali (2021): "People do not eat constitutions, do not drink elections, and do not sleep under the roof of the freedom of the press." (The Christian Science Monitor Weekly, January 25, 2021, page 11)