8 Fascinating Reads

By Markets Fool.com

Happy holidays! Here are eight great things I read this week.

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Long-term thinking
A group set up an amazing plan:

An investment of $1000 will be put in a legal trust for 500 years.Assuming a modest 4% annual return, the investment will be approximately 328 billion dollars in the year 2515, at which point it will be spent on scientific research and the construction of a time machine. First stop for the time machine will be 2015 with a reception for the time travelers.

It's a wonderful life
The world is getting more peaceful, write Steven Pinker and Andrew Mack:

Seriously, it is
Here's Steven Johnson with the same theme:

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Over the past two decades, what have the U.S. trends been for the following important measures of social health: high school dropout rates, college enrollment, juvenile crime, drunken driving, traffic deaths, infant mortality, life expectancy, per capita gasoline consumption, workplace injuries, air pollution, divorce, male-female wage equality, charitable giving, voter turnout, per capita GDP and teen pregnancy?

The answer for all of them is the same: The trend is positive. Almost all those varied metrics of social wellness have improved by more than 20% over the past two decades. And that's not counting the myriad small wonders of modern medicine that have improved our quality of life as well as our longevity: the anti-depressants and insulin pumps and quadruple bypasses.

The world in numbers
Robert Samuelson shares some great stats:

On average, children run a mile 90 seconds slower than their counterparts 30 years ago.

First-year enrollment in law schools has dropped 30 percent in four years, falling from 52,488 to 37,924 -- the lowest level since 1973.

Global life expectancy has increased by about six years since 1990, reflecting gains in rich countries against heart disease and in poorer countries against diarrhea and malaria.

Wisdom
Tren Griffin shares money lessons he haslearned from comedians, including:

"Wealth is not about having a lot of money; it's about having a lot of options." ChrisRock.

"The only thing money gives you, is the freedom of not worrying about money."Johnny Carson.

"Cocaine is God's way of saying that you're making too much money."Robin Williams.

Demographics
Every age group in the United States remains majorityCaucasian. That likely won't be true at the next census:

Inequality
Why does wealth inequality grow? Because those with high incomes save the most:

Income inequality has a snowballing effect on the wealth distribution: top incomes are being saved at high rates, pushing wealth concentration up; in turn, rising wealth inequality leads to rising capital income concentration, which contributes to further increasing top income and wealth shares. Our core finding is that this snowballing effect has been sufficiently powerful to dramatically affect the shape of the U.S. wealth distribution over the last 30 years.

Tolerance
Here's Bill Bernstein on how to manage risk:

Most young people are not terribly risk-tolerant, and the first bear market they run into often causes them to go off risky assets for the rest of their lives. So, I recommend a somewhat more conservative course until that person has encountered their first bear market, and then you see how you respond. If you bought more risky assets and you kept up with your plan, then by all means increase your equity allocation up from 50% or 60%, which is where I think you should start. If you panicked and sold, maybe you should only be for the rest of your life at 30% or 40% or until you learn to become more risk-tolerant.

Have a good weekend.

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The article 8 Fascinating Reads originally appeared on Fool.com.

Contact Morgan Housel at mhousel@fool.com. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.