CategoryIn the news

Just Three (Viral) Weeks Ago

I read the news every day. It’s an age-old habit that goes back to the days before the internet, before 24/7 cable news, back when news was at least a day old, if not a week old or a month old and delivered as ink on paper. In today’s 24/7/365 world where hour-old news can be old news it is often difficult to remember what happened a week ago, or from a tidbit in a story today, from...

Seattle, we have a (Covid-19) Problem

Three days later, and three days further into researching the likely scenarios, and we’re at the point in the Covid-19 outbreak equivalent to Apollo 13 where the famous line was spoken, “Houston, we have a problem.” As of today, Monday, March 9, 2020, there are 162 confirmed cases of Covid-19 with 22 dead. Plus positive cases in every neighboring county. Simple math…...

The 2020 Epidemic: Coronavirus

Watching the quarantine of Wuhan was one thing. Hearing about the first case of Covid-19 30 miles from my home from someone returning from China another. Then came six deaths 20 miles away, a school shutting down for a deep clean 15 miles away, and Amazon and Facebook employees with confirmed cases 10 miles away. Anyone in Seattle who isn’t already prepared for a citywide shutdown within...

When Statistics and AI Go Wrong

Long long ago in Pittsburgh far away I earned a Bachelors in Mathematics. I then spent the first twenty years of my career as a “techie”, using that math and Computer Science to analyze and make sense of the world. Every so often that experience is useful here in the real world. Often that experience leads me to be cynical of the use of statistics in the news, especially when the...

Remembering the 2010s

This blog isn’t 10 years old and as such this is the first new decade that I can reminisce as a blogger. Inspired by Axios’ Pro Rata podcast, let’s do this year by year with one major story per year (or two if one isn’t enough): 2010 The Arab Spring began in Tunisia in 2010. Axios mentions that this was the first big movement communicated over social media. It seems like...

Trade Treaties with Multinational Corporations

As the USMCA grinds its way toward replacing NAFTA, it is time to question whether the problems with NAFTA and WTO and TPP are due to the fact that the participants in those treaties are countries instead of companies? The idea of trade treaties with companies is one I had never heard of or considered, but an idea that popped out as an off hand comment at an unrelated meeting a few weeks ago, and...

Too Big to Succeed

Blogging is just one more example of the key lesson I teach entrepreneurs, that it takes multiple iterations to find something that works. That is true not only for products, but also for sales, marketing, and messaging. The words I’ve failed to find in the story of WeWork and its lead investor Softbank I found buried in a CNBC article: Too big to succeed The problem with Softbank’s Vision Fund...

As Judged by Profits

This idea of corporations with a purpose beyond just shareholders continues to be discussed in the news. This week in The Economist published an op-ed “What Corporations are for” ($), repeating the Friedman Doctrine and dissing the 181 signers of at the Business Roundtable earlier this month. The key word in the Economist’s essay is their measure of success of American business...

The end of (solely) Shareholder Value

100 years ago, in 1919, the Michigan Supreme Court made a comment in their ruling of Dodge v. Ford saying (in its common paraphrased form), “The purpose of business is to maximize shareholder value.“ In 1970, Nobel Laureate in economics Milton Friedman repeated this in an essay in the New York Times entitled “The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits...

The Trigger for American Recycling

Change is hard. Making change happen even harder. Looking for the origins of change fits in with my questions of how things used to work three or more generates ago, and my general search for hidden assumptions. I was thus delighted today when I flipped on the Planet Money podcast, Episode 925: A Mob Boss, A Garbage Boat and Why We Recycle. I was in high school living in suburban New York when...

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