Archive for the 'Entrepreneurship' Category
As a matter of interest as an independent author, with some affection for science fiction … (principally Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan series, and once upon a time for Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Darkover series, both of which explored in an interesting and readable way, a whole range of civilizational conceits and technologies with a bearing on what they produced vis-a-viz political organizations, man-woman relations, and alternate societies of the possible future … oh, where was I? Complicated parenthetical sentence again; science fiction. Right-ho, Jeeves – back on track.) … I have been following the current SFWA-bruhaha with the fascinated interest of someone squeezing past a spectacular multi-car pile-upon the Interstate. Not so much – how did this happen, and whose stupid move at high speed impelled the disaster – but how will it impact ordinary commuters in their daily journey, and will everyone walk away from it OK? So far, the answers to that are pretty much that it will only matter to those directly involved (although it will be productive of much temporary pain) and yes – pretty near everyone will walk away. Scared, scarred, P-O’d and harboring enduring grudges, but yes, they will walk away, personally and professionally. Some of these are walking away at speed and being pretty vocal about why.
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This would appear to be the new theme song for the Fed-Gov’s Bureau of Land Management – that bane of ranchers like Cliven Bundy – as well as a whole lot of other ranchers, farmers, loggers, small landowners, and owners of tiny bits of property on the edge of or in areas of spectacular natural beauty, west of the Mississippi and between the Mexican and Canadian borders.
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Interview with Isaac Morehouse, co-founder of Praxis Institute, about their programs for (in my words) people who want to live in America 3.0. The interview is by Bill Freeza, Competitive Enterprise Institute, on Real Clear Radio. If you like America 3.0 you will think this is a great interview!
Also posted on one of my own sites: http://www.scoop.it/t/freeorder
cross-posted to zenpundit.com
The Union League Club of Chicago Building
Yesterday, I attended the 2014 Midwest Business & Markets Conference at the historic Union League Club of Chicago. While business conferences are far afield from my usual interests, the main draw for me was seeing Lexington Green speak about the book he co-authored with James C. Bennett, America 3.0
Michael J. Lotus (“Lex”) His book
Posted in Anglosphere, Business, Chicagoania, Civil Society, Deep Thoughts, Diversions, Economics & Finance, Education, Entrepreneurship, Illinois Politics, Internet, Political Philosophy, Politics, Society, The Press, USA | 9 Comments »
This last Saturday was the second day of Christmas on the Square in Goliad, Texas. I had a table there, as a local author, but the cold was so pronounced that the whole event was rather a bust … but it did mean that folding up and coming home early allowed some time for taking pictures on the way back. This is a part of Texas which overlies the Eagle Ford Shale formation, and over the last five years I have noted a good many changes along the route, and in the small towns that we pass through on a semi-regular basis. Read the rest of this entry »
(Part the second, first part here.)
The redesigned and improved revolver – the Walker Colt – turned out to be a nearly five-pound brute of a weapon, and returned Sam to the arms-manufacturing business with renewed zest. He subcontracted production of them first with Eli Whitney Blake (nephew of Eli Whitney) at Blake’s Whitneyville armory. The contract specified that the machinery used would revert back into Colt’s ownership at completion of the contract – for Sam had set up shop in a former cotton mill in Hartford, Connecticut. He incorporated the company as Colt’s Patent Fire Arms Manufacturing Company. He held most of the shares; trusted friends and relatives held the remainder.
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For no good reason that I have ever been able to figure out – the figure of the cowboy remains about the most dominant figure in our mental landscape of the Wild West – the version of the 19th century American frontier that the public usually knows best, through novels, movies and television. The version of the Wild West which most people have in mind when they consider that period is post-Civil War as to time frame and available technology, and most often centered on aspects of cattle ranches, cow-towns, and long-trail cattle drives – and the hired men who performed the grunt work involved – or those various forces arrayed against them; homesteaders, rustlers and assorted other stock baddies. The long-trail drives actually took place over a fairly limited time; about ten or fifteen years, but those few years established an undying legend, especially in the minds of people anywhere else or at any other time. The realities of it all, of course, are a bit more nuanced, a bit more complicated, and perhaps a bit more interesting.
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I have always had the sneaking feeling that circumstances peculiar to the Western frontier significantly enabled the successful American struggle for female suffrage. The strangling hand of Victorian standards for feminine conduct and propriety, which firmly insisted that “ladies were not supposed to be interested in such vulgar doings as business and politics” was just not able to reach as far or grip so firmly. There was simply no earthly way for a woman traveling in a wagon along the Platte River, pushing a hand-cart to Salt Lake City, living in a California gold-rush tent city, or a log house on the Texas frontier to achieve the same degree of sheltered helplessness thought appropriate by the standard-bearers of High Victorian culture. It was impossible to be exclusively the angel of the home and hearth, when the hearth was a campfire on the prairie and anything from a stampeding buffalo herd, a plague of locusts or a Comanche war party could wander in. Life on the frontier was too close to a struggle for bare survival at the best of times. No place there for passengers, no room for the passive and trimly corseted lady to sit with her hands folded and abide by the standards of Boston and Eaton Place. The frontier was a hard place, the work unrelenting, but I have often wondered if some women might have found this liberation from the stifling expectations of the era quite exhilarating.
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The injudicious use of which has led to Paula Deen being booted from the Food Network, never mind that she was speaking under oath, and is a lady of a certain age and of a background where the n-word was … well, I honestly can’t say how current was the use of that word back in Paula Deen’s early days. It’s certainly scattered generously all over 19th century literary works like Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn like chocolate sprinkles on a frosted Krispy Kreme donut, and piled on by the handful in the 20th century oeuvre of rap artists and edgy comedians of color… Read the rest of this entry »
With the employment prospects being what it is these days, I have read repeatedly in the last couple of years that really enterprising individuals are tempted to turn indy and go free-lance. They look to establish a small enterprise, vending whatever talents and skills they possess as a so-called ‘independent contractor’ to the public at large, and earn a living thereby, rather than scrounge and maneuver and hope for a paying job on the bottom rung of the corporate and/or government establishment. Pardon the sarcasm – it seems that certain large and well-connected established corporations these days are almost indistinguishable from the government, at least to judge from the rapidity which which the well-connected move back and forth.
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At the age of 21, Danielle Fong cofounded LightSail Energy, a venture focused on energy storage via compressed air, with heat generated by the compression recovered for later use. Investors include Peter Thiel, Khosla Ventures, and Bill Gates. (GE and RWE of Germany are also developing a compressed-air-based energy storage technology that they call ADELE…it will be interesting to see how these two alternative approaches play out.)
A New York University student has developed a new substance for wound closure, which may be able to replace bandages in many cases. Any comments, Michael K?
I have a new piece up at Pragati Magazine this morning, which focuses on a book review of Makers by Chris Anderson:
….If anything, Anderson has managed to understate the velocity with which the technology is advancing and the creative uses to which users are putting their machines. Since the publication ofMakers, a succession of news stories have revealed everything from Formlabs’ slickly designed Form 1 machine to users printing functional (if fragile) assault rifles, car bodies and biomedical surgical replacements for missing pieces of the human skull. One gets the sense that the genie is out of the bottle.
Anderson is not merely making a technologically oriented argument , but a profoundly cultural one. In his view, the existence of the Maker movement, operating on the collaborative, “open-source” ethos is an iterative, accelerative driver of economic change that complements the technology. Anderson writes: “…In short, the Maker Movement shares three characteristics, all of which are transformative:
Read the rest here.
Crossposted from zenpundit.com
It may be 1977 all over again.
Check out the Form 1 Kickstarter page
I recently reviewed Chris Anderson’s book Makers. What 3 D printing needs is the affordable, user-friendly, versatile device to move 3 D printing from the arcane realm of techno-hobbyist geeks to the general population’s “early adapters”, which will put the next “consumer model” generation on everyone’s office desk; eventually as ubiquitous as cell phones or microwaves.
Hat tip to Feral Jundi
Cross-posted from zenpundit.com
Posted by Trent Telenko on 18th January 2013 (All posts by Trent Telenko)
We are swiftly coming up on another “mugged by reality moment” regards firearms similar to the one that was created with the Clinton era gun magazine ban.
Few remember today that the “next big thing” in civilian pistol market in the early 1990’s was how many bullets a pistol magazine could handle. Post Clinton magazine ban, the civilian shooter market wanted the _smallest_ semi-automatic pistol that could hold 10-rounds. And the gun manufacturers responded to the market demand with a host of pistol makes and models that effectively replaced the “.38 Special” as the little hide out gun of choice. Now police across America are under greater threat, from much wider base of stolen, small, concealable, semi-autos in criminal hands, than they ever were prior to the Clinton magazine ban.
We are again in much the same situation with the Obama gun control executive orders.
See this July 28, 2012 Forbes piece titled “The End of Gun Control?” on the arrival of metal material vat 3-D printers that are capable of making functional AR-15 receivers. Now consider the implications of the much more widely installed base of plastic material vat 3-D printers for making _gun magazines_. In a few months we are going to see lots of designs for plastic gun magazines, of many sorts, with maybe a spring and a cheap stamped metal lip to fit available firearms. People will soon be selling spring and lip kits for 3-D printed plastic magazines at gun shows and “off the books” person to person gun trading networks. Hell, manufacturers will be redesigning guns to more effectively use 3-D printed magazines before the year is out.
In the end we will have a much larger base of high capacity magazines in this country, because the price of them is about to drop an order of magnitude, all thanks to Obama’s E.O. Regulations creating a market opportunity for a disruptive technology.
All of this is easily foreseeable and the people about to cause this turn of events just don’t care. This is not about the safety of ordinary people. The answer to the violent mentally unstable is to identify them by their pattern of behavior and involuntarily drug them to non-violence.
The fact that gun control is on the table as “The Solution” is because the people in favor of it, these “2nd Prohibitionists”, would rather have the power to oppress ordinary people than the authority to medicate the violent mentally unstable. They get more ego boo from oppressing ordinary people — just like the original Alcohol Prohibitionists — with the added bonus of leaving the violent mentally ill on the streets to give them the chance to go there again and again.
One of the most depressing things about the last several years is the degree to which many Americans have come to believe that our best years are behind us. Surveys show that a high percentage of people believe their children will live less-well than themselves. The belief is pervasive that our current economic problems are not a mere cyclic downturn, but rather that we have entered an era of sustained decline.
I assert that American decline is by no means inevitable…and if we do wind up in long-term decline, it will be driven not by any sort of automatic economic process, but rather by our own choices–especially our own political choices.
We talk a lot, here and elsewhere, about our problems as a society–and properly so–but let’s change focus for a few minutes and think about our assets.
America has vast energy resources. For oil and gas, fracking really is a game changer. We have vast reserves of coal, and plenty of opportunities to employ nuclear energy safely and responsibly. (Solar and wind can also play a role, but these will be niche sources only for a long time.) And low-cost and widely-available energy greatly improves the economics of many manufacturing businesses, as I’ve pointed out in other posts. European manufacturers, for example, wish their countries had direct access to large supplies of low-cost natural gas.
America has wide swaths of fine agricultural land, and many excellent farmers. These are not trivial factors in a world which is becoming increasingly wealthy, filled with billions of people who want and need to improve their diets. And agriculture’s impact is not limited to those who are actually on farms–agriculture also drives activity in transportation, in equipment manufacturing, in fertilizer production.
And speaking of transportation: while there have been many concerns about “America’s decaying infrastructure,” America also has infrastructure elements which are very strong. America’s freight railroads are probably the best in the world, and represent a powerful economic asset. The country is cris-crossed by thousands of miles of pipelines which carry oil, natural gas, jet fuel, ammonia, CO2, and many other commodities, efficiently, silently, and safely. Our airports, air carriers, and air traffic control system combine to enable the transportation of vast numbers of passengers and considerable quantities of freight, reliably and safely. The Internet has emerged, in only 20 years, from being a limited experimental network to being a large-scale enabler of commerce and of new businesses.
America has millions of people with entrepreneurial spirit–people who want to do new things, to put their personal stamp on the world, to make a contribution in ways that are not necessarily predefined by tradition or edicted by higher authority. Some will start the next Intel or Apple; for some, their scope will be limited to a well-loved local restaurant or to a home-based craft business. All are important.
Our venture capital industry is an important enabler of high-growth new businesses, and our private equity industry plays a key role as well. “Crony capitalism,” while it has grown unhealthily, has not reached the levels it has in many other countries, and badly-managed or ill-thought-out enterprises can still go broke and be restructured (or disappear) without being bailed out by political pals, leaving the field clear for the new and better–and for talented people who are not among society’s “insiders.”
Credentialism in the U.S. has indeed reached unhealthy levels, but it is still quite possible for people to succeed–and succeed in a big way–without the imprimatur of an “elite” college or an accent indicating an “appropriate” class position.
Posted by Michael Kennedy on 20th October 2012 (All posts by Michael Kennedy)
I have thought for some time that life on Mars is going to consist of microorganisms and be buried several feet below the surface of the planet soil. I have even blogged about it before.
Now, there is a possibility of a nucleotide sequencer that could go to Mars on the next probe in 2018.
In what could become a race for the first extraterrestrial genome, researcher J. Craig Venter said Tuesday that his Maryland academic institute and his company, Synthetic Genomics, would develop a machine capable of sequencing and beaming back DNA data from the planet.
Separately, Jonathan Rothberg, founder of Ion Torrent, a DNA sequencing company, is collaborating on an effort to equip his company’s “Personal Genome Machine” for a similar task.
“We want to make sure an Ion Torrent goes to Mars,” Rothberg told Technology Review.
Although neither team yet has a berth on a Mars rocket, their plans reflect the belief that the simplest way to prove there is life on Mars is to send a DNA sequencing machine.
“There will be DNA life forms there,” Venter predicted Tuesday in New York, where he was speaking at the Wired Health Conference.
Venter said researchers working with him have already begun tests at a Mars-like site in the Mojave Desert. Their goal, he said, is to demonstrate a machine capable of autonomously isolating microbes from soil, sequencing their DNA, and then transmitting the information to a remote computer, as would be required on an unmanned Mars mission. Heather Kowalski, a spokeswoman for Venter, confirmed the existence of the project but said the prototype system was “not yet 100 percent robotic.”
Doing this on Mars would avoid the problem of contamination by earth organisms. New life forms that don’t use DNA might be a problem but most people who have thought about this believe that DNA is the genetic material of all life forms. Of course, protein, which may have been the original genetic material on earth could also be the Martian equivalent.
We are starting to see commercial spacecraft develop and one was used to reach the international space station recently. A Mars mission is another order of complexity but by 2018, it may be an option.
Posted by Michael Kennedy on 4th August 2012 (All posts by Michael Kennedy)
The incident, so characteristic of this leftist ideologue president, is the stimulus for theorizing about how economies work, and perhaps why this one is so stuck with Obama in the White House.
There is an excellent analysis by David Warren printed last year in Canada and which I have saved. It is a comparison of Obama with Gorbachev and brings considerable light on the subject of success of nations.
Yet they do have one major thing in common, and that is the belief that, regardless of what the ruler does, the polity he rules must necessarily continue. This is perhaps the most essential, if seldom acknowledged, insight of the post-modern “liberal” mind: that if you take the pillars away, the roof will continue to hover in the air.
Gorbachev seemed to assume, right up to the fall of the Berlin Wall and then beyond it, that his Communist Party would recover from any temporary setbacks, and that the long-term effects of his glasnost and perestroika could only be to make it bigger and stronger.
There is a corollary of this largely unspoken assumption: that no matter what you do to one part of a machine, the rest of the machine will continue to function normally.
This brief discussion fits well with the book that was recommended by the Postrel piece.
The Bad History Behind ‘You Didn’t Build That’
By Virginia Postrel
The controversy surrounding President Barack Obama’s admonishment that “if you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen” has defied the usual election-year pattern.
Normally a political faux pas lasts little more than a news cycle. People hear the story, decide what they think, and quickly move on to the next brouhaha, following what the journalist Mickey Kaus calls the Feiler Faster Thesis. A gaffe that might have ruined a candidate 20 years ago is now forgotten within days.
Three weeks later, Obama’s comment is still a big deal.
Posted in Big Government, Britain, Business, Civil Society, Conservatism, Economics & Finance, Entrepreneurship, France, Human Behavior, Judaism, Leftism, Morality and Philosphy, Philosophy | 9 Comments »
This week in the neighborhood where I live was designated for the annual bulk-trash pickup – so residents were notified a week or more ago. Once a year we can put out on the curb … well, just about anything except concrete rubble and chunks of stone. The city sends out a couple of long open-topped trailer trucks, and a special truck with a large mechanized claw that reaches down and gathers up the bulk items.
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Our esteemed President sticks his foot in it once again …
“… -look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own.”
“If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business. you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. “
The idea President Obama is clearly trying to communicate is that success in the private sector is only possible because of the infrastructure built by the government. How he got it wrong is that the only way all that infrastructure could get built was if there were successful businesses already established to provide the tax money needed to fund the government projects!
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Rich Karlgaard of Forbes has some thoughts on the Facebook IPO. Best line:
Zuckerberg’s view of shareholders is like President Obama’s view of blue collar workers. He needs them but secretly laughs at them.
Not sure this is totally fair to Zuck (completely accurate as far as Obama goes), but pretty funny.
Note especially Karlgaard’s comment about the impact of Sarbanes-Oxley on public market investors:
The insider pig pile of PE firms and celebrity Silicon Valley angels took it all. This is a rather new, post-Sarbanes-Oxley fact and it should make Americans very, very angry. When Microsoft when public in 1986, its market value was $780 million. Microsoft’s market value would rise more than 700 times in the next 13 years. Bill Gates made millionaires of thousands of ordinary public investors. When Google went public in 2004 at a $23 billion valuation, it left less on the table for you and me. Still, if you had invested in Google then and held your stock, you would be sitting atop a 9x return. Zuckerberg and his Facebook friends took it all.
Arthur Brooks (surely one of the very few people to pursue a career as a professional player of the French horn before becoming a professor of business and government) has a good piece in today’s WSJ.
The opposite of earned success is “learned helplessness,” a term coined by Martin Seligman, the eminent psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania. It refers to what happens if rewards and punishments are not tied to merit: People simply give up and stop trying to succeed.
During experiments, Mr. Seligman observed that when people realized they were powerless to influence their circumstances, they would become depressed and had difficulty performing even ordinary tasks. In an interview in the New York Times, Mr. Seligman said: “We found that even when good things occurred that weren’t earned, like nickels coming out of slot machines, it did not increase people’s well-being. It produced helplessness. People gave up and became passive.”
Read the whole thing.
Posted by Charles Cameron on 29th April 2012 (All posts by Charles Cameron)
[ introducing the world of problem solvers and creatives to the world of theologians and contemplatives and vice versa — and then, Simone Weil — cross-posted from Zenpundit ]
I believe this is an important post in its own way, though a short one: because it links two areas that I believe are joined at the hip in “reality” but seldom linked together in thinking about either one.
I mean, creativity, as in the guys working away in the garage on something that when it emerges will be the new Apple, and grace, the mysterious and mercurial manner in which inspiration touches down on us…
In the first part of this post, then, I would simply like to suggest that those entrepreneurial folk who follow their dreams — typically into garages or caves — and beg borrow and steal from relatives, friends and passing acquaintances the funds they need to continue their pursuit of some goal or grail under the rubric “do what you love and the money will follow” are, in fact, following a variant of a far earlier rubric, “seek ye first the kingdom of God … and all these things shall be added unto you” – and that creative insight or aha! is in fact a stepped down and secular version of what theology has long termed epiphany – the shining through of the eternal into our mortal lives.
But this will get preachy if I belabor the point: what I am hoping to do is to open the literatures of the world’s contemplative traditions to the interest of “creatives” and the literatures of creativity, problem solving, and autopioesis to the interest of theologians and contemplatives…
And Simone Weil.
Simone Weil, a philosopher I very much admire, wrote a book of superb beauty and wisdom titled Gravity and Grace. I must suppose that her title was somewhere in the back room of my mind, working quietly away behind the scenes, when the title for this post popped up.
Weil is, shall we say, hard liquor for the mind and spirit — highly distilled, potent, to be sipped, no more than two paragraphs or pages at a time…
A Jew who loved the Mass yet refused baptism, an ally of communists and a resistance fighter against the Nazis, a factory worker, mystic, philosopher. The poster at the top of this post is for a film of her life: I doubt it will be a comfortable film, but the discomfort will likely be of the inspirational kind.
Barry Ritholtz put up an interesting post this past weekend. He attended some lunches and dinners with the heads of some start up companies. I am encouraged about what he had to say. Here is the money, italics mine:
The youth of America are full of ideas and energy. They don’t give a shit that their parents fucked everything up — they are going to steam roll over the old order and replace it with one of their own. They understand that future is not about the past. They know that they are a business of one, that no company or government is ever going to offer them economic security. They are their own team, brand and idea factory.
There are lots of things people are rightfully upset about — I lost my voice ranting last night about eejit economists who think the crisis was caused by “predatory borrowing” (it wasn’t). But that’s not what is going to be propelling us forward.
Don’t look to DC — the political debates there are laughable. Its like watching two different T-Rex debating who gets to eat the dead plant eater unaware of the the giant asteroid hurtling their way. Their argument gets resolved when the asteroid turns their summer into nuclear winter.
The old order, the political hacks and hangers on, the whiners and recession porn stars and permabears — the dinosaurs — all have no idea WTF is coming their way. They are going to be mowed down like so many extinct species before them. They cannot see the asteroid hurtling their way from the deep black depths of space.
The Future of America is coming. It is not being driven by Goldman Sachs or the GOP or Obama. That’s old school, the old order, yesterday. It’s coming, and coming sooner than most people imagine.
When you get run over, don’t say you weren’t warned . . .
While I think Rithotlz ignores some of the roadblocks along the way that will slow down and possibly derail this new breed, such as old school politics and the like, I agree with his thrust in general.
My generation – the Gen X ers, and those who are coming after us have received a pretty raw deal, perpetrated upon us by the Boomers. We realize that there will be no Social Security at this pace, even though our weekly paychecks are deducted for it. We understand that there are millions of people who have enormous salaries and benefits for pushing papers across the desk of a DMV, and we resent it. Now that we are starting to have kids, we are teaching them that there is NO REASON to rely on the government for ANYTHING and that they are on their own. And that we vote accordingly.
I agree with Ritholtz – some of the new tech and other things coming down the pipe are going to blow the old guard away. We can organize a rally very quickly with thousands of people with a simple Facebook page. This is just one example. The dinosaurs better get ready. Because it is coming. It may take a decade or two, but it will be here before you know it.
Cross posted at LITGM.
*the comments at the Ritholtz post are very good