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 »
Archive for the 'Entrepreneurship' Category
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!
Read the rest of this entry »
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
“In due time we rattled up to a stage-station, and sat down to breakfast with a half-savage, half-civilized company of armed and bearded mountaineers, ranchmen and station employees. The most gentlemanly- appearing, quiet and affable officer we had yet found along the road in the Overland Company’s service was the person who sat at the head of the table, at my elbow. Never youth stared and shivered as I did when I heard them call him SLADE! … Here, right by my side, was the actual ogre who, in fights and brawls and various ways, had taken the lives of twenty-six human beings, or all men lied about him! … He was so friendly and so gentle-spoken that I warmed to him in spite of his awful history. It was hardly possible to realize that this pleasant person was the pitiless scourge of the outlaws, the raw-head-and-bloody- bones the nursing mothers of the mountains terrified their children with.” That was what Mark Twain wrote, years afterwards in an account of a stagecoach journey to California, in 1861, upon encountering Joseph ‘Jack’ Alfred Slade, a divisional superintendent for the Central Overland, and a man who combined a horrific reputation with a perfectly soft-spoken and gentlemanly demeanor … and who in the space of four years, went from being a hard-working, responsible and respected corporate man (as these things were counted in the 19th century wild west) to being hanged by the Virginia City, Montana, Committee of Vigilance.
A lady of certain years by the time she became moderately famous, Angelina Belle Peyton was born in the last years of the 18th century in Sumner County, Tennessee. For a decade or so Tennessee would be the far western frontier, but by the time she was twenty and newly married to her first cousin, John Peyton, the frontier had moved west. Texas beckoned like a siren – and eventually, the Peytons settled in San Felipe-on-the-Brazos, the de facto capitol of the American settlements in Texas. They would open an inn, and raise three children, before John died in 1834. She would continue running the inn in San Felipe on her own for another two years, until history intervened.
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India’s crude oil imports from Iran is facing a risk of potential disruption as increasing US and EU sanctions make it impossible for Indian ships to obtain insurance.
I imagine if I were an Indian official, I’d be a bit peeved to learn that acting “responsibly” means privileging the interests of the United States over my own country. Nevertheless, Burns has a point. After all, India may rely on Iran for 12 percent of its oil imports, but look at what the United States has been willing to do for India:
Presidents Obama and Bush have met India more than halfway in offering concrete and highly visible commitments on issues India cares about. On his state visit to India in November 2010, for example, President Obama committed the U.S. for the very first time to support India’s candidacy for permanent membership on the U.N. Security Council.
I don’t know about you, but if the U.S. was asked to forgo 12 percent of its oil imports in exchange for another country’s endorsement for a seat on a multilateral forum, I’d make the trade. I mean, c’mon, 12 percent? The U.S. gets about that much from the Persian Gulf – and we barely pay that area any attention at all…
“The EU-India free trade agreement will be the single biggest trade agreement in the world, benefiting 1.7 billion people,” said president Barroso. “It would mean new opportunities for both Indian and European companies. It would mean a key driver for sustainable growth, job creation and innovation in India and Europe.”
The EU is India’s largest trading partner, accounting for about €86bn of trade in goods and services in 2010. Bilateral trade in goods rose by 20% between 2010 and 2011.”
Last year Israel supplied India with $1.6 billion worth of military equipment and is India’s second-largest defense supplier after Russia. Sales are only going to rise. Indian defense procurements from Israel in the period 2002-07 have touched the $5 billion mark.
And this doesn’t even get into the China-EU-US-Israel-Saudi Arabia wheels-within-wheels complications when it comes to arms deals, hoped for arms deals, trade deals, hoped for trade deals, energy politics, and the rest of it….
It’s not 1985, now is it? The past is a different country, a Russian (Soviet)-oriented Cold War country used to thinking in terms of “Kissengerian” alliances and blocs. An intellectual adjustment may be needed. It’s like 3-D chess out there….
Speaking of energy:
“Was Saudi Arabia involved?” (Asia Times Online.) If it makes you feel better, let me point out that Saudi petrodollars continue to fund all sorts of interesting educational activities on the subcontinent, in Africa, and elsewhere, along with Iranian monies. So that’s nice.
Posted in Business, China, Economics & Finance, Energy & Power Generation, Entrepreneurship, India, International Affairs, Iran, Israel, Markets and Trading, Middle East, Military Affairs, National Security, North America | 2 Comments »
…out of a wide range of potential choices, is Rep Jan Schakowsky (D-IL). I first became aware of this reprehensible individual after seeing the incredibly arrogant letter that she wrote to Kathleen Fasanella (of the blog Fashion Incubator) in response to Kathleen’s attempts to call attention to the harm being done to many small manufacturers by the ill-thought-out CPSIA legislation.
There are lots of reasons to dislike Schakowsky (see this, for example)—another such reason made its appearance Wednesday with her assertion, in an attempt to defend Obama’s suppression of the Keystone Pipeline project, that “Twenty thousand jobs is really not that many jobs, and investing in green technologies will produce that and more.”
Twenty thousand jobs is really not that many jobs?
There is of course a huge difference between a project funded with private money that will act to reduce America’s energy costs and increase its industrial competitiveness, and one funded with taxpayer money (much of it undoubtedly going to politically-well-connected corporations) which would quite likely act to increase America’s energy costs and thereby reduce its industrial competitivness. Perusal of Schakowsky’s bio reveals no experience at all working in the private sector, of course.
Whatever one thinks of the Pipeline and of various “alternative energy” options, surely it should be obvious to all that this CongressCreature’s cavalier dismissal of twenty thousand jobs should be considered unacceptable arrogance on the part of any American officeholder. It is a level of arrogance that, unfortunately, has become far too common among the government classes.
The US could be almost self-sufficent for energy by 2030, while the EU will be the most vulnerable region for energy security, BP said on Wednesday.
Growth in shale oil and gas production would mean the US needed few imports, while North America as a whole could be self-sufficient, BP forecast at its Global Energy Outlook 2030.
BP forecast that Eurasia could also become self-sufficient, based on the prediction that Europe would being a net importer of energy, and the former Soviet Union countries net exporters by a similar amount.
In practice, this would leave the EU the most vulnerable region for energy security.
Friends, I have no particular knowledge of this subject. If you have anything to add in comments, I’d love to hear it.
Ah, age. One of the most daring aspects of this novel is that Lively is concerned with the hearts and problems of older characters. Her major players are well past their youth, and a boyish up-and-coming historian (the snake in Lord Henry’s mansion) doesn’t become important until much of the novel has passed. “How much remains when youth is gone?” Lively seems to be asking. And the answer is, “An abundance.” Here middle and old age are times of blossoming identity and possibility, miraculous bursts of sunshine.
Even as a twenty-something, I was fascinated with literary representations of middle age. An odd one, that’s me.
Posted in Academia, Arts & Letters, Book Notes, Britain, Business, Economics & Finance, Energy & Power Generation, Entrepreneurship, Environment, Europe, International Affairs, Middle East, National Security, North America, Predictions | 9 Comments »
…still seems to have a remarkable number of adherents.
Business Insider has an interview with a 32-year-old Brit who is cofounder of Huddle, a startup aiming to compete with Microsoft’s SharePoint. While I didn’t read the comment thread, up toward the beginning there are at least 3 comments from people mocking the idea that a startup would be able to succeed against a product which (a)comes from a very large company and (b)is successful and growing.
Well, let’s see. Up through the early 1980s, IBM’s position in the computer industry looked unassailable…indeed, IBM’s dominance was so complete that the computer industry had often been referred to as “IBM and the Seven Dwarfs.” Who would have guessed that a couple of startups called Intel and Microsoft were about to start grabbing market share from IBM in a big way?
Up through at least the 1970s, Sears Roebuck & Co. was a colossus of the American retail industry. Who would have guessed that Sears–along with many other large retailers–would have found itself losing out to a bunch of guys from Arkansas?
The steel industry was long dominated by the giant integrated steel companies, especially Bethlehem Steel and U.S. Steel. Both of these companies went bankrupt–but for smaller and more nimble firms such as Nucor, focused on mini-mills and continuous casting, the story was very different.
I haven’t looked at Huddle in any depth, and don’t have a considered opinion about their future. But I do know that many SharePoint users are less than happy with the product, and I do know that small and focused companies often have considerable advantages over larger and more complex companies. Sometimes these advantages, intelligently applied, will suffice to dramatically overcome the also-very-real advantages of the larger firm.
The belief that the-big-guy-always-wins seems surprisingly resistant to historical experience. J K Galbraith, in his book The New Industrial State, asserted that large firms would simply become larger and more vertically-integrated and would control demand through advertising, making themselves fairly unassailable. This was in 1967–in view of the history of the last 45 years, people today have much less excuse for such beliefs that Galbraith did
Why is the big-guy-wins theory still so widely held?
When I was a baby troop on my first overseas tour, at Misawa AB in Japan, I had a regular date in the form of a guy that Jenny bequeathed to me. Jenny was my friend simply because we were the only two women in the barracks who worked shifts. She was about to rotate out; her tour was up and she was going home.
She also added, by way of convincing me to consider him as a regular date, “A nice guy, he’s a gentleman and he’s always good for a meal, he’s Baby Deleo.”
We have made several interesting discoveries while walking the dogs and exploring the Salado Creek Greenway (which is eventually intended to provide a long, green pocket wilderness park all across suburban San Antonio) but I think the very most interesting was nothing to do with the park at all. A particular stretch of the greenway parallels Holbrook Road; just where the road crosses over Salado Creek, there is a low hill with an enormous Southern mansion sitting on the top, white pillars, galleries, ancient oak trees and all. The mansion is called Victoria’s Black Swan Inn; now it’s a wedding and event venue, but originally it was a private home, built just after the Civil War, and on the site of the 1842 Salado Creek Fight. They say it is one of the most haunted places in the United States – which it might very well be – but that’s not the discovery that my daughter and I made.
That would be what is around in back of the Black Swan; when we noticed a long graveled driveway at the side of the property, and a little sign that said “Glass Studio.”
My mother has tinkered with making stained glass for years, even attempting to teach my daughter some skills in that direction, so we both have an appreciation for it. My daughter said, “Let’s go and see?” so we wandered up the hill, past some extremely eccentric and enormous wind chimes hanging from trees … which seemed to lead nowhere but into a tangle of sheds, aging automobiles and assorted intriguing junk – pretty much your basic funky rural collection on stereoids.
At the top of the hill, the driveway curved around, underneath a tall pecan tree and a huge old wooden water-tank elevated on tall posts – and there was the glass studio, housed in a tidy little shed about the size of a suburban bedroom and spilling over onto a couple of tables and an outside wall, in the back-forty of the Black Swan. Mr. Howard Redman the glass artist was there, as he usually is on weekends, and was happy enough to show us his glass creations, his workspace, and his scrapbooks of previous commissions and projects, allowing us to tromp through it all with the dogs and poke into just about everything.
It’s a darned odd place to find a glass gallery, let me tell you: his work is substantial, beautifully done, colorful – everything from fused ‘jewels’ made of four separate layers of glass, to bowls on metal stands, platters, replica Tiffany and Frank Lloyd Wright style lamp-shades, hanging window panels and odd little tschockes – sun-catchers, votive candle holders and paperweights. But Howard Redmond is in his eighties, and this is semi-retirement and he can do as he damn well pleases, after a whole career working in specialty glass. I looked at some of the panels in his scrapbooks – and oh, my; original installations eight feet square, with four of five thousand individual pieces; that is some serious window-glazing, let me tell you.
Much of his professional work was done in Chicago, over the last thirty or forty years; I think his output now is more for fun, although he had many of his pieces in local galleries, and he does the occasional craft show. And nope, doesn’t even have a website, or an email address. Either catch him at a one of those shows, or come to San Antonio and search out the Black Swan Inn. Up to the top of the graveled drive, and around past the 1940s ambulance, the rusting restaurant stove, and the fallen-down bottle tree; next to a tall pecan tree and an old wooden water-tank on stilts: He’ll be at work in the little shed under the tree, with two rows of glass platters adorning the side.
Posted by Lexington Green on 4th December 2011 (All posts by Lexington Green)
James C. Bennett, author of The Anglosphere Challenge (Rowman & Littlefield, 2004), and Michael J. Lotus (who blogs at Chicagoboyz.net as “Lexington Green”), are proud to announce the signing of a contract with Encounter Books of New York to publish their forthcoming book America 3.0.
America 3.0 gives readers the real historical foundations of our liberty, free enterprise, and family life. Based on a new understanding of our past, and on little known modern scholarship, America 3.0 offers long-term strategies to restore and strengthen American liberty, prosperity and security in the years ahead.
America 3.0 shows that our country was founded as a decentralized federation of communities, dominated by landowner-farmers, and based on a unique type of Anglo-American nuclear family. This was America 1.0, as the Founders established it. The Industrial Revolution brought progress, opportunity and undreamed-of mobility. But, it also pushed the majority of American families into a new, urban, industrial life along with millions of unassimilated immigrants. After the Civil War, new problems of public health, crime, public order, and labor unrest, on top of the issues of Reconstruction, taxed the old Constitution. Americans looked for new solutions to new problems, giving rise to Progressivism, the ancestor of modern liberalism.
America 3.0 shows that liberal-progressive solutions to the challenges of America 2.0 relieved some problems, and kicked others down the road. But they also led to an overly powerful state and to an overly intrusive bureaucracy. This was the beginning of America 2.0, the America we grew up with, which dominated the Twentieth Century.
America 3.0 argues that the liberal-progressive or “Blue State” social model has reached its natural limits. Even as it continues to try to expand, it is now dying out before our eyes. We are now living in the closing years of the 20th Century “legacy state.” Even so, it has taken the shock of the current Great Recession to make people see the need for change. As a result, more and more Americans are calling for a return to our founding principles. Freedom and individualism are on the rise after a century-long detour.
America 3.0 shows that our current problems can be and must be transcended with a transition to a new America 3.0, based on modern technology, decentralized communities, and self-reliant families, and a reassertion of fiscal responsibility, Constitutionally limited government and free market economics. Ironically the future America 3.0 will in many ways be closer to the original vision of the Founders than the fading America 2.0.
America 3.0 gives readers an accurate, and hopeful, assessment of our current crisis. It also spotlights the powerful forces arrayed in opposition to the needed reform. These groups include ideological leftists in media and the academy, politically connected businesses, and the public employees unions. However, as powerful as these groups are, they have become vulnerable as the external conditions change. A correct understanding of our history and culture, which America 3.0 provides, shows their opposition will be futile. The new, pro-freedom, mass political movement, which is aligned with the true needs and desires of Americans, is going to succeed.
America 3.0 provides readers a program of specific “maximalist” proposals to reform our government and liberate our economy. America 3.0 shows readers that these reforms are consistent with our fundamental culture, and with our Constitution, and will make Americans freer and more prosperous in the years ahead.
America 3.0 provides a “software upgrade” for the Tea Party and for all activists on the Conservative and Libertarian Right. It provides readers with historical evidence and intellectual coherence, to channel the energy and enthusiasm of the rising mass political movement to renew America.
America 3.0 shows that our capacity for regeneration is greater than most people realize. Predictions of our doom are deeply mistaken. We are now living just before the dawn of America’s greatest days. Within a generation, positive changes beyond what we can currently imagine will have taken place. That is the America 3.0 we are going to build together.
(Cross-posted from the America 3.0 blog.)
Posted in America 3.0, Anglosphere, Announcements, Arts & Letters, Big Government, Book Notes, Conservatism, Economics & Finance, Entrepreneurship, Health Care, History, International Affairs, Politics, Predictions, Public Finance, Real Estate, RKBA, Science, Society, Taxes, Tea Party, Tech, Transportation, Urban Issues, USA | 18 Comments »
Posted by Lexington Green on 6th October 2011 (All posts by Lexington Green)
Good piece by Jim about Steve Jobs, and what kind of entrepreneur he was, entitled “Hitting the Sweet Spot.”
There are, fundamentally, two subspecies of entrepreneur. One starts from the present, and visualizes the next logical step from where things are now. This type figures out how to make something better, cheaper, or more widely available, and manages to clear the financial, regulatory, and market barriers to getting it into the marketplace. The other visualizes a different world, one in which things are different and better from the way they are now, and then figures out what path of evolution brings us to that world, and, as the last step, what is the least ambitious step possible that will move things toward that goal.
Steve Jobs was one of the latter group, and one of the most successful of his time.
Do, please, RTWT.