Media


Top Ten Books of 2014

My reading for 2014 was more focused for the same reason my blogging has been reduced — I have a day job. Also, two of the books were real projects, entailing runs to the sources, blogosphere, and Wikipedia for background, context, and understanding. These books were demanding (long and in places technical) and singular — […]

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Media, WoW


On a City Bike, all Traffic Lights are Yellow

In both the US and in Europe, the use of bicycles in cities has shot up. According to the League of American Bicyclists (which endorses none of what follows), bike use has gone up 39 percent nationally since 2001. In the seventy largest US cities, commuter bike use is up 63 percent. Leading the pack is […]

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Media, Other classics, WoW


Manhatisco

In Blue Jasmine, Cate Blanchett delivers what may be her strongest performance yet. Her frenetic, scheming, recast Blanche Dubois tops even her jaw-dropping performance in I’m Not There — the 2007 movie where she plays a highly plausible Bob Dylan. Jasmine is married to Hal (Alec Baldwin), a sleaze-ball Wall Streeter who delivers the requisite […]

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Media, WoW


Early Warning Signs

Business competition is always interesting, in part because smart companies figure out how to avoid competition by specializing and differentiating their product or service. When Sun Tzu admonished his generals against assaulting walled fortresses, he understood that head-to-head competition is a sure path to a headache. Many US universities have not read their Sun Tzu: they […]

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Economics, Media, Politics, WoW


Francis

Religion seems to help a lot of people. It reinforces admirable values and provides community, kinship, charity, music, a moral compass, and stories. But to me, religious faith is stone soup: like the soldiers whose boiling rocks induced villagers to donate carrots, potatoes, and meat until there was a plentiful stew after the stones were […]

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Media, WoW


Denial is Bigger than Amazon

Talk to a book author, publisher, or retailer about the future of their business and the denials begin. “Never before have there been so many good books to read”. “Books are the backbone of civilization”. “Life without books is unimaginable”. As a cultural argument, this may be true, but as an economic one, this is […]

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Economics, Media, Other classics, Technology, WoW


Manufacturing Myths in Palo Alto and Pittsburgh

The transition from fields to factories always mixes agony with hope. Families abandon land and traditions that often go back generations, move to cities and reset their lives from sunlight to time clocks. Mass production industries flourish for a few generations. Life is hardly a bed of roses, but it is nearly always better or […]

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Economics, Media, Politics, Technology, WoW


Memo to the New Chancellor: Saving UC Berkeley

Dear Newly Appointed Berkeley Chancellor: Congratulations! Even though as of this writing, you have not yet been named, you take over the leadership of UC Berkeley at a critical time. At the end of your tenure, the world’s premier public university will either have found a sustainable path forward or will have entered a period […]

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Economics, Media, Politics, WoW


Coaches

Coaches are often known as masters of technique, but really they teach life skills: teamwork and competition, ferocity and empathy, solidarity and resistance. Great coaches inspire performance that players cannot produce without them. They model leadership by keeping their player’s interests first and by knowing when to admonish, encourage, or reprimand. Many of us recall our […]

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Media, WoW


Is Amazon Inside Apple’s OODA Loop?

John Boyd was a legendary US fighter pilot during the Korean War who later became a fighter pilot instructor. He had a standing bet with his students: he would meet you in the air at 30,000 feet and you would get on his tail. He would reverse the positions and get you in his guns in […]

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Economics, Media, Other classics, Technology, WoW


Lenin’s Rope: Universities Help Disrupt Universities

Lenin famously bragged that “Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them.” It would surely gall him to learn that the art of destroying capitalists with their own products has been mastered not by a militant, vanguard-led proletariat but by entrepreneurial capitalists. It appears that even universities, finally, are getting the hang of […]

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Economics, Media, Politics, Technology, WoW


Will Technology Burst Higher Education’s Bubble?

Imagine a market with incumbents whose core processes are unchanged since medieval times that is held together by huge federal subsidies and protected by a system of self-accreditation designed to exclude rivals. Imagine that the resulting enterprises exploited their monopoly power by overcharging customers and wasting the revenue that resulted on guaranteeing senior employees lifetime […]

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Economics, Media, Politics, Technology, WoW


Two Questions for California’s College Students

Perhaps the only thing more depressing than the sight of hundreds of students and faculty on a “99 Mile March” to defend California’s system of higher education from budget cuts is the failure of the state legislature to vigorously defend the engine of the state’s wealth and economic mobility. The protests now underway in Sacramento […]

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Media, Politics, WoW


Whatever Happened to the United Farmworkers?

On New Year’s Day, a friend mentioned that Frank Bardacke had published his long-anticipated history of the rise and fall of Cesar Chavez and the United Farmworkers. It was worth the wait, he assured me and “completely stunning. Just get it and read it. You won’t put it down.” He was right. Bardacke, a respected […]

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Economics, Media, Other classics, Politics, WoW


Protection That Makes You Weaker

I have taken up running and, like boomers everywhere, I worry about hurting myself. Data suggest that between a third and half of runners get hurt running every year, making running a surprisingly high risk exercise. Why is this? Journalist Chris McDougall wondered why he was getting hurt when humans have been running for two […]

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Economics, Media


Three Dimensional Science

The World Science Forum currently underway in Budapest is a summit of academics who have traded their lab coats for leadership positions atop public and private agencies that promote and fund scientific research. These are fine people who support some of the best work in the world — balancing real, complex science with often Byzantine […]

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Media


Hang 30: Time Surfing

Been awhile since we showed first rate surfing videos. This one from Aussie Rip Curl, uses a “30 camera array” and six world class surfers to enable editors to shift perspective, freeze frame from a combination of angles, and create the “Matrix” like illusion of perspective. Pretty cool. They also produced a video on how […]

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Media, Technology


Seven Forces that Doom Bookstores and Publishers

During the past few years, the music industry has been hammered. As music went digital, it was pirated, deconstructed, and mashed. As music stores and labels disappeared, their lobby, the RIAA, screamed bloody murder. But amidst the carnage, a funny thing happened: the music industry grew larger even though it had fewer labels and far fewer retailers. Revenue […]

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Economics, Media, Other classics, Technology, WoW


Freedom Comes Out

Gay Freedom does not matter yet to most Americans — but it will, soon enough. Andrew Cuomo’s profile in political courage in mobilizing the New York legislature to allow gay marriage is a civil rights landmark. It is also more evidence that public attitudes have tipped. Twenty years from now, people may wonder what the […]

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Media, Politics, WoW


Kwik Fixin’ Oakland

I love Oakland. It is immigrant, black, and blue collar. The town has a great history and a solid soul. Ours were among the first neighborhoods in America where all of the whites did not move out when blacks moved in. Of course, along with a heart of oak, the town also has a brain […]

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Media