Archive for April, 2012

French Campaign Heats Up in Homestretch

April 30, 2012

The Wall Street Journal, Monday, April 30, 2012

WORLD NEWS

French Campaign Heats Up in Homestretch

Socialist Challenger Hollande’s Advantage Narrows in Opinion Polls, but He Still Holds Solid Lead Over PResident Sarkozy

By Gabrielle Parussini and William Horobin

PARIS–“French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Socialist candidate Francois Hollande entered the final stretch of the country’s presidential race on Sunday, with the incumbent courting far-right voters and his rival seeking to focus the debate on European issues.”

“Homestretch” and  the “final stretch” of a race are racing terms, usually for horse races. but also for cars, and track events, such as the 100 yard dash.    This idiomatic use of racing terms helps highlight a presidential race in a headline and first paragraph of a news item. 

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Econonomic Decline Trumped Harvard Planning

April 27, 2012

Harvard Magazine, March/April 2012

John Harvard’s Journal

A Long Way from Longwood

In a profile of Joseph B. Martin, current Leffler professor of neurobiology, and former dean of Harvard Medical School at the Longwood Campus in Boston, and, also, the author of a memoir, Alfalfa to Ivy, Dr. Martin speaks about the impact of the University Planning Committee on Science and Engineering (HUSEC) on the Medical School’s planned initiatives.  HUSEC is an interfaculty committee, which two University President had charged with forging “meaningful scientific collaborations across the individual disciplines and schools of a University long-known for the independence of its departments and Schools.” (from Harvard’s current president, Drew Faust.)

“Although the Allston Science Campus is currently a reality, according to a Google search by me, Dr. Martin states: “The economic disasters that have ensued (including the 2007-8 financial crisis and the resulting sharp decline in the endowment’s value) came to trump any such ambition under Harvard’s new administration.  And so, in the spring of 2011, the Allston initiative was put on ice and the building for the first science Quad was on hold…  The stem-cell institute headed for relocation into the northwest corner of the Harvard campus, as far from the medical school and its hospitals as it could possibly be.  The initiative on bioengineering is located in a space at the medical school on the Longwood campus, a good location for those of us here in the medical world, but, once again, keeping separate the activities that Larry Summers, President of Harvard) hoped would integrate our communities across the university.”

The economic crisis trumps again.

Apple Rides iPhone Frenzy

April 27, 2012

The Wall Street Journal, Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Apple Rides iPhone Frenzy, by Jessica E. Vascellaro and Ian Sherr

“Quarterly Profit Nearly Doubles as Tech Giant Taps China, New Markets”

“Apple’s success comes as it rides the proliferation of smart-phones that are reshaping the technology landscape.  But unlike others, Apple is also driving the changes with products it is able to convince consumers and businesses to buy despite a down economy.”

Is the iphone a horse or a surfboard?  Whatever!  The horse is winning the Kentucky Derby of smart-phones;  the surfboard, the surfing contests at Mavericks; and, one could even say, of consumer technology.

Couch Surfing

April 27, 2012

The New Yorker, April 16, 2012

DEPT. OF TRAVEL

Couch-surfing the globe.” by Patricia Marx

“Couch surfing (in this article) refers to the practice of temporarily lodging with a stranger–free of charge, unless you count being incessantly sociable as payment.”  Before this concept of surfing for places to stay with strangers the term meant to crash on a sofa or couch and flip through TV channels for an inordinate amount of time.

CouchSurfing is the “brainchild” of Casey Fenton, thirty-four, who, according to the article, had become “fascinated by the concept of free will, cherishing the hope that someday he would have the existential wherewithal to escape his home town and explore the world.”  In 2004 CouchSurfing went public with the mission to ” internationally network people and places, create educational exchanges, raise collective consciousness, spread tolerance, and facilitate cultural understanding.”

Surfing, of course, refers to riding waves on surfboards or swimming with the power of the wave into the shore.  One can also surf in kayaks, Hobie Cats, or anything that helps one use the waves for a ride.

Curveball

April 25, 2012

The Wall Street Journal, Wednesday, April 11

HEARD ON THE STREET: Financial Analysis & Commentary

On Jobs, No Celebratory Beveridge, by Justin Lahart

“Curveball” is the heading of a graph illustrating the “Beveridge Curve.”

The Beveridge Curve is a downward sloping line which plots unemployment rates against vacancy rates.

“…unemployment rates are much higher than they used to be.”   The curve looks different than before the recession, suggesting that the “labor market has become less efficient at matching workers with jobs, something that can happen when workers don’t have the skills that employers need.”

A curveball in baseball is a ball that has spin on it;  it does not go straight.

(more…)

Has Competition Trumped Value-Creation?

April 25, 2012

The New York Times, Tuesday, April 24, 2012

OP-ED

The Creative Monopoly, by David Brooks

“…Competition has trumped value-creation.  In this and other ways, the competitive arena undermines innovation.

You know somebody has been sucked into the competitive myopia when they start using sports or war metaphors.  Sports and war are competitive enterprises.  If somebody hits three home runs (baseball) against you in the top of the inning, your job is to go hit four home runs in the bottom of the inning.

But business, politics, intellectual life and most other realms are not like that.”  They may be competitive, but there is always the option to invent a different game, to be creative.

“Everybody worries about American competitiveness.  That may be the wrong problem.  The future of the company will probably be determined by how well Americans can succeed at being monopolists.”

A trump in a bridge hand is powerful and almost always wins unless a competitor has a higher trump.  So competition almost always wins over “value-creation”, but not always.

Facebook Plays Offense and Defense in a Single Deal

April 25, 2012

New York Times, Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Business Day

Facebook Plays Offense and Defense in a Single Deal, by Somini Sengupta and Nick Bilton

San Francisco–  “Is it crazy for Facebook, a start-up that has not yet even one public, to be throwing $1 billion at Instagram, an even younger start-up? ”

“…But the history of Silicon Valley suggests that expensive purchases of start-ups by start-ups may not always be so crazy.”  eBay bought PayPal, and Google bought YouTube, both good buys.

“…There’s always the blended question of opportunity and threat.” (Reid Hoffman, a co-founder of PayPal and founder of LinkedIn, a social networking site.)

Lower the Bar for Executives of Goldman Sachs Securities?

April 18, 2012

Wall Street Journal, Friday, April 13, 2012

Mighty Goldman Swats at Pesky Proxy Fights, by Liz Rappaport and Liz Moyer

Goldman Sachs Group Inc., long considered Wall Street’s mightiest firm, has been skirmishing with an unlikely group of adversaries: a small but vocal shareholders eager to use the company as a bully pulpit.”   Among the critics were The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the New York City Comptroller’s Office, and The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, a Roman Catholic organization.  The New York City Comptroller’s Office wants to lower the bar for executives of Goldman Sachs and hold them accountable for loses.  The bar has been high; to lower it will make the executives more responsible for losses incurred.

The heading of this article is interesting;  “Mighty Goldman Swats at Pesky Proxy Fights” leaves the impression the Goldman Sachs sees the adversaries/ critic’s concerns as flies to get rid of.

“Game On”: The U.S. Election For President

April 18, 2012

The Economist, April 14, 2012

Leaders

The campaign looks likely to sharpen America’s divisions

Mitt Romney looks like the Republican nominee for president, but is behind President Obama in the “head-to-head” polls.  However, there are still seven months to the election and, according to the article, Mr. Romney has “a fair chance of victory in November.  Less than half of America’s voters approve of the way Mr. Obama is doing his job.  Six out of ten think the country is on the ‘wrong track.”

This article goes on to discuss the problems both men will have, including Mr. Romney’s shift to the right and for Mr.Obama, “The second time is harder.”  Also, that “This is not politics as usual,” as “the system is already dangerously close to seizing up.”

So, game on for all.  It will be interesting to watch the process.  The Chinese have proverbs about “interesting times.”

Mr

A Patent-Fight Playing Field

April 16, 2012

The Wall Street Journal, Friday, April 15, 2012

CORPORATE NEWS, Page B5

Apple Becomes a Two-way Player on Patent-Fight Playing Field, by Jessica E. Vascellaro

“Apple Inc. is waging a patent crusade against mobile-phone giants it believes ripped off the Iphone.”

But the company is playing an important game of defense, too, as it faces claims it has violated scores of patents that relate to how devices communicate with wireless networks.”

So Apple is an offensive and defensive player for patents.