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Why Mississauga wants to charge for parking
November 18, 2017 | The Globe and Mail | OLIVER MOORE
parking  Mississauga  free 
november 2017
Globe editorial: A little transit miracle grows on King Street - The Globe and Mail
'Make no little plans," goes architect Daniel Burnman's oft quoted line. "They have no magic to stir men's blood."

A three-kilometre stretch of King Street, which runs through the heart of downtown and is home to the busiest streetcar route in the city, has been redesigned to give public transit priority. For decades, streetcars have been slowed to a walking pace at rush hour, held up by a crush of cars. As of a week ago, however, cars are being severely restricted on King, and must turn right off of the newly transit-centric street at every intersection. Under the one-year pilot project, only streetcars can use the downtown stretch of King as a thoroughfare.

The aim is to greatly speed up the King streetcar, which carries 65,000 passengers a day. That's more people than any above-ground transit route in the city, roughly as many as the 500 buses of the provincial GO Transit's entire suburban bus system, and more than the Toronto Transit Commission's Sheppard subway. (The Sheppard line was one of those Big Plans that never made sense based on ridership or economics, but which got built anyhow because it had the magic to stir the blood of well-connected politicians.)

The cost of this big change on one of the busiest transit routes in the city? Small. Instead of being measured in billions of dollars and decades of construction, it involved the exorbitant expense of trucking in a few concrete barriers, changing a handful of road signs and buying some yellow paint. Construction period? Counted in days. This in a city used to endlessly debating big, transformative transit solutions that, if they could get funded, would arrive around the time one of Jagmeet Singh's grandchildren is elected prime minister.

For example, look at the so-called Downtown Relief Line. It's a badly needed subway expansion that has been under consideration for more than half a century. Politicians, who have repeatedly shelved the DRL because it will do a better job of serving passengers than voters, have recently rediscovered it, and feasibility studies are once again moving forward. But even under the most optimistic timetable – and assuming Toronto, Queen's Park and Ottawa find the money to pay for it – it's still at least a decade and a half away from completion.

Meanwhile, between a Friday night and a Monday morning, King Street was transformed from a run-of-the-mill road into the country's newest public transit thru-way.

But beyond King Street, politicians and promoters continue searching for the biggest of big transit ideas for the GTA. For example, the provincial Liberals continue to push ahead with planning a $21-billion (before cost overruns) high-speed rail line between Toronto and Windsor. And the Greater Toronto Airports Authority, the quango that runs Pearson International Airport, is pushing the idea of making itself the region's second public-transit hub, a move it estimates will cost $11.2-billion. The concept, however questionable its value to most GTA commuters, aims to excite the new Canada Infrastructure Bank, while pleasing 905-region voters and the politicians who woo them.

The challenge is that much of the GTA is too low density to support high-intensity public transit. The two big exceptions are routes running from the periphery to the compact employment area of downtown Toronto, and transit within the central parts of Toronto, which are dense enough to allow many people to live car-free.
Toronto  commuting  traffic_congestion  pilot_programs  TTC  transit  editorials  DRL  GTA  density  HSR  GTAA  hubs  Pearson_International  YYZ  King_Street  Queen’s_Park 
november 2017
Review: David Chariandy’s Brother and Catherine Hernandez’s Scarborough bring a community to life
OCTOBER 6, 2017 | The Globe and Mail | HANNAH SUNG.

Scarborough By Catherine Hernandez
Arsenal Pulp Press, 258 pages, $17.95

Brother By David Chariandy
McClelland & Stewart, 180 pages, $2
books  fiction  Scarborough  Toronto  novels 
november 2017
Marty Chavez Muses on Rocky Times and the Road Ahead
NOV. 14, 2017 | - The New York Times | By WILLIAM D. COHAN.

Mr. Chavez is about as far from the stereotypical Wall Street senior executive as you can imagine, and that is one reason his musings about the future direction of Wall Street are listened to carefully.

He grew up in Albuquerque, one of five children, who all went to Harvard. He got a doctorate in medical information sciences from Stanford University. (At that time, he was known by his full name Ramon Martin Chavez.)

In 1990, Mr. Chavez came out, the day after he defended his doctoral dissertation. – “Architectures and Approximation Algorithms for Probabilistic Expert Systems.” He is one of the few openly gay executives on Wall Street. ......In his current role as Goldman's CFO, Marty views his job as a simple one that is hard to get right: “I’m not paid or evaluated on the accuracy of my crystal-ball predictions,” he said. “I’m paid to enumerate every possible outcome and do something about every possible outcome well in advance, when it’s still possible to do something, because once it’s happened it’s too late.”....Unlike many of his peers on Wall Street, Mr. Chavez does not complain about the extent of the regulation that hit the financial industry as a result of Dodd-Frank. Generally speaking, he says, the regulations have helped banks “confront their problems and capitalize and bolster their liquidity,” making them “stronger as a result,” and the financial system safer and more profitable.....Instead of complaining about the extra expense and manpower required to comply with the mountain of new regulations, Mr. Chavez chooses instead to think about it differently. “If you approach the regulations as ‘Oh, we’ve got to comply,’ you’ll get one result,” he said. He prefers thinking about the regulations as, “This makes us and the system and our clients safer and sounder, and yes it’s a lot of work, but what can we learn from this work and how can we use this work in other ways to make a better result for our shareholders and our clients? Everywhere we look we’re finding these opportunities and they’re very much in keeping with the spirit of the times.”

Like any good senior Goldman executive, he does worry. (Lloyd Blankfein, the Goldman chief executive, once told me he spent 98 percent of his time worrying about things with a 2 percent probability.)

His biggest concern at the moment is the risk of “single points of failure” in the vast world of cybersecurity (JCK: SPOF). He worries about any individual “repository of information” that does not have a backup and that can “be hacked.”

He does not even trust Goldman’s own computer system; he treats it as a potential enemy.

.....What also makes Goldman different from its peers is the firm’s love affair with engineers. At the moment, he said, engineers comprise around 30 percent of Goldman’s work force of about 35,000. It’s what drew him to Goldman in the first place — to work on Goldman’s in-house software, “SecDB,” short for “Securities Database,” an internal, proprietary computer system that tracks all the trades that Goldman makes and their prices, and regularly monitors the risk that the firm faces as a result.

He said the system generates some million and a half points of data that were used to calculate, for the first time, the firm’s “liquidity coverage ratio” — now 128 percent — and that were shared with regulators every day. He’s been busy trying to figure out how the newly generated data can be used to help him understand what the firm’s liquidity will be a year from now.

That way, he said, in his principal role as Goldman’s chief financial officer, he can perceive a problem in plenty of time to do something about it. “We’re able to get much better actionable insights that make the firm a less risky business because we’re able to go much further out into the future,” he said......
actionable_information  CFOs  cyber_security  databases  Dodd-Frank  engineering  financial_system  Goldman_Sachs  improbables  information_sources  jujutsu  low_probability  Martin_Chavez  proprietary  regulation  SecDB  SPOF  think_differently  Wall_Street  William_Cohan  worrying 
november 2017
Some Big Retailers Are Still Betting On Brick and Mortar
NOV. 14, 2017 | The New York Times | By MICHAEL CORKERY.

Target’s new store near Herald Square in New York City, down the block from Macy’s flagship store and other national retail chains. It is one of about 130 smaller format stores Target has opened or plans to open by the end of 2019. The new stores are scaled back versions of the big-box Targets that predominate in the suburbs.

The company’s store strategy stands out at a time when just about everyone seems to be questioning the relevance of brick-and-mortar retail. Amazon is seizing an ever-larger share of consumers’ wallets, reducing foot traffic to stores.....The retail industry has been pushing back against the pessimism. This summer, the IHL Group, a retail and hospitality advising firm, produced a report that showed retailers will open more new stores than they will close this year. (Most of the growth, however, came from restaurant openings, not new department stores or big box retailers.)....

“The negative narrative that has been out there about the death of retail is patently false,” Greg Buzek, the group’s president, said in August when the report was published.

Some of the biggest growth in brick-and-mortar stores is coming from discount retailers, like TJX, the parent company of T.J. Maxx and Marshalls. E-commerce may offer convenience and instant gratification. But shoppers are still willing to go into a store to hunt for a good bargain.“......The big challenge is how do you get customers to come into a store if they don’t have to,” said Melina Cordero, head of retail research for Americas at CBRE, the real estate firm.....Walmart is also trying to generate more buzz around its stores, which had drawn complaints from some customers in recent years for being too cavernous and unpleasant to shop in.

This month, Walmart is holding holiday parties — complete with toy demonstrations and workers in reindeer hats — as it “cranks up the volume on store experiences.”...Retailers like Walmart are hoping they can build a more profitable business that incorporates both brick-and-mortar and online shopping — a strategy known in the industry as “omni-channel.”

Online retailers like Amazon face high transportation costs, particularly as they guarantee free two-day and even same-day delivery. They are also bearing the cost of processing free returns.

Many analysts and retail executives said Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods and its more than 460 stores validated the relevance of brick and mortar. Still, e-commerce continues to grow at a blistering rate, far outpacing the increase in overall retail sales. Unless that growth abates, analysts and economists question how so many stores — from suburban malls to hip boutiques — can survive.
retailers  Target  bricks-and-mortar  small_spaces  store_closings  big-box  CBRE  Wal-Mart  omnichannel  e-commerce 
november 2017
Le Carré and other cold war comforts
SEPTEMBER 8, 2017 Janan Ganesh 39 comments
In John le Carré
John_le_Carré  Janan_Ganesh  Cold_War 
november 2017
Diversity means looking for the knife in a drawerful of spoons
SEPTEMBER 8, 2017 | Financial Times | Tim Harford.

Recruiters and admissions tutors are hoping they made the right choices.

So how do we select the best people for a course or a job? It seems like a sensible question, yet it contains a trap. In selecting the best person we might set a test — in a restaurant kitchen we might ask them to whip up some meals; in a software company we might set some coding problems. And then the trap is sprung.

By setting the same task for every applicant we recruit people who are carbon copies of each other. They will have the same skills and think in the same way. Allowing recruiters some subjective discretion might loosen this trap a little, but it might equally make it worse: we all tend to see merit in applicants who look, speak, and dress much like we do. Opposites do not attract, especially when it comes to corporate hiring.

This is unfair, of course. But it is also — for many but not all tasks — very unwise. Scott Page, a complexity scientist and author of The Diversity Bonus, invites us to think of people as possessing a kind of cognitive toolbox. The tools might be anything from fluent Mandarin to knowing how to dress a turkey to a command of Excel keyboard shortcuts. If the range of skills — the size of the toolkit — matters, then a diverse team will boast more cognitive skills than a homogenous team, even one full of top performers.
admissions  diversity  heterogeneity  hiring  homogeneity  recruiting  selection_processes  teams  Tim_Harford 
november 2017
The Fast Lane: my plan to make Canada great again
SEPTEMBER 29, 2017 Tyler Brûlé

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My five-point plan went something like this:

Young Canadians need to follow the lead of their Aussie and Kiwi cousins and get out into the world for extended periods. Holidaying in Florida or backpacking in Europe for two weeks after high school doesn’t cut it.
Canada should have some form of national service with both defence and civilian functions.
Embassies sold off by the former government need to be reinstated, with new missions designed by the country’s best young architects.
National broadcaster CBC/Radio-Canada needs to become North America’s balanced news source.
Vancouver should become the home of a new, Asia-Pacific-focused newspaper of record and global voice.
Tyler_Brûlé  Canada 
november 2017
Nestlé aims to bottle appeal of artisan coffee
SEPTEMBER 29, 2017 | FT| Arash Massoudi, Tim Bradshaw, Scheherazade Daneshkhu and Ralph Atkins
artisan_hobbies_&_crafts  Nestlé  coffee  millennials  cafés  Big_Food  niches 
november 2017
The ace of spaces: fashion show producer Alexandre de Betak
SEPTEMBER 22, 2017 Nick Remsen

The producer’s work is now the subject of a new book Betak: Fashion Show Revolution, which chronicles his 30-year career in show-making.....De Betak has sensed the world changing. As the enterprise of fashion has shifted, so has the industry of executing a fashion show.

“It’s not the way it was, we know this,” says de Betak. “It has gone from inner circle-genic to TV-genic to web-genic to social media-genic. The audience for a fashion show is now global, but they are more blasé than ever. We need to think about more angles when we design a set, and not just for the photographers in the pit, because the influencers are taking pictures that are just as important, maybe more so, than theirs. Then, it’s becoming more about video. Stills photos are slightly dying, actually. And, things are getting smaller. All of the information is given on the phone — soon it will be a contact lens.
producers  fashion  creative_class  creative_economy  creative_types 
november 2017
Silicon Valley and the limits of ‘leaning in’
SEPTEMBER 20, 2017 Emma Jacobs

Working at Kleiner removed the scales from her eyes. “You can’t always get ahead by working hard if you’re not part of the ‘in’ crowd.” The culture, she writes, is “designed to keep out people who aren’t white men . . . for all the public hand-wringing about how unacceptable this is, no one on the inside can honestly say the absence of diversity is a mystery or a coincidence; this is the way they set up the industry”. Despite Asians being well represented in Silicon Valley, she writes, the “bamboo ceiling” means they don’t make it to the upper echelons.

She was frequently told to be bolder. Now she wonders whether the reserve of “introverted, analytical people, often women” was undervalued. “What if our inclination to assess and avoid the outsized risk of certain ventures could be an asset to our teams? Why does it never seem to occur to anyone that it’s an option . . . for the men to actually listen to us?”

Inspired by the arguments of Sheryl Sandberg in her book Lean In that women should take their place at the table, Pao recalls taking the advice literally and installing herself in one of the “power seats” in a private jet, only to find the conversation turn to pornography and sex workers. Once off the plane, the men ditched Pao to socialise together.
Ellen_Pao  Silicon_Valley  book_reviews  books  women  diversity  Kleiner_Perkins  gender_gap  gender_discrimination  Asian-Americans  upper_echelons  white_men 
november 2017
China Could Sell Trump the Brooklyn Bridge - The New York Times
Thomas L. Friedman NOV. 14, 2017

The saying — “When you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there” — and it perfectly sums up the contrast between China’s President Xi Jinping and President Trump.....All along, Xi keeps his eye on the long-term prize of making China great again. Trump, meanwhile, touts every minor victory as historic and proceeds down any road that will give him a quick sugar high.

Trump literally has no idea what he’s doing and has no integrated strategy — because, unlike Xi, Trump’s given no thought to the big questions every effective leader starts his day with: “What world am I living in? What are the biggest trends in this world? And how do I align my country so more of my citizens get the most out of these trends and cushion the worst?”

What world are we in? One in which we’re going through three “climate changes” at once.
(1) Destructive weather events and the degradation of ecosystems are steadily accelerating.
(2) globalization: from an interconnected world to an interdependent one; from a world of walls, where you build your wealth by hoarding resources, to a world of webs, where you thrive by connecting your citizens to the most flows of ideas, trade, innovation and education.
(3) technology and work: Machines are acquiring all five senses, and with big data and artificial intelligence, every company can now analyze, optimize, prophesize, customize, digitize and automatize more and more jobs, products and services. And those companies that don’t will wither.
artificial_intelligence  Tom_Friedman  China  U.S.  Donald_Trump  globalization  technology  climate_change  TPP  international_trade  questions  think_threes  wealth_creation  grand_strategy  foundational  existential  extreme_weather_events  Xi_Jinping 
november 2017
Five unpopular personal finance truths
November 15, 2017 | The Globe and Mail | by RYAN MODESTO SPECIAL TO THE GLOBE AND MAIL.

* You need to invest!!!! This element gets overlooked--Saving alone won't cut it. If saving is the workhorse to get you somewhere, investing is at least the reins that help to steer you to your destination. .... Investing is only going to become more important as pensions get leaner and less prominent and living costs rise while wages stay stagnant. Investing those savings is how one can bridge the gap. So if you are saving money, give yourself a pat on the back, but don't stop there – you are only part of the way through the journey.

* You need to be able to save. Spending is fun; saving usually less so. The issue is one of delayed gratification. really is the crux of why people prefer to spend today than save for tomorrow.... trim unnecessary costs....and remember the power of compound interest.

* Personal finance is not fun (for most). Personal finance is boring....even a daunting topic.

* Personal finance is rarely black and white.....Different financial strategies work for different people. ...While the numbers can offer a guideline, the answers to personal finance questions are rarely black and white....The second part of this is the willingness to save, which is more psychological. You need to be both willing and able to save money to be able to help yourself in the first place. There are no silver bullets when it comes to finance. At the end of the day, you need to be willing and able to save money for anything else to matter.

* You have to treat yourself. At the end of the day, we make money so we can provide for those who rely on us, live a particular lifestyle and hopefully have a bit of fun. .... Personal finances are a life-long grind, and as long as the little things stay under control, they are not going to be what makes the difference in 80 years..... you can't take the money with you, so you have to spend some of it....But just some of it.
* A sixth rule might be: Don't blame "the world" for being not able to save. Look at what you are currently spending money on and think about whether you actually "need" to (vs "want") and also if there is any way to change to something that is less expensive.
* A seventh rule: Plan for financial shocks/emergencies. Keep some money in the bank (and invest it in something, of course) so if your car breaks down or you get laid off, you can keep the wolf from the door for at least a couple of months.
* An eight rule: If you go out shopping to 'cheer yourself up', stop doing it.
* A ninth rule : Just because a bank offers to give you tons of money doesn't mean it is a good idea for you to take it.
personal_finance  financial_literacy  investing  delayed_gratification  boring  personal_savings_rate  financial_shocks  emergencies 
november 2017
Accurate blood pressure measurement is real core message of new guidelines - The Globe and Mail
ANDRÉ PICARD

Normal blood pressure remains 120/80.

(The top number, systolic, measures pressure on the blood vessels when the heart contracts; the bottom number, diastolic, measures pressure when the heart relaxes between beats.)

The guidelines, a dense 481-page document, are detailed and nuanced but, from a public perspective, the key element is that they say that people with blood pressure of 130/80 millimetres of mercury or more should now be considered hypertensive.

Previously, the cutoff point was 140/90.

What is interesting and potentially positive is that the new guidelines do not say the newly classified should be treated with drugs, unless they have other risk factors such as diabetes.

Rather, they are a loud call for preventing and managing blood pressure with lifestyle modifications.

Practically, that means reducing salt intake, being more physically active, moderating alcohol consumption, not smoking, watch the scales, getting more sleep, eating more fruits and vegetables and all that other healthy stuff that most people don't do........there is very little evidence that beginning treatment at 130/80 rather than 140/90 reduces mortality, or actually prevents heart attacks or strokes, especially in younger individuals. (And most of the newly labelled are under 45.)

There is, however, clear evidence of a direct correlation between rising blood pressure and increased risk of illness over time.

In fact, hypertension, while not an illness per se, is a leading cause of a host of illnesses, including heart attack, stroke, heart failure, kidney disease, erectile dysfunction and more.

The good news is that when drugs are used properly, they are relatively effective. First-line blood pressure meds, diuretics, are also cheap, costing just pennies.

As treatment escalates with angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, calcium channel blockers (CCBs) and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs), so do costs.
mens'_health  André_Picard  blood_pressure  baselines  heart_attacks 
november 2017
What’s In Store For Canadian Coatings Manufacturers - Coatings World
Gary LeRoux, President and CEO, Canadian Paint and Coatings Association
10.02.17
David_Tait 
november 2017
Five Technologies That Will Rock Your World - The New York Times
By CADE METZNOV. 13, 2017
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technology 
november 2017
The Ivory Tower Can’t Keep Ignoring Tech
NOV. 14, 2017 | The New York Times | By Cathy O’Neil is a data scientist and author of the book “Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy. Follow her on Twitter at @mathbabedotorg.

We urgently need an academic institute focused on algorithmic accountability.

First, it should provide a comprehensive ethical training for future engineers and data scientists at the undergraduate and graduate levels, with case studies taken from real-world algorithms that are choosing the winners from the losers. Lecturers from humanities, social sciences and philosophy departments should weigh in.

Second, this academic institute should offer a series of workshops, conferences and clinics focused on the intersection of different industries with the world of A.I. and algorithms. These should include experts in the content areas, lawyers, policymakers, ethicists, journalists and data scientists, and they should be tasked with poking holes in our current regulatory framework — and imagine a more relevant one.

Third, the institute should convene a committee charged with reimagining the standards and ethics of human experimentation in the age of big data, in ways that can be adopted by the tech industry.

There’s a lot at stake when it comes to the growing role of algorithms in our lives. The good news is that a lot could be explained and clarified by professional and uncompromised thinkers who are protected within the walls of academia with freedom of academic inquiry and expression. If only they would scrutinize the big tech firms rather than stand by waiting to be hired.
algorithms  accountability  Cathy_O’Neil  Colleges_&_Universities  data_scientists  ethics  inequality  think_tanks  Big_Tech 
november 2017
Navigating a Breathtaking Level of Global Economic Change
November 14, 2017 |The New York Times | by Andrew Ross Sorkin.
you’d think that any sense of “faith” in the global economy might be shaken, or at least, uncertain given events like North Korea, Russian interference in elections in the United States, post-Brexit Europe, and hurricane damage.

Not so.

In conversation after conversation with some of the nation’s top business leaders and chief executives last week, there is a stunning amount of genuine “confidence” in our economy here and, yes, even globally.

“I’m very surprised,” Laurence D. Fink, the founder of BlackRock, the largest money manager in the world overseeing some $6 trillion, said at The New York Times DealBook conference last Thursday, describing his new sense of optimism.......Mark Cuban, whose disdain for President Trump is so acute that he is considering running for president himself in 2020 as a Republican because it “means you get to go head-on with Trump right in the primaries — and so there’s nothing I’d have more fun doing.” Still, though, he said he believes the economy is in good enough shape that when it comes to investing in the stock market, “I just, you know, I just let it ride.”

Mr. Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, said he keeps a small amount of cash on hand as a precaution. “I keep a little bit, you know, as a hedge. I call it my ‘Trump hedge’ because you just never know.....Earlier in 2017, The Conference Board reported that chief executives’ confidence had reached 2008 pre-recession highs in the first quarter.....there are pockets of the economy that are causing anxiety. “The last two or three years have not been fun whatsoever,” Mickey Drexler, the chairman of J. Crew, said at the conference about the traditional retail business, which has been upended by Amazon and changes in consumer behavior. “It’s been miserable.” Those challenges are extending to mall owners and commercial real estate, too..... is the stock market a proxy for the economy of America?....“In the aftermath of corporate and public-sector disasters, it often emerges that participants fell prey to a collective form of willful blindness and overconfidence: mounting warning signals were systematically cast aside or met with denial, evidence avoided or selectively reinterpreted, dissenters shunned,” Roland Bénabou a professor at Princeton University wrote in a seminal work on confidence and groupthink. “Market bubbles and manias exhibit the same pattern of investors acting ’colorblind in a sea of red flags,’ followed by a crash.”
Amazon  Andrew_Sorkin  BlackRock  bubbles  CEOs  commercial_real_estate  consumer_behavior  confidence  denials  global_economy  groupthink  J._Crew  Laurence_Fink  manias  Mark_Cuban  market_crash  Mickey_Drexler  optimism  overconfidence  precaution  retailers  selection_bias  shifting_tastes  shopping_malls  warning_signs  willful_blindness 
november 2017
American War by Omar El Akkad — north-south divide
OCTOBER 27, 2017 Randy Boyagoda.

American War, by Omar El Akkad, Picador, RRP£14.99/Knopf, RRP$26.95, 352 pages
Omar_el_Akkad  novels  book_reviews  books  civil_war  fiction 
november 2017
From climate change to robots: what politicians aren’t telling us
OCTOBER 26, 2017 | FT| by Simon Kuper.

Most politicians bang on about identity while ignoring automation, climate change and the imminent revolution in medicine. They talk more about the 1950s than the 2020s. This is partly because they want to distract voters from real problems, and partly because today’s politicians tend to be lawyers, entertainers and ex-journalists who know less about tech than the average 14-year-old....Ironically, given the volume of American climate denial, the US looks like becoming the first western country to be hit by climate change. Each new natural disaster will prompt political squabbles over whether Washington should bail out the stricken region. At-risk cities such as Miami and New Orleans will gradually lose appeal as the risks become uninsurable......American climate denial may fade too, as tech companies displace Big Oil as the country’s chief lobbyists. Already in the first half of this year, Amazon outspent Exxon and Walmart on lobbying. Facebook, now taking a kicking over fake news, will lobby its way back. Meanwhile, northern Europe, for some years at least, will benefit from its historical unique selling point: its mild and rainy climate. Its problem will be that millions of Africans will try to move there.

On the upside, many Africans will soon, for the first time ever, have access to energy (thanks to solar panels) and medical care (as apps monitor everything from blood pressure to sugar levels, and instantly prescribe treatment). But as Africa gets hotter, drier and overpopulated, people will struggle to feed themselves, says the United Nations University. So they will head north, in much greater numbers than Syrians have, becoming the new bogeymen for European populists....The most coveted good of all — years of life — will become even more unfairly distributed. The lifespans of poor westerners will continue to stagnate or shorten, following the worldwide surge in obesity since the 1980s. Many poorer people will work into their seventies, then die, skipping the now standard phase of retirement. Meanwhile, from the 2020s the rich will live ever longer as they start buying precision medicine. They will fix their faulty DNA and edit their embryos, predicts Vivek Wadhwa, thinker on technology. ...Troubled regimes will also ratchet up surveillance. Now they merely know what you say. In 10 years, thanks to your devices, they will know your next move even before you do.
2020s  Africa  automation  Big_Tech  climate_change  climate_denial  imperceptible_threats  life_expectancy  mass_migrations  migrants  politicians  precision_medicine  refugees  Simon_Kuper  slowly_moving  surveillance_state  unevenly_distributed  uninsurable  Vivek_Wadhwa 
november 2017
Security Breach and Spilled Secrets Have Shaken the N.S.A. to Its Core
NOV. 12, 2017 | The New York Times | By SCOTT SHANE, NICOLE PERLROTH and DAVID E. SANGER.

“These leaks have been incredibly damaging to our intelligence and cyber capabilities,” said Leon E. Panetta, the former defense secretary and director of the Central Intelligence Agency. “The fundamental purpose of intelligence is to be able to effectively penetrate our adversaries in order to gather vital intelligence. By its very nature, that only works if secrecy is maintained and our codes are protected.”
adversaries  data_breaches  hacking  vulnerabilities  counterintelligence  counterespionage  moles  malware  ransomware  Fedex  Mondelez  Edward_Snowden  security_&_intelligence  Russia  Leon_Panetta  NSA  cyber_security  cyber_warfare  cyberweapons  tools  David_Sanger  SecDef  CIA 
november 2017
Support more thinkers, not only the tinkerers
NOVEMBER 4, 2017 | FT | Dr Simon Roberts, Stripe Partners, London SE1, UK

In my experience this is not just a decision based on the economics of innovation — it’s a shift informed by the changing temporal rhythms of modern organisations. The mantra “move fast and break things” appears to motivate the leadership and delivery teams of even the most slothful companies far beyond Silicon Valley. When research becomes a tool for rapid, iterative, continual improvement, not an activity committed to open-ended exploration and unconstrained thinking, it is unlikely to lead to the sort of breakthroughs in technology, products or strategic outlook that successful companies (and productive economies) depend on.
Tim_Harford  letters_to_the_editor  R&D  innovation  thinking  tinkerers  breakthroughs 
november 2017
Innovation: less shock and more awe
And al­though people say they like new things, often what they want is mere­ly for existing things to work better.

Innovations must be bought repeatedly if they are to succeed commercially. As Simon Roberts, an anthropologist and director of Stripe Partners, an innovation agency in London, puts it: “Businesses often look on innovations as ‘new things’. But to understand how new things become part of the everyday, it’s more helpful to think of them as skills and habits consumers ac­quire.”

Innovations that fit current circumstances may stand a better chance of bedding in than those that tear up the rule book.

How to turn an innovation into a consumer habit

●Respect social norms and work around any existing infrastructure. Even disruptive innovations need to fit into the world as it is – at least initially.

●Choose your words Analogies can help people grasp how innovations work and by referencing familiar things make the unfamiliar less daunting – for instance using “checkout” for online shopping.

●Show, not tell Bombarding people with data rarely helps. Concentrate instead on creating opportunities for people to experiment with innovations first hand.

●Engage the senses Building prompts and cues into new technologies – the swoosh signifying a text message has been sent, the artificial shutter click on digital cameras – is reassuring for novices.

●Get verbal Names that sound good as verbs − as in Skyping or Googling − encourage consumers to think of innovations as things others are embracing, which they should perhaps do too.
adaptability  analogies  anthropologists  automation  autonomous_vehicles  creating_opportunities  cues  cultural_divides  customer_adoption  digital_cameras  experiential_marketing  experimentation  habits  innovation  haptics  prompts  robotics  senses  skills  social_norms 
november 2017
Silicon Valley disrupts your light switch on its return to the smart home
OCTOBER 27, 2017 | Financial Times | Tim Bradshaw in Los Angeles.

Noon’s $400 “smart lighting system” is one of those hoping to tap into Amazon’s Alexa platform. Its “Room Director” incorporates an OLED display — the same kind of touchscreen technology used in the new iPhone X — and bulb-detecting algorithms to create “layered lighting”, with an array of scenes and moods. 

Noon’s $50m funding is large for a company that, until Thursday’s debut in US stores, had not begun to sell any products. Its backers argue the sum reflects the capital costs of building a high-quality consumer product, as well as the scale of the opportunity: 144m residential light switches are sold every year, Mr Charlton notes. 

“It is one of these unloved, overlooked products that has relatively boring incumbents that haven’t paid attention to the needs of the market,” says Rob Coneybeer, partner at Shasta Ventures, one of Noon’s earlier investors. “You probably hit a light switch at least 10 times a day. The only other product that has that level of engagement in your life is your smartphone.” 

There are few simpler technologies in the home than the humble light switch, which for most people works reliably without the addition of WiFi or Bluetooth. 
smart_homes  Amazon_Echo  Nest  Silicon_Valley  disruption  Google_Home  in-home  unglamorous  smart_lighting  obscure_markets  overlooked  high-quality 
november 2017
GE and Siemens: power pioneers flying too far from the sun
November 12, 2017 | FT | by Ed Crooks in New York and Patrick McGee in Frankfurt.

Rivals GE and Siemens both face difficult challenges ahead with the threats emanating in the 21st century from the renewable energy revolution that risks rendering obsolete their century-old strengths in supplying equipment for the electricity industry.....As the costs of solar and wind power have plunged, making them cheaper than fossil fuel generation in many parts of the world, the traditional model of the industry has changed. Capital spending on the new technologies has soared. Battery storage is also starting to be a cost-effective solution for supporting the grid, challenging the market for “peaker” gas turbines that are used when demand is at its highest. Yet both groups have taken positions in renewable energy but have stumbled along the way.

The result is that GE and Siemens are being forced to drive down costs dramatically in their core power businesses. Siemens is looking to cut thousands of jobs in its power and gas unit....while both groups face a turbulent environment, the immediate outlook is considerably brighter at Siemens, which appears to be better positioned to adjust to the disruption sweeping through the energy industry....GE’s 2017 has been a disaster.....GE's CEO, John Flannery, has already moved fast to signal his intentions: clearing out many top executives, grounding corporate jets, stopping the cars provided to senior managers, cutting back the network of global research centres and promising to sell peripheral and underperforming businesses worth up to $20bn....GE's sales of aeroderivative gas turbines, used to support grids at times of peak load, were half the planned numbers, while sales of packages for improving the performance of gas-fired plants were just a third of projections.....“All major vendors got the market [i.e. for gas turbines] wrong,” ...The next big worry is servicing for turbines — once a gold mine but one that is bound to decline as new orders fall. With turbines being sold at no margin or sometimes at a loss, competition for servicing contracts is heating up, further eroding margins.

For the foreseeable future, the gas turbine market is likely to remain difficult,...“The question is whether this is just a cyclical problem, or whether there is something structural in the industry that is really starting to cause problems.”

There is good reason to think that it is structural, given the plunge in solar and wind costs. ... “a combination of rooftop solar and battery storage could make economic sense in India, African countries and other places where they don’t have well-developed power grids”......According to the IEA, in 2016 $316bn was invested in renewable energy worldwide last year, almost three times as much as the $117bn in fossil fuel power generation.....If Mr Flannery founders, then breaking up GE might come to seem like the only option left to investors. It would not magically dispel the problems of the business, and would be difficult because of the group’s complex tax position and liabilities, including insurance claims dating from before GE pulled out of the industry in 2004-2006.

To avoid a break-up, GE might follow the template Siemens created in 2014 for a more decentralised structure. Mr Kaeser calls it a “fleet of ships” model, with divisions becoming semi-autonomous and separately listed. Siemens’ largest division, its medical equipment unit, is scheduled to list next year.

“The time of old-fashioned conglomerates is over,” he says. “They are definitely not going to survive.”
CEOs  Siemens  GE  industrial_age  founders  19th_century  decentralization  conglomerates  renewable  obsolescence  solar  batteries  cost-cutting  turnarounds  divestitures  wind_power  under-performing  power_grid  electric_power 
november 2017
David Boies: the super-lawyer who fell to earth
NOVEMBER 10, 2017 | Financial Times | by Gary Silverman in New York.

David Boies is a representative of a rare breed. He is a New York super-lawyer: one of a small group of residents, typically men, who parse the fine print, seal the deals, battle in the courts and, in the process, define their commercially minded city just as surely as the skyscrapers, the pastrami and the bull outside the stock exchange.

His résumé testifies to his status as perhaps the leading litigator of his day. He has fought in court for causes as near and dear to liberal hearts as same-sex marriage and the presidential campaign of Democrat Al Gore. He has aided fallen financiers including AIG’s Hank Greenberg and Enron’s Andy Fastow. He fought off a libel suit filed against CBS by William Westmoreland, commander of US forces in Vietnam, and was recruited by the federal government to press its antitrust case against Microsoft.

His reputation, however, has just taken a major blow. Mr Boies, a product of the New York legal star system, has been ensnared in the scandal involving a long-time client, producer Harvey Weinstein, who has been accused of abusing his power in the Hollywood star system to harass and assault numerous women over many years.

Mr Boies, 76, is a wealthy man noted for his philanthropy and his popularity, along with his third wife, Mary, on the Manhattan social circuit. But he is also an inveterate risk taker — a lover of the action in Las Vegas as well as at his firm Boies Schiller & Flexner — who goes the extra mile for clients. He did a favour for Mr Weinstein, and it is costing him in the court of public opinion.

His courtroom style is notoriously disarming. His attire — typically, a Lands’ End jacket and trousers — comes straight from the heartland. But his questions are hard

Mr Boies signed a contract on July 11 hiring a business intelligence firm called Black Cube to spy on Mr Weinstein’s accusers, The New Yorker magazine reported. Run by former Israeli intelligence agents, its operatives used false identities to gain the trust of the people in the case and collect information about them. Its objectives included helping Mr Weinstein “stop the publication of a negative article in a leading NY newspaper”.
lawyers  law_firms  profile  David_Boies  superstars  Harvey_Weinstein 
november 2017
After 20 Years of Financial Turmoil, a Columnist’s Last Shot - The New York Times
By GRETCHEN MORGENSON NOV. 10, 2017

For the past 20 years or so, as a business columnist for The New York Times, I’ve had a front-row seat for bull and bear markets, scandals, crises and management mischief.

But I am leaving The Times, and this is my last shot at Fair Game. So it seems a fitting moment to look back at what’s changed and what hasn’t in the financial world, for better or worse.

In addition to a string of garden-variety banking and business scandals, four seismic financial events occurred during my time as a columnist: the collapse of the Long-Term Capital Management hedge fund in 1998, the bursting of the dot-com bubble in 2000, the accounting scandals of Enron in 2001 and WorldCom in 2002, and the mother of them all — the mortgage debacle — in 2008. That one brought world economies to the precipice and wiped out Lehman Brothers and a raft of troubled banks.

......“Sarbanes-Oxley came into effect 15 years ago, and there have been fewer accounting scandals and more accountability,”...It’s too bad that the mortgage crisis six years later didn’t result in heightened accountability.

Here’s another sign of progress: Believe it or not, corporate directors are more active in their oversight than they used to be. Egregious board practices and chummy appointments are less common......Something else that hasn’t changed over the decades is analyst and investor reliance on companies’ creative earnings calculations. These figures, which do not conform to generally accepted accounting practices, typically exclude costs that companies incur in their operations.....Inventive earnings calculations, while more prevalent today, were very popular in the lead-up to the dot-com crash. Back then, analysts valued companies based on imaginative, nonfinancial metrics like the number of page views a retail website received or the percentage of “engaged shoppers” visiting a site. ....My search for truths on Wall Street and elsewhere over the years has sometimes raised hackles. That’s to the good. It wasn’t my job to be part of a company’s spin machine.
financial_communications  farewells  NYT  women  retrospectives  Wall_Street  seismic_shifts  LTCM  bubbles  scandals  SOX  truth-telling  boards_&_directors_&_governance 
november 2017
David Ignatius — Charlie Rose
11/07/2017 | Charlie Rose Show|

David Ignatius, columnist for The Washington Post, talks about Saudi Arabia, President Trump's China visit, and his new spy novel, Quantum Spy.
G-2  China  Saudi_Arabia  David_Ignatius  U.S.-China_relations  U.S.foreign_policy  Charlie_Rose  interviews  security_&_intelligence  authors  books  quantum_computing  novels  fiction  CIA 
november 2017
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