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Current Affairs

Book Short: Sloppy Sequel

Book Short:  Sloppy Sequel SuperFreakonomics, by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, wasn’t a bad book, but it wasn’t nearly as good as the original Freakonomics, either.  I always find the results of “naturally controlled experiments” and taking a data-driven view of the world to be very refreshing.  And as much as I like the social scientist versions of these kinds of books like Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point and Blink (book; blog post), there’s usually something about reading something data driven written by a professional quant jock that’s more reassuring. That’s where SuperFreakonomics fell down a bit for me.  Paul Krugman has described the book in a couple different places as “snarky and contrarian.”  I typically enjoy books that carry…

If this madness all ended tomorrow, I would do…almost nothing

If this madness all ended tomorrow, I would do…almost nothing (This post originally appeared on FindYourNerve on October 21) I don’t know what you call the last 12 months of global macroeconomic meltdown.  I’ve taken to calling it the Great Repression.  In part because it’s somewhere in between a Recession and a Depression, in part because it’s certainly repressed the wants and needs of startups and growth companies the world over.  And it makes for good cocktail party chatter. Someone asked me a question the other day, which started off with “Now that the recession is over…”  I can’t even remember the end of the question.  I got lost in the framing of it, mostly because I’m not convinced it’s…

A David Allen nightmare

IMG_3029.JPG Originally uploaded by heif A David Allen nightmare The comments on Flickr are almost as funny as the picture, but for those of you who can’t see the detail, I believe this is Esther Dyson peering over an inbox that has almost 4.3 billion emails in it.

Opening Night

Opening Night My brother Michael, internet marketer by day and a writer by night, had his first play produced last night off-Broadway at the Manhattan Repertory Theater’s SummerFest.  The play is a romantic comedy called Fallout, and it’s my favorite thing he’s written of about 8-10 works I’ve read over the years, both screen and stage plays.  This is the first time I’ve ever had a bit of a “behind the scenes” look at an Opening Night, and it was fun to be a part of it.  When I think about entrepreneurial pursuits in business, I’m not sure this even compares.  For Michael, it seemed to be the equivalent of a company’s founding, a product launch, and an IPO —…

The Passion of the Specialist

The Passion of the Specialist I remember once talking to my friend Cella when she was between jobs.  She said she was working out 9 hours a week, which I found stunning at the time.  I try very hard to get 3 hours a week in, and I am usually successful, but it's not without sacrificing sleep and being deliberate about my schedule.  So 9 felt luxurious, but appropriate for someone between jobs. With that as a frame of reference, I have heard lots of definitions or embodiments of the word "commitment" before, but I ran across another one the other day that I still find mindboggling.  I have a gym friend at the New York Sports Club where I…

Book Short: Entrepreneurs in Government

Book Short:  Entrepreneurs in Government Leadership and Innovation:  Entrepreneurs in Government, edited by a professor I had at Princeton, Jim Doig, is an interesting series of mini-biographies of second- and third-tier government officials, mostly from the 1930s through the 1970s.  The book’s thesis is that some of the most interesting movers and shakers in the public arena (not elected officials) have a lot of the same core skills as private sector entrepreneurs. The thesis is borne out by the book, and the examples are interesting, if for no other reason than they are about a series of highly influential people you’ve probably never heard of.  The guy who ran the Port Authority of New York for 30 years.  The guy…

A Network of Teams, Not an Integrated System

A Network of Teams, Not an Integrated System We were in and out of the hospital a lot back in March/April for the last few weeks with one of our kids (she’s ok now).  One of us was with her 24 hours a day for the 10-11 days she was hospitalized, with lots of down time, which gave me lots of time to observe health care in action.  While she ultimately got very good care at a very good hospital, it was incredibly clear to me that the hospital functioned as a network of teams, not as an integrated system. The nurses were great.  Followed their routine practices and responded to doctors’ orders on cue.  Same with the nursing assistants. …

The Party's Over?

The Party's Over? American party politics have had a few major realignments over the 220 years since we adopted our Constitution.  I took a class on this in school, but that was a long time ago, and I'll never remember all the details.  What I do remember is that they're somewhat chaotic.  And that they typically take several election cycles to take root. I think we're in the middle of one now.  Arlen Specter's decision to become a Democrat is a particularly poignant example of it, though the fact that something like only 25% of the country now identifies with the Republican party is another.  With Specter, it's not that he changed his ideology — it's that his party changed…

Please, Let There Be Another Explanation

Please, Let There Be Another Explanation One of the things I was most excited about with an Obama presidency was that it finally seemed as if we had a real leader in the hot seat.  Someone who might actually be able to run an effective government instead of a bureaucracy paralyzed by partisanship.  I still have this hope. But I also hope what we’re seeing around the stimulus bill is not what we’re in for the next four years.  What I’m seeing is a complete absence of leadership around the problem.  Seems to me, taking lessons from the corporate world, that Obama should have done two things that would have gotten the program passed in a bipartisan way much more…

Angry, Defiant, and Replete with Poor Grammar

Angry, Defiant, and Replete with Poor Grammar I didn’t see Bush’s farewell address on TV on Thursday, but Mariquita and I did see his press conference on Monday.  It was exactly what you’d expect it to be and quite frankly just like the last eight years:  angry, defiant, and replete with poor grammar. I’ve said repeatedly that I think Bush has destroyed the Republican party and will go down in history as one of the worst presidents this country has ever had, if not the worst.  It’s not surprising that his tone at the end is as the title of this post describes.  But it is a shame.  His whole administration is a shame.  The really sad part is that…

Bundle of Elyse

Bundle of ElyseMariquita and I are pleased to introduce our newest family member, Elyse Joy Blumberg, who arrived this evening!  Quite an experience today – just doesn't get boring, no matter how many you go through. The official announcement is here.