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Business

November 21, 2014

"A good manager leads by example"

Dilbert deconstructs a maxim of management .

November 18, 2014

"3 Mistakes That Ran Sears' Business Into The Ground"

It's a pretty common story but no less sad for that.

November 17, 2014

"Marc Andreessen in Conversation"

This is just spectacular. If he's not willing to run for office as a conservative he should at least be willing to contribute a bunch of money. Just one great bit:

The critique of Silicon Valley is also that it isn’t very diverse. At Twitter, for instance, 90 percent of the tech employees are male and more than 50 percent of them are white.

I think these discussions are totally valid. Now, I disagree with many of the specific points.

What’s your take?

Shall we? Let’s launch right into it. I think the critique that Silicon Valley companies are deliberately, systematically discriminatory is incorrect, and there are two reasons to believe that that’s the case. No. 1, these companies are like the United Nations internally. All the diversity studies say that the engineering population is like 70 percent white and Asian. Let’s dig into that for a second. First, apparently Asian doesn’t count as diverse. And then “white”: When you actually go in these companies, what you find is it’s American people, but it’s also Russians, and Eastern Europeans, and French, and German, and British. And then there are the Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, Thais, Indonesians, and Vietnamese. All these different countries, all these different cultures. To believe in a systematic pattern of discrimination, you’d have to believe that we’re discriminatory toward certain people without being discriminatory at all toward an extremely broad range of ethnicities and religions. Because of Pakistanis, we’re seeing a higher-than-ever proportion of Muslim employees in a lot of our companies.

No. 2, our companies are desperate for talent. Desperate. Our companies are dying for talent. They’re like lying on the beach gasping because they can’t get enough talented people in for these jobs. The motivation to go find talent wherever it is is unbelievably high.

(On diversity in tech see also the excellent "Cellophane Diversity".)

And here is Mr. Andreessen citing Claudia Goldin. Good on you, sir.

October 20, 2014

"The One App You Need To Mention On Your Resume If You Want A Job At Google"

Econ Ph.D. students, send your resumes to Google!

Spoiler: the app is Matlab.

"Amazon Must Be Stopped"

The editor of New Republic thinks Amazon is a monopoly.

Many people reply effectively. Here are three.

Annie Lowrey, New York: "Amazon is Not a Monopoly".

Joe Nocera, New York Times[!]: "Amazon Plays Rough. So What?"

Reihan Salam, Slate: "In Praise of Amazon".

 

October 13, 2014

"21 Scams Used By Devious Car Dealers — And How To Avoid Them"

In my experience buying a new car is definitely not fun. It's better than listening to a life insurance salesman pitching whole life insurance, but that's not saying much.

Some fine examples of the ugliness are in this piece. In my most recent experience, a few weeks ago, I encountered these three:

1. A car listed as "new" on the dealer's website had 4200 miles on it, but the sales manager informed me that it could be sold as new because "it has never been titled".

2. Seconds away from closing the sale at a price listed on the dealer website and agreed to by the salesman, the sales manager told me I'd have to pay $1500 more than that price. That price, as indicated by teeny, tiny print on a second page of the website--with no asterisk on the first page--included "all applicable discounts" such as $1000 off for owning one of the manufacturer's cars and $500 off for being a veteran. 

3. Almost all the dealers near me selling the make I was interested in had added several hundred dollars of "dealer options" which were heavily marked up and included such fabulous opportunities as a "rear bumper decal" for $75. This is to say nothing about the $500 "dealer prep" charge which every dealer added in. 

That said, the experience seems to be slowly improving. I found Truecar.com quite helpful. The Black Book assessment of my trade-in at, among other places, Cars.com was also helpful. I didn't use AAA's car buying service this time, but I had one excellent experience with them a few years back. 

Maybe in another ten or twenty years it'll be no more unpleasant than buying a refrigerator.

September 29, 2014

"The 'Coincidence' of CVS and Tobacco"

Surprise, surprise, there was plenty of politics involved.

With the federal government taking over a large share of the health care business through the new Affordable Care Act exchanges, providers such as CVS need to be in regulators' good books. CVS's drug business is at the mercy of regulators from the Food and Drug Administration, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and numerous other agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services and elsewhere.

The company is taking no chances that it could fall out of government's favor. CVS spent $13 million on lobbying in 2013, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, over 17 times as much as the firm spent in 2007.

September 26, 2014

"When we were small: Ben & Jerry’s"

Story of how the ice cream mavens got their start.

"Capitalism Is Saving the Climate, You Hippies"

"Protesters might have flooded Wall Street to demand a greener world, but Wall Street is financing the construction of a post-carbon economy in a way that government can’t."

September 24, 2014

"Most memorable resume lies"

Examples of what not to do.

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