How Is the New York Times Really Doing? ★
Wired magazine recently published, Keeping Up with the Times, a
story about the New York Times and its slow & painful transition
to a digital first publication. “It’s to transform the Times’
digital subscriptions into the main engine of a billion-dollar
business, one that could pay to put reporters on the ground in 174
countries even if (OK, when) the printing presses stop forever,”
Gabriel Snyder (one of my favorite writers, by the way) wrote in
his in-depth feature, which is worth reading.
After reading the piece, I thought let’s see how the Times is
really doing — by the numbers. With help of Nima Wedlake, I came
up with data to chart the progress made by the company, to see how
far it really is from its transformation into a
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick Says the Company Has Hired Former Attorney General Eric Holder to Probe Allegations of Sexism ★
Travis Kalanick, in a company-wide memo leaked to Kara Swisher:
First, Eric Holder, former US Attorney General under President
Obama, and Tammy Albarran — both partners at the leading law firm
Covington & Burling — will conduct an independent review into the
specific issues relating to the work place environment raised by
Susan Fowler, as well as diversity and inclusion at Uber more
broadly. Joining them will be Arianna Huffington, who sits on
Uber’s board, Liane Hornsey, our recently hired Chief Human
Resources Officer, and Angela Padilla, our Associate General
Counsel. I expect them to conduct this review in short order.
This is about as vigorous a response to Susan Fowler’s allegations as Kalanick could possibly pursue. Eric Holder isn’t going to sweep anything under the rug.
But I suspect it’s too little, too late. I think Uber’s company culture is toxic, and Holder’s report will prove it. What then?
ZTE Is Shutting Down Its Failed Hawkeye Phone Kickstarter Campaign ★
Ashley Carman, writing for The Verge:
After a month and a half of letting its Hawkeye phone flounder on
Kickstarter, ZTE is finally ending the campaign. It received
$36,245 out of its $500,000 funding goal. In a post on the
Kickstarter today, ZTE writes that it’s decided to end the
campaign after considering feedback provided on the campaign page
and its user Z-Community forum.
Like I said last month, crowdsourcing is no way to design anything.
ANSI Standard K100.1-1974: Safety Code and Requirements for Dry Martinis (PDF) ★
Most interesting thing I learned over the weekend: there’s a delightful ANSI standard for dry martinis — 16 to 1 ratio of gin to vermouth. (Thanks to Jim Lipsey.)
Susan J. Fowler on Uber’s Institutional Support for Sexual Harassment ★
Susan J. Fowler, now an engineer at Stripe, on her year at Uber:
Uber was a pretty good-sized company at that time, and I had
pretty standard expectations of how they would handle situations
like this. I expected that I would report him to HR, they would
handle the situation appropriately, and then life would go on —
unfortunately, things played out quite a bit differently. When I
reported the situation, I was told by both HR and upper management
that even though this was clearly sexual harassment and he was
propositioning me, it was this man’s first offense, and that they
wouldn’t feel comfortable giving him anything other than a warning
and a stern talking-to. Upper management told me that he “was a
high performer” (i.e. had stellar performance reviews from his
superiors) and they wouldn’t feel comfortable punishing him for
what was probably just an innocent mistake on his part.
Over the next few months, I began to meet more women engineers in
the company. As I got to know them, and heard their stories, I was
surprised that some of them had stories similar to my own. Some of
the women even had stories about reporting the exact same manager
I had reported, and had reported inappropriate interactions with
him long before I had even joined the company. It became obvious
that both HR and management had been lying about this being “his
first offense”, and it certainly wasn’t his last. Within a few
months, he was reported once again for inappropriate behavior, and
those who reported him were told it was still his “first offense”.
The situation was escalated as far up the chain as it could be
escalated, and still nothing was done.
The whole story is compelling, and paints a scathing picture of Uber’s company culture. But the fact that the company’s HR department blatantly lied to a series of women harassed by the same man, telling each of them it was his “first offense”, is not just cruel, but shows just how confident they were that the women in the company would keep quiet about their harassment.
Now that Fowler’s story has broken, expect a flood of additional stories.
Republicans Are Moving to Scrap Rules That Limit Overdraft Fees ★
Matthew Zeitlin, reporting for BuzzFeed:
Last week, Georgia Republican Sen. David Perdue introduced a
resolution in Congress, alongside other Republicans including
his fellow Georgian Johnny Isakson, to throw out a new package of
rules for the prepaid debit card industry.
The rules, finalized by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
in October, include limitations on overdraft fees, which have
become a significant source of consumer complaints about the
financial industry — and an important revenue stream for
Georgia-based financial firm Total System Services, whose NetSpend
unit is the country’s largest manager of prepaid cards, according
to a 2015 financial filing.
The vast majority of prepaid debit cards don’t come with overdraft
fees, but NetSpend’s do, and the fees accounted for 10-12% of its
overall revenue in 2016, or $80-85 million, the company told
investors in October. Its parent has spent big on lobbying and
political donations in a bid to kill the rules: in the last three
months of 2016 alone, it spent some $270,000 lobbying
Again, this should be absolutely bipartisan. The people who are hit by these usurious overcharge fees are Republicans and Democrats alike. There’s no liberal/conservative angle to this. It’s just wrong.
And look at the deal Total Shitbag Services gets out of this: they spend $270 thousand lobbying Congress in order to preserve nearly 100 million
It’s Not Foreigners Who Are Plotting Here: What the Data Really Show ★
Nora Ellingsen, who spent five years working as a counter-terrorism analyst for the FBI, looked at the numbers for federal terrorism cases to see if there’s anything to support Trump’s immigration ban for its stated purpose:
For those who don’t want to do this deep dive, here’s a quick
two-sentence summary: Conway’s position is empirically
indefensible. Absolutely nothing in the large body of data we have
about real terrorist plots in the United States remotely supports
either a focus on barring refugees or a focus on these particular
But she did find this (emphasis added):
Since January 2015, the FBI has also arrested more anti-immigrant
American citizens plotting violent attacks on Muslims within the
U.S. than it has refugees, or former refugees, from any banned
country. As we wrote about here, here and here, in
October 2016, three white men from Kansas were charged with
conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction. According to the
graphic complaint, the anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant men planned
to attack a mosque in the area. The men progressed quickly with
their plot, amassing firearms and explosives. The targets were
people from Somalia, who ironically, would now be covered by
Ajit Pai, Trump’s FCC Pick, Quickly Targets Consumer Protection Rules ★
Cecilia Kang, reporting for The New York Times:
In his first days as President Trump’s pick to lead the Federal
Communications Commission, Ajit Pai has aggressively moved to roll
back consumer protection regulations created during the Obama
Mr. Pai took a first swipe at net neutrality rules designed to
ensure equal access to content on the internet. He stopped nine
companies from providing discounted high-speed internet service
to low-income individuals. He withdrew an effort to keep prison
phone rates down, and he scrapped a proposal to break open the
cable box market. […]
“With these strong-arm tactics, Chairman Pai is showing his true
stripes,” said Matt Wood, the policy director at the consumer
group Free Press.
“The public wants an F.C.C. that helps people,” he added.
“Instead, it got one that does favors for the powerful
corporations that its chairman used to work for.”
High-speed internet for low-income people, lowering usurious phone rates, breaking open the cable box market — who could be against these things? These aren’t liberal/conservative issues. This is just doing the bidding of major corporations.
Remember that word kakistocracy? Yeah, that’s what we have.
Samsung Factory Fire Triggered by Discarded Batteries ★
The rare case when a figurative garbage fire turns into a literal garbage fire.
Oculus VR Best Buy Pop-Ups Are a Bust ★
Alex Heath, writing for Business Insider:
Facebook is closing around 200 of its 500 Oculus virtual reality
demo stations at Best Buy locations across the US, Business
Insider has learned.
The scaling back of Facebook’s first big retail push for VR comes
after workers from multiple Best Buy pop-ups told BI that it was
common for them to go days without giving a single demonstration.
An internal memo seen by BI and sent to affected employees by a
third-party contractor said the closings were because of “store
Oculus spokeswoman Andrea Schubert confirmed the closings and said
they were due to “seasonal changes.”
Actual headline from Business Insider, one year ago: “Apple Is Completely Missing VR”.
‘A Conservative Climate Solution’: Republican Group Calls for Carbon Tax ★
John Schwartz, reporting for The New York Times:
A group of Republican elder statesmen is calling for a tax on
carbon emissions to fight climate change.
The group, led by former Secretary of State James A. Baker
III, with former Secretary of State George P. Shultz and Henry
M. Paulson Jr., a former secretary of the Treasury, says that
taxing carbon pollution produced by burning fossil fuels is “a
conservative climate solution” based on free-market
In an interview, Mr. Baker said that the plan followed classic
conservative principles of free-market solutions and small
government. He suggested that even former President Ronald Reagan
would have blessed the plan: “I’m not at all sure the Gipper
wouldn’t have been very happy with this.” He said he had no idea
how the proposal would be received by the current White House or
For those of you who erroneously claim I never link to stories about Republicans with approval, here you go: I love this. I hope they succeed. These are Republicans whose eyes are wide open to reality. (Maybe not the reality of today’s Republican party, but the reality of climate change.)
Apple Poaches Amazon’s Fire TV Head to Run Apple TV Product Marketing ★
Mark Gurman, reporting for Bloomberg:
Apple Inc. has hired Timothy D. Twerdahl, the former head of
Amazon.com Inc.’s Fire TV unit, as a vice president in charge of
Apple TV product marketing and shifted the executive who
previously held the job to a spot negotiating media content deals.
The moves suggest a renewed focus on the Apple TV and on providing
more content for the device, an effort that has been stalled in
the past by failed negotiations.
Twerdahl joined Apple this month, a spokesman for the iPhone
maker said. He had been general manager and director of Amazon’s
Fire TV business since 2013, according to his LinkedIn profile.
At Apple, Twerdahl reports to Greg Joswiak, a vice president in
charge of marketing for the iPhone, according to a person
familiar with the matter.
It seems pretty clear that Joz is in charge of more than just the iPhone if the head of Apple TV reports to him. Sometimes Gurman’s stuff makes no sense to me.
Republican Senate Leadership Stops Elizabeth Warren From Reading a Letter From Coretta Scott King ★
Last night, during the Senate confirmation hearing of Senator
Jefferson Beauregard “Jeff” Sessions III for Attorney General,
Senator Elizabeth Warren attempted to read a letter that Coretta
Scott King had written to the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1986
opposing Sessions’ nomination for a federal judgeship (which he
did not get).
Watch the video — it’s jarring.
I can’t help but feel this is backfiring on the Republicans. I’m seeing far more coverage of their preventing Warren from reading this letter — a letter from Martin Luther King Jr.’s widow! — than we would have seen if they’d simply allowed her to read it.
Every other Democratic senator should attempt to read King’s letter on Sessions. Make the Republicans own this.
See also: This collection of tweets by James Grimmelmann documenting the pro-slavery origins of Rule 19.
Which Is It? ★
From an October 2016 story for Bloomberg by Mark Gurman:
The new building features open floor plans and few traditional
offices. While some of Apple’s senior vice presidents are expected
to see their offices move over to the new campus — less than a
five minute drive from the current headquarters — management must
be at a vice president level or above to get a formal office, one
of the people said. Previous plans included office space for
senior directors, who report to vice presidents. Another person
said that some employees below vice president will be eligible for
The new campus will include bench seating, long work tables, and
open cubicle spaces, potentially irking employees used to quiet
office environments, two people briefed on the new campus’s plans
said. Apple’s presentations to the city of Cupertino have
indicated that the open floor plan designs are conducive to
collaboration between teams.
From yesterday’s (aforelinked) story for Reuters by Julia Love:
The campus is something of an exception to the trend of radically
open offices aimed at fostering collaboration, said Louise
Mozingo, a professor and chair of the Department of Landscape
Architecture and Environmental Planning at U.C. Berkeley.
So which is it? I can’t believe Apple would attempt to stick their employees at benches and long work tables, but if they did, that would certainly be a “radically open office”. I suspect Gurman blew this one.
Update: Listening to some little birdies chirp, it sounds like there’s some truth to all of the above.
Daniel Steinberg Wishes Apple Loved Books ★
Daniel Steinberg lamenting the lack of recent progress on iBooks Author:
iBooks Author could have been a trojan horse into the personal
publishing business. It would have been classic Apple. Instead of
small authors going to Amazon’s platform, they would have started
with iBooks Author. Apple should have made it easy for them to
push to Amazon as well. Why? Because these people wanted to
publish on Amazon but they weren’t considering publishing with
Apple. Thousands of authors would have come to Apple to create
content and stayed with Apple after publishing content there.
iBooks Author is a perfect example of how the iPad is not self-sufficient. I wrote yesterday about how you can’t develop iPad apps on the iPad itself. But Xcode is very complex, and also has longstanding roots that tie it, as currently imagined, to MacOS. iBooks Author was announced in January 2012, when the iPad was two years old. The iPad itself, seemingly, would be a fine device for creating books with iBooks Author. But iBooks Author remains Mac-only.
New $10 sketchpad iPad app from The Iconfactory. I love this app. Conceptually it’s simple: at the root level you have projects, and each project can contain multiple sketches.
When sketching, colors are on the left; layers, grids, and pens are on the right. That’s it — and the controls stay out of your way. The Iconfactory describes it as aiming for the simplicity of a paper sketchbook, and I think they’ve nailed it.
Reuters: ‘Channeling Steve Jobs, Apple Seeks Design Perfection at New “Spaceship” Campus’ ★
Julia Love, writing for Reuters on Apple’s new campus, now nearing completion:
Signage required a delicate balancing act: Apple wanted all signs
to reflect its sleek, minimalist aesthetic, but the fire
department needed to ensure the building could be swiftly
navigated in an emergency.
Dirk Mattern, a retired deputy fire chief who is representing the
Santa Clara County Fire Department on the project, estimated he
attended 15 meetings that touched on the topic.
“I’ve never spent so much time on signage,” he said.
The stuff about navigation and collaboration, I don’t get:
For all the time and money sunk into the project, some in the
architecture community question whether Apple has focused on the
right ends. The campus is something of an exception to the trend
of radically open offices aimed at fostering collaboration, said
Louise Mozingo, a professor and chair of the Department of
Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning at U.C.
I don’t know anyone who works at Apple who’d want to work at a desk in a room with a “radically open” floorplan. And I know several who would likely quit if forced to. People at Apple have work to do, work requires concentration, and concentration is easier to achieve when you have your own office.
Its central office building — a massive ring of glass frequently
likened to a spaceship — could be a challenge just to navigate,
“It’s not about maximizing the productivity of the office space,
it’s about creating a symbolic center for this global company,”
she said. “They are creating an icon.”
Critics from the “architecture community” — starting all the way back in 2011, when the new campus was just a plan — seem to have no understanding of how Apple actually functions. Remember too, that Steve Jobs spearheaded the design of Pixar’s unique headquarters, about which I’ve heard nothing but praise from Pixar employees. (Pixar’s headquarters is different from Apple’s in many ways, but Pixar and Apple are, well, different in many ways.)
I think there’s a good chance that Apple knows what it’s doing here.
Analysts: Apple Took 92 Percent of Smartphone Industry Profits in Q4 ★
Patrick Seitz, Investors Business Daily:
Among six major vendors surveyed, four were profitable in
smartphone sales in Q4, Canaccord analyst Michael Walkley said
in the report. They were Apple, BlackBerry, Samsung and
Samsung accounted for 9 percent of smartphone industry profits in Q4,
while Sony took 1 percent and BlackBerry less than 1 percent.
Interesting that Samsung did as well as they did given the Galaxy Note 7 fiasco. And how bad is it for all the other phone makers in the world that they finished in the red, but even BlackBerry eked out a small profit?
(It’s because everyone else lost money that the numbers for profit share add up to more than 100.)
Google Makes It Ever So Slightly Easier to See and Share Publishers’ Real URLs From AMP Pages ★
As promised, Google is making a change to how it displays
Accelerated Mobile Pages, so that users can easily view and share
links that lead directly to publishers’ sites rather than to
Google’s copy of the content.
A little easier, but I would argue that they shouldn’t be doing this in the first place, and the new UI they’ve exposed is deliberately obfuscated.
Now, the URL field of a browser will continue to show a Google
URL. However, the AMP header area will display a link or chain
icon, what it calls the “anchor” button. Clicking on this will
make the publisher’s direct URL appear, so that it can be easily
copied and pasted.
This new “anchor” icon is cryptic, and I think deliberately so. It looks like nothing I’ve ever seen before. I wouldn’t have guessed that it was a button to show the real URL, and I am a designer who studies iconography and a critic of AMP’s google.com silo. I’ve wanted this feature to exist ever since AMP debuted but I wouldn’t have guessed that this was it. Lord only knows how many regular people will figure it out. (And, bizarrely, the icon isn’t even retina resolution. It looks like a blurry smudge on the screen.)
For those who hold down on the anchor button, Google says it will
trigger the native share feature of the browser being used. With
Safari, that means easy access to things like Twitter or Facebook.
With Chrome, it lacks native share, so nothing should happen.
Better than nothing (which is what we had before), but weak sauce nonetheless.
Apple’s WebKit Team Proposes W3C Community Group: GPU on the Web ★
Dean Jackson, from Apple’s WebKit team:
Instead we need to evaluate and design a new web standard that
provides a core set of required features, an API that can be
implemented on a mix of platforms with different system graphics
technologies, and the security and safety required to be exposed
to the Web.
We also need to consider how GPUs can be used outside of the
context of graphics and how the new standard can work in concert
with other web technologies. The standard should expose the
general-purpose computational functionality of modern GPUs. Its
design should fit with established patterns of the Web, to make it
easy for developers to adopt the technology. It needs to be able
to work well with other critical emerging web standards like
WebAssembly and WebVR. And most importantly, the standard should
be developed in the open, allowing both industry experts and the
broader web community to participate.
Exposing “the general-purpose computational functionality of modern GPUs” would be great for the web, because that’s where the Moore’s Law action is at these days. GPU performance is improving much faster than CPU performance.
Merriam-Webster Adds Over 1,000 New Words ★
Speaking of Merriam-Webster, they’ve announced the addition of over 1,000 new words:
Just as the English language constantly grows, so does the
dictionary. More than one thousand new words have been added,
including terms from recent advances in science, borrowings from
foreign languages, and words from tech, medicine, pop culture,
sports, and everything in between. This is a significant addition
to our online dictionary, reflecting the breadth of English
vocabulary and the speed with which we seek information. These new
entries also highlight the old-fashioned skill of crafting useful
and readable definitions that require the expertise and experience
of our unique staff.
Familiar words combine to give us metaphors or imagery like
train wreck, side-eye, and weak sauce. As for verbs,
we can ride shotgun, walk back an opinion, throw
shade, face-palm, and geek out with new dictionary
Their definition for throwing shade could just point to their aforelinked Twitter account. (Aforelinked, alas, has not yet made it into the dictionary, despite my best efforts.)
Merriam-Webster’s Deft Social Media Strategy in the Age of Trump ★
David Mack, writing for BuzzFeed:
“A fact is a piece of information presented as having objective
reality,” read a tweet from the staff at Merriam-Webster,
linking to a dictionary article showing searches for the word
“fact” had spiked after Conway’s interview. Simple yet full of
shade, neutral yet undeniably pointed, it was the right tweet from
the right account at just the right moment of public chaos.
“@KellyannePolls,” read one person’s reply that tagged Conway’s
account, “when the dictionary is trolling you, you might want to
reconsider everything in your life.”
That the tweet went viral was no coincidence. Its tone and timing
were the product of more than a year of work by the
Merriam-Webster staff in reimagining and overhauling their entire
social media strategy — and, in doing so, their place in this new
world of alternative facts.
Great example tweet from earlier today, replying to a question as to whether they ever take words out of the dictionary:
Yes — like snollygoster, “a shrewd and unprincipled person,
especially an unprincipled politician.” Just added it back.
Worth noting: Merriam-Webster’s website has improved a thousandfold in recent years. It used to be a disaster, the sort of website put up by a dictionary that felt like they had to publish their dictionary on the web but didn’t want to. Now, it looks like a first-class peer to their print edition.
New “superfamily” of typefaces from Hoefler & Co.:
Twenty years ago, our Knockout collection was designed to
celebrate the beauty and diversity of nineteenth century sans
serif wood types, one of America’s great contributions to
type history. Picking up where this project left off is
Ringside, a sans serif shaped by new challenges, new
influences, and new ideas.
Where Knockout was designed for headlines, Ringside is made for
text. Its proportions, fit, and details are designed to thrive at
the smallest sizes, and each of its weights and widths includes
that most essential quality of a dependable text face: a
Feels like a sequel two decades in the making.
A Crack in an Antarctic Ice Shelf Grew 17 Miles in the Last Two Months ★
Jugal K. Patel, reporting for The New York Times:
A rapidly advancing crack in Antarctica’s fourth-largest ice shelf
has scientists concerned that it is getting close to a full break.
The rift has accelerated this year in an area already vulnerable
to warming temperatures. Since December, the crack has grown by
the length of about five football fields each day.
“The iceberg is likely to break free within the next few months,”
said Adrian J. Luckman of Swansea University in Wales, who is a
lead researcher for Project Midas. “The rift tip has moved from
one region of likely softer ice to another, which explains its
Terrifically well illustrated.
Vizio Settles FTC Lawsuit Over Tracking TV Viewing ★
The Federal Trade Commission:
Vizio, Inc., one of the world’s largest manufacturers and sellers
of internet-connected “smart” televisions, has agreed to pay $2.2
million to settle charges by the Federal Trade Commission and the
Office of the New Jersey Attorney General that it installed
software on its TVs to collect viewing data on 11 million consumer
TVs without consumers’ knowledge or consent. […]
According to the agencies’ complaint, starting in February 2014,
Vizio, Inc. and an affiliated company have manufactured Vizio
smart TVs that capture second-by-second information about video
displayed on the smart TV, including video from consumer cable,
broadband, set-top box, DVD, over-the-air broadcasts, and
The lack of respect for consumer privacy in this case is just appalling.
Over 100 Companies File Opposition to Trump’s Immigration Ban ★
Kate Conger, reporting for TechCrunch:
Notably absent from the list of 97 companies are several who met
with Trump prior to his inauguration: Amazon, Oracle, IBM, SpaceX
and Tesla. Oracle CEO Safra Catz is serving as an advisor to the
Trump transition team, while SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk has
defended his decision to remain on an advisory council for Trump.
I’m not surprised by Oracle, IBM, or Elon Musk’s companies, but I am surprised by Amazon.
Update: Tesla and SpaceX have joined the brief, along with Adobe. Good for them.
Update: Looks like Amazon is officially opposed, but didn’t join this brief for legal reasons:
Amazon was one major company that didn’t join with the brief,
which supported a case brought by Minnesota and the state of
Washington opposing the ban on refugees and temporary ban on
immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries.
That’s because Seattle-based Amazon had already filed a
declaration in the same case explaining how the ban negatively
affects the e-commerce giant. Washington’s attorney general
advised Amazon not to join the amicus brief since it’s a
witness in the original lawsuit, according to a source familiar
with the matter.
It turns out that Microsoft, also absent from the amicus brief,
filed a declaration in the original case brought by Washington,
Lina M. Khan in Yale Law Journal: ‘Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox’ ★
An almost book-length (seriously, over 25,000 words) analysis of Amazon’s end-run around antitrust regulation. It’s quite readable though. My summary would be that U.S. antitrust enforcement in recent decades is focused almost exclusively on consumer prices. If a monopoly isn’t price gouging customers, it’s not a problem. Khan makes a strong case that that mindset might make sense in the brick and mortar world, but it doesn’t make sense if the world of competitive online platforms.
And yes, the e-book price-fixing case against Apple is a perfect example. Khan writes:
In 2012, the DOJ sued the publishers and Apple for colluding to
raise e-book prices. In response to claims that the DOJ was going
after the wrong actor — given that it was Amazon’s predatory
tactics that drove the publishers and Apple to join forces — the
DOJ investigated Amazon’s pricing strategies and found “persuasive
evidence lacking” to show that the company had engaged in
predatory practices. According to the government, “from the time
of its launch, Amazon’s e-book distribution business has been
consistently profitable, even when substantially discounting some
newly released and bestselling titles.”
Judge Cote, who presided over the district court trial, refrained
from affirming the government’s conclusion. Still, the
government’s argument illustrates the dominant framework that
courts and enforcers use to analyze predation — and how it falls
short. Specifically, the government erred by analyzing the
profitability of Amazon’s e-book business in the aggregate and by
characterizing the conduct as “loss leading” rather than
potentially predatory pricing. These missteps suggest a failure to
appreciate two critical aspects of Amazon’s practices: (1) how
steep discounting by a firm on a platform-based product creates a
higher risk that the firm will generate monopoly power than
discounting on non-platform goods and (2) the multiple ways Amazon
could recoup losses in ways other than raising the price of the
same e-books that it discounted.
On the first point, the government argued that Amazon was not
engaging in predation because in the aggregate,Amazon’s e-books
business was profitable. This perspective overlooks how heavy
losses on particular lines of e-books (bestsellers, for example,
or new releases) may have thwarted competition, even if the
e-books business as a whole was profitable.
(Via Philip Elmer-DeWitt, who has his own summary of Khan’s thesis.)
The Atlanta Falcons Had a 99.7 Percent Chance to Win Super Bowl 51 at One Point ★
I’ve been watching pro football for as long as I can remember, and I’ve never seen anything like that comeback.
Uber Hires Veteran NASA Engineer to Develop Flying Vehicles ★
Brad Stone, reporting for Bloomberg:
In 2010, an advanced aircraft engineer at NASA’s Langley Research
Center named Mark Moore published a white paper outlining the
feasibility of electric aircrafts that could take off and land
like helicopters but were smaller and quieter. The vehicles would
be capable of providing a speedy alternative to the dreary morning
Moore’s research (PDF) into so-called VTOL — short for vertical
takeoff and landing, or more colloquially, flying cars — inspired
at least one billionaire technologist. After reading the white
paper, Google co-founder Larry Page secretly started and financed
two Silicon Valley startups, Zee Aero and Kitty Hawk, to develop
the technology, Bloomberg Businessweek reported last summer.
Now Moore is leaving the confines of the U.S. National Aeronautics
and Space Administration, where he has spent the last 30 years, to
join one of Google’s rivals: Uber Technologies Inc.
I don’t think it’s right to call these things “flying cars”, but man, whatever we wind up calling them, what an audacious plan.