May 2016 Articles

Jimmy Kimmel just did a 7 minute segment on his program Sunday night about climate change. The headline: “Climate scientists ask Jimmy Kimmel: ‘Why would we f*ck with you?’” Watch it.

My alma mater, UC San Diego, studies climate change. Charles Keeling, of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography began taking readings of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii starting in 1958. His research and findings are credited with bringing the worlds attention to the issue of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Read more about the Keeling curve.

NASA, our national space science body, has a website devoted to Global Climate Change. They cover the evidence, causes, effects, and solutions to climate change.

A friend of mine from college works for a trust in Zambia. They are a “majority African-owned social enterprise that develops and manages long-term forest carbon projects in globally significant biodiversity landscapes in Africa”. In other words, they are fighting to combat climate change through reduced emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD+).

Our leading presidential candidate in the Republican Party believes climate change is a hoax.

Our leading presidential candidate in the Democratic Party put a webpage together about her commitment to fighting climate change.

Shankar Vedantam of NPR’s Hidden Brain podcast just did an episode on climate change titled Losing Alaska. “Human beings would be better at fighting climate change if we weren’t so, well, human. In this episode, we explore the psychological barriers to addressing climate change.”

Please join me in recognizing that climate change is real and a preponderance of the evidence points to human causes. And if you’re like me, maybe it’s time to quit your day job an figure out how we’re going to leave this planet in a better situation than we find it today.

One fascinating aspect of Snapchat, it’s designed for privacy. They don’t track or target users like Facebook or Google. The app is designed to be private. And their CEO is an interesting guy.

All of this stems from Snapchat’s product, which works differently from everything that came before it. Private messages self-destruct after they’re read. Users film and watch videos vertically, not horizontally, because it’s the same way they actually hold their phones. Publishers and brands are lined up around the block to give Snapchat their content, which won’t even drive traffic back to their own website – there’s no way for them to link back out of the app.

Unlike, say, Facebook, which knows as much about you as some of your closest friends, Snapchat doesn’t ask you to tell it everything about yourself, and it doesn’t follow you around the internet to collect your data. As a result, it’s not targeting you with the very personal ads that Facebook is known for and Spiegel thinks are “creepy.” (More on that soon.)

It’s like Shark Tank but with kids as a the judges.

In other words: If you can’t explain it to a kid, you probably aren’t ready to talk to investors. And just because the judges are small doesn’t mean they don’t take their jobs seriously — including what they’re going to wear.

Great concept for entrepreneurs who struggle to convey their ideas simply and who need some help seeing all the questions that they don’t have answers to yet.

People are focusing on the wrong thing when analyzing Apple’s path forward in the face of slowing iPhone sales. Instead of debating how much Apple will try to monetize the iPhone user base with services (not as much as consensus thinks), the company is instead planning its largest pivot yet. There are only a handful of logical explanations for Apple’s current R&D expense trajectory, and all of them result in a radically different Apple. In a few years, we are no longer going to refer to Apple as the iPhone company.

Co-living spaces, dorms if you will, for post-college folks looking for a communal living environment.

…All of this seemed very far away on a Sunday night this winter, in the basement of a renovated four-story brownstone in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn. The building, Kennedy’s new home, is run by the co-living startup Common, which offers what it calls “flexible, community-driven housing.” Co-living has also been billed as “dorms for grown-ups,” a description that Common resists. But the company has set out to restore a certain subset of young, urban professionals to the paradise they lost when they left college campuses–a furnished place to live, unlimited coffee and toilet paper, a sense of belonging.

Human rights advocates tend to focus on people in grim circumstances. “Like many feminists, I’m conflicted about sex work,” says Liesl Gerntholtz, executive director of the women’s rights division at Human Rights Watch, which took a stand in favor of decriminalization four years ago. “You’re often talking about women who have extremely limited choices. Would I like to live in a world where no one has to do sex work? Absolutely. But that’s not the case. So I want to live in a world where women do it largely voluntarily, in a way that is safe. If they’re raped by a police officer or a client, they can lay a charge and know it will be investigated. Their kid won’t be expelled from school, and their landlord won’t kick them out.”

Amnesty and Human Rights Watch, along with other groups that support decriminalization – U.N.AIDS, the World Health Organization, the Global Commission on H.I.V. and the Law and the Open Society Foundations – acknowledge that there can be grave harms associated with the sex industry, but say that they see changes in the law as a precondition to reducing them. Last year, an analysis in The Lancet predicted that “decriminalization of sex work could have the largest effect on the course of the H.I.V. epidemic,” by increasing access to condoms and medical treatment. Governments can free themselves to crack down on trafficking and under-age prostitution, human rights advocates argue, if they stop arresting consenting adults.

It’s a pragmatic argument. But the sex-workers’ movement also hinges on an ideological conviction – the belief that the criminal law should not be used here as an instrument of punishment or shame, because sex work isn’t inherently immoral or demeaning. It can even be authentically feminist. “Once you’ve done it, you always know: When it comes down to it, I have everything I need to survive,” says Anna Saini, a former sex worker who is now a sex-worker activist and law student living in Brooklyn. “That’s powerful.” This view poses a deep challenge to traditional Western feminism, which treats the commercial sex industry as an ugly source of sexual inequality.

The basic idea that software applications were consciously designed for repeat interaction and simplified choices. Such design means that you don’t have options outside the menu you’re given and don’t think to ask “what am I not seeing?”. It also means that designers are driven to encourage repeat interaction with their apps and design for addiction — similar to slot machine addiction where you just want to put another nickel or quarter into the machine to see what comes out.

It’s good perspective on how technology isn’t always here to help.

I’ve been interested in the Colorado River since I was very young taking canoe trips down the river. I later learned that the river doesn’t make it all the way to the ocean. “The river and its tributaries are controlled by an extensive system of dams, reservoirs, and aqueducts, which in most years divert its entire flow to furnish irrigation and municipal water supply for almost 40 million people both inside and outside the watershed…This intensive consumption has dried up the lower 100 miles (160 km) of the river, such that it has reached the sea only a few times since the 1960s.”

In an opinion piece for the New York Times, Abrahm Lustgarten makes the argument for opening the Glen Canyon dam.

The idea is this: Since two of the nation’s largest reservoirs – Lake Mead and Lake Powell, just 300 miles apart – depend on the same dwindling water source but are each less than half full, they should be combined into one. Lake Mead would be deeper, and its evaporative losses would increase. But the surface area of Lake Powell would be substantially reduced, and the evaporating water from there would be saved. Furthermore, sending the water out of Glen Canyon would move it from a valley that leaks like a sieve into one that is watertight. Evaporation losses at Mead – say plan proponents – would be more than offset by savings at Lake Powell.

It’s an interesting proposal to adapt our management of the river in the face of climate change.

I’ve been impressed by Jerry Brown’s leadership as Governor of California. He’s a democrat who has strong fiscal responsibility and helped turn this state’s budget situation from one of deficit spending to a surplus with gates in place to ensure we don’t return to a state deficit.

Today, Jerry Brown endorsed Hillary Clinton. His letter in full is reproduced below. Well written.

On Tuesday, June 7, I have decided to cast my vote for Hillary Clinton because I believe this is the only path forward to win the presidency and stop the dangerous candidacy of Donald Trump.

I have closely watched the primaries and am deeply impressed with how well Bernie Sanders has done. He has driven home the message that the top one percent has unfairly captured way too much of America’s wealth, leaving the majority of people far behind. In 1992, I attempted a similar campaign.

For her part, Hillary Clinton has convincingly made the case that she knows how to get things done and has the tenacity and skill to advance the Democratic agenda. Voters have responded by giving her approximately 3 million more votes — and hundreds more delegates — than Sanders. If Clinton were to win only 10 percent of the remaining delegates — wildly improbable — she would still exceed the number needed for the nomination. In other words, Clinton’s lead is insurmountable and Democrats have shown — by millions of votes — that they want her as their nominee.

But there is more at stake than mere numbers. The Republican nominee, Donald Trump, has called climate change a “hoax” and said he will tear up the Paris Climate Agreement. He has promised to deport millions of immigrants and ominously suggested that other countries may need the nuclear bomb. He has also pledged to pack the Supreme Court with only those who please the extreme right.

The stakes couldn’t be higher. Our country faces an existential threat from climate change and the spread of nuclear weapons. A new cold war is on the horizon. This is no time for Democrats to keep fighting each other. The general election has already begun. Hillary Clinton, with her long experience, especially as Secretary of State, has a firm grasp of the issues and will be prepared to lead our country on day one.

Next January, I want to be sure that it is Hillary Clinton who takes the oath of office, not Donald Trump.

With respect,

Jerry Brown

One perspective on today’s economy from Rana Foroohar:

America’s economic illness has a name: financialization. It’s an academic term for the trend by which Wall Street and its methods have come to reign supreme in America, permeating not just the financial industry but also much of American business. It includes everything from the growth in size and scope of finance and financial activity in the economy; to the rise of debt-fueled speculation over productive lending; to the ascendancy of shareholder value as the sole model for corporate governance; to the proliferation of risky, selfish thinking in both the private and public sectors; to the increasing political power of financiers and the CEOs they enrich; to the way in which a “markets know best” ideology remains the status quo. Financialization is a big, unfriendly word with broad, disconcerting implications.

An excellent piece by Ben Thompson about the role of culture in an organization and its relationship to leadership and success.

…The implications of this definition are profound: culture is not something that begets success, rather, it is a product of it. All companies start with the espoused beliefs and values of their founder(s), but until those beliefs and values are proven correct and successful they are open to debate and change. If, though, they lead to real sustained success, then those values and beliefs slip from the conscious to the unconscious, and it is this transformation that allows companies to maintain the “secret sauce” that drove their initial success even as they scale. The founder no longer needs to espouse his or her beliefs and values to the 10,000th employee; every single person already in the company will do just that, in every decision they make, big or small.

On my wish list: Organizational Culture and Leadership by Edgar H. Schein