How smart phones are designed to keep your constant attention.

Nearly everything is designed to keep you checking and rechecking….


Where 5% of the world lives

The blue and the red regions both contain about 5% of the worlds population.

Map by Ibisdigitalmedia

The Real Cost of Flying

People think that the cost of plane tickets is high.  This video however breaks it down around the real math involved with moving 150+ people from point A to B and the more probable cost per person.

Photo by Trey Ratcliff of


Possibly The Best Economics Lesson Ever

Ray Dalio of Bridgewater Associates has produced a 30 minute video called “How The Economic Machine Works” that distills down to the very essence pretty much all you need to know about how the general economy works.  It’s useful to see particularly because it’s able to zoom in and out of where the economy is at pretty much any given point, which in turn is useful to try and understand (and anticipate) where we are (and will be) in our economic cycles in the future.

He does this by explaining how income, spending, and credit work together.  He presents three basic graphs and lays them on top of each other so you can see what’s happening in the long term view, the short term view, and how productivity grows over time.

I thought it was a 30 minutes well spent and you might like it too.

Without Them

I was listening to music on Spotify when an ad for Spotify itself came on.  The ad mentions how “piracy is so old-fashioned” and that “every track on Spotify makes money for the artist because after all, without them there would be no music for us to enjoy“.

It’s that last part – the “after all, without them there would be no music for us to enjoy” part that resonated with me most.  This simple radio advert is actually pretty profound and is a perfect note to end 2012 on – a year where “you didn’t build that” and “fair share” were tossed around as if the creators of businesses were somehow not quite fully entitled to the fruits of their ideas and labor.

Apparently Spotify believes (and I agree) that the right thing to do to honor the creators of the music is to make sure the creators are paid and not stolen from – because they are in fact the brains behind the music.

The ad’s “Without them” concept can be applied to any business, any product, and the job creators behind those businesses.  “Without them” there is nothing. “Without them” people have no products or services.  “Without them people” have no jobs or ability to sustain their families.

My point here is that millions of people enjoy music thanks to those that create music.  Likewise, millions of people enjoy employment and lifestyles thanks to people who create jobs.  Is there really any difference between a musical artist who creates a song for sale or a businessman who creates pizza? (or any product/service)?  Each has a skill. Each has a product.  Each put effort and training into making that product for sale and… “without them” there is nothing but unfinished ideas and raw materials.

In the classic book Atlas Shrugged, the industrialists, the men and women of thought, vanish from the face of the Earth, going on their own strike of sorts and leaving everything behind including the keys to the car for anyone to pick up where they left off and run things.  Nobody does.  Nobody can.  Nobody remaining behind has the know-how or fortitude to do what the industrialists (i.e. job creators) did.

There is a line in Atlas Shrugged that go like this:

“Whether it’s a symphony or a coal mine, all work is an act of creating and comes from the same source: from an inviolate capacity to see through one’s own eyes–which means: the capacity to perform a rational identification–which means: the capacity to see, to connect and to make what had not been seen, connected and made before.”

-Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged, Part 3, Ch. 2

Imagine this.  How would it be if in the name of social and economic musical justice Spotify took a percentage of all the money Bruce Springsteen makes when his songs are played on Spotify and just gave it to an artist whose music was not chosen by the consumers in the free market to be played.  We could say that he “didn’t really write that” without the world providing to him the influence to come up with such musical ideas.   Would Bruce be cool with that?  I doubt it.

Company Founders, men and women of vision and production, should be celebrated, encouraged, and thanked, not threatened or villainized.  Like the Spotify ad says – “after all, without them there would be no music to listen to.”  The same goes for job creators.

Chinese Retail

Retail in Asia is at a completely other level than here in the USA and in China it’s particularly intense. The interesting thing about China (and in this photo taken in Shanghai on West Nanjing Road) is that virtually all wealth is new money – and when I say “new” I mean in the past 15-20 years new.  There is really no such thing in China as “old money” because there just was not any wealth in the society outside of a handful of folks.  As such, the new money Chinese have tended to flaunt their wealth.

I was at a presentation in Hong Kong where the regional director of LVMH was giving an amazing presentation about this subject and he said the bulk of billionaires in China are in their forties and the overwhelming amount of millionaires in China are in their thirties.  The retail scene in China reflects this too.  When it’s nice in China, it’s really nice.  There is a downside to this as well, and the Chinese are somewhat developing a reputation for being perhaps a bit too brand conscience and there are some side effects with this (which perhaps I’ll get into on a future post), but for now, this photo paints a bit of the picture of the scene in retail – and this is but one corner on West Nanjing Road – you should see the rest of it.