I’ve been reading so much that I had to break my last queue update into two posts! Here’s the rest:
What would the End of Football Look Like?
An economist’s take on how society might reasonably change such that Football will fall from its dominant position as America’s favorite past time, much like boxing and horse racing has in the past. It’s very technical but understandable and believable.
Precollegiate football is already sustaining 90,000 or more concussions each year. If ex-players start winning judgments, insurance companies might cease to insure colleges and high schools against football-related lawsuits. Coaches, team physicians, and referees would become increasingly nervous about their financial exposure in our litigious society. If you are coaching a high school football team, or refereeing a game as a volunteer, it is sobering to think that you could be hit with a $2 million lawsuit at any point in time. A lot of people will see it as easier to just stay away. More and more modern parents will keep their kids out of playing football, and there tends to be a “contagion effect” with such decisions; once some parents have second thoughts, many others follow suit. We have seen such domino effects with the risks of smoking or driving without seatbelts, two unsafe practices that were common in the 1960s but are much rarer today.
The Super Power of Franz List
Franz List doesn’t get a lot of attention from casual music lovers, but his bicentennial is approaching and this article neatly explains why he is great.
On one occasion, Chopin was so outraged at the freedom of Liszt’s playing of one of his nocturnes in a salon that he stormed over to the piano and played it himself. The next day Chopin was asked to play it again, and he said he would do so if they put out the lights. When the lamps were lit again afterward, it was Liszt who had played exactly as Chopin had done the evening before.
Why the Clean Tech Boom Went Bust
Short summary: economic conditions warranted investment into clean tech, but then the economic conditions changed.
The Greatest Running Shoe Never Sold
I approached this article as an exposé about how a big company is keeping a little man down, but it turns out that anti-social habits and greed caused the expected outcome.
Three weeks later, Hann traveled to Portland, Ore., for a hastily scheduled meeting with Adidas. Executives there were encouraging, but they didn’t want a bidding war with Under Armour. That very afternoon, Under Armour sent an apologetic e-mail with the much-anticipated licensing agreement. (Hann doesn’t know whether this was somehow triggered by the Adidas trip.) It included a royalty rate of 1.5 percent for the first stage of sales, and 1 percent thereafter. Through his attorney, Hann countered with 5.75 percent and 4.25 percent. Hann’s lawyer says Under Armour took the soaring rates like a jab in the eye; Under Armour would not comment on the specifics of the negotiations.
Steve Ballmer Reboots
Bill Gates usually gets the spotlight, but Steve Ballmer has been leading Microsoft for quite a long time. It’s not very often that he gets a feature, but here is one.
If there’s anything unsettling about Ballmer, it’s his powers of fact retention. Maybe the third iced tea is kicking in, but at one point, Ballmer recites in descending order the exact market capitalization figures of all technology companies valued at more than $20 billion. Then he slices down to $10 billion. And then $5 billion. “Now, do you want to include Chinese companies?” he asks. He poses strategy questions about companies, hears your retort, then instantly counters with his own. About Microsoft, he’s quietly confident—as if he no longer has to convince you that Microsoft has a plan and is executing on it. While Ballmer has been CEO of Microsoft for 12 years, there’s a strong case to be made that his imprint on the company has only now become clearly visible.