• Can Hospital Chains Improve the Medical Industry?
    A long but interesting article about how the medical industry can benefit from adopting practices form the food industries. It’s also interesting because they talk a lot about how the Cheesecake Factory works!

    I brought up the hibachi-steak recipe on the screen. There were instructions to season the steak, sauté the onions, grill some mushrooms, slice the meat, place it on the bed of onions, pile the mushrooms on top, garnish with parsley and sesame seeds, heap a stack of asparagus tempura next to it, shape a tower of mashed potatoes alongside, drop a pat of wasabi butter on top, and serve.

    Two things struck me. First, the instructions were precise about the ingredients and the objectives (the steak slices were to be a quarter of an inch thick, the presentation just so), but not about how to get there. The cook has to decide how much to salt and baste, how to sequence the onions and mushrooms and meat so they’re done at the same time, how to swivel from grill to countertop and back, sprinkling a pinch of salt here, flipping a burger there, sending word to the fry cook for the asparagus tempura, all the while keeping an eye on the steak. In producing complicated food, there might be recipes, but there was also a substantial amount of what’s called “tacit knowledge”—knowledge that has not been reduced to instructions.

  • Everywhere At Once: Chef Geoff Tracy’s Data-Driven Empire
    The last article was about how the medical industry can learn from the food industry, and this article is the reverse. How the food industry can improve by using a scientific approach.

    Did Elizabeth bring your Pinot Gris within three minutes of the time you ordered it? Were your appetizers delivered within seven minutes, entrées within ten, desserts within seven? Were these plates described at the table before they were set in front of you? Were napkins refolded when you went to the restroom? Was non-bottled water referred to as “ice water” (correct) or “water” (incorrect)?

    That couple sitting across from you picking at a plate of hummus might be catching a light bite before a movie, or they might be working secretly for Tracy. Once a month, he brings in anonymous reviewers from an agency in New York to undertake a comprehensive evaluation of each of his restaurants. One recent assessment noted ten small errors: A dessert recommendation was offered only when the customer asked, and the plate took ten minutes to arrive instead of seven; the sink in the women’s room needed cleaning; bottled water wasn’t offered. Still, the restaurant scored 93 out of 100 points.

  • Your Words Against Mine
    This is a Sports Illustrated article about…scrabble. Yes, just like chess, Scrabble is now a sport worthy of SI’s attention. Actually, this article was written in 1995, well before the Words with Friends craze and describes several of the eccentrics at the top of the Scrabble world.

    For at this level, Scrabble’s dirty little secret is that it is a word game in which words mean nothing. The dabbler comes to the board thinking definitions and word knowledge, and he gets swallowed up in showing that off; but the experts care for words only for their point value. The newest Scrabble dictionary expurgated some 100 offensive terms, but they’re all usable—no, welcomed—in tournaments. Black players don’t flinch when they see “nigger” or “darky”; women congratulate any smart play of sexual slang; and Joel Sherman, who is Jewish, didn’t blink when Gibson opened their second game with “yid,” because no one cares. “They’re nothing but scoring tools,” Sherman says. “One of my opponents used [a synonym for sexual intercourse] at the end of the game. He got 26 points. It was the right thing to do.” Understanding English isn’t even necessary; a group of top Thai players do quite well at major North American tournaments, and they barely speak the language.

  • Microsoft’s Lost Decade
    This is an unfair and one-sided article against Microsoft that cherry picks examples how it wasn’t as successful as it could be under Ballmer’s leadership. It almost smells vindicitive.
  • Teen Titan
    A New Yorker article on the man behind Justin Bieber, The Wanted, and Carly Rae Jepsen.

    Braun uses Bieber’s fame as a P.R. platform for his other clients as well. He makes it worth Bieber’s while: when Braun signed Carly Rae Jepsen, he gave Bieber a fifty-per-cent cut. Braun told him, “We’ll be partners. But you’re going to do your part, being a loudspeaker: put her on your tour, sing a song with her.” And Bieber obeyed. The homemade video of him horsing around to Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” got forty-eight million views and made the song catch fire. Last month, he tweeted to introduce the world to Braun’s newest client, Madison Beer, a thirteen-year-old singer who resembles a baby Megan Fox. Within minutes, her name was trending worldwide.