The Age of Supply, not Demand

Our-Base-is-Under-AtackI’ve been away for a few days not by choice but because this blog has been under continual attack so I couldn’t log-in. I must have offended someone. Anyway, I appear finally to be back.

I had lunch last week with my old friend Aurel Kleinerman, an MD who also runs a Silicon Valley software company called MITEM, which specializes in combining data from disparate systems and networks onto a single desktop. Had the Obama Administration known about MITEM, linking all those Obamacare health insurance exchanges would have been trivial. Given MITEM’s 500+ corporate and government customers, you’d think the company would have come to the attention of the White House, but […]

The Fed suckered IBM into a failing cloud strategy?

Ginni_RomettyEconomist David Stockman, who is probably best known for being President Reagan’s budget director back in the era of voodoo economics, has been particularly outspoken about IBM as a poster child for bad policy on the part of the U.S. Federal Reserve. How this would be isn’t immediately obvious but I think is worth exploring because IBM is far from the only company so afflicted. There’s an important effect here to be understood about corporate motivations and their consequences.

So I’ll begin with a story. Almost 40 years ago there was a study I worked on at Stanford’s Institute for Communication Research having to do with helping farmers in Kentucky be […]

Bitcoin quietly goes legit

bitcoin-logo-3dThe U.S. Marshals Service doesn’t normally make economic policy but this week they apparently did so by auctioning 30,000 Bitcoins, a crypto currency I have written about before. This auction effectively legitimizes Bitcoins as part of the world economy. Am I the only one to notice this?

My first column on this subject was a cautionary tale pointing out the two great areas of vulnerability for Bitcoin: 1) the US Government might declare Bitcoins illegal, and; 2) someone might gain control of a majority of Bitcoins in which case their value could be manipulated. While number two is still theoretically possible it becomes less likely every day. And number […]

When are economic sanctions not sanctions at all?

RussianTrampolineI came across this news story today in which a Russian space official suggests the US consider using trampolines to get astronauts and supplies to the International Space Station. It’s all about economic sanctions applied to Russia over its annexation of Crimea and other meddling in Ukraine. The Russian space agency, you see, has been hard hit by the cancellation of at least five launches. Except according to my friends in the space biz Russia hasn’t been hurt at all.

Space customers pay in advance, way in advance. All five cancelled NASA launches were paid for long ago and the same for a number of now-delayed private launches. They may go ahead or not, […]

How Big Data is destroying the U.S. healthcare system

denied-stampOne thing I find ironic in the current controversy over problems with the healthcare.gov insurance sign-up web site is that the people complaining don’t really mean what they are saying. Not only do they have have little to no context for their arguments, they don’t even want the improvements they are demanding. This is not to say nothing is wrong with the site, but few big web projects have perfectly smooth launches. From all the bitching and moaning in the press you’d think this experience is a rarity. But as those who regularly read this column know, more than half of big IT projects don’t work at all. So I’m not surprised that […]