03/25/19

Exclusive Robert Swan Mueller III Interview

Today, we have the great honor and high privilege of talking to Former FBI Director Robert Swan Mueller III after the delivery of his report to the Attorney General.

We caught up with Director Mueller at brunch after he went to church across Lafayette Park from the White House. Here he is trying to remember where he parked his car.

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03/24/19

Modern Monetary Theory v Magic Money Tree

So, your Big Red Car is taking a break from the NCAA Championship and was reading an excellent article on MMT (Modern Monetary Theory) on Bloomberg Businessweek.

MMT is, of course, the economic theory upon which folks like Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez base the idea that the government can afford all the things in her Green New Deal.

Image result for north carolina basketball team images

Can you guess for whom I am rooting?

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03/22/19

Billionaires in Space

So while we were all mesmerized by the announcement by Robert Francis O’Roadtrip that he was having his teeth cleaned and running for President, another story was bubbling to the surface — three billionaires are trying to win your long distance travel business. Billionaires in space!

How would you like to be able to get from New York to Shanghai in THIRTY-NINE minutes?

SpaceX's Starship rocket has been tapped to take man to the moon and Mars but it may also be used for travel to destinations on Earth. Long-haul flights between countries may be wiped out  by rocket travel that shoot a spacecraft into outer-space and back down to Earth again

Yes, you’d like that wouldn’t you. All aboard.

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03/21/19

The Long Teeth of VC Backed Firms

Today, dear readers, we speak of Rent The Runway as an exemplar for changing conditions in the world of financing and venture capital. Today RTR announced they had closed a $125,000,000 VC round led by Franklin Templeton Investments and Bain Capital Ventures.

This brings the total of VC funding (they also have $200,000,000 in debt) to $337,000,000 based on a valuation of $1,000,000,000.

Wow! RTR has come a long way since its 2009 funding by Bain of $1,800,000.

RTR has been working for ten years to become an overnight success. Some whisper RTR is being groomed for an Initial Public Offering, something they spoke of in the past, but not recently.

rent the runway

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03/20/19

The Unions Come For Tech

Bit of a gray day out here in the ATX which is a great day to be viewing the bluebonnets. Bluebonnets do not belong to a union. If they did, they would require more rain, no?

Today, however, we speak of the unionization of tech companies. A pal of mine (tip of the hat to LE of the City of Brotherly Love) sent me an article announcing that the staff of Kickstarter is going to become members of the Office and Professional Employees International Union Local 153.

In announcing this bold step, the union had this to say:

Kickstarter United is proud to start the process of unionizing to safeguard and enrich Kickstarter’s charter commitments to creativity, equity, and a positive impact on society. We trust in the democratic process and are confident that the leadership of Kickstarter stands with us in that effort. Kickstarter has always been a trailblazer, and this is a pivotal moment for tech. We want to set the standard for the entire industry. Now is the time. Come together. Unionize.

Kickstarter is the first notable tech company to embrace the idea of a union, but in the last few years employees have begun to speak with a louder voice at some of the other companies on issues such as sexual harassment [talking to you, Uber] and selling technology to the Pentagon [talking to you, Amazon, Sales Force].

These louder voices are what has attracted OPEIU to come calling.

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03/19/19

United States – Taliban Negotiations

The United States has been engaged in a war in Afghanistan since 7 October 2001 on the heels of 9-11, the attack on the World Trade Towers in Manhattan.

The US justified its invasion because the Twin Towers raiders, under the direction of Osama bin Laden, had trained their terrorists in Afghanistan. In addition, the Taliban refused to extradite OBL to the United States when we charged him with masterminding the 9-11 attacks. He was then living in Afghanistan.

We have been continuously at war during Operation Enduring Freedom – Afghanistan (2001-2014) and Operation Freedom’s Sentinel (2015-present). This has spanned the presidencies of George W Bush, Barack H Obama, and Donald J Trump.

George W Bush started it. Barack H Obama sustained it — sometime, reluctantly. Donald J Trump is trying to end it even if it means taking a huge blow to American prestige.

Initially a US operation  (joined by the United Kindgom), the war became a NATO operation in 2003. Almost immediately, the US defeated the Taliban and their Al-Qaeda hosts using a coalition of Afghan warlords that became known as the Northern Alliance. The US provided leadership, Special Forces, and firepower in the form of artillery and air support.

In 2004, the Afghan people held an election which resulted in Hamid Karzai being anointed as President. Afghanistan was and is a narco-corrupt country.

The Taliban and other affiliated groups, operating from rebel strongholds and Pakistan, engaged in fierce guerrilla warfare that motivated the NATO allies to send as many as 140,000 troops (100,000 American included). This insurgency continued unabated with a crescendo in 2009. In 2009, clearly the Allies were winning, but hadn’t yet delivered a knock out punch. Pakistan was sheltering the Taliban during the winters, something that should never have been tolerated.

Then, the United States (President Obama) announced that its military commitment would end in December 2014 though it would maintain some military presence thereafter. [I consider this announcement to have been one of the worst public utterances by any warring nation in the history of warfare. The US, in effect, told the Taliban, “Uhhh, we are going home in December 2014,” to which the Taliban said to themselves, “What say you we spend the time between now and December 2014 in the south of France working on our tans?”]

In 2009, during the Obama administration, the US sent out the first peace feelers indicating the US would consider a negotiated settlement. Here is a pic of a loya jirga, the local deliberative body of tribal Afghanistan.

Image result for images loya jirga

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03/17/19

Diversity

Today we talk diversity in a big sun ATX day — 65F with just a few clouds.

So, the issue of diversity keeps being bandied about. I was speaking to a person with whom I had worked as a CEO for about a dozen years.

We were trying to assess whether that company was “diverse.”

He said, “I don’t think what we did was impacted by some specific goal of creating diversity as that word is used today.”

I agreed with him, but I noted that we were extraordinarily diverse by the standards of today. Who knew? I was “woke” before woke was woke.

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03/16/19

Tarheels v Blue Devils

If you are a basketball fan, last night you were treated to a spectacular basketball game when the North Carolina Tarheels played the Duke Blue Devils. Duke took it 74-73 and the game was every bit that close as the Heels missed several opportunities to take the game.

This is the best rivalry in college basketball. It is a guaranteed dramatic struggle. There is no rivalry that has been as consistently excellent as these two teams.

Last night, the rivalry was made even better.

This year, the Tarheels beat the Blue Devils twice but those wins have to be asterisked because Zion Williamson did not play in those two games. [OK, injuries and staying healthy ARE part of the game and you have to play with the team who shows up and laces up. Fair point.]

This game Zion Williams came with a full strength performance of 31 points and one of the fiercest dunks ever recorded in the history of collegiate basketball.

This is guy is amazing.

Image result for images zion williamson

Duke starts a lot of freshmen. Coach K has come to grips with building teams around “one-and-done” players who will not stay long enough to graduate.

These Duke athletes are some of the best to ever play the game. Ever.

Roy Williams builds his teams around players who may never play in the NBA or who will not be leaving early.

This is a difference in style and strategy that translates into two competitive programs and teams, but with a different view of things. There is more than one way to skin a cat.

Your Big Red Car thinks the Heels lost the game because the Heels Coach Roy Williams failed to call a time out and organize things when the Heels had the ball at the end of the game and were behind by a single point.

When the Heels did try to win it, they took a poorly selected three point attempt. Still, it had a chance to go in and we would be singing a different song if it had. It certainly could have.

The Heels, usually a good shooting team, went 4/27 on three point shots.

In spite of this, both teams could have won this game. When you win by a single point, every shot and every free throw was a game winner. But, if you shoot 15% from beyond the arc, you are likely to lose.

Now, let’s get onto the National Championship.

But, hey, what the Hell do I really know anyway? Hook ‘Em Heels!

 

 

 

03/16/19

Copycats — The Kiss

Ahhh, a wonderful, crisp Texas day for a pre-Saint Patricks Day celebration in the ATX. Happy Saint Patricks Day!

So, I am chatting with a high tech personage and they decry the tsunami of copycat apps and startups. Not something I have noticed myself, but he made a strong and logical case for it. He convinced me.

He went on to say that it was a fairly recent occurrence which made me ponder that notion.

After a bit of pondering, I came to the conclusion it has been around forever. I cite as my example the history of sculpture.

“What, Big Red Car, sculpture? WTF do you know about sculpture?”

Yes, I can understand your natural skepticism as I am not really much of a sculptor myself, but I have a set of eyes, don’t I?

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