Friday, March 29, 2024

Deferred Thursday Tweets -- Lava herders, Lawrence Welk, and why Sydney Sweeney should write for the Upshot

Starting off with a follow-up to Joseph's earlier post. Very much worth a listen.

PayPal Mafia and PayPal Mafia adjacent

As mentioned before, Peter Thiel's reputation as the smartest guy in the room relies heavily on the time he was alone with Elon Musk and David Sacks.

Musk... RFK jr... I'm starting to question this woman's judgement.

I never get tired of this joke.


And on the subject of clueless billionaires in general.

In the worse than Eisner dept.

From Reuters:
'Why do I need an all-Black cast?' ... "Black Panther" is the sixth highest-grossing domestic release of all time, according to the site Box Office Mojo, and was the first Marvel film to be nominated for Best Picture.

This reminds me of an anecdote from Harlan Ellison's Watching.

Dems in disarray

RNC Research continues to be tee-ball for Democratic bloggers.

It is almost impossible to overstate how much 2024 congressional Republicans hate each other.

Such as the hard work of being born the grandson of the Idaho Sheep King


Remember when House Republicans occasionally didn't say the quiet part out loud?


Great clip.

Wait a minute. That's not the narrative.


The NYT is still doing its best to prove its tough-on-Biden bona fides.

At least we can still put our faith in Harvard.



There are, however, morons.

I assumed this was a hoax account or a joke tweet, but no.

Anecdotes like these may be coals to Newcastle at this point, but they still have a certain entertainment value.

My initial was "Never send a computer scientist to do a statistician's job." but even the other AI big guns are piling on.

And misc.

Makes me want to cut Madame Web just a little bit of slack.

Even in that orchestra, you know the drummer was cracking up.

No, really...

Click on the picture for the full effect.

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Ten years ago at the blog -- reposted partially because the SAT is back in the news but mainly because this is one of my all time favorite titles



Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Being a management consultant who does not suffer fools is like being an EMT who faints at the sight of blood

An April 1st post on foolishness.
When [David] Coleman attended Stuyvesant High in Manhattan, he was a member of the championship debate team, and the urge to overpower with evidence — and his unwillingness to suffer fools — is right there on the surface when you talk with him.

Todd Balf writing in the New York Times Magazine

Andrew Gelman has already commented on the way Balf builds his narrative around Coleman ( "In Balf’s article, College Board president David Coleman is the hero and so everything about him has to be good and everything he’s changed has to have been bad.") and the not suffering fools quote certainly illustrates Gelman's point, but it also illustrates a more important concern: the disconnect between the culture of the education reform movement and the way it's perceived in most of the media.

(Though not directly relevant to the main point of this post, it is worth noting that the implied example that follows the line about not suffering fools is a description of Coleman rudely dismissing those who disagree with his rather controversial belief that improvement in writing skills acquired through composing essays doesn't transfer to improvements in writing in a professional context.)

There are other powerful players (particularly when it comes to funding), but when it comes to its intellectual framework, the education reform movement is very much a product of the world of management consultants with its reliance on Taylorism, MBA thinking and CEO worship. This is never more true than with David Coleman. Coleman is arguably the most powerful figure in American education despite having no significant background in either teaching or statistics. His only relevant experience is as a consultant for McKinsey & Company.

Companies like McKinsey spend a great deal off their time trying to convince C-level executive to gamble on trendy and expensive "business solutions" that are usually unsupported by solid evidence and are often the butt of running jokes in recent Dilbert cartoons.  While it may be going too far to call fools the target market of these pitches, they certainly constitute an incredibly valuable segment.

Fools tend to be easily impressed by invocations of data (even in the form of meaningless phrases like 'data-driven'), they are less likely to ask hard questions (nothing takes the air out of a proposal faster than having to explain the subtle difference between your current proposal and the advice you gave SwissAir or AOL Time Warner), and fools are always open to the idea of a simple solution to all their problems which everyone else in the industry had somehow missed. Not suffering fools gladly would have made for a very short career for Coleman at McKinsey.


Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Sure Reuters, MSNBC, CNN, Stephen Colbert, and many others are beating the NYT to the biggest political payoff of the 21st century, but I'm sure the gray lady will convince people it broke the story


(Anyone else remember Pam Bondi?)

In case you haven't heard, Donald Trump's net worth just got much bigger.

Nothing quid pro quo-y going on here.

Here's a good overview of the backstory.

Reuters had a good write-up right out of the gate.

Yass, 65, was thrust into the spotlight this month after Trump, the Republican presidential candidate, reversed course on his preference for banning TikTok, saying that a ban would hurt some children and only strengthen Meta Platforms'

Trump made the comments days after he met Yass at a gathering of the conservative Club for Growth donor group in Florida.

The U-turn on TikTok amid a major cash crunch led to speculation that Trump may be trying to court Yass.

Trump says the pair only met for "a few minutes," and did not discuss TikTok but instead talked about education.

If you can't trust Donald Trump...

CNN also had a good analysis.

In the case of Trump, the stock could be inflated by his supporters, although the inverse could also true. If Trump unloaded his stock, it could plunge in value because his brand would no longer be associated with it.

The top institutional investor in the company is Susquehanna International Group. Its founder, Jeff Yass, is a major donor to Republican causes and also a major investor in ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok.

Yass and Trump actually met recently, just before Trump reversed his previous position in favor of requiring ByteDance to spin off TikTok. Trump said the subject of TikTok did not come up in his conversation with Yass. Susquehanna International Group did not return a request for comment about the company’s stake in Trump Media & Technology Group.

Jordan Libowitz is the communications director for the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, and in a phone conversation, he wondered what might happen if foreign wealth funds that have interests in the US, like those associated with Saudi Arabia or Qatar, started buying large amounts of DJT stock.

Since so much of Trump’s wealth is now tied up in the company, those countries could theoretically have a direct impact on his bottom line.

“The value isn’t really in the company,” Libowitz argued, pointing to the company’s lackluster revenue. “It’s in the Trump name.”

 If you like your news concise and snarky...

 [queued up to the relevant section.]


What about our paper of record? Since the news of Trump's windfall broke, The NYT has run three stories mentioning Yass, only one of which (three days after Reuters and on page B4) focused on the main issue of quid pro quo...

 ... and then buries the lede eleven paragraphs in.

Mr. Trump had supported banning TikTok in the United States, but he recently reversed his stance. A few weeks ago, he acknowledged having a brief meeting with Mr. Yass — identified in a 2022 Wall Street Journal column as a “never Trumper” — but said the two men never discussed TikTok.

A person close to Mr. Trump’s campaign said that Mr. Yass was expected to give a large donation to a group supporting the former president’s political campaign. Mr. Yass said through a spokesman that he had never given to Mr. Trump and had no plans to do so.

If this story has the legs it deserves, the NYT will play catch-up with a big story and far too many people will be fooled into forgetting that others were there first when it mattered, but some of us will remember that, as with Bondi, the New York Times hesitated when it counted. 

 P.S. On the subject of the NYT jumping on the bandwagon. 5:00 today.