Strong opinions, weakly held

Month: July 2009 (page 2 of 4)

Volkswagen takes over Porsche

Last year I was fascinated by a financial story that involved Porsche secretly buying Volkswagen stock for three years, disclosing that it owned 75% of the company, and reaping as much as 40 billion euros from distressed short sellers.

Now Volkswagen is taking over Porsche. Porsche’s CFO, Holger Härter, who engineered the short squeeze, is out of a job, as is Porsche’s CEO, as is Porsche’s CEO Wendelin Wiedeking.

Porsche still owns more than 50% of Volkswagen, but apparently it cannot continue to operate under its current debt load, creating an opening for VW:

Though its operative business responded flexibly to the sharp drop-off in auto sales, a €9 billion debt load proved unbearable. Ferdinand Piëch, a member of the Porsche founding family, a board member and chairman of Volkswagen, pounced on the opportunity.

Mr. Piëch ratcheted up a public and private campaign to reverse the terms of Porsche’s audacious bid, suggesting that Volkswagen, sitting on an enormous cash pile of its own, could buy Porsche. But he insisted that Mr. Wiedeking would have to go and that Porsche would have to bring in some cash on its own.

A shopping cart for reuse rights

PoliticalCartoons.com sells reprint rights to the cartoons they publish on the page where the cartoons themselves are published.


I wonder to what extent this prevents people from appropriating the cartoons without paying for them. This arrangement makes it perfectly clear that you are not entitled to use the cartoons without paying for the legal right to do so, and makes it convenient to pay for them right there. The prices seem reasonable.

I’d love to know whether this approach is working.

We can all use an editor

Vanity Fair’s editors have posted a heplful helpful edit of Sarah Palin’s resignation speech. It’s amazing how many errors of usage and style are easily made in casual writing. I’m glad they’re editing her speech rather than my blog posts.

Oh, also, the edited document really highlights what an idiot Sarah Palin is.

Update: Typo fixed.

Why I don’t read Arnold Kling

I see lots of links to Arnold Kling’s blog. He’s a libertarian-leaning economist, and I’m sure he has lots of important things to say. But this paragraph in an otherwise interesting post on health care in Massachusetts illustrates why I don’t regularly read his blog:

Of course, no one on the Left believes that. The core belief there is that experts know best, and that experts are only thwarted by evil corporations and stupid conservatives. The notion that no expert knows very much, and that the evolution of market processes produces better outcomes, is too threatening to contemplate.

Perhaps the ease with which he dismisses me makes it easier for me to dismiss him.

Why I don’t own a Kindle

The Kindle seems neat and all, but I’m not going to pay for books that I don’t actually own.

More on disparate impact

Today I was thinking of disparate impact not in terms of employment law, but rather as something we’d be wise to look out for and avoid in a more general sense. In terms of employment law, disparate impact is any hiring condition that has the effect of discriminating against a protected minority without serving any essential business need, even if that discrimination is not intentional. (Disparate treatment describes intentional discrimination.)

Legal definitions aside, I’m fascinated with the idea of disparate impact. It has me wondering about it in a larger sense. For example, let’s say I manage a development team and we make most of our decisions during meetings where everyone argues their side and the person who makes the most compelling argument usually wins. Such a system privileges people who argue well in a group setting over people who may be more quiet. If decisions were discussed in email rather than in meetings, perhaps the best writer in the group would see things go their way more often.

In the future, I’m going to look out more for these types of disparate impact in organizations. What skills and personality types get an advantage even if they don’t provide any additional value to the business? Nobody is going to be busted by the EEOC for letting these kinds of situations arise, but they can make your company a bad place to work, and lower the quality of your decisions.

Hate Driven Development

I’ve used the term a few times, and now it’s time to officially coin it: Hate Driven Development. It’s when you come to hate working on something so much that it inspires a surge of productivity that leads to completion. Most projects that involve this methodology include a procrastination phase.

What if there’s nothing to recover to

Robert Reich belatedly answers the question I asked in January — can the economy ever really be what it was? He says no:

My prediction, then? Not a V, not a U. But an X. This economy can’t get back on track because the track we were on for years — featuring flat or declining median wages, mounting consumer debt, and widening insecurity, not to mention increasing carbon in the atmosphere — simply cannot be sustained.

The X marks a brand new track — a new economy. What will it look like? Nobody knows. All we know is the current economy can’t “recover” because it can’t go back to where it was before the crash. So instead of asking when the recovery will start, we should be asking when and how the new economy will begin. More on this to come.

HTML 5/XHTML 2 link roundup

This is a special link roundup related to the W3C killing off XHTML 2 and putting all its eggs in the HTML 5 basket. I’ve posted about this myself here.

Links from July 9th

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