This week’s highlights:  Robocalls, Smart Phones, and Birkin Bags

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Issue 327

Happy Friday,

David


Food for Thought:

Top Read(s) of the Week:  WashPo – Die, robocalls, die: A how-to guide to stop spammers and exact revenge

Why It Matters:  I haven’t had a chance to try these recommendations out yet, but I think we can all agree that something has to be done.

Consider as well:

  1. ProPublica – The IRS Tried to Take on the Ultrawealthy. It Didn’t Go Well.  Ten years ago, the tax agency formed a special team to unravel the complex tax-lowering strategies of the nation’s wealthiest people. But with big money — and Congress — arrayed against the team, it never had a chance.
  2. Vogue – Has Everlane Ushered in a Brave New World of Retail?
  3. NYT – High School Doesn’t Have to Be Boring  Debate, drama and other extracurriculars provide the excitement many classrooms lack. And they can help overhaul the system.
  4. NYT – The N.F.L.’s Great Cherry Tree Caper  In the spirit of “calling the balls and strikes” about Nashville, this piece highlights the strain of our city’s fast growth.  “The league didn’t actually try to steal Nashville’s gorgeous cherry trees, but it sure felt that way.”

Business/Economics:

Top Read of the Week:  DTD – This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things  

Why It Matters:  “Put simply, only one handset maker sells its phones for a profit – Apple (of course). The last time we ran the numbers, Apple captured more than 100% of the smartphone industry’s profits, meaning in aggregate everyone else is losing money.”

Consider as well:

  1. LATimes – The crowd-sourced, social media swarm that is betting Tesla will crash and burn.  It’s a sunny day in March and “Machine Planet” is flying a single-engine Cessna over Northern California. He’s cruising at 1,500 feet toward a massive lot leased by electric-car maker Tesla. His mission: to burst the Tesla bubble. And make some money doing it.
  2. NYT – Boeing’s 737 Max: 1960s Design, 1990s Computing Power and Paper Manuals
  3. Forbes – The Outlandish Story Of Ollie’s: A $5 Billion Retail Empire That Sells Nothing Online (But Is Beating Amazon)
  4. QZ – How to redesign GDP for the 21st century

Culture/Tech/Science:

Top Read of the Week:  NYT – Can the Birkin Bag Survive the Resale Market?  

Why It Matters:  There are few consumer goods where demand increases the more prices are raised – the Hermes Birkin being the most recent exemplar of the phenomena.  Much of this demand was due to constraints on supply – a moot point now thanks to resale sites such as The Real Real.  Highly Recommend Michael Tonello’s 2008 “Bringing Home the Birkin” – which exposed how much of the Birkin’s mystique was due to an artificially constrained supply at retail.

Consider as well:

  1. NYP – Scientists finally reveal first image of a black hole
  2. Vox – When did America’s heart turn cold on buffet chains?
  3. NYT – A-Rod on doping, getting therapy and no longer being the villain.
  4. LATimes – The bizarre story of the L.A. dad who exposed the college admissions scandal