Sunday, March 08, 2015

Friday, March 06, 2015

Nik's Laws: Don't Arm your Future Enemy

Hey world (and Barack and the useless heap of Congress) are you listening?

Friday, February 13, 2015

Corporate Newspeak 2015

Perspectives (n-pl; no singular) - Statements presented as true and insightful, sometimes conflicting, none of which the speaker will not defend if challenged.
Usage: "We'd like to get together with you to share perspectives on this topic."

Unpack (v) - Saying the same thing as someone else, but without codewords, jargon, insider statements, and/or inappropriate intermingling of concepts, all of which are designed to be either 1/brief by excluding certain details, 2/coded to exclude others from comprehending the statement, or 3/coded just to make the speaker feel smarter than others. In some cases, unpack is abused as a a way of pretending to clarify someone else's statement while subtly incorporating your own bias or position on a topic.
Usage: "Let me unpack Steve's email for you."

Also, a point of follow up. In a 2014 Corporate Newspeak post, I said "nimble" would infect the business world. If you doubt this has happened, Google it. Or just look at the NY Times.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

That moment when terrorism becomes guerrilla warfare

Are we all clear on what's happening here?

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Mary Hawking on Religion

Theology is a great topic for kids, because you don't need any facts at all.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Friday, September 19, 2014

Should NFL Players be Role Models?

The NFL's sponsors are rattling their sabers because of the flood of negative headlines and stupid apish behavior of the players.

Their response has demonstrated bunker mentality. They're working their backchannels with the sponsors, throwing money/perks at them, and hoping it goes away.

Meanwhile, the talking heads debate ad nauseum about whether athletes should be role models.

They're on to something. The NFL should launch a "Role Models" program.

Players who DON'T qualify (see criteria below*):

  • Cannot sign sponsorship deals
  • Cannot appear in NFL promotional media (ads, spots, visuals, interviews) or any off-field activities/media related to the NFL
  • Cannot play in the Pro Bowl or other off-season promotional events
  • Cannot be admitted to the Hall of Fame
Conversely, if they do qualify they get:
  • A significant annual bonus directly from the NFL, payable in installments over the subsequent 2 years unless they are removed from the program
* Eligibility criteria would be the following with a zero tolerance, one-strike-you're-out policy:

  • 2+ years with the league
  • No criminal activity for the past 5 years
  • No suspensions or fines from the team or NFL 
  • No violations of NFL or NCAA policies on drugs, conduct, etc.
They'd have to be careful about due process and presumed innocence, but they should not allow any wiggle room within their rules. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Hedge Fund ROI

Hedge funds are the equivalent of Fiji water. Overcharging for a product which could be gotten elsewhere much cheaper, but is supported by purported vague magical differentiation. People need to look at the ROI of the fees they charge when deciding who manages their money.

Monday, December 23, 2013

What Will Tomorrow Bring: Rough Waters

China liquidity crisis. I repeat, China liquidity crisis. Hold on to your hats, kids. I think we're in for a blow. 

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Five Rules to Guide Syria Policy

  1. Don't let Iran win the Syrian civil war
  2. Don't fall into the trap of being the World Police. Athens, Constantinople, Rome, and England already tried that
  3. No matter which Syrian faction you choose to ally with, 75% of the country will hate and resent and fight you. Don't pick sides
  4. Because of #2, the only acceptable justification for intervention is on humanitarian grounds
  5. Syrian peace is not a vital US interest. It IS a vital interest of Syria's neighbors: Lebanon, Jordan, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, UAE, and (gasp) Israel. They are getting flooded with refugees. They are at risk of receiving SCUDs. They are at risk of spill-over instability. They should lead any intervention. They should build humanitarian supply/evacuation lines. They should host any refugees (humanely). To the extent they don't want to participate, they should fund intervention. If they lack specific technical capabilities, they should request US assistance. The UN, thanks to Russia and China is useless. Don't waste your time with that
It may very well be that the best response is, until five-way peace agreements are signed, a total economic, commercial, and travel embargo of the country, supplemented by an oil-for-food style humanitarian plan, led and executed by Syria's neighbors.

Turkey, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia in particular are vying for recognition that they have "turned a corner" from their insular, murky, iron-fisted past into first-world regional powers. They should view the current situation as a grand opportunity to demonstrate they are world-class by acting world-class.

Rule #3 aside, and broader than the Syrian civil war, is the Kurd issue. Creating a Kurdish state or independent self-administered region would create stability and solve numerous simmering conflicts all at once. Kurdish regions of Turkey, Syria, and Iraq have proven largely stable, predictable, and trustworthy. They are able to generate relatively stable governance structures and effective economic activity even under very poor circumstances. Turkey, Iraq, and Syria need to mature their approach from current passive-aggressiveness to acknowledging that current borders simply don't reflect the cultural and national landscape. There is something for each of them to gain by ceding political control, economic control, and even territory in the interest of furthering regional peace and stability. While any mideastern solution seems to cause 20 new mideastern conflicts, this one might be a risk worth taking.