06 January 2010

A few things to read

...from The Economist's World in 2010:
  • The census of marine life -- just in time to know how much we've destroyed.
  • Summer Arctic ice will be gone sometime between 2013 and 2050. 2050 is optimistic! Damn.
  • Improving Nitrogen Use Efficiency with genetic manipulation. Really cool.
  • Straight talk on MBAs:
    There has been a bear market in management bullshit since the credit crunch began, but so far this has been on the demand side—managers have been too intent on staying in work to talk much jargon. In 2010 the decline of the MBA will cut off the supply of bullshit at source. Pretentious ideas about business will be in retreat.


  1. The article on increasing nitrogen use efficiency is very encouraging. Heretofore, I had only thought of using GM to allow plants other than legumes to fix their own nitrogen. The symbiosis that makes this possible comes at substantial metabolic cost to the plant, which is probably why progress was stalled.
    I am still astounded by the number of people who are terrified of GM. Compared to the environmental consequences of mass starvation, increased use of pesticides and herbicides, and the waste of applied nitrogen, the risks from GMO crops are risible. Forbes just did a puff-piece on Monsanto, and the comments section is largely filled with hysterical rantings from people who could not tell the difference between a planter and a Popsicle.

  2. When I got my MBA (NYU 1960), Sales Management was taught by the Vice President of Sales for Nabisco. Marketing Research was taught by George Gallup. Advertising Management was taught by a senior vice president of BBDO, a major ad agency. Edwards Deming would have been my statistics instructor but he was in Japan that year inventing lean production. Instead, we had a guy who worked in the garment district helping decide how many women's cloth coats to cut for the spring season. (And for the first time, I began to understand statistics) The other classes were pretty much the same.

    But today, those courses are taught by people who have never had a job and instead, spend their time working up bull shit mathematical formulas that pretend to describe reality. All that mathematical crap that has taken of economics has also taken over the entire MBA program. I think I described just how illiterate the graduating MBAs at Vanderbilt were when I spent an awful semester there.

    So it is just as well all those newly minted MBAs don't get jobs where they can do more damage.

    Also, relating to a theme in this week's economist, in my class at NYU, there was exactly one female.


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