Friday, April 30, 2010

Supreme Court Piece by David Von Drehle

Really good piece from Time titled "Who Will Get Steven's Seat?" about the Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens and his pending retirement from the bench.

Similar to Charles Pierce's "The Genuine Point Guard" on Steve Nash (which I posted about here), this David Von Drehle story on Stevens combines excellent writing and an interesting subject.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Most Innovative Companies Story from Fast Company

Some interesting mentions in the "50 Most Innovative Companies" Fast Company cover story.

Yea, Facebook, Google and Apple (among others) are all innovative and interesting companies, but the ones on the list that stood out to me weren't because of who they were, but because of what's described in the Fast Company writeup.

- Walmart and it's sustainability initiatives

- Cisco and it's efforts in sports

- Patients Like Me and the idea of social networking your own health care


Also of note from this issue of Fast Company was mention of the video sites and I've certainly heard of both sites beforfe... maybe someday I'll actually spend some time perusing them.

Admiral Mike Mullen Story from Fast Company

Some pretty interesting stuff from the May 2010 issue of Fast Company.

The cover story is a profile of Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. Written by Jeff Chu, "Mullen on the Move" is an interesting look at the nation's top military officer. What comes across is a guy who combines together a huge work ethic (as evidenced by a snapshot of one day's schedule) with what appears to be an excellent grounding in his role and that of the U.S. Armed Forces.

In terms of his role, Mullen describes himself as being someone who doesn't necessarily do anything (in the sense that he doesn't make troop decisions), but does seek to advise well President Obama and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates as his bosses. Beyond that, he comes across as a strong advocate of the military understanding and interacting with both business and the public. From dinners with CEOs to time on Jon Stewart and Facebook accounts, he does seem to be a guy that... gets it. As he says "I am resourced by the American taxpayer. I take great care with the stewardship of the money they pay for the national defense."


Two other things of interest from this issue were this piece on IBM's World Community Grid (whereby spare computing power is used for large scale public good projects) and this on Susie Wee and touch efforts from HP. Tis' the thing of the future, that touch technology.

Friday, April 23, 2010

"The Checklist Manifesto" by Atul Gawande

Finished reading "The Checklist Manifesto" by noted surgeon Atul Gawande and found it to be a fairly interesting book.

Gawande is the author of two bestsellers that I enjoyed quite a bit, "Complications" and "Better"... both about his experiences as a doctor. Where "The Checklist Manifesto" diverged is that is covered not just medicine, but the wider-reaching concept of using a checklist in the pursuit of excellence. Fields discussed in the book range from aviation (where the checklist is perhaps most ingrained) to investing, building and yes... surgery.

While I found definite value in the checklist concept, I was more captivated by his prior two books in that they were all about a topic that he's dedicated his time to. Gawande is a good writer (contributes frequently to The New Yorker), though, and I'm interested in his National Magazine Award winning piece "The Cost Conundrum" (on health care expenditures in McAllen, TX) linked to from his website.

I'd recommend "The Checklist Manifesto" to anyone who either enjoyed Gawande's previous two books or is interested in the idea of peak performance and how to attain it in a given effort.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Ford in India & iPad for Work Pieces from BusinessWeek

Two interesting stories from the Apr 12 issue of BusinessWeek.

The first was titled "Alan Mulally's Asian Sales Call" and details how Ford Motor Co. and it's CEO have been focusing on expanding it's minimal 2-3% market share in India, China and surrounding countries. On the heels of other posts I've done on Ford lately, it really does seem the company is both making good moves and has a huge opportunity to grow.

The second was "The iPad, Your Newest Workplace Productivity Enhancer" about... yep, the iPad. The new boy wonder device from Apple has been pretty much everywhere lately including a recent cover story in Time linked to in this post, but what was interesting about this BW piece was the notion of the iPad for work. With someone like Marc Benioff of Salesforce making quotes about the iPad, perhaps it's applications (no double entendre intended) do go beyond entertainment to work functional.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Danger Around Us - Plastics & Bombs: from Time Magazine

A couple of interesting pieces from Time lately about two very different threats to public health...

The first was "Environmental Toxins" from the Apr 12 issue... which also contained the iPad and Apple stories I posted on and linked to here.

The toxins piece is by Bryan Walsh and all about the chemicals in plastics and other products we purchase. What it immediately brought to mind for me was my blog post from Feb 2009 on the BPA chemical component in shatterproof plastic (such as yep... baby bottles). The linked to BusinessWeek piece "The Real Story Behind Bisphenol A" was one of the more disconcerting articles I've come across in the last few years of reading BW.

The subheading of this Time article is "chemicals in plastics and other products seem harmless, but mounting evidence links them to health problems — and Washington lacks the power to protect us." To that end, here's a quote in the piece from Walsh...

"If you want to market a new drug, you need to convince the FDA-in multiple tests, over the course of years-that it won't cause serious harm. If you want to sell a new pesticide, you need to prove the same thing. The burden of proof is on the manufacturers to make the grade, and government regulators are the final judge. But if you want to market a new chemical for use in a product-even one that will come into contact with children or pregnant women-it's up to the EPA to prove that it's unsafe, using whatever data are provided by the chemical company, with little power to ask for more."

Not much more to say than that.


The second "danger around us" piece from Time was "Rescuing a Potential Nuke from the Chile Quake" out of the Apr 19 edition.

In it, Eben Harrell recounts a story of the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) which is charged with seeking out and securing around the globe sufficient quantities of highly enriched uranium (HEU) to build a nuclear bomb. Specifically, representatives of the agency were in Santiago, Chile to take possession of around 40 lb. of HEU when the magnitude 8.8 quake hit.

From that point, it was quite a tale of speed and alternate action in getting the material and then getting it safely out of the country.

Equally interesting was Harrell's mention of how HEU became so widely disseminated through a mid-1950s program called Atoms for Peace. To whit... HEU was given out to countries that could both prove they would use it for peaceful research (into things like medical isotopes) and would submit to regular inspection of said potential bomb material.

Maybe a good idea, maybe not... but, certainly an interesting one.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

"Have a Little Faith" by Mitch Albom

Recently finished “Have a Little Faith” by Mitch Albom and found it a nice read.

Albom is a Detroit-based sportswriter (website here) who also wrote the bestselling memoir of alltime, “Tuesdays With Morrie” about his time spent as an adult with his aging former college professor.

In a very similar vein, “Have a Little Faith” is about the time Albom spent with his lifelong Rabbi as well as a recently met pastor in poor inner-city Detroit. Through the tale of these Men of God (but, different Gods) and his interactions with them, Albom weaves a narrative of faith, hope and impact.

The faith part is summed up well by the Rabbi with "faith is about doing… you are how you act, not just how you believe” when speaking of the import of ritual in daily life. The hope part applies in great measure to the Detroit pastor who struggles to keep his hole in the roof and no heat inside Church operating as… a Church. The impact part could pertain to either the Rabbi or Pastor, but for me, I felt it applied best to Albom himself… and what came out of his local newspaper columns on the Church.

“Have a Little Faith” definitely has a religious component to it (and multiple religions at that) and for that reason and others may touch some readers more than others, but back to what was said at the beginning of this missive… it’s a nice read.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Steve Nash Profile from Sports Illustrated

Really good feature on Steve Nash in the latest issue of Sports Illustrated.

The story is titled "The Genuine Point Guard" and interestingly (well, to me) was written by Charles Pierce. I first came across Pierce probably ten years ago via his book "Sports Guy" and have since seen him published (fairly regularly) in Esquire. Just a really good writer who penned the late 2008 essay "American Surprise: How Election Night Brought Us Home Again".

Back to the piece on Nash... what was so compelling about it was the rare combination of excellent writing about an interesting subject. I found particularly of note Pierce's description of Nash as "genuine" as opposed to "authentic". Authenticity is described as something packaged for the purpose of public favor, but genuine the much harder to find concept of someone who just is themself... and that being a good thing. Among other things, Nash founded the production company Meathawk... which is producing an upcoming ESPN movie on Terry Fox (that I posted about here with link to a Fast Company cover story on Nash.)

In Nash, there seems to be a really good guy who acts good without ulterior motives. An admirable concept that Pierce does a great job of bringing home to the reader through his usage of language and the meaning behind specific words.

In short, words they be might powerful things and are used really really well here by Pierce.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Apple iPad & New Media: from Time Magazine

Some really interesting writing from Time Magazine lately about the iPad, it's potential impact and the related area of journalism and new media.

To the iPad itself, the April 12 issue gave us a cover image of Steve Jobs and mention of two stories within the pages (but, more later on this idea of "pages").

First was "The iPad Launch: Can Steve Jobs Do It Again?", a fanboy piece penned by novelist and screenwriter Stephen Fry and second was "Do We Need the iPad? A TIME Review" by Lev Grossman.

Grossman wrote a number of nice things about the iPad, but also noted that it's usage appears to be "lovely for consuming content, but not creating it"... which echoed what I've seen from writers such as Jeff Jarvis in his BuzzMachine post "iPad danger: app v. web, consumer v. creator."

Fry's essay takes a very different approach in that he writes of his visit to Apple headquarters to speak with Jobs and his lieutenants responsible for running various facets of company business. While not having anything that would contradict the idea of the iPad as being for content consumption, Fry presents a compelling vision of it being an elegant and personal device for it's intended purpose... allowing users an immersive user-friendly experience with the things they want to access on a computer (including, but not limited to: music, videos, pictures, games, books and websites).


While the iPad itself is simply a device, the Editor's Letter from this April 12 issue gave a glimpse of at least the potential for it to change markets (in this case the field of Journalism). In "Ushering in a New Era", Richard Stengel writes of Time's efforts to get a version of the magazine available for the iPad.

In the same category of "Journalism: Where it's Been, Where it's Going" was an essay by Alan Brinkley from the April 19 issue of Time. "What Would Henry Luce Make of the Digital Age?" covered the co-founder and former head of Time Inc. and addressed how he might have approached the current business climate and rush to digital facing print media.

What media should do doesn't have an easy answer, but is a fascinating topic. In February of last year I linked to and wrote about the Walter Isaacson Time cover story "How to Save Your Newspaper" and also find interesting (and encouraging) people like the aforementioned Jeff Jarvis and his BuzzMachine blog (and teaching around Interactive/Entrepreneurial Journalism at the City University of New York Journalism School).

No way to tell where things with media will wind up, but ranging from the guys writing about and working on it to the new products coming up in the space (even if they're designed more for content consumption than creation), there's a lot of interesting stuff going on around this field of new media and user experience with media new and old.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Duke over Butler CNNSI Story

Compelling piece by Joe Posnanski on CNNSI. Titled "Magical game comes down to last shot and Duke earns greatness", it's all about the Duke NCAA basketball title.

Really, though... it's about the excitement of sports and how anything can happen. Very cool stuff.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Roy Halladay Profile from Sports Illustrated

Excellent cover story from the latest issue of Sports Illustrated.

Written by Tom Verducci, "What Makes Roy Run" is a detailed profile of new Phillies ace Roy Halladay. I found myself drawn to the story of Halladay for the same reason I found compelling this SI story on Sidney Crosby (which I posted on here)... it chronicles a gifted athlete who works perhaps harder than anyone else to become even better.

So much to be said for someone that couples together work and skill... and it would be so easy to just be content with being near, but not at the top of the game.