Freedom of speech in the digital age - "Speech that disseminates ideas is more valuable than speech whose purpose is to intimidate others." [more inside]
International investors have a private court of appeal even in criminal matters - "A parallel legal universe, open only to corporations and largely invisible to everyone else, helps executives convicted of crimes escape punishment. [ISDS] operates unconstrained by precedent or any significant public oversight, often keeping its proceedings and sometimes even its decisions secret." (via) [more inside]
For the Wealthiest, a Private Tax System That Saves Them Billions -"The very richest are able to quietly shape tax policy that will allow them to shield billions in income." (via) [more inside]
"But in the dark crevices of the Internet, something else was brewing: without warning, Erin Esurance became masturbation fodder for the very demographic she was designed to target." How Esurance Lost Its Mascot to the Internet.
The Hello Machine is a corporate documentary from AT&T that documents the construction of the 1ESS automatic telephone switching system.
It's cool when a corporation tweets like a teenager. It makes me want to buy the corporation's products. Brands Saying Bae.
Gender_Map by Data Morphosis and TWO-N demonstrates that women make up just 10.7% of all US company board members. They are best represented at Avon, where more than half the board is female. Eighteen S&P 500 companies have male directors exclusively. (Via Forbes, where the article is adorned with a pink [!] bar graph.)
NFL holds Super Bowl in NYC; NYC unimpressed. While the stadium is technically in New Jersey, it is considered equally if not primarily a New York stadium, and the NFL turned Times Square and Broadway into Super Bowl Boulevard Engineered By GMC. Visitors can kick a football, watch television, ride a toboggan, shop, enjoy a free slice of Papa John's pizza, play XBox, take a photo with the oversized Roman numerals 'XLVIII', use relevant Twitter hashtags, and more. It is not decadent and depraved, though Vice and Gothamist would tend to disagree. The Times discusses less vehement disapproval and disappointment, while Business Insider wishes ill upon the city. Ticket sales are faltering relative to recent years, with the new mayor among those skipping out.
Want to get away with not paying taxes but don't have the money to make your own offshore company in the Cayman Islands? Fret not - you can hijack an existing offshore company starting from the low low price of 99 cents! [more inside]
The secretive business havens of Cyprus and the Cayman Islands face a potent rival: Cheyenne, Wyoming. At a single address in this sleepy city of 60,000 people, more than 2,000 companies are registered. The building, 2710 Thomes Avenue, isn't a shimmering skyscraper filled with A-list corporations. It's a 1,700-square-foot brick house with a manicured lawn, a few blocks from the State Capitol.[more inside]
ConferenceCall.biz: a slice of ambient corporate hell.
The Myth of the Visionary Leader. "But just knowing that great leadership is not always going to look great, or even make us feel inspired, could help gird us against the power of big personality and encourage us to make more sober choices."
A corporation is not a living creature. It has no soul. It has no heart. It has no feelings. It can neither experience towards you nor enjoy from you even the concept of loyalty. It is a legal fiction, and it exists for one purpose only: to make profit. If you assist in this goal in the long term, your ongoing association with the organization is facilitated. If you detract from it consistently, you will be cut. Family is “where they have to take you in no matter what you’ve done.” A corporation is… well, it’s sort of the exact opposite of this.Be loyal to yourself.
tholman.com is the playground and folio of interactive developer Tim Holman, where he has posted 15 different projects, both interactive (fizzy cam [info/demo]; ZenPen; Texter; and Image Nodes) and passive (Meet the Ipsums, more than 30 text generators, from corporate to batman; the useless web; dripping paint). [more inside]
A series of BBC News Magazine articles on the office as workplace: (i) How the office was invented; (ii) The ancient Chinese exam that inspired modern job recruitment (previously); (iii) The invention of the career ladder; (iv) The arrival of women in the office; (v) Do we still need the telephone?; (vi) Are there too many managers?; (vii) The era of the sexually charged office; (viii) The decline of privacy in open-plan offices; (ix) How the computer changed the office forever and (x) Why did offices become like the home?—by columnist Lucy Kellaway. [more inside]
For WIRED magazine's 20th anniversary, they've "gathered stories for, by, and about the people who have shaped the planet's past 20 years—and will continue driving the next."
How Apple uses a Nevada based investment fund to (legally) avoid paying corporate tax on some of its massive profit.
10 Rather Astonishing Corporate Theme Songs (the Fujitsu one is a particular delight). And the pharmaceutical version. [more inside]
"Louisiana is the world's prison capital. The state imprisons more of its people, per head, than any of its U.S. counterparts. First among Americans means first in the world. Louisiana's incarceration rate is nearly triple Iran's, seven times China's and 10 times Germany's. The hidden engine behind the state's well-oiled prison machine is cold, hard cash." Louisiana Incarcerated is a tour de force eight-part series on the Louisiana prison system. [more inside]
Last night, author and farmer Wendell Berry delivered a powerful lecture [video; full text here includes portions not delivered verbally] to a full house on the occasion of his accepting the National Endowment of the Humanities' Jefferson Award. The famous PC holdout has appeared previously in the blue, but this lecture is not to be missed. Here is soul nourishment for the long-time Berry follower, and for the newcomer a superb introduction to one of our time's greatest intellects. [more inside]
Employers and colleges are now asking applicants for their Facebook logins and passwords in an attempt to get around privacy settings.
“On the face of it, shareholder value is the dumbest idea in the world” — Jack Welch, 2009. As GE’s CEO in the 80s, however, Welch championed corporate focus on shareholder returns. “Converts to the creed”, the Economist summarizes, “had little time for other ‘stakeholders’: customers, employees, suppliers, society at large and so forth.” What went wrong? Steve Denning describes how such a stance is counterproductive, creates turmoil in capitalism and fosters an environment in which “CEOs and their top managers have massive incentives to focus most of their attentions on the expectations market, rather than the real job of running the company producing real products and services.”
Hot drinks! [SLYTs all the way down] One wonders why a late-80s fast food chain felt the need to have all their training videos sung as middle-of-the-road hip hop and R&B songs. [more inside]
Made in America: small businesses buck the offshoring trend - "For US manufacturing to make sense, factories must make extensive use of automation. That's getting easier, given that the cost of robots with comparable capabilities has decreased precipitously in the past two decades." [more inside]
"The Bunny has become what the Zeigfield girl was to another generation: synonymous with the most glamorous women in the world. The Playboy Club Bunny Manual (1968)
How Britain's largest corporations helped engineer the release of Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber.
9 Things The Rich Don't Want You To Know About Taxes - "4. Many of the very richest pay no current income taxes at all: Paulson made himself $9 billion in fees in just two years. His current tax bill on that $9 billion? Zero... 9. Other countries do it better: no one in Germany or the rest of the modern world goes broke because of accident or illness" (via) [more inside]
Hot Coffee, a documentary film by Susan Saladoff, debuted at Sundance to considerably more enthusiasm than one would expect for a film about tort reform. [more inside]
The music industry Loudness War is over. Research into actual sales rankings, Radio Impact, Listener ratings and Hearing loss, all show better results for music with a higher dynamic range.
In February, AOL acquired the Huffington Post for $315 million. (Previously) The formation of The Huffington Post Media Group was announced, to integrate content for a new combined, claimed audience of "117 Million Americans and 270 Million Globally." Then, AOL fired 200 US employees (leaving many sites without editorial staff) and began restructuring. Today, they announced that 30 brands, including popular site Slashfood, will be closed or folded into existing Huffington Post sections. [more inside]
What distinguishes great entrepreneurs? "Discussions of entrepreneurial psychology typically focus on creativity, tolerance for risk, and the desire for achievement—enviable traits that, unfortunately, are not very teachable." So Professor Saras D. Sarasvathy (Caution, autoplaying video) of the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business created a case study to try to determine how they think, "with the goal of transferring that knowledge to aspiring founders." [more inside]
Over Christmas, Johnson & Johnson decided to stop carrying their popular brand of o.b. tampons. This elicited an immediate and frenzied response from women who used the product. Told that their tampon of choice was permanently discontinued, ladies took to eBay and other outlets to get the last few boxes. In a turnaround, however, J&J is now claiming they were experiencing a "temporary supply interruption". To everyone's relief, the product will soon be back in stores.
One year after the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision, which, overturning over 100 years of precedent, opened a floodgate of corporate money into election campaigns, Virginia Lyons (D-VT), has introduced legislation (full text of bill not yet available, articles here and here) in the Vermont State Senate to amend the United States Constitution to explicitly state that corporations are not persons. This would overturn the controversial notion of corporate personhood which was established in the 1800s. Controversial not only for the unequal distribution of rights and responsibilities among humans and corporations, some, like Thom Hartmann (previously), have claimed that the notion of corporate personhood was established as an intentional misinterpretation of the decision as recorded by court reporter J.C. Bancroft Davis, former president of the Newburgh & New York Railway Co. [more inside]
Why Wal-Mart Is Making Our Health Its Problem - "So what's behind the [healthier-eating] initiative? In a word: scale. In a recent article in HBR, Chris Meyer and I argued that we'll see companies taking more and more ownership of externalities they could ignore because of changing sensibilities and better sensors (meaning detection and reporting of impacts by third parties). But we also identified a third driver: the scale of modern business. Whereas in the past, a single grocer could not have much impact on society, in today's highly consolidated market, Wal-Mart touches a significant percentage of the nation's food intake. Once you reach a scale where your decisions have ramifications for millions, it is hard to pretend that the impacts, even as distant ripples, are not your problem."
Get the Energy Sector off the Dole - Why ending all government subsidies for fuel production will lead to a cleaner energy future—and why Obama has a rare chance to make it happen.
Wired: "Who 'Ruled the Air' in 1910, and Who Rules It Now?". Also see: Vintage AdBrowser (Previously): Communications Ads of the: 1910's, 20's, 30's, 40's, 50's, 60's, 70's, 80's and 90's.
Home Depot was having an issue with employees cutting their fingers off while sawing wood for customers. Michael Powell invented a safety device that Home Depot then copied without Powell's permission. Today, Powell won a $25 million judgment in federal court. [more inside]
The National Labor Committee, a watchdog group that investigates working conditions at foreign factories producing goods for US corporations, has released a report on the KYE Factory in Guangdong, China. KYE manufactures outsourced products for Microsoft (their biggest customer), HP, Best Buy, Samsung, Foxconn, Acer, Logitech, and ASUS. The report focuses heavily on the workers producing Microsoft products. In response, Microsoft says they will investigate the allegations, as their vendor code of conduct (pdf) bans much of the abuses uncovered by the report. Photo Slideshow / NLC report summary [more inside]
Healthcare reform has agitated right-wing extremists and moneyed interests in the United States for some time — during the presidencies of FDR and Truman as well as Clinton and Obama, most recently — but where do the objections originate from, and particularly those which are known to be based on complete untruths? Some of these lies start with or are repeated by well-known right-wing media personalities, but there are other people who get the ball rolling, who are perhaps less well-known. Elizabeth "Betsy" McCaughey originated one of the current myths more commonly known as "death panels", but despite her attempts to market herself as a folksy voice fighting for the well-being of senior citizens, she has been an effective advocate for the interests of private health insurance companies since the early 1990s. [more inside]
After the Crisis Once this economic crisis blows over, a lot of companies will need their logos redesigned. Here's a dozen or so.
Why are our kids so sad? Positive psychology (previously) and our friends at Pepperidge Farm thinks its all a matter of fishful thinking. [more inside]
The Museum of Corporate Neckties. Corporations and neckties: two great tastes that &c.
I asked Nathan Myhrvold, C.E.O. of Intellectual Ventures and widely considered to be one of the smartest people in technology, if he is brilliant. "If you put yourself in that camp, you might be correct," he teased. "But then, you're also an asshole." The Brilliant Issue profiles Porfolio's picks for best game-changers, upstarts, rebels, connectors and other influencers. [more inside]
Selling out is becoming trendy. Last fall, Burt’s Bees was sold to Clorox. It turned out then that former owner Roxanne Quimby bought out co-founder Burt himself in 1999 and sold 80% of the company to AEA Investors in 2004; this was just the final stroke of the pen. [more inside]
Two hedge funds that predicted sub-prime crisis see corporate debt as next casualty Two hedge fund firms that racked up huge gains betting on the subprime mortgage meltdown have begun winding down those trades and looking elsewhere. They're now betting against corporate debt using derivatives.