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President Trump’s Anti-Regulation Policies Might Actually be Good for Tech Startups

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‘I know, I know. But I’m begging you to read this till the end, and not take me out of context.’

Ashu Garg is a general partner at Foundation Capital, where he invests in B2B software across the stack. He currently serves on the boards of TubeMogul, Localytics, Conviva, ZeroStack and Yozio, among others. Reach him @ashugarg.

Ashu Garg writes: Well, it happened. I thought it was a joke when he started campaigning, and I was aghast when he was elected, but that’s all history at this point: Donald Trump is president. Rather than spend time on sour grapes, I think it’s more productive to make a clear-eyed appraisal of what his administration might mean for my industry. I know that what I say next risks being taken out of context, but from my vantage as a longtime tech entrepreneur and venture capitalist, I believe that there’s a real chance Trump will be — I’m begging you to read till the end and not take me out of context — good for startups.

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“The most significant reason Trump might be good for early-stage companies is that he is very anti-regulation.”

First off, change in general is good for entrepreneurs, because it creates new circumstances for them to exploit or gaps for them to fill. Regulatory change, more specifically, is ripe with opportunity. Moreover, Trump has historically made a lot of pro-small-business noises, and has signaled that he will shake up the Small Business Administration.

[Read the full story here, at Recode]

Professional-wrestling magnate Linda McMahon is potentially taking over, and may be receptive to the type of changes that would allow emerging enterprises — in tech and outside it — to grow, including making it easier for first-time entrepreneurs to access startup grant funding.

DigitalDC

“Trump has promised to make huge investments in infrastructure, largely to be funded by debt — for entrepreneurs, this will create enormous possibility.”

The most significant reason Trump might be good for early-stage companies is that he is very anti-regulation. The White House has already issued a freeze on new or pending regulations to all executive departments and agencies, for example. One can argue whether less regulation is good or bad for society. But it’s only good news for startups, which are always in a hurry to ship their ideas into the real world. Read the rest of this entry »

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John Fund & Hans von Spakovsky: Obama’s ‘Scandal-Free Administration’ Is a Myth 

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Even a prominent Trump adviser accepts the false premise that there has been no ‘ethical shadiness.’

John Fund and Hans von Spakovsky write: You often hear that the Obama administration, whatever its other failings, has been “scandal-free.” Valerie Jarrett, the president’s closest adviser, has said he “prides himself on the fact that his administration hasn’t had a scandal and he hasn’t done something to embarrass himself.”

Even Trump adviser Peter Thiel seems to agree. When the New York Times’s Maureen Dowd observed during an interview that Mr. Obama’s administration was “without any ethical shadiness,” Mr. Thiel accepted the premise, saying: “But there’s a point where no corruption can be a bad thing. It can mean that things are too boring.”

In reality, Mr. Obama has presided over some of the worst scandals of any president in recent decades. Here’s a partial list:

• State Department email. In an effort to evade federal open-records laws, Mr. Obama’s first secretary of state set up a private server, which she used exclusively to conduct official business, including communications withobama-BW the president and the transmission of classified material. A federal criminal investigation produced no charges, but FBI Director James Comey reported that the secretary and her colleagues “were extremely careless” in handling national secrets.

[Read the full story here, at WSJ]

• Operation Fast and Furious. The Obama Justice Department lost track of thousands of guns it had allowed to pass into the hands of suspected smugglers, in the hope of tracing them to Mexican drug cartels. One of the guns was used in the fatal 2010 shooting of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. Congress held then-Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt when he refused to turn over documents about the operation.

• IRS abuses. Mr. Obama’s Internal Revenue Service did something Richard Nixononly dreamed of doing: It successfully targeted political opponents. The Justice Department then refused to enforce Congress’s contempt citation against the IRS’s Lois Lerner, who refused to answer questions about her agency’s misconduct. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Author J.D. Vance on His New Book ‘Hillbilly Elegy’


J.D. Vance chronicles his life and the history and issues of hillbillies in America. Vance, a former marine and Yale Law School graduate, writes about growing up in a poor Rust Belt town and how his family never fully escapes the legacy of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and trauma in their lives. Vance paints a broad, passionate, and personal analysis of a culture in crisis—that of white working-class Americans.

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Forget the FBI Cache; the Podesta Emails Show How America is Run

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WikiLeaks’ dump of messages to and from Clinton’s campaign chief offer an unprecedented view into the workings of the elite, and how it looks after itself.

Thomas Frank writes: The emails currently are part of some unknown digital collection amassed by the troublesome Anthony Weiner, but if your purpose is to understand the clique of people who dominate Washington today, the emails that really matter are the ones being from the hacked account of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair John Podesta. They are last week’s scandal in a year running over with scandals, but in truth their significance goes far beyond mere scandal: they are a window into the soul of the Democratic party and into the dreams and thoughts of the class to whom the party answers.

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton adjusts her make-up before speaking at the Iowa Democratic Party's Hall of Fame dinner in Cedar Rapids

“When you search ‘Vineyard’ on the WikiLeaks dump that you realize these people truly inhabit a different world from the rest of us. By ‘vineyard’, of course, they mean Martha’s Vineyard, the ritzy vacation resort island off the coast of Massachusetts where presidents Clinton and Obama spent most of their summer vacations. The Vineyard is a place for the very, very rich to unwind, yes, but as we learn from these emails, it is also a place of high idealism; a land of enlightened liberal commitment far beyond anything ordinary citizens can ever achieve.”

The class to which I refer is not rising in angry protest; they are by and large pretty satisfied, pretty contented. Nobody takes road trips to exotic West Virginia to see what the members of this class looks like or how they live; on the contrary, they are the ones for whom such stories are written. This bunch doesn’t have to make do with a comb-over TV mountebank for a leader; for this class, the choices are always pretty good, and this year they happen to be excellent.

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“Everything blurs into everything else in this world. The state department, the banks, Silicon Valley, the nonprofits, the “Global CEO Advisory Firm” that appears to have solicited donations for the Clinton Foundation. Executives here go from foundation to government to thinktank to startup. There are honors. Venture capital. Foundation grants. Endowed chairs. Advanced degrees. For them the door revolves. The friends all succeed. They break every boundary.”

They are the comfortable and well-educated mainstay of our modern Democratic party. They are also the grandees of our national media; the architects of our software; the designers of our streets; the high officials of our banking system; the authors of just about every plan to fix social security or fine-tune the Middle East with precision droning. They are, they think, not a class at all but rather the enlightened ones, the people who must be answered to but who need never explain themselves.

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Let us turn the magnifying glass on them for a change, by sorting through the hacked personal emails of John Podesta, who has been a Washington power broker for decades. I admit that I feel uncomfortable digging through this hoard; stealing someone’s email is a crime, after all, and it is outrageous that people’s personal information has been exposed, since WikiLeaks doesn’t seem to have redacted the emails in any way.

[Read the full story here, at The Guardian]

There is also the issue of authenticity to contend with: we don’t know absolutely and for sure that these emails were not tampered with by whoever stole them from John Podesta. The supposed authors of the messages are refusing to confirm or deny their authenticity, and though they seem to be real, there is a small possibility they aren’t.

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“The dramatis personae of the liberal class are all present in this amazing body of work: financial innovators. High-achieving colleagues attempting to get jobs for their high-achieving children. Foundation executives doing fine and noble things. Prizes, of course, and high academic achievement.”

With all that taken into consideration, I think the WikiLeaks releases furnish us with an opportunity to observe the upper reaches of the American status hierarchy in all its righteousness and majesty.

The dramatis personae of the liberal class are all present in this amazing body of work: financial innovators. High-achieving colleagues attempting to get jobs for their high-achieving children. Foundation executives doing fine and noble things. Prizes, of course, and high academic achievement. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Justice Clarence Thomas: Personal Reflections On The Court, His Jurisprudence, and His Education

Personal reflections on twenty-five years on the Court, his jurisprudence, and his education. Click “Show more” to view all chapters. For more conversations, visit here.

Chapter 1 (00:15 – 32:38): On the Supreme Court
Chapter 2 (32:38 – 1:09:36): The Education of Clarence Thomas

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas give the commencement speech to the 2008 graduation class of High Point University Saturday, May 3, 2008 in High Point, N.C. (AP Photo/Jim R. Bounds)

Appointed by President George H.W. Bush, Justice Clarence Thomas has served on the Supreme Court since October 1991. In this conversation, Justice Thomas shares personal reflections on the Court, his jurisprudence, and the people, ideas, institutions, and experiences that have influenced him. Justice Thomas also reflects on his late colleague and friend Justice Antonin Scalia.


Meet the Company Offering a Chance at Immortality for $200,000

Frozen Brain

More and more people are signing up to be frozen for a chance at life after death. So the question is, would you?

 writes: In the desert climate of Scottsdale, Arizona, rest 147 brains and bodies, all frozen in liquid nitrogen with the goal of being revived one day.

It’s not science fiction — to some it might not even be science — yet thousands of people around the world have put their trust, lives and fortunes into the promise of cryonics, the practice of preserving a body with antifreeze shortly after death in hopes future medicine might be able to bring the deceased back.

Mad-Science

“If you think back half a century or so, if somebody stopped breathing and their heart stopped beating we would’ve checked them and said they’re dead,” said Max More, CEO of the Scottsdale-based Alcor. “Our view is that when we call someone dead it’s a bit of an arbitrary line. In fact they are in need of a rescue.”

That “rescue” begins the moment a doctor declares a patient dead. Alcor’s team then prepares an ice bath and begins administering 16 medications and variations of antifreeze until the patient’s temperature drops to near freezing.

Alcor CEO Max More poses in front of the dewars that house his 147 cryopreserved patients.

Alcor CEO Max More poses in front of the dewars that house his 147 cryopreserved patients. Qin Chen | CNBC

“The critical thing is how fast we get to someone and how quickly we start the cooling process,” More said. In order to ensure that can happen, Alcor stations equipped teams in the U.K., Canada and Germany and offers members a $10,000 incentive to legally die in Scottsdale, where the record for getting a patient cooled down and prepped for an operation is 35 minutes.

Next, a contracted surgeon removes a patient’s head if the member selected Alcor’s “Neuro” option, as it’s euphemistically called, in hopes that a new body can be grown with a member’s DNA once it comes time to be thawed out. It’s also the much cheaper route. At a price tag of $80,000, it’s less than half the cost of preserving your whole body. “That requires a minimum of $200,000, which isn’t as much as it sounds, because most people pay with life insurance,” More said.

Alcor-3

In fact, such a business model is pretty consistent in the nonprofit cryonics community. Michigan-based Cryonics Institute offers a similar payment structure, albeit at the more affordable cost of just $28,000 for whole-body preservation. Which begs the question: Why the price discrepancy?

“We’ve been very conservative in the way we plan the financing,” More said. “Of that $200,000, about $115,000 of it goes into the patient care trust fund,” which is meant to cover eventual costs and is controlled by a board of trustees (a certain number of which is required to have loved ones currently in cryopreservation). More says the trust currently boasts a total of over $10 million, which is supported by Alcor’s most recent nonprofit 990 filings.

Who is doing this?

When More came to the U.S. in 1986 from Britain to train at Alcor, it was run by volunteers and he signed up as Alcor’s 67th member. Since then, the company has hired a full-time staff of eight employees, boosted its membership to more than 1,000, and is looking into doubling the size of its patient care bay.

Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] REASON TV: Whole Foods’ John Mackey: Why Intellectuals Hate Capitalism

They’re jealous, he says, they side with rulers, and they don’t understand how markets work.

 &  “Intellectuals have always disdained commerce” says Whole Foods Market co-founder John Mackey. They “have always sided…with the aristocrats to maintain a society where the businesspeople were kind of kept down.”

More than any other outlet, Whole Foods has reconfigured what and how America eats and the chain’s commitment to high-quality meats, produce, cheeses, and wines is legendary. Since opening his first store in Austin, Texas in 1980, Mackey now oversees operations around the globe and 51YVrzR5lBL._SL250_continues to set the pace for what’s expected in organic and sustainably raised and harvested food.

Check out the book “Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business” at Amazon.com]

Because of Whole Foods’ trendy customer base and because Mackey is himself a vegan and champions collaboration between management and workers, it’s easy to mistake Mackey for a progressive left-winger. Indeed, an early version of Jonah Goldberg‘s best-selling 2008 book Liberal Fascism even bore the subtitle “The Totalitarian Temptation from Mussolini to Hillary Clinton and The Totalitarian Temptation from Hegel to Whole Foods.”

[See more at Reason.com]

Yet nothing could be further from the truth—and more distorting of the radical vision of capitalism at the heart of Mackey’s thought. A high-profile critic of the minimum wage, Obamacare, and the regulatory state, Mackey believes that free markets are the best way not only to raise living standards but also to explore new ways of building community and creating meaning for individuals and society.

[Order Jonah Goldberg’s book “Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning”  from Amazon]

At the same time, he challenges all sorts of libertarian dogma, including the notion that publicly traded companies should always seek to exclusively maximize shareholder value. Conscious Capitalism, the book he co-authored with Rajendra Sisodia, lays out a detailed case for Mackey’s vision of a post-industrial capitalism that addresses spiritual desire as much as physial need. Read the rest of this entry »


The Quest for Immortality: We May Already Know How We Will Cure Death. Should We?

Aubrey de Grey is head of a Silicon Valley-based research team bent on reversing aging just in time for de Grey to live forever. David Alvarado & Jason Sussberg

Aubrey de Grey is head of a Silicon Valley-based research team bent on reversing aging just in time for de Grey to live forever. David Alvarado & Jason Sussberg

Christopher Mims writes:  A pair of advocates—they do legitimate research too, but their ardor is so intense, it’s hard to call them scientists—believe that they will, within their lifetimes, make ours the first generation of humans to live forever.

“Once we are really truly repairing things as fast as they go wrong, game over. We will have the ability to live indefinitely.”

— Aubrey de Grey

Their quest is elegantly laid out in The Immortalists, a new documentary making its way around the film festival circuit. The Immortalists follows the triumphs and tragedies of three years in the lives of William H. Andrews and Aubrey de Grey, two men who prove just as interesting as the work they’re doing. The Immortalists is really a film about death, not life, which is what makes it so fascinating.

Here’s the trailer:

The goal of Andrews and de Grey is not merely to extend life, but to actually reverse the aging process. “Once we are really truly repairing things as fast as they go wrong, game over,” de Grey says in the film. “We will have the ability to live indefinitely.”

Read the rest of this entry »


Rise of the Libertarians

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10 reasons why Slate, Salon and the progressive media are afraid

Max Borders writes:  A lot of people are messing with libertarianism. We get it. If you see an alternative worldview gaining currency as your own is starting to lose out: attack, attack, attack. Strategically, it’s probably smart.

When Jane Mayer wrote that sloppy hit piece for The New Yorker against the Brothers Koch a few years back, it was way more strategic than personal: These are the folks who give money to organizations that don’t agree with you about lots of things. If you want to weaken those groups, villainize the funders by any means necessary to make their donations toxic.

the_libertarian_plot_sticker-refecfbfb70314a6b92b50b97a0b7c25f_v9i40_8byvr_512Well played. The bigger problem for progressives, however, is that libertarianism has grown far larger than any billionaire’s money. So you have to do still more to kill the movement. At the very least that means using heaping helpings of intellectual dishonesty. Can you swiftboat a movement?

In a recent New York Times piece profiling Rand Paul, Sam Tanenhaus and Jim Rutenberg write that libertarians are a bunch of “antitax activists and war protestors, John Birch Society members, and a smatter of truthers who suspect the government’s hand in the 2001 terrorist attacks.” Why would the Times not instead describe folks like Times columnist Tyler Cowen, Nobel Laureate Vernon Smith, Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, or investor Peter Thiel? That’s not part of the narrative.

Let’s get to the heart of the matter: Progressives are afraid. Read the rest of this entry »


The Emerging Pro-Monarchy Movement: Neoreactionaries and the ‘Dark Enlightenment’

“Reactionary” originally meant someone who opposed the French Revolution, and today the term generally refers to those who would like to return to some pre-existing state of affairs. Neoreaction — aka “dark enlightenment"— begins with computer scientist and entrepreneur Curtis Yarvin, who blogs under the name Mencius Moldbug

“Reactionary” originally meant someone who opposed the French Revolution, and today the term generally refers to those who would like to return to some pre-existing state of affairs. Neoreaction — aka “dark enlightenment”— begins with computer scientist and entrepreneur Curtis Yarvin, who blogs under the name Mencius Moldbug. 

 writes: Many of us yearn for a return to one golden age or another. But there’s a community of bloggers taking the idea to an extreme: they want to turn the dial way back to the days before the French Revolution.

Neoreactionaries believe that while technology and capitalism have advanced humanity over the past couple centuries, democracy has actually done more harm than good. They propose a return to old-fashioned gender roles, social order and monarchy.

You may have seen them crop-up on tech hangouts like Hacker News and Less Wrong, having cryptic conversations about “Moldbug” and “the Cathedral.” And though neoreactionaries aren’t exactly rampant in the tech industry, PayPal founder Peter Thiel has voiced similar ideas, and Pax Dickinson, the former CTO of Business Insider, says he’s been influenced by neoreactionary thought. It may be a small, minority world view, but it’s one that I think shines some light on the psyche of contemporary tech culture.

Enough has been written on neoreaction already to fill at least a couple of books, so if you prefer to go straight to the source, just pop a Modafinil and skip to the “Neoreaction Reading List” at the end of this post. For everyone else, I’ll do my best to summarize neoreactionary thought and why it might matter.

Who Are the Neoreactionaries?

“Reactionary” originally meant someone who opposed the French Revolution, and today the term generally refers to those who would like to return to some pre-existing state of affairs. Neoreaction — aka “dark enlightenment”— begins with computer scientist and entrepreneur Curtis Yarvin, who blogs under the name Mencius Moldbug. Yarvin — the self-described Sith Lord of the movement — got his start as a commenter on sites like 2blowhards before starting his own blog Unqualified Reservations in 2007. Yarvin originally called his ideology “formalism,” but in 2010 libertarian blogger Arnold Kling referred to him as a “neo-reactionary.” The name stuck as more bloggers — such as Anomaly UK (who helped popularize the term), Nick Land (who coined “dark enlightenment”) andMichael Anissimov — started to self-identify as neoreactionary. Read the rest of this entry »


Carnival of Space

Welcome to the 317th Carnival of Space.  Once again, it’s Urban Astronomers turn to scour the Internet for news and articles on space science and astronomy and bring them together into one place.  We’ve had a lot of submissions this week, so let’s cut straight to the chase:

From the Chandra X-ray space telescope’s official blog we have an article titledToo Hot to Swallow: New Chandra results help explain why gas near the Milky Way‘s supermassive black hole is so faint in X-rays.
Tranquility Base asks “How would space law would treat asylum requests?” This post tells the true story of Soyuz 38, and asks a hypothetical question inspired by that mission.
Read the rest of this entry »