Smombie (new glossary entry)

Smombie, or smartphone zombie, noun: A person walking around unaware of his surroundings entirely absorbed in his smart-phone. This seems to be a real problem in Germany where they invented the term. One town even put traffic signals in the sidewalks after several people were hurt and one was killed by a passing vehicle due (more…)

Our Tax Dollars Destroying Jobs

The Wall Street Journal today ran a story about gigantic touchscreens appearing in hundreds of McDonald’s in California, New York and Florida. The article was about the technology and the implication, of course, is that we free marketers should rejoice in progress even at the expense of jobs. My problem with this assumption is that (more…)

The Übermorphosis Is Nigh…


As I mentioned in my recent article Über Alles, I have puzzled from the start over how Über could possibly penetrate the absolutely sewn-up transportation markets in New York and San Francisco without some behind-the-scenes power even greater than local politics–a power which is itself quite great in those towns.

The argument has always been that Über was so stealthy it was unstoppable and therefore monopolized the massive under-served ride markets in those over-regulated cities, but that argument doesn’t hold water. Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal reported that using Airbnb can draw fines of up to $7,500.00 in New York–why not do the same to Über? (I’m not advocating that for Heaven’s sake, I’m just making an argument!) It would be much easier than attempting to fine Airbnb, which the article suggests can be hard to trace because addresses are not given over the app. Über on the other hand, by its very nature, records the when, where and how of every single transaction–if it were banned in New York City, authorities could easily fine Über for any rides recorded in the forbidden zone.

My nagging feeling that there was a big power behind Über was thrown for a loop however, when a California judge ruled against Über and found that drivers were employees. Knowing this would bust the gig model Über is famous for, I really had to wonder who had the clout to infiltrate the previously uncrackable New York and San Francisco ride markets but was not able to stop such a questionable legal decision. I had to conclude that if there was Big Power behind this phenomenon, they wanted Über but not the drivers. I discovered (because I looked for it) a big investment in Über by Google, a company famous for being on the cutting edge of driverless cars. I concluded that Über would be the way to roll out driverless cars to what might otherwise be a resistant population.

Well, it’s happening-and at a furious pace. The Wall Street Journal reported last week that

People Puppets!

Just a few days ago, I called my ten year old son into the TV room where I was watching the recent remake of Rise of the Planet of the Apes. I said to him, “Look at this—it’s a CARTOON—a CARTOON!! They are now fully capable of, or will be by the time you grow (more…)

Are you a PreCriminal?

Predictive Policing has been in Atlanta since 2013… PredPol’s website says this, PredPol’s cloud-based software enables law enforcement agencies to better prevent crime in their communities by generating predictions on the places and times that future crimes are most likely to occur. Dozens of communities across the US and overseas are experiencing dramatic reductions in (more…)