uber and under

Hubert Horan, writing on the Naked Capitalism blog, has offered consistently skeptical analysis of Uber's claims of profitability and inevitability. His coverage of the lousy IPO (which should have surprised no one) is here. A couple of choice bits:

Few, if any of Uber’s narrative claims were objectively true. Hype about powerful, cutting edge technological innovations that could overwhelm incumbents in any market worldwide helped hide the fact that Uber was actually higher cost and less efficient than the operators it had driven out of business. Stories about customers freely choosing its superior products in competitive markets helped hide Uber’s use of massive subsidies to subvert market price signals and mislead investors about its growth economics. Misleading accounts about driver pay and working conditions helped hide the fact that most margin improvement was due to driving driver take-home pay down to minimum wage levels


Outside the mainstream one could find numerous articles critical of Uber/Lyft claims and their lack of business fundamentals. These included observers who thought that there was a huge, dangerous “tech bubble”, or who thought that years of private control had eliminated most future appreciation potential, or who thought Silicon Valley venture capital had become totally unhinged from reality, or who thought that years of artificially low interest rates had destroyed the market’s ability to evaluate business risk, or who had actually discovered how vacuous Uber and Lyft’s S-1 claims were. These minority views were available to investors doing very diligent research, but these observers were never quoted in the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal, much less CNN or CNBC.

Am always bummed out to discover a friend or family member using these services.

personal cyber-milestones

1. My last tweet was one year ago today. I'm keeping the account as a backup way to be "notified" of stuff.

2. Last week I upgraded Linux Mint from 17.2 (end of life Apr 2019) to 19.1. Compared to a Microsoft upgrade, where all your proprietary programs are lost after a clean install and have to be laboriously re-added (with passwords, licenses, dongles, etc), Linux was a snap. The backup tool creates a list of all the software you have on the system, and after your drive is wiped, it goes to the package repositories and finds all those programs and reinstalls them.
Many Linux users still have to hold their noses and use Windows occasionally for certain proprietary programs. In this post, political commenter The Saker asks if his blog followers will donate a Windows 10 laptop to him because he doesn't want to buy from Microsoft. That's hardcore. In the comments, users nevertheless remind him of the horrors of the new, post-privacy Windows environment.

a dependable voice

New York Times writer William J. Broad in 2003:


New York Times writer William J. Broad this week:


hat tip rene abythe

Another "greatest hit" from Mr. Broad, an article co-written with a disgraced colleague (hat tip R.A. again):


Update 2:
Wireless "5G" is a new technology employing microwave towers to transmit greater amounts of data to smartphones than is currently available. To maintain full signal strength, 5G has a shorter "reach," so implementing it will require building networks of closely spaced transmitters in urban areas. Promoters tout it as "safe," but it's yet another large scale public health experiment (with Americans as lab rats). Everyone should be skeptical of this energy bombardment even if there is no presently known smoking raygun linking it to illness. We won't know if it's dangerous until the system is installed and by then it will be too costly to abandon.

Broad's hit piece attempts pre-emptively to discredit American critics of 5G by claiming that these health concerns are yet another Rachel Maddow-like Russian plot. (Paranoids in the '60s claimed Russia lay behind newfangled schemes such as fluoridating water; the nouveau-paranoids accuse them of "sowing" skepticism). But who is dispensing fake news here? Near the end of his article Broad lets drop that "In January, The Times announced a joint venture with Verizon to build a 5G journalism lab." Thus his employer has a financial interest in seeing 5G rolled out, and no one should take Broad any more seriously than when he was crying wolf over Iraqi WMDs.