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.

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.

small internet communities never went away

People are slowly realizing that Facebook/Instagram/Twitter aren't particularly "cool" and mostly push advertising. Stories are popping up asking what "we" are going to do about this predicament now that "we" are all addicts. Here are a couple that adopt this frame: The Rise and Fall of Internet Art Communities and The Slow Web.

A couple of voices from the UNAC sphere (aka unanthologized net art communities) dissented from the idea that anything had "fallen."

Rene Abythe wrote:

Because most of my creative online time is spent on obscure areas of the Internet, my reflex argument is to deny that online communities engaging in collaborative and creative culture ever went away, they just quietly co-existed alongside social media -- there's nothing to revive. But that would be missing the spirit of the message, I think. What my internet experience is isn't that of the author's [Kelsey Ables, author of the "Rise and Fall" article]. If I wasn't actively participating in collaborative communities online, I too would think the net needs a good creative culture revival. I would crave the Internet experience of yesterday, before corporate social media took over. I would be wanting to be a part of something fun and engaging, not something described as "posting bite-sized content as frequently as possible [...] in order to game the algorithms that choose what followers see and reward frequency with more visibility."

Joel Cook wrote:

Human connection happens in spite of today's large social platforms, not in debt to them. For now, some interaction there makes sense, but it can't be the center of life online. Small custom communities are not as uncommon or difficult as it may seem. Maybe I'm biased because being involved in a few and building some of my own has kept me from scouring the net for others; maybe there's fewer than I think.

Just because Rhizome.org staffers spend all their time on Instagram and think the internet is dead, man, doesn't mean there aren't thriving activities outside their bubble.
Blogs, bulletin boards, and personal pages didn't go away, they just got buzz-eclipsed by more lucrative and sinister operations. Here's a fine rant by one of those eclipsees, Berlin DJ Lord Litter:

Social Media 2019

After recent events ... Social Media became the driving force on planet earth for Death, Destruction, Hate, Lies, Racism, Fascism, Homophobia* and many more society corroding effects.

All this is based on a system that works with addiction of the individual partaker. Addiction caused by structures, that use the longing of the human psyche. For example, "Likes" in Facebook use the longing of the humans for appreciation. After a while the call of the "Likes" becomes your heroin.

The only argument pro Social Media I often hear is "I can keep in touch with my loved ones". There are so many ways on the modern internet to keep in touch, without feeding a system that a pro life** person simply can't like to support.

Every move within the Social Media structure, every message, every smiley, every click supports a system that became the driving force on planet earth for Death, Destruction, Hate, Lies, Racism, Fascism, Homophobia* and many more society corroding effects...makes it stronger, tighter.

I imagine a world where all these people would work on small personal networks, where [all] these people keep in touch with their loved ones. Systems where you really only are in touch with the selected loved ones you choose.

I really wonder how much all the already obvious disastrous effects of Social Media have to increase before people will even start to learn.

I'm not spreading Social Media links via my network.

*and let's add Shaming, Political Correctness, Censorship and Crypto-Stalinist Identity Policing
**as in life-affirming, I think he means

talking back to the little screen


tommoody: "study"

goodjob: McDonald's opens in town, people become huge, cause unclear -- study

tomato: Sollog predicts asteroid, everyone grows a 3rd arm by 2076, cause unclear -- study

hat tip fruitfly and bogchat

the funniest night

Belatedly came across a SNL sketch from a week after the 2016 election: [hooktube]
Set in a NY apartment on election night, the bit features David Chappelle and Chris Rock yucking it up and rolling their eyes while smug Clinton-believers watch the dismaying election results come in.
Amazing that the show could go from this kind of blasé humor to singing Christmas carols to Robert Mueller.