Monday, January 8, 2018

Capital In The 21st Century


A recent book by French scholar Thomas Piketty is getting a lot of attention.  Everyone knows that the current system is producing very high levels of economic inequality.  This book deals further into the reasons why it provides an ultimate critique of capitalism itself. 

The author argues that extreme inequality is a system design of capitalism and the last few decades of relative equality are not representative.

Link to all Piketty books here.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Book Review: Nickel and Dimed


A few years ago, an investigative reporter goes under cover to see how the poor live on the minimum wage. Not very well is the answer in this classic book. 
 
Link to this review in Dissent Magazine
"Five jobs and three cities later, Ehrenreich concludes that many of today’s jobs don’t pay enough to support one person—much less a whole family. She works two jobs at a time and eats “chopped meat, beans, cheese and noodles.” But in all three cities, rent gets the better of her economy. “You don’t need a degree in economics,” she writes, “to see that wages are too low and rents too high.” But this is a mathematical conclusion, which could have been made with the aid of a calculator. By taking these jobs herself, Ehrenreich is able to capture the material details of workplace indignity."

There's also the random drug tests, mental drudgery and long hours. Recommended document from the deformed economy of the last twenty years.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Why Second Life Failed

You may not have even heard of Second Life, but around 2006 are so everyone thought it was going to be the next big thing. You dressed up like an anime raver in a virtual environment so you could conduct business with virtual dollars.  Yes, some people actually thought this was a professional environment that would be used for actual business transactions.

Good blogger explanation here.

"Second Life was originally developed in 2002-2003 on two reasonable but ultimately wrong assumptions: That the desktop computer market would continue growing, and that dedicated broadband lines would be the main way people would access the Internet. Instead, the market largely shifted to laptops, and now to tablets, and also to smartphones, all of which depend on wireless Internet connectivity. The most popular platforms for accessing the Internet now are the least conducive to using Second Life, which performs poorly on wireless laptops, and can't fully perform on smartphones or tablets at all. At the same time, social networks, especially Facebook, provided many of the features that Second Life offered, but in a way that was much less resource and time-consuming."

Why Second Life Failed from Slate

Article digresses into predictive model of which social media will succeed , but still interesting.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Finding SWOTs

SWOT = Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. These are great reports that discuss competition, product development, regulation (important to drug companies among others) and the macroeconomic picture that might affect a company.

Recommended databases:

Business Source Complete – from the main page, scroll down and choose SWOT analyses on the right side and search your company

Marketline Advantage - Type in your company name, get results and then select SWOT on the right side of the screen.

ABI Inform (keyword search your company and the word SWOT)

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

San Marcos (or anywhere else) on American Factfnder

U.S. Census Breakdown on San Marcos demographic and economic information

This page starts you off with demographics, but there's tons of economic data on the left side of the screen. I think it's the single best source of information for this kind of information.

Of course, you can change your county, city, zip code and more geographic parameters to search for other locations. 

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Sanborn Maps

Sanborn maps are a great way to study the historical layout of a town. Originally conceived as fire insurance maps, Sanborn Maps have proven to be of use to local historians, civic planners, real estate developers and sometimes small business people (just got a question that involved using Sanborn maps).

Sanborn maps cover the years 1867-1970 - and they do include small to middle sized towns, as well as large cities.

We have a Sanborn Maps Database.