April 23, 2014

Positivity: Meb Wins Boston Marathon, Honors Those Who Died Last Year

Filed under: General,Marvels,Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

Way to go!


Understandably lost in the coverage of Meb’s remembrance of those who died last year is the fact that, at age 38, he is the oldest Boston winner since 1930. A marathoner winning any of the major world marathons at that age is a phenomenal achievement.

On a more nationalistic tone, Meb is the first U.S. winner since 1983.


ALSO: The best revenge

Why Nike dropped me: Boston Marathon winner

Boston Marathon winner Meb Keflezighi says he lost his running shoe deal with Nike three years ago because of his age.

The 38-year-old distance runner signed a new shoe deal three years ago with Skechers, a footwear company more known for casual “lifestyle” shoes than hard-core running gear, after Nike dropped Keflezighi from its endorsement roster.

During an interview with CNBC on Tuesday, Keflezighi said his deal with Skechers has boosted his career and helped his running mechanics.

“I’m almost 39 years old and Nike thought I was probably too old,” Keflezighi said on “Squawk on the Street.” “And with the Skechers partnership, things have been going really well.”

April 8, 2014

Positivity: US Navy ‘game-changer’ — converting seawater into fuel

Filed under: Marvels,Positivity,US & Allied Military — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Washington:

The US Navy believes it has finally worked out the solution to a problem that has intrigued scientists for decades: how to take seawater and use it as fuel.

The development of a liquid hydrocarbon fuel is being hailed as “a game-changer” because it would signficantly shorten the supply chain, a weak link that makes any force easier to attack.

The US has a fleet of 15 military oil tankers, and only aircraft carriers and some submarines are equipped with nuclear propulsion.

All other vessels must frequently abandon their mission for a few hours to navigate in parallel with the tanker, a delicate operation, especially in bad weather.

The ultimate goal is to eventually get away from the dependence on oil altogether, which would also mean the navy is no longer hostage to potential shortages of oil or fluctuations in its cost.

Vice Admiral Philip Cullom declared: “It’s a huge milestone for us.”

View galleryDr. Heather Willauer explains how scientists at the …
Dr. Heather Willauer explains how scientists at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, DC can …
“We are in very challenging times where we really do have to think in pretty innovative ways to look at how we create energy, how we value energy and how we consume it.

“We need to challenge the results of the assumptions that are the result of the last six decades of constant access to cheap, unlimited amounts of fuel,” added Cullom.

“Basically, we’ve treated energy like air, something that’s always there and that we don’t worry about too much. But the reality is that we do have to worry about it.”

US experts have found out how to extract carbon dioxide and hydrogen gas from seawater.

Then, using a catalytic converter, they transformed them into a fuel by a gas-to-liquids process. They hope the fuel will not only be able to power ships, but also planes.

View galleryThis April 2, 2014 US Navy handout image shows a beaker …
This April 2, 2014 US Navy handout image shows a beaker of fuel(right) made from seawater by scienti …
That means instead of relying on tankers, ships will be able to produce fuel at sea.

- ‘Game-changing’ technology -

The predicted cost of jet fuel using the technology is in the range of three to six dollars per gallon, say experts at the US Naval Research Laboratory, who have already flown a model airplane with fuel produced from seawater. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

March 11, 2014

Feb. Employment Report’s Raw Numbers Were Miserable; As Usual, Press Ignored

Filed under: Business Moves,Lucid Links,Marvels,Stock Schlock — Tom @ 9:33 pm

On Friday, the government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the economy created 175,000 seasonally adjusted jobs in February, with 162,000 of the additions occurring in the private sector.

That result exceeded expectations of roughly 150,000, and caused the business press to sing odes of high praise to an economy that was amazingly overcoming this year’s difficult winter weather. Unfortunately, as readers will see after the jump, February’s raw results demonstrate that it was all an illusion.


February 26, 2014

Positivity: Boy gets prosthetic hand made by 3-D printer

Filed under: Marvels,Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

This goes back a few months … but wow.

From Marblehead, Massachusetts (HT Daryn Kagan):

OCTOBER 28, 2013, 2:55 PM

Two years ago, Paul McCarthy began searching for an inexpensive yet functional prosthetic hand for his son Leon, who was born without fingers on one of his hands. McCarthy came across a video online with detailed instruction on how to use a 3-D printer to make a prosthetic hand for his son.

A local news outlet has more complete coverage.

February 10, 2014

Positivity: ‘Amazing Grace’ by Rhema Marvanne

Filed under: Marvels,Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

Listen and watch (HT to a friend):

For info about Rhema Marvanne, start here.

February 6, 2014

Positivity: How Andrea Loubier became Mailbird’s CEO within one year of moving to Bali

Filed under: Marvels,Positivity — Tom @ 6:01 am

This story deserves wide notice for a number of reasons:

- It shows that you should never underestimate anyone’s success-achieving capabilities.
- It shows that there’s still plenty of opportunity out there.
- It should encourage people to follow their dreams.

Here’s the September 21, 2013 audio of the success story found here:

Andrea Loubier, CEO of Mailbird

How Andrea Loubier became Mailbird’s CEO within one year of breaking free

This is the story of how Andrea broke free and became a CEO living on a tropical Indonesian island within just one year.

Half American, half Filipino and nomadic since birth, Andrea went the traditional route after college, working her way up to Project Director for a market research firm in the States. She collaborated with companies like Procter & Gamble, Kellogg’s, Johnson & Johnson and then moved over to a job with a software company. Not long after, she broke free, relying on her experience, charm and love of marketing and communications to land a gig as CEO of a brand new email company based in Bali.

Andrea and I talk about her journey, how she was able to break free and become a CEO within a year, what it’s like to run a team split across continents plus why Bali is such a haven for entrepreneurs and the (not-so) surprising spot Andrea recommends for the ultimate vacation escape.

More here.

The company’s web site is here (also Facebook; Twitter).

January 27, 2014

30 Years Ago, Steve Jobs Changed the World Forever

Filed under: Business Moves,Marvels,Positivity — Tom @ 8:43 am

The full presentation made a week later at the Boston Computer Society is at Time.com (including the famed “1984″ ad, about 4 minutes into the Time video if you go there), but this 5-minute snip recounts the day — at Apple’s annual shareholder meeting on January 24, 1984 — when the Mac and its graphical user interface first went public:

The narrative at the YouTube video:

Demo of the first Apple Macintosh by Steve Jobs, January 1984, in front of 3000 people. Andy Hertzfeld captured the moment quite well in his retelling: “Pandemonium reigns as the demo completes. Steve has the biggest smile I’ve ever seen on his face, obviously holding back tears as he is overwhelmed by the moment. The ovation continues for at least five minutes before he quiets the crowd down.”

If there’s a computing device still on the market which does not owe part of its existence to the Mac’s 1984 introduction, I can’t name it.

December 30, 2013

Linda Ronstadt to Be Inducted Into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Filed under: General,Marvels — Tom @ 10:55 pm

The news came two weeks ago. It’s about time.

Here are nine songs of Ronstadt at her performing peak in 1983:

The tragedy is that she won’t be able to perform. Here is her interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer earlier this year:

They Did Build That — Twice

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Marvels — Tom @ 9:00 pm

Notes from a conversation with Michelle and Jesse Malkin.


This column went up at PJ Media on Saturday evening and was teased here at BizzyBlog Sunday morning.


The recently announced sale of Twitchy LLC to Salem Communications marks the second time Michelle and Jesse Malkin have started up, built and sold a growing business enterprise. Their early 2010 sale of Hot Air LLC, also to Salem, was the first.

Defying the odds against success one time, especially in web publishing, is noteworthy. Doing it twice is remarkable.

I certainly wanted to learn more about the Malkins’ experiences, and believe that businesspeople who are themselves trying to build legitimate value and wealth, regardless of their field of endeavor, can take away important lessons from those who have succeeded.

So I emailed Michelle and asked for an interview. Her “yes” came back in 46 minutes. Michelle, Jesse and I were on the phone just 16 hours later.

Here are the five most important points I took away from our discussion. Note that a couple of them relate to personal qualities completely apart from whatever business skills and smarts entrepreneurs might bring to the table.

1. Know what you want from your people, clearly communicate it, and hold them accountable.

Michelle rattled off exactly what she was looking for in the people who wrote for the couple’s two pioneering web sites even before I asked the question:

We were looking for … a very distinct special combination of people who are reliable, put out clean copy, and are trustworthy. But you also have to have incredible news judgment and a passion and energy for the topics that you’re covering. If that doesn’t come through, who wants to read you?

A couple of extra traits sought out at Twitchy were people who are “savvy about social media, and (have) spirit and snark.” It shows.

Without dwelling on it, they noted that “turnover” was an early issue with Twitchy, which to me indicates that the pair were very careful in their “keeper” selections, and didn’t just “settle.” Getting through that process had to be nerve-wracking at times, but was clearly worth it.

2. Have genuine affection and respect for your people, and let them flourish.

This came through loud and clear. Michelle spoke of how her employees were “gold” to them, and how it’s in “our self-interest to help them.” Shoot, I’d work hard for someone like that just to make sure I didn’t disappoint them.

In “recogniz(ing the talents of others” and giving them “the opportunity to shine,” Michelle especially escaped a deadly trap into which all too many entrepreneurs fall. Hot Air and Twitchy were not all about her. As a result, they became salable enterprises. That would not have happened if she had tried to do it all or had stayed too heavily involved and visible.

Michelle also emphasized that she wanted to make sure, especially before the Hot Air deal, that Salem wouldn’t try to fix what was already working, and would treat the site’s key employees well. She was less concerned about that in the Twitchy deal because she saw how Salem had kept its promises with Hot Air. She is very proud that Ed Morrissey and Allahpundit are still at Hot Air’s helm almost four years later, and anticipates similar continuity with Twitchy’s key people.

3. Stay technically up to date. Pay attention to how the world is changing.

The Twitchy idea, to become a “Twitter curator” — Twitchy is forever! — came about as a result of Michelle’s ongoing involvement in conservative and Tea Party causes. She saw how activists used Twitter and social media to organize and support those efforts while also shaping news narratives.

Ultimately, she thought that capturing, presenting, and critiquing “ephemeral tweets” would generate readership, and that her own Twitter feed and Facebook efforts would be great vehicles for moving traffic to the new enterprise.

She was right. In the 18 months since its mid-2012 founding, Twitchy grew “from less than 2 million page views per month to more than 12 million.” It has became the “water cooler” top 20 conservative site intemperate tweeters most fear, and clever ones most enjoy. It was a surprise to me to learn from Jesse that most of the site’s traffic does not come in through its front page.

4. Be willing to recognize adapt to failure, and accept others’ ideas.

Michelle’s original inspiration for Hot Air was to build it around daily videos, known as “Vents.” Many visitors, including yours truly, enjoyed them. They certainly did a great job of annoying and pressuring politicians in Washington and elsewhere who deserved it. Quite a few Vents are still available on YouTube, and they stand up quite well.

But, as Jesse noted, their viewership level wasn’t sufficient, and they didn’t see a way they could monetize their content. So they reluctantly abandoned the effort. The entrepreneurial landscape is littered with really smart people who couldn’t let go of their ideas and strategies, even when it’s obvious that they won’t work.

By contrast, Michelle and Jessie moved on. They added Hot Air’s “Green Room,” where other reputable writers could submit content. They replaced the blog’s top section, which had been devoted to the Vents, with headlines. They readily gave credit to Allahpundit, one of the site’s two key employees, for both moves. Driven by “Allah’s” special news instincts, the headlines became important as traffic drivers. Yours truly and many others would (and still do) go there a couple of times a day to catch important headlines other imitators still manage to miss. If I were only interested in the blog posts, I’d probably only visit once a day.

All of this went into the value that Salem ended up recognizing — and buying.

5. Keep the back office under control.

It’s way too easy to take this aspect of business for granted. If you let it get away from you, you end up distracting yourself from your core business-building activities. Jesse clearly did a fine job handling this often frustrating arena, and Michelle’s appreciation (and affection — after all, they are married) for all that he did was obvious.

Beyond their business successes, Michelle and Jesse Malkin have been invaluable in keeping conservatism front and center in the blogosphere. Michelle pointed out that Twitchy, with its wide range of coverage encompassing topic areas where conservatives rarely tread, including entertainment and the full range of media, has been “reaching out to non-traditional people and giving (them a conservative) perspective” they might not otherwise ever see.

For that, and as examples of how to ethically build a successful business, we can’t thank them enough.

December 29, 2013

Latest PJ Media Column (‘They Did Build That — Twice’) Is Up

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Marvels — Tom @ 7:15 am

It’s here.

It will go up here at BizzyBlog on Monday evening (link won’t work until then) after the blackout expires.

I am grateful to Michelle and Jesse Malkin for providing me the opportunity to interview them, and wish them all the best in their future personal and busines endeavors.

Positivity: Computer system could help deaf Catholics make confessions

Filed under: Marvels,Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Phoenix:

Dec 20, 2013 / 02:32 am

A Phoenix, Ariz., priest has invented a computer system intended to help Catholics who are deaf, hearing-impaired or speech-impaired to make their confessions.

Father Romuald P. Zantua, the system’s inventor, told CBCP News that his invention will help increase the practice of confessions, especially for deaf people who have limited access to priests who know sign language.

The website for the system, called St. Damien’s Confession Box, says it is primarily aimed at the deaf and those with speech impediments who may not be able to communicate well to the priest hearing their confession.

“Most priests are also not trained or proficient enough in sign language conversation,” the website said.

About 500,000 Americans use sign language as their principal means of communication.

The system runs special software that uses two dedicated, secured computers. All network connectivity options are disabled except for an Ethernet connection, which connects the devices with a network cable.

The penitent and the priest each have their own computer. They communicate through typed messages on a chat program. The messages are erased at the end of each confession.

The system is still awaiting approval from the Holy See. The National Catholic Office for the Deaf and the National Catholic Partnership on Disability have helped assess and revise the system in its development.

Church law recognizes that the deaf may confess through written communication or an approved interpreter, though all confessions must be made in person. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

December 26, 2013

Positivity: Brenda Schmitz’s Christmas Wishes

Filed under: Marvels,Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

Box of hankies alert (do try to make it through the whole thing for all of its remarkable, uplifting content):


  • Des Moines Register, Dec. 20 — “2 years after death, woman gets her Christmas Wish for family.”
  • Full text of Brenda’s wishes, and a collection of family pictures.
December 19, 2013

Positivity: Apple’s Christmas Ad

Filed under: Marvels,Positivity — Tom @ 9:32 pm

Nicely done (HT Daryn Kagan):

October 10, 2013

Positivity: The Crickets Choir

Filed under: Marvels,Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

Inspiring (HT Anchoress).

Don’t miss it.

Go there.

September 20, 2013

Positivity: ‘The Greatest Genius No One Has Heard Of’

Filed under: Marvels,Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

Published by Charlie Martin at PJMedia.com:

September 13, 2013 – 4:00 pm

One man in the 20th century has had more effect on our daily lives than any other. He is directly responsible for everything digital, and for much of modern communication. And hardly anyone knows his name.

In the 1930s, “computer” was a job description: someone, usually a woman of mathematical bent, with an adding machine and a big sheet of columnar paper who performed a rigorous routine of hand calculations, using paper and pencil, slide rules and tables of logarithms. Stone knives and bearskins weren’t involved, but to modern eyes they might as well have been.

Large research organizations and the Department of War had a few special purpose mechanical computers intended to integrate differential equations. Vannevar Bush (who deserves his own article someday) brought a young grad student to MIT to work on the differential analyzer, a relatively advanced version of these.

… This young man, a recent graduate of the University of Michigan, was named Claude Shannon, Jr. Shannon, while working on the differential analyzer, had the insight that these same computations could be done using combinations of a few simple circuits that performed basic logical operations on true and false values. He described how this could be done, and invented the whole concept of digital circuits, which derive from from Shannon’s thesis on what he called switching theory.

His Master’s thesis.

At about the same time, Alan Turing wrote his series of famous papers on computability; those papers included an idea of how a computer with memory might work, but without Shannon’s switching theory, no one knew how to actually build one. (Google did a great Google Doodle for Turning’s 100th birthday.)

Vannevar Bush then sent Shannon to the Cold Spring Harbor laboratory. Shannon worked with biologists and geneticists, and — remember this was before DNA had been discovered — described how genetics could be understood as an algebra using a small collection of symbols. This was enough to get Shannon a Ph.D. but attracted little attention at the time. However, his Ph.D. is now recognized as pre-figuring what we now call bioinformatics.

During the war, Shannon, still working for the War Department, was put to work on cryptography, where he merely invented a general mathematical basis of nearly all cryptography, and in the meantime proved that there is one and exactly one method of making an unbreakable cipher. This is called a one-time pad.

But this wasn’t enough. He went to work for Bell Labs, and began thinking about radio or telephone signaling. (His original switching theory was already the basic for new telephone switches — direct telephone dialing depended on Shannon’s Master’s.) What was common to all these different ways of signaling we already used: telegraph, telephone, radio, and that new-fangled thing television? Shannon had a surprising insight: what made a signal a signal was whether or not you could predict it. …

Go here for the rest of the story.