Weekend Digest: The Tom Cotton, Miley Cyrus And Birthday Cake Edition

by Larry Brannan ([email protected]) 187 views 

This week on Talk Business & Politics:

The 90th General Assembly brings its business to a close for all intents and purposes. Speaker of the House Jeremy Gillam and Senate President Jonathan Dismang are our guests.

Our political roundtable dissects the last week of the session and some of its overall achievements. KATV’s Janelle Lilley and Talk Business & Politics contributor Frank Scott join me for a conversation.

And a political legend passes away. Former 3rd District Congressman John Paul Hammerschmidt dies at age 92. He was a pillar of the modern Republican Party but his admirers cross the political aisle.

Tune in to Talk Business & Politics with Roby Brock on Sunday at 9 a.m. on KATV Ch. 7.

For our weekend business and political readers:

It’s called “The Shoe That Grows.” And it does. Seriously.

The shoe expands in three ways and was designed by a partnership with a “sole.”

Fox affiliate KPTV in Oregon reports on a shoe that can expand five sizes that was developed to help kids in underdeveloped countries.

The idea came to Kenton Lee while he was living and working in Nairobi, Kenya. He was surrounded by children who often didn’t have shoes, let alone any that fit.

When he saw a young girl with the ends of her shoes cut off to let her toes stick out he knew he had to do something.

“So right there, spur of the moment, I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a pair of shoes that could adjust and expand their size? A pair of shoes that could grow?’” Lee told Fox 12’s Kelsey Watts.

The Nampa, Idaho native pitched the idea to several companies, but was turned down time after time. He’d almost given up hope when a meeting with a colleague led to a man in Portland who knew a man in France, who recommended a guy in Vancouver.

That guy in Vancouver happened to be a former design engineer for Nike and Adidas, and with the help of a non-profit, the rest was history.

“Because International, the non-profit organization Lee founded that backs the shoes, is now ready to place its largest order yet: 5,000 pairs.”

And the shoes are also helping prevent childhood diseases.  KPTV has the full story and a video at this link.

Fast Company reports, “The battle is heating up between American tech companies and European regulators.”

The writing is on the wall, says The Wall Street Journal: To all appearances, the European Union is preparing to sue Google. The EU has been accusing the California-based tech company of antitrust and anticompetitive practices since 2010, and Google and the previous EU antitrust chief tried and failed three times to come to an agreement.

But the new antitrust chief, Margrethe Vestager, has made it clear that she is not looking for a settlement from Google. As the The Wall Street Journal reports, Vestager wants a landmark case that will set precedent for how tech megacorporations operate in the EU.

“If the EU commission goes forward with a lawsuit, Google will likely face antitrust charges for altering search engine results to promote services in its interest (for example, listing Google Shopping sites higher than local businesses),” according to the report.

What would happen if Google loses, and how is this case different than in the past where the EU has accused Google three times of antitrust and anticompetitive practices since 2010 but failed to come to an agreement?

Fast Company has the complete story here.

Advertising Age says, “There is no more social media – just advertising.”

For a while, it really felt like brands were beginning to embrace online communities as a way to directly connect with people as human beings. But over the years, that idealistic vision of genuine two-way exchange eroded. Brands got lazy by posting irrelevant content and social networks needed to make money.

Let’s call it what it is: Social media marketing is now advertising.

Once you come to terms with this reality, there are a number of things that you can do as marketers to make the most of this era of #NotReally social media marketing. Here are five:

To find out, follow this link.

Unreasonable asks, “Will hyperinnovation kill brand strategy?”

But wait a minute.  What exactly is hyperinnovation?  Here’s a good example:

Today, consumers aren’t waiting for new seasons, new launches—they want constant new, constant updates, constant improvement. That may be greens’ fees in tech, but it’s spreading to other sectors as well.

You can drive your Tesla into the shop anytime for a software update that improves cruise control, for example. So where does that leave my VW—it wasn’t designed to be constantly upgraded. If I want a new model, I have to wait until next year.

“I’m fascinated by the impact this hyperinnovation is going to have on sectors that—unlike tech—require massive retooling to effect even relatively small, iterative changes. Imagine if your favorite detergent went through 50 different bottle designs in a year, constantly tweaking to find the ‘right’ one? Would the cost collapse the company?”

Consumers (or co-creators, as I think they’ll increasingly become known) will welcome some of these shifts, but bemoan others.  Last week, you turned to deodorant X because it promised ultimate dryness. This week, it’s become the deodorant with more fruit scents. You’ll feel cut adrift, constantly looking for something you can hold onto.

Is it really going to be the death of old-fashioned brand concepts?  Go to this link for the eye-opening reveal.

Vox says, “It depends how you ask.”

David Weigel has a piece up arguing that Democrats have been so intoxicated with business leaders taking the gay rights side in the Indiana religious freedom controversy that they’re ignoring polling showing that the public agrees with Mike Pence.

He cites a March Marist poll in which 54 percent of Americans agreed with “allowing First Amendment religious liberty protection or exemptions for faith-based organizations and individuals even when it conflicts with government laws.”

The truth is that this is an issue where the polling seems highly subject to framing effects driven by the exact wording of the question. As the debate moves from an abstract one about religious freedom to a more concrete one about gay rights, the Democrats are going to find themselves on stronger and stronger footing.

“Putting together the Marist poll and the PRRI poll, you get a clear sense of what the public thinks.”

Find out what that is by clicking this link.

Marketplace reports, “Governor Jerry Brown ordered the first mandatory water cuts in California’s history on Wednesday. Local water districts will be required to cut per-capita consumption by 25 percent.”

Brown made his announcement at Tahoe, where officials measure the snowpack each spring. Sierra Nevada snowmelt trickles into rivers and aqueducts and accounts for about a third of the state’s drinking water. 

Do some critics think Brown’s action was too late and what are the key details of the mandatory cutbacks?

Connect here for full details.

Throughout the night this past Wednesday and into the early morning hours, the haggling went on to cement a nuclear agreement with Iran and world powers.

POLITICO reports, “Switzerland, Energy Secretary Ernie Moniz and his Iranian counterpart haggled over one of the last issues holding up a nuclear agreement with world powers: Iran’s future research into next-generation new centrifuge designs that can accelerate its path to a nuclear weapon.”

But how that key issue was resolved remains fuzzy. An Obama administration fact sheet on the deal says only that Iran will be able to conduct “limited research and development” into the centrifuges — which are far more efficient than the relatively crude devices Iran now operates — “according to a schedule and parameters which have been agreed to” by Iran, the United States, and five other world powers.

Although Iran will be barred for a decade from enriching uranium with the advanced devices, that schedule and those parameters remain otherwise unknown.

POLITICO says, “The research-and-development question is just one of a handful of key issues left unresolved, at least in public, and which could endanger the agreement’s survival.”

Although the Obama administration and their negotiating partner countries were said “to be happy about the framework of the deal,” critics howled.

POLITICO takes an in-depth look at the deal, its critics and those “gray areas” at this link.

While Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton has been publicly highly critical of the U.S. negotiations with Iran, he’s made headlines on two fronts this week in surprising ways.

First, comments the Senator made regarding treatment of gays and lesbians in Iran sent international pop icon Miley Cyrus into a Twitter frenzy. She encouraged her 19.4 million followers to call Sen. Cotton’s office to complain, and apparently they did.

On a less confrontational note, Cotton did a quick Q&A with the New York Times and we learned that he and his wife, Anna, eat a lot of birthday cake – almost daily.

You have been described as having very little appetite for frivolity. Do you have any guilty pleasures? I run a lot every morning.

That sounds neither guilty nor pleasurable. But I do it so I can indulge in the guilty pleasure of eating birthday cake.

Every day? Most days, with ice cream. Early on, when my wife and I were dating, we went to the grocery store, and I told her that sometimes I just buy birthday cakes, and I eat them. And she said: “Really? I do, too.”

There’s more you don’t know about Arkansas’ junior senator. Read more about him here.

Saturday Down South tells it like it is both the good and the bad. And boy this is bad.

It has ranked its “10 Worst SEC Hires Post-Bear Bryant” and who do you think leads the list?  Or should we rather say who is at the “bottom” of the list.

Either way, here it is, and get ready to hold your nose, especially your hog nose.

It’s millennials says Fast Company.

The 9-to-5 grind is over. 

I call that traditional view, “Big Work,” and millennials intuitively understand that’s not where the future is. They are, in a sense, the first generation of freelance natives. They’re embracing freelancing in a way no other generation has. And now, they’re the majority of the workforce.

Are you surprised “with their comfort within the freelance economy?”

You won’t be after you click on this link for a primer on what they have pioneered and how they have banded together.