Weekend Digest: The big data, bad blood testing, and Darwin’s fake disease edition

by Larry Brannan ([email protected]) 57 views 

On this week’s TV edition of Talk Business & Politics, which airs Sundays at 9:30 a.m. on KATV Channel 7 in Central Arkansas and now in Northeast Arkansas on KAIT-NBC, Sundays at 10 a.m.:

• Special Session
The legislature debates highway funding, but other issues climb on board the special session. Richard Bearden and Michael Cook join our Talk Politics roundtable.

• State Spending
KATV’s Elicia Dover’s in-depth report on spending by the state’s constitutional officers raises questions about Treasurer Dennis Milligan’s office.

• Senate Swipes
Plus, Democratic Senate candidate Conner Eldridge continues to take aim at incumbent Republican Sen. John Boozman. Is he making a dent? Eldridge is in studio for a conversation.

Tune in to Talk Business & Politics in Central Arkansas on KATV Channel 7, Sundays at 9:30 a.m. and now in Northeast Arkansas on KAIT-NBC, Sundays at 10 a.m.

According to Fast Company, “Maverick Collective members commit private funds toward investing in women around the world.”

And how are “a princess and CEO applying this model to philanthropy?”

“It was overwhelming, actually,” recalls Kate Roberts, CEO of the philanthropic initiative the Maverick Collective, of the emotions that flooded in when she gave birth to her daughter in 2011. As a senior vice president at the not-for-profit Population Services International (PSI), she knew the challenges women face all over the world, including gender-based violence and lack of access to contraception. And she knew that despite all the rhetoric about investing in women, just two cents of every development dollar actually goes toward programs for girls.

“The following year, Roberts accompanied Her Royal Highness the Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway, a longtime HIV/AIDS activist and also a mother of a young daughter, on a visit to a PSI project in New Delhi.”

“They decided that if the current model for philanthropy wasn’t working to lift girls out of poverty, they needed to create something new, combining Roberts’s development and marketing experience—plus access to PSI’s 9,000 employees across 65 countries—with the crown princess’s international clout and track record of giving voice to those in need.”

More on the strategy and its success at this link.

“Ever since the idea of strategy came to the business world in the early 1960s, the goal of differentiation has been paramount. Customers choose the company that gives them value that other companies can’t match. A company that can show it is different from other companies, in a way that is relevant to customers, gains a major competitive advantage,” says Harvard Business Review.

“As business strategists, we see endless amounts of writing about how to achieve differentiation. And we see many executives trying to take this advice to heart. But we are also regularly reminded of the lack of true differentiation in most mainstream global companies — and of the opportunities they are thus squandering.”

The problem starts with the way many business people think about differentiation. To them, the unit of differentiation is an individual product, service or brand. That’s what customers see, after all, relative to what the competition can provide.

But differentiation needs to be sustainable; it shouldn’t live or die with individual offerings. The heart of differentiation therefore is your company’s ability to develop and promote distinctive products, services, and branded experiences on a consistent basis.  It’s not the output that sets you apart, but the way that everything you do supports the product and gives it context. With truly differentiated companies, much of the distinction goes beyond the product itself.

Does your company have a differentiation challenge? Learn how to solve it by clicking this link.

On Wednesday night, “the Wall Street Journal’s John Carreyrou published the latest in a series of amazing investigative pieces that have single-handedly dismantled the hype around Theranos, the blood testing company that claimed it would disrupt larger rivals like Laboratory Corporation of America and Quest Diagnostics,” reports Forbes.

“This article is important, because it is the moment when Theranos’ last major defense of its image crumbled. Until now, Theranos and those close to the company could claim that its problems were limited to its laboratory in Newark, California, and that it had really done a fine job in Arizona, where most of its testing centers are.”

That claim lies demolished. The Journal reports that, in order to comply with regulators at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Theranos has notified thousands of patients that test results it sent out in 2014 and 2015 were invalid.

In the past, Theranos has vigorously contested the Journal’s reporting. This time, it acquiesced, saying in a statement that it has taken “comprehensive corrective measures to address the issues CMS raised in their observations.”

Theranos just isn’t very good at running a diagnostic testing business.

And Forbes says, “There will be other shoes to drop.” For the complete story, follow this link.

“Big Data, and its enormous power to quantify and illuminate phenomena, is all the rage. But author and entrepreneur Martin Lindstrom says it may be overrated,” posts Entrepreneur.

“Big Data is about analyzing the past,” he says, and it’s “safe and accepted” in our society to predict future trends based on what’s happened before. But that may not yield the most accurate information.

Instead, he’s a believer in “Small Data,” the title of his new book, which he describes as a method that’s about “infusing creativity and preserving the instincts” of entrepreneurs, which he says can be their most valuable assets. One example of this approach he cites is media magnate Rupert Murdoch.

Want to learn more about getting “small”? Click here.

“Congressional Republicans and Democrats may despise the other party’s pick for the White House, but let’s face it: Trump and Clinton are great for business. The business, that is, of raising huge sums of money for the battle to control the Senate and House in 2017,” reports POLITICO.

One GOP email solicitation asks donors to pony up because of Hillary Clinton’s history of “attacking sexual harassment victims, defending an accused child rapist, [and] playing a major role in the Whitewater and Benghazi scandals.” A Democratic email highlights Donald Trump’s proposed ban on Muslim immigrants: “Stand with us and denounce Donald Trump’s bigoted plan.”

Both Republican and Democratic congressional fundraising committees see major monetary promise in the other party’s candidates.

“For the right, Clinton’s endless cloud of controversies — from Whitewater to the ongoing FBI investigation of her email practices as secretary of state — offers a gold mine for their cash operations. Ditto for the left and Trump’s comments about deporting Hispanics, banning Muslims and punishing women who’ve had abortions.”

For the complete story click here.

Or in other words, “Mr. Trump’s wild ride,” posts The New York Times Magazine.

“On the more conventional presidential campaigns I have covered – George W. Bush, John McCain, Mitt Romney – the candidate’s mobile inner sanctum was a hive of activity, the advisers hovering constantly over their boss, rattling off the latest polling data or words of unsolicited advice from a big donor. On Trump’s plane, the aides spoke when spoken to and otherwise kept to their labors on their laptops.”

Trump’s attention was on the large flat-screen TV on which various Fox News pundits were forecasting his probable victory in Indiana’s Republican primary the following day and the bleak implications for his opponent Ted Cruz. The Republican contest, they all seemed to agree, was pretty much over. The 69-year-old billionaire now appeared destined to be Clinton’s opponent in the general election. The Fox commentators, even the ones who favored Trump, seemed to struggle for the words to convey this eventuality.

“The candidate took in the good news with an oddly inert expression. “Maybe I’ll get beat tomorrow,” he said, for at least the third time that day. Not a single poll had given him cause for worry. But for all his swagger, Trump had an awareness of unseen, deal-breaking contingencies that held his triumphalism in check. He was compulsively superstitious; twice on other plane trips I had seen him toss a few granules of salt over his left shoulder after eating. And here he was, on the day before he would effectively clinch his nomination, calling a single obscure delegate in a state he had already won in a landslide — an implicit nod to the forces aligned against him before resuming the affect of indomitability.”

Take the “wild ride” to Trump’s nomination at this link.

That from “Clinton World” according to The Hill.

“Clinton World is scoffing at suggestions from Donald Trump and other Republicans that Hillary Clinton is making a mistake in suggesting she’d give a major role in her White House on the issue of the economy to Bill Clinton.”

“Trump has mocked the suggestion of putting the former president to work.”

“How can Crooked Hillary put her husband in charge of the economy when he was responsible for NAFTA, the worst economic deal in U.S. history?” the presumptive GOP presidential nominee tweeted on Tuesday.

And former Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., suggested that the promise of such a major role for Bill Clinton suggests he is effectively running for a third term.

“The president of the United States has an actual job to create jobs, create wealth, create take home pay,” he said on Fox Business Network. “That’s Hillary’s job if she wants to be president. That’s not the first spouse’s job.”

“The Clinton camp sees Bill Clinton as a valuable asset and believes the GOP attacks on him will backfire.”

More on this story at this link.

“The Unified Agenda includes rules and regulations that federal agencies plan to issue before Obama leaves office in January 2017,” posts The Hill.

Here’s a look at some of the top regulations that are in the works.

“Debi Thomas, the best African American figure skater in the history of the sport, couldn’t find her figure skates. She looked around the darkened trailer, perched along a river in a town so broke even the bars have closed, and sighed. The mobile home where she lives with her fiance and his two young boys was cluttered with dishes, stacks of documents, a Christmas tree still standing weeks past the holiday,” says The Washington Post.

She wanted it all. And for a time, she had it. After Stanford came medical school at Northwestern University, then marriage to a handsome lawyer who gave her a son — who in turn became one of the country’s best high school football players. Higher and higher she went.

Now, she’s here. Thomas, a former orthopedic surgeon who doesn’t have health insurance, declared bankruptcy in 2014 and hasn’t brought in a steady paycheck in years. She’s twice divorced, and her medical license, which she was in danger of losing anyhow, expired around the time she went broke. She hasn’t seen her family in years. She instead inveighs against shadowy authorities in the nomenclature of conspiracy theorists – “the powers that be”; “corporate media”; “brainwashing” – and composes opinion pieces for the local newspaper that carry headlines such as “Pain, No Gain” and “Driven to Insanity.”

For the complete read on this sad story, go to this link.

In a intriguing piece Time reports on, “How two crises – a crippling strike and the Second World War – changed the Disney studio (and Walt himself) forever.”

“On May 29, 1941, after a valued senior animator named Art Babbitt was fired for joining the union, nearly half the Disney art department walked out. Even as the studio’s stock dropped precipitously because its films were losing money, Walt refused to negotiate. In fact, when Babbitt shouted from the picket line, “Shame on you, Walt Disney!” as Walt drove to work, Disney got out of his car and charged at him.”

Disheartened and confused, Walt fell back on a paranoid conspiracy theory, claiming through an ad in the trade paper Variety that the strike was “Communistic.” But he was, for once, powerless. “Animators were highly skilled workers, hard to replace with scabs, which provided them with added leverage,” Gerald Horne, author of Class Struggle in Hollywood: 1930–1950, tells LIFE.

Just as he had done after his nervous breakdown, Walt escaped – this time, to South America.

“But nothing would ever be the same – not least because on December 7, 1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, sending a shocked America reeling into World War II.”

For the full read on how the strike and then the war affected Disney, click here.

“As medicine has advanced over the centuries, diseases have come and gone, but not always because they’ve been eradicated. Many times, widely diagnosed maladies — some of them supposedly debilitating or deadly — turned out not to exist when new technologies allowed a closer look,” reports Real Clear Science.

Chronic Lyme disease, chronic candidiasis, and non-celiac gluten sensitivity are a few questionable conditions that persist today. Time and evidence will likely “cure” them for good.

Here are five historical diseases that were eliminated by scientific scrutiny.

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