Unintended Consequences: Daily Payroll

It turns out that its only in the USA where payroll is commonly paid more frequently than once per month. As a business owner, I understand the benefits of monthly payroll, as payroll takes time and effort to process, as well as cash in the bank. That said, most likely this is soon to be history, as online services like Gusto make paying payroll just a few clicks of effort, including all the...

The Bachelor Undershirt, The Suit, and Yoga Pants

Bachelor Undershirt header

I love a long-held, incorrect, now broken assumption, and I found a doozy on Twitter. As happens on social media, someone was ranting. This time about how yoga pants have no business being worn outside of doing yoga. @dieworkwear replied with a lovely history lesson in fashion that not only refuted the rant, but which explained how the modern business suit was once considered low class and how...

Hidden assumptions of nuclear power

Cooling towers

If you read this blog, you know I love to find hidden assumptions that people don’t even notice are assumptions. This time it is one of my own assumptions, and one that I suspect the vast majority of people share. TL;DR: nuclear power plants are NOT controlled nuclear bombs. When a nuclear power station is making power, the term used is that the reactor has gone “critical”...

Why is it called a Bourse?

Bourse in Wikipedia

I don’t follow the European stock markets but from time to time see and hear them referred to as a Bourse. Ever wonder where that term comes from? Googling doesn’t easily provide an answer. Turns out it’s a family name. The real story is related to the true stories of the original stock markets trading under a tree in a square or on a street. Turns out stock markets were not...

Salt water, lighting… bad journalism or fraud?

Electricity from Sea Water

I keep seeing stories about a new lamp that is “powered” by salt water. The claim is that you’ll get 45 days of lighting using nothing more than half a liter of salt water… What I want to know is why none of these journalists ever check with an engineer or physicist or high school science teacher on whether such a claim is possible. If it’s not obvious to you, the...

Efficiency vs. Resilience: The Texas Blackout


The right framework can uncover the most hidden of assumptions. For example, the 2021 winter blackouts in Texas. While the politicians and news debate over windmills, natural gas, and deregulation, they are missing the the framework and thus talking trees instead of forest.   The better way to look at this problem is the consequence of a hidden tradeoff we make with all our big, complex...


The Timid Soul

It’s been a long time since I mentioned my love of long-lived assumptions. This time it isn’t a story of a startup, but a story of an not-uncommon, but no everyday English word, milquetoast. The spelling makes it looks like an old loan Latin word borrowed from French 1,000 years ago. It’s not. It’s a fancy way of spelling “milk toast” a simple breakfast dish...

The Drought of Capital

Entrepreneurs are farmers of ideas.Farmers who are living in a perpetual drought.No matter how well we teach entrepreneurship, the drought creates year after year of failed crops. The fix has little to do with more and better incubators, accelerators, and startups labs. This drought is the lack of capital to support the existing startups. Just as we can’t solve a regional drought by...

Sharing Equity with Employees

There are a few aspects of venture capital whose origins are lost to history. One of these is the 20% stock option pool. Or more simply, the idea that everyone in the startup should own (at least a small amount of) the equity. Does this idea date all the way back to Rock and Davis, or did it come later? Why 20%? Why not 10% or 33% or 50%? Was this idea ever debated, or did one VC decades ago tout...

America Started with Capitalism

The story of the Pilgrims and the Mayflower taught to every American child in every American school is less than half of the actual story. Obviously there are a lot of day to day details left out, but the most striking of the omissions is the fact that the endeavor was a for-profit business. The corporate side of this story is told in the first chapter of Americana: A 400-Year History of American...


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