Saturday, November 19, 2016

What Business Are You In?

I have been following the antics of the current MIT President and his moves into various venues. The last one was setting up a VC fund. Now I noted then that if the Institute chooses winners and losers then it may very likely have a deleterious effect. After all it is the real money folks who do that. I have walked away from dozens of deals before I select one to spend time with.

Now the next venture is Real Estate. As MIT notes:

On Tuesday, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) announced that the federal government has made “the initial selection of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) as the Exchange Partner for the Volpe Project. The next step of the process will be the joint selection of the Design Team by the federal government and the Exchange Partner for the new federal facility.”

Now the Volpe Center was a consolation prize for Massachusetts after President Johnson moved NASA to Houston. Probably a good idea, last thing Cambridge needed was another Government infrastructure. But now it appears that MIT with the East Campus and now Volpe will get into real estate. Where is Donald Trump when he is needed! Oh, forgot, it is that fear thing.

However real estate is real risk. Real big risk. If you want fear have a $750,000,000 development fall flat. Or have a 100% over-run. Can a University manage anything like this? Look at Harvard's endowment.

 Also perhaps one should look at NYU which bought up old buildings. But with MIT the intent is to totally renovate the area. What about the asbestos in the building folks, Remember Building 20!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

A Health Care Proposal

Back in 2009 amidst the spinning of Health Care Plans we proposed an alternative plan that both provided universal coverage and cost less. Of course it did not provide every possible benefit paid by those not getting any and it did not mandate unmanageable overhead increases, and yes it did not have Washington dictate each move. It assume physicians had some understanding of providing Health Care and that Government employees were, shall we say clueless?

Now we have the same folks who thought we were all "stupid", from that school in Cambridge, what is it called? Ah yes, perhaps the Marxist Institute of Technology; close but no cigar. The individual was the one whose credibility was allegedly called into question when caught on camera states in the Party paper of record:

So Mr. Trump would not only continue the insurance discrimination that plagued the country before the Affordable Care Act but even make it worse. In fact, there is simply no Republican replacement for the act that wouldn’t leave millions of Americans at serious financial risk. The single most important accomplishment of the Affordable Care Act was to bring the United States into line with the rest of the developed world, as a place where people were not one bad gene or one bad traffic accident away from bankruptcy. Mr. Trump and other Republicans can discuss kind-sounding alternatives as much as they like, but they can’t hide the fact that repealing the fundamental insurance protections that are central to the act would be a cruel backward step.

But given this individual's prior record as  noted on his statements why should we believe him now? Just a question.

You see the analysis I did some almost eight years ago assumed universal coverage, no per-conditions but it also assumed that the patient would have some part of the process. Namely if one smoked, was obese, drank excessively, or in any other way was involved in a high health risk behavior then they paid more, and they had to pay more. 

Physicians would be back in control of providing health care, not Government GS-9s or even MIT economics or business school PhD, and especially not Harvard economists.

CRISPR and Humans

Nature discusses the first application of CRISPR technology to humans. It was in China. They state:

On 28 October, a team led by oncologist Lu You at Sichuan University in Chengdu delivered the modified cells into a patient with aggressive lung cancer as part of a clinical trial at the West China Hospital, also in Chengdu. Earlier clinical trials using cells edited with a different technique have excited clinicians. The introduction of CRISPR, which is simpler and more efficient than other techniques, will probably accelerate the race to get gene-edited cells into the clinic across the world, says Carl June, who specializes in immunotherapy at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and led one of the earlier studies....June is the scientific adviser for a planned US trial that will use CRISPR to target three genes in participants’ cells, with the goal of treating various cancers. He expects the trial to start in early 2017. And in March 2017, a group at Peking University in Beijing hopes to start three clinical trials using CRISPR against bladder, prostate and renal-cell cancers. Those trials do not yet have approval or funding.

They note that this may become a race comparable to the space race of the 1960s. We have been following this for about three years now and the potential is significant but CRISPR Cas 9 still has the DSB problem of reassembly as well as the targeting specificity.

Who Are These Folks?

What is happening to my old Alma Mater, whoops I used a Latin phrase, perhaps that is now banned in Cambridge. Yet I do not know what the new in word must be. Let it pass.

Well, I get an email from some character who states:

Many of you have reached out to us to express concern about the recent outcome of the United States presidential elections. For us, that your outreach came from all corners of the world is a testament to the potential we have to build a world that is even more connected. Differences in our views do exist, with many of them existentially important, but over the long term we find progress through education and community. They are our ships for the seas of uncertainty.  

Then this character includes the letter from the President bemoaning the election. It appears as if this fellow is actually getting paid by the Academy as well. For what? That I cannot figure out.

Not only did I not reach out to him, I did not know he even existed, and worse yet that we are paying for him!

I truly believe that we may have in some cases gone over the cliff in "sensitivity" training and expression. And we wonder why tuition is exploding.

Saturday, November 12, 2016


I recall a New Hampshire License plate which said WASNTME. My wife thought that was hilarious. So many people use that excuse. Like the five year old with chocolate frosting all over their face saying it was not them who ate the cake.

Today we get the best of the WASNTME, see the NY Times.

By the way, if you can take a trip to New Hampshire, you will have a wonderful time reading license plates!

Harvard and Assumptions

As expected a Harvard Professor believes that those without a proper education led to what occured this week. He states:

....back in July, I noted that the Brexit vote was strongly correlated with education. The recent presidential election shows the same pattern: "College graduates backed Clinton by a 9-point margin (52%-43%), while those without a college degree backed Trump 52%-44%."  The graph below shows that it is unusual for the more educated and less educated to be in such substantial disagreement.

I know a lot of PhDs, Ds, DDS, DMD etc who may disagree. As one somewhat trained in the sciences, engineering is close, we all too often ask, why? Why did this occur. We also note that the polls were totally off. Why? The conclusion reached above may be nothing more than the "echo chamber" effect. Look at the evidence. Then ask, why? If the PhDs, MDs, etc did vote other than how they do at Harvard, why?

Frankly I do not have an answer but after eight years writing the blog I have learned that a lot that comes out of the Yard is oftentimes truly "echo chamber" in character. After all if my next door Professor thinks that way why not all the world?

But what of the folks in West Virginia, where frankly coal has killed a lot of jobs. What do they think? Should all decisions be made by PhDs? I know I have made a few bad judgements and I am not even an economist!

Do I believe the graph alluded to? Not after this past election.