Saturday, September 27, 2014

Higher Education Costs

Somehow both the left and the right miss the issue on Higher Education costs. Recently from one of the Libertarian web sites, Cafe Hayek, they state:

This graph shows changes, in the United States from the early 1960s, in the average annual monetary-income return to each year of college education.  For this time period, these returns reached a low in the mid-1970s – looks like a mere two years before I started college in 1976 – and began rising impressively starting in 1981.  These returns have leveled out (with some year-to-year variability, of course) since about 2000. When an asset – in this case, human capital – becomes more productive, it’s neither a surprise nor a ‘market failure’ for the cost of acquiring that asset to rise.

Let's briefly look at some facts,  an oftentimes brutal exercise for some Academics:

1. In 1965 the costs of MIT per year for tuition was about $1,500 and room and board was about the same. This ration was somewhat constant for the next 25 years. Now tuition is 3 time room and board.

2. In 1965 that $1,500 annual tuition resulted in a starting salary of $9,000. That was a 6:1 ratio in salary to tuition. Now tuition is about $60,000 and starting salary on a good day can be as high as $90,000. That is a 1.5:1 ratio. Is that good?

3. Universities have more buildings than ever and at costs per sq ft that are extraordinary. Then the care and upkeep is even worse.

4. Universities now also have massive explosions in Administrative staff. These are usually Government mandated positions that serve some obscure and quite limited purpose, and do not produce any academic value.

So is the argument above with merit. Doubtful. Yet it does justify the exorbitant salaries paid to Faculties, possibly a bit self serving.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Rationing: NHS and the ACA

Perhaps a closer examination of the NHS is worth the effort. As the Guardian reports:

Intolerably long waiting times to see a GP have become a national disgrace that could endanger people’s health, the leader of Britain’s family doctors has warned. Increasingly unacceptable waits for an appointment risk illnesses not being spotted quickly enough and chances to prevent them being missed, said Dr Maureen Baker. The chair of the Royal College of GPs spoke out as NHS figures showed that one in six patients have to wait at least a week before they see a GP or practice nurse. A total of 58.9 million patients in England are set to have waited for a consultation for a week or more by the end of 2014, up almost 50% from the 40m who waited that long during 2012, according to a new RCGP analysis of data from NHS England’s six-monthly GP patient survey. “These devastating statistics show that waiting times are now a national disgrace and that the situation is set to get even worse over the year ahead,” Baker said.

This should be a warning for the effective rationing we will see in the next two years.

Interesting Delivery Mechanism

One of the challenges that face teams finding ways to deliver a specific protein into a cell is the delivery mechanism. Namely how does one get the protein into the cell to do what is required; activate or block a pathway. In a recent paper in ChemBioChem the authors propose using a controlled anthrax mechanism. They state:

Antibody mimics have significant scientific and therapeutic utility for the disruption of protein–protein interactions inside cells; however, their delivery to the cell cytosol remains a major challenge. Here we show that protective antigen (PA), a component of anthrax toxin, efficiently transports  commonly used antibody mimics to the cytosol of mammalian cells when conjugated to the N-terminal domain of LF (LFN). In contrast, a cell-penetrating peptide (CPP) was not able to deliver any of these antibody mimics into the cell cytosol. The refolding and binding of a transported tandem monobody to Bcr-Abl (its protein target) in chronic myeloid leukemia cells were confirmed by co-immunoprecipitation. We also observed inhibition of Bcr-Abl kinase activity and induction of apoptosis caused by the monobody. In a separate case, we show disruption of key interactions in the MAPK signaling pathway after PA-mediated delivery of an affibody binder that targets hRaf-1. We show for the first time that PA can deliver bioactive antibody mimics to disrupt intracellular protein–protein interactions. This technology adds a useful tool to expand the applications of these modern agents to the intracellular milieu.

 In the MIT News release they state:

“Crossing the cell membrane is really challenging,” he says. “One of the major bottlenecks in biotechnology is that there really doesn’t exist a universal technology to deliver antibodies into cells.” For inspiration to solve this problem, Pentelute and his colleagues turned to nature. Scientists have been working for decades to understand how anthrax toxins get into cells; recently researchers have started exploring the possibility of mimicking this system to deliver small protein molecules as vaccines. The anthrax toxin has three major components. One is a protein called protective antigen (PA), which binds to receptors called TEM8 and CMG2 that are found on most mammalian cells. Once PA attaches to the cell, it forms a docking site for two anthrax proteins called lethal factor (LF) and edema factor (EF). These proteins are pumped into the cell through a narrow pore and disrupt cellular processes, often resulting in the cell’s death. However, this system can be made harmless by removing the sections of the LF and EF proteins that are responsible for their toxic activities, leaving behind the sections that allow the proteins to penetrate cells. The MIT team then replaced the toxic regions with antibody mimics, allowing these cargo proteins to catch a ride into cells through the PA channel.

 This technique may have substantial merit and worth investigating for a multiplicity of therapeutic applications.

USPTF and Prostate Cancer

A while back the USPTF, despite the lack of clear evidence one way or the other, dictated as one would expect of an Government formed entity that PSA testing should be abandoned. Now in a JAMA Internal Medicine report they find little if any compliance. As is reported in Medscape:

The team analyzed data from the 2012 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, which is a joint initiative of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the US states. They focused on data collected between January 2012 and February 2013, and identified male respondents aged 50 or more without a history of prostate cancer or prostate problem who reported undergoing prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing within the preceding year. The researchers found that overall, 37.1% had been tested. But there was far more testing in older men compared with younger men. Nearly half of the older men in the survey had undergone PSA testing — 48.5% of men aged 70 to 74 years and 48.4% of men aged 65 to 69.

 Now in a NEJM article this past March the authors concluded:

Extended follow-up confirmed a substantial reduction in mortality after radical prostatectomy; the number needed to treat to prevent one death continued to decrease when the treatment was modified according to age at diagnosis and tumor risk. A large proportion of long-term survivors in the watchful-waiting group have not required any palliative treatment. 

Thus survival is a true benefit and physicians are acting rationally as are patients. Yet the USPTF  persists in its rationing and in my opinion unrealistic stance on this test. This is but one of the "benefits" I have previously discussed about the ACA.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Getting into Trouble in Maryland

In an article in Tech Dirt they observe the following:

But his new argument takes it even further, arguing not just that they were unethical, but flat out illegal, based on his reading of the Common Rule and a particular Maryland law that effectively extends the Common Rule. The Common Rule basically says that if you're doing "research involving human subjects" with federal funds, you need "informed consent" and further approval from an institutional review board (IRB), which basically all research universities have in place, who have to approve all research. The idea is to avoid seriously harmful or dangerous experiments. The Maryland law takes the Common Rule and says it applies not just to federally funded research but "all research conducted in Maryland." 

Now this is in response to the  Facebook user test for what makes someone happy. Facebook allegedly manipulated what users saw based upon some criterion and then published the results.

Now if the above theory holds, then any market research, for example, in Maryland, without both an IRB and signed consent is criminal. Perhaps that is the case. Maryland is a strange place, I live there for a few years and it is an amalgam of many strange interests.

But if this is correct, then if I were to approach someone to ask their opinion, say at a party, and my day job was as a pollster then I may be committing a crime if I were in Maryland.

This is a classic example, if true, of the collection of laws that were half baked and that can be used to silence anyone.

In fact, one may consider the extreme, if for example you walk down the street and say, "How are you?", perhaps that could be considered research and without a written consent one is guilty of a crime. In many ways this is a classic example of Legislators and the Executive going a bit too far. Thank God for EZPass, I cannot be tempted to be friendly to any Maryland toll taker.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Arendt, Heidegger and Eichmann

In a recent book on the Eichmann papers, by Stangneth (Eichmann Before Jerusalem: The Unexamined Life of a Mass Murderer)[1], the author presents a superbly researched and prepared documentation on Eichmann and his thought as well as his putative strategy when dealing with the Israeli Courts at his Trial. This book also peripherally reflects on the Arendt book of over a half a century ago at the time of the Trial which caused such uproar. In the Trial, Arendt had asked to be sent and record what transpired. This was in the early sixties and at the time she was in New York. Her reporting became an amalgam of her German scholarship, of which Heidegger was central, and in an almost equal way her place in the then New York intellectual circles. Both influences became filters for what she saw and how she then reported the events at the Trial.

Benhabib in the NY Times has written a critique of the book and she states[2]:

The Emory University historian Deborah E. Lipstadt told The Times this month that Stangneth “shatters” Arendt’s portrait of Eichmann. In The Jewish Review of Books, the intellectual historian Richard Wolin writes: “Arendt had her own intellectual agenda, and perhaps out of her misplaced loyalty to her former mentor and lover, Martin Heidegger, insisted on applying the Freiburg philosopher’s concept of ‘thoughtlessness’ (Gedankenlosigkeit) to Eichmann. In doing so, she drastically underestimated the fanatical conviction that infused his actions.”

The fact is that Arendt had an affair with Heidegger when she was his student, as one gathers he had affairs with other students at the same period, all the while he was married. Arendt continued a somewhat close relationship with Heidegger up to her death despite the fact that Heidegger was a member of the Nazi party and had personally expelled Jews from his Faculty. Heidegger had a long history of extreme National Socialist tendencies and his joining the Nazi Party was but a step in that process[3].

This was a complex relationship as exhibited by the book by Ettinger which recounts the letters exchanged between Heidegger and Arendt. Ettinger’s work allows insight into the complex and continuing relationship between Arendt and Heidegger, a relationship built in many ways by the basics of German philosophy, from Kant onwards. She remains almost devoted to him to the end, despite the continual exposure of his actions during the War and before. Heidegger in a manner that we see in Eichmann tries to reconstruct a new portrayal of his actions, trying to show that he was not a real Nazi and that his actions were just in line with what was expected of him at the time. It is this situational ethics that somehow Arendt dismisses and she renews and expands the friendship despite the involvement that Heidegger had.

Benhabib continues:

This sort of dismissal of Arendt’s work — essentially a rejection of the “banality of evil” argument — is by no means new, but it does not hold up when one truly understands the meaning of her phrase. Couldn’t Eichmann have been a fanatical Nazi and banal? What precisely did Arendt mean then when she wrote that Eichmann “was not stupid. It was sheer thoughtlessness — something by no means identical with stupidity — that predisposed him to become one of the greatest criminals of that period.”? Arendt certainly did not think that ordinary human beings were all potential Eichmanns; nor did she diminish the crime Eichmann committed against the Jewish people. In fact, she accused him of “crimes against humanity,” and approved his death sentence, with which many, including the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, disagreed.

The problem with this argument is that Arendt examined Eichmann by what he said at Trial, and she did not examine the record of Eichmann as one would have done either as a Historian or as the Prosecutor. Eichmann, the defendant, had prepared himself for the very role of Defendant. His writings as presented by Stangneth clearly demonstrate the mind of a Nazi, clever, plotting, planning and executing with precision. His defense at Trial was a planned and rehearsed presentation of what he wanted people to believe. Arendt it appears fell into the trap. The four walls of her understanding of Eichmann were delimited by the well prepared presentation he made at Trial. In contrast, in Stangneth, we see the drafts of Eichmann’s own words and what is revealed is the truth of what Eichmann truly was, a classic Nazi.

Thus the Benhabib defense of Arendt is somewhat weak. Arendt, it appears, went to the Trial to absorb from the Eichmann testimony a measure of the man. Yet as was shown in his writings and with an additional half century of discovery the man was quite complex and had anticipated such an event as the Trial. Thus he took it upon himself to present a stage persona at the Trial as a means of presenting his message.

To better understand the mindset of Arendt at the time of the Trial one need read Elizabetta Ettinger work on the correspondence between Heidegger and Arendt[4]. Ettinger had access to the papers, via allegedly Mary McCarthy, a close friend of Arendt, and a fellow traveler in the circle of the then New York intellectual elite. As Wistrich stated in Commentary on the review of Ettinger[5]:

Among the story’s more troubling aspects is the extent of Arendt’s submissiveness to Heidegger. Both as a student and later as a friend and equal she displayed an extraordinary readiness to put herself at his beck and call, to place him on a pedestal, and to subject herself to his arrogance. Ettinger, whose analysis eschews crude psychological reductionism, accounts for Arendt’s actions in broad sociological and historical terms:

[Arendt] shared the insecurity of many assimilated Jews who were still uncertain about their place, still harboring deep doubts about themselves. By choosing her as his beloved, Heidegger fulfilled for Hannah the dream of generations of German Jews, going back to such pioneers of assimilation as Rahel Varnhagen.

The irony here is that Arendt’s own book-length study of Rahel Varnhagen, a German Jewess prominent in early-19th-century literary circles, displays keen insight into the delusions and self-deceptions which are entailed in the Varnhagen “model” of assimilation, but which in her relationship with Heidegger she appeared unable to resist.

The assimilation construct was one of trying to shed the long held anti-Semitism on the part of the non-Jewish population. Arendt it appears tried to shed that both with her relationship with Heidegger and possibly by her later claim of certain German Jews facilitating the work of the Nazis, a claim rejected by many.

Benhabib further states:

It is this strange mixture of bravado and cruelty, of patriotic idealism and the shallowness of racialist thinking that Arendt sensed because she was so well attuned to Eichmann’s misuse of the German language and to his idiosyncratic deployment of concepts like the Categorical Imperative. As Stangneth puts it, “Hannah Arendt, whose linguistic and conceptual sensibilities had been honed on classical German literature, wrote that Eichmann’s language was a roller coaster of thoughtless horror, cynicism, whining self-pity, unintentional comedy and incredible human wretchedness.” Eichmann’s self-immunizing mixture of anti-Semitic clichés, his antiquated idiom of German patriotism and the craving for the warrior’s honor and dignity, led Arendt to conclude that Eichmann could not “think” — not because he was incapable of rational intelligence but because he could not think for himself beyond clichés. He was banal precisely because he was a fanatical anti-Semite, not despite it.

Eichmann had studied Jewish culture and thought, almost as a way to perfect his job. Thus he knew his adversary, his prey, oftentimes using that knowledge to effect his task. Arendt in many ways was critiquing Eichmann for his lack of acumen, lack of education, and then and again Eichmann had spent years developing this very persona as a means to present his tale, and most likely Arendt fell into the well laid trap. One could truly question the use of the phrase “banal” for Eichmann, for he was a shrewd manipulator of not only the facts but oftentimes of the audience listening to them.

In contrast in a review in the NY Times by Schuessler the author states[6]:

Listening to Eichmann in Jerusalem, Arendt saw an “inability to think.” Listening to Eichmann before Jerusalem, Ms. Stangneth sees a master manipulator skilled at turning reason, that weapon of the enemy, against itself.

That assessment is true but it appears to be only part of the overall truth. On the one hand Arendt did not due her due diligence; she did not independently investigate Eichmann. On the other had she let her Heideggerian training overtake the cunning rationality of Eichmann, she failed to see him as an actor in a play reading lines he had rehearsed again and again. One could say she let her German arrogance get in the way of what was in front of her, true evil. She was still a student of Heidegger, she was not able to become a common Police detective and see a criminal for what he was.

As Honan stated in the NY Times in a review of Ettinger in 1995[7]:

Heidegger, then the newly appointed rector of Albert-Ludwigs-University in Freiburg, had just joined the Nazi party and had delivered the infamous rector's address in which he declared his allegiance to Hitler. With heavy sarcasm, he denied Arendt's accusations. The truth is, as Professor Ettinger points out. His anti-Semitism had been well-established four years previously when he wrote to warn a high official in the Ministry of Education against the "growing Judiaization" of Germany's "spiritual life." Among his more abominable acts while rector in Freiburg, Heidegger banned from the campus all Jewish professors including his mentor, the aging Edmund Husserl —an act that is believed to have contributed to Husserl's death.

In a sense, as Arendt accused many German Jews of complicity with the Nazis out of some form of self-deception, perhaps she also could be criticized for missing the point of Eichmann by a form of self-interpretation. Eichmann may very well have used his well-planned defense as a means of leaving a trail of confusion to all but those who would eventually become privy to his writings.

To understand the conflicts of Arendt one may look for the inherent conflicts in Heidegger; his philosophy and his life. To do so it is worth examining the book by Winograd and Flores written in the 1980s[8]. Winograd was well known and highly respected at MIT at the time as a brilliant engineer in the Artificial Intelligence community. His career has subsequently secured that reputation. Flores was a politician in exile from Chile, a former member of the prior Communist Government overthrown by Pinochet, studying Philosophy at Berkeley. The combination of these two individuals had created a book, which now some 26 years later, is truly timeless.

The book fundamentally is a fusion of philosophy with technology and it does so through the eyes and minds of philosophers, especially Heidegger. By doing so, the authors demonstrate what technology, media, can do to not only elucidate knowledge but to frame and reposition what we seem to feel is “immutable truth”. Truth then becomes what we may perceive through the eyes of the medium, the signs placed before us so to speak. Thus, as we see so many “Apps” being developed on so many platforms in today’s world we seem not to stop and ask the question of how these Apps may be changing what we hold as knowledge, as truth, and how they reflect on the meaning of our existence. The authors have used this work to address these issues in the context of Heidegger and his view of being. Thus one can use this interpretation of Heidegger as a lens to focus on the relationship between the view of Arendt of Eichmann’s world. In a sense, Eichmann used the medium of the Trial as a way to recast Truth, and it was incumbent upon Arendt, having been trained by Heidegger, to recognize this. She did not.

The authors use the ideas of such opaque philosophers as Heidegger to establish a basis for their exposition. As Scrunton has noted Heidegger is obtuse, he is a quintessential German, creating a plethora of neologisms in German, which get half translated to English[9]. Heidegger deals with existence, ontology, and how we as humans are created as individuals by our interactions. The example of a man using a hammer to insert a nail becomes the amalgam of the hammer, human and nails as a process, and it is that at hand process that the human understands and becomes one with hammering. In a sense that is what we do when we create programs; we try to engage the human user with the process and its externalities to become one concerted effort.

Chapter 3 is seminal, for it is a wonderful summation of Heidegger and Gadamer, or what they would have said had they tried to do it in a few pages. The rationalist versus the idealist, the subject and object, the observed and the observer are all explored, The introduction of Heidegger’s Dasein is made in such a manner that the reader just flows with its insertion as being-in-the-world, and that one comes away with a highly readable and understandable grasp of what Heidegger meant to say[10].

They end with, “Heidegger insists that it is meaningless to talk about the existence of objects and their properties in the absence of concernful activity, with its potential for breaking down”. The interaction between the individual and the medium presenting facts then is essential to understanding. It is akin to the McLuhan statement regarding any medium used for transmitting knowledge, that is the medium will define what is truth or knowledge, not the “facts” or objects which the one conveying them wishes to transfer. This understanding or interaction of message and messenger, the hermeneutic view, and object and understanding, were what the authors saw as critical in developing “software”.

Now here we again come to Eichmann. Eichmann was in a sense both the messenger and the message. He viscerally understood that and had prepared for the confrontation that was his Trial. Heidegger understood that, it was Dasein confronting the world. The one wonders why Arendt of all people would not have had the openness to both understand that as well as the ability to translate it properly.

Breakdown can be a noun or a verb. As a noun it is failure, as a verb it is “taking apart”. [11] For Heidegger it was the noun that was operative. It was a failure of something. In essence we “learn by our mistakes”. Ironically Heidegger did not achieve this and Arendt was a front row observer of that process. As Koschmann et al state:

Heidegger, Leont'ev, and Dewey held surprisingly similar views on the role of breakdown or failure as a means of revealing the nature of the world around us. For Heidegger, the resources by which we conduct our day-to-day activities do not usually require our conscious awareness. If our ongoing activity is blocked, however, this "transparency of equipment" is dispelled, forcing a more deliberate mode of action. Leont'ev's development of breakdown hinges on the analytic distinction he made among Activities, Actions, and Operations. When the necessary conditions for an Operation are absent, the chain of Operations becomes transformed ("unfolded") back into a sequence of independent Actions. Dewey's notion of breakdown is related to his views on sensory excitation, stimulus and response, and the habit-formation function in the lives of complex organisms. Implications of these three models for learning and instruction are developed.

Thus we often learn more by our mistakes rather than by rote. We learn by reassembling that which we erred in. In a similar vein being-in-the world is also a noun a verb. On the one hand it may mean an individual, or being, modified by “in-the-world” or it may be the action of being, the gerund of to be, “in-the-world”. Ironically reading and interpreting Heidegger is itself filed with such noun type breakdowns and needs to reassemble them. Perhaps it is the German mannerism. Heidegger, even in his later years, after having been exposed to the evils of the Nazis, did not learn by breakdown, in fact he continued to try to justify his actions. In a similar manner Eichmann tried not to correct the past evils but to reconstruct them to his own ends. Arendt, thus trained by Heidegger in the world of Dasein, breakdown, semiotics, seems to have missed the very drama before her in Jerusalem. Thus the value of Stangneth’s work is the opening up of the process, deconstructing the text, and laying bare the players.

[1] Stangneth, B., Eichmann Before Jerusalem: The Unexamined Life of a Mass Murderer, Knopf (New York) 2014.

[3] One could examine the Farias book, Heidegger and Nazism, Temple Univ Press, 1989, to get what may be a critical but detailed overview, limited somewhat by the time of its writing because of the still closed access to closed East German archives. A subsequent book by Ott, Martin Heidegger, A political Life, Basic (New York) 1993, which provides a similar but less polemic a presentation of Heidegger and the Nazis.

[4] Ettinger, E., Hannah Arendt Martin Heidegger, Yale Press (New Haven) 1995.

[7] Honan, NY Times, Nov 5, 1996, p 25.

[8] Winograd, T., F. Flores, Understanding Computers and Cognition, Addison Wesley (Reading MA), 1987. My old copy, I have a second, is marked page by page recording each time I went through it. As a result I went and taught the first course at MIT on Multimedia Communications (Fall 1989), influenced by this short treatise. The question I was trying to address at the time was: how would people communicate as we moved into a distributed multimedia environment? The semiotics of communicating was at that time becoming the challenge. In a sense Winograd and Flores saw that through the lens of Heidegger.

[9] Scrunton, R., A Short History of Modern Philosophy, Routledge (New York) 2002. pp 270-280. In fact Scrunton states: “It is impossible to summarize Heidegger’s work, which no one has claimed to understand completely.”

[10] See on p 31

[11] Timothy Koschmann, Kari Kuutti & Larry Hickman, The Concept of Breakdown in Heidegger, Leont'ev, and Dewey and Its Implications for Education, Mind, Culture, and Activity, Volume 5, Issue 1, 1998 pages 25-41

Monday, September 22, 2014

MIT Students and New Jersey Courts

Wired has an interesting piece on the New Jersey AG attempting to intimidate a set of MIT students for some software they developed in prototype form which the AG seems to believe on some yet to be defined basis as in violation of New Jersey law even thought the software has never been sold and resides in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The article states:

Four MIT students behind an award-winning Bitcoin mining tool will face off against New Jersey state authorities in court today when they attempt to fight back against a subpoena demanding their source code. The Electronic Frontier Foundation is representing 19-year-old MIT student Jeremy Rubin and three classmates in a remarkable case that stands out for the measure of aggression the state is using to obtain the code and identify anyone who might have tested the mining tool.

 Now perhaps this is one way to get some talent back to New Jersey but seems a bit heavy handed. The article continues:

“It’s a very broad subpoena that hints at criminal liability and civil liability,” he says. “For a bunch of college kids who put something together for a hackathon—they didn’t make any money, the project never got off the ground and now is completely disbanded—there are some very serious implications.”

 There is always the mens rea part of criminality which seems to be missing here as well as the act of doing something covered by and withing the State of New Jersey. Perhaps the Sopranos managed to survive because they did nothing with computers!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Employment Stats

Employment is still quite sluggish especially at the top line. The 6.1% number is not what we should look at, it is the participation rate which is still very low relative to before this Recession.
This past month as shown below we saw another dip, which is not a good sign for August.
The above is a key chart which shows a reduction in unemployed but against a steady and poor participation rate.

It is not anticipated that the Economy will rebound until the next Administration.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Common Sense: Not Thomas Paine

In the NY Times there is some erstwhile entrepreneur who is in my opinion bemoaning the process of raising money,

She bemoans the following:

The problem is, refusing to do any work until a term sheet is signed sounds great but is hard to do. When you first meet, you are excited and the investor promises that the process will take only a few weeks. You can afford to invest a few weeks. Even as time drags on, everything appears to be proceeding, and you are certain the deal will close. As time drags on, costs pile up and cash reserves dwindle. You realize that, with so much time invested, you cannot afford to start the process again. I will never get stuck in this situation again. I will never let an investor seduce me into believing that a term sheet is around the corner while I put time and money into meetings and answering thousands of questions. I will ensure that a term sheet is agreed upon up front and then start the due diligence process. If the V.C.s find something they do not like during due diligence, they can always back out of the deal, but at least I will have established that there is a deal to be done. Even though I know their firm is big and my company is small, I will do this because I know that time and energy are my biggest assets.

Now I was involved in my first VC backed start up in 1969. Most likely one of the very early ones. The lesson is that you always have to be ready with the due diligence packages. It is standard, it is expected, and you better get your act together as part of any business, you will be doing it again and again. 

I had it down to an art. You know what is expected and what is asked for is what any business should have ready at hand. Dealing with investors takes time, so expect it.

This write up in the Times is a display of the generational changes we have seen. These folks seem to expect everyone to see how great they are and when one asks for some form of proof, they seem affronted. They believe they are perfect and should be taken at face value, whatever that may be.

Raising money is like any other sales effort, but not the "buyer" is dealing with money, theirs and their investors. The entrepreneur must understand that and demonstrate that they will take care of that responsibility.

The term "seduce" is foolish in my opinion, for to me it demonstrates a level of arrogance and entitlement that one sees in young inexperienced start up players whose understanding of business is limited.

As for a term sheet, it can be drawn but it still has outs, namely the due diligence outs for whatever reason the investor so chooses.

So folks like this had better get used to having due diligence packages ready at hand, on line, sent with the push of a button! In fact one can even send it via this new service called the "Internet". cool thing this new technology!