Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Monday, August 07, 2021

It’s either another permutation of corporate encroachment into the academic realm, or else an example of how far big media will drill down to reach those elusive youngster eyeballs. Or maybe both.

Regardless, Gannett’s purchase of a Florida State University student newspaper last week could set a precedent for acquisitions in the news industry:

Colby Atwood, a media industry consultant, said that the transaction could have ripple effects. “Most college papers are really not for sale,” he said. But “if corporate sponsorship takes hold in the college newspaper arena, a lot of colleges might be interested in taking a look, for the mentorship opportunities and financial support.”

There are some special circumstances in Tallahassee that facilitated that deal, though. For one, FSView & Florida Flambeau is not a traditional campus-owned newspaper; it’s an independent publication that caters to FSU. I’m not sure how many other college towns have a similar presence. The only other one that comes to mind is right down the road from Seminole Country: Independent Florida Alligator is a paper that does the same job for Gainesville (and incidentally, provides teeth-cutting experience for many a Florida-produced journalist).

Maybe the ingredients for such acquisitions can be found only in the Sunshine State. Although I wouldn’t be surprised to learn of comparable independent pubs in New York, both City and State.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 08/07/2021 11:56:33 PM
Category: Florida Livin', Publishing
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In his new book “Mean Markets and Lizard Brains: How to Profit from the New Science of Irrationality”, former Goldman Sachs trader Terry Burnham argues that the instinct-driven side of the human brain is ill-suited toward the forward-thinking strategizing required of successful financial planning.

In fact, the competitive arena that is market investing sets up our primitive lobes for sabotage:

But “by its very nature, investing requires us to be forward-looking, to anticipate events. Our lizard brains, however, are designed to look backward. Thus, the lizard brain causes us to be optimistic at market peaks (after rises) and to be pessimistic at market bottoms (after falls).” So whether it’s optimism or pessimism, greed or fear, emotions do our trading, not reasoning.

And it’s not just you. The best and the brightest are also trapped by this saboteur, their primitive brains. There’s a great story in SmartMoney magazine, “Outsmarting Your Brain:”

Harvard Business School Prof. Max Bazerman was speaking to a conference of 75 Wall Street big shots, guys commanding six- to seven-figure incomes for managing your money. Bazerman opened by auctioning off a $100 bill. Simple rules: The highest bidder gets $100. And the second highest pays what he bid, but gets nothing. Forty hands quickly pushed the bidding to $95. Then an institutional money manager and a pension-fund trustee broke the $100 barrier, where both were guaranteed losers.

Imagine: Two of America’s financial geniuses caught up in a hotly contested duel, pushing the bids up, up, up … to $465! Bidding $465 for a $100 bill!

If you’ve ever doubted that investors are dominated by an irrational rat brain the professor adds this scary observation: “I’ve played this game perhaps 600 times, and I’ve never seen the bidding stop below $100.” Yikes! The best and brightest managing our $8.3 trillion mutual fund industry are just as irrational as the rest of America’s 95 million average folks who trust them with their money.

Somewhere, the suddenly unfortunately-named Gordon Gekko weeps.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 08/07/2021 11:27:58 PM
Category: Business, Publishing, Science
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basepath takenrink avoided
When MLB pitcher Tom Glavine lost a couple of teeth in a taxicab accident two years ago, his youthful prowess in another sport came up:

Growing up in Massachusetts, Glavine was a two-sport prep star and was picked by the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings in the fourth round of the 1984 draft.

Once asked why he picked baseball over hockey, he joked, “I had all my own teeth and I wanted to keep it that way.”

I guess that hockey-like tooth-loosening stirred some wistfulness in the Mets hurler. Glavine looks back at his decision to forgo pucks for pitches, particularly because of another southpaw the Kings selected in that same draft:

The Kings chose another left-handed player five rounds — 102 selections — after Glavine. Luc Robitaille, with no discernible alternative, signed with them. He has forged a career of nearly unsurpassed offensive accomplishment. When and if he scores another 34 goals, he will add his likeness to the Mt. Rushmore of NHL goal scorers as the seventh player with at least 700 goals, joining Wayne Gretzky (894), Gordie Howe (801), Brett Hull (741), Marcel Dionne (731), Phil Esposito (717) and Mike Gartner (708).

It is Robitaille’s grandeur and the juxtaposition of his place in the draft and Glavine’s that prompt Glavine to wonder about the career path not taken. No regrets. But wonder.

“Oh, all the time,” the Mets pitcher says. “I always wonder what would have happened.

“I’d like to believe I would have made it. There are guys I played against in high school who have played in the NHL, and we had comparable talent then. But there are no guarantees. … I know I would have had to become bigger — I was 6-foot-0, 180 [pounds] when I graduated from high school. Either that or find a way to play as Gretzky played. But I think I had a shot to make it.”

A deferred Gretzky/Robitaille level of career? Hey, dare to dream.

I’m a bit surprised to see him waxing nostalgic like this. I’d known about Glavine’s dual-drafted status for years, but past references from him seemed to suggest that he hadn’t been as dedicated to his prep hockey career as he was to baseball, and so the hockey option wasn’t really as realistic (despite the King’s pick). Maybe that was a case of focusing on the path taken and not dwelling on any long-term second-guessing.

I suppose Glavine chose the right uniform, since he’s likely to end up in Cooperstown someday. If he’d gone with skates, he might never have made it past the minors. Still, it might make for a fun alternate reality scenario.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 08/07/2021 11:10:22 PM
Category: Baseball, Hockey
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