Daniel Henley

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On December 1, 2017, Daniel Henley commented on No more Champagne? :

I tend to agree with Azeez (who evidently agrees with Darren) that generally speaking wine is more about stigma and perception than it is about taste. That may be partially a result of my uneducated palate, but it seems that brand and label have a disproportionally large impact on the wine industry (again, this coming from someone who can’t contemplate anyone buying a $100 bottle of wine – so take my comments for what they are worth).

I feel that in addition to drawing attention to Champaign’s subjective definition–raising the question of if geography is truly that differentiating of a factor–the move to sparkling wines could substantially dilute Tattinger’s brand. Particularly given Champaign’s posturing as a superior product, associating their name with a “sub-par” brand could have significant implications for Tattinger. I think it is highly possible, that even if global warming decreases Champaign’s ability to produce quality champaign, that this could actually have a positive impact for Tattinger. An overall decrease in the yield of those vineyards may decrease volume of product, thus increasing the price for those products.

In a similar fashion, I believe that pushing to redefine what can be considered Champaign will significantly effect the name value of the product and the overall price it can fetch. And overall, it will not affect the customer. If it tastes the same, but goes by a different name, is it really any different to the drinker? Objectively no, but we aren’t all that subjective of animals . . .

On December 1, 2017, Daniel Henley commented on Admitting cybercriminals to hospital through the front door :

Josephine! Love this topic. I think it’s an incredibly interesting issue that not many people talk about. It’s exciting to think about the incredible capability of new technologies and how disrupting they are, but all too often we forget to talk about the large negative externalities. And this is definitely an issue. Given all the problems that everyone from Sony to Uber have had in cyber security, this is already an increasingly important issue. And given the fact that a cybersecurity breach for hospitals can result in deaths, this is a particularly tricky issue.

Another solution that has been suggested is the fighting quantum with quantum (1). Quantum cryptography gives the possibility of creating security systems called quantum key distribution, which could provide an effective barrier against quantum computings massive firepower. Another potential solution (similar to the dual system you mentioned) is to use lattice theory to that utilizes geometric convergences to protect data (2).

Regardless of the potential solution, your point is an incredibly important one. Quantum computing is a huge risk for cyber security – and one that we aren’t ready for.

(1) https://www.forbes.com/sites/juniper/2017/11/01/cybersecurity-in-the-age-of-quantum-computing/#21bfaf7f423c
(2) http://research.stevens.edu/post-quantum-cybersecurity

I believe that Walmart is in a unique position to utilize eCommerce. The benefits of eCommerce are definitely skewed towards low priced goods (1). Customers are wary of buying items with high price-tags online (particular if there is any question of the suppliers credibility) as they would rather check the quality of the good before purchasing. This gives a particular benefit to Walmart that is known for focusing on low cost, high turnover goods and gives them an advantage over other brands like Target.

The challenge that Walmart will face in moving increasingly towards eCommerce is that rural internet users are more wary of utilizing eCommerce than their urban counterparts (2). I imagine this has more to do with comfort than with access. As you mentioned, I think the omni-channel can be one solution to this problem as it provides customers the ability to see and feel their products before taking them home. I do not however think this will be enough. I believe that Walmart will need to improve its questionable customer service to be able to compete with the likes of Amazon online. Would I trust something that I buy at a Walmart store? Sure, I can touch it. Would I trust something that I bought from Walmart online? Mayhaps not. And would I trust that if I had an issue with an online purchase that Walmart would be able to resolve the issue? Probably not.

(1) https://www.crazyegg.com/blog/reasons-people-buy-products-online/
(2) https://www.researchgate.net/publication/4990788_Urban-Rural_Differences_in_Internet_Usage_e-Commerce_and_e-Banking_Evidence_from_Italy

On December 1, 2017, Daniel Henley commented on A Green Merchant of Death? :

A particularly interesting topic. I definitely agree with the fact that companies are labeled as “good” or “bad” and that these labels have a greater impact on perception than the actions of the companies themselves. I think photovoltaics is another example of this. Solar companies are often labeled as progressive and environmentally friendly despite the fact that the sourcing and disposal of photovoltaics can have incredibly negative consequences on the environment. Solar companies have a huge range on how ethically they support their materials, but in our haste to leave fossil fuels we often don’t fully understand that some photovoltaics have a net negative effect on the environment (1).

As well, the disposal of photovoltaics have extreme impacts on the environment. It has been found that photovoltaic panels can produce as much as 300x more toxic waste than that from nuclear energy (2). This is due in large part to the metallic compounds used to create photovoltaics. And some companies are taking efforts to recycle photovoltaics and avoid these impacts, but few regulations exist as these companies are often seen as “environmentally friendly.”

How do we bring objectivity to the conversation of the “goodness” of a company? I’m not sure. Bias is an incredibly tricky thing to get rid of. But I think it starts with sitting down, setting universal values, and really looking at data to see what helps and what hurts the most.

Incredibly interesting topic – it sounds like Alaska Airlines is doing some pretty amazing things (I really enjoyed the part about optimizing the landing process).

My main thoughts focus on the biofuels section. As implemented currently, biofuels have some issues. Ethanol produced from corn in the US is notoriously problematic. Many studies suggest that the energy value of ethanol is net negative (1). The fact in many cases it takes more energy to produce ethanol than you get from combusting ethanol just means it isn’t sustainable. That being said, ethanol produced from sugar cane in South America is much more energetically favorable (though subsidies in this sector have resulted in the deforestation of rainforests).

Additionally, the fact that corn ethanol competes with food prices (is the main component of animal feed in the US) also means that it raises food prices. In the U.S., those with lower disposable incomes spend a greater proportion of their income on food and groceries. This means that subsidies for biofuels (which come from taxes payed by all citizens) cause extreme negative externalities for the poorest segments of society.

In the late 19th century in New York, gas vehicles were lauded as environmental saviors for saving the city from the problem of horse waste pollution. A century later we look at gas-guzzling vehicles a bit differently. While cars swapped one environmental issue with another, corn ethanol doesn’t seem to solve any environmental problem.

1. http://news.cornell.edu/stories/2001/08/ethanol-corn-faulted-energy-waster-scientist-says

I have mixed feelings about this. While I agree that Uber doesn’t treat its employees very well, I feel that an action to convert drivers to full-time employees would contradict their business model. I believe this goes against the “asset-light” operating model that they’ve pushed towards. Owning cars or hiring drivers would decrease the organic nature of being able to scale supply of drivers with demand. At present, the multipliers draw drivers into the market when supply. Additionally, drivers will stop driving when demand is high and there are more drivers than rides. The network of drivers and riders that Uber has created already has a self-smoothing mechanism that creates a natural balance between supply and demand.

I also believe that Uber pushing for increased regulations and pricing is problematic. If Uber wants to pay their employees more, go for it. But being a lead player in the market gives them an advantage that other companies do not have. Based completely on their funding, Uber would be better equipped to deal with increasing costs than would their competitors. Particularly given Ubers profitability, I take issue with them pushing for legislation that would potentially make the playing field even less level for their competitors.