Notes From the Fieldby Martin Weil

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

February 18, 2016

Tim Cook, the FBI, Privacy and National Security

In reply to my suggestion to a client who works in the field that Apple is abetting criminality, he offers this:

If the FBI wants the data on Farook’s phone, they should provide that phone to Apple, and have Apple — under FBI supervision, if need be — access that data with their own tools and provide it as lawfully subpoenaed. The FBI, however, should not be supported by the court to force Apple to provide them with a tool that they can then use in any and all ways they deem fit. As I’m sure you understand, arguments that appeal to “national security” are built on shallow foundations on a very slippery slope.

I replied:

We are on the same page. However, I would have been less offended had Cook offered as much in his statement.

This will be an interesting and useful public discussion, and one my client suggests we will be having for many years. But for me, this is a workable solution to the current situation.  And thankfully, puts some distance between me and Donald Trump.


November 16, 2015

Life Starts to Return to Normal

Tourists waited to enter the Louvre Museum after it re-opened on Monday.

The Louvre reopens Monday, November 16 from the NY Times

October 1, 2015


Does this make anyone else queasy?
When the app does launch, probably in late November, you will be able to assign reviews and one- to five-star ratings to everyone you know: your exes, your co-workers, the old guy who lives next door. You can’t opt out — once someone puts your name in the Peeple system, it’s there unless you violate the site’s terms of service. And you can’t delete bad, inaccurate or biased reviews — that would defeat the whole purpose.

September 11, 2015

14 Years Now







August 20, 2015

$800 Billion. 150,000 deaths. What do these statistics have in common?

According to Fareed Zakaria, sadly nothing whatsoever.

$800 billion is the total amount that taxpayers have spent on Homeland Security since 9/11. During that time, 74 people have lost their lives on American soil due to actions deemed to be terrorist events. While there is no way to know how many other lives the $800 billion has saved, I suspect it is not a very large number.

On the other had, in those same 14 years, 150,000 people have lost their lives in the US due to gun homicides, a constant 11-12,000 deaths per year since 9/11. To combat this deadly threat to life and limb, taxpayers have spent … well, nothing, according to Zakaria. Had terrorists been responsible for these deaths, one can only imagine the all-out response.

There is something very wrong with this picture.

As Zakaria points out, this is not a mental illness problem, as many on one side of this issue are quick to claim. We have 50 times the gun homicide rate of Germany for example, but hardly anything close 50 times the incidence of mental illness. We do however have hundreds of thousands, if not millions, more weapons in public hands.

Another popular gun rights retort to the recurring loss of innocent lives in mass shootings is just to “give everyone a gun.” It is hard to imagine a more apocalyptic vision than one of pitched gunfights in public shopping malls, movie theaters, schools and churches across America. If armed, well-trained, professionals on American military bases cannot defend themselves against this sort of threat, it is difficult to see how giving guns to grammar school teachers would lead to more public safety.

Of the many things that make me furious about today’s political landscape in America, the hijacking of the American public’s basic safety concerns by a well-funded commercial interest group is near the top of my list.

It is not an act of fate that has caused 150,000 Americans to die over the last 15 years. It is a product of laws, court decisions, lobbying and pandering politicians. And we can change it.

Zakaria is certainly more optimistic on this, and many other issues, than am I. But I will give kudos to this E.J. Dionne Op Ed in the WaPo as a rational look at what has to be done to make America safer from the lethal menace to each and every one of us from guns in America.

June 28, 2015

Quote of the Week, Social Media Edition

Linkedin is for people you know. Facebook is for people you used to know. Twitter is for people you want to know.


April 28, 2015

I Didn’t Know That

The Earth “hums.” And scientists have now figured out why.

April 25, 2015

NASDAQ Composite, a Fifteen Year Journey

InFT Nasdaq Composite 4-24-15vestors had something more to cheer about this week as the NASDAQ Composite Index finally surpassed its prior high of 5048 set during the Dot Com bubble in March 2000. It has been a long journey since then as the tech-heavy index sunk as low as 1100 in 2002.

With this week’s landmark, a $1,000 investment into the NASDAQ at that March 2000 peak is now once again worth the original $1000 invested. Or is it? After inflation, or in “real” terms, that $1,000 today is worth the equivalent of just $715 in March 2000 dollars. So NASDAQ investors of March 2000, you are not back to par just yet. Breakeven for you, after inflation, would require the index to be at 7,000 today, not 5000.

On the flip side of this trying tale, an investor who fought off the overwhelming urge to flee risk in early 2009 and invested into the NASDAQ at the depths of the financial crisis would be sitting pretty, with $4,000 today for every $1,000 invested then. Timing is everything I guess.

But how to judge timing? There is no proven way I know to get the timing anywhere close to spot on in advance. But valuations are a useful, if highly imperfect, tool. Valuations were almost as compelling in early 2009 as they were terrifying in early 2000. However, investing in stocks in early 2009 essentially meant “running into a burning building,” while getting out of the market during the Dot Com bubble risked looking like a fool. In the context of a market flowing irresistibly either higher, or lower, investing with a valuation discipline often means running counter to conventional wisdom. This can be very very difficult, and it can be costly in the short-term, even for professional investors.


April 4, 2015

A Picture Is Worth …


Friends on the East Coast have been asking about our water situation in California.  This about sums it up. From today’s NY Times.

April 3, 2015

Mullahs and the GOP Find Common Ground

The Guardian headline, 4-3-15

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