Archives: October 2005

Wal*Mart + Memorial

The Marriage of Wal*Mart and Memorial Hospital of South Bend

There is another marriage on the scene, and, at first, it may seem like an odd couple. What do our friends at Memorial Hospital in South Bend, Indiana, have to do with Wal*Mart. Well, it seems that health care is walking down the aisles of Wal*Mart!! Memorial is first to put a quick medical center in a Wal*Mart store.

Inspired by the menus found at McDonald's, they created a medical menu board, so that you can 'order up' just what you need and know the price before you partake. They borrowed another idea from restaurants and give you a hand-held vibrating disk, so that when it's your turn you can stop shopping and swing by the health center. The device also has a pleasant voice telling you that the nurse practitioner is ready for you.

Health care continues to evolve, and innovative health services will continue to break through the barriers. To find out more, visit

Now, are there any objections to this marriage? If not, forever hold your peace! AND go get your flu shot while shopping at Wal*Mart in South Bend.

Badvertising: Ameritrade

The Ameritrade TV spot opens with a 15 year old girl coming into the room to ask her dad for money for some new jeans. Dad asks about the jeans, and as he hears about them, his investment antennae go up. "What kind of jeans?" She tells him the name of the brand. "Are they designer jeans?" "Yes," answers the daughter. "Are they popular?" "Everybody's got them." "Everybody's got them?" "Yep."

Dad's brow furrows. He sits down on the couch and opens his laptop. Asks his daughter the name of the jeans again. Buys 100 shares. Sits back looking satisfied. She then, predictably, has to remind him to give her the money to buy a pair of the jeans. Cute.

Isn't this just the problem with amateur online investing, that by the time "everybody" has bought the jeans a ton of vigilant investors will have bought the stock, and the poor Ameritrade customer will have to buy high and sell low? Doesn't this look like it is advertising designed by an amateur investor?


Taiwan scores with Tom, leading him to produce not one, but four, PowerPoint presentations to mark his visit there. He's speaking to the Taiwan External Trade Development Council/TAITRA: The 2005 International Brand Strategy Summit, and there are two sets of slides for the occasion, TAITRA and its long Web version. Then, he took a few slides from TAITRA to become a special slides set called Brand Taiwan. Last, there's a summarization of where all the speaking he's done in the past few weeks has brought him, a series of lists, called Lists & Lust. We hope you enjoy any or all of these collections.

H5N1, the View from Asia: "When, not if …"

Naysayers ("What, me worry?"), suggesting that much pandemic talk is "alarmism," abound in the United States.

Not so in Southeast Asia.

Arrive Hong Kong from Sydney this morning. Only English-language paper out at 5 a.m. is The Standard, the biggest HK business paper. Page 1, News Section, blaring (no exaggeration) top-of-the-paper headline: "Tough Bird Flu Action Ahead." Among other things, detailed quarantine plans were explained—they are Draconian.

Summarizing the headlines and personal discussions in Taiwan today, I believe the mood/expectation is: "When, not if ..."

Couple that with, among other things, HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt's interview in the current Time [get article for a fee—CM], now talking about tens of millions of possible deaths, and, well ...

Personally, I am moving into Full Alarmist Mode. Putting on my analytic hat, I shall assume that there is a 25% chance of a catastrophic economic (not to mention physical) occurrence as early as the coming summer. I will begin to make significant business and personal financial decisions immediately based on that likelihood.

To my mind there are, on this issue, two kinds of people: alarmists and fools. There are indeed many reasons to believe that the worst will not occur. But reverting to business-school language that I normally find anathema, there is utterly no reason to believe that there is not a non-trivial statistical likelihood that a catastrophic event of epic proportion will occur within the next 12 months. (Sorry for the triple negative.)

Undisguised "alarmism" is clearly the Asian mood. Perhaps we should pay attention to those pinioned in the eye of the storm.

(Oh, I had a lovely walk in Taipei. I love the hyper-active street life of big Asian cities.)

To Friends in the City of Wind …


Browser Plus

Some Firefox folks have broken off to develop their own browser called Flock. It's still in a pre-beta version and as they say, 'not for the faint of heart.' But keep an eye out for this launch. It's a browser that incorporates a lot of your everyday tasks on the computer. This is gonna' be cool.

Bionic Man, Almost

Another inspiring speaker at PopTech was Todd Kuiken (pronounced kyken), Director of the Neural Engineering Center for Artificial Limbs at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. Todd's working on making prosthetic limbs work more like real limbs by taking nerve endings and growing them into chest muscles to allow the limbs to behave in a more human fashion. Most mechanical limbs only operate in one dimension at a time. Todd's mechanical arms can operate like a real arm. Two problems: They're heavy. And slow. And so they're not quite ready for prime time.

But as Jesse Sullivan says, "The Wright brothers' first flight didn't go that far, either." Jesse is one of Todd's research patients. He was a lineman who lost both arms at the shoulders when he touched a 7200 volt power line. The guy is an inspiration. Very funny. He's from Tennessee, and when Dr. Kuiken mentioned that one of his other research subjects was from the same state, Jesse replied, "I guess we're just accident prone there." More about Jesse and his work with Dr. Kuiken is here.

In Memoriam

The most extraordinary happening of my life, after the defeat of Hitler and Tojo, was the American Civil Rights movement. Hence, I join so many others in mourning the passing and celebrating the life of Rosa Parks.

Walk. Again. Wow.

Sydney. WOW. Shangri-La hotel. 24th floor. Stunning view of Harbour Bridge and Opera House. WOW. Walk. Botanic Gardens etc. WOW. (One of my "world's best.") Spring in full bloom. Flowering Jacarandas ... see 'em to believe 'em. WOW.

Event Slides: Sydney

As Tom says above, he's in Sydney doing another one of the Leaders events. The date of his appearance is 26 October, but it is the 26th there already, so the slides are available here now. There's also a longer Web-only version.