Coolest thing I’ve seen in 2023

This video also made me wonder if how much of my engineering background inspired my view on how innovation works.

The inventor of this new way method of drone delivery stresses the importance of failure and trial-and-error, which is something corporations say they embrace, but when it actually happens politics tends to cause the organization’s bureaucrats to want to hide and shun the failures while the seeming messiness and chaos of the trial-and-error process makes the tidy bureaucrat extremely uncomfortable.

BTW…the 2nd coolest thing I’ve seen in 2023 was this. It may have happened in the waning moments of 2022, but I’ll count it.


“Why would someone invest $300 million in MLS with the threat of relegation?”

This is a common question posed by the strange opponents to promotion/relegation in the U.S.

I say ‘strange’ because I find it a bit strange at how concerned these folks are with billionaires’ investments, while nobody has asked the billionaires what they think. Many of these billionaires have invested in clubs that are in promotion/relegation systems. So, it seems by their own actions, the fear of being relegated isn’t a big concern.

But, also, the folks who don’t want to replicate the structure of soccer in other countries seem fine with copying other things, like their team name conventions (e.g. [City Name] FC or [City Name] United) and uniforms.

Why be against copying the structure of soccer and not be against copying these aspects?

‘Could be’ ‘Possibly’ Who can know?

Much of the news would evaporate if they didn’t report on what ‘could be’ or might ‘possibly’ happen if such-and-such yada yada.

The boy has cried wolf long ago.

How many ‘BOMBSHELLS’ turn to turds? ‘The walls are closing in’, you know it’s ‘just a matter of time,’ before nothing happens. “BREAKING:,” somebody reported something that will turn out to not be true, but we hope we got your attention.

‘This raises questions’ that our paid staff contributors who know nothing will sit around all day letting you know what they think, rather than just saying, ‘I don’t know, it’s stupid. Move on.’

When you hear or see such phrases, you will be fine tuning out, changing channels, scrolling past, dusting your end tables and you will find that you were much more productive.

Why do we talk about student loans instead of predatory pricing practices of college?

With as much attention graduates with high student loans are getting, I think there should be equal, if not more, attention to the root cause, which are the predatory pricing practices of college education.

First, high price increases that has been 2-3x inflation for decades. What other business could get away with that? And, why? The cost of every input going into providing a college education should have kept pace with inflation, so where is all the extra money going?

Second, through FAFSA, colleges gain a negotiating advantage that few businesses enjoy, allowing it to set the maximum price for each student. Think about walking into a car dealership and before you talk price, you had to disclose your full financial position to the dealer. That’s what FAFSA does for colleges, yet they disguise it as trying to make sure they are helping you the best they can. In the business world, this is called price discrimination.

Why are so many students choosing to take out debt they will have a hard time repaying on what is supposed to be one of the “best investments that can be made?”

Pro/rel is to find out who plays the best soccer

This point gets lost in debates over pro/rel.

The main goal of closed leagues, like the MLS and NFL is entertainment. When folks talk about the importance of parity in a league, they advocate for entertainment value. They think parity keeps more fans engaged longer because more feel like their team has a chance of winning each game and the big prize of the league championship.

The main goal of open leagues with promotion/relegation, like the pyramid league structure in English soccer, is to find out who plays the best soccer.

Advocates of parity dismiss that as boring because it’s easy to predict who will win the league: one of the the teams that spends the most on players.

They also are quick to dismiss that hundreds of millions, if not a billion or so, fans around the world disagree with them.

It may just be me, but when I find myself believing that what I think is better than what hundreds of millions people think I see that as sign that I might be missing something. Rather than assume that I know better than them, I ask what I might be missing.

Advocates of parity are sure they are right. They see NFL, MLB, as NBA as evidence to support their belief — because they have done pretty well based on the parity model — and write off support for the pro/rel soccer leagues as a result that those countries love soccer more than other sports (while ignoring that could be the same reason why the NFL, MLB and NBA have done well here).

But, still, I would find that explanation lacking. Do hundreds of millions of fans really just put up with super club dominance and don’t know what they’re missing with parity? I don’t think so.

Important lesson for product development

In this Freakonomics podcast, Are Personal Finance Gurus Giving You Bad Advice?, host Steven Dubner compares ideas about personal finance that comes from academic/economics theory and from practical, real world experience.

It provides a good example of what I see in product development in companies, where mangers approach product development with an academic view, ignoring practical experience, and then are surprised when the product flops.

In one case, Dubner compared the sound academic advice of paying off the most expensive debt you have first vs. Dave Ramsey’s Debt Snowball, which encourages you to to pay off smaller debts first.

On paper, the academic approach makes sense. You will spend less money paying down the most expensive debt first and have more money in your pocket when you are done.

But, in the real world, Ramsey’s insight was that removing a smaller debt from your balance sheet sooner gives you a win that makes you feel like you accomplished something and keeps you motivated to continue paying down debt.

This practical insight recognizes something the academic approach misses, sticking with the habit of paying off debt is far more important to success than paying off the debt in an economically efficient manner. Said another way, too often paying off the highest priced debt first results in you not sticking with the program.

Or, as one of the guests said, “What diet works? The diet you stick with.” Sticking with a diet is ~10x more important than picking the optimal diet (that you may not stick with). It’s funny, isn’t it? We overlook the factor that is 10 times more important to success than the factor we think is important.

I believe there is an old saying for this: Penny-wise and pound foolish.

An important step of product development is to simply ask are there factors that we are missing? Like in this case, are we putting too much importance on economic efficiency and not enough on consistency of sticking with the habit?

I’m amazed at how often this important step is not only skipped, but avoided at all costs. It’s almost like the elephant in the room. Folks sort of know it exists, but because groupthink has taken over or this is the leader’s pet project, it doesn’t get addressed. Well, until it flops.

“How do I know what’s right if I can’t trust the news?”

I run into this circular logic quite a bit. It’s circular because it’s used by a person to justify trusting media that even that person is skeptical of trusting.

The logic is, well it’s hard to to do the research myself, and finding the right facts might not be possible anyway because every place has its bias, so, golly gee, I guess I just have to trust the media, what else can I do?

There’s another, tried and true way that was handed down through generations: take everything with a grain of salt.

As Wikipedia defines the phrase: “…view something, specifically claims that may be misleading or unverified, with skepticism or to not interpret something literally.”

And, here’s another important part: be comfortable with that.

Be comfortable with living in a space where you can say, “I know what I heard (or read), but I’m skeptical, rightly so, because stories can be tricky and because I may not see all the tricks. I don’t know the whole story, so I’ll withhold judgement. And, I may never know the whole story.”

I saw a good example of this type trickiness yesterday. The headline read: “[So-and-so] will benefit from a law critics call [Blankity Blank].”

Marketing and journalism students learn in their strategic communications (stratcom) courses that most folks will gloss over ‘critics call’ and just remember the headline as saying: “[So-so] will benefit from the [Blankity Blank] law.”

They especially do this if they already want to believe something negative about the law.

And, for those that don’t yet have an opinion, the headline serves to associate something negative with the law in their minds. Notice, the headline didn’t mention what supporters of the law call it.

If some readers do some research and find out that they disagree with what critics call the law, then accuse the media outlet of a misleading headline, the media outlet will defend itself with, “The headline is accurate. Critics really do call it that. We never said whether that was accurate. That’s for you to decide.”

They are right. The trick here was that folks assume the media outlet validated what critics call it, or they would not have put it in the headline.

But they didn’t need to validate to meet their standard of reporting a fact, because all they reported is what media call it. Readers jumped to the conclusion that was accurate.

In other words, it’s not our fault, it’s yours. Read what we lilterally wrote, not what you thought it said (even though you interpreted it exactly as we hoped!).

And, I agree with them here. This is why you should take everything with a grain of salt and be comfortable with that.

Thoughts about Twitter

I’m wondering when we will see a Twitter Files detailing how bot campaigns work. I feel it is clandestine enough for folks to keep this in ‘conspiracy theory’ category, while I believe organizations have line items in their marketing spend for bot campaigns to help shape views on topics via social media.

I also think it would be pretty easy to apply AI to help sort out comments to posts. For example, when a comment is an ad hominem attack, the AI would point that out and remind readers that sick burns do not necessarily prove or disprove the burnt’s position.

Another use for AI would be ferret out posts that do not specifically address the original post. For example, when someone posts a question for folks on Twitter, I’m amazed that 99% of the comments do not actually answer the question.

For example, if I ask for restaurant recommendations in Orlando, most of comments would be things like why I should never go to Orlando, or what is a restaurant anyway, or “I answered the same thing about Tampa on this podcast, click here!”

It would be nice if the AI could sort the replies that actually answer the question in the original post from those that do not.

“Super League: The War for Football” on Apple TV

I’ve watched 3 episodes, so far. Here are some of my thoughts, so far.

I’m very impressed with explanations and graphics used to explain how European soccer competitions work, with pro/rel pyramids and the Champions League.

I’m also impressed with the show’s ability to get to heart of the pro/rel debate and give a fair representation for folks on both sides, though, so far, I think those against pro/rel may feel the show is not sympathetic to them.

But, so far, I recommend watching it just for that.

Here are some more thoughts.

At one point, the show points out that some UEFA revenue gets filtered back to the lower division clubs. I need to do more research on what that means. Revenue from what and how much do clubs receive? To my knowledge, that doesn’t happen in Concacaf or US Soccer, or if it does, I’m unaware of how much of this money makes it back to lower division clubs.

Here’s an attempt to sum up the schools of thought for and against the super league.


A few Super Clubs believe they are the reason football is so popular and they are not receiving their just rewards and that UEFA and lower div clubs are riding their coattails.

The Super Club owners appear to fear market research that shows younger generations aren’t watching football as much.

They think young people will watch more if there were more ‘blockbusters’ (meetings of the best clubs) and if the competition was closer, like in American sports leagues (amazing how many NFL games come down to the last minute, isn’t it?).


The few Super Clubs are somewhat riding the coattails of the world sport that FIFA created. FIFA and UEFA is all about keeping soccer accessible to small clubs, because they feel this is where the base level of value comes from.

It just so happens, that since the Super Clubs do spend the money to bring together the best players, they see a lot of football’s value concentrated, but that really starts at that local club level in sparking interest, finding and developing talent.

Thoughts on each:

The Super Club’s owner’s interpretation of market research reminds me of company’s I’ve worked with. It seems overly simplistic. Maybe they don’t really care and are using research just as way to bolster their side. But, if they are truly concerned about the future because younger people are tuning in less, I’d pose this question.

Tuning in less compared to what? Compared to older generations at the moment or compared to prior younger generations 10, 20 and 30 years ago?

I’ve seen company managers make the mistake of reacting to the former, believing it was a sign of things to come so they need to do something now! But, when they do the comparison to prior generations of young folks, they find that viewership is either about the same or better. Which means, that sometimes it takes awhile to grow into viewing a sport. It turns out, young folks have a lot of things to do with their time. But, as they get older and settle down, watching the match becomes something they do more.

Recently on Twitter, Alexi Lalas analogized pro-pro/rel folks in the US of being for letting someone live in someone else’s house rent free. In this case, he said that turning MLS into pro/rel would allow clubs that get promoted into MLS to benefit from all the investment MLS has made.

This reminded me of the Super Club/UEFA tension. The Super Clubs thought they were soccer. But, when UEFA said it would ban Super Clubs and its players from participating in UEFA/FIFA sanctioned competitions, like the clubs’ home leagues or the World Cup, then that pretty much ended the Super Club.

It made me think of Lalas’ analogy. Whom is living in whose house rent free?

The Super Clubs realized how much of their value was tied to these competitions. They claimed UEFA acted in a monopolistic manner and I think that may still be in court on that.

But, regardless of the legal outcome, it gets to the truth of how much value the Super Clubs owe to FIFA. A lot. Maybe most.

These clubs could go it alone and break free of FIFA altogether, but they know that would basically be starting from scratch with a brand new sport that might look and feel like soccer, but would not likely have the best players and people would not tune in and their clubs would quickly lose value.

Finally, what strikes me is how all of these arguments also apply to MLS, which is basically a super league in the U.S. and operates as an approved FIFA exception to the very same sporting merit principle codified in FIFA’s guidelines, that was staunchly applied to keep the Super League from forming.

I’m wondering when others will notice that.

“Home Field Disadvantage: How the Organization of Soccer in the United States Affects Athletic and Economic Competitiveness”

In the Michigan Law Review, Carolina Velarde, does a great job of explaining the complex particulars of the overly bureaucratic soccer organization in the U.S. in her paper titled, Home Fie Disadvantage: How the Organization of Soccer in the United States Affects Athletic and Economic Competitiveness (HT: The Chris Kessel on Twitter).

Such a great title. The way soccer has been organized in the U.S., which we are gaslighted into believing to help it, hurts it, giving us a disadvantage on the world stage.

In an attempt to summarize, Velarde lays out how the soccer powers that be in the U.S. have used the VERY laws meant to protect consumers, by restraining monopoly powers and maintaining competitiveness, are used for the opposite, to achieve virtual monopoly powers and keep a lid on competition.