Author Archives: scanavert

Unsustainable social apps, and the sustainability of Elon Musk

I write this having just returned from the Edison Awards in San Francisco.   How refreshing to be part of a gathering of companies whose products and services serve an actual need, and purpose,  quite a stark contrast from the majority of companies exhibiting the previous week at NY Tech Day, where there were a few industries represented, e.g., business services,  education, retail, but the show was overwhelmingly a plethora of “me-apps”, companies whose mobile apps have functions and features for you to show and share your self, your opinions, your tastes, pretty much “the world according to me”, a cottage industry leveraging narcissism for ad revenue.  If you woke up tomorrow and Facebook, Zynga, and other productivity wasting sites/games were gone, no population would suffer, with the exception of couch potatoes. Social media is the new health affliction, just as smoking was to previous generations, and why the IRS should subject this industry to a vice tax to support the [un]Affordable Healthcare Act.   While there seems no limit to investors’ appetite for me-apps, their sheer number should serve as a wake-up call that this market, and business model, is saturated, over-saturated, and headed for a steep correction.

That is precisely why attending events like Edison Awards are so necessary, to remind me that purpose driven companies like mine do exist, do get funded, I just need to venture out from all the trending hype to find them.   However,  the true highlight of my trip was my elevator ride with Elon Musk and Yang Yuanqing, who, having just been honored, rushed in to escape the swarming crowd from the ballroom.   Talk about your literal “elevator pitch” opportunity!  But no, I did not even introduce myself, instead thanked Mr. Musk for inspiring my college bound son, who was back in NY receiving an award of his own, which I was missing to receive mine, for an essay he wrote about environmental sustainability and corporate responsibility of Elon Musk. With that he smiled broadly and permitted me to take his picture, which I promptly texted to my son,  waking him at 1:00 a.m., but was just as promptly forgiven.

Delicious Prescription? Get Real!

Interesting read in the WSJ on how physicians are finally ‘getting’ that what you eat is truly the best medicine, enlisting the help of top name chefs, A Delicious Prescription, WSJ 3/15-3/16,. However, I read this article unsure if the author was taking a tongue and cheek approach; citing menu options from several upscale restaurants most of us will never dine in, nor have the pocket to purchase such ingredients.  The chefs and physicians on this project were  middle age and male, and , I’d wager none of their offerings appeal to a youngster’s palate, perhaps because they lack the experience in satisfying that demographic, or perhaps because they only sought what was appealing from their own perspective.  l  submit the following:

“grilled flatbread with tomatoes, anchovies, fresh ricotta, a drizzle of saba- a naturally sweet grape-juice reduction”, OR
” almond soup with glazed scallions, wild mushrooms with white truffle, sweet garlic, grilled toro and coconut foam. Perhaps “staples at Bouley restaurant”, but certainly not in 99% of American households, truly a fantasy befitting its own island- “De Plane! De Plane!” Sorry, channeling my inner Tattoo.

Are these really the “experts”? Better to consult the folks who are supposed to get it right from the beginning, since that is where health begins.  A lifetime of healthy eating comes from practice, and therefore, becomes not a chore, but a habit.  Even the project’s members concur, stating that they are interested in prevention, which implies early adoption of healthy foods and yet their approach is counter-productive,   Specifically, the focus on gourmet meals, serves only a mature or elitist population, and undermines focusing on real food choices for families, which would benefit the masses,  Clearly no “public” served by this foodie fraternity, despite that the lead participant is Harvard School of Public Health.   A far better use of  funds would be if Harvard School of Public Health consulted parents on how to make the best ‘fake’ fried chicken, by removing the skin, coating in smashed saltines, or breadcrumbs, and baking it in the oven, or, sliced up eggplant or zucchini baked on a cookie sheet, sprayed with a little olive oil, and salt and pepper, both of which can provide leftovers which stretch the budget far beyond any “naturally sweet grape juice reduction”, unless  the experts are proposing we all ferment our own wine as a revenue model.

Multitudes of us run-of-the-mill playgroup hosts stock not “coconut foam”, “grass fed beef”, or “eggs from grass fed chickens”, but carrots, celery and apples,  These are staples that are affordable to the average American family, particularly, as 25% receive SNAP funds, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.   Factor in an estimated 3.5% increase in food prices due to the recent drought,  and the healthy cupboard becomes even less affordable

To the participants involved in this effort, might I suggest the following preparation directions?  Leave the ivory tower [spotless stainless kitchen] that is your domain, along with your  lab [chef] coat, turn sharply off the wealthy path you’re traveling of pricey restaurant fare,  pivot to the menu of ingredients actually attainable within the average family grocery budget.  Add a dollop of humor, and a healthy dose of reality,  add liberally, as it appears you are in short supply. Yields: a healthy realistic meal plan that exists outside a Petri dish, or Fantasy Island.