MBA Programs, Smartphones, Plastic, Bicycles, Beyond Meat

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WSJ: More universities shut down traditional MBA programs as popularity wanes

Applications to full-time MBA programs have been falling in the strong job market, leading business schools to shift resources online.

LAT: People spend more time on mobile devices than TV, firm says

"In the United States, adults will spend an average of 3 hours and 43 minutes each day on their smartphones, feature phones and tablets this year, eight more minutes than they’ll spend watching TV, according to a forecast released Wednesday by research firm eMarketer."

The backlash to plastic has oil companies worried: Bloomberg reports, the global crackdown on plastic trash threatens to take a big chunk out of demand growth just as oil companies like Saudi Aramco sink billions into plastic and chemicals assets. Royal Dutch Shell Plc, BP Plc, Total SA and Exxon Mobil Corp. are all ramping up investments in the sector.

WP: Fewer kids are riding and buying bicycles, and the industry is worried

"The number of children ages 6 to 17 who rode bicycles regularly — more than 25 times a year — decreased by more than a million from 2014 to 2018, according to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association. That includes both casual rides around the neighborhood and more serious cycling for fitness or competition."

Reuters: Beyond Meat's home in the meat aisle sparks food fight

Beyond Meat and its new meatless burger rivals are counting on going head to head with meat inside stores. They avoid terms such as vegan or vegetarian, and request stores do not place their products in the supermarket vegan aisle where non-meat eaters traditionally buy tofu, tempeh, and other plant-based alternatives.

Capitalism, Plastic, Cannabis, Video Games, Self-driving Cars

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The Future of Capitalism by Paul Collier: Alan Murray writes, three great fissures that have emerged: one geographic (the regions against the metropolis), one educational (the have-mores versus the have-lesses), and one global (the developed versus the left behind—particularly Africa, which has been the subject of much of Collier’s work). At the core of his analysis is an argument that we lack a moral framework to heal these rifts. The right pursues a blind allegiance to the belief that freedom for “economic man” to pursue productivity and prosperity can bridge the chasms, while the left pursues an agenda of lawyerly rights and benefits for disenfranchised identity groups. Both sides ignore the moral obligations that have always made successful societies work.

Society worked from 1945 to 1970, Collier argues, “because it lived off a huge, invisible and unquantifiable asset that had been accumulated during the Second World War: a shared identity forged through a supreme and successful national effort.” 

Food delivery apps are drowning China in plastic: NYT reports, the noodles and barbecue arrive within 30 minutes. The containers they come in could be around for hundreds of years thereafter.

Demand for meat-free foods is up — 23% in the US last year alone, according to The Good Food Institute. 

Israel is banking on cannabis as its next big industry: LAT reports, Israel is becoming a powerhouse in the medicinal marijuana business, bringing scientific expertise and marketing skills to a multimillion-dollar market.

NBC News: Video game addiction is a mental health disorder, World Health Organization says

The WHO calls gaming addiction "a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behavior" so severe it "takes precedence over other life interests."

Japan law loosens rules for self-driving cars: AFP reports, Stuck in traffic on a Japanese highway? If you're in a self-driving car you might be able to kick back with a sandwich and check your phone under new legislation in the country. The law, passed Tuesday and published on the lower house website, takes effect from next year ahead of the Tokyo Olympics and offers a slight loosening of the current restrictions on autonomous vehicles.

Plastics + Coffee Cues + Neuromarketing + Creativity + Decision-making + Juul

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Virgin plastics: As the EU waves through the single-use plastics ban, broadly shuns fracking and pushes for decarbonization by 2050, plans for a wholesale contradiction involving INEOS and US ethane are underway in the city of Antwerp.

Roger Dooley: Does Starbucks make you smarter? One thing the coffee giant has been very smart about is preserving the powerful aroma of roasted coffee beans. Research shows that the mere smell of coffee can improve some cognitive functions. University of Toronto researchers recently published results which verified the concept that coffee cues prime the brain with an expectation of increased sharpness. Subjects from cultures where coffee drinking is common experienced higher levels of alertness and attention when primed with coffee cues than those from tea-oriented cultures.

One sign that neuromarketing has transcended its era of hype and hucksterism: Nielsen now has 16 neuro labs globally, including five in the US. One opened late last year in Cincinnati, Ohio, the heart of client country and home to Procter & Gamble, which is among the marketers that now have neuroscientists in-house.

"I think the industry is still a little bit of wild, wild west. It's still got plenty of snake oil in it," says Duane Varan, CEO of MediaScience.

Creativity peaks in your 20s and 50s: BBC reports, New research from Ohio State University found that our mid-20s is when our brains first become fertile ground for innovation. The study looked at previous winners of the Nobel Prize in economics. It found that those who did their most groundbreaking work in their 20s tended to be "conceptual" innovators. So basically they had a light bulb moment and acted upon it. But don't panic if you've gone past your mid-20s without a flicker of an idea - some of us won't hit our inspirational stride until our mid-50s.

The anatomy of a great decision: Making better decisions is one of the best skills we can develop. Good decisions save time, money, and stress. Here, Shane Parrish breaks down what makes a good decision and what we can do to improve our decision-making processes.

Starbucks, Dunkin race against bans, taxes on disposable cups: Bloomberg reports, inspired by plastic bag bans, jurisdictions have set their sights on a much bigger target: the to-go coffee cup

"There are some big structural changes in manufacturing. The world will make relatively fewer things in the future as digitization replaces goods with services." -- Paul Donovan @ UBS

Bloomberg: Teens say they don't vape, they Juul, making e-cigarette use hard to track

For the first time, public health officials will ask about Juul by name in an annual youth tobacco survey.

Plastic + Google + Alcohol + Amazon

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Wrapped in plastic is not fantastic, Canadians say: CBC reports, the vast majority of Canadians are concerned about plastic waste, believe individuals and businesses have a responsibility to reduce it and feel strongly that not enough is being done by government to address the issue, a new poll suggests

"Right now, just 11 percent of plastic used in Canada is recycled. The polling suggests that about three-quarters of Canadians accept that it's their responsibility to reduce plastic, but less than half said they knew of places they could shop for products with little plastic packaging."

Google scraps ethics council for artificial intelligence: FT reports, Google's AI ethics board has bitten the dust just one week after its formation. It was a chaotic few days, with thousands of Googlers and others decrying its inclusion of drone company chief Dyen Gibbens and Kay Coles James, head of the right-wing Heritage Foundation. One of the key AI ethics problems is to do with algorithmic bias, and James is an opponent of LGBTQ rights, so people thought she was a pretty terrible fit for the role. One board member resigned and others squirmed, and eventually, Google pulled the plug.

Bloomberg: Americans drank less alcohol in 2018 for the third straight year

1. Americans are drinking less.

2. When they do drink, it's higher-end stuff.

3. And they want to try something lower-cal (but refreshing).

Average price of brand-name drugs more than 18 times higher than generics: A new report on changes in generic drug pricing from AARP’s Public Policy Institute finds that brand-name drugs in 2017 were, on average, more than 18 times the price of their generic counterparts. The average annual cost for a generic drug taken regularly was $365, but the price for the brand-name equivalent was close to $6,800. 

Amazon is positioning Alexa, its artificial-intelligence assistant, to track consumers’ prescriptions and relay personal health information.