business news in context, analysis with attitude

We had a story yesterday about how Amazon plans to add to its Alexa ecosystem by releasing at least eight new voice-controlled devices in time for the end-of-year holiday shopping season.

Prompting MNB reader Ray England to write:

What a glorious day when I bought and installed an Alexa compatible lawn sprinkler controller. Alexa…tell beehive to water the front pots for five minutes…Cool as all get out. Makes one think about the possibilities.

On another subject from another MNB reader:

Kevin, if you liked seeing Dick Van Dyke in the Mary Poppins Returns trailer, then you will really enjoy the HBO documentary "If You're Not in the Obit, Eat Breakfast." In addition to Dick Van Dyke, it features Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks, Norman Lear, Kirk Douglas, Betty White, Stan Lee, Tony Bennett, Patricia Morison, and others. 

Look to see when it's on HBO next and DVR it, and it's on Netflix too.

I’ve seen it, and you’re right. It is wonderful.

Regarding the growth of checkout-free stores - which suddenly looks a lot more dramatic in the context of today’s Amazon Go news - MNB reader Kris Kenyon Jackson wrote:

While I am intrigued and excited about the prospect of check out free stores, I read a recent article from the NYT about how stores are cracking down on shoplifting (sometimes falsely) and that the self-check outs in some stores are attributing to this in a big way. Extrapolating to these check out free stores, I would think this would exacerbate the problem. I am nervous as a consumer to use these stores, for fear of a lawsuit. Heck, I’ve stopped using the self-check lanes after reading this article.

What do you think?

I don’t worry about it a lot, to be honest. Maybe I should. Maybe I should be more worried about this stuff as technology worms its way more and more into our lives. But I don’t … I find that checkout-free stores are really accurate and I suspect that they actually cut down on shrink.

The sad reality is that if someone stops me for shoplifting when I haven’t done anything wrong, a) I’ll be able to prove it, and b) I’m going to get a really good story for MNB. Si I’m okay with it happening.

Yesterday, as part of a discussion of Jeff Bezos’ philanthropy, I wrote:

I was talking to someone last night who told me that he’d read that Elon Musk said that Jeff Bezos wasn’t a very nice guy. That may be true … but my first thought was to wonder how nice a guy Elon Musk is. My second thought was to wonder was Musk was smoking at the time…

MNB reader Jerry Sheldon responded:

I have a close personal friend, a person of tremendous integrity and moral character, someone that I would believe unequivocally, who, in his line of business, works with both of them. Knowing that I asked him that very same question. He tells me that Jeff is a great guy, great to work with, and pretty down to earth, but Elon, not so much. I find it ironic that Elon would cast dispersions Jeff’s way. Even billionaires need brain to mouth filters.

I have no expectations that any of these folks are going to be Mother Teresa.

On the other hand, I’ve read Christopher Hitchens’ “The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice,” and I’m not sure even Mother Teresa was Mother Teresa.
KC's View: