Toughest Fella I Ever Knew.

Toughest fella I ever knew, Max Zeman, my grandfather, passed away this weekend just 9 weeks short of his 100th birthday. For somebody who witnessed the worst of what the 20th century had to offer, he managed to hold onto one of the world’s best, warmest laughs and a firm appreciation for the little things.…

Against exceptionalism: here’s what a housing start really looks like (one for the Minnesotans).

My long-time readers are aware, I think (perhaps too aware) that I spend an inordinate amount of time contemplating (and sometimes writing about) the life and fate of my home state, Minnesota (population, 5.3 million). And that mental phenomenon, in part (there were other reasons), explains why, yesterday morning, I was atop a hotel in…

Bye-Bye, Best Buy (China): You had it coming. [UPDATED]

[23 Feb: Multiple updates to be found at the end of the post!] Late last week the Chinese media started reporting rumors that Best Buy, North America’s dominant electronics retailer, was planning to shut down its branded stores in China. Rumors like that don’t start from nothing – the company’s stores have been empty for…

Q&A: Marketplace’s Rob Schmitz on covering China, his new blog, and … Minnesota.

Mid-summer 2010 and I was scheduled to have lunch with Jeff Wasserstrom, academic, author, blogger, and all-around good guy. A few days before we met, Jeff emailed to say that he’d like to bring along Rob Schmitz the (then) new Shanghai correspondent for American Public Media’s Marketplace program (heard on US public radio affiliates). Fine…

More on stolen iPhones at Best Buy Shanghai (Xujiahui): the Gangster Factor

Late last week I posted in regard to a bizarre encounter I had with a ‘freelance’ salesman/thief attempting to sell stolen iPhones inside of the Best Buy located in Shanghai’s Xujiahui neighborhood. In response, over the weekend I received several comments, two phone calls, and one email suggesting that the man who approached me is…

Get Your Used (stolen?) iPhones at Best Buy Shanghai (Xujiahui, 3rd floor)

Just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday shopping rush I come across evidence that at least one high-profile US-based entry into China’s cut-throat, price-sensitive retail market isn’t working out exactly as planned. I’m talking about Best Buy, North America’s largest electronics retailer. Three years ago they entered the Chinese market with plans to counter China’s…

Of Minnesota interest, only: Overseas Absentee Ballot Follies, Very Local Edition

[UPDATED 10/23: This morning I received an email from Mark Ritchie, Minnesota’s Secretary of State, in regard to this post. He explained that Minnesota overseas voters are no longer required to obtain witnesses (unlike local voters). Most likely, the SLP elections officials simply gave me the wrong application, and then proceeded to send the ballot…