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March 31, 2010

New York Forces Entrepreneur to Subsidize His Competitor



(p. A24) Last year, the State Legislature levied a new tariff on most of the businesses in the New York City region. The metropolitan commuter transportation mobility tax requires employers to set aside 34 cents for every $100 in payroll costs, and hand the money over to a battered, barely breathing patient on the state's fiscal operating table: the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

The tax has not worked out so well. So far, its projected revenues are coming in about $400 million below the state's estimates -- which, in part, will mean reduced subway and bus service for New Yorkers starting this summer. It has also prompted a furious backlash from suburban officials who resent bankrolling an agency that, they say, benefits the city at the expense of its surrounding counties.

And then there is William Schoolman, 69, amateur activist, self-described ''prototypical entrepreneur,'' and proprietor of the Hampton Luxury Liner bus fleet. In December, he filed a lawsuit in State Supreme Court claiming the tax is unconstitutional and demanding its repeal. The reason?

''Competition,'' Mr. Schoolman said in a recent telephone interview, anger rising in his voice. ''This is the first time that I ever had to pay a subsidy directly to my competitor. That's the thing that really bothers me.''



For the full story, see:

MICHAEL M. GRYNBAUM. "Suing Over a Transit Tax, in the Name of Competition." The New York Times (Tues., February 16, 2010): A24.





March 30, 2010

Market Entrepreneurs Versus Political Entrepreneurs




HillJamesRailroad2010-03-16.jpg"James J. Hill (center) built a great railroad on his own dime." Source of caption and photo: online version of the WSJ commentary quoted and cited below.


(p. A17) Let's bring back the robber barons.

"Robber baron" became a term of derision to generations of American students after many earnest teachers made them read Matthew Josephson's long tome of the same name about the men whose enterprise drove the American industrial age from 1861 to 1901.

Josephson's cast of pillaging villains was comprehensive: Rockefeller, Carnegie, Vanderbilt, Morgan, Astor, Jay Gould, James J. Hill. His table of contents alone shaped impressions of those times: "Carnegie as 'business pirate'.'' "Henry Frick, baron of coke." "Terrorism in Oil." "The sack of California."

I say, bring 'em back, and the sooner the better. What we need, a lot more than a $1,000 tax credit, are industries no one has thought of before. We need vision, vitality and commercial moxie. This government is draining it away.

The antidote to Josephson's book is a small classic by Hillsdale College historian Burton W. Folsom called "The Myth of the Robber Barons: A New Look at the Rise of Big Business in America" (Young America's Foundation). Prof. Folsom's core insight is to divide the men of that age into market entrepreneurs and political entrepreneurs.

Market entrepreneurs like Rockefeller, Vanderbilt and Hill built businesses on product and price. Hill was the railroad magnate who finished his transcontinental line without a public land grant. Rockefeller took on and beat the world's dominant oil power at the time, Russia. Rockefeller innovated his way to energy primacy for the U.S.

Political entrepreneurs, by contrast, made money back then by gaming the political system. Steamship builder Robert Fulton acquired a 30-year monopoly on Hudson River steamship traffic from, no surprise, the New York legislature. Cornelius Vanderbilt, with the slogan "New Jersey must be free," broke Fulton's government-granted monopoly.



For the full commentary, see:

DANIEL HENNINGER. "Bring Back the Robber Barons." The Wall Street Journal (Mon., MARCH 4, 2010): A17.

(Note: the online version of the article is dated MARCH 3, 2010.)


The full reference for Folsom's book is:

Folsom, Burton W. The Myth of the Robber Barons. 4th ed: Young America's Foundation, 2003.





March 29, 2010

Like Wikipedia, Oxford English Dictionary Was Built by Amateur Volunteers




(p. 70) The venerable Oxford English Dictionary (OED), the history of which is masterfully documented by Simon Winchester in The Meaning of Everything and The Professor and the Madman, was in fact possible only through the soliciting of contributions, and the receipt of thousands of "slips" of paper, each with words and definitions found by readers and volunteers.

The OED didn't start out with such a grand title, and was first a project of the Philological Society in Great Britian (sic), as a response to what they saw as the popular dictionaries of Noah Webster and Samuel Johnson not doing the "English language justice." In 1857, it was started as the Unregistered Words Committee, and the job was to comb through all forms of media of the era (printed matter, song, spoken word) leading to the inventorying and cataloging of English words. The three founders, Chenevix Trench, Herbert Coleridge, and Frederick Furnivall, sent out a notice in November of that year: "AN APPEAL TO THE ENGLISH-SPEAKING AND ENGLISH-READING PUBLIC TO READ BOOKS AND MAKE EXTRACTS FOR THE PHILOLOGICAL SOCIETY'S NEW ENGLISH DICTIONARY." Specifically, it described the project thusly:

Accordingly, in January 1859. the Society issued their Proposal for the publication of a New English Dictionary, in which the characteristics of the proposed work were explained, and an appeal made to the English and American public to assist in collecting the raw materials for the work, these materials consisting of quotations illustrating the use of English words by all writers of all ages and in all senses, each quotation being made on a uniform plan on a half-sheet of notepaper that they might in due course be arranged and classified alphabetically and significantly. This Appeal met with generous response: some hundreds of volunteers began to read books, make quotations and send in their slips to "sub-editors who volunteered each to take charge of a letter or part of one, and by whom the slips were in turn further arranged, classified, and (p. 71) to some extent used as the basis of definitions and skeleton schemes of the meanings of words in preparation for the Dictionary.

The notice was sent to "bookshops and libraries across the English-speaking world" and, under the direction of Scottish lexicographer James Murray, saw its growth blossom. In 1879, Oxford University Press formally agreed to be publisher and employed Murray to take on the editorship. Slips sent in to the effort were filed away in pigeonholes at the Scriptorium, a corrugated metal building Mill Hill School erected specifically for the effort of sorting and housing the staff to work on the dictionary.



Source:

Lih, Andrew. The Wikipedia Revolution: How a Bunch of Nobodies Created the World's Greatest Encyclopedia. New York: Hyperion, 2009.

(Note: italics and caps in original.)


The block quote within the Lih block quote is from p. 108 of:

Winchester, Simon. The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary. paperback ed. New York: Oxford University Press, USA, 2003.





March 28, 2010

Entrepreneur Pleases Dwarfs; Critics Are Appalled




DwarfAngels2010-03-16.JPG"Yang Jinlu, 18, left, and Zhang Yinghua, 37." Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.



(p. A10) KUNMING, China -- Chen Mingjing's entrepreneurial instincts vaulted him from a peasant upbringing to undreamed-of wealth, acquired in ventures ranging from making electric meters to investing in real estate. But when he was 44, the allure of making money for money's sake began to wane. He wanted to run a business that accomplished some good.

And so last September, Mr. Chen did what any socially aware entrepreneur might do: He opened a theme park of dwarfs, charging tourists about $9 a head to watch dozens of dwarfs in pink tutus perform a slapstick version of "Swan Lake" along with other skits.

Mr. Chen has big plans for his Kingdom of the Little People. Imagine a $115 million universe in miniature, set amid 13,000 acres of rolling hills and peaceful lakes in southern China's Yunnan Province, with tiny dogs, tiny fruit trees, a 230-foot-high performance hall that looks like the stump of a prehistoric tree and standard-size guest cabins.

Also, a black BMW modified to resemble a flying saucer, from which dwarfs will spill forth to begin their performances.

"It will be like a fairy tale," Mr. Chen said. "Everything here I have designed myself."


. . .


Critics say displaying dwarfs is at best misguided and at worst immoral, a throwback to times when freak shows pandered to people's morbid curiosity.

"Are they just going there to look at curious objects?" asked Yu Haibo, who leads a volunteer organization for the disabled in Jilin Province in the northeast.

"I think it is horrible," said Gary Arnold, the spokesman for Little People of America Inc., a dwarfism support group based in California. "What is the difference between it and a zoo?" Even the term "dwarf" is offensive to some; his organization prefers "person of short stature."


. . .


But there is another view, and Mr. Chen and some of his short-statured workers present it forcefully. One hundred permanently employed dwarfs, they contend, is better than 100 dwarfs scrounging for odd jobs. They insist that the audiences who see the dwarfs sing, dance and perform comic routines leave impressed by their skills and courage.

Many performers said they enjoyed being part of a community where everyone shares the same challenges, like the height of a sink. "Before, when we were at home, we didn't know anyone our size. When we hang out together with normal-size people, we can not really do the same things," said Wu Zhihong, 20. "So I really felt lonely sometimes."


. . .


Supporters and critics agree on one point: the fact that the park is awash in job applications shows the disturbing dearth of opportunities for the disabled in China. Cao Yu, Mr. Chen's assistant, says she receives three or four job inquiries a week.

"Under the current social situation in China, they really will not be able to find a better employment situation," she said.


. . .


Mr. Chen said his employees had gained self-respect and self-sufficiency. "It doesn't really matter to me what other people say," he said. "The question is whether meeting me has changed their lives."



For the full story, see:

SHARON LaFRANIERE. "Kunming Journal; A Miniature World Magnifies Dwarf Life." The New York Times (Thurs., March 4, 2010): A10.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the article is dated March 3, 2010.)



DwarfsRelax2010-03-16.JPG "Workers relaxed in the dormitories." Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited above.






March 27, 2010

An "Entrepreneur's Visa" to Let the Future Sergey Brin In




(p. A19) . . . , there is one way to create a lot more jobs without spending federal money. Let's import them. More precisely, let's import the people who create them: entrepreneurs.

A bipartisan bill that would begin to do just that was introduced on Feb. 24 by Sens. John Kerry (D., Mass.) and Richard Lugar (R., Ind.). Their "Startup Visa Act" would create a new, two-year visa for immigrant entrepreneurs whose firms attract at least $250,000 in financing from American angel investors or venture capital firms.


. . .


Here's a way to improve on the Kerry-Lugar plan. Create a true "job creator's visa," one tied directly and only to job creation by new immigrant entrepreneurs. The visa could be a temporary one for immigrants already here on another visa who establish a business. It could then be extended if the firm hires at least one American non-family resident. The visa should become permanent once the enterprise crosses a certain job threshold (such as five or 10 workers). But it would not be tied to financing.


. . .


Google was founded by Sergey Brin, a Russian immigrant, and American Larry Page by borrowing funds from their own credit cards. Why on earth would we want to create an entrepreneurs' visa that couldn't let in the future Sergey Brin?



For the full commentary, see:

ROBERT E. LITAN. "Visas for the Next Sergey Brin; To create more jobs, let's import more employers." The Wall Street Journal (Mon., MARCH 8, 2010): A19.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the article is dated MARCH 7, 2010.)





March 26, 2010

United States Exports "High-Value-Added Services that Support Well-Paying Jobs"




ServiceImportsExportsGraph2010-03-16.jpgSource of graph: online version of the WSJ article quoted and cited below.


(p. A23) Exports of American services have jumped by 84 percent since 2000, while the growth rate among goods was 66 percent. America trails both China and Germany in sales of goods abroad, but ranks No. 1 in global services by a wide margin. And while trade deficits in goods have been enormous -- $840 billion in 2008 -- the country runs a large and growing surplus in services: we exported $144 billion more in services than we imported, dwarfing the surpluses of $75 billion in 2000 and $58 billion in 1992.

Equally important, Commerce Department data show that the United States is a top-notch competitor in many of the high-value-added services that support well-paying jobs.


. . .


. . . , will Washington offer tax breaks or other export incentives? While businesses may clamor for them, these would be a setback for freer trade -- after all, for years it has been America that has been hectoring other countries to end their subsidies to exporters. Will Washington try to pick winners in the global marketplace, like green energy? More often than not, this kind of industrial policy wastes money, fosters inefficiency and creates few permanent jobs.



For the full story, see:

W. MICHAEL COX. "An Order of Prosperity, to Go." The New York Times (Weds., February 17, 2010): A23.

(Note: ellipses added.)





March 25, 2010

At Odds with Academic Culture, Wiki Programmer Adams Released Early and Released Often




(p. 67) Adams did something unexpected for the academic community, but common in open source culture--release early and release often. Within weeks of its launch, one of the biggest annoyances of Wikipedia was resolved directly by the software's author. It was not because of monetary compensation or any formal request, but simply because the author was interested in solving it on his own time, and sharing it with others. It was the hacker ethos, and it had crossed from the domain of tech programmers into the world of encyclopedias.


Source:

Lih, Andrew. The Wikipedia Revolution: How a Bunch of Nobodies Created the World's Greatest Encyclopedia. New York: Hyperion, 2009.





March 24, 2010

The Ultimate Complement: When Your Competitor Uses Your Product




BallmerSteveIphone2010-03-16.jpg










". . . apparently a photo that was snapped from the iPhone as Ballmer brandished it above his head." Source of caption and photo: http://www.gearfuse.com/ballmer-lashes-out-at-microsoft-employed-iphone-user-threatens-to-smash-iphone/



(p. A1) REDMOND, Wash.--Microsoft Corp. employees are passionate users of the latest tech toys. But there is one gadget love that many at the company dare not name: the iPhone.

The iPhone is made, of course, by Microsoft's longtime rival, Apple Inc. The device's success is a nagging reminder for Microsoft executives of how the company's own efforts to compete in the mobile business have fallen short in recent years. What is especially painful is that many of Microsoft's own employees are nuts for the device.

The perils of being an iPhone user at Microsoft were on display last September. At an all- company meeting in a Seattle sports stadium, one hapless employee used his iPhone to snap photos of Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer. Mr. Ballmer snatched the iPhone out of the employee's hands, placed it on the ground and pretended to stomp on it in front of thousands of Microsoft workers, according to people present.


. . .


Nearly 10,000 iPhone users were accessing the Microsoft employee email system last year, say two people who heard the estimates from senior Microsoft executives. That figure equals about 10% of the company's glo-(p. A10)bal work force.

Employees at Apple, in contrast, appear to be more devoted to the company's own mobile phone. Several people who work at the company or deal regularly with employees there say they can't recall seeing Apple workers with mobile phones other than the iPhone in recent memory.



For the full story, see:

NICK WINGFIELD. "Forbidden Fruit: Microsoft Workers Hide Their iPhones; Steve Ballmer Sours on Apple Product; Work for Ford, Drive a Ford." The Wall Street Journal (Sat., MARCH 13, 2010): A1 & A10.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the article had the date MARCH 12, 2010.)





March 23, 2010

"Strategy, as We Knew It, Is Dead''




(p. B7) During the recession, as business forecasts based on seemingly plausible swings in sales smacked up against reality, executives discovered that strategic planning doesn't always work.

Some business leaders came away convinced that the new priority was to be able to shift course on the fly. Office Depot Inc., for example, began updating its annual budget every month, starting in early 2009. Other companies started to factor more extreme scenarios into their thinking. A few even set up "situation rooms,'' where staffers glued to computer screens monitored developments affecting sales and finances.

Now, even though the economy is slowly picking up, those fresh habits aren't fading. "This downturn has changed the way we will think about our business for many years to come," says Steve Odland, Office Depot's chairman and chief executive.

Walt Shill, head of the North American management consulting practice for Accenture Ltd., is even more blunt: "Strategy, as we knew it, is dead,'' he contends. "Corporate clients decided that increased flexibility and accelerated decision making are much more important than simply predicting the future."

Companies have long planned for changing circumstances. What's new--and a switch from the distant calendars and rigid forecasts of the past--is the heavy dose of opportunism. Office Depot stuck with its three-year planning process after the recession hit, largely to make sure employees had a common plan to rally around, Mr. Odland says. But the CEO decided to review the budget every month rather than quarterly so the office-supply chain could react faster to changes in customers' needs.




For the full story, see:

JOANN S. LUBLIN and DANA MATTIOLI. "Theory & Practice; Strategic Plans Lose Favor; Slump Showed Bosses Value of Flexibility, Quick Decisions." The Wall Street Journal (Mon., January 22, 2010): B7.





March 22, 2010

Small Nuclear Reactor Will Run on Spent Fuel From Big Reactors




GeneralAtomicsEM2reactor2010-03--01.jpg "An artist's modeling of the proposed EM2 reactor, which would be small enough to be transported by truck." Source of caption and photo: online version of the WSJ article quoted and cited below.


(p. B1) Nuclear and defense supplier General Atomics announced Sunday it will launch a 12-year program to develop a new kind of small, commercial nuclear reactor in the U.S. that could run on spent fuel from big reactors.

In starting its campaign to build the helium-cooled reactor, General Atomics is joining a growing list of companies willing to place a long-shot bet on reactors so small they could be built in factories and hauled on trucks or trains.

The General Atomics program, if successful, could provide a partial solution to one of the biggest problems associated with nuclear energy: figuring out what to do with highly radioactive waste. With no agreement on where to locate a federal storage site, that waste is now stored in pools or casks on utilities' property.

The General Atomics reactor, which is dubbed EM2 for Energy Multiplier Module, would be about one-quarter the size of a conventional reactor and have unusual features, including the ability to burn used fuel, which still contains more than 90% of its original energy. Such reuse would reduce the volume and toxicity of the waste that remained. General Atomics calculates there is so much U.S. nuclear waste that it could fuel 3,000 of the proposed reactors, far more than it anticipates building.

The decision to proceed with its 12-year program indicates that General Atomics believes the time is right to both make a nuclear push and to try to gain approval for an unconventional design proposal despite the likely difficulty of getting it certified by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The EM2 would operate at temperatures as high as 850 degrees Centigrade, which is about twice as hot as a conventional (p. B2) water-cooled reactor. The very high temperatures would make the reactor especially well suited to industrial uses that go beyond electricity production, such as extracting oil from tar sands, desalinating water and refining petroleum to make fuel and chemicals.




For the full story, see:

REBECCA SMITH. "General Atomics Proposes a Plant That Runs on Nuclear Waste." The Wall Street Journal (Mon., February 22, 2010): B1 & B2.






March 21, 2010

When Wales Earned "Enough"




(p. 22) By 1998, the business was good enough that Wales wanted to leave not just the world of Chicago Options Associates but the city of Chicago too. As a trader, he had made enough money to live comfortably for a while, or as he would say, "I made out OK" and earned "enough." With no incentive to stay in the Windy City, and with the warmer weather of California calling, Wales and Shell decided they could relocate to San Diego and run the business from there. Wales and his wife, Christine, made the move in 1998.


Source:

Lih, Andrew. The Wikipedia Revolution: How a Bunch of Nobodies Created the World's Greatest Encyclopedia. New York: Hyperion, 2009.





March 20, 2010

Brin Plays Google's "Ethical Trump Card"




BrinSergey2010-03-16.jpg "Co-founder Sergey Brin has been active in Google's dealings with China." Source of caption and photo: online version of the WSJ article quoted and cited below.


(p. A8) As a boy growing up in the Soviet Union, Sergey Brin witnessed the consequences of censorship. Now the Google Inc. co-founder is drawing on that experience in shaping the company's showdown with the Chinese government.

Mr. Brin has long been Google's moral compass on China-related issues, say people familiar with the matter. He expressed the greatest concern among decision makers, they say, about the compromises Google made when it launched its Chinese-language search engine, Google.cn, in 2006. He is now the guiding force behind Google's decision to stop filtering search results in China, say people familiar with the decision.


. . .


The move is the clearest manifestation yet of a tension that has always existed at Google.

The Internet company, on one hand, is analytical: It built its core search business on algorithms that determine the relevance of Web sites and has tried to apply quantitative analysis to traditionally subjective parts of a business, such as hiring decisions. On the other hand, Mr. Brin and co-founder Larry Page have passionately touted Google's ability to spread democracy through access to information, and adopted the unofficial and now-famous motto, "Don't Be Evil."

"At its best, Google is data-driven with an ethical trump card," said Larry Brilliant, who headed up the company's philanthropic efforts until 2009. Always it was the founders, Messrs. Brin and Page, who could play that card, he added.



For the full story, see:

BEN WORTHEN. "Soviet-Born Brin Has Shaped Google's Stand." The Wall Street Journal (Sat., MARCH 13, 2010): A8.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the article had the date MARCH 12, 2010 and has the slightly longer title "Soviet-Born Brin Has Shaped Google's Stand on China.")





March 19, 2010

"A Regime that Survived through Myth and Fear"




(p. 4) It's an old Soviet joke.

Three Russians are in the gulag. The first one says, "What are you in for?"

The second one replies, "I called Zbarsky a revolutionary."

"That's funny," the first one says. "I called Zbarsky a counterrevolutionary."

"That's funny," the third one says. "I'm Zbarsky."

Vern Thiessen's new play, "Lenin's Embalmers," which starts on Wednesday at the Ensemble Studio Theater in Clinton, opens with the ghost of Lenin telling this joke as a parable of the mordant doom pervading the Communist state he created.

In real life the joke wasn't specifically about Zbarsky. You could insert any of Stalin's thousands of lackeys turned victims. Certainly Zbarsky would do. Boris Zbarsky was a real person, one of the two biochemists who, after Lenin died in 1924, were ordered by the Kremlin to devise a way of preserving his body forever.

He and his colleague, Vladimir Vorobiev -- the play's main characters -- succeeded spectacularly, won fortune and power, then fell from grace into the terror, like many others who served a regime that survived through myth and fear.


. . .


The new work, written as a stylized dark comedy, takes only a few liberties with history. It has Zbarsky and Vorobiev arrested after they're tricked into betraying each other. In fact Mr. Vorobiev died in a hospital, under mysterious circumstances, in 1937. Mr. Zbarsky was arrested in 1952; he was freed two years later, after Stalin's death, and died of a seizure soon after. Still, betrayals and trumped-up confessions were common in the era.




For the full review, see:

FRED KAPLAN. "He's Had Work: Preserving the Face of a Revolution." The New York Times, Arts&Leisure Section (Sun., February 28, 2010): 4.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the article is dated February 23 (sic), 2010.)





March 18, 2010

Minnesota Windmills Do Not Turn in Cold Weather




WindmillStandStill2010-03-01.jpg "Inspecting a windmill in Chaska, Minn. The blades on some in the area have been stationary." Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.


(p. A12) For those who suspect residents in places like Minnesota of embellishment when it comes to their tales of bitterly cold winter weather, consider this: even some wind turbines, it seems, cannot bear it.

Turbines, more than 100 feet tall, were installed last year in 11 Minnesota cities to provide power, and also to serve as educational symbols in a state that has mandated that a quarter of its electricity come from renewable resources by 2025.

One problem, though: The windmills, supposed to go online this winter, mostly just sat still, people in cities like North St. Paul and Chaska said, rarely if ever budging. Residents took note. Schoolchildren asked questions. Complaints accumulated.

"If people see a water tower, they expect it to stand still," said Wally Wysopal, the city manager of North St. Paul. "If there's a turbine, they want it to turn."

No one knows for sure why these turbines do not. Officials believe there may be several reasons, but weather is the focus of much speculation.




For the full story, see:

MONICA DAVEY. "When Windmills Don't Spin, People Expect Some Answers." The New York Times (Fri., February 5, 2010): A12.

(Note: the online version of the article was dated February 4, 2010)





March 17, 2010

Wikipedia Works in Practice, Not in Theory




(p. 20) Jimmy walked into the offices of Chicago Options Associates in 1994 and met the CEO Michael Davis for a job interview. Davis had looked over Wales's academic publication about options pricing.

"It was impressive looking," says Wales wryly about the paper. "It was a very theoretical paper but it wasn't very practical." But Davis was sufficiently intrigued, as he wanted someone like Wales to pore over the firm's financial models and help improve them. So he took on young Wales, who seemed to be sharp and had acumen for numbers. Little did either of them know they would have a long road ahead together, with Wikipedia in the future.

Wales's first job was to go over the firm's current pricing models. "What was really fascinating was that it was truly a step beyond what I'd seen in academia," he recalls. "It was very practical, and didn't have a real theoretical foundation." Wales was intrigued that the firm traded on principles that worked in practice, not in theory. (This is something he would say about his future endeavor Wikipedia.) "Basically they just knew in the marketplace that the existing models were wrong."



Source:

Lih, Andrew. The Wikipedia Revolution: How a Bunch of Nobodies Created the World's Greatest Encyclopedia. New York: Hyperion, 2009.

(Note: italics in original.)





March 16, 2010

Myhrvold Innovates in Financing Innovation




MyhrvoldNathanIntellectualVentures2010-03-01.jpg "Nathan Myhrvold, chief of Intellectual Ventures, says patent holders are being treated unfairly." Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.


When Nathan Myhrvold was at Microsoft, he helped Bill Gates write The Road Ahead, a well-written book full of realistically optimistic speculation, forecast and analysis.

Besides his main initiative, discussed below, he has recently been in the news due to his bold and controversial suggestion for how to cheaply solve global warming.


(p. B1) BELLEVUE, Wash. -- Nathan Myhrvold wants to shake up the marketplace for ideas. His mission and the activities of the company he heads, Intellectual Ventures, a secretive $5 billion investment firm that has scooped up 30,000 patents, inspire admiration and angst.

Admirers of Mr. Myhrvold, the scientist who led Microsoft's technology development in the 1990s, see an innovator seeking to elevate the economic role and financial rewards for inventors whose patented ideas are often used without compensation by big technology companies. His detractors see a cynical operator deploying his bulging patent trove as a powerful bargaining chip, along with the implied threat of costly litigation, to prod high-tech companies to pay him lucrative fees. They call his company "Intellectual Vultures."

White hat or black hat, Intellectual Ventures is growing rapidly and becoming a major force in the marketplace for intellectual capital. Its rise comes as Congress is considering legislation, championed by large technology companies, that would make it more difficult for patent holders to win large damage awards in court -- changes that Mr. Myhrvold has opposed in Congressional testimony and that his company has lobbied against.


. . .


(p. B10) The issues surrounding Intellectual Ventures, viewed broadly, are the ground rules and incentives for innovation. "How this plays out will be crucial to the American economy," said Josh Lerner, an economist and patent expert at the Harvard Business School.

Mr. Myhrvold certainly thinks so. He says he is trying to build a robust, efficient market for "invention capital," much as private equity and venture capital developed in recent decades. "They started from nothing, were deeply misunderstood and were trashed by people threatened by new business models," he said in his offices here.

Mr. Myhrvold presents his case at length in a 7,000-word article published on Thursday in the Harvard Business Review. "If we and firms like us succeed," he writes, "the invention capital system will turbocharge technological progress, create many more new businesses, and change the world for the better."

In the article and in conversation, Mr. Myhrvold describes the patent world as a vastly underdeveloped market, starved for private capital and too dependent on federal financing for universities and government agencies, which is mainly aimed at scientific discovery anyway. Eventually, he foresees patents being valued as a separate asset class, like real estate or securities.

His antagonists, he says, are the "cozy oligarchy" of big technology companies like I.B.M., Hewlett-Packard and others that typically reach cross-licensing agreements with each other, and then refuse to deal with or acknowledge the work of inventors or smaller companies.


. . .


Mr. Myhrvold personifies the term polymath. He is a prolific patent producer himself, with more than 100 held or applied for. He earned his Ph.D. in physics from Princeton and did postdoctorate research on quantum field theory under Stephen Hawking, before founding a start-up that Microsoft acquired.

He is an accomplished French chef, who has also won a national barbecue contest in Tennessee. He is an avid wildlife photographer, and he has dabbled in paleontology, working on research projects digging for dinosaur remains in the Rockies.





For the full story, see:

STEVE LOHR. "Turning Patents Into 'Invention Capital'." The New York Times (Thur., February 18, 2010): B1 & B10.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the article is dated February 17, 2010.)


The Bill Gates book is:

Gates, Bill. The Road Ahead. New York: Viking Penguin, 1995.


Myhrvold's Harvard Business Review essay is:

Myhrvold, Nathan. "The Big Idea: Funding Eureka!" Harvard Business Review 88, no. 2 (March 2010): 40-50.



MyhrvoldNathanFreezeDryMachine2010-03-01.jpg "Nathan Myhrvold with a machine that freeze-dries food. Intellectual Ventures so far has paid $315 million to individual inventors." Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited above.





March 15, 2010

Irritation is "the Source of Serious Innovation"




(p. 299) Innovation Source No. 1 is Pissed-Off People.

Irritation. Anger. That's the number one source of serious innovation. Which must, of course, be coupled with spine--a willingness to take on the powers that be. And risk it all.




Source:

Peters, Tom. Re-Imagine! London: DK, 2003.

(Note: italics, bold, and larger size font, in original.)





March 14, 2010

Unlikely Tea Party Leader Protests the "Porkulus"




CarenderKeliTeaPartyLeader2010-03-01.jpg "Keli Carender resists the idea of a Tea Party leader -- "there are a thousand leaders," she says. But she has become a leader, and a celebrity. Ms. Carender at a recent rally in Olympia, Wash." Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.


(p. 1) SEATTLE -- Keli Carender has a pierced nose, performs improv on weekends and lives here in a neighborhood with more Mexican grocers than coffeehouses. You might mistake her for the kind of young person whose vote powered President Obama to the White House. You probably would not think of her as a Tea Party type.

But leaders of the Tea Party movement credit her with being the first.

A year ago, frustrated that every time she called her senators to urge them to vote against the $787 billion stimulus bill their mailboxes were full, and tired of wearing out the ear of her Obama-voting fiancé, Ms. Carender decided to hold a protest against what she called the "porkulus."


. . .


(p. 19) The daughter of Democrats who became disaffected in the Clinton years, Ms. Carender, 30, began paying attention to politics during the 2008 campaign, but none of the candidates appealed to her. She had studied math at Western Washington University before earning a teaching certificate at Oxford -- she teaches basic math to adult learners -- and began reading more on economics, particularly the writings of Thomas Sowell, the libertarian economist, and National Review.

Reading about the stimulus, she said, "it didn't make any sense to me to be spending all this money when we don't have it."

"It seems more logical to me that we create an atmosphere where private industry can start to grow again and create jobs," she said.




For the full story, see:

KATE ZERNIKE. "Early Arrival at the Tea Party: A Young and Unlikely Activist." The New York Times, First Section (Sun., February 26, 2010): 1 & 19.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the article is dated February 27, 2010 and has the title "Unlikely Activist Who Got to the Tea Party Early.")






March 13, 2010

"The Tech Industry's Innovation Engine Is in Idle"




(p. B10) . . . , the tech industry's innovation engine is in idle. The annual Mobile World Congress here -- traditionally a place to introduce products that blend computer and phone functions in novel ways -- has featured tweaks on existing designs.

"It's like with evolution, where you have a mutation and then a great explosion of diversity," said Scott A. McGregor, the chief executive of Broadcom, which makes chips that go into a wide range of consumer electronics. "Then, you have a period where you see which creatures can survive the big change."




For the full story, see:

ASHLEE VANCE. "At Tech Conference, the Industry Tweaks and Bets on Survivors." The New York Times (Thur., February 18, 2010): B10.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the article is dated February 17, 2010 and has the title "Tech Industry Catches Its Breath.")





March 12, 2010

The Entrepreneurial Epistemology of Wikipedia




Wikipedia-RrevolutionBK2010-02-08.jpg















Source of book image: http://kellylowenstein.files.wordpress.com/2009/04/wikipedia-revolution1.jpg



Wikipedia is a very unexpected and disruptive institution. Amateurs have produced an encyclopedia that is bigger, deeper, more up-to-date, and arguably of at least equal accuracy, with the best professional encyclopedias, such as Britannica.

I learned a lot from Lih's book. For instance I did not know that the founders of Wikipedia were admirers of Ayn Rand. And I did not know that the Oxford English Dictionary was constructed mainly by volunteer amateurs.

I also did not know anything about the information technology precursors and the back-history of the institutions that helped Wikipedia to work.

I learned much about the background, values, and choices of Wikipedia entrepreneur "Jimbo" Wales. (Jimbo Wales seems not to be perfect, but on balance to be one of the 'good guys' in the world---one of those entrepreneurs who can be admired for something beyond their particular entrepreneurial innovation.)

Lih's book also does a good job of sketching the problems and tensions within Wikipedia.

I believe that Wikipedia is a key step in the development of faster and better institutions of knowledge generation and communication. I also believe that substantial further improvements can and will be made.

Most importantly, I think that you can only go so far with volunteers--ways must be found to reward and compensate.

In the meantime, much can be learned from Lih. In the next few weeks, I will be quoting a few passages that I found especially illuminating.


Book discussed:

Lih, Andrew. The Wikipedia Revolution: How a Bunch of Nobodies Created the World's Greatest Encyclopedia. New York: Hyperion, 2009.





March 11, 2010

Harry Truman's Search for "a One-Armed Economist"




(p. 32) "I was in search of a one-armed economist, so that the guy could never make a statement and then say: "on the other hand.""



Source:

Harry S. Truman as quoted in: Keyes, Ralph. The Wit & Wisdom of Harry S. Truman. New York: Gramercy Books, 1999.





March 10, 2010

Briffa's Tree Ring Evidence Undermines "Hockey Stick" Global Warming Graph




(p. A12) The problem: Using Mr. Briffa's tree-ring techniques, researchers in the '90s built charts suggesting temperatures in the late 20th century were the highest in a millennium. The charts were dubbed "hockey sticks" because they showed temperatures relatively flat for centuries, then angling higher recently.

But Mr. Briffa fretted about a potential issue. Thermometers show temperatures have risen since the '60s, but tree-ring data don't move in tandem, and sometimes show the opposite. (Average annual temperatures reached the highest on record in 2005, according to U.S. government data. They fell the next three years, and rose in 2009. All those years remain among the warmest on record.)

In his same 1999 email, Mr. Briffa said tree-ring data overall did show "unusually warm" conditions in recent decades. But, he added, "I believe that the recent warmth was probably matched about 1,000 years ago."

In other words, maybe the chart shouldn't resemble a hockey stick.

The data were the subject of heated back-and-forth before the IPCC's 2001 report. John Christy, one of the section's lead authors, said at the time that he tried in vain to make sure the report reflected the uncertainty.

Mr. Christy said in an interview that some of the pressure to downplay the uncertainty came from Michael Mann, a fellow lead author of that chapter, a scientist at Pennsylvania State University, and a developer of the original hockey-stick chart.

The "very prominent" use of the hockey-stick chart "overrules what tentativeness some of us actually intended," Mr. Christy wrote to the National Research Council in the U.S. a month after the report was published. Mr. Christy, a climate scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, provided that email.

"I was suspicious of the hockey stick," Mr. Christy said in an interview. Had Mr. Briffa's concerns been more widely known, "The story coming out of the [report] may have been different in tone and confidence."




For the full story, see:

JEFFREY BALL And KEITH JOHNSON. "Push to Oversimplify at Climate Panel." The Wall Street Journal (Fri., February 26, 2010): A1 & A12.




GlobalWarmingOversimplifiedGraph2010-02-28.gif
























Hockey stick graph is on top; more accurate, but much less publicized graph, is on bottom. Source of graphs: online version of the WSJ article quoted and cited above.
















March 9, 2010

The Entrepreneur as the Agent of Creative Destruction




(p. 132) . . . the function of entrepreneurs is to reform or revolutionize the pattern of production by exploiting an invention or, more generally, an untried technological possibility for producing a new commodity or producing an old one in a new way, by opening up a new source of supply of materials or a new outlet for products, by reorganizing an industry and so on. Railroad construction in its earlier stages, electrical power production before the First World War, steam and steel, the motorcar, colonial ventures afford spectacular instances of a large genus which comprises innumerable humbler ones--down to such things as making a success of a particular kind of sausage or toothbrush. This kind of activity is primarily responsible for the recurrent "prosperities" that revolutionize the economic organism and the recurrent "recessions" that are due to the disequilibrating impact of the new products or methods. To undertake such new things is difficult and constitutes a distinct economic function, first, because they lie outside of the routine tasks which everybody understands and, secondly, because the environment resists in many ways that vary, according to social conditions, from simple refusal either to finance or to buy a new thing, to physical attack on the man who tries to produce it. To act with confidence beyond the range of familiar beacons and to overcome that resistance requires aptitudes that are present in only a small fraction of the population and that define the entrepreneurial type as well as the entrepreneurial function. This function does not essentially consist in either inventing anything or otherwise creating the conditions which the enterprise exploits. It consists in getting things done.



Source:

Schumpeter, Joseph A. Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy. 3rd ed. New York: Harper and Row, 1950.

(Note: ellipsis added.)





March 8, 2010

Federal Government Spending Soars




SpendingFederalGraph2010-02-28.gif








Source of graph: online version of the WSJ article quoted and cited below.



(p. A17) This has been an unforgettable year in the history of American spending.

It began with an eye-popping $800 billion stimulus bill that came from nowhere and went to nowhere. Done with that, the Washington Democrats turned to President Obama's health-care reform, which looked big at first, but turned out to be bigger. A well-publicized June estimate of the Senate bill's cost by the Congressional Budget Office put the 10-year price tag at $1.6 trillion. So $800 billion, then a trillion.

Dollar signs rocketed into the sky all year: hundreds of billions on various TARP salvage projects, much drawn from some magic stash held by the Federal Reserve. The Obama cap-and-trade bill was going to use an auction to siphon $3.3 trillion from various states to Washington over 40 years. Oh, almost forgot--an FY 2011 $3.8 trillion budget.




For the full commentary, see:

DANIEL HENNINGER. "It's the Spending, America ." The Wall Street Journal (Thurs., February 18, 2010): A17.






March 7, 2010

Determination, Not Education, Is Key to Success at McDonald's




(p. 189) McDonald's is a real melting pot.

The key element in these individual success stories and of McDonald's itself, is not knack or education, it's determination. This is expressed very well in my favorite homily:

"Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education alone will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent."


Source:

Kroc, Ray. Grinding It Out: The Making of McDonald's. Chicago: Henry Regnary Company, 1977.





March 6, 2010

"Silicon Valley's Economy is Sputtering"




SiliconValleyEmptyOfficeBuilding2010-02-28.jpg "An unoccupied office building in San Jose, Calif., in December. Many tech firms are hiring engineers abroad to do their work." Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.


(p. B3) SAN FRANCISCO -- Silicon Valley's economy is sputtering and risks permanently stalling, according to an annual report by a group of researchers in the region.

Part of the toll on Silicon Valley has resulted from the recession. The region, the center of the global technology industry, lost 90,000 jobs from the second quarter of 2008 to the second quarter of 2009. Unemployment is higher than national levels and the worst in the region since 2005, when technology companies were still recovering from the dot-com implosion.

The drop in the number of midlevel jobs -- the engineers who drive much of the Valley's growth -- has been sharpest. And when companies do hire, they are cautiously hiring independent contractors instead of regular employees, and are hiring abroad, according to the "2010 Index of Silicon Valley" report, which was produced by the Joint Venture: Silicon Valley Network and the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, two local nonprofit groups.

Other economic indicators are also gloomy, the report found.

"We show no evidence that the recovery has arrived," said Russell Hancock, chief executive of Joint Venture.




For the full story, see:

CLAIRE CAIN MILLER. "Report Warns Silicon Valley Could Lose Its Edge." The New York Times (Thurs., February 11, 2010): B3.

Note: The online version of the article is dated February 10, 2010, and has the title "Report Warns Silicon Valley Could Lose Its Edge.")





March 5, 2010

Arnold on Ben Nelson's Cornhusker Kickback: "He Got the Corn; We Got the Husk"




(p. A16) Senator Ben Nelson, Democrat of Nebraska, has been under fire in recent days for winning some plum provisions for his home state in exchange for voting for his party's big health care legislation.


. . .


In perhaps the most pointed criticism yet, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, in his State of the State address on Wednesday, said: "California's Congressional delegation should either vote against this bill that is a disaster for California or get in there and fight for the same sweetheart deal Senator Nelson of Nebraska got for the Cornhusker State. He got the corn; we got the husk."




For the full story, see:

DAVID M. HERSZENHORN. "Prescriptions; Making Sense of the Health Care Debate; Spreading the Golden Corn." The New York Times (Fri., January 8, 2010): A16.

(Note: the online version of the story had the very different title: "Prescriptions; Making Sense of the Health Care Debate; Nelson to Fight for All States" and had the date January 7, 2010.")

(Note: ellipsis added.)





March 4, 2010

Doubts on Sainthood for U.N.'s Global Warming Nobel Prize Winning Pachauri




GorePachauriNobelPrizes2010-02-28.jpg "Rajendra K. Pachauri, right, the United Nations climate panel's leader, at a Nobel Peace Prize ceremony with Al Gore in 2007." Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.


(p. A1) Just over two years ago, Rajendra K. Pachauri seemed destined for a scientist's version of sainthood: A vegetarian economist-engineer who leads the United Nations' climate change panel, he accepted the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the panel, sharing the honor with former Vice President Al Gore.

Critics, writing in Britain's Sunday Telegraph and elsewhere, have accused Dr. Pachauri of profiting from his work as an adviser to businesses, including Deutsche Bank and Pegasus Capital Advisors, a New York investment firm -- a claim he denies.

They have also unearthed and publicized problems with the intergovernmental panel's landmark 2007 report on climate change, which concluded that the planet was warming and that humans were likely to blame.

The report, they contend, misrepresents the state of scientific knowledge about diverse topics -- including the rate of melting of Himalayan glaciers and the rise in severe storms -- in a way that exaggerates the evidence for climate change.

But Dr. Pachauri and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are now under intense scrutiny, facing accusations of scientific sloppiness and potential financial conflicts of interest from climate skeptics, right-leaning politicians and even some mainstream scientists. Senator John Barrasso, a Wyoming Republican, called for Dr. Pachauri's resignation last week.

Critics, writing in Britain's Sunday Telegraph and elsewhere, have accused Dr. Pachauri of profiting from his work as an adviser to businesses, including Deutsche Bank and Pegasus Capital Advisors, a New York investment firm -- a claim he denies.

They have also unearthed and publicized problems with the intergovernmental panel's landmark 2007 report on climate change, which concluded that the planet was warming and that humans were likely to blame.

The report, they contend, misrepresents the state of scientific knowledge about diverse topics -- including the rate of melting of Himalayan glaciers and the rise in severe storms -- in a way that exaggerates the evidence for climate change.




For the full story, see:

ELISABETH ROSENTHAL. "U.N. Climate Panel and Its Chief Face a Siege on Their Credibility." The New York Times (Tues., February 9, 2010): A1 & A9.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: The online version of the article is dated February 8, 2010, and has the title "Skeptics Find Fault With U.N. Climate Panel.")





March 3, 2010

Many of McDonald's Best New Products, Started With Franchise Operators




(p. 163) Some of my detractors, and I've acquired a few over the years, say that my penchant for experimenting with new menu items is a foolish indulgence. They contend that it stems from my never having outgrown my drummer's desire to have something new to sell. "McDonald's is in the hamburger business," they say. "How can Kroc even consider serving chicken?" Or, "Why change a winning combination?"

Of course, it's not difficult to demonstrate how much our menu has changed over the years, and nobody could argue wish the success of additions such as the Filet-O-Fish, the Big Mac, Hot Apple Pie, and Egg McMuffin. The most interesting thing to me about these items is that each evolved from an idea of one of our operators. So the company has benefited from the ingenuity of its small businessmen while they were being helped by the system's image and our cooperative advertising muscle. This, to my way of thinking, is the perfect example of capitalism in action. Competition was the catalyst for each of the new items. Lou Groen came up with Filet-O-Fish to help him in his battle against the Big Boy chain in the Catholic parishes of Cincinnati. The Big Mac resulted from our need for a larger sandwich to compete against Burger King and a variety of specialty shop concoctions. The idea (p. 164) for Big Mac was originated by Jim Delligatti in Pittsburgh.

Harold Rosen, our operator in Enfield Connecticut, invented our special St. Patrick's Day drink, The Shamrock Shake. "It takes a guy with a name like Rosen to think up an Irish drink," Harold told me. He wasn't kidding. "You may be right," I said. "It takes a guy with a name like Kroc to come up with a Hawaiian sandwich . . . Hulaburger." He didn't say anything. He didn't know whether I was kidding or not. Operators aren't the only ones who come up with creative ideas for our menu. My old friend Dave Wallerstein, who was head of the Balaban & Katz movie chain and has a great flair for merchandising--he's the man who put the original snack bars in Disneyland for Walt Disney--is an outside director of McDonald's, and he's the one who came up with the idea for our large size order of french fries. He said he loved the fries, but the small bag wasn't enough and he didn't want to buy two. So we kicked it around and he finally talked us into testing the larger size in a store near his home in Chicago. They have a window in that store that they now call "The Wallerstein Window," because every time the manager or a crew person would look up, there would be Dave peering in to see how the large size fries were selling. He needn't have worried. The large order took off like a rocket, and it's now one of our best-selling items. Dave really puts his heart into his job as a director, now that he's retired and has plenty of time. There's nothing he likes more than traveling with me to check out stores.

Our Hot Apple Pie came after a long search for a McDonald's kind of dessert. I felt we had to have a dessert to round out our menu. But finding a dessert item that would fit readily into our production system and gain wide acceptance was a problem. I thought I had the answer in a strawberry shortcake. But it sold well for only a short time and then slowed to nothing. I had high hopes for pound cake, too, but it lacked glamor. We needed something we could romance in advertising. I was ready to give up when Litton Cochran suggested we try fried pie, which he said is an old southern favorite. The rest, of course, is fast-food history. Hot Apple Pie, and later Hot Cherry Pie, has that special quality, that classiness in a finger food, that made it perfect for McDonald's. The pies added significantly to our sales and (p. 165) revenues. They also created a whole new industry for producing the filled, frozen shells and supplying them to our stores.

During the Christmas holidays in 1972, I happened to be visiting in Santa Barbara, and I got a call from Herb Peterson, our operator there, who said he had something to show me. He wouldn't give me a clue as to what it was. He didn't want me to reject it out of hand, which I might have done, because it was a crazy idea--a breakfast sandwich. It consisted of an egg that had been formed in a Teflon circle, with the yolk broken, and was dressed with a slice of cheese and a slice of grilled Canadian bacon. This was served open-face on a toasted and buttered English muffin. I boggled a bit at the presentation. But then I tasted it, and I was sold. Wow! I wanted to put this item into all of our stores immediately. Realistically, of course, that was impossible. It took us nearly three years to get the egg sandwich fully integrated into our system. Fred Turner's wife, Patty, came up with the name that helped make it an immediate hit--Egg McMuffin.



Source:

Kroc, Ray. Grinding It Out: The Making of McDonald's. Chicago: Henry Regnary Company, 1977.

(Note: ellipsis and italics in original.)





March 2, 2010

Light in "Meet Me in St. Louis"




MeetMeInSaintLouisLights2010-02-07.jpgSource of photo: http://www.thejudyroom.com/louis/pictures/mmisldvd%23674.html


As Brad DeLong has noted, we take for granted the spectacular technological advances of the last 200, and especially, the last 100 years. One of the more notable of these, the spread of electricity that allowed electric illumination, occurred around the year 1900.

We forget how electric illumination made cities safer, and increased our freedom to choose the timing of work and leisure activities.

The awe inspired by electric lights also usually has been forgotten, but is occasionally recalled. One good source is a segment of a documentary produced by UNO television in 1998, to mark the centennial of Omaha's long-forgotten Trans-Mississippi Exposition.

I recently ran across another in viewing the closing scenes of the Judy Garland classic "Meet Me in St. Louis." In the final scene, the family finally makes it to the St. Louis Fair, and observes the display of electric lights.


For DeLong's comment, peruse the early pages of his marvelous draft:

DeLong, J. Bradford. "Cornucopia: The Pace of Economic Growth in the Twentieth Century." NBER Working Paper w7602, March 2000.

The UNO documentary had the unfortunate title "Westward the Empire: Omaha's World Fair of 1898."



MeetMeInSaintLouisViewingLights2010-02-07.jpgSource of photo: http://www.thejudyroom.com/louis/pictures/judytomlarge.html





March 1, 2010

Thousands Waited Hours in Subzero Cold Trying to Enter Global Warming Conference ("This Is What UN Efficiency Looks Like")




(p. A10) As dozens of developing countries threatened to walk out of the Copenhagen climate-change summit, thousands of NGOs, journalists, lawyers, activists were still trying to get in.

The thousands queued from the early morning into the afternoon on Monday to register for the summit but found themselves in a line that barely budged for most of the day. Only those who already had accreditation -- obtained during the first week of the summit or over the weekend -- were let in; the rest braved subzero temperatures for some glimpse of a breakthrough.

Would-be attendees chanted "Let us in!" to Danish policemen ringing the Bella Center.

United Nations officials announced at one point that the process of accreditation would stop at 6 p.m. today, prompting boos and catcalls and cries of "shame" from those in line. One sign declared: "This is what UN efficiency looks like."



For the full story, see:

Guy Chazan. "Copenhagen Dispatches; Some Walk Out of Gathering, But Many More Want In." The Wall Street Jounal (Tues., December 15, 2009): A10.

(Note: the online version of the commentary had the title "Thousands Line Up for Climate Conference" and the date December 14, 2009.)





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