« November 2010 | Main | January 2011 »


December 31, 2010

The Glamour of Trains and Windmills Hides Their High Costs




(p. C12) When Robert J. Samuelson published a Newsweek column last month arguing that high-speed rail is "a perfect example of wasteful spending masquerading as a respectable social cause," he cited cost figures and potential ridership to demonstrate that even the rosiest scenarios wouldn't justify the investment. He made a good, rational case--only to have it completely undermined by the evocative photograph the magazine chose to accompany the article.

The picture showed a sleek train bursting through blurred lines of track and scenery, the embodiment of elegant, effortless speed. It was the kind of image that creates longing, the kind of image a bunch of numbers cannot refute. It was beautiful, manipulative and deeply glamorous.


. . .


The problems come, of course, in the things glamour omits, including all those annoyingly practical concerns the policy wonks insist on debating. Neither trains nor wind farms are as effortlessly liberating as their photos suggest. Neither really offers an escape from the world of compromises and constraints. The same is true, of course, of evening gowns, dream kitchens and tropical vacations. But at least the people who enjoy that sort of glamour pay their own way.



For the full commentary, see:

VIRGINIA POSTREL. "COMMERCE & CULTURE; The Allure of Techno-Glamour." The Wall Street Journal (Sat., NOVEMBER 20, 2010): C12.

(Note: ellipsis added.)





December 30, 2010

Modern Lifestyles May Not Be Cause of Heart Disease




MummyCTscan2010-12-21.jpg"MODERN MEETS ANCIENT. CT scans of some Egyptian mummies, like the one being done on this priest, reveal signs of atherosclerosis." Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.


(p. D6) . . . a team of cardiologists used CT scanning on mummies in the Egyptian National Museum of Antiquities in Cairo to identify atherosclerosis -- a buildup of cholesterol, inflammation and scar tissue in the walls of the arteries, a problem that can lead to heart attack and stroke.

The cardiologists were able to identify the disease in some mummies because atherosclerotic tissue often develops calcification, which is visible as bright spots on a CT image. The finding that some mummies had hardened arteries raises questions about the common wisdom that factors in modern life, including stress, high-fat diets, smoking and sedentary routines, play an essential role in the development of cardiovascular disease, the researchers said.

"It tells us that we have to look beyond lifestyles and diet for the cause and progression of this disease," said Dr. Randall C. Thompson, a cardiologist at St. Luke's Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas City, Mo., and part of the team of cardiovascular imaging specialists who traveled to Cairo last year. "To a certain extent, getting the disease is part of the human condition."



For the full story, see:

NATASHA SINGER. "Artery Disease in Some Very Old Patients." The New York Times (Tues., November 24, 2009): D6.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the review has the date November 23, 2009.)






December 29, 2010

"A Nation's Heroes Reveal Its Ideals"




(p. 133) Robert and John Hart were two Glasgow engineers and merchants who regarded James Watt with the sort of awe usually reserved for pop musicians, film stars, or star athletes. Or even more: They regarded him as "the greatest and most useful man who ever lived." . . .


. . .


(p. 134) . . . the hero worship of the brothers Hart is more enlightening about the explosion of inventive activity that started in eighteenth-century Britain than their reminiscences. For virtually all of human history, statues had been built to honor kings, solders, and religious figures; the Harts lived in the first era that built them to honor builders and inventors. James Watt was an inventor inspired in every way possible, right down to the neurons in his Scottish skull; but he was also, and just as significantly, the inspiration for thousands of other inventors, during his lifetime and beyond. The inscription on the statue of Watt that stood in Westminster Abbey from 125 until it was moved in 1960 reminded visitors that it was made "Not to perpetuate a name which must endure while the peaceful arts flourish, but to shew that mankind have learned to know those who best deserve their gratitude" (emphasis added).

A nation's heroes reveal its ideals, and the Watt memorial carries an impressive weight of symbolism. However, it must be said that the statue, sculpted by Sir Francis Chantrey in marble, might bear that weight more appropriately if it had been made out of the trademark material of the Industrial Revolution: iron.



Source:

Rosen, William. The Most Powerful Idea in the World: A Story of Steam, Industry, and Invention. New York: Random House, 2010.

(Note: ellipses added; italics in original.)





December 28, 2010

Environmentalist Antiglobalization "Vandals" Destroy Giorgio's Corn




FidenatoGiorgioItalianFarmer2010-12-21.jpg "Last week, Giorgio Fidenato, who had planted genetically modified corn, stood amid stalks that had been trampled by antiglobalization activists." Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.


(p. A4) VIVARO, Italy -- Giorgio Fidenato declared war on the Italian government and environmental groups in April with a news conference and a YouTube video, which showed him poking six genetically modified corn seeds into Italian soil.

In fact, said Mr. Fidenato, 49, an agronomist, he planted two fields of genetically modified corn. But since "corn looks like corn," as he put it, it took his opponents weeks to find his crop.

The seeds, known as MON810, are modified so that the corn produces a chemical that kills the larvae of the corn borer, a devastating pest. Yet while European Union rules allow this particular seed to be planted, Italy requires farmers to get special permission for any genetically modified, or G.M., crop -- and the Agriculture Ministry never said yes.

"We had no choice but to engage in civil disobedience -- these seeds are legal in Europe," said Mr. Fidenato, who has repeatedly applied for permission, adding that he drew more inspiration from Ron Paul than Gandhi.


. . .


After Mr. Fidenato's provocation, investigators did genetic testing to identify the locations of the offending stalks in the sea of cornfields that surround this tiny town. Officials seized two suspect fields -- about 12 acres -- and declared the plantings illegal. Greenpeace activists surreptitiously snipped off the stalks' tassels in the hope of preventing pollen from being disseminated.

On Aug. 9, 100 machete-wielding environmental activists from an antiglobalization group called Ya Basta descended on Vivaro and trampled the field before local police officers could intervene. They left behind placards with a skull and crossbones reading: "Danger -- Contaminated -- G.M.O."

Giancarlo Galan, who became agriculture minister in April, called the protesters "vandals," although he did not say he would allow genetically modified crops. But Luca Zaia, the previous agriculture minister and president of the nearby Veneto region, applauded the rampage, saying: "There is a need to show multinationals that they can't introduce Frankenstein crops into our country without authorization."

Over the past decade, genetically modified crops have been a major (p. A8) source of trade friction between Europe and the United States.

Both the United States Food and Drug Administration and the European Food Safety Agency say that there is no scientific evidence that eating MON810 corn is dangerous.


. . .


. . . it is not clear that the battle of Vivaro will have a quick victor. Jail time or at least fines are expected for Mr. Fidenato (illegal planting) and Mr. Tornatore (trespassing and destroying private property).



For the full story, see:

ELISABETH ROSENTHAL. "In the Fields of Italy, a Conflict Over Corn." The New York Times (Tues., August 24, 2010): A4 & A8.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the review has the date August 23, 2010.)



CornBorer2010-12-21.jpg"An ear of corn infested with corn borers. A modified variety is meant to counteract the pest." Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited above.





December 27, 2010

Government Mandates Insurers Pay for $4,300 Tests on Potential Donors Recruited by $60,000 a Week "Flirtatious Models"




(p. A16) BOSTON -- On its face, it seemed reasonable enough: a bone marrow registry sending recruiters to malls, ballparks and other busy sites to enlist potential donors.

But the recruiters were actually flirtatious models in heels, short skirts and lab coats, law enforcement officials say, asking passers-by for DNA swabs without mentioning the price of the seemingly simple procedure. And the registry, Caitlin Raymond International, was paying up to $60,000 a week for the models while billing insurance companies up to $4,300 per test.


. . .


The registry is a nonprofit subsidiary of UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, . . .


. . .


James T. Boffetti, the state's senior assistant attorney general, said the registry had hired models based on their photographs and had given them "explicit instructions" to wear heels and short skirts.


. . .


New Hampshire passed a law in 2006 requiring insurers to pay for tissue-typing tests for potential bone marrow donors.



For the full story, see:

ABBY GOODNOUGH. "Flirty Models Were Hired in Bid to Find Bone Marrow." The New York Times (Fri., December 17, 2010): A16.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the article is dated December 16, 2010.)





December 26, 2010

Alex Was No Birdbrain: "Wanna Go Back"




AlexAndPepperberg2010-12-20.jpgAlex on left, Irene Pepperberg on right. Source of photo: online version of the NYT review quoted and cited below.


(p. 8) "Alex & Me," Irene Pepperberg's memoir of her 30-year scientific collaboration with an African gray parrot, was written for the legions of Alex's fans, the (probably) millions whose lives he and she touched with their groundbreaking work on nonhuman communication.


. . .


Alex, . . . , is a delight -- a one-pound, three-dimensional force of nature. Mischievous and cocky, he also gets bored and frustrated. (And who wouldn't, when asked to repeat tasks 60 times to ensure statistical significance?) He shouts out correct answers when his colleagues (other birds) fail to produce them. If Pepperberg inadvertently greets another bird first in the morning, Alex sulks all day and refuses to cooperate. He demands food, toys, showers, a transfer to his gym.

This ornery reviewer tried to resist Alex's charms on principle (the principle that says any author who keeps telling us how remarkable her subject is cannot possibly be right). But his achievements got the better of me. During one training session, Alex repeatedly asked for a nut, a request that Pepperberg refused (work comes first). Finally, Alex looked at her and said, slowly, "Want a nut. Nnn . . . uh . . . tuh."

"I was stunned," Pepperberg writes. "It was as if he were saying, 'Hey, stupid, do I have to spell it out for you?' " Alex had leaped from phonemes to sound out a complete word -- a major leap in cognitive processing. Perching near a harried accountant, Alex asks over and over if she wants a nut, wants corn, wants water. Frustrated by the noes, he asks, "Well, what do you want?" Mimicry? Maybe. Still, it made me laugh.

After performing major surgery on Alex, a doctor hands him, wrapped in a towel, to an overwrought Pepperberg. Alex "opened an eye, blinked, and said in a tremulous voice, 'Wanna go back.' " It's a phrase Alex routinely used to mean "I'm done with this, take me back to my cage." The scene is both wrenching -- Alex had been near death -- and creepy, evoking the talking bundle in "Eraserhead."

Pepperberg frames her story with Alex's death: the sudden shock of it, and the emotional abyss into which she fell. Ever the scientist, she wonders why she felt so strongly. The answer she comes up with is both simple -- her friend was dead -- and complex. At long last, and buoyed by the outpouring of support from people around the world, she could express the emotions she'd kept in check for 30 years, the better to convince the scientific establishment that she was a serious researcher generating valid and groundbreaking data (some had called her claims about animal minds "vacuous"). When Alex died, that weight lifted.



For the full review, see:

ELIZABETH ROYTE. "The Caged Bird Speaks." The New York Times Book Review (Sun., November 9, 2008): 8.

(Note: first two ellipses added; last two in original.)

(Note: the online version of the review has the date November 7, 2010.)




(p. A21) Even up through last week, Alex was working with Dr. Pepperberg on compound words and hard-to-pronounce words. As she put him into his cage for the night last Thursday, she recalled, Alex looked at her and said: "You be good, see you tomorrow. I love you."

He was found dead in his cage the next morning, Dr. Pepperberg said.



For the full obituary, see:

BENEDICT CAREY. "The Caged Bird Speaks." The New York Times (Tues., September 11, 2007): A21.




A reporter questions Oxford professor Alex Kacelnik:

I asked him why more researchers weren't working with African grays, trying to replicate Pepperberg's achievements with Alex. "The problem with these animals is that they are the opposite of fruit flies," he said, meaning that parrots live a long time--often, fifty to sixty years in captivity. "Alex was still learning when he died, and he was thirty." He later elaborated: "Irene's work could not really have been planned ahead, as nobody knew what was possible. . . . Alex's development as a unique animal accompanied Irene's as a unique scientist. Hers is not a career trajectory one would advise to young scientists--it's too risky."


For the full story, see:

Margaret Talbot. "Birdbrain." The New Yorker (May 12, 2008).

(Note: ellipsis in original.)





December 25, 2010

"Inventors Fear Wrong Answers Less than Noninventors"




(p. 123) [A] . . . study . . . conducted in 1962, compared the results of psychometric tests given to inventors and noninventors (the former defined by behaviors such as application for or receipt of a patent) in similar professions, such as engineers, chemists, architects, psychologists, and science teachers. Some of the results (p. 124) were about what one might expect: inventors are significantly more thing-oriented than people-oriented, more detail-oriented than holistic. They are also likely to come from poorer families than noninventors in the same professions. . . .

. . . , the 1962 study also revealed that independent inventors scored far lower on general intelligence tests than did research scientists, architects, or even graduate students. There's less to this than meets the eye: The intelligence test that was given to the subjects subtracted wrong answers from right answers, and though the inventors consistently got as many answers correct as did the research scientists, they answered far more questions, thereby incurring a ton of deductions. While the study was too small a sample to prove that inventors fear wrong answers less than noninventors, it suggested just that. In the words of the study's authors, "The more inventive an independent inventor is, the more disposed he will be--and this indeed to a marked degree--to try anything that might work."



Source:

Rosen, William. The Most Powerful Idea in the World: A Story of Steam, Industry, and Invention. New York: Random House, 2010.

(Note: word in brackets and ellipses added.)





December 24, 2010

A Late Bronze Age "Cornucopian Example of Multiculturism"




BronzeAgeContainer2010-12-20.jpg"Influences from Egypt and Mediterranean Asia appear to merge in this container, from around 1390 to 1352 B.C." Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.



The cultural flowering (see above and below) brought about by Late Bronze Age Mediterranean trade, is highly compatible with arguments made in Tyler Cowen's Creative Destruction, which argues that capitalism promotes the important kind of diversity that within cultures increases creativity and options for individual choice.

It would be interesting and useful to know more about the causes and effects of the dark age mentioned below--the one that started around 1200 BC. An earlier entry mentioned archeological evidence of a small family group near Katilimata on Crete who attempted to hunker down to defend themselves and their property from the invaders from the sea mentioned below.

Sometimes the Phoenicians are given credit for the trade, and Paul Johnson in his recent Heroes book (p. 4), identifies the evil invaders who killed the trade as being the Philistines.


(p. C28) For a truly cornucopian example of multiculturalism, though, nothing matches the contents of the Late Bronze Age merchant ship recovered from the sea off the southern coast of Turkey. Discovered by a sponge diver in 1984 and considered the oldest surviving example of a seagoing ship, it probably sank around 1300 B.C., packed with cargo representing a dozen cultures, from Nubia to the Balkans.

Although the ship's home port is unknown, it appears to have traveled a circular route through the Mediterranean and Aegean, stopping in Greece, Crete, Turkey, Syria and Egypt, picking up and unloading as it went. Bulk materials included copper ingots, Cypriot pottery, African wood and Near Eastern textiles, all for waiting markets.

Divers also found luxury items, possibly personal possessions of the ship's crew and passengers. Examples of ivory containers in the form of ducks have parallels with Egyptian prototypes, but were probably made in Mediterranean Asia. The two sources merge in a figure found in a tomb: a nude female swimmer with a chic, Nile-style pageboy who is hitching a ride behind an ivory-headed bird.

More precious and enigmatic is a standing bronze figure of a woman, probably a goddess, her head and face still covered with the sheet gold that may once have encased her whole body in a radiant epidermis. The exhibition catalog suggests that she might be a talismanic charm intended to protect the ship from harm.

Harm came anyway, as it did to much of the Mediterranean world, around 1200 B.C. with the arrival of mysterious, sea-based invaders, who conquered most of the great maritime cities, interrupting trade and easy cultural exchange, and bringing on a dark age, a depression. The depression -- or was it severe recession? -- didn't last forever. The passion for acquisition, exchange and accumulation survived it, as it always does.

This passion is, of course, our own. It is one reason that we can, if we try, identify with the diverse people who, thousands of years ago, made the objects in this show. The globalist, all-in-it-together world model they invented is another reason. Their dark age could be one too.



For the full review, see:

HOLLAND COTTER. "Art Review; 'Beyond Babylon'; Global Exchange, Early Version." The New York Times (Fri., November 21, 2008): C23 & C28.

(Note: the online version of the review has the date November 20, 2008.)



The Cowen book mentioned in my initial comments, is:

Cowen, Tyler. Creative Destruction: How Globalization Is Changing the World's Cultures. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2002.



The Paul Johnson book mentioned in my initial comments, is:

Johnson, Paul M. Heroes. New York: HarperCollins, 2007.





December 23, 2010

"Can Congress Tell Us to Join a Gym?"




(p. A31) HENRY E. HUDSON, the federal judge in Virginia who ruled this week that the individual mandate provision of the new health care law is unconstitutional, has become the object of widespread derision. Judge Hudson explained that whatever else Congress might be able to do, it cannot force people to engage in a commercial activity, in this case buying an insurance policy.

Critics contend that Judge Hudson has unduly restricted Congress's authority to regulate interstate commerce, the principal basis on which the government defends the law. Some also claim that he ignored the "necessary and proper" clause of the Constitution, which allows Congress leeway to choose how to put in place national economic programs. Yet a closer reading shows that Judge Hudson's analysis could prove irresistible to the Supreme Court and that there is a reasonable chance it will agree that the insurance mandate is invalid.


. . .


Indeed, the court has never confronted a federal statute that forces people to engage in some action like this. The conservative justices in particular will no doubt wonder what else Congress can make Americans do if it can make us buy health insurance. Can Congress tell us to join a gym because fit people have fewer chronic diseases? Can Congress direct us to purchase a new Chrysler to help Detroit get back on its feet?



For the full commentary, see:

JASON MAZZONE. "Can Congress Force You to Be Healthy?" The New York Times (Fri., December 17, 2010): A31.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the article is dated December 16, 2010.)





December 22, 2010

Under Health Care 'Reform' the Total Cost of Health Care Will "Go through the Roof!"




BushJonathanAthenahealth2010-12-20.jpg










"Jonathan Bush, nephew of one former president and cousin of another, built a small medical practice into a national enterprise with nearly 1,200 employees." Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.




(p. B10) In the world of health care innovation, the founder and chief executive of Athenahealth has an outsize name. In part, that's because his name is Jonathan Bush, and he is the nephew of one former president and the cousin of another. But it's also because his company has mastered the intricacies of the doctor-insurer relationship and become a player in the emerging medical records industry.

Based in Watertown, Mass., Athenahealth offers a suite of administrative services for medical practices. It collects payments from insurers and patients, and it manages electronic health records and patient communication systems. All of this is done remotely through the Internet -- or "in the cloud," as Mr. Bush puts it. Doctors don't have to install or manage software or pay licensing fees; instead, Athenahealth keeps a percentage of the revenue.


. . .


Q. What's going on in the health care industry to deliver that kind of growth to you?

A. We are a disruptive technology. We are the only cloud-based service in an industry segment full of sclerotic, enormous, personality-free corporations that have been in business making 90 percent margins doing nothing for decades and decades.

Q. What keeps other companies from building cloud-based systems?

A. For software companies, the biggest barrier to entry is that they give up their business model. Those companies would get hammered on Wall Street if they started selling a service that they have to deliver at a loss for five years. In terms of new entrants, there are two things that we've done that would take a good decade to replicate. One, we've built out the health care Internet. We've been building connections into insurance companies and laboratories and hospital medical records for years and years and years.

And the other barrier to entry is that rules engine. Every time a doctor anywhere in the country gets a claim denied, we have analysts ask the Five Whys. When we get to root cause, we write a new rule into Athenanet and from that day on, no other doctor gets that particular denial from that particular insurance company ever again. We now know of 40 million ways that a doctor can have a claim denied in the United States. The average practice has to rework about 35 percent of their claims, and we only have to rework about 5 percent of ours.

Q. What's the prognosis for bill collecting under health care reform?

A. Well, there's going to be new connectors and a whole series of new insurance products that will be managed by the states' health insurance commissioners. And the law provides for every state to do all of these its own way, so they will have their own rules and regulations, and each state will do it differently. That sounds like springtime in Complexity Land.

Q. What do you think will happen to the total cost of health care under reform?

A. Oh, it's going to go through the roof! It's widely accepted that this is not a cost-reform bill -- it's an access bill. It's in fact a cost-expansion bill.



For the full story, see:

ROBB MANDELBAUM. "Views of Health Care Economics From a C.E.O. Named Bush." The New York Times (Thurs., September 9, 2010): B10.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the article has the date September 8, 2010.)





December 21, 2010

The Hungry Innovate Because They Have Less to Lose




(p. 124) . . . , the eighteenth-century Swiss mathematician Daniel Bernoulli,'' who coined the term "human capital," explained why innovation has always been a more attractive occupation to have-nots than to haves: not only do small successes seem larger, but they have considerably less to lose.


Source:

Rosen, William. The Most Powerful Idea in the World: A Story of Steam, Industry, and Invention. New York: Random House, 2010.

(Note: ellipsis added.)





December 20, 2010

Government "Gave People the Crazy Juice"




BoettkePete2010-12-19.jpg "Peter J. Boettke of George Mason University is the emerging standardbearer for a revived Austrian school of economics." Source of caption and photo: online version of the WSJ article quoted and cited below.


(p. B1) Peter J. Boettke, shuffling around in a maroon velour track suit or faux-leather rubber shoes he calls "dress Crocs," hardly seems like the type to lead a revolution.

But the 50-year-old professor of economics at George Mason University in Virginia is emerging as the intellectual standard-bearer for the Austrian school of economics that opposes government intervention in markets and decries federal spending to prop up demand during times of crisis. Mr. Boettke, whose latest research explores people's ability to self-regulate, also is minting a new generation of disciples who are spreading the Austrian approach throughout academia, where it had long been left for dead.

To these free-market economists, government intrusion ultimately sows the seeds of the next crisis. It hampers what one famous Austrian, Joseph Schumpeter, called the process of "creative destruction."


. . .


(p. B3) It wasn't a lack of government oversight that led to the crisis, as some economists argue, but too much of it, Mr. Boettke says. Specifically, low interest rates and policies that subsidized homeownership "gave people the crazy juice," he says.




For the full story, see:

KELLY EVANS. "Spreading Hayek, Spurning Keynes; Professor Leads an Austrian Revival." The Wall Street Journal (Sat., AUGUST 28, 2010): B1 & B3.

(Note: ellipsis added.)





December 19, 2010

Chinese Centralized Autocracy Prevents Sustained Innovation





Zheng He's voyages of exploration were mentioned in a previous blog entry.



(p. C12) The real problem with contemporary China's version of the Zheng He story is that it omits the ending. In the century after Zheng's death in 1433, emperors cut back on shipbuilding and exploration. When private merchants replaced the old tribute trade, the central authorities banned those ships as well. Building a ship with more than two masts became a crime punishable by death. Going to sea in a multimasted ship, even to trade, was also forbidden. Zheng's logs were hidden or destroyed, lest they encourage future expeditions. To the Confucians who controlled the court, writes Ms. Levathes, "a desire for contact with the outside world meant that China itself needed something from abroad and was therefore not strong and self-sufficient."

Today's globalized China has apparently abandoned that insular ideology. But it still clings to the centralized autocracy that could produce Zheng's voyages in one generation only to destroy the technology and ambition they embodied in the next. It still officially celebrates "harmony" against the unruliness and competition that create sustained innovation. Its past would be more usable if it offered models of diversity and dissent or, at the very least, sanctuary from the all-or-nothing decisions of absolutist rule.



For the full commentary, see:

VIRGINIA POSTREL. "COMMERCE & CULTURE; Recovering China's Past on Kenya's Coast." The Wall Street Journal (Sat., DECEMBER 4, 2010): C12.





December 18, 2010

Google Releases Intriguing New Bibliometric Tool




GoogleBookWordsGraphs2010-12-17.jpg




















Source of graphs: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.






















(p. A1) With little fanfare, Google has made a mammoth database culled from nearly 5.2 million digitized books available to the public for free downloads and online searches, opening a new landscape of possibilities for research and education in the humanities.

The digital storehouse, which comprises words and short phrases as well as a year-by-year count of how often they appear, represents the first time a data set of this magnitude and searching tools are at the disposal of Ph.D.'s, middle school students and anyone else who likes to spend time in front of a small screen. It consists of the 500 billion words contained in books published between 1500 and 2008 in English, French, Spanish, German, Chinese and Russian.


. . .


"The goal is to give an 8-year-old the ability to browse cultural trends throughout history, as recorded in books," said Erez Lieberman Aiden, a junior fellow at the Society of Fellows at Harvard. Mr. Lieberman Aiden and Jean-Baptiste Michel, a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard, assembled the data set with Google and spearheaded a research project to demonstrate how vast digital databases can transform our understanding of language, culture and the flow of ideas.

Their study, to be published in (p. A3) the journal Science on Friday, offers a tantalizing taste of the rich buffet of research opportunities now open to literature, history and other liberal arts professors who may have previously avoided quantitative analysis. Science is taking the unusual step of making the paper available online to nonsubscribers.

"We wanted to show what becomes possible when you apply very high-turbo data analysis to questions in the humanities," said Mr. Lieberman Aiden, whose expertise is in applied mathematics and genomics. He called the method "culturomics."


. . .


Looking at inventions, they found technological advances took, on average, 66 years to be adopted by the larger culture in the early 1800s and only 27 years between 1880 and 1920.



For the full story, see:

PATRICIA COHEN. "In 500 Billion Words, New Window on Culture." The New York Times (Fri., December 17, 2010): A1 & A3.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the article is dated December 16, 2010.)





December 17, 2010

Financial Gain an Important Motive for Invention




(p. 121) In 1930, Joseph Rossman, who had served for decades as an examiner in the U.S. Patent Office, polled more than seven hundred patentees. producing a remarkable picture of the mind of the inventor. Some of the results were predictable; the three biggest motivators were "love of inventing," "desire to improve." and "financial gain," the ranking for each of which was statistically identical. and each at least twice as important as those appearing (p. 122) down the list, such as "desire to achieve," "prestige," or "altruism" (and certainly not the old saw, "laziness," which was named roughly one-thirtieth as frequently as "financial gain"). A century after Rocket, the world of technology had changed immensely: electric power, automobiles, telephones. But the motivations of individual inventors were indistinguishable from those inaugurated by the Industrial Revolution.


. . .


In the same vein, Rossman's survey revealed that the greatest obstacle perceived by his patentee universe was not lack of knowledge, legal difficulties, lack of time, or even prejudice against the innovation under consideration. Overwhelmingly, the largest obstacle faced by early twentieth-century inventors (and, almost certainly, their ancestors in the eighteenth century) was "lack of capital." Inventors need investors.



Source:

Rosen, William. The Most Powerful Idea in the World: A Story of Steam, Industry, and Invention. New York: Random House, 2010.

(Note: ellipsis added.)





December 16, 2010

Ridley Debunks Gates' Aid to Africa; Gates Responds; Ridley Responds to the Response




GatesRiidleyArmWrestling2010-12-15.jpgBill Gates and Matt Ridley arm wrestle. Source of image: online version of the Gates WSJ commentary cited below.



In a few weeks I will comment at length on Matt Ridley's wonderful recent book The Rational Optimist. It delightfully debunks much that deserves debunking, although I think it wrong on its central claim that no rewards are needed for innovation.

Part of what Ridley debunks is the case for aid to Africa. As one of the aid givers, Bill Gates is not fond of being debunked.


Gates responds in:

BILL GATES. "Africa Needs Aid, Not Flawed Theories." The Wall Street Journal (Sat., NOVEMBER 27, 2010): C1-C2.

(Note: the online version of the Gates commentary is dated NOVEMBER 26, 2010.)


Ridley responds to Gates' response in:

MATT RIDLEY. "Africa Needs Growth, Not Pity and Big Plans." The Wall Street Journal (Sat., NOVEMBER 27, 2010): C1-C2.

(Note: the online version of the Ridley commentary has the same date as the print version.)


Ridley's book is:

Ridley, Matt. The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves. New York: Harper, 2010.





December 15, 2010

"We Need to Know What Works"




(p. A12) WASHINGTON--World Bank President Robert Zoellick challenged economists to take on tougher challenges in development economics and to consult a wider range of professionals in developing countries, opening a debate about how effectively economists have attacked problems in global poverty.

"Too often research economists seem not to start with the key knowledge gaps facing development practitioners, but rather search for questions they can answer with the industry's currently favorite tools," Mr. Zoellick said at Georgetown University.


. . .


"We need to know what works: we need a research agenda that focuses on results," he said.

Nobel Prize-winning economist Michael Spence, who led a commission on economic growth, said Mr. Zoellick's comments are "generally not only in the right direction, but very useful." Harvard economist Dani Rodrik, who favors a stronger government hand in development, also praised the World Bank president. "The speech hits all the right notes: the need for economists to demonstrate humility, eschew blueprints...and focus on evaluation but not at the expense of the big questions," Mr. Rodrik said.



For the full story, see:

BOB DAVIS. "World Bank Chief Ignites a Debate." The Wall Street Journal (Thurs., SEPTEMBER 30, 2010): A12.

(Note: first two ellipses added; ellipsis in last quoted paragraph is in original.)





December 14, 2010

"Pumping Your Own Gas Is Illegal in New Jersey" and Oregon




CorcoranWillPumpsGasNJ2010-12-13.jpg "Will Corcoran pumps gas at Tim's Westview in Ridgefield Park. Pumping your own gas has been illegal in New Jersey for 61 years." Source of caption and photo: online version of the WSJ article quoted and cited below.


(p. A1) RIDGEFIELD PARK, N.J.--People in New Jersey pick their own strawberries. They chop down their own Christmas trees. They check themselves in at airports and check themselves out at supermarkets. Lately, a few New Jerseyans have been wondering whether it isn't about time they were allowed to pump their own gas.

Pumping your own gas is illegal in New Jersey. It has been for 61 years. It's also illegal in Oregon, and in the New York town of Huntington, on Long Island. Just about everywhere else, self-serving Americans do it themselves. As paying at the pump gets easier, the gas station attendant is fast going the way of the elevator operator.

Don't tell Will Corcoran. When you pull into Tim's Westview, a Gulf station across from the train tracks in this north Jersey town, you'll sit in your car while he fills your tank.

Under a cold rain one weekday, he stood at the driver's window of a Chevy, bent over, yakking. He wore blue. His cap had Gulf Oil's orange disk on it. After his customer signed the credit slip (Tim's pumps don't process cards), Mr. Corcoran, 42 years old, shook hands and saluted like a gas jockey in an old commercial.




For the full story, see:

BARRY NEWMAN. "Self-Service Nation Ends at Garden State Gas Pumps; Changing Law May or May Not Lower Prices; 'New Jersey Is Heaven!'." The Wall Street Journal (Sat., NOVEMBER 27, 2010): A1 & A14.






December 13, 2010

"The Most Important Invention of the Industrial Revolution Was Invention Itself"




(p. 103) Alfred North Whitehead famously wrote that the most important invention of the Industrial Revolution was invention itself.


Source:

Rosen, William. The Most Powerful Idea in the World: A Story of Steam, Industry, and Invention. New York: Random House, 2010.





December 12, 2010

Rockefeller Is Vilified Despite His Entrepreneurial Genius and His Philanthropic Generosity




AmericasMedicisBK2010-12-08.jpg















Source of book image: http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/512M5Z648JL.jpg




(p. C7) . . . as Suzanne Loebl rightly emphasizes in "America's Medicis," the Rockefellers' patronage has been notable not only for its generosity but also for its deliberativeness. By founding such diverse institutions as MoMA, Colonial Williamsburg, the Cloisters, Riverside Church and the Asia Society--as well as by commissioning the distinguished artworks that enliven the office complex at Rockefeller Center--various members of the family have been guided by a perception that a moral responsibility comes with the possession of great wealth.

John D. Rockefeller, Sr. (1839-1937), the founder and chairman of Standard Oil, was routinely vilified in the press as a ruthless monopolist who crushed competition the way a giant might crush a bug.     . . .     . . . yet he was not the cold-hearted miser that some supposed. A devout Baptist, he donated substantial sums every year to one or more of the congregations he attended, as well as to associated causes, such as the American Baptist Education Society, which founded the University of Chicago with his support in 1890.


. . .


Unfortunately, not everyone behaved well in the face of Rockefeller munificence. The Mexican painter Diego Rivera, commissioned to create a sprawling mural for the lobby of Rockefeller Center, chose to deviate from his preparatory drawings and place an enormous portrait of Lenin at the center of the finished composition. Refusing to amend this egregious provocation, Rivera was paid in full for his work, which was then duly destroyed. A predictable uproar ensued, garnering the artist abundant publicity, which may have been his objective all along.


. . .


Ms. Loebl's account is well grounded both in the existing literature and in original archival research. She has striven to be comprehensive and done a good job of incorporating lesser-known Rockefeller projects, for example the charming Wendell Gilley Museum of carved birds, in Maine, funded by Nelson's son Steven. But several worthy undertakings, such as Junior's restoration of the châteaux of Versailles and Fontainebleau, receive scant attention--as do Laurance Rockefeller's extensive gifts for the purpose of creating and expanding our national parks.



For the full review, see:

JONATHAN LOPEZ. "BOOKSHELF; The Splendid Spoils of Standard Oil; The Rockefeller family's vast cultural legacy resulted from a sense of civic duty and a love of beautiful things." The Wall Street Journal (Sat., NOVEMBER 20, 2010): C7.

(Note: ellipses added.)


The book being reviewed, is:

Loebl, Suzanne. America's Medicis: The Rockefellers and Their Astonishing Cultural Legacy. New York: HarperCollins, 2010.





December 11, 2010

The Psychology of How Power Corrupts




(p. B1) Being in a position of power . . . may make people feel that they can do no wrong. In recent experiments, Dana Carney, a psychologist at Columbia University's business school, has found that acquiring power makes people more comfortable committing acts they might otherwise be reluctant to commit, like lying or cheating. As people rise to a position of power, she has shown, their bodies generate more testosterone, a hormone associated with aggression and risk-taking, and less cortisol, a chemical that the body generates in response to stress.

"Having power changes you physiologically, reducing your body's internal feedback that tells you which actions are good or bad," says Prof. Carney. "Power temporarily intoxicates you."



For the full commentary, see:

JASON ZWEIG. "THE INTELLIGENT INVESTOR; What Conflict of Interest? How Power Blinds Us to Our Flaws." The Wall Street Journal (Sat., OCTOBER 16, 2010): B1.

(Note: ellipsis added.)






December 10, 2010

Measuring Inflation by Internet Prices




InflationInternetIndex2010-12-08.gif










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



(p. A5) Economists Roberto Rigobon and Alberto Cavallo at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Sloan School of Management have come up with a method to scour the Internet for online prices on millions of items and then use them to calculate inflation statistics for a dozen countries on a daily basis. The two have been collecting data for the project for more than three years, but only made their results public this week.


. . .


In countries where the apparatus for collecting prices is limited, or where officials have manipulated inflation data, the economists' indexes might give a clearer view. In Argentina, for example, the government has been widely accused of massaging price figures to let it pay less interest to holders of inflation-indexed bonds. President Cristina Fernández has defended the government data. For September, the government's measure of prices rose 11.1% from a year earlier. The economists' measure in that period: up 19.7%.



For the full story, see:

JUSTIN LAHART. "A Way, Day by Day, of Gauging Prices." The Wall Street Journal (Thurs., NOVEMBER 11, 2010): A5.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the article is dated NOVEMBER 10, 2010.)





December 9, 2010

Science Can Contribute "Diligent Experimental Habits" to Technology




(p. 101) Nothing is more common in the history of science than independent discovery of the same phenomenon, unless it is a fight over priority. To this day, historians debate how much prior awareness of the theory of latent heat was in Watt's possession, but they miss Black's real contribution, which anyone can see by examining the columns of neat script that attest to Watt's careful recording of experimental results. Watt didn't discover the existence of latent heat from Black, at least not directly; but he rediscovered it entirely through exposure to the diligent experimental habits of professors such as Black, John Robison, and Robert Dick.


Source:

Rosen, William. The Most Powerful Idea in the World: A Story of Steam, Industry, and Invention. New York: Random House, 2010.





December 8, 2010

After Being "Nasty and Unruly for Decades" Henry Becomes a Father at Age 111




TuataraLivingFossil2010-12-06.jpg












"TUATARA. The tuatara, scientists have learned, is in some ways a so-called living fossil." Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.




(p. D1) . . . the animal that may well be New Zealand's most bizarrely instructive species at first glance looks surprisingly humdrum: the tuatara. A reptile about 16 inches long with bumpy, khaki-colored skin and a lizardly profile, the tuatara could easily be mistaken for an iguana. Appearances in this case are wildly deceptive. The tuatara -- whose name comes from the Maori language and means "peaks on the back" -- is not an iguana, is not a lizard, is not like any other reptile alive today.

In fact, as a series of recent studies suggest, it is not like any other vertebrate alive today. The tuatara, scientists have learned, is in some ways a so-called living fossil, its basic skeletal layout and skull shape almost identical to that of tuatara fossils dating back hundreds of millions of years, to before the rise of the dinosaurs. Cer-(p. D2)tain tuatara organs and traits also display the hallmarks of being, if not quite primitive, at least closer to evolutionary baseline than comparable structures in other animals.


. . .


Tuataras are living fossils in more than one sense of the term. Through long-term capture, tag and recapture studies that were begun right after World War II, researchers have found that tuataras match and possibly exceed in attainable life span that other Methuselah of the animal kingdom, the giant tortoise. "Tuataras routinely live to 100, and I couldn't tell you they don't live to 150, 200 years or even more," said Dr. Daugherty.

They live, and live it up. "We know there are females that are still reproducing in their 80s," said Dr. Daugherty. At the Southland Museum and Art Gallery in Invercargill, New Zealand, a captive male tuatara named Henry, a local celebrity that had been nasty and unruly for decades until a malignancy was removed from his genitals, mated with an 80-year-old female named Mildred, and last year became a first-time father -- at the age of 111.



For the full story, see:

NATALIE ANGIER. "Basics; Reptile's Pet-Store Looks Belie Its Triassic Appeal." The New York Times (Tues., November 23, 2010): D1 & D2.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the article is dated November 22, 2010.)





December 7, 2010

Harvard Economists Find that Spending Cuts Lead to Expansions and Tax Increases Lead to Recessions




(p. A19) Economic history shows that even large adjustments in fiscal policy, if based on well-targeted spending cuts, have often led to expansions, not recessions. Fiscal adjustments based on higher taxes, on the other hand, have generally been recessionary.

My colleague Silvia Ardagna and I recently co-authored a paper examining this pattern, as have many studies over the past 20 years. Our paper looks at the 107 large fiscal adjustments--defined as a cyclically adjusted deficit reduction of at least 1.5% in one year--that took place in 21 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries between 1970 and 2007.


. . .


Our results were striking: Over nearly 40 years, expansionary adjustments were based mostly on spending cuts, while recessionary adjustments were based mostly on tax increases. And these results would have been even stronger had our definition of an expansionary period been more lenient (extending, for example, to the top 50% of the OECD). In addition, adjustments based on spending cuts were accompanied by longer-lasting reductions in ratios of debt to GDP.


. . .


The evidence from the last 40 years suggests that spending increases meant to stimulate the economy and tax increases meant to reduce deficits are unlikely to achieve their goals. The opposite combination might.



For the full commentary, see:

ALBERTO ALESINA. "Tax Cuts vs. 'Stimulus': The Evidence Is In; A review of over 200 fiscal adjustments in 21 countries shows that spending discipline and tax cuts are the best ways to spur economic growth." The Wall Street Journal (Weds., November 23, 2010): A19.

(Note: ellipses added.)


A version of the Alesina and Ardagna paper that is downloadable online is:

Alesina, Alberto, and Silvia Ardagna. "Large Changes in Fiscal Policy: Taxes Versus Spending." 2009.



The published version of the Alesina and Ardagna papar is:

Alesina, Alberto, and Silvia Ardagna. "Large Changes in Fiscal Policy: Taxes Versus Spending." In Tax Policy and the Economy, edited by Jeffrey R. Brown. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2010, pp. 35-68.





December 6, 2010

Telomerase Can Reverse Aging Ills in Mice




MiceInTelomeraseExperiment2010-12-05.jpg"Two mice involved in an experiment on age-related degeneration. Mice whose telomerase gene was activated, left, showed notable improvements." Source of caption: print version of the WSJ article quoted and cited below. Source of photo: online version of the WSJ article quoted and cited below.


(p. A3) Scientists have partially reversed age-related degeneration in mice, an achievement that suggests a new approach for tackling similar disorders in people.

By tweaking a gene, the researchers reversed brain disease and restored the sense of smell and fertility in prematurely aged mice. Previous experiments with calorie restriction and other methods have shown that aspects of aging can be slowed. This appears to be the first time that some age-related problems in animals have actually been reversed.

The study was published online Sunday in the peer-reviewed journal Nature.

"These mice were equivalent to 80-year-old humans and were about to pass away," says Ronald DePinho, co-author of the paper and a scientist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. After the experiment, "they were the physiological equivalent of young adults."



For the full story, see:

GAUTAM NAIK. "Aging Ills Reversed in Mice; Scientists Tweak a Gene and Rejuvenate Cells, Raising Hopes for Uses in Humans." The Wall Street Journal (Mon., NOVEMBER 29, 2010): A3.

(Note: online version of the article is dated NOVEMBER 28, 2010.)



TelomeraseGraphic2010-12-05.gif







Source of graphic: online version of the WSJ article quoted and cited above.






December 5, 2010

A Key to Scientific Truth: Nullius in Verba ("On No One's Word")




(p. 68) . . . scientific understanding didn't progress by looking for truth; it did so by looking for mistakes.

This was new. In the cartoon version of the Scientific Revolution, science made its great advances in opposition to a heavy-handed Roman Catholic Church; but an even larger obstacle to progress in the understanding and manipulation of nature was the belief that Aristotle had already figured out all of physics and had observed all that biology had to offer, or that Galen was the last word in medicine. By this standard, the real revolutionary manifesto of the day was written not by Descartes, or Galileo, but by the seventeenth-century Italian poet and physician Francesco Redi, in his Experiments on the Generation of Insects, who wrote (as one of a hundred examples), "Aristotle asserts that cabbages produce caterpillars daily, but I have not been able to witness this remarkable reproduction, though I have seen many eggs laid by butterflies on the cabbage-stalks. . . ." Not for nothing was the motto of the Royal Society nullius in verba: "on no one's word."



Source:

Rosen, William. The Most Powerful Idea in the World: A Story of Steam, Industry, and Invention. New York: Random House, 2010.

(Note: first ellipsis added; italics and second ellipsis, in original.)





December 4, 2010

"A Really Nice Story about Adaptability of Our Life Form"




WolfeSimonFelisaArsenicBacterium2010-12-03.jpg"Felisa Wolfe-Simon takes samples from a sediment core she pulled up from the remote shores of 10 Mile Beach at Mono Lake in California." Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.


(p. A1) Scientists said Thursday that they had trained a bacterium to eat and grow on a diet of arsenic, in place of phosphorus -- one of six elements considered essential for life -- opening up the possibility that organisms could exist elsewhere in the universe or even here on Earth using biochemical powers we have not yet dared to dream about.

The bacterium, scraped from the bottom of Mono Lake in California and grown for months in a lab mixture containing arsenic, gradually swapped out atoms of phosphorus in its little body for atoms of arsenic.

Scientists said the results, if confirmed, would expand the notion of what life could be and where it could be. "There is basic mystery, when you look at life," said Dimitar Sasselov, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and director of an institute on the origins of life there, who was not involved in the work. "Nature only uses a restrictive set of molecules and chemical reactions out of many thousands available. This is our first glimmer that maybe there are other options."

Felisa Wolfe-Simon, a NASA astrobiology fellow at the United States Geological Survey in Menlo Park, Calif., who led the experiment, said, "This is a microbe that has solved the problem of how to live in a different way."

This story is not about Mono Lake or arsenic, she said, but about "cracking open the door and finding that what we think are fixed constants of life are not."


. . .


(p. A4) Caleb Scharf, an astrobiologist at Columbia University who was not part of the research, said he was amazed. "It's like if you or I morphed into fully functioning cyborgs after being thrown into a room of electronic scrap with nothing to eat," he said.

Gerald Joyce, a chemist and molecular biologist at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif., said the work "shows in principle that you could have a different form of life," but noted that even these bacteria are affixed to the same tree of life as the rest of us, like the extremophiles that exist in ocean vents.

"It's a really nice story about adaptability of our life form," he said. "It gives food for thought about what might be possible in another world."



For the full story, see:

DENNIS OVERBYE. "Microbe Finds Arsenic Tasty; Redefines Life." The New York Times (Fri., December 3, 2010): A1 & A4.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the article is dated December 2, 2010.)





December 3, 2010

If the Feds Want an Effective Stimulus, They Should Spend to Reduce the Patent Backlog




In my seminar on the Economics of Technology on Tuesday night (11/30/10), Gauri presented some interesting information on intellectual property. At one point she summarized that the lag in processing patents is about three years, but it takes, on average, only about 18 hours to process a patent once the processing has begun.

Later in the seminar, we talked about a brief article by Amar Bhidé on whether large economic stimulus programs have worked in the past, and will work in the present. Bhidé was skeptical, and I am too.

But it occurred to me that one modest economic stimulus expenditure might help. Why not make the highest stimulus spending priority to hire and train enough patent examiners to reduce the patent lag from three years to, say, three weeks?


The Bhidé article mentioned above is:

Bhidé, Amar. "Don't Believe the Stimulus Scaremongers." Wall Street Journal, (Tues., February 17, 2009): A15.






December 2, 2010

Castro's Reform: Private Restaurants May Now Have Up to 20 Seats




CubanRestaurant2010-11-14.jpg "Restaurants, . . . , offer limited menus." Source of caption: print version of the WSJ article quoted and cited below. Source of photo: online version of the WSJ article quoted and cited below.


(p. A18) HAVANA--A package of capitalist reforms from President Raúl Castro is creating something new for many Cubans: uncertainty.

Since 1959, when Fidel Castro rode into Havana atop a tank, the Cuban state has promised its people the certainty of a job, food, education and health care. No one expected to get rich under the arrangement; the old joke here is that people pretend to work, and the government pretends to pay them.


. . .


On the island, where many Cubans have taken to using the word "changes," rather than "reforms," to refer to the restructuring, people remain cautious. Some suspect that once the economy recovers and small businesses begin to grow, the Cuban government will tighten the noose on entrepreneurs with stricter regulation and steep taxes.

A restaurant on Calle Animas offers an example of such frustrations. Opened in 1996 after an effort by Fidel Castro to jump-start the domestic economy after the collapse of the Soviet Union, it has never expanded, because of a law that limits privately owned restaurants to only 12 seats. "It's the rules, you live by them," the owner says.

Prices are high--about $20 for a lunch with fish from the fixed menu--largely, the owner says, because she can't find ingredients anywhere except in underground markets, where prices are steep. Under the new rules, private restaurants will be permitted to have up to 20 seats. Still, the owner complains that state-run restaurants in the tourist district, which don't face such restrictions, have many more than 20 seats.




For the full story, see:

A WSJ Staff Reporter. "Cubans Dip a Toe in Capitalist Waters; As State Cuts Half a Million Jobs, Future Looks Murky to Some; 'We're Being Left to Fend for Ourselves'." The Wall Street Journal (Weds., October 6, 2010): A18.

(Note: ellipses added.)






December 1, 2010

"The Steam Engine Has Done Much More for Science than Science Has Done for the Steam Engine"




(p. 67) The great scientist and engineer William Thomson, Lord Kelvin, made his reputation on discoveries in basic physics. electricity, and thermodynamics, but he may be remembered just as well for his talent for aphorism. Among the best known of Kelvin's quotations is the assertion that "all science is either physics or stamp collecting (while one probably best forgotten is the confident "heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible"). But the most relevant for a history of the Industrial Revolution is this: "the steam engine has done much more for science than science has done for the steam engine."


Source:

Rosen, William. The Most Powerful Idea in the World: A Story of Steam, Industry, and Invention. New York: Random House, 2010.





HP3D5006CropSmall.jpg






Most Popular Posts









If you value this blog, and want to help support the expenses of hosting and maintaining it, please consider making a donation through PayPal:










The StatCounter number above reports the number of "page loads" since the counter was installed late on 2/26/08. Page loads are defined on the site as "The number of times your page has been visited."


View My Stats