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June 30, 2014

Insull Took 50% Pay Cut to Get Chief Executive Position




(p. 262) Insull's story is characterized by boldness of action that exceeded anything Edison had tried. When he had left Edison's side, he had been determined to find a chief executive position. In 1892, he passed up an offer to be a vice president in Henry Villard's North American Company in order to become president of Edison Chicago, a small electrical power utility that could pay him only half of what he had made in New York. He also had to move to Chicago, a place that seemed to a New Yorker like a "frontier town."


Source:

Stross, Randall E. The Wizard of Menlo Park: How Thomas Alva Edison Invented the Modern World. New York: Crown Publishers, 2007.






June 29, 2014

The Noise of Open-Office Plans Destroys Concentration




CubedBK2014-05-28.jpg










Source of book image: DWIGHT GARNER. "Books of The Times; The Office Space We Love to Hate." The New York Times (Fri., APRIL 25, 2014): C21 & C31.





(p. C3) Open-office plans--then as now--mean noise, both visual and aural. People used to private offices couldn't concentrate because of all the chatter and typing. For all the supposed egalitarianism of the office landscape, managers usually allotted themselves more space than junior staff, and the creative use of screens and extra plants often let them carve out ad hoc private offices for themselves. By the 1970s, European workers' councils had rejected open-office plans, insisting that employees across the continent be granted private offices.

In the U.S., however, the open-plan remained unchallenged--until Propst. He concluded that office workers needed autonomy and independence--and therefore offered a flexible, three-walled design that could be reshaped to any given need.


. . .


Many workers I've spoken to in open offices find concentration and privacy elusive--and often miss their cubicles.



For the full commentary, see:

NIKIL SAVAL. "When Office Cubicles Looked Like Progress." The Wall Street Journal (Sat., May 10, 2014): C3.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date May 9, 2014, and has the title "A Brief History of the Dreaded Office Cubicle.")


For more of Saval's observations on the cubicle, see:

Saval, Nikil. Cubed: A Secret History of the Workplace. New York: Doubleday, 2014.






June 28, 2014

Global Warming Tipping Point Models Are "Overblown"




(p. C3) Climate models for north Africa often come to contradictory conclusions. Nonetheless, mainstream science holds that global warming will typically make wet places wetter and dry places drier--and at a rapid clip. That is because increased greenhouse gases trigger feedback mechanisms that push the climate system beyond various "tipping points." In north Africa, this view suggests an expanding Sahara, the potential displacement of millions of people on the great desert's borders and increased conflict over scarce resources.

One scientist, however, is challenging this dire view, with evidence chiefly drawn from the Sahara's prehistoric past. Stefan Kröpelin, a geologist at the University of Cologne, has collected samples of ancient pollen and other material that suggest that the earlier episode of natural climate change, which created the Sahara, happened gradually over millennia--not over a mere century or two, as the prevailing view holds. That is why, he says, the various "tipping point" scenarios for the future of the Sahara are overblown.

The 62-year-old Dr. Kröpelin, one of the pre-eminent explorers of the Sahara, has traveled into its forbidding interior for more than four decades. Along the way he has endured weeklong dust storms, a car chase by armed troops and a parasitic disease, bilharzia, that nearly killed him.


. . .


. . . Dr. Kröpelin's analysis of the Lake Yoa samples suggests that there was no tipping point and that the change was gradual. He says that his argument is also supported by archaeological evidence. Digs in the Sahara, conducted by various archaeologists over the years, indicate that the people of the region migrated south over millennia, not just in a few desperate decades. "Humans are very sensitive climate indicators because we can't live without water," he says. If the Sahara had turned to desert quickly, the human migration pattern "would have been completely different."



For the full commentary, see:

HENRY I. MILLER. "Organic Farming Is Not Sustainable; More labor with lower yields is a luxury only rich populations can afford." The Wall Street Journal (Fri., May 16, 2014): A13.

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date May 15, 2014.)


One of the more recent Kröpelin papers arguing against the tipping point account is:

Francus, Pierre, Hans von Suchodoletz, Michael Dietze, Reik V. Donner, Frédéric Bouchard, Ann-Julie Roy, Maureen Fagot, Dirk Verschuren, Stefan Kröpelin, and Daniel Ariztegui. "Varved Sediments of Lake Yoa (Ounianga Kebir, Chad) Reveal Progressive Drying of the Sahara During the Last 6100 Years." Sedimentology 60, no. 4 (June 2013): 911-34.







June 27, 2014

Instead of 50 Silicon Valleys, Andreessen Sees 50 Kinds of Silicon Valley




AndreessenMarcCofounderNetscape2014-05-31.jpg "Marc Andreessen, co-founder of the first major web browser, Netscape, has a record for knowing what's coming next with technology." Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.



(p. B8) Mr. Andreessen said new valleys will eventually emerge. But they won't be Silicon Valley copycats.

Over the past couple of years, venture firms have invested in start-ups in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and all over China. Los Angeles, for example, is home to Snapchat, Tinder, Whisper, Oculus VR and Beats, some of the big tech stories of the year. Mr. Andreessen said another hot place is Atlanta, the home of Georgia Tech.

But he offers a caveat.

"My personal view is that Silicon Valley will continue to take a disproportionate share of the No. 1 positions in great new markets, and I think that's just a reflection that the fact that the valley works as well as it does," Mr. Andreessen said.

There is a caveat to his caveat.

In Mr. Andreessen's view, there shouldn't be 50 Silicon Valleys. Instead, there should be 50 different kinds of Silicon Valley. For example, there could be Biotech Valley, a Stem Cell Valley, a 3-D Printing Valley or a Drone Valley. As he noted, there are huge regulatory hurdles in many of these fields. If a city wanted to spur innovation around drones, for instance, it might have to remove any local legal barriers to flying unmanned aircraft.



For the full interview, see:

NICK BILTON. "DISRUPTIONS; Forecasting the Next Big Moves in Tech." The New York Times (Mon., MAY 19, 2014): B8.

(Note: the online version of the interview has the date MAY 18, 2014, and has the title "DISRUPTIONS; Marc Andreessen on the Future of Silicon Valley(s), and the Next Big Technology." )






June 26, 2014

Edison Thought His Money Did More Good by Funding Inventions than by Funding Philanthropy




(p. 263) When asked in 1911 to donate to a building drive for a YMCA in Port Huron, a boyhood home, Edison responded with a small pledge and provided an explanation of why he would not provide more: "I can use surplus money to greater advantage for all the people in conducting experiments."


Source:

Stross, Randall E. The Wizard of Menlo Park: How Thomas Alva Edison Invented the Modern World. New York: Crown Publishers, 2007.






June 25, 2014

Occupational Licensing Hurts Poor and Restricts Innovation and Worker Mobility




StagesOfOccupationalRegulationBK2014-06-01.JPG
















Source of book image: http://www.upjohn.org/sites/default/files/bookcovers/soor_0.JPG



(p. A31) In the 1970s, about 10 percent of individuals who worked had to have licenses, but by 2008, almost 30 percent of the work force needed them.

With this explosion of licensing laws has come a national patchwork of stealth regulation that has, among other things, restricted labor markets, innovation and worker mobility.


. . .


Occupational licensing, moreover, does nothing to close the inequality gap in the United States. For consumers, there is likely to be a redistribution effect in the "wrong" direction, as higher income consumers have more choice among higher quality purveyors of a service and lower income individuals are left with fewer affordable service options.

. . . , government-issued licenses largely protect occupations from competition. Conservatives often see members of the regulated occupation supporting licensing laws under claims of "public health and safety." However, these laws do much more to stop competition and less to enhance the quality of the service.

Also, all consumers do not demand the same level of quality. If licensure "improves quality" by restricting entry into the profession, then some consumers will be forced to pay for more "quality" than they want or need. Not everyone wants a board-licensed hairdresser.



For the full commentary, see:

MORRIS M. KLEINER. "Why License a Florist?" The New York Times (Thurs., MAY 29, 2014): A31.

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date MAY 28, 2014.)


Kleiner's most recent book on occupational licensing is:

Kleiner, Morris M. Stages of Occupational Regulation: Analysis of Case Studies. Kalamazoo, Michigan: W.E. Upjohn Institute, 2013.






June 24, 2014

Lower Yields from Organic Farming Means More Land Must Be Used to Grow Food




(p. A13) . . . , as agricultural scientist Steve Savage has documented on the Sustainablog website, wide-scale composting generates significant amounts of greenhouse gases such as methane and nitrous oxide. Compost may also deposit pathogenic bacteria on or in food crops, which has led to more frequent occurrences of food poisoning in the U.S. and elsewhere.

Organic farming might work well for certain local environments on a small scale, but its farms produce far less food per unit of land and water than conventional ones. The low yields of organic agriculture--typically 20%-50% less than conventional agriculture--impose various stresses on farmland and especially on water consumption. A British meta-analysis published in the Journal of Environmental Management (2012) found that "ammonia emissions, nitrogen leaching and nitrous oxide emissions per product unit were higher from organic systems" than conventional farming systems, as were "land use, eutrophication potential and acidification potential per product unit."

Lower crop yields are inevitable given organic farming's systematic rejection of many advanced methods and technologies. If the scale of organic production were significantly increased, the lower yields would increase the pressure for the conversion of more land to farming and more water for irrigation, both of which are serious environmental issues.



For the full commentary, see:

HENRY I. MILLER. "Organic Farming Is Not Sustainable; More labor with lower yields is a luxury only rich populations can afford." The Wall Street Journal (Fri., May 16, 2014): A13.

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date May 15, 2014.)


The article documenting organic farming's greater emissions per food unit, is:

Tuomisto, H. L., I. D. Hodge, P. Riordan, and D. W. Macdonald. "Does Organic Farming Reduce Environmental Impacts? - a Meta-Analysis of European Research." Journal of Environmental Management 112 (2012): 309-20.






June 23, 2014

Some Birds "with Higher Radiation Exposure May Show Greater Adaptation"




MousseauTimothyStudiesBatsAtChernobyl2014-05-31.jpg With an unfinished cooling tower at the Chernobyl plant in the background, Timothy Mousseau, right, and an assistant set out microphones to study bats in the contaminated area." Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.


(p. D1) In dozens of papers over the years Dr. Mousseau, his longtime collaborator, Anders Pape Moller of the National Center for Scientific Research in France, and colleagues have reported evidence of radiation's toll: . . .

(p. D2) But their most recent findings, published last month, showed something new. Some bird species, they reported in the journal Functional Ecology, appear to have adapted to the radioactive environment by producing higher levels of protective antioxidants, with correspondingly less genetic damage. For these birds, Dr. Mousseau said, chronic exposure to radiation appears to be a kind of "unnatural selection" driving evolutionary change.


. . .


The findings . . . suggest that in some cases radiation levels might have an inverse effect -- birds in areas with higher radiation exposure may show greater adaptation, and thus less genetic damage, than those in areas with lower radiation levels.

Like almost all of the studies by Dr. Mousseau and his colleagues, the latest one takes advantage of the unique circumstances of the Chernobyl exclusion zone as a real-world laboratory. "Nature is a much more stressful environment than the lab," Dr. Mousseau said.



For the full story, see:

HENRY FOUNTAIN. "Adapting to Chernoby." The New York Times (Tues., MAY 6, 2014): D1 & D2.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date MAY 5, 2014, and has the title "At Chernobyl, Hints of Nature's Adaptation.")


The research discussed above is more fully elaborated in:

Galván, Ismael, Andrea Bonisoli-Alquati, Shanna Jenkinson, Ghanem Ghanem, Kazumasa Wakamatsu, Timothy A. Mousseau, and Anders P. Møller. "Chronic Exposure to Low-Dose Radiation at Chernobyl Favours Adaptation to Oxidative Stress in Birds." Functional Ecology (Early View published online on May 17, 2014).






June 22, 2014

Edison "Put His Winnings from the Electric Light Business into the Mining Business"




(p. 265) In his business and research projects, Edison became more timid as he became older. While in his thirties, he had had the energy to tackle a problem that had seemed to many to be insoluble: the "subdivision" of the electric light that would make indoor use technically and economically feasible. In his forties, he had continued to dream big and put his winnings from the electric light business into the mining business. It had ended disappointingly, but he cannot be criticized for timidity. In his fifties, he did make another sizable bet. However, for this venture, pursuing the improvement of the battery for an electric car, he had financing from Ford that insulated him from personal risk. He continued to steer clear of risk in his sixties and seventies.


Source:

Stross, Randall E. The Wizard of Menlo Park: How Thomas Alva Edison Invented the Modern World. New York: Crown Publishers, 2007.






June 21, 2014

In China "Overwhelming Evidence of the Leaders' "Moral Vulnerability""




ThePeoplesRepublicOfAmnesiaBK2014-05-28.jpg

















Source of book image: http://media.npr.org/assets/bakertaylor/covers/t/the-peoples-republic-of-amnesia/9780199347704_custom-d21f4e2d0281b692c74781102e750ff1e27b7cc9-s6-c30.jpg



(p. 21) During the night of June 3-4, 1989, when the Chinese Army was slaughtering demonstrators in Tiananmen Square, Wang Nan, a young student, was shot in the head. As he lay dying at the side of the road, soldiers threatened to kill anyone, even some young doctors, who tried to help him. In the morning, finally dead, he was buried in a shallow grave nearby. A few days later, the smell of Wang Nan's body was so great that it was dug up and moved to a hospital.

After 10 days, his mother, Zhang Xianling, was called to the hospital to identify her son's body. It took eight months, in the face of official obstruction, for Zhang to uncover what had happened to her son. In 1998 she held a modest remembrance service on the spot where he had died. The next year, on that day, she was barred from leaving her apartment. When she met Louisa Lim, Zhang said she longed to go to the fatal place again to pour a libation on the ground and sprinkle flower petals. "However," Lim observes, ­"someone will always be watching her. A closed-circuit camera has been installed" and "trained on the exact spot where her son's body was exhumed. . . . It is a camera dedicated to her alone, waiting for her in case she should ever try again to mourn her dead son."

Until I read about that camera in "The People's Republic of Amnesia," I imagined, after decades of reporting from and about China, that nothing there could still shock me. As Lim contends, Zhang's "simple act of memory is deemed a threat to stability." Lim's overwhelming evidence of the leaders' "moral vulnerability," together with her accounts of the amnesia of many Chinese, make hers one of the best analyses of the impact of Tiananmen throughout China in the years since 1989.



For the full review, see:

JONATHAN MIRSKY. "An Inconvenient Past." The New York Times Book Review (Sun., MAY 25, 2014): 21.

(Note: ellipsis in original.)

(Note: the online version of the review has the date MAY 23, 2014.)


The book under review is:

Lim, Louisa. The People's Republic of Amnesia: Tiananmen Revisited. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014.



TanksBeijingTwoDaysAfterTiananmenSquareMassacre2014-05-28.jpg "Tanks at the ready in Beijing on June 6, 1989, two days after the Tiananmen Square massacre." Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT review quoted and cited above.






June 20, 2014

How Medicaid Rewards Doctors Who Mistreat Patients




(p. A13) I recently operated on a child with strabismus (crossed eyes). This child was covered by Medicaid. I was required to obtain surgical pre-authorization using a Current Procedural Terminology, or CPT, code for medical identification and billing purposes. The CPT code identified the particular procedure to be performed. Medicaid approved my surgical plan, and the surgery was scheduled.

During the surgery, I discovered the need to change my plan to accommodate findings resulting from a previous surgery by another physician. Armed with new information, I chose to operate on different muscles from the ones noted on the pre-approved plan. The revised surgery was successful, and the patient obtained straight eyes.

However, because I filed for payment using the different CPT code for the surgery I actually performed, Medicaid was not willing to adjust its protocol. The government denied all payment. Ironically, the code-listed payment for the procedure I ultimately performed was an amount 40% less than the amount approved for the initially authorized surgery. For over a year, I challenged Medicaid about its decision to deny payment. I wrote numerous letters and spoke to many Medicaid employees explaining the predicament. Eventually I gave up fighting what had obviously become a losing battle.



For the full commentary, see:

ZANE F. POLLARD. "The Bureaucrat Sitting on Your Doctor's Shoulder; When I'm operating on a child, I shouldn't have to wonder if Medicaid will OK a change in the surgical plan.." The Wall Street Journal (Thurs., May 22, 2014): A13.

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date May 21, 2014.)






June 19, 2014

Bowen Receives Standing Ovation for Calling Student Protesters "Immature and Arrogant"




BowenWilliamHaverfordCollegeCommencementSpeaker2014-06-01.jpg






"William Bowen, speaking at Haverford College on Sunday [May 18, 2014], criticized students who staged a protest over another scheduled speaker." Source of caption and photo: online version of the WSJ article quoted and cited below.



(p. A3) William Bowen, a former president of Princeton University, criticized students who had objected to Haverford's invitation to Robert Birgeneau, a former chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley, to speak at commencement.


. . .


"He is a person of consequence," Mr. Bowen said. He said he told students, "If you expect to agree with commencement speakers on everything, then who will you get to speak? Someone totally boring." He added that he also called the subset of students who had objected to Dr. Birgeneau "immature and arrogant."


. . .


Phil Drexler, president of the Haverford Students' Council, said some in the audience were upset but others gave a standing ovation. "I felt validated by the speech because I had wanted to hear Dr. Birgeneau talk," said Mr. Drexler, a graduating physics major. On the plus side, he added, he likely won't soon forget his commencement.

A number of commencement speeches have been derailed by student and faculty protests this graduation season. Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, withdrew last week from speaking at Smith College. Similar outcries foiled engagements by former National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice at Rutgers University and human-rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali at Brandeis University.



For the full story, see:

NATHAN KOPPEL. "Commencement Speaker Blasts Students on Protest." The Wall Street Journal (Mon., May 19, 2014): A3.

(Note: ellipses, and bracketed date, added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date May 18, 2014, and had the title "Haverford Speaker Bowen Criticizes Students Over Protests.")






June 18, 2014

If Inventors Were Allowed to Educate




(p. 228) Along with the home projector, the company introduced a central clearinghouse for used films, which offered customers a way of replenishing the family's entertainment supply by using the postal service to swap titles with others for a nominal processing fee. Edison, however, wanted to use his projector not for entertainment but for education. For preschoolers, his idea was nothing less than brilliant. For teaching the alphabet, Edison explained in an interview, "suppose, instead of the dull, solemn letters on a board or a card you have a little play going on that the littlest youngster can understand," with actors carrying in letters, hopping, skipping, turning somersaults. "Nothing like action--drama--a play that fascinates the eye to keep the attention keyed up." (A prospectus for Sesame Street could not have made a better case.)


Source:

Stross, Randall E. The Wizard of Menlo Park: How Thomas Alva Edison Invented the Modern World. New York: Crown Publishers, 2007.

(Note: italics in original)






June 17, 2014

Schulman Grants that Kochs "Have Sincere Political Views that Go Beyond Being Just a Cover for Their Companies' Interest"




KochBrothersWilliamCharlesDavidFrederick2014-05-28.jpg "The Koch brothers, from left: William, Charles, David and Frederick." Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT review quoted and cited below.


(p. 12) "Sons of Wichita" may strike some readers as surprisingly pro-Koch.  . . . [Schulman] grants Charles and David two key concessions: They have sincere political views that go beyond being just a cover for their companies' interest in lower taxes and fewer regulations, and many of their political activities have been right out in the open, rather than lurking in the shadows. He seems to be almost in awe of Charles, the most mysterious of the brothers, who runs Koch Industries by a system he devised called Market-Based Management. Summarizing, but not dissenting from, the views of Charles's employees, Schulman calls him "a near-mythic figure, a man of preternatural intellect and economic prowess," adding: "He is unquestionably powerful, but unfailingly humble; elusive, but uncomplicated; cosmopolitan, yet thoroughly Kansan." It's noteworthy, Schulman argues, that for decades the Koch family was definitely not welcome in the Republican Party. That they came to stand for Republicanism, at least in the minds of liberals, in 2010 and 2012 is testament to their persistence, to the weakening of the traditional party structures and to their success in making libertarianism a mainstream rather than a fringe ideology. "It's a brilliant, extraordinary accomplishment," Schulman quotes Rob Stein of the liberal Democracy Alliance as saying about the Kochs' rise to influence.


. . .


Even the Tea Party movement is not entirely dependent on intravenous feeding from the Kochs or that other favorite liberal villain, Fox News. And elements of Koch-style libertarianism, connected to the interests of major donors, now live within the Democratic Party too -- not just on social issues like same-sex marriage, but on economic and regulatory ones too. "Sons of Wichita" reminds us that political outcomes depend far more on ideas and organization, and the energy and persistence devoted to them, than they do on the balance of power between good guys and bad guys.



For the full review, see:

NICHOLAS LEMANN. "Billionaire Boys Club." The New York Times Book Review (Sun., MAY 25, 2014): 12.

(Note: ellipses, and bracketed name, added.)

(Note: the online version of the review has the date MAY 23, 2014.)


The book under review is:

Schulman, Daniel. Sons of Wichita: How the Koch Brothers Became America's Most Powerful and Private Dynasty. New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2014.



SonsOfWichitaBK2014-05-28.jpg
















Source of book image: http://media.npr.org/assets/bakertaylor/covers/s/sons-of-wichita/9781455518739_custom-bd178f0c1a2667e448cf13ff7df2850774d77dd8-s6-c30.jpg






June 16, 2014

June 16th Is Liberalism Day





In the old days a "liberal" was someone who believed in freedom, including free markets and minimal government. Milton Friedman defended "liberal" in its original sense in his article "Liberalism, Old Style."

At some point the left hijacked the word, at least in the United States. (I understand that in much of the rest of the world "liberal" still retains more of its original meaning.)

Maybe there's some defensible justification for hijacking a word, but most of the time it seems like a dishonest and cowardly way to win an argument by muddying up the debate.

Dan Klein and Kevin Frei are trying to reclaim the word "liberal" from the pirates of the left. As part of their effort, they have proclaimed June 16th to be "Liberalism Day."

I believe their cause is just, but I am not sure it is efficient. Time and effort are scarce, so we must pick our battles.

On the other hand, the meaning of "libertarian" has narrowed over recent decades. It used to be that most libertarians believed in minimal government; increasingly more libertarians endorse anarchism. It used to be that most libertarians believed in national defense; increasingly more libertarians endorse total isolationism.

I do believe in some minimal night-watchman state, and I do believe that sometimes there is evil in the world that must be fought. So maybe I should start calling myself a "liberal" in the original sense, what Friedman called a "classical liberal"?


#LiberalismDay





June 15, 2014

"Apple Bonds Are Giffen Goods"




AppleCampus2014-05-31.jpg "New bonds sold by Apple have been called "Giffen goods," after Sir Robert Giffen, a Scottish economist who noted that the prices of some goods can defy the laws of supply and demand." Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.


(p. B1) . . . Hans Mikkelsen, a credit strategist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, promptly proclaimed that "Apple bonds are Giffen goods."

Giffen goods, named after Sir Robert Giffen, a 19th-century Scottish statistician and economist who discovered they could exist, defy the normal law of supply and demand. Raise the price, and people will buy more.

They are extremely rare.

The classic example -- and the only one I had heard of before Apple sold its new bonds -- was potatoes at a time when they were the chief source of nourishment for Irish peasants. If potato prices fell, the peasants could afford more meat and would therefore eat fewer potatoes. When potato prices rose, they could no longer afford meat and would consume more potatoes.



For the full story, see:

RAPHAEL MINDER. "Tempting Europe With Ugly Fruit." The New YorkTimes, First Section (Sun., MAY 25, 2014): 6 & 8.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date MAY 24, 2014. )



GiffenSirRobertScottishEconomist2014-05-31.jpg











"Sir Robert Giffen was a Scottish economist." Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited above.







June 14, 2014

How Edison Brought Tears to the Eyes of Maria Montessori




(p. 221) Edison's partial loss of hearing prevented him from listening to music in the same way as those with unimpaired hearing. A little item that appeared in a Schenectady, New York, newspaper in 1913 related the story that Edison supposedly told a friend about how he usually listened to recordings by placing one ear directly against the phonograph's cabinet. But if he detected a sound too faint to hear in this fashion, Edison said, "I bite my teeth in the wood good and hard and then I get it good and strong." The story would be confirmed decades later in (p. 222) Madeleine's recollections of growing up. One day she came into the sitting room in which someone was playing the piano and a guest, Maria Montessori, was in tears, watching Edison listen the only way that he could, teeth biting the piano. "She thought it was pathetic," Madeleine said, "I guess it was."


Source:

Stross, Randall E. The Wizard of Menlo Park: How Thomas Alva Edison Invented the Modern World. New York: Crown Publishers, 2007.






June 13, 2014

Federal Tax Reduction Fueled Craft Beer Revolution




TheCraftBeerRevolutionBK2014-05-28.jpg













Source of book image: online version of the NYT review quoted and cited below.




(p. 6) The story of craft beer's rise begins in 1965, when Fritz Maytag, an heir to the Maytag appliance fortune, bought and revived the Anchor Steam brewery in San Francisco, thus inspiring a generation of so-called home brewers to begin considering commercial ventures.


. . .


A 1976 federal tax reduction for small brewers fueled the industry's growth.


. . .


For years, the greatest challenge for craft brewers was distribution -- simply getting restaurants and grocery stores to sell their product. Most wholesale beer distributors, Mr. Hindy writes, were heavily reliant on the three megabreweries -- Anheuser-Busch, Miller and Coors -- and couldn't be bothered to spend time pushing obscure brands whose makers rarely had enough money to advertise. In 1996, Augustus Busch III demanded that its distributors devote a "100 percent share of mind" to Busch products. That left most microbrewers to beg and wheedle the Miller and Coors distributors, a situation so frustrating that, in time, Mr. Hindy's Brooklyn Brewery began distributing its own products.



For the full review, see:

BRYAN BURROUGH. "OFF THE SHELF; Craft Brewers, Finding a Better Seat at the Bar." The New York Times, SundayBusiness Section (Sun., MAY 11, 2014): 6.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the review has the date MAY 10, 2014.)


The book under review is:

Hindy, Steve. The Craft Beer Revolution: How a Band of Microbrewers Is Transforming the World's Favorite Drink. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.






June 12, 2014

Bloomberg Blasts University Faculty Intolerance for Conservative Ideas




(p. A11) From former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's commencement address at Harvard University, May 29:

Repressing free expression is a natural human weakness, and it is up to us to fight it at every turn. Intolerance of ideas--whether liberal or conservative--is antithetical to individual rights and free societies, and it is no less antithetical to great universities and first-rate scholarship.

There is an idea floating around college campuses--including here at Harvard--that scholars should be funded only if their work conforms to a particular view of justice. There's a word for that idea: censorship. And it is just a modern-day form of McCarthyism.


. . .


In the 2012 presidential race, according to Federal Election Commission data, 96% of all campaign contributions from Ivy League faculty and employees went to Barack Obama.

Ninety-six percent. There was more disagreement among the old Soviet Politburo than there is among Ivy League donors.


. . .


Diversity of gender, ethnicity, and orientation is important. But a university cannot be great if its faculty is politically homogenous. In fact, the whole purpose of granting tenure to professors is to ensure that they feel free to conduct research on ideas that run afoul of university politics and societal norms.

When tenure was created, it mostly protected liberals whose ideas ran up against conservative norms.

Today, if tenure is going to continue to exist, it must also protect conservatives whose ideas run up against liberal norms. Otherwise, university research--and the professors who conduct it--will lose credibility.

Great universities must not become predictably partisan. And a liberal arts education must not be an education in the art of liberalism.



For the full commentary, see:

Mike Bloomberg. "Notable & Quotable: Mike Bloomberg at Harvard." The Wall Street Journal (Sat., May 31, 2014): A11.

(Note: ellipsis added; italics in original.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date May 30, 2014.)






June 11, 2014

"A Backhanded Slap to Overweening European Union Rule Makers"




LemonsSoldByUglyFruit2014-05-31.jpg "Lemons sold by Ugly Fruit." Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.



(p. 6) At a time of lingering economic hardship for many in the European Union, whose penchant for regulation has extended even to the shape, size and color of the foods its citizens eat, Ms. Soares has bet that there is a market for fruits and vegetables deemed too ugly by government bureaucrats, supermarkets and other retailers to sell to their customers.

Six months ago, she and a handful of volunteers started a cooperative called Fruta Feia, or Ugly Fruit, which in its short life is already verging on a kind of countercultural movement. It has taken off with hard-pressed consumers, won applause from advocates outraged by Europe's skyrocketing food waste, and provided a backhanded slap to overweening European Union rule makers. In its own way, it has even quietly subverted fixed notions of what is beautiful, or at least edible.

"The E.U. norms are based on the mistaken idea that quality is about appearance," said Ms. Soares, 31, who formerly worked in Barcelona as a renewable energy consultant. "It's of course easier to measure the exterior aspect rather than interior features like sugar levels, but that is the wrong way to determine quality."

She said her goal was "to break the dictatorship of aesthetics, because it has really helped increase food wastage."

Europe wastes 89 million tons of food a year, according to a study presented in May by the Dutch and Swedish governments, which called on the European Union "to reduce the amount of food waste caused by the labeling system."

For her part, Ms. Soares estimates that a third of Portugal's farming produce goes to waste because of the quality standards set by supermarkets and their consumers. She says the waste is also a striking example of misplaced regulatory intervention by the European Union, which has tried to unify food standards across the 28-nation bloc.



For the full story, see:

RAPHAEL MINDER. "Tempting Europe With Ugly Fruit." The New YorkTimes, First Section (Sun., MAY 25, 2014): 6 & 8.

(Note: the online version of the story has the date MAY 24, 2014.)






June 10, 2014

Phonograph Allowed Middle Class to Bring the Show to Their "Castle," Like Kings Already Could




(p. 218) Once Edison's marketers squarely addressed the urban middle class, they devised advertising that made prospective customers feel as entitled to enjoy the pleasures of recorded music as anyone. "When the (p. 219) King of England wants to see a show, they bring the show to the castle and he hears it alone in his private theater." So said an advertisement in 1906 for the Edison phonograph. It continued: "If you are a king, why don't you exercise your kingly privilege and have a show of your own in your own house."


Source:

Stross, Randall E. The Wizard of Menlo Park: How Thomas Alva Edison Invented the Modern World. New York: Crown Publishers, 2007.






June 9, 2014

Government Regulations Favor Health Care Incumbents




WhereDoesItHurtBK2014-05-28.jpg





Source of book image: online version of the WSJ review quoted and cited below.





(p. A11) The rise in U.S. health-care costs, to nearly 18% of GDP today from around 6% of GDP in 1965, has alarmed journalists, inspired policy wonks and left patients struggling to find empathy in a system that tends to view them as "a vessel for billing codes," as the technologist Dave Chase has put it.

Enter Jonathan Bush, dyslexic entrepreneur, . . .


. . .


. . . , Mr. Bush touts technology as a driver of change. It has revolutionized the way we shop for books and select hotels, but health-care delivery has been stubbornly resistant. Mr. Bush notes that the number of people supporting each doctor has climbed to 16 today from 10 in 1990--half of whom, currently, are administrators handling the mounting paperwork. Astonishingly, as Mr. Bush observes, the government had to pay doctors billions of dollars, via the 2009 HITECH Act, to incentivize them to upgrade from paper to computers. Meanwhile, fast-food chains discovered computers on their own, because the market demanded it.


. . .


Let entrepreneurs loose on these challenges, Mr. Bush believes, and they will come up with solutions.

Mr. Bush identifies three major obstacles to the kinds of change he has in mind. First, large hospital systems leverage their market position to charge hefty premiums for basic services, then use the proceeds to buy more regional hospitals and local practices. "As big ones take over the small," Mr. Bush laments, "prices shoot up. Choices vanish." Second, government regulations, especially state laws, favor powerful incumbents, shielding "imaging centers and hospitals from competition." Third, heath care suffers from a risk-avoidant culture. The maxim "do no harm," Mr. Bush says, should not be an excuse for clinging to a flawed status quo.



For the full review, see:

David A. Shaywitz. "BOOKSHELF; A System Still in Need of Repair; Routine medical services can be done for less cost--one of many obvious realities that current health-care practices studiously ignore." The Wall Street Journal (Mon., May 19, 2014): A11.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the review has the date May 18, 2014, and has the title "BOOKSHELF; Book Review: 'Where Does It Hurt?' by Jonathan Bush; Routine medical services can be done for less cost--one of many obvious realities that current health-care practices studiously ignore.")


The book under review is:

Bush, Jonathan, and Stephen Baker. Where Does It Hurt?: An Entrepreneur's Guide to Fixing Health Care. New York: Portfolio, 2014.






June 8, 2014

Environmental Regulations Cause Housing Crisis in Cities




(p. 16) The developed world's wealthiest cities are facing housing crises so acute that not only low-income workers, but also the middle and creative classes, find them increasingly difficult places to afford.


. . .


(p. 19) The difficulty of deciding where and what to build means that cities with a shortfall of hundreds of thousands of apartments often have only the vaguest plans for how to meet the deficit.

"It's not that it would be physically impossible," says Ed Glaeser, a Harvard economist who has studied housing and deregulation. "After all, the construction industry would love such a challenge. But it's politically totally impossible." Glaeser says cities approve lovely things like landmark districts and sidewalk setbacks without doing any cost-benefit analysis of their effect on housing supply. "One of my pet peeves is that environmental reviews are only focused on the local environmental impact of building the project, but not the global environmental impact of not building the project."



For the full story, see:

SHAILA DEWAN. "It's the Economy; Rent Asunder." The New York Times Magazine (Sun., MAY 4, 2014): 16 & 18-19.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date APRIL 29, 2014, and has the title "It's the Economy; Rent Too High? Move to Singapore.")






June 7, 2014

"A Major Critical and Financial Reappraisal" of Norman Rockwell




RockwellNormanTheRookie2014-05-26.jpg "Peter Rockwell, son of Norman Rockwell, with "The Rookie," which sold for $22.5 million on Thursday [May 22, 2014]." Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.



(p. B1) "Rockwell's greatest sin as an artist is simple: His is an art of unending cliché."

In that Washington Post criticism of a 2010 exhibition of Norman Rockwell paintings at the Smithsonian, Blake Gopnik joined a long line of prominent critics attacking Rockwell, the American artist and illustrator who depicted life in mid-20th-century America and died in 1978.

"Norman Rockwell was demonized by a generation of critics who not only saw him as an enemy of modern art, but of all art," said Deborah Solomon, whose biography of Rockwell, "American Mirror," was published last year. "He was seen as a lowly calendar artist whose work was unrelated to the lofty ambitions of art," she said, or, as she put it in her book, "a cornball and a square." The critical dismissal "was obviously a source of great pain throughout his life," Ms. Solomon, a frequent contributor to The New York Times, added.

But Rockwell is now undergoing a major critical and financial reappraisal. This week, the major auction houses built their spring sales of American art around two Rockwell paintings: "After the Prom," at Sotheby's, and "The Rookie," at Christie's. "After the Prom" sold for $9.1 million on Wednesday; "The Rookie" for $22.5 million on Thursday.


. . .


(p. B5) Rockwell also gained a Hollywood stamp of approval. Two of the country's most famous film directors, George Lucas ("Star Wars") and Steven Spielberg ("E.T.") were acquiring Rockwells. Rockwell "is a great story teller, and he used cinematic devices," Mr. Lucas told an interviewer for the Smithsonian, which mounted the exhibition of his and Mr. Spielberg's Rockwell collections, "Telling Stories," in 2010. "He 'cast' a painting," Mr. Lucas said. "It wasn't just a random group of characters."

Others, too, were discovering new depths in Rockwell's work. "What distinguishes the best of his works for me," Ms. Solomon said, "is that they're rooted in real emotion. They're not just a one-liner. Take 'The Rookie,' which is a great painting. It captures the tension between generations, when a rookie, a youngster, arrives, and the veterans realize they've just met their replacement. Their time is limited. It doesn't matter if it's baseball players, or newspaper reporters, or firefighters. It's about time and how one generation replaces another."

Laurie Norton Moffatt, director of the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Mass., observed: "What we're seeing in the marketplace is that collectors, in a sense, are catching up with the incredible quality and enduring meaning and message in Rockwell's paintings. There are a handful of his works that have iconic resonance, enduring meaning, and those pieces are what we're seeing really take off in the marketplace."


. . .


What would Rockwell himself make of this? "He would be incredulous," Ms. Solomon said. The consummate modest man, he was content to be paid by his magazine employers, and never pursued the gallery scene. He often gave away his paintings to family, friends, co-workers or neighbors.

He sold one of his most famous images, "Town Meeting," an oil study for "Freedom of Speech," to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1952 for $100, and, according to The Saturday Evening Post, let out a "gladsome yelp" when he learned the Met had bought it. It was the first museum to buy one of his works.

But some things haven't changed. The painting is nowhere to be seen in the Met's recently expanded and reorganized American wing. The museum's website says simply: "Not on view." (The museum didn't respond to a request for comment.)



For the full story, see:

JAMES B. STEWART. "Norman Rockwell's Art, Once Sniffed At, Is Becoming Prized." The New York Times (Sat., MAY 24, 2014): B1 & B5.

(Note: ellipses, and bracketed date, added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date MAY 23, 2014.)






June 6, 2014

Edison Sold General Electric Shares to Keep His Lab and Mine Open




(p. 193) In 1902, at a time when General Electric shares were trading at a historic high and well after Edison had sold his, Mallory happened to be traveling with him and saw in the newspaper the eye-popping closing price. Edison asked what his stake would have been worth had he held on to it. Mallory quickly worked out the number: over $4 million. Hearing this, Edison remained silent, keeping a serious expression for about fifteen seconds. Then his face lit up and he said, "Well, it's all gone, but we had a good time spending it."

(p. 194) The story would be retold by Edison's hagiographers many times. The evidence suggests that Edison did have a jolly time, which, to him, was well worth the $4 million.



Source:

Stross, Randall E. The Wizard of Menlo Park: How Thomas Alva Edison Invented the Modern World. New York: Crown Publishers, 2007.






June 5, 2014

"Man Is Born Free, But He Is Everywhere in Cubicles"




CubedBK2014-05-28.jpg











Source of book image: online version of the NYT review quoted and cited below.





(p. C21) I've spent about half my working life sitting in, and loathing, cubicles. You've probably spent years in one, too. About 60 percent of us work in cubicles, and 93 percent of us dislike them.


. . .


(p. C31) Mr. Saval describes the image we have of the cubicle today: "the flimsy, fabric-wrapped, half-exposed stall where the white-collar worker waited out his days until, at long last, he was laid off."


. . .


When he discovers that half of Americans report that their bathrooms are larger than their cubicles, for example, he writes: "One wonders to what extent the extravagant growth of the American bathroom, and of the suburban home in general, is partly a reaction against the shrinking of cubicles, where the owners of those bathrooms spend so much of their time."


. . .


Putting a spin on Rousseau, he says,


. . .


By the end of "Cubed," the author is dropping in on Silicon Valley offices, where companies like Google cater to their employees' every need, almost eliminating the distinction between work and leisure. Mr. Saval savors the fact that so many well-known Silicon Valley figures dropped out of college yet want their offices to resemble college campuses.



For the full review, see:

DWIGHT GARNER. "Books of The Times; The Office Space We Love to Hate." The New York Times (Fri., APRIL 25, 2014): C21 & C31.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the review has the date APRIL 24, 2014.)


The book under review is:

Saval, Nikil. Cubed: A Secret History of the Workplace. New York: Doubleday, 2014.






June 4, 2014

"Religious Muslims Generally Insist on the Literal Truth of the Quran"





(p. A16) There are few role models for former Muslims, . . .

One group . . . is Ex-Muslims of North America, . . .

Members of the group, founded last year in Washington and Toronto, recognize that their efforts might seem radical to some, and take precautions when admitting new members. Those interested in joining are interviewed in person before they are told where the next meeting will be held. The group has grown quickly to about a dozen chapters, in cities including Boston, Chicago, Houston, New York and San Francisco.

One of the group's founders who was at the conference, Sadaf Ali, 23, an Afghan-Canadian, said that she had once been "a fairly practicing Muslim."

During childhood, she said, "I was always fairly defiant." As she grew older, she struggled with depression, and she thought that praying more and reading the Quran would help. She became more religious and looked forward to a traditional life. "I thought my life was sort of set out for me: get married, have children," Ms. Ali said. "I might go to school. I'll have a very domestic life. That's what my family did, what my forefathers did."

But as a university student, her feelings began to change.

As I started to investigate the religion, I realized I was talking to myself," Ms. Ali said. "Nobody was listening to me. I had just entered the University of Toronto, and critical thinking was a big part of my studies. I have an art history and writing background, and I realized every verse I had come across" -- in the Quran -- "was explicitly or implicitly sexist."

Quickly, her faith crumbled.

"So in 2009, I realized there probably is no God," she said. "What is so wrong in having a boyfriend, or having premarital sex? What is wrong with wanting to eat and drink water before the sun goes down during Ramadan? What is so wrong with that? I couldn't handle the cognitive dissonance anymore."


. . .


The members of Ex-Muslims are adamant that they respect others' right to practice Islam. The group's motto is "No Bigotry and No Apologism," and text on its website is inclusive: "We understand that Muslims come in all varieties, and we do not and will not partake in erasing the diversity within the world's Muslims."

But they are equally adamant that it is still too difficult for Muslims inclined to atheism to follow their thinking where it may lead. Whereas skeptical Christians or Jews can take refuge in reformist wings of their tradition, religious Muslims generally insist on the literal truth of the Quran.

"I would say it's maybe 0.1 percent who are willing to challenge the foundations of the faith," said Nas Ishmael, another founder of the Ex-Muslims group who attended the conference.



For the full story, see:

MARK OPPENHEIMER. "Leaving Islam for Atheism, and Finding a Much-Needed Place Among Peers." The New York Times (Sat., MAY 24, 2014): A16.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date MAY 23, 2014.)






June 3, 2014

Public Cannot Go into Space Because of Government Run Space Programs




BransonRichard2014-04-25.jpg "'You don't have to be a rocket scientist to be able to run a spaceship company,' says Richard Branson." Source of caption and photo: online version of the WSJ article quoted and cited below.


(p. C11) Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, is just months away from launching what he considers "the biggest Virgin company we've ever built." At 63, he's already founded multiple businesses worth billions, including a record label and a mobile company. But it's his foray into outer space with Virgin Galactic that has Mr. Branson excited.


. . .


Safety has been one of the biggest challenges in building Virgin Galactic. In 2007, two workers died after a tank explosion during a rocket test, and three were seriously wounded. The accident, which occurred at a partner company's facility, delayed the program for an estimated 18 months.

Risk factors weigh on the minds of potential customers as well, especially after NASA's 1986 Challenger disaster, in which seven crew members, including a schoolteacher, died. Mr. Branson thinks that today most people would want to go into space if they could be guaranteed a safe return trip. "Sadly, I think because the space program was run by governments, there was never any real interest in enabling members of the public to go to space after they tried once" with the Challenger, he explains. "After that, they decided not to take any risks whatsoever." He adds, "I would say 90% of people my age thought they would go to space because they saw the moon landing."



For the full story, see:

ALEXANDRA WOLFE. "WEEKEND CONFIDENTIAL; Richard Branson; The Virgin Group founder on his out-of-this world venture: space travel." The Wall Street Journal (Sat., Nov. 2, 2013): C11.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Nov. 1, 2013, and has the title "WEEKEND CONFIDENTIAL; Richard Branson on Space Travel; The Virgin Group founder on his latest out-of-this world venture, Virgin Galactic'.")






June 2, 2014

Edison Failed to Stop Film Projectors from Disrupting His Kinetoscope





Edison tried to kill film projection because he thought the whole country would only need 10 projectors, while they could sell a great many of the single-view kinetoscopes. But the wonderful twist to the story is that it DID NOT WORK because Edison could not stop the Lathams and others from coming forward and disrupting the kinetoscope.


(p. 205) The Lathams were not the only exhibitors frustrated with Edison's kinetoscope, and the others urged Edison to introduce a projection machine. Edison was adamant: no. He reasoned that the peephole machines (p. 206) were selling well and at a good profit. The problem with projection was that it would work all too well--if he replaced the inefficient kinetoscope with projection systems that could serve up the show to everyone, "there will be a use for maybe about ten of them in the whole United States." He concluded, "Let's not kill the goose that lays the golden egg."

At Edison's lab in Orange, without his boss's approval, W. K. L. Dickson carried out research on film projection on his own and shared his findings with a friend who was a keen listener: Otway Latham. And when Dickson accepted an invitation to try a projection experiment in a physics laboratory at Columbia, who should show up but Otway's father, Professor Latham. The Lathams made an offer to Dickson--come join us and we'll give you a quarter-share interest in the business--but Dickson was unwilling to make the leap. When Edison got word of his fraternizing with the Lathams, however, and failed to reassure Dickson that he believed Dickson's dealings had been perfectly honorable, Dickson felt he had no choice but to resign. The exact chronology of what he did and what he knew at various points preceding his resignation would be the subject of much litigation that followed. But regardless of intellectual-property issues, Edison lost the one person on his staff who would have been most valuable to him in developing a projection system.

The Lathams and Dickson had discovered that sending a bright light through a moving strip of film did not project satisfactorily because any given image did not absorb enough light before it sped on. The Lathams came up with a partial solution, which was to make the film wider, providing more area for the light to catch as each image went by. The projected images were about the size of a window and good enough to unveil publicly. Professor Latham gave a demonstration of his newly christened Pantoptikon to reporters in April 1895.



Source:

Stross, Randall E. The Wizard of Menlo Park: How Thomas Alva Edison Invented the Modern World. New York: Crown Publishers, 2007.






June 1, 2014

Galeano Repudiates His Chávez-Endorsed Latin Leftist Classic




HillaryObamaChavezAndOpenVeinsBook2014-05-25.jpg "Hugo Chávez, president of Venezuela, handing President Obama a copy of Eduardo Galeano's "The Open Veins of Latin America" in 2009." Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.



(p. C1) For more than 40 years, Eduardo Galeano's "The Open Veins of Latin America" has been the canonical anti-colonialist, anti-capitalist and anti-American text in that region. Hugo Chávez, Venezuela's populist president, even put a copy of the book, which he had called "a monument in our Latin American history," in President Obama's hands the first time they met. But now Mr. Galeano, a 73-year-old Uruguayan writer, has disavowed the book, saying that he was not qualified to tackle the subject and that it was badly written. . . .

" 'Open Veins' tried to be a book of political economy, but I didn't yet have the necessary training or preparation," Mr. Galeano said last month while answering questions at a book fair in Brazil, where he was being honored on the 43rd anniversary of the book's publication. He added: "I wouldn't be capable of reading this book again; I'd keel over. For me, this prose of the traditional left is extremely leaden, and my physique can't tolerate it."


. . .


(p. C6) In the United States, "Open Veins" has been widely taught on university campuses since the 1970s, in courses ranging from history and anthropology to economics and geography. But Mr. Galeano's unexpected takedown of his own work has left scholars wondering how to deal with the book in class.


. . .


In the mid-1990s, three advocates of free-market policies -- the Colombian writer and diplomat Plinio Apuleyo Mendoza, the exiled Cuban author Carlos Alberto Montaner and the Peruvian journalist and author Álvaro Vargas Llosa -- reacted to Mr. Galeano with a polemic of their own, "Guide to the Perfect Latin American Idiot." They dismissed "Open Veins" as "the idiot's bible," and reduced its thesis to a single sentence: "We're poor; it's their fault."

Mr. Montaner responded to Mr. Galeano's recent remarks with a blog post titled "Galeano Corrects Himself and the Idiots Lose Their Bible." In Brazil, Rodrigo Constantino, the author of "The Caviar Left," took an even harsher tone, blaming Mr. Galeano's analysis and prescription for many of Latin America's ills. "He should feel really guilty for the damage he caused," he wrote on his blog.



For the full story, see:

LARRY ROHTER. "Author Changes His Mind on '70s Manifesto." The New York Times (Sat., MAY 24, 2014): C1 & C6..

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date MAY 23, 2014.)


The Vargas Llosa book mentioned above is:

Mendoza, Plinio Apuleyo, Carlos Alberto Montaner, and Alvaro Vargas Llosa. Guide to the Perfect Latin American Idiot. Lanham, Maryland: Madison Books, 2000.



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Source of book image:
http://img2.imagesbn.com/p/9781568332369_p0_v1_s260x420.JPG






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