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October 31, 2016

"The Ideological Insistence on Renewables and an Irrational Fear of Nuclear Power"




(p. A25) Berkeley, Calif. -- CALIFORNIA has a reputation as a leader in battling climate change, and so when Pacific Gas & Electric and environmental groups announced a plan last week to close the state's last nuclear plant, Diablo Canyon, and replace much of the electricity it generates with power from renewable resources, the deal was widely applauded.

It shouldn't have been. If the proposal is approved by the state's Public Utilities Commission, California's carbon dioxide emissions will either increase or decline far less than if Diablo Canyon's two reactors, which generated about 9 percent of the state's electricity last year, remained in operation. If this deal goes through, California will become a model of how not to deal with climate change.


. . .


Nearly every time a nuclear plant has been closed, its energy production has been replaced almost entirely with fossil fuels, including in California. In 2012, when the San Onofre nuclear plant closed, natural gas became the main replacement power source, creating emissions of carbon dioxide equivalent to putting two million cars on the road.


. . .


Even if by some miracle California did manage to replace 100 percent of Diablo Canyon's output with renewables, why would a state ostensibly concerned with climate change turn away from its largest single source of clean energy? The answer, as is perhaps obvious, is the ideological insistence on renewables and an irrational fear of nuclear power.

The only countries that have successfully moved from fossil fuels to low-carbon power have done so with the help of nuclear energy. And the backlash against antinuclear policies is growing. Increasingly, scientists and conservationists in the United States are speaking out in defense of nuclear power.

If California indeed closes Diablo Canyon, emissions will either rise or fail to fall as quickly as they could, and the antinuclear agenda will be exposed as anathema to climate protection.



For the full commentary, see:

MICHAEL SHELLENBERGER. "How Not to Deal With Climate Change." The New York Times (Thurs., June 30, 2016): A25.

(Note: ellipses added.)






October 30, 2016

Laws to Protect "Endangered" Species "Lag Far Behind Scientific Research"




(p. A19) The first large study of North American wolf genomes has found that there is only one species on the continent: the gray wolf. Two other purported species, the Eastern wolf and the red wolf, are mixes of gray wolf and coyote DNA, the scientists behind the study concluded.

The finding, announced Wednesday, highlights the shortcomings of laws intended to protect endangered species, as such laws lag far behind scientific research into the evolution of species.

The gray wolf and red wolf were listed as endangered in the lower 48 states under the Endangered Species Act in the 1970s and remain protected today, to the periodic consternation of ranchers and agricultural interests.



For the full story, see:

Zimmer, Carl. "The One and Only Wolf Species of North America." The New York Times (Thurs., JULY 28, 2016): A19.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date JULY 27, 2016, and has the title "MATTER; DNA Study Reveals the One and Only Wolf Species in North America.")






October 29, 2016

Murders Up More than 10% in U.S. in 2015




(p. A1) Murders in the U.S. jumped 10.8% in 2015, according to figures released Monday by the Federal Bureau of Investigation--a sharp increase that could fuel concerns that the nation's two-decade trend of falling crime may be ending.

The figures had been expected to rise, after preliminary data released earlier this year indicated violent crime and murders were climbing. But the double-digit increase in murders dwarfed any of the past 20 years, in which the biggest one-year jump was 3.7% in 2005.



For the full story, see:

DEVLIN BARRETT. "Increase in Murders Sharpest in Decades." The Wall Street Journal (Tues., Sept. 27, 2016): A1-A2.

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Sept. 26, 2016, and has the title "U.S. Murders Increased 10.8% in 2015.")






October 28, 2016

Those Who See, and Fill, Big Unmet Needs Are Often "Weirdos"




(p. A11) . . . "A Truck Full of Money" provides a portrait of a strange, troubled man who happens to be one of the smartest minds in the Route 128 tech corridor.


. . .


The book is being marketed as inspirational, but I found it to be the opposite. No one could read it and become Paul English, or want to. Most tech startups think too small, but the few people with the vision to identify big unmet needs seem to be, for whatever reason, weirdos. The split-second fare comparison that Kayak did is something no human being could do--it requires super-computing--and it has an enormous value, since 8% of the U.S. economy is travel. But once you've solved a problem like that, what do you do next?

Paul English hasn't figured that out, so this book sort of peters out--he may do his once-in-a-lifetime charity project, or he may follow through on Blade--and he has retreated back into the familiar, running a company called Lola that is sort of the opposite of Kayak: It gives you live access to travel concierges. But how could Mr. Kidder's ending be anything but inconclusive? Mr. English is just 53. Undoubtedly he has another billion-dollar idea nestled in that overactive brainpan, but his investors have to make a leap of faith--that they've bet on the right weirdo. God bless these genius geeks, who make our economy leaner by constantly finding more efficient ways to do old things. And God bless the pharmaceutical industry, which protects and preserves them.​



For the full review, see:

JOHN BLOOM. "BOOKSHELF; The Man Who Built Kayak; During one episode of hypomania, Paul English bid $500,000 on an abandoned lighthouse. Recently, he decided to become an Uber driver." The Wall Street Journal (Thurs., Sept. 27, 2016): A11.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the review has the date Sept. 26, 2016.)


The book under review, is:

Kidder, Tracy. A Truck Full of Money: One Man's Quest to Recover from Great Success. New York: Random House, 2016.






October 27, 2016

Making Technologies Useful to End Users Can Be Hard




Sharma's theory sounds somewhat similar to that of Bhidé in his The Venturesome Economy.


(p. B4) Anshu​ Sharma,​ a venture capitalist at Storm Ventures, thinks he knows why so many companies that should have all the resources and brainpower required to build the next big thing so often fail to. He calls his thesis the "stack fallacy," and though he sketched its outline in a recent essay, I found it so compelling that I thought it worth a more thorough exploration of the implications of his theory. What follows is the result of that conversation.

"Stack fallacy is the mistaken belief that it is trivial to build the layer above yours," Mr. Sharma wrote. And as someone who worked at both Oracle and Salesforce, his exhibit A is these two companies. To Oracle, which is primarily a database company, Salesforce is just a "hosted database app," he wrote. and yet despite spending millions on it, Oracle has been unable to beat Salesforce in Salesforce's core competency, notably customer-relations management software.

It helps to understand that in tech, the "stack" is the layer cake of technology, one level of abstraction sitting atop the next, that ultimately delivers a product or service to the user. On the Internet, for example, there is a stack of technologies stretching from the server through the operating system running on it through a cloud abstraction layer and then the apps running atop that, until you reach the user. Even the electricity grid required to power the data center in which the server lives could be considered part of the technology "stack" of, say, your favorite email service.


. . .


The reason that companies fail when they try to move up the stack is simple, argues Mr. Sharma: They don't have firsthand empathy for what customers of the product one level above theirs in the stack actually want. Database engineers at Oracle don't know what supply-chain managers at Fortune 500 companies want out of an enterprise resource-planning system like SAP, but that hasn't stopped Oracle from trying to compete in that space.



For the full commentary, see:

CHRISTOPHER MIMS. "Why Companies Are Being Disrupted." The Wall Street Journal (Mon., Jan. 25, 2016): B4.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the title "Why Big Companies Keep Getting Disrupted." The last sentence quoted above appears in the online, but not the print, version of the article.)


Sharma's blog essay mentioned above, is:

Sharma, Anshu. "Why Big Companies Keep Failing: The Stack Fallacy." On Crunch Network blog, Posted Jan. 18, 2016.


The Bhidé book that I mention way above, is:

Bhidé, Amar. The Venturesome Economy: How Innovation Sustains Prosperity in a More Connected World. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2008.


A briefer version of Bhidé's theory can be found in:

Bhidé, Amar. "The Venturesome Economy: How Innovation Sustains Prosperity in a More Connected World." Journal of Applied Corporate Finance 21, no. 1 (Winter 2009): 8-23.






October 26, 2016

Censored and Walled-Off Internet Hurts Chinese Start-Ups




(p. B1) Two decades after Beijing began walling off its homegrown internet from the rest of the planet, the digital world has split between China and everybody else. That has prevented American technology companies like Facebook and Uber, which recently agreed to sell its China operations, from independently being able to tap the Chinese market.

For China's web companies, the divide may have even more significant implications.

It has penned in the country's biggest and most innovative internet companies. Alibaba, Baidu and Tencent have grown to be some of the world's largest internet companies, but they rely almost entirely on domestic businesses. Their ventures abroad have been mostly desultory, and prognostications that they will challenge American giants internationally have (p. B2) not materialized.


. . .


In many ways, the split is like 19th century railroads in the United States, when rails of different sizes hindered a train's ability to go from one place to another.

"The barrier to entering the U.S. or China market is becoming higher and higher," said Kai-fu Lee, a venture investor from Taiwan and former head of Google China.

The difficulties that China's internet companies face in expanding their success abroad are epitomized by WeChat, the messaging app owned by Tencent.


. . .


Critics pointed to Tencent's lack of distinctive marketing, a record of censorship and surveillance in China and its late arrival to foreign markets. Yet the biggest problem was that outside of China, WeChat was just not the same. Within China, WeChat can be used to do almost everything, like pay bills, hail a taxi, book a doctor's appointment, share photos and chat. Yet its ability to do that is dependent on other Chinese internet services that are limited outside the country.



For the full story, see:

PAUL MOZUR. "Internet's Great Wall." The New York Times (Weds., AUG. 10, 2016): B1-B2.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date AUG. 9, 2016, and has the title "Chinese Tech Firms Forced to Choose Market: Home or Everywhere Else.")






October 25, 2016

Modern Technology Adds to Knowledge of Culture and Religion




(p. A6) Nearly half a century ago, archaeologists found a charred ancient scroll in the ark of a synagogue on the western shore of the Dead Sea.

The lump of carbonized parchment could not be opened or read. Its curators did nothing but conserve it, hoping that new technology might one day emerge to make the scroll legible.

Just such a technology has now been perfected by computer scientists at the University of Kentucky. Working with biblical scholars in Jerusalem, they have used a computer to unfurl a digital image of the scroll.

It turns out to hold a fragment identical to the Masoretic text of the Hebrew Bible and, at nearly 2,000 years old, is the earliest instance of the text.

The writing retrieved by the computer from the digital image of the unopened scroll is amazingly clear and legible, in contrast to the scroll's blackened and beaten-up exterior. "Never in our wildest dreams did we think anything would come of it," said Pnina Shor, the head of the Dead Sea Scrolls Project at the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Scholars say this remarkable new technique may make it possible to read other scrolls too brittle to be unrolled.


. . .


The experts say this new method may make it possible to read other ancient scrolls, including several Dead Sea scrolls and about 300 carbonized ones from Herculaneum, which were destroyed by the volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in A.D. 79.


. . .


The feat of recovering the text was made possible by software programs developed by W. Brent Seales, a computer scientist at the University of Kentucky. Inspired by the hope of reading the many charred and unopenable scrolls found at Herculaneum, near Pompeii in Italy, Dr. Seales has been working for the last 13 years on ways to read the text inside an ancient scroll.


. . .


He succeeded in 2009 in working out the physical structure of the ruffled layers of papyrus in a Herculaneum scroll.

He has since developed a method, called virtual unwrapping, to model the surface of an ancient scroll in the form of a mesh of tiny triangles. Each triangle can be resized by the computer until the virtual surface makes the best fit to the internal structure of the scroll, as revealed by the scanning method. The blobs of ink are assigned to their right place on the structure, and the computer then unfolds the whole 3-D structure into a 2-D sheet.



For the full story, see:

NICHOLAS WADE. "Technology Unlocks Secrets of a Biblical Scroll." The New York Times (Thurs., SEPT. 22, 2016): A6.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date SEPT. 21, 2016, and has the title "Modern Technology Unlocks Secrets of a Damaged Biblical Scroll.")






October 24, 2016

"My Fate Lies with Me, Not with Heaven"




(p. A7) . . . Dr. Unschuld, who is as blunt as he is outspoken, stands at the center of a long and contentious debate in the West over Chinese medicine. For many, it is the ur-alternative to what they see as the industrialized and chemicalized medicine that dominates in the West. For others, it is little more than charlatanism, with its successes attributed to the placebo effect and the odd folk remedy.

Dr. Unschuld is a challenge to both ways of thinking. He has just finished a 28-year English translation of the three principal parts of the foundational work of Chinese medicine: the Huangdi Neijing, or Yellow Emperor's Inner Classic, published by the University of California Press. But unlike many of the textbooks used in Chinese medicine schools in the West, Dr. Unschuld's works are monuments to the art of serious translation; he avoids New Age jargon like "energy" or familiar Western medical terms like "pathogens," seeing both as unfair to the ancient writers and their worldviews.

But this reflects a deep respect for the ancient authors the detractors of Chinese medicine sometimes lack. Dr. Unschuld hunts down obscure terms and devises consistent terminologies that are sometimes not easy to read, but are faithful to the original text. Almost universally, his translations are regarded as trailblazing -- making available, for the first time in a Western language, the complete foundational works of Chinese medicine from up to 2,000 years ago.


. . .


. . . then there is the issue of efficacy. With his extremely dry humor, Dr. Unschuld likens Chinese medicine to the herbal formulas of the medieval Christian mystic Hildegard von Bingen. If people want to try it, they should be free to do so, he said, but not at taxpayer expense. As for himself, Dr. Unschuld says he has never tried Chinese medicine.


. . .


His purely academic approach, . . . , makes him a difficult figure for China to embrace. While widely respected for his knowledge and translations, he has done little to advance the government's agenda of promoting Chinese medicine as soft power. Echoing other critics, he describes China's translations of the classics as "complete swindles," saying they are done with little care and only a political goal in mind.

For Dr. Unschuld, Chinese medicine is far more interesting as an allegory for China's mental state. His most famous book is a history of Chinese medical ideas, in which he sees classic figures, such as the Yellow Emperor, as a reflection of the Chinese people's deep-seated pragmatism. At a time when demons and ghosts were blamed for illness, these Chinese works from 2,000 years ago ascribed it to behavior or disease that could be corrected or cured.

"It is a metaphor for enlightenment," he says.

Especially striking, Dr. Unschuld says, is that the Chinese approach puts responsibility on the individual, as reflected in the statement "wo ming zai wo, bu zai tian" -- "my fate lies with me, not with heaven." This mentality was reflected on a national level in the 19th and 20th centuries, when China was being attacked by outsiders. The Chinese largely blamed themselves and sought concrete answers by studying foreign ideas, industrializing and building a modern economy.



For the full story, see:

IAN JOHNSON. "The Saturday Profile; An Expert on Chinese Medicine, but No New Age Healer." The New York Times (Sat., SEPT. 24, 2016): A7.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date SEPT. 23, 2016, and has the title "Gandhi the Imperialist - Book Review.")


The recently finished book mentioned above, is:

Unschuld, Paul U. Huang Di Nei Jing Ling Shu: The Ancient Classic on Needle Therapy. Oakland, CA: University of California Press, 2016.






October 23, 2016

Working Longer May Result in Longer Life




(p. D1) Retiring after age 65 may help people live longer, says a study published online in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health. The risk of dying from any cause over the study period was 11% lower among people who delayed retirement for one year--until age 66--and fell further among people who retired between the ages of 66 and 72, the study found.

Even workers who retired for health reasons had a lower risk of dying, compared with those leaving work at 65.

The benefits of remaining in the workforce occurred irrespective of gender, lifestyle, education, income and occupation, the analysis showed.

Postponing retirement may delay the natural age-related decline in physical, cognitive and mental functioning, reducing the risk of chronic illness, the study suggests.



For the full story, see:

ANN LUKITS. "RESEARCH REPORT; Retiring After 65 May Extend Life." The Wall Street Journal (Tues., May 3, 2016): D1.

(Note: the online version of the story has the date May 2, 2016, and has the title "RESEARCH REPORT; Retiring After 65 May Help People Live Longer.")


Wu, Chenkai, Michelle C. Odden, Gwenith G. Fisher, and Robert S. Stawski. "Association of Retirement Age with Mortality: A Population-Based Longitudinal Study among Older Adults in the USA." Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 70, no. 9 (Sept. 2016): 917-23.






October 22, 2016

Toy Car Gives Child with Cerebral Palsy Mobility and Control




HauschildMadelineDrivingModifiedToyCar2016-09-11.jpg"Madeline Hauschild, 3, is thrilled to be at the wheel of her modified toy car at the UNMC Student Life Center on Wednesday [August 10, 2016]. Cars such as Madeline's enable children with little mobility to get around without feeling reliant on parents or siblings." Source of caption and photo: online version of the Omaha World-Herald article quoted and cited below.




(p. 1B) Now Madeline Hauschild will be able to drive a toy car just like her brother.

On Wednesday [August 10, 2016] Madeline, 3, received a battery-operated toy car modified so that she could sit in it and make it go forward by pushing a large button on the steering wheel. Madeline, who has cerebral palsy, was one of six small children who received cars through a program overseen by the University of Nebraska Medical Center and Children's Hospital & Medical Center.


. . .


The cars give children with little mobility the opportunity to play, explore and socialize rather than feeling stuck and dependent on parents or siblings to move them around.


. . .


(p. 5B) Cerebral palsy is a disorder that causes movement, posture and other developmental problems. Among Madeline's challenges: She can't walk or bear any weight on her legs.

Madeline, of Syracuse, Nebraska, smiled and pounded the button, giving her a herky-jerky ride.


. . .


"Is that fun?" Madeline's mother, Kelly Hauschild, asked as her daughter enjoyed the erratic drive in a room at UNMC's Student Life Center. "You do like it, don't you?"


. . .


"I loved seeing her be able to operate it all by herself, and her smiles," Hauschild said.



For the full story, see:

Ruggles, Rick. "Toy Cars Give Kids Vroom to Maneuver." Omaha World-Herald (Thurs., Aug. 11, 2016): 1B & 5B.

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






October 21, 2016

Firms No Longer Need Middlemen to Help Find Factories to Make Their Products




(p. B6) The migration of shoppers online has been squeezing profits throughout the retail industry--including at Li & Fung Ltd., one of the world's largest factory middlemen.

The more than 100-year-old company, based in Hong Kong, contracts with 15,000 factories globally to make apparel, toys and other goods. Its core business has been connecting Western retailers such as Abercrombie & Fitch Co. and Target Corp. with factories around the world.

But as consumers increasingly shop online for the best deals, retailers have been forced to offer lower prices, putting pressure on factories and intermediaries alike.

Middlemen need to "either figure out ways to create value, or they will be going out of business," said Edwin Keh, chief executive of the Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel. "The bigger question is whether middlemen can still exist in a globalized economy."



For the full story, see:

KATHY CHU. "Shift to Web Hits Factory Middlemen." The Wall Street Journal (Fri., Aug. 26, 2016): B6.

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Aug. 25, 2016, and has the title "Lower Retail Prices Threaten Profits of Middleman Li & Fung.")






October 20, 2016

Gandhi in South Africa Was Willing to "Acknowledge White Supremacy"




(p. C6) At the close of his presidency in 1999, Nelson Mandela praised Mohandas Gandhi for believing that the "destiny" of Indians in South Africa was "inseparable from that of the oppressed African majority." In other words, Gandhi had fought for the freedom of Africans, setting the pattern for his later effort to liberate India from British rule.

Nothing could be more misleading. Gandhi's concern for the African majority -- "the Kaffirs," in his phrase -- was negligible. During his South African years (1893-1914), argue Ashwin Desai and Goolam Vahed in "The South African Gandhi," he was far from an "anti-racist, anti-colonial fighter on African soil." He had found his way to South Africa mainly by the accident of being offered a better job there than he could find in Bombay. He regarded himself as a British subject. He aimed at limited integration of Indians into white society. Their new status would secure Indian rights but would also acknowledge white supremacy. In essence, he wanted to stabilize the Indian community within the stratified system that later became known as apartheid.


. . .


"The South African Gandhi" deals comprehensively with Gandhi's decisive two decades in South Africa. It complements Perry Anderson's "The Indian Ideology" (2013), which explains how Gandhi later treated the Dalits, or Untouchables, much as he had dealt with black Africans.

For my taste, the book's tone is too academic, but the authors use sound evidence and argue their case relentlessly--Gandhi's vision did not include the majority of the people in South Africa, the Africans themselves.



For the full review, see:

WM. ROGER LOUIS. "Gandhi the Imperialist." The Wall Street Journal (Sat., Jan 9, 2016): C6.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the review has the date Jan 10, [sic] 2016, and has the title "Gandhi the Imperialist - Book Review.")


The book under review, is:

Desai, Ashwin, and Goolem Vahed. The South African Gandhi: Stretcher-Bearer of Empire. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2015.






October 19, 2016

Uber Drivers Learn to Work Optimal Hours




(p. B1) For nearly 20 years, economists have been debating how cabdrivers decide when to call it a day. This may seem like a trivial question, but it is one that cuts to the heart of whether humans are fundamentally rational -- in this case, whether they earn their incomes efficiently -- as the discipline has traditionally assumed.

In one camp is a group of so-called behavioral economists who have found evidence that many taxi drivers work longer hours on days when business is slow and shorter hours when business is brisk -- the opposite of what economic rationality, to say nothing of common sense, would seem to dictate.

In another camp is a group of more orthodox economists who argue that this perverse habit is largely an illusion in the eyes of certain researchers. Once you consult more precise numbers, they argue, you find that drivers typically work longer hours when it is in their financial interest to do so.


. . .


So who is right? That's where Uber comes in. When one of the company's researchers, using its supremely detailed data on drivers' work time and rides, waded into the debate with a paper this year, the results were intriguing.

Over all, there was little evidence that drivers were driving less when they could make more per hour than usual. But that was not true for a large portion of new drivers. Many of these drivers appeared to have an income goal in mind and stopped when they were near it, causing them to knock off sooner when their hourly wage was high and to work longer when their wage was low.


. . .


"A substantial, although not most, frac-(p. B5)tion of partners do in fact come into the market with income targeting behavior," the paper's author, Michael Sheldon, an Uber data scientist, wrote. The behavior is then "rather quickly learned away in favor of more optimal decision making."

In effect, Mr. Sheldon was saying, the generally rational beings that most economists presume to exist are made, not born -- at least as far as their Uber driving is concerned.


. . .


As for Mr. Sheldon, the Uber paper's author, he attributed his finding to the adventurous nature of many Uber drivers, who were open to running headlong into unfamiliar territory. It's the sheer unfamiliarity of the Uber driving experience, he speculated, that may explain the initial bout of economically irrational behavior.

Mr. Sheldon was less open to the idea that people who did not depend on Uber for their livelihood helped account for his finding. So far as Uber can tell from other research, he said, those who drive irregularly respond more to fare increases than more regular drivers, at any level of earnings.



For the full story, see:

NOAM SCHEIBER. "Are Uber Drivers Rational? Not Always, Economists Say." The New York Times (Mon., SEPT. 5, 2016): B1 & B5.

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

(Note: the online version of the story has the date SEPT. 4, 2016, and has the title "How Uber Drivers Decide How Long to Work.")


The working paper by Michael Sheldon mentioned above, is:

Sheldon, Michael. "Income Targeting and the Ridesharing Market." Working Paper, Feb. 18, 2016.






October 18, 2016

Faster, Stronger 3-D Printing Method May Be Better for Manufacturing




(p. B1) Ford Motor Co. is experimenting with a new form of 3-D printing the auto maker says could solve a structural flaw that has kept the technology from widespread use in manufacturing.

The ability to "print" parts within an assembly plant would drastically reduce transport and logistics costs for the auto industry, where car makers must source parts from dozens of suppliers around the world. But the most widely used version of the technology is ill-suited for mass production because objects are printed layer by layer, a slow process that also creates tiny fault lines that can crack when stressed.

A startup backed by Alphabet Inc.'s Google Ventures is developing a different 3-D printing method that some manufacturers, including Ford, say shows more promise. Carbon3D Inc.'s printers project light continuously through a pool of resin, gradually solidifying it onto an overhead platform that slowly lifts the object up until it is fully formed. The process takes a fraction of the time of other printing methods, and forms solid items more similar to those created using conventional auto-part molds, said Ellen Lee, who leads a 3-D printing research division at Ford.



For the full story, see:

LORETTA CHAO. "Fast 3-D Printing Earn New Respect." The Wall Street Journal (Tues., April 26, 2016): B1 & B4.

(Note: the online version of the story has the date April 25, 2016, and has the title "Auto Makers, Others Explore New Roles for 3-D Printing.")






October 17, 2016

Without Property Rights "No One Is Safe"




(p. 1) BINDURA, Zimbabwe -- Dozens of angry young men jumped off a truck in front of Agrippah Mutambara's gate, shouting obscenities and threatening to seize his 530-acre farm in the name of Zimbabwe's president. They tried to scale the fence, scattering only when he raised and cocked his gun.

Zimbabwe made international headlines when it started seizing white-owned farms in 2000. But Mr. Mutambara is not a white farmer. Far from it, he is a hero of this country's war of liberation who served as Zimbabwe's ambassador to three nations over two decades.

But when he defected from President Robert Mugabe's party to join the opposition a few months ago, he immediately put his farm at risk.

"When it was happening to the whites, we thought we were redressing colonial wrongs," said Mr. Mutambara, 64, who got his farm after it had been seized from a white farmer. "But now we realize it's also coming back to us. It's also haunting us."


. . .


(p. 10) "No one is safe," said Temba Mliswa, 44, who was the chairman of the party's chapter in Mashonaland West Province before his expulsion from the party in 2014.

Mr. Mliswa got a 2,000-acre farm belonging to a white Zimbabwean in 2005. When he took possession, Mr. Mliswa said, police officers beat the white farmer and his workers.

But last year, Mr. Mliswa said, hundreds of youths sent by the party invaded the farm again, destroying property and beating his workers. They eventually left, but one of Mr. Mugabe's ministers recently held a rally in which he threatened to take Mr. Mliswa's farm unless he stopped criticizing the president's party.

"They use the land to control you," Mr. Mliswa said.


. . .


Mr. Mliswa said he had received his farm when his uncle headed the lands ministry. Once considered Mr. Mugabe's right-hand man, the uncle was also expelled from the governing party in 2014 and now risks losing his farm, too, Mr. Mliswa said.

"There was blood spilt on my farm, there was violence, which I really, really, really, really regret," he said of the seizure of his farm from its white owner in 2005. "I apologize profusely, but it was because of the system I was involved in. I belonged to a party whose culture is violence."



For the full story, see:

NORIMITSU ONISHI. "'No One Is Safe': Zimbabwe Threatens to Seize Farms of Party Defectors." The New York Times, First Section (Sun., AUG. 28, 2016): 1 & 12.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date AUG. 24, [sic] 2016, and has the title "'No One Is Safe': Zimbabwe Threatens to Seize Farms of Party Defectors.")






October 16, 2016

Income Redistribution May Hurt Innovation




(p. A13) Edward Conard is on a dual crusade. First, he is out to prove that technological innovation is the major driver of the creation of wealth. Second, that government programs to redistribute income are at best futile and at worst the enemy of the middle class.


. . .


"The late Steve Jobs," Mr. Conard writes, "may have made huge profits from his innovations, but his wealth was small in comparison with the value of the iPhone and its imitators to their users."


. . .


"Redistribution--whether achieved through taxation, regulatory restrictions, or social norms--appears," he asserts, "to have large detrimental effects on risk-taking, innovation, productivity, and growth over the long run, especially in an economy where innovation produced by the entrepreneurial risk-taking of properly trained talent increasingly drives growth."



For the full review, see:

RICHARD EPSTEIN. "BOOKSHELF; The Necessity of the Rich; Steve Jobs may have earned huge profits from his innovations, but they pale in comparison with the value of the iPhone to its users." The Wall Street Journal (Thurs., Sept. 15, 2016): A13.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the review has the date Sept. 14, 2016, and has the title "BOOKSHELF; The Necessity of the Rich; Steve Jobs may have earned huge profits from his innovations, but they pale in comparison with the value of the iPhone to its users.")


The book under review, is:

Conard, Edward. The Upside of Inequality: How Good Intentions Undermine the Middle Class. New York: Portfolio, 2016.






October 15, 2016

Low Interest Rates Cannot Substitute for Needed Deeper Reforms




(p. B3) MUMBAI, India -- Three years before the 2008 global financial crisis, an Indian economist named Raghuram G. Rajan presciently warned a skeptical audience of top economic thinkers that excessive risk threatened the entire global financial system.

As Mr. Rajan stepped down on Sunday [Sept. 4, 2016] as India's top central banker, following intense criticism at home, he offered a new warning: Low interest rates globally could distort markets and would be difficult to abandon.

Countries around the world, including the United States and Europe, have kept interest rates low as a way to encourage growth. But countries could become "trapped" by fear that when they eventually raised rates, they "would see growth slow down," he said.

Low interest rates should not be a substitute for "other instruments of policy" and "various kinds of reforms" that are needed to encourage growth, Mr. Rajan said in a recent interview with The New York Times. "Often when monetary policy is really easy, it becomes the residual policy of choice," he said, when deeper reforms are needed.


. . .


In discussing the Indian economy in the interview, Mr. Rajan offered a less-than-ringing endorsement of the government's emphasis on manufacturing in India -- what the prime minister has called his Make in India campaign.

Mr. Rajan said he did not support the view of critics that it was too late in world economic history for India to become a manufacturing hub. But he also said that he would not focus exclusively on manufacturing as the solution to joblessness.

If India improves infrastructure and reduces government regulations, manufacturing might take off in a big way, but it "could also be services. It could be value-added agriculture also."`



For the full story, see:

GEETA ANAND. "A Departing Central Banker's Warning." The New York Times (Mon., SEPT. 5, 2016): B3.

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

(Note: the online version of the story has the date SEPT. 4, 2016, and has the title "Raghuram Rajan, India's Departing Central Banker, Has a New Warning." The online version is somewhat longer than the print version, and has minor differences in the last three paragraphs quoted above. The last three paragraphs quoted above, are from the online version.)






October 14, 2016

"I Could Lose My Ability to Control My Business"




(p. B4) Small-business owners say they are shouldering higher costs and scaling back expansion plans because of a revised federal rule that gives employees more leverage in settling workplace grievances.

The new policy, intended to hold businesses accountable for labor-law violations against people whose working conditions they control but don't claim as employees, was put in place last year through a ruling by the National Labor Relations Board, . . .


. . .


Businesses say they are in a regulatory limbo because the new standard is vague about what constitutes control.

The previous test measured the direct control one business had over working conditions of people employed by another business. Now, even indirect control can count.


So far the impact seems to be largely on the franchisees. A home health-care business in Wisconsin is taking on $10,000 in annual recruiting costs because its franchiser stopped providing assistance to steer clear of regulators, and a small hotelier in Florida is abandoning expansion plans in small markets because one of its franchisers scaled back worker training it provides. A printing business owner in Washington state said he canceled plans to open an eighth store because he doesn't want to risk the investment until it is clear his franchiser wouldn't be considered a joint-employer.

"I could lose my ability to control my business," said Chuck Stempler, an owner of the seven printing stores that operate under the AlphaGraphics brand in Washington and California.


. . .


Employers say the NLRB is confusing control with contractual relationships that help businesses and workers thrive.

"The NLRB is applying a new legal standard that would undermine a successful American business model that has enabled thousands of families to operate their own small businesses and help support millions of American jobs," McDonald's said in a statement, referring to the franchising business.



For the full story, see:

MELANIE TROTTMAN. "New Labor Law Curbs Small Firms' Plans." The Wall Street Journal (Sat., Aug. 6, 2016): B4.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Aug. 5, 2016, and has the title "Some Small-Business Owners Trim Expansion Plans, Cite New Labor Law.")






October 13, 2016

Cancer 1.7 Million Years Ago in Human Ancestor




(p. D3) Carcinogens abounded 1.7 million years ago in Early Pleistocene times when a nameless protohuman wandered the South African countryside in what came to be known as the Cradle of Humankind.

Then, as now, ultraviolet radiation poured from the sun, and radon seeped from granite in the ground. Viruses like ones circulating today scrambled DNA. And there were the body's own carcinogens, hormones that switch on at certain times of life, accelerating the multiplication of cells and increasing the likelihood of mutations.

That, rather than some external poison, was probably the cause of a bone tumor diagnosed as an osteosarcoma found fossilized in Swartkrans Cave, a paleoanthropological trove northwest of Johannesburg. A paper in the current South African Journal of Science describes the discovery, concluding that it is the oldest known case of cancer in an early human ancestor.


. . .


The seemingly small number of malignant tumors reported by anthropologists is probably an illusion. The only cancers that can be found in long-decomposed remains are those that originated in the skeleton or somehow left a mark there. They include cancers that spread from other organs or, like myeloma, could scar the skeleton in other ways. For most ancient cancers, the evidence rots away. Mummified bodies are rare, but here, too, an occasional cancer has been found.



For the full story, see:

Johnson, George. "RAW DATA; After 1.7 Million Years, a Bone Cancer Diagnosis." The New York Times (Tues., AUG. 23, 2016): D3.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date AUG. 22, 2016, and has the title "RAW DATA; The Known: Cancer Is Really, Really Old. The Unknown: How Common It Was.")


The academic article mentioned in the passage quoted above, is:

Edward, J. Odes, S. Randolph-Quinney Patrick, Steyn Maryna, Throckmorton Zach, S. Smilg Jacqueline, Zipfel Bernhard, Augustine Tanya, Beer Frikkie De, W. Hoffman Jakobus, D. Franklin Ryan, and R. Berger Lee. "Earliest Hominin Cancer: 1.7-Million-Year-Old Osteosarcoma from Swartkrans Cave, South Africa." South African Journal of Science 112, no. 7/8 (July/Aug. 2016): 1-5.






October 12, 2016

"Giving Peas a Chance"




(p. C1) Thank heavens Gregor Mendel was a lousy priest. Had he shown even the faintest aptitude for oratory or ministering to the poor, he might never have determined the basic laws of heredity. But bumbling he was, and he made a rotten university student to boot; his failures drove him straight to his room, where he bred mice in secret. The experiment scandalized his superiors.

"A monk coaxing mice to (p. C4) mate to understand heredity was a little too risqué, even for the Augustinians," writes Siddhartha Mukherjee in "The Gene: An Intimate History." So Mendel switched -- auspiciously, historically -- to pea plants. The abbot in charge, writes the author, acquiesced this time, "giving peas a chance."

Love Dr. Mukherjee, love his puns. They're everywhere. I warn you now.


. . .


Many of the same qualities that made "The Emperor of All Maladies" so pleasurable are in full bloom in "The Gene." The book is compassionate, tautly synthesized, packed with unfamiliar details about familiar people.


. . .


But there are also crucial differences. Cancer is the troll that scratches and thumps beneath the floorboards of our consciousness, if it hasn't already beaten its way into the room. The subject immediately commands our attention; it's almost impossible to deny, and not to hear, the emotional clang of its appeal. In Dr. Mukherjee's skilled hands, the story of this frightening disease became a page-turner. He explained its history, politics and cunning biological underpinnings; he traced the evolving and often gruesome logic underlying cancer treatment.

And in the middle of it all, agonizing over treatment protocols and watching his patients struggle with tremendous existential and physical pain, was the author himself.

There are far fewer psychological stakes in reading about the history of genetics. "The Gene" is more pedagogical than dramatic; as often as not, the stars of this story are molecules, not humans.


. . .


But any book about the history of something as elemental and miraculous as the gene is bound, at least indirectly, to tell the story of innovation itself. "The Gene" is filled with scientists who dreamed in breathtakingly lateral leaps.

Erwin Schrödinger in particular was one visionary cat: In 1944, he hazarded a guess about the molecular nature of the gene and decided it had to be a strand of code scribbled along the chromosome -- which pretty much sums up the essence of DNA.



For the full review, see:

JENNIFER SENIOR. "Books of The Times; In Molecular Pursuit of the Genetic Code." The New York Times (Mon., MAY 9, 2016): C1 & C4.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the review has the date MAY 8, 2016, and has the title "Books of The Times; Review: Siddhartha Mukherjee's 'The Gene,' a Molecular Pursuit of the Self.")


The book under review, is:

Mukherjee, Siddhartha. The Gene: An Intimate History. New York: Scribner, 2016.






October 11, 2016

Private Nav Canada More Innovative than Government FAA




(p. D1) Ottawa

Flying over the U.S.-Canadian border is like time travel for pilots. Going north to south, you leave a modern air-traffic control system run by a company and enter one run by the government struggling to catch up.

Airlines, the air-traffic controllers' union and key congressional leaders all support turning over U.S. air-traffic control services to a newly created nonprofit company and leaving the Federal Aviation Administration as a safety regulator. It's an idea that still faces strong opposition in Congress, but has gained traction this year.

The model is Nav Canada, the world's second-largest air-traffic control agency, after the U.S.


. . .


The key, Nav Canada says, is its nongovernmental structure. Technology, critical to efficient airspace use these days, gets developed faster than if a government agency were trying to do it, officials say. Critics say slow technology development has been the FAA's Achilles' heel.

"We can fly optimal routes because of the technology they have. It makes a big difference," American Airlines vice president Lorne Cass says. "These are things customers don't see except they shave off minutes."

Mr. Cass, who has worked for several airlines and the FAA, first visited Nav Canada in 2004 to see new technology. "They've always been pretty good at continuous modernization," he says. "They just have more flexibility than the FAA has."


. . .


(p. D2) In government, you often need giant programs with huge promises to get funding. But Nav Canada opted for small projects, often with no idea what the outcome should look like. The company hired a corps of techies that the federal agency had never had and involved controllers in development.

"We're convinced you're better off doing things incrementally than a big bang approach," Mr. Koslow says.

Data linkage between cockpits and control centers is one example. Text messages with cockpits have been in use across oceans, in parts of Europe and across all of Canada for several years. Controllers in Montreal who handle planes to and from North America and both Europe and Asia say the texting system virtually eliminates problems of mishearing instructions and readbacks over the radio because of foreign accents.

Another innovation adopted around the world is electronic flight strips--critical information about each flight that gets changed on touch screens and passed from one controller to another electronically. Nav Canada has used them for more than 13 years. Many U.S. air controllers still use paper printouts placed in plastic carriers about the size of a 6-inch ruler that controllers scribble on.


. . .


Jerome Gagnon, a shift manager in Montreal's control tower, says the electronic system has reduced workload, errors and noise. "We don't want controllers to just be heads down. There's a lot of stuff that happens out the window," he says.

Rarely do controllers have to call each other to coordinate flights anymore, but making changes with the FAA on cross-border flights can't be done electronically.

As he explains the process in the Montreal tower, other controllers start laughing. One blurts out incredulously: "You still have to call the FAA by phone!""



For the full story, see:

SCOTT MCCARTNEY. "THE MIDDLE SEAT; The Air-Traffic System U.S. Airlines Wish They Had." The Wall Street Journal (Thurs., April 28, 2016): D1-D2.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date April 27, 2016. The online version has a couple of extra sentences that are included in the passages quoted above.)






October 10, 2016

Proletariat Protests Communist Dictator




(p. A4) CARACAS, Venezuela -- Thousands took to the streets here on Thursday [September 1, 2016] to demand the ouster of President Nicolás Maduro in what appeared to be the year's largest display of frustration with Venezuela's economic collapse and leadership.

The march, which protesters called "the taking of Caracas," was organized by political opponents of the country's ruling leftists. The marchers took over a major highway and several avenues in Caracas, the nation's capital, and poured into the city's plazas in an effort to gain momentum for a referendum to recall Mr. Maduro.


. . .


Ivonne Mejías, 42, who wore a headband of yellow, blue and red, the colors of the Venezuelan flag, said the situation had become so difficult that she had not been able to bake birthday cakes for her children this year. Her family of four gets by on just $25 a week, Ms. Mejías said, and she has taken to making piñatas to earn extra money.

"Sometimes I want to kill myself," she said. "I am frustrated, I am out of control, I am fighting with this world. This isn't my life. My soul splits in two when my kids beg for something -- for an ice cream, for a cookie -- and I can't give it to them. The most difficult thing is getting food."

Víctor Guilarte, 45, a mechanic from a Caracas suburb, said his work had vanished because his neighbors had become so poor they could not afford car repairs. Two weeks ago, he said, he visited his family in another state and found the situation even worse.

"I came back feeling destroyed -- they had no food," he said. "I am tired of Maduro and his government, tired of crime, of hunger, of them telling us we have plenty to eat.


. . .


Marly Torrealba, 37, a single mother, came by bus from Barlovento, a city once known for its cacao production. Ms. Torrealba complained that the government had abandoned the city to organized crime, and it was now rocked by killings, extortions and kidnappings.

"Farm workers have abandoned the crop because of crime," she said, "and the criminals charge us protection money and rob everything in sight."



For the full story, see:

NICHOLAS CASEY and PATRICIA TORRES. "Thousands of Venezuelans March for President's Ouster." The New York Times (Fri., Sept. 2, 2016): A4.

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

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Sept. 1, 2016, and has the title "Thousands March in Venezuela to Demand President's Ouster.")






October 9, 2016

Meat Residue on Stone Blades from 250,000 Years Ago




(p. D2) James Pokines, a forensic anthropologist at the Boston University School of Medicine, and his colleagues uncovered several 250,000-year-old blades and hand axes, with bits of rhinoceros, horse and camel on them, in Jordan.


. . .


The findings, which were published in The Journal of Archaeological Science, may be the oldest evidence of protein residue on stone tools.



For the full story, see:

NICHOLAS ST. FLEUR. "Etched in Stone: Early Carving Knives." The New York Times (Tues., AUG. 23, 2016): D2.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date AUG. 22, 2016, and has the title Carving the Meat Before Meals, 250,000 Years Ago.")


The research mentioned above, is elaborated in the academic article:

Nowell, A., C. Walker, C. E. Cordova, C. J. H. Ames, James T. Pokines, D. Stueber, R. DeWitt, and A. S. A. al-Souliman. "Middle Pleistocene Subsistence in the Azraq Oasis, Jordan: Protein Residue and Other Proxies." Journal of Archaeological Science 73 (Sept. 2016): 36-44.






October 8, 2016

The Internet Favors Creators in the Long Tail of Distribution




(p. A13) Does the internet pose a threat to established entertainment companies? Michael D. Smith and Rahul Telang lead a class at Carnegie Mellon University in which a student recently put that question to a visiting executive. He pooh-poohed the idea: "The original players in this industry have been around for the last 100 years, and there's a reason for that." As co-heads of CMU's Initiative for Digital Entertainment Analytics, Messrs. Smith and Telang aim to counter this line of thought, and in "Streaming, Sharing, Stealing" they do just that, explaining gently yet firmly exactly how the internet threatens established ways and what can and cannot be done about it. Their book should be required for anyone who wishes to believe that nothing much has changed.


. . .


Then there's the question of blockbusters vs. the long tail. In her book "Blockbusters" (2013), Anita Elberse, a Harvard Business School professor, contended that digital markets, far from favoring the "long tail" of products that were mostly unavailable in physical stores or theaters, actually concentrate sales at the top even further. Messrs. Smith and Telang quietly but effectively demolish this argument, noting numerous instances in which the opposite happened. In the case of one large chain, the top 100 titles accounted for 85% of the DVDs rented in-store--but when stores closed and customers were shifted to the Web, the most popular titles made up only 35% of the DVDs rented online.

The authors also note that, by making it easy for writers, musicians, and directors to work independently, digital technology has vastly increased the number of works available. Between 2000 and 2010, an explosion in self-publishing raised the number of new books issued per year to 3.1 million from 122,000.



For the full review, see:

FRANK ROSE. "BOOKSHELF; We're All Cord Cutters Now; At one chain, the top 100 movie titles accounted for 85% of the DVDs rented in-store. But online, the top titles make up only 35% of rentals." The Wall Street Journal (Weds., Sept. 7, 2016): A13.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the review has the date Sept. 6, 2016.)


The book under review, is:

Smith, Michael D., and Rahul Telang. Streaming, Sharing, Stealing: Big Data and the Future of Entertainment. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2016.






October 7, 2016

Mobile Game Helps When Work Is Absurd Drudgery




(p. A1) SEOUL--When Lee Jin-po was laid off last year for the third time in as many years, the 29-year-old mobile-game programmer expressed his frustration in his own instinctive way: He made a mobile game about it.

In Mr. Lee's "Don't Get Fired!," the object is to rise through the ranks at a nameless corporation by performing an endless string of mind-numbing tasks, while avoiding a long list of fireable offenses.

"It's just like real life," he says.

In South Korea, where youth unemployment has hit an all-time high amid sluggish economic growth, "Don't Get Fired!" has become a certified hit--one in a small raft of mobile games that has found success by embracing the drudgery and absurdity of work.


. . .


(p. A10) Mr. Lee later found volunteers to translate it into 12 languages, helping the international version attract another million downloads. Griffin Crowley, a 20-year-old high-school graduate in a Cleveland suburb, couldn't stop playing after stumbling on it while fiddling with his cellphone. "Sometimes, you just have to laugh at the futility of life," says Mr. Crowley, who recently worked a stint at a telemarketing company.



For the full story, see:

Cheng, Jonathan. "Congratulations Player One, Your Zombie Boss Didn't Fire You; South Korean unemployment inspires games about work; laugh at chief's jokes." The Wall Street Journal (Mon., August 6, 2016): A1 & A10.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date August 8 [sic], 2016.)






October 6, 2016

Life Discovered 220 Million Years Earlier than Previous Oldest




(p. A12) Geologists have discovered in Greenland evidence for ancient life in rocks that are 3.7 billion years old. The find, if confirmed, would make these fossils the oldest on Earth and may change scientific understanding of the origins of life.


. . .


The new fossils, described on Wednesday [August 31, 2016] in the journal Nature, are the first visible structures found in the Isua rocks. They are thought to be stromatolites, layers of sediment packed together by microbial communities living in shallow water.

They are some 220 million years more ancient than the oldest previously known fossils, also stromatolites. Those are 3.48 billion years old and were discovered in the Pilbara Craton of Western Australia.

The new report "provides the oldest direct evidence of microbial life," said Gerald Joyce, an expert on the origin of life at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif.


. . .


If life on Earth did not begin until after the Late Heavy Bombardment, then it had a mere 100 million years in which to evolve to the quite advanced stage seen in the new fossils.

If so, Dr. Allwood wrote, then "life is not a fussy, reluctant and unlikely thing." It will emerge whenever there's an opportunity.



For the full story, see:

NICHOLAS WADE. "Greenland Fossils Could Be Oldest Ever Found." The New York Times (Thurs., Sept. 1, 2016): A12.

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

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date AUG. 31, 2016, and has the title "World's Oldest Fossils Found in Greenland.")


The article in Nature, mentioned above, is:


Nutman, Allen P., Vickie C. Bennett, Clark R. L. Friend, Martin J. Van Kranendonk, and Allan R. Chivas. "Rapid Emergence of Life Shown by Discovery of 3,700-Million-Year-Old Microbial Structures." Nature (2016), DOI: 10.1038/nature19355.







October 5, 2016

Japan Counting on Innovative Entrepreneurs for Economic Growth




(p. B3) TOKYO--Stacks of cardboard boxes serve as makeshift partitions at Mistletoe Inc.'s new office in Tokyo's posh Aoyama district, where startups gather to work on their latest projects.

The do-it-yourself vibe--a far cry from the stuffiness typical of Japanese corporate offices--is something founder Taizo Son, serial entrepreneur and youngest brother of SoftBank Group Corp. founder Masayoshi Son, wants to see more of.

"Japan has the talent and funds but lacks the necessary ecosystem to create its own Silicon Valley, so that's what we're trying to provide," said Mr. Son, 43, who describes Mistletoe as a program to cofound new businesses.

The nation that created the Walkman and the bullet train before China even had a tech industry now lags behind as Chinese Internet startups like Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. become global powerhouses. With its once-dominant technology industry struggling, Japan is counting on entrepreneurs to rekindle its hobbling economy.

The government is pledging to fund startups, top universities have launched incubators and venture funds to transform their wealth of knowledge into innovation and even Japan's oldest and largest conglomerates, such as the Mitsubishi and Mitsui groups, are looking to nurture entrepreneurs..



For the full story, see:

ALEXANDER MARTIN. "Japan Looks to Rekindle Its Technology Innovation." The Wall Street Journal (Mon., April 11, 2016): B3.

(Note: the online version of the story has the date April 10, 2016, and has the title "Japan Tech Hunts for Restart Button.")






October 4, 2016

Chernow Is Consumed by His Work "in a Deep, Quiet, Rewarding Way"




(p. 12) I collect art, and the piece I adore most is an 1888 Winslow Homer etching called "Mending the Tears." It depicts two women seated along the shore of an English fishing village. One is mending a net; the other is darning socks. They are consumed by their work, but in a deep, quiet, rewarding way. That's how I feel when I write.


For the full commentary, see:

Ron Chernow (as told to Marc Myers). "HOUSE CALL; Ron Chernow; New York's 'Quietest' Home." The Wall Street Journal (Fri., Aug. 26, 2016): M10.

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Aug. 23, 2016, and has the title "HOUSE CALL; Hamilton Biographer Ron Chernow Finds New York's 'Quietest' Home.")


I have learned a lot from these two books by Chernow:

Chernow, Ron. Alexander Hamilton. New York: The Penguin Press, 2004.

Chernow, Ron. Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. New York: Random House, 1998.






October 3, 2016

Presence of Biomarkers Predicts Whether Checkpoint Inhibitor Works




(p. D1) A collaboration between an immunologist helping his stepmother fight cancer and the oncologist who treated her led to a discovery that could help many more patients benefit from a transformative new therapy.

A new class of drugs called checkpoint inhibitors works by releasing a molecular brake that stops the immune system from attacking tumors. So-called immunotherapy has been approved for several types of cancers and found to extend lives of patients with advanced disease for many years. The problem is that for most patients immunotherapy doesn't work.

The researchers, from University of California, San Francisco, said they identified a unique type of immune-system cell that "robustly" predicts whether patients will respond to one of the medicines--an achievement has the potential to significantly expand the number of cancer patients who benefit from checkpoint inhibitors.

The new discovery is based on a high-tech analysis of melanoma tissue from 40 patients treated with a checkpoint inhibitor from Merck & Co. called Keytruda, which targets an immune-system brake called PD-1. Although researchers say it will take further research to determine its value in treating patients, the finding offers fresh insight into the complex relationship between the immune system and tumor cells.


. . .


(p. D3) The researchers analyzed results of a study involving Keytruda before it was approved. They looked at the CD8 cells that had infiltrated the melanoma tumors of 20 patients treated with the drug and found that if at least 30% of those cells were marked by PD-1 and CTLA-4, the patient responded to treatment. When fewer than 20% of the infiltrated cells had those markers, not one patient responded.



For the full story, see:

RON WINSLOW. "Road to a Cancer Advance." The Wall Street Journal (Tues., Aug. 16, 2016): D1 & D3.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Aug. 15, 2016, and has the title "Chance Collaboration Yields an Advance in Cancer Treatment.")






October 2, 2016

Fracking Entrepreneur Aubrey McClendon Was Pressured by Antitrust Indictment on the Day Before Fatal Car Crash




(p. C2) Mr. McClendon, who co-founded Chesapeake Energy Corp. in 1989 and was a key figure in the shale boom that has upended global energy markets, was ousted from the energy company in 2013 over corporate-governance issues. He spent the three years after leaving Chesapeake building a new energy empire, raising more than $15 billion from investors, including major financial firms, to finance his comeback. But in 2014, oil prices plunged and natural-gas prices languished in a glut partly of his making, pressuring several of his new energy companies and making it more difficult for him to raise cash.


. . .


Exacerbating the pressure on Mr. McClendon was a federal antitrust investigation that culminated in his indictment the day before he died, on a single count of conspiring to rig oil-and-gas leases. Mr. McClendon vowed to fight the felony charge; local authorities later ruled they found no evidence of suicide.



For the full story, see:

RYAN DEZEMBER and KEVIN HELLIKER. "Oil Man Delivers for Heirs." The Wall Street Journal (Weds., Aug. 31, 2016): C1-C2.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Aug. 30, 2016, and has the title "Oil-Deal Score Helps Aubrey McClendon's Heirs Hang on to NBA's Thunder, for Now.")






October 1, 2016

Intuit Tries to Disrupt Itself




(p. B1) MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. -- Three decades ago, at the dawn of the personal computer age, Intuit shook up the financial software world with its first product, Quicken. The program, which was centered on the simple notion of a virtual checkbook, suddenly made the PC a very useful tool for people to manage the chores of paying bills and tracking personal finances.

Last month, Intuit said goodbye to that heritage and sold Quicken, which still has loyal fans but weak growth prospects, to a private equity firm.

Intuit, a Silicon Valley company, is now focusing on its TurboTax software, which tens of millions of Americans use to file their tax returns, and on QuickBooks Online, an Internet-based version of the company's flagship bookkeeping software for small businesses and their accounting firms.

Giving up Quicken was difficult, said Brad D. Smith, Intuit's chief executive, during an interview at the company's lush green campus here. The kitchen table where the founders designed the product in 1983 still sits in the cafeteria to inspire employees.

But Intuit decided to shed its PC roots and become a cloud software company. "We try to live up to being a 33-year-old start-up," Mr. Smith said. So the company faced a hard choice: "Do we have this beautiful child that we've had for 33 years that we know we're not going to feed, or do we find it a new home?"



For the full story, see:

VINDU GOEL. "Intuit Sheds PC Roots to Rise as Cloud Service." The New York Times (Mon., APRIL 11, 2016): B1 & B5.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date APRIL 10, 2016, and has the title "Intuit Sheds Its PC Roots and Rises as a Cloud Software Company.")






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