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September 30, 2017

Tech Startup Rejects Gig Economy




(p. 1) SEATTLE -- When Glenn Kelman became the chief executive of his online real estate start-up, he defied the tech industry's conventional wisdom about how to grow.

Instead of hiring independent contractors, he brought in full-time employees and put them on the payroll -- with benefits. That decision over a decade ago made Mr. Kelman and his company, Redfin, iconoclasts in the technology world.

Many tech start-ups lean on the idea of the "gig economy." They staff up rapidly with freelancers, who are both cheaper to hire (none of the insurance, 401(k) and other expenses) and more flexible (they can work as much or as little as needed). It's the model Uber has used to upend the taxi business.


. . .


Mr. Kelman argues that full-time employees allow him to offer better customer service. Redfin gives its agents salaries, health benefits, 401(k) contributions and, for the most productive ones, Redfin stock, none of which is standard for contractors. Redfin currently employs more than 1,000 agents.

Now with his company on a stronger footing, Mr. Kelman says he believes his approach has been vindicated. He has even (p. 5) become an informal counselor to other tech entrepreneurs exploring a shift to employees from contractors.


. . .


A number of technology companies have switched or are in the process of switching their contractors to employees for reasons similar to those of Redfin, including Shyp, a parcel shipping service; Luxe Valet, which offers a valet parking app; and Munchery, a food delivery service. Honor, an on-demand service for home health care professionals, is making the move to improve training.



For the full story, see:

NICK WINGFIELD. "A Start-Up Shies Away from Gig Economy." The New York Times, SundayBusiness Section (Sun., JULY 10, 2016): 1 & 5.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date JULY 9, 2016, and has the title "Redfin Shies Away From the Typical Start-Up's Gig Economy.")






September 29, 2017

When Istanbul Was "a Place of Tolerance and Enlightenment"




(p. C7) In vivid and readable prose, Ms. Hughes tells the story of the three cities that succeeded one another on the Golden Horn. First came ancient Byzantium, "the armpit of Greece," an "ethnically mongrel place" where Greek settlers mingled with native Thracians. Then there was Constantinople, the New Rome founded in 324 by the emperor Constantine, "a city with both Greek and Near Eastern genetic coding, strengthened by Roman muscle and sinew and wrapped in a Christian skin." And at last there was Istanbul, the "buzzing, polyglot" capital of the Ottoman Empire, transformed by the architect Sinan (perhaps the greatest genius of the European Renaissance) into "one of the world's most memorable and impressive urban environments."

One of the leitmotifs of Ms. Hughes's book is the cultural pluralism that has characterized Istanbul since earliest times. The 11th century saw the Viking Harald Hardrada and thousands of other "pugilistic opportunists" from the wild Baltic serving in the Byzantine emperor's Varangian guard. In 1492, Sultan Bayezid II welcomed thousands of Jewish refugees who had been expelled from Granada by Ferdinand II of Aragon, making early Ottoman Istanbul "the largest and most flourishing Jewish community in Europe." Although the Christian Greek population of the city has dropped from 240,000 in the mid-1920s to fewer than 1,000 today, Istanbul remains a true "global city." Leaving aside the hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees eking out a miserable half-life "on the sides of inner-city roads and trunk-route intersections," perhaps 20% to 25% of the settled population of modern Istanbul is composed of Kurds from eastern Anatolia and Mesopotamia, making Istanbul by far the largest Kurdish city in the world. Throughout its history, as Ms. Hughes writes, "Istanbul has been a city for the Cosmopolitan, for the World Citizen."


. . .


Ms. Hughes doesn't conceal the fact that Istanbul's history has often been a bloody one, from the vicious Nika riots of 532 (when the emperor Justinian butchered some 50,000 civilians) to the dark spring of 1915, when "hunched groups of Armenians could be seen being frog-marched to the city's police stations, and not coming home." But Istanbul has also been a place of tolerance and enlightenment, and when one compares its recent history with that of the other great multicultural cities of the Middle East--Aleppo, Baghdad, even Jerusalem--Istanbul can still fairly be called, as it was in Ottoman times, "the Abode of Happiness."



For the full review, see:

Peter Thonemann. "The Abode of Happiness." The Wall Street Journal (Sat., Sept. 9, 2017): C7.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the review has the date Sept. 8, 2017.)


The book under review, is:

Hughes, Bettany. Istanbul: A Tale of Three Cities. Boston, MA: Da Capo Press, 2017.






September 28, 2017

"Possibly Extinct" Cave Squeaker Frog Keeps on Squeaking




(p. 6) HARARE, Zimbabwe -- The cave squeaker is back.

Researchers in Zimbabwe say they have found a rare frog that has not been seen in decades.

The Arthroleptis troglodytes, below, also known as the cave squeaker because of its preferred habitat, was discovered in 1962, but there were no reported sightings of the elusive amphibian after that. An international "red list" of threatened species tagged them as critically endangered and possibly extinct.

Robert Hopkins, a researcher at the Natural History Museum of Zimbabwe, in Bulawayo, said his team had found four specimens of the frog in its known habitat of Chimanimani, a mountainous area in eastern Zimbabwe.

The research team found the first male specimen on Dec. 3 [2016] after they followed an animal call they had not heard before, Mr. Hopkins said. They then discovered two other males and a female. Mr. Hopkins said he been looking for the cave squeaker for eight years.



For the full story, see:

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. "Rare Frogs Seen in 1962 Resurface in Zimbabwe." The New York Times, First Section (Sun., FEB. 5, 2017): 8.

(Note: bracketed year, added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date FEB. 4, 2017, and has the title "Cave Squeaker, Rare Frog Last Seen in 1962, Is Found in Zimbabwe.")






September 27, 2017

Factory Workers Collaborate with Robots




(p. B1) MARION, Ohio--A new worker is charming the staff at Whirlpool Corp.'s plant here: a robot called Chappy.

Employees at the dryer factory say they have taken a shine to one-armed, programmable robots that have assumed some repetitive tasks, working in concert with their human colleagues. One, nicknamed after a worker whose rote duties it has inherited, snaps photographs to scan for defects.

"If I can get some help doing my job, I'm all for that," said Karen "Chappy" Beidler, who is now free to focus on checking and fixing wiring connections. "It's technology helping manpower--you can't beat it."



For the full story, see:

Andrew Tangel. "Latest Robots Lend an Arm." The Wall Street Journal (Weds., Nov. 9, 2016): B1 & B4.

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Nov. 8, 2016, and has the title "Latest Robots Lend a Helping Arm at Factories.")






September 26, 2017

Silicon Valley Techies Make Pilgrimage to Hewlett-Packard Garage




(p. 6) The Birthplace of Silicon Valley

On a quiet Palo Alto street lined with multimillion-dollar Victorian and craftsman homes, Spanish villas, lemon trees and sidewalks perfect for jogging or strolling with babies in carriages, a National Register of Historic Places sign in one front yard recognizes the home's famous roots. In the detached garage of the house, the Silicon Valley was seeded. The garage is where two Stanford students, William R. Hewlett and David Packard, began developing their first product, an audio oscillator, in 1938. Their partnership resulted in the establishment in 1939 of the Hewlett-Packard Company, a manufacturer of software and computer services.

What Berry Gordy Jr.'s restored upper flat in Detroit is for Motown music buffs, the Hewlett-Packard garage has become for techies, who make the pilgrimage to 367 Addison Ave. to snap photographs of the property.



For the full story, see:

KAREN CROUSE. "A Few Sights to Take in on a Drive to the Game." The New York Times, SportsSunday Section (Sun., FEB. 6, 2016): 6.

(Note: bold subtitle in original.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date FEB. 6, 2016, and has the title "On the Road to Super Bowl 50.")






September 25, 2017

DeVos Defends Due Process at Universities




(p. A17) Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has made clear her intention to correct one of the Obama administration's worst excesses--its unjust rules governing sexual misconduct on college campuses. In a forceful speech Thursday at Virginia's George Mason University, Mrs. DeVos said that "one rape is one too many"--but also that "one person denied due process is one too many." Mrs. DeVos declared that "every student accused of sexual misconduct must know that guilt is not predetermined."


. . .


As four Harvard law professors--Jeannie Suk Gersen, Janet Halley, Elizabeth Bartholet and Nancy Gertner--argued in a recent article, a fair process requires "neutral decisionmakers who are independent of the school's [federal regulatory] compliance interest, and independent decisionmakers providing a check on arbitrary and unlawful decisions." The four had been among more than two dozen Harvard law professors to express concerns about the Obama administration's--and Harvard's--handling of Title IX. So too had 16 University of Pennsylvania law professors, as well as the American Council for Trial Lawyers.



For the full commentary, see:

KC Johnson and Stuart Taylor Jr. "DeVos Pledges to Restore Due Process; The Obama Education Department's Title IX decree 'failed too many students,' she says." The Wall Street Journal (Fri., Sept. 8, 2017): A17.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Sept. 7, 2017.)


The commentary, quoted above, is related to the authors' book:

Johnson, KC, and Stuart Taylor, Jr. The Campus Rape Frenzy: The Attack on Due Process at America's Universities. New York: Encounter Books, 2017.


The article by the Harvard law professors, mentioned above, has been posted online at:

https://dash.harvard.edu/bitstream/handle/1/33789434/Fairness%20for%20All%20Students.pdf?sequence=1






September 24, 2017

Amateur Inventors Are Crowdsourced to Solve Scientific Problems




(p. A3) At his laboratory console, Rhiju Das is making a game of a pressing public-health problem. He is recruiting thousands of videogamers to develop a better test for tuberculosis, which infects about one-third of the world's population.

All they have to do is design a single molecule that can diagnose the disease in a patient's bloodstream quickly, easily and cheaply--a task that so far has eluded public-health experts. To muster a crowd of amateurs to attempt it, Dr. Das, a biochemist at the Stanford University School of Medicine, and his colleagues this week launched the OpenTB challenge on a Web-based videogame called Eterna.

"The players themselves are going to be the inventors," said Dr. Das. "Any molecule that a top player can make in the game, we will test it in the laboratory."


. . .


In a game called Phylo, developed at McGill University, 300,000 players have been cross-indexing disease-related DNA sequences from dozens of species. And in Quantum Moves, conceived at Aarhus University in Denmark, 10,000 players are applying the bizarre laws of quantum mechanics to improve computer design.

"The number of projects has exploded," said McGill computer scientist Jerome Waldispuhl, who co-founded the Phylo project.

Despite initial misgivings about the accuracy of crowdsourced research, players have produced reliable results and a dozen or so peer-reviewed research papers.

Typically, the players drawn to the science games have no special scientific expertise. They usually are intrigued by the chance to make a useful contribution to research in their spare time.


. . .


By harnessing human intuition and visual perception, these crowdsourcing games highlight differences between human and machine intelligence, several game designers said. "All of these citizen-science projects are like a snapshot of what is uniquely human at the moment," said physicist Jacob Sherson at Aarhus University who helped to design Quantum Moves.



For the full story, see:

Robert Lee Hotz. "Videogamers Wanted: to Fight TB." The Wall Street Journal (Weds., May 4, 2016): A3.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date May 3, 2016, and has the title "Videogamers Are Recruited to Fight Tuberculosis and Other Ills." The sentence quoting Jerome Waldispuhl, appeared in the online, but not the print, version of the article.)






September 23, 2017

Regulatory "Pain in Spain"




(p. A1) Gerard Vidal formed a data-encryption firm, Enigmedia, when he couldn't find an employer looking for a Ph.D. in physics. But even a physicist was perplexed by the paperwork involved in starting a company in Spain, and the launch was delayed months by a process he calls "illogical, inefficient and totally frustrating."

For many in the eurozone, where government budget cuts and corporate layoffs have left more than 18 million people out of work, the only way to find work is to create their own jobs. But these inexperienced entrepreneurs are flying into harsh headwinds.

Scarce capital, dense bureaucracy, a culture deeply averse to risk and a cratered consumer market all suppress startups in Europe.


. . .


(p. A12) In 2013, the OECD ranked Spain second worst in a survey on barriers to entrepreneurship in 29 nations. Spanish entrepreneurs have found that one of their big business challenges is simply getting incorporated. In the six months that Diana and Arantxa Fernández needed to obtain the multitude of permits required to open up a nursery school last year, the sisters burned through most of the capital they had husbanded from taking lump-sum unemployment. Now they are on the financial ropes.


. . .


When David Fito tried to open a gluten-free bakery after getting laid off by a bank a few years ago, he said 30 banks refused to lend him the €100,000 he needed. He got the credit only after his parents pledged their apartment as collateral and seven other wage earners agreed to co-sign. He said his business is now growing.


. . .


In Spain, young people with an entrepreneurial DNA long felt like fish out of water. María Alegre started selling homemade jewelry in Barcelona at age 13 and still remembers her profit--13,000 pesetas, worth about $90 at the time. But she said she never heard the word "entrepreneurship" until her fifth year at a Spanish business school and didn't get encouragement until she was studying at the University of Michigan. Today, the 29-year old Ms. Alegre is CEO and co-founder of Chartboost Inc., a 130-employee San Francisco company that helps mobile-game developers find new users and monetize games. Ms. Alegre bemoans what she calls a Spanish "culture of being against risk and not dreaming big enough."



For the full story, see:


Matt Moffett. "New Entrepreneurs Find Pain in Spain." The Wall Street Journal (Fri., Nov. 28, 2014): A1 & A12.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Nov. 27, 2014.")






September 22, 2017

47% Believe College Degree Will NOT Lead to Good Job




(p. A3) Americans are losing faith in the value of a college degree, with majorities of young adults, men and rural residents saying college isn't worth the cost, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey shows.

The findings reflect an increase in public skepticism of higher education from just four years ago and highlight a growing divide in opinion falling along gender, educational, regional and partisan lines.


. . .


Overall, a slim plurality of Americans, 49%, believes earning a four-year degree will lead to a good job and higher lifetime earnings, compared with 47% who don't, according to the poll of 1,200 people taken Aug. 5-9. That two-point margin narrowed from 13 points when the same question was asked four years earlier.

Big shifts occurred within several groups. While women by a large margin still have faith in a four-year degree, opinion among men swung significantly. Four years ago, men by a 12-point margin saw college as worth the cost. Now, they say it is not worth it, by a 10-point margin.

Likewise, among Americans 18 to 34 years old, skeptics outnumber believers 57% to 39%, almost a mirror image from four years earlier.

Today, Democrats, urban residents and Americans who consider themselves middle- and upper-class generally believe college is worth it; Republicans, rural residents and people who identify themselves as poor or working-class Americans don't.



For the full story, see:

Josh Mitchell and Douglas Belkin. "Fewer Americans Value a College Degree, Poll Finds." The Wall Street Journal (Fri., SEPT. 8, 2017): A3.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date SEPT. 7, 2017, and has the title "Americans Losing Faith in College Degrees, Poll Finds." The order of paragraphs was different in the online and print versions; the passages quoted above are from the online version.)






September 21, 2017

Students Learn More in Charter Schools




(p. A17) On Sept. 8, 1992, the first charter school opened, in St. Paul, Minn. Twenty-five years later, some 7,000 of these schools serve about three million students around the U.S. Their growth has become controversial among those wedded to the status quo, but charters undeniably are effective, especially in urban areas. After four years in a charter, urban students learn about 50% more a year than demographically similar students in traditional public schools, according to a 2015 report from Stanford's Center for Research on Education Outcomes.

The American cities that have most improved their schools are those that have embraced charters wholeheartedly. Their success suggests that policy makers should stop thinking of charters as an innovation around the edges of the public-school system--and realize that they simply are a better way to organize public education.

New Orleans, which will be 100% charters next year, is America's fastest-improving city when it comes to education. Test scores, graduation and dropout rates, college-going rates and independent studies all tell the same story: The city's schools have doubled or tripled their effectiveness in the decade since the state began turning them over to charter operators.


. . .


The teachers unions hate this model, because most charter schools are not unionized. But if someone discovered a vaccine to cure cancer, would anyone limit its use because hospitals and drug companies found it threatening?



For the full commentary, see:

David Osborne. "Charter Schools Are Flourishing on Their Silver Anniversary; The first one, in St. Paul, Minn., opened in 1992. Since then they've spread and proven their success." The Wall Street Journal (Fri., Sept. 8, 2017): A17.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Sept. 7, 2017.)


The commentary, quoted above, is related to Osborne's book:

Osborne, David. Reinventing America's Schools: Creating a 21st Century Education System. New York: Bloomsbury USA, 2017.






September 20, 2017

"Make School Lunches Great Again"




(p. D1) ATLANTA -- On a sweltering morning in July, Sonny Perdue, the newly minted secretary of agriculture, strode across the stage of a convention hall here packed with 7,000 members of the School Nutrition Association, who had gathered for their annual conference.

After reminiscing about the cinnamon rolls baked by the lunchroom ladies of his youth, he delivered a rousing defense of school food-service workers who were unhappy with some of the sweeping changes made by the Obama administration. The amounts of fat, sugar and salt were drastically reduced. Portion sizes shrank. Lunch trays had to hold more fruits and vegetables. Snacks and food sold for fund-raising had to be healthier.

"Your dedication and creativity was being stifled," Mr. Perdue said. "You were forced to focus your attention on strict, inflexible rules handed down from Washington. Even worse, you experienced firsthand that the rules were failing."

Mr. Perdue then outlined how his department was loosening some of those rules. He finished with a folksy story about a child who asked whether Mr. Perdue could make school lunches great again.

Some in the audience cheered. Some walked out.



For the full story, see:


KIM SEVERSON. "Will the Trump Era Transform the School Lunch?" The New York Times (Weds., SEPT. 6, 2017): D1 & D6.

(Note: the online version of the story has the date SEPT. 5, 2017, and has the title"Will the Trump Era Transform the School Lunch?")






September 19, 2017

Reducing Taxes and Regulations Can Boost Growth




(p. A2) The angst was on display this weekend at the annual conference of the American Economic Association, the profession's largest gathering. The conference is a showcase for agenda-setting research, a giant job fair for the nation's most promising young economists and, this year, the site of endless discussion about how to rebuild trust in the discipline.

Many academic economists have been champions of free trade and globalization, ideas under assault among rising populist movements in advanced economies around the world. The rise of President-elect Donald Trump, with his fierce rhetoric against elites, in particular, left many at this conference questioning their place in the world.

"The economic elite did many things to undermine their credibility while people's economic fortunes were taking a turn for the worse," said Steven Davis, an economist at the University of Chicago.


. . .


Stanford University's John Taylor and Columbia's Glenn Hubbard said Mr. Trump's plans to simplify the tax and regulatory codes could indeed boost the economy's growth. Both economists served in the past in the White House Council of Economic Advisers, long populated by academics who present at the AEA conference every January.

This year, academics are out in the cold. During the election The Wall Street Journal contacted every former member of the CEA, including those going back to President Richard Nixon. None had been tapped as an adviser to Mr. Trump's campaign, nor did any publicly endorse him.

The president-elect is "not particularly interested in hearing from the academic economist club," Mr. Davis said.



For the full story, see:

Josh Zumbrun. "Economists Grapple With Public Disdain." The Wall Street Journal (Mon., Jan. 9, 2017): A2.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Jan. 8, 2017, and has the title "Top Economists Grapple With Public Disdain for Initiatives They Championed.")







September 18, 2017

Best Sleep When Temperature Is 64-68 Degrees Fahrenheit




(p. 2) A poor night's sleep is an all too common problem when you're staying at a hotel, says Alistair Hughes, the managing director of Savoir Beds, a London-based company that sells beds and handmade mattresses to more than 50 hotels globally.


. . .


A quiet, dark, cool room is the ideal environment for sleeping well, Mr. Hughes said. Create this ambience by having ear plugs to block noise, using the blackout blinds your room likely has and setting the temperature to between 64 and 66 degrees Fahrenheit.



For the full commentary, see:

SHIVANI VORA. "Travel Tips; How to Get a Good Night's Sleep at a Hotel." The New York Times, Travel Section (Sun., Sept. 3, 2017): 2.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date AUG. 25 [sic], 2017. The first sentence quoted above is the slightly longer version that is online; not the slightly shorter version in the print edition.)






September 17, 2017

Courageous Grover Cleveland Belongs in "Entitlement Reform Hall of Fame"




(p. A11) Mr. Cogan has just written a riveting, massive book, "The High Cost of Good Intentions," on the history of entitlements in the U.S., and he describes how in 1972 the Senate "attached an across-the-board, permanent increase of 20% in Social Security benefits to a must-pass bill" on the debt ceiling. President Nixon grumbled loudly but signed it into law. In October, a month before his re-election, "Nixon reversed course and availed himself of an opportunity to take credit for the increase," Mr. Cogan says. "When checks went out to some 28 million recipients, they were accompanied by a letter that said that the increase was 'signed into law by President Richard Nixon.' "

The Nixon episode shows, says Mr. Cogan, that entitlements have been the main cause of America's rising national debt since the early 1970s. Mr. Trump's pact with the Democrats is part of a pattern: "The debt ceiling has to be raised this year because elected representatives have again failed to take action to control entitlement spending."


. . .


Mr. Cogan conceived the book about four years ago when, as part of his research into 19th-century spending patterns, he "saw this remarkable phenomenon of the growth in Civil War pensions. By the 1890s, 30 years after it had ended, pensions from the war accounted for 40% of all federal government spending." About a million people were getting Civil War pensions, he found, compared with 8,000 in 1873, eight years after the war. Mr. Cogan wondered what caused that "extraordinary growth" and whether it was unique.

When he went back to the stacks to look at pensions from the Revolutionary War, he saw "exactly the same pattern." It dawned on him, he says, that this matched "the evolutionary pattern of modern entitlements, such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps."


. . .


Who would feature in an Entitlement Reform Hall of Fame? Mr. Cogan's blue eyes shine contentedly at this question, as he utters the two words he seems to love most: Grover Cleveland. "He was the very first president to take on an entitlement. He objected to the large Civil War program and thought it needed to be reformed." Cleveland was largely unsuccessful, but was a "remarkably courageous president." In his time, Congress had started passing private relief bills, giving out individual pensions "on a grand scale. They'd take 100 or 200 of these bills on a Friday afternoon and pass them with a single vote. Incredibly, 55% of all bills introduced in the Senate in its 1885 to 1887 session were such private pension bills.".



For the full interview, see:

Tunku Varadarajan. "THE WEEKEND INTERVIEW with John F. Cogan; Why Entitlements Keep Growing, and Growing, and . . .." The Wall Street Journal (Tues., Sept. 9, 2017): A11.

(Note: ellipsis in title, in original; other ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the interview has the date Sept. 8, 2017, and has the title "THE WEEKEND INTERVIEW; Why Entitlements Keep Growing, and Growing, and . . ..".)


The Cogan book, mentioned above, is:

Cogan, John F. The High Cost of Good Intentions: A History of U.S. Federal Entitlement Programs. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2017.






September 16, 2017

GDP Neglects Benefits of New Goods




(p. A13) . . . [one] source of underestimation of growth is the failure to capture the benefit of new goods and services. Here's how the current procedure works: When a new product is developed and sold to the public, its market value enters into nominal gross domestic product. But there is no attempt to take into account the full value to consumers created by the new product per se.

Think about statins, the remarkable class of drugs that lower cholesterol and reduce deaths from heart attacks. By 2003 statins were the best-selling pharmaceutical product in history. The total dollar amount of statin sales was counted in GDP, but the government's measure of real income never included anything for improvements in health that resulted from statins--such as a one-third decrease in the death rate from heart disease among those over 65 between 2000 and 2007.

Or consider consumer electronics. New York University economist William Easterly recently tweeted an image of a 1991 RadioShack newspaper ad and noted that all the functions of the devices on sale--clock radio, calculator, cellphone, tape-recorder, compact-disk player, camcorder, desktop computer--are "now available on a $200 smartphone." The benefits to consumers from these advances don't show up in GDP.



For the full commentary, see:


Martin Feldstein. "We're Richer Than We Realize; The official economic statistics fail to account for quality improvements and new products." The Wall Street Journal (Sat., Sept. 9, 2017): A13.

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

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Sept. 8, 2017.)






September 15, 2017

When 4% Economic Growth Was Routine




(p. R3) Starting in 1983, when Ronald Reagan was in the middle of his first presidential term, the American economy reeled off three straight years of 4% growth. The economy went on to hit that politically important target in nine of the next 17 years. In fact, even as Mr. Bush ran for re-election, the economy actually was revving up after a two-year lull, though the surge came too late for voters to realize it.

Then, at the turn into a new millennium, that streak stopped. In the last 15 years, the American economy hasn't grown at a 4% annual rate even once.

But it isn't just the U.S. In the last 15 years, according to International Monetary Fund data, exactly one of the traditional seven major industrialized nations achieved annual economic growth of 4%, one time: Japan in 2010.

In sum, the kind of economic growth that used to be relatively routine in the industrialized world has become virtually extinct.

This low-growth era leaves political leaders facing two unsavory tasks. The first is to explain to unhappy voters why growth is so anemic, and the second is to convince them that they know what to do about it.



For the full commentary, see:

Gerald F. Seib. "Politicians Pine for Elusive Solution to Voters' Discontent: 4% Growth." The Wall Street Journal (Tues., Jan. 17, 2017): R3.

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Jan. 16, 2017.)







September 14, 2017

Lower 50% Have Largely Stagnated in Recent Decades




(p. B1) Even with all the setbacks from recessions, burst bubbles and vanishing industries, the United States has still pumped out breathtaking riches over the last three and half decades.

The real economy more than doubled in size; the government now uses a substantial share of that bounty to hand over as much as $5 trillion to help working families, older people, disabled and unemployed people pay for a home, visit a doctor and put their children through school.

Yet for half of all Americans, their share of the total economic pie has shrunk significantly, new research has found.

This group -- the approximately 117 million adults stuck on the lower half of the income ladder -- "has been completely shut off from economic growth since the 1970s," the team of economists found. "Even after taxes and transfers, there has been close to zero growth for working-age adults in the bottom 50 percent."


. . .


(p. B3) By 2014, the average income of half of American adults had barely budged, remaining around $16,000, while members of the top 1 percent brought home, on average, $1,304,800 or 81 times as much.

That ratio, the authors point out, "is similar to the gap between the average income in the United States and the average income in the world's poorest countries, the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic and Burundi."

The growth of incomes has probably increased a bit since 2014, the latest year for which full data exists, said Mr. Zucman, who, like Mr. Saez, also teaches at the University of California, Berkeley. But it is "not enough to make any significant difference to our long-run finding, and in particular, to affect the long-run stagnation of bottom-50-percent incomes."


. . .


Mr. Piketty, Mr. Saez and Mr. Zucman concluded that the main driver of wealth in recent years has been investment income at the top. That is a switch from the 1980s and 1990s, when gains in income were primarily generated by working.



For the full story, see:

PATRICIA COHEN. ""A Bigger Pie, but Uneven Slices; Research Shows Slim Gains for the Bottom 50 Percent." The New York Times (Weds., DEC. 7, 2016): B1 & B3.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date DEC. 6, 2016, and has the title "A Bigger Economic Pie, but a Smaller Slice for Half of the U.S." The print article shares the title "A Bigger Pie, but Uneven Slices" with a commentary by Eduardo Porter. The Cohen article has the unique subtitle "Research Shows Slim Gains for the Bottom 50 Percent.")


The July 7, 2017 draft of Piketty, Saez and Zucman's working paper, mentioned above, is:

Piketty, Thomas, Emmanuel Saez, and Gabriel Zucman. "Distributional National Accounts: Methods and Estimates for the United States." Working Paper, July 6, 2017.






September 13, 2017

"We Liberals" Oppose Diversity of Ideas




(p. 11) We liberals are adept at pointing out the hypocrisies of Trump, but we should also address our own hypocrisy in terrain we govern, such as most universities: Too often, we embrace diversity of all kinds except for ideological. Repeated studies have found that about 10 percent of professors in the social sciences or the humanities are Republicans.

We champion tolerance, except for conservatives and evangelical Christians. We want to be inclusive of people who don't look like us -- so long as they think like us.

I fear that liberal outrage at Trump's presidency will exacerbate the problem of liberal echo chambers, by creating a more hostile environment for conservatives and evangelicals. Already, the lack of ideological diversity on campuses is a disservice to the students and to liberalism itself, with liberalism collapsing on some campuses into self-parody.


. . .


Whatever our politics, inhabiting a bubble makes us more shrill. Cass Sunstein, a Harvard professor, conducted a fascinating study of how groupthink shapes federal judges when they are randomly assigned to three-judge panels.

When liberal judges happened to be temporarily put on a panel with other liberals, they usually swung leftward. Conversely, conservative judges usually moved rightward when randomly grouped with other conservatives.

It's the judicial equivalent of a mob mentality. And if this happens to judges, imagine what happens to you and me.

Sunstein, a liberal and a Democrat who worked in the Obama administration, concluded that the best judicial decisions arose from divided panels, where judges had to confront counterarguments.

Yet universities are often the equivalent of three-judge liberal panels, and the traditional Democratic dominance has greatly increased since the mid-1990s -- apparently because of a combination of discrimination and self-selection. Half of academics in some fields said in a survey that they would discriminate in hiring decisions against an evangelical.

The weakest argument against intellectual diversity is that conservatives or evangelicals have nothing to add to the conversation. "The idea that conservative ideas are dumb is so preposterous that you have to live in an echo chamber to think of it," Sunstein told me..



For the full commentary, see:

Kristof, Nicholas. "The Dangers of Echo Chambers on Campus." The New York Times, SundayReview Section (Sun., DEC. 11, 2016): 11.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date DEC. 10, 2016.)


Cass Sunstein's research on the effect of political orientation on federal judges' decisions, mentioned above, was most fully reported in:

Sunstein, Cass R., David Schkade, Lisa M. Ellman, and Andres Sawicki. Are Judges Political?: An Empirical Analysis of the Federal Judiciary. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 2006.







September 12, 2017

Warren Buffett: High-Tech Especially Hard to Predict




(p. 1D) Turns out that Warren Buffett spoke out in IBM's favor, sort of, 37 years ago when the government accused "Big Blue" of illegal
anti-competitive practices.


. . .


But Buffett was one of 87 witnesses who testified on behalf of the International Business Machines Corp. during the federal government's antitrust trial.


. . .


In his testimony, Buffett said he asked the Price, Waterhouse accounting firm to calculate the debt levels of 104 other computer-oriented companies that, according to federal prosecutors, were harmed by IBM's low prices and other alleged anti-competitive actions.

Buffett said his hypothesis was that the competing companies had trouble raising money to finance their growth because they had too much debt. The accounting analy-(p. 2D)sis, Buffett said in court, "bore that hypothesis out in a very conclusive manner."

So why didn't he buy IBM stock in 1980?

Because, he told the court, with high-tech companies it's "particularly difficult to have a clear view of a long-term future. ... High-technology companies are ones where both the product and the customer's use of it are (areas in which) I don't feel I have a full understanding."



For the full commentary, see:

Steve Jordon. "WARREN WATCH; What Buffett said in court about IBM in 1980." Omaha World-Herald (Sun., Jan 22, 2017): 1D-2D.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the title "WARREN WATCH; What Warren Buffett said in court about IBM in 1980.")






September 11, 2017

Half of Today's 36-Year-Olds Earn Less Than Their Parents Did at Same Age




FadingAmericanDreamGraph2017-09-08.pngSource of graph: http://www.equality-of-opportunity.org/




(p. 2) These days, people are arguably more worried about the American dream than at any point since the Depression. But there has been no real measure of it, despite all of the data available. No one has known how many Americans are more affluent than their parents were -- and how the number has changed.

The beginnings of a breakthrough came several years ago, when a team of economists led by Raj Chetty received access to millions of tax records that stretched over decades. The records were anonymous and came with strict privacy rules, but nonetheless allowed for the linking of generations.

The resulting research is among the most eye-opening economics work in recent years.


. . .


After the research began appearing, I mentioned to Chetty, a Stanford professor, and his colleagues that I thought they had a chance to do something no one yet had: create an index of the American dream. It took them months of work, using old Census data to estimate long-ago decades, but they have done it. They've constructed a data set that shows the percentage of American children who earn more money -- and less money -- than their parents earned at the same age.

The index is deeply alarming. It's a portrait of an economy that disappoints a huge number of people who have heard that they live in a country where life gets better, only to experience something quite different.


. . .


About 92 percent of 1940 babies had higher pretax inflation-adjusted household earnings at age 30 than their parents had at the same age.


. . .


For babies born in 1980 -- today's 36-year-olds -- the index of the American dream has fallen to 50 percent: Only half of them make as much money as their parents did.



For the full commentary, see:

Leonhardt, David. "The American Dream, Quantified at Last." The New York Times, SundayReview Section (Sun., DEC. 11, 2016): 2.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date DEC. 8, 2016.)


The Chetty co-authored paper mentioned above, is:

Chetty, Raj, David Grusky, Maximilian Hell, Nathaniel Hendren, Robert Manduca, and Jimmy Narang. "The Fading American Dream: Trends in Absolute Income Mobility since 1940." Science 356, no. 6336 (2017): 398-406.







September 10, 2017

Venture Capital Stars Invested in Over-Hyped "Symbol of Silicon Valley's Insular Excess"




(p. B2) MONTEREY, Calif. -- From the moment it started, Juicero stood out as a symbol of Silicon Valley's insular excess.

The company sold a $700 Wi-Fi-enabled juicer, trying to solve a problem that did not exist. It also raised some $120 million, and attracted a mountain of attention.

But on Friday, the company said it was shutting down operations -- joining the hordes of other Silicon Valley start-ups that could not deliver business results to match the hype.

Started by a health fanatic with a checkered history as an entrepreneur, Juicero devised an elaborate scheme to deliver small glasses of expensive cold pressed juice to kitchens around the country. The machine scanned codes printed on pouches of chopped produce to help assess the freshness of the contents inside. Doug Evans, the founder, hired engineers, food scientists and fashionable industrial designers to work alongside him.

The company was a particularly bold bid to capitalize on the hype around the so-called internet of things and interest in the juice business. Mr. Evans believed there was a legion of customers who, once they tasted his juice, would find it superior to the many varieties that can be bought at convenience stores, juice bars or even Walmart.

Top venture capital firms including Google's venture capital spinoff and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, as well as big companies like Campbell Soup, invested heavily in the company.



For the full story, see:


DAVID GELLES. "Start-Up That Sold $700 Juicer Shuts Down." The New York Times (Sat., SEPT. 2, 2017): B2.

(Note: the online version of the story has the date SEPT. 1, 2017, and has the title "Juicero, Start-Up With a $700 Juicer and Top Investors, Shuts Down." )






September 9, 2017

"Bankruptcies and Losses Concentrate the Mind on Prudent Behavior"




(p. A18) Allan H. Meltzer, an influential conservative economist who strongly opposed government bailouts and was credited with coining the anti-bailout slogan, "Capitalism without failure is like religion without sin," died on Monday in Pittsburgh. He was 89.


. . .

In books like "Why Capitalism?" (2012), Dr. Meltzer promoted the view that countries and investors should suffer the consequences of their mistakes, whether flawed fiscal measures or bad lending decisions.

In coining the slogan "Capitalism without failure is like religion without sin," he added another maxim: "Bankruptcies and losses concentrate the mind on prudent behavior."


. . .


In recent years Mr. Meltzer found a new interest in law and regulation. He and other scholars were working on a book, "Regulation and the Rule of Law."



For the full obituary, see:

ZACH WICHTER. "Allan H. Meltzer, Economist Averse to Bailouts, Dies at 89." The New York Times (Sat., MAY 13, 2017): A18.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the obituary has the date MAY 12, 2017, and has the title "Allan H. Meltzer, Conservative Economist, Dies at 89.")


Meltzer's book on capitalism, mentioned above, is:

Meltzer, Allan H. Why Capitalism? New York: Oxford University Press, 2012.






September 8, 2017

Cashless Toll Technology Enables Congestion Pricing in Manhattan




(p. A15) As debate about creating a toll system to limit traffic in the most congested parts of Manhattan heats up, a transformation in technology could make congestion pricing a far more realistic notion than when it was last proposed a decade ago.

By the end of the year, nine crossings around the city will employ an open-road, cashless collection system that does away with tollbooths, toll lanes and toll collectors. Instead, sensors and cameras installed both above the road and in the pavement itself will capture cars and trucks as they zip by at full speed - automatically charging the 90 percent of drivers with E-ZPass transponders, and billing the other 10 percent by mail.

A decade ago, when the Bloomberg administration first proposed congestion pricing, such tolling technology was in its infancy and not widely used. Now, it is in place in some 35 jurisdictions, and its deployment in New York is the most ambitious use of the technology in a complicated urban setting.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who had not shown any enthusiasm for congestion pricing, has embraced the idea of late as a way to raise billions of dollars for the city's ailing subway system. But Mayor Bill de Blasio has been steadfast in his opposition, and has instead pushed a plan to raise transportation funds by increasing taxes on wealthy New Yorkers.

Mr. Cuomo has yet to release a detailed congestion-pricing plan, but most schemes being discussed call for tolling vehicles to enter crowded parts of Manhattan, and doing so in a way that that does not slow the flow of traffic. By making toll-collecting all but invisible, Mr. Cuomo hopes congestion pricing will be more politically viable this time around.



For the full story, see:

MARC SANTORA. "Cashless Toll System Could Pave the Way for Manhattan Congestion Pricing." The New York Times (Sat., AUG. 26, 2017): A15.

(Note: the online version of the story has the date AUG. 25, 2017, and has the title "Open-Road Tolls Could Pave the Way for Manhattan Congestion Pricing.")






September 7, 2017

More Workers Benefit from Driverless Cars, Than Are Hurt




(p. A2) Self-driving vehicles have the potential to reshape a wide range of occupations held by roughly one in nine American workers, according to a new U.S. government report.

About 3.8 million people drive taxis, trucks, ambulances and other vehicles for a living. An additional 11.7 million workers drive as part of their work, including personal care aides, police officers, real-estate agents and plumbers. In all, that's roughly 11.3% of total U.S. employment based on 2015 occupational data, according to the analysis by three Commerce Department economists.

If businesses embrace autonomous vehicles on a large scale, workers in the first category are "more likely to be displaced" from their jobs, while workers in the latter group "may be more likely to benefit from greater productivity and better working conditions," wrote David Beede, Regina Powers and Cassandra Ingram in the report, released Friday.



For the full story, see:

Ben Leubsdorf. "Driverless Cars May Alter 1 in 9 Jobs." The Wall Street Journal (Tues., Aug 15, 2017): A2.

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Aug 14, 2017, and has the title "Self-Driving Cars Could Transform Jobs Held by 1 in 9 U.S. Workers.")


The report summarized in the passages quoted above, is:

Beede, David, Regina Powers, and Cassandra Ingram. "The Employment Impact of Autonomous Vehicles." ESA Issue Brief, #05-17, Aug. 11, 2017.






September 6, 2017

"Achievement Is a Magnet to Mentors and a Beacon to Backers"




(p. 7) It's true that networking can help you accomplish great things. But this obscures the opposite truth: Accomplishing great things helps you develop a network.

Look at big breaks in entertainment. For George Lucas, a turning point was when Francis Ford Coppola hired him as a production assistant and went on to mentor him. Mr. Lucas didn't schmooze his way into the relationship, though. As a film student he'd won first prize at a national festival and a scholarship to be an apprentice on a Warner Bros. film -- he picked one of Mr. Coppola's.

Or take Justin Bieber's career: Although it took off after Usher signed him, he didn't network his way into that meeting. Mr. Bieber taught himself to sing and play four instruments, put a handful of videos on YouTube, and a manager ended up clicking on one. Adele was discovered that way, too: She wrote and recorded a three-song demo, a friend posted it on Myspace, and a music exec heard it. Developing talent -- and sharing it -- catapulted them into those connections.

For entrepreneurs, too, achievement is a magnet to mentors and a beacon to backers. Spanx took off when Oprah Winfrey chose it as one of her favorite things of the year -- but not because she was stalked by the company's founder, Sara Blakely. For two and a half years, Ms. Blakely sold fax machines by day so that she could build her prototype of footless pantyhose by night. She sent one from the first batch to Ms. Winfrey.

Networks help, of course. In a study of internet security start-ups, having a previous connection to an investor increased the odds of getting funded by that investor in the first year. But it was pretty much irrelevant afterward. Accomplishments were the dominant driver of who invested over time.

Similarly, researchers found that in hospitals, the radiologists who ended up with the most desirable networks were the ones with the highest performance nine months earlier. And in banks, star performers attracted bigger networks and were more likely to maintain those ties. Achievements don't just help us make connections; they also help sustain those connections.


. . .


So stop fretting about networking. Take a page out of the George Lucas and Sara Blakely playbooks: Make an intriguing film, build a useful product.

And don't feel pressure to go to networking events. No one really mixes at mixers. Although we plan to meet new people, we usually end up hanging out with old friends. The best networking happens when people gather for a purpose other than networking, to learn from one another or help one another.



For the full commentary, see:

Grant, Adam. "Networking Is Overrated." The New York Times, SundayReview Section (Sun., AUG. 27, 2017): 7.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date AUG. 24, 2017, and has the title "Good News for Young Strivers: Networking Is Overrated.")






September 5, 2017

"Many of Our Worst Behaviors Are in Retreat"




(p. A19) Mr. Sapolsky is one of those very few eminent scientists who are also eminent--or even coherent--when writing for the general public.


. . .


The author's comprehensive approach integrates controlled laboratory investigation with naturalistic observations and study. To his immense credit, he doesn't omit cultural norms, social learning, the role of peer pressure or historical tradition. He also has a delightfully self-deprecating sense of humor. Introducing a chapter titled "War and Peace," he summarizes the chapter's goals as: (a) to demonstrate that "many of our worst behaviors are in retreat, our best ones ascendant"; (b) to examine "ways to improve this further"; (c) to derive "emotional support for this venture" (d) and, "finally, to see if I can actually get away with calling this chapter 'War and Peace.' " Earlier, after an especially abstruse sentence, he adds a footnote: "I have no idea what it is that I just wrote."


. . .


It's no exaggeration to say that "Behave" is one of the best nonfiction books I've ever read. .



For the full review, see:

David P. Barash. "BOOKSHELF; How the Brain Makes Us Do It; Biology can explain but not excuse our worst behavior; Testosterone may drive a vicious warlord, but social triggers shape his actions." The Wall Street Journal (Tues., May 2, 2017): A19.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the review has the date May 1, 2017.)


The book under review, is:

Sapolsky, Robert M. Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst. New York: Penguin Press 2017.






September 4, 2017

Natural Gas Tanker Reaches South Korea 30 Percent Faster, Through Arctic




(p. 12) A Russian-owned tanker, built to traverse the frozen waters of the Arctic, completed a journey in record time from Europe to Asia this month, auguring the future of shipping as global warming melts sea ice.

The Christophe de Margerie, a 984-foot tanker built specifically for the journey, became the first ship to complete the so-called Northern Sea Route without the aid of specialized ice-breaking vessels, the ship's owner, Sovcomflot, said in a statement.


. . .


The ship, transporting liquefied natural gas, completed the trip from Norway to South Korea Thursday of last week, in just 19 days, 30 percent faster than the regular route through the Suez Canal, the company said.

Sailors have for centuries sought a navigable Northwest Passage: a shorter, faster route between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans that transits the Arctic.



For the full story, see:

RUSSELL GOLDMAN. "No Icebreaker Needed: Thaw Lets Tanker Traverse Arctic." The New York Times, First Section (Sun., AUG. 27, 2017): 12.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date AUG. 25, 2017, and has the title "Russian Tanker Completes Arctic Passage Without Aid of Icebreakers.")






September 3, 2017

3-D Printing Promises Goods Quicker, Cheaper, More Local, and More Customized




(p. B3) With the rise of new technologies like smartphones and 3-D printers, fashion start-ups like Feetz are changing the ways goods are ordered, made and sold.

Like Ms. Beard, several founders of these companies don't have fashion backgrounds. Instead, they consider technology the answer to off-the rack, mass-produced goods, which are increasingly shunned by millennials. Consumers with hard-to-find sizes -- like petite, or big and tall -- will find shopping simpler.

Traditionally, manufacturing is the most expensive part of the retail supply chain. Creating goods in small batches is difficult and costly. Most are manufactured overseas, and shipping goods to the United States adds time and cost to the process. So even "fast fashion" can take about six weeks to hit store shelves.

The beauty of instant, customized fashion, experts say, is that goods can be made at a lower cost and more quickly -- yet in a personalized style.


. . .


These are still early days for 3-D printing, said Uli Becker, the former chief executive of Reebok and an investor in Feetz. The offerings are not very diversified, and they are limited to basic goods. And fabric cannot yet be printed.

But he sees great potential for 3-D printing. "You can start producing in America, for America," he said. "Production facilities can be in the same place where you sell products, which creates jobs."


. . .


"We're a technology company that creates T-shirts," said Walker Williams, 27, chief executive of Teespring, who started the company with Evan Stites-Clayton, a friend from Brown University. "The future of fashion is in smaller brands that have relationships with customers."



For the full story, see:

CONSTANCE GUSTKE. "ENTREPRENEURSHIP; With Analytics and 3-D Printers, a Faster Fashion Just for You." The New York Times (Thurs., SEPT. 15, 2016): B3.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date SEPT. 14, 2016, and has the title "ENTREPRENEURSHIP; Your Next Pair of Shoes Could Come From a 3-D Printer.")






September 2, 2017

Large Carbon Footprint of Air Travel to Climate Activist Meetings




(p. 7A) If climate change is really such a crisis, and if sacrifice on our part is needed to stop it, why aren't we seeing more sacrifice from people who think it's a problem?

As one person asked on Twitter, "What if climate scientists decided, as a group, to make their conferences all virtual? No more air travel. What a statement!" And what if academics in general--most of whom think climate change is a big deal--started doing the same thing to make an even bigger statement?

What if politicians and celebrities stopped jetting around the world--often on wasteful private jets instead of flying commercial with the hoi polloi--as a statement of the importance of fighting climate change?

And what if they lived in average-sized houses, to reduce their carbon footprints? What if John Kerry, who was much put out by President Trump's withdrawal from the non-binding Paris agreement, gave up his yacht-and-mansions lifestyle ?

What if, indeed? One reason so many people don't take climate change seriously is that the people who constantly tell us it's a crisis never actually act like it's a crisis.



For the full commentary, see:

Reynolds, Glenn Harlan. "To Fight Climate Change, Start with Celebs, Pols." USA Today (Mon., June 12, 2017): 7A.






September 1, 2017

Inventor of Submarine "Was Shunted Aside"




(p. C6) There are very few wars in history that begin, dramatically, with a brand-new weapon displaying its transformative power, but one such case occurred in the southern North Sea in September 1914, when three large cruisers of the Royal Navy were torpedoed and swiftly sunk by a diminutive German U-boat, the U-9. At that moment, the age of the attack submarine was born, and the struggle for naval supremacy for a great part of both World War I and World War II was defined. The U-boat--shorthand for "Unterseeboot"--had come of age.

It is appropriate, then, that the historian Lawrence Goldstone begins "Going Deep" with a dramatic re-telling of the U-9's exploit. It should be said immediately that his chronicle doesn't present the whole history of submarine warfare but rather the story of the efforts of various American inventors and entrepreneurs--above all, an Irish-born engineer named John Philip Holland--to create a power-driven, human-directed and sub-marine vessel that could stalk and then, with its torpedoes, obliterate even the most powerful of surface warships.


. . .


"Going Deep" ends in 1914. By that time, the U.S. Navy was on its way to possessing some submarines--vessels equipped with torpedoes that were therefore capable, in theory, of sinking an enemy's warships or his merchant marine, although in fact these boats were aimed at only coastal defense. And by 1914 American industry could boast of a nascent submarine-building capacity, especially in the form of the Electric Boat Co., which was to survive the capriciousness of the Navy Department's "on-off" love affair with the submarine until World War II finally proved its undoubted power.

But these successes, limited though they were, were not John Philip Holland's. He had played a major role--really, the greatest role--in developing the early submarine, grasping that it could transform naval warfare. He had grappled with and overcome most of the daunting technological obstacles in the way of making his vision a reality. Mr. Goldstone is surely right to give him such prominence. But eventually Holland was shunted aside by more ruthless entrepreneurs, diddled by business partners and denied Navy contracts. He passed away on Aug. 12, 1914, just as World War I was beginning. By then, feeling beaten and having retired, he was a quiet churchman and amateur historian. This part of Mr. Goldstone's story is not a happy one.



For the full review, see:


Kennedy, Paul. "A Man Down Below; How an Irish-American engineer developed a Jules Verne-like wonder-weapon of the deep." The Wall Street Journal (Sat., June 17, 2017): C6.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the review has the date June 16, 2017.)


The book under review, is:

Goldstone, Lawrence. Going Deep: John Philip Holland and the Invention of the Attack Submarine. New York: Pegasus Books Ltd., 2017.






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