« October 2017 | Main


November 19, 2017

German Energy Consumers Pay Double Due to Ineffective Solar Subsidies




(p. B1) BETZIGAU, Germany -- Katharina Zinnecker's farm in the foothills of the German Alps has been in the family since 1699. But to squeeze a living from it today, she and her husband need to do more than sell the milk from their herd of cows.

So they carpeted the roofs of their farm buildings with solar panels. And thanks to hefty government guarantees, what they earn from selling electricity is "safe money, not like cows," Ms. Zinnecker said. "Milk prices go up and down."

The farm has been a beneficiary of "Energiewende," the German word for energy transition. Over the past two decades, Germany has focused its political will and treasure on a world-leading effort to wean its powerful economy off the traditional energy sources blamed for climate change.

The benefits of the program have not been universally felt, however. A de facto class system has emerged, saddling a group of have-nots with higher electricity bills that help subsidize the installation of solar panels and wind turbines elsewhere.


. . .


(p. B2) . . . renewable energy subsidies are financed through electric bills, meaning that Energiewende is a big part of the reason prices for consumers have doubled since 2000.

These big increases "are absolutely not O.K.," said Thomas Engelke, team leader for construction and energy at the Federation of German Consumer Organizations, an umbrella organization of consumer groups.

The higher prices have had political consequences.

The far-right party Alternative for Germany, which won enough support in the recent elections to enter Parliament, has called for an "immediate exit" from Energiewende. The party, known by its German initials AfD, sees the program as a "burden" on German households, and many supporters have come into its fold in part because of the program's mounting costs.

Julian Hermneuwöhner is one such voter. Mr. Hermneuwöhner, a 27-year-old computer science student, said his family paid an additional €800 a year because of Energiewende.

"But it hasn't brought lower CO2 emissions," he said. "It's frustrating that we're paying so much more, because the country hasn't gotten anything for it."

As a clean energy pioneer, Germany has not always seen the results it desired from its heavy spending.


. . .


. . . progress has been undone somewhat by the government's decision to accelerate its phase out of nuclear power after the 2011 disaster in Fukushima, Japan. That has made the country more reliant on its sizable fleet of coal-fired power stations, which account for the bulk of emissions from electricity generation.

The country has yet to address the transport industry, where emissions have increased as the economy boomed and more cars and trucks hit the road.



For the full story, see:

STANLEY REED. "$222 Billion Shift Hits a Snag." The New York Times (Thurs., OCT. 7, 2017): B1-B2.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the title "Germany's Shift to Green Power Stalls, Despite Huge Investments.")






November 18, 2017

Will the Breakthrough Innovative Founder Always Overshadow His Successor?




JobsSteveAndTimCook2017-10-01.jpg"Ten years after Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone, Tim Cook, his successor, opened the latest Apple product launch." Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.




(p. B2) Mr. Jobs, who died in 2011, loomed over Tuesday's nostalgic presentation. The Apple C.E.O., Tim Cook, paid tribute, his voice cracking with emotion, Mr. Jobs's steeple-fingered image looming as big onstage as Big Brother's face in the classic Macintosh "1984" commercial. Mr. Cook even revived Mr. Jobs's patented "One more thing ..." line, but reverentially: "We have great respect for these words, and we don't use them lightly."


. . .


Mr. Cook is an amiable presenter, but he doesn't pretend to have Mr. Jobs's magnetism.



For the full commentary, see:

JAMES PONIEWOZIK. "CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK; Selling Us a Better Vision of Ourselves." The New York Times (Weds., SEPT. 13, 2017): B1-B2.

(Note: ellipsis internal to paragraph, in original; ellipsis between paragraphs, added.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date SEPT. 12, 2017, and has the title "CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK; At the Apple Keynote, Selling Us a Better Vision of Ourselves.")






November 17, 2017

On Private Property, Innovator "Can Try New Ideas Without as Much Red Tape"




(p. B1) SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Molly Jackson, an 82-year-old retired nurse, was sitting in the back seat of a self-driving taxi when the vehicle jerked to a halt at a crossing as its computer vision spotted an approaching golf cart.

When the vehicle, a modified Ford Fusion developed by a start-up named Voyage, started to inch forward, it abruptly stopped again as the golfers pressed ahead and cut in front of the car.

Ms. Jackson seemed unfazed by the bumpy ride. As a longtime resident of the Villages Golf and Country Club, a retirement community in San Jose, Calif., she knew all about aggressive golf cart drivers.

"I like that; we made a good stop there," Ms. Jackson said. "I stop for them. They say we don't have to, but I do."


. . .


The speed limit, just 25 miles an hour, helps reduce the risk if something goes wrong. And because it is private property, the company does not have to share ride information with regulators and it can try new ideas without as much red tape.

(p. B6) Cars that can drive themselves could be a great benefit to older people. Residents at the Villages say that once people stop driving, they often pull back from activities and interacting with friends.



For the full story, see:

DAISUKE WAKABAYASHI. "Where Cars Brake for Golf Carts." The New York Times (Thurs., OCT. 5, 2017): B1 & B6.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date OCT. 4, 2017, and has the title "Where Driverless Cars Brake for Golf Carts.")






November 16, 2017

Can "Radical Transparency" Work "in Today's Polarized and Litigious World"?




(p. B1) In 1993, Ray Dalio, the chairman of what is today the largest hedge fund in the world, Bridgewater Associates, received a memo signed by his top three lieutenants that was startlingly honest in its assessment of him.

It was a performance review of sorts, and not in a good way. After mentioning his positive attributes, they spelled out the negatives. "Ray sometimes says or does things to employees which makes them feel incompetent, unnecessary, humiliated, overwhelmed, belittled, pressed or otherwise bad," the memo read. "If he doesn't manage people well, growth will be stunted and we will all be affected."

To Mr. Dalio, the message was both devastating and a wake-up call. His reaction: "Ugh. That hurt and surprised me."

That moment helped push Mr. Dalio to rethink how he approached people and to begin developing a unique -- and sometimes controversial -- culture inside his firm, one based on a series of "principles" that place the idea of "radical transparency" above virtually all else.


. . .


(p. B5) Of course, the larger question is whether Mr. Dalio's version of utopia -- a place where employees feel comfortable offering blunt and in some cases brutal feedback -- can exist outside Bridgewater's controlled environment of mostly self-selecting individuals who either embrace the philosophy or quickly exit. Given the intense environment, as you might expect, there are horror stories of employees who have left in tears. Turnover among new employees is high.

Mr. Dalio's critics -- and there are many -- say his principles offer permission to be verbally barbaric, and they question whether the $160 billion firm's success is a product of such "radical transparency" or whether he can afford such a wide-ranging social experiment simply because the firm is so financially successful.

In truth, it is hard to imagine how harsh individual critiques in the workplace can work at many other organizations in today's polarized and litigious world, where people are increasingly looking for "safe spaces" and those who say they are offended by a particular argument are derided as "fragile snowflakes."



For the full commentary, see:

Sorkin, Andrew Ross. "DEALBOOK; Bridgewater's Ray Dalio Dives Deeper Into the 'Principles' of Tough Love." The Wall Street Journal (Sat., Sept. 5, 2017): B1 & B5.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Sept. 4, 2017, and has the title, "DEALBOOK; Bridgewater's Ray Dalio Dives Deeper Into the 'Principles' of Tough Love." )


The Dalio book, discussed above, is:

Dalio, Ray. Principles: Life and Work. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2017.






November 15, 2017

"There Comes a Time When You Get Tired of Being a Slave"




(p. A1) RIO DE JANEIRO -- In a rare act of collective defiance, scores of Cuban doctors working overseas to make money for their families and their country are suing to break ranks with the Cuban government, demanding to be released from what one judge called a "form of slave labor."

Thousands of Cuban doctors work abroad under contracts with the Cuban authorities. Countries like Brazil pay the island's Communist government millions of dollars every month to provide the medical services, effectively making the doctors Cuba's most valuable export.

But the doctors get a small cut of that money, and a growing number of them in Brazil have begun to rebel. In the last year, at least 150 Cuban doctors have filed lawsuits in Brazilian courts to challenge the arrangement, demanding to be treated as independent contractors who earn full salaries, not agents of the Cuban state.

"When you leave Cuba for the first time, you discover many things that you had been blind to," said Yaili Jiménez Gutierrez, one of the doctors who filed suit. "There comes a time when you get tired of being a slave."


. . .


(p. A10) . . . , Dr. Jiménez, 34, found the work rewarding, but also began to harbor feelings of resentment.

"You are trained in Cuba and our education is free, health care is free, but at what price?" she said. "You wind up paying for it your whole life."


. . .


"We keep one another strong," said Dr. Jiménez, who says she has been unemployed since being fired in June and is now barred from re-entering Cuba for eight years.

Dr. Álvarez and her husband were among the lucky ones to keep their jobs and get what amounted to a huge pay raise. They also managed to bring their children to Brazil.

"It's sad to leave your family and friends and your homeland," she said. "But here we're in a country where you're free, where no one asks you where you're going, or tells you what you have to do. In Cuba, your life is dictated by the government."



For the full story, see:

ERNESTO LONDOÑO. "'Slave Labor'": Cuban Doctors Rebel in Brazil." The New York Times (Fri., SEPT. 29, 2017): A1 & A10.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the title "Cuban Doctors Revolt: 'You Get Tired of Being a Slave'.")






November 14, 2017

Washington, D.C. Regulators Protect Citizens from Goat Yoga




GoatYogaInGlendaleCalifornia2017-10-09.jpg"Goat yoga has spread nationwide since last year. Practitioners in Glendale, Calif., in May." Source of caption and photo: online version of the WSJ article quoted and cited below.



(p. A1) WASHINGTON--Young goats have on occasion grazed in the Historic Congressional Cemetery, deployed to keep down brush. A yoga instructor has been holding weekly classes in the chapel.

Goats and yoga go together, as any modern yogi knows. So, cemetery staff proposed this spring, why not combine them and bring inner peace to all on the grounds?

"I asked the farmer if there's any harm to the goats doing yoga," says Kelly Carnes, who teaches the discipline on the cemetery grounds. "She said quite the opposite--the baby goats just love to interact with humans."

Gruff was the response from District of Columbia officials. District policy, they decreed, prohibited the human-animal contact goat yoga presented: "At this time the request for the event with the inclusion of baby goats has been denied."


. . .


(p. A12) This spring at the Congressional Cemetery, Ms. Carnes read about goat yoga and raised the idea with participants in her "yoga mortis" classes at the cemetery. They were "crazy to try it," she says.

She spoke with Paul Williams, president of the nonprofit that manages the cemetery, about trying it with the goats they had twice hired over the past several years to eat down unwanted plants.

The cemetery planned to hold goat classes in a pen in a grassy area. In June, Mr. Williams sought permission from the health department.

The "no" came that month. The capital's health code, says Dr. Vito DelVento, manager of the District of Columbia Department of Health's animal-services program, bans animals beyond common household pets from within district limits.


. . .


Then there's Washington's "no touch" policy barring direct contact between humans and animals beyond household pets.

"Baby goats are probably one of the most fun animal species--they are a blast," says Dr. DelVento, who has farm animals outside the District and has raised goats. "But the fact that we have baby goats jumping on people and interacting with people obviously violates our 'no touch' policy."

Mr. Williams says he will try again next year when Mrs. Bowen has a fresh herd of kids. He will seek a no-touch-policy exemption.

"We're really trying to offer a service," says Mrs. Bowen, "that is good for people's mental health and physical health."



For the full story, see:

Daniel Nasaw. "The Kids Are Not Alright: Bureaucrats Buck Goat Yoga." The Wall Street Jounal (Sat., OCT. 2, 2017): A1 & A12.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date OCT. 1, 2017, and has the title "Goat Yoga, Meet the Zoning Board.")






November 13, 2017

Every Dog Should Have His Day, Including Togo




(p. A23) Central Park in New York has two Columbus statues, one a 76-foot-tall whopper at, um, Columbus Circle. The park is a sort of mass market for historical markers -- 29 statues, along with multitudinous plaques, busts, carved panels and memorial groves. Most of them are accompanied by critics. A park official once told me the only noncontroversial statue on the premises was Balto, the hero sled dog.

Balto was famous for bringing critical diphtheria serum to the then almost unreachable town of Nome, Alaska, in the winter in 1925. He was a real celebrity in his time. But I am sorry to tell you that he actually has had detractors.

"It was almost more than I could bear when the 'newspaper dog' Balto received a statue for his 'glorious achievements,'" sniped sled driver Leonhard Seppala, whose team ran the longest stretch of the 674-mile Serum Run. Seppala felt very strongly that his lead dog, Togo, was the true hero of the day.

On your behalf I have been looking into this controversy, and I would say it's possible Togo's cheerleaders had a point.



For the full commentary, see:


Collins, Gail. "Dogs, Saints and Columbus Day." The New York Times (Sat., Oct. 7, 2017): A23.

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Oct. 6, 2017,)






November 12, 2017

Gig Workers Have More Control Over Retirement Savings




(p. 2D) "There's this myth that the Gig Economy equals Uber driver," said Diane Mulcahy, who recently wrote a book on the subject. "If you are not a full-time employee in a full-time job, you are part of the Gig Economy."

While gig workers have been around as long as there have been handymen, tutors, writers and musicians, what's new about the Gig Economy is how quickly it has infiltrated white-collar professions and industries such as health care, finance, the law and technology, Mulcahy said. She is a private equity adviser for the Kauffman Foundation, which studies and supports entrepreneurship. As proof, she said, look at the growth of national online placement services like Toptal for tech and finance workers and Axiom for lawyers.


. . .


Managing volatile income can come down to ongoing business development and networking. Gig workers must make sure to keep business flowing through the development pipeline and writing contracts in a way that ensures ongoing cash flow, Mulcahy said.

Saving for retirement is one of the few areas where the independent contractor has an advantage because through IRAs and 401(k)s for the self-employed, they can save more quickly and at higher levels than their full-time brethren, she said.

This all comes as the economy has fundamentally changed.

"This is the future of work," Mulcahy said. "The full-time employee is getting to be the worker of last resort."



For the full story, see:

Miami Herald. "As full-time jobs slip away, Gig Economy movement leverages skills and passions into multiple jobs." The Wall Street Journal (Sat., Sept. 6, 2017): 1D-2D.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the title, "As full-time jobs slip away, Gig Economy movement leverages skills and passions into multiple jobs.")


The Mulcahy book, mentioned above, is:

Mulcahy, Diane. The Gig Economy: The Complete Guide to Getting Better Work, Taking More Time Off, and Financing the Life You Want. New York: AMACOM, 2016.







November 11, 2017

Extreme Left Attacks "Enlightenment Values: Reason, Inquiry and Dissent"




(p. A19) The revolution on college campuses, which seeks to eradicate individuals and ideas that are considered unsavory, constitutes a hostile takeover by fringe elements on the extreme left. Last spring at the Evergreen State College, where I was a professor for 15 years, the revolution was televised--proudly and intentionally--by the radicals. Opinions not fitting with the currently accepted dogma--that all white people are racist, that questioning policy changes aimed at achieving "equity" is itself an act of white supremacy--would not be tolerated, and those who disagreed were shouted down, hunted, assaulted, even battered. Similar eruptions have happened all over the country.

What may not be obvious from outside academia is that this revolution is an attack on Enlightenment values: reason, inquiry and dissent.


. . .


In a meeting with administrators at Evergreen last May [2017], protesters called, on camera, for college president George Bridges to target STEM faculty in particular for "antibias" training, on the theory that scientists are particularly prone to racism. That's obvious to them because scientists persist in using terms like "genetic" and "phenotype" when discussing humans. Mr. Bridges offers: "[What] we are working towards is, bring 'em in, train 'em, and if they don't get it, sanction them."



For the full commentary, see:


Heather Heying. "First, They Came for the Biologists; The postmodernist left on campus is intolerant not only of opposing views, but of science itself." The Wall Street Journal (Tues., Oct. 3, 2017): A19.

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

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Oct. 2, 2017, and has the title "U.K. Treasury Chief Defends Free-Market Capitalism Against Resurgent Opposition,")






November 10, 2017

Amateur Archaeologists Uncover Most Important Roman Site in Half Century




(p. A6) BOXFORD, England -- Their ages range from 9 to about 80. They include a butcher and a builder. Some devoted vacation days to laboring on their hands and knees in an open field.

The group of amateur archaeologists -- 55 in all, though only two dozen toiled on a typical day -- were part of an excavation project near the village of Boxford, in southern England. They had to contend not just with days of backbreaking work, but also with a daunting, two-week deadline to complete the challenging dig.

Their commitment was handsomely repaid, though, in a few magical moments one Saturday last month. As a layer of soil was carefully scooped away, small, muddy pieces of red-colored tiling glinted in the sunlight, probably for the first time in more than one and a half millenniums.

The mosaic that slowly emerged from the earth is part of a Roman villa, thought to date from 380 A.D., toward the end of the period of Roman domination of England. The find is being described as the most important of its type in Britain in more than half a century, and in this picturesque, riverside village of thatched cottages, the scale of the discovery is still sinking in.


. . .


"It was down to the volunteers, it really was. I get quite emotional about it; it was something to see their drive," added Mr. Nichol, project officer for Cotswold Archaeology, a company whose normal work includes helping real estate developers preserve archaeological finds.


. . .


So for the organizers, it was a relief, rather than a disappointment, when the earth was pushed back to conceal their discovery.

The night before that was done, Mr. Nichol decided to keep watch over the site from his S.U.V. with a supply of food, a sleeping bag and a bottle of red wine, all donated by volunteers.

The Roman owner of the villa would have invited guests to eat and drink on this spot, using the mosaic as a talking point, so a mildly bacchanalian vigil did not seem out of place.

"I was on my own in the field; it was incredible," Mr. Nichol said. He described how, in the solitude, he felt drawn back across the centuries to experience a unique connection to the more-than-1,600-year-old archaeological site, and to the mythological images of its extraordinary, colorful mosaic.

"The wine did help," he added.



For the full story, see:

STEPHEN CASTLE. "BOXFORD JOURNAL; A Link to Roman Era Is Unearthed in the English Countryside." The New York Times (Tues., SEPT. 19, 2017): A6.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date SEPT. 18, 2017, and has the title "BOXFORD JOURNAL; Amateur U.K. Archaeologists Stumble on a Roman Masterpiece.")






November 9, 2017

Free-Market Capitalism Benefits "Ordinary Working People"




(p. A8) MANCHESTER, England--U. K. Treasury chief Philip Hammond on Monday offered a staunch defense of free-market capitalism in Britain, in a speech that underscores the disquiet in the ruling Conservative Party over the rise of the country's left-wing opposition leader.


. . .


"By abandoning market economics, Corbyn's Labour has abandoned the aspirations of ordinary working people," Mr. Hammond said.

Mr. Hammond's appeal comes amid signs voters in the U.K. are moving away from the embrace of free markets that was ushered in by Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s and broadly sustained by Labour under Tony Blair.


. . .


A survey of 2,000 adults published Friday [Sept. 29, 2017] by polling firm Populus for the Legatum Institute, a free-market think tank, found widespread public support for nationalizing railways, utilities and banks.



For the full story, see:

Jason Douglas. "U.K. Official Defends Free-Market Capitalism," The Wall Street Journal (Tues., Oct. 3, 2017): A8.

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

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Oct. 2, 2017, and has the title "U.K. Treasury Chief Defends Free-Market Capitalism Against Resurgent Opposition,")






November 8, 2017

Has Jeff Bezos Given Up on Well-Paying Jobs for Average Citizens?






I have not read Scott Galloway's new book, but suspect that there will be much in it to disagree with. But he makes a thought-provoking, and plausible, point, in the passage below, quoted from a Galloway op-ed piece.



(p. C3) I recently spoke at a conference the day after Jeff Bezos. During his talk, he made the case for a universal guaranteed income for all Americans. It is tempting to admire his progressive values and concern for the public welfare, but there is a dark implication here too. It appears that the most insightful mind in the business world has given up on the notion that our economy, or his firm, can support that pillar of American identity: a well-paying job.


For the full commentary, see:

Scott Galloway. "Amazon Takes Over the World." The Wall Street Journal (Sat., Sept. 23, 2017): C3.

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Sept. 22, 2017.)


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

Galloway, Scott. The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google. New York: Portfolio, 2017.






November 7, 2017

Adapting Coral to Thrive as Oceans Warm




(p. A6) As they spent days working through a stretch of ocean off the Australian state of Queensland, Dr. Cantin and his colleagues surfaced with sample after sample of living coral that had somehow dodged a recent die-off: hardy survivors, clinging to life in a graveyard.

"We're trying to find the super corals, the ones that survived the worst heat stress of their lives," said Dr. Cantin, a researcher with the Australian Institute of Marine Science in Townsville.

The goal is not just to study them, but to find the ones with the best genes, multiply them in tanks on land and ultimately return them to the ocean where they can continue to breed. The hope is to create tougher reefs -- to accelerate evolution, essentially -- and slowly build an ecosystem capable of surviving global warming and other human-caused environmental assaults.


. . .


Under normal conditions the animals grow and build their reefs only slowly, one of the factors that is stymying the effort to save them. "We can do all this work here, but can we scale it up enough to make an impact?" Ms. Davidson asked.

Researchers in Florida may be closest to answering that question. At the Mote laboratory in Sarasota, a researcher named David Vaughan has perfected a technique in which coral samples are broken into tiny fragments; the polyps grow much faster than normal as they attempt to re-establish a colony.

"It used to take us six years to produce 600 corals," Dr. Vaughan said in an interview. "Now we can produce 600 corals in an afternoon, and be ready in a few months to plant them."


. . .


A center in Key Largo, the Coral Restoration Foundation, has had particular success in bringing back two species, elkhorn and staghorn corals, that had been devastated in Florida waters. The state legislature has begun to appropriate small sums as Florida's scientists dream of reef restoration on a huge scale.

Though the risks remain unclear, the day may come when many of the reefs off Florida and Australia will be ones created by scientific intervention -- a human effort, in other words, to repair the damage humans have done.

"We've shown that there is hope in all of this," said Kayla Ripple, manager of the science program at the Coral Restoration Foundation. "People shouldn't just throw their hands in the air and say there's nothing we can do."



For the full story, see:


DAMIEN CAVE and JUSTIN GILLIS. "Building a Reef Tough Enough To Survive a More Perilous Sea." The New York Times (Sat., September 30, 2017): A6.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date SEPT. 20 [sic], 2017, and has the title "Building a Better Coral Reef.")






November 6, 2017

Baseball Immigrants Learn English by Watching "Friends"




(p. D1) When he returns home from the stadium, Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Freddy Galvis often gets into bed and watches reruns of "Friends."


. . .


For at least one generation of Americans, "Friends" endures as a cultural touchstone, a glowing chunk of 1990s amber. But its runaway popularity stretched far beyond the United States, and for some Latino baseball players it is something more: a language guide, a Rosetta Stone disguised as six 20-somethings commingling in a Manhattan apartment.

And also just a funny show.

"Now that it's on Netflix, I always put it on and watch it," said Mets infielder Wilmer Flores, 26, who is from Venezuela. "When I get up in the morning, I turn on the TV, and whatever episode is there I'll watch and keep watching. I stop it when I come to the stadium. When I come home from the stadium, I pick up where I left off."

What has the sitcom done for his English proficiency?

"It's near perfect," said Flores's teammate, Jerry Blevins, who is from Tennessee. "When he doesn't know something, it's surprising."


. . .


(p. D2) For Galvis, the English-language broadcast with Spanish subtitles on Venezuelan television, was an excellent learning tool. "You can compare what's going on that way," he said. "If they say 'happy,' you see he's happy and the subtitle says 'feliz', then you can learn. You might not learn 100 percent, but you'll learn to associate."


. . .


Like Flores, Galvis is evangelical about "Friends." He tells young Spanish-speaking players that he is living proof that consuming popular culture in English can help. And although he is now a capable English speaker, he still watches "Friends" with subtitles in Spanish so that his wife can learn English.

Marta Kauffman, one of the creators of the show, said she was delighted to hear about its unlikely and unintended impact on certain players. She compared the phenomenon to how Viagra was originally designed to treat heart problems but later was embraced for a very different purpose.



For the full story, see:

JAMES WAGNER. "For Some Major Leaguers, It's Always Great to See 'Friends'." The New York Times (Mon., SEPT. 18, 2017): D1-D2.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the title "'Friends,' the Sitcom That's Still a Hit in Major League Baseball.")






November 5, 2017

For Innovators to Seek the Way to San Jose, City's Bureaucrats Should "Get Out of the Way"






The passages quoted below are authored by the Democratic mayor of the city of San Jose, California.



(p. A17) Recently, states and cities have been luring companies with subsidies. . . . The commonwealth of Massachusetts and city of Boston brought General Electric headquarters to Beantown with a $145 million incentive deal.


. . .


But my city won't be offering incentives to Amazon. Why? Because they are a bad deal for taxpayers. With many subsidies, the jobs a company brings to an area don't generate revenues commensurate with public expenditures. The GE deal will cost taxpayers more than $181,000 for every job created in Boston. Most experts insist that other factors--particularly the presence of a skilled workforce--play a far larger role in determining boardrooms' corporate location decisions. Moreover, some 95% of Silicon Valley's job growth comes from new small-business formation and when those homegrown companies develop into larger firms.


. . .


A healthy economic ecosystem that supports innovation and growth is what makes a community attractive to a company like Amazon.


. . .


As elected officials, we would do well to resist ribbon-cutting and take the longer view. To attract innovative employers, let's all stay in our lanes, create safe and attractive cities for talented people to live in, and clear bureaucratic red tape. In other words: Get out of the way.



For the full commentary, see:


Sam Liccardo. "Why I'm Not Bidding for Amazon's HQ; San Jose won't offer subsidies for favored corporations, which are a bad deal for city taxpayers." The Wall Street Journal (Thurs., Oct. 5, 2017): A17.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Oct. 4, 2017.)






November 4, 2017

Retail Entrepreneur J.C. Penney's Utopian Community Collapsed




(p. A19) Many American entrepreneurs have obsessed over how to make good use of their wealth. The money of steel tycoon Andrew Carnegie built 1,689 public libraries. Julius Rosenwald, the genius behind Sears, Roebuck, devoted much of his fortune to funding schools for African-American children in the rural South. Oil magnate John D. Rockefeller gave vast sums to medical research, higher education and Baptist missions. For James Cash Penney, the obsession was farming. As David Delbert Kruger shows in "J.C. Penney: The Man, the Store, and American Agriculture," the famed merchant's devotion to his rural roots brought not just commercial success but also meaning in life.


. . .


Penney's farming ventures began in 1921, when he bought 720 acres near Hopewell Junction, N.Y., hired a veteran breeder and worked with him to select the best Guernsey cattle he could find. Emmadine Farm would operate for more than 30 years, supplying breeding stock to small farmers around the country and eventually furnishing a large commercial dairy.

Four years later, Penney purchased 120,000 acres in northeast Florida, intending to create a utopian community where committed, morally upright families could build a future on 20-acre plots, living rent-free for a year and using buildings and equipment provided by Penney to grow their first crop before deciding whether to buy the land. He hired experts who encouraged the farmers to be self-sufficient and advised them on when and how to plant vegetables and fruit trees. Initially, Penney Farms flourished, but then disaster struck: crop prices collapsed, the farmers moved away and in 1930 Penney's own fortune was wiped out. The following year, the entrepreneur was hospitalized following a nervous breakdown.



For the full review, see:

Marc Levinson. "BOOKSHELF; The Cowboy Capitalist." The Wall Street Journal (Weds., Sept. 25, 2017): A19.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the review has the date Sept. 24, 2017.)


The book under review, is:

Kruger, David Delbert. J. C. Penney: The Man, the Store, and American Agriculture. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 2017.






November 3, 2017

Italians Learning to Eat the Jellyfish That Thrive with Global Warming




(p. A8) MARINA di GINOSA, Italy -- As a small boat loaded with wet suits, lab equipment and empty coolers drifted into the warm turquoise sea, Stefano Piraino looked back at the sunbathers on the beach and explained why none of them set foot in the water.

"They know the jellyfish are here," said Dr. Piraino, a professor of zoology at the University of Salento.

While tourists throughout Europe seek out Apulia, in Italy's southeast, for its Baroque whitewashed cities and crystalline seas, swarms of jellyfish are also thronging to its waters.

Climate change is making the waters warmer for longer, allowing the creatures to breed gelatinous generation after gelatinous generation.

The jellyfish population explosion has blossomed for years, but got a special boost since 2015 with the broadening of the Suez Canal, which opened up an aquatic superhighway for invasive species to the Mediterranean.

The jellyfish invasion has now reached the point where there may be little to do but find a way to live with huge numbers of them, say scientists like Dr. Piraino.


. . .


Convinced that climate change and overfishing will force Italians to adapt, as they once did to other foreign intruders, like the tomato, his team has launched the Go Jelly project, which roughly boils down to, if you can't beat 'em, eat 'em.

The study, which officially gets underway in January, will attempt to show that the enormous and increasing jellyfish biomasses can be the inexhaustible Jell-O of the sea.

While overfishing, warmer seas and pollution may wipe out ocean predators, they are allowing jellyfish to thrive -- and reproduction comes easily enough to jellyfish.


. . .


Dr. Piraino has plumbed the mysteries of the creature, more than half-a-billion years old, for its possible uses. Those include the potential to fight tumors, and also using collagen-heavy species as a source for more voluptuous lips.

Then, there is food.

Antonella Leone is a researcher at Italy's Institute of Sciences of Food Production, and since about two months ago, Dr. Piraino's wife. At their wedding this summer, the couple celebrated with a tiered cake dripping with confectionary jellyfish.

A leader of the Go Jelly project, she thinks that Italians, with their zeal for locally sourced regional ingredients, might just find a taste for jellyfish.

Others already have. The Japanese serve them sashimi style in strips with soy sauce, and the Chinese have eaten them for a millennium.


. . .


Dr. Piraino cut a piece that he said was full of protein and omega-3 fatty acids.

"It's great," he said, as it slipped out of his hand.

The chef marinated a piece in garlic and basil for the grill. He prepared another on a bed of arugula next to a sweet fig to balance out what everyone agreed was an intense saltiness.

At the end of the tasting, there were several untouched specimens on the table. Dr. Leone packed the foodstuff of the globally warmed future into a jellyfish doggy bag.



For the full story, see:

JASON HOROWITZ. "As Jellyfish Swarm the Seas Off Italy, a Fix Emerges: Try Ragu, or Sashimi." The New York Times (Mon., SEPT. 18, 2017): A8.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date SEPT. 17, 2017, and has the title "Jellyfish Seek Italy's Warming Seas. Can't Beat 'Em? Eat 'Em.")






November 2, 2017

"Authentic" Rees-Mogg Appeals to Texans Deep in the Heart of England




(p. A10) Among the most unlikely developments of this political season in Britain has been that Mr. Rees-Mogg -- whose conservative views include a hard line on departure from the European Union and on abortion and gay marriage -- is being talked up as a possible Conservative Party leader.

This unfurled in phases all summer. Youth activists coined the term "Moggmentum," touting him as the only Tory, as Conservatives are also known, with the charisma to match the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn. A 24-year-old man from South Yorkshire had the phrase tattooed on his chest, sending the newspapers into transports of delight. Memes followed. There were online quizzes ("Name Your Child the Jacob Rees-Mogg Way") and T-shirts ("This fellow is a Rees-Moggian teen"). Someone recorded electronic dance tracks called Moggwave.


. . .


An interview on a morning TV show highlighting Mr. Rees-Mogg's position on abortion -- he opposes it even in the case of rape or incest -- was expected to put an end to the chatter. But it appeared, for many, to have the opposite effect.

Voters understood that his positions were to the right of his party, but they had found a quality in him that mattered more than positions. He was, they said, "authentic."

A decade ago, many Conservative Party leaders wanted nothing to do with Mr. Rees-Mogg. He first attracted national attention in the late 1990s, when he ran unsuccessfully for a seat in a working-class Labour stronghold in Scotland and went out to shake voters' hands in the company of his nanny. (It was reported that they had campaigned in a Bentley, but he later denied this charge; it was a Mercedes.)


. . .


In Parliament, Mr. Rees-Mogg fell to the far right of the Tory spectrum, opposing climate change legislation and increased spending on welfare benefits and supporting tax breaks for bankers and corporations. In an interview, he said the Tory party must win a "battle of ideas" between the forces of the free market and socialism, and that its message to voters, especially young ones, had been too timorous.

"I think that conservative principles have a broad appeal and you should state them boldly, and the point of a Conservative election is to do conservative things, not to do Labour things but slightly less damaging," he said. Voters today, he said, were drawn to politicians with more pointed views, both on the left and right, "because the centrist approach didn't succeed."


. . .


Radstock was a mining town until the last pits closed down, in the 1970s. Among those waiting to see him was Scott Williams, a knife-maker with brawny forearms and the accent of a Hollywood pirate. Mr. Williams said he had always considered himself staunchly Labour, but was increasingly concerned about attacks on his personal liberties. He had fiercely supported Brexit.

"I belong in Texas," he said. "That's the type of person I am. I don't fit in in England."

Mr. Williams said he had paid little attention to Mr. Rees-Mogg's voting record on taxes or welfare -- "I don't really keep count on politics" -- but had been drawn to him in recent months, and was impressed when he stood by his hard-line view on abortion.

"Something I do like about Jacob, he's a straight talker," he said. "He is who he is. He may be blue blood, but at least you get a straight answer."



For the full story, see:

ELLEN BARRY. "The Saturday Profile; Latest Populist Craze in Britain: An Unabashed Elitist." The New York Times (Sat., SEPT. 30, 2017): A10.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date SEPT. 29, 2017, and has the title "The Saturday Profile; The Latest Populist Craze in Britain: An Unabashed Elitist.")






November 1, 2017

Keys to Good Jobs: Honesty, Work Ethic, and Ability to Be Trained




(p. A13) . . . , Mr. Funk is chairman, CEO and founder of Express Employment Professionals, one of the nation's largest job agencies. Informally, he sees himself as a man who makes a living by giving people hope--that is, by matching workers looking for good jobs with employers looking for good workers. Along the way he also served as chairman of the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank.


. . .


He shares a small brochure his company puts out summarizing a recent survey of employers. "So many people do not realize how important the soft skills are to unlocking job opportunity," he says.

In order, the survey found the top five traits employers look for are as follows: attitude, work ethic/integrity, communication, culture fit, critical thinking.

Drugs are a huge problem today, with many would-be employees putting themselves out of the running when they fail drug tests. A certified truck driver can start at $55,000 to $60,000 a year, for example, but no one's going to hire you if you do drugs.


. . .


And while education is vital, Mr. Funk says the most important thing for most people is the ability to be trained--which starts with basic competence in reading, writing and arithmetic. Mr. Funk also says institutions such as Oklahoma's CareerTech, which works with local employers to train people for jobs that actually exist in their communities, are probably a better investment for many people than college.


. . .


"I've helped a lot of people find jobs in my life," he says. "And I've learned that if you are honest, have a strong work ethic, and stay off drugs, there's a great future for you out there."



For the full commentary, see:


William McGurn. "MAIN STREET; Bring Back the Work Ethic; 'There's a person for every job and a job for every person,' says Bob Funk." The Wall Street Journal (Tues., Sept. 5, 2017): A13.

(Note: ellipses added; italics in original.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Sept. 4, 2017.)






HP3D5006CropSmall.jpg






Archives















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


View My Stats