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November 16, 2018

High-Tech Toilets Could Reduce Feces in Swimming Pools





If the cringeworthy facts reported below were more widely known, demand would greatly increase for the high-tech toilets common in Japan, that shoot water sprays at human rear ends, to quickly, comfortably, and completely remove fecal residue. Why has no one grasped this entrepreneurial opportunity?



(p. A2) Mrs. [Lindsey] Blackstock and several colleagues tested 31 swimming pools and hot tubs in hotels and recreational facilities in Canada for the presence of acesulfame potassium, an artificial sweetener that is largely undigested and almost entirely excreted in urine.


. . .


Using that information, they deduced that a 110,000-gallon pool they studied contained an estimated eight gallons of urine, while a 220,000-gallon pool contained an estimated 20 gallons. The concentrations represented about 0.01% of the total water volume.

"If your eyes are turning red when you're swimming, or if you're coughing or have a runny nose, it's likely there is at least some urine in the pool," said Michele Hlavsa, chief of the Healthy Swimming Program for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Urine isn't a primary source of germs in pools or hot tubs, but feces that clings to the body is. At any time, Dr. Hlavsa said, adults have about 0.14 grams of poop on their bottoms and children have as much as 10 grams.

"When you're talking about bigger water parks with 1,000 children in a given day, you're now talking about 10 kilograms or 22 pounds of poop," she said.

Feces can contain bacteria, viruses and parasites such as E. coli, norovirus and giardia that can lead to outbreaks of diarrhea, vomiting and other illnesses.



For the full commentary, see:

Jo Craven McGinty. "THE NUMBERS; A Sanitary Pool Requires Proper Behavior." The Wall Street Journal (Saturday, July 21, 2017): A2.

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

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date July 21, 2017, and has the title "THE NUMBERS; Is That Pool Really Sanitary? New Chemical Approach Has Answers.")


Blackstock's research, described above, was published in:

Jmaiff Blackstock, Lindsay K., Wei Wang, Sai Vemula, Benjamin T. Jaeger, and Xing-Fang Li. "Sweetened Swimming Pools and Hot Tubs." Environmental Science & Technology Letters 4, no. 4 (April 2017): 149-53.







November 15, 2018

Tusk Helped Startups Enter by Mobilizing Consumers Who Would Benefit




(p. C6) In August [2018], Mayor Bill de Blasio signed a package of bills capping the number of cars driving in New York City for companies like Uber and Lyft and setting minimum pay for drivers. The mayor had long wanted such restrictions, but for years Uber had successfully pushed back, thanks in large part to strategist and venture capitalist Bradley Tusk.

"The problem is not only did this happen in New York, but now it's going to happen everywhere," laments Mr. Tusk, who worked as a consultant for Uber Technologies from 2010 to 2015, earning equity that was eventually worth around $100 million. Under his guidance, Uber mobilized its users to lobby against the legislation and made the case that its service provided transportation to people in the outer boroughs and jobs to immigrants and minorities.


. . .


Since working for Uber, Mr. Tusk has helped other tech companies in similar political battles. As he sees it, politicians too often sacrifice their constituents' economic interests for their own political gain. "What's good for politician X isn't necessarily good for the businesses in his or her district," he says. "Without at least some people like us, innovation gets crushed by politics and corruption and that's really bad for the economy and for society."


. . .


After serving as campaign manager of Mr. Bloomberg's reelection effort, in 2010 Mr. Tusk founded Tusk Strategies with the goal of running campaigns for companies and institutions rather than politicians. At the time, Walmart was looking for a way to enter markets without pushback from powerful unions. Mr. Tusk urged city councils, including New York's, to stop blocking its entry by polling customers, launching television ads and mobilizing constituents who wanted the choice of shopping at Walmart.

Then one of Mr. Bloomberg's former deputy mayors called him with a proposition: "There's this guy with a small transportation startup. He's having some regulatory problems. Would you mind talking to him?" It was Uber. The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission had sent Uber a cease and desist letter, and its then-CEO Travis Kalanick needed someone who understood New York politics. Mr. Tusk mounted successful campaigns on behalf of the company in New York and other cities, including Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles.


. . .


Does he see himself as an example of the revolving door between politics and business? "I'm absolutely using the savvy I learned in the political world--just in a different way than most," he says. But he has no intentions of ever returning to government. "I felt like I could force more change on the system from the outside," he says. "Not only am I not doing politics, but most of my work is making politicians crazy."



For the full interview, see:

Alexandra Wolfe, interviewer. ""WEEKEND CONFIDENTIAL; Bradley Tusk from Political Insider to 'Fixer' for Tech." The Wall Street Journal (Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018): C6.

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

(Note: the online version of the interview has the date Aug. 31, 2018, and the title "WEEKEND CONFIDENTIAL; How Bradley Tusk Went from Political Insider to 'Making Politicians Crazy'.")


The book under discussion above, is:

Tusk, Bradley. The Fixer: My Adventures Saving Startups from Death by Politics. New York: Portfolio, 2018.






November 14, 2018

Exposing the Failure of Peer Review




(p. A15) The existence of a monthly journal focused on "feminist geography" is a sign of something gone awry in academia. The journal in question--Gender, Place & Culture--published a paper online in May whose author claimed to have spent a year observing canine sexual misconduct in Portland, Ore., parks.

The author admits that "my own anthropocentric frame" makes it difficult to judge animal consent. Still, the paper claims dog parks are "petri dishes for canine 'rape culture' " and issues "a call for awareness into the different ways dogs are treated on the basis of their gender and queering behaviors, and the chronic and perennial rape emergency dog parks pose to female dogs."

The paper was ridiculous enough to pique my interest--and rouse my skepticism, which grew in July with a report in Campus Reform by Toni Airaksinen. Author Helen Wilson had claimed to have a doctorate in feminist studies, but "none of the institutions that offers such a degree could confirm that she had graduated from their program," Ms. Airaksinen wrote. In August Gender, Place & Culture issued an "expression of concern" admitting it couldn't verify Ms. Wilson's identity, though it kept the paper on its website.

All of this prompted me to ask my own questions. My email to "Helen Wilson" was answered by James Lindsay, a math doctorate and one of the real co-authors of the dog-park study. Gender, Place & Culture had been duped, he admitted. So had half a dozen other prominent journals that accepted fake papers by Mr. Lindsay and his collaborators--Peter Boghossian, an assistant professor of philosophy at Portland State University, and Helen Pluckrose, a London-based scholar of English literature and history and editor of AreoMagazine.com.

The three academics call themselves "left-leaning liberals." Yet they're dismayed by what they describe as a "grievance studies" takeover of academia, especially its encroachment into the sciences. "I think that certain aspects of knowledge production in the United States have been corrupted," Mr. Boghossian says. Anyone who questions research on identity, privilege and oppression risks accusations of bigotry.


. . .


The trio say the bias in favor of grievance-focused research was so strong that their hoax papers sailed through peer review, acceptance and publication despite obvious problems. The data for the dog-park study, Mr. Lindsay says, "was constructed to look outlandish on purpose. So asking us for the data would not have been out of sorts. It would have been appropriate, and we would have been exposed immediately."

One hoax paper, submitted to Hypatia, proposed a teaching method centered on "experiential reparations." It suggested that professors rate students' levels of oppression based on race, gender, class and other identity categories. Students deemed "privileged" would be kept from commenting in class, interrupted when they did speak, and "invited" to "sit on the floor" or "to wear (light) chains around their shoulders, wrists or ankles for the duration of the course." Students who complained would be told that this "educational tool" helps them confront "privileged fragility."

Hypatia's two unnamed peer reviewers did not object that the proposed teaching method was abusive. . . . Hypatia didn't accept the paper but said it would consider a revised version.


. . .


Mr. Boghossian doesn't have tenure and expects the university will fire or otherwise punish him. Ms. Pluckrose predicts she'll have a hard time getting accepted to a doctoral program. Mr. Lindsay said he expects to become "an academic pariah," barred from professorships or publications.

Yet Mr. Lindsay says the project is worth it: "For us, the risk of letting biased research continue to influence education, media, policy and culture is far greater than anything that will happen to us for having done this."



For the full commentary, see:

Jillian Kay Melchior. "Fake News Comes to Academia; How three scholars gulled academic journals to publish hoax papers on 'grievance studies'." The Wall Street Journal (Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018): A15.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Oct. 5, 2018.)






November 13, 2018

Birds Adapt to Global Warming with "Overlooked Flexibility"




(p. D3) More than a century ago, zoologist Joseph Grinnell launched a pioneering survey of animal life in California, a decades-long quest -- at first by Model T or, failing that, mule -- to all corners and habitats of the state, from Death Valley to the High Sierra.


. . .


In 2003, museum scientists decided to retrace Grinnell's steps throughout the state to learn what changes a century had wrought. And that's why Morgan Tingley, then an ecology graduate student at the university, found himself trekking through the Sierra for four summers.

Dr. Tingley wanted to know how birds had fared since Grinnell last took a census. Years later, the answer turned out to be a bit of a shock.

Of 32,000 birds recorded in California mountain ranges in the old and new surveys -- from thumb-sized Calliope hummingbirds to the spectacular pileated woodpecker -- Dr. Tingley and his colleagues discovered that most species now nest about a week earlier than they did 70 to 100 years ago.

That slight advance in timing translates into nesting temperatures about two degrees Fahrenheit cooler than the birds would encounter had they not moved up their breeding time -- almost exactly counterbalancing the two-degree rise in average temperatures recorded over the last century.

The scientists' analysis, published last fall in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, showed that the birds' temperature-rebalancing act could limit the exposure of eggs and fragile nestlings to dangerous overheating.


. . .


The study of 202 species showed that most of them are adapting to rising temperatures with "overlooked flexibility," the scientists reported -- unexpected hope for wildlife in an uncertain time.


. . .


Ecologists generally believe that birds adapt to rising temperatures by moving to higher elevations or heading north. They shift their nesting time for a different reason: to sync with food availability, like an early appearance of plump caterpillars or swarms of insects.

But in 2012, researchers found that about half of the bird species in certain regions of the Sierra essentially stayed put over the past century, not significantly extending their ranges to cooler elevations even though the climate was warming.

The new study offers a plausible explanation. If the birds lay their eggs earlier, they can stay in their centuries-old range, with no need to migrate to higher altitudes.

"Ecologists have really kept range shifts like migrating upslope separate in their minds from phenological shifts, such as nesting earlier," said Peter Dunn, an ecologist at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, who was not involved in the new analysis.

"The research makes you realize that birds can manipulate all sorts of things, not only spatially by migrating upslope but also temporally -- shifting their nesting time in response to rising temperatures."



For the full story, see:

Wallace Ravven. "Survival of the Shrewdest." The New York Times (Tuesday, July 31, 2018): D3.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date July 30, 2018, and has the title "'California's Birds Are Testing New Survival Tactics on a Vast Scale.")






November 12, 2018

Buddhist Monks Fear Death




(p. C4) A recent paper in the journal Cognitive Science has an unusual combination of authors. A philosopher, a scholar of Buddhism, a social psychologist and a practicing Tibetan Buddhist tried to find out whether believing in Buddhism really does change how you feel about your self--and about death.

The philosopher Shaun Nichols of the University of Arizona and his fellow authors studied Christian and nonreligious Americans, Hindus and both everyday Tibetan Buddhists and Tibetan Buddhist monks.


. . .


The results were very surprising. Most participants reported about the same degree of fear, whether or not they believed in an afterlife. But the monks said that they were much more afraid of death than any other group did.

Why would this be? The Buddhist scholars themselves say that merely knowing there is no self isn't enough to get rid of the feeling that the self is there. Neuroscience supports this idea.


. . .


Another factor in explaining why these monks were more afraid of death might be that they were trained to think constantly about mortality. The Buddha, perhaps apocryphally, once said that his followers should think about death with every breath. Maybe just ignoring death is a better strategy.



For the full commentary, see:

Alison Gopnik. "Who's Most Afraid to Die? A Surprise." The Wall Street Journal (Saturday, June 9, 2018): C4.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date June 6, 2018.)


The print version of the Cognitive Science article discussed above, is:

Nichols, Shaun, Nina Strohminger, Arun Rai, and Jay Garfield. "Death and the Self." Cognitive Science 42, no. S1 (May 2018): 314-32.






November 11, 2018

New York Critic: "I Simply Don't Care a Damn What Happens in Nebraska"




(p. C14) 'I simply don't care a damn what happens in Nebraska," ranted a New York critic, "no matter who writes about it."

Or so Willa Cather claimed. In the long leisure of the grave, the alleged scoffer may ponder how it is that a century after its September 1918 publication, Cather's "My √Āntonia," its every page rooted in Nebraska, remains very much alive and in print--while he is neither.



For the full review, see:

Robert Garnett. "MASTERPIECE; Rooted in America's Heartland." The Wall Street Journal (Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018): C14.

(Note: the online version of the review has the date Sept. 14, 2018.)


The book mentioned above, is:

Cather, Willa. My Antonia. New York: Collins Classics, 2019 [1st published 1918].






November 10, 2018

More Boys Choose Math Fields Due to Their Weaker Verbal Skills




(p. C2) A key tenet of modern feminism is that women will have achieved equity only when they fill at least 50% of the positions once filled by men. In some fields, women have already surpassed that target--now comprising, for example, 50.7% of new American medical students, up from just 9% in 1965, and 80% of veterinary students. But the needle has hardly moved in many STEM fields--such as the physical sciences, technology, engineering and math, in which barely 20% of the students are female.

A new study suggests some surprising reasons for this enduring gap. Published last month in the journal Psychological Science, the study looked at nearly a half million adolescents from 67 countries who participated in the Program for International Student Assessment, the world's largest educational survey. Every three years, PISA gauges the skills of 15-year-olds in science, reading and math reasoning. In each testing year, the survey focuses in depth on one of those categories.


. . .


Some fascinating gender differences surfaced. Girls were at least as strong in science and math as boys in 60% of the PISA countries, and they were capable of college-level STEM studies nearly everywhere the researchers looked. But when they examined individual students' strengths more closely, they found that the girls, though successful in STEM, had even higher scores in reading. The boys' strengths were more likely to be in STEM areas. The skills of the boys, in other words, were more lopsided--a finding that confirms several previous studies.



For the full commentary, see:

Susan Pinker. "Why Don't More Women Choose STEM Careers?" The Wall Street Journal (Saturday, March 3, 2018): C2.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date March 1, 2018, and has the title "Why Aren't There More Women in Science and Technology?")


The print version of the Psychological Science article discussed above, is:

Stoet, Gijsbert, and David C. Geary. "The Gender-Equality Paradox in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education." Psychological Science 29, no. 4 (April 2018): 581-93.






November 9, 2018

Cuomo's Buffalo Billion Fails to Cure Buffalo Blight




(p. A18) BUFFALO -- More than six years ago, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced his bold vision for New York's second largest and perhaps longest-suffering city.

"We believe in Buffalo. Let's put our money where our mouth is," Mr. Cuomo said, announcing an economic development package of $1 billion. "That is a big 'B' -- standing for Buffalo and standing for billion."


. . .


"I think the Buffalo Billion sounds better than it probably turned out to be," said Isaac Ehrlich, a SUNY distinguished professor of economics at the University at Buffalo.

Indeed, while construction work blossomed in early years, economists note broader employment growth in the city and region has consistently lagged behind the nation as a whole, as well as behind other Rust Belt cities, despite gains during the nation's nine-year recovery. Perhaps more troubling, recent reports suggest that the job market essentially slowed to a crawl last year, as activity in manufacturing, retail and business services sectors flagged.


. . .


George Palumbo, an economics professor at Canisius College in Buffalo, said that the gleaming new buildings at the medical campus "take nice pictures," but said the development was also illusory.

"You don't have to go very far from that neighborhood to see Buffalo blight," he said, "not Buffalo billion."



For the full story, see:

Jesse McKinley. "Six Years Later, Cuomo's 'Buffalo Billion' Project Yields Uneven Results." The New York Times (Tuesday, July 3, 2018): A18.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date July 2, 2018, and has the title "'Cuomo's 'Buffalo Billion': Is New York Getting Its Money's Worth?")






November 8, 2018

Only Presidents with Their Names on Patents Are Lincoln and Trump




(p. A15) Fostering patentable innovation should appeal to President Trump. He is the only U.S. president other than Abraham Lincoln to have his name on a U.S. patent header. Though he wasn't the inventor, Trump Taj Mahal Associates' 1996 patent for a "Proportional payout method for progressive linked gaming machines" makes Mr. Trump, at least indirectly, the second presidential patenter.

But unlike Lincoln's invention, a method of lifting boats over shoals that was cited only 10 times as prior art by subsequent inventors, the Trump Taj Mahal patent has accrued an incredible 1,066 citations. These citations are a key metric for judging economic significance and downstream impact. For someone who loves ratings, Mr. Trump must surely be pleased that his patent topped the charts.



For the full commentary, see:

Mike Kalutkiewicz and Richard L. Ehman. "A Government Agency That Produces Real Innovation; What does Trump have in common with the National Institutes of Health? Patents." The Wall Street Journal (Friday, June 23, 2017): A15.

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







November 7, 2018

Entrepreneur Carr's Philanthropy Harmed Mozambique




(p. C6) It is an old, old story. A wealthy man comes to town, promising change and a brighter future. He's the expert. He knows best. Inevitably, it doesn't exactly work out that way.

Stephanie Hanes, an American correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor, spent three years watching one particular version of that fairy tale unfold in central Mozambique.

The wealthy man was Greg Carr. An Idahoan, Mr. Carr had made millions first by selling voice-mail systems and then by running Prodigy, an early internet service provider. At age 40, he turned to philanthropy . . .


. . .


In "White Man's Game," Ms. Hanes outlines, in a nonpolemical way, the long history of Western involvement in Africa's wilderness.


. . .


Turning to the present day, Ms. Hanes takes World Wildlife Fund, Nature Conservancy and other Western groups--known as Big Green--to task for their conservation colonialism.


. . .


She . . . points out that they are a bit cynical. "The conservation industry mirrors the humanitarian assistance industry," she writes, "with alarmist pledge drives, heart-stirring photos and admonitions to 'act now!'--all to be repeated for the next grant cycle."


. . .


It is clear from Ms. Hanes's account that a complex interplay of social, political and economic matters affected Gorongosa, not just one man's ambition. The imported elephants inevitably roamed outside the park and into nearby towns, damaging crops and perhaps killing a villager. Mr. Carr's tree planting, a laudable goal on the surface, was seen negatively by the people there because, culturally, tree planting was a way of marking one's territory. When visiting a prominent local leader, Mr. Carr arrived in a red helicopter, oblivious to the fact that, in Gorongosi culture, red is the color of violence. For locals, Mr. Carr was the latest in a long line of outsiders invading their land. He destabilized rather than restored.

In the West, Mr. Carr's work catalyzed praise: a glossy piece on Gorongosa in National Geographic by the noted biologist E.O. Wilson, a profile in the New Yorker. But the reality on the ground was different. Few tourists came to Gorongosa, and a flare-up of civil-war tensions led to violence. Overall the 150,000 Mozambicans who lived in the district, according to Ms. Hanes, saw little measurable improvement in their lives. Park staff even tortured suspected poachers.

In the most powerful scene in the book Ms. Hanes observes Mr. Carr and his associates staring at a map of Mozambique and contemplating expanding the park borders to incorporate a vast swath of land so that animals could migrate again. They wanted to rewild central Mozambique. It was just another example of the "generations of white man standing around maps," observes Ms. Hanes. They never mentioned the millions of people who lived in those lands.



For the full review, see:

James Zug. "The Do-Gooders' Playground." The Wall Street Journal (Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017): C6.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the review has the date Aug. 4, 2017.)


The book under review, is:

Hanes, Stephanie. White Man's Game: Saving Animals, Rebuilding Eden, and Other Myths of Conservation in Africa. New York: Metropolitan Books, 2017.






November 6, 2018

Inventor of Fiber Optics "Didn't Believe What Experts Said"




(p. A9) In the 1960s, Charles Kao often annoyed his wife, Gwen, by coming home late for dinner.

Dr. Kao, a refugee from the Chinese Communist revolution, told her his research for a British subsidiary of International Telephone & Telegraph Corp. could change the world one day.


. . .


In a 1966 paper written with George Hockham, he outlined the potential for using pulses of light to carry huge volumes of voice and data signals long distances through strands of glass that became known as optical fibers. Few took him seriously until several years later, when Corning Glass Works found ways to do just that.


. . .


Dr. Kao was once asked how long fiber optics would be used. Nothing better was likely to come along for 1,000 years, he said. "But don't believe what I say," he added, "because I didn't believe what experts said either."



For the full obituary, see:

James R. Hagerty. "'Early Bet on Optical Fibers Yielded Pipes for Internet." The New York Times (Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018): A9.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the obituary has the date Sept. 28, 2018, and has the title "'Chinese Refugee Developed Fiber-Optic Technology That Made the Internet Possible.")






November 5, 2018

In 10 Years after iPhone, Apple Added Almost 100,000 Jobs




iPhoneSalesPerYearGraph2018-10-29.png






















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



(p. B1) SAN FRANCISCO--Since Apple Inc. launched the iPhone in June 2007, the smartphone revolution it unleashed has changed the way people work and socialize while reshaping industries from music to hotels.

It also has transformed the company in ways that co-founder Steve Jobs could hardly have foreseen.

Ten years later, the iPhone is one of the best-selling products in history, with about 1.3 billion sold, generating more than $800 billion in revenue. It skyrocketed Apple into the business stratosphere, unlocking new markets, spawning an enormous services business and helping turn Apple into the world's most valuable publicly traded company.


. . .


(p. B8) . . . , Apple didn't open the device to application developers until 2008, when it added the App Store and began taking 30% of each app purchase.

Since then, app sales have generated roughly $100 billion in gross revenue as Apple has registered more than 16 million app developers world-wide.


. . .


As sales surged, Apple staffed up. The company hired about 100,000 people in the 10-year span, bringing its global workforce to 116,000 from 18,000 in 2006. New workers were brought on to manage relationships with cellphone carriers, double the number of retail stores and maintain an increasingly complex supply chain.



iPhoneStatisticsTable2018-10-29.png





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



For the full story, see:

Tripp Mickle. "'How iPhone Decade Reshaped Apple." The Wall Street Journal (Wednesday, June 21, 2017): B1 & B8.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date June 20, 2017, and has the title "Among the iPhone's Biggest Transformations: Apple Itself.")






November 4, 2018

Uncertainty on Future Government Policies Reduces Firm Investment




(p. A6) A shoe factory owner, Rafeeque Ahmed, says he has put expansion plans on hold until he has more confidence about New Delhi's policy plans, particularly about minimum wages. The $16 million he was going to invest to boost his production capacity by 20% may now go to setting up facilities in Myanmar or Bangladesh.

"We are afraid to invest," because the government could suddenly change policies and thus our costs, he said.



For the full story, see:

Anant Vijay Kala. "Uncertainty Dulls India's Business Appetite." The Wall Street Journal (Tuesday, November 7, 2017): A6.

(Note: the online version of the story has the date November 6, 2017, and has the title "Apple's Market Cap Hits $1 Trillion.")






November 3, 2018

Origin of "Round Up the Usual Suspects!" at End of Casablanca




(p. C5) David Thomson's "Warner Bros: The Making of an American Movie Studio" is the latest in the exemplary Yale Jewish Lives series, which now stretches from Jacob the Patriarch to Jacob Wonskolasor, known to the world as Jack L. Warner (1892-1978).


. . .


Jack told Julie Garfinkle that "people are gonna find out you're a Jew sooner or later, but better later." Julie became John Garfield. I can't resist adding that Jack approached Phil and Julie Epstein with the same advice. After turning him down they snuck into his office and stole a piece of stationery. To the newly arrived Don Taylor, a fellow Nittany Lion, they wrote, "All of us at Warner Bros are looking forward to your great career as an actor and to a long and fruitful relationship with you under your new name of Hyman Rabinowitz. Sincerely, Jack L. Warner."


. . .


(p. C6) As this fine book progresses, Mr. Thomson turns his attention away from the brothers and their studio and onto individual actors and films. These form a remarkable series of critiques and vignettes--cranky, idiosyncratic, sometimes improbable, but always ingenious, and now and then inspiring.


. . .


Of course he has the most to say about "Casablanca," much of it insightful and cogent. On the one hand, it's an "adroit masquerade," yet also part of what it was, and no less is, to be American: "Wry, fond of sentiment yet hardboiled, as if to say we're Americans, we can take it and dish it out, we're the best, tough and soft at the same time." Thus did the qualities of this film, and others, pass "into the nervous system of the country," making it what it remains to this day.

I am in a position to point out one of the few outright mistakes, not of judgment but of facts, in this book. Mr. Thomson naively accepts screenwriter Casey Robinson's claim that he created the ending of "Casablanca." The truth is that the ending was thought up at a red light on the corner of Sunset and Beverly Glen, when Phil and Julie turned to each other, as identical twins will, and cried out, "Round up the usual suspects!" By the time they reached Doheny they knew Maj. Strasser had to be shot and by the time they reached Burbank they knew who was going to get on the plane with whom.



For the full review, see:

Leslie Epstein. "The House That Jack Built; Warner Bros was the smartest, toughest studio, and Jack L. Warner its smart, tough driving wheel." The Wall Street Journal (Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017): C5-C6.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the review has the date Aug. 4, 2017.)


The book under review, is:

Thomson, David. Warner Bros: The Making of an American Movie Studio. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2017.






November 2, 2018

Steve Jobs's Apple Is First U.S. Company Valued at $1 Trillion




(p. B1) Apple Inc. on Thursday [August 2, 2018] became the first U.S. company to surpass $1 trillion in market value, underscoring the iPhone maker's explosive growth and its role in the technology industry's ascent to the forefront of the global economy and markets.


. . .


Apple's rise has been propelled by the sustained success of the iPhone developed under late co-founder Steve Jobs, a product visionary who helped revive the company from a death spiral in the late 1990s.



For the full story, see:

Tripp Mickle and Amrith Ramkumar. "Apple Value Surges to $1 Trillion." The Wall Street Journal (Friday, August 3, 2018): B1 & B5.

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

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Aug. 2, 2018, and has the title "Apple's Market Cap Hits $1 Trillion.")






November 1, 2018

"Entrepreneurs Are Often Driven by Personal Experiences"




(p. B5) Eczema entrepreneurs are often driven by personal experiences that they or their family members have had with the skin condition. Joe Paulo, for example, created Smiling Panda clothing after he had eczema as a teenager.


. . .


Mr. Paulo, 23, has already made some inroads with adults seeking relief with his Smiling Panda brand, which he started after getting eczema on his arms. The eczema appeared after he moved from California to Philadelphia in 2012 to attend college.

His eczema, he said, "got significantly worse" when he had to wear professional clothing during college internships. When even bedsheets began irritating his skin, he started researching the properties of different fibers and how clothing was made. He chose a bamboo-cotton blend for his clothing because bamboo is soft and cotton fibers allow a closer fit, he said. He began cutting and stitching his own shirts, with flat seams and no tags.

When he wore his shirts to bed, he said: "I went from having a really tough time falling asleep to having no trouble at all."

"I thought there might be other working adults interested in this type of clothing, and that comfortable clothing would help them in the same way it helped me," he said. He found a small manufacturer willing to make a batch of sizes for women and men. He chose Smiling Panda as the company name and started a website in February 2016.


. . .


Mr. Paulo said he did not know if the company would ever be profitable. "I like doing it because I feel like our products make a difference in our customers' lives," he said. "I know from personal experience how miserable clothing can be when you are itching from eczema."



For the full story, see:

Elizabeth Olson. "Personal Stories Drive Start-Ups In Eczema Products." The New York Times (Thursday, July 20, 2017): B5.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date July 19, 2017, and has the title "'The Beginning of a Wave': A.I. Tiptoes Into the Workplace.")






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