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November 30, 2018

Scarcity of Workers Increases Use of Robots




(p. B1) PRAGUE -- When Zbynek Frolik needed new employees to handle surging orders at his cavernous factories in central Bohemia, he fanned advertisements across the Czech Republic. But in a prosperous economy where nearly everyone had work, there were few takers.

Raising wages didn't help. Nor did offers to subsidize housing.

So he turned to the robots.

"We can't find enough humans," said Mr. Frolik, whose company, Linet, makes state-of-the art hospital beds sold in over 100 countries. "We're trying to replace people with machines wherever we can."

Such talk usually conjures visions of a future where employees are no longer needed. In many major economies, companies are experimenting with replacing factory workers, truck drivers and even lawyers with artificial intelligence, raising the specter of a mass displacement of jobs.

But in Eastern Europe, robots are being enlisted as the solution for a shortage of workers. Often they are helping to create new types of jobs as businesses in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Poland try to stay agile and competitive. Growth in these countries, which became low-cost manufacturing hubs for Europe after the fall of Communism, has averaged 5 percent in recent years, buoyed by the global recovery..



For the full story, see:

Alderman, Liz. "Humans Wanted, But Robots Work." The New York Times (Tuesday, April 17, 2018): B1 & B8.

(Note: the online version of the story has the date April 16, 2018, and has the title "Robots Ride to the Rescue Where Workers Can't Be Found.")






November 29, 2018

Health Care Premium Costs Continue to Rise




HealthCoveragePremiumCostsGraph2018-10-29.png






















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









(p. A1) The average cost of employer health coverage offered to workers rose to nearly $20,000 for a family plan this year, according to a new survey, capping years of increases that experts said are chiefly tied to rising prices paid for health services.


For the full story, see:

Anna Wilde Mathews. "'Health Coverage Costs Firms $20,000 a Family." The Wall Street Journal (Thursday, Oct. 4, 2018): A1 & A6.

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Oct. 3, 2018, and has the title "Employer-Provided Health Insurance Approaches $20,000 a Year.")






November 28, 2018

Hurricane Costs Rise Mainly Due to Rising Coastal Population




(p. A6) Counties along the U.S. shoreline that endured hurricane-strength winds from Florence in September experienced a surge in population from 1980 to 2017, with an increase of 95 people per square mile--more than double the density. Overall, Gulf and East Coast shoreline counties, those vulnerable to hurricane strikes, increased by 160 people per square mile, compared with 26 people per square mile in the rest of the mainland, over the same period.

"Coastal population and exposure growth is certainly the predominant driver of increased damage costs associated with hurricanes," says Steve Bowen, director and meteorologist at consulting firm Aon 's Risk Solutions division.



For the full story, see:

Kara Dapena. "'When Videogames Can Help." The Wall Street Journal (Thursday, Oct. 4, 2018): A6.

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Sept. 29, 2018, and has the title "The Rising Costs of Hurricanes." Unlike the print version, the online version was much longer, sometimes had different wording, and listed an author. Where wording differed in the passages quoted above, the online version was used.)






November 27, 2018

Openness to Creative Destruction: Sustaining Innovative Dynamism




My book Openness to Creative Destruction: Sustaining Innovative Dynamism, is forthcoming from Oxford University Press in June 2019.

The book shows how life has improved through innovation, how innovation has occurred through the efforts of inventors and innovative entrepreneurs, how workers on balance benefit from a system of innovative dynamism, and how policies can be crafted to encourage the innovative entrepreneur to bring us more innovations.

A PDF of a handout that includes the current draft of the Table of Contents of my book can be found on the first page of artdiamond.com.

Several scholars have graciously looked at an advance copy of my book, and offered me early praise for it. During the next several weeks I occasionally will present some of their comments. (These will be presented roughly in the order in which I received them.)






November 26, 2018

Videogames Help ADHD Children




(p. A9) It isn't often that children are encouraged to play videogames.

But a group of Boston Children's Hospital researchers have developed videogames for children with conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and anxiety, or those who just need to learn how to control their emotions better.

The videogames track a child's heart rate, displayed on the screen. The games get increasingly difficult as the player's heart rate increases. To be able to resume playing without extra obstacles the child has to calm themselves down and reduce their heart rate.

"What we're trying to do is build emotional strength for kids," said Jason Kahn, co-founder and chief scientific officer of Mighteor, a Boston-based company and spinoff of Boston Children's Hospital. BCH runs an accelerator and funded some of the research and development of the products. They retain a small piece of ownership of Mighteor. Dr. Kahn worked as a developmental psychologist at Boston Children's for seven years and maintains an affiliation there but launched the company in November [2016].

The games help children "build muscle memory," he said. So once they are able to reduce their heart rate over and over again the response of physiologically calming themselves down becomes more automatic.



For the full story, see:

Sumathi Reddy. "'When Videogames Can Help." The Wall Street Journal (Tuesday, July 18, 2017): A9.

(Note: bracketed year added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date July 17, 2017, and has the title "YOUR HEALTH; When Children Can Benefit From Playing Videogames.")






November 25, 2018

New York City Wrongly Believes Destroying Ivory Saves Elephants





As I explain to my micro principles students each semester, if New York wants to save elephants, they would keep ivory on the market, increasing its supply and reducing its price, thereby reducing the incentive for poachers to kill elephants. [I first saw this argument made in the Baumol and Blinder text that I used many of years ago in my micro principles classes.]



(p. A19) A loud rumble and giant billows of dust interrupted an otherwise serene day in Central Park on Thursday as hundreds of cream-colored carvings of dragons, Buddhas and horses awaited their public execution.

Onlookers waved paper fans reading "Protect their home." They cheered as sculptures and jewelry made from elephant tusks were carried on a conveyor belt and dropped in a pulverizer.

Brian Hackett, an animal-welfare activist from New Jersey, patiently awaited his turn to choose a carving from a table to be destroyed. For him, the mood was solemn.

"Every piece, no matter how polished, represents a beautiful animal that was slaughtered," Mr. Hackett said.

The carvings were confiscated in recent ivory busts in New York. They once belonged on the faces of a least 100 slaughtered elephants. Nearly two tons of ivory worth about $8 million was destroyed at the "Ivory Crush" event, which was timed to precede World Elephant Day on Aug. 12 [2017].


. . .


Rachel Karr, 48, the owner of Hyde Park Antiques on the Lower East Side, who specializes in 18th-century antiques, said the ivory-crushing events upset her and other antique collectors because some of the ivory found in bona fide antiques could be 300 to 400 years old and could have religious and historic value. For example, in teapots from the 18th century, the handles were carved from ivory to protect hands from burns, because ivory does not conduct heat.

"Even with my love of nature, I simply cannot understand what good it does to destroy things that were worked on 300, 400 years ago before conservation was part of daily language," Ms. Karr said.

"Face it, we're the original recyclers, antique dealers," she said. "We have no interest in using new ivory at all. We are willing to say we aren't willing to use it to repair old ivory."

Sam Wasser, a professor at the University of Washington who has performed forensic analysis on seized ivory for the last 13 years and analyzed the ivory that was crushed, said it was unlikely the destroyed carvings were more than 100 years old. The results are pending.

Iris Ho, who is the wildlife campaigns manager at Humane Society International, said the existing law does enough to protect antiques. The law provides exceptions for antiques that are determined to be at least 100 years old with only a small amount of ivory.



For the full story, see:

Hannah Alani. "Ivory Is Destroyed to Save Elephants." The New York Times (Friday, Aug. 4, 2017): A19.

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

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Aug. 3, 2017, and has the title "About $8 Million of Elephant Ivory Destroyed in Central Park." The online version says that the article appeared on p. A21 of the New York edition. It appeared on p. A19 of my copy of the National Edition.)






November 24, 2018

"Plants Remove a Quarter of the Carbon Dioxide We Put in the Atmosphere"




(p. D5) "Global greening" sounds lovely, doesn't it?

Plants need carbon dioxide to grow, and we are now emitting 40 billion tons of it into the atmosphere each year. A number of small studies have suggested that humans actually are contributing to an increase in photosynthesis across the globe.

Elliott Campbell, an environmental scientist at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and his colleagues last year published a study that put a number to it. Their conclusion: plants are now converting 31 percent more carbon dioxide into organic matter than they were before the Industrial Revolution.


. . .


It's not just strawberries and other crops that are taking in extra carbon dioxide. So are the forests, grasslands and other wild ecosystems of the world.

When scientists take into account both extra photosynthesis and respiration, they estimate that plants remove a quarter of the carbon dioxide we put in the atmosphere.

"That's on par with what China emits," said Dr. Campbell. "And China is the biggest global polluter."

Even more remarkably, the plants have been scrubbing the same fraction of carbon dioxide out of the air even as our emissions explode.

"Every year we build more power plants, and every year the plants take out more CO2," Dr. Campbell said.



For the full story, see:

Zimmer, Carl. "MATTER; Why Global Greening Isn't as Great as It Sounds." The New York Times (Tuesday, July 31, 2018): D5.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date July 30, 2018, and has the title "MATTER; 'Global Greening' Sounds Good. In the Long Run, It's Terrible.")






November 23, 2018

"The Ultimate Resource" Is the Human Mind




(p. A13) Fifty years ago this month, Mr. Ehrlich published "The Population Bomb." In it he portended global cataclysm--unless the world could be persuaded to stop producing so many . . . well . . . people. The book sketched out possible scenarios of the hell Mr. Ehrlich believed imminent: hundreds of millions dying from starvation, England disappearing by the year 2000, India doomed, the average American's lifespan falling to 42 by 1980, and so on.

Mr. Ehrlich's book sold three million copies, and his crabbed worldview became an unquestioned orthodoxy for the technocratic class that seems to welcome such scares as an opportunity to boss everyone else around.


. . .


Enter Julian Lincoln Simon.

Simon was a professor of business and economics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In 1981, when this columnist first met him, Julian would smile and say the doom-and-gloomers had a false understanding of scarcity that led them to believe resources are fixed and limited.


. . .


In 1981 he put his findings together in a book called "The Ultimate Resource." It took straight aim at Mr. Ehrlich. In contrast to the misanthropic tone of "The Population Bomb" (its opening sentence reads, "The battle to feed all humanity is over"), Julian was optimistic, recognizing that human beings are more than just mouths to be fed. They also come with minds.


. . .


. . . , human beings constantly find new and creative ways to take from the earth, increase the bounty for everyone and expand the number of seats at the table of plenty. Which is one reason Paul Ehrlich is himself better off today than he was when he wrote his awful book--notwithstanding all those hundreds of millions of babies born in places like China and India against his wishes.



For the full commentary, see:

William McGurn. "MAIN STREET; The Population Bomb Was a Dud; Paul Ehrlich got it wrong because he never understood human potential." The Wall Street Journal (Tuesday, May 1, 2018): A13.

(Note: ellipses in first quoted paragraph, in original; ellipses in rest of quotes, added.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date April 30, 2018.)


The Julian Simon book, mentioned above, is:

Simon, Julian L. The Ultimate Resource. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1981.






November 22, 2018

When Government Mandates a Technology




(p. A20) In 2011, after a lengthy competition among automakers, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced that the Nissan NV200 would become the "Taxi of Tomorrow" with most yellow cab owners required to purchase the boxy, bright yellow van. Eventually, the vehicle was expected to make up 80 percent of New York City's fleet of over 13,000 cabs.

At the time, city officials touted the NV200's increased leg room, USB charging ports and sunroof as amenities that would be attractive to riders who had long complained about cramped travel in less than spotless back seats.

But it turns out that tomorrow lasted only seven years.

Last week, the Taxi and Limousine Commission reversed the requirement, expanding the option for drivers beyond the Nissan NV200 to a smorgasbord of over 30 vehicles, including popular, fuel efficient models like the Toyota Camry.


. . .


. . . there are drivers like Sergio Cabrera, 60, who owns his vehicle and the expensive medallion needed to have it on the road, who said the NV200 has given him many headaches.


. . .


"There hasn't been a worse car for the taxi industry than the NV200," he said. "It's not easy for older people to get into. Mechanically it's one of the worst made cars I've ever owned."

Mr. Cabrera complained that owning the Nissan has been expensive, in part because of regulations that he and other yellow cabdrivers say subjects them to more maintenance rules than drivers for ridesharing apps.

The Taxi and Limousine Commission requires yellow taxis to undergo a 200-point inspection every four months. Each time his Nissan has been inspected, Mr. Cabrera said he has had to shell out at least $1,500 in repairs in order to pass.



For the full story, see:

Tyler Blint-Welsh. "Time Is Up for 'Taxi of Tomorrow'." The New York Times (Wednesday, June 13, 2018): A20.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date June 12, 2018, and has the title "It Was Billed as the 'Taxi of Tomorrow.' Tomorrow Didn't Last Long.")






November 21, 2018

Some Democrats Trying to Restrict "Zoning, Environmental, and Procedural Laws" that "Thwart" New Housing




(p. A1) SACRAMENTO -- A full-fledged housing crisis has gripped California, marked by a severe lack of affordable homes and apartments for middle-class families. The median cost of a home here is now a staggering $500,000, twice the national cost. Homelessness is surging across the state.

In Los Angeles, booming with construction and signs of prosperity, some people have given up on finding a place and have moved into vans with makeshift kitchens, hidden away in quiet neighborhoods. In Silicon Valley -- an international symbol of wealth and technology -- lines of parked recreational vehicles are a daily testimony to the challenges of finding an affordable place to call home.

Heather Lile, a nurse who makes $180,000 a year, commutes two hours from her home in Manteca to the San Francisco hospital where she works, 80 miles away. "I make really good money and it's frustrating to me that I can't afford to live close to my job," said Ms. Lile.


. . .


Now here in Sacramento, lawmakers are considering extraordinary legislation to, in effect, crack down on communities that have, in their view, systematically delayed or derailed housing construction proposals, often at the behest of local neighborhood groups.

The bill was passed by the Senate last month and is now part of a broad package of housing proposals under negotiation that Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic legislative leaders announced Monday was likely to be voted on in (p. A13) some form later this summer.

"The explosive costs of housing have spread like wildfire around the state," said Scott Wiener, a Democratic senator from San Francisco who sponsored the bill. "This is no longer a coastal, elite housing problem. This is a problem in big swaths of the state. It is damaging the economy. It is damaging the environment, as people get pushed into longer commutes."


. . .


The bill sponsored by Mr. Wiener, one of 130 housing measures that have been introduced this year, would restrict one of the biggest development tools that communities wield: the ability to use zoning, environmental and procedural laws to thwart projects they deem out of character with their neighborhood.



For the full story, see:


Adam Nagourney and Conor Dougherty. "Housing Costs Put California In Crisis Mode." The New York Times (Tuesday, July 18, 2017): A1 & A13.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date July 17, 2017, and has the title "The Cost of a Hot Economy in California: A Severe Housing Crisis.")






November 20, 2018

Portland Environmentalists Ashamed to Be Buying Air Conditioners




(p. A11) Here in Oregon's largest city, it was sometimes hard to tell what was more startling: the record-setting heat or the fact that, on a planet getting used to higher temperatures, Portland was not entirely unprepared for it. In a region known for its enviously mild, low-humidity summers, people have increasingly and quietly embraced air-conditioning. Federal data suggests that about 70 percent of the Portland area's occupied homes and apartments have at least some air-conditioning, up from 44 percent in 2002


. . .


Ms. Merlo's home does not have air-conditioning, and she said she was considering sleeping in the basement. Although she cited environmental concerns as her primary reason for not installing a unit, she said more weeks like this one could shift her views.

"Talk to me five years from now, after another record-setting heat wave," she said. "I might change my mind."

Other people in the region already made the change. Kristan Moeckli, a Portland native who works in commercial real estate, said she had added a window unit to her apartment in Multnomah Village, just south of downtown. Pushed into the purchase by the coming heat, she bought the air-conditioner over the weekend, claiming one of the last units at the store.

"As we were looking at the 10-day forecast on our local news and they were projecting not just 80s -- 80s, I can deal with -- but 90s and above for a week, I was thinking about how we wouldn't be able to cool down our apartment at night," she said. "A part of me feels a little ashamed, as a native Oregonian, that I did cave and get the air-conditioning unit, but it's kind of one those sorry, not sorry kind of things."



For the full story, see:

Alan Blinder. "Region Proud of Roughing It, Without Air-Conditioning, Has Second Thoughts." The New York Times (Friday, Aug. 4, 2017): A11.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Aug. 3, 2017, and has the title "'As the Northwest Boils, an Aversion to Air-Conditioners Wilts.")






November 19, 2018

Some Brain Traits Ease Music Learning




(p. C2) A study published in Cerebral Cortex in July [2015] shows that unusual activity in specific neural areas can predict how easily musicians learn their chops.


. . .


The data . . . point to a distinct starting advantage in some people--and where that advantage might reside in the brain. A retroactive examination of the first fMRI images predicted who would be the best learners.

Those with a hyperactive Heschl's gyrus (part of the cerebral cortex that is associated with musical pitch) and with lots of reactivity in their right hippocampus (an area linked to auditory memory) turned out to be more likely to remember tunes they had heard before and, after some practice, play them well.

The "kicker," said Dr. Zatorre, was finding that neural head start. "That gives you an advantage when you're learning music, and it's a completely different system from the parts of the brain that show learning has taken place. It speaks to the idea of 10,000 hours." In his book "Outliers," Malcolm Gladwell called 10,000 hours of practice "the magic number of greatness." Dr. Zatorre disagrees, saying, "Is it really fair to say that everyone's brain is structured the same way, and that if you practice, you will accomplish the same thing?"



For the full commentary, see:

Susan Pinker. "Practice Makes Some Perfect, Others Maybe Not." The Wall Street Journal (Saturday, Aug. 29, 2015): C2.

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

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Aug. 26, 2015.)


The print version of the Cerebral Cortex article discussed above, is:

Herholz, Sibylle C., Emily B. J. Coffey, Christo Pantev, and Robert J. Zatorre. "Dissociation of Neural Networks for Predisposition and for Training-Related Plasticity in Auditory-Motor Learning." Cerebral Cortex 26, no. 7 (July 1, 2016): 3125-34.


The Gladwell book mentioned above, is:

Gladwell, Malcolm. Outliers: The Story of Success. New York, NY: Little, Brown, and Co., 2008.






November 18, 2018

"Eye-Popping" Lack of Ideological Diversity in Universities






Cass Sunstein, the author of the passages quoted below, was the head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs from 2009 to 2012 during the Obama administration. He is currently a professor at the Harvard Law School. His spouse is Samantha Powers who he met while advising the presidential campaign of Barack Obama. She went on to be appointed by Obama as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.



(p. 7B) In recent years, concern has grown over what many people see as a left-of-center political bias at colleges and universities. A few months ago, Mitchell Langbert, an associate professor of business at Brooklyn College, published a study of the political affiliations of faculty members at 51 of the 66 liberal-arts colleges ranked highest by U.S. News in 2017.

The findings are eye-popping (even if they do not come as a great surprise to many people in academia). Democrats dominate most fields. In religion, Langbert's survey found that the ratio of Democrats to Republicans is 70 to 1. In music, it is 33 to 1. In biology, it is 21 to 1. In philosophy, history and psychology, it is 17 to 1. In political science, it is 8 to 1.


. . .


. . . , the current numbers make two points unmistakably clear. First, those who teach in departments lacking ideological diversity have an obligation to offer competing views and to present them fairly and with respect. A political philosopher who leans left should be willing and able to ask students to think about the force of the argument for free markets, even if they produce a lot of inequality.

Second, those who run departments lacking ideological diversity have an obligation to find people who will represent competing views -- visiting speakers, visiting professors and new hires. Faculties need not be expected to mirror their societies, but students and teachers ought not live in information cocoons.

John Stuart Mill put it well: "It is hardly possible to overrate the value ... of placing human beings in contact with persons dissimilar to themselves, and with modes of thought and action unlike those with which they are familiar. Such communication has always been, and is peculiarly in the present age, one of the primary sources of progress."



For the full commentary, see:

Cass Sunstein. "The problem with All Those Liberal College Professors." Omaha World-Herald (Sunday, May 1, 2018): 7B.

(Note: the ellipsis internal to last paragraph was in original; the other ellipses were added.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date April 30, 2018.)






November 17, 2018

What Wofford's Family "Lacked in Money, They Made Up for in Expectations"




(p. A19) Growing up on Buffalo's rough and often neglected East Side, Keith H. Wofford recalled many crisp autumn Sundays spent with his father bonding over the Bills, following the team's losses and wins on the radio.

Tickets to football games were not in the family's budget: His father, John Wofford, worked at the nearby Chevrolet factory for 32 years, and his mother, Ruby, picked up odd jobs in retail to bring in extra income. But what the Woffords lacked in money, they made up for in expectations for their two sons.

"They always had an incredible amount of confidence in us," Mr. Wofford, 49, said in an interview. "They made very clear that they didn't see any limitations."

Mr. Wofford held tight to that ideal as he left high school as a 17-year-old junior to attend Harvard University on a scholarship. Seven years later, he graduated from Harvard Law School. Last year, Mr. Wofford earned at least $4.3 million as a partner overseeing 300 lawyers and 700 employees at the New York office of international law firm Ropes & Gray, LLP, according to financial disclosure forms.

Now he's the Republican nominee for state attorney general in New York, vying to become one of the most powerful law enforcement officials in the country.

"How many guys who work at a white shoe law firm had dads who had a union job?" asked C. Teo Balbach, 50, the chief executive of a software firm who grew up in Buffalo, and played intramural rugby at Harvard with Mr. Wofford.

"He's a real hard worker and grinder, and that comes from that upbringing where you come from a middle-class family in a difficult neighborhood and you don't take anything for granted," Mr. Balbach added.


. . .


. . . issues facing Mr. Wofford should he win are potential conflicts of interest from his law practice.


. . .


Mr. Wofford said the criticism about him is indicative of Ms. James's "hyperpartisan" attitude, and he sought to distinguish himself from her by characterizing himself as an outsider.

"Being on the wrong side of the tracks in Buffalo," Mr. Wofford said, "is about as far from insider as you can get."

His success as a lawyer, however, did allow him one heartfelt opportunity: In his father's last years, Mr. Wofford returned to Buffalo, and during football season, they would bond again over Bills games -- but in person, at the stadium, as a season-ticket holder.



For the full story, see:

Jeffery C. Mays. "Can an Unknown G.O.P. Candidate Become Attorney General?" The New York Times (Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018): A19.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Oct. 12, 2018, and has the title "Can a Black Republican Who Voted for Trump Be New York's Next Attorney General?")






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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