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August 18, 2018

Resilient Wichita Zoo Flamingo Flies Free in Texas



FlamingoFreeTexas208-08-02.jpgFlamingo stands free and tall in Texas, nearly 13 years after escaping Wichita zoo. Source of photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.



(p. A13) That can't be right.

A flamingo? In South Texas?

Ben Shepard, in the first week of his summer internship with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, thought it must have been something else.


. . .


Mr. Shepard had the rare pleasure of spotting No. 492, an African flamingo that, for more than a decade, has shown you can still survive when no one gets around to clipping your wings.


. . .


In June 2005, on a very windy day in Wichita, a guest reported seeing two flamingos out of their enclosure. No. 492 and No. 347 had flown out; the staff had missed the signs that their feathers needed to be clipped again.

Each attempt to approach the flamingos spooked them. Soon they flew away to a drainage canal on the western side of Wichita, where they remained under observation of park officials for a week, Mr. Newland said.

They couldn't get closer than 50 yards away from the birds, and were stumped on how to get them back. Perhaps they could try in the cover of night, using a spotlight to disorient them.

They never got the chance. July 3 brought a terrible thunderstorm. And on July 4 -- Independence Day, . . . -- the birds were gone.


. . .


But great fortune was ahead for No. 492. Soon after it arrived in Texas, it found an unlikely companion: a Caribbean flamingo that, Mr. Newland speculates, may have been blown into the Gulf during a tropical storm. They were seen together as early as 2006 and as recently as 2013.

"Even though they're two different species, they are enough alike that they would have been more than happy to see each other," he said. "They're two lonely birds in kind of a foreign habitat. They're not supposed to be there, so they have stayed together because there's a bond."

Though they're often referred to as mates, no one knows the sex of either bird. And Mr. Newland said the fact that they're roughly the same height suggests they're likely to be the same sex.


. . .


"It's less about animals escaping from a zoo than how resilient the animals on our planet are," he said.



For the full story, see:

Daniel Victor. "Flamingo, After Cinematic Escape and Years on the Run, Is Spotted in Texas." The New York Times (Thursday, June 28, 2018): A13.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date June 27, 2018, and has the title "A Flamingo? In Texas? A Zoo Fugitive Since 2005 Is Still Surviving in the Wild." Where the wording differs between versions, the quotes above follow the somewhat more detailed online version.)






May 6, 2018

Dockless Bikes Flood Dallas as Officials Scramble to Regulate



(p. B4) . . . in recent months, Dallas has become ground zero for a nascent national bike-share war, as five startups armed with hundreds of millions of venture capital dollars have blanketed the city with at least 18,000 bikes.   . . .    . . . , the bikes flooding Dallas are "dockless." In other words, these bikes--popular in many Chinese cities--can be left almost anywhere when the rider is done.


. . .


City officials are scrambling to write regulations. "You drive down a street, you see bikes everywhere, all scattered out," said Dallas City Council member Tennell Atkins. "We've got to think it through. It's a mess."

Other U.S. cities are having a similar experience, if on a smaller scale. The startups, which include China's two leading bike-share companies, are in the early stages of a plan to blanket U.S. cities with hundreds of thousands of dockless bikes in the coming year.

Typically acting with cooperation and encouragement from city governments, companies seed a city with bikes placed on sidewalks, by bus stops and throughout downtowns. Users pay $1 per half-hour or hour for a bike they locate and unlock with an app on their smartphones, eliminating the need for a bike rack.



For the full story, see:

Eliot Brown. "It's the Wild West for Bike Sharing." The Wall Street Journal (Tuesday, March 27, 2018): B4.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date March 26, 2018, and has the title "Dockless Bike Share Floods into U.S. Cities, With Rides and Clutter.")






November 2, 2017

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



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

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


. . .


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

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

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


. . .


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

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


. . .


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

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

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

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



For the full story, see:

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

(Note: ellipses added.)

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






August 30, 2017

Higher-Paid Finance Jobs Moving from NYC and San Francisco to Phoenix, Salt Lake City, and Dallas



FinanceJobsMigrateFromNYCandSF2017-08-15.pngSource of graph: online version of the WSJ article quoted and cited below.




(p. B1) Traditional finance hubs have yet to recover all the jobs lost during the recession, but the industry is booming in places like Phoenix, Salt Lake City and Dallas. The migration has accelerated as investment firms face declining profitability and soaring real estate costs.


. . .


"San Francisco is a wonderful place, but unfortunately it's an expensive place from a real estate standpoint," said Brian McDonald, a senior vice president for Schwab. "So we had to identify other places where we could make things work."

While the finance industry has been relocating entry-level jobs since the late 1980s, today's moves are claiming higher-paid jobs in human resources, compliance and asset management, chipping away at New York City's middle class, said (p. B2) Kathryn Wylde, president and chief executive of the Partnership for New York City, a nonprofit that represents the city's business leadership.

"This industry isn't just a bunch of rich Wall Street guys," Ms. Wylde said. "It's a big source of employment that's disappearing from New York."



For the full story, see:

Asjylyn Loder. "Wall Street's New Frontier." The Wall Street Journal (Thurs., JULY 27, 2017): B1-B2.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date JULY 26, 2017, and has the title "Passive Migration: Denver Wins Big as Financial Firms Relocate to Cut Costs.")






May 26, 2015

Voters Want Texas-Style Economic Dynamism



(p. A23) Surveys and interviews give us some sense of what's going on. Voters have a lot of economic anxieties. But they also have a template in their heads for what economic dynamism looks like.

That template does not include a big role for government. Polls show that faith in government is near all-time lows. In a Gallup survey, voters listed dysfunctional government as the nation's No. 1 problem. In fact, American voters' traditional distrust has morphed and hardened. They used to think it was bloated and ineffective. Now they think it is bloated and ineffective and rigged to help those who need it least.

When many of these voters think of economic dynamism, they think of places like Texas, the top job producer in the nation over the past decade, and, especially, places like Houston, a low-regulation, low-cost-of-living place. In places like Wisconsin, voters in the middle class private sector support candidates who cut state pensions and pass right-to-work laws, so that economic governance can be more Texas-style.



For the full commentary, see:

David Brooks. "The Field Is Flat." The New York Times (Fri., MARCH 27, 2015): A23.






February 17, 2015

Congress Appropriates Funds to Test Concussion Theory of Rain



(p. 190) the first century A.D., when the Greek moralist Plutarch came up with the notion that rain followed military battles. Napoleon believed as much and fired cannons and guns at the sky to muddy up the ground between him and his attackers. Civil War veterans who wallowed in cold slop believed that ceaseless, close-range artillery fire had opened up the skies. In the late 1890s, as the first nesters started to dig their toeholds on the dry side of the one hundredth meridian, Congress had appropriated money to test the concussion theory in Texas. The tests were done by a man named Dyrenforth. He tried mightily, with government auditors looking over (p. 191) his shoulder, but Dyrenforth could not force a drop from the hot skies of Texas. From then on, he was called "Dry-Henceforth."

Government-sponsored failure didn't stop others from trying. A man who called himself "the moisture accelerator," Charles M. Hatfield, roamed the plains around the turn of the century. A Colonel Sanders of rainmaking, Hatfield had a secret mixture of ingredients that could be sent to the sky by machine. In the age before the widespread use of the telephone, it was hard to catch up with the moisture accelerator after he had fleeced a town and moved on.



Source:

Egan, Timothy. The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2006.






August 19, 2013

George Mitchell, Father of Fracking, Took 20 Years to Make It Work



MitchellGeorgeFatherOfFracking2013-08-04.jpg












"George P. Mitchell with a statue of himself at The Woodlands in 2007." Source of caption and photo: online version of the WSJ obituary quoted and cited below.




(p. B3) George P. Mitchell turned hydraulic fracturing from an experimental technique into an energy-industry mainstay, making it possible to pump oil and gas from once untappable rocks and unleashing an energy boom across the U.S.

Known as the father of fracking, Mr. Mitchell died Friday [July 26, 2013] at age 94 at his home in Galveston, Texas.


. . .


"George Mitchell, more than anyone else, is responsible for the most important energy innovation of the 21st century," said Daniel Yergin, vice chairman of consulting firm IHS and a Pulitzer Prize winning author on energy.


. . .


His first efforts at fracking, in the late 1970s, were expensive, and at times investors and his board of directors questioned the spending. But by the late 1990s the company had figured out the right mix of techniques and materials to produce shale gas economically, and began to do so on a major scale.

Devon Energy Corp. bought Mr. Mitchell's firm in 2002 for $3.1 billion, combined the hydraulic fracturing techniques with horizontal drilling, and helped launch the current surge in oil and gas production.



For the full obituary, see:

TOM FOWLER. "REMEMBRANCES; George P. Mitchell 1919-2013; 'Father of Fracking' Helped Unleash U.S. Energy Boom." The Wall Street Journal (Sat., July 27, 2013): B3.

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

(Note: the online version of the obituary has the date July 26, 2013, and has the title "REMEMBRANCES; 'Father of Fracking' Dies at 94; George P. Mitchell Helped Unleash U.S. Energy Boom.")






August 12, 2013

If Terry Were from Texas, He Might Oppose Federal Ethanol Mandates



(p. 1A) WASHINGTON -- The ethanol industry is again under fire from critics who want to eliminate the federal mandate that oil companies blend biofuels into the gasoline supply.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee is holding hearings on the Renewable Fuel Standard [RFS], which called for 15 billion gallons of biofuels to be used in 2012. The requirements reach 36 billion gallons by 2022.


. . .


(p. 2A) Rep. Lee Terry, R-Neb., a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, said it's clear that members from Texas and Louisiana will be targeting the usage requirements.


. . .


Terry has been a champion of the Keystone XL pipeline, making him an ally of Gulf Coast lawmakers and the oil industry on that issue.

Their split over the ethanol issue causes some awkward moments, he said.

"I say, 'You do realize I'm from the Cornhusker State,'" Terry said. "If I was from Dallas, you know, who knows? I'd have a different view on the RFS."



For the full story, see:

Joseph Morton. "Big Oil Revs Up Efforts to Repeal Rules Forcing Ethonal in the Mix." Omaha World-Herald (MONDAY, JULY 8, 2013): 1A-2A.

(Note: ellipses and bracketed abbreviation added.)

(Note: the online version of the article has the title "RENEWABLE FUEL STANDARD; Ethanol Critics Rev Up Efforts to Repeal Biofuel Rules on Gas.")






May 25, 2012

Wise and Wyly Words on Air Conditioning



(p. 42) It was February 1958. I got myself a room, not far from the office, in a little house built in the 1920s owned by a seventy-five-year-old woman named Mrs. Thompson. I lived in her "in-law's room," which meant I had my own front door, but I had to share the bathroom with her and, because I did not have a kitchen, I had to eat out. My rent was $10 a week.

I had my car, which meant I could get around, and the training school was air-conditioned, which meant my second summer in Dallas was a lot more pleasant than my first.

Thank you, Willis Haviland Carrier, for inventing air-conditioning. I owe you one. And I'm not the only one. At the height of the dot-com stock market bubble of 1999, Barton Biggs--the wise, graying investments guru at Morgan Stanley--posed this question to seventy-one people: which invention is more important, the Internet or air-conditioning? Barton was on the losing side of the vote, 70-2.

Obviously, he'd found seventy people who'd never spent an August in Texas.




Source:

Wyly, Sam. 1,000 Dollars and an Idea: Entrepreneur to Billionaire. New York: Newmarket Press, 2008.





May 21, 2012

Texas Was a Place Where It Was OK for an Entrepreneur to Be Poco Loco



(p. 42) Today, everybody knows something about Texas, but in those days Texas was still like an undiscovered oasis of freethinking, individualistic, action-oriented, business-minded people. It was a place where gut American characteristics were concentrated and magnified. A place where you could taste the frontier spirit that is part of our national heritage. There was a feeling in the air that you could invent yourself as any character you chose, and that your neighbors would leave you alone to be whoever you wanted to be. I liked the aggressiveness of the people in pursuing their goals, and the fact that you could be poco loco, as Spanish speakers say: a little crazy. This quality is a big help when you're an entrepreneur. I felt that, in Dallas. there was extra oxygen in the air.


Source:

Wyly, Sam. 1,000 Dollars and an Idea: Entrepreneur to Billionaire. New York: Newmarket Press, 2008.

(Note: italics in original.)





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