Timesizing® Associates - Homepage
Good News, August 1-15, 2001
[Commentary] ©2001 Phil Hyde, The Timesizing Wire, Box 622, Cambridge MA 02140 USA (617) 623-8080
8/15/2001 glimmers of hope -
8/13/2001 glimmers of hope -
- [1 UPsizing]
Seattle company sets R.I. extension, AP via Boston Globe, C9.
...Biotech company Immunex Corp. announced plans to expand its manufacturing plant in West Greenwich, Rhode Is. The company says the $500m expansion, when finished in 2005, will make the plant the world's largest cell-manufacturing center and will employ up to 700 workers.... The project requires five permits from the state Dept. of Environmental Mgmt and one from the Dept. of Transportation. ...Shares rose....
[Unspecified new jobs.]
- ["good, but..."]
Decline in fatal work injuries, AP via NYT, A17.
The number of workers killed on the job last year dropped about 2% even though employment was up, the Labor Dept. reported.
[The Labor Dept. has a pretty rosy definition of "employment" - e.g., counting part-time as equivalent to full-time.]
Fatal workplace injuries last year decreased to 5,915 from 6,053 in 1999.
[Good, but that still means that -]
On average, about 16 workers were killed each day in 2000. The construction industry had the highest number of fatal work injuries with 1,154 deaths, down about 3% from 1,101 in 1998. That was the first decline since 1996.
The leading cause of deaths, highway incidents, fell for the first time since the report began in 1992, down 9% to 1,963.
- Click here for today's TIMEsizing stories - 8/15/2001.
8/11/2001 glimmers of hope -
- Cell biologist traded religious fervor for scientific zeal, by Sheryl Stolberg, NYT, A11.
...CEO [now] of Advanced Cell Technology, a small biotechnology company in Worcester, Mass., Dr. [Michael] West [once] aligned himself with the Creation Research Society, a scientists' group that asserts that the events in the Book of Genesis are true. He wanted to prove that God designed the world.
"My goal was to use science to defend Christianity," Dr. West said. It was a crushing blow when he realized he could not. "Kicking and struggling with every bone in my body, I had to admit that the theory of evolution was true."...
Today...Dr. West's goal is to create embryonic stem cells..\..which have the potential to grow into any cell or tissue in the body...that will be a perfect genetic match for patients.... Carried to its logical extreme, Dr. West's work would lead to immortality.... He said actuaries have estimated that if people did not age, they would live 600 years, on average, and die in accidents....
[Hey, just like Methuselah.]
- ["Good but..."]
Welfare challenge, pointer summary (to A15), NYT, A2.
Six years after Connecticut began one of the nation's more aggressive welfare reform efforts, the number of people on public assistance has been cut by more than half, to 25,000 from 58,000.
[Good, but -]
The question now is whether its success in reducing the welfare rolls can be sustained when the economy weakens and federal money for long-term welfare recipients begins to dry up.
8/10/2001 glimmers of hope -
- [1 UPsizing, but...]
Avon creates a new business to draw teenagers into fold, Reuters via NYT, B14.
...The world's largest direct seller of beauty products [will] start a new beauty business aimed at teenage girls around the world. ...Teenagers will sell Avon products to other teenagers through direct selling, catalogs and the Internet....
[The desperation for markets rolls on, driven by a global desperation for jobs. This ominous lunge on the borders of child labor promises unspecified new jobs.]
- [2 UNtakeovers]
- Liberty Media is separated from AT&T, Bloomberg via NYT, B14.
The Liberty Media Corp. was split off from AT&T [yester]day, giving the chairman, John C. Malone, more freedom to raise money and invest in cable television systems....
- Dictaphone to be an independent company, Bloomberg via NYT, B3.
Lernout & Hauspie Speech Products, the Belgian maker of speech-recognition software that is operating under bankruptcy court protection, [will] create a new company out of its Dictaphone unit and give share to its creditors.... "It opens the way to a final solution for Dictaphone," which is also under bankruptcy protection....
[Ever since the Holocaust, "final" solutions sound kinda ominous. Couldn't they have said "lasting" or "sustainable"?]
- Columbian cattle ranchers set to exploit a big break - Herds are certified as free of disease, by Juan Forero, NYT, B3.
...Ranchers in Colombia's seven northern provinces say they have achieved an edge over rival countries \like\ Argentina and Brazil..., one that they hope to turn quickly into lucrative global export sales: their herds have been certified free of foot-and-mouth disease. The clean bill of health is a rare bit of hopeful economic news in a country convulsed by civil conflict.... European herds have been devastated by the disease, and recent outbreaks in both Brazil and Argentina have hamstrung those nations' hopes of filling the vacuum with their own beef....
8/09/2001 glimmers of hope -
- Workers gain raises, despite slowdown - But many firms planning cost [meaning "job"] cuts, AP via Boston Globe, C2.
[This is the standard corruption of American labor and through them, the whole economy: the ones that still have jobs - with long hours and no lives - get a little more money, all very insecure, and more and more get laid off to scrabble for a series of substitute jobs at declining pay and finally, the scramble for 2,3 or 4 part-time jobs at minimum wage - which is always raised too little too late. What a disaster when during the last big slowdown, the Great Depression, labor sold its birthright = control over its supply via maximum workweek per person - for a mess of pottage = minimum wage and maximum makework, neither of which were adjusted upward fast enough to allow continued progress in adjusting the workweek downward - or even enforcing the 1940 level it stuck at. Only a fraction of American labor was ever smart enough to realize that shorter hours without higher pay automatically brings higher pay and everything else in its train, but higher pay without shorter hours brings nothing automatically and gradually undermines itself and everything else. American labor needs to take back control of the workweek. And the nuns in the next story show them how -]
- Nuns defy Vatican's order of silence - Draw criticism, praise for backing conference on women's ordination, Teresa Watanabe, LA Times via Boston Globe, A2.
ERIE, Pa. - In the wooded meadows off Lake Erie...the Benedictine Sisters of Erie gather to pray three times daily \in\ a Roman Catholic monastic community.... They feed the poor, train the illiterate [and] live on donated clothes and a monthly stipend of $70 each.
But the gentle rhythms of their..\..1,500-year-old...religious lifestyle were abruptly interrupted when
Chittester attended the conference amid fears that she and Vladimiroff might be expelled from their order or even the church. But Rome, which had declared the women's issue closed for debate since the mid-1990s, inexplicably dropped the issue....
- one of the[ir number,] Sister Joan Chittister, a feminist, author, and Benedictine nun for 50 years..\..refused to obey a Vatican decree against attending a worldwide conference to promote women's ordination...in Dublin in June, an appearance Rome warned would "create scandal" in the church.... Chittester said she acted in the Benedictine tradition against blind obedience: "I was not trying to be defiant. I was honestly, genuinely committed to the notion that silence and silencing [are] not good for the Church"..\..
- Her superior, Prioress Christine Vladimiroff, re[ject]ed Vatica orders to forbid Chittister from attending.... In her letter to Rome, Vladimiroff explained that the Benedictine idea of authority and obedience differed from "that which is being used by the Vatican to exert power and control and prompt a false sense of unity inspired by fear"..\..
- All but one of 128 Erie nuns signed a letter of support.
- So did 22 Benedictine female monasteries in North America.
- ...The [Erie] monastery's stand [drew] more than 1,000 letters and emails from around the globe.... Most...hailed the women as symbols of conscience against the Vatican's escalating moves to control dissent..\..
[The explanation is easy. The Vatican needs Chittester more than Chittester needs the Vatican. The Vatican recently caved on priest's celibacy too - in the case of an African priest who got married in a big Moonie ceremony, no less.]
...The [Erie] nuns began ridding their prayer books of exclusively male pronouns in the 1970s, decades ahead of others. Today the nuns pray not to "Father, Son and Holy Spirit," but to "Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier." The sisters...run a job-training program, soup kitchen, children's feeding and sports programs, a neighborhood art center, low-income housing for seniors and the disabled, an environmental education center, and summer camp....
The nuns do not regard their act as unfaithful to Rome. "I just think I lovingly disagree, and it is as much my church as theirs," Vladimiroff said....
[Remember the women's campaign to "take back the streets" a few years ago? These women are campaigning to take back the Church. More power to them! These women are an inspiration to us to take back a number of other things - our immigration policy (note article on next page, "US, Mexico report basic accord on easing immigration" - how could it get any easier unless we paid their way and nixed all our laws?), our family lives, our closeness to nature, our spiritual lives, and most centrally and strategically - as mentioned in the story above - control over the length of our workweeks.]
8/8/2001 glimmers of hope -
- [1 UNtakeover]
Thermo Electron wraps Kadant deal, Dow Jones via Boston Globe, C10.
Thermo Electron Corp. completed the spinoff of Kadant Inc., formerly Thermo Fibertek Inc.... The reorg, which began in early 2000, is designed to allow Thermo Electron to focus on its core business of instrument systems, components, and services.
- Auto sales on course to go against the economic flow, by Michelle Krebs, Boston Globe, G10.
...Because...the economy [is] in a slump..\..it would be easy to conclude that US car and truck sales would decrease.... Indeed, vehicle sales have cooled from last year's record level [of] more than 17m cars and trucks, shattering the previous record established only the year before. Still, auto sales so far in 2001 have put the industry on course for its third-best year ever....
So why are there still buyers now that the economy is in a slump?
- ...Stagnated pricing, coupled with incentives that have soared to almost unbelievable levels..\.. Prices have generally held steady for the past five years.... Cash rebates and other incentives are averaging a whopping $2,619 a vehicle, according to Art Spinella, president [of] CNW Marketing Research Inc. of Brandon, Ore. "If you look at vehicle pricing on an inflation-adjusted basis over the last five years, prices have dropped by 20%"..\..said Ronald Zarella, president of GM's North American operations....
[But then, they were sooo inflated.]
- ...A bevy of new vehicles. "The industry has gotten a boost from very interesting, innovative and compelling products," said..\..Jacques Nasser, president and CEO of Ford.... That is evidenced by the fact that new models are enjoying double-digit sales increases, while sales of old models are down.
[In other words, "built-in obsolescence" - hardly a sign of efficiency or ecological sensitivity.]
- [This article seems to have forgotten the most obvious and annoying reason. Commercial TV is wall-papered with car-jeep-SUV-pickup commercials. And so is radio (said he, listening to a Jaguar commercial on the classical music station). One-two-three organized SCREEEAM.]
- Company executives predict future auto sales will be buoyed by:
- further reductions in interest rates
[US rates still haven't hit zero as they have in Japan]
- a tax cut...
[yeah sure - $300 is gonna buy a lotta new car today]
- consumers who are more optimistic about tomorrow than today....
[true, some people have already hit what looks like bottom with nowhere to go but up (but no guarantees)]
- unwillingness of any manufacturer to be first to scale back incentives or future product plans
[which will happen first, bankruptcy or ecological collapse?]
- Pockets of protest are rising against immigration, by Eric Schmitt, NYT, A10.
[Let's cut the name calling and just decide immigration issues by public referendum of the areas to "enjoy" or "be impacted" by the proposed influx. Surely we have the right to decide, especially if our tax dollars are involved. Some of the best sense on this issue has been spoken lately by Craig Nelson of the *Project USA group. The Timesizing program handles immigration as one of the three "population variables" (imports, immigrants, births) in Phase 5.]
- Senate leader to challenge Bush today on missile defense - Daschle speech to tell of 'single-minded approach', by Alison Mitchell, NYT, A4.
[Dash for the jugular, Daschle! There's gotta be some way to kill this die-hard boondoggle.]
8/07/2001 weekend glimmers of intelligence -
- 2 UPsizings, totalling 15 + ?? new jobs -
- Research unit for Microsoft is opening up in California - Internet service is a new team's focus, and the perspective is long term, by Steve Lohr, NYT, C4.
Microsoft is setting up a research group in Silicon Valley to work on technologies for the company's push beyond the personal computer and increasingly into Internet services. The move is intended to strengthen Microsoft's Internet services initiative, called .Net, a centerpiece of the company's strategy for the future. The new...unit will be headed by Roy Levin, the former director of Compaq's Systems Research Center in Palo Alto, Calif., who...said that he planned to hire 10 to 15 researchers in the first year....
[So, 15 new jobs.]
- Blockbuster, NYT, C4.
...Dallas, opened stores in Costa Rica and Guatemala.
[Unspecified new jobs.]
- G.M. announces plans for fuel cells, by Danny Hakim, NYT, C4.
[At last, Buckminster Fuller's dream of fuel cells is getting some "legs" -]
General Motors said [yester]day that it planned to develop and market fuel cells to heat and power homes and businesses by the middle of the decade to further a technology it expects to supplant the internal combustion engine. But G.M., like other automakers, does not plan to introduce fuel cell vehicles to the public until at least the end of the decade.
[Is that because of development glitches that take time to work out, or because they want to squeeze the last few trillion dollars out of fossil-fuel vehicles? Because if it's the latter, global warming/scorching may not give them the time for that unnecessary exercise.]
"Our commitment is to drive towards significant volume, hundreds of thousands, by the end fo teh decade," Larry Burns, GM's VP for R&D, said.... "It can change the world," he added. "Automobiles can be reinvented around this technology."
[No answer in that serving of rhetoric.]
...Fuel cells are considered one of the cleanest ways of producing electricity because they emit [only] water vapor and heat, although many fuel cells draw their hydrogen from methanol, gasoline or natural gas and do give off some pollutants....
- South Korea: Buy at home, by Don Kirk, NYT, W1.
Pres. Kim Dae Jung says South Koreans should buy more of their own products.
[Sounds lovely. They got any money?]
He called on Koreans to strengthen the economy "by creating purchasing power" instead of counting so heavily on exports.
[Sounds like advice for Germany today [8/8, #1]. Do either of these countriers have a clue how to do that? - how to "create purchasing power"? The only gentle way to do this to adjust the workweek downward and create such a shortage of labor hours that wages are driven up and corporate revenues are centrifuged out to the multitudes that actually bolster markets by shopping. In other words, Timesizing.]
- Transit outpaces cars, study finds - In New York City, the subway experiences a rebirth, by Randy Kennedy, NYT, A17.
...A new transportation study has found a surprising corollary to \the trend of exploding\ public transit ridership...over the last few years.... In the 1990's, for the first time since before World War II, the growth in public transit ridership outstripped the growth in auto use in the five boroughs, according to the study....
[Sounds like a nice green development.]
- Labor groups for anti-sweatshop coalition - Unions of the world march for safer garment factories, by Steven Greenhouse, NYT, A17.
[Good but playing from a weak hand until labor gets itself some more power by getting workweeks limited, hooked to overtime-to-training&hiring conversion, and adjusted downward to levels where they should be for our high levels of technology.]
8/06/2001 weekend glimmers of hope -
- The seasonal enemy of economics, op ed by Thomas Oliphant, Boston Globe, A13.
WASHINGTON - I hate economics in summer. With politics thrown in, economics in summer has a nasty habit of turning weird. Like most things that gone wrong, it was originally Richard Nixon's fault. ...He ruined a nice summer 30 years ago this week by enlisting the world economy in his 1972 reelection campaign.... It is [hard] enough trying to sort out the forces at work on a mish-mash of buyers and sellers that had just reached one trillion dollars in size in 1971, but seven trillion or so later [it's even harder]. You can almost see the conservatives' point about [government] messing with a market economy...until you see what happens when businessmen and economists mess with it.
The same old feelings were stimulated last week as...Pres. Bush and his buddies in Congress...attached dynamite to one of the few good things our economy has produced in the last generation or so - a set of solid [account] books that was one of the pillars of low-interest-rate prosperity in the 1990s. Those who follow the numbers already know that the vaunted budget surplus - a combined $5.6 trillion from trust funds and normal operations over the next decade - is evaporating faster than water in Death Valley.
But here were the Bushies adding close to $60 billion to the looming problem in a single week of silliness designed to give the president partial victories to take to the Texas ranch he bought with profits from a baseball team that exploded in value after a stadium supported with tax increases and public debt was built for it.
At a time when no one knows where the economy is headed, when the baby boomers' around-the-corner retirement poses one of the greatest financing challenges ever, here is the government doing its best to turn that challenge into a nightmare....
A fresh set of official numbers is due later this month, but already the only speculation is over how much worse they can be than the last set....
- The energy bill that passed the House was loaded with nearly $35 billion in special-interest goodies that are not allowed for in the budget.
- Almost as much - not paid for - was in the so-called patients' bill of rights.
- And at Bush's urging, Congress has already begun adding billions for the military outside budget confines and before a policy review has determined a new policy.
...Exceptions to the rule [of bad summers were] the steps toward sanity that finally ended the growth-suppressing deficit burden -
- Out of the blue, supposed conservative Nixon slapped wage and price controls on the country as he ushered in floating exchange rates and pump-primed a stagnant economy. A brief freeze was followed by a World War II-style bureaucracy that helped create the pressure cooker than exploded two years later.
- Gerald Ford spent the fateful summer of 1974 coming up with a failed policy to deal with the aftermath, which included the deepest recession since the Depression - whose visual symbol was a campaign button, Whip Inflation Now.
[That must have been what corrupted the Fed and led them to drop their second responsibility, cutting unemployment.]
- Jimmy Carter, one result of that failure, wilted in a wild summer five years later with an energy policy response that took the unique step of appearing to blame the public for what was called "the country's malaise." He also fired a chunk of his Cabinet.
- ...Ronald Reagan \was\ another president [who] went off to his ranch in August after an orgy of tax-cutting to celebrate. But even as [he] signed his legislation, the first manifestations of an even deeper recession than the one in '74 were clear. So were the signs that the resulting river of federal red ink would turn into a flood of debt. He promised specific proposals to stop it, but in eight years he never delivered.
It is only natural that [the madness] would start again under a president whose sense of history is, shall we say, underdeveloped.
- at first under Bush's dad in 1990 and
- then under Bill Clinton three years later
It seems incredible that a country facing unprecedented health in its public finances would take giant steps toward squandering it even before the money appears, given all the challenges that lie ahead in Social Security, Medicare, education and housing. Incredible...but not unprecedented. The last time a huge pot of dough loomed - the fabled peace dividend from the alleged deescalation of the Vietnam War - not a red cent of it ever showed up. That all became clear shortly after Richard Nixon took office - in the summer of 1969.
[A nice coherent history of the last 30 years that blames everything on government in general and the presidents & summers in particular, and as usual in the US, UK and Japan, completely omits the controlling trends in worktime. But nice and coherent nonetheless. Shades of a worthy opponent.]
8/02/2001 glimmers of hope -
- Newer technology renews interest in wind power, by Jeffrey Krasner, Boston Globe, C2.
[Deeza arteekul eeza porly reeten anda tayrblee ed-ted, but weeza gwine cut troo dee napoo an' feex heem opp.]
The would-be developers of a giant wind farm proposed for the shallow waters off the coast of Hyannis in Nantucket Sound want you to know: These are not your father's windmills [of] the 1980s.... Today's [wind] turbines are bigger, more efficient, and more reliable, say energy experts. And while windmills look pretty much the same, a host of detail improvements have made modern windmills practical devices for generating renewable energy.
Susan Hock, wind energy technology manager at the National Renewable Energy Lab in Golden, Colo. [not too far from Rocky Mtn Institute in Snowmass, Colo.] says that 10 years ago, a typical windmill could generate its full capacity 25% of the time. Now, 35% is common..\.. You can [always] design a lot smarter," says James Manwell, head of the Renewable Energy Research Lab at UMass/Amherst.
- The blades...have been subtly modified to make them more efficient.... They're now made out of fiberglass composites that are easier to manufacture and lighter than the steel once used.
- Engineers have been able to make windmills [overall] more durable.... After watching windmills fail for a couple of decades, engineers know more about which parts of the machine are subject to the highest stresses. At the same time, designers are using computer-aided design programs to strengthen vulnerable parts without adding weight and bulk to the entire machine.
- ...Attached to each windmill is an anemometer, which measures wind speed and direction. [It activates] motors inside the [housing behind the blades to] rotate the entire [machine] atop the support shaft, so the blades are always facing directly into the wind.
- A separate set of motors [can] change blade angle..\..on the hub for optimal performance [in] different wind speeds. The latest systems are [even] able to change blade angle...in the course of a single rotation, thereby enabling the windmill to best exploit...wind speed [differences at the bottom of the blades' swing vs. the top of their spin].
- Another improvement is...instantaneous [gear-like switchability in] the power output of the turbines...to absorb..\..variable windspeeds...while producing a steadier power output.
- ...Engineers are putting redundant controls into some windmills, such as two computer boards instead of one [so that a] failure doesn't knock out the [whole unit]. "It's cheap to install redundancy," says Bob Gates, senior VP of Enron Wind, a unit of the Houston energy company....
- The wind farm proposed by Cape Wind Assocs. of Boston would use blades spinning 426 feet above the ocean at the [top of the blades' spin. Taller] windmills give a developer more bang for the buck [because as windmill height increases,] costs go up in a straight line while [wind velocities and] the amount of power the windmill can generate grows geometrically..\..
- ["good but..."]
Census data show a sharp increase in living standard [sic] - Immigration also rises - Income, mobility and housing gains are shown in survey - but mortgages grow, by Eric Schmitt, NYT, front page.
[This begins to look like a very questionable definition of "increasing" or "rising" living standard(s?) and quality of life. People supposedly have bigger houses but also more debt and longer, lonelier, less energy-efficient commutes. This is progress??? And as for immigration -]
...The survey provides the latest evidence that the magnet of readily available jobs is attracting immigrants at an ever faster pace.
[What a happy face this puts on wages for the unskilled and many others that have been stagnant for the last 30 years! Why? Because we've flouted our own immgration laws with repeated amnesties for illegals and of course, if you're a fearful illegal, you'll work for practically nothing because your employer has a handy gun at your head, a ready lever for blackmail, especially if you don't speak English too well. The result? -]
About 44% of the nation's 30.5m [officially counted] foreign-born residents, or 13.3m people, arrived here in the 1990's, [a single 10-year period matching nearly half the influx of all previous decades covered by the lifetimes of living immigrants]. Immigrants make up 11% of the country's population, the largest share since the 1930's.
[If this striking factoid is taken from the 1930 census, it means that the 1920s were another period of great permissiveness and huge volume in immigrant intake. Note that one of the first actions of Republican president Herbert Hoover when he began to realize the seriousness of the business slump in late 1929 was to freeze immigration. Immigration should be decided by regular, binding, public referendum as in Phase 5 of the Timesizing program. Check out another big "but" in this "good but" today, "INS loosens watch over the workplace," by Jonathan Peterson, Boston Globe, A8. And of course, today's (Monday's) "comprehensive new census data" is strangely silent about America's record-breaking prison population, raising fears that it's a piece of cheerleading.]
8/01/2001 glimmers of hope -
- [At last, a tiny article on population -]
Population forecast, by Andrew Revkin, NYT, A6.
The human population is likely to stop growing by 2100 as sharp drops in birthrates in some countries make up for continued growth in others, a new scientific analysis has found.
[No estimate, prediction or forecast is "scientific" until it is borne out in the event by the facts.]
The research, described in Nature, adds credence to predictions that explosive growth seen in recent decades will not persist much beyond the middle of this century. The analysis finds [they mean, "the forecast estimates"] that the most likely world population at the turn of the next century will be about 8.4B people, while the latest long-term assessment by the United Nations has 9.4B as the middle of its range.
[We suppose that the "explosive growth seen in recent decades" would bring us closer to the 12B world population by 2050 ± 20 years, as estimated by MIT's World III computer model, whose results were published in 1971 as "Limits to Growth." It foresaw a cataclysmic 2/3 population drop, by a conjunction of factors, at that time. There was a large and long controversy over this and some say it was discredited. But the only thing its population predictions left out that we know of is the AIDS epidemic that started in the early 1980s. And for all that, any attack on our millennia-long obsession with Growth aka MoreMoreMore in an attempt to nudge us from quantity to quality would not have been credited by TPTB (the powers that be) at that period anyway - and apparently still not.]
- [1 UPsizing, 189 callbacks]
Navistar to increase its truck production, Bloomberg via NYT, C2.
The Navistar International Corp. will increase production of heavy-duty trucks at an Ontario plant by about 40% starting in September and call back 189 workers because of fewer unsold vehicles at dealers....
[This ain't a big chunk of the 1300 Canadian layoffs that Navistar did back on 8/16/2000 let alone the overall North American total of 2900 between then and 9/14/2000, #3. It's better than nothing but not nearly as good as Timesizing.]
- Click here for today's TIMEsizing stories - 8/01/2001.
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