Good News, Dec. 1-15, 1999
[Commentary] ©1998-1999 Phil Hyde, The Timesizing Wire, Box 622, Cambridge MA 02140 USA (617) 623-8080
12/15/99 5 glimmers of hope -
12/14 3 glimmers of hope -
- Pregancies fall to lowest in 20 years, AP via Boston Globe, A8.
The number of US pregnancies in 1996 [latest available stats] fell half a million from its 1990 peak, dropping to the lowest rate in two decades [since 1976]...according to the National Center for Health Statistics.
[Great, now if we could get real public control of our immigration rate and our import rate à la Phase 5 of Timesizing.com's public-sector program....]
- 3 national monuments planned - Grand Canyon area would be protected, by Randall Mikkelsen, Bos Globe, A19.
[So maybe we can get some use out of Clinton after all. On the other hand -]
- 1m-acre Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument to protect the watershed on the north rim in AZ
- 71,000 protected acres to save prehistoric rock inscriptions and ancient ruins north of Phoenix
- 1000s of small islands, rocks and reefs off the Calif. coast as habitat for wildlife such as sea otters and birds
- Plus 8000-acre expansion of the Pinnacles National Monument south of San Jose
- Plus 18 sites of historical or natural significance under Clinton's "lands legacy" initiative, such as Martin Luther King's first home in Atlanta and Fla.'s Pelican Is. for sea turtles and manatees.
...McCain criticized the proposals, which would create two new monuments in his home state, as a "unilateral decision" bypassing the people of Arizona....
["He who pays the piper calls the tune" and we in the Northeast and the rest of the country are paying for the cheap water of "the people of [southern] Arizona" - a sprawling water-sucking horde of desert-dwellers and just about the least ecological mob in the country with the exception of the fountain-builders of Las Vegas and the desert dwellers of LA and the rest of southern Cal. They get a say when they pay their own way - ALL of it! ... Guess there's not much to choose between $$$-obsessed Baby Bush and monument-bashing McCain.]
- Monsanto sued over use of biotechnology in developing seeds, by David Barboza, NYT, C1.
Some of the nation's most prominent antitrust lawyers filed a class-action lawsuit against the Monsanto Co. yesterday, accusing it of rushing genetically engineered seeds to the marketplace without properly testing them for safety and of forming an international cartel that conspired to control the world's market in corn and soybean seeds....
[YES, there are some good lawyers.]
- [1 UPsizing]
Motorola to open $5m lab for product design near MIT, by Peter Howe, Boston Globe, C4.
...expects to employ 20 designers at the 8000-sq-ft lab on the outskirts of Kendall Sq., including people who now work at its Advanced User Interactions Lab in Illinois.
[OK, supposing 5 people are willing to relocate from Illinois to Mass., that still leaves 15 new jobs astarting in Mass.]
Motorola has 1,000 Mass. employees now, chiefly at a Mansfield plant....
- [1 UNtakeover]
AMR's spinoff of its stake in Sabre could lure airline investors, by David Morrow, NYT, C1.
...The parent of American Airlines..\..said yesterday that it would spin off its 83% stake in the Sabre Holdings Corp., the world's largest travel reservation company.... In the divestiture, valued at $6.2B, AMR will distribute its 107m Sabre shares to its shareholders [@ about 0.7 Sabre/1 AMR]. Sabre will also pay $675m in dividends to its shareholders, including AMR....
[Note that neither of the other "spinoffs" today (Unocal's Pure Energy Resources on NYT C4, 3Com's Palm Inc. on NYT C19) are UNtakeovers by our definition that requires majority-share divestiture.]
12/12-13 2 glimmers of hope -
- Hundreds protest altered food - At U.S. hearing scientists back altered crops, pointer headline-main headline, by Andrew Pollack, NYT, C1-A21.
["Objective" scientists can get pretty subjective pretty fast when businessmen start waving around wads of greenbacks. Remember, "scientists" were the ones that gave us the wonders of nuclear energy, with nowhere to safely store the nuclear wastes which will be dangerous for another 35,000 years give or take....]
OAKLAND, Calif., Dec. 13 - As the FDA held the last of its 3 public hearings on bio-engineered food today, hundreds of protesters staged what organizers said was the largest rally in the U.S. against the use of genetic engineering in food.
...About 30 professors and grad students for UC Berkeley and Davis held their own demonstrations. Many...were from Berkeley's Dept. of Plant and Microbial Biology, which last year [arranged] to receive $25m in research money from Novartis, the huge Swiss drug and agriculture company.
[There's a couple of unnerving bedfellows for you - "science" & big business, and "agriculture" & drugs.]
The protests...reflect increasing public concern about genetically altered crops, which have swept largely unnoticed into American agriculture over the last decade....
[How can they be noticed if you slackers in the media don't dig out the information and publicize it?!]
- Age of social sciences?, letter to editor by Keith Sawyer of St. Louis, NYT, A30.
Your Dec. 12 editorial "New directions in the march of science" suggests that the next century might be the "age of biology." I suggest another possibility: The next century may become the age of the social sciences.
If we have indeed reached a point of diminishing returns in the [natural] sciences, this will have the wonderful benefit of freeing our research dollars and our great minds to focus on the pressing social issues of our time.
[Amen to that. Let's get our politics and economics caught up to our biotechnology and computer sciences - we're getting dangerous to ourselves. In commoner terms, let's get our morality caught up to our technology. We may be technological giants, but we're moral and ethical pygmies.
[In aid of that grand goal, Timesizing.com is issuing another book this year, focussing on the social sciences as a whole and on politics-economics-ecology (human and non) in particular.]
- Hertz ends talks to buy truck leasing unit, Reuters via NYT, C4.
..."In the light of our decision to focus on our core competencies, AMI's emphasis on heavy truck leasing does not fit with our growth strategy," said Craig Koch, president and COO of Hertz.
[Lord, what spurious comfort we mortals take in buzzwords like "growth strategy" and especially that doozy, "core competencies"! Dilbert could have a field day with that one - and has had, - probably several!]
In mid-July, the company said it was considering acquiring AMI Leasing, estimating then that a transaction could occur within 60 days....
12/11 2 glimmers of hope -
- 12/13 Putting the public in policy - Internet polling rekindles debate over voter role in politics, by Anne Kornblut, Boston Globe, A12.
..."I do believe science can get to the point where the polls are accurate. Then the question is, my Lord, do we want that?" said Douglas L. Bailey, publisher of Hotline, a political newsletter....
[Only if every citizen has the opportunity to vote online. Otherwise, we want to introduce this in the form of voting by phone, because phones are still a lot more common than Internet access and can achieve ATM levels of security.]
"The public can register its opinion immediately, and members of Congress will be able to measure the public's view ... and they can vote that way. But is that their job?"...
[When we truly get to the point that the whole public, or at least whatever part is concerned about a given issue, can really register its opinion immediately with no chance of vote rigging or "ballot stuffing," so that Congress can really gauge the public's view and vote that way, OF COURSE THAT'S THEIR JOB. That's what democracy MEANS, you moron. What are these people doing in politics in a democracy if they don't understand that basic level? (Yes, we know, they're really there to manipulate our "representatives" like all the PACs and lobbyists, and get more than their share of "one person, one vote." - Ship them to China and see how they like it!) Every wise man from Jefferson to Churchill has uttered some form of the sentiment, "Democracy's a flawed system. It's just that all the other systems are worse, much worse." Hence our emphasis, following Buckminster Fuller and his vision of 24-hour telephone referendums, on direct electronic referendums in Phase 1 of the Timesizing program.]
- [A half-page of readers' fury about Boston Globe's senseless 12/2 WTO editorial Senseless in Seattle ("the pot calling the kettle black") -]
12/12 The high cost of free trade
- Economic forces reshape work in America, letter to ed by Walter Crow, Quincy MA, BG, A17.
[This one has sooo many great soundbytes - & we have to cut corners & run errands downtown.]
...If the Globe wished to find a closer parallel [than the Luddites] to the victims of globalization, it might have looked to contemporaries of the Luddites: British and Irish tenant farmers who were evicted from the land after centuries of possession, under a new and absolute theory of land ownership incorporated in the Enclosure Acts. Conventional economic history teaches that this was a "progressive" trend in that it freed up both capital and labor to feed the industrial revolution. Such history also acknowledges the vast human suffering that resulted in the decades of transition. The dispossessed farm families died rapidly from unemployment, or slowly from the poverty wages and unhealthy conditions of the era's new factories. The English parliamentarians who legislated this massive change in the social contract acted partly out of their own narrow class interests, and partly out of a dogmatic adherence to their theories of land ownership and economic efficiency. Are we sure that the WTO arbitrators are any different?
[No we are not. And ya gotta ask, "progressive" for whom? Technology will not be a truly positive force until we have the one thing we lack that is turning its potential constructiveness into destructiveness - we have no smooth automatic mechanism of passing along the time-saving benefits of new technology to the general public in the form of increased leisure, so we are getting it in the form of increased underemployment and hidden unemployment and cancelled training programs ("unnecessary! - too many resumes already!") and increasing random public rage (road rage, airport rage, going postal, school killings, domestic violence,...) and a huge HUGE prison and jail population. We have barely started on the great missing component that would make possible such an automatic mechanism - the definition of share per person in the economic sphere (we've got it in the political sphere - "one person one vote" - and it's getting undermined by the huge disparity in the economy). This takes not only a bottom limit - which we've made some progress on (poverty standards, minimum hours to qualify for unemployment insurance...) but also an upper limit - which we have GREAT difficulty with. Timesizing.com has designed the least stifling upper limits possible in the least stifling initial units, in the 2nd and 3rd phases of its public-sector program (and we're assuming a long private-sector ramp-up).]
- Luddites [automation bashers] lost, but were they wrong?, letter to ed by Bill Schechter, Sudbury MA, BG, A17.
...The Luddites had an acute understanding of the costs of indutrialization that went beyond a narrow $$ & ¢¢ calculus. They believed that industrialization would destroy the life-enhancing creativity of craft work, as well as the autonomy of individuals to control their working day....
[Ands even today, we get more and more technology and less and less quality. Look at robot 411, robot receptionists everywhere spouting customer-time-wasting circular menus, cramped parking spaces, cramped airline seats, newspaper delivery people who expect a tip for getting the paper delivered on time once a month....]
- What are we willing to endure in order to boost corporate profits?, letter to ed by Debbie Phillips, Mattapan MA, BG, A17.
- Consider the downside of globalization, letter to ed by Paul Babin, Melrose MA, BG, A17.
- The very real fear of corporate domination, letter to ed by Jackie Cruz, Dorchester MA, BG, A17.
12/10 6 glimmers of hope -
- Regulate doctors' hours, letter to editor by Edward Volpintesta, MD, of Bethel CT, NYT, A36.
Re "Breaking Down Medicine's Culture of Silence" (Week in Review, Dec. 5): When comparing...medicine \to\ the aviation industry [or trucking], we should remember that doctors' schedules are not regulated like those of airline pilots [or truck drivers]. The number of flights and hours that pilots [and drivers] are allowed to work without rest is restricted.
Doctors do not have this luxury. Doctors often have to overbook...
["Luxury?!" "Often have to overbook"?! Don't you love the way doctors set things up to stress themselves and then play the Suffering Victim? What pompous sympathy-sucking posturing! What feigned helplessness! In short, "What a bunch of cry babies!" There's an easy solution to all this. We tell them - "Come on down from the Cross and have some nice hot chicken soup" - in their case, nobody's nailed them up there except themselves once the randomness becomes frequent. Because except for brief periods of truly unexpected overtime, this is all a matter of setting up standard shorter-hour schedules that allow for frequent random demands. Infrequent random demands may be truly unpredictable and impossible to plan for, but frequent random demands are another story. Ever heard of chaos theory? - putting order into chaos? And many industries face these demands, not just health care. And most of them manage them a lot better. This is nothing but bad management. This letter-writer's answer (below) is going in the right direction - but he still hasn't adopted language (above) that would indicate he's really graduated to taking responsibility, as an MD, for frequent randomness that leaders in many other industries have long accepted and planned for.]
In its report on medical errors, why didn't the Institute of Medicine recommend how many patients a doctor should see in a typical workday and how many hours he or she should work per week?
[What a disaster that we didn't complete passage of the Thirty Hour Work Week Bill in 1933 after we'd passed it through the U.S. Senate on April 6 of that year! We are still reinventing the wheel of maximum hours 66 years later, at a period when we should have this all automatically self-adjusting on a national, state, and in some cases municipal level. We are still clueless about the all-encompassing need to draw a line on, and systematically share, Work - more clueless than we were over two generations ago. For another angle on this, see today's (12/11/99) clunker - "A second job for fun: that's living?"]
- [1 UNtakeover]
ACX Technologies, tied to Coors Group, plans a spinoff, AP via NYT, B3.
...its industrial ceramics subsidiary as a separately traded company called Coors Tek Inc. at the end of the year....
12/09 3 glimmers & 2 UPsizings -
- Australian unemployment falls, Reuters via NYT, C5.
...to 6.7%, the lowest since June 1990, from 7.1% in October..\.. Australia's stubbornly high unemployment rate...has fallen rapidly from more than 8% over the last year as a booming economy has generated robust job growth.
- McCain planning to join Bradley in campaign plea - A rare joint appearance - Insurgents to cross party lines to seek overhaul of system for financing elections, by Alison Mitchell, NYT, front page.
...The two sides were planning the appearance for next Thursday and were examining whether it could take place in Claremont, NH....
For Mr. Bradley in particular, a Thursday event could propel him into a scheduled debate against [his Democratic rival] the next day in Manchester....
[And they DID it a week later -]
McCain joins Bradley in war on soft money, by James Dao, 12/17/99 NYT, front page.
- [They got'im.]
Man pleads guilty in Melissa virus case, NYT, C20.
...the most widely spread, disruptive and costly computer virus in history.... "I did not anticipate and expect that amount of damage," said Mr. David Lee Smith.... "I had no idea there would be such profound consequences."...
[To the judge we say, "Throw the book at him." To Smith we say, "If and when you get out, GET A LIFE instead of dicking around on the dark&dumb side." And to all the rest of us, this is a good lesson in unforeseen consequences, especially when it comes to software. Let's hope Y2K doesn't teach us harder lessons.]
- Where talk is not cheap - Romney takes action, leads reform in wake of Salt Lake City scandal - 'When I came in, my guess was that it was an 80% PR problem and a 20% fundamental management problem. [Once in,] I realized it was 20% PR and 80% management.' by John Powers, Boston Globe, C1.
[It's almost always a management problem, no matter how hard they try to blame the media or their employees.]
...The Salt Lake Organizing Committee board members now pay for their own coffee and doughnuts at meetings. Brochures and newsletters are printed in two colors, not four. And when Romney, president of the SLOC, makes his required status report to the International Olympic Committee's executive board in Switzerland today, he'll do it by video teleconference instead of in person. "We'll save $10,000," Romney said, "[And] three days going over and back...."
[Good for "the Mitten"!]
- [(Matt.18:3) "Except ye..become as little children..."]
Lionel Trains & Accessories... www.train-station.com, NYT, C8.
[Big 4x13.5" ad in NY Times business section(!) featuring 3 steam engines and 1 diesel, 1 trolley, a figure-8 track, 4 fun accessories, a big ZW throttle-type transformer, and lots of freight cars. Here's one advertiser who thinks there's still hope for our type-A businessmen personalities.]
- [1 UPsizing]
Network Plus to open Randolph office in 2000, Dow Jones via Boston Globe, D6.
...The company said it will relocate some staff from its Quincy [Mass.] HQ and add up to 250 new employees over the next three years....
12/08 3 + 3 glimmers of hope -
- France will continue beef ban; British pledge to fight in court, AP via NYT, A6.
[Now ordinarily we're solid behind the Brits (except in Ireland), but here we're going with the French. British farmers took a huge gamble and lost when they started feeding sheep to cows. Sheep scrapie infected the cows and the cows got "mad cow disease" and gave it to a few humans. Now British farmers have to earn their good name back all over again because they gambled with their customers' health. And trying to force people to feel secure about their products is NOT going to do it. It's time for Britain to lighten up or some of us will get so "mad" at them that we'll boycott a few other Britsy products just to shove it down their verging-on totalitarian craws. "Free trade"? How can forcing a country to trade be called "free" trade? How can forcing a country to accept what it regards as high-risk products be called "free" trade. Clearly it's just "free" trade for those who stand to profit by it. France should not be forced to accept British beef and neither should Europe be forced to accept American hormone-dosed foods of any kind.]
- ["Creeping Accountability" Dept.]
French find cigarette maker partly liable in cancer death, by Suzanne Daley, NYT, C1.
PARIS - ...A French court ruled [yesterday] that Seita, maker of the Gauloise and Gitane brands of cigarettes, was partly responsible for the death of...smoker, Richard Gourlain, who smoked up to three packs of filterless Gauloises a day for about 35 years [and] died earlier in the year at 49..\..from lung cancer and cancer of the tongue....
- ["Hero Worship" Dept.]
After a life of wandering, labor advocate makes the sweatshop wars his calling - Charles Kernaghan and his small staff are preparing for an anti-sweatshop rally on Fifth Avenue today, by Randy Kennedy, NYT, C30.
..."The companies really hate it when the nuns get involved and start writing letters," said Charles Kernaghan, smiling [mischievously] from behind round glasses..\.. You know you are in the presence of a certain kind of labor advocate when he begins to talk about the effective use of nuns as weapons....
[Hey, whatever works to get some real progress in this bogged-down world, progress for lots of ordinary people and not just the top income brackets. And gals, check out the photo - good-looking-guy alert!]
- [UPsizing #1]
Little Caesar Enterprises Inc., NYT, C4.
...Detroit, a fast-food pizza chain...plans to open 400 restaurants in Japan in the next three years and 300 in Latin America.
[Great, now if only we could float the new global economy on restaurants and (below) supermarkets.]
- Stop & Shop opening 2 stores, 1 in Grafton [Mass.], by Chris Reidy, Boston Globe, D10.
...The Quincy [Mass.-]based...largest supermarket chain in New England..\..plans to open its 201st and 202d stores today...the other in Newburgh, NY....
- [Good news...and bad news.]
Global economy improvement seen, but African, Latin poverty grim, Reuers via Boston Globe, D2.
The global economy will improve next year as Asia's recovery continues, but the battle against poverty in Africa and Latin America looks ever more grim, the World Bank said yesterday....
- [More good news...and bad news.]
Worker output gains; costs decline, pointer headline, NYT, C1. Pointing to -
Productivity grew sharply in 3rd quarter, Bloomberg via NYT, C12.
...Productivity - an index of output per hour worked [without counting megahours of "exempt" overtime] - rose at an annual rate of 4.9%...the Labor Dept. said [yesterday]. That follows a rise of 0.6% in the 2nd quarter and is the biggest gain in almost seven years. "We're in the midst of a significant productivity surge that's of a long-run nature," Robert Parry, the president of the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank, said today....
Unit labor costs - a measure of worker compensation tied to shifts in productivity - fell at a rate of 0.2% in the 3rd quarter....
[Oh, dandy. Whether from unpaid and uncounted overtime or from technology efficiency, output per hour is rising sharply and pay per hour is falling. This means that it's just a matter of time before we cannot possibly buy all the stuff we're producing. And exports can't bail us out because of the high dollar. This means it's just a matter of time before we get into a classic depression of excess production and insufficient consumption. Concentrating most of the money within the top income brackets just doesn't work, because "the more concentration, the less circulation." The top brackets just don't have the time or need to spend at the astronomical rate they're accumulating wealth. Fasten your seatbelts for a replay of the 1930s. Let's hope we find the intelligent exit this time (Timesizing), instead of the unintelligent one, war.]
- [4 UPsizings]
Burlington, Waltham start-ups draw millions, by Jerry Ackerman, Bos Globe, D4.
Eight venture capital and investment companies have put $40 million into SupplierMarket.com of Waltham [Mass.], an on-line trading exchange for industrial supplies and one of several young companies moving into business-to-business Internet commerce....
Separately, PurchasingCenter.com of Burlington [Mass.], another business-to-business e-commerce venture targeting the industrial market, secured $3m in a second round of venture capital funding to finance its expansion plans....
Other Boston-area start-ups that have announced financing deals in recent weeks include:
Mainspring Communcations Inc. of Cambridge [Mass., which] plans to open several new sales offices and add manufacturing and technology clients.
Sterling Network Group of Quincy [Mass., which] won $7m in a first-round venture capital investment [that brought with it] a change of name to Belenos Inc.
12/07 7 glimmers of hope -
12/06/99 4 ecological breakthroughs & 1 UPsizing -
- Ford announces its withdrawal from "Global Climate" Coalition [our quotes], by Keith Bradsher, NYT, C20.
In a concession to environmentalists, the Ford Motor Co. said [yesterday] that it would pull out of...a group of big manufacturers and oil and mining companies that lobbies against restrictions on emissions of gases...the latest sign of divisions within heavy industry over how to respond to global warming. British Petroleum and Shell pulled out of the coalition 2 years ago following criticisms from environmental groups in Europe....
[A round of applause for Ford, BP and Shell!]
- Dell extends its use of the Linux system, AP via NYT, C8.
AUSTIN, Tex. - The Dell Computer Corp. is giving another boost to the upstart Linux operating system, announcing plans to install it on a line of high-end computer servers. Dell also said [yesterday] that the Linux software packager Red Hat Inc. will provide customer service and technical support for the line. Linux is considered by some as a major alternative to the Windows operating systems of Microsoft. Supporters say Linux, which available for free download on the Internet, is flexible and rarely crashes....
[A round applause for Dell!]
- [UPsizing #1]
Deutsch opens Boston office, by Stuart Elliott, NYT, C16.
...a full-service [advertising] office...with about a dozen employees..\..its third outside its New York headquarters...
- [UPsizing #2]
L.L. Bean to open store in Maryland in 2001, by Chris Reidy, Boston Globe, D9.
...located at the Mall in Columbia, will have floor space of about 30,000 square feet.
- [UNtakeover #1]
Tyson says its deal with Smithfield has fallen through, Bloomberg via NYT, C4.
...The biggest U.S. poultry processor said yesterday that its plans to sell its pork business to Smithfield Foods Inc. were scuttled after the two companies were unable to reach a final agreement...because the unit "did not fit" Smithfield's expectations..\.. Tyson...said in September tht it would sell its money-losing Pork Group to Smithfield, the nation's largest hog producer, for about $79.3m in stock....
- [UNtakeover #2]
Roche fragrance division spinoff, by Elizabeth Olson, NYT, C4.
...its fragrances and flavors division into a new company, to be listed as Givaudan on the Swiss stock exchange....
- [UNtakeover #3]
NatWest rejects offer, Bloomberg via NYT, C4.
National Westminster Bank, the target in Britain's largest banking takeover battle, said it rejected hostile offers from Bank of Scotland and Royal Bank of Scotland.... The NatWest chairman, Sir David Rowland, says shareholders will get the most value out of NatWest's remaining independent.
[Well, just remember that, Sir David, before you make any more takeover offers of your own. You were trying to take over Legal & General awhile back (10/07/99) when the Scots brrreached Hadrrrian's Wall and turrrned the tables on you!]
12/04 3 glimmers of hope -
- Bangkok opens Skytrain, but will it ease traffic? - An ambitious rail plan seeks to lure Thais from the road, by Seth Mydans, NYT, A3.
It's clean, it's fast, it's punctual and it offers a breathtaking view of some of the world's most spectacular traffic jams. [No kidding! - check out the Times foto!] It is the long-delayed Skytrain, a 16-mile, $1.7 billion elevated rail system [just like Chicago's famed "el"!] that opened for business [yesterday], snaking swiftly above a city - like so many others in Asia - that is strangling on its own traffic.
Called [in Thai] "the train that floats in the air"...it is just a small start in the city's 180-mile mass transit master plan.... The privately financed rail system is [the] most ambitious attempt so far to confront [Bangkok's hallmark gridlock]....
- [And if we don't like the results of uncontrolled population growth, maybe we should take the lead and stop subsidizing over-population -]
I deserve a break too, letter to editor by Ed Verosko, Wareham MA, Bos Globe, A22.
A Dec.1 front-page headline said, "Clinton starts program for parental paid leave." I would like to know when people without children will be given breaks. Having children is a choice. My wife and I have chosen not to have children.
We pay all the taxes associated with children but receive none of the benefits. When someone is out on maternity leave, co-workers take on the extra work. Why not put a little extra in their paychecks.?
I may be a bit old-fashioned, but I believe that if you can't afford to raise a child, don't have any. I'm tired of seeing children being raised by everyone but the parents.
[Do we have a target population maximum for this country, or for our state, or for our city or town? If not, when and where do we want to draw the line? More people are feeling that maybe it's time to taper off and start going for quality, not quantity for its own sake. How do we get quality adults? From quality children. How do we get quality children? From adults who really want children and not just all the perks that come with them. Some people will stop succumbing to the 10,000-year-old social pressures to have kids only when the rest of the population quits acting like this country/state/town urgently needs more people.]
- [Finally, we're getting into electric vehicles -]
Auto makers unveil high-mileage hybrids, by [we're not making this up] Royal Ford, Boston Globe, front page.
In what is the start of an evolving and potentially momentous change in America's automobile culture, car buyers this month have a mass-market option to purchase cleaner-burning, very high mileage, alternative automobiles.... The new Honda Insight...can easily average 70 miles per gallon [and] has a top speed of just over 110 miles per hour.... It will be priced at around $19,000..\..
These vehicles - generically called "hybrids" - are not tied to range-limiting...electric recharging stations or exotic refueling centers... They rely on small gasoline engines aided by electric motors whose batteries are being constantly recharged as the vehicle is driven.... They are refueled at [regular] gas stations....
The two-seater Honda Insight [will be] in dealer showrooms on the West Coast this month and in the East in January.... Toyota will begin selling the Prius, a four-person commuter car, in mid-2000. [It] will deliver about 55 miles per gallon [and is priced] around $20,000.... A [conventional] small sedan might get 30 mpg..\.. Several American manufacturers are using hybrid technology to improve...mileage in larger sedans, SUVs, pickup trucks, and buses....
- A dot-com takes aim at market for green power, by Claudia Deutsch, NYT, 5.
...[Now] you can buy with a mouse click...power derived from windmills, solar panels, anything that does not pollute the air.
GreenMountain.com plays middleman between wind farms and other clean sources of electricity and consumers who want to feel guilt-free when they flick an electric switch....
[What a concept!]
- [1 UPsizing]
Y. & R. starts a multimedia agency, by Stuart Elliott, NYT, C22.
Young & Rubicam has opened an agency in New York name Y.& R. 2.1, aimed at integrating online and traditional marketing services. The agency is starting with about 30 employees and five clients.... Plans call for offices to be opened next year in Europe and Latin America....
12/03 2 glimmers of hope -
- [Good news, but...]
234,000 new jobs in November kept economy humming -... Expectations of a slowing fail to materialize..., by Louis Uchitelle, NYT, front page.
The tireless national economy kept spinning out new jobs in November, assuring robust economic growth in the final months of the American Century.
[Boy, there's a cluster of self-congratulation. Kinda supports the idea that we've got two kinds of economics - the usually publicized, short-term, "cheerleader" economics and the seldom-publicized, very-long-term demographic economics that Carlisle called the "dismal science." How the heck can the national economy be "tireless" in the light of the next statement? -]
Not only that, but people also worked longer hours, the Labor Dept. reported yesterday.
[Talk about backwards progress - more labor-saving technology than ever and people are so anxious and insecure that they're working longer hours, not shorter. Where is all the extra work coming from? - or is it just "face time"?]
The combination of more people employed - a hefty 234,000 more - and more time on the job for everyone gave rise to forecasts that in the fourth quarter the economy would keep up its spectacular growth [of] 5.5% in the third quarter....
[Let's see how many jobcuts were announced in the NY Times and the Boston Globe during November: 170,262 + unspecified. These are mainly in the USA but some elsewhere in the world, some effective during October and some spread out across the next 6-12 months.
[But, layoffs tend to be higher-wage and new jobs tend to be lower-wage. Here's some data on that from the Globe's counterpart article -]
Dow leaps 247.47 on jobs report - Employment growth seen with no signs of rising inflation, by Kimberly Blanton, Boston Globe, F1.
...The news that cheered investors, though it would not be welcome by workers, was data showing that the average wage rose only 2¢, to $13.41 an hour, in November....
[And with uncounted "exempt" overtime, those wages are going to be even lower. So we have the spectacle of investors cheering concentration of wealth and relative stagnation of consumer markets, fully 2/3 of the economy - the very combination of factors that preceded the Great Crash in 1929. They are cheering economic lopsidedness or better, top-heaviness, - in short, cheering the bubble economy.]
- [Closing in on the toughest kind of cancer - blood cancer.]
Optimism blooms on an anti-leukemia pill, AP via NYT, A30.
An experimental pill has shown remarkable promise against a form of leukemia in early tests...helping every patient in whom the standard treatment [interferon] earlier failed. The drug, STI-571, is intended to treat chronic myelogenous leukemia, which accounts for about 4,300 of the 30,000 new cases of leukemia in the U.S. each year.... The lead researcher, Dr. Brian J. Druker of the Oregon Health Sciences University...will present his findings [in New Orleans] on Sunday at a meeting of the American Society of Hematology.... The new drug's side effects are few and mild...
- [Creeping accountability.]
Settling suit, gun dealer ends his business, AP via NYT, A30.
GARY, Ind. - A gun dealer [Fetla's Trading Co. of Valparaiso] has agreed to stop selling handguns [once its current inventory is depleted] and pay the city $10,000 to be dropped from its lawsuit accusing the gun industry of putting guns into criminals' hands. The settlemente is believed to the first in which a defendent in one of a series of lawsuits brought against the gun industry across the country has agreed to pay.... Fetla's was among 21 gunmakers and distributors, 5 local dealers and 3 trade associations sued by Gary in August... Three times this decade, Gary has been the nation's murder capital.... Nearly 30 American cities and counties have sued gunmakers, dealers and their trade organizations....according to the Center to Prevent Handgun Violence in Washington.
12/02 Clinton sides with causes of peaceful demonstrators, pointer (to front page, A1) headline, NYT, C1.
- U.S. and allies split over defense needs, pointer headline, NYT, front page.
Ten years after the end of the cold war, the United States faces a different challenge in NATO: its allies' insistence on setting their own defense priorities instead of following Washington....
At the alliance's HQ in Brussels yesterday, [US] Defense Secretary Wm. S. Cohen tried to convince skeptical Europeans that not only the U.S. but Europe, too, would face a real threat to its security if North Korea [teeny little, unhappy, disunited NORTH KOREA? - give us a break!], Iran [oh let it go!] or other nations [yeah, super dangerous CUBA we suppose] continued developing or acquiring intercontinental nuclear missiles.
[None of which would be half as dangerous as the paranoids in the USA continuing to evoke their worst fears from the woodwork of reality, by obsessing about them. What was it that JFK said about "Nothing to fear but fear itself"?! Let's face it. There are a lot of companies that profit from war and they are fanning fears as fast as they can. Here's one of their biggest boondoggles STILL trying to come back from the dead despite having been smashed down repeatedly -]
Washington would need the support of its allies even if it decided to build a missile-defense system to defend just itself, he said....
[There it is - STAR WARS again! Lord, how many times do we have to pound the stake in its heart? It's a tax-draining vampire that just won't DIE. And how in the world does Cohen figure we need our allies' support to go it alone? We won't HAVE any allies if we go it alone. We'll have turned ourselves into the international pariah we've already started to change into by clobbering the test ban treaty. Big dumb paranoid America - turning ourselves into the scariest thing on the planet now we've gangsterized and neutralized Russia. Wasn't it Star Wars that was going to take more lines of computer code than had so far been written from the beginning of computing? - and our programmers are such geniuses, they couldn't even think ahead 25 years to the turn of the millennium, giving us - you guessed it - the great Y2K problem? And we're supposed to have superdestructive orbitting lasers directed by all this "flawless" code? Yeah, right.]
- Northern Ireland picks up the reins of its government - Britain ends direct rule - Catholics and Protestants start sharing power, and Dublin drops claim to Ulster, by Warren Hoge, NYT, front page.
BELFAST, Dec. 2 - Northern Ireland [alias Ulster] gained the right today to be master of its [own] political fate, no longer ruled directly from London or subject to the territorial claims of Dublin [capital of Eire, alias the Republic of Ireland].... Home-rule powers moved from London to Belfast; [Eire] struck from its constitution the wish to include [Northern Ireland], and Protestant and Catholic rivals exercised authority in government jointly for the first time [as] envisioned in the peace agreement of April 1998....
[Now maybe Ireland can settle down get itself out of the news for a good long while. (From the viewpoint of an AngloCanuck New Englander -) we English have been messing around in Ireland for soooo many centuries - practising for what we would later come over here and do to the Native Americans = Centuries of stupid and arrogant cruelty. The last good chance we had to leave it alone was under Edward VI and our last Catholic monarch, Mary, in the mid 1500s, and we blew that by coming up with the plantation system. What a disaster! Best overview on the situation = A Little History of Ireland, by Seamus MacCall (Dolmen Press, 1982). The whole of Irish history in only 65 pages so you don't get involved enough to really start sobbing - like you do with Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. Funny how much of human happiness depends on sharing. If the Serbs had been willing to continue taking turns with the Croats and sharing the Yugoslav Presidency in the late 1980s, the whole gory mess in Yugoslavia-Bosnia-Kosovo etc. etc. over the last decade could have been missed.]
...Pres. Clinton delivered 2 impassioned pleas for nations of the world to use trade agreements to both protect the rights of labor... and make environmental preservation a top priority. In 2 speeches, Mr. Clinton repeatedly sided with the cause of many of the peaceful demonstrators while condemning a "small minority" who rioted during the opening session of the WTO.
[Pointer to -]
Clinton criticizes world trade body in stormy Seattle - Cites group's secrecy - At talks, a call for protection of labor and environment - New street clashes, by David Sanger, NYT, front page.
12/01/99 3 glimmers of hope -
- [Lots of great coverage for the WTO protest -]
National Guard is called in to quell trade-talk protests [photo] - Seattle is under curfew after disruptions, by Verhovek and Greenhouse, NYT, front page.
A time of trial by taunt for the World Trade chief, by Elizabeth Olson, NYT, C4.
Senseless in Seattle - Protest trade walls, not the WTO, by Thomas Friedman, NYT op ed, A31.
[= Another simpleton who's never heard "good fences make good neighbors"?]
Protests erupt over WTO - Demonstrators clash with police, disrupt meeting in Seattle, by Linda Gorov, Boston Globe, front page.
[Plus the protests were given a big segment of the 11 pm international news on public TV last night.]
- [Good coverage for -]
World AIDS Day, 1999, editorial, Boston Globe, A26.
[And on 11/21, the NY Times Book Review had a review (p. 11) of Gina Kolata's The Story of the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918 and the Search for the Virus That Caused It. And the Physicians for Social Responsibility sent colleague Kate (Jurow) an appeal letter just yesterday naming 6 other plagues on the outside envelope - Ebola Virus, Dengue Fever, Amoebic Encephalitis, Hantavirus, Malaria, West Nile Fever - with the question, "What terrifying modern plague will we face next?" (We answer that below with 3 sample "idea viruses.") The strange economic significance of epidemics is parallel to that of wars. Arthur Dahlberg runs it down for us in his Jobs, Machines and Capitalism (1932), p. 181, using a quote from E.A.Ross's Standing Room Only? (1927), p.160 -]
...It was pointed out to the American people how every time in history when there had been a genuine scarcity of labor for the spontaneous wants of the time, industrial conditions had been abnormally fine. In 1348, the Black Death swept away half the people of England. "The masses were so thinned that 'from all parts of England comes the same cry for workers to gather the harvests, to till the ground and to guard the cattle.' 'The landowners' need was recognized as the labourers' opportunity, upon which they were not slow to seize. Wages everywhere rose to double the previous rate and more. In vain did the King and Council strive to prevent this by legislation. The people all at once learnt their power and became masters of the situation....'"
[And p. x -]
...The evils of capitalism...its very unequal distribution of wealth, its "economic imperialism," its plant duplications and wastes of distribution, and its commmercialistic and materialistic standards - were...due to the public's failure, from the very beginning of the industrial revolution [and before], to make Capitalism operate under a genuine scarcity of labor-hours, rather than under a chronic scarcity of job and business opportunity....
[So what's his prescription? - ]
...Our balking, backfiring profits economy can...be made to work in socially desirable ways...with...less involved governmental interference and industrial control..\..by injecting one planned adjustment (p.23)..\.. The public [should] appreciably shorten the hours of labor while labor-saving machinery [is] being injected.... (p.x)
[Plagues and wars have had a grisly beneficial economic effect. But there's an intelligent way to get the same beneficial economic effect without the bodycount. It dynamically rations labor availability to the job market. We call it Timesizing.]
- [1 UNtakeover]
Liberty Media terminates [$572m] purchase of Ascent, Bloomberg via NYT, C4.
...amid fears Ascent would not [sell] its sports assets [which Liberty] did not want....
[Whatever, it fell apart & they'll both be the better for it. And note also, though this isn't definitive -]
F.T.C. staff urges rejection of deal by two oil giants...- BP Amoco and ARCO merger is facing a threat as Exxon and Mobil join forces, by Stephen Labaton, NYT, front page.
Click here for good news in Nov. 16-30/99.
Click here for good news in Nov. 1-15/99.
Click here for good news in Oct. 16-31/99.
Click here for good news in Oct. 1-15/99.
Click here for good news in Sept. 16-30/99.
Click here for good news in Sept. 1-15/99.
Click here for good news in Aug. 16-31/99.
Click here for good news in Aug. 1-15/99.
Click here for good news in July 16-31/99.
Click here for good news in July 1-15/99.
Click here for good news in June 16-30/99.
Click here for good news in June 1-15/99.
Click here for good news in May/99.
Click here for good news in Apr/99.
Click here for good news in Mar/99.
Click here for good news in Jan-Feb/99 and earlier.