Urban Studies

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Sure, it’s nice that Tim Cook and Mark Zuckerberg and the like are philanthropic, but you have to pause and wonder why there’s such a desperate demand for CEO largesse. How much do corporate tax loopholes lead to the need? From Suzanne McGee at the Guardian:

“How liberal, really, are these boardroom liberals?

Mind you, these are the same people who squawk, very loudly, at any suggestion that the fees they collect for managing their funds should be taxed as ordinary income, instead of as capital gains.

They’ve been fighting for years any suggestion that their primary source of income should be taxed at the same higher rates as those people whom their philanthropy helps.

If the tax rate changes, those millionaires and billionaires would be paying an effective rate of 39%, rather than 20%. With that kind of tax revenue, perhaps the government wouldn’t be slashing away at social programs that now have to come, cap in hand, to the Robin Hood Foundation to ask for some of those refrigerator-sized checks. Then the philanthropists can make their decisions based on whatever personal criteria they find most compelling.

That’s not to take away from what the Robin Hood Foundation’s do-gooders accomplish. Without them, life would be a lot tougher for New York’s poorest citizens. Being a boardroom liberal may very well be better than being a boardroom tyrant, terrorizing your staff from the chief financial officer down to the guy in the mailroom.

But the reason boardroom liberals need to exist at all is the fact that the social safety net that once existed has collapsed, and while some of that can probably be traced to waste and mismanagement, another giant chunk is simply due to lack of resources.

Consider: US tax revenues are at their lowest rate since 1950, which means less money to fund government programs. At the same time, US income inequality is at its highest point since the Great Depression, meaning the rich are richer than they were even a few years go.”


I get along famously with New York security guards, and at some point pretty much all one of them tell me about the stint they did in prison. They know the industry from inside out, so to speak. Robots, conversely, have a clean record, and while they won’t devastate every industry in the near term, security is a natural fit for their functions. From Rachel Metz at Technology Review:

“As the sun set on a warm November afternoon, a quartet of five-foot-tall, 300-pound shiny white robots patrolled in front of Building 1 on Microsoft’s Silicon Valley campus. Looking like a crew of slick Daleks imbued with the grace of Fred Astaire, they whirred quietly across the concrete in different directions, stopping and turning in place so as to avoid running into trash cans, walls, and other obstacles.

The robots managed to appear both cute and intimidating. This friendly-but-not-too-friendly presence is meant to serve them well in jobs like monitoring corporate and college campuses, shopping malls, and schools.

Knightscope, a startup based in Mountain View, California, has been busy designing, building, and testing the robot, known as the K5, since 2013. Seven have been built so far, and the company plans to deploy four before the end of the year at an as-yet-unnamed technology company in the area. The robots are designed to detect anomalous behavior, such as someone walking through a building at night, and report back to a remote security center.

‘This takes away the monotonous and sometimes dangerous work, and leaves the strategic work to law enforcement or private security, depending on the application,’ Knightscope cofounder and vice president of sales and marketing Stacy Stephens said as a K5 glided nearby.”

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Legendary baseball team owner Bill Veeck was, sure, a carny and a wreck, but he was also an innovator, as you can see in the above photo of him employing a decidedly lo-fi crowdsourcing technique to allow fans to manage a game. One business “innovation” he championed six decades ago, talking the government into giving an unnecessary tax break to owners of sports teams, has become a gigantic piece of corporate welfare in the modern age of multibillion franchises. It will pay huge dividends to new Clippers owner Stave Ballmer. From David Wharton at the Los Angeles Times:

“Baseball fans remember Bill Veeck mostly for his bizarre stunts.

The maverick team owner once signed a player with dwarfism, then sent the 3-foot-7 batter to the plate to draw a walk.

Another time, he let the crowd hold up placards to dictate in-game strategies to the manager.

But there is a legacy for which the late Veeck is less well-known. During the 1950s, the man who bought and sold three major league franchises over his lifetime was credited with persuading Internal Revenue Service officials to give him a hefty tax break on player salaries.

These deductions have survived, with periodic changes, into the present day. And they could greatly benefit Steve Ballmer after his recent $2-billion purchase of the Clippers.

‘It’s a huge part of this business that never gets talked about,’ said Dennis Howard, a professor emeritus at the University of Oregon’s Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. ‘It changes your sense of what he’s really paying.’

Ballmer could seek as much as half of the purchase price of the team in tax benefits over the next 15 years, according to accountants and sports business analysts familiar with the financial aspects of team ownership.”

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This strange 1975 photo captures Ingmar Bergman in Hollywood enjoying a tender moment with the Jaws prop shark nicknamed “Bruce.” Before that film was a big-screen game changer helmed by Steven Spielberg, it was a 1974 bestseller by Peter Benchley, and before that still it was a 1967 Holiday magazine article (“Shark!“) from the same writer. Here’s the opening of the first, journalistic version:

“ONE WARM SUMMER DAY I was standing on a beach near Tom Never’s Head on Nantucket. Children were splashing around in the gentle surf as their mothers lay gabbing by the Styrofoam ice chests and the Scotch Grills. About thirty yards from shore, a man paddled back and forth, swimming in a jerky, tiring, head-out-of-the-water fashion. I had just remarked dully that the water was unusually calm, when I noticed a black speck cruising slowly up the beach some twenty yards beyond the lone swimmer. It seemed to dip in and out of the water, staying on the surface for perhaps five seconds, then disappearing for one or two, then reappearing for five. I ran down to the water and waved my arms at the man. At first he paid no attention, and kept plodding on. Then he noticed me. I pointed out to sea, cupped my hands over my mouth, and bellowed, ‘Shark!’ He turned and saw the short, triangular fin moving al­most parallel with him. Immediately he lunged for the shore in a frantic sprint. The fish, which had taken no notice of the swimmer, became curious at the sudden disturbance in the water, and I saw the fin turn inshore. It moved lazily, but not aimlessly.

By now the man had reached chest-deep water, and while he could probably have made better time by swimming, he elected to run. Running in five feet of water is something like trying to skip rope in a vat of peanut butter, and I could see his eyes bug and his face turn bright cerise as he slogged along. He didn’t look around, which was probably just as well, for the fish was no more than fifty yards behind him. At waist depth, the terrified man assumed Messianic talents. He seemed to lift out of the water, his legs churning wildly, his arms flailing. He hit the beach at a dead run and fled as far as the dunes, where he collapsed. The shark, discovering that whatever had roiled the water had disappeared, turned back and resumed his idle cruise just beyond the small breakers.

During the man’s race for land, the children had miraculously vanished from the surf, and now they were being bundled into towels by frenzied mothers. One child was bawling, ‘But I want to play!’ His mother snapped, ‘No! There’s a shark out there.’ The shark was out of sight down the beach, and for a time the ladies stood around staring at the water, evidently expecting the sea to regurgitate a mass of unspeakable horrors. Then, as if on mute cue, they all at once packed their coolers, grills, rafts, inner tubes and aluminum beach chairs and marched to their cars. The afternoon was still young, and the shark had obviously found this beach unappetizing (dining is poor for sharks closer than a half a mile off the beach at that part of the south shore of Nantucket). But to the mothers, the whole area—sand as well as water—was polluted.

Irrational behavior has always been man’s reaction to the presence of sharks.”

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Harold Robbins would have bragged if nine female typists had quit in shock while working on one of his novels, but it was different story in a different era for James Joyce. Getting Ulysses past censors was an arduous task, and he might have tossed the pages aside for good if it wasn’t for the intervention of Shakespeare & Co. owner Sylvia Beach. She gambled her own money and prodded Joyce through many iterations of his work on the way to the printing press, bringing the novel to Parisians in 1922. The volume was a smash hit in France and was soon reselling for $700 a copy. An article about Beach follows from the December 24, 1933 Brooklyn Daily Eagle, timed to the belated un-banning of the book in America.

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anyone know of a place where i could purchase insects for cooking? pet shops and graveyards are excluded.

PTSD and other disorders that result from historical horrors (wars, slavery, etc.) seem to be intergenerational not just because of nurture but due to nature as well, with the hormone cortisol playing a significant role in perpetuating the pain. So, it’s not just the ghosts making mayhem but also a heritable biological reordering which victims unknowingly pass on to descendants. Can this phenomenon be neutralized? From “The Science of Suffering,” by Judith Shulevitz at The New Republic:

“In the early ’80s, a Lakota professor of social work named Maria Yellow Horse Brave Heart coined the phrase ‘historical trauma.’ What she meant was ‘the cumulative emotional and psychological wounding over the lifespan and across generations.’ Another phrase she used was ‘soul wound.’ The wounding of the Native American soul, of course, went on for more than 500 years by way of massacres, land theft, displacement, enslavement, thenwell into the twentieth centurythe removal of Native American children from their families to what were known as Indian residential schools. These were grim, Dickensian places where some children died in tuberculosis epidemics and others were shackled to beds, beaten, and raped.

Brave Heart did her most important research near the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, the home of Oglala Lakota and the site of some of the most notorious events in Native American martyrology. In 1890, the most famous of the Ghost Dances that swept the Great Plains took place in Pine Ridge. We might call the Ghost Dances a millenarian movement; its prophet claimed that, if the Indians danced, God would sweep away their present woes and unite the living and the dead. The Bureau of Indian Affairs, however, took the dances at Pine Ridge as acts of aggression and brought in troops who killed the chief, Sitting Bull, and chased the fleeing Lakota to the banks of Wounded Knee Creek, where they slaughtered hundreds and threw their bodies in mass graves. (Wounded Knee also gave its name to the protest of 1973 that brought national attention to the American Indian Movement.) Afterward, survivors couldn’t mourn their dead because the federal government had outlawed Indian religious ceremonies. The whites thought they were civilizing the savages.

Today, the Pine Ridge Reservation is one of the poorest spots in the United States. According to census data, annual income per capita in the largest county on the reservation hovers around $9,000. Almost a quarter of all adults there who are classified as being in the labor force are unemployed. (Bureau of Indian Affairs figures are darker; they estimate that only 37 percent of all local Native American adults are employed.) According to a health data research center at the University of Washington, life expectancy for men in the county ranks in the lowest 10 percent of all American counties; for women, it’s in the bottom quartile. In a now classic 1946 study of Lakota children from Pine Ridge, the anthropologist Gordon Macgregor identified some predominant features of their personalities: numbness, sadness, inhibition, anxiety, hypervigilance, a not-unreasonable sense that the outside world was implacably hostile. They ruminated on death and dead relatives. Decades later, Mary Crow Dog, a Lakota woman, wrote a memoir in which she cited nightmares of slaughters past that sound almost like forms of collective memory: ‘In my dream I had been going back into another life,” she wrote. “I saw tipis and Indians camping … and then, suddenly, I saw white soldiers riding into camp, killing women and children, raping, cutting throats. It was so real … sights I did not want to see, but had to see against my will; the screaming of children that I did not want to hear. … And the only thing I could do was cry. … For a long time after that dream, I felt depressed, as if all life had been drained from me.’

Brave Heart’s subjects were mainly Lakota social-service providers and community leaders, all of them high-functioning and employed. The vast majority had lived on the reservation at some point in their lives, and evinced symptoms of what she called unmourned loss. Eighty-one percent had drinking problems. Survivor guilt was widespread. In a study of a similar population, many spoke about early deaths in the family from heart disease and high rates of asthma. Some of her subjects had hypertension. They harbored thoughts of suicide and identified intensely with the dead.”

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GoogleX, the Bell Labs-ish moonshot division of the search giant, may pay off financially in the long run, but it’s likely producing a short-term profit in non-obvious ways. From Ezra Klein’s new Vox interview with Peter Thiel:

Ezra Klein:

I want to try to draw out this idea of a company’s mission a bit more. Imagine two versions of Google. The non-mission oriented Google is, ‘We want to build a search engine that’ll be the best search engine in the world. If we’re dominant in that market, we’re going to be able to extract huge advertising revenues.’ The mission-oriented one is, ‘Our goal as a company is to categorize and make accessible all the world’s information.’

Peter Thiel:


I think the second description is certainly far more inspiring. Maybe it starts by building a much better search engine, but then maybe over time, you have to develop mapping technology, maybe you start building self-driving cars as a way to see how well your mapping technology works. It certainly, I think, feels very different to the people working at the company. I think Google still is a very charismatic company for a company of its size.

Ezra Klein:

That’s an interesting point. Google does all of these things that are not obvious profit drivers. The massive effort to digitize books, the decision to send camels across the Sahara to work on mapping the desert. A lot of that, they’re losing money on. But it’s partially a recruitment tool — it makes them, in your word, more charismatic than their competitors.

Peter Thiel:

One level in which these companies do still compete very much is for talent. Silicon Valley is very competitive with Wall Street banks. And there’s a way in which the day-to-day jobs are similar: people sit in front of computers, the people went to similar colleges and universities, even the office floor-planning is kind of similar. There are more similarities than one might think. But the narrative at Google is much, much better than at Goldman. That’s why they’re beating a place like Goldman incredibly in this talent war.”

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In writing disapprovingly in the New York Review of Books of Naomi Klein’s “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate,” Elizabeth Kolbert points out that the truth about climate change isn’t only inconvenient, it’s considered a deal-breaker, even by the supposedly green. An excerpt follows.


What would it take to radically reduce global carbon emissions and to do so in a way that would alleviate inequality and poverty? Back in 1998, which is to say more than a decade before Klein became interested in climate change, a group of Swiss scientists decided to tackle precisely this question. The plan they came up with became known as the 2,000-Watt Society.

The idea behind the plan is that everyone on the planet is entitled to generate (more or less) the same emissions, meaning everyone should use (more or less) the same amount of energy. Most of us don’t think about our energy consumption—to the extent we think about it at all—in terms of watts or watt-hours. All you really need to know to understand the plan is that, if you’re American, you currently live in a 12,000-watt society; if you’re Dutch, you live in an 8,000-watt society; if you’re Swiss, you live in a 5,000-watt society; and if you’re Bangladeshi you live in a 300-watt society. Thus, for Americans, living on 2,000 watts would mean cutting consumption by more than four fifths; for Bangladeshis it would mean increasing it almost by a factor of seven.

To investigate what a 2,000-watt lifestyle might look like, the authors of the plan came up with a set of six fictional Swiss families. Even those who lived in super energy-efficient houses, had sold their cars, and flew very rarely turned out to be consuming more than 2,000 watts per person. Only “Alice,” a resident of a retirement home who had no TV or personal computer and occasionally took the train to visit her children, met the target.

The need to reduce carbon emissions is, ostensibly, what This Changes Everything is all about. Yet apart from applauding the solar installations of the Northern Cheyenne, Klein avoids looking at all closely at what this would entail. She vaguely tells us that we’ll have to consume less, but not how much less, or what we’ll have to give up. At various points, she calls for a carbon tax. This is certainly a good idea, and one that’s advocated by many economists, but it hardly seems to challenge the basic logic of capitalism. Near the start of the book, Klein floats the “managed degrowth” concept, which might also be called economic contraction, but once again, how this might play out she leaves unexplored. Even more confoundingly, by end of the book she seems to have rejected the idea. “Shrinking humanity’s impact or ‘footprint,’” she writes, is “simply not an option today.”

In place of “degrowth” she offers “regeneration,” a concept so cheerfully fuzzy I won’t even attempt to explain it. Regeneration, Klein writes, “is active: we become full participants in the process of maximizing life’s creativity.”

To draw on Klein paraphrasing Al Gore, here’s my inconvenient truth: when you tell people what it would actually take to radically reduce carbon emissions, they turn away. They don’t want to give up air travel or air conditioning or HDTV or trips to the mall or the family car or the myriad other things that go along with consuming 5,000 or 8,000 or 12,000 watts. All the major environmental groups know this, which is why they maintain, contrary to the requirements of a 2,000-watt society, that climate change can be tackled with minimal disruption to “the American way of life.” And Klein, you have to assume, knows it too. The irony of her book is that she ends up exactly where the “warmists” do, telling a fable she hopes will do some good.•

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From the April 3, 1912 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

Commack, L.I. — An escaped lunatic from the Central Islip State Hospital, caught in the act of devouring a live hen, created considerable excitement several miles to the west of here yesterday morning, leading a party of farm hands in a chase covering nearly a mile before he was finally captured.”

Mars One, that promised interplanetary Truman Show, has always looked like a longshot, a seeming space fugazi. For the uninitiated, the plan, hatched in Holland by entrepreneur Bas Lansdorp, is to send a quartet of Earthlings to our neighboring orb in 2025 on a one-way mission, and to largely sponsor it with a reality TV show, a Big Brother from another planet. I’d be shocked it it ever gets off the ground. From “All Dressed Up For Mars and Nowhere to Go,” a Matter article by the remarkably named Elmo Keep which focuses on an Australian would-be astronaut, an aspiring Armstrong who’s been shortlisted for a ticket to the unknown:

“Despite not being a space-faring agency, it claims that by 2025 it will send four colonists to the planet. Ultimately, it says, there will be at least six groups of four, a mix of men and women, who will train on Earth for 10 years until they are ready to be shot into space strapped to a rocket, never to return.

It estimates the mission will cost only about $6 billion, tens if not hundreds of billions less than any manned Mars mission so far proposed by NASA. Mars One openly admits that it is ‘not an aerospace company and will not manufacture mission hardware. All equipment will be developed by third-party suppliers and integrated in established facilities.’ That’s how it will keep costs down, by outsourcing everything to private enterprise.

It is, essentially, a marketing campaign with two goals: first, to raise enough interest among the global community in a manned Mars mission so that crowd-funding and advertising revenues will be generated to the tune of billions of dollars; and, second, to use this money — largely to be raised through a reality television series documenting the training process and journey to Mars from Earth — to pay for the mission itself.

The mission is open to anyone in the world who wants to volunteer. These people don’t have to have any special qualifications whatsoever; they need only be in robust physical and mental health and willing to undertake the mission at their own risk. As the proposed program progresses, they will have to prove themselves adept and nimble learners, able to amass an enormous amount of new practical knowledge, not only in the high-pressure intricacies of spaceflight, but in learning how to perform rudimentary surgery and dentistry, how to recycle resources, how to take commands, and maintain a harmonious team dynamic for the rest of their natural lives.

Two hundred thousand applicants would seem to suggest that the plan has solid legs — a staggering number of people willing to sacrifice their lives on Earth to take part in an open-source, crowd-powered, corporately sponsored mission into deep space. A huge amount of interest in this endeavor clearly demonstrated right off the bat.

If only any of it were true.”

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IVF Frozen Donor Eggs (Newark, DE)

I am a IVF patient in PA who bought six frozen donor eggs from a reputable agency. I no longer need them as I became pregnant on my own. I invested over $15,000 in them and would sell them for much less. They are safely stored at my doctor’s clinic in Newark, DE but I can ship them to your clinic at any time. I have all of the donor information (Caucasian, blue eyes, brown hair, health info etc.) and will provide copies of the signed contract for their purchase. I hope someone can use them for an IVF cycle. If you are interested, please feel free to contact me. Thank you and good luck with your IVF journey.

"Caucasian, blue eyes, brown hair."

“Caucasian, blue eyes, brown hair.”

An article in the November 22, 1939 Brooklyn Daily Eagle tells of technological unemployment coming to the kissing sector in the late 1930s, when Max Factor Jr., scion of the family cosmetics fortune and creator of Pan-Cake make-up which was favored by early film stars, created robots which would peck to perfection all day, allowing him test out new lipsticks to his heart’s content. Bad news for professional puckerers Joseph Roberts and Miss June Baker, of course, but such is the nature of progress. The brand-new robots were capable of kissing 1,200 times an hour. Ah, young love!

The top two photos show the senior Max Factor demonstrating his Beauty Micrometer device and touching up French silent-film star Renée Adorée. The last one captures two actresses wearing the make-up Junior created especially for black-and-white TV. 

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Last year, Mike Jay wrote a great essay for Aeon about people being driven to paranoia by the omnipresence of technology, but fear of “influence machines” stretches back much further than the information-sucking Internet. In a Public Domain Review piece, the same writer looks at the curious case of James Tilly Matthews, the first-recorded sufferer of paranoid schizophrenia, who believed in the 1790s that his mind–and the whole mad world–had fallen under the sway of a contraption called the “Air Loom.” It’s a subject Jay knows well. The opening:

“In 1810 John Haslam, a London apothecary, published the first ever book-length description of a mad person’s delusions. Until this point most medical case histories of what we now refer to as mental illness had amounted to a line or two at most, and more often just a single word such as ‘frenzied’ or ‘melancholy.’ But the opinions of James Tilly Matthews resisted any such summary. He described a previously unimagined world of futuristic machines, ‘magnetic spies’ and mass brainwashing, woven into a bizarre but undeniably well-informed narrative of the high politics behind the Napoleonic Wars.

Haslam titled his book Illustrations of Madness, and it was full of lessons for the nascent profession of ‘mad-doctoring,’ later to be known as psychiatry. But it was also written to settle a personal score. Haslam was the apothecary at the Royal Bethlem Hospital – in popular slang, Bedlam – where James Tilly Matthews had for the previous decade been confined as an incurable lunatic. Not everyone, however, believed that Matthews was mad. Haslam’s diagnosis had been contested by other doctors, and the governors of Bethlem had distanced themselves from it. He wrote his book in retaliation against his superiors; but as it turned out, his patient would have the last word.

Although Haslam has been relegated to a footnote in the history of psychiatry, his account of Matthews’ inner world is still cited as the first fully described case of what we now call paranoid schizophrenia, and in particular of an ‘influencing machine': the belief, or delusion, that a covertly operated device is acting at a distance to control the subject’s mind and body. For everyone who has since had messages beamed at them by the CIA, MI5, Masonic lodges or UFOs, via dental fillings, mysterious implants, TV sets or surveillance satellites, James Tilly Matthews is patient zero.”


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How to deal with needy co-workers – 53 (SoHo)

First, let’s define the needy co-worker. The needy co-worker wants you to do your job so they don’t have to, yet they get upset if you don’t spend your day babysitting them. You must listen to them while they sigh about their pathetic lives. You must listen to them talk about their kids. You must tell them if you’re going to dress up for Halloween all while doing your work or else you’re not part of the team. You must listen to them talk high, whisper and enter your space.

How to deal with taking care of babies at work:

  • First, stay really quiet because maybe they’ll forget you’re there.
  • Second, drink some wine at home but don’t become an alcoholic, then they win. Misery loves company.
  • Third, don’t let them know they affect your blood pressure.
  • Fourth, buy heating pads at a pharmacy and place next to heart just in case you stop caring about being there so you can still feel.
  • Five, have an oral fixation like gum, candy, chips, fruits, etc.- anything that will keep you busy and conformed like a good little boy or girl. Say ‘Okay’ a lot because nothing is better at ending a useless conversation than ‘Okay’ or ‘No.’ ‘Are you dressing up for Halloween?’ ‘No.’
  • Six, try not to get up too much or they’ll see you.
  • Seven, come in early so you can settle in before the shenanigans. You can have a moment to yourself if you come to work early.
  • Eight, find a friend at work. One is all you need.
  • Nine, listen to music, not loud because you must always maintain control.
  • Ten, look for another job.

Hope this helps someone. Good luck. 

There were quite a few fliers who claimed to have solved aviation sooner than the Wright brothers–Gustave Whitehead and Samuel Pierpont Langley and many more–but only one was a cousin to Buffalo Bill Cody and died while cooking naked, a recluse in Hawaii. His name was W.D. Custead. As the Texas Reader recalls, the end was bitter for the once-enterprising aviator:

“On March 17, 1933 a Hawaiian newspaper reported that the Hermit of Nankuli had been found dead in his shack. He was known for living in almost absolute seclusion and being hostile to visitors. Those who did chance to visit were shocked to find that he wore no clothing when at home.

What readers of the Hawaiian newspaper didn’t know was that this ignominious end was not William Custead’s only fifteen minutes of fame. Thirty-five years earlier newspapers across Texas were celebrating his prowess as an inventor.”

Custead presented his airship plans to the War Department in 1899 and then continued to tinker with his flying machine. In 1903, the Wrights won the race to the sky (though some wonder), and the foiled, despondent aviator responded by walking out on his family and becoming an itinerant, ultimately landing in Hawaii.

A brief article follows from the April 13, 1900 Brooklyn Daily Eagle about Custead before his dreams nosed down.

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Three entries follow from the permanent-exhibition catalog for the Japan World Exposition ’70:

  • The Wireless Telephone

The Telecommunications Pavilion exhibited the wireless telephone, which was called “Dream Telephone” at the time, with which one could make an immediate telephone call to anywhere in Japan. It is the origin of today’s cell phone.

  • The Ultrasonic Bath (Washing machine for human beings)

The ultrasonic bath at the Sanyo Pavilion was the full-automatic bath where people can sit in the capsule not only to clean the skin but to maintain both health and beauty, using massage balls and supersonic waves. Currently the same technology is applied to the baths for long-term nursing.

  • The Electric Car

The electronic cars run with storage battery and motor, without emitting exhaust fumes or noise. At the Expo these electric vehicles were introduced in Japan for the first time on a trial basis as taxis, transportation inside the Expo, and press cars.

Reducing and managing Ebola cases in Liberia is a doable mission, but bringing fresh instances down to zero a much tougher one. Swedish academic and doctor Hans Rosling, a supporter of washing machines, has temporarily made Liberia his home, hoping to make sense of the statistics and aid in the elimination of the virus, a complicated thing since the illness has a Whac-a-Mole propensity for popping up everywhere. From Ben Carter at the BBC:

“Last month Rosling moved to the Liberian capital, Monrovia to work with the Ministry of Health where his task is to analyse the statistics to see how the virus is spreading and find the best way to tackle it.

He says that the number of new daily cases has dropped dramatically over the past few months and has plateaued in recent weeks.

‘Ebola in Liberia started coming over the border into Lofa County, then it moved down during the summer and hit the capital, Monrovia, really badly in August and September. But now the numbers in the capital are down from 75 a day to 25 a day,’ says Rosling.

He argues that using a daily figure gives a more accurate representation of what’s going on right now. ‘Take Lofa county for instance where they’ve had 365 cases cumulatively but the last week it was zero, zero, zero, zero every day.’

Despite this drop, Rosling says one of the biggest challenges facing Liberia is that every single county has seen new cases of Ebola in recent weeks.

‘This means we are fighting a low intensity epidemic. It flares up in one of the counties, it’s controlled there and then it jumps up in another place. This will take time to get rid of.'”

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Staying the same is surest prescription for falling behind. Nations that didn’t enter the Industrial Age largely did not turn out well and still are playing catch-up. (To be fair, they also didn’t contribute to environmental devastation like the rest of us.) The countries that master the Digital Age will ensure themselves of wealth in the aggregate, though disparity may continue, technological unemployment and wage suppression might accelerate. At the far end of the dream is a better world, but how do we get there?

In his 1964 “Automation Song,” Phil Ochs, a singing journalist of sorts, greeted the roboticized future with alarm. At first blush, he seems to be communicating nostalgia for the past, but he’s also subtly calling for political solutions for tomorrow.


In a Spiegel interview conducted by Christoph Scheuermann, novelist Hilary Mantel discusses the state of contemporary Britain, which opted for austerity in the wake of the world economic crisis, a move which seems to have been penny wise and pound foolish, costing the country some political sanity. An excerpt:


How is the Britain of today different from the country you grew up in?

Hilary Mantel:

I was born into a working class family in a village near Manchester. My grandmother worked as a weaver in a mill when she was 12, my mother at 14. That was what you did: As soon as you left school, you had to work in the mill. By the time I was a child, the mills were closing and I was lucky to get a government grant for university. In the years after the war, both big parties, Labour and the Conservatives, were becoming ever-more centrist, drawing together on a social democratic path — a period known as the postwar consensus. Maybe it couldn’t have lasted, but we perceive Ms. Thatcher as the person who knocked it down. Going to university is a seriously expensive business now.


It seems as though Britain today wants to retreat from the world, as though it has become war-weary, disinterested in global affairs and obsessed with immigration. Where does this come from?

Hilary Mantel:

It’s a retreat into insularity, into a mood of harshness. When people feel they’re being mistreated, they lash out against people who are weaker than themselves, immigrants for example. What’s happening here at the moment is really ugly. The government portrays poor and unfortunate people as being morally defective. This is a return to the thinking of the Victorians. Even in the 16th century, Thomas Cromwell was trying to tell people that a thriving economy has casualties and that something must be done by the state for people out of work. Even back then, you saw the tide turning against this idea that poverty was a moral weakness. Who could have predicted that it would come back into style? It’s myth making on a grand scale, and it’s poisonous.


Is there a new form of nationalism emerging?

Hilary Mantel:

I’m not sure it’s nationalism pure and simple. But there is certainly a big turn to the right in government. The populist party UKIP (eds. Note: UKIP is demanding that Britain secede from the European Union.) is on the rise; it’s the party at the moment for people who are angry. They may not know what they’re angry about, but they’re going around declaring their intention to vote for UKIP as if that’s going to make everyone terrified. It’s like, I’m holding a hand grenade, can you see it?


Where does this anger come from?

Hilary Mantel:

Many people are poorer than they were five or six years ago. The last few years of austerity after the banking crisis have opened up a wider gap between rich and poor. It has taken quite a while for people to see that it wasn’t just a matter of a year or two. Transport, gas, electricity, housing: All those things that one must have are significantly more expensive. Wages remain low while the government is freezing and cutting benefits. Traditionally, working class voters would have turned to the Labour Party for remedy. But at the moment, they don’t feel that they can do that. There’s a mood of disaffection.”

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Longreads has republished Suzanne Snider’s 2006 Tokion article about John Z. DeLorean, who remade the automotive industry, remade himself and eventually made a mess. The conclusion has a pretty prescient forecast from then-MPH Magazine editor Eddie Alterman, which reminds just how much the sector has changed in the eight years since this piece was printed. The following is an excerpt about the automaker’s surprising departure from GM and his friendship with former Tonight Show host Johnny Carson, who seems to have done the monologue every evening with a loaded handgun and a bag of coke stashed in his underpants:

“By 1973, he had the fame. The title. The money. At which point he promptly resigned.

‘They were celebrities.’ That’s how Eddie Alterman, a childhood friend of mine who is now an editor for car-centric MPH Magazine, remembers the Detroit-area car executives of that era. ‘But they were also like the Roman army: they were tall, goyish and had to inspire confidence in their troops.’ With a bit of sympathy, Alterman notes that ‘they all had huge egos,’ and in the case of DeLorean, his vanity drove his taste in cars, clothing and women. That last item on DeLorean’s list included three wives, plus reported dalliances with Ursula Andress, Candice Bergen and Raquel Welch. But the same ego that was necessary to excel at General Motors and every other car corporation may have been the very source of his downfall once he pulled apart to form his own corporate entity.

DeLorean’s departure from GM was controversial, to say the least. Where could he go from GM? Gossips floated conspiracy theories about his resignation. It might have come down to style—not fashion, strictly, but a more general personal manner. My father notes that, ‘In those days, the execs at General Motors were all dressed in white shirts. But DeLorean was into more flamboyant clothing. He was tall, good-looking, wore his hair long…’ And as my father discovered, ‘He had his shirts hand-made, with the collars cut extra-long.’

DeLorean founded the De Lorean Motor Company in 1975, with the express goal of creating a relatively affordable $25,000 sports car. The first factory didn’t open until 1981, however, and it opened in an unlikely location: Dunmurry, a suburb of Belfast in Northern Ireland. The prototype for the DMC-12 was completed somewhere between 1976 and 1978. What was DeLorean doing in the seven years in between? Ostensibly, he was raising money, tapping into a social network that included Hollywood, where he convinced Johnny Carson and Sammy Davis Jr. to invest in the De Lorean Motor Company. In fact, Johnny Carson’s dedication to the De Lorean business was memorialized when Carson was arrested for a DUI while driving in—what else—a De Lorean.”


“John Zachary DeLorean doesn’t smile very much”:

More DeLorean posts:

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From the March 31, 1889 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

“A girl who eats paper is the newest attraction in a dime museum in Boston.”

Stephen Glass, the infamous fabulist who was nearly the death of The New Republic in the late 1990s, no longer practices journalism nor should he ever. He works for a law firm in Los Angeles, leading a good-if-unglamorous life, a different man. But is he a changed one? And should he be trusted again in his new vocation? Chuck Lane, the editor who uncovered the fraud, has not forgiven or forgotten, and it’s hard to blame him. To those he lied to, it isn’t easy to restore faith. In a new TNR piece “Hello, My Name Is Stephen Glass, and I’m Sorry,” written by one of his former deceived deskmates, Hanna Rosin, the author tries her best to see things with fresh eyes, hoping they’re not blind ones. An excerpt:

“Once we knew what he’d done, I tried to call Steve, but he never called back. He just went missing, like the kids on the milk cartons. It was weird. People often ask me if I felt ‘betrayed,’ but really I was deeply unsettled, like I’d woken up in the wrong room. I wondered whether Steve had lied to me about personal things, too. I wondered how, even after he’d been caught, he could bring himself to recruit me to defend him, knowing I’d be risking my job to do so. I wondered how I could spend more time with a person during the week than I spent with my husband and not suspect a thing. (And I didn’t. It came as a total surprise). And I wondered what else I didn’t know about people. Could my brother be a drug addict? Did my best friend actually hate me? Jon Chait, now a political writer for New York and back then the smart young wonk in our trio, was in Paris when the scandal broke. Overnight, Steve went from ‘being one of my best friends to someone I read about in The International Herald Tribune,’ Chait recalled. The transition was so abrupt that, for months, Jon dreamed that he’d run into him or that Steve wanted to talk to him.

Then, after a while, the dreams stopped. The Monica Lewinsky scandal petered out, George W. Bush became president, we all got cell phones, laptops, spouses, children. Over the years, Steve Glass got mixed up in our minds with the fictionalized Stephen Glass from his own 2003 roman à clef,The Fabulist, or Steve Glass as played by Hayden Christiansen in the 2003 movie Shattered Glass. It was the book that finally provoked my anger. The plot follows a thinly fictionalized Steve in the aftermath of the affair. It portrays him as humble, contrite, and ‘a few shades hipper than the original,’ I wrote in a review for Slate. The rest of us came off as shallow jerks barely worth apologizing to. Steve sent about 100 handwritten letters of apology that year to people he’d injured, all several pages long and very abject: ‘I’m genuinely sorry that I lied to you and betrayed you.’ But he was also hawking his book, so we saw the letters as an effort to neutralize us. Reading the novel pretty much killed off my curiosity. For years afterward, if I thought about Steve at allusually when I got an e-mail from a journalism student who had seen the movie in an ethics classhe was the notorious Stephen Glass, still living in the Clinton era. …

Steve Glass now lives in Venice Beach with his longtime girlfriend, Julie Hilden, a dog, two cats, and a rotating cast of foster pets. (The couple are also vegans.) He works as director of special projects at Carpenter, Zuckerman, Rowley, a personal-injury law firm in Beverly Hills. For anyone who knew him back in the day, this is a comical juxtaposition. Steve is a Jewish boy from the posh Chicago suburb of Highland Park with pushy Jewish parents who insisted on the usual (doctor, lawyer). When they urged him to go to law school, they probably had Supreme Court appearances in mind, not, as the firm boasts, a $2.1 million settlement for a homeless man hit by a garbage truck. But Paul Zuckerman, the partner who hired Steve and has become his mentor, considers this development to be a sign of grace. ‘You were on track to be an asshole,’ he told Steve when I was there. ‘The best thing that ever happened to you in your life is that you fell flat on your face.'”

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On the face of it, the Sharing Economy is a conservative wet dream, subverting regulations and damaging unions. But politics on the granular level is never quite that simple, and so far Blue States have been somewhat friendlier to Uber and others. The deciding factor seems to not be ideology but population density and consumer demand, so Los Angeles, blue as can be, has embraced such services while some red enclaves have not. From Josh Barro at the New York Times’ Upshot:

“The R.N.C. chairman, Reince Priebus, probably doesn’t get a lot of phone calls from taxi medallion owners, or car dealers, or other businesspeople who want to be insulated from competition.

But local politicians do; Republicans may be especially likely to hear from them because small business owners are a constituency that skews Republican.

As a result, in practice, it’s not clear Republicans are any more pro-market than Democrats when it comes to business regulation.

Andrew Moylan, a senior fellow at the R Street Institute think tank, has examined ride-sharing regulations around the country and doesn’t see a clear partisan divide. On Monday, R Street and Engine, a group advocating policies that support start-ups, will release a report card rating the 50 largest cities on their friendliness to ride sharing. The eight cities receiving failing grades include ones in blue areas (Philadelphia and Portland, Ore.) and red ones (Omaha, Phoenix and San Antonio).

‘There didn’t seem to be any obvious ideological trends,’ Mr. Moylan said. ‘It may have something more to do with population density and consumer demand.’

In the case of Uber, the cities with the most to gain from innovation tend to be large and dense, and often Democratic. So at the local level, the leaders in welcoming Uber are often Democrats. Conservatives like to mock California as anti-business, but the state is one of just two to have enacted a comprehensive, statewide regulatory framework that is friendly to ride sharing. The other is Colorado, also run by Democrats.”

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From the November 7, 1926 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

Paris — The world’s record for blood transfusion by one person is credited to Raymond Briez. He has just submitted to the operation for the hundredth time. Since November, 1924, Briez has given five and a half gallons of his blood for suffering human beings, without recompense of any kind except the satisfaction of having done a good deed.”


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