TSA Hassles Cub Scout Mikey Hicks Who is 8 Years Old


“Michael Hicks, 8, a Cub Scout in Clifton, N.J., has the same name as a suspicious person.” Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.

(p. A1) The Transportation Security Administration, under scrutiny after last month’s bombing attempt, has on its Web site a “mythbuster” that tries to reassure the public.

Myth: The No-Fly list includes an 8-year-old boy.
Buster: No 8-year-old is on a T.S.A. watch list.
“Meet Mikey Hicks,” said Najlah Feanny Hicks, introducing her 8-year-old son, a New Jersey Cub Scout and frequent traveler who has seldom boarded a plane without a hassle because he shares the name of a suspicious person. “It’s not a myth.”
Michael Winston Hicks’s mother initially sensed trouble when he was a baby and she could not get a seat for him on their flight to Florida at an airport kiosk; airline officials explained that his name “was on the list,” she recalled.
The first time he was patted down, at Newark Liberty International Airport, Mikey was 2. He cried.
After years of long delays and waits for supervisors at every airport ticket counter, this year’s vacation to the Bahamas badly shook up the family. Mikey was frisked on the way there, then (p. A3) more aggressively on the way home.
“Up your arms, down your arms, up your crotch — someone is patting your 8-year-old down like he’s a criminal,” Mrs. Hicks recounted. “A terrorist can blow his underwear up and they don’t catch him. But my 8-year-old can’t walk through security without being frisked.”

For the full story, see:
LIZETTE ALVAREZ. “Meet Mikey, 8: U.S. Has Him on Watch List.” The New York Times (Thurs., January 14, 2010): A1 & A3.
(Note: the online version of the article is dated January 13, 2010.)
(Note: italics in original.)

50 Venture Capital Firms Turned Down Campbell’s Chips & Technology

(p. 224) Campbell’s idea for a company was to use a silicon compiler to put those boards into custom silicon and to provide a means by which scores of companies could produce AT clones faster, cheaper, better, and more reliable than IBM’s.

Campbell drew up his business plan and brought it to some fifty venture capitalists. A moneyed yawn issued from Sand Hill Road, echoed down the canyons of San Francisco’s financial district, and reechoed through downtown Manhattan. A jaded group that had funded some forty very hard disk projects and some fifty rather floppy computer firms within the previous two years, venture capitalists eyed Campbell’s boyish manner and lightweight look and they contemplated his business plan (a personal computer chip project during a PC and semiconductor depression), and they identified the heart of his overall strategy (compete with IBM). They rolled the firm’s proposed name over their tongues: Chips & Technologies. Wouldn’t Microtech be better? Then they laughed nervously. Not this time, Gordy.
Finally, Campbell found a friend: Bill Marocco, who had built the SEEQ headquarters, and had once offered to support a future project. Marocco put up $1 million, and Chips & Technologies was off the ground.


Gilder, George. Microcosm: The Quantum Revolution in Economics and Technology. Paperback ed. New York: Touchstone, 1990.

Another Boeing BHAG Takes Flight

BoeingDreamlinerFirstFlight2010-01-23.jpg “Members of the public watched the first test flight of the Boeing 787 on Tuesday in Everett, Wash.” Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.

In their stimulating business best-seller Built to Last Collins and Porrus have a chapter in which they argue that one way to attract and retain the best employees is to give them a difficult but important project to work on. They call such projects “BHAGs,” which stands for Big Hairy Audacious Goals. Among their main examples (e.g., p. 104) of BHAGs were Boeing’s development of the 707 and 747.
Boeing’s latest BHAG is the 787 Dreamliner.

(p. A25) EVERETT, Wash. — The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner lifted into the gray skies here for the first time on Tuesday morning, more than two years behind schedule and burdened with restoring Boeing’s pre-eminence in global commercial aviation.

“Engines, engines, engines, engines!” shouted April Seixeiro, 37, when the glossy twin-engine plane began warming up across from where spectators had informally gathered at Paine Field. Ms. Seixeiro was among scores of local residents and self-described “aviation geeks” who came to watch the first flight.
Moments after the plane took off at 10:27 a.m., Mrs. Seixeiro was wiping tears from her eyes. A friend, Katie Bailey, 34, cried, too.
“That was so beautiful,” Ms. Bailey said.

For the full story, see:
WILLIAM YARDLEY. “As 787 Takes Flight, Seattle Wonders About Boeing’s Future.” The New York Times (Weds., December 16, 2009): A25.
(Note: the online version of the article has the title “A Takeoff, and Hope, for Boeing Dreamliner” and is dated December 15, 2009.)

The reference for the Collins and Porras book is:
Collins, James C., and Jerry I. Porras. Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies. New York: HarperBusiness, 1994.

U.N. Glacial Melt Prediction Based on Decade-Old “Misquoted” Interview with One Scientist

In an earlier entry, evidence was quoted suggesting that many Himalayan glaciers are growing, rather than contracting as is widely claimed. Now The New York Times reveals that a “much-publicized” U.N. prediction of Himalayan glacier disappearance by 2035, was based on an old misquoted interview with a single scientist who now repudiates the prediction.

(p. A8) A much-publicized estimate from a United Nations panel about the rapid melting of Himalayan glaciers from climate change is coming under fire as a gross exaggeration.

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said in 2007 — the same year it shared the Nobel Peace Prize with former Vice President Al Gore — that it was “very likely” that Himalayan glaciers would disappear by 2035 if current warming trends continued.
That date has been much quoted and a cause for enormous consternation, since hundreds of millions of people in Asia rely on ice and snow melt from these glaciers for their water supply.
The panel, the United Nations’ scientific advisory body on climate change, ranks its conclusions using a probability scale in which “very likely” means there is greater than 90 percent chance that an event will occur.
But it now appears that the estimate about Himalayan glacial melt was based on a decade-old interview of one climate scientist in a science magazine, The New Scientist, and that hard scientific evidence to support that figure is lacking. The scientist, Dr. Syed Hasnain, a glacier specialist with the government of the Indian state of Sikkim and currently a fellow at the TERI research institute in Delhi, said in an e-mail message that he was “misquoted” about the 2035 estimate in The New Scientist article. He has more recently said that his research suggests that only small glaciers could disappear entirely.

For the full story, see:
ELISABETH ROSENTHAL. “U.N. Panel’s Glacier Warning Is Criticized as Exaggerated.” The New York Times (Tues., January 19, 2010): A8.
(Note: the online version of the article is dated January 18, 2010.)

Warming of Arctic Would Allow Faster, Safer Cable Route

NorthwestPassageFiberOpticCableRoute2010-01-23.jpg Source of map: online version of the Omaha World-Herald article quoted and cited below.

(p. 4A) ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) – Global warming has melted so much Arctic ice that a telecommunication group is moving forward with a project that was unthinkable just a few years ago: laying underwater fiber optic cable between Tokyo and London by way of the Northwest Passage.

The proposed system would nearly cut in half the time it takes to send messages from the United Kingdom to Asia, said Walt Ebell, CEO of Kodiak-Kenai Cable Co. The route is the shortest underwater path between Tokyo and London.
The quicker transmission time is important in the financial world where milliseconds can count in executing profitable trades and transactions. “Speed is the crux,” Ebell said. “You’re cutting the delay from 140 milliseconds to 88 milliseconds.”
. . .
“It will provide the domestic market an alternative route not only to Europe – there’s lots of cable across the Atlantic – but it will provide the East Coast with an alternative, faster route to Asia as well,” he said.
The cable would pass mostly through U.S., Canadian international waters and avoid possible trouble spots along the way.
“You’re not susceptible to ‘events,’ I should say, that you might run into with a cable that runs across Russia or the cables that run down around Asia and go up through the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean Sea. You’re getting away from those choke points.”

For the full story, see:
DAN JOLING, Associated Press Writer. “Loss of Arctic Ice Opens Up New Cable Route.” Omaha World-Herald (Fri., January 22, 2010): 4A.
(Note: the online version of the article had the title: Global warming opens up Arctic for undersea cable” and was dated January 21, 2010.)
(Note: ellipsis added.)

Entrepreneur Gordon Campbell Was an Uncredentialed “Complex Man”

(p. 222) Among the entrepreneurs of the microcosm, none were nimbler than Gordon Campbell, the former founder and president of SEEQ. Taking Phillip Salsbury and other non-volatile memory stars out of (p. 223) Intel in 1981, Campbell had begun meteorically. But after a few years, SEEQ’s E-square technology had slipped against Xicor and the industry went into its mid-eighties slump. While many experts bogged down in the problems of transition, however, Campbell seized the opportunities. In a new firm, he would demonstrate beyond cavil the new balance of power in electronics.

He left SEEQ in 1984 and at once steered his Ferrari back into the semiconductor fray. But few observers favored his prospects. If the truth be known, many semiconductor people thought they had already seen plenty of Gordon Campbell, company president.
Campbell is a complex man, with a rich fund of ego and a boyish look that belies his shrewd sense of strategy and technology. To a strong-minded venture capitalist such as Frank Caulfield of Kleiner, Perkins, Caulfield, & Byers–or even to a smooth operator such as John Doerr—Campbell appeared to be a pushover. A man with no money, no social ivy, no advanced professional degrees, no obvious scientific mastery, he was a disposable tool: some kid who had snuck into the E-square huddle at Intel and popped our into the end zone just in time to make a miracle catch of several million dollars in venture capital.


Gilder, George. Microcosm: The Quantum Revolution in Economics and Technology. Paperback ed. New York: Touchstone, 1990.

Like Cesar Chavez, Union Intimidates Its Own Members

FrankVitaleAmeliaUnionOrganizer2010-01-16.jpg “Amelia Frank-Vitale, a former union organizer, said the practice of pink sheeting sent her into therapy.” Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.

(p. B1) After six years working in the laundry of a Miami hotel, Julia Rivera was thrilled when her union tapped her to become a full-time union organizer.

But her excitement soon turned to outrage.
Ms. Rivera said her supervisors at Unite Here, the hotel and restaurant workers’ union, repeatedly pressed her to reveal highly personal information, getting her to divulge that her father had sexually abused her.
Later, she said, her supervisors ordered her to recount her tale of abuse again and again to workers they were trying to unionize at Tampa International Airport, convinced that Ms. Rivera’s story would move them, making them more likely to join the union.
“I was scared not to do what they said,” said Ms. Rivera, adding that she resented being pressured to disclose intimate information and then speak about it in public. “To me, it was sick. It was horrible.”
Ms. Rivera and other current and former Unite Here organizers are speaking out against what they say is a longstanding practice in which Unite Here officials pressured subordinates to disclose sensitive personal information — for example, that their mother was an alcoholic or that they were fighting with their spouse.
More than a dozen organizers said in interviews that they had often been pressured to detail such personal anguish — sometimes under the threat of dismissal from their union positions — and that their supervisors later used the information to press them to comply with their orders.
“It’s extremely cultlike and extremely manipulative,” said Amelia Frank-Vitale, a Yale graduate and former hotel union organizer who said these practices drove her to see a therapist.
Several organizers grew incensed when they discovered that details of their history had been put into the union’s database so that supervisors could use that information to manipulate them.
“This information is extremely personal,” said Matthew Edwards, an organizer who had disclosed that he was from a broken home and was overweight when young. “It is catalogued and shared throughout the whole organizing department.”
. . .
(p. B5) Several organizers likened pink sheeting to a practice that Cesar Chavez, former president of the United Farm Workers, used when he embraced a mind-control practice developed by Synanon, a drug rehabilitation center founded in Santa Monica, Calif. Union staff members were systematically subjected to intense, prolonged verbal abuse in an effort to break them down and assure loyalty.
. . .
Ms. Frank-Vitale, now a graduate student at American University, says she is still haunted by memories of pink sheeting.
“One night my supervisor pushed me and pushed me, and I started talking about being an overweight woman in America, what that was like in high school, that it was very difficult for me,” she said. “I felt kind of violated.”

For the full story, see:
STEVEN GREENHOUSE. “Some Organizers Protest Their Union’s Tactics.” The New York Times (Thurs., November 19, 2009): B1 & B5.
(Note: the online version of the article is dated November 18, 2009.)
(Note: ellipses added.)

“Better to Be Socrates Dissatisfied than a Fool Satisfied”

(p. 10) Happiness is, . . . , a complex concept and difficult to measure, and John Stuart Mill had a point when he suggested: “It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied.”

For the full commentary, see:
NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF. “Our Basic Human Pleasures: Food, Sex and Giving.” The New York Times, Week in Review Section (Sun.., January 16, 2010): 10.
(Note: the online version of the article is dated January 16, 2010.)
(Note: ellipsis added.)

Corrupt African Official Enjoys Malibu Estate, While “People Starve” and Obama State Department Sleeps

ObiangTeodoroMalibuEstate2010-01-16.jpg “The $35 million estate belonging to Teodoro Nguema Obiang, the agriculture minister of Equatorial Guinea and the son of its ruler, in Malibu, Calif., in the lower center of the frame.” Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.

(p. A1) Several times a year, Teodoro Nguema Obiang arrives at the doorstep of the United States from his home in Equatorial Guinea, on his way to his $35 million estate in Malibu, Calif., his fleet of luxury cars, his speedboats and private jet. And he is always let into the country.

The nation’s doors are open to Mr. Obiang, the forest and agriculture minister of Equatorial Guinea and the son of its president, even though federal law enforcement officials believe that “most if not all” of his wealth comes from corruption related to the extensive oil and gas reserves discovered more than a decade and a half ago off the coast of his tiny West African country, according to internal Justice Department and Immigration and Customs Enforcement documents.
And they are open despite a federal law and a presidential proclamation that prohibit corrupt foreign officials and their families from receiving American visas. The measures require only credible evidence of corruption, not a conviction of it.
Susan Pittman, a spokeswoman for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement in the State Department, said she was prohibited from discussing specific visa decisions. But other former and current State Department officials said Equatorial Guinea’s close ties to the American oil industry were the reason for the lax enforcement of the law. Production of the country’s nearly 400,000 barrels of oil a day is dominated by American companies like ExxonMobil, Hess and Marathon.
“Of course it’s because of oil,” said John Bennett, the United States ambassador to Equatorial Guinea from 1991 to 1994, adding that Washington has turned a blind eye to the Obiangs’ corruption and repression because of its dependence on the country for natural resources. He noted that officials of Zimbabwe are barred from the United States.
“Both countries are severely repressive,” said Mr. Bennett, who is now a senior foreign affairs officer for the State Department in Baghdad. “But if Zimbabwe had Equatorial Guinea’s oil, Zimbabwean officials wouldn’t still be blocked from the U.S.”
Shown the Justice Department (p. A19) documents that detail the accusations of corruption against Mr. Obiang, Senator Patrick J. Leahy, a Vermont Democrat who wrote the law restricting visas, expressed frustration and anger with the State Department, which is responsible for issuing visas.
“The fact that someone like Mr. Obiang continues to travel freely here suggests strongly that the State Department is not yet applying the law as vigorously as Congress intended,” Mr. Leahy said. The law was partly inspired by the accusations of corruption surrounding Mr. Obiang’s family and the Equatorial Guinean government, Mr. Leahy’s staff said.
“There are many instances of corrupt foreign officials plundering the natural resources of their countries for their own use while their people starve,” Mr. Leahy said. “The law states clearly that if you do that, you are no longer welcome in the United States.”

For the full story, see:

IAN URBINA. “A U.S. Visa, Shouts of Corruption, Barrels of Oil.” The New York Times (Tues., November 17, 2009): A1 & A19.

(Note: The title of the online version of the article is “Taint of Corruption Is No Barrier to U.S. Visa”; the online version of the article is dated November 16, 2009.)

Bert Sutherland Was the “Hero of Xerox PARC”

The failure of Xerox to take advantage of the innovations developed at Xerox PARC, is a legendary example of management failure. A couple of books have been written on the subject that I hope to read sometime.

(p. 194) Beyond his efforts in VLSI design, Bert Sutherland had supported the work at Xerox PARC that led to the “windows” and the “mouse” on nearly every workstation and many personal computers, from Apple and Atari to Apollo and Sun. He formed the research department that made Ethernet the dominant small computer network and that conceived the “notebook” lap computer. Xerox’s lead in IC design gave the company the tools–if the firm had only understood them–to lend new special features to every copier and printer and even to create the kind of electronic “personal copiers” later pioneered by Canon.

Bert Sutherland was the hero of Xerox PARC: that is history. But that was not life. In real life, Xerox fired him in 1979. While he worked day and night on the novel projects in Palo Alto that were to give Xerox an indelible role in the history of computer technology, jealous rivals conspired against him at headquarters. They said that his research, which would fuel the industry for a decade, was irrelevant to the needs of the company. In corning years, the research leadership that replaced him would make the company nearly irrelevant to the needs of the world.


Gilder, George. Microcosm: The Quantum Revolution in Economics and Technology. Paperback ed. New York: Touchstone, 1990.