Unemployment Increases Risk of Heart Attack

As a defender of the process of innovation through creative destruction, I try to be alert to evidence on creative destruction’s benefits and costs. The highest cost is usually viewed as technological unemployment. The evidence below will have to be examined and, if sound, added to the costs.

(p. D6) Unemployment increases the risk of heart attack, a new study reports, and repeated job loss raises the odds still more.
. . .
After adjusting for well-established heart attack risks — age, sex, smoking, income, hypertension, cholesterol screening, exercise, depression, diabetes and others — the researchers found that being unemployed also increased the risk of a heart attack, by an average of 35 percent.

For the full story, see:
NICHOLAS BAKALAR. “Job Loss Raises Threat of Heart Attack.” The New York Times (Tues., November 27, 2012): D6.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date November 26, 2012.)

The Dupre article mentioned above, is:
Dupre, Matthew E., Linda K. George, Guangya Liu, and Eric D. Peterson. “The Cumulative Effect of Unemployment on Risks for Acute Myocardial Infarction.” Archives of Internal Medicine 172, no. 22 (Dec. 10, 2012): 1731-37.
(Note: the Archives of Internal Medicine has been re-named JAMA Internal Medicine.)

Many New Tech Entrepreneurs Shun “Fast Cars and Fancy Parties”


“Phil Libin, chief of Evernote, at its headquarters in Redwood City, Calif.” Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.

(p. B1) SAN FRANCISCO — The number of privately held Silicon Valley start-ups that are worth more than $1 billion shocks even the executives running those companies.

“I thought we were special,” said Phil Libin, chief executive of Evernote, an online consumer service for storing clippings, photos and bits of information as he counted his $1 billion-plus peers.
He started Evernote in 2008 on the eve of the recession and built it methodically. “A lot of us didn’t set out to have a big valuation, we’re just trying to build something that lasts,” Mr. Libin said. “There is no safe industry anymore, even here.”
. . .
(p. B2) Silicon Valley entrepreneurs contend that the price spiral is not a sign of another tech bubble. The high prices are reasonable, they say, because innovations like smartphones and cloud computing will remake a technology industry that is already worth hundreds of billions of dollars.
. . .
The founders of the highly valued companies are old enough to remember past busts, and many shun the bubble lifestyle of fast cars and fancy parties.
Mr. Libin, who said he grew up on food stamps as the son of Russian immigrants in the Bronx, became a millionaire when he sold his first company, Engine5, to Vignette in 2000.
“The company I sold to, there were purple Lamborghinis in the garage. I got into watches,” he said. “Maybe a half-dozen, nothing over $10,000, but I needed this glass and leather watch winder.”
Evernote started as the financial crisis hit. “One night I was almost busted again,” he said, “and there was that watch winder on the shelf, mocking me.”
“Every job out there is insecure now,” he said. “People sell 10 percent of their stock, and they have an incentive to make the other 90 percent worth more. They are still working, but not worrying about what will happen to their home or their kids.”

For the full story, see:
QUENTIN HARDY. “A Billion-Dollar Club, and Not So Exclusive.” The New York Times (Weds., February 5, 2013): B1 & B2.
(Note: the online version of the story has the date February 4, 2013.)

Real Entrepreneurs Do Not Launch a Startup in Order to Cash In and Move On

The following passage is Steve Jobs speaking, as quoted by Walter Isaacson.
I agree with the part about real entrepreneurs not going public quick in order to cash in. But I disagree that the real entrepreneurs are mainly interested in building a lasting company. I think that often they are mainly interested in getting a project, or a series of projects, done (and done reasonably well). Recall that when Walt Disney couldn’t convince Roy Disney to pursue the Disneyland project, Walt left the main Disney company to pursue the project through a secondary rump Disney company.

(p. 569) I hate it when people call themselves “entrepreneurs” when what they’re really trying to do is launch a startup and then sell or go public, so they can cash in and move on. They’re unwilling to do the work it takes to build a real company, which is the hardest work in business. That’s how you really make a contribution and add to the legacy of those who went before. You build a company that will still stand for something a generation or two from now. That’s what Walt Disney did, and Hewlett and Packard, and the people who built Intel. They created a company to last, not just to make money. That’s what I want Apple to be.

Isaacson, Walter. Steve Jobs. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2011.

Much of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” Was Funded Out of Producer’s Own Pocket


Source of book image: http://www.awn.com/files/imagepicker/23/artofpeanuts-cover-620.jpg

(p. C10) Of all the “Peanuts” television specials ever made, the first–“A Charlie Brown Christmas” (1965)–was the Charlie Browniest. The 25-minute special was an underdog, just like its hapless protagonist, and barely made it on the air. CBS gave producer Lee Mendelson so minuscule a budget, we learn in Charles Solomon’s “The Art and Making of Peanuts Animation,” that he was forced to fund the rest out of his own pocket–even though Coca-Cola had already guaranteed sponsorship. When “A Charlie Brown Christmas” pulled in sensational ratings, CBS grudgingly asked for follow-ups. “We’re going to order four more,” a network executive told Mr. Mendelson, “though my aunt in New Jersey didn’t like it either”–a line that Schulz might have written.
. . .
“A Charlie Brown Christmas” established the template, mixing morals and gags in a way that made the peachiness seem endearing. The perfectly pitched dialogue, written by Schulz himself, was voiced (at his insistence) by actual children. The expressionist use of line and color was introduced by director Bill Melendez, and the understated yet supremely catchy Latin jazz scores were the work of pianist-composer Vince Guaraldi and his combo. The tune Guaraldi called “Linus and Lucy” came to be synonymous with “Peanuts” for the generations that grew up on the specials.
While the movements of the characters–especially Snoopy–could be antic, Guaraldi’s scores set a cool counterpoint and provided a sense of serenity that was utterly unique. The characters weren’t always moving–sometimes they would stop and simply listen to each other–and Schulz insisted that there be no laugh track. He made the climax of the drama Linus walking to the center of the school stage to recite from the gospel of Luke–a decision daring even in its day, not least because it stopped the action for an extended period to show a hand-drawn character delivering a lisping speech.

For the full review, see:
WILL FRIEDWALD. “BOOKSHELF; Cheers for Chuck.” The Wall Street Journal (Sat., December 22, 2012): C10.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the review has the date December 21, 2012.)

Book under review:
Solomon, Charles. The Art and Making of Peanuts Animation: Celebrating Fifty Years of Television Specials. San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books, 2012.

NYT Climate Blogger Sees Evidence “Trending” Toward Less Global Warming

“Worse than we thought” has been one of the most durable phrases lately among those pushing for urgent action to stem the buildup of greenhouse gases linked to global warming.
But on one critically important metric — how hot the planet will get from a doubling of the pre-industrial concentration of greenhouse gases, a k a “climate sensitivity” — some climate researchers with substantial publication records are shifting toward the lower end of the warming spectrum.
There’s still plenty of global warming and centuries of coastal retreats in the pipeline, so this is hardly a “benign” situation, as some have cast it.
But while plenty of other climate scientists hold firm to the idea that the full range of possible outcomes, including a disruptively dangerous warming of more than 4.5 degrees C. (8 degrees F.), remain in play, it’s getting harder to see why the high-end projections are given much weight.
. . .
In fact, there is an accumulating body of reviewed, published research shaving away the high end of the range of possible warming estimates from doubled carbon dioxide levels.
. . .
(. . . recent work is trending toward the published low sensitivity findings from a decade ago from climate scientists best known for their relationships with libertarian groups.)
Nonetheless, the science is what the science is.

Revkin, Andrew C. “CLIMATE CHANGE; A Closer Look at Moderating Views of Climate Sensitivity.” Dot Earth: New York Times Opinion Pages Climate Blog. (posted February 4, 2013).
(Note: ellipses added.)

Antarctica Has 595,000 Emperor Penguins–Double Previous Count

EmperorPenguinsAntarctica2013-03-10.jpg “Using satellites, researchers counted Antarctica’s emperor penguins at 46 colonies like this one near the Halley Research Station, finding numbers twice as high as previously thought.” Source of caption and photo: online version of the WSJ article quoted and cited below.

(p. A2) Antarctica has twice as many emperor penguins as scientists had thought, according to a new study using satellite imagery in the first comprehensive survey of one of the world’s most iconic birds.

British and U.S. geospatial mapping experts reported Friday in the journal PLoS One that they had counted 595,000 emperor penguins living in 46 colonies along the coast of Antarctica, compared with previous estimates of 270,000 to 350,000 penguins based on surveys of just five colonies. The researchers also discovered four previously unknown emperor-penguin colonies and confirmed the location of three others.
“It is good news from a conservation point of view,” said geographer Peter Fretwell at the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge, England, who led the penguin satellite census. “This is the first comprehensive census of a species taken from space.”
Although all of Antarctica’s wildlife is protected by international treaty, the emperor penguins are not an officially endangered species. But they are considered a bellwether of any future climate changes in Antarctica because their icy habitat is so sensitive to rising temperatures.

For the full story, see:
ROBERT LEE HOTZ. “Emperor Penguins Are Teeming in Antarctica.” The Wall Street Journal (Sat., April 14, 2012): A2.
(Note: the online version of the story has the date April 13, 2012.)

Jobs Believed Great Companies Decline When Salesmen (Rather than Engineers and Designers) Take Over

The following passage is Steve Jobs speaking, as quoted by Walter Isaacson.

(p. 568) I have my own theory about why decline happens at companies like IBM or Microsoft. The company does a great job, innovates and becomes a monopoly or close to it in some field, and then the quality of (p. 569) the product becomes less important. The company starts valuing the great salesmen, because they’re the ones who can move the needle on revenues, not the product engineers and designers. So the salespeople end up running the company. John Akers at IBM was a smart, eloquent, fantastic salesperson, but he didn’t know anything about product. The same thing happened at Xerox. When the sales guys run the company, the product guys don’t matter so much, and a lot of them just turn off.

Isaacson, Walter. Steve Jobs. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2011.

Foreign Aid Is Not Effective


Source of book image: http://img1.imagesbn.com/p/9781580054348_p0_v1_s260x420.JPG

(p. C8) In 2002, Tori Hogan was a 20-year-old intern for the international nonprofit Save the Children, helping write a report on the effect of humanitarian aid on children. In a dusty refugee-camp high school in Kenya a teenage student told her: “A lot of aid workers come and go, but nothing changes. If the aid projects were effective, we wouldn’t still be living like this after all these years.” That remark ended Tori Hogan’s “dreams of ‘saving Africa,’ ” she writes in “Beyond Good Intentions,” a book that bypasses sweeping condemnations of the aid industry to reach sometimes less satisfying zones of nuance.
. . .
The most savage writing on this topic comes from authors who have devoted chunks of their lives to conflict zones. In “The Crisis Caravan” (2010), Dutch journalist Linda Polman quotes, to devastating effect, Sierra Leone rebels who claim that they launched mass amputations in 1999 to compete with Congo and Kosovo for international attention and development aid. Michael Maren, the author of “Road to Hell” (2010), lost his child to the aid effort in Somalia.

The book under review is:
Hogan, Tori. Beyond Good Intentions: A Journey into the Realities of International Aid. pb (appears there was no hb edition) ed. Berkeley, CA: Seal Press, 2012.
(Note: ellipsis added.)

The Polman book mentioned above, is:
Polman, Linda. The Crisis Caravan: What’s Wrong with Humanitarian Aid? New York: Metropolitan Books, 2010.

The Maren book mentioned above, is:
Maren, Michael. The Road to Hell: The Ravaging Effects of Foreign Aid and International Charity. New York: The Free Press, 1997.

To Avoid Economic Crises We Need to Look at Evidence from Economic History

(p. 1093) Methodologically, the most fundamental and forceful message from the book is that, by ignoring history and the fact that crises remain frequent, recurrent, episodic events–in both rich and poor countries–almost everyone, including researchers and policymakers, made themselves vulnerable to the wishful thinking encapsulated in the book’s title. There is a deeper statistical point here. Crises, and for that matter large recessions and other phenomena that are of first-order interest given their implications for economic activity, occur at quite a low frequency. They are rare events, meaning that they do not occur so frequently, at least for most countries in a short-span time series. Thus recent experience can be an unfaithful guide for scholars and statesmen alike, a good example being the complacent thinking that accompanied the erstwhile Great Moderation of recent decades even as financial pressures built up nationally and internationally. Possibly the most important lesson that readers will take away from this book is that if we are to do better in future, from our policy thinking in the chambers of power to our macroeconometric analyses in academe, (p. 1094) we need to admit the existence of, and come to grips with, a much broader universe of evidence.

For the full review, see:
Taylor, Alan M. “Global Financial Stability and the Lessons of History: A Review of Carmen M. Reinhart and Kenneth S. Rogoff’s This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly.” Journal of Economic Literature 50, no. 4 (Dec. 2012): 1092-105.
(Note: italics in original.)

The book that Taylor reviews, is:
Reinhart, Carmen M., and Kenneth Rogoff. This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2009.

Resveratrol Activates Sirtuins to Switch on Energy Producing Mitochondria

A new study, just published in the prestigious journal Science, appears to substantially vindicate the recently beleaguered resveratrol longevity research of David Sinclair:

. . . a new study led by David Sinclair of the Harvard Medical School, who in 2003 was a discoverer resveratrol’s role in activating sirtuins, found that resveratrol did indeed influence sirtuin directly, though in a more complicated way than previously thought.    . . .    . . . activated, the sirtuins do several things, one of which is to switch on a second protein that spurs production of the mitochondria, which provide the cell’s energy. This would explain why mice treated with resveratrol ran twice as far on a treadmill before collapsing from exhaustion as untreated mice.

For the full story, see:
NICHOLAS WADE. “New Optimism on Resveratrol.” New York Times “Well” Blog    Posted on MARCH 11, 2013. URL: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/03/11/new-optimism-on-resveratrol/
(Note: ellipses added.)

The Sinclair article (see last-listed co-author) is:
Hubbard, Basil P., Ana P. Gomes, Han Dai, Jun Li, April W. Case, Thomas Considine, Thomas V. Riera, Jessica E. Lee, Sook Yen E (sic), Dudley W. Lamming, Bradley L. Pentelute, Eli R. Schuman, Linda A. Stevens, Alvin J. Y. Ling, Sean M. Armour, Shaday Michan, Huizhen Zhao, Yong Jiang, Sharon M. Sweitzer, Charles A. Blum, Jeremy S. Disch, Pui Yee Ng, Konrad T. Howitz, Anabela P. Rolo, Yoshitomo Hamuro, Joel Moss, Robert B. Perni, James L. Ellis, George P. Vlasuk, and David A. Sinclair. “Evidence for a Common Mechanism of Sirt1 Regulation by Allosteric Activators.” Science 339, no. 6124 (March 8, 2013): 1216-19.