Lenin Sought to Enserf the Soul

(p. B11) Mr. Navrozov’s contempt for Lenin, the leader of the Bolshevik Revolution, and Stalin, his brutal successor, arose out of intellectual loathing, not of a personal history of exile or repression. In his book, “The Education of Lev Navrozov: A Life in the Enclosed World Once Called Russia” (1975), he described Lenin as a “barbarian” unworthy of his country’s deification.
“He had to enserf every soul psychologically,” he wrote. “He had to destroy inside every soul all the psychology of independence that had been accumulating throughout the history of Russia.”
The book, which was partly autobiographical, was praised by the philosopher Sidney Hook and the historian Robert K. Massie.
. . .
. . . , Saul Bellow, in his novel “More Die of Heartbreak” (1987), placed Mr. Navrozov among the dissident writers Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Vladimir Maximov and Andrei Sinyavsky as “commanding figures, men of genius, some of them.”
. . .
. . . , [Navrozov] cautioned that the Affordable Care Act was reminiscent of Soviet-socialized medicine. “Obamacare will destroy the delicate fabric of existing free-market medical services,” he wrote in 2012 on Newsmax.

For the full obituary, see:
RICHARD SANDOMIR. “Lev Navrozov, Literary Translator and Soviet Dissident, Dies at 88.” The New York Times (Tues., FEB. 14, 2017): B11.
(Note: ellipses, and bracketed word, added; italics in original.)
(Note: the online version of the obituary has the date FEB. 9, 2017.)

The Navrozov book mentioned above, is:
Navrozov, Lev. The Education of Lev Navrozov: A Life in the Closed World Once Called Russia. New York: Harper’s Magazine Press, 1975.

Two Die from Listeria in Artisanal Cheese

(p. A19) Two people have died following an outbreak of listeria linked to a popular artisanal raw milk cheese made in upstate New York, the authorities said this week.
The deaths occurred in Vermont and Connecticut, local officials said. Four other people in New York and Florida reported feeling sick after eating Ouleout, the artisanal cheese, which is produced by Vulto Creamery in Walton, N.Y.
. . .
Ouleout has been celebrated across the United States as much for its unusual back story as for its flavor: It was created by Jos Vulto, a Dutch artist linked to the Museum of Modern Art, who started making cheese in his apartment and aging it under a sidewalk in Brooklyn.
. . .
Mr. Vulto came to the United States from the Netherlands in 1990, according to several media outlets specializing in cheese. He spent two years as an artist-in-residence at P.S. 1 in Queens, a contemporary art institution affiliated with the Museum of Modern Art in New York. He specialized in crafting abstract installations made of metal.
His specialty involved “wrapping empty buildings in cloth and building contained fires of sawdust and hay inside,” according to Culture Cheese Mag. When the building started to emit smoke, the cloth absorbed an imprint of the building. Mr. Vulto called the technique “rooking,” a play on the Dutch word for smoke.
In 2008, Mr. Vulto switched to cheese making, reportedly inspired by the stink caused by a carton of soured milk in his refrigerator. He began creating rudimentary cheese in his apartment, and gradually mastered the art by making and remaking new batches and studying techniques.

For the full story, see:
KIMIKO de FREYTAS-TAMURA. “Two People Die after Eating Raw Milk Cheese.” The New York Times (Sat., MARCH 11, 2017): A19.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date MARCH 10, 2017, and has the title “Two People Die after Eating Raw Milk Cheese Made in New York State.” The last sentence in the next-to-last paragraph quoted above, appears in the online, but not in the print, version of the article.)

British Government Environmentalists Increase London Air Pollution

(p. A4) London is choking from record levels of pollution, much of it caused by diesel cars and trucks, as well as wood-burning fires in private homes, a growing trend.
. . .
London’s air pollution today is different from seven decades ago, and more insidious. No longer thick as “pea soup,” as it was traditionally described, the city’s air is now laced with nitrogen dioxide — a toxic gas mostly produced by vehicles with diesel engines.
. . .
The current problem is, in part, an unintended consequence of previous efforts to aid the environment.
The British government provided financial incentives to encourage a shift to diesel engines because laboratory tests suggested that would cut harmful emissions and combat climate change. Yet, it turned out that diesel cars emit on average five times as much emissions in real-world driving conditions as in the tests, according to a British Department for Transport study.
“No one at the time thought of the consequences of increased nitrogen dioxide emissions from diesel, and the policy of incentivizing diesel was so successful that an awful lot of people bought diesel cars,” said Anna Heslop, a lawyer at ClientEarth, an environmental law firm that last year forced the British government to produce a better plan to improve air quality.
. . .
Bob Miller, 69, a cabdriver who has crisscrossed London for 30 years, wasn’t convinced. He has lost faith in recommendations by policy makers and experts, he said.
“We were told how wonderful diesel is, how they were supposed to be cleaner than petrol,” Mr. Miller said, idling his cab in heavy traffic with the window open.
“The experts make the rules, then they’re wrong,” he said, shaking his head. “I give up.”

For the full story, see:
KIMIKO de FREYTAS-TAMURA. “A Push for Diesel Leaves London Gasping Amid Record Pollution.” The New York Times (Sat., FEB. 18, 2017): A4.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date FEB. 17, 2017.)

U.S. Forest Service Killed “Prometheus,” World’s Oldest Tree

(p. D9) Great Basin’s . . . big draw–trees about as old as Egyptian hieroglyphics–sits at the top of the sky island in Wheeler Peak Bristlecone Grove.
. . .
At the grove, a stand of weather-battered bristlecone pines await, just as they have for between 3,000 and 4,000 years. With their knobby trunks and gnarled branches, the trees look like characters in an animated film’s enchanted forest, ready to burst into song. They often have only a small strip of bark, with the rest of the trunk bare, exposing the smooth, rich browns, yellows and grays in its fine grain.
At one time the oldest known tree in the world lived here. Its dignified appearance earned it the name Prometheus. In 1964, two decades before Great Basin became a national park, a researcher, trying to collect data about the area’s climate history, drilled into defenseless Prometheus (not knowing its exact age) to examine its rings. When his coring instrument got stuck, the Forest Service felled the tree to retrieve his tool– only to discover that the tree was 4,900 years old.

For the full story, see:
JIM ROBBINS. “In a Strange Land; One of the country’s least-hyped nature preserves, Nevada’s Great Basin National Park has a weird, wild beauty all its own.” The Wall Street Journal (Sat., MARCH 11, 2017): D9.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date MARCH 9, 2017, and has the title “A Hike Through America’s Otherworldly Outback.”)

Wall Street Needs Return to Partnership Culture

(p. A17) Ever since the crisis of 2008, banks have been subject to ferocious attack and more regulation. In “Why Wall Street Matters,” William Cohan, the author of earlier books on Goldman Sachs and Lazard Frères, mounts a defense of Wall Street banking institutions and argues that much of the regulation after 2008 has been counterproductive. In his view, the main culprit in the financial meltdown was Wall Street’s compensation culture, and he presents some controversial proposals to reform it.
. . .
So what went wrong? Where did useful innovation morph into lunacy that almost brought down the whole system? The sea change began in 1969, Mr. Cohan says, when the first investment bank (Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette) sold equity to the public. Previously investment banks were partnerships whose capital came from the net worth of the individual partners, who would assume only the most modest risk since investment failure might endanger their life savings. But once a firm’s capital could be increased by debt and equity financing–in essence, by other people’s money–the calculus shifted.
. . .
Mr. Cohan’s solution is to replace Wall Street’s broken compensation system: the bonus culture that creates incentives to take big bets with other people’s money while avoiding accountability when the bets go bad. He says that we need to “return to a compensation system that more closely resembles that of the partnership culture” of earlier times. Going well beyond calls for a claw-back of bonuses when trouble hits, Mr. Cohan proposes that the leaders of Wall Street firms be required to put their entire net worth on the line. Their co-op apartments, houses in the Hamptons, art collections and bank accounts would all be “fodder for the bank’s creditors” if something goes wrong.

For the full review, see:
Burton G. Malkiel . “BOOKSHELF; Big Bonus, Big Problem; Dodd-Frank and the Volcker Rule address the wrong problems and did nothing to fix Wall Street’s broken compensation culture.” The Wall Street Journal (Weds., March 1, 2017): A17.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the review has the date Feb, 28, 2017.)

The book under review, is:
Cohan, William D. Why Wall Street Matters. New York: Random House, 2017.

Increasing Number of Free Agent Entrepreneurs

(p. A3) A tiny segment of U.S. manufacturing appears to be thriving–the one with no employees.
A mix of technology, economic necessity and adventure is leading more Americans to found companies that plan to stay very small. That entrepreneurial spark also highlights challenges facing the economy, from difficulty re-entering the job market to the diminishing role of fast-growing young firms.
Nicholas Hollows wants to be his own boss, and not anyone else’s.
“I definitely don’t intend to switch my role from a person who makes things to a person who manages people,” said the 32-year-old sole proprietor of Hollows Leather in Eugene, Ore. “Being hands-on is the whole reason I do this.”
The number of businesses classified as manufacturers with no employees has been rising steadily since the depths of the recession. The tiny operations often make food, craft beer, toiletries or other niche products. Their growth stands out in a sector that has been shedding workers for decades.
U.S. food manufacturers with no employee but the owner nearly doubled from 2004 to 2014. One-worker beverage and tobacco makers expanded 150%. Such chemical manufacturers–a category that includes makers of soap and perfume–grew almost 70%.
In all, there were more than 350,000 manufacturing establishments with no employee other than the owner in 2014, up almost 17% from 2004, according to the most recent Commerce Department data. By comparison, there were 292,543 establishments with other employees, down 12%. The shift creates a challenge for building back the number of jobs in the U.S. manufacturing sector.

For the full story, see:
Sparshott, Jeffrey. “Tiny Firms Stay That Way.” The Wall Street Journal (Thurs., Dec. 29, 2016): A3.
(Note: the online version of the story has the date Dec. 28, 2016, and has the title “Big Growth in Tiny Businesses.”)

Kenneth Arrow Had Broad Knowledge Beyond Economics

(p. A21) Professor Arrow was widely hailed as a polymath, possessing prodigious knowledge of subjects far removed from economics. Eric Maskin, a Harvard economist and fellow Nobel winner, told of a good-natured conspiracy waged by junior faculty to get the better of Professor Arrow, even if artificially. They all agreed to study the breeding habits of gray whales — a suitably abstruse topic — and gathered at an appointed date at a place where Professor Arrow would be sure to visit.
When, as expected, he showed up, they were talking out loud about the theory by a marine biologist — last name, Turner — which purported to explain how gray whales found the same breeding spot year after year. As Professor Maskin recounted the story, “Ken was silent,” and his junior colleagues amused themselves that they had for once bested their formidable professor.
Well, not so fast.
Before leaving, Professor Arrow muttered, “But I thought that Turner’s theory was entirely discredited by Spencer, who showed that the hypothesized homing mechanism couldn’t possibly work.”

For the full obituary, see:
MICHAEL M. WEINSTEIN. “Kenneth Arrow, Influential Economist and Nobel Laureate, Is Dead at 95.” The New York Times (Weds., FEB. 22, 2017): A21.
(Note: the online version of the obituary has the date FEB. 21, 2017, and has the title “Kenneth Arrow, Nobel-Winning Economist Whose Influence Spanned Decades, Dies at 95.”)

“High Expectations, High Support” Charter Schools Work Well

(p. 2) The briefest summary is this: Many charter schools fail to live up to their promise, but one type has repeatedly shown impressive results.
Hannah Larkin, the principal at Match, refers to such schools as “high expectations, high support” schools. They devote more of their resources to classroom teaching and less to almost everything else. They keep students in class for more hours. They set high standards for students and try to instill confidence in them. They focus on giving teachers feedback about their craft and helping them get better.
. . .
The latest batch of evidence about this approach is among the most rigorous. Professors at M.I.T., Columbia, Michigan and Berkeley have tracked thousands of charter-school applicants, through high school and beyond, in Boston, where most charters fit the “high expectations, high support” model.
Crucially, the researchers took several steps to make sure the findings were real. They compared lottery winners with losers, controlling for the fact that families who applied for the lotteries were different from families who didn’t. They also counted as charter students all those who enrolled, including any who later left.
When you talk to the professors about their findings, you hear a degree of excitement that’s uncommon for academic researchers. “Relative to other things that social scientists and education policy people have tried to boost performance — class sizes, tracking, new buildings — these schools are producing spectacular gains,” said Joshua Angrist, an M.I.T. professor.

For the full commentary, see:
Leonhardt, David. “Schools That Work.” The New York Times, SundayReview Section (Sun., NOV. 6, 2016): 2.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date NOV. 4, 2016.)

The “latest batch of evidence” mentioned above, includes:
Angrist, Joshua D., Sarah R. Cohodes, Susan M. Dynarski, Parag A. Pathak, and Christopher R. Walters. “Stand and Deliver: Effects of Boston’s Charter High Schools on College Preparation, Entry, and Choice.” Journal of Labor Economics 34, no. 2 (April 2016): 275-318.

Entrepreneur Marconi Was Driven by Wireless Communication Project

(p. C5) Marconi is another example of the Victorian “self-made man,” in this case a precocious youth fascinated by electricity and electrical wave pulses.
. . .
Sending the letter “S” in Morse code to his assistant, Mignani, on the far side of the meadow several hundred yards away was great, but not enough. What if, instead, Mignani took the receiver to the other side of the hill, out of sight of the house, and then fired a gunshot if the pulses got through? “I called my mother into the room to watch the momentous experiment. . . . I waited to give Mignani time to get to his place. Then breathlessly I tapped the key three times. . . . Then from the other side of the hill came the sound of a shot. . . . That was the moment when wireless was born.”
. . .
A combination of technological insight, organizational skill and business acumen gave him, like Steve Jobs in the next century, his place in history. To the end of his life Marconi was driven by a vision of the whole world communicating through wireless waves in the air.
. . .
. . ., Mr. Raboy exhaustively if deftly tells the tale of the next few critical years: Marconi’s long stay in England, the search for funding (without losing control), the critical establishment of patents, the embrace by officials in the British Post Office and Royal Navy, the ship-to-shore and ship-to-ship wireless transmissions. There’s a fine chapter on the critical long-range, trans-Atlantic experiments in 1901. These were conducted in wintry, gusty Newfoundland, whose supportive provincial government grasped almost immediately what Marconi offered: instant and vastly less expensive communication to Canada, Boston and New York and, above all, to Britain and its empire. Little wonder that such powerful entities as the (state-subsidized) Anglo-American Telegraph Co. were alarmed at this interloper. . . .
In 1909, at the age of 35, the Italian entrepreneur would stand up proudly to receive the Nobel Prize in physics.

For the full review, see:
PAUL KENNEDY. “When the World Took to the Air; Like Steve Jobs, Marconi combined technological insight, organizational skill and business acumen.” The Wall Street Journal (Sat., Sept. 10, 2016): C5-C6.
(Note: ellipses internal to second quoted paragraph, in original; other ellipses, added.)
(Note: the online version of the review has the date Sept. 9, 2016, an has the title “The World’s First Communications Giant; Like Steve Jobs, Marconi combined technological insight, organizational skill and business acumen.”)

The book under review, is:
Raboy, Marc. Marconi: The Man Who Networked the World. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016.

Unemployment Was Lower When Fed Stuck to Taylor Rule

(p. A17) . . . in a recent empirical study, Alex Nikolsko-Rzhevskyy of Lehigh University and David Papell and Ruxandra Prodan of the University of Houston divided U.S. history into periods, like the 1980s and ’90s, where Fed policy basically adhered to the Taylor rule and periods, like the past dozen years, where it did not. Unemployment was 1.4 percentage points lower on average in the Taylor rule periods, and it reached devastating highs of 10% or more in the non-Taylor rule periods.
. . .
Moreover, Fed calculations that only look at macroeconomic effects of low rates overlook their negative microeconomic effects on bank lending found by economists Charles Calomiris of Columbia University and David Malpass of Encima Global.

For the full commentary, see:
JOHN B. TAYLOR. “The Case for a Rules-Based Fed; Neel Kashkari is wrong. My proposed rules-based reform of the Fed would not be run by a computer.” The Wall Street Journal (Weds., Dec. 21, 2016): A17.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Dec. 20, 2016.)

The paper mentioned above, that shows the good results when the Fed followed policies close to the Taylor rule, is:
Nikolsko-Rzhevskyy, Alex, David H. Papell, and Ruxandra Prodan. “Deviations from Rules-Based Policy and Their Effects.” Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control 49 (Dec. 2014): 4-17.