Amazon Increases Rewards to Live-Video-Content-Creators

(p. B4) Inc.’s Twitch is allowing more broadcasters to make money on its platform, a move that could help the live-streaming business seize on challenges facing bigger rivals YouTube and Facebook Inc.
On Friday, Twitch said it will open up its revenue-sharing program next week for more broadcasters to get paid whenever they receive “bits”–custom, animated emoticons that act as an online currency for viewers to tip them. Twitch says bits are a way for those in the broadcasters’ channels to cheer them on.
Twitch will add more money-making opportunities to its new “affiliate program” in the future, the company said. Currently, only the top 1% of the 2.2 million people who stream on Twitch at least once a month–members of its so-called “partner program”–can generate revenue on the platform.
. . .
Twitch said its top earners in the partner program, who are its most popular broadcasters, make more than $100,000 a year. Under the new affiliate program, creators with fewer fans must meet certain criteria to demonstrate their commitment to streaming, such as a minimum number of hours spent on the air, to earn revenue. The amount of money the platform shares with its broadcasters varies depending on how it is earned.
Twitch sells bits to viewers in bundles ranging from $1.40 for 100 to $308 for 25,000. Broadcasters then earn one cent every time a viewer uses one.

For the full story, see:
Sarah E. Needleman. “Twitch Entices Video Creators With More Revenue Sharing.” The Wall Street Journal (Sat., April 22, 2017): B4.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date April 21, 2017, and has the title “Twitch Entices Video Creators With More Revenue Sharing.”)

Dynamism Dying from Bad Attitudes or Bad Policies?

I agree with Tyler that the U.S. is less dynamic than it once was. But I mainly blame our bad government policies, while he mainly blames our own bad attitudes.

(p. A15) Is the “land of opportunity,” with dynamic labor markets and fresh sources of renewal, a thing of the past?

That’s the fear of Tyler Cowen, who argues in “The Complacent Class” that America is increasingly defined by an aversion to risk as well as to anything that is unfamiliar or different. He sees a broad swath of the American population losing “the capacity to imagine or embrace a world where things do change rapidly for most if not all people.” This mind-set, he says, has “sapped us of the pioneer spirit that made America the world’s most productive and innovative economy.”
. . .
To make his case, Mr. Cowen draws a contrast between the changes that Americans experienced in the first half of the 20th century and the changes of the past 50 years. The earlier period saw dramatic improvements in health and education as well as a proliferation of automobiles, airplanes and telephones. By comparison, the changes since 1965 have been modest. “A lot of our technological world seems to have stood pretty much still,” he writes, “albeit with a variety of quality improvements along the way.” He even notes that, while popular narcotics in the past were mind-altering (LSD) or activity-inciting (cocaine), today’s drugs of choice, such as heroin and opioids, “induce a dreamlike stupor and passivity.”
. . .
Given Mr. Cowen’s own innovative thinking, it’s disappointing that he does not focus more on potential remedies to the torpor he describes.

For the full review, see:

Matthew Rees. “BOOKSHELF; How American Workers Got Lazy.” The Wall Street Journal (Tues., Feb. 28, 2017): A15.

(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the review has the date Feb. 27, 2017.)

The book under review, is:
Cowen, Tyler. The Complacent Class: The Self-Defeating Quest for the American Dream. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2017.

Retiring Later Improves Health in Old Age

(p. 3) Despite what may seem like obvious benefits, scholars can’t make definitive statements about the health effects of working longer. The research is inherently difficult: Just as retirement can influence health, so can health influence retirement.
“I would say, in my experience, the research is mixed,” said Dr. Maestas of Harvard Medical School. “The studies I have seen tend to show that there are health benefits to working longer.”
As the economists Axel Börsch-Supan and Morten Schuth of the Munich Center for the Economics of Aging of the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy put it in an article for the National Bureau of Economic Research, “Even disliked colleagues and a bad boss, we argue, are better than social isolation because they provide cognitive challenges that keep the mind active and healthy.”
Other studies have examined the impact of work and employment on the richness of social networks and social connectedness. The economists Eleonora Patacchini of Cornell University and Gary Engelhardt of Syracuse University tapped into a database of some 1,300 people from ages 57 to 85 that asked about their social networks in 2005 and 2010. After controlling for marital status, age, health and income, they concluded that people who continued to work enjoyed an increase in the size of their networks of family and friends of 25 percent. The social networks of retired people, on the other hand, shrank during the five-year period. In the study, the gains were found to be largely limited to women and older people with postsecondary education.

For the full commentary, see:
CHRISTOPHER FARRELL. “Retiring; Their Jobs Keep Them Healthy.” The New York Times, SundayBusiness Section (Sun., MARCH 5, 2017): 3.
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date MARCH 3, 2017, and has the title “Retiring; Working Longer May Benefit Your Health.”)

The article by Börsch-Supan and Schuth, is:
Börsch-Supan, Axel, and Morten Schuth. “Early Retirement, Mental Health, and Social Networks.” In Discoveries in the Economics of Aging, edited by David A. Wise. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014, pp. 225-50.

Countries Became Prosperous by Studying Drucker (Who Had Studied Schumpeter)

According to the article quoted below, former Cambodian communists are studying the thought of Peter Drucker. Drucker wrote many influential articles and books. My favorite is his article praising his teacher Joseph Schumpeter, written in the year that Schumpeter would have turned 100.

(p. A4) MALAI, Cambodia — For years, Tep Khunnal was the devoted personal secretary of Pol Pot, staying loyal to the charismatic ultracommunist leader even as the Khmer Rouge movement collapsed around them in the late 1990s.

Forced to reinvent himself after Pol Pot’s death, he fled to this outpost on the Thai border and began following a different sort of guru: the Austrian-American management theorist and business consultant Peter Drucker.
“I realized that some other countries, in South America, in Japan, they studied Drucker, and they used Drucker’s ideas and made the countries prosperous,” he said.
The residents of this dusty but bustling town are almost all former Khmer Rouge soldiers or cadres and their families, but they have come to embrace capitalism with almost as much vigor as they once fought to destroy class distinctions, free trade and even money itself.
Mr. Tep Khunnal helped lead the way, as a founder of an agricultural export company and a small microfinance bank for farmers before rising to become the district governor. From that position, he encouraged his constituents to follow suit.
. . .
“We joined the communists, and now we have joined the capitalists, which is much better,” said Dim Sok, a local official.
. . .
Mr. Tep Khunnal, 67, retired from government and business a few years ago and now devotes his time to spreading Drucker’s ideas across the country. He teaches at a university in a neighboring province and is translating the theorist’s work into Khmer. He has even compiled his favorite bits of Drucker’s wisdom into a small handbook.
. . .
He said he began reading about economics while serving as a Khmer Rouge envoy to the United Nations in the 1980s. Although he liked Milton Friedman, the free-market economist, and Frederick Taylor, who pioneered scientific management, he was most drawn to Drucker’s insistence that employees were central to an enterprise’s success.
“What I find interesting for me is that he talks about individuals, he gives power to individuals, not to collectivism,” he said of Drucker. “Frederick Taylor in the early 20th century, he talked about efficiency, but Drucker talked about effectiveness.”

For the full story, see:
JULIA WALLACE. “MALAI JOURNAL; Pol Pot’s Former Followers Become Cadres for Capitalism.” The New York Times (Thurs., MARCH 23, 2017): A4.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date MARCH 22, 2017, and has the title “MALAI JOURNAL; They Smashed Banks for Pol Pot. Now They’re Founding Them.”)

The article by Drucker on Schumpeter, mentioned by me above, is:
Drucker, Peter F. “Modern Prophets: Schumpeter or Keynes?” Forbes (May 23, 1983): 24-28.

Fearing FDA, Schools Stop Students from Using Sunscreen Lotions

(p. A11) The Sunbeatables curriculum, designed by specialists MD Anderson Cancer Center, features a cast of superheroes who teach children the basics of sun protection including the obvious: how and when to apply sunscreen.
There’s just one wrinkle. Many of the about 1,000 schools where the curriculum is taught are in states that don’t allow students to bring sunscreen to school or apply it without a note from a doctor or parent and trip to the nurse’s office.
Schools have restrictions because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration labels sunscreen as an over-the-counter medication.
. . .
Melanoma accounts for the majority of skin cancer-related deaths and is among the most common types of invasive cancers. One blistering sunburn in childhood or adolescence can double the risk of developing melanoma, says Dr. Tanzi. And sun damage is cumulative. The Skin Cancer Foundation notes that 23% of lifetime sun exposure occurs by age 18. Regular sunscreen application is a widespread recommendation among medical experts though some groups have raised concerns about the chemicals in certain sunscreens.
“Five or more sunburns increases your melanoma risk by 80% and your non-melanoma skin cancer risk by 68%,” Dr. Tanzi says.
Pediatric melanoma cases add up to a small but growing number. There are about 500 children diagnosed every year with the numbers increasing by about 2% each year, says Shelby Moneer, director of education for the Melanoma Research Foundation.

For the full story, see:
Sumathi Reddy. “YOUR HEALTH; It’s School, No Sunscreen Allowed.” The Wall Street Journal (Tues., May 16, 2017): A11.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date May 15, 2017, and has the title “YOUR HEALTH; Where Kids Aren’t Allowed to Put on Sunscreen: in School.”)

“Hubs of Genius Do Not Arise from Government Planning”

(p. 13) In the early 1960s, the Soviet Union tried to make a version of Silicon Valley from scratch. A city called Zelenograd came to life on the outskirts of Moscow and was populated with all manner of brainy Soviet engineers. The hope — naturally — was that a concentration of clever minds coupled with ample funding would result in a wellspring of innovation and help Russia keep pace with California’s electronics boom. The experiment worked as well as one might expect. Few people will read this on a Mayakovsky-branded tablet or ­smartphone.
Many similar attempts have been made in the subsequent dec­ades to replicate Silicon Valley and its abundance of creativity and ingenuity. Such efforts have largely failed. It seems near impossible to will an exceptional place into being or to manufacture the conditions that lead to an outpouring of genius.
. . .
As in the case of Zelenograd, hubs of genius do not arise from government planning or by acting on the observations of a traveler. They’re happy accidents. To attempt to clone such things or pinpoint their characteristics is futile.

For the full review, see:
ASHLEE VANCE. “Smart Sites.” The New York Times Book Review (Sun., JAN. 10, 2016): 13.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the review has the date JAN. 8, 2016, and has the title “”The Geography of Genius,’ by Eric Weiner.”)

The book under review, is:
Weiner, Eric. The Geography of Genius: A Search for the World’s Most Creative Places from Ancient Athens to Silicon Valley. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2016.

On-Site Work “Is a Remnant of the Industrial Era”

(p. B5) Studies show that when employees have the choice to work remotely, “business is a whole lot better” for “people, the planet and profit,” said Kate Lister, president of Global Workplace Analytics, a consulting firm that focuses on emerging workplace trends.
Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report, released in February [2017], showed that more American employees were working remotely and for longer periods. The “sweet spot” was employees who spend three to four days a week off site; they reported feeling most engaged at work.
Mohammed Chahdi, global human resources services director for Dell, said a large percentage of its 140,000 employees already worked remotely and the goal was to have 50 percent do so by 2020. The strategy has helped the company “grow smart,” he said, by reducing its real estate and environmental footprints and retaining talented employees.
“We have data that show employees are more engaged when they enjoy flexibility,” said Mr. Chahdi, who works remotely from Toronto. “Why insist that they be in an office when it simply doesn’t matter?”
A new study, Future Workforce, released in February [2017] by Upwork, a marketplace for online work, surveyed more than 1,000 hiring managers in the United States. It found that only one in 10 believed location was important to a new hire’s success; nearly two-thirds said they had at least some workers who did a significant portion of their work from a remote location, and about half agreed that they had trouble finding the talent they needed locally.
“Remote work has gone mainstream,” said Stephane Kasriel, Upwork’s chief executive. On-site work between the hours of 9 and 5 “is a remnant of the industrial era.”

For the full story, see:
TANYA MOHN. “ITINERARIES; Digital Nomads Wander World Without Missing a Paycheck.” The New York Times (Tues., APRIL 4, 2017): B5.
(Note: bracketed years added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date APRIL 3, 2017, and has the title “ITINERARIES; The Digital Nomad Life: Combining Work and Travel.”)

Geoengineering Could Cheaply and Quickly Counter Global Warming

(p. B1) Last month, scholars from the physical and social sciences who are interested in climate change gathered in Washington to discuss approaches like cooling the planet by shooting aerosols into the stratosphere or whitening clouds to reflect sunlight back into space, which may prove indispensable to prevent the disastrous consequences of warming.
Aerosols could be loaded into military jets, to be sprayed into the atmosphere at (p. B4) high altitude. Clouds at sea could be made more reflective by spraying them with a fine saline mist, drawn from the ocean.
. . .
. . . , geoengineering needs to be addressed not as science fiction, but as a potential part of the future just a few decades down the road.
“Today it is still a taboo, but it is a taboo that is crumbling,” said David Keith, a noted Harvard physicist who was an organizer of the conclave.
. . .
Geoengineering would be cheap enough that even a middle-income country could deploy it unilaterally. Some scientists have estimated that solar radiation management could cool the earth quickly for as little as $5 billion per year or so.

For the full commentary, see:
Porter, Eduardo. “ECONOMIC SCENE; To Curb Global Warming, Science Fiction May Become Fact.” The New York Times (Weds., APRIL 5, 2017): B1 & B4.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date APRIL 4, 2017, and has the title “ECONOMIC SCENE; To Curb Global Warming, Science Fiction May Become Fact.”)

Oregon Gadfly Fined for Practicing Engineering Without a License

(p. B2) Mats Jarlstrom acknowledges that he is unusually passionate about traffic signals — and that his zeal is not particularly appreciated by Oregon officials.
His crusade to make traffic lights remain yellow longer — which began after his wife received a red-light camera ticket — has drawn some interest among transportation specialists and the media. But among the power brokers in his hometown, Beaverton, it has elicited ridicule and exasperation.
“They literally laughed at me at City Hall,” Mr. Jarlstrom recalled of a visit there in 2013, when he tried to share his ideas with city counselors and the police chief.
Worse still was getting hit recently with a $500 fine for engaging in the “practice of engineering” without a license while pressing his cause. So last week, Mr. Jarlstrom filed a civil rights lawsuit in federal court against the Oregon State Board of Examiners for Engineering and Land Surveying, charging the state’s licensing panel with violating his First Amendment rights.
“I was working with simple mathematics and applying it to the motion of a vehicle and explaining my research,” said Mr. Jarlstrom, 56. “By doing so, they declared I was illegal.”
The lawsuit is the latest and perhaps most novel shot in the continuing campaign against the proliferation of state licensing laws that can require costly training and fees before people can work. Mr. Jarlstrom is being represented by the Institute for Justice, a libertarian organization partly funded by the billionaire brothers and activists Charles G. and David H. Koch.

For the full story, see:
PATRICIA COHEN. “Crusader Fined for Doing Math Without License.” The New York Times (Mon., May 1, 2017): B2.
(Note: the online version of the story has the date APRIL 30, 2017, and has the title “Yellow-Light Crusader Fined for Doing Math Without a License.”)

FDR’s Attorney General Warned Black Newspapers That He Would “Shut Them All Up”

(p. 12) . . . as the former Chicago Defender editor and reporter Ethan Michaeli shows in his extraordinary history, “The Defender,” the Negro press barons attacked military segregation with a zeal that set Roosevelt’s teeth on edge. The Negro press warned black men against Navy recruiters who would promise them training as radiomen, technicians or mechanics — then put them to work serving food to white men. It made its readers understand that black men and women in uniform were treated worse in Southern towns than German prisoners of war and sometimes went hungry on troop trains because segregationists declined to feed them. It focused unflinchingly on the fistfights and gun battles that erupted between blacks and whites on military bases. And it reiterated the truth that no doubt cut Roosevelt the most deeply: His government’s insistence on racial separation was of a piece with the “master race” theory put in play by Hitler in Europe.
This was not the first time The Defender and its sister papers had attacked institutional racism. That part of the story begins with Robert S. Abbott, the transplanted Southerner who created The Defender in 1905 and fashioned it into a potent weapon.
. . .
The black press was considerably more powerful and self-assured by 1940, when Abbott died and his nephew John H. Sengstacke succeeded him.
. . .
Things stood thus in 1942, when Sengstacke traveled to Washington to meet with Attorney General Francis Biddle. Sengstacke found Biddle in a conference room, sitting at a table across which was spread copies of black newspapers that included The Defender, The Courier and The Afro-American. Biddle said that the black papers were flirting with sedition and threatened to “shut them all up.”

For the full review, see:
BRENT STAPLES. “‘A ‘Most Dangerous’ Newspaper.” The New York Times Book Review (Sun., JAN. 10, 2016): 12.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the review has the date JAN. 4, 2016, and has the title “”The Defender,’ by Ethan Michaeli.”)

The book under review, is:
Michaeli, Ethan. The Defender: How the Legendary Black Newspaper Changed America. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016.