“Leapfrog Over the Other Players in Their Industry”

(p. 152) The early market is driven by the demands of visionaries for offerings that create dramatic competitive advantages of the sort that would allow them to leapfrog over the other players in their industry.

Moore, Geoffrey A. Living on the Fault Line: Managing for Shareholder Value in the Age of the Internet. 1st ed. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., 2000.

Growing the Nanny State: California Senate Bans Helium Balloons

BalloonEffigyJackScott.jpg “Don Caldwell, who made an effigy of California state Sen. Jack Scott in protest of his proposed balloon ban, with his wife, Laura.” Source of caption and photo: online version of the WSJ article quoted and cited below.

(p. A1) California state Sen. Jack Scott says he didn’t intend to “be a party pooper.” It’s just that helium-filled foil balloons — like those found at hospital gift shops and office parties — are dangerous. They float into electric lines and cause power outages, more than 800 in California last year, utilities say.

He drafted a bill to ban foil balloons; it sailed through the state Senate and now awaits a vote in the Assembly.
He didn’t expect the issue to blow up the way it did.
Last month, at a pro-balloon rally in a Pasadena park, protesters cheered as a group of children pounced on an effigy of Mr. Scott — made entirely of balloons.
“There’s a leg, get that leg!” shouted John Kobylt, a radio talk-show host who broadcast the protest live. “Look what’s left of him!” he said, holding up a sagging cluster of punctured latex. “That’s what happens when you ban our balloons.”
Wedding planners, party organizers and balloon artists all rallied to the cause. The industry body, the Balloon Council, set up a Web site — www.savetheballoons.com — that urges people to contact their state representatives. Members began a grass-roots campaign to garner support.
“My first reaction to this was, ‘You’ve got to be kidding. Is this a joke?'” recalled Barry Broad, the lobbyist they hired to spearhead the pro-balloon effort. “Balloons (p. A16) and ice-cream cones are associated with the lighthearted parts of life, and now suddenly they have this evil-twin side?”

For the full story, see:
AMY KAUFMAN. “California Targets New Menace: Helium-Filled Foil Balloons; State Senate Sees Danger and Cracks Down, But Party Planners Fight Back; the $100 Fine.” The Wall Street Journal (Tues., July 15, 2008): A1 & A16.

Schumpeter Saw Keynes’ Work as a “Striking Example” of “the Ricardian Vice”

McCraw on Schumpeter’s History of Economic Analysis:

(p. 460) . . . , Schumpeter compared Keynes to David Ricardo: “His work, is a striking example of what we have called above the Ricardian Vice, namely, the habit of piling a heavy load of practical conclusions upon a tenuous groundwork, which was unequal to it yet seemed in its simplicity not only attractive but also convincing. All this goes a long way though not the whole way toward answering the questions that always interest us, namely the questions what it is in a man’s message that makes people listen to him, and why and how.”

McCraw, Thomas K. Prophet of Innovation: Joseph Schumpeter and Creative Destruction. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press, 2007.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: italics in original.)

George W. Bush: The Real Dark Knight


The movie version of the Dark Knight. Source of photo: online version of the WSJ commentary quoted below.

(p. A15) A cry for help goes out from a city beleaguered by violence and fear: A beam of light flashed into the night sky, the dark symbol of a bat projected onto the surface of the racing clouds . . .
Oh, wait a minute. That’s not a bat, actually. In fact, when you trace the outline with your finger, it looks kind of like . . . a “W.”
There seems to me no question that the Batman film “The Dark Knight,” currently breaking every box office record in history, is at some level a paean of praise to the fortitude and moral courage that has been shown by George W. Bush in this time of terror and war. Like W, Batman is vilified and despised for confronting terrorists in the only terms they understand. Like W, Batman sometimes has to push the boundaries of civil rights to deal with an emergency, certain that he will re-establish those boundaries when the emergency is past.
And like W, Batman understands that there is no moral equivalence between a free society — in which people sometimes make the wrong choices — and a criminal sect bent on destruction. The former must be cherished even in its moments of folly; the latter must be hounded to the gates of Hell.

For the full commentary, see:
ANDREW KLAVAN. “What Bush and Batman Have in Common.” The Wall Street Journal (Fri., July 25, 2008): A15.
(Note: ellipses in original.)

Chinese Prometheus: Executing the Inventor of Airplane

Here is a significant claim from “an elderly Chinese professor” (p. 76) who was talking to Robert Payne in 1943. Payne was “a writer and teacher who befriended Needham in China.” The passage is quoted in an entertaining new book by Simon Winchester.

(p. 77) “. . .; we invented an airplane, and quite rightly executed the inventor; . . . “

Winchester, Simon. The Man Who Loved China: The Fantastic Story of the Eccentric Scientist Who Unlocked the Mysteries of the Middle Kingdom. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., 2008.

Winchester does not document his source for the quote, but it is presumably one of these two books by Payne, that are listed in Winchester’s bibliography:
Payne, Robert. Chinese Diaries 1941-1946. New York: Weybright and Talley, 1945.
Payne, Robert. Chungking Diary. London: Weybright and Talley, 1945.

Leapfrog Competition Among Three Firms in Jet-Engine Oligopoly

GearedTurboFanEnginePrattWhitney.jpg “Pratt & Whitney hopes its Geared Turbo Fan engine will defy skeptics and win it a spot on the next generation of jets from Boeing and Airbus.” Source of the caption and photo: online version of the WSJ article quoted and cited below.

(p. B1) Once every 20 years or so, the companies that make jet engines battle it out for a chance to power the next generation of single-aisle airplanes.
. . .
General Electric Co. unveiled plans to develop a new family of engine cores that it said would vault it ahead of United Technologies Corp.’s Pratt & Whitney, which has a two-year head start on a novel engine that promises to burn 12% less fuel than today’s best engines.
GE, which is working with French partner Safran SA, said its engine will have fewer moving parts than Pratt & Whitney’s, and will deliver equal or better performance. “We’ve been pretty quiet for the last couple of years, but we’ve been doing plenty of work in secret,” said GE Aviation President David Joyce, in an interview. “So be it. Game on.”
. . .
Besides GE and Pratt & Whitney, the other major player in the industry is Britain’s Rolls-Royce PLC. Hoping to dominate the market, all three companies plan to spend well over $1 billion on their new engines, stretching the limits of their technology. Developing fuel-efficient engines requires the use of exotic alloys and ceramic coatings that can cope with internal engine temperatures that would be above the melting points of untreated metal components.
The next generation of engines may look radically different from those used today. One design that GE and Rolls-Royce are exploring separately would have a double row of propellers at the (p. B3) back end of the engine, with no protective covering. Such an engine would be noisier and significantly slower than today’s planes. It also would have to be mounted at the rear of the airplane, but the companies say it would consume as much as 24% less fuel.
. . .
Pratt & Whitney had hoped to get a boost in the engine race by promoting a design called the Geared Turbo Fan. It uses a gearbox at the front of the engine that allow various fans and compressors to turn at different speeds for greater efficiency and less noise. . . .
. . .
The company has been working on the gear technology for almost 20 years, investing almost $1 billion so far, Mr. Finger said. He said that in addition to fuel and emissions savings, the new engine will cut noise by a factor of two and reduce maintenance by 40% because it will have fewer moving parts throughout the engine.

For the full story, see:
J. LYNN LUNSFORD and DANIEL MICHAELS. “Jet-Engine Makers Launch New War; Billions of Dollars at Stake in Race To Develop Efficient Power Source For Next Wave of Boeing, Airbus Planes.” The Wall Street Journal (Mon., July 14, 2008): B1 & B3.
(Note: ellipses added.)

GearedTurboFanEnginePrattWhitneyDiagram.jpg “GE is creating an engine with fewer moving parts than Pratt & Whitney’s design, and seeks to deliver equal or better performance.” Source of the caption and photo: online version of the WSJ article quoted and cited above.

McCraw Calls Schumpeter’s History of Economic Analysis “an Epic Analytical Narrative”

McCraw on Schumpeter’s History of Economic Analysis:

(p. 461) History of Economic Analysis succeeds where much economic writing or our own time fails, having sacrificed the messy humanity of its subject on the alter of mathematical rigor. Above all else, Schumpeter’s History is an epic analytical narrative. It is about real human beings, moored in their own time, struggling like characters in a a novel to resolve difficult problems. Sometimes the problems (p. 462) are purely intellectual. Sometimes they are issues of public policy. Often they are both. But what Schumpeter was trying to do—and in fact did—was answer the deceptively simple question he posed in the early pages of his book: to discover “how economists have come to reason as they do.”

McCraw, Thomas K. Prophet of Innovation: Joseph Schumpeter and Creative Destruction. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press, 2007.