In a front page article on October 20, 2010, the New York Times reported on how the Chinese government encouraged a real estate investment binge that has resulted in a growing number of empty, speculatively built ghost cities. Now the video media has picked up the story in the well-done story linked to above and cited below.
Liberal columnist Frank Rich writes of the home movie “Disneyland Dream”—with a measure of eloquence, but unfortunately also with a measure of condescension and sarcasm. In the end, he believes the dream is dead.
But Rich is wrong. Disneyland is still the happiest place on earth, and Walt Disney’s entrepreneurial spirit is also still alive.
Here are a couple of the more eloquent bits of Rich (though not entirely devoid of sarcasm):
(p. 14) “Disneyland Dream” was made in the summer of 1956, shortly before the dawn of the Kennedy era. You can watch it on line at archive.org or on YouTube. Its narrative is simple. The young Barstow family of Wethersfield, Conn. — Robbins; his wife, Meg; and their three children aged 4 to 11 — enter a nationwide contest to win a free trip to Disneyland, then just a year old. The contest was sponsored by 3M, which asked contestants to submit imaginative encomiums to the wonders of its signature product. Danny, the 4-year-old, comes up with the winning testimonial, emblazoned on poster board: “I like ‘Scotch’ brand cellophane tape because when some things tear then I can just use it.”
. . .
. . . The Barstows accept as a birthright an egalitarian American capitalism where everyone has a crack at “upper class” luxury if they strive for it (or are clever enough to win it). It’s an America where great corporations like 3M can be counted upon to make innovative products, sustain an American work force, and reward their customers with a Cracker Jack prize now and then. The Barstows are delighted to discover that the restrooms in Fantasyland are marked “Prince” and “Princess.” In America, anyone can be royalty, even in the john.
“Disneyland Dream” is an irony-free zone. “For our particular family at that particular time, we agreed with Walt Disney that this was the happiest place on earth,” Barstow concludes at the film’s end, from his vantage point of 1995. He sees himself as part of “one of the most fortunate families in the world to have this marvelous dream actually come true” and is “forever grateful to Scotch brand cellophane tape for making all this possible for us.”
“A largemouth bass dominates the hatchery display at Go Fish Georgia Educational Center, a museum financed partly by the state and approved when the economy was more robust.” Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.
(p. A14) PERRY, Ga. — Every weekend, Michael Morris and his 2-year-old son, Jacob, visit this small town’s enormous new $14 million fishing museum. They watch bream and bass swim in aquarium-size tanks. They play with an interactive model of a fishing boat and try to catch fish on a computer simulation using a rod and reel connected to a video screen.
And because the museum, the Go Fish Georgia Educational Center, is primarily financed by the state, their father-and-son outings cost only $5.
. . .
But not all Georgia taxpayers are so thrilled. Even before the museum opened in October, “Go Fish” had become shorthand in state political circles for wasteful spending. Republicans and Democrats alike groaned over $1.6 million a year in bond payments and operating costs. And even supporters concede that the museum would never have gotten financed in 2007 if the legislature knew where the economy was headed.
. . .
And then there is the controversy over the museum’s location — in the home county of its main supporter, former Gov. Sonny Perdue, a Republican who left office this month after two terms.
(p. 26) He was a lonely ghost uttering a truth that nobody would ever hear. But so long as he uttered it, in some obscure way the continuity was not broken. It was not by making yourself heard but by staying sane that you carried on the human heritage.
Orwell, George. Nineteen Eighty-Four. New York: The New American Library, 1961 .
“Humphrey Bogart starred in “The Maltese Falcon” in 1941.” Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.
(p. C4) He was the very image of the quintessential American hero — loyal, unsentimental, plain-spoken. An idealist wary of causes and ideology. A romantic who hid his deeper feelings beneath a tough veneer. A renegade who subscribed to an unshakeable code of honor.
(p. A18) WOODSIDE, Calif. — There may not be an app for it, but Steve Jobs did have a permit. And with that, his epic battle to tear down his own house is finally over.
For the better part of the last decade, Mr. Jobs, the co-founder and chief executive of Apple, has been trying to demolish a sprawling, Spanish-style mansion he owns here in Woodside, a tony and techie enclave some 30 miles south of San Francisco, in hopes of building a new, smaller home on the lot. His efforts, however, had been delayed by legal challenges and cries for preservation of the so-called Jackling House, which was built in the 1920s for another successful industrialist: Daniel Jackling, whose money was in copper, not silicon.
. . .
“Steve Jobs knew about the historic significance of the house,” Mr. Turner said. “And unfortunately he disregarded it.”
Mr. Turner said the mansion, which had 35 rooms in nearly 15,000 square feet of interior space, was significant in part because it was built by George Washington Smith, an architect who is known for his work in California. But Mr. Jobs had been dismissive of Mr. Smith’s talents, calling the house “one of the biggest abominations” he had ever seen.
Source of graph: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.
(p. B1) While inefficiency and bureaucracy are nothing new in India, analysts and executives say foreign investors have lately been spooked by a highly publicized government corruption scandal over the awarding of wireless communications licenses. Another reason for thinking twice is a corporate tax battle between Indian officials and the British company Vodafone now before India’s Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, the inflation rate — 8.2 percent and rising — seems beyond the control of India’s central bank and has done nothing to reassure foreign investors.
And multinationals initially lured by India’s growth narrative may find that the realities of the Indian marketplace tell a more vexing story. Some companies, including the insurer MetLife and the retailing giant Wal-Mart, for example, are eager to invest and expand here but have been waiting years for policy makers to let them.
(p. 280) In recent years, police have practically barricaded the marshalling yard in Calais, France,where the elegant Eurostar train must slow down before it enters the Channel Tunnel to England. Today the Calais marshalling yard for the Channel Tunnel looks like what the military might erect around a flying-saucer wreckage–barbed wire, electric fences, armed guards, and police dogs everywhere. Yet each night as darkness falls desperate men from the developing world, Africans and Pakistanis and Afghans and others, hide throughout the marshalling yard, sprint toward the Eurostar as it slows for the tunnel, and try to cling to its side as it accelerates again. They hope to survive until the train bears (p. 281) them into the United Kingdom, for French law treats illegal immigrants harshly, while England is more liberal. Numerous indigent developing-world men have been killed when they have slipped off the sides or the couplers of Eurostar, then fallen beneath its wheels; the stylish passengers aboard the train may feel a slight bump. Yet the men keep trying, though most must know there is hardly anything on this aerodynamically sleek train to grab hold of. Many are arrested as they dash toward the train and the favored life it represents. If released, they return to dash again. If deported, they try to sneak back into the country and dash again.
Easterbrook, Gregg. The Progress Paradox: How Life Gets Better While People Feel Worse. Paperback ed. New York: Random House, 2004.
“One surprise hit was “Inception,” with Leonardo DiCaprio.” Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.
I thought the movie “Inception” was a wonderful, intellectual and adventure thrill ride. And if memory serves, what they were trying to instill in the conflicted inheritor of a monopoly, was that he should become more entrepreneurial.
(p. B1) As Hollywood plowed into 2010, there was plenty of clinging to the tried and true: humdrum remakes like “The Wolfman” and “The A-Team”; star vehicles like “Killers” with Ashton Kutcher and “The Tourist” with Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp; and shoddy sequels like “Sex and the City 2.” All arrived at theaters with marketing thunder intended to fill multiplexes on opening weekend, no matter the quality of the film. “Sex and the City 2,” for example, had marketed “girls’ night out” premieres and bottomless stacks of merchandise like thong underwear.
But the audience pushed back. One by one, these expensive yet middle-of-the-road pictures delivered disappointing results or flat-out flopped. Meanwhile, gambles on original concepts paid off. “Inception,” a complicated thriller about dream invaders, racked up more than $825 million in global ticket sales; “The Social Network” has so far delivered $192 million, a stellar result for a highbrow drama.
As a result, studios are finally and fully conceding that moviegoers, armed with Facebook and other networking tools and concerned about escalating ticket prices, are holding them to higher standards. The product has to be good.
(p. 10) In a typical semester, . . . , 32 percent of the students did not take a single course with more than 40 pages of reading per week, and 50 percent did not take any course requiring more than 20 pages of writing over the semester. The average student spent only about 12 to 13 hours per week studying — about half the time a full-time college student in 1960 spent studying, according to the labor economists Philip S. Babcock and Mindy S. Marks.
Not surprisingly, a large number of the students showed no significant progress on tests of critical thinking, complex reasoning and writing that were administered when they began college and then again at the ends of their sophomore and senior years. If the test that we used, the Collegiate Learning Assessment, were scaled on a traditional 0-to-100 point range, 45 percent of the students would not have demonstrated gains of even one point over the first two years of college, and 36 percent would not have shown such gains over four years of college.
. . .
Too many institutions, . . . , rely primarily on student course evaluations to assess teaching. This creates perverse incentives for professors to demand little and give out good grades. (Indeed, the 36 percent of students in our study who reported spending five or fewer hours per week studying alone still had an average G.P.A. of 3.16.) On those commendable occasions when professors and academic departments do maintain rigor, they risk declines in student enrollments. And since resources are typically distributed based on enrollments, rigorous classes are likely to be canceled and rigorous programs shrunk.
Back when I was a child, decades ago, my family opposed the fluoridation of public water supplies on the grounds that there might be health risks, and people could individually choose to apply fluoride to their teeth.
Well, now the government is suggesting that too much fluoride can harm children’s teeth, and that the target level for fluoride in the water should be reduced.
(p. A3) The federal government lowered its recommended limit on the amount of fluoride in drinking water for the first time in nearly 50 years, saying that spots on some children’s teeth show they are getting too much of the mineral.
Fluoride has been added to U.S. water supplies since 1945 to prevent tooth decay. Since 1962, the government has recommended adding a range of 0.7 milligrams to 1.2 milligrams per liter.
. . .
A study conducted between 1999 and 2004 by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 41% of children between the ages of 12 and 15 exhibited signs of dental fluorosis, a spotting or streaking on the teeth. That was up from nearly 23% found in a study from 1986 and 1987.
. . .
. . . for years, some groups have called for an end to fluoridation, arguing that it poses serious health dangers, including increased risk of bone fractures and of decreased thyroid function. Friday’s announcement did little to appease such critics.
“The only rational course of action is to stop water fluoridation,” said Paul Connett, executive director of the Fluoride Action Network, a nonprofit advocacy and fluoride-education group