Home Decorators Are Stockpiling Incandescent Bulbs to Thwart Feds’ Edict


“David Brooks, of Just Bulbs in Manhattan, has a customer who is secretly ordering thousands of incandescent bulbs. “She doesn’t want her husband to know,” he said.” Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.

(p. D1) BUNNY WILLIAMS, the no-nonsense decorator known for her lush English-style rooms, is laying in light bulbs like canned goods. Incandescent bulbs, that is — 60 and 75 watters — because she likes a double-cluster lamp with a high- and a low-watt bulb, one for reading, one for mood.

“Every time I go to Costco, I buy more wattage,” Ms. Williams said the other day. She is as green as anybody, she added, but she can’t abide the sickly hue of a twisty compact fluorescent bulb, though she’s tried warming it up with shade liners in creams and pinks. Nor does she care for the cool blue of an LED.
It should be noted that, like most decorators, Ms. Williams is extremely precise about light. The other day, she reported, she spent six hours fine-tuning the lighting plan of a project, tweaking the mix of ambient, directional and overhead light she had designed, and returning to the house after dusk to add wattage and switch out lamps like a chef adjusting the flavors in a complicated bouillabaisse.
She is aware that there is legislation that is going to affect the manufacture of incandescent bulbs, but she’s not clear on the details, and she wants to make sure she has what she needs when she needs it.
. . .
(p. D7) Other hoarders are hiding their behavior. David Brooks, who owns Just Bulbs on East 60th Street, said he has a customer in Tennessee who is buying up 60- and 100-watt soft-pink incandescent bulbs from G.E. and Sylvania for her three houses. Initially, she ordered 432 bulbs for each house, he said. Then she ordered another 1,000.
Mr. Brooks said the customer doesn’t want her husband to find out, and wouldn’t agree to speak to this reporter. The last order is destined, he said, “for a friend’s house that she is helping to redecorate in Alabama. She doesn’t want anyone to know her source.”

For the full story, see:
PENELOPE GREEN. “Light Bulb Saving Time.” The New York Times (Thurs., May 26, 2011): D1 & D7.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the story is dated May 25, 2011.)

Government Administrators Steal Money, Food and Benefits from Poor in India

(p. A8) NEW DELHI — India spends more on programs for the poor than most developing countries, but it has failed to eradicate poverty because of widespread corruption and faulty government administration, the World Bank said Wednesday.
. . .
One of the primary problems, the World Bank said, was “leakages” — an often-used term in development circles that refers to government administrators and middle men stealing money, food and benefits. The bank said that 59 percent of the grain allotted for public distribution to the poor does not reach those households.

For the full story, see:
“India’s Anti-Poverty Programs Are Big but Troubled.” The New York Times (Thurs., May 19, 2011): A8.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the story is dated May 18, 2011, has the title “India’s Anti-Poverty Programs Are Big but Troubled,” is attributed to Heather Timmons, and is considerably more detailed than the published version.)

Chinese Government Created Real Estate Bubble in a Dozen Ghost Towns Like Kangbashi Area of Ordos

KangbashiRealEstateBubble2011-06-02.jpg“As China’s roaring economy fuels a wild construction boom around the country, critics cite places like Kangbashi as proof of a speculative real estate bubble they warn will eventually burst.” Source of photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below. Source of caption: online version of the NYT slideshow that accompanied the online article quoted and cited below.

The October 19, 2010 New York Times front page story (quoted below) on the Ordos ghost town in China, was finally picked up by the TV media on May 30 in a nice NBC Today Show report.
It should be clear that the Chinese real estate bubble will burst, just as real estate bubbles eventually burst in places like Japan and the United States. What is not clear is what the effects will be on the Chinese and world economies.

(p. A1) Ordos proper has 1.5 million residents. But the tomorrowland version of Ordos — built from scratch on a huge plot of empty land 15 miles south of the old city — is all but deserted.

Broad boulevards are unimpeded by traffic in the new district, called Kangbashi New Area. Office buildings stand vacant. Pedestrians are in short supply. And weeds are beginning to sprout up in luxury villa developments that are devoid of residents.
. . .
(p. A4) As China’s roaring economy fuels a wild construction boom around the country, critics cite places like Kangbashi as proof of a speculative real estate bubble they warn will eventually pop — sending shock waves through the banking system of a country that for the last two years has been the prime engine of global growth.
. . .
Analysts estimate there could be as many as a dozen other Chinese cities just like Ordos, with sprawling ghost town annexes. In the southern city of Kunming, for example, a nearly 40-square-mile area called Chenggong has raised alarms because of similarly deserted roads, high-rises and government offices. And in Tianjin, in the northeast, the city spent lavishly on a huge district festooned with golf courses, hot springs and thousands of villas that are still empty five years after completion.
. . .
In 2004, with Ordos tax coffers bulging with coal money, city officials drew up a bold expansion plan to create Kangbashi, a 30-minute drive south of the old city center on land adjacent to one of the region’s few reservoirs. . . .
In the ensuing building spree, home buyers could not get enough of Kangbashi and its residential developments with names like Exquisite Silk Village, Kanghe Elysees and Imperial Academic Gardens.
Some buyers were like Zhang Ting, a 26-year-old entrepreneur who is a rare actual resident of Kangbashi, having moved to Ordos this year on an entrepreneurial impulse.
“I bought two places in Kangbashi, one for my own use and one as an investment,” said Mr. Zhang, who paid about $125,000 for his 2,000-square-foot investment apartment. “I bought it because housing prices will definitely go up in such a new town. There is no reason to doubt it. The government has already moved in.”
Asked whether he worried about the lack of other residents, Mr. Zhang shrugged off the question.
“I know people say it’s an empty city, but I don’t find any inconveniences living by myself,” said Mr. Zhang, who borrowed to finance his purchases. . . .

For the full story, see:
DAVID BARBOZA. “A City Born of China’s Boom, Still Unpeopled.” The New York Times (Weds., October 19, 2010): A1 & A4.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the commentary is dated October 19, 2010 and has the title “Chinese City Has Many Buildings, but Few People.”)


Source of graph: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited above.

“If You Could Choose, Would You Prefer to Live Then or Now?”

(p. 78) ‘Perhaps I have not made myself clear,’ he said. ‘What I’m trying to say is this. You have been alive a very long time; you lived half your life before the Revolution. In 1925, for instance, you were already grown up. Would you say from what you can remember, that life in 1925 was better than it is now, or worse? If you could choose, would you prefer to live then or now?’

Orwell, George. Nineteen Eighty-Four. New York: The New American Library, 1961 [1949].

By Canadian law, 1984 is no longer under copyright. The text has been posted on the following Canadian web site: http://wikilivres.info/wiki/Nineteen_Eighty-Four

To Teach the Truth, the Best Teachers Must Become “Canny Outlaws”


Source of book image: http://www.swarthmore.edu/Images/news/practical_wisdom.jpg

(p. 170) Walking into Mr. Drew’s economics class, researchers might have interrupted a board meeting of the student-run start-up company that was at the heart of his course. Drawing on his own experience in industry, Mr. Drew taught students economic principles in a way that made sense to them because they were researching
potential products they would actually sell (a mug with the school logo; a T-shirt designed by a student graphics team). They were conducting market surveys, accumulating capital, making decisions about the scale of investment, the risk, the profits.
. . .
In Houston. the magnet schools were forced to reorganize to prepare for the coming White-Perot reforms. McNeil changed her study. The new question was: How would these teachers cope with a curriculum that was test-driven?
. . .
Mr. Drew’s economics class did not conform to the proficiency sequence and he had to drop the course, except as an elective.
. . .
The paperwork required by such new requirements–to assure the bureaucracy that teachers were teaching by the rules–discouraged individualized time spent with students and robbed time previously devoted to planning and assessing lessons. The requirements created the same kind of time bind Wong observed when such requirements were imposed on military trainers. (p. 171) And, as in the case of the new military training model, the new requirements discouraged flexibility, adaptability, and creativity.
McNeil found that many of the experienced teachers fought back. They became canny outlaws, or creative saboteurs, dodging the “law,” finding ways to cover the “proficiencies” with great efficiency and squirreling away time to sneak real education back in at the margins of the standardized system, sometimes even conspiring with their students or teaching them how to “game” the system. Mr. Drew taught his students that economic cycles vary in length and intensity, but in the test prep period, he told them to forget this because the official answer was that each cycle lasts eighteen months. There was a danger that students who learned to look beyond the obvious, to ask “what if,” to look for the exceptions to the rules, would do badly on the tests.
. . .
The ability of wise teachers to operate as canny outlaws is most seriously constrained when a highly scripted curriculum comes riding into town on the heels of high-stakes standardized tests. By prescribing, step by step, what to say and do each day to prepare students for these tests, such lockstep curricula pose a serious challenge to professional discretion. Yet even under these adverse conditions, in many schools there are canny
outlaws who find ways to avoid being channeled.

Schwartz, Barry, and Kenneth Sharpe. Practical Wisdom: The Right Way to Do the Right Thing. New York: Riverhead Books, 2010.
(Note: ellipses added.)

The McNeil book mentioned above is:
Linda, McNeil. Contradictions of School Reform: Educational Costs of Standardized Testing, Critical Social Thought. New York: Routledge, 2000.

The Wong report mentioned above is:
Wong, Leonard. “Stifled Innovation? Developing Tomorrow’s Leaders Today.” Strategic Studies Institute Monograph, April 1, 2002.


Source of book image: http://i43.tower.com/images/mm101682007/contradictions-school-reform-educational-costs-standardized-testing-linda-m-mcneil-paperback-cover-art.jpg

Denmark (Yes, Sanctimoniously ‘Green’ Denmark) Seeks to Exploit the BENEFITS of Global Warming

(p. A7) Denmark plans to lay claim to parts of the North Pole and other areas in the Arctic, where melting ice is uncovering new shipping routes, fishing grounds and drilling opportunities for oil and gas, a leaked government document showed Tuesday.

For the full story, see:
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. “WORLD BRIEFING | EUROPE; Denmark: Leaked Document Reveals Plans to Claim Parts of the North Pole.” The New York Times (Weds., May 18, 2011): A7.
(Note: the online version of the story is dated May 17, 2011.)

“When There Is a Massive Release of Methane, the Ocean Can Compensate”

KesslerJohnBiologist2011-05-19.jpg “Dr. John Kessler, lead author of the study, examining a water sample.” Source of caption and photo: online version of the WSJ article quoted and cited below.

(p. A3) Bacteria made quick work of the tons of methane that billowed into the Gulf of Mexico along with oil from the Deepwater Horizon blowout, clearing the natural gas from the waterway within months of its release, researchers reported Friday.

The federally funded field study, published online in the journal Science, offers peer-reviewed evidence that naturally occurring microbes in the Gulf devoured significant amounts of toxic chemicals in natural gas and oil spewing from the seafloor, which researchers had thought would persist in the region’s water chemistry for years.
“Within a matter of months, the bacteria completely removed that methane,”said microbiologist David Valentine at the University of California at Santa Barbara. “The bacteria kicked on more effectively than we expected,” he said.
. . .
“We were shocked,” said chemical oceanographer John Kessler at Texas A&M, who was the lead author of the Science study. “We thought the methane would be around for years.”
. . .
“They showed that, even when there is a massive release of methane, the ocean can compensate,” said federal microbiologist Terry Hazen at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, who has long championed the use of methane-oxidizing microbes to biodegrade oil spills.

For the full story, see:
ROBERT LEE HOTZ. “Microbes Mopped Up After Spill; Bacteria Swiftly Devoured Methane Unleashed Into the Gulf of Mexico, Study Says.” The Wall Street Journal (Fri., January 7, 2011): A3.
(Note: ellipses added.)

The Science article mentioned above, is:
Kessler, John D., David L. Valentine, Molly C. Redmond, Mengran Du, Eric W. Chan, Stephanie D. Mendes, Erik W. Quiroz, Christie J. Villanueva, Stephani S. Shusta, Lindsay M. Werra, Shari A. Yvon-Lewis, and Thomas C. Weber. “A Persistent Oxygen Anomaly Reveals the Fate of Spilled Methane in the Deep Gulf of Mexico.” Science (Jan. 6, 2011).


Source of graph: online version of the WSJ article quoted and cited above.

Orwell’s Indictment of Life Under Communism

(p. 52) He meditated resentfully on the physical texture of life. Had it always been like this? Had food always tasted like this? He looked round the canteen. A low-ceilinged, crowded room, its walls grimy from the contact of innumerable bodies; battered metal tables and chairs, placed so close together that you sat with elbows touching; bent spoons, dented trays, coarse white mugs; all surfaces greasy, grime in every crack; and a sourish, composite smell of bad gin and bad coffee and metallic stew and dirty clothes. Always in your stomach and in your skin there was a sort of protest, a feeling that you had been cheated of something that you had a right to. It was true that he had no memories of anything greatly different. In any time that he could accurately remember, there had never been quite enough to eat, one had never had socks or underclothes that were not full of holes, furniture had always been battered and rickety, rooms underheated, tube trains crowded, houses falling to pieces, bread dark-coloured, tea a rarity, coffee filthy-tasting, cigarettes insufficient–nothing cheap and plentiful except synthetic gin. And though, of course, it grew worse as one’s body aged, was it not a sign that this was NOT the natural order of things, if one’s heart sickened at the discomfort and dirt and scarcity, the interminable winters, the stickiness of one’s socks, the lifts that never worked, the cold water, the gritty soap, the cigarettes that came to pieces, the food with its strange evil tastes? Why should one feel it to be intolerable unless one had some kind of ancestral memory that things had once been different?

Orwell, George. Nineteen Eighty-Four. New York: The New American Library, 1961 [1949].

By Canadian law, 1984 is no longer under copyright. The text has been posted on the following Canadian web site: http://wikilivres.info/wiki/Nineteen_Eighty-Four