Rudderless Russians Admire Stalin, Jobs, Gates and Gandhi

(p. A13) What makes Chelyabinsk compelling is its people. They are largely decent and undeniably intelligent, protective of what they have achieved, wary of the unknown, and, above all, clever and flexible at adapting to changing times. In a word, they are . . . wily men (and women) . . .
. . .
Perhaps most telling is Alexander, who lives in a village five hours from the city. He admires Mr. Putin and the system the president has built, even as he complains that corruption is rife, governance is poor, and the local economy is held back by an overbearing and rapacious state. Alexander’s criticisms mirror those of the citizens in the book who consider themselves dissidents and activists, though Alexander would never consider himself either one. “He is proud of Putin,” Ms. Garrels writes, “and between him and those who dread their country’s current course, there is an unbridgeable divide.”
This sort of internal contradiction isn’t unique to Alexander. Many of the Russians Ms. Garrels meets hold views that seem impossible to reconcile. She cites polls that show that two-thirds of ethnic Russians call themselves Orthodox believers, but many of those very same people say that they do not believe in God. At one point, the author visits a prestigious state secondary school where the students offer a curious mix of heroes: Joseph Stalin, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Gandhi. The search for a post-Soviet ideology has, in Chelyabinsk and across Russia, led to a strange mishmash, at once faithful and mystical, distrustful and fatalistic.

For the full review, see:
JOSHUA YAFFA. “BOOKSHELF; Russia’s Wily Men and Women; Russians hold views that seem impossible to reconcile. Students at a reputable school offer a curious mix of heroes: Stalin and Steve Jobs.” The Wall Street Journal (Mon., April 18, 2016): A13.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the review has the date April 17, 2016.)

The book under review, is:
Garrels, Anne. Putin Country: A Journey into the Real Russia. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2016.

Wild Turkeys, Reintroduced by Government, Now Threaten Government Mail Delivery

(p. A25) HILLSDALE, N.J. — In some neighborhoods of this placid New Jersey borough in Bergen County, they are seemingly everywhere — waddling by the dozen in the road, perched on car roofs, pecking at the tires of delivery trucks.
But wild turkeys, which were wiped out in the state by the mid-1800s, put on their most brazen display on Tuesday [Feb., 16, 2016], when a letter carrier felt trapped in his truck and telephoned his boss for help.
“Hey sarge,” the postmaster said in a 911 call to the Hillsdale Police Department. “You’re not going to believe this, but I got a carrier that’s being attacked by wild turkeys and won’t let him deliver the mail.”
The letter carrier, who was not identified, was inside his truck on Esplanade Drive, surrounded by four or five turkeys, when two officers arrived, according to Capt. Sean Smith of the Police Department. “The first officer attempted to blow the siren and that didn’t work,” he said on Thursday. “Then the other officer got out of his car and ran aggressively toward the turkeys and that did the trick.”
. . .
While New Jersey environmental officials say they are unaware of anyone’s being physically harmed by a turkey, the large birds are intimidating. The state’s Department of Environmental Protection, which reintroduced turkeys to the state in the 1970s, says that there are now about 25,000 statewide. “It’s a success story,” said Larry Hajna, a spokesman for the environmental agency.
. . .
. . . some local officials and residents say face-to-face turkey encounters are increasing and can be scary. The postmaster who placed the 911 call in Hillsdale told the police that the turkey situation was “crazy.” “I mean, they’re actually attacking, biting,” he said. “They chase the trucks — everything.” The police sergeant simply said, “Wow.”

For the full story, see:
LISA W. FODERARO. “Brazen as They Are Wild, Turkeys Greet Neighbors.” The New York Times (Fri., FEB. 19, 2016): A25.
(Note: ellipses, and bracketed date, added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date FEB. 18, 2016, and has the title “Turkeys, Running Amok, Are a ‘Success Story’ in New Jersey.”)

President Kenyatta Burns Ivory, Raising Its Price, and Increasing the Incentive for Poachers to Kill Elephants

If President Kenyatta wants to save elephants, instead of burning ivory, he should sell it on the open market, moving the supply curve to the right, and lowering the price of ivory. A lower price of ivory would reduce the incentive for poachers to kill elephants.

(p. 10) NAIROBI, Kenya — What do you do when you have more than $100 million worth of ivory sitting around, just collecting dust?
You burn it, of course.
That is what Kenya did on Saturday, when President Uhuru Kenyatta lit a huge pyre of elephant tusks as a way to show the world that Kenya is serious about ending the illegal ivory trade, which is threatening to push wild elephants to extinction.
“No one, and I repeat, no one, has any business in trading in ivory, for this trade means death — the death of our elephants and the death of our natural heritage,” Mr. Kenyatta said.

For the full story, see:
ELLEN BARRY. “A Year Later, Nepal Is Trapped in the Shambles of a Devastating Quake.” The New York Times, First Section (Sun., May 1, 2016): 10.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date APRIL 30, 2016, and has the title “A Year After Earthquake, Nepal’s Recovery Is Just Beginning.”)

“Robots Take Away Subhuman Jobs”

(p. A21) Joseph F. Engelberger, a visionary engineer and entrepreneur who was at the forefront of the robotics revolution, building robots for use on assembly lines and fostering another, named Seymour, to handle chores in hospitals, died on Tuesday [December 1, 2015] in Newtown, Conn. . . .
. . .
Mr. Engelberger was a force in robotics from its early days, in the 1960s, when his company, Unimation, in Danbury, Conn., developed the Unimate, a robotic arm that would greatly accelerate industrial production lines.
. . .
Labor unions and some corporate managers resisted robotics at first, worrying, as Mr. Engelberger later put it, “that the robots can take all the jobs away.”
He disagreed with that notion.
“It’s unjustified,” he told The New York Times in 1997. “The robots take away subhuman jobs which we assign to people.”
Unimate proved to be more precise than the human hand in completing some repetitive and dangerous tasks. Automobile makers employed the arm to weld and move vehicle parts, apply adhesives to windshields and spray-paint car bodies — jobs that had posed chemical hazards to workers.

For the full obituary, see:
JEREMY PEARCE. “Joseph F. Engelberger, a Leader of the Robot Revolution, Dies at 90.” The New York Times (Thurs., DEC. 3, 2015): A33.
(Note: ellipses, and bracketed date, added.)
(Note: the online version of the obituary has the date DEC. 2, 2015, and has the title “Joseph F. Engelberger, a Leader of the Robot Revolution, Dies at 90.”)