“My Fate Lies with Me, Not with Heaven”

(p. A7) . . . Dr. Unschuld, who is as blunt as he is outspoken, stands at the center of a long and contentious debate in the West over Chinese medicine. For many, it is the ur-alternative to what they see as the industrialized and chemicalized medicine that dominates in the West. For others, it is little more than charlatanism, with its successes attributed to the placebo effect and the odd folk remedy.
Dr. Unschuld is a challenge to both ways of thinking. He has just finished a 28-year English translation of the three principal parts of the foundational work of Chinese medicine: the Huangdi Neijing, or Yellow Emperor’s Inner Classic, published by the University of California Press. But unlike many of the textbooks used in Chinese medicine schools in the West, Dr. Unschuld’s works are monuments to the art of serious translation; he avoids New Age jargon like “energy” or familiar Western medical terms like “pathogens,” seeing both as unfair to the ancient writers and their worldviews.
But this reflects a deep respect for the ancient authors the detractors of Chinese medicine sometimes lack. Dr. Unschuld hunts down obscure terms and devises consistent terminologies that are sometimes not easy to read, but are faithful to the original text. Almost universally, his translations are regarded as trailblazing — making available, for the first time in a Western language, the complete foundational works of Chinese medicine from up to 2,000 years ago.
. . .
. . . then there is the issue of efficacy. With his extremely dry humor, Dr. Unschuld likens Chinese medicine to the herbal formulas of the medieval Christian mystic Hildegard von Bingen. If people want to try it, they should be free to do so, he said, but not at taxpayer expense. As for himself, Dr. Unschuld says he has never tried Chinese medicine.
. . .
His purely academic approach, . . . , makes him a difficult figure for China to embrace. While widely respected for his knowledge and translations, he has done little to advance the government’s agenda of promoting Chinese medicine as soft power. Echoing other critics, he describes China’s translations of the classics as “complete swindles,” saying they are done with little care and only a political goal in mind.
For Dr. Unschuld, Chinese medicine is far more interesting as an allegory for China’s mental state. His most famous book is a history of Chinese medical ideas, in which he sees classic figures, such as the Yellow Emperor, as a reflection of the Chinese people’s deep-seated pragmatism. At a time when demons and ghosts were blamed for illness, these Chinese works from 2,000 years ago ascribed it to behavior or disease that could be corrected or cured.
“It is a metaphor for enlightenment,” he says.
Especially striking, Dr. Unschuld says, is that the Chinese approach puts responsibility on the individual, as reflected in the statement “wo ming zai wo, bu zai tian” — “my fate lies with me, not with heaven.” This mentality was reflected on a national level in the 19th and 20th centuries, when China was being attacked by outsiders. The Chinese largely blamed themselves and sought concrete answers by studying foreign ideas, industrializing and building a modern economy.

For the full story, see:
IAN JOHNSON. “The Saturday Profile; An Expert on Chinese Medicine, but No New Age Healer.” The New York Times (Sat., SEPT. 24, 2016): A7.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date SEPT. 23, 2016, and has the title “Gandhi the Imperialist – Book Review.”)

The recently finished book mentioned above, is:
Unschuld, Paul U. Huang Di Nei Jing Ling Shu: The Ancient Classic on Needle Therapy. Oakland, CA: University of California Press, 2016.

Working Longer May Result in Longer Life

(p. D1) Retiring after age 65 may help people live longer, says a study published online in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health. The risk of dying from any cause over the study period was 11% lower among people who delayed retirement for one year–until age 66–and fell further among people who retired between the ages of 66 and 72, the study found.
Even workers who retired for health reasons had a lower risk of dying, compared with those leaving work at 65.
The benefits of remaining in the workforce occurred irrespective of gender, lifestyle, education, income and occupation, the analysis showed.
Postponing retirement may delay the natural age-related decline in physical, cognitive and mental functioning, reducing the risk of chronic illness, the study suggests.

For the full story, see:
ANN LUKITS. “RESEARCH REPORT; Retiring After 65 May Extend Life.” The Wall Street Journal (Tues., May 3, 2016): D1.
(Note: the online version of the story has the date May 2, 2016, and has the title “RESEARCH REPORT; Retiring After 65 May Help People Live Longer.”)

Wu, Chenkai, Michelle C. Odden, Gwenith G. Fisher, and Robert S. Stawski. “Association of Retirement Age with Mortality: A Population-Based Longitudinal Study among Older Adults in the USA.” Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 70, no. 9 (Sept. 2016): 917-23.

Toy Car Gives Child with Cerebral Palsy Mobility and Control

HauschildMadelineDrivingModifiedToyCar2016-09-11.jpg“Madeline Hauschild, 3, is thrilled to be at the wheel of her modified toy car at the UNMC Student Life Center on Wednesday [August 10, 2016]. Cars such as Madeline’s enable children with little mobility to get around without feeling reliant on parents or siblings.” Source of caption and photo: online version of the Omaha World-Herald article quoted and cited below.

(p. 1B) Now Madeline Hauschild will be able to drive a toy car just like her brother.

On Wednesday [August 10, 2016] Madeline, 3, received a battery-operated toy car modified so that she could sit in it and make it go forward by pushing a large button on the steering wheel. Madeline, who has cerebral palsy, was one of six small children who received cars through a program overseen by the University of Nebraska Medical Center and Children’s Hospital & Medical Center.
. . .
The cars give children with little mobility the opportunity to play, explore and socialize rather than feeling stuck and dependent on parents or siblings to move them around.
. . .
(p. 5B) Cerebral palsy is a disorder that causes movement, posture and other developmental problems. Among Madeline’s challenges: She can’t walk or bear any weight on her legs.
Madeline, of Syracuse, Nebraska, smiled and pounded the button, giving her a herky-jerky ride.
. . .
“Is that fun?” Madeline’s mother, Kelly Hauschild, asked as her daughter enjoyed the erratic drive in a room at UNMC’s Student Life Center. “You do like it, don’t you?”
. . .
“I loved seeing her be able to operate it all by herself, and her smiles,” Hauschild said.

For the full story, see:
Ruggles, Rick. “Toy Cars Give Kids Vroom to Maneuver.” Omaha World-Herald (Thurs., Aug. 11, 2016): 1B & 5B.
(Note: ellipses, and bracketed date, added.)

Firms No Longer Need Middlemen to Help Find Factories to Make Their Products

(p. B6) The migration of shoppers online has been squeezing profits throughout the retail industry–including at Li & Fung Ltd., one of the world’s largest factory middlemen.
The more than 100-year-old company, based in Hong Kong, contracts with 15,000 factories globally to make apparel, toys and other goods. Its core business has been connecting Western retailers such as Abercrombie & Fitch Co. and Target Corp. with factories around the world.
But as consumers increasingly shop online for the best deals, retailers have been forced to offer lower prices, putting pressure on factories and intermediaries alike.
Middlemen need to “either figure out ways to create value, or they will be going out of business,” said Edwin Keh, chief executive of the Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel. “The bigger question is whether middlemen can still exist in a globalized economy.”

For the full story, see:
KATHY CHU. “Shift to Web Hits Factory Middlemen.” The Wall Street Journal (Fri., Aug. 26, 2016): B6.
(Note: the online version of the story has the date Aug. 25, 2016, and has the title “Lower Retail Prices Threaten Profits of Middleman Li & Fung.”)

Gandhi in South Africa Was Willing to “Acknowledge White Supremacy”

(p. C6) At the close of his presidency in 1999, Nelson Mandela praised Mohandas Gandhi for believing that the “destiny” of Indians in South Africa was “inseparable from that of the oppressed African majority.” In other words, Gandhi had fought for the freedom of Africans, setting the pattern for his later effort to liberate India from British rule.
Nothing could be more misleading. Gandhi’s concern for the African majority — “the Kaffirs,” in his phrase — was negligible. During his South African years (1893-1914), argue Ashwin Desai and Goolam Vahed in “The South African Gandhi,” he was far from an “anti-racist, anti-colonial fighter on African soil.” He had found his way to South Africa mainly by the accident of being offered a better job there than he could find in Bombay. He regarded himself as a British subject. He aimed at limited integration of Indians into white society. Their new status would secure Indian rights but would also acknowledge white supremacy. In essence, he wanted to stabilize the Indian community within the stratified system that later became known as apartheid.
. . .
“The South African Gandhi” deals comprehensively with Gandhi’s decisive two decades in South Africa. It complements Perry Anderson’s “The Indian Ideology” (2013), which explains how Gandhi later treated the Dalits, or Untouchables, much as he had dealt with black Africans.
For my taste, the book’s tone is too academic, but the authors use sound evidence and argue their case relentlessly–Gandhi’s vision did not include the majority of the people in South Africa, the Africans themselves.

For the full review, see:
WM. ROGER LOUIS. “Gandhi the Imperialist.” The Wall Street Journal (Sat., Jan 9, 2016): C6.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the review has the date Jan 10, [sic] 2016, and has the title “Gandhi the Imperialist – Book Review.”)

The book under review, is:
Desai, Ashwin, and Goolem Vahed. The South African Gandhi: Stretcher-Bearer of Empire. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2015.

Uber Drivers Learn to Work Optimal Hours

(p. B1) For nearly 20 years, economists have been debating how cabdrivers decide when to call it a day. This may seem like a trivial question, but it is one that cuts to the heart of whether humans are fundamentally rational — in this case, whether they earn their incomes efficiently — as the discipline has traditionally assumed.
In one camp is a group of so-called behavioral economists who have found evidence that many taxi drivers work longer hours on days when business is slow and shorter hours when business is brisk — the opposite of what economic rationality, to say nothing of common sense, would seem to dictate.
In another camp is a group of more orthodox economists who argue that this perverse habit is largely an illusion in the eyes of certain researchers. Once you consult more precise numbers, they argue, you find that drivers typically work longer hours when it is in their financial interest to do so.
. . .
So who is right? That’s where Uber comes in. When one of the company’s researchers, using its supremely detailed data on drivers’ work time and rides, waded into the debate with a paper this year, the results were intriguing.
Over all, there was little evidence that drivers were driving less when they could make more per hour than usual. But that was not true for a large portion of new drivers. Many of these drivers appeared to have an income goal in mind and stopped when they were near it, causing them to knock off sooner when their hourly wage was high and to work longer when their wage was low.
. . .
“A substantial, although not most, frac-(p. B5)tion of partners do in fact come into the market with income targeting behavior,” the paper’s author, Michael Sheldon, an Uber data scientist, wrote. The behavior is then “rather quickly learned away in favor of more optimal decision making.”
In effect, Mr. Sheldon was saying, the generally rational beings that most economists presume to exist are made, not born — at least as far as their Uber driving is concerned.
. . .
As for Mr. Sheldon, the Uber paper’s author, he attributed his finding to the adventurous nature of many Uber drivers, who were open to running headlong into unfamiliar territory. It’s the sheer unfamiliarity of the Uber driving experience, he speculated, that may explain the initial bout of economically irrational behavior.
Mr. Sheldon was less open to the idea that people who did not depend on Uber for their livelihood helped account for his finding. So far as Uber can tell from other research, he said, those who drive irregularly respond more to fare increases than more regular drivers, at any level of earnings.

For the full story, see:
NOAM SCHEIBER. “Are Uber Drivers Rational? Not Always, Economists Say.” The New York Times (Mon., SEPT. 5, 2016): B1 & B5.
(Note: ellipses, and bracketed date, added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date SEPT. 4, 2016, and has the title “How Uber Drivers Decide How Long to Work.”)

The working paper by Michael Sheldon mentioned above, is:
Sheldon, Michael. “Income Targeting and the Ridesharing Market.” Working Paper, Feb. 18, 2016.

Faster, Stronger 3-D Printing Method May Be Better for Manufacturing

(p. B1) Ford Motor Co. is experimenting with a new form of 3-D printing the auto maker says could solve a structural flaw that has kept the technology from widespread use in manufacturing.
The ability to “print” parts within an assembly plant would drastically reduce transport and logistics costs for the auto industry, where car makers must source parts from dozens of suppliers around the world. But the most widely used version of the technology is ill-suited for mass production because objects are printed layer by layer, a slow process that also creates tiny fault lines that can crack when stressed.
A startup backed by Alphabet Inc.’s Google Ventures is developing a different 3-D printing method that some manufacturers, including Ford, say shows more promise. Carbon3D Inc.’s printers project light continuously through a pool of resin, gradually solidifying it onto an overhead platform that slowly lifts the object up until it is fully formed. The process takes a fraction of the time of other printing methods, and forms solid items more similar to those created using conventional auto-part molds, said Ellen Lee, who leads a 3-D printing research division at Ford.

For the full story, see:
LORETTA CHAO. “Fast 3-D Printing Earn New Respect.” The Wall Street Journal (Tues., April 26, 2016): B1 & B4.
(Note: the online version of the story has the date April 25, 2016, and has the title “Auto Makers, Others Explore New Roles for 3-D Printing.”)