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.”)

Without Property Rights “No One Is Safe”

(p. 1) BINDURA, Zimbabwe — Dozens of angry young men jumped off a truck in front of Agrippah Mutambara’s gate, shouting obscenities and threatening to seize his 530-acre farm in the name of Zimbabwe’s president. They tried to scale the fence, scattering only when he raised and cocked his gun.
Zimbabwe made international headlines when it started seizing white-owned farms in 2000. But Mr. Mutambara is not a white farmer. Far from it, he is a hero of this country’s war of liberation who served as Zimbabwe’s ambassador to three nations over two decades.
But when he defected from President Robert Mugabe’s party to join the opposition a few months ago, he immediately put his farm at risk.
“When it was happening to the whites, we thought we were redressing colonial wrongs,” said Mr. Mutambara, 64, who got his farm after it had been seized from a white farmer. “But now we realize it’s also coming back to us. It’s also haunting us.”
. . .
(p. 10) “No one is safe,” said Temba Mliswa, 44, who was the chairman of the party’s chapter in Mashonaland West Province before his expulsion from the party in 2014.
Mr. Mliswa got a 2,000-acre farm belonging to a white Zimbabwean in 2005. When he took possession, Mr. Mliswa said, police officers beat the white farmer and his workers.
But last year, Mr. Mliswa said, hundreds of youths sent by the party invaded the farm again, destroying property and beating his workers. They eventually left, but one of Mr. Mugabe’s ministers recently held a rally in which he threatened to take Mr. Mliswa’s farm unless he stopped criticizing the president’s party.
“They use the land to control you,” Mr. Mliswa said.
. . .
Mr. Mliswa said he had received his farm when his uncle headed the lands ministry. Once considered Mr. Mugabe’s right-hand man, the uncle was also expelled from the governing party in 2014 and now risks losing his farm, too, Mr. Mliswa said.
“There was blood spilt on my farm, there was violence, which I really, really, really, really regret,” he said of the seizure of his farm from its white owner in 2005. “I apologize profusely, but it was because of the system I was involved in. I belonged to a party whose culture is violence.”

For the full story, see:
NORIMITSU ONISHI. “‘No One Is Safe’: Zimbabwe Threatens to Seize Farms of Party Defectors.” The New York Times, First Section (Sun., AUG. 28, 2016): 1 & 12.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date AUG. 24, [sic] 2016, and has the title “‘No One Is Safe’: Zimbabwe Threatens to Seize Farms of Party Defectors.”)

Income Redistribution May Hurt Innovation

(p. A13) Edward Conard is on a dual crusade. First, he is out to prove that technological innovation is the major driver of the creation of wealth. Second, that government programs to redistribute income are at best futile and at worst the enemy of the middle class.
. . .
“The late Steve Jobs,” Mr. Conard writes, “may have made huge profits from his innovations, but his wealth was small in comparison with the value of the iPhone and its imitators to their users.”
. . .
“Redistribution–whether achieved through taxation, regulatory restrictions, or social norms–appears,” he asserts, “to have large detrimental effects on risk-taking, innovation, productivity, and growth over the long run, especially in an economy where innovation produced by the entrepreneurial risk-taking of properly trained talent increasingly drives growth.”

For the full review, see:
RICHARD EPSTEIN. “BOOKSHELF; The Necessity of the Rich; Steve Jobs may have earned huge profits from his innovations, but they pale in comparison with the value of the iPhone to its users.” The Wall Street Journal (Thurs., Sept. 15, 2016): A13.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the review has the date Sept. 14, 2016, and has the title “BOOKSHELF; The Necessity of the Rich; Steve Jobs may have earned huge profits from his innovations, but they pale in comparison with the value of the iPhone to its users.”)

The book under review, is:
Conard, Edward. The Upside of Inequality: How Good Intentions Undermine the Middle Class. New York: Portfolio, 2016.

Low Interest Rates Cannot Substitute for Needed Deeper Reforms

(p. B3) MUMBAI, India — Three years before the 2008 global financial crisis, an Indian economist named Raghuram G. Rajan presciently warned a skeptical audience of top economic thinkers that excessive risk threatened the entire global financial system.
As Mr. Rajan stepped down on Sunday [Sept. 4, 2016] as India’s top central banker, following intense criticism at home, he offered a new warning: Low interest rates globally could distort markets and would be difficult to abandon.
Countries around the world, including the United States and Europe, have kept interest rates low as a way to encourage growth. But countries could become “trapped” by fear that when they eventually raised rates, they “would see growth slow down,” he said.
Low interest rates should not be a substitute for “other instruments of policy” and “various kinds of reforms” that are needed to encourage growth, Mr. Rajan said in a recent interview with The New York Times. “Often when monetary policy is really easy, it becomes the residual policy of choice,” he said, when deeper reforms are needed.
. . .
In discussing the Indian economy in the interview, Mr. Rajan offered a less-than-ringing endorsement of the government’s emphasis on manufacturing in India — what the prime minister has called his Make in India campaign.
Mr. Rajan said he did not support the view of critics that it was too late in world economic history for India to become a manufacturing hub. But he also said that he would not focus exclusively on manufacturing as the solution to joblessness.
If India improves infrastructure and reduces government regulations, manufacturing might take off in a big way, but it “could also be services. It could be value-added agriculture also.”`

For the full story, see:
GEETA ANAND. “A Departing Central Banker’s Warning.” The New York Times (Mon., SEPT. 5, 2016): B3.
(Note: ellipsis, and bracketed date, added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date SEPT. 4, 2016, and has the title “Raghuram Rajan, India’s Departing Central Banker, Has a New Warning.” The online version is somewhat longer than the print version, and has minor differences in the last three paragraphs quoted above. The last three paragraphs quoted above, are from the online version.)

“I Could Lose My Ability to Control My Business”

(p. B4) Small-business owners say they are shouldering higher costs and scaling back expansion plans because of a revised federal rule that gives employees more leverage in settling workplace grievances.
The new policy, intended to hold businesses accountable for labor-law violations against people whose working conditions they control but don’t claim as employees, was put in place last year through a ruling by the National Labor Relations Board, . . .
. . .
Businesses say they are in a regulatory limbo because the new standard is vague about what constitutes control.
The previous test measured the direct control one business had over working conditions of people employed by another business. Now, even indirect control can count.
So far the impact seems to be largely on the franchisees. A home health-care business in Wisconsin is taking on $10,000 in annual recruiting costs because its franchiser stopped providing assistance to steer clear of regulators, and a small hotelier in Florida is abandoning expansion plans in small markets because one of its franchisers scaled back worker training it provides. A printing business owner in Washington state said he canceled plans to open an eighth store because he doesn’t want to risk the investment until it is clear his franchiser wouldn’t be considered a joint-employer.
“I could lose my ability to control my business,” said Chuck Stempler, an owner of the seven printing stores that operate under the AlphaGraphics brand in Washington and California.
. . .
Employers say the NLRB is confusing control with contractual relationships that help businesses and workers thrive.
“The NLRB is applying a new legal standard that would undermine a successful American business model that has enabled thousands of families to operate their own small businesses and help support millions of American jobs,” McDonald’s said in a statement, referring to the franchising business.

For the full story, see:
MELANIE TROTTMAN. “New Labor Law Curbs Small Firms’ Plans.” The Wall Street Journal (Sat., Aug. 6, 2016): B4.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date Aug. 5, 2016, and has the title “Some Small-Business Owners Trim Expansion Plans, Cite New Labor Law.”)

Cancer 1.7 Million Years Ago in Human Ancestor

(p. D3) Carcinogens abounded 1.7 million years ago in Early Pleistocene times when a nameless protohuman wandered the South African countryside in what came to be known as the Cradle of Humankind.
Then, as now, ultraviolet radiation poured from the sun, and radon seeped from granite in the ground. Viruses like ones circulating today scrambled DNA. And there were the body’s own carcinogens, hormones that switch on at certain times of life, accelerating the multiplication of cells and increasing the likelihood of mutations.
That, rather than some external poison, was probably the cause of a bone tumor diagnosed as an osteosarcoma found fossilized in Swartkrans Cave, a paleoanthropological trove northwest of Johannesburg. A paper in the current South African Journal of Science describes the discovery, concluding that it is the oldest known case of cancer in an early human ancestor.
. . .
The seemingly small number of malignant tumors reported by anthropologists is probably an illusion. The only cancers that can be found in long-decomposed remains are those that originated in the skeleton or somehow left a mark there. They include cancers that spread from other organs or, like myeloma, could scar the skeleton in other ways. For most ancient cancers, the evidence rots away. Mummified bodies are rare, but here, too, an occasional cancer has been found.

For the full story, see:
Johnson, George. “RAW DATA; After 1.7 Million Years, a Bone Cancer Diagnosis.” The New York Times (Tues., AUG. 23, 2016): D3.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date AUG. 22, 2016, and has the title “RAW DATA; The Known: Cancer Is Really, Really Old. The Unknown: How Common It Was.”)

The academic article mentioned in the passage quoted above, is:
Edward, J. Odes, S. Randolph-Quinney Patrick, Steyn Maryna, Throckmorton Zach, S. Smilg Jacqueline, Zipfel Bernhard, Augustine Tanya, Beer Frikkie De, W. Hoffman Jakobus, D. Franklin Ryan, and R. Berger Lee. “Earliest Hominin Cancer: 1.7-Million-Year-Old Osteosarcoma from Swartkrans Cave, South Africa.” South African Journal of Science 112, no. 7/8 (July/Aug. 2016): 1-5.

“Giving Peas a Chance”

(p. C1) Thank heavens Gregor Mendel was a lousy priest. Had he shown even the faintest aptitude for oratory or ministering to the poor, he might never have determined the basic laws of heredity. But bumbling he was, and he made a rotten university student to boot; his failures drove him straight to his room, where he bred mice in secret. The experiment scandalized his superiors.
“A monk coaxing mice to (p. C4) mate to understand heredity was a little too risqué, even for the Augustinians,” writes Siddhartha Mukherjee in “The Gene: An Intimate History.” So Mendel switched — auspiciously, historically — to pea plants. The abbot in charge, writes the author, acquiesced this time, “giving peas a chance.”
Love Dr. Mukherjee, love his puns. They’re everywhere. I warn you now.
. . .
Many of the same qualities that made “The Emperor of All Maladies” so pleasurable are in full bloom in “The Gene.” The book is compassionate, tautly synthesized, packed with unfamiliar details about familiar people.
. . .
But there are also crucial differences. Cancer is the troll that scratches and thumps beneath the floorboards of our consciousness, if it hasn’t already beaten its way into the room. The subject immediately commands our attention; it’s almost impossible to deny, and not to hear, the emotional clang of its appeal. In Dr. Mukherjee’s skilled hands, the story of this frightening disease became a page-turner. He explained its history, politics and cunning biological underpinnings; he traced the evolving and often gruesome logic underlying cancer treatment.
And in the middle of it all, agonizing over treatment protocols and watching his patients struggle with tremendous existential and physical pain, was the author himself.
There are far fewer psychological stakes in reading about the history of genetics. “The Gene” is more pedagogical than dramatic; as often as not, the stars of this story are molecules, not humans.
. . .
But any book about the history of something as elemental and miraculous as the gene is bound, at least indirectly, to tell the story of innovation itself. “The Gene” is filled with scientists who dreamed in breathtakingly lateral leaps.
Erwin Schrödinger in particular was one visionary cat: In 1944, he hazarded a guess about the molecular nature of the gene and decided it had to be a strand of code scribbled along the chromosome — which pretty much sums up the essence of DNA.

For the full review, see:
JENNIFER SENIOR. “Books of The Times; In Molecular Pursuit of the Genetic Code.” The New York Times (Mon., MAY 9, 2016): C1 & C4.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the review has the date MAY 8, 2016, and has the title “Books of The Times; Review: Siddhartha Mukherjee’s ‘The Gene,’ a Molecular Pursuit of the Self.”)

The book under review, is:
Mukherjee, Siddhartha. The Gene: An Intimate History. New York: Scribner, 2016.

Private Nav Canada More Innovative than Government FAA

(p. D1) Ottawa
Flying over the U.S.-Canadian border is like time travel for pilots. Going north to south, you leave a modern air-traffic control system run by a company and enter one run by the government struggling to catch up.
Airlines, the air-traffic controllers’ union and key congressional leaders all support turning over U.S. air-traffic control services to a newly created nonprofit company and leaving the Federal Aviation Administration as a safety regulator. It’s an idea that still faces strong opposition in Congress, but has gained traction this year.
The model is Nav Canada, the world’s second-largest air-traffic control agency, after the U.S.
. . .
The key, Nav Canada says, is its nongovernmental structure. Technology, critical to efficient airspace use these days, gets developed faster than if a government agency were trying to do it, officials say. Critics say slow technology development has been the FAA’s Achilles’ heel.
“We can fly optimal routes because of the technology they have. It makes a big difference,” American Airlines vice president Lorne Cass says. “These are things customers don’t see except they shave off minutes.”
Mr. Cass, who has worked for several airlines and the FAA, first visited Nav Canada in 2004 to see new technology. “They’ve always been pretty good at continuous modernization,” he says. “They just have more flexibility than the FAA has.”
. . .
(p. D2) In government, you often need giant programs with huge promises to get funding. But Nav Canada opted for small projects, often with no idea what the outcome should look like. The company hired a corps of techies that the federal agency had never had and involved controllers in development.
“We’re convinced you’re better off doing things incrementally than a big bang approach,” Mr. Koslow says.
Data linkage between cockpits and control centers is one example. Text messages with cockpits have been in use across oceans, in parts of Europe and across all of Canada for several years. Controllers in Montreal who handle planes to and from North America and both Europe and Asia say the texting system virtually eliminates problems of mishearing instructions and readbacks over the radio because of foreign accents.
Another innovation adopted around the world is electronic flight strips–critical information about each flight that gets changed on touch screens and passed from one controller to another electronically. Nav Canada has used them for more than 13 years. Many U.S. air controllers still use paper printouts placed in plastic carriers about the size of a 6-inch ruler that controllers scribble on.
. . .
Jerome Gagnon, a shift manager in Montreal’s control tower, says the electronic system has reduced workload, errors and noise. “We don’t want controllers to just be heads down. There’s a lot of stuff that happens out the window,” he says.
Rarely do controllers have to call each other to coordinate flights anymore, but making changes with the FAA on cross-border flights can’t be done electronically.
As he explains the process in the Montreal tower, other controllers start laughing. One blurts out incredulously: “You still have to call the FAA by phone!””

For the full story, see:
SCOTT MCCARTNEY. “THE MIDDLE SEAT; The Air-Traffic System U.S. Airlines Wish They Had.” The Wall Street Journal (Thurs., April 28, 2016): D1-D2.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date April 27, 2016. The online version has a couple of extra sentences that are included in the passages quoted above.)

Proletariat Protests Communist Dictator

(p. A4) CARACAS, Venezuela — Thousands took to the streets here on Thursday [September 1, 2016] to demand the ouster of President Nicolás Maduro in what appeared to be the year’s largest display of frustration with Venezuela’s economic collapse and leadership.
The march, which protesters called “the taking of Caracas,” was organized by political opponents of the country’s ruling leftists. The marchers took over a major highway and several avenues in Caracas, the nation’s capital, and poured into the city’s plazas in an effort to gain momentum for a referendum to recall Mr. Maduro.
. . .
Ivonne Mejías, 42, who wore a headband of yellow, blue and red, the colors of the Venezuelan flag, said the situation had become so difficult that she had not been able to bake birthday cakes for her children this year. Her family of four gets by on just $25 a week, Ms. Mejías said, and she has taken to making piñatas to earn extra money.
“Sometimes I want to kill myself,” she said. “I am frustrated, I am out of control, I am fighting with this world. This isn’t my life. My soul splits in two when my kids beg for something — for an ice cream, for a cookie — and I can’t give it to them. The most difficult thing is getting food.”
Víctor Guilarte, 45, a mechanic from a Caracas suburb, said his work had vanished because his neighbors had become so poor they could not afford car repairs. Two weeks ago, he said, he visited his family in another state and found the situation even worse.
“I came back feeling destroyed — they had no food,” he said. “I am tired of Maduro and his government, tired of crime, of hunger, of them telling us we have plenty to eat.
. . .
Marly Torrealba, 37, a single mother, came by bus from Barlovento, a city once known for its cacao production. Ms. Torrealba complained that the government had abandoned the city to organized crime, and it was now rocked by killings, extortions and kidnappings.
“Farm workers have abandoned the crop because of crime,” she said, “and the criminals charge us protection money and rob everything in sight.”

For the full story, see:
NICHOLAS CASEY and PATRICIA TORRES. “Thousands of Venezuelans March for President’s Ouster.” The New York Times (Fri., Sept. 2, 2016): A4.
(Note: ellipses, and bracketed date, added.)
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Sept. 1, 2016, and has the title “Thousands March in Venezuela to Demand President’s Ouster.”)