Founder Movie Is Unfair to Entrepreneur Ray Kroc

(p. 1D) McDonald’s franchise owner Jim Darmody of Omaha notes that the Hollywood film about Ray Kroc doesn’t always put the self-proclaimed “founder” of the fast-food chain in a good light.
“The movie makes it seem like he stole something from the McDonald brothers,” Darmody said. “But I can’t fault him. He bought it from the brothers and made it a dynasty.”
. . .
(p. 3D) Ray Kroc not only made a fortune that his wife turned into philanthropy, Jim said, but also created opportunities for people like himself.
. . .
Darmody said the McDonald’s Corp. has an excellent inspection program at stores for consistency and cleanliness.
Communities, he said, also have benefited from the presence of McDonald’s.
Kroc died in 1984. His widow, Joan Kroc, who died in 2003, left her $1.5 billion estate to charity.
. . .
. . . in a 1993 phone interview, Dick McDonald told me that he and his brother had no regrets about selling to Kroc for what later seemed a pittance.
“Neither of us had any youngsters who would go into the business,” said Dick, who had come up with the idea for golden arches. “I guess we could have stayed and piled up millions. But as my brother once said, ‘What can we do with $40 million that we can’t do with three or four million — except pay a lot of taxes?’ ”
. . .
Darmody, who has flipped a few burgers, said he learned some things from the movie, including how the brothers came up with the speedy production system. But without Kroc, he said, McDonald’s wouldn’t be what it is today.

For the full story, see:
Michael Kelly. “Following in the Footsteps of Founder.” Omaha World-Herald (Thurs., March 2, 2017): 1D & 3D.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date Mach 4 [sic], 2017, and has the title “Kelly: McDonald’s franchise owner in Omaha says ‘founder’ Ray Kroc created opportunities for people.”)

Farmer and Mechanic Invented Pivot Irrigation System

(p. D1) LINDSAY, Neb. — Paul Zimmerer’s contribution to agriculture is now forever immortalized.
A recent ceremony in Lindsay dedicated a memorial to the late inventor whose irrigation system dots the landscape throughout the country.
Zimmerer, inventor of the Zimmatic Pivot Irrigation System, died July 31, 2008, at the age of 94.
. . .
Dave Albracht, chairman of the Lindsay Village Board, said Lloyd Castner, a member of the Platte County Historical Society, first approached him about a memorial.
“I’m sure everybody knows that the small towns struggle, and Lindsay wouldn’t be where we’re at if it wasn’t for the Paul Zimmerer family,” he said.
. . .
Zimmerer opened a blacksmith shop in 1955 and sold modified car engines to be used on irrigation wells. His idea became the foundation of one of northeast Nebraska’s largest companies, Lindsay Corp.
He was a farmer and mechanic and owned Zimmerer Auto Repair and Gas Station in Lindsay before founding Lindsay Manufacturing Co., which is now Lindsay Corp.”

For the full story, see:
Patrick Murphy. “Memorial dedicated to Zimmatic Pivot inventor.” Omaha World-Herald (Fri., Nov. 25, 2016): 4D.
(Note: ellipses added.)

Federal Regulations Restrict Concrete Innovation

(p. B1) Chris Tuan, a professor of civil engineering for the University of Nebraska at the Peter Kiewit Institute, has been perfecting an electrically semiconductive concrete over the past 20 years.
The mixture includes a 20 percent mix of steel fibers, shavings and carbon added to a traditional concrete mix. Steel reinforcing bars serve as the conductor, and once electricity is added, the concrete heats to 35 to 40 degrees — just enough to melt the ice and snow.
. . .
For now, the concrete can’t be used in public spaces. Anything exposed and electrified above 48 volts — much less than the 208 volts used in Tuan’s concrete — is considered high voltage and is not allowed. Federal law will have to be rewritten to change that.
. . .
Tuan said traditional concrete needs to be replaced every five years or so. Without chemical use, the electric concrete lasts much longer, with fewer potholes. His concrete is also maintenance-free, because the power cords and conductive rods are encased in the concrete and not exposed to the elements.
. . .
In 2013 Tuan also implemented his concrete on ramps in China. He recently installed a private driveway in Regency using the legally allowed 48-volt limit, which is less energy efficient.
“If the government or if insurance agencies approve this technology, then everybody can use it,” Tuan said. “But right now, it’s almost cost prohibitive.”

For the full story, see:
Reece Ristau. “In Concrete World, This Is Hot Stuff.” Omaha World-Herald (Tues., JAN. 15, 2016): B1 & B2.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the title “Special Concrete Mix Can Melt Snow and Ice All by Itself — Just Add Electricity.”)

What If Steve Jobs Ran the I.C.U.?

We’d like to think that medical intensity and competence in the real world mirror the intensity and competence of television shows like ER and House. But too often it is like the horrible surreal story told below. What if we deregulated medicine to open it to the product and process innovations of intense innovative entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, and Sam Walton?

(p. 7) Omaha — I’ve been watching the monitor for hours. Natalie’s asleep now and I’m worried about her pulse. It’s edging above 140 beats per minute again and her blood oxygen saturation is becoming dangerously low. I’m convinced that she’s slipping into shock. She needs more fluids. I ring for the nurse.

I know about stuff like septic shock because for more than 20 years I was a transplant surgeon, and some of our patients got incredibly sick after surgery. So when I’m sitting in an I.C.U. in Omaha terrified that Natalie, my 17-year-old daughter, might die, I know what I’m talking about. I tell the nurse that Natalie needs to get another slug of intravenous fluids, and fast.
The nurse says she’ll call the doctor. Fifteen minutes later I find her in the lounge at a computer, and over her shoulder I see a screen full of makeup products. When I ask if we can get that fluid going, I startle her. She says she called the resident and told him the vital signs, but that he thought things were stable.
“He said to hold off for now,” she says.
“Get me two bags of saline. Now,” I tell her.
She says, “I’m calling my supervisor,” and she runs out of the lounge.
. . .
I know I shouldn’t be my daughter’s doctor. They taught us the problems with that during my first week in medical school.
. . .
But right now, I don’t care about any of that. I’m the one with experience taking care of really sick patients, and if I know she needs more fluids, she’s going to get them.
I break into the crash cart, a box on wheels full of stuff they use to resuscitate patients. I pull out two liters of saline solution and run both into Natalie’s IV in less than 20 minutes. Natalie’s pulse slows and her blood pressure rises. An hour later, after the nursing supervisor and on-call resident finally arrive, I’ve finished infusing a third liter. Natalie finally looks better.
This wasn’t the first time during Natalie’s illness eight years ago that I broke my promise to just be her dad. It started a week earlier when she came into the den and showed me the blood she’d coughed up. I suspect a father without my experience might have chalked it up to flu. Maybe because I was a transplant surgeon, and always considered the worst possible cause whenever a patient had a hiccup, I took her to the hospital. I was worried the blood meant she had a bacterial pneumonia, a bad one. And it did.
On the way to the hospital, Natalie took a deep breath and looked at me. “Am I going to die?” she asked. I’m convinced that she would have been dead before morning had I not been a doctor, and one who could recognize septic shock when it affected a normal teenager.

For the full commentary, see:
BUD SHAW. “A Doctor at His Daughter’s Hospital Bed.” The New York Times, SundayReview Section (Sun., SEPT. 6, 2015): 7.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date SEPT. 5, 2015.)

The commentary quoted above is adapted from the book:
Shaw, Bud. Last Night in the Or: A Transplant Surgeon’s Odyssey. New York: Plume, 2015.

“How You Gonna Keep ’em Down on the Farm”

Wikipedia tells us that the song “How Ya Gonna Keep ’em Down on the Farm (After They’ve Seen Paree?)” was popular after the end of World War I.

(p. C6) Dick Cavett, a son of Nebraska, used to ask (quoting Abe Burrows), “How you gonna keep ’em down on the farm, after they’ve seen the farm?”

For the full review, see:
A. O. SCOTT. “Off to the Stars, With Dread and Regret.” The New York Times (Weds., NOV. 5, 2014): C1 & C6.
(Note: the online version of the review has the date NOV. 4, 2014, and has the title “Off to the Stars, With Grief, Dread and Regret.”)

“In Nebraska, You Don’t Have to Die to Go to Hell”

A 1939 entry from Don Hartwell’s diary:

(p. 300) July 10
The same clear, glaring sky & vicious blazing killing sun. Cane is about dead, corn is being damaged; it will soon be destroyed. Those who coined the phrase ‘There’s no place like Nebraska’ wrote better than they thought. In Nebraska, you don’t have to die to go to hell.

Source:
As quoted in: Egan, Timothy. The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2006.
(Note: italics in original.)

Former Nebraskan Writes that Football Breaks the Soul

(p. C1) The poet Erin Belieu was born in Nebraska. It’s a place where, she once wrote,

football is to life what sleep deprivation is

to Amnesty International, that is,
the best researched and the most effective method
of breaking a soul.

Ms. Belieu got out, soul entirely unbroken. She’s spent the past two decades composing smart and nettling books of poems, beginning with “Infanta” (1995), which was chosen for the National Poetry Series by Hayden Carruth. I’ve admired her three previous books, but her new one, “Slant Six,” seems to me better by an order of magnitude. It’s got more smoke, more confidence, more wit and less tolerance for obscurity. Her crisp free verse has as many subcurrents as a magnetic field.

For the full review, see:
DWIGHT GARNER. “From a Slim Book, Many Observations.” The New York Times Book Review (Weds., DEC. 10, 2014): C1 & C4.
(Note: italics in original.)
(Note: the online version of the interview has the date DEC. 9, 2014, and has the title “From a Slim Book, Many Observations.” The name of the interviewer, presumably the author of the italicized passage above, is not given in either the online or print versions.)

The book under review is:
Belieu, Erin. Slant Six. Port Townsend, WA: Copper Canyon Press, 2014.