F.A.A. Can Take Many Years to Certify Innovative Aviation Technologies

(p. 6) Despite the excitement about e-planes, the Federal Aviation Administration has never certified electric propulsion as safe for commercial use. Companies expect that to change in the coming years, but only gradually, as safety concerns are worked out.

. . .

The consensus within the industry is that the F.A.A., which regulates half the world’s aviation activity, is several years from certifying urban air mobility.

“It’s a big burden of proof to bring new technology to the F.A.A. — appropriately so,” Mr. Clark said. Currently the certification process for a new plane or helicopter takes two to three years on average. For an entirely new type of vehicle, it could be considerably longer. (One conventionally powered aircraft that can take off and land without a runway had its first flight in 2003. It remains uncertified.)

For the full story, see:

Ben Ryder Howe and Tristan Spinski. “Covid Patient In Shanghai Describes Life In Isolation.” The New York Times, SundayBusiness Section (Sunday, April 17, 2022): 1 & 6-7.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the story was updated April 18, 2022, and has the title “The Battery That Flies.”)

“Don’t Give Up and Say There’s No Point”

(p. A18) TOKYO—The world’s oldest verified living person, Kane Tanaka of Japan, has died at age 119.

. . .

According to Japanese news accounts, Ms. Tanaka loved chocolate and carbonated drinks and hoped to live to 120. Her motto was “Don’t give up and say there’s no point. Live with all your heart.”

For the full story, see:

Chieko Tsuneoka. “World’s Oldest Person Dies at 119.” The Wall Street Journal (Tuesday, April 26, 2022): A18.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the story was updated April 25, 2022, and has the title “World’s Oldest Person, Japan’s Kane Tanaka, Dies at 119.” The print version has a longer first sentence than the online version, which is quoted above.)

If a 6-Year-Old Cannot Jump-Rope in Communist China, Her Future Is Bleak

Photo of Art Diamond in first or second grade, finally succeeding at jump-rope. Source: photo by my first and second grade James Monroe School teacher, Miss Helen Kuntz.

My first and second grade teacher was Miss Helen Kuntz. I had a lot of trouble learning how to jump-rope. So when I finally succeeded, Miss Kuntz was so excited that she took my picture, which she mailed me several decades later from a nursing home. If I had been born and raised in Communist China my life would have been much different.

(p. A1) BEIJING—Chinese parents spend dearly on private tutoring for their children to get a jump on national math and language exams, the gateway to advancement and a better life.

Susan Zhang, a 34-year-old mother in China’s capital, is among a smaller group forking out big bucks for jump-rope lessons. She said she couldn’t understand why her 6-year-old daughter Tangtang couldn’t string together two skips in a row after three months of trying. The girl needed professional help.

More than playground prowess was at stake. In 2014, Chinese authorities introduced physical-education require-(p. A10)ments that included a national jump-rope exam for boys and girls from first through sixth grades.

To pass, students must complete minimum numbers of skips a minute, and failure can trip up an otherwise promising academic trajectory. Top officials see the activity as an accessible, low-cost way to help build national sports excellence, a priority of China’s leader Xi Jinping.

For the full story, see:

Jonathan Cheng. “China Exam Draws Jump-Rope Tutors.” The Wall Street Journal (Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021): A1 & A10.

(Note: the online version of the story was updated September 27, 2021, and has the title “In China, Even Jump-Rope is Competitive—So Parents Pay for Lessons.” The online edition says that the title of the print version is “Exam Draws Jump-Rope Tutors,” but my National print version had the title “China Exam Draws Jump-Rope Tutors.”)

“Byzantine Health Care System” Slowed Rollout of Effective COVID Anti-Viral Medication Paxlovid

(p. A16) GREENBELT, Md. — Last month, the owner of a small pharmacy here secured two dozen courses of Pfizer’s new medication for treating Covid-19, eager to quickly provide them to his high-risk customers who test positive for the virus.

More than a month later, the pharmacy, Demmy’s, has dispensed the antiviral pills to just seven people. The remaining stock is sitting in neatly packed rows on its shelves here in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. And the owner, Adeolu Odewale, is scrambling to figure out how to get the medication, Paxlovid, to more people as cases have increased over 80 percent in Maryland in recent days.

“I didn’t expect that I was still going to be sitting on that many of them,” he said of the pills he still has on hand. “It’s just that people need to know how to get it.”

. . .

But with the medication now more abundant, pharmacists, public health experts and state health officials say that encouraging the right people to take it, and making it easier for them to access, could help blunt the effects of another Covid wave.

State health officials say that many Americans who would be good candidates for Paxlovid do not seek it out because they are unaware they qualify for it, hesitant about taking a new medication, or confused by the fact that some providers interpret the eligibility guidelines more narrowly than others.

Since the medication has to be prescribed by a doctor, nurse practitioner or physician assistant, people have to navigate an often byzantine health care system in search of a prescription, then find a pharmacy that carries the treatment, all within five days of developing symptoms. The medication, prescribed as three pills taken twice a day for five days, is meant to be started early in the course of infection.

. . .

More than 630,000 courses of the drug — roughly a third of the supply distributed to date — are currently available, and the federal government has been sending 175,000 courses to states each week, according to federal data.

. . .

Giving pharmacists prescribing power could help people get the treatment much more quickly and easily, public health experts say. But regulators at the F.D.A. and other federal health officials believe there is reason to not allow pharmacists to prescribe Paxlovid themselves, even though some Canadian pharmacists can do so. The treatment can interfere with certain medications and should be prescribed at a lower dose for people with kidney impairment, which is measured with a blood test.

Pharmacists say that they are highly trained and well equipped to conduct such screening themselves. Michael Ganio, senior director of pharmacy practice and quality at the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, said pharmacists could get Paxlovid to patients faster if they could prescribe it, “without having to call a physician’s office and wait for a call back, and hope it happens within five-day period.”

For the full story, see:

Noah Weiland. “Plenty of Covid Pills, Not Many Prescriptions.” The New York Times (Wednesday, April 27, 2022): A16.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date April 26, 2022, and has the title “With Supply More Abundant, Pharmacies Struggle to Use Up Covid Pills.” The online version says that the article appeared on p. A18 of the print version, but in my National edition of the print version, it appeared on p. A16.)

Workers With Little Choice in the Hours They Work Are Twice as Likely to Seek a New Job

(p. A11) . . . new survey data this week shows that full-time workers have more work-related stress and anxiety than their hybrid and remote counterparts.

Overall satisfaction with their workplace declined by 1.6 times as much for those working five days in the office compared with the other groups, according to the report from Future Forum, a consortium funded by Slack Technologies Inc., Boston Consulting Group and MillerKnoll.

The survey of more than 10,800 knowledge workers across about 20 industries including financial services, consumer goods and technology, comes as companies have been calling workers back to their desks at a higher rate than at any other time during the pandemic.

The discontent reflected in the data among those working in the office every day highlights risks that companies take by giving priority to face time and in-office culture over worker preferences for flexibility coming out of the pandemic, says Brian Elliott, executive leader of Future Forum.

“We were kind of shocked that it was as bad as it was,” he says. “It’s going to impact people’s tendency to resign.”

Of the workers surveyed, about 5,000 are based in the U.S. The share of those workers who are now back in the office five days a week rose from 29% in the last quarter of 2021 to 35% in the first quarter of this year.

Workers with little to no ability to set their own hours were more than 2½ times as likely to look for a new job in the coming year as those who have some say in when they work, according to the survey.

For the full story, see:

Katherine Bindley. “For Many, the Optimal Workweek Is One or Two Days in the Office’.” The Wall Street Journal (Monday, April 25, 2022): A11.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the story was updated April 22, 2022, and has the title “What if the Optimal Workweek Is Two Days in the Office?”)

“We Approach Complete Leftist Saturation Among Professors”

(p. A13) The current left-right campus faculty ratio is probably about 15 to 1, but new appointments are being made at a rate of about 50 to 1. As we approach complete leftist saturation among professors, college campuses will become even more intolerant, irrational and politically aggressive.

More important still, academia’s influence on society will intensify as the number of people who have graduated from radicalized campuses increases and the number of those who graduated with a conventional college education declines. A generation—students from about 2000 to now—has graduated from one-party campuses. Where will we be when two generations have done so and another generation has died off?

. . .

Parents and students feel a need for credentials, even while the credential of a college degree has been corrupted. A more important factor is that public perception hasn’t caught up to the reality of academia. Older adults cherish memories of their time at college. Campus buildings are as impressive as ever, and the names of the institutions like Harvard and Yale are still magical, but a stream of poisonous ideology flows daily from academia into American culture.

For the full commentary, see:

John Ellis. “Can Politics Get Better When Higher Ed Keeps Getting Worse?” The Wall Street Journal (Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022): A13

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date January 14, 2022, and has the title “Can Politics Get Better When Higher Education Keeps Getting Worse?”)

The commentary quoted above is related to the author’s book:

Ellis, John M. The Breakdown of Higher Education: How It Happened, the Damage It Does, and What Can Be Done. New York: Encounter Books, 2020.

Elon Musk Is a “Free Speech Absolutist”

(p. A1) Twitter Inc. accepted Elon Musk’s bid to take over the company and go private, a deal that would give the world’s richest person control over the social-media network where he is also among its most influential users.

. . .

On Monday [April 15, 2022], a day after The Wall Street Journal first reported that a deal was close, Mr. Musk tweeted to indicate that he wants the platform to be a destination for wide-ranging discourse and disagreement.

. . .

(p. A6) Mr. Musk, a self-described “free speech absolutist,” said in a recent interview at a TED conference that he sees Twitter as the “de facto town square.”

For the full story, see:

Cara Lombardo, Meghan Bobrowsky and Georgia Wells. “Musk Strikes Deal to Buy Twitter.” The Wall Street Journal (Tuesday, April 26, 2022): A1 & A6.

(Note: ellipses, and bracketed date, added.)

(Note: the online version of the story was updated April 25, 2022, and has the title “Twitter Accepts Elon Musk’s Offer to Buy Company in $44 Billion Deal.”)

Recycling Is Good When It Saves Enough to Be Worth the Time

“Juani Lira shopping for her 13 grandchildren at Ludy’s Ropa Usada in downtown McAllen.” Source: online version of the NYT article cited below.

(p. 18) McALLEN, Texas — A mountain of clothes swallowed half of Juani Lira’s petite body, from the waist down. But the 67-year-old did not seem to mind. Ms. Lira closely inspected a pair of black shorts studded with rhinestones and tossed them behind her, unimpressed. Too flashy for her teenage granddaughter, she murmured.

Ms. Lira then spotted a long-sleeved, pearl-colored blouse, still with a tag intact. Bingo. She looked around her, as if she were getting away with something, and tucked the blouse at the bottom of a duffle bag. At a price of 71 cents a pound, Ms. Lira was on her way to collecting a haul big enough to clothe most of her 13 grandchildren at Ludy’s Ropa Usada in downtown McAllen.

. . .

During several visits to ropa usada warehouses, some of them just a mile from the Rio Grande, store operators were protective of their businesses and their clients’ privacy. Signs prohibiting photos were often posted at the entrance, a reminder that the stigma of shopping for discarded clothes persists. Some people hid their faces in the piles of clothing, and some avoided eye contact.

But others, like the longtime ropa usada shopper Angelica Gallardo, 64, felt there was no shame in struggling to make ends meet and doing the best you could to clothe your growing clan. Ms. Gallardo spends hours at a time meticulously inspecting an endless heap of potential purchases. “You have to dig in!” she said.

Ms. Gallardo, who said she has been shopping at ropa usada outlets since the 1970s, has developed a keen eye for “the good stuff” from the “pila” — the pile.

For the full story, see:

Edgar Sandoval. “In Texas, Clothes by the Pound to Make Ends Meet.” The New York Times, First Section (Sunday, April 10, 2022): 18.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the same date as the print version, and has the title “On the Border, Buying Clothes by the Pound at Ropa Usada Shops.”)

Diamond to Teach Economics of Entrepreneurship Seminar in Fall 2022

Prof. Art Diamond, Economics
College of Business Administration
University of Nebraska Omaha
Seminar Meets in Mammel Hall 116
Fall 2022, Tuesdays, 6:00 – 8:40 PM
First Session: Aug. 23, 2022

ECON 4730-001, ECON 8736-001

Some Questions to Be Discussed:

• How can policies encouraging innovative entrepreneurship help us create a more dynamic growth economy with more and better jobs, more and better innovations, and more choice and opportunity?
• Are innovative entrepreneurs smarter, or more courageous, or less risk-averse, or more intuitive, or more determined, or more frugal, or more arrogant, or more hard-working, or greedier, than the rest of us?
• Can economic historian John Nye defend his claim that successful entrepreneurs are “lucky fools?”
• What is the role of entrepreneurship in the process of economic dynamism, and what is the role of economic dynamism in making our lives longer and better?
• Would labor be better off in an economy in which innovative entrepreneurship is encouraged?
• Why did economist Will Baumol believe that too much higher education can discourage successful innovative entrepreneurship?
• Can unbinding entrepreneurs in medicine bring us more cures and longer lives?

Dreaming Often Is Nonlinear Problem-Solving

(p. A15) Antonio Zadra and Robert Stickgold, two of the world’s leading researchers in the science of sleep and dreams, have written a remarkable account of what we know and don’t know about this mysterious thing that happens during the night.

. . .

To many, dreams are prophecies, implanted in our brains by God or angels; to others, they exist to encode our memories of the previous day, to others they are simply random neural firings.

. . .

The weight of the evidence supports a more elaborate, nuanced and wondrous version of the memory-encoding hypothesis. Messrs. Zadra and Stickgold have designed a conceptual model they call Nextup (“Network Exploration to Understand Possibilities”), using it to describe the progression of dreams throughout the four sleep stages and their different functions. They debunk the common myth that we only dream during REM sleep and show that, in fact, we are typically dreaming throughout the night and in nonREM sleep states. They tie all of this into the brain’s “default mode network,” in which our minds are wandering and, often, problem-solving. When we’re awake, our brains are so busy attending to the environment that we tend to favor linear connections and thinking; when we allow ourselves to daydream, we solve problems that have distant, novel or nonlinear solutions.

For the full review, see:

Daniel J. Levitin. “Destination Anywhere.” The Wall Street Journal (Saturday, March 6, 2021): C7.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the review was updated March 5, 2021, and has the title “‘When Brains Dream’ Review: Night Shift.”)

The book under review is:

Zadra, Antonio, and Robert Stickgold. When Brains Dream: Exploring the Science and Mystery of Sleep. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2021.