When Scottish physicist James Clark Maxwell made the invention of the telephone possible, by unlocking the secret of electro-magnetic waves, in 1878, he playfully wrote of its humble appearance--- “Any disappointment was partially relieved, on finding it was really able to talk.”
Tobacco companies are an extreme example of how greed trumps morality in America’s marketplace. Every year roughly 500,000 smokers die from tobacco use and the industry knows it must at least replace those lost customers – plus the ones who successfully quit the addiction.
If you are of a certain generation-- Robert Redford’s generation, or a bit younger-- you will be well-aware that, back in the 1960s and 70s, there were political activists who did not just march on Washington or on their college campuses to oppose the war in Vietnam, say, or protest the everyday greed or racism that was so imbedded in American life. Instead, they tossed bombs or robbed banks or burned draft cards. And then, to avoid arrest and long jail sentences, they went into hiding, changed their names and identities, and blended in with the masses.
Since the revelation that former Bronx Assemblyman Nelson Castro had been working as a double agent for federal prosecutors for almost the entire duration of his four years in office, the most popular political parlor game in Albany has been trying to guess who else might be wearing a wire.
Back in 1990, a Congressman from South Carolina (Stephen Neal) introduced a bill that would require the Fed (our Central Bank) to make a zero rate of inflation its primary goal. I was able to publish my response in the economic journal Challenge under the title, “Zero Inflation: prescription for recession.” (Challenge 1990) At the time I noted that Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan had expressed support for that goal. What I did not know was that later in the decade, Chairman Greenspan would attempt to persuade the entire Federal Reserve Board of his view. IN 1996, he engaged in a spirited Debate with Economist Janet Yellen, then a member of the Fed Board of Governers.
Last week I had the privilege to visit West Virginia. I've been there before. My first impressions, made years ago, returned. If our everyday consciousness results from our everyday experience, it must be intense to live in West Virginia. There the phrase "king coal" leapt to mind at every turn.
The 500 pp book “50 Shades of Grey”, by E.L.James – a pseudonym for the 50 yr old writer Erika Mitchell[ref.2] (who lives in London with her husband and two sons) -- has been variously slanged by critics. Despite these criticisms the book and its 2 sequels have been selling (last year) like wildfire, with the majority of the readers being women. So somehow, worldwide, there is a deep need.
I travel a lot for work. It’s the rare week when I’m not on the road or in the air to attend a conference, give a talk at some symposium, or serve on some panel or commission. In fact, if you’re listening to this commentary as it airs on the radio, I am likely on a plane cruising at 32,000 feet somewhere between Albany and Washington, DC. Given this grueling travel schedule, I was less than thrilled to hear that the federal budget sequester would affect air travel across the US.
Until two days ago, Jason Collins was part of the answer to an obscure trivia question. That is, name the two sets of twins that played center for the Stanford Cardinal men’s basketball team. And the answer is Jason and his brother Jarron along with Brook and Robin Lopez. But now Jason Collins is the answer to a less sports wonky trivia question, kind of first row on Jeopardy. The longtime NBA cener will forevermore be known as the first openly gay male on a current roster in a major American professional team sport.
Independence Day marked a major event in Israel’s history: A 65th Anniversary, a day of pomp, ceremony and remembrance. But it is also a day to take stock of Israel’s strategic position in the Middle East. Despite the relative calm, there are storm clouds on the horizon.