"I put Napster third on a list of uprisings of massive, uncoordinated civil disobedience in the last 100 years, after [speeding] and [bootlegging]." -- Posting on Slashdot.org by New Media Professor Clay Shirky What would California be like if the sun set at 9 p.m.? Two more hours to skateboard or surf, to paint or play? It's possible. A congressman from California, Democrat Brad Sherman, has introduced a bill enabling California and states in the Pacific Time Zone to set their clocks two hours ahead on May 1. That way, it would stay light well into the evening--particularly on the northern Pacific Coast--and hold down demand for electricity during peak periods. While the sun would rise later, too, the change could cut electricity consumption by 1% to 2% a day, says Sherman. "The bill provides California with the tools to ease the burden," he says.
"Double Daylight Saving Time" has support from more than a dozen House lawmakers but is still looking for Senate backers. The California legislature first asked Congress to act last year, since time changes need federal approval.
It wouldn't be the first time the U.S. extended Daylight Saving Time. The last time was during the energy crisis in 1973-75. There's a move to protect the U.S. steel industry gathering steam in Washington--and, surprisingly, it's coming from otherwise-free-trade Republicans. U.S. Trade Rep Robert B. Zoellick is floating the idea of temporary high tariffs on foreign steel imports to be imposed only if the industry can come up with a restructuring plan. World Trade Organization agreements allow temporary protections in times of crisis.
U.S. steel companies have been battered by low world prices, and 11 have filed for bankruptcy in the past year. The Clinton Administration repeatedly rebuffed protectionist calls from the Steelworkers' union. But the Bush team has set up a task force including the Treasury and Commerce Depts. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill is likely to be sympathetic: While heading Alcoa, he pushed Washington to help establish an aluminum cartel that raised worldwide prices.
GOP protectionism has precedent: President Reagan did the same for motorcycles in 1983 to let Harley-Davidson retool in the face of Japanese competition. Is the Harvard University pond big enough for two big, fighting fish? One is former U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence H. Summers, picked to be Harvard's next president. The other is Jeffrey D. Sachs, who heads the Harvard Center for International Development. The two were Harvard grad students together in the '70s. They attended each others' weddings, published a paper together, and then earned tenure as Harvard professors on the same day.
But when it came to the Asian financial crisis of 1997-'99, the two economists clashed. Striking blows by proxy through speeches and papers, Sachs argued that U.S. officials and the International Monetary Fund made the Asia crisis worse by pushing austerity and high interest rates in countries such as Indonesia. Casting Treasury as the force behind the IMF, Sachs called the IMF "the Typhoid Mary of emerging markets" and said: "The Treasury and the IMF have driven a large part of the developing world into recession." Summers, known for his forceful stances, defended U.S. policy. While conceding some of Sachs's points, he didn't cave in.
As Harvard narrowed its pick for Sachs's new boss to Summers, a source close to the situation says Sachs had "fierce objections." But Sachs adamantly denies that: "I encouraged Larry Summers to take this job. We've been friends and colleagues for a long time; I think he'll be an excellent president." He calls his dispute with Summers mere "friendly jousting" and says he will stay at Harvard. Summers, for his part, says only that he's "looking forward to seeing old friends" when he gets there. Kids' meal toys are dangerous. The Consumer Products Safety Commission has cited a rash of incidents and called for better safeguards.
Recall: 3.8 million model planets, because of choking hazard from suction cups
Recall: 234,000 Scooter Bugs, because of broken antennas causing choking
Recall: 400,000 Riverboat toys because of choking hazard; 25 million Pokemon balls after suffocation of two children in 1999-2000
Recall: 425,000 Tangled Treeples animal figures, after packaging got stuck over a child's face
DATA: RESTAURANT BUSINESS, CPSC China is suddenly on a health kick, and nowhere is the trend more evident than in chic Shanghai, where image-conscious residents have higher living standards and more disposable income. Vitamin sales have skyrocketed in the past few years, and health-club memberships are all the rage in a city where just a decade ago a phone line and an air conditioner topped the most-wanted lists.
A dozen health clubs have opened recently in Shanghai. At the local outpost of California's Gold's Gym, membership is up to 1,000 since its September opening. They're mostly male professionals, 25 to 40, who pay a $725 annual fee. Sales of nutritional supplements, such as protein and whey powder, are "huge--its unbelievable," says manager Jill Bodnar, an American.
Of course, most Chinese can't afford such pursuits. But a growing number can. It may be Communist China, but the bourgeois search for the body beautiful is on. Got a good idea for a startup, even in this dismal environment? Want a venture capitalist to fund it? Well, talk fast. You've got two minutes--in an elevator.
That's the goal of a Mar. 31 contest for MBA students from 18 top universities, including Duke, the University of Michigan, Carnegie-Mellon, and the University of Chicago. Sponsored by Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C., the contest puts one or two students in an elevator with local venture capitalists. They have to make a successful pitch lasting no longer than the two-minute ride to the 28th floor of Wachovia Center, downtown headquarters for Wachovia Bank. Organizing professor Stan Mandel says that while there may be 100 such competitions nationwide, "we've structured ours around the way the world works" --hence the elevator. "Oftentimes you have a short period of time to influence stakeholders."
The prize? Investments from three North Carolina VC firms with $500 million in early-stage money. "I believe Anita Hill!" screamed the graffiti writ large on a Washington building around the time of the 1991 confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, whom Hill accused of sexual harassment. For nearly 10 years, the 10-by-20-foot commentary loomed over the busy intersection of Connecticut and Calvert.
But now it has just as mysteriously disappeared, giving rise to conspiracy theories about who did it and why. What's known is that the painter(s) came in the night, around Dec. 12, when the Supreme Court--including Thomas--ruled in favor of George W. Bush in the election recount war. The city and the building's owner say they played no role in it.
Could it have been Bush supporters offering a "thank you" for Thomas' support? A sign of Washingtonians' desire to put the Clinton years behind? American University political analyst Allan Lichtman notes the Supreme Court's desire to preserve its reputation and jokingly suggests that Thomas may have sent a clerk to do the deed. But pundit Ben Wattenberg scoffs that a conspiracy "would require more coordination than I've seen in more than 30 years here." Another theory? Just someone cleaning up the neighborhood. Annual sales projections worldwide for interactive TV set-top boxes: 2001, $6 billion; 2004, $11.5 billion
Data: MindBranch Inc., MRG Inc.