Thursday, January 31, 2019

The ‘Complete’ Cancer Cure Story Is Both Bogus and Tragic

An Israeli company claimed it will cure cancer in a year, and the internet erupted. But in this latest viral incident, everyone loses.
Is there any more tantalizing headline than “Scientists Discover a Cure for Cancer”? Some version of this fantastical claim has been dropped into the news cycle with the regularity of a super blood wolf moon for the better part of a century. In 1998, James Watson told The New York Times that a cancer cure would arrive by Y2K. This magazine hasn’t been immune either, running an “End of Cancer” headline a few years later. Each instance stirs up hope for patients and their families desperate to find a solution, no matter the risk or cost. And yet, here we are in 2019, with that constellation of complex, diverse diseases we lump together and call “cancer” for convenience's sake still killing one in eight men and one in 11 women, according to the World Health Organization’s latest stats.

You’d think creators and consumers of news would have learned their lesson by now. But the latest version of the fake cancer cure story is even more flagrantly flawed than usual. The public’s cancer cure–shaped amnesia, and media outlets’ willingness to exploit it for clicks, are as bottomless as ever. Hope, it would seem, trumps history.

What’s Happening

On Monday, the Jerusalem Post, a centrist Israeli newspaper, published an online story profiling a small company called Accelerated Evolution Biotechnologies that has been working on a potential anti-cancer drug cocktail since 2000. It was somewhat cautiously headlined “A Cure for Cancer? Israeli Scientists Think They Found One” and relied almost entirely on an interview with the company’s board chair, Dan Aridor, one of just three individuals listed on AEBi’s website. In it, Aridor made a series of sweeping claims, including this eye-popper: “We believe we will offer in a year’s time a complete cure for cancer.”

It was an especially brash move considering the company has not conducted a single trial in humans or published an ounce of data from its completed studies of petri dish cells and rodents in cages. Under normal drug development proceedings, a pharmaceutical startup would submit such preclinical work to peer review to support any claims and use it to drum up funding for clinical testing. AEBi’s PR move might be an attempt at a shortcut. In an interview on Tuesday, the company’s founder and CEO, Ilan Morad, told the Times of Israel that lack of cash flow is the reason AEBi has elected not to publish data.

The original Jerusalem Post article did not interview any outside experts in the oncology field. Nor did it inject any skepticism about the gap between speculative, preclinical work in controlled laboratory environments and a universal cure on a 12-month timeline. Anyone who knows anything about oncology will tell you that a vast number of promising treatments fail human testing. One recent estimate put success rates for cancer drugs getting to market at a dismal 3.4 percent.

What People Are Saying

About 12 hours after the Jerusalem Post tweeted out a link to its story, figures from the far right began to amplify its optimistic headline. Pro-Trump twitter troll Jacob Wohl posted it, followed shortly by conservative political pundit Glenn Beck, who added his own self-aggrandizing touch. “As we have hoped and prayed, and I spoke about happening by 2030: A TOTAL cure for cancer.”
By Tuesday morning, Fox News had published its own report. The story did add some caveats, including a strongly worded comment emailed from a New York oncology expert, who called AEBi’s claim likely to be “yet another in a long line of spurious, irresponsible, and ultimately cruel false promises for cancer patients.” But Fox’s grabby headline retained a nearly identical formula to the original Jerusalem Post story and was copied by similar reports that cropped up on local TV news spots from Philadelphia to Melbourne, Australia.

While many major news outlets ignored the story, the New York Post and Forbes both published their own glowing versions, based largely on the Jerusalem Post’s reporting. But within 24 hours, both sites had come out with new, decidedly less rosy stories, in which they (gasp!) interviewed cancer experts. Forbes actually published two. One, by the original story’s author, was entitled “Experts Decry Israeli Team’s Claims That They Have Found the Cure for Cancer” and another, headlined even more explicitly: “An Israeli Company Claims That They Will Have a Cure for Cancer in a Year. Don’t Believe Them.”

Such course correction is not unusual, nor nefarious, in the fast-moving world of online journalism. But, as scholars of the internet attest, misinformation spreads faster online than attempts to claw it back. While outrage may be the fuel that feeds the virality of most fake news stories, when it comes to news about our health, people tend to be motivated by a more upbeat impulse. “Positivity looms larger in deciding both what to read and what to share,” wrote Hyun Suk Kim, a communications researcher at Ohio State University, in one analysis of how health news stories get shared through social networks.

So the “Cancer Cured!” piece is going to travel farther, faster, than the “Cancer Still Sucks” story. Case in point: When Forbes tweeted out its original article, it received 47 replies, 821 retweets, and 1,635 likes. The one that went out a day later, publicizing a 180-degree reversal in tone, has so far received a mere four replies, 30 retweets, and 61 likes.

Why It Matters

Social media makes it easier than ever to be a noncritical consumer of information. The constant scroll-scroll-scroll is practically designed to encourage lazy thinking. At the same time, people are hungry for a life preserver of good news amid the toxic content spewing from platforms like Twitter and Facebook. When every day online feels like a battle across party, sex, race, class, and even generational lines, cancer is a unifying enemy. A story about the end of cancer could be an olive branch to a sick friend or a relative across the social divide. Or it might just allow you to believe, for one blissful moment, that your body’s cells aren’t already on an unstoppable mutational march toward your demise.

But all the armchair philosophizing in the world can’t change the ugly truth of the persistent cancer-cure meme: Peddling false hope is immoral.

RMS Tayleur: The Other Titanic

The sinking of the Titanic is one of the best remembered maritime disasters in history. A grand luxury ship touted as the safest vessel afloat, carrying over two thousand passengers, many of which were wealthy and powerful members of society, sinking on her maiden voyage was an unimaginable event. The loss of the Titanic, for many, was symbolic of the fragile nature of society itself, and science’s valiant but futile attempts to triumph over nature.

But Titanic wasn’t the first casualty suffered by White Star Line, the British shipping company that owned the luxurious liner. If you look at White Star Line’s history you will see a string of mishaps spanning several decades until the big one of April 14, 1912.

RMS Olympic, one of the three identical ships built by White Star Line, undergoing sea trial in 1911. She belonged to same class of ships as the infamous RMS Titanic.

Back in the 19th century, White Star Line was one of the most prominent shipping company providing passenger and cargo services between Britain and the United States, Canada, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia. While its competitors focused primarily on speed, White Star Line rose to prominence providing pleasant and comfortable passage across the North Atlantic aboard some of the biggest and luxurious ships in the world. The innovative vessel Oceanic, launched in 1870, with her “unparalleled accommodations and stunning appearance” forever changed the design of passenger liners. The Oceanic was the first ship to have running water and electric bells to summon stewards in the first-class cabins. The ship’s bigger portholes allowed in more light, and its dining room was large enough to seat all first-class passengers at once. Contemporary press described her as “an imperial yacht,” that established the “White Star Line as the arbiter of comfort on the North Atlantic.”

As White Star Line's reputation for comfort grew, ships became bigger and more opulent. The Titanic and her two sister ships, Olympic and Britannic, were intended to be the largest and most luxurious ships to operate on the North Atlantic. The first-class cabins had lavish interiors and private bathrooms, large and spacious dining rooms, swimming pools, Turkish baths, gymnasium and many other amenities. Even third-class passengers enjoyed reasonable accommodation with shared private cabins when other ocean liners of the time had large dormitories. After the Titanic sank on her maiden voyage, the two remaining vessels underwent many changes in their safety provisions. Only the Olympic turned out to be profitable for White Star Line, remaining in service for 24 years until White Star merged with its competitor, Cunard, in an effort to stay in business during the Great Depression of the 1930s. The Britannic was requisitioned by the British government to serve the First World War and was used as a hospital ship. She hit an underwater mine in the Mediterranean Sea and sank in 1916.

RMS Oceanic

White Star wasn’t always making luxury ships. When the shipping company formed out of the ashes of another, in 1845, Australia was in the middle of a gold rush, and tens of thousands of prospectors were leaving UK for the gold fields of Australia every month. White Star’s owners, John Pilkington and Henry Wilson, decided to serve this lucrative route to Australia. Their fleet initially consisted of nine chartered sailing ships—modest in size but fast enough to make the journey to Australia in a little over two months. That’s an impressive speed considering that a typical journey from UK to Australia took around three months.

RMS Tayleur was the largest ship in White Star’s fleet. She was 230 feet long and weighed 1,750 tons unloaded, with a capacity to carry 4,000 tons of cargo. 

On 19 January 1854, Tayleur left Liverpool for Melbourne on her maiden voyage with 652 passengers and crew on board. She was commanded by a young Captain John Noble who despite being only 29 years of age was an experienced sailor. 

RMS Tayleur

Tayleur’s design was new and untested, and no sea trial was conducted before her maiden voyage—she was pushed straight into service—so Noble had no opportunity to get a feel of the ship’s maneuverability. But a glance at the ship’s mast and the rudders told him that the ship would require every ounce of experience he had and some good fortune to make the journey safely. Nobel noticed that the ship’s three masts were further apart than normal, which he correctly guessed would make the ship unbalanced and difficult to handle. He also found the rudders too small for a ship of her size. The most troubling were the ship’s three compasses which all gave different readings because the ship’s iron hull interfered with their functioning.

In spite of these grave shortcomings, Nobel set sail because the public anticipation around the ship was too much for his employer to ignore. The effects of the faulty compasses came into play shortly after leaving port. Nobel steered the ship towards what he believed was south, but instead took his ship west towards Ireland. The weather was wet and cloudy and the ship’s navigator was unable to sight the stars and rectify the mistake. Two days later, Tayleur ran into a storm and Nobel watched the sails “flapping and beating in a frightening manner.” Meanwhile, the ropes controlling the sail had not been properly stretched, so they became slack, making it nearly impossible to control the sails. Noble tried to work out his position using the sun, but it was too foggy.

On the morning of January 21, one of the sailors sighted land straight ahead. Captain Nobel tried to steer the ship away from the sharp rocks, but as he feared, the rudder was too small to turn the ship. Desperately, Noble ordered the crew to drop anchors in the hope that it would slow down the ship, but the chains broke and Tayleur raced ahead towards the island of Lambay, about five miles from Dublin Bay, and dashed against the rocks.

With the ship slowly sinking, the passengers tried frantically to get off her, but the first lifeboat that was lowered smashed on the rocks and broke. Some people were able to jump onto land and escaped. Others swung by on ropes and landed safely. Captain Noble waited on board until the last minute, then jumped towards shore and was rescued by one of the passengers. Of more than 650 aboard, only 280 survived. Of the 100 women aboard, all but three drowned. Children suffered the same fate. Of 70 children on board, only three survived.

Many people have drawn parallel between the sinking of the Tayleur and the Titanic. Both were RMS ships belonging to the White Star Line, and both went down on their maiden voyages. 

The wreck of Tayleur can still be visited off the coast of Lambay island where it sank at a depth of 17 meters. The rusting wreckage includes substantial portion of the hull, side plates, a donkey engine and the lower mast. Some of the woodwork and several pieces of crockery were salvaged during the 1950s, shortly after the wreck was discovered. There are now on display at Newbridge House, Donabate.

How Will Chicago’s Birds Weather the Polar Vortex?

Here’s how the region’s avian residents will survive the cold snap.

Sharpless 308: Star Bubble AKA, The Dolphin Nebula


Image Credit & Copyright: Laubing
Explanation: Blown by fast winds from a hot, massive star, this cosmic bubble is huge. Cataloged as Sharpless 2-308 it lies some 5,200 light-years away toward the constellation of the Big Dog (Canis Major) and covers slightly more of the sky than a Full Moon. That corresponds to a diameter of 60 light-years at its estimated distance. The massive star that created the bubble, a Wolf-Rayet star, is the bright one near the center of the nebula.

Wolf-Rayet stars have over 20 times the mass of the Sun and are thought to be in a brief, pre-supernova phase of massive star evolution. Fast winds from this Wolf-Rayet star create the bubble-shaped nebula as they sweep up slower moving material from an earlier phase of evolution. The windblown nebula has an age of about 70,000 years. Relatively faint emission captured in the expansive image is dominated by the glow of ionized oxygen atoms mapped to a blue hue. SH2-308 is also known as The Dolphin Nebula.

Geisha vs Oiran

What's the Difference? ★ ONLY in JAPAN #30 花魁と芸者の違い

ONLY in JAPAN May 22, 2015 13 min. 30 sec.

If you're looking for Japanese culture, Asakusa in Tokyo is the top spot. On this day, John visits the Yoshiwara for the Oiran Dochu, a parade re-enacted annually to preserve the old traditions of the neighborhood. The event is attracting more visitors and it's time to explain exactly what you're seeing! Geisha vs Oiran: What's the difference? I ask Grigoris Miliaresis, a journalist living and studying Asakusa and historical Japanese culture. The faces may be white, but the wig, hair ornaments, kimono, colors, even feet are totally different! How much was a night with an oiran? 
According to Grigoris, it cost 1 year's salary for a normal worker! The Orian were not your usual prostitutes in the western sense. * Oiran choose their clients * Oiran met 3 times with a new client before anything “romantic” occurred. * The were as talented as geisha in the arts and, because they had extravagant dress and style, Oiran were like the movie stars, the pin up girls for men. Does this make them better than geisha? Perhaps. 
The Oiran Dochu is held on the first Saturday in April every year. Google Map: The main stage is a 5 to 10 minute walk north of Sensoji Temple. URL: Grigoris Miliaresis, Journalist and Writer about Asakusa and Shitamachi, Japanese History and Culture Oiran Dochu Procession in Asakusa / Yoshiwara: (Japanese Only) 
Special Thanks to Yoko Okita (sensei), the Oiran participants and the Yoshiwara Neighborhood! This show has been created and produced by John Daub ジョン・ドーブ. He's been living and working in Japan for over 17 years and regularly reports on a TV show for Japan's International Channel.

Nyango Star

The Heavy Metal Cat Mascot Saving A Japanese Farm (HBO)

VICE News Jan 10, 2019 7 min.  21 sec.

Nyango Star is one of Japan’s most popular mascots, but you might know him best as a meme. He’s an apple that’s been inhabited by the spirit of a dead cat, and he absolutely shreds on the drums. Very cute but also very metal. Nyango Star is what’s known in Japan as a yuru-chara — which translates loosely to “chill mascot.” Japanese yuru-chara can represent everything from police departments to restaurants to government initiatives. Nyango Star represents Kuroishi City — a farming community in Japan’s northern prefecture of Aomori — where the population is declining and aging. But Kuroishi’s mayor is hoping Nyango Star’s viral success will help the shrinking town maintain economic viability. VICE News went to Japan to meet with Nyango Star and his management team and get an inside look at yuru-chara culture in Japan.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Haneda Airport Debuts Signs That Appear Through Optical Illusion

The Asahi Shimbun  by AYATERU HOSOZAWA/ Staff Writer  January 29, 2019

Photo/IllutrationOptical illusion signs indicating the direction to elevators to the train platforms at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport International Terminal Station are installed on Jan. 28. (Rei Kishitsu) 

Major railway operator Keikyu Corp. unveiled two surreal signs seen through an optical illusion at Tokyo's Haneda Airport International Terminal Station on Jan. 28 to point passengers to elevators to underground train platforms.

One 3-D image of a sign appears to pop up from the floor as a person approaches it. Another visual illusion in the floor pointing in the same direction creates a "bottomless" arrow filled with a blue sky and white clouds.

Keikyu hopes the signs on the second floor of the station's concourse linking directly with the airport’s arrival lobby will stick out so passengers don't miss often-overlooked elevators reaching to the train platforms obscured by escalators and improve the flow of people through the area.

However, some travelers seem to get stuck at the spot where the signs are set, with their eyes glued to the optical illusion, as if they are refusing to believe what they're seeing.

It is the first time this type of sign has been used in Japan, said Keikyu, which operates the train line the elevators lead to at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport International Terminal Station.

Wide Field View of Great American Eclipse


Image Credit & Copyright: Nicolas Lefaudeux
Explanation: Only in the fleeting darkness of a total solar eclipse is the light of the solar corona easily visible. Normally overwhelmed by the bright solar disk, the expansive corona, the sun's outer atmosphere, is an alluring sight. But the subtle details and extreme ranges in the corona's brightness, although discernible to the eye, are notoriously difficult to photograph. Pictured here, however, using over 120 images and meticulous digital processing, is a detailed wide-angle image of the Sun's corona taken during the Great American Eclipse in 2017 August. Clearly visible are intricate layers and glowing caustics of an ever changing mixture of hot gas and magnetic fields. Hundreds of stars as faint as 11th magnitude are visible behind the Moon and Sun, with Mars appearing in red on the far right. The next total eclipse of the Sun will occur on July 2 and be visible during sunset from a thin swath across Chile and Argentina.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Foie Gras & the Ethics of Force-Feeding

The Politics of Food

Munchies Jan 21, 2015  41 min. 05 sec.

In 2012, the State of California successfully banned foie gras, citing animal welfare and health concerns. Though that ban was just recently overturned, the debate continues to rage on from both sides. In this episode of The Politics of Food, chef and food writer Dave Arnold speaks to the ban's key political players, including the Chairman of the California Democratic Party, to understand how insider politics determines what we can and cannot eat. From a foie gras speakeasy to the world of animal-rights activists, Dave visits both sides of the issue and discovers why there’s so much controversy surrounding this popular delicacy.

This Wild Raven Gets Plucked and a New Best Friend

CNN Jul 15, 2013  2 min. 7 sec.

Ouch! Woman plucks porcupine quills stuck in wild raven. CNN's Jeanne Moos reports on a bird's best friend. More from CNN at
This is a young raven.  You can tell by the pink inside of its mouth, the "lips" at the corner of its mouth and the bluish color of its eyes.  A adult would probably not put up with all that.

How a Japanese Otaku Decoded Vermeer's Art Materpieces

ONLY in JAPAN Dec 3, 2018 13 min. 22 sec.

Vermeer meets the obsessive mind of a Japanese Otaku! 
Japan's Otaku are known for being obsessive about their passions. In fact, that's the definition of an Otaku - and they're socially inept. Professor Shin-Ichi Fukuoka is not just one of those guys, he's the leading Vermeer Otaku in the world with amazing scientific abilities -- and that obsessive mental laser has led to some amazing discoveries in the art field. 
Using his Otaku super mind, he's uncovered some new clues into Vermeer's life and also that of Leeuwenhoek, the father of microbiology. They're things missed for centuries by thousands of experts. 
This look into the mind of an Otaku is also a way to see how Vermeer has become so popular in Japan. People wait for hours to see his work and there are even drinks and soups made in honor of his work! So why is Vermeer so big here? Professor Fukuoka will enlighten us, in the geekiest way possible. How far has his obsession gone? The professor has also recreated all of Vermeer's work, restoring the color to it's original -- now better than the originals -- as though they were painted over 300 years ago. Yeah, his passion for Vermeer is on another level. It's the highest level!

Twins Get 'Mystifying' DNA Ancestry Test Results

CBC News Jan 18, 2019 21 min. 15 sec.

CBC Marketplace investigates the science and marketing behind popular DNA ancestry kits. Host Charlsie Agro and her identical twin sister Carly test five top brands. Find out why ancestry test kits are not as accurate as you might think. To read more:

A Tiny Screw Shows Why iPhones Won’t Be ‘Assembled in U.S.A.’

A screw from the late 2013 model of the Mac Pro.CreditCreditJames Nieves/The New York Times

The New York Times  by Jack Nicas

SAN FRANCISCO — Despite a trade war between the United States and China and past admonishments from President Trump “to start building their damn computers and things in this country,” Apple is unlikely to bring its manufacturing closer to home.

A tiny screw illustrates why.

In 2012, Apple’s chief executive, Timothy D. Cook, went on prime-time television to announce that Apple would make a Mac computer in the United States. It would be the first Apple product in years to be manufactured by American workers, and the top-of-the-line Mac Pro would come with an unusual inscription: “Assembled in USA.”

But when Apple began making the $3,000 computer in Austin, Tex., it struggled to find enough screws, according to three people who worked on the project and spoke on the condition of anonymity because of confidentiality agreements.

In China, Apple relied on factories that can produce vast quantities of custom screws on short notice. In Texas, where they say everything is bigger, it turned out the screw suppliers were not.

Tests of new versions of the computer were hamstrung because a 20-employee machine shop that Apple’s manufacturing contractor was relying on could produce at most 1,000 screws a day.
The screw shortage was one of several problems that postponed sales of the computer for months, the people who worked on the project said. By the time the computer was ready for mass production, Apple had ordered screws from China.

The challenges in Texas illustrate problems that Apple would face if it tried to move a significant amount of manufacturing out of China. Apple has found that no country — and certainly not the United States — can match China’s combination of scale, skills, infrastructure and cost.
Timothy D. Cook, Apple’s chief executive, helped lead the company’s shift to foreign manufacturing in 2004.CreditErica Yoon for The New York Times
In China, you will also find one of Apple’s most important markets, and over the last month the risks that come with that dependence have become apparent. On Jan. 2, Apple said it would miss earnings expectations for the first time in 16 years, mostly because of slowing iPhone sales in China. On Tuesday, the company is expected to reveal more details about its financial results for the most recent quarter and its forecast for the coming year.

The company could face more financial pressure if the Trump administration places tariffs on phones made in China — something the president has threatened to do.

Apple has intensified a search for ways to diversify its supply chain, but that hunt has homed in on India and Vietnam, according to an Apple executive who asked not to be named because the executive was not authorized to speak publicly. The company’s executives are increasingly worried that its heavy dependence on China for manufacturing is risky amid the country’s rising political tensions with the United States and unpredictability, this person said.

“The skill here is just incredible,” Mr. Cook said at a conference in China in late 2017. Making Apple products requires state-of-the-art machines and lots of people who know how to run them, he said.

“In the U.S., you could have a meeting of tooling engineers and I’m not sure we could fill the room,” he said. “In China, you could fill multiple football fields.”

Kristin Huguet, an Apple spokeswoman, said the company was “an engine of economic growth in the United States” that spent $60 billion last year with 9,000 American suppliers, helping to support 450,000 jobs. Apple’s Texas manufacturer, Flextronics, did not respond to requests for comment.

Mr. Cook helped lead Apple’s shift to foreign manufacturing in 2004, a move that cut costs and provided the enormous scale necessary to produce some of history’s best-selling tech products.

Apple contracted much of the work to enormous factories in China, some stretching miles and employing hundreds of thousands of people who assemble, test and package Apple products. That assembly includes parts made around the world — from Norway to the Philippines to Pocatello, Idaho — that are shipped to China.
The final assembly is the most labor-intensive part of building the iPhone, and its location often determines a product’s country of origin for tariffs.CreditKarly Domb Sadof/Associated Press
The final assembly is the most labor-intensive part of building the iPhone, and its location often determines a product’s country of origin for tariffs.

Mr. Cook often bristles at the notion that iPhones are Chinese-made. Apple points out that Corning, at a factory in Kentucky, makes many iPhone screens and that a company in Allen, Tex., makes laser technology for the iPhones’ facial-recognition system.

Mr. Cook has also disputed that cheap labor is the reason Apple is still in China. But it doesn’t hurt. The minimum wage in Zhengzhou, China, home of the world’s biggest iPhone factory, is roughly $2.10 an hour, including benefits. Apple said the starting pay for workers assembling its products there was about $3.15 an hour. Compensation for similar jobs in the United States is significantly higher.

While it was one of Apple’s most powerful computers, the American-made Mac Pro also turned out to be one of its most expensive.

Chinese suppliers shipped their components to Texas. But in some cases, the Texas team needed new parts as designs changed, and engineers who were tasked with designing the computer found themselves calling machine shops in central Texas.

That is how they found Stephen Melo, the owner and president of Caldwell Manufacturing in Lockhart. Employees of Flextronics, the company hired by Apple to build the computers, in turn hired Caldwell to make 28,000 screws — though they would have liked more.

When Mr. Melo bought Caldwell in 2002, it was capable of the high-volume production Apple needed. But demand for that had dried up as manufacturing moved to China. He said he had replaced the old stamping presses that could mass-produce screws with machines designed for more precise, specialized jobs.

Mr. Melo thought it was ironic that Apple, a leader in offshore manufacturing, had come calling with a big order. “It’s hard to invest for that in the U.S. because that stuff is purchased very cheaply overseas,” he said.

Workers heading to a Foxconn factory dedicated to iPhones in Zhengzhou, China, in 2015. Such factories can employ hundreds of thousands of people who assemble, test and package Apple products.CreditGilles Sabrie for The New York Times
He made do with his new machines, although he could not make the exact screws Apple wanted. His company delivered 28,000 screws over 22 trips. Mr. Melo often made the one-hour drive himself in his Lexus sedan.

A former Apple manager who spoke on the condition of anonymity said the Flextronics team had also been far smaller than what he typically found on similar Apple projects in China. It was unclear exactly why the project was understaffed, the manager said, speculating that it was because American workers were more expensive.

The manager said similar Apple jobs in China would include a roomful of people working to ensure that all materials were in place for production. In Texas, it was one worker, who often seemed overwhelmed, the manager said. As a result, materials were regularly out of place or late, contributing to delays.

Another frustration with manufacturing in Texas: American workers won’t work around the clock. Chinese factories have shifts working at all hours, if necessary, and workers are sometimes even roused from their sleep to meet production goals. That was not an option in Texas.

“China is not just cheap. It’s a place where, because it’s an authoritarian government, you can marshal 100,000 people to work all night for you,” said Susan Helper, an economics professor at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland and the former chief economist at the Commerce Department. “That has become an essential part of the product-rollout strategy.”

Ms. Helper said Apple could make more products in the United States if it invested significant time and money and relied more on robotics and specialized engineers instead of large numbers of low-wage line workers. She said government and industry would also need to improve job training and promote the development of a supply-chain infrastructure.

But, she added, there is a low chance of all that happening.

Apple still assembles Mac Pros at the factory on the outskirts of Austin, in part because it has already invested in complicated and custom machines. But the Mac Pro has been a slow seller, and Apple has not updated it since its introduction in 2013.

In December, Apple announced that it would add up to 15,000 workers in Austin, just miles from the Mac Pro plant. None of the new jobs are expected to be in manufacturing.

Teeny, Tiny, Owl

teeny tiny OWL!

Brave Wilderness  Jun 8, 2018 8 min. 18 sec.

Well a teeny-tiny "Scops Owl" to be more specific, and this isn’t just any ordinary owl folks… "Tiny” as she is appropriately named is actually a foster parent for other owls at a sanctuary in South Africa called “The Caring Owl.” That’s right Tiny actually nurtures baby owlets who have lost their parents so they can grow and be rereleased back into the wild…how AWESOME is that?!