Marketplace - American Public Media

How much help do rural schools in your state need?

Tue, 2014-05-20 08:30

The Rural School and Community Trust has released its "Why Rural Matters" report for 2013-2014, tracking the conditions of rural education in each of the 50 states. Using a combination of measurements, including student diversity, socioeconomic conditions and educational outcomes, the nonprofit organization categorizes in its report the overall need for support of rural education in each state.

In particular, the report highlighted the fact that rural schools, which serve 20 percent of U.S. schoolchildren, are experiencing higher growths in enrollment rates compared to non-rural schools. Rural schools also serve an increasingly diverse demographic and a growing percentage of students live in poverty, according to the report.

This is your brain on a phone

Tue, 2014-05-20 08:00

There is word that Britain's National Health Service has just commissioned a big study to see what mobile phones are doing — if anything — to our kids.

This is one of the biggest stories I'v seen so far while broadcasting this week from London, and yet it has received very little coverage outside of these isles.

Here is the part that stopped me in my tracks: Researchers say this is not something that has been studied much. It should be said that perhaps there are no significant health, cognitive or developmental effects of young people using cell phones the way they do. But until this new research starts bearing fruit in a few years these will remain open questions.

The study will recruit parents and children at about 160 middle and high schools around London. They have to agree to let a special app monitor the phones of children as young as 11. The app will track how the phone is used, as a speaker phone, via headphones or how often it's held up against the ear.

Researchers, coordinated by the Imperial College London, are interested in any effects of radio waves emitted by the phones but also how the regular use of mobiles might change the way kids think or remember information. It's not just the effects of phones they are interested in, but other digital devices such as tablets as well. Alarmist nonsense? It is being noted here that the World Health Organization has said there is an urgent need for this kind of research with youngsters.

It is interesting that for a while now the National Health Service over here has had guidelines urging that phones should only be used by kids for "essential purposes." If you have ever seen a kid stuck in that praying mantis pose with a phone in hand, you know that is not always the case. That is to say kids have been known to use smart phones for more than just calling home for a ride or checking if the teacher had sent an email.

The lead investigator in the new British study is quoted by the BBC saying, "As mobile phones are a new and widespread technology central to our lives, carrying out the study is important in order to provide the evidence base with which to inform policy and through which parents and their children can make informed life choices."

What I am wondering is where they are going to find kids for the study's control group: the kids who never use phones are becoming a very rare breed.

Fashion soared as the economy faltered in the 1930s

Tue, 2014-05-20 07:15

Despite dismal economic circumstances, fashion made great technological and aesthetic advances in the 1930s, says Patricia Mears, co-editor of the book "Elegance in an Age of Crisis: Fashions of the 1930s". Mears is the deputy director of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology.

Madeleine Vionnet orange cotton cutwork dress, circa 1932, Paris, gift of Genia Graves.

© Eileen Costa

Even amongst the poorest people, she says, there was a strong effort to dress well.

"America was probably the best-dressed country in the world because we were so innovative in ready-to-wear," says Mears. "That sense of occasion that really drove the need to wear a suit...and the fact that you didn't have a lot of resources, so you really wanted to put your best self out there, I think was very important."

It wasn't just the economic downturn in the '30s that sparked a wave of fashion innovation, however.

"It sat very closely after World War I, which was a very revolutionary period that really upended culture and society," Mears explains. "Also, there was a lot of technical innovation going on in things related to clothing, namely with textiles -- the innovation of very lightweight, much more flexible, and larger and longer lengths of woven fabric were available to dressmakers and couturiers." 

Madeleine Vionnet black chiffon dress with pintucks, circa 1930, Paris, lent by Beverley Birks.

© Eileen Costa

Hollywood, naturally, influenced the style of the era in its own way--particularly thanks to one Fred Astaire, who would dance up and down the hallways to make sure his clothes fit properly.

"The fact that he was a dancer and that movement was so important--and that he was on the big screen, he understood the importance of properly-proportioned garments--I think was one of the reasons his style has such resonance today," Mears says. "He was one of those men who could wear a white tie and tails the way that other men wore pajamas. There was that sense of ease about the way he dressed."

PODCAST: London's stock ambitions

Tue, 2014-05-20 07:05

There's news that the London Stock Exchange may be the leading contender to buy Russell Investments of Seattle with a purchase price something near $3 billion, according to the Financial Times. We check in with Julie Niemann, the analyst at Smith Moore and Company, to discuss.

And we check in with Brixton Market, in South London. It's a fragrant place, specializing in African and Caribbean produce.

Meanwhile, that leading light of management theory, Peter Drucker, figured companies would be wise to pay their CEOs about 20 times the typical salaries at the company. In recent years in the U.S., that ratio has run 350 to 1. This has been noted in the US, but here in Britain, complaints about executive compensation have risen to a clamor. As part of our coverage of London as a global financial center this week, we bring in Deborah Hargreaves, founding director of what's called the High Pay Center here in Britain.

Are London's CEOs earning too much?

Tue, 2014-05-20 05:23

How much more should a CEO earn than his or her employee? The rates vary around the world, showing little consensus. 

In recent years, U.S. CEO's have seen their pay rise to 350 times that of the average worker. In the U.K., levels of pay aren't far behind, but the conversation concerning executive compensation is far ahead. 

Deborah Hargreaves, founding director of the High Pay Centre in London and a leading voice in that conversation, joins Marketplace Morning Report host David Brancaccio to discuss executive pay and what levels are best for business and the economy. Click on the audio player to hear more.

 

How the AT&T-DirecTV deal plays in Latin America

Tue, 2014-05-20 02:51

In the U.S., satellite TV has been at something of a disadvantage, compared to cable.  

“Part of the reason for that is they lacked the clout to effectively negotiate reasonable rates for content, so they’ve always lagged in the content wars,” according to David Balto, a former policy director for the Federal Trade Commission who now runs a private anti-trust practice.

The merger will, says Balto, place both AT&T and DirectTV in a much better position to bargain for content in the U.S., making it “a much stronger rival to Comcast.”   There are places, however, where satellite already has the upper hand and where DirectTV has a significant stake that could accrue to its and AT&T’s mutual benefit, if the merger makes it past regulators. 

In many emerging markets, where public infrastructure is limited, satellite access is cheaper and more feasible for consumers.   

Stephen Snyder, an analyst with global intelligence and advisory firm Ergo, explains that “satellite TV requires much less infrastructure than cable does. All you need is a dish to receive the signal, whereas with cable TV you need to have antennae, cables, amplifiers and so forth, so that makes it a lot more costly to install.”

It’s the same reason why mobile banking and mobile phone use are so high in the developing world.  “Brazil has six times as many mobile phone users as it does landlines, compared to the U.S. where that ratio is 2 to 1,” says Snyder.  

In the U.S., the cable industry had a two-decade head start in terms of infrastructure and relationships that allowed it to prevent the ascendance of a new system – satellite – that otherwise could have well won out.  The rise of the internet and its associated convenience and alternate infrastructure has finally begun to pry off cable’s dominance. In emerging markets, however, that competition is getting off to a more even start, and the old race may turn out differently.

DirectTV has aggressively targeted Latin America, where it now has around 18 million subscribers, and which constitutes its fastest growing segment.    

“There’s a great opportunity for expansion in Latin America,” says Erik Brannon with IHS Global Insight.  “As people become more affluent, uptake of more high-end cell services like what we enjoy domestically would become the norm, so it’s a significant opportunity for AT&T to expand and do what they do best – provide wireless services.” 

Is London too expensive for poor Londoners?

Tue, 2014-05-20 02:45

London may have opened its doors to the rich from around the world– at the latest count the city had 72 billionaires - but some of the British capital’s poorest, indigenous residents are not feeling quite so welcome. They are being priced out of their hometown. 

Twenty-nine single mothers on welfare in the east London borough of Newham claim that they were threatened with exile from their own city. The mothers were living in the Focus E15 hostel for the homeless and when the hostel faced closure, the local authority reportedly advised the women to relocate to cheaper parts of the country.

One of the mothers -- 20-year-old Samantha Joanne Middleton -- was angered by the advice: “They’re trying to move me away from my family. I mean, I’m born and bred. My mum and my dad are from Newham. Their family’s from Newham. It’s not right. It really ain’t right.” she says.

Middleton became homeless after a domestic dispute. 19-year-old Jasmin Stone was in the same predicament when she went to live in the hostel, and she claims she too was told by the local authority that although she was born and brought up in Newham, she’s now too poor to live in the borough: “East London was a place for the poor. But it’s not anymore. You see so many luxury apartments everywhere. The rents are so expensive. London’s being made a place for just rich people.”

Some of those rich people are foreign investors buying new luxury apartments in the city off-plan. That makes Middleton feel even more alienated. 

“We’re the minority of London now,” she says. “Londoners don't live in London anymore.” 

The 29 “Focus E15” mothers will be living in London for a while longer. Thanks to a protest campaign organized by local activist Hannah Caller, the mothers have been given a reprieve; they will stay in the neighbourhood in private rented accommodation for the immediate future. But Hannah sees this as only a temporary fix.

“The fundamental problems remain for poor people across the capital,” says Caller. “Both Labour and Conservative governments have failed to build enough public housing for low-income families. And now the present coalition government is also squeezing the incomes of the poorest and most vulnerable members of the community by cutting and capping welfare benefits.”

Caller accuses Britain’s main political parties of not caring about the poor and focusing only on the money that big business and rich individuals can bring into London. 

No one at the Newham Borough Council was available for comment.

Local activist Hannah Caller pictured next to a campaign poster says “ British governments don’t care about the poor.” 

Stephen Beard/Marketplace 

President Obama makes a sales pitch for the U.S.

Tue, 2014-05-20 02:44

President Obama will meet with business executives Tuesday morning with the goal of getting more companies to invest in the United States. 

The Obama administration is the first White House to actively campaign for foreign investments. And its intervention is none too soon.

Last year, foreign investment in the U.S. was roughly $193 billion -- down from its peak of $310 billion in 2008.

Dartmouth’s Matthew Slaughter says the U.S. attracts investments from foreign companies by telling executives that the U.S. is "the most innovative, open, largest economy on the planet.”

But Slaughter says many foreign company leaders respond by saying growth in the U.S. has slowed compared to developing countries like China, not to mention an aging infrastructure, complicated immigration system and high corporate taxes.

In 2011, the White House set up an office to attract foreign investments; work that until then had been left up to cities and states.

Nancy McLernon is president and CEO of the Organization for International Investment, which represents U.S. subsidiaries of foreign companies.

She says it’s still too soon to know whether the White House strategy is working, but it can’t hurt.

“Competition around the world has gotten more intense and fierce," McLernon says, "It was getting harder for Ohio to go compete against Singapore.”

Video gaming as a spectator sport

Tue, 2014-05-20 01:10

According to Variety, Google is in talks to buy Twitch, a live video game streaming service, for close to $1 billion.

According to the tech news site Re/code, "When Twitch started up in June 2011, it claimed five million users a month. In 2012, it was up to 20 million. By the end of last year, that number had jumped to 45 million. Broadband service provider Sandvine says Twitch now accounts for 1.35 percent of Internet traffic during peak hours in North America. That’s more than HBO Go’s 1.24 percent."

But how much can streaming video game play actually be worth?

"Streaming is essentially broadcasting yourself and your gameplay online in the gaming world," says former professional gamer Mike Rufail. "We have what is a growing sport, and there's a lot of interaction between the person who is streaming and the viewer."

Here's a live stream here:

TSM_WildTurtle !function(a){var b="embedly-platform",c="script";if(!a.getElementById(b)){var d=a.createElement(c);d.id=b,d.src=("https:"===document.location.protocol?"https":"http")+"://cdn.embedly.com/widgets/platform.js";var e=document.getElementsByTagName(c)[0];e.parentNode.insertBefore(d,e)}}(document);

"Google would be interested in this from a pure investment standpoint," says Rufail. "It's grown to a point now where the advertising revenue generated from these online broadcasts rival major television networks and surpass many of them as well. So I think, a lot of people, are cutting off their televisions and taking in the things on the web."

In London, food banks feel the strain

Mon, 2014-05-19 23:56

At the Tower Hamlets Food Bank in East London, staff make up bags of groceries for the dozens of people who attend the center daily because they can’t afford to feed themselves. The food bank is just a few minutes away from the wealth of London’s Canary Wharf financial hub, yet Tower Hamlets is one of the poorest boroughs in Britain.

Those who use the food bank are referred by their doctor or local social services department. One man – unwilling to give his name - said he’d recently lost his job, and that he didn’t want to be at the food bank.

“I just never thought I would end up here,” he said.

 In the last year alone, there’s been a 160 percent increase in people using food banks, according to the Trussell Trust, a Christian charity that runs almost 40 percent of the UK’s food banks.

Amy Kimbangi, project coordinator at the Tower Hamlets food bank, says it now feeds about 200 people a month. She rejects accusations in some newspapers here that some who go there are just freeloaders abusing the system.

“The majority of people who come here do not want to be at the food bank," she says. "People who come here feel ashamed, feel embarrassed.”

She says a system is in place to ensure that the people helped are those who really need it.

Some say the surge in poverty and the resultant increase in the numbers of people using food banks is the result of sweeping government cuts in welfare benefits. They say people shouldn’t have to rely on food banks in a relatively rich country.

Others disagree. John O’Connell of the Taxpayers Alliance, a campaign group that backs the government cuts, say the greater use of food banks is a good thing.

“The answer isn’t always government hand-outs. It’s endemic of the growth of the benefits system which engenders a culture of dependency in the UK.”  

“The government,” O’Connell says, “can’t take care of everyone.”

Faarea Masud/BBC

 

Opportunity cost and the home

Mon, 2014-05-19 23:40

I met someone recently who bragged that she and her husband had saved hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years because they did all the work around their house themselves. That means yardwork, maintenance, the whole nine.

But did they really save money? What if they ran the numbers on that opportunity cost equation and found they actually lost money?

I'm thinking a lot about this right now, because I bought a new house recently, and there's plenty of maintenance to be done. In fact, right now, there's a guy out back fixing a busted pipe in my sprinkler system. And I’m feeling a bit guilty: Should I be out there fixing that thing? It doesn't look that difficult – all it really amounts to is replacing a piece of broken plastic piping.

The case for outsourcing

  1. I know nothing about sprinkler systems. Nada. Zip.
  2. I have no specialized equipment, or materials, so I’ll have to find out what I need to buy and then go buy it. And then get distracted in the grilling section of the hardware store. And end up spending way more than I really should.
  3. I’ll probably make a mess of it the first time and have to do it over. Plus there’s that vital part that I didn’t get at the store, so I have to make another trip.
  4. It’s what time? Where did the day go?
  5. I didn’t even start writing this blog, and now I might get fired.
  6. My sprinkler guy will take 30 minutes and charge me $50. Boom.

The case for DIY

  1. I’m gaining valuable experience. Once you’ve done something once, whether its stucco, or concreting or sanding a painting a deck, you know what to do, what equipment to buy or lease and how much time it takes. And that investment could mean that every time my sprinklers go kablooey, I have the confidence, know-how and gear to fix them myself in short order, and for next to nothing.
  2. I’m not making any money during the time that the sprinkler guy is fixing my stuff: I’m an exempt employee and I don’t’ get paid overtime.
  3. I get huge satisfaction out of fixing stuff myself. I feel like a provider, a fixer, someone who can be relied on to get things done when things break down. I feel like Magyver. I feel … like a man!
  4. Fixing stuff is fun. Plus you have bragging rights. 

If opportunity cost is "the road not traveled," then the cost of outsourcing is the improvement in my expertise and sense of satisfaction. The cost of DIY, on the other hand is all the time (and maybe money) that I could otherwise spend either making money or relaxing (hey, it's the weekend).

Which means that the opportunity cost calculation of whether or not to outsource household chores becomes a very personal one. People calculate it when they decide whether or not to get groceries delivered, to have a gardener come to work on their yard, or to have their house cleaned by someone else. And a big factor in the decision is how much you enjoy doing those chores yourself. If you really, really hate it, and it takes forever, and you'd enjoy that time so much more doing something else productive or fulfilling or rewarding, then go ahead and outsource.

For a lot of people, of course, there is no question of doing an opportunity cost calculation: they simply don't make enough money to even consider paying someone else to do something for them, so they have to do it themselves. Which means that if you're in a position where you find yourself wondering about opportunity cost, it means you're lucky. Even if it does mean doing some math.

GM doesn't want employees using these words in memos

Mon, 2014-05-19 14:16

A quick follow-up to last week's story about the $35 million fine General Motors is going to pay for not telling the truth about its ignition switch problems.

As part of the document dump related to that case, there's a PowerPoint presentation about how to describe the recall process. Words employees were never to use? "Grenadelike," "Kevorkianesque," "widow-maker," and "rolling sarcophagus," and more:

A coffee plant disease threatens more than prices

Mon, 2014-05-19 13:37

Farmers and harvesters in Central and South America have been hit hard by Roya, or "coffee rust," a fast-spreading fungus that infects the leaves of coffee plants. Roya has caused an estimated $1 billion in damage, and threatened the livelihoods of more than half a million families from Mexico to Peru.

"Entire fields have just been devastated by the rust," said Jonathan Rosenthal, executive director of Cooperative Coffees, who saw the impact of the rust in Honduras. "The trees have turned to skeletons. It's like a ghost town." 

The U.S. is stepping up its efforts to help eradicate the disease, partnering with Texas A&M's World Coffee Research Center. Coffee farming has lifted many families in Central and South America out of poverty. USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah says the organization's Feed the Future program has connected thousands of coffee growers to companies including Starbucks and Peet's. In some cases, Shah said, those farmers have seen their yearly incomes double or triple. He warns that as families fall into poverty, they become increasingly susceptible to the influence of drug traffickers and gangs.

"They prey upon communities that are poor, where lots of children are hungry, and they offer them an illicit income opportunity by producing drugs and selling drugs," Shah said. 

Fungicides are able to treat the blight, but many small farmers can't afford them. 

"The fungicide requires investment; the tools that are used to apply the fungicide require investment," said Lindsey Bolger, vice president of coffee sourcing and excellence for Keurig Green Mountain. "In some cases, these farmers just don't have the resources that they need." 

Unpacking the AT&T-DirecTV deal

Mon, 2014-05-19 13:29

Over the weekend, AT&T announced it plans to buy DirecTV for $48.5 billion. That is, of course, pending approval from federal regulators that are already busy sorting out a different telecommunications merger: Comcast’s bid to buy Time Warner Cable.

“Big fish are swallowing small fish,” says Reed Hundt, former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, of the changing media landscape. “And if you want to avoid being swallowed, you need to be a bigger and bigger fish.”  AT&T, which is primarily a wireless provider, wants to diversify – to be able to sell customers phone service, internet access, and television.

And its advantage in selling regulators on the deal? Its size. "In terms of the pay TV business," says Todd Rethemeier of Hudson Square, "AT&T is a relatively small player."

Why Google isn't really 'free'

Mon, 2014-05-19 11:43

Martin Smith says its OK for you to be outraged by the NSA's surveillance programs, but still use Google and Facebook every day.

“People like the connectivity that they get out of giving information to private companies,” says Smith, producer of the two-part Frontline documentary "United States of Secrets". “And we haven’t seen the kind of abuses [with private companies] that we associate with government overreach. When George Orwell wrote "1984", it was about government. It wasn’t about private corporations.”

But private companies aren’t totally in the clear. Companies like Google may not have been doing the spying. But Martin says that when the government came calling, they didn’t ask many questions.

The documentary includes a clip of President Bush speaking shortly after 9/11:

BUSH: “The new law that I signed today will allow surveillance of all communications used by terrorists. Including emails, the internet, and cell phones.”

“It was kind remarkable to go back and in the context of what we know now listen to what President Bush was then saying,” says Smith “It was all laid out. The companies clearly had to know.

Smith says what we need to remember is that services like Gmail aren’t really free. At heart, Google is an advertising company. They make money by selling stuff to their users. The more data they have, the better the internet giant is at selling their users more stuff

“When Sergey Brin and Larry Page of Google put together their search engine, that could have been a service that you paid for. Instead, its a 'free service.' But what we are giving in return is access to our personal data.”

Frontline's"United States of Secrets" Part II airs Tuesaday night on PBS.

Two obsessed guys and a radical motorcycle design

Mon, 2014-05-19 10:24

Ten years ago JT Nesbitt was one of the top motorcycle designers in the world. His picture graced the cover of magazines. Celebrities sought out his extravagantly expensive machines. But in 2005, while he was visiting a prince in the Middle East, hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and destroyed Confederate Motorcycles, the company that built Nesbitt’s bikes. Seven years later, his career hadn’t recovered. He was about to take a job waiting tables in the French Quarter, when a stranger showed up on his doorstep and turned his life upside down.

The stranger was a fan of Nesbitt’s work. He wanted to see his latest motorcycle projects. But, Nesbitt explained, he hadn’t designed a bike in seven years, and he was broke. The stranger looked around the shop and offered to buy Nesbitt a drink. So the two of them took a walk down Decatur street, to a French Quarter bar called Molly’s .

They took a seat at a table and ordered beers. And then the stranger asked Nesbitt a question.  “He says, 'What would you do if you could do anything?'”

The stranger says he asked the question on a whim, “I just honestly wanted to know, and [Nesbitt] was momentarily dumbfounded because nobody had asked him that. But strangely, as if it were rehearsed, he had his notebook with him.”

Nesbitt always carries his sketchbook with him.  And so he pulled it out. But before opening it, he made the stranger swear on his grandmother’s eyeballs that he wouldn’t tell anyone about what he was about to show him. The Stranger agreed. So Nesbitt opened up his sketchbook.

Courtesy of JT Nesbitt

The "Stranger’s" name turned out to be Jim Jacoby and in many ways, JT Nesbitt and Jim Jacoby are opposites. Jacoby loves technology; he thinks it can be used to better mankind. Nesbitt shuns most modern conveniences. He doesn’t have phones that can text. Jacoby is soft-spoken, an introvert. “Even having a conversation like this is outside of what I would find comfortable,” he said in a recent interview. Nesbitt can be blunt and abrasive. “Dude, that’s a stupid question,” he once responded to a question I asked.

But one trait they both share is obsessiveness. “This is the only thing that I think about,” said Nesbitt referring to his design project, “and the only thing I’ve thought about for the last eight years.”

Jacoby says he asked to see Nesbitt’s sketchbook simply out of curiosity. What he saw were the drawings of a bizarre looking motorcycle. But the more he thought about them, the more began to see the motorcycle as a solution to a much bigger problem: The decline of industrial design and craftsmanship in America.

“It's unacceptable,” said Jacoby, “that somebody like JT would be sitting here waiting, unable to do what he’s capable of doing. And if we don’t capture this in people like JT and many other incredibly talented people who work with their hands first and then transfer things to computer, we’ll have lost something incredibly valuable.”

Jacoby is a successful entrepreneur who started a company in 2001 called Manifest Digital. It builds websites and does social marketing for large corporations like McDonalds. He built it from nothing and had 140 employees working for him. But he was starting to have doubts about the life he had built around his company.

“A company that needed to be profit driven and hit certain numbers... and I was trying to [save] the world... those two things are hard to square,” said Jim.

The meeting with Nesbitt pushed him over the edge. He made the decision to quit the company he founded.

And then he took his life savings and handed them over to Nesbitt to fund the building of three prototypes of this unusual machine. But the motorcycle commission is just one part of something bigger.

“The goal is to separate the drive for profit from the act of designing,” explained Jacoby. He wants to remove the corporate constraints that normally hinder industrial designers like Nesbitt.  Nesbitt doesn't have to worry about things like keeping the cost of materials down or designing for mass appeal.

One of the reasons Nesbitt was on the verge of going back to being a waiter is that he is unwilling to compromise.

“If Jim hadn't shown up I would be serving you lunch,” said Nesbitt, “and that’s OK. There’s honor in that. I’d rather be the guy serving you lunch than a guy who is building a compromised motorcycle for mass consumption.”

Jacoby has not given Nesbitt any design restrictions for this motorcycle. Nesbitt has complete and total freedom. “So I don’t have to worry about 'Will people like this or that?', which frees me up to do pure design, pure art.”

JT and Jim are trying to create a new type of patronage system. They compare it to the Medici’s, the wealthy banking family that birthed the Italian Renaissance. They call this system the ADMCi, short for "The American Design and Master Craft Initiative".

“I think we're at the beginning now of what could be another Renaissance,” says Jim. “You have more money sitting on the sidelines through private equity and venture capital and in business profits than has ever existed. My goal is to lead through example and inspiration, and say, 'Let’s believe in great craftsmen first, and put that money to work with them.' And the byproduct will create all kinds of other business opportunities.”

The ADMCi is made up of three entities. One of them is a nonprofit called The Master Practitioner Foundation. This entity will apply for grants, and most importantly seek out wealthy donors, or patrons. JT is building three prototypes. When they are finished, JT and Jim will likely sell them for about $250,000 each. But whoever buys one won’t own it outright. They will be more like stewards of the motorcycle. In the same way an art collector might purchase a painting to be on display to the public, the motorcycle may be part of a traveling museum exhibit.

 

JT Nesbitt and Jim Jacoby.

Scott Tudury

David Lenk is an industrial design expert who also designs museum exhibits for a living. Lenk thinks the ADMCi could help reverse the decline of industrial design and manufacturing in America, which, he says, peaked in the mid 1950s: “You can walk through any flea market aisle today and find a Sunbeam blender or an Emerson fan or Bakelite Xenith radio from the late '40s to early '50s and, not only do they look good, they probably still work.”

But, said Lenk, things started to change in the mid-50s. “The Harvard MBA grads started fanning out with their evangelizing of planned obsolescence, and finance became more important than corporate traditions of design or quality. And by the mid 60s it was all gone. It’s just junk.”

Lenk believes that if the ADMCi’s first commission is a big enough success, if it makes a big enough splash, it could be a model for a new way to fund innovation and design, an alternative to traditional profit-driven investment models. It’s part of a decentralization that’s occurring, he said, “sort of an anti-corporate, structures that are like virtual teams of suppliers that come together to support efforts that will allow individuals with ideas such as JT Nesbitt to produce.”

Jason Cormier

Lenk’s involvement in this project happened entirely by chance. Nearly two years after JT first showed Jim his sketchbook at Molly’s, the two of them were back at the bar in their usual spot when Lenk happened to sit next to them. “It was a real motorhead moment. Within two sentences we were talking about French Coach work of the 1930s.”

And then JT told David about his motorcycle prototype which by this point was nearly complete. It was in his shop just a few blocks away.  The conversation ended, said Lenk, with an invitation to visit JT’s shop that Saturday, “but nothing could have prepared me for what I saw.”

Hacking won't scare U.S. companies out of China

Mon, 2014-05-19 10:11

The Department of Justice announced today that five Chinese military officers have been indicted for allegedly hacking trade secrets from U.S companies.

It’s the first time that the U.S. has charged specific foreign officials with cyber espionage, but as Marketplace's China correspondent Rob Schmitz tells us, it’s actually sort of old news.

“A little more than a year ago we learned that the People’s Liberation Army hacked into dozens of U.S. companies, stealing reams of intellectual property,” says Schmitz. “But this news and its implications were cut short: Right after it was discovered, Edward Snowden released what amounted to a nuclear bomb on the U.S. intelligence community by exposing the NSA’s spying operation.”

Schmitz says China probably wants the trade secrets to help build up its infrastructure. The hacking allegedly took place three or four years ago, when China had just announced plans to build dozens of nuclear power plants across the country.

“Of course the United States has a lot of experience building nuclear power plants. So it could be reasonably assumed that China was cutting and copying the U.S.”

Schmitz says hacking is a growing problem for U.S. companies, but that doesn’t mean they’ll abandon their operations in China.

“The companies that were hacked last year were too scared to complain about having their technology stolen by the Chinese, because they were afraid of upsetting one of their most important global markets. Unless U.S. companies stand up for themselves and start publicly complaining about this, I think the hacking will go on for quite a while.”

Cats, video games, funerals: All with video on demand

Mon, 2014-05-19 09:31

According to Variety, Google is in talks to buy Twitch, a live video game streaming service, for close to $1 billion. Yup, a website that lets you watch other people play video games may be worth $1 billion. Fans don't even have to fire up their own version of "Call of Duty." The reported deal illustrates the growth of live streaming technology. For example:

Streams that make us go Squee! Streaming service provider UStream says the market for live streaming is growing. Right now it says it gets about 77 million unique global views a month -- a year ago at this time it got just 55 million. The company says it broadcasts everything from church services, to content broadcast by citizen journalists to disc jockey lessons. Animal cams, it notes, are always popular:

1. French bull dog puppies!

2. Baby Hummingbirds!

3. Kitty rescue center cam!

Life event live streams

1. Graduations
In case you can't get enough tickets for grandma, grandpa, and grandma and grandpa.

2. Weddings

You may not catch the bouquet, but you also don’t have to shell out for plane tickets.

3. Funerals

Mark Krause of Krause Funeral Homes says he started offering a streaming service in 2009, charging consumers about $195 on top of  regular costs. While Krause notes that the stream wasn’t meant to replace the ceremony itself, he says it was  helpful for family members who weren’t able to physically attend. Unfortunately Krause notes that just a few years ago, the technology was too unstable to provide a seamless experience for consumers: "It's more on the bloody edge, than the cutting edge," he says. "I'm always about trying innovating things but funeral directors won't provide it if they can’t rely on it."

Other

1. 2014 Rope Skipping National Championships

BrightRoll, a tech platform that powers video advertising on the web says sports make up a massive, disproportionate share of streamed video. Tim Avila, Senior Vice President of Marketing Operations at BrightRoll says there was a 176% increase in live video ad views between 2013 and 2014.
http://www.ustream.tv/channel/sctv18

2. Bigfoot cam.

Do you believe? Watch this stream and maybe you'll finally spy proof for your theories.

3. London Bridge

Like bridges? Like London? You will love this.

Tap dance your way into the White House, kids

Mon, 2014-05-19 07:25

From the Marketplace Datebook, here’s a look at what’s coming up Tuesday, May 20:

On this day in 1873, Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis are given a patent to create work pants with metal rivets; you may know them as blue jeans.

And in 1932, Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic.

In Washington, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee will hold a roundtable on economic security for working women.

And First Lady Michelle Obama and the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities will host the first-ever White House Talent Show.

PODCAST: AT&T bids $48.5 billion for DirecTV

Mon, 2014-05-19 06:57

AT&T is buying satellite TV company DirecTV in a $48.5 billion deal. Like so many other media mergers, the news has executives and Wall Street analysts tossing around corporate buzzwords. There’s the old favorite “synergy,” of course. But “bundle” is the key word for this proposed combination.

And we're reporting from London this week, and what London market report would be complete without a visit to Smithfield Market? Where even at 1:30 in the morning you can buy wholesale bits of cattle. Michell Hucks, who works at Abslom and Tribe at Smithfield, gives us an inside look.

Banks, brokers, markets -- London has it all. Add to that a sturdy legal system and you can begin to understand why it's the financial capital of the world. The city is loved by its locals and foreigners seeking a safe -- and profitable -- haven.

 

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