You are browsing the archive for 2019 October 04.

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Apple founder Steve Jobs dies

October 4, 2019 in History

By Editors

On October 5, 2011, Steve Jobs, the visionary co-founder of Apple Inc., which revolutionized the computer, music and mobile communications industries with such devices as the Macintosh, iPod, iPhone and iPad, dies at age 56 of complications from pancreatic cancer.

Born on February 24, 1955, in San Francisco, California, to unmarried graduate students Joanne Schieble and Abdulfattah Jandali, a Syrian immigrant, Jobs was adopted as a baby by Paul Jobs, a Silicon Valley machinist, and his wife Clara. After graduating from high school in Cupertino, California, in 1972, Jobs attended Reed College, a liberal arts school in Portland, Oregon, for a single semester before dropping out. He later worked briefly for pioneering video game maker Atari in California, traveled to India and studied Zen Buddhism.

In 1976, Jobs and his computer engineer friend Stephen Wozniak founded Apple Computer in Jobs’ parents’ garage in Los Altos, California. As Bloomberg News would later note about Jobs: “He had no formal technical training and no real business experience. What he had instead was an appreciation of technology’s elegance and a notion that computers could be more than a hobbyist’s toy or a corporation’s workhorse. These machines could be indispensable tools.” In 1977, Jobs and Wozniak launched the Apple II, which became the first popular personal computer. In 1980, Apple went public and Jobs, then in his mid-20s, became a multimillionaire. Four years later, Apple debuted the Macintosh, one of the first personal computers to feature a graphical user interface, which allowed people to navigate by pointing and clicking a mouse rather than typing commands.

In 1985, Jobs left the company following a power struggle with Apple’s board of directors. That same year, he established NeXT, a business that developed high-performance computers. The machines proved too pricey to gain a wide consumer audience; however, British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee developed the World Wide Web using a NeXT workstation. In 1986, Jobs acquired a small computer-graphics studio founded by filmmaker George Lucas and rechristened it Pixar Animation Studios. In 1995, Pixar released its first film, “Toy Story,” the first-ever feature-length, computer-animated movie. It became a huge box-office success and was followed by such award-winning hits as “Finding Nemo” (2003) and “The Incredibles” (2004). In 2006, Walt Disney Company purchased Pixar for more than $7 billion, making Jobs the largest Disney shareholder.

In late 1996, Apple, which had floundered without Jobs, announced it …read more


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The Democrats Are Partially Right About Wealth and Corruption

October 4, 2019 in Economics

By Chris Edwards

Chris Edwards

With strong soak-the-rich rhetoric, Elizabeth Warren has surged in polls for the Democratic presidential nomination. She claims that “billionaires have seized our government” and that “when you’ve got an economy that’s doing great for those with money and isn’t doing great for everyone else, that’s corruption, pure and simple.” Bernie Sanders is also polling near the top of Democratic field by blasting wealth inequality as “obscene” and denouncing the economy as “rigged” by rich people.


Democrats are right that corruption or cronyism helps drive wealth inequality. Well-heeled interests do line their pockets from government spending and regulatory policies. Farm subsidies are classic cronyism: More than $20 billion a year in taxpayer money goes mainly to the wealthiest farmers, including even billionaires.

Federal sugar regulations benefit producers by imposing costs on consumers of up to $4 billion a year. The Fanjul family of Florida built an $8 billion fortune in the sugar industry based partly on their political ties to presidents and members of Congress. Such subsidy programs are “wholesale” cronyism. There is also “retail” cronyism, when particular individuals and businesses get rich by abusing the system. In a recent scandal, a Singapore-based tycoon known as “Fat Leonard” Francis cozied up to U.S. Navy leaders in the Pacific to win hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts to resupply Navy ships. He made large profits over many years by overpricing contracts and faking invoices. To steer contracts his way, Francis bribed officials with gifts, prostitutes, and other favors.



Solyndra is another prime example of retail cronyism. The Department of Energy gave the solar-panel maker a $535 million loan guarantee in 2009. The company went bankrupt and taxpayers got hit with the cost. Why did Solyndra get a loan? Because the White House pressed the department to approve it, since the company’s largest investor — billionaire George Kaiser — was a major fundraiser for Barack Obama.

So Warren and Sanders are right …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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The Real Stories Behind Classic Horror Movies

October 4, 2019 in History

By Becky Little

The Exorcist, The Conjuring and other horror classics were inspired by actual (although not always factual) stories.

How do you make a horror tale scarier? Just say it’s “based on a true story.” That’s a technique book publishers and movie producers have been using for decades, whether or not the supposedly “true story” adds up.

Some movies are inspired by what might be called “real hoaxes”—made-up stories that people have believed. Others draw inspiration from unexplained behavior or folklore. Read about how the story of a troubled teen inspired a movie about demon possession, how a series of hoaxes launched a major movie franchise and how centuries-old folklore about disease gave way to a classic Hollywood villain.

Nosferatu (1922)

Actor Max Schreck in the 1922 film Nosferatu.

The 1922 German film Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror is basically an unauthorized knock-off of magazine. “They would hear about stories either in the news or just sort of through the grapevine, and they would sort of introduce themselves into the story.” But more on them later.

The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988)

Bill Pullman in the 1988 film The Serpent and the Rainbow.

In 1985, a white American graduate student named Wade Davis published a book with an extremely long title: The Serpent and the Rainbow: A Harvard Scientist’s Astonishing Journey into the Secret Societies of Haitian Voodoo, Zombies, and Magic.

In it, Davis claimed he’d discovered that secret Haitian societies used tetrodotoxin, a toxin found in puffer fish, to trick people into thinking they’d died and come back to life as zombies from Haitian folklore. Many other scientists denounced Davis’ claim as bunk, including tetrodotoxin expert C.Y. Kao, who called it “a carefully planned, premeditated case of scientific fraud.”

The story grabbed the attention of horror filmmaker Wes Craven, who adapted the book into the 1988 film The Serpent and the Rainbow starring Bill Pullman as a Harvard researcher based on Davis. Writing in a 1989 issue of Latin American Anthropology Review, anthropologist Robert Lawless seemed to consider this fitting, since the book already read “like the first draft for a Hollywood movie with Davis himself as an Indiana-Jones-type hero.”

The Haunting in Connecticut (2009)

American ghost hunters Lorraine and Ed Warren, 1980.

Remember Ed and Lorraine Warren, the ghost hunters from Amityville? A decade after Amityville, they became involved with the Snedeker family. Parents Allen and Carmen …read more