Monthly Archives: January 2014

1919 Map of New York City’s Manufacturers Shows a Bygone Industrial Landscape

Courtesy of Slate. By Rebecca Onion

This map, printed by the Merchants’ Association of New York in 1922, shows industrial activity in the city, as reported to the 1919 Census of Manufactures. The map was meant as a promotional tool—beige areas represent areas “available for industrial development”—and to boost the city’s profile in the larger business community.

In the upper right-hand corner of the map, a box lists the “lines” (or types of manufactured goods) in which New York’s factories competed. In 1919, this list shows, New York produced more than 50 percent of total national output in 12 lines of manufacture, and was competitive in many more.

Geographer Richard Harris, writing about industry in the city between 1900-40 in the Journal of Historical Geography, points out that because of the particular products New York was known for (lapidary work, women’s clothing, millinery), many industrial workers were women. In 1939, they represented 36 percent of the total workforce. Workers in Lower Manhattan, where many garment factories were located, were particularly female.

Harris points out that although factories tended to move outward into the boroughs after 1919, before WWII the city did retain many factories in its central core, bucking the nationwide trend of suburbanization of industry. In 1940, 60 percent of New York workers had manufacturing jobs.

In the midcentury period, however, development trends turned toward offices and corporate headquarters. Zoning regulations made building more factories difficult.

In recent years, the city’s economy has rested on the service and financial industries. While manufacturers still do set up shop in the city, the scope of their activities is specialized. According to the New York City Economic Development Corporation, industry now provides just 16% of private-sector jobs. New York still produces garments, textiles, and printed material, and has increased production of packaged foods (see this October 2013 report from the NYCEDC for details [PDF]), but city factories tend to be smaller and to employ fewer workers.

Click on the image below to reach a zoomable version, or visit the map’s page on the New York Public Library’s Map Warper site.

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Putting it on the line at the Super Bowl

By Lloyd Graff

Whitney Houston’s Legendary “Star-Spangled Banner” at Super Bowl, 1991

The over-under line on the length of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the Super Bowl by opera star turned pop singer, Renee Fleming, is 2 minutes 25 seconds.

It’s the Super Bowl. Everything is a hustle. Denver by two.

Earlier in the week, Pete Seeger, the wonderful American folk singer, died at 94. Could you ever imagine Pete (“If I Had a Hammer,” “Where Have All the Flowers Gone”) singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” at The Meadowlands?

Funny thing. I love the Super Bowl, with its $4 million a pop ads, and I love the old lefty guitar picker, Seeger. They are both my America, at its pure and phony best.

The Super Bowl has become our winter July 4th. It’s a pageant, a day of parties and pigging out and a celebration of the Flag and what we love about the country. It’s patriotism, bimbos, gambling and quarterbacks rolled into a piano roll of clever and terrible TV ads we forget instantly. It’s America, Baby.

The Super Bowl retains its authenticity because it is still a football game with phenomenal players who go all out to win. Quarterback Peyton Manning versus defensive back Richard Sherman, the Stanford thug. Manning, who improvises every play at the line, risks his mended vertebrae on every snap. Sherman is a bright guy who plays like a maniac.

Which brings me to Beyoncé. She has sung some nice National Anthems, but I cannot forgive her for lip-syncing the “Star-Spangled Banner” at the Presidential Inauguration in 2012. So what if you miss a note or flub a line like Christina Aguilera did at the Super Bowl in 2011, as long as you give your all. When you fake it as Beyoncé did, and then ask the Marine Corps Band to cover your lovely behind, that offends me.

The “Star-Spangled Banner” is a challenging song with somewhat archaic words about the War of 1812. But if you are going to take the credit and the cash Beyoncé, go for it. On the opposite end of the spectrum, I marvel at Sam Cooke on his Copacabana Live album singing “If I Had a Hammer,” when he mixes up two verses and then laughs as he keeps going. At the Super Bowl, the Inauguration, the World Series there is no do over, and there are also no excuses.

I asked Noah for his opinion on the greatest National Anthem performances. He immediately said Whitney Houston, at the 1991 Super Bowl. We played it on You Tube. Fabulous. That was going ALL OUT.

Another memorable performance of patriotic music that comes to mind for me is Ray Charles singing “America the Beautiful” in the second game of the World Series following Sept. 11, 2001. The purity of the visual images brought to life by the remarkable blind performer always gives me chills. Jose Feliciano’s unique “Star-Spangled Banner” at the 1968 World Series also stands out for me.

Queen Latifah is doing “America the Beautiful” at The Meadowlands this Sunday. May she play it straight and sing from the heart. We deserve her real best.

Question I: What is your favorite National Anthem performance?

Question II: Denver or Seattle?

Watch Whitney Houston’s 1991 Star-Spangled Banner Performance

Watch Leslie Nielsen’s Star-Spangled Banner Performance in the Naked Gun

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Factory Jobs Are Gone. Get Over It

Courtesy of BusinessWeek. By Charles Kenny

In the runup to this year’s State of the Union address, President Obama has been busy trying to fulfill pledges from last year’s. He went to Raleigh, N.C., to announce it would become a high-tech manufacturing hub to ensure that the U.S. attracts “the good, high-tech manufacturing jobs that a growing middle class requires.”

The president is one of many politicians of both parties as well as pundits who think manufacturing deserves special treatment. But this factory obsession is based on flawed economics. As the Brookings Institute economist Justin Wolfers asked recently, “What’s with the political fetish for manufacturing? Are factories really so awesome?”

Not really—at least not for the U.S. in 2014. Any attempt to draw lessons from the 1950s, when many a high school-educated (white, male) person got a job in a factory and joined the middle class, doesn’t account for the changes in the U.S. and global economy since the middle of the last century. While it’s smart to focus on creating more stable, remunerative jobs, few of them are likely to come from manufacturing.

In 1953 manufacturing accounted for 28 percent of U.S. gross domestic product, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. By 1980 that had dropped to 20 percent, and it reached 12 percent in 2012. Over that time, U.S. GDP increased from $2.6 trillion to $15.5 trillion, which means that absolute manufacturing output more than tripled in 60 years. Those goods were produced by fewer people. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of employees in manufacturing was 16 million in 1953 (about a third of total nonfarm employment), 19 million in 1980 (about a fifth of nonfarm employment), and 12 million in 2012 (about a tenth of nonfarm employment).

Service industries—hotels, hospitals, media, and accounting—have taken up the slack. Even much of the value generated by U.S. manufacturing involves service work—about a third of the total. More than half of all people still employed in the U.S. manufacturing sector work in such services as management, technical support, and sales.

Over the past 30 years, manufacturers have spent more on labor-saving machinery and hired fewer but more skilled workers to run it. From 1980 to 2012 across the whole economy, output per hour worked increased 85 percent. In manufacturing output per hour climbed 189 percent. The proportion of manufacturing workers with some college education has increased from one-fifth to one-half since 1969.

Across richer countries, growth has been accompanied by a decline in the number of manufacturing jobs and the rise of service jobs. Some of the richer countries, such as France, that have seen the slowest decline in manufacturing’s share of employment have actually suffered some of the most sluggish growth. In the U.S., Eric Fisher of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland suggests that those states where the shift from manufacturing employment has been the most rapid are those where wages have climbed the fastest.

Developing countries have taken over much of the low-skilled, low-capital production once done in the U.S.: Consider the garment industry or tire manufacturing. Such low-tech work is even more mind-numbing and poorly paid than it was when the work was done in the U.S. through the 1970s. Many of the workers killed in the recent Rana Plaza garment factory collapse in Bangladesh earned just $3 a day. Some politicians have regretted the loss of similar jobs in the U.S. The question is: Do we want such jobs here now?

Shutting the borders to low-cost imports in the hope of reviving low-skilled manufacturing employment at home would likely kill jobs, not save them. When Obama in 2009 slapped tariffs on Chinese tire imports that had flooded the U.S. market, he temporarily preserved 1,200 jobs in the tire industry as supplies tightened and U.S. tiremakers helped make up the difference. But the impact on the U.S. labor force as a whole was negative. Gary Hufbauer of the Peterson Institute estimates that the cost to U.S. consumers was more than $1 billion. As tires got more expensive, tire buyers had less money to spend on other goods. The effect of that drop in demand on retail employment was a loss of 3,731 jobs, three times the number preserved in the tire industry.

Champions of reindustrialization often cite the cluster effect as a reason to back manufacturing. If a company builds a factory, then other factories will pop up in the same place to benefit from the industry knowledge and experienced workforce found there. If that theory were strongly supported by the facts, that might be a reason for governments to subsidize early investors in building the first plant somewhere. But work by economists Glenn Ellison of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Ed Glaeser of Harvard suggests that while “slight concentration is widespread” among industries, “extreme concentration” is the exception. High levels of concentration aren’t a particularly common or unique feature of high-tech manufacturers (although high-tech service industries cluster in Silicon Valley). In manufacturing, the two economists suggest clustering is most evident in fur, wines, hosiery, oil and gas, carpets and rugs, sawmills, and costume jewelry.

Read more here.

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Is Tesla For Real?

By Lloyd Graff

Kids in Jump Seats in a Tesla Model S

I’ve driven in a Tesla. It’s for real. If you are making parts for internal combustion engines, I am warning you – things are changing. Tesla means it when they tell us they are coming out with their BMW 3 Series competitor in 2017. They plan to price it between $30,000 and $35,000. They think they can sell as many as they can make. The Fremont, California, plant (San Francisco) may be able to ramp up to 500,000 units per year.

Some people sneer when they see Tesla Motors stock valued higher than Nissan. Scoffers always doubt the real movers and shakers – like Elon Musk.

Tesla made 6900 Model S cars last quarter. They can sell as many as they can make at $80,000 a pop – because it is the sweetest car on the road. They have just been cleared to sell in China. Roomy, quiet as your bedroom, beautiful ride, fabulous sound system, superb amenities, no hump in the front or back, and trunks in the front and rear because the engine is underneath the car. You get a $7500 tax credit if you buy one, $2500 more in California. The equivalent of a $60 gas fill up costs you $12 in electricity. They give an 8-year guarantee on the battery, but it may last a lot longer.

My son-in-law wants to replace his 13-year-old BMW 3 model to accommodate his three growing girls. He liked the Audi A6 – until he drove the Tesla with me in the backseat.


The contest for signing the 25-year-old Japanese pitcher, Masahiro Tanaka, was fascinating. The New York Yankees finally signed the phenom, who went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA in Japanese professional baseball last year. By all accounts, Tanaka’s stuff was amazing last year – his splitter was unhittable. Japanese pro ball is stiff competition, but is Tanaka the real deal? How do you value a pitcher who has never pitched against Big Papi, Joey Votto or Miguel Cabrera? How do you gauge the likelihood of an arm blowout like that of last year’s wonder boy Steve Harvey, or a flameout like Daisuke Matsuzaka’s career a few years ago?


I have been listening to the sequel to Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime, the excellent book about the 2008 Presidential election. John Heilemann and Mark Halperin’s new book, Double Down: Game Change 2012, gives the inside baseball of the 2012 election. We learn how a wounded Barack Obama easily defeated a damaged, flawed Mitt Romney by being shrewd and allowing Romney and the Republicans to self-destruct.

The 2016 election is already being played out in the media. The Chris Christie traffic scandal is clearly an attempt by Christie’s enemies in both parties to dirty him up in anticipation of his 2016 Presidential bid. We’ll see the same thing with Hillary Clinton soon.

The cynicism of Washington politicians seems to have no bounds. No wonder we get mediocre candidates vying for the Oval Office. The best ones, the smartest ones, don’t think it’s worth it.

Question: Do you have any faith in Congress to pass worthwhile legislation?

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This 3D Printer, Capable Of Building A House In A Day, Could Change Construction Forever

Courtesy of Huffington Post. By Kathleen Miles

Imagine being able to lease a 3D printer to build your entire house.

The technology, called Contour Crafting, is already here and can build a 2,500-square-foot home in 20 hours.

The massive robot printer was invented by University of Southern California professor Behrokh Khoshnevis, who says that the technology is so versatile that it can be used to build homes in slums or human habitats on Mars.

The technology is ideal for the world’s slums and areas destroyed by natural disasters, claims Khoshnevis, because the robot’s construction is cheaper, stronger, faster, safer and more eco-friendly than manual construction.

Khoshnevis also says NASA is supportive of using the technology to build lunar habitats, laboratories and roads on the Moon or Mars that could eventually house human life. NASA did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.

He points out that construction is far behind manufacturing when it comes to automation.

“If you look around yourself, pretty much everything is made automatically today — your shoes, your clothes, home appliances, your car,” he said during a TED talk. “The only thing that is still built by hand are these buildings.”

Construction as we know it today is wasteful, costly and often over budget, he said. It is more dangerous for workers than mining and agriculture, resulting in 10,000 deaths a year, according to Khoshnevis. He says Contour Crafting offers construction with less waste, noise, dust or harmful emissions.

The technology also allows for unprecedented flexibility in architecture, Khoshnevis says.

“They don’t have to look like tract houses because all you have to do is change a computer program,” he said during the TED talk. “The walls do not have to be linear. They can use any kind of curve. Therefore, you can really execute very exotic beautiful architectural features without incurring extra cost.”

This is how Contour Crafting would work, according to the video above: “On a cleared and leveled site, workers would lay down two rails a few feet further apart than the eventual building’s width and a computer-controlled contour crafter would take over from there,” Brad Lemley from Discover Magazine explained to MSNBC.

“A gantry-type crane with a hanging nozzle and a components-placing arm would travel along the rails,” he said. “The nozzle would spit out concrete in layers to create hollow walls, and then fill in the walls with additional concrete… humans would hang doors and insert windows.”

The robot can also tile the floors, install plumbing, install electrical wiring and even paint or apply wallpaper.

Khoshnevis disputes concerns about potential job losses from such technology. In fact, he says it will create new jobs that are safer and that will allow women and older workers to participate more in the construction industry.

Khoshnevis is planning to establish a company to commercialize the technologyand hopefully make it available for purchase in a few years, he told the USC student newspaper Daily Trojan.

Ultimately, Khoshnevis thinks that Contour Crafting will replace construction as we know it, reduce costs and make construction accessible to anyone.

“Imagine a Contour Crafting machine for lease at you local Home Depot,” the researcher’s site reads.

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The Gun That Changed the World

By Noah Graff

Poster Commemorating Kalashnikov at Shot Show in Las Vegas

Last week, I attended the Shot Show in Las Vegas, one of the largest gun shows in the world. I went with Rex Magagnotti, my coworker at Graff-Pinkert, intent on selling multi-spindle screw machines to exhibitors and getting a good scoop for Today’s Machining World.

One of the more surprising things I saw at the Shot Show was a commemoration of the late Mikhail Kalashnikov, the inventor of the AK-47, who passed away in 2013. Several portraits of him were placed throughout the show and the Arsenal/K-Var booth had a special display honoring him. The homage to the Russian Lieutenant General is a true sign of the times. Evidently, the generation planning the Shot Show did not feel the baggage of the Cold War. The displays seemed odd to me, as many people today see the AK-47 as a representation of various enemies of the United States. It is the weapon of choice for many terrorists worldwide and the scepter once waved by Osama Bin Laden. The Shot Show appeared to be a venue comprised of many Right Wing, outwardly patriotic Americans. The room was packed with law enforcement, military and ex-military folks, who I wouldn’t have expected to be so rah rah for a Russian. But evidently, a lot of people have relaxed about old politics, giving them open minds to appreciate the genius of the AK-47.

I was ignorant about the significance of the AK-47, so I asked a rifle expert at the show to explain to me why the weapon is so special. In 1947, Kalashnikov invented the AK-47 (hence the number 47), which in 1949 became the standard issue assault rifle for the Soviet army. Unlike most guns before and after its conception, the AK-47 was comprised of parts with very loose tolerances. Logically, the gun had less accuracy than other rifles, but its simple design with sloppy parts made it durable, cheap to produce and easy to operate.

The gun was designed for battle, as it could be thrown on the ground, get wet, be covered in grass and mud, yet keep on shooting. U.S. soldiers in Vietnam have recounted picking up AK-47s that had been lying in rice patties for days and then operating them with no trouble. The gun’s loose tolerances and simple design have enabled people in third world countries to purchase them for as low as $10 and learn to operate them quickly. Novices may not be able to aim the AK-47 well, but the gun isn’t the most accurate weapon in the first place. It’s a good gun for spraying a lot of bullets, some of which will eventually hit something.

As Larry Kahaner, author of AK-47: The Weapon That Changed the Face of War, once blogged, “[Kalashnikov] often found himself guided by the words of arms designer Georgy Shpagin, who developed the successful PPSh41 submachine gun: ‘Complexity is easy; simplicity is difficult.’“

Question: Does owning a gun make you feel safer?

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For the Love of Money

Courtesy of The New York Times. By SAM POLK

IN my last year on Wall Street my bonus was $3.6 million — and I was angry because it wasn’t big enough. I was 30 years old, had no children to raise, no debts to pay, no philanthropic goal in mind. I wanted more money for exactly the same reason an alcoholic needs another drink: I was addicted.

Eight years earlier, I’d walked onto the trading floor at Credit Suisse First Boston to begin my summer internship. I already knew I wanted to be rich, but when I started out I had a different idea about what wealth meant. I’d come to Wall Street after reading in the book “Liar’s Poker” how Michael Lewis earned a $225,000 bonus after just two years of work on a trading floor. That seemed like a fortune. Every January and February, I think about that time, because these are the months when bonuses are decided and distributed, when fortunes are made.

I’d learned about the importance of being rich from my dad. He was a modern-day Willy Loman, a salesman with huge dreams that never seemed to materialize. “Imagine what life will be like,” he’d say, “when I make a million dollars.” While he dreamed of selling a screenplay, in reality he sold kitchen cabinets. And not that well. We sometimes lived paycheck to paycheck off my mom’s nurse-practitioner salary.

Dad believed money would solve all his problems. At 22, so did I. When I walked onto that trading floor for the first time and saw the glowing flat-screen TVs, high-tech computer monitors and phone turrets with enough dials, knobs and buttons to make it seem like the cockpit of a fighter plane, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. It looked as if the traders were playing a video game inside a spaceship; if you won this video game, you became what I most wanted to be — rich.

IT was a miracle I’d made it to Wall Street at all. While I was competitive and ambitious — a wrestler at Columbia University — I was also a daily drinker and pot smoker and a regular user of cocaine, Ritalin and ecstasy. I had a propensity for self-destruction that had resulted in my getting suspended from Columbia for burglary, arrested twice and fired from an Internet company for fistfighting. I learned about rage from my dad, too. I can still see his red, contorted face as he charged toward me. I’d lied my way into the C.S.F.B. internship by omitting my transgressions from my résumé and was determined not to blow what seemed a final chance. The only thing as important to me as that internship was my girlfriend, a starter on the Columbia volleyball team. But even though I was in love with her, when I got drunk I’d sometimes end up with other women.

Three weeks into my internship she wisely dumped me. I don’t like who you’ve become, she said. I couldn’t blame her, but I was so devastated that I couldn’t get out of bed. In desperation, I called a counselor whom I had reluctantly seen a few times before and asked for help.

She helped me see that I was using alcohol and drugs to blunt the powerlessness I felt as a kid and suggested I give them up. That began some of the hardest months of my life. Without the alcohol and drugs in my system, I felt like my chest had been cracked open, exposing my heart to air. The counselor said that my abuse of drugs and alcohol was a symptom of an underlying problem — a “spiritual malady,” she called it. C.S.F.B. didn’t offer me a full-time job, and I returned, distraught, to Columbia for senior year.

After graduation, I got a job at Bank of America, by the grace of a managing director willing to take a chance on a kid who had called him every day for three weeks. With a year of sobriety under my belt, I was sharp, cleareyed and hard-working. At the end of my first year I was thrilled to receive a $40,000 bonus. For the first time in my life, I didn’t have to check my balance before I withdrew money. But a week later, a trader who was only four years my senior got hired away by C.S.F.B. for $900,000. After my initial envious shock — his haul was 22 times the size of my bonus — I grew excited at how much money was available.

Over the next few years I worked like a maniac and began to move up the Wall Street ladder. I became a bond and credit default swap trader, one of the more lucrative roles in the business. Just four years after I started at Bank of America, Citibank offered me a “1.75 by 2” which means $1.75 million per year for two years, and I used it to get a promotion. I started dating a pretty blonde and rented a loft apartment on Bond Street for $6,000 a month.

I felt so important. At 25, I could go to any restaurant in Manhattan — Per Se, Le Bernardin — just by picking up the phone and calling one of my brokers, who ingratiate themselves to traders by entertaining with unlimited expense accounts. I could be second row at the Knicks-Lakers game just by hinting to a broker I might be interested in going. The satisfaction wasn’t just about the money. It was about the power. Because of how smart and successful I was, it was someone else’s job to make me happy.

Still, I was nagged by envy. On a trading desk everyone sits together, from interns to managing directors. When the guy next to you makes $10 million, $1 million or $2 million doesn’t look so sweet. Nonetheless, I was thrilled with my progress.

My counselor didn’t share my elation. She said I might be using money the same way I’d used drugs and alcohol — to make myself feel powerful — and that maybe it would benefit me to stop focusing on accumulating more and instead focus on healing my inner wound. “Inner wound”? I thought that was going a little far and went to work for a hedge fund.

Now, working elbow to elbow with billionaires, I was a giant fireball of greed. I’d think about how my colleagues could buy Micronesia if they wanted to, or become mayor of New York City. They didn’t just have money; they had power — power beyond getting a table at Le Bernardin. Senators came to their offices. They were royalty.

I wanted a billion dollars. It’s staggering to think that in the course of five years, I’d gone from being thrilled at my first bonus — $40,000 — to being disappointed when, my second year at the hedge fund, I was paid “only” $1.5 million.

But in the end, it was actually my absurdly wealthy bosses who helped me see the limitations of unlimited wealth. I was in a meeting with one of them, and a few other traders, and they were talking about the new hedge-fund regulations. Most everyone on Wall Street thought they were a bad idea. “But isn’t it better for the system as a whole?” I asked. The room went quiet, and my boss shot me a withering look. I remember his saying, “I don’t have the brain capacity to think about the system as a whole. All I’m concerned with is how this affects our company.”

I felt as if I’d been punched in the gut. He was afraid of losing money, despite all that he had.

From that moment on, I started to see Wall Street with new eyes. I noticed the vitriol that traders directed at the government for limiting bonuses after the crash. I heard the fury in their voices at the mention of higher taxes. These traders despised anything or anyone that threatened their bonuses. Ever see what a drug addict is like when he’s used up his junk? He’ll do anything — walk 20 miles in the snow, rob a grandma — to get a fix. Wall Street was like that. In the months before bonuses were handed out, the trading floor started to feel like a neighborhood in “The Wire” when the heroin runs out.

I’d always looked enviously at the people who earned more than I did; now, for the first time, I was embarrassed for them, and for me. I made in a single year more than my mom made her whole life. I knew that wasn’t fair; that wasn’t right. Yes, I was sharp, good with numbers. I had marketable talents. But in the end I didn’t really do anything. I was a derivatives trader, and it occurred to me the world would hardly change at all if credit derivatives ceased to exist. Not so nurse practitioners. What had seemed normal now seemed deeply distorted.

I had recently finished Taylor Branch’s three-volume series on the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement, and the image of the Freedom Riders stepping out of their bus into an infuriated mob had seared itself into my mind. I’d told myself that if I’d been alive in the ‘60s, I would have been on that bus.

But I was lying to myself. There were plenty of injustices out there — rampant poverty, swelling prison populations, a sexual-assault epidemic, an obesity crisis. Not only was I not helping to fix any problems in the world, but I was profiting from them. During the market crash in 2008, I’d made a ton of money by shorting the derivatives of risky companies. As the world crumbled, I profited. I’d seen the crash coming, but instead of trying to help the people it would hurt the most — people who didn’t have a million dollars in the bank — I’d made money off it. I don’t like who you’ve become, my girlfriend had said years earlier. She was right then, and she was still right. Only now, I didn’t like who I’d become either.

Wealth addiction was described by the late sociologist and playwright Philip Slater in a 1980 book, but addiction researchers have paid the concept little attention. Like alcoholics driving drunk, wealth addiction imperils everyone. Wealth addicts are, more than anybody, specifically responsible for the ever widening rift that is tearing apart our once great country. Wealth addicts are responsible for the vast and toxic disparity between the rich and the poor and the annihilation of the middle class. Only a wealth addict would feel justified in receiving $14 million in compensation — including an $8.5 million bonus — as the McDonald’s C.E.O., Don Thompson, did in 2012, while his company then published a brochure for its work force on how to survive on their low wages. Only a wealth addict would earn hundreds of millions as a hedge-fund manager, and then lobby to maintain a tax loophole that gave him a lower tax rate than his secretary.

DESPITE my realizations, it was incredibly difficult to leave. I was terrified of running out of money and of forgoing future bonuses. More than anything, I was afraid that five or 10 years down the road, I’d feel like an idiot for walking away from my one chance to be really important. What made it harder was that people thought I was crazy for thinking about leaving. In 2010, in a final paroxysm of my withering addiction, I demanded $8 million instead of $3.6 million. My bosses said they’d raise my bonus if I agreed to stay several more years. Instead, I walked away.

The first year was really hard. I went through what I can only describe as withdrawal — waking up at nights panicked about running out of money, scouring the headlines to see which of my old co-workers had gotten promoted. Over time it got easier — I started to realize that I had enough money, and if I needed to make more, I could. But my wealth addiction still hasn’t gone completely away. Sometimes I still buy lottery tickets.

In the three years since I left, I’ve married, spoken in jails and juvenile detention centers about getting sober, taught a writing class to girls in the foster system, and started a nonprofit called Groceryships to help poor families struggling with obesity and food addiction. I am much happier. I feel as if I’m making a real contribution. And as time passes, the distortion lessens. I see Wall Street’s mantra — “We’re smarter and work harder than everyone else, so we deserve all this money” — for what it is: the rationalization of addicts. From a distance I can see what I couldn’t see then — that Wall Street is a toxic culture that encourages the grandiosity of people who are desperately trying to feel powerful.

I was lucky. My experience with drugs and alcohol allowed me to recognize my pursuit of wealth as an addiction. The years of work I did with my counselor helped me heal the parts of myself that felt damaged and inadequate, so that I had enough of a core sense of self to walk away.

Dozens of different types of 12-step support groups — including Clutterers Anonymous and On-Line Gamers Anonymous — exist to help addicts of various types, yet there is no Wealth Addicts Anonymous. Why not? Because our culture supports and even lauds the addiction. Look at the magazine covers in any newsstand, plastered with the faces of celebrities and C.E.O.’s; the superrich are our cultural gods. I hope we all confront our part in enabling wealth addicts to exert so much influence over our country.

I generally think that if one is rich and believes they have “enough,” they are not a wealth addict. On Wall Street, in my experience, that sense of “enough” is rare. The money guy doing a job he complains about for yet another year so he can add $2 million to his $20 million bank account seems like an addict.

I recently got an email from a hedge-fund trader who said that though he was making millions every year, he felt trapped and empty, but couldn’t summon the courage to leave. I believe there are others out there. Maybe we can form a group and confront our addiction together. And if you identify with what I’ve written, but are reticent to leave, then take a small step in the right direction. Let’s create a fund, where everyone agrees to put, say, 25 percent of their annual bonuses into it, and we’ll use that to help some of the people who actually need the money that we’ve been so rabidly chasing. Together, maybe we can make a real contribution to the world.

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The Room Service Soda

By Lloyd Graff

I know I’m supposed to celebrate milestone events. I have a lot to celebrate—a wonderful wife for over 40 years, the marriage of my son Ari, surviving my quadruple bypass surgery, and 14 years of Today’s Machining World.

I feel enormously grateful for all of these gifts and I count my blessings every day, but celebration is something I have not quite mastered.

In an earlier piece, I recounted a story that my father Leonard told me as a kid, but I’ll retell it now. He was just starting out in the used machinery business and was travelling the Midwest with his partner, Uncle Abe. Abe was a fat, garrulous guy who didn’t know a mill from a lathe, but he gave my dad confidence and kept him smiling. My father was focused on the prize and Abe was focused on how he was going to spend it.

One day they arrived in Kalamazoo, bought rolls of dimes, commandeered the yellow pages and phones at a downtown hotel and starting calling local machine shops. They found a fellow who had a Becker milling machine for sale and immediately drove out to inspect it. They bought it on the spot for $500. This was 1942, World War II was on and machine tools were turning into gold. After buying the Becker, they returned to the hotel and my dad called Adams Machinery in Chicago. He offered the machine to Eli Blumberg for $5000.

Blumberg countered at $4000 and they settled on $4500, subject to inspection. My father and Abe felt like millionaires. This was a deal to paint the town for, but they were stuck in Kalamazoo. Abe had the answer.

“Len, we’re going up to the room to order two ice cream sodas on room service in the middle of the day.” And they did. They must have been wonderful because my dad told me this story many times. I never tired of listening to it.

My brother Jim and I have shared occasional ice cream sodas along the way, but I doubt they tasted quite as splendid as those Kalamazoo black and whites.

I have worked on my celebration piece for decades, but it doesn’t come naturally for me.

In the Yiddish language we have an expression “Kinahora,” which means roughly, “if you think things are good, wait a minute and they’ll turn sour.” I’ve always had a bit of a “Kinahora complex” and I’m bloody tired of it.

To the black and white ice cream soda.

Question: How do you celebrate your business victories?

Today’s Machining World June 2010 Volume 06 Issue 05 
Lloyd Graff is Owner and Chief Space Filler at Today’s Machining World and Graff-Pinkert & Co.


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Brady versus Manning. I Can’t Wait.

By Lloyd Graff

Tom Brady versus Peyton Manning. I can’t wait.

This isn’t just football, this is American history being written.

Mills and lathes can wait for another day. New England against Denver is just too juicy, too sexy, too loaded with plots and back stories to pass up.

Tom Brady’s football career started in the relative obscurity of Junipero Serra High School in San Mateo, California. He was considered a better baseball player than football and was drafted to play professional baseball out of high school, but Brady and his Dad saw it differently. His father took his home videos of son, Tom, packaged them up and sent out 100 copies to college football coaches. The highlight package didn’t wow anybody, but the University of Michigan Wolverines were looking for a third string quarterback and thought Brady was perfect. Michigan had Drew Henson, who was going to be All World. No other prospect wanted to go to Michigan and watch the Great One prepare for his NFL stardom. But Brady may have heard Henson wanted to play baseball and he had no other offers so he headed off to Ann Arbor. (Personally, I think Henson knew he wasn’t as good at football as everybody told him he was, which may be why he took the Yankees’ money).

Brady became the Michigan quarterback as a Junior and took the team to the Rose Bowl. It got him enough attention to be a 6th round draft pick by New England to understudy Drew Bledsoe.

Peyton Manning’s early career arc was quite different. Archie Manning, his father, was a Heisman Trophy finalist and played ten years in the NFL. Archie married the Homecoming Queen at Ole Miss. Peyton grew up around the NFL and when Archie went back to New Orleans to raise his three boys he sent them to the elite Isidore Newman School. Peyton’s brother, Riley, was an All State receiver and little brother, Eli, has won two Super Bowls. The Mannings are a powerful family in Louisiana. Peyton was recruited by everybody and chose Tennessee after Riley quit Ole Miss football because of a spinal problem. Ironically, Peyton considered going to Michigan.

Manning was the first pick of the 1998 NFL Draft.  Ryan Leaf, a quarterback from Washington State, thought by many to be his equal went to San Diego and was a complete bust.

For the last 13 years Tom Brady and Peyton Manning have set the standard for quarterback play in the National Football League. They are both great leaders and remarkable students of the game. Bill Belichick, New England’s Coach, is Brady’s partner in developing the game plan. John Fox of Denver just allows Peyton to do his thing and call the plays on the field.

Brady and Manning are such phenomenal passers they can make decent receivers look great, and turn mediocre running backs into stars. Danny Amendola, a shrimpy second string receiver for most teams, has become the “go to guy” for the Patriots. Knowshon Moreno, a no-name running back, is having a career year for the Broncos, because defenses are completely geared to thwart Peyton Manning’s passing.

Brady has come back from an ACL, MCL blowout in 2008 while Manning sat out 2011 with a serious spinal injury. He threw a record 55 touchdown passes this season.

This year Tom Brady’s two best receivers missed the season. Aaron Hernandez is awaiting trial for murder and Rob Gronkowski has been crippled by a dictionary of leg injuries. Peyton Manning’s Coach, John Fox, almost died from a heart valve blowout nine weeks ago

Brady and Manning are friendly rivals and occasionally play golf together during the off-season. They both live like adults, though Brady and his model-actress wife Gisele Bundchen have the more expensive lifestyle — they just bought a $14 million dollar New York City condo.

These are two really serious guys who love and respect the game, and know their time at the pinnacle is running out. Brady’s teams have won three Super Bowls, Manning’s, one. Tom is 36, Peyton, 37.

I am really stoked for this matchup.

I have watched football all of my life. I go back to Bobby Layne and Y. A. Tittle. Brady and Manning are the all time greatest. You can take Joe Montana and Dan Marino. This will be a classic. I cannot wait to see them compete.

Question: Who is the greatest NFL quarterback of all time?

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Advanced manufacturing — Adding and taking away

Courtesy of The Economist.

THERE are now a score or more of ways to print objects out of metal, plastic or both by building them up, layer by layer, into the finished article. But such 3D printing has its limits. One is that no version of the process is good at making the surfaces of its products smooth and accurate enough for them to be used as mechanical components: for example, as the bearings in an engine. If the necessary tolerances are not met, the engine will seize and be no good to anyone. Many engineers therefore think that “additive manufacturing”, as it is sometimes known, remains a long way from ousting traditional “subtractive manufacturing”—in other words, milling, cutting and grinding things.

The Lasertec 65 Additive Manufacturing machine, though, is the start of an approach that might change the traditionalists’ minds. It is a hulking device which, on the outside at least, resembles a large industrial refrigerator (the 65 refers to the 650mm height of the internal chamber in which things can be built). But that belies the sophistication of its interior. For though it can indeed, as its name suggests, do additive manufacturing, it can also subtract, if required. A prototype of this new, hybrid device was unveiled at the Euromold engineering show in Frankfurt in December by its creator, DMG Mori Seiki, a machine-tool firm based jointly in Germany and Japan. The Lasertec will go on sale in 2014, it is expected at more than $500,000 a pop.

That price tag demonstrates two things. The first is that machine-tool makers are beginning to recognise 3D printing is going to be important in the factory of the future, not just for making models and prototypes (as is already happening) but also finished goods. The second is that additive manufacturing can complement subtractive manufacturing, as well as compete with it. If it work—and sells—the Lasertec could be the first of many such hybrids.

This particular machine builds material up using a process called laser-deposition welding. That involves spraying a fine jet of powdered metal through a nozzle and into a laser beam, which melts both the powder and the surface of the piece being worked on, welding the two together. (A sheath of inert gas surrounding the nozzle stops the molten material oxidising.) By repeating the process, layers of material can be built up. The company claims it can do this 20 times faster than is possible by using a laser to melt successive layers of powder spread onto a flat bed in the process called laser sintering, which is now the most common way metal items are 3D-printed.

Once the newly built structure has cooled, it can be machined. This happens in the same chamber, using a conventional cutting tool. The device can change tools automatically, in order to create the required shape and finish. Moreover, during both welding and machining the table to which the part being worked on is attached can be rotated around multiple axes, to increase the machine’s dexterity.

Subtractive manufacturing, in which a milling machine cuts shapes from metal blocks, may waste as much as 95% of the original material. By building something additively, even to only approximately the right shape, and then milling it, such wastage, the company reckons, can be reduced to around 5%.

Moreover, the object can be milled every time a new layer is added. This means smooth internal surfaces can be created inside what eventually becomes a solid object—something previously possible only if an item was made by joining together components that had been milled separately. With its ability to add and remove materials that include aluminium, brass, copper, stainless steel and numerous alloys, the hybrid Lasertec can also be used to repair items that are worn, or even broken. A case, perhaps, of old and new technologies coming together to produce more than the sum of their parts.

Read more here.

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