Archive for April 18th, 2018

How Copenhagen avoided the car culture and keep its citizen-focused design?

April 18, 2018

Superb article in Guardian newspaper written in 2016. There is an entire series on cities which should be worth reading.

In this piece, how Copenhagen managed to keep its design of a pedestrian and bicycle friendly city. In 1960s, there was huge pressure on European cities to build this car culture as seen in American cities.  How Copenhagen avoided this and today it is seen as one of the ideal cities all other cities are trying to aspire to become.

Needless to say, the Indian cities destroyed their pedestrian and cycle friendly culture and have just become urban nightmares…

Superman at 80: How two high school friends concocted the original comic book hero

April 18, 2018

Prof. Brad Ricca of Case Western Reserve University has researched on Superman and shares her key findings in this piece.

The creators of Superman were from her region which prompted her to study why the superhero was created. The story behind the creation is as interesting and full of struggles:

In the mid-1930s, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster were two nerds with glasses who attended Glenville High School in Cleveland, Ohio. They worked on the school newspaper, wrote stories, drew cartoons, and dreamed of being famous. Jerry was the writer; Joe was the artist. When they finally turned to making comics, a publisher named Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson gave them their first break, commissioning them to create spy and adventure comics in his magazines “New Fun” and “Detective Comics.”

But Jerry and Joe had been working on something else: a story about a “Superman” – a villain with special mental powers – that Jerry had stolen from a different magazine. They self-published it in a pamphlet titled “Science Fiction.”

While “Science Fiction” only lasted for five issues, they liked the name of the character and continued to work on it. Before long, their new Superman was a good guy. Joe dressed him in a cape and trunks like those of the era’s popular bodybuilders, modeled the character’s speedy running abilities after Olympic sprinter Jesse Owens, and gave him the bouncy spit-curl of Johnny Weissmuller, the actor who played Tarzan. It was a mishmash of 1930s pop culture in gladiator boots.

When they were finally ready, they started pitching Superman to every newspaper syndicate and publisher they could find. All of them rejected it, some of them several times. This continued for several years, but the duo never gave up.

When Superman finally saw print, it was through a process that is still not wholly clear. But the general consensus is that a publisher named Harry Donenfeld, who had acquired the major’s company, National Allied Publications (the predecessor to DC Comics), bought the first Superman story – and all the rights therein – for US$130.


The world was introduced to Superman in “Action Comics” No. 1, on April 18, 1938, with the Man of Steel appearing on the cover smashing a Hudson roadster. The inaugural issue cost 10 cents; in 2014, a copy in good condition sold for $3.2 million dollars.

When the comic became a runaway hit, Jerry and Joe regretted selling their rights to the character; they ended up leaving millions on the table. Though they worked on Superman comics for the next 10 years, they would never own the character they created, and for the rest of their lives repeatedly filed lawsuits in an effort to get him back.

There is another story of how Jerry paid tribute to his father in the comics. Thus, there is more to the Superman series:

Why is Superman’s 80th birthday important? It isn’t just about celebrating a “funny book” about a guy who has heat vision and can fly. It’s about using fantasy to make sense of the world, plumbing personal tragedy to tell a story, and using art to envision a more just and safe society.

Nice to know…

Income Inequality in France, 1900-2014

April 18, 2018

Thomas Piketty along with two more researchers figures inequality in his own country:

Bertrand Garbinti, Jonathan Goupille-Lebret & Thomas Piketty combine national accounts, tax and survey data in a comprehensive and consistent manner for France, to build homogenous annual series on the distribution of national income by percentiles, from 1900 to 2014, with detailed breakdown by age, gender and income categories over the 1970-2014 period. Their new series deliver higher inequality levels for the recent decades, because the usual tax-based series miss a rising part of capital income. Growth incidence curves look dramatically different for the 1950-1983 and 1983-2014 periods. They also show that it has become increasingly difficult to access top wealth groups with labor income only. Next, gender inequality in labor income declined in recent decades, albeit fairly slowly among top labor incomes. Finally, they compare the evolution of income inequality between France and the US.

It has some interesting charts which show the evolution of inequality. US has much higher inequality than France..

Meanwhile, a leadership change at the Rothschilds…

April 18, 2018

Via this story:

Alexandre de Rothschild, 37, will replace his father as chairman of the famed Rothschild investment bank, the group said on Tuesday, with Rothschild keen to keep its leading position in France amid growing competition. Last month, Rothschild reported higher annual profit and revenues, buoyed by its advisory work.

However, Rothschild faces increasing competition, with rival Lazard hiring more staff and Perella Weinberg Partners also looking to open an office in Paris.

The official press release is here.

So much of history behind the firm…


Why are Karnataka’s religious mutts so powerful?

April 18, 2018

Anyone watching upcoming elections in Karnataka will notice the power of the religious mutts and how the political parties are trying to impress them.

K. Giriprakash of Hindu Business Line tries to figure the reasons:


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