Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website SierraCulture.com. Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for years, was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News, and was Editor of The Union, a 145-year-old newspaper in Grass Valley. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing and trout fishing.
Editor’s note: Reading the newspapers is a favorite pastime of mine when I visit London. Some are still broadsheets. Most hotels set them out on a table for guests as they enter the dining room for breakfast.
The Langham — a grand hotel in the Marylebone district — offers The Times, The Daily Mail and The Financial Times (in its glorious shade of pink) at its Palm Court restaurant:
“People who eat organic food are 25 per cent less likely to get cancer, according to a study of almost 70,000 volunteers,” as The Times is reporting on its front page this morning.
“Researchers say that pesticides in conventional fruit and vegetables can cause cancer, suggesting that going organic helps to prevent the disease.
“Previous studies have failed to find any convincing evidence that organic foods protect against disease or are more nutritious. Now researchers at Paris University have studied 69,000 people who were questioned about their diet and followed for an average of five years, during which 1,340 of them developed cancer.
What a hoot! George Boardman has another ponderous post on his “blog” this week, handicapping the Sheriff’s race in the November runoff: Shannan Moon vs. Bill Smethers.
Except this so-called journalist — The Union’s weekly columnist — forgot to mention he wrote this back in May, under the comments of his own blog post no less:
That’s what I’d expect from a journalist whose claim to fame was working for San Mateo Times (now defunct). But Boardman should at least admit his colossal mistake. Instead our crack-jack journalist glossed over the blunder this week:
“Moon finished first in the primary so you have assume she has the lead (in the polling).”
LONDON — Billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson started Virgin Atlantic in 1984, and it has grown to become the United Kingdom’s second-largest airline.
“I can still remember the day we started when Lord King from British Airways forecasted our early demise, claiming we were ‘too old to rock n roll, too young to fly.’ Well together we proved how wrong he was,” Branson once wrote in a letter to workers.
Virgin launched service to San Francisco International Airport in 1994 when I was working at The Chronicle, covering the airlines as a business writer. “San Francisco was always on our list of great cities in the world we wanted to fly to,” Branson said at the time.
Interviewing Sir Richard
For the launch of Virgin’s SFO flights, I flew to London to interview Richard Branson at his mansion/office in the Holland Park neighborhood, and wrote a lengthly profile about him and the airline. I brought my wife, Shannon, along, and it was a delightful trip. (Sir Richard, now 68, was not a “sir” at the time; he was not knighted by Queen Elizabeth II until 1999).
While in London, Branson was a consummate host, showing us some fine restaurants and nightspots, including Virgin’s Roof Gardens in Kensington.
He teased me for bringing my wife to London on a working “holiday” and staying at the Royal Automobile Club — a staid “men’s only” establishment in many the public spaces. The Club had a fabulous Grecian-inspired swimming pool, though, and our small room had a view of Big Ben. (I secured a room there, thanks to a recipricol relationship with the San Francisco Press Club at 555 Post Street in S.F.)
I filed my report on a Radio Shack TRS-80 Model 100, the first popular notebook computer. The portable computer — affectionately called a “Trash 80” — gained a loyal following among reporters, as PCWorld explains. Filing a story from the field required cramming a wired-phone handset into an acoustic coupler for the slow transmission to the newsroom — even more of a challenge from London.
When we flew back to SFO, Richard invited me to sit in the jump-seat of the 747 for takeoff from Heathrow — a memorable experience. (Yes, that was legal back then).
Since our first Virgin Atlantic flight in 1994, Shannon and I have returned to London around half a dozen times. When our son was an infant, we flew there for the Christmas vacation break, and he slept in a bassinet attached to the bulkhead. We rented a flat and shopped at Harrod’s Food Hall for our festive meals.
“All jet, no lag”
This time, I enjoyed my 10-hour flight from SFO to Heathrow on Virgin Flight #20 aboard a new Boeing 787 Dreamliner in “premium” economy. Virgin pioneered the concept of an upscale economy class seat , now copied by most other airlines on international flights.
It includes dedicated check-in; amenity kits; extra legroom; a footrest and headrest; a glass of bubbly as you board; and a meal served on china with “proper” cutlery.
I’m a big fan of Dreamliner aircraft. It’s a spacious cabin, with higher ceilings, LED “mood” lighting, windows that dim at a touch of a button, and most important, a better air filtration system and more humidity than comparable planes, which greatly reduces jet lag. (The in-cabin air pressure is similar to a plane of about 6,000 feet, not 35,000 feet).
The 787 also has a great in-flight entertainment system and Wi-Fi. I was able to follow the Dodgers-Brewers NLCS game in real-time and check email.
I landed on time and rode in a sedan into London, thanks to Alex and Coruss Ltd. London is like an old friend, and I’m looking forward to the week ahead. I’ll file a few reports. Have a great week!
“As 2017 drew to a close, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) urged Americans to have more children,” as The Washington Post is reporting. “To keep the country great, he said, we’re “going to need more people.”
“’I did my part,’ the father of three declared.
“Ryan’s remarks drew some eye rolls at the time, but as new data about the country’s collapsing fertility rates has emerged, concern has deepened over what’s causing the changes, whether it constitutes a crisis that will fundamentally change the demographic trajectory of the country — and what should be done about it.
“Women are now having fewer babies and at older ages than in the past three decades, a change that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) reported this year, and which was confirmed this week with the release of additional data that shows that the trend holds across races and for urban and rural areas.
“The CDC said Wednesday that the total fertility rate — a theoretical figure that estimates the number of births a woman will have in her lifetime — fell by 18 percent from 2007 to 2017 in large metropolitan areas, 16 percent in smaller metro areas and 12 percent in rural areas. A similar downward trend holds for white, black and Hispanic women.
“Fertility and birthrates are among the most closely monitored indicators of a country’s economic health. When too high, a surging youth population might be unable to find work and become susceptible to unrest. When too low, economies can rapidly contract, and a small working-age population has to support a large retired population. The United States is somewhat more buffered because of its relatively high levels of immigration, but if the decline in fertility continues, demographers say, the country may face an extreme population imbalance in the future.
“Theories — social, economic, scientific, environmental — about why fertility is falling so sharply in the United States abound. Many agree that cultural shifts, such as women getting married later and focusing on education or work, play a big role. But there’s considerable debate, some of it more political than evidence-based, about other possible causes.
“Economist Lyman Stone has blamed the United States’ less-than-generous parental leave and pay policies. Human Life International, a missionary group, blames ‘pro-abortion population control groups like Planned Parenthood.’ Tucker Carlson claims it has to do with immigration, arguing that immigrants drive wages down, which hurts the attractiveness of men as potential spouses — ‘thus reducing fertility.’
I posted a response that Kamala Harris sent to me about the Kavanaugh case on Facebook (like the one here), and it received 21 “likes.” Shawn Garvey responded: “She responds! Love it! I never can get an acknowledgement from DiFi!”
To George, it was a “big whoop.” Except no one commented on George’s blog except for “fish.” George’s column at The Union.com — whose commenting interface is Facebook — doesn’t even get 21 “likes.”
The 21 people who “liked” my post all signed their real names. “fish” is a fake name from a troll who launches personal attacks but never has anything interesting or intellectual to say.
Most of the recent comments on George’s blog come from George himself.
I don’t understand the blog either. As a newly minted 75-year-old (his words, not mine), he takes a keen interest in high school football. Three of his last five posts are about local high-school sports. Go figure!