Cameron to EU: I’d Like to Dispute This Charge

I find Europe pretty intriguing at times.

It’s apparent based on the recent secession vote — although it didn’t quite pass — that many folks in Scotland are not happy with the United Kingdom. Well, now it seems the UK is not too enthusiastic about the European Union (EU).

The EU recently presented UK Prime Minister David Cameron with a bill for over 1.7 billion Pounds – to be paid by Dec. 1. It’s an additional payment to the 8.6 billion Pounds the UK currently pays. Cameron was rather displeased.

“It is an unacceptable way to treat a country which is one of the biggest contributors to the EU,” he told the BBC. “We are not going suddenly to get out our cheque book and write a cheque for 2bn euros. It is not going to happen.”

Considering Germany’s also been butting heads with its European partners over its commitment to austerity, it seems there’s a lot of friction across the pond.

The Ghoulish Complexities of Halloween in the Workplace

HHalloween is a great holiday. Scary stories. Caramel apples. No obligatory gift-giving.

And the costumes: Zombies. Witches. Monsters.

But in the workplace, it can be tricky. You want to be festive and accommodating to allow workers to blow off some steam. But you also don’t want any “naughty nurse” costumes creating an HR concern. Furthermore, some employees of particular faiths may not take kindly to celebrating the holiday or its Pagan origins.

The Employment & Labor Insider blog delved further into the issue and offers some ideas for your consideration.

Square Wants to Perk Up Morning Commute

cThe mobile payment company Square has reportedly developed technology to help coffee drinkers grab their morning java without that pesky detail of having to wait in line to pay for it. Simply place and pay for the order on the phone, then pick up the next morning.

Thankfully, the Chamber provides coffee for staff in our break room so I’ve saved hundreds of dollars since becoming a coffee drinker a year or two ago, but otherwise this would seem like a convenient solution.

Entrepreneur reports:

The key to this ease in ordering is “arrival prediction.” The feature uses first-to-market tech to alert baristas when a customer who has ordered a drink on the app approaches the coffee shop, allowing them to immediately start preparing the order. Customers then simply pick up their order and are automatically charged as the leave the shop.

Users can also save their coffee preferences and customizations, speeding up transactions on the app. Square has paired up with fellow San Francisco startup Blue Bottle Coffee to debut the new features.

Launched in May, Square Order allows people to pre-order items for pickup at eateries that use the Square payments processing system. The service is only active in San Francisco and New York.

Toll Road Tales: Good News for Taxpayers, Motorists

TReactions were varied recently when the company operating the Indiana Toll Road filed for bankruptcy. A researcher at the Harvard Kennedy School emphasizes the positive aspects of how that deal was structured and focuses on the continually evolving role of each party in such an agreement. Governing reports:

n 2005, two companies came together to form the Indiana Toll Road Concession Co. (ITRCC), which won the right to operate the toll road in exchange for a $3.8 billion up-front payment. The deal limited how much tolls could rise and included a trigger requiring the consortium to expand the roadway if certain congestion benchmarks were reached. The $3.8 billion threw off about $250 million that was used to fund other state transportation priorities.

Like so many other enterprises, ITRCC was done in by the Great Recession. Its financing structure called for large debt payments at the end of the first decade, which proved overwhelming in the face of revenues that didn’t meet projections when the downturn hit and traffic volume fell.

But what’s reassuring is that motorists will see no interruption in service or toll increases as a result of the bankruptcy. The roadway is still subject to the same performance metrics, and there will be no taxpayer bailout. State officials will first try to find a new operator to take on the remainder of the concession deal. If that doesn’t work out, the ITRCC will likely be recapitalized with an altered debt schedule.

In either case, customers will retain the benefits from the $458 million ITRCC has invested since 2006 in road, bridge and pavement improvements and a new electronic tolling system.

While it appears that the Indiana Toll Road deal has succeeded at protecting taxpayers and motorists, that doesn’t mean there aren’t lessons to be learned from the bankruptcy. To maintain a true public-private partnership, governments might want to avoid taking the entire concession payment up front.

Chicago completed a similar deal just before the Indiana Toll Road agreement and couldn’t resist the temptation to use the upfront windfall to plug other holes in the city budget instead of using interest from the concession payment to maintain transportation infrastructure. More recently, public-private partnerships for Virginia’s Pocahontas 895 parkway and Colorado’s Northwest Parkway featured smaller upfront payments but give taxpayers a cut of the ongoing toll revenue.

Glas-Col (Terre Haute) Celebrates 75 Years of Innovation

glshisTerre Haute-based Glas-Col, LLC will celebrate 75 years of manufacturing laboratory products and industrial heating and mixing technology with an open house on October 21 (4:30 – 7 p.m.). A release from the company elaborates:

Glas-Col’s commitment to offering excellence in design and manufacturing for the laboratory product field allows us to provide a high level of service to our customers. We are not satisfied with second class, second rate or second best.

The goal of our company is now and has always been to be a world leader in the laboratory products market and to recognize and develop technology to continually evolve into new and expanding areas.

Our progress through the years can be attributed to our leadership, our dedication to our customer’s and one of our most important and valuable assets, our people. Without their dedication and work ethic our success would have been immeasurably less.

History
The term “brilliant mistake” might apply to Glas-Col’s earliest beginnings. The company’s web site regales us with the tale of how its founder discovered its earliest offering:

Fires ordinarily destroy businesses. But in the case of Glas-Col, fire sparked an idea that built one new company and brought great benefits to countless others. In 1939 Glas-Col’s future founder, Dr. Glen H. Morey, was a research chemist at Commercial Solvents Corporation in Terre Haute, IN. There as in most chemical laboratories, open flame gas burners and electric glow coils were commonly used to heat oil, sand, molten metal, and water baths. A sudden fire burst out in the Commercial Solvents lab when a gas burner heating an oil bath ignited vapors from a shattered flask of acetone dropped several feet away. Dr. Morey was injured in that fire, and it convinced him lab workers needed a new method for heating flasks–one that would eliminate the hazard of open flame burners and electric heaters with exposed coils.

Working in their spare time, Dr. Morey and his wife Ruth developed a heating device with electric resistance wires woven into a fiberglass cloth sheath. The Moreys called their new invention a “heating mantle” because it could completely envelope a laboratory flask, just as the earth’s mantle completely encloses the planet’s core.

Dr. Morey tested the heating mantle rigorously. He poured highly flammable solvents directly on hot mantles while they were being used to distill liquids from glass flasks. After he was unable to start a fire under any of his own test conditions, he submitted the heating mantle to other research chemists for their evaluation. Test after test proved the heating mantle dependable and non-flammable.

On October 24, 1939, the first purchase order for the heating mantle was sent from the Columbia Chemical Division, Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company of Barberton, Ohio. Two months later, on December 13, the Morey’s formed Glas-Col Apparatus Company to manufacture their new product. At the time Dr. Morey believed demand for the heating mantle would be rather limited and estimated total market saturation at about 25 thousand units. Being a good glass blower, he decided to market glass fractionating columns to supplement the company product line. The name Glas-Col is short for glass columns.

But Glas-Col never manufactured a single glass column. Orders for heating mantles poured in. Not only did companies request mantles for spherical distillation flasks, but they also wanted mantles to accommodate glass beakers, steel beakers, funnels, evaporating dishes and many other common laboratory vessels. Some companies banished open flames entirely from their labs and bought heating mantles even for test tubes. Dr. Morey’s original heating mantle design was issued patent #2231506 on February 11, 1941.

The significance of the Moreys’ invention was nationally recognized in 1951 during the American Chemical Society’s Diamond Jubilee. On that occasion the United States government issued a commemorative stamp which pictured the distinctive Glas-Col heating mantle covering the bottom of a flask attached to a laboratory distilling apparatus. The smoke billowing from the towers of a chemical process plant pictured on the stamp was in that era considered a sign of prosperity and economic vitality.

Breaking Bad? Google Chairman Warns That Governments Could Effectively ‘Break Internet’

WIn a recent event hosted by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), Google Chairman Eric Schmidt offered an alarming prediction that governments, especially our own, could end up splintering the Internet into pieces. This, he argues, is because countries may prefer to operate their own Internet instead of allowing surveillance organizations, such as the National Security Agency, to collect data on their citizenry.

Wyden added that this would hurt American tech companies — and thus eliminate some American jobs.

Be sure to read the full National Journal article about these remarks, and watch the brief video featuring Schmidt’s comments.

Elephant Race: Analyst Ranks ’16 GOP Candidates

AGreg Valliere of the Potomac Research Group recently ranked the likelihood of 10 Republican hopefuls for the 2016 candidacy for President. Business Insider offers a summary for each candidate, but here’s the list. (And you’ll notice our governor made the list — and some in the media speculate he has a much better shot than that.):

10. Mike Pence
9. Scott Walker
8. Rick Santorum
7. Paul Ryan
6. Chris Christie
5. Mitt Romney
4. Ted Cruz
3. Rand Paul
2. Marco Rubio
1. Jeb Bush

John Green Talks About Authenticity at ExactTarget Connections Conference

Indianapolis resident John Green, most famous for authoring the best-selling book “The Fault in Our Stars” — and a series of notable Crash Course videos about history, among other things — gave the keynote address at ExactTarget’s popular Connections conference yesterday. Other speakers included TV writer/actress Mindy Kaling and rapper/seven-time Grammy winner Will.I.Am.

Poll: Almost One in Four Americans Open to Separating from U.S.

CAlthough Scotland’s movement to secede from the United Kingdom fell a bit short at the ballot box, it appears it’s not just 45% of Scots who have separation on their minds.

And frankly, it’s no secret most Americans aren’t enthusiastic about the federal government these days. Between gridlock, behemoth budgets and trying to solve the health care puzzle, many have grown frustrated. Poll results explained in this Reuters article, however, are still a bit alarming.

Whoever takes the White House in 2016 may have his/her hands full in trying to unify the country. 

Ball State’s Namesakes Subjects of New Documentary to Premiere Sept. 25

Ball State University has become a state institution with quite a reputation for producing very skilled graduates. But you might not know much about its history. A group of students hope to remedy that with a new film project. Ball State reports:

A student-produced documentary will explore the impact the five Ball brothers have had on east central Indiana since the 1880s, when they moved their glass manufacturing business from Buffalo to Muncie — transforming the community into an industrial force in the Midwest. “A Legacy Etched in Glass: The Ball Brothers in Muncie” is an immersive learning project by Ball State University under the direction of Chris Flook, a telecommunications instructor. The film explores the lives of the five brothers, the family legacy in Muncie and the core values that propelled them to success: hard work, philanthropy, entrepreneurship and beneficence. The story weaves cinematography, motion graphic animation and archived material with interviews from historians. Building their factories on the south of side of Muncie, the Ball brothers expanded their operations enormously over several decades in the early 20th century. Even after the natural gas ran out, Ball Corp. continued to produce glass in Muncie well into the 20th century. Ball Corp. spun off two enterprises — today known as Jarden and the Ardagh Group — before moving fully to Colorado in the late 1990s. Ball Corp. currently focuses on avionics and beverage container manufacturing. “Legacy” not only explores the lives of all five brothers, their wives and other family members, but it also explores the wide-ranging philanthropic efforts of the family in Muncie over the past 120 years. The documentary will have its public premiere at 6 p.m. Sept. 25 at Minnetrista.

Watch a preview of the documentary, and learn more about the project online.

Chris Flook, who also serves as executive producer, may be reached at caflook@bsu.edu or 765-730-0841.