Saturday, November 30, 2013

Thankfulness: Abundance, Opportunity, Openness

Some Thanksgiving 2013 thoughts.

Thanksgiving Day has passed, but the thankfulness lingers. Though Americans complain about the high cost of food and energy, on a global scale food and energy are incredibly cheap and abundant in America. If you want to experience high costs and plain old unavailability, go where there are shortages, rationing, etc.

Real food remains absurdly cheap (if you frequent ethnic markets and eat low on the food chain), packaged convenience food and fast food remain costly and unhealthy. What appears "cheap" carries a high price in all sorts of ways.

Despite the rise of the Police/National Security State and the other centralized ills of American society, opportunity is also in abundance. If you doubt this, please visit any major research U.S. university and look at the global village of students. The Excuse Book in America runs to thousands of pages; where Americans see entitlements denied, others see opportunity for enterprise and advancement.

America is still a relatively open society. People come here from all over the world for a variety of reasons. This openness fuels innovation. The home countries of our Thanksgiving guests reflect America's international experience: India, the Philippines, Colombia, Poland, Greece, Japan and of course the U.S.


The courses (all home-made) included the traditional favories:
--turkey
--stuffing
--mashed potatoes
--gravy
--sweet potatoes with sliced apples
--three kinds of home-made cranberry sauce (one with apples, one with orange)


And an international potluck:
-- mussels with spinach leaves and dipping sauce
--somosas with mint/cilantro sauce
--Hawaii style potato salad
--nimono (a holiday Japanese stew, also called nishime)
--Crackling pork belly with lemon grass and garlic




Desserts included:
--fresh pumpkin pie (not from a can, from kabocha pumpkins)
--pumpkin cake
--custard pie
--chocolate pecan pie


And of course various beverages added sparkle: sparkling sake, champagne, ginger ale and two red wines.

It's easy to wallow in cynicism and bemoan what has been lost. But opportunity, openness and abundance are not static; they are dynamic and inextricably bound to risk and adaptability.


If You Seek Practical Gifts, Consider These Everyday Kitchen Tools




The Nearly Free University and The Emerging Economy:
The Revolution in Higher Education

Reconnecting higher education, livelihoods and the economyWith the soaring cost of higher education, has the value a college degree been turned upside down? College tuition and fees are up 1000% since 1980. Half of all recent college graduates are jobless or underemployed, revealing a deep disconnect between higher education and the job market.

It is no surprise everyone is asking: Where is the return on investment? Is the assumption that higher education returns greater prosperity no longer true? And if this is the case, how does this impact you, your children and grandchildren?
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We must thoroughly understand the twin revolutions now fundamentally changing our world: The true cost of higher education and an economy that seems to re-shape itself minute to minute.

The Nearly Free University and the Emerging Economy clearly describes the underlying dynamics at work - and, more importantly, lays out a new low-cost model for higher education: how digital technology is enabling a revolution in higher education that dramatically lowers costs while expanding the opportunities for students of all ages.
The Nearly Free University and the Emerging Economy provides clarity and optimism in a period of the greatest change our educational systems and society have seen, and offers everyone the tools needed to prosper in the Emerging Economy.

Read the Foreword, first section and the Table of Contents.

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Things are falling apart--that is obvious. But why are they falling apart? The reasons are complex and global. Our economy and society have structural problems that cannot be solved by adding debt to debt. We are becoming poorer, not just from financial over-reach, but from fundamental forces that are not easy to identify. We will cover the five core reasons why things are falling apart:

go to print edition1. Debt and financialization
2. Crony capitalism
3. Diminishing returns
4. Centralization
5. Technological, financial and demographic changes in our economy

Complex systems weakened by diminishing returns collapse under their own weight and are replaced by systems that are simpler, faster and affordable. If we cling to the old ways, our system will disintegrate. If we want sustainable prosperity rather than collapse, we must embrace a new model that is Decentralized, Adaptive, Transparent and Accountable (DATA).

We are not powerless. Once we accept responsibility, we become powerful.
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