Alvin Toffler, Author of ‘Future Shock,’ Dies at 87

w10561From the New York Times.

Alvin Toffler, the celebrated author of “Future Shock,” the first in a trilogy of best-selling books that presciently forecast how people and institutions of the late 20th century would contend with the immense strains and soaring opportunities of accelerating change, died on Monday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 87.

His death was confirmed by his consulting firm, Toffler Associates, based in Reston, Va.

Mr. Toffler was a self-trained social science scholar and successful freelance magazine writer in the mid-1960s when he decided to spend five years studying the underlying causes of a cultural upheaval that he saw overtaking the United States and other developed countries.

The fruit of his research, “Future Shock” (1970), sold millions of copies and was translated into dozens of languages, catapulting Mr. Toffler to international fame. It is still in print.

In the book, in which he synthesized disparate facts from every corner of the globe, he concluded that the convergence of science, capital and communications was producing such swift change that it was creating an entirely new kind of society.

His predictions about the consequences to culture, the family, government and the economy were remarkably accurate. He foresaw the development of cloning, the popularity and influence of personal computers and the invention of the internet, cable television and telecommuting.

“The roaring current of change,” he said, was producing visible and measurable effects in individuals that fractured marriages, overwhelmed families and caused “confusional breakdowns” manifested in rising crime, drug use and social alienation. He saw these phenomena as very human psychological responses to disorientation and proposed that they were challenging the very structures of communities, institutions and nations.

He continued these themes in two successful follow-up books, “The Third Wave” (1980) and “Powershift” (1990), assisted by his wife, Heidi Toffler, who served as a researcher and editor for the trilogy and was a named co-author in subsequent books. She survives him.

Mr. Toffler popularized the phrase “information overload.” His warnings could be bleak, cautioning that people and institutions that failed to keep pace with change would face ruin. But he was generally optimistic. He was among the first authors to recognize that knowledge, not labor and raw materials, would become the most important economic resource of advanced societies.

Critics were not sure what to make of Mr. Toffler’s literary style or scholarship. Richard R. Lingeman wrote in The New York Times that Mr. Toffler “sends flocks of facts and speculation whirling past like birds in a tornado.” In Time magazine, the reviewer R. Z. Sheppard wrote, “Toffler’s redundant delivery and overheated prose turned kernels of truth into puffed generalities.”

Mr. Toffler’s work nevertheless found an eager readership among the general public, on college campuses, in corporate suites and in national governments. Newt Gingrich, the former Republican speaker of the House, met the Tofflers in the 1970s and became close to them. He said “The Third Wave” had immensely influenced his own thinking and was “one of the great seminal works of our time.”

 

via Alvin Toffler, Author of ‘Future Shock,’ Dies at 87 – The New York Times

For me, and I can’t speak for any other, Mr. Toffler’s work provided me a framework to build upon. I found his speculation, and informed speculation to be a guide as to how to start to piece things together in a coherent manner. I read the trilogy as it came out, and truthfully, my mind wasn’t open enough to grasp Future Schock properly, but as time went on, and the following books appeared, that changed, and I revisited them.

He was the first, that came to my attention, that had a vision of where all the disparate pieces of the 60s and 70s would lead. He wasn’t always right, but he was in a surprising number of cases. And you know, for me, at least, right or wrong in specific cases wasn’t really the point, except superficially. The point was that he taught me to look beyond the obvious, and to try and think about what the trends I see will mean in 10 or 20 or more years down the road. That is a very valuable skill, that I cherish, and that I owe to a small group of authors, led by Alvin Toffler.

Thank you, sir, and rest in peace.

Can Grown-Ups Save Conservatism? A Preface

downloadConsidering what has happened to conservatism, and conservatives, politically, ideologically, culturally, even morally, in the past eleven months because of the rise of Donald Trump, it may come as a surprise to you that I wrote the bulk of this article five years ago in September, 2011 when another outsider was making a run for the presidency. His name is Herman Cain.

But this has been a subject that has colored my thinking about modern conservatism, and how it defines itself, since at least the arrival of Barack Obama. After all, I’ve been on speaking terms with conservatism since Barry Goldwater ran for president in 1964 (because my father admired him).

So I’m old enough to notice things.

Only this week I was drawn into a Twitter exchange with a couple of snarling pit vipers about Hillary’s well-documented shortcomings as an honest person. I assumed the two ladies were young, under 40, maybe even 30, but noticed that in every exchange they included the twitter handle of Jonah Goldberg at National Review Online. So I was unsure if they  were EverHillary’s or NeverTrumpsters. (You NeverTrumpsters should take note that without context you do sound remarkably similar.) I wanted to ferret out which side they were on, as well as fire a broadside at Goldberg, who is one of my favorite Trump-bashing targets because of his meritless elitism and irreverent deviance from what I always considered true conservatism to be. To establish that, I mentioned to the Valkyries that I met Jonah’s mom in the early 90’s, who I was introduced to by a former member of the Reagan Administration, and who, along with Bill Buckley’s brother, James, was a founder of the Conservative Party of New York.

They hung up, or whatever they call it on Twitter.

A recurring problem  exists on the Right of allowing pride and vanity to over-shadow the fight against the Left reminding me that pride always heralds a coming fall (Prov 16:18), a fall Ameruica can little afford.

We need to distinguish conservatism culturally from the Left, and our youngsters seem not equipped to do it.

American culture must trump politics.

                                                                               *  *  *  *  *  *

Used to be, by the time you were 30 you were grown-up and by the time you were 40, you were entering middle age, considered then a man’s prime. Those were to be our best years, where maturity and experience combined to mold a man equipped to achieve at his highest level, his station in life built on the respect he had earned from his peers.

When I was growing up, that was the place I wanted to get to. Like Rush Limbaugh, I couldn’t wait to be grown-up. In my time (I’m five years older than Rush) almost all our heroes and role models were grown-ups. From Washington to Jefferson to Neil Armstrong to John Wayne, everyone looked up to them. We picked our film stars from men we wanted to be like in some way.

We didn’t so much want to be like them as to be respected as they were respected.

I couldn’t wait to outgrow the assumption that I carried the same sort of  self-absorption that had tagged my generation. I assumed everyone looked at me like I didn’t know a thing (which I didn’t) and knowing I’d never done a thing worth mentioning (which I hadn’t).

To be a grown-up you had to have a resume in life and experience, not just semester hours, so I went about making one. At 30 I was a captain in the Army. By 40 I was in senior management in a Fortune 500 manufacturing company, followed by 25 years in the old Soviet World. And while I write these days I only watched and listened in those days. I was boots-on-the-ground for over 50 of my years.

These are still required habits necessary to moving about in the world of the grown-up.

And that’s the thing, I think. Like the author, I write now, but until I was in my late 50s, I didn’t, I went, I did, and I found out what worked. What worked in practical electrical work, in leading men, in assembling teams, in life, and yes, in religion as well. Unlike him, I didn’t have the advantage of being a military officer, although I somehow absorbed much of the ethos, probably through reading history.

When I was a child, I hungered and thirsted most for the respect of adults, to be given the responsibility to keep the yard mowed, (regardless of my hay fever) all five acres of woodland, to have a responsible job. Yes, I started working for dad when I was 13, as an assistant staking engineer, planning new power lines, as well as wiring my first building on my own.

Most of my friends were farmers kids, and were much the same, they were working from the time they could run a shovel and/or a tractor. Most of us loved it, it meant we were being treated like an adult, finally, and it was something we had earned. It wasn’t given to us.

The real lessons were the timeless ones of how adults did things, how they thought, and how to overcome difficulties rather than whingeing about them.

The Baby Boom Infarction

But I was a Baby-Boomer, and among us arose a cult of youth which has consumed each succeeding generation since. It may yet be the death of us all.

Now, there are dozens of ingredients that go into becoming “grown-up,” but I will dwell on only one or two here, as they have a bearing on the future of conservatism  (and America). In short, the youth culture that arose out of my generation contained some sociological ingredients that prevented them from ever growing-up in the cultural sense, regardless of biological age, and these ingredients severed the best from the brightest.

via Can Grown-Ups Save Conservatism? A Preface « Sago Read the whole thing™

At thirteen, most of us understood this completely

 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child:

but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

Would that all of our contemporaries, conservative and liberal, American, British, or anybody else, had our advantage, for truly we learned this is the price of adulthood.

Why Uber Keeps Raising Billions

Travis Kalanick, Uber’s chief. Uber is on its way to amassing $15 billion in real cash since starting in 2009. Its valuation on paper is $68 billion. Credit Marlene Awaad/Bloomberg

This is interesting, and a chase of pace. Apparently Uber is sitting on a pile of cash and borrowing more. I don’t know enough here to even have an opinion, but it tends to fascinate me. Here, read the whole thing.™:

It feels like almost every other week there is a new headline about Uber raising more money. “Uber Closes $1.6 Billion in Financing.’’ “Uber Turns to Saudi Arabia for $3.5 Billion Cash Infusion.’’ Last week, we got this one: “Uber to Raise Up to $2 Billion in Leveraged-Loan Market.’’

If you add up all the money Uber has raised since it started in 2009 — the idea was born when its founders became annoyed that they could not get a cab in Paris — the ride-hailing app company is on its way to amassing a colossal $15 billion. That’s real cash, not some funny-money, paper-based valuation. (That figure is $68 billion.) It has done all this while still managing to remain a private company, and its chief executive,Travis Kalanick, has insisted that a public offering is not coming soon. “I’m going to make sure it happens as late as possible,” he has repeatedly said.

Consider this: When Amazon went public in 1997, it raised $54 million and was valued at $438 million.

So what exactly is Uber doing with all that money? And what does it say about Uber — and the financial markets — that the company has turned most recently to selling the equivalent of junk bonds?

Yes, Uber has to finance an all-out war to gain market share in China and India. But there is more to it than that: Uber’s money-grab is seemingly part of an unspoken strategy to mark its territory.

Every time Uber raises another $1 billion, venture capital investors and others may find it less attractive to back one of Uber’s many rivals: Didi Chuxing, Lyft, Gett, Halo, Juno. In other words, Uber’s fund-raising efforts have seemingly become part of the contest: It’s not just a rivalry over customers and drivers; it’s a war of attrition, a mad scramble to starve the competition of cash.

At the moment, Uber’s success has had the opposite effect: It has spawned a long list of rivals, big and little guys who say, “We can do it too.” But over time, as the smaller competitors run out of cash — after heavily subsidizing riders in an effort to steal business from Uber — venture capitalists should be less inclined to put up even more cash to go up against Fortress Uber.

via Why Uber Keeps Raising Billions – The New York Times

Like I said could be. But at the very end, the author makes a silly mistake. He forgets, if he ever knew, that there are no monopolies in nature (or free markets), somebody will always compete, usually better. The only way a monopoly exists is when it enforced by strong arm tactics, either of the players or the government.

Just ask the US carmakers, back in the 50s and 60s they could sell us any piece of overpriced junk they wanted to, no matter how shoddily manufactured. What happened? Volkswagen and Toyota. The Brits were at least as bad, so we’ll finish with Jeremy Clarkson on how they killed their auto industry.

We got a little luckier, we made it worthwhile for foreign makers to build plants here, and they did, in states that had never (for the most part) built cars or been unionized, and that’s why so many cars with funny names actually are American made, sometimes with American parts. And those workers have gained a reputation as the best in the world. Something that no one who ever dealt with the UAW ever said.

 

Sunday Ride

You know when I was a kid, every once in a while on a nice Sunday afternoon my folks would decide to just go for a ride. It was a nice custom that seems to have died out, mostly.

But this is kind of a virtual one, for out here. Enjoy!

Fmr. McDonald’s USA CEO: $35K Robots Cheaper Than Hiring at $15 Per Hour

English: A Quarter Pounder w/Cheese from McDonald's, as sold in the United States. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Soon to be made by a robot near you!

Well, of course, it is. That’s simple common sense, and government can try, but the market wins every time. Look I wrote about this a bit over two years ago, here, and if anything has changed, it’s not for the better.

Here’s the takeaway quote for you:

“I was at the National Restaurant Show yesterday and if you look at the robotic devices that are coming into the restaurant industry — it’s cheaper to buy a $35,000 robotic arm than it is to hire an employee who’s inefficient making $15 an hour bagging French fries — it’s nonsense and it’s very destructive and it’s inflationary and it’s going to cause a job loss across this country like you’re not going to believe,” said former McDonald’s (MCD) USA CEO Ed Rensi during an interview on the FOX Business Network’s Mornings with Maria.

He also said this, which is also true, although in truth we’d be better off if we simply left it to the market.

“I think we ought to have a multi-faceted wage program in this country. If you’re a high school kid, you ought to have a student wage. If you’re an entry level worker you ought to have a separate wage. The states ought to manage this because they know more [about] what’s going on the ground than anybody in Washington D.C.,” he said.

Here’s the link along with the warning that it’s got an autoplay video on it. It’s a good video, though.

via Fmr. McDonald’s USA CEO: $35K Robots Cheaper Than Hiring at $15 Per Hour | Fox Business

Look none of this is rocket science done with a slide rule, it’s simple common sense. I realize that politicians with common sense are an endangered species, but this will harm those who are already hurting the most, especially our minorities. Strange, I’m a conservative white guy, how come I care more about those young black guys than all the liberal Democrats (and Bernie Sanders) put together?

Why, Indeed?

 

Then and now

Directors_of_the_Union_Pacific_Railroad_on_the_100th_meridian_approximately_250_miles_west_of_Omaha,_Nebr._Terr._The_tra_-_NARA_-_530892Well, we’ve all seen the movies and TV shows about building railroads in the nineteenth century, the armies of men, the towns, usually called “Hell on Wheels’ for good reason. and all the rest. The picture above is from my neighborhood, and without that railroad, there wasn’t any purpose for anybody to live out here, except maybe to hunt buffalo.

But we don’t build railroads like that anymore, Here’s how it’s done now

But if you were paying attention, you noticed those rails weren’t drilled to bolt together. That’s because there is a better way.

And, by the way, those armies of men, and the women who followed them, had to find other ways to make a living over the years, just like is happening now to many of our low skilled laborers, a few highly skilled and paid men, with the proper machinery, can do a better job, and do it cheaper than a horde of unskilled employees. And that means lower prices for us all.

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