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Posts Tagged ‘Education’

The Lessons Of History”  (1968©)  —  book review
Today’s book review is for a summation / distillation book written by Will and Ariel Durant (a married couple) which culminates a series of eleven volumes popularly titled: “The Story of Civilization“.  This book (“Lessons“) actually was written and published between volumes 10 and 11 of that main work.  The book attempts to provide extremely brief points about twelve topics: geography, biology, race, character, morals, religion, economics, socialism, government, war, growth / decay, and progress.  There is also a preface and a first chapter detailing the authors “hesitations” in presenting such a précis.  The book is barely 117 pages while the typical main volume is 900-1100 pages (over 10,000 pages in total).  Obviously, their task was daunting and, generally speaking, they only compare / contrast the two main tensions (positions) for each topic (i.e. religion vs secularism) in this slim book.  This book, like the main series, is an attempt to bring “history” to the masses (in simple, if flowery, language).
If you are a lover of words, you will enjoy the authors’ writing style.  I found the imagery almost poetic at many points.  If, however, you are a person grounded in ideas, you may be less taken by this work.  The chapters tend to be limited to the “compare and contrast” formula of only two main concepts each per topic.  Another issue: the book is dealing with racism and culture, character and morals, etc., and many times we see these topics through the prism of our modern perspective, while the authors view them over the course of human history.  Racism and slavery, for example, seem almost excused because that’s the way it (humanity) has been for the vast majority of the last 5,000 years.  It is NOT excused (by the authors), but it is detailed and in most sections comes across as “the white-man’s destiny”, until suddenly – sometimes in only a single brief paragraph, it isn’t.  And the “suddenly” paragraph represents the last 150 years which some of us have lived through a fair chunk of – in my case 65 of them, anyway.  I am not trying to be critical of the couple’s monumental work (over five decades in the writing for the main series), however, this book seems to suffer from the same European / Northern Mediterranean perspective (i.e. bias) which the main series is always criticized for.  I did not personally find this overly objectionable, but then I am a “melting-pot” American (product of the 1960’s).
Is this a good book?  Is it thought provoking?  Is it entertaining?  Yes.  Yes.  And, yes.  There is a well known expression that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.  The authors opine this is not necessarily as true as is the subtle appearance of time, leadership, government and civilization being caught up in great interweaving cycles – like a pendulum we swing back and forth between anarchy and tyranny with only brief periods of democratic liberties and freedoms.  And, they attempt to illustrate this series of cycles for each of the twelve chapters opposing extremes.  Please note:  the authors imagery is circular.  Mine is the pendulum.
Final recommendation: highly recommended!  I bought the full twelve volumes several years ago and promised myself I’d read them “eventually”.  I’m glad I’ve finally dipped my toe in the ocean.  I guess the next step is to begin the real swim…
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On This Day In:
2019 Dodgers Choke AGAIN
He Wasn’t “Just Kidding The Press”
2018 Thinking About My Hil
Remember Your Duty In November
2017 Play Well With Others
2016 Surviving And Challenging
2015 On Destroying Historic / Archaeological Sites
2014 Magical Power
2013 How Awesome Would That Be
2012 Two Views
2011 Still Looking For Examples
2010 Giants Win Away 3 – 2!!

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It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
   —    Aristotle
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On This Day In:
2019 Is #45 Warning Alabama Again?
Day 11: 49ers Win
2018 Worry (x2)
2017 Still Working
Gold In The Morning Sun
2016 Power Inside
2015 Sometimes I Feel Small
2014 It Slipped Away
2013 Corollary
2012 Working Retired
2011 The Web Is Not Authoritative! (Really?)

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The ultimate goal of the educational system is to shift to the individual the burden of pursing his own education.  This will not be a widely shared pursuit until we get over our odd conviction that education is what goes on in school buildings and nowhere else.
  —    John W. Gardner
[IMHO:  Gardner is correct that one main goal should be sparking the individual student’s desire to become educated and willing to pursue personal education beyond the classroom.  However, the societal problem which public schools were created to address has been the mass production and standardization of education, which to date, has only been possible within school buildings.
I would argue it has not been proven that technology – particularly remote learning technology – is anywhere near as uniformly effective or efficient as having a qualified and caring teacher standing in front of a group of students.  Personal (one-to-one) instruction has it’s value, but even in two on one (single child / two parent families) instruction is not as conducive to a well-rounded, socially developed AND educated child as is a classroom.  Parents can model behavior, manners and attitude, but I have rarely found any to be both qualified and able to educate their own children.  A “good” teacher is a rare enough commodity that we, as a society, undervalue (under-pay) all teachers.  A “great” teacher creates memories for a lifetime in their students.  —  KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2019 The Powers Of Mind
Day 10: Into Double Digits
2018 Up For Progress
Day 1.5: Done (For Now)
2017 And Second By Second
2016 Bakeries And Coffee Shops
2015 Spirit Not Form
2014 Sometimes Even Kneeling Seems Insufficient
2013 Hobgoblins
2012 Got Sleep?
2011 Not Another Barren Corner

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In November remember – DO NOT flip a coin, throw a dart at the ballot, or close your eyes and pull any lever your hand rests on.  And DO NOT vote for a President and then skip the rest of the state and local candidates and issues on your ballot:
1. You’re not JUST voting for President
2. You’re voting for Democracy and you’re voting against allowing the USA to become yet another authoritarian regime.
3. You’re voting for Federal leadership to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
4. You’re voting for who replaces Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court.
5. You’re voting for the appointment of a qualified Secretary of Education and getting rid of the unqualified Betsy Devos.
6. You’re voting for federal judges.
7. You’re voting for the rule of law.
8. You’re voting for saving national parks.
9. You’re voting for letting kids out of cages and reunited with their families.
10. You’re voting for clean air, clean water and more sustainable energy resources.
11. You’re voting for scientists to be allowed to speak about climate change and for rebuilding the CDC.
12. You’re voting for what a President says and does on Twitter.
13. You’re voting for housing rights.
14. You’re voting for minorities to be treated with dignity by those who are supposed to protect and serve all people under the Constitution of the United States.
15. You’re voting for non-Christians to be able to adopt and to feel like full citizens.
16. You’re voting for Dreamers.
17. You’re voting so that there will be Social Security and Medicare when you retire.
18. You’re voting for veterans to get the care they deserve.
19. You’re voting for rural hospitals.
20. You’re voting so that everyone can have health insurance without regard to employment status or income.
21. You’re voting for the preservation of PBS.
22. You’re voting to have a President who doesn’t embarrass this country every time she or he attends an international meeting.
23. You’re voting for sensible gun laws.
No Democrat is perfect.  They won’t pass your purity test.  And yet every single one of them will be better than four more years of Trump!!!  Please be reasonable and STAY FOCUSED!
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On This Day In:
2019 Always Surprises
2018 You’ve Got To Stand For Something
Day 24: Hand Touching Hand
2017 The Tide Will Turn
2016 Dreamers
2015 Three Roars
2014 Be R-E-L-E-V-A-N-T
2013 Lacking
2012 So Small A Thing
2011 Is Your Time Valuable?

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Science should not stand in the way of this.
  —    Kayleigh McEnany
[The “this” which McEnany is referring to is re-opening schools.  She then went on to claim “the science” is actually on their (the Administration’s) side.  The problem is:  the “science” is NOT on their side.  It does seem children (5 to 12 yrs old) are less susceptible to severe impact of the COVID-19, but there is little to no evidence they are any less efficient as asymptomatic carriers and transmitters.  There is also no proof they will not be impacted by future exposures or if there will be any long term effects to what appear to be non-significant exposures.  The virus is simply to new to know any of this.  We are beginning to find out if the antibodies are lasting.  They appear to not be.  And, significantly, we don’t know if re-infections will result in less significant or worse effects than the initial exposure.  The bottom line is that opening schools without masks, personal protected equipment for students, teachers and staff, and social distancing will be exposing our teachers, school staff, families and children to significant health risks.  My question:  “Why is the Administration willing to endanger Americans this way?”  —  KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2019 Slow Wisdom
It Is A Start…
2018 Young, Fun And Playing Well
2017 Earning Your Blessings
2016 A Suggestion…
Capable Of Being
2015 Looking For The Needles In The Haystacks
2014 The Definition Of A Gentleman
2013 Thar She Blows (Not)!
2012 Naturally
2011 Been Here, Done That
Remember
2010 Timeless Classics

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3:16 Bible Texts Illuminated”  —  book review
Today’s review is for “3:16 Bible Texts Illuminated” (1991©) written by Donald E. Knuth.  Back in 2011, I read another book by Knuth, titled: “Things A Computer Scientist Rarely Talks About“. (Review here.)  That book, was a discussion about the author’s faith and his prior book, which is being reviewed in this post.  When I retired (in 2017), I was presented with an Amazon gift voucher, which I promised to “waste” on books, music or technology.  In this case, part of it was used to buy this book (along with a number of other Knuth books).
To save everyone the time of reading my earlier review, basically, Knuth wanted to know if one can learn anything unique or unusual about the Bible by doing a stratified (but random) sampling / review of a particular Bible verse.  In theory, if you have a sufficiently large sample to draw from, you can gain “some” knowledge about any topic by analyzing a random sample of the topic’s data.
Because Knuth was not sure this type of investigation would work for literature, Knuth chose a verse he knew would have at least one interesting data point: “Chapter 3 Verse 16”.  The chapter and verse he was confident about was John Chapter 3: Verse 16 – “Yes, God loved the world so much that he gave his only child, so that all people with faith in him can escape destruction, and live forever.
The first problem Knuth encounters is that not all of the books of the Bible have 13 verses in their chapter 3.  To get around this, he simply carried the sample forward the same number (count) of verses and take up wherever that left him.  There were, however, a number of books which were simply to short to use even this method.  In those instances, he simply chooses to drop the book. Knuth ends up with a sampling size of 59 verses.
The second issue was Knuth found scholars did not always (rarely, in fact) agree on what exactly was meant by the writings in the various Bible sources.  Not only were the scholars interpretations differing, so were the texts across the various Bible versions.  There was (is) even disagreement on if some source material is valid and / or should be included in the Bible.
In order to determine why this was happening, Knuth determined to read the Bibles in their original Hebrew / Aramaic and Greek / Latin.  He could then present his own translations as he felt they should be interpreted.  In addition, he felt he needed to translate the verses immediately before and after the target verse to ensure he was accurately relating context as well as the literal meaning.
The method of describing each of the 59 verses itself is interesting.  Each verse is covered in four pages.  Page one provides overall historic, geographic and character background information.  The second page is devoted to a calligraphic representation of the verse.  The final two pages are a word by word breakdown of the verse.  In order to do this in a manner which makes sense, Knuth sometimes adds an analysis of the preceding or following verse(s).  Just a word on the calligraphy.  Knuth approached a friend who happened to be a world renowned typeface designer to assist with the book cover illustration.  The friend (Hermann Zapf), in turn commissioned calligraphers from over 20 countries to provide the “illustration” pages.  This calligraphy, in turn, became part of a formal exhibit which I believe is currently “owned” by the San Francisco Library.  I don’t know if it (the entire exhibit) is ever shown publicly.  I know it was back in 2011, but I was not able to go view it back then.  My loss, I am sure.
So, is this book interesting?  Is it entertaining?  Is it enlightening?  Yes.  Yes, and Yes!  I am a life-long Roman Catholic, but I have never read the Bible through cover to cover.  I tried to a few years back, but had limited knowledge of the names and places and found it rather boring.  I attempted to co-read Isaac Asimov’s “Guide To The Bible“, but even this was of limited value.  I now think I just gave up too soon.  Mea culpa.
Almost every chapter of this book explained something I didn’t know or fully appreciate about the book being covered in that chapter.  Some were simple “interesting”.  Some were “that never occurred to me”.  And, some (a few) were “Wow! I’ve got to go back and read that!”  Anytime I read a book which prompts me to read more or more in-depth, I am grateful to the author.  (I’m still not sure if I’m weird that way…)  In any case, I’m now more determined than ever to read more of Knuth’s books.
In this case: final recommendation – very highly recommended!!  Even if you are not a Biblical scholar or particularly religious, this book will provide insight into one of the greatest books in all of literature.  At less than 270 pages, this is a fast read and the calligraphy is truly beautiful.  Two final notes: 1) in the afterward, Knuth wonders if his selection of “3:16” was not “influenced” and therefor not entirely random.  His conclusion was, with further analysis, it may have been, but was not intentional.  He adds, however, that he enjoyed the process so much he intends to use the methodology for further future study of other verses.  And, 2) I’ve seen in various places this book was copyright in 1990.  My version says 1991 and that’s the year I’m using above.
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On This Day In:
2018 Happy 34th Anniversary, Hil!!
2017 Happy 33rd Anniversary, Hil!!
2016 Happy 32nd Anniversary, Hil!!
2015 Happy Anniversary Hil!!
2014 30th Wedding Anniversary
2013 Number 29 (And Counting)
2012 Hammer ‘N Roses
Happy Anniversary
2011 I Can Hear It Now

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Every human pastime — music, cooking, sports, art, theoretical physics — develops an argot to spare its enthusiasts from having to say or type a long-winded description every time they refer to a familiar concept in each other’s company.  The problem is that as we become proficient at our job or hobby we come to use these catchwords so often that they flow out of our fingers automatically, and we forget that our readers may not be members of the clubhouse in which we learned them.
   —  Steven Pinker
[Apologies to all you linguists out there.  I believe I just turned a noun into a verb.  —  KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2018 Good-Bye AG Jeff Sessions
2017 On Our Wall (Part 2)
2016 I Beg The Question
2015 By Their Fruit
2014 Proven Worth
2013 From Missouri
2012 Recipe To Write: Start With One Aching Urge
2011 Ip And Rib
Real Things
2010 Final Competition

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Musical training is a more potent instrument than any other, because rhythm and harmony find their way into the inward places of the soul; on which they mightily fasten, imparting grace, and making the soul of him who is rightly educated graceful, or of him who is ill-educated ungraceful; and also because he who has received this education of the inner being will most shrewdly perceive omissions or faults in art and nature, and with a true taste, while he praises and rejoices over and receives into his soul the good, and becomes noble and good, he will justly blame and hate the bad, now in the days of his youth, even before he is able to know the reason why; and when reason comes he will recognize and salute the friend with whom his education has made him long familiar.
   —    Plato
From:   “The Republic
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On This Day In:
2018 One Of The Great Ones
2017 Mirror In The Oval Office
True Courage
2016 What’s Your Excuse?
2015 Some Meaningful Resemblance
2014 Bloom
Orange October (VII) – The Giants Win The Pennant!!
2013 Walking The Walk
2012 Legacy Of Star Trek (TOS)
2011 Tolerating The Intolerant
Passionate Germs
2010 Giants Win Game 1 In Philly (4 to 3)!!

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Instead of allowing our kids to beat themselves up when things don’t go their way, we might all pause to question a culture that has taught them that being anything less than overwhelmed is lazy, that how they perform for others is more important than what actually inspires them and that where they go to college matters more than the kind of person they are.
The point is not to give our kids a pass on working hard and doing their best.  But fantasizing that they can control everything is not really resilience.  We are harming our children by implying that they can bend life to their will, and as students walk across commencement stages this year, we would be wise to remind them that life has a way of sucker-punching us when we least expect it.  It’s often the people who learn to say “stuff happens” who get up the fastest.
   —    Rachel Simmons
From her opinion / editorial: “Tell kids the truth: hard work doesn’t always pay off
Appearing in Time Magazine, dtd: 1 July 2019
Online at: https://time.com/5593706/hard-work-achievement-mindset/
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On This Day In:
2018 Looking Into Golf
Goin’ Yard
2017 Improvise
2016 Got Leisure?
2015 It’s Been Hurtin’ For Quite A While Now
2014 Curious Talent
2013 Eureka
2012 Slow Me
2011 He Said What?!?
2010 Gritty
3 and 3
Just A Hunch
Wall Street – Movie Review
2nd Pair – Shoe Review (Aborted and Final)

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I find television very educating.  Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.
  ―   Groucho Marx
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On This Day In:
2018 Used To Rejection
Day 16: Looking Ahead (Just A Little)
2017 Tonight
I Rejoice
2016 Conscientious Courage
Speaking Of Which…
2015 The Beautiful Snow
2014 Nurtured By The Voices
2013 Précis
2012 Fear And Understanding
2011 Just Being Human

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Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain.  It’s not something you learn in school.  But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything.
  ―  Muhammad Ali
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On This Day In:
2018 As Long As You Survive Each Experience
WordPress to Facebook Test…
Day 7: Oh, Yeah!
2017 A Good Habit
2016 The Minds Of Trumpism
2015 Expressing Nonsense
2014 A Real Fight
2013 Unravelling
2012 I Resolve
2011 Practice, Practice, Practice
2009 Phoenix Trip (July ’09)

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Knowledge is not simply another commodity.  On the contrary.  Knowledge is never used up.  It increases by diffusion and grows by dispersion.
  —   Daniel J. Boorstin
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On This Day In:
2018 The Stumbling Block, Too
Day 5: Breezin’
2017 Duty
2016 Still Gaining
2015 Filling Gaps
2014 Even In Our Sleep
2013 Passion Is Always Personal
2012 And You Are?
2011 Innate Talent

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When men have harnessed the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, they will harness for God the energies of love, and then for the second time in the history of this world, man will have discovered Fire.
  —  Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
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On This Day In:
2018 Especially In The Middle East
2017 A Good Local
2016 Life Unlimited
2015 Still Trying
2014 Destiny, n.
2013 No Apologies
2012 Utterly Convinced
2011 A Key To Effectiveness

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Capitalism, however, has been here before.  One of its great historic strengths has been its ability to reform and change shape as social needs and democratic demands shift.  In the late 19th century, parties of the right in Europe brought in a wave of progressive reforms to suit the times, from expanded union rights to the social insurance that began the creation of the modern welfare state.  In these cases, there was a pragmatic and also a moral imperative at work to improve the lives of ordinary citizens.
Yet today, politicians and thinkers have largely stopped making the case for capitalism as a moral good.  What we have instead are abstract ideas about the supremacy of markets.  At the same time, the surges in inequality seen in country after country are corroding the moral principles that underpin capitalism.  The ethical basis for capitalism must be that it offers better life chances for a majority of citizens.  If it is failing to do that, what is the justification for its dominance as an economic system?  Little wonder that a Gallup poll found only 45% of U.S. young adults view capitalism positively, a 12-point decline in just two years.
Artificial intelligence has the potential to alter our lives to an even greater extent.  AI is best understood not as an upgrade of our existing structures but as a general-purpose technology (GPT), like electricity or the steam engine.  GPTs are transformative in their social and economic impacts, reaching into every aspect of life.  “Some people believe that it’s going to be on the scale of the Industrial Revolution,” says Demis Hassabis, the AI expert who co-founded the pioneering machine-learning company DeepMind.  “Other people believe it’s going to be the class of its own above that.”
The crucial factor for managing these changes is time.  In 1900, the proportion of the U.S. population who worked in agriculture was 38% and the proportion who worked in factories was 25%.  Today only 1.5% of the population works in agriculture and 7.9% in factories.  So there’s been a catastrophe of unemployment?  Absolutely not: the losses were more than made up for by growth in other sectors of the economy, which went from providing 24 million jobs in 1900 to some 150 million today.  Most of the new varieties of work simply didn’t exist at the dawn of the last century.  Given time, we know from experience that a society can manage this kind of transition.  The question is, do we have that time?
…Think about what the working life will be of a person who can expect to live for a full century.  What can we say about the likely span of her economic and political life?  The only absolute certainty is that it will involve change.  It will not be static.  It will not involve doing the same thing in the same place over and over again.  Unless we are all prepared for change, we are not prepared for the coming world of work.
At the individual level, the prescription for what we should do to prepare for this new landscape is relatively straightforward.  For a life of multiple careers and skills, people need an education that prepares them for a lifelong process of training and retraining.  They will need, more than anything else, to learn how to learn.  Flexibility and resilience will be crucial.  It won’t be easy, but at least we can see it clearly.  At the level of society it is harder.  Let’s be honest: this is a vision of insecurity, projected across a working life.  It is a clear principle of economic and political history—one we’re relearning today — that humans hate insecurity.
What we need is to rethink the relationship between the individual, the corporate sector and the state.  In recent decades, we have seen a “great risk shift” — to borrow the term of the Yale social scientist Jacob Hacker.  Individuals in temporary, insecure, giglike employment are taking on risks that used to belong to the corporate sector.  Not coincidentally, the share of GDP going to the corporate sector as profits has risen and the share accruing to labor as pay has gone down.
That trend, and that risk transfer, are not sustainable over time.  We need a social safety net focused on career support rather than just simple unemployment benefits.  Companies and individuals and the state must work together to build an enhanced and more flexible version of the welfare state that overlaps with lifelong training and education.
The architects of this new industrial revolution, by the way, agree with this proposition.  Yann LeCun, the chief AI scientist at Facebook and one of the pioneers of deep learning, said recently that every economist he has spoken to agrees that governments must take measures to compensate for rising inequality brought about by technology.  “All of them believe this has to do with fiscal policy in the form of taxing, and wealth and income distribution.”
We also need a functioning marketplace.  The collapse of U.S. government action in the area of antitrust and competition law has led to a damaging concentration across most industries — from cable TV to airlines, online advertising and farming.  While a new generation of robber barons controls huge sections of the U.S. economy, corporate profits surge, wages stagnate, and fewer ordinary workers have reason to believe in the capitalist system.
The final component of what we do next concerns not what we do but what they do — “they” meaning the elites who have profited most from the trends of recent decades.  Quite simply, those elites have to pay their taxes.  They have to stop using offshore havens and accounting tricks to hide their wealth from the societies in which they live and from which they make their profits. Instead of founding think tanks and gorging on discussions about improving distant lives, they have to attend to the lives around them in the places they actually live.
A new emphasis on the role of the nation-state; a new partnership between the state and the private sector and the individual; new action on lifelong learning and training; higher and fairer taxes; less security for big corporations: these things shouldn’t be unthinkable.  It is strange and sad that the least likely thing on my wish list is the idea that elites will change their behavior.
But elites may have to change if they don’t want change to be imposed on them.  This coming wave of technological transformation has the potential to be the most serious challenge modern capitalism has faced.  For people who don’t have the chance to change and adapt and reskill, a pitiless world ruled by algorithms and machine learning, in which they have no utility, no relevant skills and no security, could look completely unlivable.  Facing that prospect, the populations of the developed world may do things that make the current populist moment look polite, low-key and lawful.
— John Lanchester
From his article in Time Magazine (dtd: Feb4/11, 2019): “Economy: Leveling The Playing Field
The article also appears online as: “The Next Industrial Revolution Is Coming.  Here’s How We Can Ensure Equality
The link to the entire online version is: http://time.com/collection/davos-2019/5502589/next-industrial-revolution/
[Please note: This article is extensively quoted without permission from the author or from Time Magazine.  I personally subscribe to the physical version of Time Magazine and have done so for almost 50 years now.  I make no claim to ownership of the article or its ideas.  I do NOT normally post so extensively from an article, but this was (to me) a powerful article about the future of civilization, so I have made an exception.  The ellipses indicate where I have edited out portions of the article.  I hope neither the author nor Time Magazine will object to my editing or use of the article.  Obviously, I encourage all of my readers to go to read the original.  —  KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2018 New And Old
2017 Ever
2016 At The Center
2015 True Value In Life
2014 A Potential To Be Concerned
2013 Fine No More
2012 Have You Checked Your Height Lately?
2011 Are You Convinced?

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An educational system isn’t worth a great deal if it teaches young people how to make a living and doesn’t teach them how to live.
  —  Charles Snitow
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On This Day In:
2018 Disruptive Definition
2017 A History Of Small Insights
2016 Be Uncommon
2015 Ooops!
2014 What Price Freedom?
2013 Remembering Val
2012 Good-bye, Val
Survival Value
2011 Traitors In Our Midst
Life Ain’t Easy

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