Ride of a Lifetime

Every now and again circumstances conspire to create conditions that allow surfers to ride tidal bore waves for miles.  From Wired, here is an article, with accompanying video, of three surfers catching such a bore and surfing it for 45 minutes up, yep up, an Alaskan river.  Check it out.

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To Begin a Dialogue on Parenting and Education

From a But If Nots reader

I’ve enjoyed following your blog. Glad you are doing it!! On the way home this evening I was listening to Market Place and heard this commentary. I thought of you. Here’s the link. Anything you’d like to add would be entertained and appreciated.

The link points to a brief interview with Michelle Rhee from the NPR show Marketplace.  Therein, Michelle talks about parenting in America and how it affects education.  Says Michelle

We’ve lost our competitive spirit. We’ve become so obsessed with making kids feel good about themselves that we’ve lost sight of building the skills they need to actually be good at things.

I agree with force.  When I went to India, to help setup workforce preparedness training for large consultancies over there, I was blown away by the sense of urgency to improve,  by the open competition to get better, by the expectancy of young people to perform or get run over.  After just the first day there, after meeting with the development team at Wiipro – on its state of the art employee training campus – I called home and somberly told my wife that we in America are guilty of low expectations of our children.

Now, finally, this whole notion of American parenting as insufficient is all the rage on the internet.  Thanks largely to Amy Chua and her book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, excerpted last week in the Wall Street Journal.  Dr. Chua contrasts Asian parenting with western parenting and argues that Asian parenting is superior.

Since reading the article, I have been wondering how to tackle this subject.  It’s a big topic and deserves more than the usual But If Not flippancy.  So I am going to do an entire series on it. 

First up is an invitation to, my friend, Mike Kalt, to frame the question and write a post with his thoughts on the subject.  Mike is a semi-retired, unabashed liberal with quick and funny wit.  He has a Ph.D. in political science, an incredible world travel log, and is the last interesting person to come from Detroit. 

I have invited Mike to be a regular contributor to this site – to be the antidote to my free market leave-well-enough-alone-and-all-will-be-well rantings.  Perhaps this can be a place where right and left actually talk to each other.  So look for, read, and comment on Mike’s posts. 

As for the suggestions from readers, thank you and keep them coming.  I am interested only in everything and am happy to be drawn into a conversation about what you want to talk about . . . except the New York Yankees.

Here are other But If Nots on Education:

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Get Rich Quick

Tired of the old 9 to 5?  Tired of the commute?  Tired of struggling to have the car you want, the house you want, the school for your kids that you want?

Imagine being self-employed.  Working in the sun, by the water, charting your own course.  Imagine working only 20 or 30 days a year and still make 5-6 million dollars.

If this all sounds like a good plan, then pirating may be the thing for you.

From an article in Wired we learn that

The average payout to ransom a hijacked ship was $5.4 million last year, up from just $150,000 in 2005.

Talk about a growth industry.

But before you choose to launch your pirate start-up, you should be aware that there are emerging barriers to entry.

 BAE Systems is marketing one of its shipboard laser dazzlers as a tool to blind pirates before they can take your ship hostage.

Further still, others have

placed nonlethal acoustic weapons on deck to shoo pirates away.

This can’t be any more dangerous than you have already experienced with your iPod headphones and the max volume setting.

So, if you think you are innovative enough to get around these obstacles, if you are one of the three people to have seen Water World, if you think you are committed enough to outwork the current crop of bandits . . . then go get your piece of a huge industry.

piracy has been allowed to fester because “$12 billion is chump change to the shipping industry.”

Chump change.

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Seeing Things Clearly

Bill Gates predicted the merging of the different media (internet, TV, gaming) in general.  It happened.  And perhaps he missed it.  I say perhaps because the XBox is a significant foray into this space.  I say in general because his predictions were too early to be specific. 

Now we have a whole new generation of people immersed in entertainment technology ready to make their own prognostications.  I just read this blog post by Mark Shuster, a venture capitalist in the media and entertainment industry, titled The Future of Television and the Digital Living Room.  It is incredibly comprehensive and clear-sighted, albeit a bit too darling toward Apple at the outset.

It’s an entertaining and worthwhile read.  Absent your investment of time toward it, below the fold are some quotes.

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Really??!! – The Sequel

Scientists try to bring wooly mammoth back to life using cloning.  Really!!??  And then what?

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$1.1bn yacht set for development.  Really!!??  And who is going to buy that?

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Canada Cuts the Cheese

“When you need to cut down on government consumption there are two different approaches. One way is to take a little bit from everything . . . to use the cheese slicer . . . to take equally from everyone. The other way to decrease spending is to use the cake-slicer, ie to surgically remove selected items.”


Canada has managed to weather the global financial storm virtually unscathed. How did our neighbors to the north, with whom we share so much, manage the situation so much better than we in the States?

They did it by responding to their own budget crisis of the early 90’s like adults – getting their fiscal house in order and maintaining fairly stringent financial regulations.  That and a bit of public embarrassment as well, but more on that later.

These efforts, previously unremarked upon, are getting a lot of attention now as countries debate the merits of budget cuts versus Keynesian style stimulative deficit spending.

From the UK BBC

As Prime Minister David Cameron warns of the need for extensive spending cuts to bring down the UK’s substantial public deficit, the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition is aiming to follow the achievement of the Canadian government between 1993 and 1996 

During those four years, the then Canadian administration of prime minister Jean Chretien managed to turn a deficit of 9.1% or 39bn Canadian dollars ($37bn; £25bn) into a small budget surplus.

How they did it without raising taxes below the fold.

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