(Community Matters) It’s long been a tradition to celebrate my birthday with Tana Christie (& Margaret & Robert & Milinda when we can). Last year and this year, that’s meant celebrating in Santa Barbara – what a treat. Last year Michael Mitchell joined us. This year Paula Cramer & Warren happened to be in town (from Philadelphia). Joe was there the first night but had to travel the rest.
Enlightening article on Amazon, Why Amazon Has No Profits (And Why It Works) by Benedict Evans.
With the growth of ecommerce to overall retail sales and the favorability of who buys online, I’m liking Bezos bets and thinking Amazon’s success less cyclical than brick & mortar retailers. (good summary on demographics of US online buyers,The Surprising Facts About Who Shops Online And On Mobile).
Hat Tip: Brett Hurt
(Community Matters) Thomas Friedman’s column – Czar Putin’s Next Moves. I spent a lot of time in the Baltics in the 90s, especially in Riga, Latvia. Witnessed first hand the strife between Latvians and Russian nationals. Russians still comprise a quarter of the Latvian population and over 50% of Latvia’s second largest city, Daugavpils – which is located in the far south, very close to the Belarus and Russian borders. Latvians are very aware of Russian expansion & excursions. The territorial threat is real with meaningful risks of war for the countries of NATO. I think we need to start talking about this and preparing the American people to honor our NATO commitments against Russian expansion into NATO countries. I believe this would reduce the risk of realization.
Handled adroitly, this could even distract Americans from political divisions and allow for greater unity.
(Community Matters) To our dear Muslim friends & Muslims all over this state, I am so embarrassed about yesterday at the Texas Capitol. I’m sorry how ignorant some fellow Texans (the state rep) & even a visiting Tennessean (the showboat, lunatic woman protestor who appears to do this all over the country for a living) acted. They do not reflect the love, understanding nor radical hospitality you can certainly expect from me, Steven, our families and our friends . . . to people of all faiths – very definitely including Muslims.
There is no excuse for this ignorance and hate. It’s simply small-minded fear stoked by irresponsible pundits, politicians and clergy. There is, unfortunately, real reason for all of us to be fearful. If actions are not taken to defuse the hate, if politicians, pundits and clergy do not dial back their Reichskanzler-ish rhetoric, the physical threat from these zealots will grow.
I promise not to be silent. The next time I hear a politician speaking such trash – even when they try to code it – I will speak up. I believe this is happening at every political level today. I don’t care if these politicians are white, black, brown or cuban – they’ve got to stop. They are potentially as dangerous as the fourth of six children.
(Community Matters) An important observation which I’ve noticed before in early data. Don’t mean to say it isn’t important to note suburbanization of Austin’s African American population. And, I can’t help but think about how moving outside of one’s traditional neighborhoods is sometimes an aspiration of people as options become available. 538 story
(Community Matters) ECONOMIST: “The children of the rich and powerful are increasingly well suited to earning wealth and power themselves. . . Between 1960 and 2005 the share of men with university degrees who married women with university degrees nearly doubled, from 25% to 48%, and the change shows no sign of going into reverse. . . the best predictor of an American child’s success in school has long been the parents’ educational level—a factor which graduates are already ahead on, by definition—money is an increasingly important factor. . . America is one of only three advanced countries that spends more on richer pupils than poor ones . . . More than 50 years ago Michael Young warned that the incipient meritocracy . . . could be as narrow and pernicious, in its way, as aristocracies of old.”
from once or more a month to only twice last year. Feels so good to finally be back among dear friends and west texas desert.
(Community Matters) Had coffee with an old friend yesterday, Kristin Kessler Schell. It’s been years since we’ve connected, though we’ve followed each other on facebook. Loved hearing about her latest initiative – Torquoise Table. Kristin just one day ordered a table from Lowe’s, decided to paint it her favorite color (Sherwin-Williams Nifty Turquoise) and set it up in her front yard. It was an invitation for neighbors to stop by and visit. Now, there are hundreds of torquoise tables all around the country and several around the world – it’s about building community and getting to know one another. Steven . . .
(CommunityMatters) Mind Boggling and Shameful:
“Most [U.S.] public school students now living in poverty,” by Lyndsey Layton, national education reporter: “For the first time in at least 50 years, a majority of U.S. public school students come from low-income families, according to a new analysis of 2013 federal data, a statistic that has profound implications for the nation. The Southern Education Foundation [the nation’s oldest education philanthropy] reports that 51 percent of students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade … were eligible for the federal program that provides free and reduced-price lunches. …
“‘When they first come in my door in the morning, the first thing I do is an inventory of immediate needs: Did you eat? Are you clean? A big part of my job is making them feel safe,’ said Sonya Romero-Smith, a veteran teacher at Lew Wallace Elementary School in Albuquerque. … She helps them clean up with bathroom wipes and toothbrushes, and … stocks a drawer with clean socks, underwear, pants and shoes. … The job of teacher has expanded to ‘counselor, therapist, doctor, parent, attorney,’ she said. …
“Schools, already under intense pressure to deliver better test results and meet more rigorous standards, face the doubly difficult task of trying to raise the achievement of poor children … The new report raises questions … about whether states and the federal government are devoting enough money – and using it effectively – to meet the complex needs of poor children.”http://wapo.st/1B1Lp91
(Community Matters) An exhibit of Steven’s notebooks . . . how cool!
Join us for the opening reception of Just Because 15.1: Steven Tomlinson NOTEBOOKS, an installation of Tomlinson’s schematic drawings and notes. Moderated discussion at 4:30 p.m.
This text-based installation features drawings and notes from Tomlinson’s work as a management consultant and communications strategist, the first public presentation of these compelling artifacts from his work in academics, theatre and business. Whether collaborating with clients or organizing his thoughts for the classroom or stage, Tomlinson creates intellectually and visually engaging maps of ideas, objectives and process. The testsite presentation explores the meditative, personal and professional qualities of his practice. testsite will host a complementary workshop on visual note-taking , “Thinking Aloud on Paper,” on Monday, January 26th, from 6-8 p.m. The workshop is led by Tomlinson and is free and open to the public. more here
(Community Matters) Still trying to wrap my head around this . . . and anticipate the implications of how our money center & investment banks might be persuaded to influence government policy.
In 2004, there were three billionaires on the Hurun list of Chinese billionaires. (The Hurun and Forbes lists are the gold standards when it comes to counting rich Chinese people.) Today there are 354 Chinese billionaires on that list—388 if you include the billionaires in Hong Kong. There are also 60,000 Chinese people worth at least $200 million—another line of demarcation between being wealthy and being a photon cannon of currency.
Now, America is still number one in billionaires with 492. Fuck yeah, America, etc. But Rupert Hoogewerf, the Luxembourg-born man behind the Hurun list, estimated for GQ that even given their relative economic slowdown, the Chinese would overtake us in billionaires in two years. He also said that for every billionaire Hurun knows about in China, they suspect there’s another one they don’t. “Some of them we don’t know about because their wealth is new or they live somewhere remote, and some of them are secretive because they’re government officials or what have you,” Rupert said. But in a world of profound income stagnation (the median income in America is essentially the same as it was fifteen years ago), in a world where more and more money is being concentrated in the hands of the hyper-rich and where most of the hyper-rich have already established their spending patterns and taste preferences—not to mention parked their capital in the banks and companies of their choice—you could argue that the new and soon-to-be billionaires of China are the most important market in the world. If you want to sell things like, say, mega-yachts, China represents close to 100 percent of your potential growth market.