Sprague Word

The future and more from Richard Sprague

Archive for September, 2010

Posted by sprague on September 27, 2010

The extreme individualism of Americans is evident on many demographic and political measures. In American Exceptionalism, sociologist Seymour Martin Lipset (1996) documents a long list of the ways that Americans are unique in the Western world. At the time of Lipset’s surveys, compared with other Western industrialized societies, Americans were found to be the most patriotic, litigious, philanthropic, and populist (they have the most positions for elections and the most frequent elections, although they have among the lowest voter turnout rates). They were also among the most optimistic, and the least class-conscious. They were the most churchgoing in Protestantism, and the most fundamentalist in Christendom, and were more likely than others from Western industrialized countries to see the world in absolute moral terms. In contrast to other large Western industrialized societies, the United States had the highest crime rate, the longest working hours, the highest divorce rate, the highest rate of volunteerism, the highest percentage of citizens with a post-secondary education, the highest productivity rate, the highest GDP, the highest poverty rate, and the highest income-inequality rate; and Americans were the least supportive of various governmental interventions. The United States is the only industrialized society that never had a viable socialist movement; it was the last country to get a national pension plan, unemployment insurance, and accident insurance; and, at the time of writing, remain the only industrialized nation that does not have a general allowance for families or a national health insurance plan. In sum, there is some reason to suspect that Americans might be different from other Westerners, as de Tocqueville noted

Cambridge Journals Online – Fulltext – The weirdest people in the world? (via Instapaper)

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Don’t share your dreams

Posted by sprague on September 12, 2010

In this new TED Talk, Derek Sivers (the guy who made that viral video on how to start a movement) gives reasons to walk the walk, rather than talk.

He’s right. We all know people who are forever making some new affirmation about themselves.  But notice that physically fit people talk about fitness after they’re healthy, real authors talk about books after they’re written, engaged people talk about marriage after they’ve set the date.  You know who you are.

One of the many things I respect about the New Apple (the one after Steve came back, as opposed to the one where I once worked) is how they talk about new products after they’re finished and ready to sell. Too many people and companies, in the name of “setting expectations” or “being predictable”, give their customers a “roadmap” for the future.  I think the only roadmap that counts is your track record.

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Fantastic weather for our Great Wall Hike

Posted by sprague on September 11, 2010

Fantastic weather for our Great Hall hike. #fb Great air, great view. Nice seeing @wolfgroupasia too. #cubscoutsGreat Wall at Mutianyu

I’ve been to the Great Wall at Mutianyu a total of six times now and this was by far the best weather.  You could see for miles.

Great Wall at Mutianyu

Great Wall at Mutianyu

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Posted by sprague on September 8, 2010

Both the US and China have been trying to do the same thing: trying to save large corporations at a time when they should be deprecated

Has China Embraced An Outdated Version of Corporate Capitalism? » The China Vortex (via Instapaper)

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Seeing the pandas in Chengdu

Posted by sprague on September 8, 2010

Stowe posted some photos and background on our trip to Chengdu.  As she notes, in retrospect it seems a little decadent to sit next to and actually touch an endangered species.  Yet another fun part of living in China that won’t be true in a few years.

As for why so few pandas make it to their first birthday, my theory is that the “dead” ones are actually sold to rich, private investors who keep them as pets.  I’m pretty sure the zoo will do just about any economic transaction that helps with their funding.

Not that I object…which do you think is more likely to result in a thriving panda population a century from now:  draconian laws to forbid any contact with animals? or old-fashioned profit motive on the part of the panda keepers?


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