Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist's Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations


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The new international bestseller from the Pulitzer Prize winner and author of The World is Flat - this is an essential and entertaining field guide to thriving in the twenty-first century. 'As a guide for perplexed Westerners, this book is very hard to beat . . . Thank You for Being Late is a master class in explaining ... After your session with Dr. Friedman, you have a much better idea of the forces that are upending your world, how they work together - and what people, companies and governments can do to prosper' ...

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Charles R. H

Mar 13, 2017

by Charles R. Haller

Friedman, Thomas L., 2016, Thank You for Being Late. An Optimist's Guide to Thriving in the Age of
Accelerations: NY, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 486 p.

This lengthy book is actually a combination of two or more diverse subject matters written under an obscure title. It is the latest in a series of seven such tomes by Friedman. In order to understand the book, one has to know something about the author, who was born to Jewish migrants in Minnesota in 1953. After attending various universities in the U.S. and in England, the author went to work for United Press International in Beirut in 1979 having obtained some facility in the various Arabic languages. Friedman became a foreign correspondent for the NY Times in 1981. He stayed overseas for thirteen years and then returned to New York all the while writing books and editorial columns for the Times.

The most interesting part of Thank You is in parts II and III, pages 19 to 244, which summarize the tremendous technological advances in computer science [main frames] since 1957. These rapid advances have left the average older person far behind in modern technology. Friedman gives a relatively good outline of major innovations in computer enhancement from the time of desktops about 1963, transisters [chips], about 1965, and later laptops and cloud technology ["supernovas"; about 2002], of hand held iPhones [2007] and now GPS and 3-D printing. [To these we can add digital cameras, TVs, satellites, among others.] The author barely mentions cybersecurity, DNA, and software..

Friedman occasionally digresses into subjects outside the realm of this book. For instance he refers at various times to "global warming" [the current vogue among the public and politicians] and mixes it with climate cycles [climates have changed over the last 4,600 million years, at least five times violently as evidenced by the fossil record]. Many comments tend to be unrealistic and uneconomic, i.e., solar and wind power and biofuels.

The author repeats sections of his earlier books on recent industrialization ["globalization"]. In countries such as Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, and Pakistan, this has been accompanied by rapidly expanding populations [not to mention uncontrolled cancer causing pollution]. Other countries cited include Brazil, Mexico, Nigeria, and Uganda. These countries are providing waves of illegal immigrants to and undue pressure on the United States, Europe, and Israel.

On pages 328 to 335, Friedman list fifteen major governmental changes [regulations] that he would make to provide better government in Washington [good luck on that].

The remainder of the book, following pages 337 through 453, is a philosophical discussion of growing up in a small community near St. Paul, MN. Here Friedman devotes attention to the community's history and its widely diverse cultures of Swedes, Jews, Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Native Americans, and more recently transplants of Somalis and Laotian Hmong groups who brought together into modern schools an overwhelming and counterproductive "forty-some languages."

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