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Aug 302013
 

That Used to Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back

That Used to Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back

America is in trouble. We face four major challenges on which our future depends, and we are failing to meet them—and if we delay any longer, soon it will be too late for us to pass along the American dream to future generations.        In That Used to Be Us, Thomas L. Friedman, one of our most influential columnists, and Michael Mandelbaum, one of our leading foreign policy thinkers, offer both a wake-up call and a call to collective action. They analyze the four challenges we face—gl

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Smith & Wesson Men’s SWW-1464-BLK Military Multi Canvas Straps Watch

Smith & Wesson Men's SWW-1464-BLK Military Multi Canvas Straps Watch

  • Water resistant up to 30-meters (90-feet)
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  • Features precision quartz Japanese movement and includes 3 hands to show the hours, minutes and seconds
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  • 1-year limited warranty

3 Changeable Straps Gift Set Black FaceSlide your hand into the bold style and sophistication of the Smith & Wesson Military Watch that features a round black face, Smith & Wesson logo, and 3 interchangeable sturdy canvas straps (black, tan, and olive drab). Crafted with all the precision and reliability that’s made Smith & Wesson a staple in the law enforcement community, with a look and feel befitting all your off-the-clock escapades! Equal parts sturdy and stylish, it’s all the watch you wa

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  6 Responses to “That Used to Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back Reviews”

  1. 213 of 235 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    Lists out the challenges and provides high-level suggestions, September 6, 2011
    By 
    R. Pokkyarath
    (VINE VOICE)
      
    (REAL NAME)
      

    Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)

    I wasn’t sure whether I should purchase this one. After all, what is it about these problems that is already not widely known, what suggestions/prescriptions can the authors come up with which has not been mentioned by someone or the other. I jumped in anyway.

    I don’t see a Look Inside for this book; maybe, they’ll add it later, but I’ll add a quick summary of the book. The book is divided into 5 parts:

    Part 1: The Diagnosis
    Imitating the DHS’s campaign message “If You See Something, Say Something”, the authors say that the symptoms of America’s decline is all around for us to see. He contrasts the Chinese gusto in completing a convention center in 8 months–which he visited for the WEF summer summit–to the lackadaisical attitude he sees at the Washington Metrorail; talks about his visit to the White House where a door handle came off while he was opening it, only to hear the Secret Service agent remarking, “Oh, it does that sometimes”. The authors goes on to say that America as a country has failed to adjust itself to the post cold-war era and failed to address some of the biggest problems, including Education, Deficits, Energy needs and Climate Change; our ability to react and respond to challenges and opportunities has drastically come down. The worst part of this decline, according to the authors, is that it’s slow in coming and hence, we fail to even recognize the existence of the problem. A depleted America will not just be bad for the Americans, but to the whole world as well because, according to the author, the US plays a constructive role in world economy and politics and that will be hard to replace. Then they goes into a bit of a history about the origin of the public-private partnership, enumerating what he calls the five pillars of prosperity, and lists out the contributions towards this by the earlier US leaders, starting from from Alexander Hamilton, TR, FDR, Eisenhower down to Johnson. In short, the authors say that we misread the fall of the Berlin Wall while we exaggerated the effects of Al-Qaeda.

    So that above is an overview of Part 1. Most of us would have heard about these points; the addition of conversations with business and political leaders certainly adds some meat to the diagnosis. The history part is also interesting in terms of knowing the decisions taken by the past presidents. Mostly I agree with them, though there are occasions where the points are debatable. They talks about how China’s political system is inferior. I’m not sure about that though; having seen the cacophony and mess that is part of the democracy in India, I wonder if democracy is indeed the right choice for a developing nation, a vast number being illiterate. That, though, is a digression and a different discussion altogether.

    Part 2: The Education Challenge
    Here the authors talks about how Globalization and IT revolution has completely changed the global landscape and issues a call for better and more education. The first half of this part talks about how information technology has really brought changes in the business and political world (Arab Spring) and talks about the ramifications of being completely connected. The author divides the first half of the last decade–approximately–as Flat World 1.0 and the second part as Flat World 2.0. The 2.0 being a “hyper-connected” world with even the little villages now connected to the global network using cell phones and so on. I have to say, while describing all this, they sound like a Management Guru pacing animatedly up and down the stage. The job requirements, according to the authors, are more complex these days as employers look for critical reasoning, communication and collaboration skills–the three Cs–(I thought they always looked for those?). The authors talks about pumping more money/effort to raise the level of the poorly faring kids; the argument didn’t convince me though. There is a great and interesting section on the role of teachers and suggestions/thoughts about teacher evaluation metrics–An interesting case study from Colorado is presented–and mechanisms to motivate/empower teachers.

    This part, except the section on teachers and evaluation, is … well, ok. The first part completely looks like business 2.0 speak and occasionally mixed in are some hype about the latest technologies. As an example, he talks about cloud computing, “The cloud is like this huge factory where anyone can come and produce anything.” This, according to him, is a key difference between 2.0 and 1.0. Yeah, sure, Cloud is great and is the in-thing, but let’s not be in the cloud while talking about Clouds. His classification of 1.0 was also interesting (PC revolution, Internet Revolution and AJAX/HTTP/XML/SOAP!). PV kannan then steps in to say how the job reqs have gotten more stricter and how his call center hires “army of PhDs” for data analytics. My feeling at that point was this: sure, all this makes…

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  2. 278 of 309 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    An important book that every American should read, September 5, 2011
    By 

    “That Used to Be Us” delves deeply into the major problems confronting America. The book is well-written and uses a journalistic style similar to other books by Friedman: it includes a lot of anecdotes and quotations. The book starts by comparing a six-month project to fix two small escalators at a New Jersey train station with an eight-month project in China that resulted in the construction of a massive and ornate convention center. That comparison underlies the book’s title — the idea that the U.S. no longer leads the world in its ability to innovate and to efficiently create new things and ideas.

    The book is divided into parts that focus on the major challenges we face: (1) Educating our workforce in an age where globalization and information technology have merged into a force that is disrupting job markets. (2) Overcoming the “War on Math,” which has led us to recklessly cut taxes and ignore the impact of deficits and the growing dept burden, and the “War on Physics” which has led to rampant denial of the realities of climate change science and energy policy. (3) Political failure, driven by gridlock and the overwhelming influence of money in politics, and our failure invest in basic scientific research, critical infrastructure and to implement and maintain rational regulation of markets.

    The part of the book that will perhaps be of particular interest to many readers is the discussion of how technology and globalization are impacting jobs and careers. The job market has been “polarized” so that routine, middle skill jobs have been eliminated, leaving only high skill jobs requiring lots of education and lots lower wage jobs that so far cannot be automated or offshored. There is a good discussion of the issues, again with lots of examples, but, as someone who works in developing these technologies, I think the authors actually underestimate the future impact here. They do not focus on the fact that information technology is accelerating and that the capability of computers and robots is going to improve dramatically over the next decade — almost certainly threatening many jobs that we now think are safe.

    For a much more in depth look on the future impact of technology on the job market and economy, I would recommend reading this book: The Lights in the Tunnel: Automation, Accelerating Technology and the Economy of the Future.

    “That Used to be Us” is a very important book that will hopefully initiate a much wider and much more honest discussion about the challenges we face. To be sure, not everyone will agree with some of the solutions advocated (for example, increased immigration for skilled workers and a viable third party presidential candidate to deliver a shock to the political system) but the discussion of the major issues and tradeoffs we face is very well done and illuminating.

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  3. 539 of 663 people found the following review helpful
    2.0 out of 5 stars
    Important Topic, Confused and Misleading Analysis, September 5, 2011
    By 
    Loyd E. Eskildson “Pragmatist” (Phoenix, AZ.) –
    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)
      
    (REAL NAME)
      

    Thomas Friedman is one of my favorite columnists, and I looked forward to ‘That Used to be Us’ because it addresses America’s #1 problem – our sagging economy. However, Friedman and co-author Mandelbaum’s analysis of the causes and cures for our economic malaise is confused and often erroneous.

    The book begins with Friedman comparing two projects – the six months required to repair two D.C. Metro escalators with 21 steps each near his Bethesda home, and China’s building its new Meijiang Convention Center (2.5 million square feet, with gigantic escalators) in eight months. The comparison symbolizes how China’s economic dynamism makes 21st-century America seem sickly and inept. Unfortunately, the authors attribute our current state of affairs to a loss of intensity and purpose after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Reality, however, is that our relative decline vs. China began with Premier Deng Xiaoping’s ‘socialism with Chinese characteristics’ in 1979, and intensified after 9/11 as the U.S. became preoccupied with terrorism and paralyzed by increasingly partisan politics, while the Chinese began moving, largely unnoticed, up the economic value chain.

    Continuing, the authors contend that America faces three other major challenges – the IT revolution, our chronic and growing deficits, and our world-leading energy consumption. The ‘solution’ – reviving the values, priorities, and practices that we have used to succeed in the past. The remainder of the book consists of underlying details and their blueprint for doing so.

    Globalization (and the hollowing out and weakening of the American economy) was largely initiated by American firms transferring American technologies and management skills while seeking lower-cost production. (So much for ‘What’s good for American business is good for America.’) However, it has since produced a new variety of ‘capitalism’ largely led, funded, and protected by China’s government that has become more successful than our version. A byproduct is that the strength of much of our middle-class, government regulation and finances, and world stature have deteriorated.

    Unfortunately, the authors see America’s two parties as so sharply polarized by competing ideologies that they are incapable of arriving at the compromises required. Their solution is a new third-party, and a return to sensible policies on education, immigration, infrastructure, risk/capital management, and scientific research. Meanwhile, we stagger forward (?) with budget-ballooning tax cuts, trillions of dollars (and thousands of lives) wasted in the War on Terror, and raising denial of the physical sciences (Global Warming, evolution, stem-cell research) and math (spending increases should be matched by cuts, but tax cuts don’t need to be matched by spending cuts – Senator Jon Kyl) to a qualification for high office.

    Reality, however, does not entirely support their case that improved education (read ‘more money’) is key to our future. Americans have nearly tripled per-pupil, inflation-adjusted spending since the early 1970s, with little or no change in pupil achievement or graduation rates to show for it; even ‘Let No Child Be Left Behind’ has done little to close racial achievement gaps. Unfortunately, Friedman and Mandelbaum give little emphasis to the large and consistent superior performance by most pupils from Asian and Jewish families, dismal Hispanic high-school graduation rates, the common denigration of academic achievement within African-American youth, and the fact that Michelle Rhee’s education reform efforts within D.C. were undone by the largely African-American electorate in that city. (Similarly, a recent poll in New York City shows minority parents particularly unhappy with Mayor Bloomberg’s reform efforts.)

    The authors also undermine their credibility by first claiming Chinese education smothers creativity (no evidence provided), and later reporting that Chinese computer programmers took 1st and 3rd place in the 2011 IBM-sponsored world championship of programming. (The U.S. took 2nd, its only placement within the top 12, while Russia took five of the top twelve positions; the U.S. spends far more on education than both China and Russia.) Friedman and Mandelbaum, when alleging that Chinese education stifles creativity, also seem unaware that the Chinese recently built the world’s largest dam and hydroelectric facility, largest network of high-speed rail (admittedly having early problems), longest sea bridge, HVDC transmission line, and irrigation project, and have passed the U.S. in supercomputer speed. Militarily, they’ve largely neutralized American naval and air power in the Pacific with relatively low-cost missiles, torpedoes, attack boats, and quiet submarines.

    Meanwhile call centers in India are now adding PhDs, programmers, and statisticians, showing how losing even low-technology jobs can lead to the loss of…

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  4. 38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
    1.0 out of 5 stars
    I would give it no stars if I could, February 1, 2011
    By 
    Paul M. West “foreverbeginner” (columbus, ohio) –
    (REAL NAME)
      

    This review is from: Smith & Wesson Men’s SWW-1464-BLK Military Multi Canvas Straps Watch (Watch)

    This is an extremely cheap watch and straps. You have to (as another person stated) Macgyver the straps to catch essentially holding the watch on your wrist. The watch fogged over just from the condensation on my arm, in the first 10 minutes. I called Smith and Wesson and they told me that I had to call the company that made the watch and straps. Smith and Wesson would not stand behind their product at all, which is the reason I will never buy another product from them. I would suggest to save your money for a product that actually works the way it was intended right out of the box. Shame on you Smith and Wesson for outsourcing a product, and selling it to the public knowing that it doesn’t work properly.

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  5. 36 of 41 people found the following review helpful
    1.0 out of 5 stars
    HORRIBLE Product, March 28, 2009
    By 
    Mrs. Freehart “Eileen” (Stockton, CA.) –

    Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
    This review is from: Smith & Wesson Men’s SWW-1464-BLK Military Multi Canvas Straps Watch (Watch)

    I bought this military watch w/ a 3 strap gift set for my husband. And he LOVED it!! The delivery was very fast(considering it was shipped all the way from NY)& the condition of the package was good. Customer service was great, they responded right away. i’ll be buying from them again & will recommend others.
    ———2 weeks later———
    My husband was very upset! Not only did this watch cost us over $30 but he only wore it maybe 12 times before the watch just STOPPED working, and when we contacted customer service they were very rude and unhelpful!!
    Very disappointed about the product itself so buyers BEWARE, cheaply made, look for a different watch!! (if I could rate this product lower then 1 star I would.)

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  6. 11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
    1.0 out of 5 stars
    Terrible Watch, November 1, 2011
    By 
    Brad

    This review is from: Smith & Wesson Men’s SWW-1464-BLK Military Multi Canvas Straps Watch (Watch)

    I recommend that nobody purchases this watch. Mine broke after a month, I sent it back to Smith & Wesson and they sent me a completely different watch about 12 weeks later. I sent that back and they eventually sent me the correct replacement after another 8 weeks. That watch broke within a week. Very cheap materials. Please don’t buy this- it is junk.

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