Sunday, March 30, 2014


By Peter H. Diamanis and Steven Kotler

We will soon be able to meet and exceed the basic needs of every man, woman and child on the planet. Abundance for all is within our grasp. This bold, contrarian view, backed up by exhaustive research, introduces our near-term future, where exponentially growing technologies and three other powerful forces are conspiring to better the lives of billions. An antidote to pessimism by tech entrepreneur turned philanthropist, Peter H. Diamandis and award-winning science writer Steven Kotler. 

Since the dawn of humanity, a privileged few have lived in stark contrast to the hardscrabble majority. Conventional wisdom says this gap cannot be closed. But it is closing—fast. The authors document how four forces—exponential technologies, the DIY innovator, the Technophilanthropist, and the Rising Billion—are conspiring to solve our biggest problems. Abundance establishes hard targets for change and lays out a strategic roadmap for governments, industry and entrepreneurs, giving us plenty of reason for optimism.

Examining human need by category—water, food, energy, healthcare, education, freedom—Diamandis and Kotler introduce dozens of innovators making great strides in each area: Larry Page, Steven Hawking, Dean Kamen, Daniel Kahneman, Elon Musk, Bill Joy, Stewart Brand, Jeff Skoll, Ray Kurzweil, Ratan Tata, Craig Venter, among many, many others. 

This book also held my attention for the entire drive home from JAX in March 2014.  I liked it and was never enticed to turn it off and "listen to the music".  Some of my favorite ideas:  The photo above reminds one of the story that the authors told about aluminum.  Once more precious than it is "throw away".  Abundance.  

I also liked the story about the fact that if everyone gave up TV for one weekend and did something to make the planet better, the new ideas and progress made would be stupendous in scope.

Another story I liked was about the two shoe salesmen who fly into a undeveloped part of the world.  One looks around and says:  "No one wears shoes here.  I am out of here!  This is not a place I am likely to be successful"  The other one sends message home:  "No one wears shoes here.   This is an amazing market opportunity!  I may never come home!"

Some of the farming ideas made me think that perhaps I am too old to change some of my habits, but many of the ideas were amazing.  Can I really eat cultured meat?  Hmmmmmm.....we'll see.  

Still Life With Bread Crumbs

Rebecca Winter, Quindlen's protagonist, is a 60-year-old photographer who snapped her most famous photograph, the eponymous Still Life with Bread Crumbs, in the aftermath of yet another command performance dinner party, after which her unbearably supercilious husband, a British academic, retreated to bed, leaving her to clean up the mess. She became a feminist darling with her mainly domestic-themed photography, but two-plus decades later, her star is no longer so bright. She notes, "the coin of notoriety pays with less and less interest as time goes by."
Meanwhile, Rebecca's expenses have skyrocketed. Like so many of her generation, she's been caught off-guard with the burden of caring for her aged parents, helping with the rent on her father's downsized apartment and her mother's nursing home fees, plus an occasional assist to her filmmaker son.
What to do? Rebecca decides to cut costs by subletting the beloved Upper West Side Manhattan apartment she moved into after her contemptible husband left her for the next in his chain of ever-younger wives, and rent a cottage upstate in the woods, sight unseen. Of course it's a ramshackle mess, and she's unprepared for rural life. She calls in a roofer to help with a raccoon in her attic, and — no surprise here — he ends up patching up more than her flashing.

I read this book on the way down to JAX March 2014.  Very entertaining....almost a Romance genre book.  But easy to read and I was never tempted to turn the book off and listen to the music which happens when I get bored with a book.  I would not put the book in my top ten list, but would recommend it to someone looking for a light read that entertains.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

John Brown

I spent some time reading a fictional book about John Brown and his family.  I would like to eventually review that book here.....even if I never finish it.  When I do that I would like to add a piece of information to the review that was sent to me by Jean Leeper in March 2014:

In about 1850, Brothers Barclay and Edwin Coppock came with their mother to Iowa, and were recorded in Salem Iowa Quaker Minutes. We do not know if they actually lived at Salem or just passed through on their way to Springdale, Iowa, where they met and joined John Brown and his raiders; Edwin was hung with John Brown in October 1859 at Harpers Ferry and Barclay joined the Civil War and was killed in action. (taken from:

Jean sent this to me while we were having a discussion about Quaker families during both the Revolution and the Civil War.  I had shared with the Quaker mail list the information about the Warren County, Ohio group that served and did not carry weapons that I talked about on the Homecoming blog in September 2013.  I just did not want to loose these thoughts.