February 12, 2014
Yesterday I had a long leisurely lunch with my longtime friend and family consigliere Toby Goodman. Leisurely except that your humble analyst was allowing a few phone calls to interrupt our precious time.
“We were having lunch in this very restaurant [Piccolo Mondo in Arlington, his favorite haunt] in 1993. You remember what we were talking about?” he queried. I had to admit I didn’t, I wasn't surprised Toby did, because he remembers everything. That’s why he’s my consigliere.
“I don’t either, but I do remember that it was the first time I sat with someone who made a phone call during lunch. You brought in this big brick of a phone with a long antenna. I’d never seen such a device.” It’s not the Toby doesn’t get out – he was in fact a Texas state representative and chairman of a few important committees. But these phones were pretty brand-new and cutting-edge back then. Twenty years ago today (small, subtle hat tip to Paul McCartney and the 50th year anniversary of the British Invasion).
The first iPhone was introduced on June 29, 2007. Yesterday I was talking on the fifth version in less than seven years. Things are changing rather quickly. Sometimes we get all gloom and doom about the world but fail to realize how fast things are actually improving.
"Today," Matt Ridley writes in his book The Rational Optimist, "of Americans officially designated as 'poor,' 99 per cent have electricity, running water, flush toilets, and a refrigerator; 95 per cent have a television, 88 per cent a telephone, 71 per cent a car and 70 percent air conditioning. Cornelius Vanderbilt had none of these."
Today I offer you something fun and refreshing and optimistic for your Outside the Box, and I encourage you to pass it on to friends and especially to your kids. Morgan Housel over at the Motley Fool has written a great piece called "50 Reasons We're Living Through the Greatest Period in World History."
Compare health-care improvements with the stuff that gets talked about in the news – NBC anchor Andrea Mitchell interrupted a Congresswoman last week to announce Justin Bieber's arrest – and you can understand why Americans aren't optimistic about the country's direction. We ignore the really important news because it happens slowly, but we obsess over trivial news because it happens all day long.
(There is a link early in this piece to another article Morgan wrote in the same vein.)
It’s not that there aren’t problems aplenty, massive inequalities, atrocities everywhere, puerile media coverage, and enough incompetence and ignorance in Washington DC and governments in general to thoroughly depress you – when you think about it. But sometimes it helps to remember that things really are getting better. In 2034, no one will want to go back to the good old days of 2014. Trust me.
Continue reading here.