The World is Flat

When I was a 9 year old kid my Mom bought me a Y2K clock that counted down the days, hours, minutes and seconds before the calendar read 1/1/00. In the months prior to the impending Y2K apocalypse, my Mom and Dad stocked up on bulk spices and bags of water in preparation for society’s collapse (oddly enough they didn’t stock any food for the spices to go on). The Y2K disaster was, as we all know, adverted, but how did we prevent all those computers from malfunctioning? I read the answer to that question in The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Friedman who is a New York Times writer and author of several books on globalization. We were saved from Y2K because of a sequence of technological advances which promoted connectivity around the globe. Firstly, the advancement in the usage and monetary value of the internet in the 1990’s led to huge investments in fiber optic cables. This laying of cable spread all over the world and opened up lines of communication that were never before available. This new communication was tested with the Y2K conundrum because the US did not have enough engineers to fix all the computers because the cost and time investments would have been astronomical. Enter India. India, after 50 years of investing in technical education, had a untapped labor force ready to get their teeth on any technology work available. Since connectivity had increased so much in the 90’s, India was ready to take on all the Y2K work remotely. This was the first time many US companies worked with engineers in India and was the proverbial handshake of friendship for a healthy future of business relations. Shortly after the Y2K scare, the dot.com bubble burst and tech companies that survived the implosion now sought to cut cost as much as possible. Where could they go for reduced labor costs? You guessed right….India. The country of over 1 billion people began receiving contracts for work and the era of tech outsourcing was given running shoes.

Today, the world is flatter then ever with outsourcing occurring not only in India but in China, Malaysia, the Philippines, and a whole host of third-world countries. Before I read this book, I thought outsourcing was a bad thing…now I have a different opinion on the matter. Outsourcing is the natural result of a hyper-connected world in which companies are trying to reduce waste and optimize every step of their supply chain. The United States has lost many manufacturing jobs because of these optimizations but in the end it has meant a decrease cost for goods by consumers and a shift in career outlooks. Students are now pushed to get technical or college degrees because they can’t get a manufacturing job right out of high school. A more highly educated society will push invention, creativity, and innovation more than a society based on workers that perform menial tasks. Complex thoughts and ideas cannot be outsourced and a country that is made up of engineers instead of line operators will compete much better with other advanced nations. The flattening of the world has showed how the US has gotten lazy and fallen from its once great educational supremacy-best highlighted during the cold-war space race. We need to push the next generation to excel in math, science, engineering, and my personal favorite…history. Globalization is here to stay and the more interconnected we become the more we will have opportunities to triumphantly succeed or catastrophically be left behind. Let’s stop complaining about jobs getting outsourced and start educating ourselves so our skills can never be cheaply replicated.

The Quirks of Love

Last night my wife and I decided we were going to eat some frozen pizza. Christina was trying to finish some homework and I popped the old Tombstone into the oven for a thorough crisping. Pizza done, I brought a dish to her with a smile and “I love you.” Five minutes into eating the pizza, Christina drops her slice which cascades all over her shirt, the couch pillow, the carpet, and the computer. This small act of clumsiness shouldn’t have bothered me but the unique thing about marriage is that small quirks that your partner does start to build into large annoyances. After the pizza damage had been assessed I went into my normal post-Christina clumsiness routine of shaking my head and asking “how the heck did you do that?” Of course, Christina feels bad when this happens and my little routine makes her feel worse while not benefiting the situation at all. The ironic thing about the whole situation is that I was reading Cracking the Communication Code: The Secret to Speaking Your Mate’s Language by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs which is a book about having a loving and respectful marriage.

This book is actually an accompaniment to a book I already wrote about called Love and Respect which essentially says that wives need to give unconditional respect to their husbands and husbands need to give unconditional love to their wives. Christina and I have a great relationship and I consciously make an effort to show her love and affection every-single day. What I need to work on is my insensitivity which makes me seem unloving. I can come off harsh, matter-of-fact, and impatient when I come home from work or when I am flustered in some way. This doesn’t happen all the time but often enough that it is something I identify as a flaw in my communication skills. Cracking the Communication Code resurrected the idea that I need to “date my wife.” If Christina would have dropped a boiling cup of coffee on my crouch when we were first dating I would have laughed it off and smiled. When I was an 18-year-old star-crossed lover all I could think about was how beautiful she was and how blessed I was to be with her. In an attempt to date Christina again I am going to try a couple tangible things: always open the door for her and be extra uplifting when I come home from work. I hope doing these minor things will help me when the next pizza crash occurs and maybe make me respond in laughter instead of head shaking. In the end, I am blessed to have Christina in my life and her ability to deal with my quirks is unbelievable- last night I kept her up because I was constantly saying “chickens” in my sleep :). Respect your husband, love your wife.