Invention and Reinvention: The Evolution of San Diego’s Innovation Economy

Invention and Reinvention: The Evolution of San Diego’s Innovation Economy (Innovation and Technology in the World E) Paperback

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Formerly prosperous cities across the United States, struggling to keep up with an increasingly global economy and the continued decline of post-war industries like manufacturing, face the issue of how to adapt to today’s knowledge economy. In Invention and Reinvention, authors Mary Walshok and Abraham Shragge chronicle San Diego’s transformation from a small West Coast settlement to a booming military metropolis and then to a successful innovation hub. This instructive story of a second-tier city that transformed its core economic identity can serve as a rich case and a model for similar regions.
Stressing the role that cultural values and social dynamics played in its transition, the authors discern five distinct, recurring factors upon which San Diego capitalized at key junctures in its economic growth. San Diego—though not always a star city—has been able to repurpose its assets and realign its economic development strategies continuously in order to sustain prosperity. Chronicling over a century of adaptation, this book offers a lively and penetrating tale of how one city reinvented itself to meet the demands of today’s economy, lighting the way for others.

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Throughout my career in public office, I was conscious of the need for a good history about the dynamic south west corner of our state. Mary Walshok and Abe Shragge have captured a century and a half of San Diego history in a book that will ring true for anyone who has been engaged in its political and economic evolution over the last fifty years.”—Pete Wilson, Former California State Assemblyman, Mayor of San Diego, U.S. Senator, and Governor of California

“This is an important, pioneering book that contributes to our unique understanding of how one place, San Diego, has achieved what most places want: the capacity to evolve and meet the challenges of a constantly changing global economic environment. Walshok and Shragge help us understand why some places thrive while others wiither.”—David B. Audretsch, Indiana University and Author of The Entrepreneurial Society

“The San Diego region has long deserved a really comprehensive history of how its economy emerged from a primarily military and defense contracting town into one of the leading innovation regions in America. This book describes that journey and contains a number of insights that will be extremely useful to other regions that are trying to reinvent themselves.”—Richard Florida, Author of The Rise of the Creative Class, Director, Martin Prosperity Institute, University of Toronto and the Creative Class Group

“San Diego has a unique history in terms of its long relationship with the federal government, and especially the military, which this book captures superbly. Especially relevant is the discussion of the role that the research institutions on the Torrey Pines Mesa played in the transformation of the region’s economy. A wonderfully engaging book for anyone interested in trying to realize the social and economic benefits of basic research.”—Richard C. Atkinson, President Emeritus, University of California and Director, National Science Foundation 1977–1980

“Having been an early faculty member at the UCSD School of Medicine, a founder of Hybritech, and an investor in many of San Diego’s biotech companies, I am impressed with how well this book captures the dynamics shaping San Diego’s emergence as a world class science hub.”—Ivor Royston, Founding Managing Partner, Forward Ventures and Founder, Hybritech

About the Author

Mary Lindenstein Walshok is Associate Vice Chancellor of Public Programs, Dean of University Extension, and Adjunct Professor of Sociology at the University of California, San Diego. She is the author of Blue Collar WomenKnowledge Without BoundariesClosing America’s Job Gap, and co-editor of Creating Competitiveness. She is also a co-founder of CONNECT, a renowned innovation cluster development organization. Abraham J. Shragge received his Ph.D. in Modern United States History from the University of California, San Diego. He is a curator of the Veterans Museum and Memorial Center in Balboa Park and Coordinator of the San Diego Ex-Prisoners of War Oral History Project. Shragge is currently a Visiting Professor at the Korea Development Institute School of Public Policy and Management.

Why Samsung quietly cheers when Apple sells an iPhone

Why Samsung quietly cheers when Apple sells an iPhone

Eric Pfanner,New York Times | Jan 25, 2014, 02.12 PM IST

TOKYO: In the marketplace, Samsung Electronics and Apple battle for customers. In the courts, they fight over patents. Yet every time Apple sells an iPhone, Samsung quietly cheers, too.
In addition to being one of Apple’s main competitors, Samsung is one of its top suppliers. Samsung provides the application processor in the iPhone 5S – the brains of Apple’s flagship handset, and one of its most expensive components.
Because Samsung is not only the biggest maker of smartphones, but also a leading provider of parts to Apple and other gadget makers, company executives say they are confident that the electronics giant can work its way through a difficult period. On Friday, Samsung confirmed that it had sustained a sharp slowdown in sales growth and earnings in the fourth quarter of 2013 and warned that business conditions would remain challenging in the first half of this year. Apple’s sales have risen, and those gains have shored up Samsung by lifting the performance of its chipmaking business.
Samsung said that one-time factors were largely responsible for the fourth-quarter weakness. These included a special bonus totaling 800 billion won, or $740 million, that Samsung paid out to employees on the 20th anniversary of a management initiative to improve quality, as well as the effects of a surge in the strength of the South Korean currency, which Samsung pegged at 700 billion won.
“This kind of adjustment is normal for a high-growth industry,” said CW Chung, an analyst at Nomura, though he added that Samsung’s earnings could be “flattish” for the next two years.
Sales in the company’s mobile division fell 9% in the fourth quarter compared with the third quarter, it said, acknowledging that sales of high-endsmartphones had been weaker than expected. The premium segment, in which Samsung offers handsets like the Galaxy S4 and the Note 3, is the most lucrative part of the business, but analysts say it is increasingly saturated.
Samsung faces a renewed challenge from Apple, which introduced two new handsets – the iPhone 5S and a less expensive model, the 5C – in the second half of last year. Apple also recently reached agreements to distribute its phones via the largest mobile carriers in Japan and China.
While analysts said iPhone sales grew strongly after the latest models were introduced, with Apple regaining market share, Samsung’s chipmaking business shared the spoils. That unit posted a 7% quarter-on-quarter increase in sales, helped by “increased AP shipments for a competitor’s new product,” said Jee-Ho Baek, Samsung’s vice president of memory marketing, in a conference call with analysts. He was referring to application processors, and while he did not mention Apple by name, the allusion was clear.
Samsung’s mobile division provides about two-thirds of the company’s operating profit, but analysts expect that portion to decline in the coming years as the smartphone business matures. The chipmaking unit is expected to pick up some of the slack. That trend was already apparent in the fourth quarter, when the semiconductor division provided 24% of operating profit, up from 16% a year earlier.
Overall, Samsung posted net income of 7.3 trillion won, or $6.7 billion, up from 7.04 trillion won a year earlier but down from 8.24 trillion in the third quarter of 2013. Fourth-quarter sales of 59.28 trillion won were up from 56.06 trillion won a year earlier but flat compared with the third quarter of 2013. Operating profit, at 8.31 trillion won, was in line with a forecast issued two weeks ago.
The company said it expected weakness to persist in the first half of 2014, though it insisted that this was because of the “seasonality” of the technologyindustry, in which purchases are often deferred until later in the year.
While Samsung makes a wide range of consumer products other than phones, including televisions and home appliances, many of these have sluggish sales and low profit margins. Sales and earnings fell sharply in the display panel business.
Tablet computers are one area of promise, with sales and market share growing. Samsung executives said in the conference call that they were optimistic that new devices with larger screens would expand the tablet business further. The company also sees so-called wearable technology as a promising trend, though an early example, the Galaxy Gear smart watch, has gotten off to a slow start.
For now, that has left Samsung’s chipmaking arm to pick up most of the slack from the new softness in smartphones. Memory chips, which are recovering from a long price slump, are outperforming more complicated semiconductor devices like application processors. Samsung said memory chip sales had been bolstered in the fourth quarter by the introduction of new video game consoles like Sony’s PS4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One.
While Apple once bought other components, including screens, from Samsung, it has been moving to reduce its dependence on its South Korean rival. Still, Apple pays about $20 to $30 per phone for the iPhone application processors it buys from Samsung, estimated Sundeep Bajikar, an analyst at the brokerage firm Jefferies. That, he said, was about one-fifth of the overall parts bill for an iPhone.
Apple did not respond to a request for comment on reports that it planned to move production of application processors for its next generation of iPhones to the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. But Chung, the Nomura analyst, said he expected Apple to alternate contracts for application processors between Samsung and TSMC from now on.
There is a lot of business to go around. In 2013, Apple was the biggest buyer of semiconductors globally, spending $30.3 billion, according to IHS, a research firm. Samsung, which sources some of its chips internally, was in second place, spending $22.2 billion on outside semiconductor purchases, IHS said.
As chip technology improves more incrementally, Samsung is one of the few companies left with the financial wherewithal to make the investments needed for new generations of semiconductor equipment, analysts say. As a result, it could be in a strong position to gain business from other mobile phone makers, Bajikar said.
“Then Samsung will have greater control over the whole ecosystem,” he said. “The benefits of that could be enormous.”

Wisconsin’s Ice Caves Are Open For The First Time In Years, And They Look Incredible

Wisconsin’s Ice Caves Are Open For The First Time In Years, And They Look Incredible

CATIE LEARYMOTHER NATURE NETWORK
JAN. 24, 2014, 4:21 PM 7,403 3

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stpaulgirl/Flickr

You can thank the polar vortex for this one.

After being off-limits for five consecutive winters for safety reasons, the stunning ice caves of the Apostle Islands National Seashore in Lake Superior are officially open for seasonal gawking.

The 21-island park located off the coast of the northern tip of Wisconsin is a well-known summer kayaking destination that attracts visitors with colorful, winding caves and rock formations that protrude and dip along the water line.

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stpaulgirl/Flickr

In the winter, the seashore takes on an entirely different quality. As frigid weather takes its toll on the Midwest, massive stalagmites and stalactites form along the islands’ striated geology. Inside the caves, lake water freezes into smooth, icy floors that are as clear as a sheet of glass.

Visitors can reach the caves by walking about a mile across the frozen surface of the lake — when the ice is thick enough, that is.

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stpaulgirl/Flickr

Park officials monitor the ice conditions carefully, and the last time the ice was thick enough to venture safely out onto the frozen lake was in 2009. Luckily, after the past several weeks of Arctic-like weather, Lake Superior is now iced over enough to allow safe passage from the mainland to the caves.

For up-to-date information on the condition of the ice, be sure to check out Sea Caves Watch, which provides real-time webcam images and weather forecast information.

Unable to visit the frosty sea caves this winter? Here’s a visual taste of what you’ll be missing.

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stpaulgirl/Flickr

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stpaulgirl/Flickr

 

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Famous Movie Quotes as Charts

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Battle of the Box: Dropbox Vs Box

BATTLE OF THE BOX

Ben Thompson

Monday, January 20, 2014 — Tweet this article

The problem with the old thin client model was the assumption that processing power was scarce. In fact, Moore’s Law and the rise of ARM has made the exact opposite the case – processing is abundant.

Data, on the other hand, is scarce – indeed, it is the scarcest resource in technology.

To be precise, I’m referring to personal data – my data, if you will – the opposite of “big data.” Were I to no longer have access to my various documents, pictures, emails, etc., I couldn’t simply walk into the store and pick up some more, and you couldn’t loan me yours. It’s precious, and it’s worthless, all at the same time.

Thus, over the last few years as the number of fat clients has multiplied – phones, tablets, along with traditional computers – the idea of a thin client with processing on the server seems positively quaint; however, in the context of our data, that is the exact model more and more of us are using: centralized data easily accessible to multiple “fat” devices distinguished by their user experience:

This is the niche Dropbox, which just raised $250 million at a $10 billion valuation, seeks to fill. In The Dropbox Opportunity, I argued that Dropbox’s business model gave them a key advantage vis–à–vis device/platform vendors like Apple:

Dropbox’s approach to my most important data is much more in line with the value I ascribe to that data: it’s available everywhere.

Not so for iCloud: data is available only on Apple devices, and it’s not exactly clear how to get it out…The only coherent strategy for Apple is a walled-garden of sorts that protects their vertical business model. A services-centric company like Dropbox, on the other hand, ought to pursue a horizontal strategy predicated on maximizing the number of interconnects with the layers above and below.

Today, though, I’m not so sure; Dropbox’s model makes sense theoretically, but it ignores the messy reality of actually making money. After all, notably absent from my piece on Business Models for 2014 was consumersoftware-as-a-service. I’m increasingly convinced that, outside of in-app game purchases, consumers are unwilling to spend money on intangible software. That is likely why Dropbox has spent much of the last year pivoting away from consumers to the enterprise.

There are multiple reasons why the latter is a more attractive target for all software-as-a-service companies, especially those focused on data:

Consumers need to be convinced of the value of their data – Despite the fact that data is precious and unique to each consumer, the vast majority of consumers don’t know or don’t care. Backblaze, the online storage company, found that only 10 percent of people backup regularly; I would imagine anyone reading this who has tried to convince friends and family to buy a $70 drive for Time Machine or similar is nodding wearily. While backup is not the primary use case for Dropbox, the broader point remains: before Dropbox can get a consumer to pay for their data service, said consumer needs to value data in the first place.

The situation is the exact opposite in the enterprise; data is what ties the entire operation together, and it’s difficult to imagine any company anywhere that is not intently concerned with its data even before you consider the various regulations around data safekeeping. It is much easier to sell something to someone who already knows they need what you have on offer.

Consumers have multiple free options – As I noted above, Dropbox’s horizontal orientation aligns their incentives with my need to have my data available anywhere. Most consumers, though, are much less likely to consider such intricacies when deciding where to put their data. Instead, convenience usually wins, and it’s more convenient to use iCloud, SkyDrive, or Google Drive on Apple devices, Microsoft devices, and Google devices respectively.

Enterprises, on the other hand, will never choose one of the free services offered by platform providers: the licensing terms are usually unacceptable, there is no guarantee of uptime, security is a significant concern, there is no top-down control, and there is no customization. Thus, while there may be competition on price within the enterprise space, that price will not be zero. It should be obvious that this makes monetization easier.

Consumers are hard to market to – Reaching the sort of scale to profit from consumers requires converting millions; if you consider how few consumers even know their data is important, and the fewer still that are willing to pay, that means the top of your consumer marketing funnel must be exponentially larger. This then requires a huge amount of money for advertising as well as an advertising message that is sufficiently broad and non-specific to appeal to your addressable market.

This is another stark difference with the enterprise, where most marketing is still done to a small group of individuals in the senior leadership of the company, particularly the CIO. Influencing just one person can result in many thousands of users; more importantly, the ability to actually sit down and have a conversation lets you more effectively tailor your message and sell your product.

For consumers, collaboration is an edge case – Most of the data that matters to consumers is for use by them alone; that’s part of what makes the data so valuable on an individual basis, but it also means collaboration and general sharing of files is only necessary every now and then. This reduces the perceived utility of Dropbox, making it even more difficult to monetize (particularly with the freemium option sufficing for any collaboration needs that do come up).

In contrast, what is an enterprise if not a collection of people and the data they jointly create and consume? Data belongs to the corporation, and by definition requires collaboration. Collaboration features, then, are a necessity, and the quality and ease-of-use of them is of primary importance. Any service that excels in this area is meeting a real need (and, as I just noted, the direct contact entailed with enterprise sales lets you explain these features clearly).

Building a platform for consumers is incredibly difficult – The natural evolution of a service like Dropbox – and one that justifies such a high valuation – is to be a platform on which other apps and services depend. The trouble with building consumer platforms is twofold:

The vast number of consumers necessitates a broad-based general-use platform, even as different consumers have specific use cases. The only way to overcome this is with massive developer support and mindshare

Many potential partners are not incentivized to support your platform. For example, the device makers may have a competing service; other partners, like say Gmail (for contacts), have different business models; still other partners may have your business-model but view the consumers dollar as a zero sum game given their general unwillingness to pay anything at all

While building platforms for the enterprise is no walk in the park, both of these challenges are reduced:

Because you are making specific sells to specific customers, you have more latitude to build custom solutions that directly meet consumer needs, which may only entail a few specific partners for a payoff of many thousands of licenses

Potential partners are, just like your competitors, paid offerings as well. This better aligns incentives. This is particular the case of other SaaS companies, which often still see a benefit in promoting SaaS in general, leading to win-win offerings that expand the pie for all. For example, Salesforce has made cloud promotion a central part of their pitch; this makes them more amenable to partnering with a storage cloud solution (as opposed to, say Gmail contacts)

Again, platforms are hard, but the incentives and obstacles in the enterprise are reduced; thus, the likelihood of seizing the potential upside is increased.

This is what is driving Dropbox’s pivot. Well, this plus the reality that Dropbox, according to the WSJ, only had revenues of ~$200 million last year, hardly enough to justify their 2011 Series B valuation of $4 billion, much less this weekend’s Series C valuation of $10 billion. To wit, over the last several months Dropbox has:

Poached execs from Salesforce, VMWare, and Google to lead enterprise sales

Hired an enterprise sales team en masse (take a look at Dropbox’s LinkedIn profiles; it’s hard to find a sales exec with tenure greater than six months)

Relaunched Dropbox for Teams, which offered basic group management options, as Dropbox for Business which allowed dual business and personal accounts and slightly more fine-grained administrator control

Waiting in the wings, though, is the company most often compared to Dropbox: Box. Aaron Levie figured out a full seven years ago that enterprise was a far more attractive market than consumer. From a profile in theMIT Technology Review:1

By 2007, Box’s user base had doubled 20 times over and annual revenue was around $1 million. But Levie felt uneasy. The price of hard disks was falling 50 percent every 12 to 18 months. As online storage became a commodity, what would stop Apple, Google, or Microsoft from giving it to customers free? He noticed that the customers who stuck around longest weren’t storing MP3s or JPEGs but Word, Excel, and PDF files. In other words, business customers. Moreover, their colleagues would follow their lead, generating a steady stream of new sign-ups. Levie decided to ditch the fickle consumer market and focus on serving enterprises, companies with thousands of employees, which would be willing to pay for a storage service tailored to their needs. He set about adding the capabilities required by large businesses: search, security, and the ability to create and delete accounts, manage file access, and grant permission to view, edit, or delete.

In other words, what we have here is one of the more interesting business experiments we’ve ever seen: is it better to have established a firm foundation in the top-down enterprise market that actually matters – i.e. Box – or to have built tremendous goodwill and customer loyalty with actual users – i.e. Dropbox?

Looking back at the five factors I identified above:

Box has focused on enterprises – who value data – a full six years longer than Dropbox. This means they have a much more full-fledged offering when it comes to features like user permissions, centralized control, etc.

Box has long been focused on paid accounts, not freemium

Box has an experienced sales team that has been an integral part of the company for years; Dropbox is catching up in sheer numbers, but not in cultural or product competency

Box has only ever been concerned with competing with paid options; Dropbox has a legacy freemium business to be concerned with

Box has spent years building up its platform capabilities; Dropbox has a nice hold on small scale developers but little else

On the other hand, Dropbox has a significant lead in registered users: 200 million (at last report) versus 20 million for Box, and many of those users are intensely loyal.

Box itself raised a new round of financing late last year – $100 million at a $2 billion valuation. The question, then, is if I had $10 million, would I prefer to invest in Dropbox or Box?

The decision is a close one:

At the most recent valuations, $10 million will get me 0.1% of DropBox, or 0.5% of Box.

Dropbox has a lot of retrofitting to do; in the consumer space, security and downtime concerns are of relatively less importance. You may lose customers, but they’re not very valuable on an individual basis. In enterprise, though, your uptime is usually guaranteed contractually, and data integrity is a precondition. I am very curious what this means for Dropbox’s reliance on Amazon S3 and shared files

I’ve previously argued that The Consumerization of IT is Overstated; consumer and enterprise products are increasingly similar, but business models aren’t – and business models matter

Thus, if I had the $10 million, I’d invest in Box. Unfortunately, I don’t, which gives me the luxury of sitting back and observing which matters more: consumer headway in a market where enterprise pays, or enterprise capability – and business model – with a smaller base.

May the battle begin.

 

25 American Classics Everyone Should Read At Least Once In Their Lifetime

25 American Classics Everyone Should Read At Least Once In Their Lifetime

MEGAN WILLETT

JAN. 24, 2014, 2:56 PM 154,844 14

Not all of us paid attention in high school English class, but that doesn’t mean the assigned books weren’t worth reading (or re-reading).

And maybe it’s finally time to enjoy “The Grapes of Wrath” and other classics, instead of just the CliffsNotes version.

Miriam Tuliao, assistant director of central collection development at the New York Public Library, helped us create a list of 25 American classics everyone should read.

From John Steinbeck’s masterpiece to Jack Kerouac’s “On The Road,” these 25 titles are worth your time (listed here in alphabetical order).

Do you think another book belongs on this list? Let us know in the comments.

“A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” by Betty Smith

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” is the heartwarming coming-of-age story of the young and idealistic Francie Nolan as she grows up in the slums of Williamsburg during the early 20th century.

An avid reader and lover of penny candy, Francie is a sweet and lovable narrator who must also face the horrors of life — battling sexual assault, extreme loneliness, and lost love — in an effort to survive (and prosper) despite her environment.

Buy the book here »

“The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain

Considered to be one of the great American novels, “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” follows Huck Finn and his friend Tom Sawyer as they travel along the Mississippi River and through the 19th century antebellum South with a freed slave named Jim.

It was the first book written in vernacular English, and though it’s frequently challenged for use in the U.S. public school system’s curriculum due to racial stereotypes and frequent slurs, many modern academics argue the book is an attack on racism.

Buy the book here »

“Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand

The lengthy “Atlas Shrugged” is set in a fictional dystopian United States where all the world’s movers and shakers have abandoned society, leaving the world and the remaining people in a state of flux.

No matter your opinion on the underlying concept of the book — that capitalism is goodness itself — Ayn Rand’s philosophical book is considered by many to be her magnum opus and one need not agree with her to appreciate it.

Buy the book here »

“The Awakening” by Kate Chopin

One of the most boundary-pushing and feminist novels of its era, Kate Chopin tells the story of a Louisiana housewife who loses herself in an extramarital affair and yearns for independence from her husband and children.

Originally thought too provocative by the 19th century critics who panned the book, Chopin’s realism, depiction of female sexuality and questioning of societal expectations in “The Awakening” is why it remains a moving novel to this day.

Buy the book here »

“The Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson” by Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson was a true master of the English language, but she went largely unrecognized during her own time due to her idiosyncratic punctuation, capitalization, and vocabulary.

Though an introvert and recluse, Dickinson had a profound understanding of the human condition, and was able to write with a knowledge that one would not expect from a woman who later in life refused to leave her room. Today, she is known as one of the greatest poets in history with a corpus of nearly 1,800 poems.

Buy a collection of her work here »

“The Color Purple” by Alice Walker

In this Pulitzer Prize- and National Book Award for Fiction-winner, Walker paints the horrifying yet realistic account of a young black woman named Celie who faces disturbing abuse — both physical, mental, and incestuous — at the hands of the men in her life.

The Color Purple” is set in the southern U.S. in the ’30s, and follows Celie as she learns how to survive and let go of the past after discovering that she is somebody worth loving.

Buy the book here »

“The Crucible” by Arthur Miller

From the same Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright who wrote “Death of a Salesman,” “The Crucible” is another of Arthur Miller’s plays about the Salem witch trials of the 17th century.

It hit the stage in 1953, and was thought to be an attack on Senator Joseph McCarthy for his anti-Communist fervor and “witch hunts” of Communists in 1950s America. And though not entirely accurate, the play remains a timeless story of how intolerance and hysteria can tear a community apart.

Buy the book here »

“Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury

Fahrenheit 451” is set in a dystopian future where literature (and all original thought) is on the brink of extinction.

Guy Montag is a fireman whose job is to burn printed books as well as the houses where they’re hidden. But when his wife commits suicide and a young neighbor who introduced him to reading disappears, Guy begins hoarding books in his own home.

Buy the book here »

“The Fall of the House of Usher and Other Tales” by Edgar Allan Poe

Suspense writing gets no better than with Edgar Allen Poe’s tome of Gothic tales, and the “House of Usher and Other Collected Works” is a testament to that.

From the “Tell-Tale Heart” to the Sherlock Holmes-esque “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” Poe is a master at building to a story’s climax with palpable emotions — terror, love, sadness — that feel undeniably real to readers.

Buy the book here »

“The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck

Winner of the National Book Award, Pulitzer Prize, and Nobel Prize, John Steinbeck wrote “The Grapes of Wrath” during and about the Great Depression that seized America in the 1930s.

The story follows a family of poor tenant farmers as they’re driven away from their Oklahoma home, and journey through the Dust Bowl toward California. But all of their hopes for redemption are slowly wiped out as they battle hunger, lack of employment, and death.

Buy the book here »

“The House of Mirth” by Edith Wharton

Edith Wharton’s “The House of Mirth” tells the story of class hierarchies in America through Lily Bart, a woman who sabotages all her possible opportunities for a wealthy marriage in the hopes of marrying for love, but refuses to marry for love because she is unable to give up her love of money.

Through a series of rumors and gossip, Lily slowly loses the esteem of her social circle, until she dies poor and alone. It was a stark illustration of the Gilded Age Wharton knew so well, and it remains profoundly tragic.

Buy the book here »

“How the Other Half Lives” by Jacob Riis

New York’s 19th century industrial workers lived in squalid, cramped tenement buildings. So journalist Jacob A. Riis made it his mission to show the American upper- and middle-class the dangerous conditions the poor faced every day with graphic descriptions, sketches, statistics, and his photographs.

Not only did “How the Other Half Lives” inspire tangible change to the Lower East Side’s schools, sweatshops and buildings, but it was also the basis for future “muckraking” journalism.

Buy the book here »

“I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou’s “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings” is a powerful American classic that tells of her struggles growing up during the Great Depression, and the abuse she suffered.

The memoir follows Angelou during her youth as she survives soul-crushing racism, a brutal sexual assault, and finally her hard-won independence as she becomes a young woman. Her poetic prose continues to influence and inspire generations today.

Buy the book here »

“Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl” by Harriet Jacobs

This slave narrative was an in-depth chronological account of Jacobs’s own life as a slave, documenting in particular the horrific sexual abuse that female slaves faced: rape, pressure to have sex at an early age, being forced to sell their children, and the relationship between female slaves and their mistresses.

Though “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl” went relatively unnoticed at the time of its publication due to the outbreak of the Civil War, it reemerged in the 1970s and ’80s as an important historical account on the sexualization and rape of female slaves.

Buy the book here »

“Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison

Winner of the National Book Award for Fiction, “Invisible Man” is a masterpiece that explores what it means to be black in America, as it grapples with race relations and misguided activist groups in the United States.

The book follows the nameless narrator as he tries to escape racist stereotypes from both the white and black people whom he meets in an effort to find his true identity and make others see him how he sees himself.

Buy the book here »

“The Jungle” by Upton Sinclair

U.S. journalist Upton Sinclair wrote “The Jungle” to raise awareness for immigrants in America by making the squalor and harrowing working conditions of Chicago factory life incredibly vivid.

The book galvanized public opinion and led to a forced government investigation that eventually caused the passage of pure food laws. Today, it’s often referenced in response to poor working conditions and food safety laws.

Buy the book here »

“Leaves of Grass” by Walt Whitman

Leaves of Grass” is a poetry collection that Walt Whitman spent his entire life revising and re-writing until his death. There are many versions of the book, from a small compilation of twelve poems to the final (gigantic) collection of 400 poems.

But all collections showcase Whitman’s staple free-verse poetry, which explores themes such as what it means to be an American, while still remaining accessible to modern readers.

Buy his deathbed collection here »

“Maggie: A Girl of the Streets” by Stephen Crane

Stephen Crane published “Maggie: A Girl of the Streets” at his own expense, and at the time it was considered a major failure for the well-known novelist.

Today, it’s said to be one of the first examples of American realistic novels. It tells the story of Maggie, a pretty girl born into — and ultimately killed by — the New York City slums of the 19th century. Maggie’s tragic fate pays homage to the true grit of life inside the tenement buildings.

Buy the book here »

“On the Road” by Jack Kerouac

Jack Kerouac’s unforgettable descriptions and truly original writing style soar in this novel about a pair of friends traveling across America.

A defining work of the postwar “Beat” culture, “On The Road” is both a physical and spiritual journey of the narrator who tries to find meaning in his life through his friends, lovers, and adventures around the U.S.

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“The Portrait of a Lady” by Henry James

When the beautiful Isabel Archer is brought from America to Europe by her wealthy Aunt Touchett, she is expected to find a suitable match. But the stubborn Isabel almost immediately turns down two eligible suitors in a desire for independence.

However, the American heiress soon finds herself the target of a con by two American expatriates, and must struggle with a loveless marriage, cruelty, and intrigue in one of Henry James’ finest novels, “The Portrait of a Lady.”

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“The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien

The Things They Carried” is the critically acclaimed collection of related stories about a platoon of American soldiers fighting in the Vietnam War, based in part on O’Brien’s own experiences.

A short-story collection, memoir, and novel wrapped into one, O’Brien takes his readers to the front lines with him, whether it’s trying to escape to Canada to avoid the draft, watching a friend die, or being welcomed home by people who have become strangers.

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“Their Eyes Were Watching God” by Zora Neale Hurston

Zora Neale Hurston is one of the preeminent U.S. writers of the 20th century. She was a major player in the Harlem renaissance, known for mastering beautiful imagery and local dialect in her work.

Their Eyes Were Watching God” is one of her best-known novels, following the life of Janie Crawford as she tries to discover herself through a series of marriages. The book is deeply moving as it confronts issues of female identity with the linguistic richness of 1930s Florida.

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“To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird” is the Pulitzer Prize-winning story of local attorney Atticus Finch and his children Scout and Jem as they grow up in a community divided by — and defined by — racism.

Based on Harper Lee’s own hometown of Maycomb, Ala., Finch is asked to defend an African-American man accused of rape, which sends the small Southern town into a frenzy and launches Scout and Jem into the center of the conflict.

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“Slaughterhouse-five” by Kurt Vonnegut

Billy Pilgrim is a man who has become unstuck in time after being abducted by aliens, specifically Tralfamadorians for their planet’s zoo. The book follows his capture, as well as his time as an American prisoner of war witnessing the firebombing of Dresden during World War II.

Slaughterhouse-five” is a comically-dark novel that combines both fantasy and realism, and is one of Vonnegut’s most masterful works.

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“Walden” by Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau’s “Walden” is an American masterpiece that is one man’s autobiographical attempt to find simplicity, self-reliance, and peace through solitude and nature.

Filled with allegorical metaphors and complex, insightful paragraphs, “Walden” shows what can happen when we strip life of its luxuries and go back to the “savage delight” of the wilderness.

Seoul mulls bankruptcy system for local gov’ts

2014-01-26 11:00

Seoul mulls bankruptcy system for local gov’ts

South Korea is considering introducing a bankruptcy system for highly indebted local administrations to make them more responsible for fiscal soundness, the home affairs ministry said Sunday.
Under the envisioned system, local administrations may be declared bankrupt when they are unable to pay back matured debts for 30 days or more, according to the Ministry of Security and Public Administration.
“The ministry began a study on introducing a bankruptcy system so that local governments will take greater responsibility for their finances,” a ministry official said.
The planned system is designed to enable local governments saddled with debt to recover their financial health and normally provide administrative services, he added.
But it is still undecided whether the central government will declare bankruptcy for financially troubled municipalities or allow local administrations to apply for insolvency, the official said.
In his New Year’s press conference, Hwang Woo-year, the chief of the ruling Saenuri Party, said the party may weigh the introduction of such a system as part of efforts to make local governments more financially sound.
However, experts said the ministry’s plan may face strong opposition because it could undermine the autonomy of local governments, the backbone of home rule. (Yonhap)

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