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New York Times Columnist/Author

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The Guy Next Door & his E.T.

  • Aug 13, 2009
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Mr. Thomas Friedman is one of a kind. He has the knack for making complicated issues simple and boring issues interesting. One of the most intelligent and informed person around, he’s surprisingly very approachable and down to earth. (Unlike those analysts in my company who are guilty of trying to make simple things sound as complicated they could be; that’s their idea of professionalism! Jargon are all they are good in!) That’s what I like about him. His intelligence, his pragmatism and his engagement in international affairs. The Congress and White House need more of this type of personality. People who are interested in world affairs, who are not living in the greenhouse and who wants to do something (however small) to change the world, to make a little impact, should read more of his works. Even though he’s a columnist, I find him highly inspirational. That is the best thing a human can offer to another in his life time. Being inspirational and exuding an irresistible motivational force. As it’s been said: may the force be with you!

Just last week, Thomas Friedman wrote a very interesting article 59 is the new 30. It’s about life at large and I love what he said about life (read the last 4 paragraphs specifically). He talks about “affirmation of life” and learning about life via the sport Golf. I do not play golf at all but I’ve seen the movie (a great one, by the way) The Legend of Bagger Vance & I’ve a clear idea of what’s he referring to.

To quote him: “That’s the point. Baseball, basketball and football are played on flat surfaces designed to give true bounces. Golf is played on an uneven terrain designed to surprise. Good and bad bounces are built into the essence of the game. And the reason golf is so much like life is that the game — like life — is all about how you react to those good and bad bounces. Do you blame your caddy? Do you cheat? Do you throw your clubs? Or do you accept it all with dignity and grace and move on, as Watson always has. Hence the saying: Play one round of golf with someone and you will learn everything you need to know about his character.

Golf is all about individual character. The ball is fixed. No one throws it to you. You initiate the swing, and you alone have to live with the results. There are no teammates to blame or commiserate with….”

“ This wonderful but cruel game never stops testing or teaching you. “The only comment I can make,” Watson told me after, “is one that the immortal Bobby Jones related: ‘One learns from defeat, not from victory.’ I may never have the chance again to beat the kids, but I took one thing from the last hole: hitting both the tee shot and the approach shots exactly the way I meant to wasn’t good enough. ... I had to finish.””

This guy often claims that he doesn’t know where things are heading (which is rightly so, no one in this world does! … ) but I’d say he sure knows a hell lot of where the tipping point is and that he has a lot more idea of what’s happening out there than his last president!!!

So, if only America’s political system has more of such personnel in its team of leaders U.S. diplomatic relations with the rest of the world are not likely to improve by much in the next 4 years. Oh, I know there are plenty of talented and informed people in the America, but many of them are unfortunately not interested in politics. These are the people who like Thomas Friedman are making their contributions to the U.S. and the world at large in their own personal way. That’s their choices in life but it’s a pity a country that was once powerful is now plagued with people who are in it only for personal gains. The current financial crisis is one example of how this great country has deteriorated to; to each his/her own! Again, if we think about it, sometimes you can’t even blame it on anyone. It’s the system. The system has been designed in such a way people turned out the way they did! (OK, I know that’s a lame excuse, but the operating environment out there is critical in determining the outcome too!)

I remember reading his book The Lexus and The Olive Tree and what he said about globalization. About how the poorer countries will fall further behind and the risks from that. I think the tipping point has already began in the past decade. In this current environment, it’s a case of the rich gets poorer, the poor gets even poorer! The world is in a big mess, if I may say so! See CNBC interviews with Thomas Friedman at the World Economic Forum in Davos:  About Financial Crisis.

Mr. Friedman’s idea now is E.T. (Energy Technology) will get us out of this downturn. His answer for global climate warming is going green. He espoused that the country which invested in “green” technology will eventually come out the winner; the future leader of the world. In this arena, China, Japan & Denmark are ahead of the United States in its investment. To be or not to be, that’s the question.

To Thomas, “Clean technology, clean power is going to be the next great global industry; it simply has to be!”

To read more of his thoughts on this subject matter, check out Mother Nature’s Dow (published on NY Times, March 2009), The Green Revolution(s) (June 23), Invent, Invent, Invent (June 27) & Just Do It (June 30).

Here’s an interview by Larry King with Thomas Friedman.





I'm an ardent fan of this guy and I've also done reviews on 2 of his books:
The Lexus and The Olive Tree (my personal favorite)
The World is Flat

He wrote 3 other books, if you are interested. 
From Beirut to Jerusalem 
Longitudes & Attitudes
Hot, Flat & Crowded
The Guy Next Door & his E.T. The Guy Next Door & his E.T.

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July 05, 2010
Informative review. Great use of videos too!
More Thomas Friedman reviews
Quick Tip by . September 29, 2009
I read Thomas Friedman to understand what's going on around the world & to keep up with latest global & economic trend. Highly informative!
review by . June 10, 2008
I love Tom Friedman's writing for one simple reason--he has the amazing gift of being able to turn the world's most complex issues into simple, understandable information. For example, in his book From Beirut to Jerusalem, Friedman tackles the dicey issue of Middle East politics. Even for historians, this is a hard issue to fully understand, as it encapsulates so many factors. However, after reading this book, one walks away with a very clear idea of why certain things are the way they are. Although …
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Sharrie ()
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I'm a traveler at heart & have been nicknamed Travel Queen by friends & colleagues alike. Traveling has been my life passion for the last decade or so. As we enter a new decade, I'm excited … more
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About this author


 Thomas Lauren Friedman (born July 20, 1953) is an American journalist, columnist and author. He is an op-ed contributor to The New York Times, whose column appears twice weekly. He has written extensively on foreign affairs including global trade, the Middle East and environmental issues. He has won the Pulitzer Prize three times, twice for International Reporting (1983, 1988) and once for Commentary (2002).

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Books, Author, Business, Authors, Journalism, Middle East, Current Affairs, Thomas Friedman, The Lexus And The Olive Tree, The World Is Flat, The New York Times


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