Philippa Thomas Online

Occasional thoughts about life, books and news.


Leave a comment

Is it really so bad to be American? On “Time to Start Thinking”.

Is it really so bad to be American? 

“Faith in America’s promise is at the heart of America’s story”. 

There’s not much evidence of that faith in Edward Luce’s epic analysis of “America and the Spectre of Decline”.  But as the title has it, “Time to Start Thinking”.  Right now, Obama and the Republicans aren’t thinking, but fighting over the looming fiscal cliff.  Luce urges them to the long view. By 2020, China might overtake the USA as the world’s biggest economy.  

It’s an excellent read: clear, crisp, packed full of original interviews.  It matters, because as Luce quotes Samuel Huntingdon, America “can only be a disappointment because it is also a hope”.

The book focusses on three key disappointments –  in manufacturing, innovation, and education.  Continue reading


2 Comments

The Growth of the Virtual Campus

It’s come for the journalist. It’s come for the publisher. Now it’s coming for the lecturer too – the bracing blast of online competition is sweeping through the campus.

Is nothing sacred in the world of those who deal in words?

Of course not. Good thing too.

I took a class with Clay Shirky at Harvard which riffed on his classic book on the internet revolution, “Here Comes Everybody”.

He’s one of those thinkers whose essays land like a stone in still water – setting off ripples every which way. I particularly enjoyed his latest blogpost for personal reasons. I’ve had the great luck to go to Oxford and Harvard, but the single best course I ever did was the Arts Foundation at the Open University. Continue reading