If the last few decades have been about big digital forces — the Internet, social media — he notes that the future will be about applying all of that in the real world. “Wondrous as the Web is,” he writes, “it doesn’t compare to the real world. Not in economic size (online commerce is less than 10 percent of all sales) and not in its place in our lives. The digital revolution has been largely limited to screens.” But, he adds, the salient fact remains that “we live in homes, drive in cars, and work in offices.” And it is that physical part of the economy that is undergoing the biggest and most fundamental change.
“It’s different here,” he said slowly, looking at me carefully, trying to explain something very complex and painful that he wasn’t sure would be comprehensible. “Traditional life was wiped out around the time I was born, fifty years ago. Since then it has been a difficult area, with no foundation to society. Most people in China haven’t heard of this but here in Xinyang, people all know.
“It was called the Xinyang Incident. It destroyed this area like the wrath of God on Judgment Day.”
Presidents, and those aspiring to become president, very rarely cut against the grain of their own public image, and what they drink is an essential part of that. One could say these men are the living embodiments of different drinks: Barack Obama doesn’t just homebrew beer; he is a homebrewed beer. Thomas Jefferson, the closest we’ve come to a philosopher as king, is a bottle of fine wine. Bill Clinton, the closest we’ve ever come to a McConaughey as king, is a Fresca spiked with Old Grand-Dad. Gerald Ford was a Seven & Seven. Mitt Romney is a Shirley Temple.