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* BFU Weekly Journal *
documenting creation of a
Visionaries Learning Center

Bastiat Free University offers internationally accessible and actionable student-directed learning to visionaries and entrepreneurs.
Your BFU resources are now available without cost.

Start Today
Rediscover the pleasures found in self directed learning.

BFUniv, BFU college, self-directed e-learning, Bastiat Free University

Monday, July 30, 2007

The Netcohort Institute

The Netcohort Institute is scheduled to start offering services in 2008.

This is a change for Bastiat Free University. All of 2007 has been a sabbatical, not just to renew the contributors to BFU, but to consider ways to renew the educational services we offer and make them more relevant.

The BFU you know will be changing a bit next year, but the services will continue to expand through the entrepreneurial Netcohort Institute. The plan is to enhance opportunities for those who have become the core of
BFU's student body -- passionate knowledge workers united in flexible teams based on relationships and reputation - The Netcohort.

The Netcohort Institute will also offer a new series of college level courses expected to round out the knowledge and skills of the creative netcohort. Many of these new courses have been suggested by BFU students. Of perhaps equal interest will be a form of networked learning -- relationship based systems and tools for facilitating mutually profitable learning interactions.

Our netcohort students will be able to creatively interact with internet centric knowledge workers on real world projects. While not all tools and services will be offered at once, there will be a continual process of improvement as we move toward our goals.

Join us in the adventure - bring your dreams.

Mankind is finally ready to leave the industrial society. The information age has not yet dawned, most of the wonderful technologies to this time are used to enhance old processes. Think Google search, a nice service, but it is in essence a very fast and intuitive librarian. Each tool that allows individuals to shape their own reality is a step away from the "too big" organizations that have metastasized to dominate society. A reality of choice may still be far in the future, but for members of the Netcohort, they can start rearranging their lives toward personal freedom right now.

This is a quick look at TNI, there will be more information soon. While BFU's limited finances will not allow quick growth, we will start laying the foundations of truly useful relationship structures early this next year. The mission of The Netcohort Institute will be to enable student's creative and audacious dreams.

Our goal for The Netcohort Institute is simple: to be the relational focal point for internet entrepreneurs.

The entrepot facility for these new netcohort interaction tools will be The Netcohort Institute.


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Monday, July 23, 2007

Of Pendulums, Fads, and Extremes

Fads and extremes are part of human nature.

There is no logic in our emotional excesses, in fact logic itself falls prey to fads and extremes. There have been times when sound logic has been ridiculed and the mystical reigned, and times when a current logic ruled supreme and the miracle of life was purposely scoffed at or

The most observant of the human race may fail to notice when society is on a binge; if everyone is delusional, delusion is normal. As a pendulum swings back and forth on a pivot, accelerating through equilibrium to extremes, so the human herd spends little time properly centered in reality but is always rushing past to some new excess.

In defining these extremes we have a historical viewpoint from Charles MacKay's classic book first published in 1841 -- Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds. Writing of manias , mass anger, and overwhelming greed MacKay allows us to observe from a safe distance how extreme all of society can become. We still have our tulip manias and witch hunts, but they seem reasonable to those of us now caught up in them.

Even when we recognize that society is at an extreme, the emotional pressure to join in and rush forward with the mass of humanity is almost impossible to over come. We are reversing from several extremes right now, lets look at some of these ended cycles so as to illuminate what will happen with others that have not yet reached their end.

As the pendulum reaches the full extent of its journey it slows down, stops, and then accelerates toward the equilibrium point passing through it quickly on the way to the opposite end of its path. During this process it passes through the same points it traversed on its journey to the extreme.

Look at technology stocks or the real estate markets. They not only reached ridiculous extremes from historic valuation models, they pulled in even rational people to believe that "this time its different." When the crowd reaches madness they always perceive that they are now more wise than prior generations and know how to overcome problems that accompanied previous excesses. The pendulum reaches the end and on its, slowly at first, accelerating descent it passes through those same vestiges of irrationality that had impelled it to the top. At the far extreme to be reached years or even decades latter everyone will know that it is better to rent than buy real estate and that tech stocks are too dangerous to own. The pendulum will then reverse and start traveling down the path to equilibrium once more.

What makes the observation of these swings difficult is the simultaneous activity of a multitude of cycles having different durations and importance all happening at once. It is like walking into a gigantic clock store just as all the alarms ring. The noise is so deafening that conscious thought as to meaning is almost impossible.

We can observe historical large degree cycles, such as the swing of nations from freedom and abundance to totalitarian regimes and scarcity; but few apply such images to the day we live in. The repetition of the ending of one epoch and the entering into another is replete with examples of overextended cycles As we enter what some have called the information or communication age, many cycles of the prior age are on their last powerful accent. Many new cycles are just about to start their first journey.

This is an interesting time to be alive.


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Friday, July 20, 2007

The Power Of Micro-Finance

Micro Finance may be the second most powerful idea in the world.

In microfinance a poor person stuck in an exploited position is assisted in starting her own business. An example is a mother that has a job building brooms, someone drops off a few sticks, some straw, and a bit of string. A day or two latter they pick up the brooms and pay a piece work price for the completed work, a price not quite enough to feed a family.

Enter micro-finance. A very small loan is made, usually just a few dollars, to the mother to buy a small supply of sticks, string and straw. She can now sell completed brooms in a competitive market, making enough to feed her family, grow her business, and pay back the loan. The loans are almost always paid back. The repaid loan is recycled to another poor person trapped at the bottom of society.

The first and most familiar micro-finance venture is The Grameen Bank that was soon followed by The Grameen Foundation, Kiva, and other groups. These are actually micro-venture capital teams financing micro-entrepreneurs. As the Grameen Foundation says about themselves on their website:

"With tiny loans, financial services and technology, we help the poor, mostly women, start self-sustaining businesses to escape poverty. Founded in 1997 by a group of friends who were inspired by the work of Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, our global network of micro-finance partners reaches over 3.6 million families in 22 countries."
The small businesses created are what capitalism once was, before governments and special interests united to control markets and centralize power. That is what makes micro-finance so powerful. Because the loan makes families self-sufficient -- it is an exciting form of giving that multiplies results and keeps giving.

These results are achieved by ignoring the dire warnings of bureaucrats and academics that view the countless poor as a drain on the world and civilization. Their talk is filled with images of mouths to be feed, housing required, waste that needs to be managed.

In reality the poor can be the worlds salvation - they are minds needing to create, desires for themselves and their families that strive to be satisfied.

They want a better world, if we but provide tools and get out of the way, they will make our world better also.

While academics write position papers that are only read by those academics that already agree with them; The Grameen Bank, The Grameen foundation, and other similar outreaches are helping large numbers of people isolated by their societies.

This is real progress. Each of those helped by micro-finance are also examples to the many around them of what can be accomplished using individualistic and personal commerce. All manner of government and non-government organizations have for decades flown to their location in chartered jets and driven around in air conditioned cars offering help - and overall life just got worse. They also know that corporations backed by government programs offer limited routes to escape from poverty.

With micro-finance however they have discovered a first step to independence, a small and personal business.

Education, corporations, governments, unions; in fact all bureaucracies are already under pressure from technological solutions. In another type of pressure, micro-financed individuals are also discovering they no longer need listen and hope at empty promises from politicos that live well while they starve.

The world is changing. The old industrial age middle class is shrinking even as the individualistic knowledge workers of netcohort are rising. For the first time in centuries there is also hope for the poor in badly governed countries. Micro-finance lifts them and offers positive direction as no promised socialist paradise ever did.

These once totally downtrodden poor, and their billions of brethren, can provide a foundation for the sweeping changes of the emerging netcohort age. Their lives will be better, our lives will also improve with each innovation and business they create.

The American dream of upward mobility, equality of opportunity rather than equality of position, may be re-born on a world wide scale. Imagine billions of people that are not motivated by promises to pull down those above them but instead seek opportunity for their own ascension. A powerful picture, and since it is happening first at the poorest levels that have been so cavalierly treated - it is off the radar of self-centered world leaders.

By the time all are aware of a groundswell of historic capitalism, it will already be a powerful force within societal structures. Micro-finance is a remarkably efficient way to assist the poor in helping all of us.

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Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Myth Of A Balanced Education

A BFU student quoted an unknown source and stated "School is obedience training for the untalented."

That seems rather harsh.

I have said that college is frequently just a vocational school for lawyers and accountants. That is also a bit inaccurate as vocational schools are usually much more efficient than colleges.

Perhaps my assertion on the Squidoo BFU page is more accurate:

"College costs too much time and too much money. The core learning acquired by your investment in a formal college education is bureaucracy survival." - Allan Wallace

The reality however is that there is truth in all of those ideas, but much more can be said. The Germanic inspired
industrial age definition of a university consists of a lecture and research facility. Educators have embraced this format while offering lip service to prior higher education models. College is sold as a way to get a better job, but a softer side is sometimes also displayed - the historic goal of a balanced education.

Classical college archetypes created leaders by opening students eyes and minds to great achievements upon which they were expected to build. Todays required "general education" courses are taught in a stupefying montage of discrete bits and pieces of information. Undergraduate general education is no substitute for true balanced education.

All effective schooling, all enabling education, all empowering learning, is at its heart self education. It is student desire that drives learning, not the lectures of supposed authorities. Lectures monopolize the ears, putting creative thought to sleep. By contrast a genuine balanced education opens the eyes and therefore opens the mind.

The content of most "general ed" courses can be learned by reading a book or two over a weekend. It is a farce to pretend this small exposure to information, because it is outside the vocational goals of a modern student, is a balanced education.

You can have a well rounded education. You will have to get it yourself. Explore ideas of great thinkers, by searching for and reading material that will expand your personal horizons. Don't fall into the trap of balanced education as defined by someone with a vested interest in making their teaching job simple. You do not want to be simple.

Build on the thoughts of others within your self-created balanced education. Create within yourself a versatile leader worth following -- by opening your own eyes and mind to the broad knowledge that surrounds you.


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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The BFU Story

The BFU story is a scaled personal story.

When setting your own personal goals it is important to keep developing new goals as you approach success. Stepped goals keep you from reaching a climax with a following let down that leaves you without purpose.

Our educational system is in danger of such a let down. The education establishment designed "one size fits many" schools for the industrial age. These schools are quickly becoming obsolete. Technologically empowered students and shrinking bureaucracies are encountering micro finance in a perfect storm of educational change.

It is time to support the future of education, creating goals that will ensure enabling schools for the next millennium. This is where Bastiat Free University enters the scene with its story.

When you support Bastiat Free University you are supporting the future. Yes, you can continue to contribute to brick and mortar colleges and still have an impact, but they are a diminishing asset and the value of your contribution will diminish with them. With the largest colleges your donation is further diminished by the huge endowments they already enjoy. Your college donation is but a drop in their donations giving ocean.

No matter if you support Bastiat Free University by becoming a student, telling others, or by planned giving; you are making a difference that will endure well past this current era.

The BFU story is about setting new educational goals, the old goals are almost completed.


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College User Group for Bastiat Free University

A college user group will enhance your Bastiat Free University experience.

Your distance learning college experience has many benefits over brick and mortar colleges, but it does lack in other areas. Both the trials and the joys of college are greater if you can directly share them with others. A beautiful sunset is more meaningful when viewed with those that appreciate it.

By creating a local BFUniv college users group you can magnify your own learning while encouraging and amplifying the potential of all in your BFU mutual support team. Starting a local physical learning arena on a weekly or bi-weekly basis is a simple approach to keep everyone on track. Let us know if we can help with a forum or yahoo user group style application.

In the past students at BFU have preferred to go their own individual way and discover solutions that work best for them. L
et us know if you find a particularly attractive solution for your own college user group. Perhaps you or we can adapt it to assist all BFU students - you might even be able to create a scalable money maker from your ideas.

Bastiat Free University students are overwhelmingly visionaries and entrepreneurs I'm looking forward to seeing what you create in your college users group.


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