Saturday, November 28, 2020
The Spectator: pollster Patrick Basham on why the 2020 presidential election is deeply puzzling.
Throughout the media you'll find back-and-forths on various points but there are several areas which, regardless of who actually won, should be very troubling.
This is a bad time for us to have an unprofessional news industry.
I think that we live in an era of cant. I do not say that it is the only such age. But it has never been, at least in my lifetime, as important as it is now to hold the right opinions and to express none of the wrong ones, if one wants to avoid vilification and to remain socially frequentable. Worse still, and even more totalitarian, is the demand for public assent to patently false or exaggerated propositions; refusal to kowtow in such circumstances becomes almost as bad a sin as uttering a forbidden view. One must join in the universal cant—or else.
Read all of Theodore Dalrymple's essay in City Journal.
Friday, November 27, 2020
Jonathan Turley sees Thanksgiving as a good time to celebrate nonconformists. He also notes the ominous signs that free expression is imperiled. An excerpt:One of the more chilling cases of this trend is Richard Stengel, the man selected to lead the transition team on media agencies and policies. He wrote a Washington Post column last year that denounced speech as a threat to harmony. He failed to convince readers that what they need is less freedom. “All speech is not equal, and where truth cannot drive out lies, we must add new guardrails. I am all for protecting thought that we hate, but not speech that incites hate,” Stengel argued.
Over the years I have posted this advice from Adrian Savage, the leadership author and scholar:
Thursday, November 26, 2020
We were sitting on the patio under a black, moonless sky, our faces lit by the flickering light of a few candles in the center of a large stone table. We all had iced drinks in our hands or in front of us. His interruption took the form of very slowly putting down the glass that was in his hand - so slowly and so quietly, and with such a measured, even movement that at first it seemed like some kind of ritual gesture. Everyone suddenly became quiet and looked at him, waiting. I remember listening for a long time to the waves of the bay and watching the lights of San Francisco across the water. The wind was shifting and turning cool. People were putting their collars up and hugging themselves, but no one dared get up. Foghorns were answering each other like far-off, unseen sea creatures.Just as slowly and evenly, he angled his long, lean body back in his chair and gazed at nothing in particular. Then he turned his head as though it were a gun turret and looked directly at the husky, bearded young man who had just been speaking about the crimes of America. In the flickering candlelight, his bony face seemed wondrously alive and menacing at the same time. What he said to the young man - and of course to all of us present - was only this:
"You don't know what you have here." Then, after an uncomfortable pause, "You simply don't know what you have."
- From The American Soul: Rediscovering the Wisdom of the Founders by Jacob Needleman
Wednesday, November 25, 2020
The elevated desk works well. I am going to have to move a large photo of Churchill on the wall behind me so I can squeeze in a flip chart but I'll have plenty of room for hand gestures and other elements of the performing arts.
Because every class is a performance. The presentation cannot be dry. It must be memorable.
The delayed adolescence and hyper-fear of risk-taking that have become evident in recent years makes me wonder if a sizable portion of our population would eagerly give up freedom in order to live out the rest of their days in a "Club Fed" type of prison or a very hip nursing home.
[Photo by Zacke Feller at Unsplash]
Penguin Random House employees in Canada are upset about the firm publishing a new Jordan Peterson book.
[I will, of course, make a point of buying that book.]
Tuesday, November 24, 2020
The first executive has a lot of rough edges, is blunt to the point of rudeness and sometimes even far beyond. But this person has one saving grace: he or she produces results.
The second executive is ultra smooth and sophisticated. Picture-perfect and quite charming. But this person has one flaw: talks a great game but doesn't seem to produce very much.
You can learn a lot about an organization by seeing which one is favored.
My home office "reformation" is progressing nicely.
The electric desk is assembled. Another, more traditional, desk arrives in early December. Both desks have large work spaces and the elevated desk will permit me to stand while teaching classes on Zoom. A reading chair, a bookcase, and a new filing cabinet also are in the pipeline.
The two desks will have very different "personalities" and will be separated with a diagonal walkway leading to a small reading area.
I know I should have addressed the matter of the floor first but that was not possible. Getting the furniture in order will be a relief and will speed up completion of some projects. The issues with the floor can wait.
P.S. Major cheers for banker's boxes and trash bags.
Monday, November 23, 2020
The New Criterion: When Princeton's systemic racism confession backfired.
[Photo by Kirubakaran Manoharan at Unsplash]
My son and I had a talk the other day about the practice of the late and great rabbi, Menachem Mendel Schneerson (often called the Rebbe) who followed a practice of immediately doing important things.
Did that mean that the Rebbe had no sense of priorities? Does that mean that his practice should always be followed?
No. It means that he knew the power of immediate action and that he was wary of the immense temptation to lapse into unnecessary delays.
I suggest keeping two people in mind:
Rabbi Schneerson with his "Do it now" approach and former Secretary of State George Shultz with his advice to "Don't just do something. Stand there."
Each can be right but not at the same time.
From City Journal in 2019: Kay S. Hymowitz on the problem of loneliness. An excerpt:
Loneliness, public-health experts tell us, is killing as many people as obesity and smoking. It’s not much comfort that Americans are not, well, alone in this. Germans are lonely, the bon vivant French are lonely, and even the Scandinavians—the happiest people in the world, according to the UN’s World Happiness Report—are lonely, too. British prime minister Theresa May recently appointed a “Minister of Loneliness.”