I confess that when it comes to choosing books, size matters. The other day I was considering the purchase of Infinite Jest and the reason I returned it to the shelf was the question: "Do I really want to spend that much time with this giant?" It seemed more infinite than amusing. Don't misunderstand me. I've heard great things about the novel and will probably tackle it some day. But not now. And yes, I frequently read mega-volumes - Tolstoy's War and Peace and Hersey's The Wall are on my re-read list - but those had a guarantee of greatness before I started them. With books of unknown quality, more is less. In the days of extensive business travel, I always had an Elmore Leonard or Ed McBain novel within reach. Those were quick and very well-written reads that would keep me entertained from New York to Phoenix. And they were conveniently small. Imagine trying to cram Infinite Jest into your briefcase.
I'm a senior at Cesar Chavez High in San Francisco's sunny Mission district, and that makes me one of the most surveilled people in the world. My name is Marcus Yallow but back when this story starts, I was going by w1n5t0n. Pronounced "Winston." - From Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
These deep thinkers were the only people he could not stand to be around for long, these people who’d never manufactured anything or seen anything manufactured, who didn’t know what things were made of or how a company worked, who, aside from a house or a car, had never sold anything and didn’t know how to sell anything, who’d never hired a worker, fired a worker, trained a worker, been fleeced by a worker — people who knew nothing of the intricacies or the risks of building a business or running a factory but who nonetheless imagined they knew everything worth knowing.
Unfortunately, I have yet to see this candor in job announcements: Although it might help if you can meet the degree and experience "requirements" listed in the above announcement, they really aren't needed to do this job. The fact is that if you are reasonably intelligent and have a positive attitude, strong communication skills, and a willingness to learn, we can easily teach you the basics in three weeks. Four weeks at the outside.
Radio celebrity and host Howard Stern's statement when, rather than fill out financial disclosure forms, he withdrew as the Libertarian candidate for governor of New York in 1994: "While I've told you everything about myself, and I've been telling you about myself since the first day I started broadcasting, there's only one fact I never revealed. I never told you how much money I made, I never told you how much money I have in the bank. And the reason I never told you how much money I have in the bank is because it's none of your business."
If we want to change a world with too many leadership failures, too many career derailments, and too many toxic workplaces, we must begin by acknowledging the facts and understanding why we are where we are. Only then will we begin to enjoy long-delayed progress. Myths and inspiring stories can be comforting, but they are worse than useless for creating change. - From Leadership BS: Fixing Workplaces and Careers One Truth at a Time by Jeffrey Pfeffer [Photo by Rommel Davila at Unsplash]
Ours is an age besotted with graphic entertainments. And in an increasingly infantilized society, whose moral philosophy is reducible to a celebration of "choice," adults are decreasingly distinguishable from children in their absorption in entertainments and the kinds of entertainments they are absorbed in - video games, computer games, hand-held games, movies on their computers and so on. This is progress: more sophisticated delivery of stupidity. - George Will Where most commentators assume a race to the bottom and a dumbing down - "an increasingly infantilized society," in George Will's words - I see a progressive story: mass culture growing more sophisticated, demanding more cognitive engagement with each passing year. Think of it as a kind of positive brainwashing: the popular media steadily, but almost imperceptibly, making our minds sharper, as we soak in entertainment usually dismissed as so much lowbrow fluff. I call this upward trend the Sleeper Curve, after the classic sequence from Woody Allen's mock sci-fi film, where a team of scientists from 2173 are astounded that twentieth-century society failed to grasp the nutritional merits of cream pies and hot fudge. - Steven Johnson
At the pinnacle of the Great Terror, the Politburo issued "quotas" to the police authorities, instructing them as to what percentage of the population in their district was to be shot and what percentage sent to camps. For example, on June 2, 1937, it set a quota of 35,000 persons to be "repressed" in Moscow city and Moscow province, of which number 5,000 were to be shot. One month later, the Politburo provided each region with quotas of persons to be "rounded up" nationwide; 70,000 of them were to be executed without trial. A high proportion of the victims of the Great Terror were persons with a higher education considered difficult to control and prone to engage in "sabotage." - From Communism: A History by Richard Pipes
Sometimes on the street a woman would pass and you'd hear something from behind the vent in her burqa. Sometimes it was light and flirtatious, sometimes a little darker. "I was a teacher of Persian," one of them said once from behind her vent. "This is like a death." - From The Forever War by Dexter Filkins
"...As I dug deeper, I grew more and more uncomfortable with [Hannah] Arendt's explanations. The more I came to know these bureaucrats, the less familiar they became. I realized that this was a group of people completely aware of what they were doing, people with high ideological motivation, people of initiative and dexterity who contributed far beyond what was necessary. And there could be no doubt about it: they clearly understood that their deeds were not positive except in the value system of the Third Reich. They hated Jews and thought that getting rid of them would be to Germany's good. They knew that not everyone thought this way, and they deliberately hid information that might have deterred others from cooperating. While most of them sat behind desks rather than behind machine guns, from time to time some were called upon to face flesh and blood Jews and decide their fate, and this they did, ferociously, without batting an eyelid. "The facts that stare one in the face, it seems to me, indicate the opposite of Arendt's thesis. There was nothing banal about the evil of Eichmann and his comrades." - From Hitler's Bureaucrats: The Nazi Security Police and the Banality of Evil by Yaacov Lozowick
At Tax Prof Blog some law professors react to an article by another law professor about a student wearing a MAGA hat in class. I found the original article to reveal a huge overreaction to what should have been no big deal. Should a professor freak out if a student wears a hat depicting a left-wing position?
On Friday, July 6, 1888, the price of sugar went up from forty to forty-two kreuzers a kilo in Imperial Vienna. On the afternoon of the same day, the gates of Franz Joseph's palace swung open. A carriage swept out onto the cobbles of the Ringstrasse. Many of the strollers stopped, as if they'd been waiting for the canter of these two horses. - From A Nervous Splendor: Vienna 1888/1889 by Frederic Morton