You can find a lot of interesting things in The Study.
Wednesday, June 30, 2021
Oliver Wendell Holmes once observed that the young men know the rules but the old men know the exceptions.
I'd offer the additional observation that in any given organization, while some people know how to get things done, many people know how to screw things up.
- NY Post: Bill Cosby's conviction has been overturned.
- NY Daily News: NYC election has math issues.
- A popular app for our times: Calm.
- James Kirchick: "The Grift That Keeps On Grifting."
- Robby Soave: CRT can't be banned. (But it can be mocked.)
- Althouse: Tarantino writes a novel.
- Lee Siegel has some modest proposals to roll back media racism.
Every day is a battle against the jungle of complications in our lives.
Left unchecked, matters become entangled, distractions fall from trees, and paths are overgrown.
It becomes very easy to lose one's bearings.
Every single day.
Order flees if neglected while its relentless adversary thrives on inattention.
[Photo by Max Böhme at Unsplash]
The Chamber of Commerce poll contains no surprises.
Sad. A beautiful city brought down by incompetent political leaders, most of whom were probably supported by the residents who now want to flee.
[Photo by Brandon Nelson at Unsplash]
Tuesday, June 29, 2021
James B. Meigs writes a thought-provoking and even rather scary analysis in Commentary magazine. An excerpt:
During the Trump years, we heard a lot of hand-wringing about the public’s unwarranted “distrust” of our society’s designated experts and leaders. But to be trusted, people and institutions have to be trustworthy. The COVID-19 pandemic revealed a profound corruption at the heart of our expert class. The impact of that revelation will reverberate for years to come.
"Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor crossed. A yellow dressinggown, ungirdled, was sustained gently behind him by the mild morning air. He held the bowl aloft and intoned: - Introibo ad altare Dei."
- From Ulysses by James Joyce
Monday, June 28, 2021
Barbara Kay at The Post Millennial weighs in on the old and new cases involving Jack Phillips, a baker who asserts his religious beliefs.
Sunday, June 27, 2021
Saturday, June 26, 2021
- Nike CEO John Donahoe
It is a sign of the moral confusion of our times that in some circles, Mr. Donahoe would have gotten more criticism if he'd said, "Nike is a brand that is of the United States and for the United States."
[Update: spelling correction.]
[Photo by Shuja Official at Unsplash]
Those only are happy, who have their minds fixed on some object other than their own happiness; on the happiness of others, on the improvement of mankind, even on some art or pursuit, followed not as a means, but as itself an ideal end. Aiming thus at something else, they find happiness by the way.
- John Stuart Mill
Friday, June 25, 2021
Thursday, June 24, 2021
The stack on my desk will be gone by this afternoon. It is unsightly and demoralizing. Based on experience, I can assume that something helpful or urgent is hiding near the bottom.
And removing the stack will contribute to a major goal: a state of calm.
Let others go for excitement. I opt for the calm camp.
Wednesday, June 23, 2021
"The conflicts in which I became involved over the ensuing years, brought home to me just how low the level of public debate had sunk in Britain. On the left there seemed to be no response to the enormous changes introduced by mass immigration except to describe everyone who attempted to discuss the matter as a 'racist'. This crime resembled the crime of being an émigré in Revolutionary France, or a bourgeois in Lenin's Russia: the accusation was proof of guilt. And yet nobody ever told us what the crime consisted in. I was reminded of Defoe's comment, at the time of the Popery Act of 1698, that 'the streets of London are full of stout fellows prepared to fight to the death against Popery, without knowing whether it be a man or a horse'."
- Roger Scruton in How to be a Conservative
Remember letters? You know, from way back in the days before phone calls and faxes and email and texting?
Those odd things that you might spend a chunk of time writing and then you'd mail them and not expect an answer that afternoon. It might be a week or so before you'd seriously expect a reply. And when you received a letter, you might study the letterhead and the quality of the paper and, of course, the person's signature.
I still have letters from several decades ago.
[I even have some letters that an ancestor of mine wrote to his parents while he was serving in the Union cavalry during the Civil War. The quality of his handwriting puts mine to shame.]
It's time to revive the practice of writing letters. Go all the way. Get some nice stationery and a decent fountain pen and handwrite those gems.
Believe me, they will be favorably noticed.
- Vanity Fair: "Being a Billionaire is a Lot Harder Than It Looks."
- Glenn Greenwald on the Left's use of baseless allegations to destroy reputations.
- Jurassic Fight Night is scheduled for October.
- Noah Rothman: Uproar at the School Boards.
- The New York Times: "Whatever Happened to Vikki Dougan?"
- Chris Ferguson: What's wrong with CRT and its cousins.
- Maxim: Electric flying taxis.
Tuesday, June 22, 2021
Cultural Offering has evidence that many people have lost their minds.
I am working at home today and the roofers arrived at six.
Not that blame them. If I were a roofer in Phoenix, I'd want to arrive at four, although today is expected to be a bit cooler, topping off at a mere 108 degrees.
My dog, of course, responded with a Werewolf of London routine, but has now calmed down and is napping near my desk. At least I think she's napping. She may be plotting some form of dog justice against the owners who'd permit such disruption.
A few weeks ago, it was a coyote. Now it's roofers.
And the guy who's replacing a broken irrigation valve has yet to arrive.
Today is an exercise in focus.
As a management consultant, I occasionally conduct workshops. When preparing a class, the initial question centers on the amount of information the participants will need in a particular subject area. The question turns to how much time will be needed to convey that information. Most of my classes take only a half-day while a few require six or seven hours.
That process has caused me to wonder about the magical way in which college classes take roughly the same amount of time, regardless of the subject matter. Obviously, a college class is not the same as a management workshop but most of us recall classes where the professors engaged in no small amount of "padding." As a student, I thought they were simply indulging in a pleasant diversion. As an instructor, I now see that many - not all - of them were stretching out the time needed to cover material that could have been easily addressed in a much shorter period.
Imagine a structure in which a multitude of subjects is handled in three to five weeks. You could gain exposure to many subjects that are now unavailable. Back in my old undergraduate days when I minored in History, I took classes in the history of Britain, France, Mexico, the United States, and the Soviet Union. I regret not having taken classes in German, Italian, and Chinese history.
In a streamlined system, I might have been able to do so.
Monday, June 21, 2021
Data, the novelist and critic Cynthia Oznick once wrote, is "memory without history." Her observation points to the fundamental problem with allowing smartphones and the companies that program them to commandeer our brains. When we constrict our capacity for reasoning and recall, or transfer those skills to a machine or a corporation, we sacrifice the ability to turn information into knowledge. We get the data but lose the meaning. Barring a cultural course correction, that may be the Internet's most enduring legacy.
- Nicholas Carr, The Shallows: How the Internet is Changing the Way We Think, Read and Remember
Sunday, June 20, 2021
Saturday, June 19, 2021
- Althouse: Biden, Putin, and speaking the same language.
- Sports Illustrated gets woke.
- Robert Pondiscio reviews "Read, White, and Black."
- Tai Lopez: Find a mentor.
- Andrew Sullivan: "Don't Ban CRT. Expose It."
- The New Yorker: Christopher Rufo and the battle over CRT.
- Nicole Gelinas on the final NYC mayoral debates.
Friday, June 18, 2021
We look for three things when we hire people. We look for intelligence, we look for initiative or energy, and we look for integrity. And if they don't have the latter, the first two will kill you, because if you're going to get someone without integrity, you want them lazy and dumb.
- Warren Buffett
The American Mind: Habi Zhang reflects on her experience in Maoist China and the current climate at American universities.
[Over the years, I have gotten notes from readers who insisted that the oppressive climate on campuses was not a matter of concern. No big deal! I wish they had been correct. We are going to pay the price of squelched thought and banned speech for a long time.]
Focus on the next ten minutes. Preach what you practice. Fend off fanatics. Take regular breaks from technology. Hoard time. Ignore small irritations. Pay attention to small kindnesses. Appreciate the beauty of a moment. Be wary of drift. Chop back the jungle. Get it done.
[Photo by Maja R at Unsplash]
Thursday, June 17, 2021
Without conscious intent or explicit planning of anyone in particular, rapidly-evolving technology has turned us into a nation of matchers. Today it is easier than ever before to be on a quest for people like ourselves, for an indistinguishable mate. For the ideal hobby, for the perfect meal and the perfect app to photograph our pets. We match on our own, or, more and more, algorithms guide us. Match.com matches us in love, Spotify and Pandora match our taste in music. Software matches college roommates. Linkedin matches executives and employees. Facebook helps us reconnect with our past - our old neighbors, our old boyfriends - and more generally even brings us to just the right news and advertisements, or at least what we think is just right.
- Tyler Cowen in The Complacent Class: The Self-Defeating Quest for The American Dream (2017)
Wednesday, June 16, 2021
John McWhorter's timely essay should be circulated to school boards.
"A mature society cannot continue in this way."
Focus on the next ten minutes, then the ten minutes beyond that, and so on.
Do what you need to do. That is your sole goal in that time period.
If it is a crisis, focus on the next two minutes. Many a crisis has been overcome two minutes at a time.
And yes, there are times when you focus on the next ten seconds.
[Photo by Jasper Garratt at Unsplash]
Tuesday, June 15, 2021
Old Style: Listen carefully and look for issues on which there may be agreement as well as disagreement. Be prepared for a discussion in which both sides are willing to be persuaded.
New Style: Quickly determine if the person is in your camp. If that's not the case, then attack the person's values, knowledge, sincerity, intelligence, and/or identity. Be prepared to launch further attacks. The merit of the other person's argument is not worthy of consideration because the other side's positions are inherently evil, racist, ignorant, and/or dumb.
Old Style: Try to find common ground.
New Style: There is no common ground. If you look for it, then there may be something wrong with you.
Old Style: Concede weak points.
New Style: Concede nothing. Your side has no weak points and the other side is evil.
Old Style: Defend your position.
New Style: Defend nothing. Stay on the offensive.
Old Style: Strive for logical consistency.
New Style: Logic is a trap and it is not a requirement for your side. All evidence favoring the opposing viewpoints is false and irrelevant.
Old Style: The same rules should apply to both sides.
New Style: Your side doesn't have to follow rules. Rules only apply to the other side.
Old Style: Tell the truth.
New Style: There is no objective truth. Tell your truth. Either ignore whatever the other side calls truth or use it as a snare to trip up their arguments. Never concede that any "truth" weakens your side.
Welcome to the new world.
[Photo by icons8 team at Unsplash]
Monday, June 14, 2021
The Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway. IMO: Hemingway's short stories are often better than his novels. [It's hard to beat the memoir of his early days in Paris: A Moveable Feast.]
Future Crimes by Marc Goodman. A security expert looks at what can be done with our technology. Damned scary.
Maverick: A Biography of Thomas Sowell by Jason L. Riley. I'm getting this one for myself.
Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age by Sherry Turkle. One of the best books I've read in a long time.
Tai-Pan and Shogun by James Clavell. Your father's probably read them but he should read them again.
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Beautifully plotted and beautifully written.
The Teammates by David Halberstam. Ted Williams is dying and some of his old teammates head to Florida for a final visit.
Into Africa by Martin Dugard. Stanley and Livingstone resembled space explorers. An amazing story.
The Fall of France: The Nazi Invasion of 1940 by Julian Jackson. Much of what you've heard about that fall wasn't true.
The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara. The Battle of Gettysburg had a distinct characteristic: the opposing generals knew one another. A classic.
The Wonderful Country by Tom Lea. An upscale western with a sharp eye on the border.
The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe. A novel that tells more about our time than the newspapers.
The Fortunes of War by Olivia Manning. This contains The Balkan Trilogy and The Levant Trilogy. Two of the best novels about World War II and not a battlefield in sight.
Sunday, June 13, 2021
Saturday, June 12, 2021
The crow of a rooster. Two carpenters talking at their work in another room. The tick-tock of a clock on the wall. The rumble of your own stomach. Each sound can be thought of as meaning something, if it is meaning you want. After some years of living with roosters, I know that their crow does not mean that the sun is coming up because they crow off and on all day long with their silly, fierce heads thrown back and the barnyard breeze in their tail feathers. Maybe it means that they are remembering the last time it came up or thinking ahead to the next time. Maybe it means only that they are roosters being roosters. The voices and hammering in the other room mean that not everybody in the world sits around mooning over the past, but that the real business of life goes on and somewhere the job is getting done; means, too, that life is a mystery. What are they talking about? What are they making? The ticking of the clock is death's patter song and means that time passes and passes and passes, whatever time is. The rumbling stomach means hunger and lunch. But meaning in that sense is not the point, or at least not my point. My point is that all those sounds together, or others like them, are the sound of our lives.
- From The Sacred Journey: A Memoir of Early Days by Frederick Buechner
Friday, June 11, 2021
Thursday, June 10, 2021
The pandemic rapidly dried up most of my training workshops but, although somewhat reduced, the coaching sessions continued. Some were done over Zoom or Teams while others were in person but with a reasonable amount of distance. None of my coaching clients was infected.
Which brings up a point. A key advantage of coaching versus training is you get to know the people. You can see them improve. You can spot the areas that need reinforcement and the ones that are squared away. You hear about their progress.
Careful listening. Eye contact. A passion for the practical. I could go on with what is needed in a good coach.
The key ingredient for the coaching client, however, is simple: the person must be coachable. If that is not present, then all else is wasted.
Fortunately, most people are receptive.
P.S. There's always one person who is silently coached throughout the process: me.
Wednesday, June 09, 2021
Due to a recent onslaught of spam, comments on this blog have been blocked. It's easier to block comments for a while than to delete massive numbers of worthless messages.
We live in strange times.
I hope to open up for comments in the near future after researching more creative ways of dealing with spammers.
Bear with me.
Tuesday, June 08, 2021
"That's what I faced. Do you want to know how I solved it?"
"First, let me tell you about the organizations that tried different approaches."
"That's okay, just tell me . . . ."
"There were several in Europe, one in Asia, and four in the United States."
[Two hours later.]
"I studied their examples and, after some heated arguments with my team, decided their situations were not applicable."
"What did you do?"
"My strategy was similar to the one used by the Germans and completely the opposite to those used by the Japanese firm."
"And that was?"
[Two more hours later.]
"You might say my plan comes down to three words: innovation, insight, and review. I suppose I could have said that at the start, but I figured you would want the big picture. Wait, where are you going?"
[Sound of door closing.]
Monday, June 07, 2021
The gushing over remote work, often written by journalists who like remote work, may not fade soon but it will eventually fade as people realize that "being there" is important and irreplaceable. Those who foster strong relationships in face-to-face conversations will outdistance the technical souls who, despite the neatest backdrops and best lighting, were not in the room.
Read all of Christine Rosen's essay in Commentary magazine.
The more I study the modern workplace, the more I believe that the big story is not what people do with their computers and smartphones - although that is certainly significant - but what those extraordinary types of technology are slowly doing to people.