- Hybrid workplaces
- Vichy France
- Email alternatives
- Critical Race Theory
- Mission creep
- German bureaucracy
- Executive decision-making
Saturday, July 31, 2021
If I could pick one intellectual who deserves a far greater attention and readership in international as well as American circles it would be Thomas Sowell. I first started reading him years ago when I was the EEO Administrator for the City of Phoenix. It was a revelatory moment.
Friday, July 30, 2021
Andrew Sullivan on "How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Live With The Virus."
"Someone must have slandered Josef K., for one morning, without having done anything wrong, he was arrested."
- From The Trial by Franz Kafka
"It was a pleasure to burn."
- From Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
"It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen."
- From 1984 by George Orwell
"I looked at my notes and I didn't like them. I'd spent three days at U.S. Robots and might as well have spent them at home with the Encyclopedia Tellurica."
- From I, Robot by Isaac Asimov
I recall an exterminator telling me that he was baffled by the news reports that honeybees were dying out. He cited some experts who were skeptical.
But journalists continued to write dire stories on the subject so I wondered if there was something to it.
Thursday, July 29, 2021
Pew Research Center's Michael Dimock on where the Millennials end and Generation Z begins. An excerpt:
The iPhone launched in 2007, when the oldest Gen Zers were 10. By the time they were in their teens, the primary means by which young Americans connected with the web was through mobile devices, WiFi and high-bandwidth cellular service. Social media, constant connectivity and on-demand entertainment and communication are innovations Millennials adapted to as they came of age. For those born after 1996, these are largely assumed.
Wednesday, July 28, 2021
Twenty years ago, as a practicing clinical psychologist, if I had met a college junior who called her mother fifteen times a day, checking in about what shoes to buy and what dress to wear, extolling a new kind of decaffeinated tea, and complaining about the difficulty of a physics problem set, I would have thought her behavior problematic. I would have encouraged her to explore difficulties with separation. I would have assumed that these had to be addressed for her to proceed to successful adulthood. But these days, a college student who texts home fifteen times a day is not unusual.
- Sherry Turkle in Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other
". . .[T]he campus trends that led us to write about our original Atlantic article - particularly the requests for safe spaces and trigger warnings - started to spread only when iGen began arriving on campus, around 2013. The demands for safety and censorship accelerated rapidly over the next four years as the last of the Millennials graduated, to be replaced by iGen. This is not a book about Millennials; indeed, Millennials are getting a bad rap these days, as many people erroneously attribute recent campus trends to them. This is a book about the very different attitudes toward speech and safety that spread across universities as the Millennials were leaving. We are not blaming iGen. Rather, we are proposing that today's college students were raised by parents and teachers who had children's best interests at heart but who often did not give them the freedom to develop their antifragility."
- Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt in The Coddling of the American Mind
There are disturbing reports that many young people are so immersed in text messages, Twitter, and email that they have not developed conversational skills.
You remember conversation, that old-fashioned ritual where you listen to the other person and that person listens to you and, if the two of you disagree, both of you may listen more carefully to understand the other person's point of view. You might even find that you agree on some things.
Well, if people are not keen on conversation, then their ability to handle disagreements will be even more limited. If you want some samples, go to Twitter and read the comments on any political tweet.
Based on that, I'd say that young people are not the only ones who may have limited conversational skills.
We make the technology and then it makes us.
Tuesday, July 27, 2021
Monday, July 26, 2021
It was a miserable day in Walham Green, gloomy and wind-lashed and rain-soaked, and it seemed every pedestrian for miles had taken shelter in this Lyons Tea Room. The windows streamed with condensation, and the air was thick with hot breath and the smell of damp wool and camphor and boiled mutton. I'd been lucky to get a table to myself, and I was keeping it to myself, spreading out my legs and seeing off with a cold stare any customer who dared to approach. Selfish of me, perhaps, but I was on Queen's business and expecting a guest. The waitress, a thin, nervous woman in her thirties, looked worn-out and listless, much like the paper garlands that still festooned the place three weeks after Christmas. She could barely move between the tables, the place was so packed with customers and their sodden overcoats and dripping umbrellas. Stopping by my table she topped up my cup hastily, slopping tea into the saucer, but I made no remarks. There are times when it serves to make a scene and times to bite your tongue.
- From M, King's Bodyguard: A Novel by Niall Leonard
- An aspiring actress goes to Hollywood. She is working at a drugstore soda fountain (remember those?) when a casting director notices her and a star is born.
- A better mousetrap is invented. The world automatically beats a path to the inventor's door.
- A farmer builds a ballpark in a cornfield. Without any publicity whatsoever, masses of people begin to arrive.
- An extremely complicated military operation is cobbled together at the last minute. It is executed on time with no surprises or glitches and produces total success.
Sunday, July 25, 2021
Saturday, July 24, 2021
When the coronavirus pandemic took root in the United States, we entered a time machine to the future. Practically overnight, people in industries that had restricted telecommuting found themselves crawling out of bed and dialing into Zoom conference calls from their couch. For many teachers, bankers, lawyers, even NASA aerospace engineers, the coronavirus crisis was a trial run for remote work. With most of the country under orders to shelter in place, many business leaders pivoted on a dime to reimagine products, reassign workers, reshape supply chains, and reconfigure operations to join the heated race to save lives. Near the top of the critical list of needs was the demand for ventilators, potentially hundreds of thousands of ventilators. In an unprecedented move, Ford and General Motors shut down car production and went into the ventilator production business.
- From Work Disrupted: Opportunity, Resilience, and Growth in the Accelerated Future of Work by Jeff Schwartz
[Execupundit note: I don't think the Ford and General Motors moves were unprecedented. Consider what they did during World War II.]
Friday, July 23, 2021
Hmm. I enjoyed Lord of the Rings, Catch-22, and Moby-Dick. I'm still wrestling with Ulysses. Perhaps Atlas Shrugged deserves another try. [I got a third of the way in before giving up.]
An observation: Few books would have been better if they were longer but many books would have benefited by being shorter.
[HT: A Large Regular]
Thursday, July 22, 2021
Failing looks bad but provides more information than success. Trying to understand why you got a good grade on a test isn't all that informative because you had to do well on every part of it. But analyzing a bad grade forces you to zero in on what you got wrong. In European military history, the strongest armies have repeatedly turned out to be the ones who lost the previous war, because the defeat inspired them to reorganize and make strategic innovations while the victors remained complacent. A reward forces you inward; a penalty forces you to look at the world more carefully and make changes.
- John Tierney and Roy F. Baumeister in The Power of Bad
Wednesday, July 21, 2021
We tend to evaluate America based on day-to-day news stories and immediate trends and feelings, but the larger wheels of America are driven by two very orderly cycles - the institutional and the socioeconomic. The institutional cycle controls the relationship between the federal government and the rest of American society, and it runs its course roughly every eighty years. The socioeconomic cycle shifts around every fifty years and alters the dynamic of the American economy and society. Each cycle goes through the same process. The characteristics of a current cycle stop being effective, and the model begins to break down. A period of political tension emerges, ultimately forcing a change in the way things are done. New models emerge and solve the problems, and the country begins a new cycle which operates until that cycle runs into trouble. . . .
- George Friedman, The Storm Before the Calm: America's Discord, the Crisis of the 2020s, and the Triumph Beyond
Tuesday, July 20, 2021
Monday, July 19, 2021
City Journal: John Tierney on "The Panic Pandemic." An excerpt:
The leaders responsible for these disasters continue to pretend that their policies worked and assume that they can keep fooling the public. They’ve promised to deploy these strategies again in the future, and they might even succeed in doing so—unless we begin to understand what went wrong.
It was a sad day when the architecture of many schools began to resemble that of prisons.
Nothing uplifting. Nothing indicating the noble nature of the mission. Purely utilitarian and defensive.
No wonder the students want to escape.
[Photo by Yan Bertemy at Unsplash]
I saw that book just the other day. Where did it go to? It's large - that doesn't narrow the field - and I think I recall the color of the book cover. I know it's not in the stack on the table.
Who cares about phones? A "ping" device is needed for missing books.
Sunday, July 18, 2021
Saturday, July 17, 2021
There are some very interesting perspectives on the post-pandemic world by an eclectic group of thinkers (Stephanie Kelton, Mohamed A. El-Erian, Dambisa Moyo, Mariana Mazzucato, Ian Bremmer, Jayati Ghosh, Deirdre Nansen McCloskey, Ruchir Sharma, Vera Songwe, Kevin Rudd, Niall Ferguson, Antoine Van Agtmael, and Betsey Stevenson) in Foreign Policy magazine.
[Photo by Ryo Tanaka at Unsplash]
America is losing its soul. Instead of creating legal structures that support our values, Americans are abandoning our values in deference to the bureaucratic structures.
- Philip Howard, The Rule of Nobody: Saving America from Dead Laws and Broken Government
Friday, July 16, 2021
Thursday, July 15, 2021
Clearly, historical events have varying degrees of intensity. Some may almost fail to impinge on true reality, that is, on the central, most personal part of a person's life. Others can wreak such havoc there that nothing is left standing. The usual way in which history is written fails to reveal this. "1890: Wilhelm II dismisses Bismarck." Certainly a key event in German history, but scarcely an event at all in the biography of any German outside its small circle of protagonists. Life went on as before. No family was torn apart, no friendship broke up, no one fled their country. Not even a rendezvous was missed or an opera performance canceled. Those in love, whether happily or not, remained so; the poor remained poor, and the rich rich. Now compare that with "1933: Hindenburg sends for Hitler." An earthquake shatters 66 million lives.
- From Defying Hitler: A Memoir by Sebastian Haffner
Wednesday, July 14, 2021
Common Sense with Bari Weiss features an essay describing what living in Cuba is really like.
Tuesday, July 13, 2021
A conversation that took place years ago:
Manager: "These young employees aren't like us."
Department Director: "Thank God. Do you remember what screw-ups we were?"
Although that brings a smile, it should not lead to a blanket endorsement. Sometimes, there are problems exhibited by particular generations.
Humility and introspection are important but pretending that all changes are minor deviations or even improvements may not be wise.
Monday, July 12, 2021
Sunday, July 11, 2021
Saturday, July 10, 2021
Andrew Sullivan on the radicalization of the American elite against liberalism.