The renewal of societies and organizations can go forward only if someone cares.
- John Gardner
Read all of John Kekes at City Journal on "The Menace of Moralism."
We have never appreciated a solitary stroll, a camping trip, a face-to-face chat with friends, or even our boredom better than we do now. Nothing has contributed more to our collective appreciation for being logged off and technologically disconnected than the very technology of connection. The ease of digital distraction has made us appreciate solitude with a new intensity. . . . In short, we've never cherished being alone, valued introspection, and treasured information disconnection more than we do now. Never has being disconnected - even if for just a moment - felt so profound.
- Nathan Jurgenson
What is a common topic of discussion in my social circles?
People can't get enough of it. They try breathing techniques with mixed success. Adjusting the daily schedule only works if one has the power to do so. Various over-the-counter medicines don't always kick in.
I'd be tempted to say it is a true sign of aging but many young people have the same problem.
If you know of serious solutions, please pass them along.
My starting point for this book was not Leonardo's art masterpieces but his notebooks. His mind, I think, is best revealed in the more than 7,200 pages of his notes and scribbles that, miraculously, survive to this day. Paper turns out to be a superb information-storage technology, still readable after five hundred years, which our own tweets likely won't be.
- Walter Isaacson in Leonardo Da Vinci
Back in that summer of discontent I talked to a journalist who was very concerned about the “dysfunction” in Washington. So am I. But I told her then what’s still true today: that the real problem is not the dysfunctional process that’s getting all the headlines, but the dysfunctional substance of governance. Congress and the president will work out the debt ceiling issue, probably just in the nick of time. The real dysfunction is a federal budget that doubled in 10 years, unprecedented deficits as far as the eye can see, and a national debt (more accurately, gross federal debt) yet again bursting through its statutory limit of $28.4 trillion and soaring past 120 percent of GDP, a level previously reached only during World War II.
Read the rest of David Boaz at The Cato Institute.
If you and your team do extraordinary work and fail to provide at least some information to your boss as to what went into that achievement, then you've made what may be a huge mistake. You've inadvertently downplayed achievement, perhaps in the name of modesty. Don't be surprised if that work is later regarded as routine and not much of an achievement at all.
We're entering an age of acceleration. The models underlying society at every level, which are largely based on a linear model of change, are going to have to be redefined. Because of the explosive power of exponential growth, the twenty-first century will be equivalent to 20,000 years of progress at today's rate of progress; organizations have to be able to redefine themselves at a faster and faster pace.
- Ray Kurzweil
A free society requires some confidence in the ability of men to reach tentative and tolerable adjustments between their competing interests and to arrive at some common notions of justice which transcend all partial interests. A consistent pessimism in regard to man's rational capacity for justice invariably leads to absolutistic political theories; for they prompt the conviction that only preponderant power can coerce the various vitalities of a community into a working harmony.
- Reinhold Niebuhr
"Okay, team. We want to sell a variety of products to this group of customers. How should we do that?"
"Consider their needs and wants and show how our products can help them?"
"Maybe, but perhaps a little too traditional. Any other ideas?"
"Insult them. Peddle guilt. Tell them that they are morally deficient or in some way deeply flawed and that only by supporting us will they be somewhat redeemed."
"I like that. I really like that."
China's Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution shook the politics of China and the world between 1966 and 1976. It dominated every aspect of Chinese life: families were separated, careers upended, education interrupted, and striking political initiatives attempted amid a backdrop of chaos, new beginnings, and the settling of old scores.
- From The Cultural Revolution: A Very Short Introduction by Richard Curt Kraus
There is a widely held belief that high quality will always overcome barriers and eventually achieve its just and appropriate level.
That is comforting but untrue. Consider how close we came to missing the true abilities of George C. Marshall, Winston Churchill, Jane Austen, Ulysses S. Grant, Harry Truman, Martin Luther King Jr., and many others.
Yes, there are people out there who decry the use of objectivity and rigor in research.
The Soviets would be proud.
Not only do the democracies today blame themselves for sins they have not committed, but they have formed the habit of judging themselves by ideals so inaccessible that the defendants are automatically guilty. It follows that a civilization that feels guilty for everything it is and does and thinks will lack the energy and conviction to defend itself when its existence is threatened. Drilling into a civilization that it deserves defending only if it can incarnate absolute justice is tanamount to urging that it let itself die or be enslaved.
- Jean-François Revel in How Democracies Perish (1983)
Part of the morning was filled with correspondence and preparing reading assignments for some coaching clients.
My ancient HP laserjet printer, a real warhorse, finally went down after years of loyal service. I need to schedule a ten minute mourning period before the new one arrives.
I've been asked to give a (super-condensed) presentation skills briefing via Zoom to a team of leaders who are scattered around the country.
Less is more.
Excitedly, I told Gabe how Ezra had removed a block - and that's when it clicked for her. Her response gave me the language to bring countless others up to speed, without them walking around in circles behind a lawn mower and then spending hours playing Legos with a toddler. She said, "Oh. So, you're wondering whether we neglect subtraction as a way to change things?"
That sounded right to me.
- From Subtract: The Untapped Science of Less by Leidy Klotz
The Founding Fathers who drafted the U.S. Constitution in 1787 feared political parties, popular democracy, and centralized government. Contrary to these sentiments, the national politics that emerged has been that of intense partisan conflict, the continual expansion of suffrage, and the expansion of federal power. Early on, American politics became a blood sport with political candidates and officeholders assailing opponents in negative, and often, vicious ways, to win votes within an electorate that had increased in size and expressed a multitude of interests. By the 1830s all politicians, whatever their party affiliation, proclaimed themselves democrats and "men of the people." The only consistency between the Founders' dream for the new republic and what emerged was a profound faith in constitutional government.
- From American Political History: A Very Short Introduction by Donald T. Critchlow
Jonathan Turley on the allegations regarding General Milley's calls to China.
I was expecting an immediate denial. This entire story is very disturbing.
Option A: You have given up no options, the situation is stabilized, and you retain the ability to pursue those options in the future.
Option B: You have taken a seemingly bold step which might be emotionally pleasing but the other options have now disappeared and you have surrendered the initiative to the other side.
Frequent Reaction: Option B! Option B!
For example, judges have been found more likely to grant parole at the beginning of the day or after a food break than immediately before such a break. If judges are hungry, they are tougher.
- From Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment by Daniel Kahneman, Oliver Sibony, and Cass R. Sunstein
I resisted getting a smartwatch. The more the FutureLawyer extolled the virtues of smartwatches, the more I admired the beauty of my Seiko kinetic watch. From the standpoint of beauty, my Seiko is not equaled by any smartwatch on the planet.
But then I figured that I could benefit from the health features of a good smartwatch. During a false start with a minor smartwatch - which I returned - I consulted the Sage of South Florida, who owns more smartwatches than - to borrow an old expression - Carter has pills. After learning that I'd committed the sin of getting an iPhone, he sighed for a while then made an important observation. I'm paraphrasing here but he muttered that it would be easier to transfer everything from my iPhone to an Apple smartwatch.
He could not bring himself to utter the word "Apple" but I know what he meant.
And so I pondered.
Being somewhat impatient and seeking simplicity, I finally got an Apple smartwatch. To my surprise, I really like it. Knowing about health and emails and texts is one thing, but the best feature, oddly enough, has been the Dick Tracy feature: being able to make and receive phone calls from my watch.
That may sound minor but on several occasions, I have learned about important calls which I would have missed if I had not been able to glance at my wrist and see the number. Missing those calls would have greatly complicated my day if not the order of the universe.
Do I like the look? It's okay.
Are there androids that are prettier? Undoubtedly.
Is the wristband dorky? You bet.
Does the watch do what I want it to do? Definitely.
And that last point wins the day.
I have to confess, however, that the only book that invariably put me to sleep - and I mean within ten minutes - was Roy Macridis's book on comparative government. When I was a young and alert student of government at the University of Arizona, I had to take a comparative government class. The class was challenging and interesting but packed with little drills such as comparing the Swiss government to that of the Italians or the Chinese. For some arcane reason, the Macridis book was part of the required reading. Regardless of the time of day, it was the equivalent of chugging a gallon of ZQuil.
Now, of course, there are nights when I regret having given it away.
When Hitler came to power I was in the bath. Our apartment was on the Schiffbauerdamm near the river, right in the middle of Berlin. From its windows we could see the dome of the parliament building. The wireless in the living room was turned up loud so Hans could hear it in the kitchen, but all that drifted down to me were waves of happy cheering, like a football match. It was Monday afternoon.
- From All That I Am: A Novel by Anna Funder
In the summer of 1955, at the end of my sophomore year in college, I worked as a chauffeur in my hometown of Atlanta, Georgia. It had not been my first choice of jobs. I was originally supposed to work as a salesman for the Continental Insurance Company, which had made me an offer during a campus interview at my school, DePauw University. When the interviewer said there was an opening for me in the company's Atlanta office, I jumped at the chance. It was the perfect arrangement for me. I would have a job in the place where I most wanted to be - at home in Atlanta. At the end of the term, brimming with the confidence of a young man with two years of college behind me, I packed my bags and headed south thinking everything was in place.
- From Vernon Can Read: A Memoir by Vernon E. Jordan, Jr.
FutureLawyer's praise for WordPerfect hits the spot. I used Word Perfect years ago and found it to be far superior to Word.
Unfortunately, since 99% of my clients were using Word, I made the shift to The Dark Side.
For a non-techie such as myself, WordPerfect was far more intuitive. It was much easier to sort out any questions than navigating the maze in Word's system.
Read the rest of Lance Morrow's essay in City Journal.
As I grow older, I have learned to shift many of the setbacks in my life to what I call My Dodged Bullets List.
When the events happened, of course, there was pain, anger, embarrassment or frustration. I cannot pretend otherwise.
Time, however, has brought perspective. Now I find myself saying, "Thank God I didn't get stuck with that!"
If you don't have such a list, I strongly recommend starting one.
You may need several pages.
[Photo by Jan Kahanek at Unsplash]
- Hartmut Rosa in The Uncontrollability of the World
[Photo by Filip Bunkens at Unsplash]
The last paragraph of The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad:
And the incorruptible Professor walked, too, averting his eyes from the odious multitude of mankind. He had no future. He disdained it. He was a force. His thoughts caressed the images of ruin and destruction. He walked frail, insignificant, shabby, miserable - and terrible in the simplicity of his idea calling madness and despair to the regeneration of the world. Nobody looked at him. He passed on unsuspected and deadly, like a pest in the street full of men.
City Journal: Hannah E. Meyers notes a 9/11 law enforcement lesson.
Wally Bock with leadership reading from the independent business blogs.
Stakeholder capitalism pretends to be a milder form of capitalism, but it's actually capitalism gone wild: it encourages capitalism's winners to wield greater power in our democracy. Ordinary Americans who vote at the ballot box each November are like the poor devotees who wait in the long line at the temple. Meanwhile, CEOs and investors issuing moral fiats from Davos are the rich devotees who get to cut the line.
- Vivek Ramaswamy, Woke, Inc.: Inside Corporate America's Social Justice Scam
Read all of David Idfresne's essay at Common Sense with Bari Weiss.
Like most persons trained in political science during the 1960s my early writings were concerned with describing the process by which policy is shaped and with mapping the alignment of forces rather than with evaluating the substantive content of policy. Nonetheless, firmly seated in the back of my mind, was the substantive interest in reconciling the need for governmental authority with claims of liberty and fairness. As I grew older and grappled yearly with the task of explaining new laws and Supreme Court decisions to students, a conviction grew until it weighed on me like lead - that many civil libertarians had become unhinged.
- Richard E. Morgan, Disabling America: The "Rights Industry" in Our Time (published in 1984)
“We bury the ashes of racism, discrimination and stereotypes in the hope that we will grow up in an inclusive country where all can live in prosperity and security,” says a video prepared for students about the book burning, Radio Canada reported.
In total, more than 4,700 books were removed from library shelves at 30 schools across the school board, and they have since been destroyed or are in the process of being recycled, Radio Canada reported.
The National Post on a bizarre "reconciliation" effort.
These people are dangerous.
For all the talk of a racial reckoning within major industries, Nike’s main problem is this: It’s a company built on masculinity, most specifically Michael Jordan’s alpha dog brand of it. Now, due to its own ambitions, scandals, and intellectual trends, Nike finds masculinity problematic enough to loudly reject.
Read the rest of Ethan Strauss's essay here.
[Photo by Nathan Dumlao at Unsplash]
Common Sense with Bari Weiss: Peter Boghossian resigns from Portland State University. An excerpt:
I noticed signs of the illiberalism that has now fully swallowed the academy quite early during my time at Portland State. I witnessed students refusing to engage with different points of view. Questions from faculty at diversity trainings that challenged approved narratives were instantly dismissed. Those who asked for evidence to justify new institutional policies were accused of microaggressions. And professors were accused of bigotry for assigning canonical texts written by philosophers who happened to have been European and male.
There is a moral dualism that sees good and evil as instincts within us between which we must choose. But there is also what I will call pathological dualism that sees humanity itself as radically . . . divided into the unimpeachably good and the irredeemably bad. You are either one or the other.
- Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks
Purpose gives direction to one's efforts, but it does not necessarily make life easier. Goals can lead into all sorts of trouble, at which point one gets tempted to give them up and find some less demanding script by which to order one's actions. The price one pays for changing goals whenever opposition threatens is that while one may achieve a more pleasant and comfortable life, it is likely that it will end up empty and void of meaning.
- Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
- From the 2001 New York Times obituary for playwright Jerry Sterner.
- From Nine Lies About Work: A Freethinking Leader's Guide to the Real World by Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall
Something has gone terribly wrong with the way we view and talk about 'race' in America. For the truth is that we no longer make sense on the subject of 'race.' We have talked ourselves into a hole full of rhetorical quicksand. Our attempts to clarify merely confound, and language itself has become a trap.
- Orlando Patterson in The Ordeal of Integration (1997)