The Washington Free Beacon: A boycott of - not by - Yale Law School graduates.
Tuesday, October 04, 2022
It is perfectly obvious that something has gone wrong with Congress in our time. In one respect, the intensity and energy of the institution are very high at present: Congress is the scene of constant dramatic confrontations and what seem like epic battles - fights over confirmations of judges and other officials, budget showdowns, heated oversight hearings, and more. But in other respects,Congress is doing next to nothing. There hasn't been a proper budget process in over a decade, very little significant legislation gets passed, and most members serving today have never really been part of a traditional legislative process. This juxtaposition of intensity and incapacity amounts to a profound dysfunction. Whether you measure it by legislation, public approval, member satisfaction, or even just the volume of committee work or each house's ability to live by its own procedures, the Congress now looks to be in disarray.
- Yuval Levin, A Time to Rebuild
And what does Levin think is the cause? Congress is weak because its members want it to be weak. Their behavior and priorities reflect a peculiar lack of institutional ambition.
There is the document itself and the final review, then comes the formatting and the cover letter for the document and preparation of the press release and the talking points and the internal briefings and the media considerations and the follow-up plan as well as the scheduling of any periodic reviews.
When a project seems to be done, it might not really be done.
Monday, October 03, 2022
Jonathan Turley: buckle up for a wild Supreme Court term.
Glenn Harlan Reynolds on affirmative action, democracy, and the Supreme Court.
Check out Certain to Win by consultant Chet Richards. The book provides a fascinating examination of John Boyd's OODA theory and its application to business. The F-86 played an important role as Boyd's theories caught on in the Air Force.
Sunday, October 02, 2022
Saturday, October 01, 2022
The information was in an inconvenient location. No one assumed that it would be helpful. People were pressed for time (at least they thought they were) and the tendency was to focus on what everyone else was studying. Precedent had set some informal boundaries. You would have looked strange if you'd looked elsewhere.
No one wanted to look foolish and no one wanted to raise questions. As a result, the information was not reviewed.
And that neglect helped to produce a disaster.
The disasters can be so much more informative than the victories.
Friday, September 30, 2022
Thursday, September 29, 2022
There is a story about a wily bandit who was finally captured by the king's troopers. The king, a man fond of games and riddles, made the bandit a proposition. He told the bandit that he was allowed to make one statement. If that statement contained the truth he would be shot, if it contained a lie, hanged. The bandit, after some thought, said: 'I am going to be hanged'.
- Manfred F. R. Kets de Vries, Organizational Paradoxes
The hacker culture is a culture of loners who are never alone.
- Sherry Turkle, The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit
Wednesday, September 28, 2022
The rising tide of political correctness has thwarted honest discussion about the centrality of culture in shaping life outcomes. That cultures vary widely in their prioritization of education, family, and vocation has become an unspeakable proposition on the left. The reaction to a recent John McWhorter column in the New York Times that argued against abolishing social-work licensing tests on grounds of racially disparate results is a case in point. The commentary drew accusations of racism from author Ibram X. Kendi, who interpreted McWhorter’s recognition of cultural differences across race as his arguing that “there’s something wrong and inferior about Black culture.”
Read the rest of Rav Arora at City Journal.
Class Scenario: A large municipality is in the path of an oncoming major hurricane. An evacuation order has been given. Most of the residents will be leaving the area in automobiles. Over 70 percent of the cars are electric.
You are a disaster analyst. Discuss your planning efforts.
Do not let them define the boundaries. Check the definitions of key words. If they make a seemingly frank assertion, consider how its content can be distorted. Never assume that they want resolution. Let their conduct, not their words, reveal their priorities. Carefully examine your own assumptions about what is acceptable. It may be that you have tacitly accepted part of their program. Always be prepared to walk away.
Tuesday, September 27, 2022
The New York Times on what happened to Meg Smaker's "Jihad Rehab."
I've seen the film.
It is very well done. Truly thought-provoking.
There is no basis for denying it a platform at a film festival.
The people at Sundance Film Festival and Abigail Disney owe Meg Smaker (and all of us) an apology for the damage they have done to artistic freedom.
"For a teacher to have the passion of St. Paul is one thing; to have the aims of St. Paul to instruct in order to convert or capture is something else. And the higher the stakes - acceptance of the true faith, views on social justice, the belief that we should destroy American hegemony, a desire to further ethnic or racial solidarity or to advance the status of women or to celebrate and promote or despise and condemn alternative lifestyles - the greater always is the impetus to indoctrinate rather than to educate and free."
- John Agresto in The Death of Learning
Monday, September 26, 2022
Sunday, September 25, 2022
Saturday, September 24, 2022
Just before the French Revolution, Bourbon courtiers had already exchanged the aristocratic sword for the bourgeois walking stick. During the Napoleonic Wars, Wellington had to reprove his British officers for carrying umbrellas. And Beau Brummel, a shopkeeper's grandson, became the tyrant dandy who took English fashion from courtier's breeches to businessman's trousers and from the tricorne to the top hat.
- From A Nervous Splendor: Vienna 1888-1889 by Frederic Morton
"One of the great mysteries is how every elite institution, from universities to corporations to media to even Sesame Street, all spontaneously coalesced on the same narrow set of values all of a sudden."
- Antonio García Martínez
"They dwell in a world of weakened religious and family ties, and their idea of community is a website."
- Martin Gurri
Read all of Martin Gurri's essay at City Journal.
Friday, September 23, 2022
N. S. Lyons, writing in City Journal, examines whether conservatives can form a counter-culture. An excerpt:Moreover, young people living under the permanent revolution of today’s cultural mainstream often tend to be miserable. Their disillusionment opens the door to subversive second thoughts on such verities as the bulldozing of sexual and gender norms, the replacement of romance by a Tinder hellscape, general atomized rootlessness, working life that resembles neo-feudal serfdom, and the enervating meaninglessness of consumerism and mass media. In this environment, the most countercultural act is to embrace traditional values and ways of life—like the vogue among some young people for the Latin Mass. We shouldn’t be too surprised if at least a subset of those youth seeking to rebel against the Man might, say, choose to tune in to Jordan Peterson, turn on to a latent thirst for objective truth and beauty, and drop out of the postmodern Left.
During the past twenty-five years, the field of decision making has concentrated on showing the limitations of decision makers - that is, that they are not very rational or competent. Books have been written documenting human limitations and suggesting remedies: training methods to help us think clearly, decision support systems to monitor and guide us, and expert systems that enable computers to make the decisions and avoid altogether the fallible humans.
- From Sources of Power: How People Make Decisions by Gary Klein
Thursday, September 22, 2022
Google may or may not achieve these grandiose goals, but that's how the company views its role. When [Larry] Page describes Google reshaping the future of humanity, this isn't simply a description of the convenience it provides; what it aims to redirect is the course of evolution, in the Darwinian sense of the word. It's not too grandiose to claim that they are attempting to create a superior species, a species that transcends our natural form.
- From World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech by Franklin Foer
[If you haven't already read this book, I recommend putting it on your list.]
Wednesday, September 21, 2022
I once listened to a man who had gone through some horrific experiences. He said he'd decided to dedicate the rest of his life to the study of beauty.
As a young man, that mission struck me as somewhat strange.
I no longer feel that way.
[Photo by Spencer Everett at Unsplash]
Today's campus tensions are ultimately rooted in the distortion of the fundamental institutional character of the academy by an increasingly hyperaggressive culture of activism. That culture is certainly formative - it shapes the students who come under its influence. But it is not itself sufficiently formed by the overarching purpose of the institution, and so it shapes those students in ways that answer to the broader culture war and not to the purpose of the university.
- Yuval Levin, A Time to Build
Tuesday, September 20, 2022
"I know the saying is that we live in uncertain times, but that is not the case today. America's metaphorical culture war increasingly feels like a religious war, with too many crusaders and high priests and too few heretics on each side."
- Greg Lukianoff, Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate
The first day of December 2020, almost a month after the presidential election, was gray and rainy. That afternoon, the President, strugglng to come to terms with the election result, had heard I was at the White House for another meeting and sent word that I was to come see him immediately. I knew what was coming. I soon found myself standing in the President's small dining room off of the Oval Office. The President was as angry as I had ever seen him.
- From One Damn Thing After Another: Memoirs of an Attorney General by William P. Barr
Monday, September 19, 2022
The Babylon Bee: "Caving In to Demands for Diversity, SNL Hires a Funny Cast Member."
On the evening of January 13, 1913, Vienna's Bank Employees' Club gave a Bankruptcy Ball. It was the height of the pre-Lenten carnival - in mid-winter at its meanest. Ice floes shivered down the Danube, galas sparkled inside baroque portals, and the bankruptcy gambol really warmed the Viennese imagination.
- From Thunder at Twilight: Vienna 1913 - 1914 by Frederic Morton
Sunday, September 18, 2022
Saturday, September 17, 2022
Friday, September 16, 2022
In reading large numbers of news stories about immigration over the years, I have seen many stories about the immigrants, the policy makers, and the border patrol.
The group that is usually missing is both large and important. Its ranks contain the people who have legally applied for admission but remain in their countries, awaiting permission to come.
I just finished reading "All for Nothing" by Walter Kempowski, an excellent novel about a German family in east Prussia near the end of World War II.
Some other unusual WWII novels that I highly recommend:
- "The Time of the Assassins" by Godfrey Blunden
- "Life With a Star" by Jiri Weil
- "Mendelssohn Is on the Roof" by Jiri Weil
- "The Balkan Trilogy" by Olivia Manning
- "The Levant Trilogy" by Olivia Manning
- "An Operational Necessity" by Gwyn Griffin
Thursday, September 15, 2022
It's a busy world. So what?
- Read the minutes.
- Research the subject.
- Consider the counter-arguments.
- Understate your case.
- Coordinate with possible allies.
- Be patient.
- Check precedents.
- Review definitions.
- Challenge the assumptions.
Get curious. Be patient.
Don't run down to win a battle when you can walk down and win the war.
[Photo by Duane Mendes at Unsplash]
Wednesday, September 14, 2022
Tuesday, September 13, 2022
They call at all hours with a thousand problems, and our satellites fix their locations to the square foot while our operators try to help them or put them in touch with specialists who can. They call because they've fallen and can't stand up, because they're alone and choking on their food, because they've been abandoned by their mates, because they smell gas, because their babies won't nurse, because they've forgotten how many pills they've swallowed, and sometimes because they're afraid that we're not here and crave reassurance in case they need us later. It's a costly service - sixty dollars a month for the Palladium Global Access package, not including the optional Active Angel Plan, which remotely coaches users through more than six hundred common Life Challenges, from administering infant CPR to negotiating the purchase of a home - and clients deserve to know we're at our stations even when the skies are fair and blue.
- From The Unbinding by Walter Kirn
Monday, September 12, 2022
A draft will go off to the team tonight, perhaps earlier. I've been the primary investigator and it has been the sort of investigation that is not regarded as one but truly is and so I've had more time than is usually the case when clients are barking to be thorough but fast.
When, in reality, you can have one or the other.
But the subject has been fascinating because it involves issues of real importance - pythons that will choke you if they are allowed to grow stronger - and I hope to prevent that.
How did it get to this point? People got busy with other things and forgot the jungle is always out there.
Sunday, September 11, 2022
Saturday, September 10, 2022
"If there is a single theme that joins the essays in this book, it is my attempt to defend, and, as well as I can, to enact, a certain conception of the self. It is one that I have come to think of as the modern self, a self that emerged in the Renaissance, reached its zenith in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and appears now to be passing into history. In other words, the individual: developed in solitude, in fearless dialogue, by reading, through education as the nurturing of souls; embodied in original art and independent thought; beset by the online cacophony, by education as the manufacture of producers, by groupthink and the politics of groups. To be an individual, the years have taught me, takes a constant effort. These essays are an offering to those who wish to be one, too."
- William Deresiewicz
At the foundation of every successful accountability discussion lies safety. When others feel unsafe, you can't talk about anything. But if you can create safety, you can talk with almost anyone about almost anything - even about failed promises.
- From Crucial Accountability: Tools for Resolving Violated Expectations, Broken Commitments, and Bad Behavior by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler
- The Sorrow and the Pity
- Schindler's List
- To Kill a Mockingbird
- The Third Man
- Stand and Deliver
- Citizen Kane
- The Matrix
- The Green Mile
- Lawrence of Arabia
- The Pawnbroker
- Dr. Zhivago
- The Apartment
- Do The Right Thing
- Mr. Jones
- The Inner Circle
- The Help
- The Talented Mr. Ripley
- A Most Wanted Man
- The Ides of March
- Nobody's Fool
- Gone With the Wind
- A Man for All Seasons
- Guns at Batasi
- Ryan's Daughter
- The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman
- A Few Good Men
- Breaker Morant
- The Godfather
- The Cider House Rules
- A Clockwork Orange
- Empire of the Sun
- The Battle of Algiers
- The Verdict
- Cry, The Beloved Country
- The Bridge on the River Kwai
- 12 Angry Men
- Judgment at Nuremberg
- Paths of Glory
- The Searchers
- The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
- Up in the Air
- It's a Marvelous Life
- Sophie's Choice
- Minority Report
- Anatomy of a Murder
- Stalag 17
- Woman in Gold
- Nowhere in Africa
- A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
- The Firm
- Hotel Rwanda
- Ex Machina
- Groundhog Day
- Inherit the Wind
- Lord Jim
- The Last Hurrah
- A Good Man in Africa
- The Dead Poet's Society
- The Last Metro
- Margin Call
- Mountains of the Moon
- Of Mice and Men
- Sullivan's Travels
- Zero Dark Thirty
- The Truman Show
- Saving Private Ryan
- The Shawshank Redemption
- 3:10 to Yuma
- High Noon
- Fiddler on the Roof
- Witness for the Prosecution
When the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO Act) became law in 1970, the American Mafia was demolished with striking ease. In the course of the 1980s, twenty-three bosses from around the country were convicted, along with thirteen underbosses and forty-three captains. The network had made the fatal mistake of becoming the hierarchy depicted in the movies.
- From The Square and the Tower by Niall Ferguson
Friday, September 09, 2022
The new bloke's name was Roper. Soon as I set eyes on him I knew he'd never make a salesman. He was about twenty-four and not very tall, and he'd a pink face with a long pointed nose and blond hair slicked straight back with the pink puckered skin of a scar running up into the roots of it. The scar looked odd on him somehow: he didn't seem the kind of chap who'd have a scar like that. You'd never think he'd been to sea. That's how he got the scar: a lascar with a bottle in Marseille.
-From Of Love and Hunger by Julian Maclaren-Ross
Thursday, September 08, 2022
Wednesday, September 07, 2022
Anyone who claims the valley is meritocratic is someone who has profited vastly from it via nonmeritocratic means like happenstance, membership in a privileged cohort or some concealed act of absolute skulduggery.
- Antonio Garcia Martinez
"Maclean and Burgess fled from Maclean's house in Tatsfield to Southhampton, where they boarded the pleasure boat Falaise to Saint-Malo - a service that did not require passports - proceeding by train from Rennes to Paris to Berne, where they were issued with false passports by the Soviet embassy. In Zurich the two men boarded a plane bound for Stockholm via Prague, but at the Czech capital they changed planes and flew to Moscow. Two of the five birds had flown simply because MI5's counterespionage department lacked the resources to maintain surveillance at weekends."
- From The Square and the Tower: Networks and Power, From the Freemasons to Facebook by Niall Ferguson
"Instead, when night fell, the NYPD went home. During almost any twenty-four hour period, shootings in the city peaked between 8 p.m. and 4 a.m., but the vaunted Narcotics Division went off-duty at 7 p.m. And I heard all the reasons why: The courts weren't equipped to process the arrests quickly enough at night, so the waiting would drive up overtime costs; the cops had to be able to identify suspects out on the street, but they don't see well enough in the dark; the last thing anybody wanted was for a cop to find himself in the middle of a gun battle in the wee hours of the morning. Oh, and somehow that all meant they couldn't work weekends either."
- From The Crime Fighter: How You Can Make Your Community Crime Free by Jack Maple with Chris Mitchell
Tuesday, September 06, 2022
Read all of Kenny Xu's essay in City Journal.
Monday, September 05, 2022
We live on the surface of our planet. Human life happens on a shell as thin, relative to the size of the earth, as an egg's, or as thin as the paint on a wall. We have lifestyles on the surfaces of our lives: habits and culture, clothes, modes of transit, calendars, papers in wallets, ways of killing time, answers to the question "What do you do?" We come home from long days of doing what we do and tuck ourselves under the thin sheets. We read stories printed on even thinner paper. Why, at the end of the day, do we read stories?
- Jonathan Safran Foer in his introduction to The Street of Crocodiles and Other Stories by Bruno Schulz
Why are there so many people who cannot read cursive? Let us count the reasons. An excerpt from Education Week:
“One of the things we heard from teachers around the country—in some cases, obviously not all—was that sometimes cursive writing takes an enormous amount of instructional time,” she said. “You could be spending time on other things rather than students practicing cursive writing. It’s really a matter of emphasis.”
[Photo by Sincerely Media at Unsplash]
Sunday, September 04, 2022
Saturday, September 03, 2022
My wife and I made the move to Austin,Texas, in the way of middle-class American migrants. We rented a Ford Taurus at the airport, bought an Austin map at a U-Tote-Um quick stop, and toured the city in search of a place to live. We didn't have a list of necessities - granite countertops or schools with killer SATs - as much as we had a mental image of the place we belonged. We drove and when a place felt comfortable, seemed right, my wife, the daughter of one of Kentucky's last New Deal liberals, drew a smiley face on the map.
- From The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America is Tearing Us Apart by Bill Bishop
[Update: Typos corrected. Editor flogged.]