Thursday, May 26, 2022
Wednesday, May 25, 2022
As is always the case in our crazy-quilt, multiracial, multicultural country, the picture varies, depending on which kids you’re looking at. If you categorize by states, the lowest scores can be found in Alabama and New Mexico, with just 21 percent of eighth-graders reading proficiently. The best thing to say about these results is that they make the highest-scoring state—Massachusetts, with 47 percent of students proficient—look like a success story rather than the mediocrity it is.
Read all of Kay S. Hymowitz's article in City Journal.
This book is about how to communicate effectively with people who hold radically different beliefs. We live in a divided, politicized era, and we're not talking with each other. The repercussions of this are vast and deep, including the fear of speaking openly and honestly, an inability to solve shared problems, and lost friendships.
- From How to Have Impossible Conversations: A Very Practical Guide by Peter Boghossian and James Lindsay
Tuesday, May 24, 2022
Here is the Statement of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America on the removal of a panelist at their conference. The statement says she was removed for uttering a racial slur.
From what I've been able to find, the offensive word was "colored."
Perhaps litigation will result from the way the group described the incident. A "racial slur" implies that a far more offensive term was used.
We can try various management theories and strive to focus and get everything going in the same direction while recognizing that every day brings new challenges (most of which are old but we just learned of them).
All of the strategies, however, will be doomed if we do not learn to say no and to say it often and to say it to a lot of things we'd like to do.
Monday, May 23, 2022
Sunday, May 22, 2022
Saturday, May 21, 2022
Just as you can find individuals who have achieved one success after another and yet believe they are impostors, you can find members of a group with a similar record who insist their group is a victim.
All of us have individual flaws and all of us, at one point or another, may be treated adversely because of our group. If we search long enough, perhaps we can find negatives, but is that a sound use of our time?
Friday, May 20, 2022
The thesis of this book is very simple. It is that Communists are Communists. I intend to show that they are exactly what they say they are; they believe what they say they believe; their objective is the objective they have repeatedly proclaimed to all the world; their organization is the organization they have described in minute detail; and their moral code is the one they have announced without shame. Once we accept the fact that Communists are Communists, and understand the laws of their thought and conduct, all the mystery disappears, and we are confronted with a movement which is frightening in its superb organization, strategic mobility and universal program, but which is perfectly understandable and almost mathematically predictable.
- From You Can Trust The Communists (to do exactly as they say) by Dr. Fred Schwarz
Thursday, May 19, 2022
Almost everybody needs more education after high school. What they don't need is to chase after this fraudulent, destructive, antediluvian piece of paper called a BA. The thesis of my argument really is that the BA is the work of the devil.
- Charles Murray
Wednesday, May 18, 2022
The National PTA has "A Family Guide to Selecting Diverse Books."
As a un-woke child many decades ago, my reading list was filled with characters who were like me. That's why I read books and poems about pirates, eccentric doctors, slaves, highwaymen, animals, explorers, natives in the South Pacific, and Indians.
My main concern, of course, was whether it was a good story, not which group was being represented. I also had little interest in the background of the authors.
And I would have quickly spotted preaching.
Tuesday, May 17, 2022
Was smart, not brilliant. Didn't stun anyone by producing works of genius.
But when any role or assignment landed on this person's desk, it was handled in a thoroughly competent manner.
A highly reliable, low maintenance, team member.
In other words, a great team member.
The American Spectator: Rael Jean Isaac notes the elementary calculations of Francis Menton's blog on climate change.
Here are Menton's comments before the New York Climate Change Council:
You’re going to need at least 10,000 GWH of storage to back up just current usage if you replace fossil fuel generation with wind and solar. At the price of Tesla batteries, that will run you about $1.5 trillion, which is approximately the entire GDP of New York State. If you triple electricity consumption by electrifying vehicles and homes, then you must triple the storage, and it will cost at least three times GDP. And by the way, you need a battery that can store electricity all the way from summer to winter without all the energy dissipating and then discharge over the course of months. No existing battery can do that…. How could you commit us to this without any feasibility study, any detailed cost workup, let alone a demonstration project showing that it can be done?
Monday, May 16, 2022
Noah Rothman: "Why the Left Thinks It Can Change Your Mind By Changing the Language."
Sunday, May 15, 2022
Saturday, May 14, 2022
If they propose gaining the approval of an outside organization, assume that organization is already in accord with their beliefs.
If they favor following a policy, do recall that their allies wrote that policy.
If they seem offended, regard their anger as a well-rehearsed performance.
If they use specific terms, be sure to get the definitions.
Never forget that they are not there to discuss, they are there either to convert you or accept your surrender.
Wally Bock provides leadership lessons from Sir John Moore and the Rifles.
Friday, May 13, 2022
"At Amazon, after a brief exchange of greetings and chitchat, everyone sits at a table, and the room goes completely silent. Silent, as in not a word. The reason for the silence? A six-page document that everyone must read before discussion begins."
- From Working Backwards: Insights, Stories, and Secrets from Inside Amazon by Colin Bryar and Bill Carr
Thursday, May 12, 2022
More connections than cohesion.
That pretty much summed up an observation made in a portion of a study of our distracted culture.
In the past, people often connected via PTA meetings and bowling clubs, card games and Rotary clubs. But for many people in today's society, those opportunities to know a person beyond a single electronically-made connection are gone.
I don't have any magic answers but we need to pause and consider just what has been lost.
We may have the sentence without the paragraph and the message without the person.
In short, we may be losing a lot.
[Photo by Ben Kolde at Unsplash]
Of course, civilization is not only an attachment to the highest peaks of human achievement. It relies for its maintenance upon an infinitely complex and delicate tissue of relations and activities, some humble and others grand. The man who sweeps the streets plays his part as surely as the great artist or thinker. Civilization is the sum total of all those activities that allow men to transcend mere biological existence and reach for a richer mental, aesthetic, material, and spiritual life.
- From "What We Have to Lose" in Our Culture, What's Left of It: The Mandarins and the Masses by Theodore Dalrymple
Wednesday, May 11, 2022
Jonathan Turley analyzes the "when the mob is right" argument of a Georgetown law professor.
For years, I've been warning my ethics classes about the idea of particularists who alter what are supposed to be uniformly-applied standards.
They do so because it favors their family, friends, colleagues, and political associates.
Tuesday, May 10, 2022
Abe Greenwald gives a sample of her Commentary magazine contributions.
A majority of Americans want companies to stay out of politics. They want to have a separate space for where they shop, where they work, and where they invest from the places where they cast their ballots or engage in their political debates.
- Vivek Ramaswamy, author of Woke, Inc.
[Quoted in The Wall Street Journal, May 10, 2022 edition article: "Stakeholder Capitalism Criticized"]
Read the rest of the William Deresiewicz essay here.
Monday, May 09, 2022
Law professor Jonathan Turley discusses the White House's failure to denounce the protests/harassment at the homes of Supreme Court Justices.
This is not only a matter of basic decency but also one in which it is important to know the strategy. The protesters are seeking to get at the Justices through their families. The signal is home is not a sanctuary and families are not safe. [No one knows how many mentally unbalanced people are in those crowds.] The protests are also telling individuals who might disagree with them on other issues that the same strategy can be used against them.
That second part may be the key factor. If you were a judge and protesters were shouting outside of your home, would that cause you to switch your opinion or would it instead harden your position?
In my own case, it would be the latter.
Regardless of our political beliefs, we need to declare that type of behavior to be off-limits.
I believe that we as a nation would be far better served if, instead of focusing on improving the quality of college degrees, we made the knowledge represented by a high school diploma to be as impressive as it was in the Thirties and Forties.
Sam Zemurray spoke with no accent, except when he swore, which was all the time. He was a big man, six foot three, rangy, nothing but muscle and bone, with the wingspan of a condor, hooded eyes, and a crisp no-nonsense manner. If you saw him in the French Quarter, walking fast, you got out of the way. He lived uptown. If he was down here, it meant he was working.
- From The Fish That Ate the Whale: The Life and Times of America's Banana King by Rich Cohen
Sunday, May 08, 2022
Saturday, May 07, 2022
The logic of politics is not complex. In fact, it is surprisingly easy to grasp most of what goes on in the political world as long as we are ready to adjust our thinking ever so modestly. To understand politics properly, we must modify one assumption in particular: we must stop thinking that leaders can lead unilaterally.
- From The Dictator's Handbook: Why Bad Behavior Is Almost Always Good Politics by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith
Should the United States be a color blind nation? Is it important to discuss concepts of privilege and prejudice? Note: The instructor should be prepared to discuss what color blind means perhaps by citing examples of people who state, “I don’t see race.”
· The U.S. should not be a color blind nation. People should recognize individuals’ ethnicity and their own. Prejudice and privilege affect all of us in different ways. Having discussions about these concepts when they occur can help the world respond and work to end prejudice and privilege.
· If students don’t know what prejudice means, the instructor should be prepared to explain the concept to the class.
- The above is an excerpt from the guidelines on "Talking About Race and Privilege: Lesson Plan for Middle and High School Students"
[Citation: National Association of School Psychologists. (2016). [handout]. Bethesda, MD: Author.]
PLACE: Frankfurt, Germany in July 1948
- General Lucius D. Clay, military governor of the U.S. occupation zone in Germany
- Professor Ludwig Erhard, chairman of the Economic Council of the emerging West German government
Friday, May 06, 2022
CrimeReads: Olivia Rutigliano gives a top 100 ranking of the portrayals of Sherlock Holmes.
And it's hard to disagree with her #1 choice.
[Photo by Soyoung Han at Unsplash]
Wally Bock has the fascinating personal and business story of Margaret Rudkin.
The above is an obvious question, right?
Well, consider how often it is not asked, both by new employees and by those who know the organization has gone through serious changes.
If the answer cannot be given in clear language, perhaps the speaker doesn't know.
Thursday, May 05, 2022
Is the West collapsing, or is it thriving? On the evidence, it can be hard to tell. The correct answer might be some of both. In the arena of culture, the inheritance of the West is in decline; in regard to the institutions of civilization, it still advances. The meaning of this, and how it has happened, are questions that do not admit of easy answers. Will the attack on Western ideas and ideals lead to a collapse of the civilizational institutions that arose from them? Or might the continuing strength of those institutions provoke a revival of those ideas?
- James Piereson, "Culture Against Civilization" - The New Criterion, May 2022
Wednesday, May 04, 2022
For weeks after, Moscow-based state news agencies made no mention of the ongoing disaster. Nor did Communist Party General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev. Six days after the explosion, as nuclear fragments continued to rain down from Chernobyl's toxic cloud, party officials evacuated their own children to safety on the Crimean peninsula, even as they instructed Ukraine's citizens to carry on with their annual May Day parade. Just sixty miles south of Chernobyl's ground zero, thousands of people - including countless children - marched down Kyiv's main drag of Khreschatyk Street. They carried flowers, flags, and portraits of Soviet leaders, unaware that those same leaders had knowingly exposed them to the fallout of one of the worst industrial disasters in history.
- From Sandworm: A New Era of Cyberwar and the Hunt for the Kremlin's Most Dangerous Hackers by Andy Greenberg
Seems like a good moment to coin an acronym so I don't have to repeat, over and over, the same account of the pieces that make up the problem. How about "Behaviors of Users Modified, and Made into an Empire for Rent"? BUMMER.
- Jaron Lanier, Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now
Abigail Shrier on J.D. Vance and the "don't judge me" culture. An excerpt:
“It’s one thing to take an appreciation that cultural circumstances matter,” Vance said to me, of his approach. “It’s another thing to wag your finger at people and tell them the reason they’re not doing better is because they’re just making bad choices. And I think conservatives have to be able to hold two thoughts in their head at the same time: Personal responsibility does really matter; we don’t want to tell everybody that they’re a victim… But also people’s circumstances matter too.”
Tuesday, May 03, 2022
If the culprit is a lawyer, disbarment would seem a virtual certainty. This person may be a hero in the eyes of some, but will remain a pariah in the eyes of any ethical lawyer. Yet, disbarment could be the least of the problems. If a suspect lies to the FBI, there could be prosecution under 18 U.S.C. 1001.
Read the rest of Jonathan Turley's essay on the leaked Supreme Court opinion here.
The adversary today may be an ally next week. The person who once did something unkind (and most of us have been unkind more than once) may be incredibly kind and generous on another day.
Beware of any strategy which places permanent labels on people and unnecessarily alienates individuals who may be winnable. Winning them over to your side may be essential if you are going to achieve great things.
They also can be great teachers.
Monday, May 02, 2022
When analyzing the performance of a leader, it is not only important to consider the effectiveness and intent of policies, it is also important to consider the leader's personal attitude toward most of the followers. A leader who generally regards followers as selfish, ignorant, corrupt, and/or bigoted will not possess the caring that most of us assume is present. When it is discovered that caring is absent, the policies and practices become much clearer. They are not produced by an intention to harm but by absence of a key virtue which keeps one from harming.
Indeed, [Edmund] Burke presented a formidable challenge to friend and foe: a great intellect, a stunning orator, propelled by an intense inner energy that was hard to take. Burke seemed to concentrate all his capabilities in the immediate moment. If you found yourself conversing with Burke, it was said, you felt as if you were being "grazed by a powerful machine." Samuel Johnson, who yielded to no one in considering himself a great man, repeatedly praised Burke as a great man. If Burke should drop in at a blacksmith's shop to have his horse shod, Johnson said, the blacksmith would say, "We have had an extraordinary man here." Even to the domineering Johnson, Burke was an intimidating presence: "His stream of mind is perpetual." Once, when Johnson was feeling poorly, he said, "That fellow [Burke] calls forth all my powers. Were I to see Burke now, it would kill me."
- From "A Burke for Our Time" by Charles Hill [The New Criterion, May 2013]
Sunday, May 01, 2022
Saturday, April 30, 2022
A trader listened to the firm's "chief" economist's predictions about gold, then lost a bundle. The trader was asked to leave the firm. He then angrily asked the boss who was firing him, "Why do you fire me alone, not the economist? He too is responsible for the loss?" The boss: "You idiot, we are not firing you for losing money - we are firing you for listening to the economist."
- Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Tackling taboos is difficut, but necessary. Very often - MOST often - they are used not to shield strong and valid ideas from pointless attacks, but rather to protect weak ones from worthwhile criticism. The censor tends not to be an individual fully confident that he is right, but rather one who is terrified to the core that he is wrong. Only by ignoring the censor's taboos and beginning to speak can we challenge bad ideas, overcome them, and replace them with better ones.
- Wilfred Reilly, Taboo: 10 Facts [You Can't Talk About]
Jonathan Turley on the new head of the Disinformation Governance Board.
Friday, April 29, 2022
Year Zero: Wesley Yang on "Woke Capital in the Twenty-First Century." An excerpt:
"While we are accustomed to seeing culture war issues as an ideological struggle, the rise of woke capital suggests a better framing of our predicament. We are deeply mired in a class struggle. One could even compare this exercise of distant elite power to colonialism. To put it in the starkest of terms: globalized professionals and managers are on one side; regional elites and the middle classes are on the other. The stakes are high, impinging on democratic self-government and the power to define reality itself."
The above is one of the most interesting interviews I've seen.
Also check out Jaron Lanier's books:
- You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto
- Who Owns the Future?
Thursday, April 28, 2022
Organizations, like the people who run them, are flawed.
Never forget that. No matter how shining the reputation or noble the achievements, the organization is not without flaws.
All organizations need regular doses of humility blended with serious introspection. [For recent examples, look at the FBI, the CIA, Disney, The New York Times, and Harvard. Excellent in so many ways and yet capable of making mind-numbing blunders.]
David Halberstam's "The Best and the Brightest" should be assigned reading in high schools. Tuck it in with the classics by Orwell and Huxley.*
*That is unlikely to happen. The high schools are flawed.