Writing in The Atlantic, George Packer on the withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Monday, January 31, 2022
An update from the live version.
- Robert P. George
- Who is - and is not - in the room?
- What is - and is not - being measured?
- Is everyone operating with the same dictionary and the same calendar?
- What are the real and artificial constraints?
- Which side cares the least?
- Which side is the most impatient?
- Have you fallen in love with a proposed course of action?
- What is irreversible?
- Are you solving the wrong problem?
- Are you focusing on the "whats" and glossing over the "hows"?
- Which benefit or advantage conceals a significant problem?
- Have you considered the advantage of doing nothing?
Sunday, January 30, 2022
Saturday, January 29, 2022
Friday, January 28, 2022
The problems of loneliness, social media, and alienation were already significant when the pandemic came along and made them worse.
Unless there is a direct effort to address them, I see no sign that the post-pandemic practices - the so-called new normal - will produce any improvements.
My hope is that individuals will find the solution despite various groups seeking to tug them in the wrong direction.
This may be one of those "If they give you lined paper, write against the lines" situations.
Thursday, January 27, 2022
Ambitious people understand, then, that a migratory way of life is the price of getting ahead. It is a price they gladly pay, since they associate the idea of home with intrusive relatives and neighbors, small-minded gossip, and "Middle America," as they imagine it: a nation technologically backward, politically reactionary, repressive in its sexual morality, middlebrow in its tastes, smug and complacent, dull and dowdy. Those who covet membership in the new aristocracy of brains tend to congregate on the coasts, turning their back on the heartland and cultivating ties with the international market in fast-moving money, glamour, fashion, and popular culture. It is a question whether they think of themselves as Americans at all. Patriotism, certainly, does not rank very high in their hierarchy of virtues. "Multiculturalism," on the other hand, suits them to perfection, conjuring up the agreeable image of a global bazaar in which exotic cuisines, exotic styles of dress, exotic music, exotic tribal customs can be savored indiscriminately, with no questions asked and no commitments required. The new elites are at home only in transit, en route to a high-level conference, to the ground opening of a new franchise, to an international film festival, or to an undiscovered resort. Theirs is essentially a tourist's view of the world - not a perspective likely to encourage a passionate devotion to democracy.
- From The Revolt of the Elites and The Betrayal of Democracy by Christopher Lasch [published in 1995]
I recently spoke with a friend who had been interrogated by a zealot. She thought she was going to have a conversation (remember conversations?) but the zealot was having none of that, preferring instead to mix questions with accusations.
Any responses were dismissed because zealots are not interested in hearing the other side. In their minds, there is no other side, you're either ignorant or evil. If you present a cogent argument, then you land in the second category.
My advice is not to attempt to have a conversation with anyone who's sizing you up for a re-education camp.
Wednesday, January 26, 2022
Her full nature, like that river of which Cyrus broke the strength, spent itself in channels which had no great name on the earth. But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.
- George Eliot, Middlemarch
Read the rest of Jonathan Turley's column here.
Washington Free Beacon in 2019: Did Harvard artificially boost African American rejection rates?
A few years ago, the University of California system published a document on "microaggressions." In a section titled "myth of meritocracy," one of the supposedly offensive remarks listed was "I believe the most qualified person should get the job." That statement, according to the primer on microaggressions that was also provided in the document, is a "snub" or an "insult."
- From Unassailable Ideas: How Unwritten Rules and Social Media Shape Discourse in American Higher Education by Ilana Redstone and John Villasenor
Tuesday, January 25, 2022
When I want to think about a project, one of my best strategies is to engage in an activity completely unrelated to the project - walking, yard work, etc. - so thinking about the project becomes a pleasant diversion from the task at hand.
Monday, January 24, 2022
The Washington Post: Race conscious university admission policies are going to the US. Supreme Court.
It is difficult to think of a great leader of yesteryear who would survive the scrutiny of today's cancel culture. That cruel practice discourages the participation of many capable people.
If this trend continues, we eventually will be left with a leadership pool in which raw ambition is blended with a lack of shame.
Sunday, January 23, 2022
Saturday, January 22, 2022
Friday, January 21, 2022
Thursday, January 20, 2022
Jordan Peterson on "Why I am no longer a tenured professor at the University of Toronto."
The tide is turning.
[HT: A Large Regular]
Tablet magazine: Michael Lind on "Why Ending Tenure is Only a Start." An excerpt:I have had the privilege of teaching at different times as a graduate student instructor, nontenured faculty member, or professor of practice at Yale, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, and the LBJ School at the University of Texas at Austin, which I will depart by choice in the summer of 2022 in order to write full-time. My conclusion, as an outsider with one foot on campus, is that the practices of the producers of higher education and the needs of its consumers are no longer compatible. It is in high school, not college, that American students need to learn skills that allow them to obtain good jobs, innovate, and build wealth, with the help of employer-provided training when appropriate. For most young Americans it is a waste of time and money to spend four years being socialized into the weird woke lingo and thought patterns of a small national oligarchy that the vast majority of Americans can never realistically hope to join.
In the Swiss canton of St. Gallen, near the northern banks of Lake Zurich, is a village named Bollingen. In 1922, the psychiatrist Carl Jung chose this spot to begin building a retreat. He began with a basic two-story stone house he called the Tower. After returning from a trip to India, where he observed the practice of adding meditation rooms to homes, he expanded the complex to include a private office. "In my retiring room I am by myself," Jung said of the space. "I keep the key with me all the time; no one else is allowed in there except with my permission.
- From Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport
Wednesday, January 19, 2022
Radical politics was a rising force on the campuses, and we were trying to draw attention to the dangers of what was happening while there was still some chance of arresting it. But it's now clear that we failed to stop the slide, because the political radicals on campus never had any interest in what we had to say. Their purposes were not ours. We were interested in the quality of higher education, but what they cared about was getting control of the campuses so they could use them to promote their political ideology, one so unpopular with the general public that it could not have been advanced in any other way. We got to this point not because they didn't foresee the grim result of what they were doing - the virtual destruction of higher education as we have known it - but because they did.
- John M. Ellis in The Breakdown of Higher Education: How It Happened, The Damage It Does, & What Can Be Done
Read the rest of Ilana Redstone in Tablet on "The Crisis of Moral Legitimacy."
An economist and a person who is not an economist are walking down the street. The noneconomist says, "Look, there's a $20 bill on the sidewalk!" The economist replies, "That's impossible; if it were really a $20 bill, it would have been picked up by now."
- Fred Kofman, The Meaning Revolution: Leading with the Power of Purpose
[Photo by Blogging Guide at Unsplash]
Tuesday, January 18, 2022
Check out the following books:
Nicholas Carr, The Shallows: How the Internet is Changing the Way We Think, Read, and Remember
Jaron Lanier, Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now
Cal Newport, Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World
Sherry Turkle, Reclaiming Conversation. Also see her earlier book: Life On the Screen.
[Photo by Alexandre Boucher at Unsplash]
Monday, January 17, 2022
I have a dream my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today!
- The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., August 28, 1963
Sunday, January 16, 2022
The New Statesman on how some staff parties turned into a very big event.
Saturday, January 15, 2022
Wally Bock asks a key question: "What good can we make of this?"
Rick Georges weighs in with "Why I Don't Wear a Mask Anymore."
Cultural Offering is a daily reminder of a life well lived.
[Photo by Bewakoof.com Official at Unsplash]
A leadership retreat to prepare. Two book projects. Some presentation coaching for engineers. Coaching for executives and managers. An analysis of the equal opportunity problems of a large organization. Multiple zoom meetings and follow-up actions. Billing. Marketing. Administrative chores.
And the floor around my desk is filled with books.
All of the above means nothing.
What matters is what happens in the next ten minutes.
And then the next ten.
Friday, January 14, 2022
According to this worldview, you are simply a fault line at the intersection of the tectonic plates of group identity. You aren't really a free agent in the world, but simply a member of your "group" who is supposed to advance your group's interests. Your race isn't just the color your skin happens to be. It's essential to your voice, your ideas, and your identity. This is what woke essentialism is all about: it posits that your genetically inherited attributes are the true essence of who you are.
- Vivek Ramaswamy, Woke, Inc.
One of the largest hospital systems in the United States gave race more weight than diabetes, obesity, asthma, and hypertension combined in its allocation scheme for COVID treatments, only to reverse the policy after threats of legal action.
Read the rest in The Washington Free Beacon.
The material is not sent out in advance. It is given to them at the meeting. A sizable amount of time is provided so everyone can read the report and its recommended action. The participants then discuss the proposed action and, in most cases, a decision is reached.
The approach's level of effectiveness can vary with the complexity of the decision and the quality of the report but, all in all, that is not a bad way to elicit informed discussion.
Thursday, January 13, 2022
The Washington Free Beacon: The U.S. Supreme Court decides on the vaccine mandates.
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
Wednesday, January 12, 2022
Exercising leadership is a way of giving meaning to your life by contributing to the lives of others. At its best, leadership is a labor of love. Opportunities for these labors cross your path every day, though we appreciate through the scar tissue of our own experiences that seizing these opportunities takes heart.
- From Leadership on the Line by Ronald Heifetz and Marty Linsky
Generalizations to connect the material. Examples to explain the material. Sprinkle in the new but not simply because it is new. Contrast it with previous practices and show differences, flaws or advantages. Avoid repeating what is already known but consider reminders of points they may have forgotten. [Many of us attend training to be reminded.]
Know what is essential and which items can be jettisoned in the interest of time. Omit jargon. Vary your tone. Give plenty of short breaks. Move along at a good pace.
The ending should leave audience members just a little hungry for more. They should be confident and equipped with practical knowledge that can put to immediate use.
If you are especially excited about a particular portion of the class, consider eliminating it.
Tuesday, January 11, 2022
Those of us who grew up in Arizona are like old lizards. Back in my youth - during the Grant administration - there was never any mention of sun screen. Some people, more genteel, used sun lotion to enhance their tan but the rest of us simply swam and ran about. When not contemplating Greek philosophy, we thought of avoiding sun burn.
In our autumn and winter years, however, the tally for our youthful negligence has come due. We regularly visit the dermatologist to get body portions burnt, frozen, or cut off. Fortunately, the dermatologists are sociable types and their small talk is soothing as they zap the top of your head with dry ice.
The pain doesn't kick in until you reach your car.
That will be part of today's schedule.
I have a big meeting on Thursday. I'm sure I'll look great.
Monday, January 10, 2022
"Global was born in the age of aeronautics and Sputnik, with great circles wheeling around the planet bereft of topographical restrictions. Global back then implied something visceral about movement, maintained in the world of tourism, commerce, and overnight shipping. Increasingly, however, global has become a parasitic adjective: global industries, global science, global news, global education, global exchange, global warming, global imperialism, global war on terror, global markets, global jihadism, global integration, and so on. How many globals can a person comprehend? We live in a globalized world of global globalism."
- From Digital Stockholm Syndrome in the Post-Ontological Age by Mark Jarzombek
Sunday, January 09, 2022
Saturday, January 08, 2022
Many years ago I told a large group of Human Resources professionals that they seemed to have three main roles: consultant, clerk, and cop.
I urged them to reduce the cop role while increasing the consultant one.
Areas of emphasis will change, of course, depending upon circumstances but you'll generally want to lean in the direction which provides the greatest overall effectiveness.
What is your primary role? What are the secondary ones?
A new form of misogyny is taking hold in contemporary culture. It comes in the guise of a liberationist philosophy, a transformational movement dedicated to open-mindedness. Its advocates believe they are ushering in a world in which one can be whomever one chooses to be. And in doing so, they are treating womanhood itself—the defining feature of half of humankind—as though it is a disposable commodity.
- Christine Rosen in her Commentary magazine essay, "The New Misogyny."
Friday, January 07, 2022
First Things: Glenn C. Loury on "The Case for Black Patriotism." An excerpt:
"Connections among various groups in America could be stronger if we focused more on the things we have in common than on the things that divide us. Those who make their living by focusing on our differences believe there is something fundamentally wrong with America. They're wrong. We should resist their divisive rhetoric. It is easy to overstate the racial problems facing our country, and to understate what we've achieved."
[Photo by J Dean at Unsplash]
Time magazine: When celebrities urged Electoral College members to dump Trump.
Thursday, January 06, 2022
Kurt Harden at Cultural Offering discovers that the last shoe repair shop in town has closed.
[Quick! Snag that retiree and get him to train a successor!]
We have a shoe repair shop in our Phoenix neighborhood. It's run by an immigrant from Russia. Friendly. Diligent. Does good work, but he's not young.
How many shoe repair shops are out there?
“What would you do, cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? … and when the law was down and the Devil turned round on you, where would you hide … the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws from coast to coast. Man’s laws, not God’s. And if you cut them down … do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I give the Devil benefit of law for my own safety’s sake.”
—Robert Bolt, "A Man for All Seasons”
There is a myth that most people are easy on themselves.
Reality does not support that.
With rare exceptions, people hold themselves to impossible standards. They are cold-blooded prosecutors of their most minor infractions. No statute of limitations is recognized. Stupid or cruel remarks made in elementary or high school can be quickly cited. Their most minor mistakes can be rapidly catalogued and footnoted.
The same people who would urge a friend to get real and put the past in perspective somehow lose all compassion when looking in a mirror.
If you are among this crowd, it is time to abandon those lingering regrets. They get you nowhere and are colossally unfair. You would not judge others that harshly. Stop judging yourself.
A fresh horizon awaits you.
Wednesday, January 05, 2022
- It's our policy.
- We were just following orders.
- I didn't know.
- It may be wrong but it's legal.
- We knew, but no complaint had been filed.
- When in Rome, do as the Romans do.
- We were fighting fire with fire.
- Everybody does it.
- No one told me.
- We did it, but they were worse.
- The end justified the means.
- We had no choice.
- We didn't lie. We just didn't tell the whole story.
- We used a different definition.
- I had other loyalties.
- They would have done it to me.
- We had to meet a deadline.
- It was either that or lose my job.
- No one told us to stop.
- It's for a good cause.
I am preparing a retreat for a group of executives. We'll be reviewing key leadership elements along with plenty of exercises that should stimulate debate and hone perspectives. There will be reminders as well as some items they may never have encountered because, as a notably eccentric consultant, I glean items from history, business, government, sports, and philosophy.
If they enjoy the retreat as much as I am enjoying its preparation, the event will be a success.
[Photo by Per Lööv at Unsplash]
In January 1933, when Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany, he inherited the best-led, best-trained, and arguably the most-modern army in the world. The process of creating the tactical doctrine of this army and the incorporation of this doctrine into the army's weapons, organization, and war plans are the primary concerns of this work. In the immediate aftermath of World War I, German Army leaders, on their own initiative, began to analyze the lessons of that war carefully, and they set out to create a military system that would be a great improvement on the admittedly impressive one of the old Imperial Army.
- From The Roots of Blitzkrieg: Hans von Seeckt and German Military Reform by James S. Corum
Tuesday, January 04, 2022
Althouse admits that she has not seen all of Stanley Kubrick's films.
Neither have I.
It's nice to learn that I am not the only person who has never watched "Spartacus."
A great film-maker, of course, but how many of his films would you want to watch more than once? Do I really want to see "Clockwork Orange" or "The Shining" or "Barry Lyndon" again?
On the other hand, "Dr. Strangelove" is a multi-view movie.
Common Sense: Marty Makary on "Universities' Covid policies defy science and reason."
Nice people will interrupt you. Attractive projects will distract you. Good deeds will soak up time. Needed rest will take you to bed. Sunrises. Sunsets. Clouds. Beauty. Love. Nature.
Not everything that erodes your focus is bad.
That's why life is complicated. Sometimes you need to get off track. Sometimes the track is a trench.
It's not sufficient for the senior leadership team to have real work; it also must be crystal clear to members what the ultimate purpose of the work is.
- Ruth Wageman, Debra A. Nunes, James A. Burruss, and J. Richard Hackman in Senior Leadership Teams: What It Takes to Make Them Great
Monday, January 03, 2022
The first signs of the next shift began to reveal themselves to me on a spring afternoon in the year 2000. That was when I began to notice people on the streets of Tokyo staring at their mobile phones instead of talking to them. The sight of this behavior, now commonplace, in much of the world, triggered a sensation I have experienced a few times before - the instant recognition that a technology is going to change my life in ways I can scarcely imagine. Since the practice of exchanging short test messages via mobile telephones has led to the eruption of subcultures in Europe and Asia. At least one government has fallen, in part because of the way people used text messaging. Adolescent mating rituals, political activism, and corporate management styles have mutated in unexpected ways.
- From Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution by Howard Rheingold
[Photo by Beth Macdonald at Unsplash]
Sunday, January 02, 2022
Saturday, January 01, 2022
Was it actually moral to discard the "content of our character" and "equal opportunity" principles of the prior Civil Rights movement of 60 years ago? Are their replacement fixations on the "color of our skin" and "equality of result" superior?
Read all of Victor Davis Hanson's essay in Real Clear Politics.
Universities. Elementary and high schools. Corporations. Churches. The news media. Professional organizations. Political parties. Big tech. School boards. Hollywood.
What is coming their way?
A wave of changes.
And 2022 will simply be the beginning.
[Photo by Matt Paul Catalano at Unsplash]