The absurdity of a Scrabble hierarchy

“People who are very good at Scrabble are not more kind, better judges of character, more facile with soft skills, better long-term thinkers, more fun at parties or much of anything except good at Scrabble.

“Of course we don’t decide on who should have positions of authority or who should be trusted based on their skill at Scrabble. It’s simply a game.

“Perhaps the same could be true for beauty, celebrity or the acquisition of wealth.”

Or maybe, passing tests and pleasing professors?

From Seth Godin’s blog

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Douglas2’s Law

“I’ve even postulated versions of “Douglas2’s Law”, which are:
a) if you can’t get to primary sources within 3 clicks of hyperlinks (such as to a transcript or video of the talk or interview, the actual court decision, or the journal precis of the scientific paper), they are intentionally lying to you.
b) sensational articles will include links but trust that very few of their readers will actually click and read what is linked, as it nearly always contains the refutation of their headline claim.”

h/t to the Assistant Village Idiot

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I Miss Jim Lehrer

Jim Lehrer’s Rules

The long-time host of PBS NewsHour Jim Lehrer died this January 23rd at the age of 85. In this age of news as entertainment and opinion as news, Lehrer seems like one of the last of a breed of journalist who took seriously the integrity of informing the American public about important events. In a 1997 report by The Aspen Institute, Lehrer outlined the guidelines he adhered to in practicing journalism:

  1. Do nothing I cannot defend.*
  2. Do not distort, lie, slant, or hype.
  3. Do not falsify facts or make up quotes.
  4. Cover, write, and present every story with the care I would want if the story were about me.*
  5. Assume there is at least one other side or version to every story.*
  6. Assume the viewer is as smart and caring and good a person as I am.*
  7. Assume the same about all people on whom I report.*
  8. Assume everyone is innocent until proven guilty.
  9. Assume personal lives are a private matter until a legitimate turn in the story mandates otherwise.*
  10. Carefully separate opinion and analysis from straight news stories and clearly label them as such.*
  11. Do not use anonymous sources or blind quotes except on rare and monumental occasions. No one should ever be allowed to attack another anonymously.*
  12. Do not broadcast profanity or the end result of violence unless it is an integral and necessary part of the story and/or crucial to understanding the story.
  13. Acknowledge that objectivity may be impossible but fairness never is.
  14. Journalists who are reckless with facts and reputations should be disciplined by their employers.
  15. My viewers have a right to know what principles guide my work and the process I use in their practice.
  16. I am not in the entertainment business.*

In his 2006 Harvard commencement address, Lehrer reduced that list to an essential nine items (marked with an * above).

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Churches have neglected that dishonesty is a sin

Dr. Bruce G. Charlton, retired theoretical biologist and Christian blogger, had some important things to say about the Church, our management culture, and Official Science back in January:

“The real Christian churches have been pretty solid concerning the reality (and identity) of sexual sins; but have neglected dishonesty – which is surely the most pervasive sin of modernity among the middle, professional and leadership classes.

“Consequently, churches have become strategically dishonest – without awareness, hence without repentance – and this is a factor in their continuing corruption: their absorption-into The System.

“This has happened because The West has become dominated by bureaucracy; management has become the most frequent job and activity of the upper classes – and management is intrinsically dishonest in its nature and operations.

“I have seen this happen through my adult life in science, academia, education and medicine – but most strikingly in science. From 1985-2000 British science went from being almost wholly honest to being almost wholly dishonest. The corruption was earlier in other systems.

“And when the leadership have become habitually, pervasively, calculatedly dishonest – then everything will fall apart; because in a system permeated by lies and distortions, nobody knows anything about anything.”

There’s more and it’s all worth reading.

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UNIX Rules for Life

  • Keep it simple: It’s cheaper and easier to carry around.
  • Do one thing at a time: Multitasking is a lie.
  • Network: You were born to connect.
  • Say what you mean; nothing is truer than the truth.
  • Hack: Trial and error is the only way we learn anything.
  • Be who you are: Even a bent wire can carry a great light.
  • Use leverage; a bigger hammer isn’t always the answer.
  • Use what you have: never dig diamonds with a brick of gold.
  • Have faith; all’s possible, except maybe skiing through a revolving door.
  • Think ahead, but don’t worship your plans; remember today is the first day of the rest of your learning experience.
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Job Interviews

“In most cases, the best strategy for a job interview is to be fairly honest, because the worst thing that can happen is that you won’t get the job and will spend the rest of your life foraging for food in the wilderness and seeking shelter underneath a tree or the awning of a bowling alley that has gone out of business.”
— Lemony Snicket, Horseradish

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“Does anyone seriously believe the American establishment — Walmart, Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, the trustees of Ivy League universities, the major sports leagues, even Brooks Brothers, for God’s sake — would sign on to a movement that genuinely threatened its material interests? And yet these and many other firms and institutions are falling over themselves to express solidarity with the ‘uprising’, some going so far as to donate millions of dollars to Black Lives Matter, an outfit that lists among its objectives the abolition of the nuclear family.”–Sohrab Ahmari

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Seth Godin on Organizing

I’ll tell you a story about how I think about organizing.

I went to the engineering school at Tufts for college. One of the classes I took there was an invention design class.

Our first assignment was to build a case for all the freshmen to organize their tools in.

Back then, every freshman was given about 30 tools to help them do their work — things like a protractor, a mechanical pencil, and a fancy ruler. And we had to build a case for them.

The freshmen would use the case for two weeks, and then we would get a report back about whether it was useful.

Everyone else in the class spent hours and hours building these ornate, beautiful cases that had custom foam inserts that were cut out to organize just the right tool in just the right place. So you’d have a space exactly cut out for your protractor, and a space exactly cut out for your ruler. And everything would be neat and tidy and organized.
Continue reading

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The Mantra

From that supposed Welshman, Ianto Watt:

Here’s the drill, Private. The American version of Mao’s Chi-Coms are running wild, but only in Sector R (all you FireSign Theatre fans who will understand this allusion). Sector R is colored blue, if you haven’t noticed. If you’re trapped in the Blue Sector, there’s only one answer when they demand you kneel before their Black Flag. You have to tell them that only kneel before God. And God created all men. There’s only one race, the Human Race. And we’re all equally created before Him. If I were to bow before someone simply based on the difference in skin color, I would be saying there’s more than one race. My belief says that’s not true. And the name of this belief is ‘Catholic’. We’re not allowed to be willingly stupid. That’s called sin.

Catholic? Yeah, sure! You’re Catholic, too. Sure you are. You’ve been baptized, right? Well then, you’re Catholic, idiot. Don’t take offense, brother, most Catholics are idiots, too. Relax. Sure, you may see yourself as a Little ‘c’ Catholic, but that’s okay. If you’ve been baptized, we’re brothers. And Purgatory will cleanse us both (get ready, idiots). Me too. I’m an idiot as well. I’ve got plenty of my own baggage.
Continue reading

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Krulak’s law

The experience people have with your brand is in the hands of the person you pay the least.

Act accordingly.

(This involves training, trust, responsibility, leadership, dignity, authority, management and investment. It mostly means seeing the front-line people in your organization as priceless assets, not cheap cogs.)–Seth Godin

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