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What would Plato make of Boris Johnson?
June 22nd 2019 | the Economist | by Bagehot.

Classics (Literae Humaniores) is a wide-ranging degree devoted to the study of the literature, history, philosophy, languages and archaeology of the ancient Greek and Roman worlds. It is one of the most interdisciplinary of all degrees, and offers the opportunity to study these two foundational ancient civilisations and their reception in modern times. The degree also permits students to take extensive options in modern philosophy......

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++Mr Johnson’s failure to get a first continues to annoy him intensely—and to delight many of his rivals. But in truth it doesn’t matter a jot: the world is full of failures who got firsts, and successes who missed out. The really interesting question is not whether Mr Johnson’s results reveal some great intellectual weakness. It is what light the subject of his studies can throw on his qualifications to be prime minister. The classics corpus is full of meditations on the qualities that make for a good leader. And no classical author thought more profoundly about the subject than Plato, the philosopher who was put at the heart of Oxford’s classics syllabus by Balliol’s greatest master, Benjamin Jowett. What would Plato have made of the classicist who appears destined to be Balliol’s fourth prime minister since 1900?.....In “The Republic”, Plato argued that the most important qualities in a statesman were truthfulness and expertise. A good statesman will “never willingly tolerate an untruth”. (“Is it possible to combine in the same character a love of wisdom and a love of falsehood?” one of Plato’s characters asks. “Quite impossible,” comes the reply.) He will spend his life studying everything that he needs to make him a good captain of the ship of state—“the seasons of the year, the sky, the stars, the winds and other professional subjects”. .......By contrast, Plato argued, the surest signs of a bad leader are narcissism and self-indulgence. The poor statesman is an eloquent flatterer, who relies on his ability to entertain the masses with speeches and comic turns, but doesn’t bother to develop a coherent view of the world. Plato was particularly vitriolic about the scions of the upper classes who are offered the opportunity to study philosophy while young but don’t apply themselves, because they think they are so talented that they needn’t earn their place at the top table.......“The Republic” is haunted by the fear that democracies eventually degenerate into tyrannies. Democracy is the most alluring form of government: “the diversity of its characters, like the different colours in a patterned dress, make it look very attractive.” But it is inherently unstable. Citizens are so consumed by pleasure-seeking that they beggar the economy; so hostile to authority that they ignore the advice of experts; and so committed to liberty that they lose any common purpose......As democracies collapse under the pressure of their contradictions, panicked citizens look for salvation in a demagogue. These are men who love power, but cannot control their own desires for “holidays and dinners and parties and girlfriends and so on”. Plato calls them the “most wretched of men because of the disorder raging within them”. Citizens are so consumed by fear that they think these wretches have magical abilities to solve the country’s problems and restore proper order. Demagogues get their start by “taking over a particularly obedient mob”, before seizing control of the country. But the more power they acquire the worse things become, “for the doctor removes the poison and leaves the healthy elements in the body, while the tyrant does the opposite.”

The shadow on the wall
Democracies have proved more durable than Plato imagined. And his cure for the problems of democracy—the rule of philosopher-kings, who are expected to hold their wives and children in common—is eccentric to put it mildly. But he is right that character matters. Politicians can change their advisers or their policies, but character is sticky. He is also right that democracies can suddenly give way to populist authoritarianism...... The best way to prepare for a Johnson premiership is to re-read “The Republic”, hoping Plato is wrong but preparing for the fact that he may be right
Boris_Johnson  character_traits  contradictions  demagoguery  democracies  Greek  humanities  leaders  leadership  liberal_arts  opposing_actions  Oxford  pairs  philosophers  Plato  politicians  Romans  statesmen  truth-telling  United_Kingdom 
july 2019 by jerryking
Michael Moritz, the tech investor backing books
March 1, 2019 | Financial Times | by Richard Waters.

Michael Moritz, the biggest individual investor in funds managed by Sequoia Capital, the blue-chip venture capital firm where he has worked since 1986. Forbes estimates his wealth at $3.4bn, but Moritz himself puts it “a bit higher”.

Some of that wealth was put to work this week when Crankstart, the charity he set up with his wife, Harriet Heyman, agreed to provide financial backing for the Booker Prize, one of the top awards for English language fiction, for the next five years......Moritz continues to court controversy, writing approvingly in the Financial Times of the relentless pace of Chinese tech start-ups, where workers put in so many hours they barely see their children. He contrasted them with “soul-sapping” debates about work/life balance in the US, calling them “concerns of a society that is coming unhinged”.

It is tempting to ascribe his success as an investor to tireless networking, luck and timing....entrepreneur Randy Adams tipped him off to Yahoo, which was creating one of the first web indices. That led him to Google. He took over leadership of Sequoia from Don Valentine — one of Silicon Valley’s first start-up investors — in the mid-1990s.

The firm then moved well beyond its venture capital roots, setting up arms to manage family endowments and handle public market investments. While he was at the helm, it became the most successful foreign start-up investor in China. “We understood that the world had changed and that Silicon Valley was not going to be the centre of the universe for the next 50 years,”....he still works full time making investments and sits on 10 corporate boards.

Through Crankstart, Sir Michael and his wife have made substantial gifts to education, including £75m in 2012 to fund scholarships for the poorest students at Oxford university, where he was an undergraduate. He said that the financial support his father had been given after fleeing Nazi Germany as a teenager was his motivation.....After funding some of the world’s most disruptive companies, it might seem perverse that Sir Michael is now backing something as traditional as a literary prize. But he says: “Like music and video, I think the future is brighter than the past.” Printed book sales are rising again, and audio books allow readers to consume them in new forms. “The novel is the underpinning of many forms of entertainment,” he says. “I don’t think anyone’s lost their appetite for good storytelling.”
books  charities  contrarians  Don_Valentine  fiction  Google  investors  Man_Booker  Michael_Moritz  Oxford  novels  philanthropy  prizes  Richard_Waters  Sequoia  sponsorships  venture_capital  vc  Yahoo 
march 2019 by jerryking
Donors should propel Oxford down the Ivy League diversity road
May 26, 2018 | Financial Times | David Lammy.

Elite Eastern institutions are using aggressive outreach campaigns to attract applicants who might otherwise be unaware of the schools’ generous financial-aid packages.
diversity  Colleges_&_Universities  outreach  Oxford  applicants  economically_disadvantaged  United_Kingdom  alumni  admissions  minorities  Black_British  donations  donors  Ivy_League 
may 2018 by jerryking
Roger Bannister, athlete, 1929-2018
March 4, 2018 | FT | by Pat Butcher and Matthew Garrahan. 10 HOURS AGO
obituaries  athletes_&_athletics  doctors  Oxford  trailblazers  running 
march 2018 by jerryking
Nick Bostrom: ‘We are like small children playing with a bomb’
Sunday 12 June 2016 | Technology | The Guardian | by Tim Adams.

Sentient machines are a greater threat to human existence than climate change, according to the Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom.

Bostrom, a 43-year-old Swedish-born philosopher, has lately acquired something of the status of prophet of doom among those currently doing most to shape our civilisation: the tech billionaires of Silicon Valley. His reputation rests primarily on his book Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies, which was a surprise New York Times bestseller last year and now arrives in paperback, trailing must-read recommendations from Bill Gates and Tesla’s Elon Musk. (In the best kind of literary review, Musk also gave Bostrom’s institute £1m to continue to pursue its inquiries.)
artificial_intelligence  dangers  books  Oxford  risks  machine_learning  deep_learning  catastrophic_risk  existential 
march 2017 by jerryking
British Politics Gives a Sense of Government by Old School Chums - The New York Times
LYALLJULY 7, 2016
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United_Kingdom  Brexit  Oxford  elitism 
july 2016 by jerryking
Private equity firm offers farmers relief
Joelle Faulkner may have grown up on a dairy farm, but she never thought that she would end up in the agriculture business.She studied at Oxford, Stanford and the University of Western Ontario. She
private_equity  Rhodes  farming  women  agriculture  Oxford  UWO  venture_capital  Joelle_Faulkner 
april 2016 by jerryking
The test of true political leadership is to risk change - The Globe and Mail
BRIAN MULRONEY
Contributed to The Globe and Mail
Published Thursday, May. 28 2015

The most essential ingredient for any “Big Idea,” however, is leadership.

Leadership that not only anticipates the need for change but is determined to implement change. Not in pursuit of popularity but to serve the national interest.

The test of true leadership hinges on judgments between risk and reward.

Change of any kind requires risk, political risk. It can and will generate unpopularity from those who oppose change. The choice for Canada or the United Kingdom in a fast-changing global environment is either to adapt quickly and take advantage of the changes happening or watch from the sidelines....As Reinhold Niebuhr reminded us: “Nothing worth doing is completed in our lifetime; therefore, we must be saved by hope. Nothing fine or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore, we must be saved by faith.”(jk: the importance of having a long-term vision & exhibiting faith in pursuing it).

It is in this perspective that great and controversial questions of public policy must be considered.

History tends to focus on the builders, the deciders, the leaders – because they are the men and women whose contributions have shaped the destiny of their nations, here and around the world.

From the bloodied sands of Afghanistan to the snows and waters of the High Arctic, the Canada of 50 years from now will be defined by the leadership we are given today.
Brian_Mulroney  speeches  Oxford  leadership  politicians  Cold_War  9/11  NAFTA  '80s  history  leaders  risks  transformational  courage  political_risk  fast-changing  free-trade  public_policy 
may 2015 by jerryking
Confessions of a white Oxbridge male - FT.com
October 24, 2014 10:27 am
Confessions of a white Oxbridge male
Simon Kuper
Oxford  elitism  social_classes  Colleges_&_Universities  Cambridge 
october 2014 by jerryking
‘In the Light of What We Know,’ by Zia Haider Rahman - NYTimes.com
By AMITAVA KUMARAPRIL 11, 2014

IN THE LIGHT OF WHAT WE KNOW
By Zia Haider Rahman
497 pp. Farrar, Straus & Giroux. $27.
books  book_reviews  novels  fiction  elitism  cosmopolitan  Wall_Street  Oxford 
june 2014 by jerryking
Real estate titan in search of the next Brazil
September 14, 2013 | G&M | TARA PERKINS
Daniel Fournier, chief executive of Ivanhoe Cambridge
commercial_real_estate  real_estate  Ivanhoe  CEOs  Oxford  Rhodes 
september 2013 by jerryking
Take one philanthropist plus one hedge fund - FT.com
June 2, 2013 | FT | By Emma Boyde.

the Pershing Square Foundation has announced a gift of £4.5m to Saïd Business School at Oxford university....The gift will fund up to five scholars a year on Saïd’s “1+1” programme, which allows students to study an MBA and an Oxford university specialist master’s degree in two years. The gift will be matched by a further £3m from the Oxford Graduate Scholarship Matched Fund.
philanthropy  Oxford  hedge_funds  business_schools  William_Ackman  money_management 
june 2013 by jerryking
The price of admission - FT.com
October 19, 2012 5:03 pm
The price of admission

Gillian Tett By Gillian Tett
admissions  Gillian_Tett  Ivy_League  Oxford  elitism  Colleges_&_Universities  SUNY  cutbacks  alumni 
october 2012 by jerryking
Adebayo Ogunlesi: CSFB's global-banking chief -- Printout -- TIME
Dec. 02, 2002
Adebayo Ogunlesi: CSFB's global-banking chief
By Sean Gregory
Oxford  HBS  investment_banking  Nigerians  CSFB  profile  J.D.-M.B.A. 
may 2012 by jerryking
Taking British schools back to the future - The Globe and Mail
elizabeth renzetti
London— From Saturday's Globe and Mail
Published Friday, Feb. 24, 2012
education  Oxford  schools  innovation 
february 2012 by jerryking
FT.com / Columnists / Lucy Kellaway - ‘No one wants to hire my clever daughter’
By Lucy Kellaway

January 9 2007 17:28 | Last updated: January 9 2007

No, there is no point in asking for feedback. Most interviewers can’t or won’t explain their decisions, and why should they? They are not running a careers advice service and giving reasons simply invites future lawsuits.
Oxford  public_relations  hiring  feedback  interviews  decision_making  daughters 
october 2011 by jerryking
Margaret MacMillan’s multiplicity
Oct. 08, 2010 | The Globe and Mail | MARGARET MacMILLAN
reading  books  historians  Oxford  Margaret_MacMILLAN 
october 2010 by jerryking
Battling the homework juggernaut
Tralee Pearce. The Globe and Mail. Toronto, Ont.: Feb 26, 2008. pg. L.3
Light in the Attic Learning,
tutoring  Oxford  Kumon  Sylvan 
march 2009 by jerryking
Private tutoring services on rise ; Study warns of 'two-tier' education;
Elaine Carey Demographics Reporter. Toronto Star. Toronto, Ont.: Aug 17, 2002. pg. B.02
tutoring  Oxford  Kumon  Sylvan 
march 2009 by jerryking
Oxford Analytica - News - The President's Daily Brief and the Oxford Analytica Daily Brief
June 16, 2004 by David R. Young, Managing Director of Oxford
Analytica, lays out OA's goal of provide the decision-maker with the
best available analysis as close to the event as possible. OA has over
35 governments and 120 major financial institutions and corporations as
clients.
Oxford  Oxford_Analytica  briefing  memoranda  writing  PDB  filetype:pdf  media:document 
february 2009 by jerryking

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