recentpopularlog in

jerryking : contradictions   7

The Man With the $13 Billion Checkbook
July 12, 2019 | The New York Times | By John Leland [John Leland, a Metro reporter, joined The Times in 2000. His most recent book is “Happiness Is a Choice You Make: Lessons From a Year Among the Oldest Old,” based on a Times series. @johnleland]

In the neglected Harlem of the late 1990s, one dynamic player was the Abyssinian Development Corporation, a nonprofit offshoot of the powerful Abyssinian Baptist Church. Harlem then was littered with abandoned buildings that had been repossessed by the city. The development corporation, led by the Rev. Dr. Calvin O. Butts III, leveraged city and private money to restore these shells, then used the profits to acquire and rehab more buildings. Mr. Walker became the organization’s chief operating officer, working out of a basement office to help bring a Pathmark supermarket to 125th Street, the anchor for what would become a thriving commercial corridor in a neighborhood that had been given up for dead.

“Working for Calvin Butts, you saw the power of the black church, the shrewd political instincts of a power player, and the dynamic at the intersection of race, power, geography and culture,” Mr. Walker said. “It gave me tremendous insight into how power at that intersection plays out, and who benefits and who doesn’t benefit.”

Mr. Walker’s time at Abyssinian also taught him what it was like to rely on foundation grants, begging the mighty patron for favors. When he left to join the Rockefeller Foundation and then Ford — and as Abyssinian boomed and busted in a new Harlem — he vowed to change this relationship.
African-Americans  capitalism  Communicating_&_Connecting  contradictions  cultural_institutions  Darren_Walker  Ford_Foundation  Harlem  inequality  museums  patronage  power_brokers  New_York_City  personal_connections  political_power  relationships  tokenism 
july 2019 by jerryking
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
To Sir, with cynicism
Sep. 04 2000 | - The Globe and Mail | KATHLEEN GALLAGHER.

Where have all the idealistic young teachers gone?

We're coming perilously close to losing them. ...... I sense a different mood. Last September, when I faced my OISE class, I began the year with a simple question: "When you shared your decision to become a teacher with the people in your life who love you, what did they say?" The answers were ambivalent at best.

With teacher-shortage terror sweeping the country, teacher candidates .......very concerned, about what their lives will look like and how they will cope with low morale in the schools. They are concerned, too, by suggestions about their inability to teach to acceptable national standards......At a time of teacher-bashing and formidable moves to bring back more rigid standards, Hollywood asks us to put our hope in hero-teachers, teachers who take on the authorities, parents, and other "bad" (jaded, tired, cynical) teachers, in order to transform the lives of unhappy, unlucky children.

I worry about the superhuman qualities that these movies tell us make "good teachers." Unlike Meryl Streep, my student teachers will not have a swelling soundtrack underscoring their actions when they find themselves facing program cutbacks and the cynicism of colleagues. Everyone loses when teaching becomes an act of individual heroism. We make schools unhappier places when we tell new teachers they're on their own, rather than encouraging them to join with experienced teachers who have developed strategies, over time, to contend with the manifold contradictory expectations placed on them.....What critics of public schools seem not to know (and what good teachers have always known) is that people generally play the roles we assign them. If we worsen conditions in classrooms -- too many students, fewer support staff -- and add affronts to teachers' professionalism, we will inevitably lead teachers to develop lower expectations of themselves. The result will be the corrosion of a truly noble profession.
Colleges_&_Universities  contradictions  cynicism  demoralization  expectations  high_schools  idealism  letters_to_the_editor  OISE  public_education  public_schools  teaching  teachers  unhappiness 
february 2015 by jerryking
Monetizing open data
September 21, 2012| Strata| by Jenn Webb

One of the big questions on everyone’s mind at this year’s Open Knowledge Festival in Helsinki, according to a report by David Meyer at ZDNet, is: Where’s the money in open data?

Ville Peltola, IBM’s innovation chief in Finland, told Meyer the situation is becoming frustrating, that he doesn’t understand why it’s so hard to properly open up data, or even just some of it. “You could have bronze, silver and gold APIs, where more data costs more,” Peltola said to Meyer. “It’s like a drug dealer. Maybe you have to solve this chicken-and-egg problem by giving samples of raw data.”

Meyer points out the real issue inherent in what Peltola is saying: “that large amounts of data are very valuable, and the companies that create them tend not to know how to realise the greatest value from them.” Peltola had an interesting idea to address this: “What if you have an internal start-up in your company tasked only with monetising your data?”

Chris Taggart, co-founder of OpenCorporates, made a more competitive argument for opening up your company’s data: it “exposes your competitors’ internal contradictions” and might inspire disruption, he told Meyer — “Most big, fat secure companies don’t have the confidence to disrupt themselves,” he said.
open_data  monetization  massive_data_sets  problems  challenges  intrapreneurship  chicken-and-egg  commercialization  APIs  disruption  complacency  contradictions 
december 2013 by jerryking
Making Sense of Ambiguous Evidence
September 2008 | HBR | A Conversation with Documentary Filmmaker Errol Morris.

The information that top managers receive is rarely unfiltered. Unpopular opinions are censored. Partisan views are veiled as objective arguments. Honest mistakes are made. The manager is then left to sort it all out and come to a wise conclusion.

Few people know how to get an accurate read on a situation like documentarian Errol Morris. He is the award-winning director of such films as The Thin Blue Line and this year’s Standard Operating Procedure, an exploration of the elusive truth behind the infamous photographs taken at Abu Ghraib prison. The Guardian has ranked him among the world’s top 10 directors, crediting him with “a forensic mind” and “a painter’s eye.”

In this article, Morris talks with HBR’s Lisa Burrell about how he sorts through ambiguous evidence and contradictory views to arrive at the real story. “I don’t believe in the postmodern notion that there are different kinds of truth,” he says. “There is one objective reality, period.” Getting to it requires keeping your mind open to all kinds of evidence—not just the parts that fit with your first impressions or developing opinions—and, often, far more investigation than one would think.

If finding the truth is a matter of perseverance, convincing people of it is something of an art, one with which Morris has had much experience not only as a documentarian but also as a highly sought-after director of TV ads for companies like Apple, Citibank, Adidas, and Toyota. He holds up John Kerry’s 2004 bid for the U.S. presidency as a cautionary tale: Kerry struck voters as inauthentic when he emphasized only his military service and failed to account for his subsequent war protest. Morris would have liked to interview him speaking in his own words—natural, unscripted material—so that his humanity, which seemed to get lost in the campaign, could emerge.
anecdotal  HBR  executive_management  CEOs  contradictions  information  information_flows  evidence_based  objective_reality  information_gaps  authenticity  sense-making  ambiguities  uncertainty  persuasion  forensics  postmodern  filmmakers  documentaries  judgment  cautionary_tales 
august 2012 by jerryking
FT.com / Comment / Op-Ed Columnists - And the magic word is ...
October 29 2010 | Financial Times | By Gillian Tett.
Innovation can be a powerful totem pole but it is not a magic wand. The
spirit of Google alone cannot “Reboot America!” overnight. That will
require a long, hard slog from politicians and voters alike; it won’t be
glamorous....in practical terms, many innovations have had a dark side.
Innovations in oil exploration have cut the price of oil; but they have
also polluted the Gulf. Meanwhile financial creativity has fuelled the
credit crisis
innovation  Tina_Brown  contradictions  financial_creativity  unintended_consequences  Gillian_Tett  revenge_effects  dark_side 
october 2010 by jerryking

Copy this bookmark:





to read