Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

Beyond Quick Fixes

We seem culturally opposed to long-term solutions.  Our healthcare system is dramatically underperforming, as is our education system.  Perhaps an infusion of targeted incentives would fix things.  It hasn’t and won’t.  The consequences of climate change and global warming include fires, storms and flooding that are massively destructive.  We provide billions of dollars in disaster […]

Coming Together

The recent week of celebrations and funeral of Queen Elizabeth II has reminded me of several other recent funerals at the Washington National Cathedral.  I live across the street from the Cathedral and I am a member of the congregation.  I was not, of course, among the invitees to these services.  However, I stood outside […]

Another Day in the Neighborhood

So, what’s going on?  The Covid 19 pandemic still kills about 500 people per day.  Monkey pox is surging.  The chronicle of the January 6th insurrection continues to astonish.  Hordes of classified documents are turning up in Florida.  Roe v. Wade was overturned.  Inflation is frustrating, and the Fed is trying to cool the economy.  […]

Two Countries

I recently read Ezra Klein’s Why We’re Polarized (Simon & Schuster, 2021).  He provides a profound analysis of identity politics, ranging from white supremacy to the politics of rage.  He provides suggested “corrections” that might ease this tension. However, consider another scenario.  The 25 states supporting Donald Trump in 2016 and 2020 agree to become […]

Forces of Greed

I have been reading much history, most recently Ada Ferrer’s Cuba: An American History (Scribner, 2021) for which she won the 2022 Pulitzer Prize for History.  She provides a panoramic view of the business of slavery. James DeWolf, a US Senator, was one of the major players in the business of slavery.  Based in Bristol, […]

Let the Liar Beware

A significant proportion of our population is scientifically illiterate.  They have no understanding of the Big Bang Theory or Darwin’s Theory of Evolution.  Actually, one quarter are functionally illiterate and only one third can perform simple arithmetic calculations.  Yet, they manage to function in life quite reasonably.  They are oblivious to scientific misinformation and disinformation. […]

Bringing Democracy Back

It seems that everyone in the country, from both the right and left, feels that the US is headed in bad directions.  The Supreme Court seems totally committed to States Rights as envisioned in the early 19th century.  Each state can make its own decisions on abortion, the environment, sexual equality and voting rights.  The […]

Lessons Learned

What happens if a fundamental tenet of life turns out to be wrong?  Does it depends on the nature of the premise or belief? How central is it to how you manage your life? Does this realization fundamentally change your subsequent behavior?  Do you become a different person than you would have become with this […]

Making a Difference

When and how do organizational change initiatives make a real and lasting difference? When there is shared recognition of existing and/or emerging value deficiencies, which requires a shared understanding of the nature of value and how the organization creates value. When there is shared agreement on the range of change alternatives that have potential to […]

Urgency & Agency

I have encountered a range of situations – in industry, government, and academia – where the financial well being of the organization is severely threatened and leadership refuses to recognize the situation and accept agency for dealing with it.  I recall one situation in academia where I asked the Provost how he would deal with […]

We Only See What We Can See

Consider two recent pieces in the New York Times: “How Animals See Themselves” by Ed Young, and “In a Parallel Universe, Another You” by Michio Kaku, both published on June 20th. Young reports that animals sense light, sounds, smells, etc. much differently than humans do.  It helps them to identify food, mates, and other means […]

Emerging Crises

I recently read Serhii Plokhy’s Atoms & Ashes (Norton, 2022), a chronicle of six nuclear disasters over several decades in America, England, Japan, and Russia, three in the military and three in electric utilities.  In all six cases, the consequences of the disaster were much worse than expected and governments did their best to cover […]

The Community of Pubs

Pubs are “public places” where we convene for drinks, meals, and often sporting events.  I always sit at the bar.  At a table, I am left to conversations with my colleagues with whom I entered the establishment or, if by myself, catching up with email with far-flung colleagues. At the bar, it is likely that […]

Democracy at Risk

Where are we headed as a country?  We were once – at least we thought – the shiny exemplar of liberal democracy.  Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness were our themes.  We understood that there would be conflicts in these pursuits, but we would work it out.  Reasonable adversaries would discuss and debates paths […]

Winning Ways

What do these three practices have in common? Selling exorbitantly-priced drugs that provide no relative health benefits, but one cannot buy particular patented drugs and devices from other suppliers Producing very expensive weapon systems that may no longer be needed, but one cannot buy these weapon systems and spare parts from other suppliers One cannot […]

Manipulation

I find it very interesting how easily people are convinced to behave in ways in conflict with their own self interests.  Advertisements for low-quality junk foods and vehicles that really will not increase your sex appeal are good examples. Advertisements for prescription drugs that may benefit a few, but are not beneficial for most people […]

Standards

I recently read Dennis Duncan’s Index, A History of the: A Bookish Adventure from Medieval Manuscripts to the Digital Age (Norton, 2022).  He provides a wonderful chronicle of the emergence of various common elements of books, and a glimpse into the notion of standards. Manuscripts were originally written in scrolls, so just one very long […]

Societal Allocation of Resources

With the proposed FY 2023 federal budget, government expenditures will grow to roughly 23% of the $26 trillion US Gross Domestic Product. Even with the proposed substantial annual tax increases on high-earners’ incomes, the offsetting tax revenues are insufficient to avoid a perpetual trillion dollar deficit each year, amounting to 5% of US GDP. This […]

Running for Election

Members of Congress have only one objective – getting reelected.  Their every utterance is focused on appealing to the voters that can get them through the primaries, if necessary, and winning in the general elections.  Many also have aspirations for higher offices.  Most have absolutely no interest in policy discussions and debates.  They have concluded […]

The Many Cultures of Academia

Recent experiences have caused me to think about contrasts among science, technology, business and policy programs in academia.  I have intensely interacted with these programs at over 50 universities in North and South America, Africa, Asia, Australia, and Europe.  My sense is that academia is an amalgam of many intellectual cultures, which do not dovetail […]