Saturday, September 18, 2010

"Hurt people hurt people"

---David Hooker, a black community-builder, recounting an incident in an Oxford, Miss. bar; from a CS Monitor story Beyond racism: lessons from the South on racial discrimination and prejudice, Sep 18, 2010. (This article is part of the cover-story package for the Sept. 20, 2010 issue of The Christian Science Monitor weekly magazine. The weekly is well worth having - subscribe!)

Mr. Hooker, who lives in Atlanta and teaches at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Va., stepped into the Ajax bar to order some food. A white Mississippian sitting at the bar said to no one in particular, but within Hooker's earshot, "I remember when they didn't let niggers in here."
Recounting the episode, Hooker says he replied, "That was crazy, wasn't it? I remember that, too."
Hooker adds: "He kind of looked at me, like, 'What do you mean? You're not going to be offended?' "
The two ended up having a 45-minute chat that spanned the election of Obama, the Ole Miss football team, and hopes for their kids. "He was asking to have a conversation about race – he just didn't quite know how," says Hooker. "The reason I could hear that as an invitation is because I constantly remind myself that hurt people hurt people – they're exposing you to a place of their own pain."
Times are changing, it seems, though not in the way Northerners might imagine. Willie Griffin, an entrepreneur who moved back South is quoted as saying, "If there's prejudice today, it's more of a class thing than a racial thing."

Friday, September 17, 2010

"Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man."

--- Francis Bacon, in the essay "On Studies", found via a lecture by Brooks Landon on "The Rhythm of Threes" in his Teaching Company course Building Great Sentences: Exploring the Writer's Craft.

This short essay is packed with wonderful quotes; it short, and bears reading in full.  Here are a few that jumped out at me:
Studies serve for delight, for ornament, and for ability. Their chief use for delight, is in privateness and retiring; for ornament, is in discourse; and for ability, is in the judgment, and disposition of business
Read not to contradict and confute; nor to believe and take for granted; nor to find talk and discourse; but to weigh and consider.
Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man.
Histories make men wise; poets witty; the mathematics subtile; natural philosophy deep; moral grave; logic and rhetoric able to contend.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

"Innovation is unnatural"

--- The Economist's Schumpeter columnist, in  review (Aug 30, 2010) of “The Other Side of Innovation: Solving the Execution Challenge” by Vijay Govindarajan and Chris Trimble ("G&T")

From the piece:
G&T say that you need to start by recognising that innovation is unnatural. Established businesses are built for efficiency, which depends on predictability and repeatability—on breaking tasks down into their component parts and holding employees accountable for hitting their targets. But innovation is by definition unpredictable and uncertain. Bosses may sing a pretty song about innovation being the future. But in practice the heads of operational units will favour the known over the unknown.
G&T argue that companies need to build dedicated innovation machines. These machines need to be free to recruit people from outside (since big companies tend to attract company men rather than rule-breakers). They also need to be free from some of the measures that prevail in the rest of the company. But they must avoid becoming skunk works. They need to be integrated with the rest of the company—they must share some staff, for example, and they must tap into the wider company’s resources as they turn ideas into products. And they must be tightly managed according to customised rather than generic rules. For example, they should be held accountable for their ability to learn from mistakes rather than for their ability to hit their budgets.

Sounds good, but it's easy to give recipes. Still, it's a good quote

Sunday, September 05, 2010

"A neoconservative is a liberal who has been mugged by reality"

--- attributed passim to Irving Kristol, cited to Two Cheers for Capitalism (1979) at's page on Kristol.

I heard Peter Berkowitz mention it in a Philosopher's Zone program about Leo Strauss and the state of American conservatism.

I wouldn't say I've been mugged by reality yet, but I definitely feel like I'm walking in a rough neighborhood...