cartoon by clay bennett
End the University As We Know It: Mark Taylor presents a scathing indictment of universities, condemning them as part of the cause of the economic crisis we face today, and proposing six radical reforms (most important: reorganize into multidisciplinary teams focused on real problems, rather than by ‘faculties’. Thanks to Bill Shutkin (from an address at BALLE yesterday) for the link.
Ask How That Makes the World Better: Dave S trashes ‘outcome-based [performance] measurement’ and proposes it be replaced in most cases and organizations with ‘impact-based measurement’.
Tearing Down Mountains to Fuel Power Plants: Magpie photographs the horrific results of mountaintop removal by Big Coal in Virginia and West Virginia. I learned today that the annual subsidies to the Big Energy conglomerate in the US exceed $250B, which is almost twice the size of the $150B subsidies to Big Agriculture, the second biggest beneficiary of government corporate welfare (excluding the recent bailouts). Your tax dollars at work.
Earnings of S&P 500 Plummet to 100-year-low: The price/earnings ratio of the Standard and Poors 500 listed US public companies is now over 120, six times historical average. That means either earnings will have to rise six times to justify this price, or the price will have to fall to one-sixth current levels. But they tell us the recession is over. Thanks to Dale for the link.
Pollution Alters Your DNA: New research suggests that many environmental and auto-immune diseases are brought on by changes in our DNA caused by chronic exposure to pollutants. Thanks to Tree for the link.
Tim O’Reilly on Following Your Passion: Yet another article espousing the views in my book. O’Reilly says “Work on something that matters to you more than money… We need to build an economy in which the important things are paid for in self-sustaining ways rather than as charities to be funded out of the goodness of our hearts.” Thanks to David Gurteen for the link.
You know, if it doesn’t start serving up pellets again soon, I’m totally gonna stop obsessively pushing that button.
Thoughts for the Week:
What if we could mashup information, and even ideas? When DJ Earworm produces a song mashup, what he’s essentially doing is taking up to 25 pieces of very different information (none of them his own), changing the ‘tempo’ and ‘key signature’ of each to match, laying down one of them as the ‘bass line’, and then pasting appropriate pieces of the other 24 into a ‘score’ that has cohesion and flow to it, something better than any of the individual pieces. Why can’t we do the same thing with diverse information and ideas of other kinds? If we listened to the information and ideas of others with an ear to synthesizing them instead of criticizing them, of reproducing them usefully for others instead of internalizing them for our own use, what magic might we be able to produce?
Tucked away in our subconscious minds is a vision- an idyllic vision in which we see ourselves on a long journey that spans an entire continent. We’re traveling by train and, from the windows. we drink in the passing scenes of cars on nearby highways, of children waving at crossings, of row upon row of cotton and corn and wheat, of flatlands and valleys, of city skyline and village halls.
But uppermost in our conscious minds is our final destination-for at a certain hour and on a given day, our train will pull into the station with bells ringing, flags waving, and bands playing. And once that day comes, our lives will fit together like a completed jigsaw puzzle. So, restlessly, we pace the aisles, and count the miles, peering ahead, cursing the minutes for loitering, waiting, waiting, for the station,,
“Yes, when we reach the station that will be it,” we cry. “When we’re eighteen! When we buy that new 450 SL Mercedes! When we put the last kid through college! When we win that promotion! When we pay off the mortgage! When we retire! Yes, from that day on, like the hero and heroines of a child’s fairy tale, we will live happily ever after.
Sooner or later, however, we must realize there is no station, no one place to arrive at once and for all. The journey is the joy.
The station is an illusion- it constantly outdistances us. Yesterday’s a memory; tomorrow’s a dream. Yesterday belongs to history; tomorrow belongs to God. Yesterday’s a fading sunset; tomorrow a faint sunrise. So, shut the door on yesterday and throw the key away, for only today is there light enough to live and love. It isn’t the burdens of today that drive men mad. Rather, it’s regret over yesterday and fear of tomorrow. Regret and fear are the twin thieves who rob us of that Golden Treasure we call today, this tiny strip of light between the two nights.
“Relish the moment” is a good motto, especially when coupled with Psalm 118:24, “This is a day the Lord hath made, we will rejoice and be glad in it.”
So stop pacing the aisles and counting the miles. Instead, swim more rivers, climb more mountains, kiss more babies, count more stars. Laugh more and cry less. Go barefoot more oftener. Eat more ice cream. Ride more merry go rounds. Watch more sunsets. Life must be lived as we go along. The station will come soon enough.