jerryking + david_brooks   205

Opinion | The Meritocracy Is Ripping America Apart
Sept. 12, 2019 | - The New York Times | By David Brooks.

savage exclusion tears the social fabric.

There are at least two kinds of meritocracy in America right now. Exclusive meritocracy exists at the super-elite universities and at the industries that draw the bulk of their employees from them — Wall Street, Big Law, medicine and tech. And then there is the more open meritocracy that exists almost everywhere else.

In the exclusive meritocracy, prestige is defined by how many people you can reject....The more the exclusivity, the thicker will be the coating of P.C. progressivism to show that we’re all good people.

People in this caste work phenomenally hard to build their wealth......People in this caste are super-skilled and productive.....These highly educated professionals attract vast earnings while everybody else gets left behind......Parents in the exclusive meritocracy raise their kids to be fit fighters within it....affluent parents invest on their kids’ human capital, over and above what middle-class parents can afford to invest......the Kansas Leadership Center. The center teaches people how to create social change and hopes to saturate the state with better leaders. But the center doesn’t focus on traditional “leaders.” Its mantra is: “Leadership is an activity, not a position. Anyone can lead, anytime, anywhere.” The atmosphere is one of radical inclusion.....People in both the exclusive and open meritocracies focus intensely on increasing skills. But it’s jarring to move from one culture to the other because the values are so different. The exclusive meritocracy is spinning out of control. If the country doesn’t radically expand its institutions and open access to its bounty, the U.S. will continue to rip apart.
Big_Law  caste_systems  Colleges_&_Universities  David_Brooks  elitism  exclusivity  hard_work  human_capital  inequality  law_firms  leadership  medicine  meritocracy  op-ed  parenting  political_correctness  social_classes  social_exclusion  social_fabric  social_impact  social_inclusion  society  technology  values  Wall_Street  winner-take-all 
5 days ago by jerryking
Opinion | How Artificial Intelligence Can Save Your Life
June 24, 2019 | The New York Times | By David Brooks.
Opinion Columnist

In his book “Deep Medicine,” which is about how A.I. is changing medicine across all fields, Eric Topol describes a study in which a learning algorithm was given medical records to predict who was likely to attempt suicide. It accurately predicted attempts nearly 80 percent of the time. By incorporating data of real-world interactions such as laughter and anger, an algorithm in a similar study was able to reach 93 percent accuracy.....
algorithms  artificial_intelligence  books  David_Brooks  depression  diagnostic  doctors  medical  mens'_health  mental_health  op-ed  pattern_recognition  predictive_analytics  tools  visual_cues 
12 weeks ago by jerryking
Opinion | The Sidney Awards, Part II - The New York Times
By David Brooks
Opinion Columnist

Dec. 27, 2018

The essay is part of the second batch of this year’s Sidney Awards, which I give for outstanding long-form journalism.

From The New Yorker, I recommend Dexter Filkins’s “A Saudi Prince’s Quest to Remake the Middle East.” In one essay, Filkins weaves together the Middle East’s geostrategic situation, its economic situation and how each of the major players, from Jared Kushner to Iran, is grasping for something. It’s all built around a profile of Mohammed bin Salman, the young Saudi leader.......In “The Constitution of Knowledge,” in National Affairs, Jonathan Rauch argues that the marketplace of ideas is like a funnel. Millions of people float millions of hypotheses every day. Society collectively tests these ideas, bats them around or ignores them, and only a tiny few make it out the narrow end of the funnel, where they are declared useful or true.....Chinese art prices are through the roof. In 2010, a vase with a starting price of $800,000 sold in a suburban London auction for $69.5 million. Coincidentally, Chinese art is now routinely looted from Western art museums. In “The Great Chinese Art Heist,” in GQ, Alex Palmer walks us through these “Mission Impossible”-style robberies. He also captures the nationalist fervor driving the frenzy.......“Man-eaters” in The Ringer, in which Brian Phillips explains: “The arrival of a tiger, it’s true, is often preceded by moments of rising tension, because a tiger’s presence changes the jungle around it, and those changes are easier to detect. Birdcalls darken. Small deer call softly to each other. Herds do not run but drift into shapes that suggest some emerging group consciousness of an escape route.”
best_of  David_Brooks  heists  journalism  MbS  Sidney_Awards 
january 2019 by jerryking
Opinion | The Sidney Awards, Part I
Dec. 24, 2018 | The New York Times| By David Brooks, Opinion Columnist
David_Brooks  best_of  Sidney_Awards 
december 2018 by jerryking
Opinion | The Strange Failure of the Educated Elite - The New York Times
By David Brooks
Opinion Columnist

May 28, 2018

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
See also
"Jun 18, 2007 | WSJ | Robin Moroney. Extreme intelligence might
undermine a person’s managerial capacity, he speculates. “What is
required at the top levels of govt. is not brilliance, but managerial
skill,” says Posner. That includes knowing “when to defer to the
superior knowledge of a more experienced but less mentally agile
subordinate.” Especially intelligent people also have difficulty
trusting the intuitions of less-articulate people who have more
experience than they do. That might be why many smart senior officials
in govt. have tried to reason their way through problems on their own,
assuming their civil servants’ inadequate explanations rendered their
judgments invalid."
the_best_and_brightest  books  civics  mental_dexterity  David_Brooks  diversity  dysfunction  elitism  failure  fractured_internally  the_Greatest_Generation  institutions  IQ  meritocratic  Steven_Brill  college-educated  baby_boomers  Tailspins 
may 2018 by jerryking
Opinion | The American Renaissance Is Already Happening - The New York Times
May 14, 2018

In many of the cities the local library serves as an all-purpose community center. In Bend, Ore., the library has a few dozen local partnerships — AARP volunteers help people do their taxes in the library; Goodwill workers teach résumé writing. In Charleston, W.Va., and Columbus, Ohio, the libraries zero in on programs for infants to 3-year-olds, so children enter school ready to learn.
social_mobility  David_Brooks  libraries  civics  James_Fallows  renaissance 
may 2018 by jerryking
Opinion | The Man Who Changed the World, Twice - The New York Times
May 8, 2018 | NYT | by David Brooks.
This column is about a man, Stewart Brand, who changed the world, at least twice. I want to focus less on the impact of his work, which is all around us, and more on how he did it, because he’s a model of how you do social change.....In 1965, Brand created a multimedia presentation called “America Needs Indians,” which he performed at the LSD-laced, proto-hippie gatherings he helped organize in California.

Brand then had two epiphanies. First, there were no public photos of the entire earth. Second, if people like him were going to return to the land and lead natural lives, they would need tools......launched the the “Whole Earth Catalog.”....the Catalog....was also a bible for what would come to be known as the counterculture, full of reading lists and rich with the ideas of Buckminster Fuller and others........When a culture changes, it’s often because a small group of people on society’s margins find a better way to live, parts of which the mainstream adopts. Brand found a magic circle in the Bay Area counterculture. He celebrated it, publicized it, gave it a coherence it otherwise lacked and encouraged millions to join.....The communes fizzled. But on the other side of the Bay Area, Brand sensed another cultural wave building-- computers!! Brand and others imagined computers launching a consciousness revolution — personal tools to build neural communities that would blow the minds of mainstream America. [See Fred Turner says in “From Counterculture to Cyberculture,” ].......Brand played cultural craftsman once again, as a celebrity journalist. In 1972 he wrote a piece for Rolling Stone announcing the emergence of a new outlaw hacker culture..... Brand is a talented community architect. In the 1970s, he was meshing Menlo Park computer geeks with cool hippie types. The tech people were entranced by “Whole Earth,” including Steve Jobs....In 1985, Brand and Larry Brilliant helped create the Well, an early online platform (like Usenet) where techies could meet and share. .......Brand’s gift, Frank Foer writes in “World Without Mind,” is “to channel the spiritual longings of his generation and then to explain how they could be fulfilled through technology.” Innovations don’t just proceed by science alone; as Foer continues, “the culture prods them into existence.”....... Brooks argues that the computer has failed as a source of true community. Social media seems to immiserate people as much as it bonds them. And so there’s a need for future Brands, young cultural craftsmen who identify those who are building the future, synthesizing their work into a common ethos and bringing them together in a way that satisfies the eternal desire for community and wholeness.

===========================================
Third, the age seems to reward procedural architects (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, etc. , people who can design an architecture/platform that allows other people to express ideas or to collaborate. Fourth, people who can organize a decentralized network around a clear question, without letting it dissipate or clump, will have enormous value. Fifth, essentialists will probably be rewarded--the ability to grasp the essence of one thing, and then the essence of some very different thing, and smash them together to create some entirely new thing. Sixth, the computer is the computer. The role of the human is not to be dispassionate, depersonalized or neutral. It is precisely the emotive traits that are rewarded: the voracious lust for understanding, the enthusiasm for work, the ability to grasp the gist, the empathetic sensitivity to what will attract attention and linger in the mind. Unable to compete when it comes to calculation, the best workers will come with heart in hand.
David_Brooks  Stewart_Brand  community_builders  product_launches  counterculture  community_organizing  Silicon_Valley  '70s  trailblazers  social_change  role_models  via:marshallk  hackers  social_media  Steve_Jobs  books 
may 2018 by jerryking
John Stuart Mill Showed Democracy as a Way of Life - The New York Times
David Brooks JAN. 15, 2018

John Stuart Mill demonstrated that democratic citizenship is a way of life, a moral stance and a humanistic adventure.....Mill is famous for his celebration of individual liberty. But he was not an “anything goes” nihilist. He was not a mellow “You do you and I’ll be me” relativist.

In the first place, he demanded constant arduous self-improvement. In his outstanding biography, Richard Reeves points out that in “On Liberty,” Mill used the words “energy,” “active” and “vital” nearly as many times as he used the word “freedom.” Freedom for him was a means, not an end. The end is moral excellence. Mill believed that all of us “are under a moral obligation to seek the improvement of our moral character.”

“At the heart of his liberalism,” Reeves writes, “was a clearly and repeatedly articulated vision of a flourishing human life — self-improving, passionate, truth-seeking, engaged and colorful.”.... staged a lifelong gentle revolt against his father’s shallow intellectual utilitarianism.

Having been raised in this way and, as an adult, living in Victorian England, what he hated most was narrowness, conformity, the crushing of individuals under the weight of peer pressure, government power or public opinion.....Mill cures us from the weakness of our age — the belief that we can achieve democracy on the cheap; the belief that all we have to do to fulfill our democratic duties is be nice, vote occasionally and have opinions. Mill showed that real citizenship is a life-transforming vocation. It involves, at base, cultivating the ability to discern good from evil, developing the intellectual virtues required to separate the rigorous from the sloppy, living an adventurous life so that you are rooting yourself among and serving those who are completely unlike yourself.

The demands of democracy are clear — the elevation and transformation of your very self. If you are not transformed, you’re just skating by.
David_Brooks  democracy  Victorian  values  engaged_citizenry  arduous  critical_thinking  tough-mindedness  rigour  discomforts  struggles  history  op-ed  profile  philosophy  utilitarianism  liberal  political_theory  John_Stuart_Mill  self-improvement  19th_century  liberalism  indivualized  self-actualization  individual_choice  autonomy  intellectually_rigorous 
january 2018 by jerryking
Sundar Pichai Should Resign as Google’s C.E.O. - The New York Times
David Brooks AUG. 11, 2017
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Google  censorship  culture  David_Brooks  CEOs  firings  Sundar_Pichai 
august 2017 by jerryking
How We Are Ruining America
JULY 11, 2017 | The New York Times | David Brooks.

Over the past generation, members of the college-educated class have become amazingly good at making sure their children retain their privileged status. They have also become devastatingly good at making sure the children of other classes have limited chances to join their ranks.....Over the past few decades, upper-middle-class Americans have embraced behavior codes that put cultivating successful children at the center of life. As soon as they get money, they turn it into investments in their kids......Richard Reeves of the Brookings Institution recently published a book called “Dream Hoarders” detailing some of the structural ways the well educated rig the system.

The most important is residential zoning restrictions. Well-educated people tend to live in places like Portland, New York and San Francisco that have housing and construction rules that keep the poor and less educated away from places with good schools and good job opportunities.....second structural barrier is the college admissions game. Educated parents live in neighborhoods with the best teachers, they top off their local public school budgets and they benefit from legacy admissions rules, from admissions criteria that reward kids who grow up with lots of enriching travel and from unpaid internships that lead to jobs.....the structural barriers emphasized are less important than the informal social barriers that segregate the lower 80 percent (e.g. being aware of cultural signifiers around, say, gourmet food)

.......American upper-middle-class culture (where the opportunities are) is now laced with cultural signifiers that are completely illegible unless you happen to have grown up in this class (i.e. excelling at being socially graceful). They play on the normal human fear of humiliation and exclusion. Their chief message is, “You are not welcome here.”
David_Brooks  social_mobility  Colleges_&_Universities  socially_graceful  inequality  geographic_sorting  college-educated  super_ZIPs  self-perpetuation  values  opportunity_gaps  upper-income  social_exclusion  books  structural_barriers  admissions  elitism  social_classes  zoning  restrictions  social_barriers  cultural_signifiers  privilege  gaming_the_system  unfair_advantages  ruination  rituals 
july 2017 by jerryking
Giving Away Your Billion
JUNE 6, 2017 | The New York Times | David Brooks.

Recently Brooks has been reading the Giving Pledge letters. These are the letters that rich people write when they join Warren Buffett’s Giving Pledge campaign. They take the pledge, promising to give away most of their wealth during their lifetime, and then they write letters describing their giving philosophy......Most of the letter writers started poor or middle class. They don’t believe in family dynasties and sometimes argue that they would ruin their kids’ lives if they left them a mountain of money. Schools and universities are the most common recipients of their generosity, followed by medical research and Jewish cultural institutions. A ridiculously disproportionate percentage of the Giving Pledge philanthropists are Jewish.......What would David Brooks do if he had a billion bucks to use for good? He’d start with the premise that the most important task before us is to reweave the social fabric. People in disorganized neighbourhoods need to grow up enmeshed in the loving relationships that will help them rise. The elites need to be reintegrated with their own countrymen. .....Only loving relationships transform lives, and such relationships can be formed only in small groups. Thus, I’d use my imaginary billion to seed 25-person collectives around the country.....The collectives would hit the four pressure points required for personal transformation:

Heart: By nurturing deep friendships, they would give people the secure emotional connections they need to make daring explorations.

Hands: Members would get in the habit of performing small tasks of service and self-control for one another, thus engraving the habits of citizenship and good character.

Head: Each collective would have a curriculum, a set of biographical and reflective readings, to help members come up with their own life philosophies, to help them master the intellectual virtues required for public debate.

Soul: In a busy world, members would discuss fundamental issues of life’s purpose, so that they might possess the spiritual true north that orients a life.
social_fabric  David_Brooks  philanthropy  moguls  high_net_worth  Warren_Buffett  elitism  collectives  personal_transformation  plutocracies  plutocrats  disorganization  daring  relationships  emotional_connections  soul  North_Star  virtues  engaged_citizenry  civics  Jewish  biographies  friendships  self-reflective  giving 
june 2017 by jerryking
Donald Trump Poisons the World
JUNE 2, 2017 | The New York Times | David Brooks.

This week, two of Donald Trump’s top advisers, H. R. McMaster and Gary Cohn, wrote the following passage in The Wall Street Journal: “The president embarked on his first foreign trip with a cleareyed outlook that the world is not a ‘global community’ but an arena where nations, nongovernmental actors and businesses engage and compete for advantage.”

That sentence is the epitome of the Trump project. It asserts that selfishness is the sole driver of human affairs. It grows out of a worldview that life is a competitive struggle for gain. It implies that cooperative communities are hypocritical covers for the selfish jockeying underneath.

The essay explains why the Trump people are suspicious of any cooperative global arrangement, like NATO and the various trade agreements. It helps explain why Trump pulled out of the Paris global-warming accord. This essay explains why Trump gravitates toward leaders like Vladimir Putin, the Saudi princes and various global strongmen: They share his core worldview that life is nakedly a selfish struggle for money and dominance.

It explains why people in the Trump White House are so savage to one another. Far from being a band of brothers, their world is a vicious arena where staffers compete for advantage......In the essay, McMaster and Cohn make explicit the great act of moral decoupling woven through this presidency. In this worldview, morality has nothing to do with anything. Altruism, trust, cooperation and virtue are unaffordable luxuries in the struggle of all against all. Everything is about self-interest. David Brooks contends that this philosophy is based on an error about human beings and it leads to self-destructive behavior in all cases.

The error is that it misunderstands what drives human action. Yes, people are self-interested but they are also wired to cooperate....Good leaders like Lincoln, Churchill, Roosevelt and Reagan understand the selfish elements that drive human behavior, but they have another foot in the realm of the moral motivations. They seek to inspire faithfulness by showing good character. They try to motivate action by pointing toward great ideals.

Realist leaders like Trump, McMaster and Cohn seek to dismiss this whole moral realm. By behaving with naked selfishness toward others, they poison the common realm and they force others to behave with naked selfishness toward them........By treating the world simply as an arena for competitive advantage, Trump, McMaster and Cohn sever relationships, destroy reciprocity, erode trust and eviscerate the sense of sympathy, friendship and loyalty that all nations need when times get tough.....George Marshall was no idealistic patsy. He understood that America extends its power when it offers a cooperative hand and volunteers for common service toward a great ideal. Realists reverse that formula. They assume strife and so arouse a volley of strife against themselves.
op-ed  climate_change  Donald_Trump  Gary_Cohn  decoupling  human_behavior  worldviews  WSJ  H.R._McMaster  selfishness  U.S.foreign_policy  Greek  morals  realism  George_Marshall  Marshall_Plan  self-interest  autocrats  Thucydides  David_Brooks  transactional_relationships  national_interests  institutions  international_system  values 
june 2017 by jerryking
The Politics of Clan: The Adventures of Jared Kushner - The New York Times
David Brooks MAY 30, 2017

We tell young people to serve something beyond self, and Kushner seems to have been fiercely, almost selflessly, loyal to family. But the clannish mentality has often ill served him during his stay in government.

Working in government is about teamwork, majority-building and addition — adding more and more people to your coalition. It is about working within legal frameworks and bureaucratic institutions. It’s about having a short memory and not taking things personally.

Clannishness, by contrast is about tight and exclusive blood bonds. It’s a moral approach based on loyalty and vengeance against those who attack a member of the clan. It’s an intensely personal and feud-ridden way of being.

Working in government is about trusting the system, and trusting those who have been around and understand the craft. But the essence of clannishness is to build a barrier between family — inside the zone of trust — and others, outside that zone. .......Our forebears have spent centuries trying to build a government of laws, and not of hereditary bloodlines. It’s possible to thrive in this system as a member of a clan — the Roosevelts, the Kennedys and the Bushes — but it’s not possible to survive in this system if your mentality is entirely clannish.
Jared_Kushner  David_Brooks  Donald_Trump  personal_connections  nepotism  White_House  clans 
may 2017 by jerryking
When the World Is Led by a Child - The New York Times
David Brooks MAY 15, 2017
-- "Trump is an infantalist" (or as most of call it, childish)
-- Trump's "falsehoods are attempts to build a world in which he can feel good"
-- He "is too incompetent to understand his own incompetence"
-- He "wants people to love him"
-- "there is perpetually less to Trump than it appears"
-- the Russian leak revealed Trump's"dangerousness"

Please, media, stop analyzing Trump's psychological makeup. He is the impulsive narcissistic you see. He really does think he is owed a "pledge of loyalty". He really does think he's smarter than the Generals, than scientists, experts, academics. He really does think he's owed constant adulation. He really is as hollow as he seems.
David_Brooks  Donald_Trump  immaturity  ignorance  self-discipline  self-awareness  sociopaths  narcissism  impulse_control  letters_to_the_editor 
may 2017 by jerryking
What Romantic Regime Are You In?
MARCH 7, 2017 | The New York Times | David Brooks.

In Russia, people tend to regard love as a sort of divine madness that descends from the heavens. Love is regarded... as “a destiny, a moral act and a value; it is irresistible, it requires sacrifice and implies suffering and pain....In America people tend to ask: Does a partner fulfill your needs? Do you feel comfortable asserting your rights in the relationship? Does your partner check the right boxes?

While Russians pursue a "Regime of Fate", Americans seek a "Regime of Choice".....The most important requirement for choice is not the availability of multiple options...but the existence of a savvy, sovereign chooser who is well aware of his needs and who acts on the basis of self-interest. Brooks sees those who have mastered the notion of lifelong commitment to belong to a third regime, one he calls the Regime of Covenants in which a covenant is not a choice, but a life-altering promise and all the binding the promise entails.....In the Regime of Covenants, making the right one-time selection is less important than the ongoing action to serve the relationship.

The Covenant people tend to have a “we” consciousness. The good of the relationship itself comes first and the needs of the partner are second and the individual needs are third. The covenant only works if each partner, as best as possible, puts the other’s needs above his or her own, with the understanding that the other will reciprocate....Covenant Regimes require a framework in which exit is not an easy option, in which you’re assured the other person’s love is not going away, and in which the only way to survive the crises is to go deeper into the relationship itself.

The final feature of a covenant is that the relationship is not just about itself; it serves some larger purpose. The obvious one in many cases is raising children. But the deeper one is transformation. People in such a covenant try to love the other in a way that brings out their loveliness. They hope that through this service they’ll become a slightly less selfish version of themselves.
romantic_love  David_Brooks  reciprocity  self-interest  serving_others  covenants  Russia  lifelong  marriage  relationships  commitments  sacrifice  transformational  parenting 
march 2017 by jerryking
The Enlightenment Project
FEB. 28, 2017 | The New York Times| David Brooks.

Enlightenment thought. The Enlightenment included thinkers like John Locke and Immanuel Kant who argued that people should stop deferring blindly to authority for how to live. Instead, they should think things through from the ground up, respect facts and skeptically re-examine their own assumptions and convictions.

Enlightenment thinkers turned their skeptical ideas into skeptical institutions, notably the U.S. Constitution. America’s founders didn’t trust the people or themselves, so they built a system of rules, providing checks and balances to pit interest against interest.

....Today’s anti-Enlightenment movements don’t think truth is to be found through skeptical inquiry and debate. They think wisdom and virtue are found in the instincts of the plain people, deep in the mystical core of the nation’s or race’s group consciousness.

Today’s anti-Enlightenment movements believe less in calm persuasion and evidence-based inquiry than in purity of will. They try to win debates through blunt force and silencing unacceptable speech.

They don’t see history as a gradual march toward cooperation. They see history as cataclysmic cycles — a zero-sum endeavor marked by conflict. Nations trying to screw other nations, races inherently trying to oppress other races.

These movements are hostile to rules-based systems, multilateral organizations, the messy compromises of democratic politics and what Steve Bannon calls the “administrative state.” They prefer the direct rule by one strongman who is the embodiment of the will of the people.

When Trump calls the media the “enemy of the people” he is going after the system of conversation, debate and inquiry that is the foundation for the entire Enlightenment project....
David_Brooks  grand_strategy  history  Yale  John_Locke  Immanuel_Kant  rules-based  Abraham_Lincoln  multilateralism  De_Tocqueville  the_Enlightenment  skepticism  checks_and_balances  Stephen_Bannon  worldviews  zero-sum_games  strongman  constitutions 
march 2017 by jerryking
Where History Is Being Made - The New York Times
I sent the Fallows Question to the Fallows themselves, and they agreed in part with my Washington answer. But they also said that the most important place to be now might be places like Erie, Pa.; Fresno, Ca.; and Columbus, Ohio.

Trump’s presence in the White House may push change to the local levels. In these cities, the Fallows argue, citizen participants are coping with declining industries, creating new civic cultures, assimilating waves of immigration, collaborating across party lines to revive everything from arts programs to tech seedbeds.

If you want to “observe” history, the Fallows say, go to Washington. If you want to “participate,” go elsewhere.

That’s a good argument, but I suppose I should close by widening the possibilities. After all, few knew about Martin Luther in 1517 or what Deng Xiaoping would unleash in 1977.....Most people can’t up and move in search of history. They’re tied down by work, family and spiritual commitments. But you only go around once in life, so if you can swing it, you might as well be where the action is.
David_Brooks  James_Fallows  Washington_D.C.  seminal_moments  Donald_Trump  local  history  engaged_citizenry  participation  pivots 
february 2017 by jerryking
Life lessons: Looking back and taking stock - Western Alumni
Life lessons: Looking back and taking stock

by Paul Wells, BA'89

“Young people are educated in many ways,” he wrote, “but they are given relatively little help in understanding how a life develops, how careers and families evolve, what are the common mistakes and the common blessings of modern adulthood.”.....every few months when I sit down to write one of these columns, I do a little stock-taking. And a few times after a major screw-up or a minor triumph I’ve tried to do it in a more formal way. It’s true that just about every time I’ve bet everything on a new direction, it’s worked out better than if I’d stayed put. Once I bet everything and it worked out very badly. But even then, failure made a better life possible.

These are not lessons university teaches us well. Partly that’s because the young so rarely have any interest in learning them. I spent a lot more time at Western trying to figure out how to be successful than I did trying to figure out how to be happy. I figured 'happy' was in the gods’ hands, not mine. Almost everything that followed was accident.

To the extent we can learn how to live a good life, I think that so far, we learn it better from the arts and humanities than from science or even social science. Aristotle and Haydn have helped get me out of more fixes than cell biology did, although to be fair I was a lousy scientist. I’m quite sure it’ll never be possible to know, to three decimal places, how to live life well. Too many variables. But the question is still worth asking.

I’m with the Yale class of ’42. Change and risk have stood me in better stead than stasis and worry ever did. There may be a role for universities in teaching that much, at least.
advice  anti-résumé  chance  Colleges_&_Universities  David_Brooks  failure  happiness  lessons_learned  next_play  no_regrets  Paul_Wells  reflections  risk-taking  success 
february 2017 by jerryking
The Politics of Cowardice - The New York Times
David Brooks JAN. 27, 2017

Trump has changed the way the Republican Party sees the world. Republicans used to have a basic faith in the dynamism and openness of the free market. Now the party fears openness and competition.

In the summer of 2015, according to a Pew Research Center poll, Republicans said free trade deals had been good for the country by 51 to 39 percent. By the summer of 2016, Republicans said those deals had been bad for America by 61 percent to 32 percent.

It’s not that the deals had changed, or reality. It was that Donald Trump became the Republican nominee and his dark fearfulness became the party’s dark fearfulness. In this case fear is not a reaction to the world. It is a way of seeing the world. It propels your reactions to the world.
cowardice  David_Brooks  Donald_Trump  openness  Ronald_Reagan  '80s  GOP  FDR  optimism  free_markets  fear  threat_perception 
january 2017 by jerryking
The Life and Example of Gwen Ifill - The New York Times
David Brooks NOV. 15, 2016
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David_Brooks  Gwen_Ifill  tributes  obituaries  African-Americans  women  journalists  PBS 
november 2016 by jerryking
The View From Trump Tower - The New York Times
David Brooks NOV. 11, 2016
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november 2016 by jerryking
Let’s Not Do This Again - The New York Times
David Brooks NOV. 8, 2016
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november 2016 by jerryking
Why America’s Leadership Fails - The New York Times
David Brooks AUG. 23, 2016
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leadership  David_Brooks 
august 2016 by jerryking
How Artists Change the World - The New York Times
AUG. 2, 2016 | NYT | David Brooks.

Frederick Douglass was not an artist but understood how to use a new art form. Douglass used his portraits to change the way viewers saw black people.....And that’s what Douglass did with his portraits. He took contemporary stereotypes of African-Americans — that they are inferior, unlettered, comic and dependent — and turned them upside down.....“Picturing Frederick Douglass,” curated by John Stauffer, Zoe Trodd and Celeste-Marie Bernier, and you can read a version of Gates’s essay in the new special issue of Aperture magazine, guest edited by Sarah Lewis.....Douglass was combating a set of generalized stereotypes by showing the specific humanity of one black man. ...Most of all, he was using art to reteach people how to see.

We are often under the illusion that seeing is a very simple thing. You see something, which is taking information in, and then you evaluate, which is the hard part.

But in fact perception and evaluation are the same thing. We carry around unconscious mental maps, built by nature and experience, that organize how we scan the world and how we instantly interpret and order what we see.

With these portraits, Douglass was redrawing people’s unconscious mental maps. ....“Poets, prophets and reformers are all picture makers — and this ability is the secret of their power and of their achievements,” Douglass wrote. This is where artists make their mark, by implanting pictures in the underwater processing that is upstream from conscious cognition. Those pictures assign weights and values to what the eyes take in.
David_Brooks  artists  photography  Frederick_Douglass  books  poets  humanity  mental_maps  interpretation  subconscious  portraits 
august 2016 by jerryking
The Choice Explosion - The New York Times
David Brooks MAY 3, 2016

Americans have always put great emphasis on individual choice. But even by our own standards we’ve had a choice explosion over the past 30 years.....making decisions well is incredibly difficult....It’s becoming incredibly important to learn to decide well, to develop the techniques of self-distancing to counteract the flaws in our own mental machinery....assume positive intent (i.e. when in the midst of some conflict, start with the belief that others are well intentioned).....People are overly biased by the immediate pain of some choice, but they can put the short-term pain in long-term perspective by asking these questions [Suzy Welch’s 10-10-10 rule. When you’re about to make a decision, ask yourself how you will feel about it 10 minutes from now? 10 months from now? and 10 years from now?]....make deliberate mistakes....our tendency to narrow-frame, to see every decision as a binary “whether or not” alternative. Whenever you find yourself asking “whether or not,” it’s best to step back and ask, “How can I widen my options?” In other words, before you ask, “Should I fire this person?” Ask, “Is there any way I can shift this employee’s role to take advantage of his strengths and avoid his weaknesses?”....It’s important to offer opportunity and incentives. But we also need lessons in self-awareness — on exactly how our decision-making tool is fundamentally flawed, and on mental frameworks we can adopt to avoid messing up even more than we do.
David_Brooks  choices  decision_making  biases  thinking_deliberatively  scarcity  self-awareness  metacognition  binary_decisionmaking  abundance  optionality  narrow-framing  Suzy_Welch  wide-framing  self-distancing 
may 2016 by jerryking
The Danger of a Single Story - The New York Times
David Brooks APRIL 19, 2016

American politics has always been prone to single storyism — candidates reducing complex issues to simple fables. This year the problem is acute because Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are the giants of Single Storyism. They reduce pretty much all issues to the same single story: the alien invader story....As in life generally, every policy has the vices of its virtues. Aggressive policing cuts crime but increases brutality. There is no escape from trade-offs and tragic situations. The only way forward is to elect people who are capable of holding opposing stories in their heads at the same time, and to reject those who can’t....As F. Scott Fitzgerald once said, “The test of a first-rate mind is the ability to hold two diametrically opposed ideas in your head at the same time.”"
David_Brooks  storytelling  public_policy  single_action_bias  critical_thinking  history  philosophy  skepticism  tradeoffs  oversimplification  criminal_justice_system  incarceration  narratives  dual-consciousness  F._Scott_Fitzgerald 
april 2016 by jerryking
How Covenants Make Us - The New York Times
David Brooks APRIL 5, 2016

there are four big forces coursing through modern societies. Global migration is leading to demographic diversity. Economic globalization is creating wider opportunity but also inequality. The Internet is giving people more choices over what to buy and pay attention to. A culture of autonomy valorizes individual choice and self-determination.

All of these forces have liberated the individual, or at least well-educated individuals, but they have been bad for national cohesion and the social fabric. Income inequality challenges economic cohesion as the classes divide. Demographic diversity challenges cultural cohesion as different ethnic groups rub against one another. The emphasis on individual choice challenges community cohesion and settled social bonds.....Strong identities can come only when people are embedded in a rich social fabric. They can come only when we have defined social roles...You take away a rich social fabric and what you are left with is people who are uncertain about who they really are....how do we preserve individual freedom while strengthening social solidarity?

In her new book “Commonwealth and Covenant,” Marcia Pally of N.Y.U. and Fordham offers a clarifying concept. What we want, she suggests, is “separability amid situatedness.” We want to go off and create and explore and experiment with new ways of thinking and living. But we also want to be situated — embedded in loving families and enveloping communities, thriving within a healthy cultural infrastructure that provides us with values and goals.

Creating situatedness requires a different way of thinking. When we go out and do a deal, we make a contract. When we are situated within something it is because we have made a covenant. A contract protects interests, Pally notes, but a covenant protects relationships. A covenant exists between people who understand they are part of one another. It involves a vow to serve the relationship that is sealed by love: Where you go, I will go. Where you stay, I will stay. Your people shall be my people....Tolerance, he said, means, “I’m going to stomach your right to be different, but if you disappear off the face of the earth I’m no worse off.” Patriotism, on the other hand, means “love of country, which necessitates love of each other, that we have to be a nation that aspires for love, which recognizes that you have worth and dignity and I need you. You are part of my whole, part of the promise of this country.”
David_Brooks  community  social_collaboration  social_integration  covenants  patriotism  books  Commonwealth  values  social_fabric  social_cohesion  social_contract  tolerance  autonomy  individual_choice  self-determination  college-educated  pay_attention 
april 2016 by jerryking
The Republicans’ Incompetence Caucus - The New York Times
OCT. 13, 2015 | NYT | David Brooks.

The Republican Party’s capacity for effective self-governance degraded slowly, over the course of a long chain of rhetorical excesses, mental corruptions and philosophical betrayals. Basically, the party abandoned traditional conservatism for right-wing radicalism. Republicans came to see themselves as insurgents and revolutionaries, and every revolution tends toward anarchy and ends up devouring its own.
By traditional definitions, conservatism stands for intellectual humility, a belief in steady, incremental change, a preference for reform rather than revolution, a respect for hierarchy, precedence, balance and order, and a tone of voice that is prudent, measured and responsible. Conservatives of this disposition can be dull, but they know how to nurture and run institutions....Over the past 30 years, or at least since Rush Limbaugh came on the scene, the Republican rhetorical tone has grown ever more bombastic, hyperbolic and imbalanced....Politics is the process of making decisions amid diverse opinions. It involves conversation, calm deliberation, self-discipline, the capacity to listen to other points of view and balance valid but competing ideas and interests.

But this new Republican faction regards the messy business of politics as soiled and impure. Compromise is corruption. Inconvenient facts are ignored. Countrymen with different views are regarded as aliens. Political identity became a sort of ethnic identity, and any compromise was regarded as a blood betrayal.
David_Brooks  GOP  conservatism  political_polarization  partisan_warfare  Tea_Party  dysfunction  root_cause  Rush_Limbaugh  radicalization  mindsets  messiness  politics  compromise  rhetoric  listening  self-discipline  conversations  partisanship 
october 2015 by jerryking
The Robert E. Lee Problem - The New York Times
JUNE 26, 2015
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the_South  David_Brooks  Confederacy  treason  flags  symbolism  racism 
june 2015 by jerryking
Learning From Mistakes - NYTimes.com
MAY 19, 2015
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mistakes  history  counterfactual_history  David_Brooks 
may 2015 by jerryking
Talent Loves English - NYTimes.com
MAY 26, 2015
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Magna_Carta  immigration  David_Brooks  Anglo-Saxon  free_markets  capitalism  social_democracy 
may 2015 by jerryking
Skills in Flux - NYTimes.com
MARCH 17, 2015| NYT |David Brooks.

As the economy changes, the skills required to thrive in it change, too, and it takes a while before these new skills are defined and acknowledged.

For example, in today’s loosely networked world, people with social courage have amazing value. Everyone goes to conferences and meets people, but some people invite six people to lunch afterward and follow up with four carefully tended friendships forevermore. Then they spend their lives connecting people across networks.

People with social courage are extroverted in issuing invitations but introverted in conversation — willing to listen 70 percent of the time.
David_Brooks  skills  networking  social_courage  Communicating_&_Connecting  conferences  sense-making  indispensable  Managing_Your_Career  21st._century  new_graduates  following_up 
march 2015 by jerryking
How to Leave a Mark - NYTimes.com
JAN. 27, 2015 | NYT |David Brooks.

Impact investors seek out companies that are intentionally designed both to make a profit and provide a measurable and accountable social good. Impact funds are frequently willing to accept lower financial returns for the sake of doing good — say a 7 percent annual return compared with an 11 percent return. But some impact investors are seeking to deliver market-rate returns....It’s hard to find a reliable way to measure the social impact of these dual-purpose companies. Impact investors have also had trouble finding scalable deals to invest in. It costs as much to do due diligence on a $250 million deal as on a $25 million deal, so many firms would rather skip the small stuff... impact investing is now entering the mainstream. An older generation used their (rigorous) business mind in one setting and then their (often sloppy) charity mind in another. Today more people want to blend these minds. Typically a big client, or a young heir, will go to his or her investments adviser and say, “I want some socially useful investments in my portfolio.”...Impact investing is not going to replace government or be a panacea, but it’s one of a number of new tools to address social problems. If you want to leave a mark on the world but are unsure of how to do it, I’d say take a look. If you’re a high-net-worth individual (a rich person), ask your adviser to get you involved. If you’re young and searching, get some finance and operational skills and then find a way to get involved in a socially useful investment proposition. If you’ve got a business mind, there are huge opportunities to build the infrastructure (creating measuring systems, connecting investors with deals).
David_Brooks  capitalism  impact_investing  hard_to_find  Michael_McDerment  high_net_worth  new_graduates  skills  passions  passion_investing  TBL  social_impact  measurements  high-impact  heirs 
january 2015 by jerryking
Support Our Students - NYTimes.com
JAN. 19, 2015
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David_Brooks  Colleges_&_Universities  Obama  free  tuition 
january 2015 by jerryking
I Am Not Charlie Hebdo - NYTimes.com
JAN. 8, 2015 | NYT | David Brooks.

most of us know that provocateurs and other outlandish figures serve useful public roles. Satirists and ridiculers expose our weakness and vanity when we are feeling proud. They puncture the self-puffery of the successful. They level social inequality by bringing the mighty low. When they are effective they help us address our foibles communally, since laughter is one of the ultimate bonding experiences.
David_Brooks  free_speech  speech_codes  Colleges_&_Universities  #JeSuisCharlie  satire  freedom_expression  cartoons  insults 
january 2015 by jerryking
The Sidney Awards, Part 2 - NYTimes.com
DEC. 29, 2014
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David_Brooks  reading  best_of  magazines 
january 2015 by jerryking
The Age of Bibi
JAN. 1, 2015 | NYT |David Brooks.

Netanyahu sees himself in world historical terms, and admires Theodor Herzl and Winston Churchill — two men who saw dangers ahead of other people....Like Churchill, he is wisest when things are going wrong. He has been a pessimist about the Arab world. As the Arab Spring has deteriorated, as Palestinian democracy led to Hamas, as run of the mill extremists have lost ground to the Islamic State, Bibi’s instincts have basically been proved correct....I asked a couple of smart Israelis what their coming elections are about. They said that the elections are about one thing: What do you think of Netanyahu?...he has been a defensive leader. He seems to understand that, in his country’s situation, the lows are lower than the highs are high. The costs of a mistake are bigger than the benefits of an accomplishment. So he is loath to take risks. He doesn’t do some smart things, like improve life for Palestinians on the West Bank, but he doesn’t do unpredictable dumb things, like prematurely bomb Iran. He talks everything through, and his decisions shift and flip as the discussions evolve.
David_Brooks  Benjamin_Netanyahu  Israel  Mideast_Peace  Winston_Churchill  pessimism  leaders 
january 2015 by jerryking
The Unifying Leader - NYTimes.com
NOV. 24, 2014
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RECENT COMMENTS

Richard A. Petro 4 minutes ago
Dear Mr. Brooks,You might have started your column with a quote, "I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him." Shakespeare.Okay, so Mr. Obama...
Carl 7 minutes ago
If Mr. Brooks wants us to believe that the current political environment invites collaboration and calls for a collaborative leader, he...
kll 9 minutes ago
Mr. Brooks - Your column would make rather more sense if you were more specific, i.e. name names (who has been such a leader and in what...
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David Brooks
David_Brooks  leaders  leadership  Obama 
november 2014 by jerryking
The Agency Moment - NYTimes.com
NOV. 13, 2014
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jzshore 2 minutes ago
Applied to women, "agency" might be another word for "liberation", and we've seen the advantages and disadvantages of that: more women in...
MFW 2 minutes ago
A key premise of conservative (versus collectivist) thought is that each person's primary struggle is with him/herself, not with society or...
Thoughtful Woman 4 minutes ago
David's examples of agency among males are contemporary to him. They involve traditional males finding their way in traditional male roles...
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David Brooks
agency  David_Brooks  adulthood 
november 2014 by jerryking
There Are Social and Political Benefits to Having Friends - NYTimes.com
SEPT. 18, 2014| NYT | David Brooks.

In the first place, friendship helps people make better judgments.
Second, friends usually bring out better versions of each other.
Finally, people behave better if they know their friends are observing.

People seem to have a harder time building friendships across class lines.
friendships  howto  David_Brooks  social_classes 
september 2014 by jerryking
The Reluctant Leader - NYTimes.com
SEPT. 11, 2014
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David_Brooks  leaders  leadership  Obama 
september 2014 by jerryking
The Revolt of the Weak - NYTimes.com
SEPT. 1, 2014 | NYT | By DAVID BROOKS.

there are certain unconscious habits and norms of restraint that undergird civilization. These habits and norms are now being challenged by a coalition of the unsuccessful.

What we’re seeing around the world is a revolt of the weak. There are certain weak movements and nations, beset by internal contradictions, that can’t compete if they play by the normal rules of civilization. Therefore, they are conspiring to blow up the rule book.....People who conduct foreign policy live today under the shadow of the postwar era. People instinctively understand that just after World War II, Harry Truman, George Marshall, Dean Acheson and others did something remarkable. They stepped outside the immediate crush of events and constructed a context in which people would live for the next several decades.

Some of the problems they faced did not seem gigantic: how to prevent a Communist insurgency from taking over a semi-failed government in Greece. But they understood that by projecting American power into Greece, they would be establishing certain norms and creating a framework for civilization.
Vladimir_Putin  Henry_Kissinger  George_Marshall  Harry_Truman  David_Brooks  ISIS  rogue_actors  U.S.foreign_policy  post-WWII  Dean_Acheson  diplomacy  asymmetrical  APNSA 
september 2014 by jerryking
The Mental Virtues - NYTimes.com
AUG. 28, 2014| NYT | David Brooks.

Thinking well under a barrage of information may be a different sort of moral challenge than fighting well under a hail of bullets, but it’s a character challenge nonetheless. In their 2007 book, “Intellectual Virtues,” Robert C. Roberts of Baylor University and W. Jay Wood of Wheaton College list some of the cerebral virtues. We can all grade ourselves on how good we are at each of them.

First, there is love of learning.
Second, there is courage. Not just the willingness to hold unpopular views. But the subtler form, which is knowing how much risk to take in jumping to conclusions. Reckless thinkers take scraps of information and leaps to some faraway conspiracy theories. Perfectionists are silenced, except under ideal conditions, for fear of being wrong. Intellectual courage is self-regulation--knowing when to be daring and when to be cautious. And guarding against confirmation bias.

Third, there is firmness. Don’t be the person who surrenders his beliefs at the slightest whiff of opposition. On the other hand, you don’t want to hold dogmatically to a belief against all evidence. The median point between flaccidity and rigidity is the virtue of firmness.

Fourth, there is humility, which is not letting your own desire for status get in the way of accuracy. Fight against vanity and self-importance.

Fifth, there is autonomy. Don’t be a person who slavishly adopts whatever opinion your teacher or some author gives you. On the other hand, don’t reject all guidance from people who know what they are talking about. Autonomy is the median of knowing when to bow to authority and when not to, when to follow a role model and when not to, when to adhere to tradition and when not to.[In this case, autonomy sounds a lot like judgment]

Finally, there is generosity. This virtue starts with the willingness to share knowledge and give others credit. But it also means hearing others as they would like to be heard, looking for what each person has to teach and not looking to triumphantly pounce upon their errors.
David_Brooks  thinking  howto  cognitive_skills  biases  virtues  humility  intellectual_courage  courage  autonomy  resolve  generosity  praise  grace  firmness  confirmation_bias  self-regulation  recklessness  cerebral  perfection  independent_viewpoints  discernment  self-importance  pairs 
august 2014 by jerryking
Baseball or Soccer? - NYTimes.com
JULY 10, 2014 | NYT | David Brooks
Is life more like baseball, or is it more like soccer?

Baseball is a team sport, but it is basically an accumulation of individual activities. Throwing a strike, hitting a line drive or fielding a grounder is primarily an individual achievement. The team that performs the most individual tasks well will probably win the game.

Soccer is not like that. In soccer, almost no task, except the penalty kick and a few others, is intrinsically individual. Soccer, as Simon Critchley pointed out recently in The New York Review of Books, is a game about occupying and controlling space. If you get the ball and your teammates have run the right formations, and structured the space around you, you’ll have three or four options on where to distribute it. If the defenders have structured their formations to control the space, then you will have no options. Even the act of touching the ball is not primarily defined by the man who is touching it; it is defined by the context created by all the other players.
“Soccer is a collective game, a team game, and everyone has to play the part which has been assigned to them, which means they have to understand it spatially, positionally and intelligently and make it effective.” Brazil wasn’t clobbered by Germany this week because the quality of the individual players was so much worse. They got slaughtered because they did a pathetic job of controlling space. A German player would touch the ball, even close to the Brazilian goal, and he had ample room to make the kill....Most of us spend our days thinking we are playing baseball, but we are really playing soccer. We think we individually choose what career path to take, whom to socialize with, what views to hold. But, in fact, those decisions are shaped by the networks of people around us more than we dare recognize.

This influence happens through at least three avenues. First there is contagion. People absorb memes, ideas and behaviors from each other the way they catch a cold....Then there is the structure of your network. There is by now a vast body of research on how differently people behave depending on the structure of the social networks. There is by now a vast body of research on how differently people behave depending on the structure of the social networks. People with vast numbers of acquaintances have more job opportunities than people with fewer but deeper friendships. Most organizations have structural holes, gaps between two departments or disciplines. If you happen to be in an undeveloped structural hole where you can link two departments, your career is likely to take off.

Innovation is hugely shaped by the structure of an industry at any moment. ...Finally, there is the power of the extended mind....our very consciousness is shaped by the people around us. Let me simplify it with a classic observation: Each close friend you have brings out a version of yourself that you could not bring out on your own. When your close friend dies, you are not only losing the friend, you are losing the version of your personality that he or she elicited....Once we acknowledge that, in life, we are playing soccer, not baseball, a few things become clear. First, awareness of the landscape of reality is the highest form of wisdom. It’s not raw computational power that matters most; it’s having a sensitive attunement to the widest environment, feeling where the flow of events is going. Genius is in practice perceiving more than the conscious reasoning.

Second, predictive models will be less useful. Baseball is wonderful for sabermetricians. In each at bat there is a limited range of possible outcomes. Activities like soccer are not as easily renderable statistically, because the relevant spatial structures are harder to quantify.
David_Brooks  baseball  bridging  career_paths  Communicating_&_Connecting  soccer  social_networking  strategy  spatial_awareness  fingerspitzengefühl  innovation  negative_space  predictive_modeling  job_opportunities  job_search  competitive_landscape  think_threes  large_companies  opportunities  contextual_intelligence  wisdom 
july 2014 by jerryking
The Evolution of Trust - NYTimes.com
JUNE 30, 2014
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David Brooks

Companies like Airbnb establish trust through ratings mechanisms. Their clients are already adept at evaluating each other on the basis of each other’s Facebook pages. People in the Airbnb economy don’t have the option of trusting each other on the basis of institutional affiliations, so they do it on the basis of online signaling and peer evaluations. Online ratings follow you everywhere, so people have an incentive to act in ways that will buff their online reputation.

As companies like Airbnb, Lyft and Sidecar get more mature, they also spend more money policing their own marketplace. They hire teams to hunt out fraud. They screen suppliers. They look for bad apples who might ruin the experience.

The one thing the peer-to-peer economy has not relied on much so far is government regulation.
trustworthiness  David_Brooks  Airbnb  Uber  sharing_economy  peer-to-peer  P2P  reputation  institutional_affiliations 
july 2014 by jerryking
The Art of Focus
June 2, 2014 | - NYTimes.com | David Brooks.

The way to discover a terrifying longing is to liberate yourself from the self-censoring labels you began to tell yourself over the course of your mis-education. These formulas are stultifying, Phillips argues: “You can only recover your appetite, and appetites, if you can allow yourself to be unknown to yourself. Because the point of knowing oneself is to contain one’s anxieties about appetite.”

Thus: Focus on the external objects of fascination, not on who you think you are. Find people with overlapping obsessions. Don’t structure your encounters with them the way people do today, through brainstorming sessions (those don’t work) or through conferences with projection screens.

Instead look at the way children learn in groups. They make discoveries alone, but bring their treasures to the group. Then the group crowds around and hashes it out. In conversation, conflict, confusion and uncertainty can be metabolized and digested through somebody else. If the group sets a specific problem for itself, and then sets a tight deadline to come up with answers, the free digression of conversation will provide occasions in which people are surprised by their own minds.
David_Brooks  howto  focus  children  uncertainty  unknowns  self-discovery  curiosity  fascination  constraints 
june 2014 by jerryking
The Real Africa - NYTimes.com
MAY 8, 2014
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Africa  David_Brooks 
may 2014 by jerryking
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