Capitolism

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Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

Penn State Football Avoids the Death Penalty

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Tough sanctions by the NCAA, but still unsatisfying. Probably no penalty would have satisfied, even the death penalty. Somehow, though, the NCAA comes off badly, perhaps because so many presidents passed the buck to Emmert.

For the football team, I still think the NCAA and the school should have: kept the statue at PSU, and team got the death penalty. Colin Cowherd of ESPN got the statue question right — keeping it would have warned PSU (and many others) not to foist godliness upon mortal, fallible men. Juxtaposing that reminder with the death penalty  — “This is the man you loved, but he helped destroy his and your football program” — would not have helped with the healing at PSU, but it would have powerfully reminded many other schools to shine cleansing daylight upon all corners of their worlds, including athletic teams.

As an aside, ‘healing’ at Penn State doesn’t matter a whit. The healing of the victims– as much as possible in this case —  does. But how silly to think that a senior at PSU, whose view of Coach Paterno has shattered and who now faces a far less boisterous last year at the school because of the penalties, needs “healing”. Ridiculous.

With regards to Paterno, the NCAA sanctions do somehow seem appropriate. For years, observers bemoaned his remaining the coach. In hindsight, those commentators appear both right and wrong. Right, because they perceived something had gone wrong. Wrong, because they worried whether Coach Paterno, as he aged, could maintain control of the program. We now know he exercised far too much control on it, and on the university at large.

Finally, I empathetically repeat my Facebook post from July 12: “Penn State Trustees: You are all pieces of shit. If you had any decency left, you’d give up your cushy, esteemed posts and let better men and women assume the mantle of leadership to restore the university’s good name.”

Written by Russell S.

July 23, 2012 at 7:35 pm

“The Comeback Kid”: Review of PBS’ Clinton

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PBS’ new installment of The American Experience: the Presidents, a biography of 42nd President of the United States, William Jefferson Clinton, feels more like a drama than history.  Clinton paints a picture of a highly improbable president, born famously into impoverished circumstances in Hope, Arkansas, with a father who died before his birth and an alcoholic stepfather who beat his mother in front of the children.  Consequently, Clinton threw all of his efforts into his studies, laboring to redeem and rescue his family, and substituting a broken home life for an ersatz, popular persona at school.  Such a stratagem recurs throughout Clinton’s life: when situations become tough, Clinton pretends as though they are not happening.

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Col. Littleton No. 9 Journal: The Near-Perfect Writing Companion

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Late in 2010, I began writing a journal every day, having abandoned the practice several years ago. Going full-time on Chiefist prompted  me to start again. As my friends know, I like, use and admire high quality products, preferring a nice fountain pen to a Bic any day. So I looked around for a nice journal, and found an outstanding one in the Col. Littleton No. 9 JournalRead the rest of this entry »

Written by Russell S.

February 27, 2012 at 9:16 pm

A Crisis of Male Ambition? Part II

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Yesterday, I posted on an article that I contend shows a disparity in mean male and female ambition.  I also noted one caveat using data from the Princeton University Committee on Undergraduate Women’s Leadership.  Yet, spinning a convincing narrative of the ambitious male is as commensurately difficult as spinning an explicative narrative of the unambitious male—the male on the opposite end of the bell curve.  One take is that American society failed to spin a compelling and inspirational narrative for young men to follow.  Most importantly, we do not ask young men to think of their lives in terms of generational advancement (beyond increasingly vacuous narratives, such as the ubiquitous “American dream”).  Such a successful narrative may proceed as follows: “Your father worked as a small businessman in small town America.  However, you now have the opportunity to run a global firm out of that town, or a larger city if you prefer, except you will have manufacturing plants in India, China, and Brazil, too.  The great opportunities of this global and interconnected world mean that you can be more prosperous than your father was, or have a more diverse, cosmopolitan, and compelling lifestyle.  Yet, you will need to work and plan for it.  You will need to cultivate a global vision.  You will require greater education, for instance, a degree in Industrial or Mechanical Engineering, and perhaps an MBA.  And, by the way, there is a broad framework of federal and private student loans to allow you to achieve these goals and become an effective businessman.”  Lacking such a narrative, young men risk missing the context of generational advancement and progress within which they ought to position their educational and vocational goals/ambitions.  Read the rest of this entry »

A Crisis of Male Ambition? Part I

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This article in the New York Times caught my eye.  Shrinking unemployment numbers—now at 8.3% nationally—are a product of improved private sector hiring, but also of young people dropping out of the workforce in droves, some of them seeking refuge in graduate school.  Yet, women find themselves more likely to enroll in graduate school and certificate/training programs than are their male counterparts.  Are women more ambitious than their male counterparts of today? There exist now—for the first time in three decades—more young women in school than in the work force.  The article summarizes the trend as follows: “Though young women in their late teens and early 20’s view today’s economic lull as an opportunity to upgrade their skills, their male counterparts are more likely to take whatever job they can find.”  Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Robert Morgan’s Boone

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My uncle recommended Boone: A Biography by Robert Morgan to me. Morgan has crafted that rare biography in which the critical lessons of the subject do not become lost in the details of his life. Indeed, Morgan evokes those lessons in the best pieces of writing in the book; the lessons seem to haunt the pages. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Russell S.

November 17, 2011 at 9:52 pm

On the Unfortunate Decline of the Idea and the Public Intellectual

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Concomitant with the rise of new forms of mass media are new tools for expressing one’s opinion—on everything, but especially political matters.  Twitter, Facebook, other social media sites and the Internet in general now make it easy to eviscerate traditional media’s role in opinion dissemination and political commentary: to wit, the guardians of quality, allowing for the distinction, as it were, between good art and bad artifice.  To be sure, mass media affords the common American a hitherto unprecedented voice in American politics, not to mention an opportunity to stay informed at a high level, but it also thrusts her into the position of political commentator, whose opinions we value often at a level previously reserved for the public intellectual, the social commentator, or the essayist (a long lost art after George Orwell).  Doubtless, mass media has opened the space for the culture of political “pundits,” operatives, commentators, polling experts, psephologists, and strategists.  Indeed, these individuals inhabit our airwaves, engaging in their pseudo-intellectual vocation, caviling and carping over trifling matters—the tie someone sported and the “message” it either consciously or subconsciously sent, the meaning of an official’s particular gesticulations as she delivered a speech, or the recent “beltway” canards and calumnies—with the constant benefit of infallible hindsight.  While the American polity chugs along with historic problems, one finds these ubiquitous individuals continually missing the forest for the trees. Read the rest of this entry »