Tag Archive: Teddy Roosevelt


I’d like to warn the best of them, the iconoclasts, the innovators, the rebels, that they will always have a bull’s-eye on their backs. The better they get, the bigger the bull’s-eye. It’s not one man’s opinion; it’s a law of nature.” – Nike founder Phil Knight

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena …” – President Teddy Roosevelt

There are no statues devoted to critics.

Our increasingly complex data-driven society is overloaded with analysts, reviewers, chroniclers, interpreters – creating nothing of meaningful value – but they are always quick to cast stones at those who try to make the world a better place.

As Phil Knight said in his New York Times best seller Shoe Dog, “Entrepreneurs have always been outgunned, outnumbered.”

A perfect example – not the first one and certainly not the last – is the use of a series of infographics to depict an engineering/entrepreneur who tried and tried and succeeded brilliantly, but is portrayed by his failures.

A May 26 MarketWatch piece by Sally French includes a five-part infographic, which catalogs a litany of failures by Tesla co-founder, SpaceX founder, SolarCity co-founder and PayPal co-founder Elon Musk.

When asked to describe himself by Steve Croft of CBS’ “60 Minutes,” Musk responded that he regarded himself simply as an engineer. Almost DailyBrett has worked with engineers for years, attempting to transform their anal exactitude, never-ending acronyms and nomenclature into plain English.

What characterizes engineers is their willingness, their compulsion to throw ideas at the wall. Some will stick, and others … oh well.

Elon Musk is not afraid to fail. He is more scared by the prospect of not even trying.

Alas, Musk is human. Five of his SpaceX rockets blew up. He was ousted from PayPal on his honeymoon. He made $180 million from his stake in PayPal. He invested this money and presumably much more in SpaceX and Tesla, both were hemorrhaging cash. He was not only broke, but in way-over-his-head debt in 2008.

Today, Musk is Forbes’ #80 wealthiest individual on the planet with an estimated worth of $13.9 billion. His Tesla is the pure-play leader in energy-efficient electric cars, ion-Lithium batteries and solar. Is Tesla an electric car company that helps combat climate change? An energy company that shuns fossil fuels? Or is it, Elon Musk’s company?

How about all of the above? To most investors, the answer would be third … Tesla is Elon Musk’s company … and there may lie the reason for the MarketWatch infographics, illustrating Musk’s failures. Schadenfreude has never felt so good or gut.

A similar set of questions can be asked about Musk’s SpaceX, which is transporting materials to the International Space Station and may someday put humans on Mars. Think of it this way, four entities have successfully fired rockets into space: The United States of America, Russia, China and Elon Musk’s privately held, SpaceX.

The Importance of Failure

“I think it’s important to have a good hard failure when you’re young because it makes you kind of aware of what can happen to you. Because of it, I’ve never had any fear in my whole life when we’ve been near collapse.” — Walt Disney

Would you rather be Steve Jobs, who was terminated by the company he created, Apple?

Or would you rather be John Sculley, who will go down in history as the man who fired Steve Jobs?

 

 

Sculley recently tried to blame the termination of Jobs on the Apple Board of Directors at the time, but the die has already been cast. Sculley will follow Jobs to the grave as the man who sent packing the modern-day equivalent of Leonardo da Vinci.

Nike founder Phil Knight recounted in his memoir how he started his company with a $50 loan from his dad. Today, Nike is the planet’s No. 1 athletic apparel and shoe provider with $33.92 billion in revenues, $86.8 billion in market capitalization and 70,000 employees.

Uncle Phil is the 28th wealthiest homo sapien in the world at $26.2 billion. Keep in mind, this company was literally days, if not hours, away from bankruptcy too many times to count between 1962 and going public in 1980.

For Musk, his tale is a South Africa-to-America story. Today, Tesla is a $8.55 billion company, employing 17,782 with investors pouring $53.4 billion into its market cap.

Almost DailyBrett has been consistent in hailing the risk takers, the entrepreneurs, those who stare failure right in the face and sneer. The results are great companies that employ 10s of thousands and produce the products we want and need.

There will always be those who rage at the “billionaire class” to score political points.

And some with too-much-time-on-their-hands develop infographics to illustrate how the great have fallen here and there.

Wonder if any of these critics, analysts, reviewers etc. would have fired Steve Jobs?

Almost DailyBrett radical transparency: Your author happily owns shares in both Nike (NYSE: NKE) and Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA). The above epistle does not constitute investment advice for either company other than to generically say, Buy Low, Sell High.

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-many-failures-of-elon-musk-captured-in-one-giant-infographic-2017-05-24

http://www.theodore-roosevelt.com/trsorbonnespeech.html

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-fascinating-life-of-elon-musk-captured-in-one-giant-infographic-2016-04-13

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bojY5N2Ns3k

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/02/05/a-man-in-the-arena/

https://www.forbes.com/billionaires/list/#version:static

https://www.forbes.com/sites/randalllane/2013/09/09/john-sculley-just-gave-his-most-detailed-account-ever-of-how-steve-jobs-got-fired-from-apple/#38def8d4c655

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I cannot imagine ever voting for him (Donald Trump).” – Conservative Washington Post columnist, Charles Krauthammer

“What I think about Hillary Clinton is — I imagine to be a bright woman without the courage of her convictions because I’m not sure what they are.” — Comedian and Late-Night Host Jon Stewart

“(Trump’s attack against an Hispanic judge) The textbook definition of a racist comment.” – House Speaker Paul Ryan

“All I’m saying is that the idea that there’s one set of rules for us (The Clintons) and another set for everybody else is true.” – Former President William Jefferson Clinton

Choosing between Hillary and The Donald is akin to either burning at the stake or drowning (not to be confused with “Berning” at the stake).hillarytrump

Is this “choice” posed to the American people the absolute best the most powerful country on earth can do at this critical point in the nation’s history?

Can Hillary seriously be compared in the same vein to Democratic forerunners Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, James K. Polk, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy?

We all know the answer to that question.

Ditto for weighing out-of-control Donald Trump against Honest Abraham Lincoln, Progressive Teddy Roosevelt, Commander-in-Chief Dwight Eisenhower and The Gipper, Ronald Reagan. All of these presidents were the epitome of political discipline. That is very last word that applies to Trump.

There is a nationwide pile-on against The Donald for a litany of good reasons, which could lead to the ultimate Schadenfreude moment: We are so happy The Donald is so sad … and humbled.oligarchy

The most likely net side-effect: The Clintons are back in the White House. There will be the predictable celebration of the first woman president. Keep in mind, we will not be electing the American equivalent of Kanzerlin Angela Merkel, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher or Fed Chief Janet Yellen, but yet another member of the Clintonian Oligarchy.

Maybe we should simply elect the right person for the right time (e.g., Franklin Roosevelt in 1932, Ronald Reagan in 1980) or is that too much to ask?

Is there a third way?

Is there a third option?

Throwing Away My Vote?

“I’m sorry this happened (Trump nomination), but we’ll see where it ends up. I’m not making any final decision yet, but at this point I just can’t do it (endorse The Donald).” – Ohio Governor John Kasichkasich

Last month, yours truly cast his first State of Washington primary ballot for Kasich. Even though Ohio’s chief executive easily fits my definition of a Ronald Reagan-vintage Republican, everyone knew that Kasich could not win. Did the author of Almost DailyBrett throw his vote away?

By voting for Kasich, your author opted for a good guy and better yet did not jump on the Trump bandwagon as it heads towards the electoral cliff. Proud to NOT vote for Trump and akin to Charles Krauthammer, can’t imagine ever checking the box for Trump even though he is the party nominee.

The list of prominent Republicans not yet (or never) endorsing The Donald is deep and prominent: Former President George H.W. Bush, Former President George W. Bush, Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, Ohio Governor John Kasich, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan and U.S. Senator Lindsay Graham of South Carolina among others.

Even more important to your author as a former Golden State press secretary is that all three living California Republican Governors Arnold Schwarzenegger, Pete Wilson and of course my former boss, George Deukmejian, are not endorsing Donald Trump … and hopefully never will.

Bull Moose in 2016?

Former President Teddy Roosevelt was less than enamored with his successor Howard Taft in 1912 and ran as “progressive” third-party “Bull Moose” campaign for president, splitting the Republican Party and electing Democrat Woodrow Wilson to the White House.teddyroosevelt

As an eternal optimist Almost DailyBrett must ask: Is there a common sense, free-enterprise, strong-fiscal discipline and hawkish on national defense type who can run “Bull Moose” this year?

Whattyathink Mitt Romney? How about it, John Kasich? Do you really want to be speaker, Paul Ryan?

Yes, Almost DailyBrett understands that running a “Bull Moose” candidate this year (former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson does not fit the bill) will most likely result in Bill Clinton measuring the new drapes for the Lincoln Bedroom, but one can be spared from having to decide between Hillary and The Donald.

University of Virginia Professor of Political Science Larry Sabato pointed to 1964 (e.g., Goldwater) as the year the Republicans “went off the rails” followed by a similar exercise in political masochism by the Democrats in 1972 (e.g., McGovern). Now it is the GOP’s turn again. The more-than-likely Republican train wreck will not be pretty, but it may be cleansing.

It will be onward to 2020. Hopefully, we will not be looking up to the heavens for a third choice, a third way once again.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/in-the-matter-of-paul-ryan/2016/06/09/e2d7734a-2e71-11e6-9de3-6e6e7a14000c_story.html?wpisrc=nl_opinions&wpmm=1

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2016/06/07/ryan-says-trumps-attacks-on-judge-fit-the-textbook-definition-of-a-racist-comment/?tid=a_inl

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2016/06/15/time-for-panic-or-for-nevertrump/?wpisrc=nl_popns&wpmm=1

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2016/06/16/good-for-kasich-now-will-he-help-dump-trump/?wpisrc=nl_popns&wpmm=1

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third_Way

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/06/13/this-new-poll-utah-poll-is-amazingly-bad-for-donald-trump/

http://www.eonline.com/news/671706/arnold-schwarzenegger-reacts-to-donald-trump-s-run-for-president-some-candidates-will-make-a-lot-of-noise

http://www.politico.com/story/2016/06/donald-trump-vice-president-224488

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progressive_Party_(United_States,_1912)

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/november-is-fast-becoming-what-the-gop-fears-a-referendum-on-trump/2016/06/18/f942ddd2-34dd-11e6-8758-d58e76e11b12_story.html?wpisrc=nl_headlines&wpmm=1

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/05/12/jon-stewart-perfectly-diagnosed-the-problem-with-hillary-clintons-candidacy/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As a young cub reporter, I cut my teeth on Proposition 13.

The political class and Punditocracy were steadfastly aligned against California’s tax-revolt initiative in 1978.

The electorate would not vote in their self-interest (e.g., their homes) and “devastate” the state’s infrastructure (i.e., schools, libraries and fire stations). Surely, not.

Surely, yes.presspass

We were told the sun would not rise on Wednesday, June 7, if Proposition 13 was approved the day before.

El Sol did indeed rise over the east hills of the Golden State that very morning. The birds were chirping. The bees were buzzing. Love was in the air. And Sacramento subvened its $4 billion surplus to the state’s 58 counties.

Homes were saved. Libraries remained open. Fire houses were not closed. Life moved on … as it always does. Fiscal Armageddon did not occur.

The author of Almost DailyBrett learned a valuable lesson: The voters are not as unaware as the political elites believe.

They will vote in the interest of their homes, families, wallets and purses.

As Jean Baptist-Colbert, French Minister of Finances under Louis XIV, said:

“The art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to obtain the largest amount of feathers with the least possible amount of hissing.”

There was plenty of hissing to go around in the late spring of 1978.

The Initiative, The Referendum, The Recall

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The name Hiram Warren Johnson would probably stump everyone except the most avid player of political Trivial Pursuit.

The progressive Republican Governor of California from 1911-1917, who also served as the running mate for Teddy Roosevelt in 1912, will go down in history as the man who introduced to the Golden State and the world: the initiative, the referendum and the recall.

These three political equivalents of nuclear weapons would remain in virtual hibernation until the days of the Great Inflation in the 1970s, which plagued the subsequent administrations of Nixon, Ford and Carter. With annualized inflation running between 15-18 percent per year, county assessors (e.g., Alexander Pope in Los Angeles) were sending property tax bills that were around 30 percent higher every two years.

You don’t have to be a math wizard to realize that 15 percent compounded annualized inflation-driven property-tax increases were threatening the ability of literally millions to pay their property tax bills. And what did the virtual one-party state Legislature do about it?

Nothing.

It was only a matter of time for two former gadflies, Howard Jarvis and Paul Gann, to become heroes and villains at the same time with one vehicle, the initiative, namely Proposition 13.

Anxiety, Apprehension, Anger

“Despite a torrent of horror stories from teachers’ unions, politicians, newspapers and corporate lobbyists in Sacramento about the potentially devastating effects of Proposition 13, more than 60 percent of the voters took a gamble and approved the ballot measure.” – Stephen Moore, Cato Institutenewsweekprop13

The author of Almost DailyBrett vividly remembers that Californians were disgusted with politicians and everything Sacramento in 1978. They voted for Proposition 13 to send an unmistakable message to the political class: We are not as unaware and ignorant as you think we are.

Exactly 25 years later, another generation of Californians brought to the forefront another of Hiram Johnson’s reforms, the recall. The target in 2003 was Governor Gray Davis, who magically transformed a $14 billion “surplus” into a $38 billion deficit.

The net result was the election of charming media-celebrity, body-builder-turned-movie-star-turned Gubernator, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Fast forwarding to today, Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer used three “A”s to describe the political mood of the electorate. He could have easily added another “A” with a Teutonic twist: Angst.

Just as the California electorate was volatile and unpredictable in 1978 and 2003 and willing to take matters into their own collective hands, the same seems to hold true this year on a national scale.timejarvis

To date, Almost DailyBrett has been totally wrong on which parties delegate race would conclude first, and how a celebrity candidacy would end once the electoral calendar moved from the Silly Season to the Serious Season.

There are plenty of polls and Electoral College projections, but in the end analysis the two respective parties are nominating candidates with unprecedented nearly 60 percent unfavorable ratings at a time when the nation’s right track/wrong track barometer is two-to-one in the wrong direction.

Not only are we politically gridlocked at home, we are seen as nation in decline overseas. And heaven forbid – how will an exogenous event striking the homeland upset the scant political equilibrium that does exist?

If you were serving as the head of communications or press secretary for either of the two candidates with nearly 100 percent name identification (not necessarily a good thing), sleep is going to be a precious commodity between now and November.

Strap on your seat belts for a rough ride. And don’t forget the electorate. The voters are not as dumb as everyone in Washington D.C., and Midtown Manhattan thinks they are.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/donald-hillary-and-the-bernie-factor/2016/05/19/cc594044-1de6-11e6-9c81-4be1c14fb8c8_story.html

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/10/04/taxing-the-fab-four-exiling-the-stones/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/02/08/golden-state-handcuffs/

http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=j000140

http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h1984.html

http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/proposition-13-then-now-forever

http://quoteinvestigator.com/2014/04/04/tax-tree/

 

 

 

 

 

“Dear applicant,”

I could have called you and I chose not to.” — Comedian Jerry Seinfeld on the growing use of texting and emails to deliver unpleasant news

There was always bad news, and even a glimmer of good news, with the traditional “Dear John” letter.

The bad news was obvious: Your relationship with a particular mademoiselle or madame was finis.

dearjohn

The good news was at least she knew your name and she took the time to pen a note and let you know the final score, even if she did not want to tell you in person or over the phone.

You can’t say the same about a Dear applicant email sent robotically and clinically by a secretary on behalf of someone important with that special extra tender touch in which applicant (that would be you) is spelled in lower case.

It’s even more special if its sent the day before Thanksgiving.

Kind of makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Almost DailyBrett has commented before about how digital technology (e.g., Web 2.0), despite its ubiquitous nature and 24/7/365 worldwide communication capabilities, has in many respects made it easier for organizations to deliver unwanted messages without any splash back.

As the global economic malaise stretches into its seventh year (when will this funk be over?) with stubborn high-single digit/low-double digit unemployment and underemployment percentages, more-and-more qualified (and overqualified) individuals are competing for what seems to be fewer-and-fewer positions.

Naturally, cool superstars with lofty market values (e.g., Google, Nike, Amazon, Apple, Facebook…) are overwhelmed by thousands of cover letters and resumes. Their respective Catberts (e.g., Human Resources Departments) cannot respond to every one of these applications.

The problem is solved by automatically generated acknowledgement emails, immediately lowering the hopes of the applicant, setting the expectation that only the best and the brightest will be contacted for interviews. Fair enough.

But what happens when the applicant hails from inside the organization? What happens when the applicant is actually encouraged to apply? What happens when an applicant has spent eight hours or longer running a gauntlet of interviews from the mail-room dude to the CEO, followed by the obligatory thank you notes, and knows that she or he is a finalist for the brass ring?

These questions are magnified in cases in which applicants literally expended hours preparing targeted cover letters, updating CVs, securing reference letters and developing online or hard copy portfolios of work.

All of the above are the price for competing and (hopefully) securing high five-figure or six-figure positions in today’s economy.

After all of this effort and more on the part of the job seeker, is a terse Dear applicant kiss-off email from the executive secretary, appropriate?

Wouldn’t you rather receive the equivalent of a Dear John (or substitute your own name), particularly from the hiring manager, instead?

Of course you would.

The next question that comes to mind is: What does the terse digital Dear applicant message say about the organization (e.g., corporations, agencies, non-profits, college or university departments) that treats job seekers this way?

Almost DailyBrett opines that no one naturally wants to hear bad news. This is human nature and to be expected. More importantly, people want to be treated in a straight forward manner. Most of all, they want in the words of the legendary Aretha Franklin to be R-E-S-P-E-C-T-ed.

The Dear applicant diss speaks volumes about the organization. It projects arrogance. It signals coldness. It conveys callousness. Come to think of it, does the job seeker really want to work for this organization? Is the hiring manager really a bosshole?

The Edelman Trust Barometer has repeatedly reported that people are more willing to do business with companies that treat their employees well. That conceivably also applies to those who seek employment with a given company.

“Never play with the feelings of others because you may win the game, but the risk is that you will surely lose the person for a lifetime.” – attributed to Shakespeare.

And what about that poor sap, Teddy Roosevelt’s Man in the Arena who competed to the best of her or his ability, only to receive a “Dear applicant” message?

That person most likely will neither forget nor forgive. That person could have been a future customer. That person could have been a major donor. That person could have a form of hegemony over the Dear applicant organization. The organization could have kept that person on a first-name basis. Instead the organization burned a bridge, and for what purpose?

execsecy

The Dear applicant epistle sent from an executive secretary, who could care less, is without any conceivable doubt bad public relations, poor reputation management and atrocious brand management all in one.

These walk-the-extra-mile applicants deserve personal recognition, respect and to be treated with dignity, not a careless boilerplate message.

What is the old saying: “What goes around comes around?”

Some very wise person said that once, maybe even one who received a Dear applicant kiss-off.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dear_John_letter

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Dear%20John%20Letter

http://www.wikihow.com/Write-a-Dear-John-Letter

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aretha_Franklin

http://www.edelman.com/insights/intellectual-property/trust-2013/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/03/28/losing-the-art-of-verbal-confrontation/

http://www.edelman.com/post/rebuilding-trust-through-employee-engagement/

http://www.billoreilly.com/video?chartID=610&vid=-686347981610326466

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” – Teddy Roosevelt

teddyroosevelt

Self-indulgent … Weak, unimaginative songs…” – Rolling Stone magazine review of Led Zeppelin I.

“(The first album) just went over their heads. Absolutely. Absolutely, so. It was way beyond them…” – Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page reflecting on the initial reviews.

Take that, critics.

There are no statues or monuments to critics.

Ancient and modern-day versions of the Pharisees have always been and will always be with us.

Will Tim Tebow make it in the NFL? If he doesn’t, is it because of his home schooling? His belief in a higher being? His long-time commitment to clean living?

You would think that he never won the Heisman Trophy.

Give him credit for one thing: He is a man in the arena.

In our digital society, our ability and our incessant need to calibrate, to crunch data to smithereens has never been greater.

Didn’t Intel get into major PR trouble in 1994 because the Pentium chip (floating point unit FPU) didn’t compute correctly four or more digits AFTER the decimal point?

When a big league hitter comes to the plate, we all know his batting average, average with RISP (runners in scoring position), home runs, RBIs…all the data that makes Billy Beane, as played by Brad Pitt, salivate.

In nanoseconds, we measure the direction of stocks, market capitalization of companies, price-to-earnings ratios and the “churn” as institutional investors or hedge funds move in-and-out of a security.

In God we trust; All others bring data. – Professor/Author William Edward Deming.

And yet, despite our unquenchable thirst for data, figures and factoids, our lives still remain largely subjective. And there are “Russian judges” that from time-to-time are thumbs down on even our best efforts.

Most sports have a scoreboard. You either win or lose, pure and simple. That is not the case for figure skating, particularly during the troubled days of the Cold War. An American skater would receive the following marks for her performance in the short or long program: 5.8, 5.9, 5.8, 5.7, 5.9, 5.8, 4.5…Wonder who gave her the 4.5? The Russian judge.

The point is the critics are still here. The world has never been more technologically advanced with 90 percent of the scientists, who ever lived, walking around the planet right now. Despite all of this innovation and advancement, we are still for the large part evaluated subjectively by our peers.

We live, and maybe always will reside in a subjective society.

This undeniable fact requires us to remember the most important public relations of all are personal public relations. How do you enhance your personal brand? How do you protect your reputation? Did you “Google” yourself today? Do you like what you see? Or do you need to change course?

Even though job applications with digital cover letters, curriculum vitae, portfolios and URLs are all submitted, and in most cases search engine instantly evaluated for desired “tag” words, the decision whether to hire or not is made by flesh-and-bones people. And of course, people can be political.

As CNBC’s Jim Cramer says, “I don’t care about a stock’s past, only its future.”

cramer

Interviewers are only concerned about whether you will add value to the bottom line. They want to know how you will fit into an organization. They want to know how you will contribute. They want to know whether you have the gravitas to interact effectively with management, customers and other stakeholders. They want to know whether you will be a team player.

How about romance? We might be able to devise a pithy profile with nice JPEG mug shots for Match.com or eHarmony or some other dating site, but whether you succeed or fail in the game of love comes down to the subjective opinion of another person. Are you immediately placed on the friendship track or the romance track? That is the mother of all analog decisions. At some point, there will be a decision whether intimate human contact is in the cards. The ones-and-zeroes play absolutely no role.

Even blog writers are subjected to…ah…subjectivity. Do these words work for you or not? Do you enjoy that picture on the wall? What about the architecture of this building? Or that outdoor landscaping? And how about Led Zeppelin I? Is it “self-indulgent”? Or does it go right over the heads of the critics?

Sometimes, we are talking about questions of taste. Sometimes a critic’s upbringing comes into play or pre-set political philosophies. And maybe despite your best efforts and effective personal public relations, the critic simply doesn’t care for you. It all comes down to eternal subjectivity in a digital world.

Those damn Russian judges. They will always be there to torment us.

http://www.theodore-roosevelt.com/trsorbonnespeech.html

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xhyW3_2f02w

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tim_Tebow

http://t.foxsports.msn.com/nfl/tebows-nfl-days-numbered-after-zero-snaps

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pentium_FDIV_bug

http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_percentage_of_all_scientists_who_have_ever_lived_are_alive_today

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W._Edwards_Deming

http://www.cnbc.com/id/15838187

 

 

 

State of Mediocrity

“It deeply saddens me that some people in power in our state continue to drive Oregon into a death spiral with their embrace of mediocrity.” – Nike founder Phil Knight.

unclephil

Oregonians deserve better than struggling to avoid mediocrity,” – University of Oregon President Richard Lariviere today before he was fired by the Oregon State Board of Education.

lariviere

With the exception of West Virginia breaking away from Virginia at the onset of the Civil War, I don’t know of any other states that have actually changed their name. Maybe the time has come for a second state to change its name.

The vapid intellectual tundra lying between Washington to the north, California to the south, Nevada and Idaho to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west that used to be called Oregon should now be officially recognized as the State of Mediocrity.

Each year there would be a Civil War game between the University of Mediocrity Ducks and the Mediocrity State Beavers. The winner of the game would be guaranteed a slot in the most average of all college bowl games, the uDrove Humanitarian Bowl in Boise. Maybe, Mediocrity Governor John Kitzhaber could throw out the first potato into the snow?

kitzhaber

Come on Oregonians…err..Mediocritans, it’s time to continue our eternal quest to be average, to be mundane, to be just so-so. Let’s insist on paying other people to pump gas into our cars in the interest of ensuring the perpetuation of low-quality jobs for petroleum-transfer engineers. Maybe what’s left of our universities can produce graduates who are uniquely prepared to pump gas, tend bar, pick up garbage and most of all being prepared to ask: “Would you like fries with that hamburger?”

Even with the myriad of challenges that California faces, it still has great universities such as Stanford and UC Berkeley that are producing the brains that directly lead to Silicon Valley innovation. A telling Harvard Business Review study would compare the fate of two similar companies founded at the same time, one in California and one in Oregon. The companies are Hewlett-Packard and Tektronix…Tek-Who?

The State of Mediocrity strategically stands right on the edge of the Pacific Rim and its children will be uniquely prepared to report to their future bosses located in China, India, Taiwan, Korea, Japan and (gasp) California…that assumes they can get a job.

Richard Lariviere took a principled stand against the notion of communal poverty, the idea that the only method of addressing economic inequality is to make everyone equally miserable. “Thirty years of disinvestment in higher education have left the university and all of its sister institutions impoverished,” he said. “The structures now in place for financing and governing our universities offer no hope for moving us out of this poverty.”

Lariviere’s sin (no good deed goes unpunished) was to dream big. He did not see the University of Oregon and Eastern Oregon University on the same academic playing field. Quick: Where is Eastern Oregon located? I don’t know either.

There are two Carnegie Doctoral Research Universities in the State of Oregon, the University of Oregon and Oregon State University…sorry Western Oregon, Southern Oregon, Eastern Oregon, Portland State University, but you simply didn’t make the cut. Now why can the Carnegie folks figure out that certain universities deserve a “research” status and others do not? Maybe, it’s because they do not work for government bureaucracies.

US News and World Report in its annual rankings of public universities ranks the University of Oregon #46. The next highest Oregon university, OSU, stands at #69. Sorry Eastern Oregon, Western Oregon, Southern Oregon… I stopped reading after 110 slots and I did not see any other ranked Oregon public universities.

Isn’t it ironic that Oregon is allowed compete for its third straight conference championship and a trip to the Rose Bowl on Friday, but the state’s flagship university is impeded from aspiring to become a UC Berkeley, a UVA, a University of Michigan, a University of Texas? Will Governor Kitzhaber fire Chip Kelly because he dreams of championships? Maybe a perfectly equal 6-6 record would be more appropriate for the State of Mediocrity?

Lariviere was terminated officially for insubordination. He dared to pay his faculty members what they deserved to stop the flight of talent from the University of Oregon. This action did not sit well with Governor Kitzhaber and the board. Rarely is being a lone ranger ever rewarded.

Having worked for a governor (not Kitzhaber) for eight years, I understand completely the role of a state’s chief executive and the power of the purse strings…that power is subsiding. A generation ago, 25 percent of the funding for the University of Oregon came from Salem; today that figure is a single-digit.

In the end, President Lariviere dared greatly. He lived the words of Teddy Roosevelt when it comes to competing in the arena. I can’t say the same for Governor Kitzhaber.

“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.” – Teddy Roosevelt

http://www.washington.edu/tools/universities.html

http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/rankings/national-universities/top-public

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