Too Short for a Blog Post, Too Long for a Tweet LXXIX

Here's two excerpts from a book I am reading, "Grunt: The Curious Science of Men at War," by Mary Roach:

For every general and Medal of Honor winner, there are a hundred military scientists whose names you’ll never hear. The work I write about represents a fraction of a percent of all that goes on. I have omitted whole disciplines of worthy endeavor. There is no chapter on countermeasures for post-traumatic stress disorder, for example, not because PTSD doesn’t deserve coverage but because it has had so much, and so much of it is so very good. These books and articles aim the spotlight where it belongs. I am not, by trade or character, a spotlight operator. I’m the goober with a flashlight, stumbling into corners and crannies, not looking for anything specific but knowing when I’ve found it.


It’s hard for me to imagine: worrying about the emotional state of other people when you yourself have just lost part of both legs and possibly some of your genitalia and on top of that your pelvis is broken. White told me his platoon sergeant said to him recently, “Maybe it happened to you because you’re the kind of person who’s tough enough to handle it.” I think White is plenty tough, but I don’t think we’re talking about toughness here. This is some kind of blinding selflessness, the sort of instinct that sends parents running into burning buildings. The bonding of combat, the uncalculating instinct of duty to one’s charges and fellow fighters, these are things that I, as an outsider, can never really understand.


Too Short for a Blog Post, Too Long for a Tweet LXXVIII

Here's an excerpt from an article I just read, "Baseball Tackles Workplace Mystery: How to Build Team Chemistry?" in the Wall Street Journal:

Fast forward nearly two decades, and the thinking has changed. In a sweeping shift, many of the industry’s wonkiest stat-heads now acknowledge that how players get along with each other likely can affect how they perform on the field over a six-month season.

“Chemistry is absolutely critical, but very few teams or managers or general managers know how to create it or even have any idea how to create it,” said Houston Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow, the leader of perhaps the most data-driven front office in the majors. “You know it’s important, but you don’t know what the levers are to change it.”

But what if they did? Corporate managers and armies of consultants have wrestled with this question for decades, and now baseball is tackling it head-on: Can something as nebulous as “chemistry” be quantified like on-base percentage or ERA, and if so, can it be weaponized?

Increasingly, forward-thinking franchises think it’s possible not only to measure the impact of chemistry, but to cultivate positive chemistry in an intentional and systematic fashion. That belief has sparked an information arms race in an area often discussed but rarely analyzed in a scientific way. 

And whoever solves the riddle first will have earned a competitive advantage over their peers that could come with far-reaching ramifications.


Too Short for a Blog Post, Too Long for a Tweet LXXVII

Here's an excerpt from an article I recently read, "A Columbia Professor's Critique of Campus Politics," in the Atlantic Magazine:

The idea that I disagree with you and that makes you a bad person, that might not be new. Because people were having that on the Upper West Side during Nixon, for example. It wasn't just, I disagree with you about Nixon. It was, you're a bad person. I think that now, more specifically, the problem is, “you're a bad person and you should not speak,” that's what is new.

Today the idea is that you walk out of the room, you can't hear it, because the space isn't safe. That's a theatrical gesture. It should be used for auditions.

That's what the problem is, I think.


Too Short for a Blog Post, Too Long for a Tweet LXXVI

Here's an excerpt from an article I just read, "From 'Not in My Backyard' to 'Yes in My Backyard,'" in the Atlantic Magazine:

The idea of wealth redistribution was what helped convert Loe, the Seattle YIMBY, to the cause. She was raised by two art historians, she told me, who emphasized the importance of historic preservation, and so she used to support restrictions on building. She used to want to “wage a proxy war on capitalism,” she told me, by not letting builders build. Loe was the campaign manager for a Seattle city-council candidate who opposed development, and as she knocked on doors during the campaign, she met a number of NIMBYs who didn’t want their neighborhoods to be more diverse. It slowly dawned on Loe, who had been a member of the Green Party for 20 years, that building more housing was the way to make Seattle more equitable. “White homeowners have had so many advantages and subsidies and tax breaks—there’s a fairness issue there,” she said. “It’s about sharing the city.”


What Am I Working On

As has become my custom every three months, here's what I'm working on now at work. I won't repeat anything from last time that I happen to still be working on, and for confidentiality's sake I have to blur some of the details for some of these studies.

* Economic and community impact of an urban university and health system.

* Economic impact profile for a Christian college in rural Georgia.

* Comparative analysis of tax burden in multiple jurisdictions across a metropolitan region.

* Strategic plan for a workforce development not-for-profit organization.

* Visitor volume and economic impact analysis for a regional tourism marketing entity.

* Economic development strategy for a small city struggling with crime and blight.


Lazy Linking, 192nd in an Occasional Series

What I liked lately on the Internets:

192.1 It's goats vs. unions in the battle to cut your grass on.freep.com/2uxju3n @freep

192.2 Justice Roberts's good advice to 9th graders: hardship is good for you ti.me/2uQBg0O @time

192.3 Workers of the world unite...to reject a minimum wage increase wapo.st/2sTTRrv @washingtonpost

192.4 Coming soon: Museum of Capitalism...in Oakland...it's free...& dreams of its subject's demise bit.ly/2uRG3z4 @curbedsf
192.5 A call to loyalty to POTUS (vs. law/nation/people) is antithetical to what the US fundamentally is bit.ly/2tYPksN @kottke


Recommended Reads, 27th in a Quarterly Series

Stuff I'd recommend from my past three months' reading consumption:

The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time (Huffington).  Far from being the opposite of being productive, sleep is super productive in terms of taking care of your body and performing maintenance on your mind.

Fire Shut Up in My Bones (Blow).  A searing memoir heavy with issues of abuse, race, and class.

But What If We're Wrong?: Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past (Klosterman).  I love these kinds of thought exercises of what today will be remember tomorrow.

Men We Reaped: A Memoir (Ward).  Oh what devastation violence wreaks on our communities, our families, and our hearts.