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Friedman follow-up 

Yesterday I reckoned Daniel Davies would analyse the globollocks in Tom Friedman’s column. I was right (and Davies is once again absolutely on target):

“Apparently the USA isn’t bringing through enough research scientists. What’s the solution? Presumably the rush to global competition of the free market. Nope, sorry, wrong, the solution is massive amounts of government money. In the Airmiles world, agricultural subsidies are terrible, awful anticompetitive, protectionist. But massive subsidies to the science industry are imperative, because of globalisation or something.”

Sticking to the poorly composed notes on the page 

My favourite thinkers take an insight from one field and see how it applies in another. Richard Gayle, A Man with a PhD, seems to do this consistently.

Today he takes an exploration of improvisation and applies it as a yardstick to measure the Bush administration.

Here are the principles of improvisation:

  Acceptance of a new idea or approach from the standpoint of exploring the possibilities it has to offer. The attitude of “Yes, and”.
  Attentive listening to the partners with whom one is co-creating.
  Temporary suspension of critical judgment, while in the option-generating phase.
  An attitude of relaxed, even playful, openness to new ideas. Diverging out from the obvious into the far reaches of imagination. “What if ___?”
  Reframing situations to explore creative possibilities. Shifting perspective, focus, position.
  A willingness to take chances, to risk appearing foolish.
  An understanding that no choice is absolutely right or wrong, though each may turn out to be more or less productive in a given situation – and this can often be discovered only through trial and error.

And Gayle’s analysis:

“In an increasingly complex and ever-changing world, the ability to improvise is crucial. What worked 6 months ago will not work today. Why not and how do we fix it? Yet, by every bullet point in the above, the current administration is a failure. Every single one of them. It does not listen to other views. It does not listen attentively since it seldom listens at all. We have yet to hear of them suspending any critical judgment. In fact, many incidents indicate that it follows a rush to judgment rather than the opposite. I have yet to hear of any openness to new ideas viewed with playfulness. Nothing is reframed for creative possibilities. Appearing foolish seems to be the exact opposite of this administration’s approach. It has to always be perfectly in control. The last one is actually laughable. To its way of thinking, every choice is either absolutely right or it is wrong. They talk in the manner of moral certitude for everything they do, even when it is the opposite of what they said a few weeks earlier.”

273 days and counting 

I somehow missed Mark Schmitt’s launch of his 1/21 project — an intelligent, progressive blogger’s attempt to concentrate on making a Kerry administration effective from the day it steps into office (January 21, 2005, with a bit of luck).

All of Mark’s post is worth reading to concentrate left-wing minds on the business of power, not just the enjoyable pasttime of commenting from the sidelines.


Kevin Drum reckons the Bush administration’s political judgment is off target in its attempt to prevent pictures of coffins appearing in the US media.

“The Bush administration’s political judgment is obvious: pictures of dead soldiers on the front pages of newspapers will turn people against the war. And maybe they’re right. But my guess is different: seeing these pictures would make most Americans feel pride in their country and determined that these lives not be lost in vain. On the other hand, hiding the pictures just makes it look like the administration is ashamed of its war.”

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