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Favorite Perennial Quotes

Video: The Morning Fog – Kate Bush

July 25, 2022
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Video: Kate Bush – Cloudbusting

July 25, 2022
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Based on a true story set in Maine.

Wilhelm Reich 24 March 1897 – 3 November 1957) was an Austrian doctor of medicine and a psychoanalyst, along with being a member of the second generation of analysts after Sigmund Freud.

It was shortly after he arrived in New York in 1939 that Reich first said he had discovered a biological or cosmic energy, an extension of Freud’s idea of the libido. He called it “orgone energy” or “orgone radiation”, and the study of it “orgonomy”…

In November 1942, Reich purchased an old farm for $4,000 on Dodge Pond, Maine, near Rangeley, with 280 acres (1.1 km2) of land. Calling it Orgonon, he started spending summers there, and had a one-room cabin built in 1943, a laboratory in 1945, a larger cabin in 1946, and an observatory in 1948…

In 1950, he decided to live there year-round, and in May that year moved from New York with Ilse, their son, Peter, and Reich’s daughter Eva, with the idea of creating a centre for the study of orgone…

On 5 June 1956, two FDA officials arrived at Orgonon to supervise the destruction of the accumulators… The FDA agents were not allowed to destroy them, only to supervise the destruction, so Reich’s friends and his son, Peter, chopped them up with axes as the agents watched

Kate Bush’s single “Cloudbusting” (1985) described Reich’s arrest through the eyes of his son, Peter, who wrote his father’s story in A Book of Dreams (1973). The video for the song features Donald Sutherland as Reich and Bush as Peter…

Official music video for the single “Cloudbusting” written, produced and performed by the British singer Kate Bush. It was the second single released from her no.1 1985 album Hounds of Love. “Cloudbusting” peaked at no.20 in the UK Singles Chart.

The music video, directed by Julian Doyle, was conceived by Terry Gilliam and Kate Bush. The video features Canadian actor Donald Sutherland playing the role of Wilhelm Reich, and Bush playing the part of his young son, Peter.

Video: What Will Replace Religion

June 19, 2022
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Imagine, if you will, a humanist church that met at night under the open sky, discussing the true nature of the planets and stars, and the incomprehensible vastness and majesty of the cosmos of which we are but a very small part.

Imagine a humanist church that spent its Sundays not shut up in a musty building, but on nature walks and hikes, teaching its members to appreciate the beauty of the living world, to identify all the species they see and understand the magnificently complex web of their interactions.

Imagine a church that chose sermon topics not from one ancient book, but from the writings of great philosophers and scientists throughout history, or one that did not even have a sermon as such but rather a discussion, with every member an equal, of the virtues of a particular book or essay.

Yearning for a Meaningful Spiritual Life

June 15, 2022

The Templeton Foundation is seeking researchers to study an important big question:

“How can those who experience a deep yearning for a meaningful spiritual life, but find traditional religion unsatisfying, fulfill that yearning? This new research is addressing the spiritual yearnings, existential concerns, and search for meaning of spiritually curious but nonreligious individuals and communities.

“What kind of phenomenon is spiritual yearning? What do the spiritually yearning nonreligious describe as the object of their yearning? What are the differences between spiritual longing, spiritual questing, and spiritual curiosity? Is spiritual yearning a persisting phenomenon, or does it tend towards resolution or dissolution?

“How should we understand the role of spiritual struggles in meaning-making and spirituality among the nonreligious? To the degree that nonreligious individuals experience or report a lack of spiritual meaning, what is it they report lacking (e.g., community, ritual, grounds for morality, sacred spaces)?”

Education Technology and the Future of Academic Freedom

December 16, 2017

It was one of the most frequently repeated stories of the year: college students, particularly left-leaning college students, are intolerant

If it sounds like a caricature… well, it is. If nothing else, pundits and politicians seem to forget that the majority of college students do not attend private institutions like Columbia or Middlebury or even elite publics like Berkeley or Madison.

40% of those in higher education attend community colleges. Two out of every three community college students experiences food insecurity; about half of community college students are housing insecure. About a quarter of all college students in the US are 25 or older. About the same percentage are single parents. 40% of undergraduate students work 30 hours a week or more. Almost three-quarters graduate with student loan debt – debt that they may well carry into retirement.

The idea that college students are sheltered and pampered isn’t just wrong; it’s insulting.

But that’s the story that’s gets told. Again and again and again.

People aren’t afraid of change, they’re afraid of loss

October 11, 2017

In thinking and talking about change, I (and many others) have always focused on the positives — what change could bring about and enable. I and others spoke about the importance of educational risk-taking, even when those efforts were not a success. I and others made the case repeatedly that deciding to not change was an action in itself — namely choosing to stay put or in fact, fall behind.

What the quoted statement suggests that this focus on the positives of change is flawed; instead of encouraging change for its own sake and the sake of the institutions served by change, we need to focus on the trade-offs. If change is actually about loss, we need to address loss and how to make loss more acceptable.

As psychiatrists and psychologists know, loss and separation (including death) are among the most difficult emotional issues for individuals to handle.

Can a 20-Minute Test Tell Employers What a College Degree Cannot?

October 10, 2017
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When it comes to hiring, many employers still lean toward graduates from name-brand institutions. Yet … too many graduates “don’t get a shot at the high-value jobs they should be getting,” says Roger Benjamin, president of the Council for Aid to Education. “That’s a big deal in a liberal democracy.”…

Companies and others spend $1 billion a year on hiring assessments. But most of that testing identifies whether applicants have skills for a specific job, not whether they are critical thinkers. And those targeted tests come into play later in the hiring process, not at the screening stage…

The interest in finding an ideal pre-hire screening test arises from a broader societal push for more hiring based on proven competencies rather than academic pedigrees, with companies like Google and Ernst & Young having famously declared that they would no longer require a degree... In fact, two-thirds of the jobs that call for a bachelor’s degree require problem-solving, critical-thinking, and writing skills.

At the same time, higher education has begun rethinking the way it recognizes students’ skills. More institutions have turned to competency-based degree programs or the use of badges and other new forms of credentials to signal students’ skills to employers and others.

Integrative Learning in Higher Education

October 6, 2017

Integrative learning … which develops the ability to think broadly and connect ideas across disciplines and to the outside world, has become a buzzword among academic managers who see it as a way to make general education meaningful and useful, and to realize the aims of liberal education.

There is Work in Digital Tech, Regardless of Background

August 16, 2017

Stephen O’Grady is co-founder of RedMonk, a Maine consulting firm with global clients. They help “companies understand developers better, and to help developers, period.”

“I want [kids] to understand that no matter what their background, what their training, there is a place for them in this industry if they enjoy the work and are willing to work hard. It’s a demanding and challenging industry, and it requires the intellectual flexibility to adapt to a constantly changing environment, but whether you’re a CompSci major or didn’t attend college, you can work in this business…

“I’m a firm believer that technology can be taught if a candidate is bright, motivated and has the kind of skills that are harder, I believe, to teach: work ethic, how to write well, how to be a good teammate, and so on…

“So for all of the liberal arts majors, college dropouts, people looking for a new career or anyone else thinking about the field, if nothing else, I hope my path gives you hope.

“If the industry has room for me, it sure as hell does for you too.”

Why Every Tech Worker Needs a Humanities Education

August 4, 2017
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Excerpt by Tracy Chou via Quartz

In 2005, the late writer David Foster Wallace delivered a now-famous commencement address. It starts with the story of the fish in water, who spend their lives not even knowing what water is. They are naively unaware of the ocean that permits their existence, and the currents that carry them.

The most important education we can receive, Wallace goes on to explain, “isn’t really about the capacity to think, but rather about the choice of what to think about.” He talks about finding appreciation for the richness of humanity and society. But it is the core concept of meta-cognition, of examining and editing what it is that we choose to contemplate, that has fixated me as someone who works in the tech industry.

As much as code and computation and data can feel as if they are mechanistically neutral, they are not. Technology products and services are built by humans who build their biases and flawed thinking right into those products and services—which in turn shapes human behavior and society, sometimes to a frightening degree…

It worries me that so many of the builders of technology today are people like me; people haven’t spent anywhere near enough time thinking about these larger questions of what it is that we are building, and what the implications are for the world.

But it is never too late to be curious. Each of us can choose to learn, to read, to talk to people, to travel, and to engage intellectually and ethically. I hope that we all do so—so that we can come to acknowledge the full complexity and wonder of the world we live in, and be thoughtful in designing the future of it.

 

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The Parts of America Most Susceptible to Automation

May 3, 2017

The authors estimate that almost all large American metropolitan areas may lose more than 55 percent of their current jobs because of automation in the next two decades. “We felt it was really stunning, since we are underestimating the probability of automation,” said Johannes Moenius, the director of the Institute for Spatial Economic Analysis at the University of Redlands, which prepared the report.

The power of machine learning means that programmers with large data sets can use them to make machines smarter, allowing them to do non-routine tasks; for example, oncologists are using data from medical journals and patient records to automatically create treatment plans for cancer patients. “It is largely already technologically possible to automate almost any task, provided that sufficient amounts of data are gathered for pattern recognition,” the authors write…

While a handful of cities with good jobs and highly educated workers will continue to thrive, other areas are going to see more and more jobs disappear as automated technologies become ever better. This may have much wider implications, politically and socially.

People in America’s struggling regions feel left behind economically, as the 2016 election indicated. But the anger that motivated many voters in November may pale in comparison to what comes next, if some regions see two-thirds of their jobs disappear while other areas continue to thrive…

Bosses Believe Your Work Skills Will Soon Be Useless

May 3, 2017

Excerpt from the Washington Post — May 2017

Nearly a third of business leaders and technology analysts express “no confidence” that education and job training in the United States will evolve rapidly enough to match the next decade’s labor market demands, a new report from the Pew Research Center finds.

About 30 percent of the executives, hiring managers, college professors and automation researchers who responded to the Pew survey felt future prospects looked bleak, anticipating that firms would encounter more trouble finding workers with their desired skill sets over the next decade…

“The skills necessary at the higher echelons will include especially the ability to efficiently network, manage public relations, display intercultural sensitivity… and just enough creativity to think outside the box,” wrote Simon Gottschalk, a sociology professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Frank Elavsky, a data and policy analyst at Acumen LLC, an analytic tool developer, said people can hone those skills in this digital age by remembering to interact with other people.

“The most important skills to have in life are gained through interpersonal experiences,” he wrote. “Human bodies in close proximity to other human bodies stimulate real compassion, empathy, vulnerability and social-emotional intelligence.”…

A Skills Gap From College to Career Doesn’t Exist. It’s the Awareness Gap We Need to Fix.

May 1, 2017

Excerpt from EdSurge — April 2017

A popular narrative in the employment market today is that a “skills gap” exists between the abilities employers seek in candidates and the capabilities that new college graduates gain through postsecondary education. Beyond skills readily demonstrable from college curriculum (primarily cognitive skills and technical skills), employers complain about the lack of soft skills among college graduates: leadership, the ability to work in a team, written communication skills or problem-solving.

But what if I told you that the skills gap was little more than fiction, and a different gap exists. I call it the “awareness gap.” While college graduates may leave universities with transcripts and resumes, employers aren’t able to see many of the skills they’ve developed through coursework and co-curricular activities.

Simply put, the awareness gap is the inability for college graduates to make employers aware of the skills they do have…

Digital Workplace: How HR Will Change In 2017

December 22, 2016
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Excerpt from CactusSoft Analytics — December 2016

20th century organizational structures (classical hierarchies and top-down management and decision making) are dying – giving rise to devolved decision making by cross functional teams who work in sprints of activity, are funded via micro-budgets and able to deliver at unheard of speeds.  

Digital transformation is not just shiny new technology – it’s a new way of organizing, engaging with customers and employees, and how we build networks of expertise and trust – through cooperation and collaboration – working faster, better, smarter than ever before…

Fast Forward 2030: The Future of Work and the Workplace

November 2, 2016

People seek a holistic life: they want to work with intelligent people on exciting and rewarding projects where they can be creative and left alone to get the job done; values and purpose are as important as money; working for social good is an option; and they want to be a part of ‘the next big thing’. Not only are youth seeking happiness over money, but study participants reported that a majority of parents now aspire for their children to have happiness over money. Companies that fail to respond to these trends will do so at their peril.

With some notable exceptions, the vast majority of workplaces in the past 30 years have been dull, demotivating and incapable of effectively supporting collaborative or concentrated knowledge work. In an attempt to create ‘one size fits all’ what resulted was ‘one size fits nobody’.

The high performance workplaces that are beginning to be developed today are deliberately conceived to align with business objectives, work practices and optimise the ability of people to ‘get the job done’.

In 2030, traditional workplaces will be in the minority. Young workers in our focus groups were able to clearly articulate concepts for future workplaces that would help them perform better. These concepts look nothing like the typical workplace of today. There was a wide variety of quiet retreat and collaborative settings with the flexibility to choose a setting that is best suited their work at that particular moment.

Conspicuously absent were rows of cubicles or bench desks. Notably present was the concept of a communal workspace as the primary place of work. The workplace industry calls this type of workplace Activity Based Working (ABW). ABW is all about ‘places to work’ not ‘work places’. Some young workers in the study even suggested mood based working – pick the place to work that supports how you feel today – happy, excited, creative, or calm…

Where machines could replace humans—and where they can’t (yet)

August 1, 2016

From McKinsey Quarterly — July 2016

The hardest activities to automate with currently available technologies are those that involve managing and developing people (9 percent automation potential) or that apply expertise to decision making, planning, or creative work (18 percent). These activities, often characterized as knowledge work, can be as varied as coding software, creating menus, or writing promotional materials.

For now, computers do an excellent job with very well-defined activities, such as optimizing trucking routes, but humans still need to determine the proper goals, interpret results, or provide commonsense checks for solutions. The importance of human interaction is evident in two sectors that, so far, have a relatively low technical potential for automation: healthcare and education….

To be sure, digital technology is transforming [education as well], as can be seen from the myriad classes and learning vehicles available online. Yet the essence of teaching is deep expertise and complex interactions with other people…

Aligning the Organization for its Digital Future

July 29, 2016

Excerpt from the MIT Sloan Review — July 2016

Many companies are responding to an increasingly digital market environment by adding roles with a digital focus or changing traditional roles to have a digital orientation. The list of “digital” business roles and functions is extensive and growing. There are now digital strategists, chief digital officers, digital engagement managers, digital finance managers, digital marketing managers, and digital supply chain managers, among other positions.

Despite the proliferation of digital roles and responsibilities, most executives recognize that their companies are not adequately preparing for the industry disruptions they expect to emerge from digital trends.

Soft skills trump technology knowledge in driving digital transformation: When asked about the most important skill for leaders to succeed in a digital environment, only 18% of respondents listed technological skills as most important. Instead, they highlighted managerial attributes such as having a transformative vision (22%), being a forward thinker (20%), having a change-oriented mindset (18%), or other leadership and collaborative skills (22%). A similar emphasis on organizational skills above technical ones for succeeding in digital environments was also reported for employees…

Star Spangled Geeks: The US Digital Service

July 22, 2016
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Excerpt from Backchannel — July 2016

In 2014, the White House formed the United States Digital Service. The USDS intends to replicate, assembly-line-style, the sprint that saved healthcare.gov. Using talent recruited on the basis of patriotism and the promise of impactful work, USDS tries to target similar moribund projects, or problems that could be addressed by modern tech practices, and produce stuff that works, at a fraction of the traditional cost.

To do that, the USDS needs to fan out from the White House and embed its Silicon Valley hacker recruits into the major government agencies, to get direct access to a select set of projects that would make a difference in citizens’ lives.

And it is doing just that. The USDS has worked on thirteen major projects involving eleven agencies, and claims to have saved the government many times its $14 million budget. It has charters to place full-blown teams in seven different agencies, with more to come before the end of the year. When the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) quizzed managers at the agencies on whether they were satisfied with the effort, the average score was 4.67 on a scale of 5…

IDEXX CIO Ken Grady on Nontraditional Career Paths

July 8, 2016
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Ken Grady has always been an animal lover. You can find him traveling across the country to visit farmers and their cows and chickens, or with veterinarians and the puppies, cats, guinea pigs, and all sorts of beloved pets in their care. But while his work involves caring for animals of all shapes and sizes, Grady isn’t a farmer or a vet himself. His business is information technology. Still, Grady’s work is in bettering the lives of animals—and humans—every day.

As VP and CIO for IDEXX Laboratories, Grady helps develop diagnostic software and technology products for veterinary care for our furry and not-so-furry friends across the globe. But Grady isn’t your ordinary CIO; his interest in animals ensures he’s on the front lines, shaking the hands of veterinarians, vet techs, and farmers his company’s products help. Whenever he is traveling, this CIO rides along with his field reps to see, hear, and learn from vet clinics—which range from small one-veterinarian operations to large, multiclinic practices—about how he can put better tools in the hands of the people who need them…

Ken Grady has been actively involved in efforts to establish paths to technology careers for communities who don’t usually end up there—specifically for US veterans. When Grady first started at IDEXX, he got involved in a partnership program called Project>Login, which joins together efforts from the Maine university system and numerous companies to help light the way along this career path. Because of his involvement, Grady found himself invited to the White House as part of the federal government’s recognition of the state in its efforts to provide support, training programs, and awareness efforts under Project>Login.

It’s a cause that’s close to his heart, as Grady himself served as an active duty translator in the US Army for five years before finding his own way into a career in IT, working the night shift as a systems administrator.

“Someone took a chance on me and my ‘nontraditional’ path then, and I threw myself into it, learning everything I could from the role,” Grady says. “I’ve worked with Nobel Prize winners and startup technology entrepreneurs who are changing the world we live in. And I learned that capability and innovation doesn’t just emerge from the academic halls.”..

How US Government Workers Collaborate Virtually

July 5, 2016
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From 18F

18F is an office inside the General Services Administration that helps other federal agencies build, buy, and share efficient and easy-to-use digital services. We’re a team of technology experts that work with agencies to diagnose problems and then work alongside agency teams to find the right solutions.

Headquartered at 18 and F streets in Washington, D.C., we’re an office of federal employees acting as a civic consultancy for the government. We’re transforming government from the inside out, creating cultural change by working with teams inside agencies who want to create great services for the public

18F employees live all over the country. We work out of homes in Dayton and Tucson, St. Louis and Chapel Hill — and in federal buildings in San Francisco, Chicago, New York City, and Washington, D.C.

That means many of our project teams are also made up of distributed employees working all over the country. For example, you may have a developer in Austin, a designer in Washington, D.C., and a content strategist in Portland — but they’re all working on the same team and with the same partners.

Because we work on distributed teams so frequently, we’ve developed certain strategies for working well as a collaborative operation….

  • We have a “remote first” mindset.
  • We have a five-hour overlap in our workdays.
  • We share our screens frequently.
  • We have face-to-face meetings at least once a week.
  • We make our work transparent to each other.
  • We over-communicate, especially with clients.
  • For this to work well, we all think of ourselves as remote employees, even if we’re in an office….

For many on the 18F team, working in this collaborative environment is second nature, but we understand that not everyone is used to working this way. Part of 18F’s mission is to show our partners across the federal government just how these tools can be used to maximum effect. Also, by having our distributed teams fully integrated into the workflow, we provide our partners a nearly 12-hour workday to spend on their projects.

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