Category Archives: Leadership

Updates from Georgia Tech

Pioneer of Modern Electronics
By Michael Baxter – The smartphone you peer into, the LED bulb in your desk lamp, the Blu-Ray player that serves up your favorite film – all are here largely because of Russell Dupuis, a professor in electrical and computer engineering at Georgia Tech.

That’s because an essential component of their manufacturing traces back to a process that Dupuis developed in the late 1970s, a process that ushered in a new breed of mass-produced compound semiconductors. These electronic components – particularly those forged of elements from columns III and V in the periodic table — can operate at extremely high frequencies or emit light with extraordinary efficiency. Today, they’re the working essence of everything from handheld laser pointers to stadium Jumbotrons.

The process is known as metalorganic chemical vapor deposition, or MOCVD, and until Dupuis, no one had figured out how to use it to grow high-quality semiconductors using those III-V elements. Essentially, MOCVD works by combining the atomic elements with molecules of organic gas and flowing the mixture over a hot semiconductor wafer. When repeated, the process grows layer after layer of crystals that can have any number of electrical properties, depending on the elements used. more> https://goo.gl/eG2G8e

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Liberals Will Not Like How This Revenge Plot Ends

By Megan McArdle – I thought Republicans should have confirmed Garland, and I’ve written before that the arms race to procedurally hack the U.S. government — via controlling the Supreme Court, or dreaming up ever-more-arcane uses of the parliamentary rules — is bad for the country and needs to stop. That doesn’t mean I think it’s going to.

The escalating tit-for-tat game over the Supreme Court has been going on at least since the 1980s, and arguably long before that, in the post-New-Deal era when courts began tilting noticeably leftwards.

Under Reagan, conservatives sought to reverse that by grooming conservative justices for all levels of the courts. Democrats tried to keep them from doing so, culminating in the disgraceful treatment of Robert Bork. Ever since, we’ve been locked in a spiraling cycle of payback.

Everyone understands that this is destructive; everyone wishes it to stop. The catch is, they also believe that it needs to stop after they themselves get last licks in. And so it continues. more> https://goo.gl/ZY6FYW

How to Build an Autocracy

By David Frum – No society, not even one as rich and fortunate as the United States has been, is guaranteed a successful future. When early Americans wrote things like “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty,” they did not do so to provide bromides for future bumper stickers. They lived in a world in which authoritarian rule was the norm, in which rulers habitually claimed the powers and assets of the state as their own personal property.

The exercise of political power is different today than it was then—but perhaps not so different as we might imagine. Larry Diamond, a sociologist at Stanford, has described the past decade as a period of “democratic recession.” Worldwide, the number of democratic states has diminished. Within many of the remaining democracies, the quality of governance has deteriorated.

Yet the American system is also perforated by vulnerabilities no less dangerous for being so familiar. Supreme among those vulnerabilities is reliance on the personal qualities of the man or woman who wields the awesome powers of the presidency.

A British prime minister can lose power in minutes if he or she forfeits the confidence of the majority in Parliament. The president of the United States, on the other hand, is restrained first and foremost by his own ethics and public spirit.

What happens if somebody comes to the high office lacking those qualities? more> https://goo.gl/IjMqiK

Economics is fundamentally flawed

By David Spencer – Economics should be in crisis. But in reality it is not. Rather, economics remains largely the same as it was before the financial crisis – in effect, it remains just as problematic now as in the past. This is an issue not just for economics but for society as a whole, given the enduring power and influence of the discipline on policy and public life.

To think of economics in terms of forecasting is to limit its nature and scope. Economics ought to be about explanation. It should be able to make sense of the world beyond forecasts of the future. It is not clear that as it exists now, economics is able to understand the world in its present form. To this extent, it cannot help understand the frequency and depth of crises.

As things stand, there is little chance that economics will open up to the ideas and methods of other disciplines. Instead, the discipline has embraced a project of “economic imperialism” seeking to colonize other social sciences. Genuine interdisciplinary debate has lost out in this process. more> https://goo.gl/xDk2Mv

What is New Economic Thinking?

By Amna Silim – The failure to predict or explain the financial collapse and recession has put neoclassical economic thinking in the dock, but such an interrogation is long overdue. Sharp fluctuations in economic growth are just one of the real-world phenomena that traditional economics is poor at understanding. From actual human behaviour through to constant innovation, there is much that traditional economic thinking struggles to explain.

This conventional model can be challenged on four fundamental fronts: the tendency to equilibrium, exogenous shocks, individual rationality and systemic consistency.

In the real world, economies are not static and geared towards equilibrium; they are dynamic and in constant flux. This dynamism is endogenous; it originates within the system, not from exogenous shocks. Consumer preferences are not formed by individuals acting solely on their own but are the result of a complex process that includes observing and interacting with other consumers.

Economic agents do not have a fixed set of preferences based on rational assessment; they are subject to whims and to mimicking the behavior of other agents. As a result, the nature of the economic system transforms over time. more> https://goo.gl/HX3RjA

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  • A Conversation With Dan Ariely About What Shapes our Motivations, Jessica Gross, longreads.com
  • The atheist paradox

    BOOK REVIEW

    Twenty Trillion Leagues Under the Sea, Author: Adam Roberts.
    Religion for Atheists: A Non-Believer’s Guide to the Uses of Religion, Author: Alain de Botton.
    The Book of Atheist Spirituality, Author: André Comte-Sponville.
    The Satanic Verses, Author: Salman Rushdie.
    Gravity and Grace, Author: Simone Weil.
    One Hundred Years of Solitude, Author: Gabriel García Márquez.
    Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, Author: John Bunyan.

    By Adam Roberts – The Islam described in the Qur’an is a religion consonant with the structures of social power. Crucial to it is the idea that submission to the law (since the law comes from God) is equally required for good social order and good spiritual health.

    Christianity is different. In part, that’s because of its bivalve holy book, which sets up, in the Old Testament, a set of social codes, restrictions and laws and then, in its New Testament, specifically overturns them.

    Moses brought 10 commandments; Jesus replaces them with two — to love God, and to love one’s neighbour as oneself. And those two commandments aren’t articulated like legal codes. Some of the New Testament attempts to work out the social and legal consequences of its new creed, but much of it gives up on that, and instead gives eloquent voice to the irrelevance of society and law in the face of the imminent end-times.

    The Old Testament is, in the largest sense, about the building of a temple. In the New Testament, the temple is redefined as Christ’s body, built precisely to be torn down, tortured to death and radically reconfigured. Instructions to give up all one’s money, to leave one’s family and job, not to marry (though St Paul concedes that it is better to marry than burn with lust), to live as spontaneously as the birds and the flowers — all these things are iterations of a powerful sense that the old ways have been overturned.

    Of course, as generation followed generation and the world stubbornly did not end, Christians had to find ways of getting on with life. more> https://goo.gl/vJs3n8

    A Blunt and Counterproductive Travel Ban

    By Mohamed A. El-Erian – As designed and implemented, there are genuine doubts about the order’s effectiveness in meeting its stated objective of preventing terrorism. It also risks a lot of collateral damage and unintended consequences that ultimately could prove counterproductive and harmful to national security, the economy, and America’s moral authority, values and standing in the world. Even the order’s merits as a domestic signal are in doubt, and it risks damaging the credibility and effectiveness of future policy initiatives from the White House.

    This is an extremely blunt approach to an important issue. Early reports on its application suggest that even long-time holders of multiyear visas for the U.S., together with green card holders and dual nationals, are being refused entry at airports or being prevented from boarding planes destined for America. This includes people who have been living in the U.S. legally for many years, have been vetted, and are productive and integrated members of their local communities. more> https://goo.gl/sljXfS

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    Is greatness finite?

    BOOK REVIEW

    Round About the Earth: Circumnavigation from Magellan to Orbit, Author: Joyce E Chaplin.
    Utopia, Author: Thomas More.
    The Population Bomb, Author: Paul Ehrlich.

    By Joyce E Chaplin – To see human nature and the rest of nature as out of sync is important – if done consciously. Today it is easy to find repudiations of neoliberalism, the doctrine, ascendant since the 1980s of Margaret Thatcher‘s UK and Ronald Reagan‘s US, that private activities produce public good and personal happiness more effectively than any public investment or oversight.

    Nearly 40 years on, we finally query the wisdoms of a neoliberal society. But without knowing exactly what it got wrong, it’s impossible to do better.

    The Tudor humanist Thomas More and the Regency clergyman Thomas Robert Malthus, of all people, can help us. They are experts on our moment. Together, their key works turn a spotlight on the much disparaged, pre-neoliberal 1970s, when things could have gone differently.

    The 1970s represent the last serious discussion of whether and how humans can manage the rest of nature for the greater good. We need that forthright mix again, bitter Malthusian tea served, nevertheless, with a sweet lump of Utopia.

    The last days of disco, the 1970s, were the glorious times before the buzz of neoliberalism. Before greed was good and environmental limits were negotiable, people worried about staying alive and danced to ‘Stayin’ Alive’. Circumstances warned against the easy acquisition of happiness, yet people sought it, indeed, preached that it should be available to all.

    Now, nations, states, innovators and cultural leaders have accepted the dubious promise of neoliberalism, that to extract private wealth from everything is an excellent way of being.

    The good news is that the upcoming arguments – indeed they have already begun – about what to do next can do more than repeat the nearly parodistic Adam SmithKarl Marx confrontation that has dominated for at least a generation. more> https://goo.gl/sjnI4f

    The Ten Behaviors of Strong Personal Leadership

    BOOK REVIEW

    The Next Level: What Insiders Know About Executive Success, Author: Scott Eblin.

    By Scott Eblin – Great leaders practice and exhibit strong personal leadership. They endeavor to live at their best so they can lead at their best. Their lives are structured for continuous improvement.

    Here are the ten behaviors of personal leadership:

    1. Self reflection. Great leaders take the time to identify and articulate how they are at their best and then organize their life so they consistently show up with those qualities
    2. Self awareness. Great leaders are aware and intentional
    3. Self care. Great leaders understand that they perform at their best when they take care of their health and well being.
    4. Continuous learning. Great leaders never stop learning.
    5. Listening. Great leaders listen. They ask open-ended questions and pay attention to the answers.
    6. Operating rhythm. Great leaders know and leverage their operating rhythm.
    7. Gear shifting. Great leaders know how to quickly shift gears
    8. Focus. Great leaders focus on who or what is in front of them
    9. Clarity of purpose. Great leaders know what they’re in it for
    10. Gratitude. They recognize, acknowledge the good things in their life
    11. more> https://goo.gl/qXCpL1

    The US has been downgraded to a “flawed democracy,” but not just because of Trump

    By Eshe Nelson – The US has been “teetering on the brink of becoming a flawed democracy” for years, the report says. Regardless of the result of the 2016 presidential election, the US was due a downgrade.

    Trust has been declining in the US for decades, leaving the country’s institutions battling a “legitimacy crisis” and struggling to sustain representative democracy in its current form, the report says.

    The decline began in the late 1960s with the Vietnam war, civil rights movement, assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy, and the Watergate scandal. Over the past decade, it got worse following wars in the Middle East, a financial crisis, and persistent gridlock in Washington. And along came Trump:

    By tapping a deep strain of political disaffection with the functioning of democracy, Mr Trump became a beneficiary of the low esteem in which US voters hold their government, elected representatives and political parties, but he was not responsible for a problem that has had a long gestation.

    In total, democracy, as measured by the EIU, declined in 72 countries and increased in 38 countries last year. more> https://goo.gl/4DCag4