Alarming News: I like Morgan Freeberg. A lot.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: We were following a trackback and thinking "hmmm... this is a bloody excellent post!", and then we realized that it was just part III of, well, three...Damn. I wish I'd written those.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: ...I just remembered that I found a new blog a short while ago, House of Eratosthenes, that I really like. I like his common sense approach and his curiosity when it comes to why people believe what they believe rather than just what they believe.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is an intriguing guy...[he] asks great questions and answers others with style, flair, reason and wit. On the blogroll he goes. Make him a part of your regular blogospheric reading. I certainly will.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is brilliant.
Common Sense Junction: Misha @ Anti-Idiotarian never ceases to amaze me. He keeps finding other good blogs. I went over to A.I. this morning for my daily Misha fix and he had found this guy named Morgan Freeberg in Fair Oaks, California, that has a blog, House of Eratosthenes. Freeberg says its "The Blog That Nobody Reads" but it may now become the blog that everybody reads.
Jaded Haven: Good God, Morgan, you cover a topic from front to back with a screwy thoroughness I find mind boggling. I'm in awe of your thought proccesses, my friend, you're an exceptional talent. You start by throwing in the kitchen sink, tie in someone's syphilitic uncle, bend around a rip tide of brilliance and bring it all home in a neat, diamond dripping package of an exceptionally readable moment of damn fine wordsmithing. I love reading you.
Mein Blogovault: Make "the Blog that No One Reads" one of your daily reads.
Philmon: When Morgan meanders, stick with him - he's got a point and it'll be worth it in the end. He's not a hit-and-run snarky quip kind of guy. The pieces all fall into place like tumblers in a lock and bang! He's opened a cognative door for you.
Rightlinx: Morgan at House of Eratosthenes is one of the best writers out there. I read him nearly every day because he manages to provide an interesting perspective, even though I don't always agree.
Poetic Justice: Cletus! Ah gots a laiv one fer yew...
Atlas Shrugged, pp. 216-217:
“Well, it’s like this, Miss Taggart,” said the delegate of the Union of Locomotive Engineers. “I don’t think we’re going to allow you to run that train.”
Dagny sat at her battered desk, against the blotched wall of her office. She said, without moving, “Get out of here.”
It was a sentence the man had never heard in the polished offices of railroad executives. He looked bewildered. “I came to tell you –”
“If you have anything to say to me, start over again.”
“Don’t tell me what you’re going to allow me to do.”
“Well, I meant we’re not going to allow our men to run your train.”
“Well, that’s what we’ve decided.”
“Who’s decided it?”
“The committee. What you’re doing is a violation of human rights. You can’t force men to go out to get killed — when that bridge collapses just to make money for you.”
She searched for a sheet of blank paper and handed it to him. “Put it down in writing,” she said, “and we’ll sign a contract to that effect.”
“That no member of your union will ever be employed to run an engine on the John Galt Line.”
“Why…wait a minute…I haven’t said –”
“You don’t want to sign such a contract?”
“Why not, since you know that the bridge is going to collapse?”
“I only want–”
“I know what you want. You want a stranglehold on your men by means of the jobs which I give them — and on me, by means of my men. You want me to provide the jobs, and you want to make it impossible for me to have any jobs to provide. Now I’ll give you a choice. That train is going to be run. You have no choice about that. But you can choose whether it’s going to be run by one of your men or not. If you choose not to let them, the train will still run, if I have to drive the engine myself. Then, if the bridge collapses, there won’t be any railroad left in existence, anyway. But if it doesn’t collapse, no member of your union will ever get a job on the John Galt Line. If you think that I need your men more than they need me, choose accordingly. If you know that I can run an engine, but they can’t build a railroad, choose according to that. Now are you going to forbid your men to run that train?”
“I didn’t say we’d forbid it. I haven’t said anything about forbidding. But…but you can’t force men to risk their lives on something nobody’s ever tried before.”
“I’m not going to force anyone to take that run.”
“What are you going to do?”
“I’m going to ask for a volunteer.”
“And if none of them volunteers?”
“Then it will be my problem, not yours.”
“Well, let me tell you that I’m going to advise them to refuse.”
“Go ahead. Advise them anything you wish. Tell them whatever you like. But leave the choice to them. Don’t try to forbid it.”
This is one of my favorite scenes. It made it into the movie, in some form…which didn’t quite do it justice, but it still emerges as one of the most impressive scenes in the film. It illustrates the culture-clash, vividly: Process versus outcome. Instructing versus thinking. Committees versus individuals.
It seems humans have always had this gut-level instinct to impose themselves as gatekeepers, arbitrating what others can and cannot do, think, say — when & how they can work. There is, unhappily, a companion gut-level instinct that people have, to do as they are told.
I think we make a mistake when we see people sort themselves out this way, and presume it’s a process of a team sensibly shaping itself into leaders and followers. In many cases it’s a lot more like wolves and sheep. As this scene suggests, perhaps a good test by which the difference can be told, is the quality of leadership; is any responsibility being taken there? One of the themes permeating through Part I of the book that didn’t quite make it into the film, is that from beginning to end it is a stinking fustercluck of these “committees” deciding absurd things that are not up to committees to decide. Like, for example, the metal is unstable or the bridge is going to collapse.
I blame schools, personally. Not all of them, just the routine, and not all of the routine. Just the thing where the teacher says “Who can…” or “who has…” and these hands start shooting up. The swivel-heads start swiveling their heads, trying to see what everybody else is doing with their hands, so they know what to do with theirs. I think all of us who were in public school have been swivel-heads at some time or another. And I think that’s where it starts. Ooh, ooh, I’ll know the answer to this question just as soon as I know what everybody else thinks about it…
Update: Reminds me of this…
Some men spent their days tracking and killing animals to barbeque at night while they were drinking beer. This was the beginning of what is known as “the Conservative movement.”
Other men who were weaker and less skilled at hunting learned to live off the Conservatives by showing up for the nightly barbeques and doing the sewing, fetching and hair dressing. This was the beginning of the Liberal movement. Some of these liberal men eventually evolved into women. The rest became known as girlymen.
Some noteworthy liberal achievements include the domestication of cats, the invention of group therapy, group hugs and the concept of Democratic voting to decide how to divide the meat and beer that Conservatives provided.
This has bothered me for an exceptionally long time, I have to admit…I recall it from the schoolyard playground. Those four words, “all right you guys” as some pipsqueak would go through the motions of taking-charge. At age eight I hadn’t put too much thought into this at all, but it always bothered me that the four words were always, always, always sequenced that way. It was suggestive of mindless ritual, and I didn’t much cotton to the idea of being organized into a hierarchy, subservient to some other level that was driven by mindless ritual.
Yes, “history of politics” is obviously a joke, with some passages in it that are clearly not meant to be any kind of reflection of real events. But this particular one, with the first liberals attending a beer-meat-barbeque for which they themselves provided absolutely nothing, and taking charge with the stone-age version of “all right you guys” — hell yes, that happened. I’m convinced of it. It started, then, and it hasn’t stopped. Useful as a bucket with no bottom, because the “committee” drives everything, but takes no responsibility for the outcome of any sequence of events. None whatsoever.
Individual makes a knuckleheaded decision and it turns to crap, there’s only one thing to do: Admit “That was a mistake I made, right there” and…if there’s a sincere desire to keep it from happening again…do some learning. After swallowing hard and taking responsibility.
Committee makes boneheaded decisions and it turns to crap, the thing to do is deflect blame. Never accept it, under any conditions whatsoever. Worst-case scenario, everyone involved will have been found to have followed policy and the policies were flawed. In which case, nine times out of ten nothing will be fixed, the rest of the time a task force will be formed to revisit the policy.
Nobody, but nobody, feels any kind of real reassurance that things are about to get better when a committee takes charge. There’s a reason for that. They are jokes, symbols of the weightiest authority in any given matter being seized by those who know and learn the least. They are devices for avoiding blame and avoiding responsibility, and in service of that purpose, they work exceptionally well.
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