Friday, April 20, 2018

Why do people park their ethics in the driveway as they go to work?

History shows that where ethics and economics come in conflict, victory is always with economics. Vested interests have never been known to have willingly divested themselves unless there was sufficient force to compel them. 
~B. R. Ambedkar

As the shocking revelations of unethical, even illegal, behaviour continue to flow from the banking royal commission, there's an obvious, albeit perhaps unanswerable, question. Why do good people and trusted institutions do bad things? It's not a new question. It's one that books, theses and countless articles in scholarly ...Why do people park their ethics in the driveway as they go to work?

Nationals MPs, meanwhile, are considering forcibly separating major banks from their financial services subsidiaries, with NSW senator John Williams saying “I think the sooner that's broken up, the better”. Former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce tweeted “In the past I argued against a Royal Commission into bankingHarsher punishments for corporate wrongdoing

We need a royal commission into tax. Tax avoidance, tax minimisation, tax evasion and all the other sneaky, creepy ways corporations get around paying tax. I think I could get a former treasurer of the year to back me up.
Why do we need a royal commission into tax? We need it precisely because the government tells us there is no problem with tax compliance by big business. In exactly the same way, it told us there was no problem with banks.
Nothing has exposed the cosy relationship of the Coalition with the banks in quite the same way as failed former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce's stance then and now. Then he said there was no need for a royal commission. Now he says he was naive and wrong.
Jenna Price - What do we need a Royal Commission into Tax Easion now

I have found little that is 'good' about human beings on the whole. In my experience most of them are trash, no matter whether they publicly subscribe to this or that ethical doctrine or to none at all. That is something that you cannot say aloud, or perhaps even think. 
Sigmund Freud who was born in a town on the Morava River in Czechoslovakia

Palantir has made Minority Report a reality.


Banking royal commission: The admission that just cost AMP more ...

“We thought this was an iconic brand and we saw it as something that was very authentic, but now we are having these doubts about its brand image and are seeing that it is not a very ethical brand." She said AMP would need to restore trust by talking openly to the public and reinforcing its ethics

Where do the evils like corruption arise from? It comes from the never-ending greed. The fight for corruption-free ethical society will have to be fought against this greed and replace it with 'what can I give' spirit

Tough new penalties proposed by the federal government could see bankers and finance executives who engage in corporate and financial misconduct spending up to 10 years in jail.
Government proposes more jail time for corporate and financial misconduct

Two senior executives have resigned from one of Australia's largest security companies after an investigation into alleged bribes for contracts going to a rival business owned by underworld associate Santo "Toni Two Guns" Celona 
Two executives leave security firm over 'Toni Two Guns' bribery ...

*The Evolution of Desire: A Life of René Girard*

That is the new book by Cynthia L. Haven, which I was very enthusiastic about.  I find about half of it to be a revelation, and the other half to be perfectly fine, though material I largely had seen before (but still useful to most readers).  Here are a few of the things I learned:
1. As a child, “…his favorite game was a solitary one: with toy soldiers, he reenacted France’s major battles, taking all the roles himself.”
2. In 1944, at the age of 21, he saw many French collaborators killed or put on trial, and from that time started to develop some of his major ideas.
3. When he migrated to America, he associated the country with grandness and Avignon with petiteness.  He was at that time “adamantly atheistic.”
4. He wrote his dissertation on “American Opinions on France, 1940-1943,” which at 418 pp. contained some early versions of his later ideas.
5. He was turned down for tenure at Indiana University, claiming he spent several years “devoted essentially to female students and cars.”
6. He insisted that he witnessed a lynching (likely in North Carolina) in the early 1950s, although after reading Haven’s discussion I suspect this was a fabrication.
7. He was significantly influenced by the Dante circle at Johns Hopkins where he ended up teaching, including by Charles Singleton.
8. Like myself, Haven considers Theater of Envy to be his most underrated book.
9. His work day typically started at 3:30 a.m.
10. Peter Thiel, as an undergraduate, actually took a class from Girard.
Definitely recommended to anyone with an interest in Girard.  Here is my recent summary post on Girard.

The betrayer who is betrayed.

The deceiver deceived.
Away! Away!
What away?
Away to where
in the yellow air?
To the meadow that was?
To the lambs just birthed?
To the falling birds?

In our standing up, though a little bent—dayenu.
With our eyes seeing though blurred—dayenu.
With our ears almost hearing—dayenu.
Upon our lieing down and our rising—dayenu.
On our remembering our beloved’s name—dayenu.                                      
On our kneeling down—dayenu.
By the skin of our teeth—dayenu. 
In our heart that expands and contracts—dayenu.
In our worried heart, fearful and afraid—dayenu.
Amen AMen AMEn AMEN 

The shot heard round the taxing world fired by odd characters 


DAVID FRENCH: No, Conservatives Shouldn’t Try to Punish Radical Professors for Offensive Speech. I agree. Mock them, shame them, and thank them for creating more Trump voters. As Jim Treacher says, the left wants to shut up the right; the right wants the left to just keep talking . . 

How Compassion Can Make You More Successful

I had a moment in the Library of Congress among the presidential papers. I opened a folder, and there was an envelope in it. The front of the envelope was facing the table, so I didn't know what was in it. I opened it and out spilled all this hair. I turned the envelop over and it says, 'Clipped from President Garfield's head on his deathbed.'
~ Candice Millard

Our fate, like the fate of all species, is determined by chance, by circumstance, and by grace.

For Hannah Arendt, thinking was a form of political engagement. She didn't just want to find a place for herself in the world. She wanted to change it...  Like Jen Harwood Great Jeneration

The true story is always the oppositional story. Or so goes the logic of both literature professors and the right-wing media. What have the radical politics of humanities professors wrought?... Coldest River on Earth

We express our emotions physically, but now we mediate them digitally as well. As Don DeLillo put it, “Nobody knows how to feel and they’re checking around for hints”...  Emotional Intelligence and Other Pella Greenish Hints

Westpac slow to report adviser despite 'serious misconduct' concerns

ACT police officers on trial over alleged assault, cover-up

Neuroscience, social science, and history give us radically different ways of approaching empathy. But is empathy a moral force? ...  Shibboleth and  Media Dragon 

At the Behavior Change for Good Initiative, we know that solving the mystery of enduring behavior change offers an enormous opportunity to improve lives. We unite an interdisciplinary team of scientists with leading practitioners in education, healthcare, and consumer financial services, all of whom seek to address the question: How can we make behavior change stick?…We are developing an interactive digital platform to improve daily decisions about health, education, and savings. For the first time, a world-class team of scientific experts will be able to continually test and improve a behavior change program by seamlessly incorporating the latest insights from their research into massive random-assignment experiments. Their interactive digital platform seeks to improve daily health, education, and savings decisions of millions…” 

From controlling to empowering: Five practices for building ...

Common traits of strong leaders


10 Steps to Building an Impeccable Professional Reputation

Reviving a demoralised workforce at the UK’s Serious Fraud Office FT

Finding the one: An accountant love story for Tax Day 

A millionaire who buried treasure in the Rockies has offered one main clue

The poem is also called "The Thrill of the Chase." You can google it, but the website is not responding just now. Wonder why? 


 Award-winning reporters realized their work was bigger than themselves

That’s what Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey brought to their colleagues Monday afternoon, when their unmasking of Harvey Weinstein’s history of sexual harassment shared American journalism’s highest honor, the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.
“This might seem strange to say, but two of the people we’re closest to in the world have no idea who Harvey Weinstein is, and they don’t know a thing about our reporting on him,” Kantor began.
That would be their daughters, Violet and Mira, both under 2 years old.
When they are older, they will tell them, Kantor said, of other women who were victimized — and how they wanted to give those and other women “a mountain of evidence to stand on: documents, internal emails, settlement records, human resources reports.”
Twohey said they want to tell their daughters someday that “the two of us, and all of the other reporters around the country who worked on these kinds of stories, did so with the hope that girls your age will know nothing but dignity and decency in the workplace and beyond.”
Here is their entire speech, which includes their thanks to the New Yorker's Ronan Farrow, who conducted his own investigation, also endured threats and legal challenges — and on Monday, joined them in the Pulitzer spotlight.
It was a description of the type of journalism rewarded Monday. One award cited staffers laboring to get a paper how while fire threatened their entire town. Another recognized reporters and researchers joining together to field and confirm sickening stories of a creepy guy in a mall preying on teenagers, a man who looked to be the odds-on favorite to become Alabama’s next senator. Another prize-winner: the Alabama writer who confronted much of his audience to take a stand on that election.

Here are a few stories on the winners:

·        Kristen Hare reports on the Cincinnati Enquirer, which started covering heroin as a beat and ended up with 60 of its journalists intensely reporting a week of the city’s scourge — from multiple angles.
·        On his last assignment on his last day, the photographer who witnessed an indelible moment in the white nationalist Charlottesville protest called his award testament to local journalism’s power — but he’s moved on, to social media at a brewery.
·        After years of being overlooked, The USA Today Network (Gannett) takes three Pulitzers. Ron Edmonds reports.
·        An unlikely green light — two freelancers pitching a newspaper traditionally against comic strips — allowed for an affecting nonfiction story following a fleeing Syrian family, reports Ren LaForme.
·        Reuters took two awards, one of the Philippine strongman Rodrigo Dutarte and another, for photography documenting the massive purge by Myanmar of members of its Rohingya minority.
·        Oh, and perhaps the biggest winner of all, Kendrick Lamar, the first non-classical, non-jazz musician to be so honored. Said Journal-isms blogger Richard Prince, joyously: “It would as if James Brown had won a Pulitzer in 1970.” It’s about time, says the Washington Post’s Chris Richards: “Rap music is the most significant pop idiom of our time.”
·        The full list of Pulitzer winners and finalists. And celebrations

Quick hits

CONFLICT OF INTEREST: Sean Hannity, who savagely critiqued the FBI raid on Trump’s lawyer, has turned out to be a client of the lawyer himself. Why didn’t he disclose that to his viewers? That’s what Fox News’s Juan Williams asked on air. His Fox News collegue Shep Smith calls it “the elephant in the room.” It truly is a mess, writes The Atlantic’s David Graham. The Daily News put it simply, over much of its Tuesday front page, “Oh, For Fox Sake!
THE EXCRUCIATING DEATH OF LOCAL NEWS: It’s profits first, news last,” writes Colorado news veteran Sandra Fish in the Daily Beast. “That’s bad not just for journalists, but for citizens who need a reliable source of information more than ever before in our democracy. Here’s a fired West Virginia editor’s advice for the Denver Post. (Hat tip: Neil Parekh)
YET, HERE’S WHY I’M GOING INTO IT: “I plan to tell stories for the rest of my life,” says Kiana Cole in a farewell column from the UNC’s Daily Tar Heel, where she has told them the last four years. (Hat tip: John Robinson)
REPORT FOR AMERICA: “People are applying for the same reason people want to go into the Peace Corps: There’s an idealistic desire to help communities, and there’s a sense of adventure,” Steven Waldman says. “They want to try and save democracy. People keep saying that.” (Hat tip: Connie Schultz)
SHE REALLY LIKED THE PLAYLIST: Her name was Suzanne. She wanted to remain anonymous. But the music-loving donor gave $10 million to KEXP, the alternative-indie music public radio station in Seattle, Nicole Brodeur writes. It really is an incredible playlist. (Hat tip: Hemal Jhaveri)
HE’S OUT:  Departed as chairman of Tronc, now Michael Ferro has made a deal to divest himself from the company. He sold his stake to a member of former owner Robert McCormick’s family, the Chicago Tribune reported.
BUILDING UP WIKIPEDIA: In nations like the United Arab Emirates, chances are slim that you’ll find answers to a general UAE question on Wikipedia. But this month, a group of volunteer Wikipedia editors launched the Wiki Loves Emirates campaign, trying to fix that. As Wikipedia grows, it hopes that its volunteer editors, know skewed toward North America and Europe, will become more representative of the world. (Hat tip: Andrew Lih)

​​​​​IN SELENA, THEY SAW THEMSELVES: That’s how Steve Saldivar’s story began on the 49th birthday of slain singer Selena Quintanilla. Saldivar was overwhelmed by responses to a Los Angeles Times callout on what the Mexican American star meant to them. For some, she represented a connection with parents, or she was simply the first person in media that looked like them. (Hat tip: Michelle Maltais)

What we’re reading

CHEMICAL ATTACK: Russia and Syria blocked international experts from heading to the site of the attack earlier this month. Meantime, Trump has backed down from his threats to increase sanctions on Russia for the attack. The most recent softening toward the Putin regime undercuts the U.N. ambassador, who pledged a tough U.S. reaction toward Russia, which supplies arms and mercenaries to keep the Assad regime afloat.
A REVELATION: What Alexa means for the blind. Writer Ian Bogost sees its effects on his dad, who could have used this a generation or two earlier.
ANOTHER UPSET?: No one gave a Democratic challenger much thought in a race for an open Congressional seat in a solidly Republican district in Arizona. Now it looks more like a toss-up, reports New York magazine’s Ed Kilgore.
ANIMATED INFLUENCERS: What comics have played a big role in evolving the genre, and leading millions of Americans imagine differently? From Superman to Smile, Mickey to ”Maus,” looks at the pictures, panels, and text that brought them to life.
DEAR WHITE AMERICA: Should I give up on you? asks George Yancy, a philosophy professor at Emory. “I am not a masochist,” he writes in the New York Times, “nor do I want to be a martyr.”

MARATHON MYSTERY: She finished second in the Boston Marathon. Nobody knew her. The 26-year-old Arizona nurse did it in only her second marathon. Wait, what? Turns out, Sarah Sellers was a runner in college who broke a bone in her foot. That kept her from running for years.
Spending time with like-hearted people vs like-minded people
Vrbov Rybnik a Spring on My granfather's land ... From visual journalist Fritz Schumann, a short, poignant documentary on Hoshi Ryokan, a Japanese hotel built on a hot springs that has been run by the same family for 1300 years, making it the oldest running family business in the world.
This ryokan (a traditional japanese style hotel) was built over a natural hot spring in Awazu in central Japan in the year 718. Until 2011, it held the record for being the oldest hotel in the world.
Houshi Ryokan has been visited by the Japanese Imperial Family and countless great artists over the centuries. Its buildings were destroyed by natural disasters many times, but the family has always rebuilt. The garden as well as some parts of the hotel are over 400 years old.
The ryokan is now on its 46th generation of ownership. As you might expect, the changing role of the family in Japanese society has put the future succession of the hotel to the next generation in jeopardy. (via open culture)

Knowledge@Wharton – David DeSteno - How Compassion Can Make You More Successful, Northeastern University psychology professor: “A couple years ago, Google’s HR department … [was] trying to figure out which teams were most successful. And their prediction going in was technical expertise [would be the key attribute for success]. But what they found is that the teams that actually had the most success … had a culture of empathy and compassion for each other.… It’s very rare that one person has all the skills. And so they have to be willing to support each other, to help each other, and it was a big determinate in success. Work by Wharton [professor] Adam Grant on these emotions shows the same thing. He did work with Francesca Gino [and] they looked at people who were working in call centers. … What they found is that when the managers actually showed gratitude for these people’s work, their efforts at trying to garner money — it was a development office for fundraising — doubled. And similar work Adam did with Amy Wrzesniewski at Yale School of Management showed that anticipating pride in your success, and having a culture where the managers reward that, also increases people’s productivity, but it also increases their resilience and lowers their stress…”

Musk: "The Economist Used to Be Boring, but Smart With a Wicked Dry Wit. Now It’s Just Boring (Sigh). Tesla Will Be Profitable & Cash Flow+ in Q3 & Q4, So Obv No Need to Raise Money.…"

A quick glance at Finland’s successful solution to homelessness: giving homes to homeless people.
↩︎ The Guardian
A study of Anaheim, home to Disneyland, shows the social and economic costs of becoming a one-company town.
↩︎ Governing

Murder is concentrated: 80% of violent killings in Latin American cities occur on just 2% of the streets.
  ↩︎ The Economist

 Movie poster designer Midnight Marauder picks his all-time favorite movie posters.
 ↩︎ MUBI

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Hannity, Trump and Cohen: The secrets we discover

A Canadian drug mule who attempted to smuggle cocaine into Australia on a luxury cruise ship has been sentenced to eight years in prison by a judge who said the woman had turned to crime as a way to achieve fame on Instagram.
Canadian drug mule 'risked life sentence to take Instagram selfies'

She Instagrammed her exotic drug-smuggling vacation. Now 'Cocaine Babe' is going to prison

Hannity, Trump and Cohen: The secrets we discover

We never would have known.
Fox News commentator Sean Hannity could have kept blasting the FBI and defending Trump’s “Mr. Fixit” without significant criticism. At least, until his secret tie to the Trump lawyer came to light.
And how did that secret get revealed? Five news organizations fought for public access to the court proceedings on Monday where the Hannity-Trump tie was disclosed.
The courtroom fight turned out to be over when a client of lawyer Michael Cohen had the right to keep his name under wraps. Lawyers for the Associated Press, ABC News, CNN, Newsday and the New York Times argued it was a matter of public record to name the client. The judge agreed.
HannityThere was a gasp and some laughter as Hannity’s name was disclosed — and reporters Shep Smith and Juan Williams of Fox News couldn’t believe that Hannity had knowingly covered and criticized the FBI raid on Cohen’s office and homes without telling his viewers that Cohen had represented him, as well.
The little-known legal efforts by media companies play a big role in protecting America’s freedoms. Kathleen Carroll, former editor of the AP and now board chair of the Committee to Protect Journalists, advised citizens: “Thank your newsrooms. And thank your newsrooms’ lawyers.”
The big question now is whether Fox News will discipline its star commentator and restore some credibility to the network, says the Washington Post’s Margaret Sullivan. “At any other news organization,” Sullivan writes, “this would be a fireable offense.”
In a statement Tuesday, the network said it had been “unaware” of the tie previously, when Hannity slammed raids on Trump’s lawyer without telling Fox viewers it was his lawyer, too.
“We have reviewed this matter,” Fov News said in a statement, “and spoken to Sean and he continues to have our full support.”
In the spirit of disclosure, here are other stories that may be revealing today.

Quick hits

REMEMBERING BARBARA BUSH: “The widely admired wife of one president and the fiercely loyal mother of another.” That’s how the New York Times described Barbara Bush, who died Tuesday in Houston. The Washington Post said her “embrace of her image as America’s warm-hearted grandmother belied her influence and mettle.” The Boston Globe’s Mark Feeney wrote that Bush, popular for her lack of vanity, “wore her wrinkles with pride, once joking after seeing herself on a pair of magazine covers that ‘it looks as though I had forgotten to iron my face.’” “While she was unpretentious, plainspoken and down-to-earth,” the Los Angeles Times wrote, “Bush was also a Northeastern blueblood who was strong-willed, politically shrewd, always blunt and occasionally caustic.”
WEANING US FROM POLLS: New guidance from the AP discourages making polls the top of a story, says the AP’s David Scott. The money phrase from the new AP Stylebook:  "Poll results that seek to preview the outcome of an election must never be the lead, headline or single subject of any story.” Why? “The 2016 election was a reminder that polls aren’t perfect,” Scott says. “They’re unquestionably a piece of the story, but never the whole story.”
SPEAKING OF: Polling and data-driven site FiveThirtyEight is moving from one part of Disney to another. Nate Silver’s site will go from being overseen by the ESPN unit to ABC News, with appearances on the network, Variety reported. Financial terms were not disclosed.  FiveThirtyEight is expected to continue providing  “data-driven sports coverage” as well that can be utilized by ESPN.
HELP US: Another Digital First executive pleads with the public to support ownership that takes a long-term view and understands the public service role of journalism. The column by Frank Pine, executive editor of the Southern California Newspaper Group, follows pleas by leaders at Denver, Boulder and Northern California properties owned by the cost-cutting hedge fund Alden Global Capital. Pine, who oversees 11 dailies and more than 20 weeklies, wrote: “If the Fourth Estate as we know it is to survive, it will require ownership that is invested in its long-term success and a strategy that prizes purpose over profit.” (Hat tip: Ivan Lajara)
LINES, DRAWN: The Pulitzer choice for editorial cartooning has divided the comics community, the Washington Post’s Michael Cavna reports. Jurors for the first time chose two people — a writer and an illustrator — for the award, which went to the New York Times, which does not have an editorial cartoonist on staff. The award, some cartoonists say, shines a light on freelancers when fewer cartoonists have staff jobs.
HOW KENDRICK LAMAR WON: The jury for the Pulitzer’s music prize made an unprecedented recommendation, and the 17 members of the Pulitzer board unanimously accepted it, giving the award for the first time to a non-classical, non-jazz musician. “We’re very proud of it,” Pulitzer administrator Dana Canedy tells Journal-ism’s Richard Prince. A 2007 Pulitzer winner, Mei Fong, noted it took the board 71 years to get from Margaret Mitchell’s nostalgic slave-era novel “Gone With The Wind” (big line: “I don’t give a damn”) to “Damn,” Lamar’s stunning and probing latest release. The celebrations started right after the ceremony.
Canedy kid

What we’re reading

HERO: The engine exploded in midair and a woman was being sucked out of the cabin. Pilot Tammie Jo Shults, one of the Navy's first female fighter pilots and first to fly a supersonic F/A-18, kept her cool, helping safely land a Boeing 737 Southwest Airlines jetliner with 148 people aboard. In tower communications obtained by NBC Philadelphia, she calmly informed them that she’d be coming in for an emergency landing. “We have a part of the aircraft missing, so we’re going to need to slow down a bit,” she can be heard saying. AP reported that after the landing, she walked through the aisle and spoke with passengers to make sure they were okay.
Mercury 13

: The passed the tests. They would help America in space. But the secret program for female astronauts was canceled in 1961, the subject of congressional hearings the following year and “Mercury 13,” a Netflix film out Friday. “I was rarin’ to go,” says one of the 13 female astronaut candidates interviewed. It would be a dozen years before women could train for space. Here’s the trailer.
THE STARBUCKS STOPS HERE: The coffee purveyor announced it would be closing 8,000 stores for racial-bias training following an arrest of a black customer in Philadelphia that prompted outrage. The closing May 29 will provide training to 175,000 workers, the company said. (Hat tip: Gregory H. Lee Jr.)
HOW RACHEL KAADZI GHANSAH DOES IT: The feature subjects the 2018 Pulitzer winner “has often chosen — among them Dave Chappelle, James Baldwin, Toni Morrison and Beyoncé — have been arbiters of black excellence, geniuses who, in Ghansah’s work, exist not in a vacuum, not as exceptions, but in a community that has incubated the genius.” That’s from Danielle Jackson’s profile of the master profile writer for Longreads.
MERCY: “It’s about time,” wrote the San Francisco Chronicle’s Aiden Yaziri, “we properly worshiped Beyoncé. The latest opportunity? The city’s Grace Cathedral has announced a special Episcopal Mass on April 25 dedicated to Queen Bey’s music and accomplishments. The event is part of a series that began with a program on Mary Magdalene called “The Original Nasty Woman.”

What we’re listening to

‘IMAGINE A MAN OF MY STATURE … BEING GIVEN AWAY AS A PRIZE’: The death of longtime NPR Morning Edition news anchor Carl Kasell has been leavened with the joy and zaniness he exhibited in his late-career work on the NPR game show “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me.” This NPR remembrance highlights five “away messages” he recorded for winners on the show (“Wait Wait” had such a limited budget that Kasell’s voice on a recorded phone message was the draw.) “I’m your boogie man,” Kasell intones in news delivery fashion on one message. “That’s what I am.”
BEAT IT: On the Vox daily news podcast “Today, Explained,” a 55-second parody of a Michael Jackson tune delivers this take on America’s EPA chief. “He’s got a super-secret silent phone booth … He’s got security to watch his every move … They hit the Rose Bowl, went to Disneyland, too … He’s Pruitt. Scott Pruitt.” The podcast, known for sharp takeaways on current events, has run parody before, such as a AC/DC flavored angle on political gerrymandering.