Level 5 leaders channel their ego needs away from themselves and into the larger goal of building a great company. It's not that Level 5 leaders have no ego or self-interest. Indeed, they are incredibly ambitious -- but their ambition is first and foremost for the institution, not themselves.

Oct 18, 2005

A Custom-fit Education System

Have you ever been to some event and received a one-size-fits-all hat?  Did it fit well?  Did you actually take the hat home and wear it?  Or did it go up on the closet shelf where you can't really get to it?  Maybe you've donated it to Goodwill for the bums and college students who shop at thrift stores.

I originally set out to simply make a comment on A Schoolyard Blog's latest post about stale donuts and her remorseful response to Fantasia Barrino's admission that she can't read:

Over the weekend I read a tidbit of star news. Fantasia Barrino, an American Idol who left me in awe with her rendition of Summer Time, has admitted that she is functionally illiterate. She has a new book out that she dictated to a free-lance writer. Star and illiterate in the same sentence is a sad statement. I fantasized Fantasia in a school where the main focus was singing, something she always knew about from the bones out, and she was learning to read and write on the side. I don’t know if it is possible for a singing school to turn someone into AP material, but maybe you have to start somewhere.

And with a one-two punch, ASYB'er talks with a guy who has come from a D.C. ghetto to Denver and is installing cable boxes:

Then a young man who told me he grew up in the “ghettos” of Washington D.C. came to install a new cable box. As I was talking with him I saw that the only thing keeping him in the installers truck was lack of practice in talking about his thinking. Because of the way he was enjoying our conversation I could tell that he had not been exposed to enough people who thought their job included listening and helping him be comfortable extending his thoughts.

...so ASYB'er concludes:

How I felt about these two incidents spurred me to conclude that I am sort of over education issues. Perhaps my imagination is too wild or my ideas too simple for a public institution. I have watched education for a long time and the stories haven’t changed much. They say a watched pot doesn't boil so I am going to stop watching for a bit.

I understand her frustration.  The source of her frustration is so systemic in our current ways of thinking that we might not be able to overcome it.

Colorado is gearing up to vote on Referendums C & D, which ditch the Tax Payer's Bill Of Rights (TABOR) Law in favor of a tax increase to "improve education and health care."  Colorado's TABOR law is unique.  Pretty much every economist in Colorado agrees that the TABOR law is the single mechanism that kept Colorado from serious financial woes like the ones California is facing.

Personally, I'm a little worried to be ditching the TABOR law.  As a young professional with a good job, I am theoretically earning enough to pay off my education debt and am looking to buy a house.  Unfortunately I'm not doing either, and am increasingly frustrated with putting 30% or more of my wages towards "improving" things.  If I could skip paying taxes for just this year, I could use that tax money to pay off all of my debt and start 2006 as a fresh, fired-up, debt-free consumer.  I would:  buy a house, start contributing to my company's fully-vested 100%-match-up-to-6%-salary 401k, get married, and take a vacation.  I might also think seriously about starting a family.  Instead, I am paying credit interest and making only small dents in the principles.

Nevertheless, they are asking for a tax-raise in Colorado. From my perspective a tax-increase feels too much like piling an increasing amount of money into an increasingly failing education system where everybody is feeling increasingly worthless -- both kids and teachers.  (Hopefully the administrators are also starting to feel worthless...)

Why do I think our system of public education is failing?  Because in most cases, in the lives of most of our students, it is worthless.

I do not think it is failing because Fantasia Barrino cannot read.  I think it is failing because we have somehow trained ourselves to conclude that we have failed if Fantasia Barrino cannot read.

If Fantasia could read as a child, would she still be able to sing as well as she can?  Probably not since a creature's abilities are strengthened and weakened in inverse proportion to the strength of the other abilities involved in surviving and thriving.  Fantasia's singing ability provides her an opportunity to reach out and help people.  Had she spent more time reading and writing and less time singing, it's very possible that both her writing and singing skills would be mediocre and would not provide her with such an opportunity as she has now.

B.B. King is another example.   In his semi-autobiography, he mentions that he stuttered horribly as a child, and began singing in the church choir because singing was the only time he could say words smoothly.  B.B. learned to read at a later age in life, and has accomplished much more than he would have otherwise.

I'm not writing this to be a nay-sayer.  I am not trying to excuse us from the obligation to assist the progress of everyone in our society.  But I would like to point out that the quality of an average public education in America (all the way through college) is going downhill at an increasing rate the more we tell ourselves that "everybody deserves the same education."

Clearly people do not deserve the same education, nor do they even want it.  And if they did want it, nobody would respond to it in the same way.  Education is a personalized journey that each person must tailor for themselves.  It is Our responsibility to continually seek more effective ways to help students educate themselves.  It is subsequently Business's responsibility to find more efficient ways to assess a person's education "travel" log.

Only a thin, dynamic and scalable education system will perform well for us as our society grows.  A heavy, laggard and highly-political system is failing us now as our society grows past the system's capabilities.  Our one-education-fits-all approach is like the one-size-fits-all baseball hat -- it truly fits nobody.

posted at 09:21 AM by Chris Chew in Education, Politics | Comments (2)

Mar 07, 2005

The Goon Joins The Gaggle

CONGRATULATIONS to FishbowlDC blogger Garrett M. Graff for winning clearance for the daily press conferences at the White House, somewhat officially known as the daily press "gaggle."  No matter what you think about the current administration, you have to give them credit for acknowledging the importance of our newest information network.

Any jealousy towards Graff is quickly doused when you consider this:  Graff's new position is like Martin Luther nailing his 95 Theses to the pulpit on a Sunday mass when the Pope is visiting from Rome, with Catholic-CNN's top crew filming every second.  After about two mistakes, either the MSM or the blogosphere (or both!) will quickly turn FishbowlDC into 95 feces.

The VodkaPundit has some thoughts and advice for him:

I offer my wholehearted congratulations to Garrett – and a stern warning, too.

...While blogs are often looked down upon for not doing enough original reporting, I think it's important - even vital - for bloggers to remain outside the system.

...In terms of power, influence, and prestige, a mid-level, Washington-based MSM guy probably ranks with a mid-level (or higher) Washington bureaucrat. Your most popular MSM television personalities wield more power than any single politician other than the President.

Is it any wonder the MSM considers itself (if only half in jest) to be a part of the government? Because, really, the line between government and media is getting fuzzier every year.

That's where bloggers come in.

...We're outsiders. We're cranks. We aren't caught up in the system. Those are our strengths. As individuals, they can be weaknesses...We know exactly where Power stops and We begin: Right here, at our keyboards.

...The blogger who gets access, is the blogger on the road to irrelevance if he doesn't watch himself.

Garrett, I wish you luck, Man!


posted at 12:42 AM by Chris Chew in Politics | Comments (0)

Mar 04, 2005

The Good Son Part IV

WHO'S WHO IN SYRIA:  You may know that I've been wondering for a while if Bashar Assad may not be as powerful as often assumed.  BBC News introduces us to the cast of governing characters. 

posted at 09:59 AM by Chris Chew in Politics | Comments (0)

Mar 01, 2005

VodkaPundit: Iraq Compared To Iwo Jima

VODKAPUNDIT writes a very interesting comparison between the returns on investment of the Second Gulf War in Iraq and the taking of Iwo Jima Island in WWII.  Please read it, and then come back to my commentary below...

One big difference that he overlooks is that a good portion of the Iraqi conflict has damaged civilian property and taken civilian lives, while Iwo Jima was a deserted island and consequently suffered no civilian damage.  But the end-games, namely the atom-bomb in Japan versus the election-bomb in Iraq, certainly tip the scale back in favor with VodkaPundit's conclusion that Iraq is looking to be a tremendously less costly first milestone.

Even more so when you also consider the number of Iraqi exiles and political prisoners that have finally returned home to start a new life.

Or the thousands upon thousands of families that can finally lay to rest their uncertainty regarding the fate of missing loved ones who fell victim to Saddam's cruelty.  Plus, they will soon see the perpetrator tried by their very own shiny new, elected government.

Or you can even consider that just slightly more than one life was given for each school that USAID/Bechtel has refurbished and reopened in Iraq since 2003.  Bechtel employed more than 30,000 Iraqi laborers in the efforts of repairing over 1200 schools.  USAID has received only 52 complaints.

I can understand two years ago being skeptical about this whole idea.  But given the excellent news over the last two months -- successful Iraqi elections and self-motivated Democratic demonstrations in Lebanon, Iran and Egypt -- I can't understand why somebody would still refuse to at least give Bush's vision a chance.

And if you still can't believe it, try this one, as written by Mark Steyn for the Daily Telegraph in London:

And, for perhaps the most remarkable development, consider this report from Mohammed Ballas of Associated Press: "Palestinians expressed anger on Saturday at an overnight suicide bombing in Tel Aviv that killed four Israelis and threatened a fragile truce, a departure from former times when they welcomed attacks on their Israeli foes."

No disrespect to Associated Press, but I was disinclined to take their word for it. However, Charles Johnson, whose Little Green Footballs website has done an invaluable job these past three years presenting the ugly truth about Palestinian death-cultism, reported that he went hunting around the internet for the usual photographs of deliriously happy Gazans dancing in the street and handing out sweets to celebrate the latest addition to the pile of Jew corpses - and, to his surprise, couldn't find any.

Why is all this happening? Answer: January 30. Don't take my word for it, listen to Walid Jumblatt, big-time Lebanese Druze leader and a man of impeccable anti-American credentials: "I was cynical about Iraq. But when I saw the Iraqi people voting three weeks ago, eight million of them, it was the start of a new Arab world. The Berlin Wall has fallen."


posted at 04:21 AM by Chris Chew in Politics | Comments (0)

Feb 28, 2005

A Cheer For The Lebanese

TODAY I'M CHEERING FOR THE LEBANESE as they created a citizen voice loud enough to dismantle their pro-Syrian government!  Organizing a new government will probably be messy, but at least they have friends and counsel in Iraq and Afghanistan.

UPDATE:  And now I am crying for the grieving families of potential recruits for the Iraqi Police.  The terrorists are backing ever nearer to the corner, I expect the incidents will only get bloodier for a while yet.

posted at 11:01 AM by Chris Chew in Politics | Comments (0)

Feb 27, 2005


A LINK IS FLOATING AROUND to some color pictures taken during the First World War.  It feels very strange to look at them.

I had the same thoughts as the VodkaPundit regarding the color-ness of the photos, namely the realization that WWI was not very long ago and its wounds are not completely healed.

Yet since that time, Europe has added child-labor laws, space flight, a failed Nazi invasion, horribly failing communism experiments, countless human rights laws and an arguably viable shot at a united economic system.  It seems kind of like trying to re-varnish a table top without sanding and cleaning the original surface.  It's just not going to hold up.  And consequently, we still have the problem of European Islamists trying to conquer Europe.

posted at 01:29 PM by Chris Chew in Politics, Technology | Comments (0)

The Good Son Part III

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS is reporting (Via Captain's Quarters) that the Syrian government recently captured and returned 30 members of Saddam's former Baath party to the new Iraqi government, including Saddam's half-brother Sabawi Ibrahim al-Hasan al-Tikriti.  This is a big piece of news that supports my thoughts about the Democritization of Bashar Assad.

What a huge token of goodwill towards the new democratic Iraq and the Coalition of The Willing!  I would love to have been a fly on the wall in Syria while they discussed this...

posted at 12:52 PM by Chris Chew in Politics

Feb 23, 2005

The Good Son Part II

Earlier today I wondered about Bashar Assad.  Chris Suellentrop over at Slate also wondered about Bashar Assad in 2003 and determined that he is an evil moron.  I'm still not convinced.

Bashar's recent key strategy seems to have been allying Syria with Iraq going into the Second Gulf War.  Everybody wants to know why he made such an obviously dumb move.  The common belief is that Bashar wanted to be sitting pretty to help rule the World once Saddam triumphed.  Saddam likely talked himself up before the war to help solidify this line of thinking for Syria, not to mention the fact that Syria's premiere party is apparently Baathist and was obligated if not eager to help.

But could this really have continued to be Bashar's end-game after Saddam began jettisoning weapons and money into Syria?  I can imagine the Phone call Saddam made:  "Bashar, Saddam here.  Listen, I'm going to hide my nukes and chems in your backyard so that the Americans don't find them when they arrest...err, uh...so that you can have them at your disposal as my partner in World domination after we kill those dog men."

Bashar would truly have to be a moron to buy this.  I'm not sly enough to rule a country and I can see through it, so I have to assume that Bashar did as well. Politicians are killed all the time because they weren't smart enough.  Do we honestly think a moron would last very long as a dictator in a place like Syria?  Saddam is an idiot, but he is no moron, and he didn't end well.  Even Mubarak in Egypt seems very sly, and he's losing grasp.

I also have to assume that Bashar had little or no choice in the matter.  After all, he is working with men who for thirty years served his predecessor, a ruthless Baathist dictator and conqueror - his father.

So, for the sake of argument, let's agree that Bashar is not a moron and personally saw through Saddam but nevertheless agreed to support him.  We still have the same question, but this time from a different perspective. Why help Saddam? ...becomes... What does Bashar have to gain by faking allegiance with Saddam?

First and foremost, he might stay alive for another few years lest the Baathists employ another highway bomb. He also becomes the proud new owner of a hand-me-down nuclear and chemical weapons program.  Naturally these are no good to him unless he is alive to use or sell them.  And not only is he still alive, he is now in the perfect position no matter how well Democracy thrives in Iraq and spreads through the region.

For should Democracy fail in Iraq, he gets the benefit of having aided Saddam as well as acquiring a big stash of weapons.  Should Democracy do well, Bashar can proceed to publicly or slyly dismantle his father's regime with a dual face.  Publicly as a "Western-educated eye doctor hoping to share the gift of Freedom with his people," or slyly as a "Dictator's most loyal son who can't stop the overwhelming force of Democracy."  This is a position that a moron would not find himself in, that is, sitting pretty with lots of big guns.

To dismiss Bashar as a moron gives too little respect for a Western, scientific education and a marriage with an English-born wife.  It also undermines the difficulty of navigating some of the most treacherous political waters today, if not ever.  The big test will be how he handles the people's current uproar for civil liberty.

I still have a lot to learn about Bashar and the Syrian Government, and welcome all comments, opinions and information.  You can be sure that I will be following this story.

UPDATE:  Another phone call from Saddam.

posted at 06:51 PM by Chris Chew in Politics

Who The Hell Do I Think I Am

HERE ARE MY ANSWERS to the "Who The Hell Do You Think You Are?" blogger quiz offered by IMAO...

1. Who the hell do you think you are?

I'm a guy who almost always works in his a pajamas. I have translated Homer's Iliad and Odyssey from the original Greek.  I know very little about Politics of Journalism.

2. So, other than blogging, what's your job?  Do you work at some fast food joint, dumbass?

I help companies put business processes on-line.

3. Do you have like any experience in journalism, idiot?


4. Do you even read newspapers?

No!  I've never even owned a subscription.

5. Do you watch any other news than FOX News propaganda, you ignorant fool?

No.  I have a television that is only connected to my x-box/dvd player.

6. I bet you're some moron talk radio listener too, huh?

Not really.

7. So, do you get a fax from the GOP each day for what to say, you @#$% Republican parrot?

Fortunately I do not own a fax machine.

8. Why do you and your blogger friends want to silence and fire everyone who disagrees with you, fascist?

This is a well-put question that is difficult to answer.

9. Are you completely ignorant of other countries, or do you actually own a passport?

I am extremely ignorant of any world events that occurred after 1947.  For this, I blame my Social Studies teachers and the Mainstream Media.  I am extremely knowledgeable about any events that occurred prior to 1700.

10. Have you even been to another country, you dumb hick?

England and Mexico, but not since high school.

11. If you're so keen on the war, why haven't you signed up, chickenhawk?

I'm already a little too old for the military to make good use of me.  Believe me, I even called and asked.

12. Do you have any idea of the horrors of war?  Have you ever reached into a pile of goo that was your best friend's face?

Is it like the pumpkin goo at the neighborhood Halloween haunted house?

13. Have you ever reached into any pile of goo?

I refer you to question 12.

14. Once again, who the hell do you think you are?!

Thanks for wasting every-body's time...Now please apologize to the poor people who you made read this.

posted at 03:41 PM by Chris Chew in Politics

The Good Son

VODKAPUNDIT WONDERS how the Lebanese people can so suddenly push this near to freedom, and finds an answer from Daniel Pipes.  In short, the answer is that Syria's a victim of the lame-duck-second-son dictator who is failing to fill his fathers shoes:

[Bashar has] his father's methods, yes, but not his skills. The elder Assad was a tactical genius, even if his rule ultimately failed (he never regained the Golan Heights, never came close to destroying Israel, and rode Syria's economy and culture into the ground). The younger Assad combines strategic blindness with tactical ineptitude.

But here's what I'm wondering: What if Bashar, the second son, intends to dismantle the regime and the only way he can do it is through apparent ineptitude?

Keep in mind I know almost nothing about Bashar except:  1. He was probably ignored as child by his dictator father in favor of his more promising older sibling, 2. Was apparently educated in the democratic West as an ophthalmologist.

It is reasonable to doubt the loyalty such a son might have to a father such as his.  I'm not the only one to think so, because the Free World was hopeful for Syria and Lebanon when Bashar came into power (I couldn't find any linkable articles, but visit your library on-line and search the news for "Bashar" in the middle of June 2000).

I also imagine that Bashar received some friendly advice on his first day on the job:  If you try to dismantle our dictatorship, you will die at the hands of it.

Consequently, a possible strategy for freeing Syria without losing your life might be to ruin relations on both sides of the coin, let the people start demanding freedom, and slyly slip away from the grasp of a 30-year terrorist regime while everything crumbles.  Granted it's a little Jack Bauer-ish, but what else can a forgotten-Westernized-son-turned-dictator do?

UPDATE:  I've continued my Bashar Assad thinking today and assembled another post "The Good Son Part II".

posted at 12:49 PM by Chris Chew in Politics