From Spotlight

Spotlight posts shine a light on some other work, usually accompanied by my own clarification or extension.

What the framers meant by ‘the people’

Even though the framers were pretty bad about race, and they certainly didn’t understand sex equality, the one thing the framers got was class. They understood that the biggest risk was to create an aristocracy. And so they insisted, as Madison said, that ‘the people’ meant ‘not the rich more than the poor.’ We’ve completely betrayed that commitment.

— Lawrence Lessig

Watch Lessig’s entire 12-minute interview with Bill Moyerswhen Lessig was on a march to end corruption…

Don’t Hand Me A Yellow Volkswagen

The Writers Almanac tells a story about Frank Conroy today. 

Once, while directing the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, Conroy scolded a student for using irrelevant details in her short story. He said…

The author makes a tacit deal with the reader. You hand them a backpack. You ask them to place certain things in it — to remember, to keep in mind — as they make their way up the hill. If you hand them a yellow Volkswagen and they have to haul this to the top of the mountain…

The Secret to Internet Success

In a recent episode of The Talk Show, John Gruber opens with his brilliant observations on the true secrets of internet success. John says that the secret to fame and fortunate on the internet does not relate to what computer you have or what language you code in. Instead, there are three elements that are common to all successful people on the internet:

It’s a good time to be an introvert …

… in the last ten years or so, there’s been a major economic resurgence for introversion—the “geek” economy. The prototypical geek is really good at thinking, has superb powers of concentration (which tends to be an introvert trait), and works very well independently. They’re often pretty awesomely brilliant people, and they’re fairly defiant about being geeks. They’ve turned this word “geek” into a term that’s almost romantic in some ways, and through the Silicon economy, they’ve been massively innovative and economically important. A lot of them are running circles around the extroverts who are selling shoes. So I think part of what’s happened lately is that the digital economy is giving introverts a new place in the sun.

Here’s To The Crazy Ones

Here’s to the crazy ones.
The misfits.
The rebels.
The troublemakers.
The round pegs in the square holes.
The ones who see things differently.
They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo.

You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward.

And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.

This is from an Apple ad shortly after Steve Jobs returned to Apple in the mid 90’s. It always brings a tear to my eye. Adweek has paid homage by adding Steve Jobs to his rightful place amongst these crazy ones.

Here’s the updated ad:

We Pay For What’s Important

On Wednesday, in his NY Times editorial, Nicholas Kristof cited an article by the American Journal of Public Health stating that 45,000 uninsured people die annually as a consequence of not having insurance.

We accept that life is unfair, that some people will live in cramped apartments and others in sprawling mansions. But our existing insurance system is not simply inequitable but also lethal: a very recent, peer-reviewed article in the American Journal of Public Health finds that nearly 45,000 uninsured people die annually as a consequence of not having insurance. That’s one needless death every 12 minutes.

Today Paul Krugman has an editorial on the demise of American education.

Tell Stories

I was trying to explain how the drug war doesn’t work. I would write these very careful, very well researched pieces and they would go into the ether and be gone. . . It was such an uphill struggle to tell this story with facts. When you tell a story with characters, people jump out of their seats.

David Simon, creator, producer, and primary writer for The Wire.

If you have any interest in the drug war, the plight of our inner cities, or the power of finding your voice, set aside forty-five minutes this week and watch both parts of this Bill Moyer’s interview with David Simon. Great stuff.

Simon is insightful and inspiring on so many levels. He has a keen understanding of what is happening to our inner cities and, more broadly, to the “unneeded” classes of our society. His observations are poignant and delivered with restrained passion.

Consulting is a Relationship Business

Consulting is a relationship business. A special product may make you competitive. Differentiated services may make you distinct. But only carefully crafted relationships will create a breakthrough firm.

— Alan Weiss, Million Dollar Consulting

In preparation to launch Rizers — my new company — I am reading Alan Weiss’ classic tome, Million Dollar Consulting.

Rainy Sunday Afternoons

Millions long for immortality who don’t know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

Susan Ertz, Anger in the Sky

I have to admit that I am puzzled by people who claim to be easily bored. I can’t recall ever being bored. Granted, I am an introvert, which may explain why I have not lived an over-active life. I have always had a long queue of interests that manage to keep my mind occupied. I grew up in the country. The vast countryside was my backyard and my siblings and I always had something to do. As I grew older I discovered books and the world of ideas. Again, no shortage of things to do on a Sunday afternoon.

Lincoln’s Legend and Legacy

The color of the ground was in him, the red earth;
The smack and tang of elemental things:
The rectitude and patience of the cliff;
The good-will of the rain that loves all leaves.

— Edwin Markham, Lincoln, Man of the People

I watched the Bill Moyer’s special last night on Lincoln’s Legend and Legacy. Since moving to North Carolina a year and a half ago, I have become a student of the Civil War. The passion with which both sides fought and Lincoln’s incredible role in holding the Union together ignites in me a deep fascination for my adopted country.

The excerpt above is but a few lines from a rich and delightful poem by Edwin Markham. The second verse alone brings tears to my eyes and is worth committing to memory. Steel away a few quiet moments today and indulge yourself in a full reading of Markham’s Lincoln, Man of the People.