11-22-1963

Watching CBS’s livestream of their coverage of President Kennedy’s assassination fifty years ago. It is mesmerizing. The pace is slow, much slower than the most recent big story I can think of, the Boston Marathon bombing. The effect is the same: lots of random information, many leads which don’t turn out, some things which are inaccurate. But instead of Twitter, we have phone calls and reports from correspondents. The news content per hour is the same, I think, but there is zero punditry, in the sense that the CBS anchors are monologing rather than yielding the floor to dueling pundits.

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Historical literacy and the pundit class

Obama Assures Americans This Will Not Be Another 1456 Ottoman Siege of Belgrade

The Onion has been on a roll lately. This makes me laugh hysterical historian laughter for about twelve reasons, two of which I can name. First, I love the Byzantines and their enemies, and anytime Mehmed II comes up is a good day. This is awesome.

It is also amazing political-media satire, because, again, when we contemplate going to war the only war anybody seems to remember anything about is World War II, though they only remember the version that says that Hitler could have been stopped. That is perhaps true. But it is pretty completely irrelevant to what the right thing to do in Syria is. Probably there isn’t one. But it would delight me if we could all pick a new red herring historical argument to use in all circumstances.

You say “industrious” like it’s a good thing

Was reading ┬áJed Sundwall’s piece on the Golden Lazy Smart Person earlier. The idea is that you can classify colleagues on two axes: smart vs. dumb and lazy vs. industrious. Dumb/lazy is obviously undesirable, but dumb/industrious is actually a problem also–someone who doesn’t know what’s important can create problems that take your smart/industrious people months to work out. Sundwall’s Golden Lazy Smart Person is the person smart enough to figure out an easy way to do the hard thing.

So, so glad this important insight has percolated out into project management circles. He cites his mentor for the diagram. I’m thinking it derives from a German general, the elder von Moltke. It is variously attributed online, mostly to von Moltke. As usual, nobody cites a source. Apparently I can’t either, so we’re even for tonight, Internet.

I’ll take a crack at tracking this down when I have a few minutes at the office.