The Jackdaw Journal
A Publication of M2 Communications

jack-daw [JAK-dah], n. 1. a glossy, black, European bird, corvus monedula, of the crow family, that nests in towers, ruins, etc.; has a proclivity to collect bright objects that attract its attention; can include bits of ice, things round or square, twigs, filaments of light bulbs; specialist on the lookout of what fits the construction of its nest.

jackdaw journal [JAK-dah JERN-al], n. 1. a repository of bright objects — wit, wisdom and whimsey — collected and/or created by Michael McKinney.   2. a web log or blog


Society Archives
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Do You Travel?

November 11, 2011

Daniel Taylor in a review of David Farley’s Modernist Travel Writing, writes: "The essence of travel is putting yourself in a different place—and coming back changed. If you go somewhere and don't come back, you haven't traveled, you have simply moved. If you go and come back but are not changed, you haven't traveled, you have simply been a tourist. There is an element of pilgrimage (physical travel for a spiritual purpose) in all genuine travel, and the urge in human beings to do so is timeless.

"On the other hand, we have been reminded, by people as diverse as the medieval Cistercians (who discouraged pilgrimage) and Henry Thoreau (who said explore your inner spaces before exploring outer ones), that spiritual and intellectual quests are also a form of travel. The greatest discoveries, they argue, are not over the horizon, but within the soul and mind.

But why not both? Why not put both body and mind in motion and allow them to feed each other?"

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Rebuilding Our Society

June 18, 2009

Here is a thought provoking 9 minute video from Douglas Rushkoff, discussing the themes of his book Life Inc.. In it he makes the observation, "Most of us spend so much time working and consuming that we have very little time and energy left to anything that has to do with other people. By the time you’re done with work and buying and Costco and Wal-Mart, it’s all you can do to sit on the couch and watch a little television before you go to sleep. It’s really hard to muster the energy to get together with other people."

Life Inc. The Movie from Douglas Rushkoff on Vimeo.

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Failure of Self-Interest?

March 9, 2009

Alan Greenspan described himself, in congressional testimony last October as being “in a state of shocked disbelief” over the failure of the “self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholders’ equity.” Self-interest was very present and working. It’s just that the self-interest was defined too narrowly. Self-interest was personal not institutional.

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The Obama Generation

January 22, 2009

Interesting post today by Jeremiah Owyang on the Obama Generation:

These juniors and seniors are about to enter the workforce, and they’ll have experienced this in a different way then any previous generation has. What’s so different? they’ll always have been in the workforce and known that:
  • Their President was always their Facebook friend.
  • Their President was always the top Twitter user as far as they can remember.
  • Their President has always addressed them on Saturday mornings on YouTube.
  • They’ll be connected to their friends to discuss topics and join causes in social networks.
  • The “Mall” won’t just be about shopping but also refer to the Washington Mall.
  • Blackberry’s are the new scepter of power, and a status symbol.
Read more on his blog.

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Charlie Rose Interview with Warren Buffett - October 1

October 7, 2008

Charlie Rose interviewed Warren Buffett on October 1 about the financial crisis. Here are a few of Buffett’s comments:

“You want to be fearful when others are greedy.”
Warren Buffett

“People don’t get smarter about things as basic as greed. You can’t stand seeing your neighbor getting richer. You know you're smarter than he is. And he’s doing these things. He’s getting rich and your spouse is getting unhappy with you because your aren’t doing it. Pretty soon you start doing it. And so you get what I call the natural progression – the three “I’s:” The Innovators, the Imitators, and the Idiots. That’s what happens. Everybody just kinda goes along. And you look kinda silly if you disagree….Its very human.”

“As long as you have market’s you’ll have excesses. You’re not going to change the human animal. And the human animal doesn’t get a lot smarter. You can have institutions that put curbs on that in various ways.”

You can view the 54 minute video on the Charlie Rose web site.

Related Interest:
  Fixing the Financial Crisis Once and For All

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History Repeats

October 29, 2007

In a lecture entitled “Political Vision and the Praxis of Politics,” Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger said:
Man qua man remains the same in primitive conditions as in technologically developed societies and does not advance to a higher level simply by the fact that he has learned to employ more highly developed tools. Human nature starts over from the beginning in every human being. Therefore there cannot be such a thing as a definitely new, advanced, and smooth running society. Not only was this the hope of the grand ideologies, but it has been becoming more and more the general objective expected by all ever since hope in the hereafter was demolished. A definitely well-run society would presuppose the end of freedom.
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August 29, 2007

Ran across an interesting and new-to-me concept: Re-parenting. The idea is from Gordon MacDonald. As we go through our day, it's not hard to find people struggling with basic issues of emotional intelligence; people struggling to carry on a reasonably ordered life (read self-control). These and other social skills and marks of personal development are set in place, normally, by family and community.
Father Knows Best
When family and community break down, such skills are never developed.

The boomers may be the last generation that was brought up with the benefit of a social matrix or a community of adults from which we developed our view of maleness, femaleness, community, and where one's place was amid it all. It was a context of civilizing influences that were a good platform upon which to build character and good social skills.

How do leaders, employers develop people who lack the proper foundation to begin with? It requires re-parenting. Re-parenting involves immersing motivated people in a new context of thinking and behavior and in an environment that is supportive and designed to build camaraderie. It requires a long term commitment to high standards of thinking and behaving.

MacDonald has identified nine principles associated with re-parenting that are worth examining.

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Friendship is in Bad Shape

July 31, 2007

From Valparaiso University's The Cresset comes these comments about friendship by John von Heyking: Last year the American Sociological Review published a study demonstrating that between 1985 and 2004, the number of Americans admitting they have no one with whom to discuss important matters nearly tripled.

Americans ... seem to have lost the art of friendship. They seem to be unsure just what to do with a friend. They know how to unite their bodies but not their souls. They seem to have forgotten a rich heritage in Western thinking on the meaning of friendship. The ancient Greeks thought that friendship at its best involved conversing about the noble and the good. Thus Xenophon reports Socrates proclaiming:
Just as others are pleased by a good horse or dog or bird, I myself am pleased to an even higher degree by good friends… and the treasures of the wise men of old which they left behind by writing them in books, I unfold and go through them together with my friends, and if we see something good, we pick it out and regard it as a great gain if we thus become useful to one another. (Xenophon, Memorabilia, I, vi, 14)

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Václav Havel on Hope

July 13, 2007

"Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out."
—Václav Havel, Disturbing the Peace, ch. 5 (1986; tr. 1990)

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99.9% Quality

May 12, 2007

If everyone achieved 99.9% quality, according to Insight Syncrude Canada Ltd., this is what could happen:
  • Two plane landings daily at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago would be unsafe.
  • The IRS would lose two million documents this year.
  • 22,000 checks would be deducted from the wrong bank accounts in the next 60 minutes.
  • 1,314 phone calls would be misplaced every minute.
  • 12 babies would be given to the wrong parents each day.
  • 268,500 defective tires would be shipped this year.
  • 103,208 income tax returns would be processed incorrectly this year.
  • 2,488,200 books with the wrong cover would be shipped in the next 12 months.
  • 5,517,200 cases of soft drinks produced in the next 12 months would be flatter than a bad tire.
  • 3,056 copies of tomorrow's Wall Street Journal would be missing one of the three sections.
  • 18,322 pieces of mail would be mishandled in the next hour.
  • 880,000 credit cards in circulation would turn out to have incorrect cardholder information on their magnetic strips.
  • 20,000 incorrect drug prescriptions would be written in the next 12 months.
  • 114,500 mismatched pairs of shoes would be shipped this year.
  • 107 incorrect medical procedures would be performed by the end of the day today.

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Iowa: They're Not Just Watching The Corn Grow

April 12, 2007

The April 9, 2007 Publishers Weekly reports: Iowa leads the nation in the production of pork, corn and soybeans. All Iowa Reads But there's much more to this state than fields and farms. The Hawkeye State also leads the nation in adult literacy, with a 99.2% rate. In fact, Iowans read more books per capita than do the residents of any other state, a habit no doubt further perpetuated by the popular "All Iowa Reads" statewide reading program, now in its fifth year.

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What's a Billion Dollars?

April 2, 2007

The New York Times ran an article by Austan Goolsbee on Why Do the Richest People Rarely Intend to Give It All Away? following the listing by Forbes on the world's billionaires. He cites a report written by Professor Carroll and inserts into an illustration to help us comprehend the kind of wealth he is referring to. It does give one pause.
Professor Carroll says the super-rich can't be accumulating the money with the intention of spending it, either, because no one could spend that much. To see his point, take Oracle's founder, Lawrence J. Ellison. Mr. Ellison's net worth last year was around $16 billion. And it will probably be much bigger when the list comes out in a few weeks. With $16 billion and a 10 percent rate of return, Mr. Ellison would need to spend more than $30 million a week simply to keep from accumulating more money than he already has, to say nothing of trying to spend down the $16 billion itself.

If it isn't to spend, to give to their children, or to give to charity, then why do the rich save so much? Professor Carroll says maybe they love money, not for what it can buy but just for its own sake. Perhaps they get something different from having money--clout, power, the ability to dominate an industry. Or perhaps these are just competitive people who care about their position compared with other people on the list.
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