Sunday, 16 July 2017

Random Reads (16/07/2017)

My reading continues to be eclectic. World politics, technology, organisational development, literature and more have been filling my spare time. Also, now that I am a commuter I have been enjoying a range of podcasts. So here's a bit of what I have been up to.

With the G20 meeting in Germany and the recent revelations from Donald Trump Jr, politics and diplomacy have dominated my reading in the past fortnight. Highlights include:

  • David Brooks wrote a piece on the 'Moral Vacuum in the House of Trump' for the New York Times  in which he explores the Trump philosophy of winning at any cost. Of Jr he writes, "he seems to be simply oblivious to the idea that ethical concerns could possibly play a role in everyday life". This got me thinking about how someone can become "incapable of even entertaining any moral consideration". When does personal/familial ambition override morals and ethics?
  • The NYTimes Editorial Board wrote an opinion on 'Mr Trump, the Climate Change Loner' about how Trump has isolated himself by withdrawing from the Paris Accord, evident at the G20 (G19?) and in his recent meeting with President Macron. They write that it is unlikely that Trump will awaken to the evidence of climate science, or take on board the economic arguments favouring renewables. Rather, they hope that "someday Mr Trump will awaken to the fact that the leaders of the world, who again and again have demonstratively turned their backs on him, regard him with astonishment and dismay." I am not so sure. Trump seems to view the world in binaries and his ego is perhaps immune to opinions he does not subscribe to.
  • Time Magazine took the step of putting Jr on the cover to accompany David Von Drehle's article 'How Donald Trump Jr's Emails Have Cranked Up the Heat on His Family'. Drehle explores the question many people are asking - how bad is it? He goes on to explore the legal, political and reputation stakes as this saga unfolds. So while Drehle doesn't answer outright, I'm going to go with pretty bad, and there is no doubt more to come...
  • David Remnick writes a thoughtful piece in The New Yorker on 'Trump Family Values'. He considers how close the family is and how morally bankrupt they appear. He turns his attention to the Republicans, who will soon have to make a choice about whether to continue to back Trump and risk the 2018 mid-term elections. Remnick writes:
"The Republicans, the self-proclaimed party of family values, remain squarely behind a family and a Presidency whose most salient features are amorality, greed, demagoguery, deception, vulgarity, race-baiting, misogyny, and, potentially - only time and further investigation will tell - a murky relationship with a hostile foreign government."
Besides the Trump saga, I have been reading quite a bit about digital disruption, attention spans and learning. Here are some of the articles that drew my interest:
  • The rise of the robots has attracted my attention a few times this week. The Independent published an article by May Bulman suggesting that workers in lower socioeconomic groups may be disadvantaged by automation causing job loss and that a greater class disparity may arise from labour market changes. Likewise, an article by Fergus Hanson in The Australian spoke of the coming robot revolution.

  • Dr Patti Shank wrote an interesting piece on attention span, busting the myth that our attention span is getting smaller. Shank gets behind the 'research' and shows that the oft-cited statistics about attention have no merit and how learning designers can support memory and retention. It is available on the elearning industry website.
  • Lea Waters wrote in The Atlantic how 'Goofing Off Helps Kids Learn'. She writes about strength-based parenting and the need for children to pause and not be overly scheduled. Advocating play-based learning, and a 'less-is-more' approach, Waters prescribes free time to reboot young brains. I feel for those kids that have so many extra-curricular activities that they have no free time.