fast

“It all flipped, so fast,” said Mr. Odgaard, a patrician 70-year-old who favors khakis and boat shoes. “Suddenly, we were in the minority. That was kind of a scary feeling. It makes you wonder where the Christians went.”

-Laurie Goodstein ‘Torn over Donald Trump and cut off by culture wars, evangelicals despair‘ The New York Times

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character

I believe that character is far more important than policy proposals. A president’s policies are rarely enacted. The president is not an emperor. He is one of three branches of government. As Barack Obama learned, policies are not made by presidents alone. In addition, the most important challenges in a presidency are those the president never thought he would face. George W. Bush had no policy for 9/11. At that moment, all the policy papers he read and had written were rendered meaningless. The only thing that mattered was what he could conjure up on the edge of the abyss. His response was a reflection of his soul, not of the writers of policy papers. And in putting character above policy I want to sense his soul, to anticipate how he might deal with the unexpected.

– George Friedman ‘The public and private lives of candidates‘ Geopolitical Futures

just happened

We submitted our essay to Econometrica, a journal that publishes significant theoretical articles in economics and in decision theory. The choice of venue turned out to be important; if we had published the identical paper in a psychological journal, it would likely have had little impact on economics. However, our decision was not guided by a wish to influence economics; Econometrica just happened to be where the best papers on decision making had been published in the past, and we were aspiring to be in that company. In this choice as in many others, we were lucky. Prospect theory turned out to be the most significant work we ever did, and our article is among the most often cited in the social sciences.

-Daniel Kahneman Thinking, Fast and Slow

selfishness

There are many excuses for failing to conduct ourselves with courtesy, for avoiding gatherings and conversations we don’t think we will enjoy, or for just putting on our pajamas and staying home. Too many of them boil down to just that one thing: We care more about ourselves than about the needs of others.

That’s not about introversion. It’s just an ordinary version of selfishness.

-KJ Dell’Antonia ‘Am I Introverted, or Just Rude?‘ The New York Times

abroad

For his history thesis at Oxford, Lawrence resolved to study the Crusader castles of Syria, alone and on foot and at the height of the brutal Middle East summer. It was a 1,200-mile walk that carried him into villages that had never seen a European before—certainly not an unaccompanied European who, at 5-foot-4, looked to be all of 15—and it marked the beginning of his fascination with the East. “I will have such difficulty in becoming English again,” Lawrence wrote home amid his journey, sounding much like any modern college student on a junior year abroad; the difference in Lawrence’s case was that this appraisal proved quite accurate.

-Scott Anderson ‘World War I: 100 years later – The true story of Lawrence of Arabia‘ Smithsonian

 

governing

Examples like these remind us that public debate at its best is a part of governing, not of campaigning. Webster and Burke, Cicero and Demosthenes—all spoke in deliberative assemblies to a specific group of their fellow citizens who were empowered to decide together a particular law or course of action.

Their speeches were transcribed and published beyond the confines of the chamber to a much wider audience, but that was secondary; the immediate goal was to govern.

-Bryan Garsten ‘The sorry state of American debate‘ The Wall Street Journal

bigger picture

In his 2011 book The Globalisation Paradox, Dani Rodrik, a professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, offered what he called the “fundamental political ‘trilemma’ of the world economy: we cannot simultaneously pursue democracy, national determination and economic globalisation”.

Today, Mr Rodrik argues his point is being made for him by volatile politics. And yet, he says, technocrats like Ms Lagarde still miss the bigger picture by continuing to push for trade agreements and ever more open economies despite the protests.

“The main constraint on the global economy right now is not that it is not sufficiently open. It’s very open. The main constraint is really that the system lacks legitimacy,” he says.

-Shawn Donnan ‘Free trade v populism: The fight for America’s economy‘ Financial Times