Bizarre World

I was stopped at a traffic light tonight and saw police lights a few intersections down the road, tending to an accident. I commented to my wife that this was the third fender bender I had seen just today.

As soon as the words left my mouth a Prius rear ended a new Rolls Royce in the intersection immediately in front of us. That alone was amusing enough, little did I know we would soon be witness to an edition of Bizarre World unfolding in technicolor glory.

The Rolls Royce started to pull away and while the car was moving the passenger door opened and a shirtless man with a mullet rolled out gesturing wildly at the Prius. The Prius stooped and a rather bewildered driver stepped out… Keep in mind that this is on a busy 3 lane road filled with traffic moving at 40 mph… and the guy in the Rolls left his door wide open.

After moments of wild gesturing that I was certain would lead to a fist fight, the tone shifted to semi backslapping and the Prius guy gets in his car and drives away leaving shirtless mullet Rolls guy in the middle of the road with a damaged rear bumper.

I can only imagine Rolls guy preferred to not have any legal entanglements… only in Florida, maybe Los Angeles.



I was pondering the situation at Penn State this morning on my drive in to the office. Putting aside the physical crimes that are alleged, not because these are not important – indeed they are ultimately the most critical aspect – but because what I am interested in this morning is the notion of integrity on an organization as a result of individual actions.

Like Penn State, Lehman Brothers and Enron were some of the most recognizable names on a resume that any person in the respective industry could feature. Today, these names are the punchline of a joke and individuals who carry them are likely to face additional scrutiny as a result of the organizational failures that captured the public’s attention.

Organizational failures are ultimately a series of individual failures and if you search Google you will find an endless stream of articles about how failure is a consequence of flawed learning and inability to adapt to changing conditions.

However, in these cases that simply doesn’t ring true, the epic organizational failures I have highlighted are a consequence of organizational success; definitely in the case of Lehman and Enron, and when the book is written on Penn State it will probably highlight how a very successful athletic program (college athletics is a business, not an endeavor) resulted in the individuals achieving a level of status that insulated them from scrutiny.

Is success so seductive that it causes otherwise reasonable people to put aside moral questions that may endanger continued success? Sadly, it appears that for too many people this is the case so the question I will leave you with is how, in your company, do you institutionalize integrity in decision making and subject the most successful among your team to a level of scrutiny that assures the entire organization is not imperiled by their actions?

The Chaotic Olympics

“All visitors should be aware that they have no reasonable expectation of privacy in public or private locations,” according to the State Department site.

“All hotel rooms and offices are considered to be subject to on-site or remote technical monitoring at all times. Hotel rooms, residences and offices may be accessed at any time without the occupant’s consent or knowledge,” it said.

It’s amazing that this would be news to people… China is an authoritarian communist state, it’s not like going to Disneyland. The Chinese authorities, who rule not by the moral authority granted to them by the people but through fear, intimidation and force, are using this Olympics much like Hitler did with the Berlin games in 1936.

The 1936 Olympics were used by the Nazi thugs to promote their ideology of Aryan supremacy, but Hitler and Goebbels also saw significant value in showcasing Germany’s stature as a leading nation of the world and in history. More ominously, the Nazis also sought to hide their fascist roots, attempting to show Germany as a tolerant nation by removing “Jews not wanted” signs from Berlin, toning down their rhetoric, and exempting foreigners from enforcement of draconian social laws, such as the anti-homosexuality laws in place for Germans.

The rise of fascism in Germany was no secret by 1936 and, like now, many called for the boycotting of the Olympics. Ultimately, I believe, boycotting ends up accomplishing little so maybe instead of boycotting the Beijing Olympics we should encourage huge swarms of people from all free countries to show up and flash mob. That would really freak out the Beijing monitors and snoopers.

Everyone should use their mobile phones to upload millions of videos of Qik as well.

At the Olympics, the Maoists will be dealing with free people from free nations, and there is only so much they can do to control them. It’s not clear they understand this. They’ve been living for decades in a bubble of unchallenged power, and are not very imaginative. The opportunities for embarrassment are endless, and the prospect of it very delicious to anyone who loves liberty. Personally, I hope their stinking Olympics is a huge fiasco, and I see encouraging signs it may be.

[From The Corner on National Review Online]

Middle East Thoughts

Been thinking about the civil war between the PLO and Hamas last week:

The PLO has a remarkable track record of military defeat, kind of makes one wonder why they keep trying.

Looters stole Arafats (undeserved) Nobel Peace Prize. Somehow that is just tragically symbolic considering that the inability of civil society to develop there has resulted in the continual looting of peace for 40 years (the Six Day War, and if you are interested in that event I would highly recomend you read Oren’s book on it).

– From the Extreme Hutzpah Department comes news that the PLO wants Israel to help them defeat Hamas. Yeah, I’m sure Iran would respond positively to that development…

– Lastly, Middle East watchers have been commenting about a two state solution for the Palestinians, looks like they finally got it, one state in the West Bank and the other in Gaza. As is often said, one needs to be careful for what they wish for as they just might get it.

Yes, I realize that this is way off my usual topics but it’s Sunday night, I’m bored, and I don’t have another blog to post this stuff to.

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