On Becoming a Knight

“If I were to be made a knight,” said the Wart*, staring dreamily into the fire, “I should insist on doing my vigil by myself, as Hob does with his hawks, and I should pray to God to let me encounter all the evil in the world in my own person, so that if I conquered there would be none left, and, if I were defeated, I would be the one to suffer for it.”

“That would be extremely presumptuous of you,” said Merlyn, “and you would be conquered, and you would suffer for it.”

“I shouldn’t mind.”

“Wouldn’t you? Wait till it happens and see.”

“Why do people not think, when they are grown up, as I do when I am young?”

“Oh dear,” said Merlyn**. “You are making me feel confused. Suppose you wait till you are grown up and know the reason?”

“I don’t think that is an answer at all,” replied the Wart, justly.

Merlyn wrung his hands.

“Well anyway,” he said, “suppose they did not let you stand against all the evil in the world?”

“I could ask,” said the Wart.

“You could ask,” repeated Merlyn.

He thrust the end of his beard into his mouth, stared tragically at the fire, and began to munch it fiercly.

From T.H. White’s The Once and Future King. One of my very favorites.

* Arthur, before pulling the sword from the stone and becoming King

** who ages backward through time, and is often confused about the sequence of events in others’ lives.

Replace the prestige economy

If you grew up in the prestige economy, you have been trained to see life as a competition. But if you are young, you are losing no matter what. You will have better luck in the long run by rearranging the social order, rebuilding broken institutions, and broadening opportunity for all.

Sarah Kendzior in an interview with Sam Bakkila in Policymic.com about the “prestige economy”. It’s pretty damning of higher education’s role in accelerating our society’s widening equality gap.

I wonder what my fellow Whitties think when they read this. Is Whitman part of the solution or problem? Is your degree valuable? What do you tell young people considering applying?

Douglas Adams on the Internet

Interactivity. Many-to-many communications. Pervasive networking. These are cumbersome new terms for elements in our lives so fundamental that, before we lost them, we didn’t even know to have names for them

— Douglas Adams in a remarkably good essay from years ago on how elements of the Internet are perfectly natural for humans. Worth reading start to finish.

The arrow that springs from the bow

“All my life, I have had doubts about who I am, where I belong. Now I’m like the arrow that springs from the bow. No hesitation, no doubts. The path is clear.”

— Jeffrey Sinclair, Babylon 5

(Migrated away from rocketlift.com because exciting things are about to happen there but this just didn’t belong.)

EMyth’s Jonathan Raymond on Ayn Rand

Jonathan Raymond’s concise and frankly brilliant summation of Ayn Rand’s wisdom and folly:

What she had right, in my opinion, were some truths about leadership, self-interest and non-victimhood – the essential truth that it starts and ends with each of us. She helped many get clear about what it means to approach business rationally and without being seduced by “group think.”

The real tragedy was in how narrowly she defined self-interest, positioning it as an “opposite” to service. She couldn’t see how our desires to connect with others, to care and be cared about, are not pathological. That they are always and forever a part of self-interest. What kind of self-interest would possibly ignore the impact we have on our employees, our loved ones, and the world around us?

Jonathan’s full article Atlas Cared is worth reading in its entirety on the EMyth blog.

(Incidentally, I’m proud as punch that EMyth trusts Rocket Lift with their ongoing WordPress website improvements. This is the company that invented small business coaching. They embody what they teach in their day to day dealings, wear their values on their sleeves, and are a dream to work with.)