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  • Worthwhile Reading & Viewing

    Posted by David Foster on September 28th, 2017 (All posts by )

    Things that were once common knowledge…and now are not

    Advice on leadership for Naval Academy cadets…applicable in other walks of life as well

    A time-lapse video of 30 days at sea

    Animated films:  a transition both in technologies and in implicit political messages

    Who murdered beauty?…an analysis of some trends in the world of art

    Cedar Sanderson asks What do Environmentalists, JRR Tolkein, Luddites, and Progressives all have in common?

    Company towns, then and now


    8 Responses to “Worthwhile Reading & Viewing”

    1. Mike K Says:

      No mention of the Pullman company town in Chicago.

      Blue Island IL also began as a town for employees.

    2. Anonymous Says:

      Re your first link:
      Some of us were talking lately about how we learned to read every Sunday, following the words in the hymnal. They tended to be archaic – even if the hymn wasn’t that old. The music in the church we go to today is repetitive, simplistic, and has little of that verbal as well as musical richness. Reading is communal – on huge screens (even for a church that seldom has more than 30 or 40 attending); it is less that intimate, bookish experience of our youths. Of course, we grew up in the 50’s and 60’s, and I grew up in the Midwest where church was less central to the village’s culture than in the south. Still, that was a learning experience and I’m not sure the new forms are a good trade off.

    3. PenGun Says:

      “Who Murdered Beauty”

      A fundamental misunderstanding of art. A bit of a rant against art he does not like and this gem:

      “One of my favorite fantastic artists (in the sense of genre and art style rather than adverbial) is Bob Eggleton.”

      I go have a look. Now I play games with all kinds of fantastic art and have an interest. This man is just bad. He could not get a job doing fantastic art for anyone I can think of.

    4. David Foster Says:

      PenGun…”A fundamental misunderstanding of art.”

      I would think you would want to follow such an assertion by defining your *own* understanding of art…

    5. David Foster Says:

      Mark Helprin, in his 1994 essay Against the Dehumanization of Art:

      Art that imitates the rigor of science forgoes an infinite wealth of variables that pure nature, in its constancy and nobility, does not present, for if man is more limited in his capacities he is more interesting in his unpredictability. Art that accepts human limitations is empowered and enriched by the very discipline that the modernists ignore.

      For example, the Hofburg and the Astrodome each are of immense volume, but the Hofburg is apportioned to human scale. Whereas the Astrodome makes its single point in a minute, you can wander for years in the Hofburg. This is because we are of a certain size. Certain proportions are right for us, while others are not. Modernism has forgotten this, forgotten that we cannot survive at certain temperatures, that we disintegrate at certain speeds, that we cannot fit in some spaces or fill others, that our understanding is tethered to our mortality, that part of what we call art is the tempering of ideas and notions by the facts of our existence and the existence of our limitations.


      Modernism is by necessity obsessed with form, much like a craftsman obsessed with his tools and materials. In my climbing days we used to call people like that “equipment weenies.” These days you can see it in fly-fishing, where not a few people go out once a year with $5,000-worth of equipment to catch (maybe) $5-worth of fish. What should have been the story of the man, the stream, and the fish becomes instead a romance between the man and his tools. In this century the same thing happened in art.

      Unfortunately the complete essay is no longer available on-line.

    6. PenGun Says:

      Well lets start with Frank Zappa:

      “Information is not knowledge. Knowledge is not wisdom. Wisdom is not truth. Truth is not beauty. Beauty is not love. Love is not music. Music is the best…”

      A consummate artist. Art is not beauty, for a start. Art is whatever the person, who made it, wants it to be. Now that ranges from terrible to sublime.

      The universe is a work of art. ;)

    7. Bill Brandt Says:

      I have never heard of good leadership described so well and succinctly – I will have to borrow that link for the Lexicans David. In my short time in the military the few really good leaders I felt had one thing in common – it wasn’t about them but us.

    8. David Foster Says:

      Bill B,

      Peter Drucker made a related comment: he said that when you are in college, it’s all about you and your “potential”…not so, once you graduate.

      He went on to say that he things corporate management development programs that focus on an individual’s ‘potential’ rather than his actual performance are inherently harmful.

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