Archive for the ‘Discipline’ Category

Service of the Revival of Decorum–It’s Got My Vote

Thursday, October 4th, 2018

Photo: youtube

The country has been through previous periods in which decorum went by the wayside for both irrational and worthy reasons—and it always recovered. Among obvious examples are Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy’s communist hunts combined with his vicious interviews seven decades ago and during the 1960s, citizens found a range of ways to protest, some unruly and alarming. [I didn’t mention wars and murders as the word decorum doesn’t apply.]


Today many accept—even endorse–disruptive behavior by people at the highest levels, such as the president and the applicant for a spot on the highest court in the land. Plenty of citizens and Senators dismissed, excused and supported the frenzied conduct of the prospective judge last week in a performance that lacked judgment and dignity. Did they notice or is this standard behavior.

There was no excuse for it–life isn’t fair. Deal with it especially if you want to be a judge.

Benjamin Wittes, Editor in chief of Lawfare and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution wrote in The Atlantic : “If I were a senator, I would not vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh.

“These are words I write with no pleasure, but with deep sadness.

“I would do it both because of Ford’s testimony and because of Kavanaugh’s. For reasons I will describe, I find her account more believable than his.

“I would also do it because whatever the truth of what happened in the summer of 1982, Thursday’s hearing left Kavanaugh nonviable as a justice.

“….. he delivered on Thursday, by way of defense, a howl of rage. He went on the attack not against Ford—for that we can be grateful—but against Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee and beyond. His opening statement was an unprecedentedly partisan outburst of emotion from a would-be justice……. His performance was wholly inconsistent with the conduct we should expect from a member of the judiciary.”


“Kavanaugh blew across lines that I believe a justice still needs to hold.”

There seem to be as many voices accepting disorderly, inappropriate behavior as those who disapprove. Does this mean it’s OK to act similarly at all levels of our society? Is there a green light for job applicants to be snarky during interviews or is this a benefit of being in office and becoming a Supreme Court Judge? Will ordinary candidates for jobs big and small be selected if:



  • they smash back responses that mimic the interviewer’s question?
  • they fly off the handle if asked about a sensitive subject?
  • they make up information that is easily disproved for fear of what the truth might imply?


I’m a control freak. Rowdy, disorderly conduct by our leaders frightens me. I squirm watching the yelling and screaming that routinely takes place in the British Parliament.

I have every hope that sane and respectful conduct and moderate solutions will once again prevail here. I suspect that a majority of citizens agree. We’ve seen what chaos and disrespect is like. In future we will pick a president, Congressmen and women and Supreme Court judges who conduct themselves with decorum–in public at least. Do you agree?


Service of Luck

Monday, February 6th, 2012


A quote by New York Yankee Lefty Gomez, that he’d rather be lucky than good, appeared in Lisa Sanders, MD’s diagnosis section of her analysis in a New York Times Magazine article, “A Head Full of Pain.” Sanders wrote that she heard that quote a lot when she was a TV journalist.

She noted that the same holds true for medicine. “It was lucky I was studying. It was lucky I ran across this mention of this half-remembered disorder. It’s humbling to know how easily I could have missed this diagnosis. But does it have to be lucky or good? We all aspire to be both.”

lucky-pennyDiscussing football players during a radio interview on the Friday before the Super Bowl, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg observed that if someone consistently plays well that it’s due to skill, not luck.

The old saw about being in the right place at the right time may be luck, but is it? What did you give up to attend an event, join a committee or sign up for a class where you met your next client or boss: Nights and weekends to catch up on work deadlines? Wasn’t this equal parts luck and motivation?

wishboneMonique Sanchez is a talented young actress who produced and starred in an off-Broadway play while juggling a job and other obligations. During this busy period the only thing she missed was sleep. The risks and tasks involved with producing a play are no joke but she took them. She didn’t wait for a showcase role to come to her, she created [a great] one. Nor did she hope the right people came to see her: She saw that they did. Is it timing, talent, luck, perseverance, energy–or all of these things–that account for her being cast in increasing numbers of television shows?

What part does luck play in success? In the outcome of many of life’s twists and turns?


Service of Discipline

Monday, January 17th, 2011


I mentor an amazing graduate student, Ni Yan. She’s enrolled at Baruch College in its MA corporate communication program, is trilingual–Japanese, Chinese and English–and received an A and two A- in her first term. She’s from China. Her spoken English is good, but not as good as many in the class. She impresses me in many ways: her courage to come, alone, to an unfamiliar country and compete at the graduate level just beings to tell the story.

practicemakesperfect1I asked her about Amy Chua’s article in The Wall Street Journal, “Why Chinese Mothers are Superior.” She didn’t read the whole thing, but got the gist from what I told her and part of the subhead, “Can a regimen of no playdates, no TV, no computer games and hours of music practice create happy kids?”

In two seconds, she noticed the sidebar on the jump page from a second article, “In China, Not All Practice Tough Love,” where reading, math, and science scores listed Shanghai, China, first in all categories rated by Program for International Student Assessment Tests conducted in 65 “economies” and given to 15 year olds in 2009. Ni is from Shanghai. The US scored 17th, 31st and 23rd, respectively.

Nicholas D. Kristof wrote an opinion piece about the test scores and education in China in Sunday’s New York Times, “China’s Winning Schools?” Here I learned that school starts at the age of two but Kristof doesn’t think much of college education there.

Ni asked me my opinion of such discipline and upbringing. I can’t argue with the results: Hers and those reported by Ms. Chau about her daughters, of Yo Yo Ma the cellist, of the Chinese girl in my prep school class–no. 1 in stiff competition–who participated in none of the extracurricular activities or cultural offerings in the city and became a brilliant physician.

motherbadgeringI can wonder but will never know whether I might have become an A student with hours and hours and hours of practice, review, tutoring and badgering by my mother as described by Ms. Chau. I said to Nikki, “Ms. Chau wrote about Chinese mothers’ hysterics and screaming that happens if a child brings home less than A grades from school. Such a performance would have frozen–as in paralyzed–someone like me.” I added, “I couldn’t function.” Nikki replied, “You’d be used to it if you’d heard it since you were one.”

I was a happy kid, but would have loved being an A student. Would I have been even happier? A more driven and successful adult? Is a child’s “job” to learn and excel in school or to be happy or well-rounded or what?  Has today’s economy [the available jobs] changed your opinion?


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