How “America First” Turns Into “America Last”

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TRANSATLANTIC TRUMP

How “America First” Turns Into “America Last”

In an unprecedented challenge to the U.S., Germany’s foreign minister proposes “Europe first” and making nice with Putin’s Russia.

Published on: December 8, 2017

Josef Joffe is co-editor of the German weekly Die Zeit, member of TAI’s Executive Committee and a fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution.

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AOL Grief

AOL will not work on my computer anymore. It is saying that I have other browsers open, I don’t. I have had AOL for a very long time. Time to kill the program. It used to keep all the sites that were important to me, now they are nowhere to be found. I am writing to all the people on my email list and sending them to Gmail. No More AOL.

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Take Action, A Must Read.

CITIZENSHIP

Zara Clothes Come With Hidden Notes from Unpaid Workers

FILE – In this Friday, Nov. 3, 2017 file photo, people exit and a branch of fashion retailer Zara in an upscale Istanbul neighbourhood. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis, File)

The fast fashion retailer Zara has become a reliable mainstay in millennial closets thanks to its plethora of affordable, trendy clothes that can be purchased new each season without much thought.

But for shoppers who picked up some Zara items this fall, a surprise waiting inside the clothes may have forced them to pause and reconsider their purchases after all.

According to Newsweek, shoppers have found notes inside their Zara clothing this month from workers who claim they did not get paid for their work.

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“I made this item you are going to buy, but I didn’t get paid for it,” read the tags, which were found in items sold in Turkey, according to the Associated Press.

Zara’s clothes are made by outsourced manufacturing companies, and the notes reportedly came from workers at Bravo Texstil in Istanbul, which also produces clothing for Mango and Next. Workers say they are owed months’ worth of pay.

Global Citizen campaigns on the United Nations Global Goals, including Goal 8, Decent Work and Economic Growth. You can join us and take action on these goals here.

A petition on change.org was launched two months ago by the workers, who say that 155 workers were left short-changed when their boss stopped paying them and then suddenly disappeared after creditors showed up at his factory.

More than 20,000 people have signed the petition so far.

Read More: British Retailers Exploit Child Syrian Refugees in Turkish Factories to Make UK Clothes: Report

“We made these brands’ products with our own hands, earning huge profits for them,” the petition says. “We demand now that these brands give us the basic respect to compensate us for our labour. We demand no more than our basic rights! We call on the international community to support our struggle, sign and share to support our campaign!”

Zara told Refinery29 in a statement that the company was creating a “hardship fund” for the workers to cover the unpaid wages and benefits, and that it was committed to finding a “swift solution” to the dispute.

 

10 Simple Ways to Make Writing Fun

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10 Simple Ways to Make Writing Fun

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

I’m not a good writer. This was made clear to me at an early age.

My high school English teachers took their job very seriously. They helped us understand that not just anyone can be a writer. They taught us that to be a writer, we needed to learn to write the proper way. And there’s no room in the craft for untalented clods who aren’t willing to follow the rules.

So I learned that I wasn’t a good writer. And I stopped writing. For 17 years.

Writing Is Hard. Writing Is Not Fun.

Most people don’t know the difference between a transitive or an intransitive verb. And most don’t see an issue with starting a sentence with a conjunction or ending it with a preposition.

I didn’t learn these rules in English class. What I learned can be summed up in two points:

  1. Writing was hard.
  2. Writing was not fun.

I know my story isn’t singular. I wasn’t the only kid in those classes. If this is what we’re taught, it’s not surprising that the majority of people never write for fun after leaving high school.

We’re simultaneously developing mediums that help people spread ideas like never before while discouraging people’s interest in using them.

For all of us looking to better connect, better communicate, and better spread our ideas, a disinterest in writing becomes a significant impediment.

If we expect to take advantage of these opportunities, we need to get past this mindset. We need to find a way to start writing again.

Can Writing Be Easy? Can It Be Fun?

When Tim Ferriss is faced with a difficult business or relationship decision, he’s been know to ask himself the simple question,

“What would this look like if it were easy?”

It’s a question that cuts through our misconceptions about worth. It’s a question that reminds us to look for the path of least resistance, not to seek unnecessary hardship. It’s also how he opens his new trove of incites in Tribe of Mentors.

As someone who’s natural inclination is to overcomplicate the simple, this question often keeps me grounded in the logical.

What would writing look like if it were easy?

What would writing look like if it were fun?

I tried to answer these questions.

I started writing again this year. With the goal of making it fun.

I don’t see a future where I quit my job to write full-time. So I can’t give any advice on developing blogs that will let you retire by the end of the year. Let’s remove that expectation right now.

But I can give advice that helped me transform writing from something I dreaded to something I enjoy. I can talk about some of the mindsets I adopted to turn writing from a chore into an interest.

Here’s my advice on making writing less difficult (it’s still not easy). More importantly, here’s the best ten ways I’ve found to make it fun.

1. Appreciate Bad Writing

Each morning I sit down and write. And the majority of thoughts that make it from my mind to the computer end up being useless.

I’m sure there are people out there who can just sit down and write flawlessly. I’ve heard Christopher Hitchens was one such talent.

I am not. I likely never will be. Which is fine by me.

I need that mess. I need that chaos. Just as every morning my son insists on spreading toys all over the living room floor before he can start playing, I need to see the full landscape of thoughts before I can see what I’d like to write.

Our minds (or at the very least mine) are not disciplined to sit and start writing well. We need to draft and re-draft before our ideas begin to coalesce into a sensible argument. It’s from this mess of bad writing that most of us are able to develop our final product.

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. If this is what I publish, that first draft must be a real train wreck. And yes, it is.

Because it needs to be. We need to have first drafts that don’t make sense and tangents that never circle back to the original point. It’s a critical part of the process to develop any work. And we never know how each component fits within the whole until we’ve developed the entire framework.

Pulitzer-winning writer Jennifer Egan offers similar advice for aspiring writers,

“You can only write regularly if you’re willing to write badly. You can’t write regularly and well. One should accept bad writing as a way of priming the pump, a warm-up exercise that allows you to write well.”

Celebrate that bad writing. Creativity is an iterative process. It’s much easier to fix a bad write-up than create one perfectly from scratch.

2. Notice Things

“A writer is someone who pays attention to the world — a writer is a professional observer.” — Susan Sontag

Most people don’t notice things. They’re caught in their own world or busy looking at their phones for distraction updates.

Most people don’t listen. They’re thinking about what they want to say next and waiting for that pause so they can interrupt.

Most people don’t explore both sides of an issue. They’re quick to find articles that reinforce their own ideas and push them further to the edge.

But when you’re trying to write, you start noticing. Noticing leads to ideas and ideas are necessary.

When you start noticing, you take the time to listen to other people’s thoughts. Each thought is a potential idea.

When you start noticing, you study other people’s behaviors. Each example brings more understanding. More understanding is better writing.

When you start noticing, you watch for motivations. Each motivation includes a backstory. Each backstory gives you balanced perspectives.

In a truly inspiring book on writing, Anne Lamott shows us the benefit of better observing life as it progresses around us,

“One of the gifts of being a writer is that it gives you an excuse to do things, to go places and explore. Another is that writing motivates you to look closely at life, at life as it lurches by and tramps around.”

When you start noticing, you realize that life is much more interesting. And interesting writers live interesting lives.

3. Write Something Meaningful to You

“Find a subject you care about and which you in your heart feel others should care about. It is this genuine caring, not your games with language, which will be the most compelling and seductive element in your style.” — Kurt Vonnegut

Ask someone about their passion and their eyes usually light up. Their body language and tone change almost immediately. They’re excited and engaged and those feelings are contagious.

It’s the same communication with writing. When we’re reading something that an author believes is truly meaningful, it comes through in the writing. The emotion is held in each word, emphasizing the author’s convictions.

Conversely, it’s a miserable experience to read something that lacks feeling. There’s no depth. It’s obvious the author is disinterested in the topic.

Like a salesperson who doesn’t believe in the product, an author who doesn’t believe in her ideas will always struggle to connect. If our sole motivation is money or clicks, it’s difficult to tell a story that excites and inspires.

Kurt Vonnegut, master storyteller, recognized this importance. In his 1985 essay, How to Write with Style, he emphasizes the criticality of focusing on the meaningful,

“The most damning revelation you can make about yourself is that you do not know what is interesting and what is not. Don’t you yourself like or dislike writers mainly for what they choose to show or make you think about? Did you ever admire an empty-headed writer for his or her mastery of the language? No.”

People read to gain new ideas. People read to provoke their thoughts. People read to be entertained and educated and inspired. None of these are possible with a topic the writer finds disinteresting.

Focus on what you consider meaningful. There will be others who share your interests. And you’re doing them a justice by writing on the topic.

Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

4. Write Every Day.

“If you work on something a little bit every day, you end up with something that is massive.” — Kenneth Goldsmith

Writers write. Every day.

Whether identity drives behaviors or behaviors drive identity (I think the case can be made for both directions), neither is sustainable without consistent practice.

We improve by doing. By figuring out what works well and trying new things. We can’t do that from the sidelines.

Get in the game and start writing. And if you’re worried about quality, take solace in the fact that no one will read you for a while. When I started writing, it was depressing to think that few would ever read my initial posts. Now I consider that a blessing. It helped me refine my craft and improve. So when people did start reading, I had a product that was (slightly) more impressive.

Start a daily writing habit. Figure out what works for you, but commit to making it a priority. With practice comes improvement and writing is a lot more fun when you can notice the improvement.

Writer, author, and professional bar-setter Susan Sontag included the following reflection in a 1972 journal entry,

“A writer, like an athlete, must ‘train’ every day.

What did I do today to keep in ‘form’?”

What did you do today to keep in form?

5. Research. Read. Experience.

I’ve found there to be no better cure for writer’s block than research. Whenever I’m not sure of a topic or am questioning a position, becoming smarter on the subject always helps.

Research isn’t limited to reading periodicals. It’s about gaining experiences. It’s about being curious. If I’m curious about it now, likely someone else already was and someone else will be again in the future.

Research is reading other authors that we respect. It helps us see what works and what doesn’t. It gives us tools to improve our writing.

Research is seeking new ideas and viewpoints that grab our interest. It’s about understanding what moves us and what doesn’t. And about understanding why.

In Creativity, Inc., Ed Catmull emphasizes the importance of encouraging writers and designers to take research trips before developing Pixar’s movie scripts. He cites these trips as a critical element in maintaining the level of innovation that Pixar is continuously recognized,

“In any business, it’s important to do your homework, but the point I’m making goes beyond merely getting the facts straight. Research trips challenge our preconceived notions and keep clichés at bay. They fuel inspiration. They are, I believe, what keeps us creating rather than copying.”

Research helps us understand multiple perspectives. In today’s culture of immediate opinions, there’s no shortage of people willing to blindly defend their current views. The Internet is full of edge case opinions that aren’t interested in considering the other side. The alternative — telling the whole truth — is much more scarce. And hence, much more valuable.

Photo by Sticker Mule on Unsplash

6. Don’t Worry About Being Original

“Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing.” — Salvador Dali

Echoing Dali’s perspective, Mark Twain famously wrote a letter to his friend Helen Keller, saying that “substantially all ideas are second hand.”

Steve Jobs recognized this as well. In a February 1996 issue of Wired, aptly titled as Steve Jobs: The Next Insanely Great Thing, he gives his succinct view on the creative process,

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people.”

Steve Jobs wasn’t a creative genius. He was someone who put systems in place to support creativity and demanded a level of quality that perfected his products to a level of genius.

Mike Posner’s YouTube video, I Took a Pill in Ibiza, has nearly one billion views. But it didn’t take off until another group remixed the song and put it out with their own spin. Mike, as someone who started out remixing others’ music, recognized this as a critical part of the creative process.

Worry about authenticity, not originality. Take ideas and connect them. Give credit where it’s due, but build off them. Use your experiences to put your own spin on things. You’re still adding value to everyone.

After all, Andy Warhol didn’t invent Campbell’s soup.

7. Tell Your Own Stories

“Good fiction is made of what is real, and reality is difficult to come by.” — Ralph Ellison

I’m as guilty as anyone of over-citing scientific studies. I read new studies and consider how the results would apply to my life. Never mind if the details have nothing to do with my situation.

It’s as though we’re all waiting for science to give us a solution that’s based on how forty undergraduates respond in a controlled environment.

Make no mistake, I love science. And the scientific process is critical to moving our understanding and theories forward.

But no experiment will ever perfectly represent our specific circumstances unless it happens in our own lives. So design your own experiments. Put yourself into interesting situations. Use that story to help the rest of us understand your ideas.

We often hear the advice to “find your own voice.” As if the vocal sound we’ve been using since birth is now lost to us. More apt advice would be to “not lose your voice.” Write as you talk. Don’t create an impostor voice for the purpose of trying to please others. Tell your stories as they’re meant to be told.

I’d much rather hear about them than read a twenty page journal article that culminates with a recommendation for further research.

Photo by Evan Clark on Unsplash

8. Become Part of the Community

One of the greatest aspects of writing is to become a part of the community. Whether it’s Medium or Quora or a broader community of writers, it creates a sense of involvement that I’ve found incredibly rewarding.

When we write, we become part of a growing community. We build connections with other writers. We’re able to leverage their strengths and find ways to help others.

Not ready to start writing yet? Read, appreciate, comment, congratulate, and suggest improvements. Just take steps to contribute. Make connections. Become part of the community.

Each subsequent step becomes a little easier.

9. Revel in the Negative

“Having your work hated by certain people is a badge of honor.“ — Austin Kleon, Show Your Work

There’s no sense telling you that negative criticism is a great tool. You’ve heard it before.

Deep down, you know it’s true. But it doesn’t take the sting out of negative feedback.

What does? More negative feedback.

When you put your work online, it will undoubtedly be subjected to the thoughts and opinions of those who disagree. Negative comments will come streaming in, complete with ridiculous suggestions and unhelpful advice.

It’s this freight train of criticism that helps toughen us against negative feedback. It conditions us to focus on the important and brush off the negative.

One of histories most celebrated poets, W. H. Auden, captures this perfectly with the following thought,

“Every writer would rather be rich than poor, but no genuine writer cares about popularity as such. He needs approval of his work by others in order to be reassured that the vision of life he believes he has had is a true vision and not a self-delusion, but he can only be reassured by those whose judgment he respects. It would only be necessary for a writer to secure universal popularity if imagination and intelligence were equally distributed among all men.”

As you slowly become a collector of negative feedback, you clearly see which judgments deserve respect. And you realize that universal popularity is not something to be admired.

10. Publish

The only purpose of starting is to finish, and while the projects we do are never really finished, they must ship.” — Seth Godin, Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?

When I first started drafting posts this year, I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to perfect the first one. I made minor tweaks and edits, punctuated by full rewrites, trying to get it just perfect.

Looking back on that first article, I’m embarrassed of the quality. Despite many edits and hours invested, I cringe at the writing.

This is unavoidable. I couldn’t have written a better article then since I didn’t have the experience of publishing, gaining feedback, and trying to improve with each step.

Hopefully, six months from now, I’ll be embarrassed by this article and everything that’s come before it. The alternative is to not improve, stuck in a state of perpetual stasis.

When we publish our work, we give our work to the world. We open ourselves to both congratulation and criticism and practice the ever-difficult feeling of vulnerability. But more importantly, it forces us to move on.

When we publish, we’re able to move on to the next work. We move from trying to perfect one piece to building a portfolio. As bestselling author Ryan Holiday recently wrote,

“Each time you do this, it not only increases your mastery in your chosen craft, but as a result it also increases your odds of creating something brilliant and lasting. It also grows your back catalog and your platform. The key, though, is that you must do it — you must create, create, create.”

Get creating.

Have Fun.

Write. Have fun. Write some more. Keep improving. Make an impact. Enjoy it.

If you’re having fun, the quality will take care of itself. You’ll care enough to ensure it.

As literary genius and one of my favorite authors, Neil Gaiman, wisely put it,

“The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it ­honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.”

Don’t be shy. I’d love to hear any thoughts and suggestions you may have. And if you found this helpful, I’d appreciate if you could clap it up 👏 and help me share with more people. Cheers!

  • Go to the profile of Jake Wilder

    Jake Wilder

    Medium member since Apr 2017

    Working every day to encourage positive growth. Looking to challenge our current work environment and find opportunities to improve. Be a nonconformist with me.

Hark, the empty highways calling

Re-blogged, by Starr Sayles

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This is a very good essay’

 

There comes a point where Susan, who was the older girl, is lost to Narnia because she becomes interested in lipstick. She’s become irreligious basically because she found sex. I have a big problem with that.” – JK Rowling

Can we talk about Susan’s fabulous adventures after Narnia? The ones where she wears nylons and elegant blouses when she wants to, and short skirts and bright lipstick when she wants to, and hiking boots and tough jeans and big men’s plaid shirts when she feels like backpacking out into the mountains and remembering what it was to be lost in a world full of terrific beauty— I know her siblings say she stops talking about it, that Susan walks away from the memories of Narnia, but I don’t think she ever really forgot.

I want to read about Susan finishing out boarding school as a grown queen reigning from a teenaged girl’s body. School bullies and peer pressure from children and teachers who treat you like you’re less than sentient wouldn’t have the same impact. C’mon, Susan of the Horn, Susan who bested the DLF at archery, and rode a lion, and won wars, sitting in a school uniform with her eyebrows rising higher and higher as some old goon at the front of the room slams his fist on the lectern.

Susan living through WW2, huddling with her siblings, a young adult (again), a fighting queen and champion marksman kept from the action, until she finally storms out against screaming parents’ wishes and volunteers as a nurse on the front. She keeps a knife or two hidden under her clothes because when it comes down to it, they called her Gentle, but sometimes loving means fighting for what you care for.

She’ll apply to a women’s college on the East Coast, because she fell in love with America when her parents took her there before the war. She goes in majoring in Literature (her ability to decipher High Diction in historical texts is uncanny), but checks out every book she can on history, philosophy, political science. She sneaks into the boys’ school across town and borrows their books too. She was once responsible for a kingdom, roads and taxes and widows and crops and war. She grew from child to woman with that mantle of duty wrapped around her shoulders. Now, tossed here on this mundane land, forever forbidden from her true kingdom, Susan finds that she can give up Narnia but she cannot give up that responsibility. She looks around and thinks I could do this better.

I want Susan sneaking out to drink at pubs with the girls, her friends giggling at the boys checking them out from across the way, until Susan walks over (with her nylons, with her lipstick, with her sovereignty written out in whatever language she damn well pleases) and beats them all at pool. Susan studying for tests and bemoaning Aristotle and trading a boy with freckles all over his nose shooting lessons so that he will teach her calculus. Susan kissing boys and writing home to Lucy and kissing girls and helping smuggle birth control to the ladies in her dorm because Susan Pevensie is a queen and she understands the right of a woman to rule over her own body.

Susan losing them all to a train crash, Edmund and Peter and Lucy, Jill and Eustace, and Lucy and Lucy and Lucy, who Susan’s always felt the most responsible for. Because this is a girl who breathes responsibility, the little mother to her three siblings until a wardrobe whisked them away and she became High Queen to a whole land, ruled it for more than a decade, then came back centuries later as a legend. What it must do to you, to be a legend in the body of a young girl, to have that weight on your shoulders and have a lion tell you that you have to let it go. What it must do to you, to be left alone to decide whether to bury your family in separate ceremonies, or all at once, the same way they died, all at once and without you. What it must do to you, to stand there in black, with your nylons, and your lipstick, and feel responsible for these people who you will never be able to explain yourself to and who you can never save.

Maybe she dreams sometimes they made it back to Narnia after all. Peter is a king again. Lucy walks with Aslan and all the dryads dance. Maybe Susan dreams that she went with them— the train jerks, a bright light, a roar calling you home.

Maybe she doesn’t.

Susan grows older and grows up. Sometimes she hears Lucy’s horrified voice in her head, “Nylons? Lipstick, Susan? Who wants to grow up?”  and Susan thinks, “Well you never did, Luce.” Susan finishes her degree, stays in America (England looks too much like Narnia, too much like her siblings, and too little, all at once). She starts writing for the local paper under the pseudonym Frank Tumnus, because she wants to write about politics and social policy and be listened to, because the name would have made Edmund laugh.

She writes as Susan Pevensie, too, about nylons and lipstick, how to give a winning smiles and throw parties, because she knows there is a kind of power there and she respects it. She won wars with war sometimes, in Narnia, but sometimes she stopped them before they began.

Peter had always looked disapprovingly on the care with which Susan applied her makeup back home in England, called it vanity. And even then, Susan would smile at him, say “I use what weapons I have at hand,” and not explain any more than that. The boy ruled at her side for more than a decade. He should know better.

Vain is not the proper word. This is about power. But maybe Peter wouldn’t have liked the word “ambition” any more than “vanity.”

Susan is a young woman in the 50s and 60s. Frank Tumnus has quite the following now. He’s written a few books, controversial, incendiary. Susan gets wrapped up in the civil rights movement, because of course she would. It’s not her first war. All the same, she almost misses the White Witch. Greed is a cleaner villain than senseless hate. She gets on the Freedom Rider bus, mails Mr. Tumnus articles back home whenever there’s a chance, those rare occasions they’re not locked up or immediately threatened. She is older now than she ever was in Narnia. Susan dreams about Telemarines killing fauns.

Time rolls on. Maybe she falls in love with a young activist or an old cynic. Maybe she doesn’t. Maybe Frank Tumnus, controversial in the moment, brilliant in retrospect, gets offered an honorary title from a prestigious university. She declines and publishes an editorial revealing her identity. Her paper fires her. Three others mail her job offers.

When Vietnam rolls around, she protests in the streets. Susan understands the costs of war. She has lived through not just the brutal wars of one life, but two.

Maybe she has children now. Maybe she tells them stories about a magical place and a magical lion, the stories Lucy and Edmund brought home about how if you sail long enough you reach the place where the seas fall off the edge of the world. But maybe she tells them about Cinderella instead, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel, except Rapunzel cuts off her own hair and uses it to climb down the tower and escape. The damsel uses what tools she has at hand.

A lion told her to walk away, and she did. He forbade her magic, he forbade her her own kingdom, so she made her own.

Susan Pevensie did not lose faith. She found it.

 

Pilgrims And Power—The Military Aspects Of Thanksgiving

Pilgrims And Power—The Military Aspects Of Thanksgiving

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Image credit:

Poster Collection, US1664, Hoover Institution Archives.

As Americans celebrate their unique holiday of Thanksgiving this week, they might pause for a moment and reflect on the pilgrims who emigrated from Europe to the New World in search of opportunity and religious freedom. When the pilgrims established their colony at Plymouth Bay in December 1620, the odds were stacked against them. Disease wiped out half of the 100 or so colonists within three months of arrival. Native Americans lurked nearby, their intentions uncertain. In the midst of a cold New England winter, one of the first actions the remaining colonists took was to form a militia under the command of Myles Standish, an English military officer and veteran of the wars against the Spanish in the Netherlands. The Puritan dissenters had hired Standish as their military advisor before sailing to North America; he would remain loyal to Plymouth colony and in command of its militia for the remainder of his life.

Relations with the native inhabitants of the New World saved the pilgrims from starvation; they also proved a threat to the colony’s existence. As the spring thaw began, the colonists moved ashore from the Mayflower and were met by an English-speaking native who introduced them to Squanto, a member of the Patuxet tribe who had been kidnapped by an English sea captain and had subsequently made his way back to North America. Squanto acted as a translator, guide, and advisor to the colonists. He showed the pilgrims how to sow and fertilize corn, the harvest of which led to the first celebration of Thanksgiving in the fall of 1621. As importantly, he helped to broker an alliance between Plymouth colony and the Wampanoag tribal confederation, which would endure for more than 50 years.

It would not take long to put the alliance to test. In August 1621 the leadership of Massasoit, with whom the pilgrims had formed the alliance, was threatened by a rival claimant to leadership. After Squanto, who had been sent to mediate the dispute, was taken captive, Standish led a group of ten men to capture or kill Corbitant, the rival claimant to power. The punitive expedition failed to achieve its immediate objective, but the raid convinced nine leaders of the Wampanoag tribal confederation, including Corbitant, to sign a treaty of loyalty to King James. The pilgrims now had valuable military allies who would help them survive in an alien and forbidding world.

The first Thanksgiving was most likely celebrated that October as a traditional harvest festival. Despite the successful first harvest, military concerns were never far from the minds of the colonists. In November an Indian messenger arrived in Plymouth to deliver a bundle of arrows wrapped in snakeskin—a threat from the powerful Narragansett tribe. Standish acted immediately, ordering the erection of a wooden palisade around the colonist’s small village.

The wall was finished by March, now guarded by four militia companies augmented by new arrivals to the colony.

Standish’s further actions in defense of Plymouth are the subject of some debate, but he and his militiamen succeeded in defending the colony against potential enemies, enabling it to survive in a dangerous and hostile environment. So as you eat your turkey this Thanksgiving, raise a glass in honor of the first colonial soldiers, whose defense of their new North American home made possible the eventual rise of the United States of America. Salute.

Every Entrepreneur Should Make The Time To Read These 5 Classics  

Every Entrepreneur Should Make The Time To Read These 5 Classics

Nicolas Cole Instagram

There are a few books out there that have stood the test of time in the business world.

They helped shape the industry years ago, and they continue to remain true to this day.

If you have high aspirations for yourself and haven’t read these five books, you are doing yourself a disservice.

They are well worth the time.

1. “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill

This is, undoubtedly, the single greatest book about business ever written.

There is a reason why it is one of the best-selling books of all time.

It is a culmination of lessons learned from some of the world’s greatest thinkers and innovators, and Hill breaks down the lessons in easily digestible chapters that focus on so much more than just “motivational language.”

He gives clear and concise instructions for how you can begin implementing what he’s saying, right now.

The best part is, although this book was written in 1937, its lessons are as true today as they were back then. It is the quintessential example of what it takes to become truly successful.

As Hill says, “What the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”

2. “How To Win Friends And Influence People” by Dale Carnegie

When it comes to personal development, nobody quite succeeds as eloquently as Dale Carnegie.

This book breaks down the game of life in astounding detail, admitting the simple truths many of us don’t want to acknowledge — for example, “People do business with their friends.”

He instructs in careful detail how to become more likable, how to create report, and the value of prioritizing the interpersonal element of business.

This reason this book has remained relevant for so long and cemented itself as a classic is because it relates to so much more than just business. This book will make you a better person.

3. “The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey

If you’re new to the self development game then this is a great place to start.

Covey does an amazing job at breaking down the pillars of industry leaders and explaining the importance of practice.

He focuses far less on theory and far more on daily discipline and accountability.

For Covey, effectiveness is not a talent or a trait, it is a practice — and this book explains how you can implement that sort of daily discipline into your life.

4. “Leadership and Self Deception” by The Arbinger Institute

This isn’t one of the more well-known books out there, but it is a gem to those that discover it.

This book is a narrative that teaches some of the toughest lessons in business by showing a relationship between a boss and an up-and-coming manager.

One of the themes in this book is the idea of not being “in the box” — in other words, maintaining a level of self awareness that allows you to see the bigger picture of what’s happening in any given moment.

This is a fast and enjoyable read, and not quite as heady as some of the other business books out there. It’s also a fantastic book to help you come to terms with whether you are working with or for a true leader, or a dictator.

5. “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki

And finally, a classic when it comes to personal finance, “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” will change the way you approach money forever.

It takes what many people consider to be a confusing topic and makes it so painfully simple that you’ll wonder how you didn’t understand it sooner.

When it comes to business of any kind, finance is a pillar that requires the utmost attention and mastery. According to Kiyosaki, it all starts with your habits and the way you treat money. In order to be successful, you need to have a positive relationship with your finances, and that means acting out of discipline instead of impulse.

All five of these books need to be on your bookshelf.

Even if you aren’t a big reader (which you should be), they will serve as reminders to their enclosed principles — and sometimes, a reminder is all you need to stay on track.

This article originally appeared in Inc Magazine.


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Help Ban Elephant Trophies from Zimbabwe!

Help Ban Elephant Trophies from Zimbabwe!

Last week, President Trump made it easier for hunters to kill imperiled African elephants in Zimbabwe and bring the trophies back to the U.S. Due to the overwhelming public backlash, Trump did put the decision “on hold,” but that hold is only temporary — the President could quietly begin issuing elephant trophy permits any time.

To protect elephants, the U.S. suspended elephant trophy imports from Zimbabwe in 2015 because the country failed to protect its elephants. Now, Zimbabwe is embroiled in political turmoil under a military coup, making it even more difficult for the country to take the necessary action to save this majestic species from extinction.

A “hold” is not enough. Tell President Trump and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to completely revoke their decision allowing elephant trophy imports from Zimbabwe.

Your message will be sent to:

President Donald Trump
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke

Subject line:

Completely revoke decision and stop elephant trophy imports from Zimbabwe!

(Consider adding your own thoughts — personalized messages are especially effective)

When you take action you’ll become a member of NRDC’s Activist Network. We will keep you informed with the latest alerts and progress reports.

In search of common ground on school discipline reform

 

In search of common ground on school discipline reform

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The controversy brewing over Obama-era school discipline policy has all the makings of a polarizing debate. For progressives, it taps into deeply held beliefs about fairness and justice. And for conservatives, it taps into deeply held beliefs about order and safety. Throw in race, Donald Trump, and Betsy DeVos, and you have a potentially toxic stew.

That’s a shame because this is an issue that desperately needs pragmatism and a good-spirited search for common ground. Let me propose how we might find it.

First a little background: In 2014, the Department of Education and Department of Justice published a “dear colleague” letter addressing discipline disparities by race and special education status in public schools. It was lauded by civil rights groups—and bemoaned by conservatives—for applying “disparate impact theory” to the issue of school discipline. In effect, it said that districts could be investigated for violating students’ civil rights if data collected by the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights showed significant disproportionality—as would happen when, for example, African Americans were suspended by their schools at higher rates than whites. It also stated that districts could be found in violation of civil rights laws even if their discipline policies were race-neutral and applied evenhandedly. As with other Obama-era policy moves, this one never went through the formal regulatory process; rather, it took the form of a very long letter that local education leaders were expected to treat as official enough to guide their actions.

This particular policy change was part of a larger movement led by groups such as the NAACP and the Advancement Project to push schools to dramatically reduce suspensions and other types of “exclusionary discipline.” Dozens of large districts took up the cause of their own volition. Some states got into the action, too, such as by including suspension rates in their ESSA accountability systems as a way to nudge schools to find other approaches. All of this is motivated by national data showing big gaps in suspensions by race, and by the belief that exclusionary discipline can put students into a “school-to-prison pipeline.”

The Trump Administration now faces a decision—namely whether to rescind the 2014 guidance. Many of us conservatives have been urging them to do so, and on Friday I helped to arrange a listening session at the Education Department with some former teachers and parents from the Twin Cities region who came to Washington to share their personal stories about the unintended consequences of school discipline reform. To my surprise, this became big news both nationally and in Minnesota. Upon reflection, I should have known that when I told Politico’s Morning Education about the meeting it would be irresistible to the wider press. And sure enough that one little meeting—where teachers and former teachers spoke and Education Department staffers mostly just listened—has already inflamed passions, both here in Washington and back in the teachers’ hometowns.

***

That’s the backstory. Now, how can we search for solutions—and maybe lower the temperature?

First, we need to acknowledge the legitimate concerns of partisans on both sides of this debate.

Conservatives need to recognize that when African American and Latino students are suspended or expelled at three to four times the rate of their white peers, it is bound to raise suspicions about discrimination and systemic racism. We cannot ignore the possibility that some of this is caused by bias, implicit or otherwise.

And progressives need to understand that conservatives have a valid point when we worry about schools responding badly to new discipline mandates and becoming unsafe and disorderly. Teachers and students need to feel secure in their classrooms, and all kids deserve an environment that’s conducive to learning.

Where we can find common ground is in the view that suspensions and expulsions should be as rare as possible and that schools need to be as safe as possible. These values may feel like they are competing, but many great schools have found ways to thread this needle.

It starts with creating a culture where students feel safe, respected, and engaged. Everyone is held to high expectations—both in terms of work effort and behavior—but every adult’s goal is to help students meet those expectations almost all the time. In the rare cases when students fall short and act out (or worse), the schools have a clear, fair, and constructive process in place to handle the situation.

That’s what great schools do—and have always done. The problem is that too many schools are not like this. They have weak cultures, lackluster leadership, and low expectations. They respond reactively to misbehavior, and especially violence, and end up suspending or expelling many students. Most such schools—let’s call them “Suspension Factories”—serve high populations of poor and minority children, and thus they account for a big portion of the racial disparities we see in discipline rates nationwide.

How to deal with such dysfunctional schools is the heart of the problem. And here we should recognize that (as in everything else pertaining to dysfunctional schools, including academic achievement) there are no simple answers. Many progressives have concluded that it would help if we held such schools accountable for reducing suspension and expulsion rates. And thus they have supported moves to do exactly that, whether at the federal, state, or local level.

We conservatives, meanwhile, worry about the law of unintended consequences and what Daniel Patrick Moynihan once called “maximum feasible misunderstanding.” We worry that dysfunctional schools will respond to discipline mandates in the most thoughtless ways possible: not by building a stronger school culture or creating more engaging learning environments, but by simply throwing out a tool that has helped them avoid total chaos.

We are not surprised, then, when we hear stories like I (and the education department staffers) heard last week from teachers who were verbally and physically attacked by studentsand who got no support from higher-ups fearful of violating new discipline mandates. It’s impossible to avoid feeling empathy for such teachers, who are trying to uphold high standards and some degree of adult authority, and who are frustrated by policymakers who did not see such outcomes coming and betrayed by administrators who were cowed by those policies. We also worry about young peers of the disruptive students, who are equally likely to suffer—physically, emotionally, and in terms of lost opportunities for learning and upward mobility.

As Randi Weingarten tweeted last week, perhaps channeling her inner Al Shanker, “Safe and welcoming environments, clear codes that are equitably (not discriminatively) enforced are key—with resources that back it up. Not top-down mandates from superintendents or threats to teachers that if they report or take action they will be disciplined.”

If there’s anything the past two decades have taught us, it’s that some schools will respond to well-intentioned mandates with boneheaded stupidity or worse. Tell dysfunctional schools to get all students to proficiency, or else, and they will teach to the test or cheat. Tell dysfunctional high schools to get all students to graduation, or else, and they will pay for dubious “credit recovery” programs. And tell dysfunctional high schools—Suspension Factories—to reduce suspensions, and they will tie teachers’ hands and turn into war zones.

Policymakers can’t wish these realities away.

***

What’s next? In my view, the 2014 guidance needs to go because, whether intentional or not, it is scaring schools into reducing suspensions even when they haven’t done the hard work of improving their culture or of training their staff on other approaches. This is a recipe for disaster.

At the same time, all of us should embrace the work to help schools—especially the Suspension Factories—get better. Such efforts have a better chance of success if they are motivated by a bottom-up desire for continuous improvement, not a fearful response to top-down mandates.

Meanwhile, the Office for Civil Rights should continue to investigate individual complaints of discrimination and hold districts accountable when they treat students differently because of their race or other protected class.

Those three steps make for an agenda that should garner widespread support—if we can learn to trust one another again.

Michael J. Petrilli
MICHAEL J. PETRILLI is the President of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.

Tarnishing the Golden and Empire States: Land-Use Restrictions and the U.S. Economic Slowdown

This paper studies the impact of state-level land-use restrictions on U.S. economic activity, focusing on how these restrictions have depressed macroeconomic activity since 2000. We use a variety of state-level data sources, together with a general equilibrium spatial model of the United States to systematically construct a panel dataset of state-level land-use restrictions between 1950 and 2014. We show that these restrictions have generally tightened over time, particularly in California and New York. We use the model to analyze how these restrictions affect economic activity and the allocation of workers and capital across states. Counterfactual experiments show that deregulating existing urban land from 2014 regulation levels back to 1980 levels would have increased US GDP and productivity roughly to their current trend levels. California, New York, and the Mid-Atlantic region expand the most in these counterfactuals, drawing population out of the South and the Rustbelt. General equilibrium effects, particularly the reallocation of capital across states, account for much of these gains.

 

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