Entries for December 2005

time to pause

Silent night, snowy night; all is calm, all is white.

My darling princess is cuddled up snug.

Teddy just gave her a wonderful hug.

Sleep in beautiful peace; sleep in beautiful peace.


Grades are filed, my parents are visiting, and there are gifts to wrap. Creativity is flowing, and I want to channel it elsewhere for a while. I'll be on break from blogging for the next week or two.

I wish all my readers the very best now and in the new year!

People will listen when they're ready... above all, listen.

"People will listen when they're ready to listen and not before. Probably, once upon a time, you weren't ready to listen to an idea than now seems to you obvious, even urgent. Let people come to it in their own time. Nagging or bullying will only alienate them. Don't preach. Don't waste time with people who want to argue. They'll keep you immobilized forever. Look for people who are already open to something new.

When presenting a new idea, you don't have to have all the answers. It's better to say 'I don't know' than to fake it. Make people formulate their own questions. Don't take on the responsibility of figuring out what their difficulty is. We each internalize information differently. If you don't understand a question, keep insisting they explain it until it's clear. Nine times out of ten they'll supply the answer themselves.

Above all, listen. Your close attention is sometimes more important than your articulateness in winning converts. And learning is always a good thing."

-- Daniel Quinn

sophomores are careful of some very careful thinking (and writing)

Daniel Jurek wrote:

"Tom becomes bored with his work easily and his performance drops when this happens. Our half of the class suggested that the company look into adopting a method of allowing workers to change to different positions (i.e. operate drill presses for a period of time instead of only tightening nuts and bolts). Assembly line jobs are boring; ask any worker who has had to repeat tasks for long periods of time. I even injured myself out of boredom when operating a drill press for an extended period. By allowing employees to rotate through different positions, a company can change the rhythm of the work and keep workers interested in their job.

This procedure has risks. I'll rewrite that sentence with different styling: This procedure has risks. To execute this properly, management needs to set up a list of workers and desired rotation positions. Training and orientation sessions will then be given to all workers for each position they specify. Workers will be rotated in and out of positions over a regular and stated period of time and all positions will have trained and experienced workers at all times. That way, the number of people moving into a position that are relatively new to that position is small compared to the number of experienced workers at that position at all times."

I learn so much from teaching

Euy-Hun Chung wrote:

"My best is not nearly good enough. To improve my life from good to great and great to best, I should not see my limit, but look at the whole picture of the direction and keep walking toward my setting goal. It will be risky and long journey to establish and walk my way. Looking back my values and basic principles, what I would like to do is to contribute to the society by helping people in the world through my business. This is what I want in my life. I have challenged many things that other people don't. And, I will continuously put myself in risky situations in order to keep challenging myself. As now I am young, I have nothing to lose or conceal, and only hope and passion to be happy make me satisfied in my life."

reflection on a Sunday morning

I'm feeling the need for allies. I'm stressed at work because of my disempowered status as one without tenure, in this strange academic world where it is somehow possible to do "too much" service, and where a big chip of "selfishness" is considered healthy, needed, and a prerequisite for tenure. I'm stressed in the world because I cannot allow myself to look away from the poverty and inequality in my region, the injustices carried out by my country, or the ironic gap between how much I care about such issues and how little action I am able to take in my daily work to express my caring.

It's projects like this that motivate me to consider joining a Unitarian society or a Buddhist temple. I want to find allies who share my values, and who are taking political action in ways that have real impact. I want to join a chorus of voices singing Dona Nobis Pacem in some way that is more powerful than sending a Moveon.org email. I want to feel less alone in my aspiration for a community that lives more lightly on the Earth and with more depth of caring for one another.

Perhaps it is ironic that I, as a social scientist and an atheist, whatever that means, consider joining a church or temple. It might be said that I am a weak atheist, because even though I reject the notion of a single God, I tend to waver between agnosticism and a mystical faith in the existence of a soul. I'm not sure if I have a soul, and my sense is that the question cannot be answered definitively before I die... but I do sometimes sense the presence of some spark connecting individuals which seems greater than any one of us, and which might outlast my brief lifetime on the planet. This collective soul, so to speak, might be some type of collective consciousness out of which individual souls sometimes emerge. Perhaps my notion is closer to Hindu thinking about Brahman than to a Buddhist teaching, though it's also possible that there are Buddhist sects and variants I haven't discovered yet which hold similar beliefs, because of the connections between Hindu and Buddhist philosophies as they developed over the last millenium.

Perhaps my longing for allies creates the illusion of such a collective consciousness -- my suffering leads me to delusional perceptions of the possibility of something beyond the natural world. Perhaps my seeking allies is merely a sign of hubris -- an unwillingness to accept that suffering is ubiquitous and there is no higher power who can prevent it. Perhaps I'm deluding myself in thinking that if I take action to relieve the suffering of others, I may suffer less myself, or at least, feel more joy, through the raindrops of suffering that fall on us all. Perhaps, as my husband says, my desire to do good things for others in the world is just the residue of an upbringing tinged with Catholic guilt.

Nevertheless, if anyone has any suggestions for where to find allies in my desire to take effective collective action in favor of equality, justice, and the long-run best-interests of humanity and the planet, I'm open for suggestions.

Rebuilding New Orleans with a wifi network

I had missed this post by Youngjin Yoo about the plan to blanket New Orleans in wifi, which I think is a wonderful way to go about rebuilding downtown in a new and better way. As Professor Yoo writes, however, there are questions about how it will be implemented:

"This is an interesting idea, but leaves several questions."

"1. Does New Orleans have full power throughout the city? Do they have other basic infrastructure in place? Or is free WiFi being considered a part of basic infrastructure now?"

[snip]

"3. It is one thing to have free WiFi throughout the city, but it is another to have plans how to use them. Even if you build them, they may not come, or will they?"

Click through the first link above to read the full original post by my colleague.

My research focus

For the record:

My work centers on how relationships enable productive organizational and social change.

I have published seven peer-reviewed papers connected to this overarching interest, and in the next year or so two books of contributed chapters will appear which I edited with colleagues.

The most significant papers include the following:

Ashford, Susan J.; Rothbard, Nancy P.; Piderit, S. K.; & Jane E. Dutton. 1998. “Out on a limb: The role of context and impression management in issue selling.” Administrative Science Quarterly, 43(1): 23-57. Citations tracked by scholar.google.com.

Bilimoria, Diana & S. K. Piderit. 1994. “Board committee membership: Effects of sex-based bias,” Academy of Management Journal, 37(6): 1453-77. Citations tracked by scholar.google.com.

Piderit, S. K. 2000. “Rethinking resistance and recognizing ambivalent attitudes toward organizational change: A multidimensional view.” Academy of Management Review, 25: 783-794. Citations tracked by scholar.google.com.

Solow, Daniel; Vairaktarakis, George; Piderit, S. K.; & Ming-chi Tsai. 2002. “Managerial insights into the effects of interactions on replacing members of a team.” Management Science, 48(8): 1060-1073. Citations tracked by scholar.google.com.

It appears that I may get my ticket punched to play another round in the publish-or-perish game. So now it's up to me to decide whether to ante up for the next hand of cards, or to fold, cash in my chips, and find another game to play.

What'd'ya think, folks, should I try to remake my good-ole Cal Ripken self into a Jim Thome? And can I do it without moving to Philly?

the political nuances of headline writing and story placement

I find it interesting that it was an Australian newspaper that lead with the headline 30,000 civilians dead: Bush, while most US papers seem to have used a headline more in keeping with the scripted Presidential message from Bush's speech in Philadelphia; see, for example, the Reuters story, entitled Bush says Iraq democracy turning point in Mideast.

My husband attended a Plain Dealer page 1 meeting earlier this week, and he wrote about all the questions that observing the process raised for him. I'm particularly interested in the judgement calls that are made by newspaper editors about covering political issues. The metro editor rejected the suggestion that an article about the senatorial candidate visiting northeast Ohio this week might merit a page-one placement, with the comment that "at this point the only people who really care about what candidates have to say are the political junkies". He indicated that they don't normally step up the political coverage until about six weeks before a primary or an election.

This bothers me. It strikes me as the same kind of argument that a professor coasting toward retirement might make in favor of giving only multiple-choice exams in introductory level courses. Making choices like that in pedagogy is catering to the bottom end of the class -- avoiding a more challenging exam because it would make it much harder to give all As and Bs.

I believe that newspapers should not be making decisions about which political issues to cover based on which headlines they think will attract two quarters more into their own pockets. The Plain Dealer has a responsibility to get citizens engaged in the political process, which is hard to do if you can't even read about who the candidates for Senator are until mid-March. I suspect that this policy also favors incumbents, who might be assessed as doing something more "newsworthy" as part of their legislative responsibilities and thus get press coverage earlier than the 6-week window which is apparently the PD's practice.

If said editor had pointed out that the PD had published an article about supporters of the senatorial candidate only days beforehand, I would have been much, much more pleased with his reasoning.

journalism: not dying, but definitely morphing

Dick Feagler of the Plain Dealer might benefit from reading the op-ed piece in USA Today yesterday by Don Campbell, a lecturer in journalism at Emory University. Campbell asked whether newspapers can weather the techno-storm, and answered:

"There will be a market for serious reporting and good writing. But the future belongs to those with ink in their veins who can get beyond nostalgia and live on the cutting edge."

Feagler demonstrated in his column on December 11 that he cannot. I certainly hope that his assessment of blogs is not the majority opinion at the Plain Dealer, because I don't think it'll be a good thing for NorthEast Ohio if our major daily newspaper bites the dust.

Feagler let his fear that blogs may be taking over the mindshare that newspapers used to hold among young people get the better of him. In the process, he demonstrated that he does not understand blogs, wikis, or the differences between them.

Feagler's column has generated a lot of artfully derisive comments in the blogosphere.

Hugh Hewitt, author of a book called Blog: Understanding the Information Reformation That's Changing Your World has even named an award in Feagler's honor. The Feagler Award will be inaugurated later this month, when Mr. Hewitt will select from among the nominees emailed to him the dumbest thing written about blogs in the last year.

If you're feeling charitable toward Mr. Feagler, perhaps you will find other dumb things that have been written about blogs, so he doesn't have to win the award that Mr. Hewitt has named for him. (I'm sure he'll get an honorable mention anyway, but perhaps he won't feel like such a fool if he's in relatively honorable company.)

Earlier this month...

... the Case email system was broached by unnamed artist(s) practicing "poetic terrorism". The words from the email that was sent have been playing in my mind over the last few weeks, and particularly during the a capella performance by Speakeasy last week of the song "Mad World". I'm not sure why I have connected the two in my mind, but perhaps you can figure it out. The words to the song are in the link above, and if you click on "read more" below, you can read the poetic terrorism.

Continue reading "Earlier this month..."

I hear the human race is falling on its face...

... but Wendy Hoke and Richard Shatten's memory remind me that we're all just cockeyed optimists, and that's a healthy thing.

Are you optimistic about Cleveland's future?

Wendy mentions the building going on at the site of the old Mt. Sinai hospital off East 105th, and I have to say that it has brightened my hopes for Cleveland's future too. So does the neighborhood renewal happening just west of Shaker Square near the rapid line, and all the warehouse district condo developments, and the building along the Shoreway that was converted to residential near the marina. The renovations do make me more excited than the new building though; as Scott writes, renovations can be more challenging than new building, but they do maintain the best of a neighborhood in a way that is hard to do through construction. That's why the Heritage Lane Historic Homes are my favorite project. It'd be great if we could do some similar renovations on either side of Taylor Road behind Severance in Cleveland Heights.

those young voices

I almost did not venture out for lunch today, since the wind is so fierce. Fortunately, one of my students stopped by this morning and mentioned that she would be singing in the a cappella concert at Amasa Stone, scheduled today to celebrate the end of classes. I'm so glad I went! Five student singing groups presented three songs each, and reminded me what lively, creative, bold and talented students walk around this campus.