Monday, August 24, 2015

The most resilient skill in the modern world

The most resilient skill in the modern world is argument. We are all sophists now, or should be [...] What unites the elite professions in any international city is their command of sophistry. Barristers and management consultants, political advisers and advertising executives, public-relations strategists and even certain types of investment banker: all trade on the same skill. It is the ability to frame any given problem on your own terms so that your conclusion is irresistible to the client (or jury, or investor, or politician, or reader). To be clear, this is not the same thing as being right. What matters is being persuasive [...] Learn to code, runs the received career advice of today. It is shrewder to learn how to argue.
"We are all sophists now — or should be" by Janan Ganesh

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

How Cities Vanish

Another man, dressed in a white t-shirt and shorts, waving a fan to cool himself, added heatedly, “Look over there. Those tall buildings? That’s what the city wants to build here.”

I looked into everyone’s eyes. “But there’s nothing beautiful or great about those boxes,” I said. “Moreover, those types of buildings have nothing whatsoever to do with Chinese traditions. Or Peking traditions.”

One of the residents was a tall goofy-looking guy who wore horn-rimed glasses, a button-down shirt, shorts, black socks and black plastic “penny leather” shoes. He patted me on the shoulder and gave me a lop-sided grin. “Exactly right! To make money, the government wants us to give up our homes so they can make Western type skyscrapers. Peking will have nothing distinctively Chinese about it anymore.”

The residents could not even look forward to preserving their community. Each family was assigned to different apartment blocks far away in north Peking. Instead of spending summer evenings gossiping with old friends on the street corners, they will be locked away in tiny cubicles of Western invention, not knowing their neighbors and having to ride elevators simply to go out to fetch a bottle of beer or yogurt.
from Michael A. Aldrich The Search for a Vanishing Beijing: A Guide to China's Capital Through the Ages p.166

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

May their Eternal Blue Sky give them strength!

Still relevant after 25 years...

It is but natural that now, after so many years of silence and taboos on the one hand, and of loud distortion of the truth on the other, it is not easy to keep up with the growing freedom: to find the right ways of how to treat the heavy burden of the past and solve the problems of a ruined economy. It is easier to refuse the near past and turn to the earlier traditions, the glory of the ancestors, than to answer the questions of today's distress.

Yesterday's men of power claimed anything old was wrong, now there is another danger to believe anything old is right. And yesterday's uneven friend ships and lame internationalism fed an ill and clandestine nationalism or even chauvinism. This is now a sad commonplace in most societies that have just taken off the totalitarian uniform, and not only in them. Nevertheless it is sure that a healthy national identity, based on realities and accompanied with mutual international understanding, is badly needed for the Mongols to emerge from the present crisis.

May their Eternal Blue Sky give them strength and time for doing so!
from "Baabar's 'Don't Forget!': Analysis of a Mongolian Social Democrat's Treatise, 1990" by György Kara. Acta Orientalia Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae. Vol. 46, No. 2/3 (1992/93), pp. 283-287

Накабали буюу Заан тэтгэгч оршвой

Цавчаал боомтын (Juyong Pass) хаалган дээрх бичиг дотор ийм дөрвөн мөрт байдаг аж. Кирилл дээрх эхийг нь Ц.Дамдинсүрэн гуай Монголын уран зохиолын тойм бүтээлдээ оруулсан байдаг гэнэ.

Jalqamji c'aqa.an ja.anu juljiqanu [.. ?. ?.. ]ju:
jaya.an t'ut'um alt'an jawan k'olgeni olu ad:
c'aqun hecusdur Nakabali neret'u bolu.ad k'iirt'ebeyi:
c'aqlasi iugee amuqula3i t'ere k'iirt'ejuue:
Харин үүнийг Нууц товчоо орчуулагч алдарт Кливез ингэж Англи хэл дээр буулгажээ (түүний "The Boy and His Elephant" нийтлэлээс нь авав):
[In] succession, [(?)the master] of the white elephant calf, having been [(?)born]
And [in] every reincarnation having acquired a gold elephant mount,
Having become one named Nakabali (Nagapala), has attained unto the end of the time.
Immeasurable happiness has that one attained.
Addendum: Элдэв үлгэрийн далай хэмээгдэх судар оршив: Заан тэтгэгчийн дөчин гуравдугаар зүйлээс:
Ер аль бээр хүн тус тусдаа гурван эрдэнэсийн буяны тариалан газарт буяны өчүүхэн хөрөнгө цацваас цаггүй үрийг олох болъюу.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Operating Rules

Эрх чөлөөт, ардчилсан нийгэмд хүний хийж болох хамгийн хэцүү зуйл бол leadership (манлайлал гэхээр Монгол хэлээр жаахан cliche буугаад байх юм). Хүссэн үедээ хаалга саваад гараад алга болох эрх чөлөөтэй хүмүүсийг тодорхой нэг зорилгын төлөө хөдөлмөрлүүлж, нэг баг болгож (өөрсдийнхөөрөө бурэн дуурэн байж чадахгүй, сөрөг байр сууринд тодорхой хэмжээгээр буулт хийнэ гэсэн уг) удирдана гэдэг тийм ч амар зуйл биш. Ялангуяа цалин багатай, ажил ихтэй төрийн албанд (авилга гэдэг зуйл огт байхгүй гэж тооцвол) ард иргэдийн амар амгалан байдал, хөгжил дэвшлийн төлөө хоёргүй сэтгэлээр зутгэх гол хучин зуйл нь шийдвэр гаргалтийн шат бур дэх leadership.

Leadership-ийг харин хүн хоёр янзын аргаар олж авдаг байх. Нэг нь өөрөө удирдах ажил хийж алдаж онон байж сурах. Цол дагаж бяр нэмдэг гэдэг шиг. Ингэж сурах нь хэдийгээр хамгийн шилдэг арга боловч цаг хугацаа их авдгийн дээр алдаа гаргасан тохиолдолд төлөөсийг нь ганц тэр хүнээс гадна байгууллага, хамт олон нь үүрдэг тул хамгийн хүсүүштэй нь бас биш юм. (Чухал шийдвэр гаргах албан тушаалд туршлагатай, өмнө амжилттай байсан хүн тавихыг олон нийт шаарддаг шалтгаан нь энэ буюу). Leadership-ийг сурах нөгөө нэг арга нь сайн leader-үүдээс суралцах. Залуу хүмүүст ажилд ороод юу хийх нь чухал бус харин хэний доор ажиллах нь чухал гэдгийн учир энэ. Гэхдээ бас leader-ээс (номоор нь аль эсвэл биеэр) суралцсанаа амьдрал дээр туршиж, өөриймшүүлж авахгүй бол хэдий мундаг хүний доор ажиллаж байсан боловч олигтой юм суралгүй өөрийгөө ч, нөгөө хүнээ ч хөөддөг нөхөдтэй адил нэгэн болж хувирах эрсдэлтэй.

Хэрвээ удирдах албан тушаалд шууд очих аль эсвэл сайн удирдагчийн доор ажиллах боломжгүй бол сайн leader-үүдийн бичсэн зөвлөгөөнүүдийг олж үзэж тэндээс ихийг суралцах боломж бас бий. Ялангуяа гадны төрийн албанд олон жил зүтгэсэн хүмүүсийн зөвлөгөөнүүд ямар ч context-д хөрвөх чадвартай мөртөө өдөр тутмын нүсэр их ажлыг цэгцтэйгээр харах, эрхлэх, зохицуулахад маш их хэрэг болдог. Манайд иймэрхүү зөвлөгөөнүүд тэр бүр байдаггүй нь удирдах албан тушаалын хүмүүс доороо ажиллаж байгаа хүмүүстээ leadership-ийг тэр бүр зааж сургаж чаддаггүй, бур цаашлаад өөрсдөө удаан хугацаагаар ажиллаж statesman болж чаддаггүйтэй холбоотой байх. Юутай ч мартахаасаа өмнө бусад хүмүүст сонирхолтой байх болов уу гээд нийгмийн бодлогын тал дээр өөрийн үргэлж санаж явахыг хичээдэг зөвлөгөөнүүдийг доор орууллаа:

Tim Geithner's "special code for how to think about economic policy"

"Focus on what’s right, not just what is possible or easy.

"Never forget what a privilege it is to serve your country.

"Know that the world, not just America, depends on the quality of the judgments we make in this building.

"Make sure you steep yourself in what you do not know and what you cannot understand about the world.

"Don’t overdo it with excessive deference to the Secretary of the Treasury, or to the President. Tell them what you think.

"Understand we do serious work, but don’t take yourself too seriously.

"Cast your net broadly for advice, subject your initial judgments to relentless debate, but don’t let yourself be paralyzed by the difficulty of the choices, the fog, the shades of grey.

"Remember we have to be for stuff—I’m descending into self-caricature. Remember we have to be for stuff, not just against stuff—the brakes on initiative, but also the accelerator.

"No peacocks, jerks or whiners.
Rumsfeld's Rules - болвол номыг нь заавал олж уншаарай
In one conversation, seemingly out of nowhere, Moynihan said, “Don, only buy black socks.” I gave him a quizzical look. “You can wear them with anything,” he said. I took this to mean that in a busy world, it is best to make things easier by simplifying certain habits and decisions. Then again, he may have just been giving me wardrobe advice.
Obama’s Way by Michael Lewis
This time he covered a lot more ground and was willing to talk about the mundane details of presidential existence. “You have to exercise,” he said, for instance. “Or at some point you’ll just break down.” You also need to remove from your life the day-to-day problems that absorb most people for meaningful parts of their day. “You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits,” he said. “I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.” He mentioned research that shows the simple act of making decisions degrades one’s ability to make further decisions. It’s why shopping is so exhausting. “You need to focus your decision-making energy. You need to routinize yourself. You can’t be going through the day distracted by trivia.” The self-discipline he believes is required to do the job well comes at a high price.
Jake Sullivan's commencement address to students at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs on May 20, 2013
Public policy is a study in imperfection. It involves imperfect people, with imperfect information, facing deeply imperfect choices—so it’s not surprising that they’re getting imperfect results.

Policymakers are people. There will be meetings where one participant has a grudge against another. Where someone is fighting the urge to doze off because their kid kept them up all night.
Leadership: Essential Writings by Our Greatest Thinkers, editor Elizabeth D. Samet

Sunday, February 01, 2015

The Best Sentences I Read Today

The following are some observations based on my 5+ years experience in corporate America.

1. Corporations exist to make money. Bottom line. Therefore, never take it personally. It’s all about business, really.
2. Think.
3. Know your stuff. Stay up-to-date, stay relevant. No one will listen to you if you don’t know what you are talking about. Know you numbers. Inside and out, and be ready to interpret them within and outside contexts.
4. Innovate, be creative. Everywhere and always.
5. Be precise, matter-of-fact kind of precise. Keep your communication short and neutral. No one has time to read emails longer than 5 sentences. No one has time to deal with your attitude.
6. Change is the only constant. Priorities, goals, tasks, people, science, research, structures, teams, knowledge, processes, rules – all change all the time. Find your balance and move forward.
7. Keep your boss informed at all times.
8. Be fair and nice to people next/above/under you. It matters in both short and long runs.
9. Listen to gossips. Listen to what people say.
10. Be neutral. Provide your expert opinion but don’t join ‘camps’. The truth/solution is usually somewhere in the middle.
11. Consensus is nice but sometimes you just have to make decisions without. Period.
12. Be ready to work long hours. And I mean – looong, like 60+ hours/week. It will be worse if you are not productive. But then you won't last long anyway.
13. If possible, avoid human resources. They exist to support the structure, not you.
14. Don’t fight. Especially with your boss. Too bad if your boss is stupid. Or psychopath (most of them are). Determine your tolerance threshold and leave when it’s crossed.
random pages - From Academia to Corporate

Philosophical Republic

Among followers of Strauss, one issue is the importance of politics in the relationship of politics and philosophy. Politics thinks it is the most important human activity because it decides who rules in the world. Every human activity, including the most private matters such as the philosopher’s reflection, takes place under the rule of some authority that protects or permits it. It is philosophy’s business to question this authority and its self-proclaimed importance, and to bring its assertions to the bar of reason and its assurances to the test of eternity. The issue then is whether philosophy’s claim to importance is sovereign over politics so as to eclipse politics, or does philosophy have something to learn from politics in a way that rescues the importance of politics?

Walter Berns and Harry Jaffa both took the latter view, and they studied American politics as a serious subject and America as a kind of philosophical republic.
"Scholars of American Politics: The contributions of Walter Berns and Harry Jaffa" by Harvey Mansfield

Conversations with Bill Kristol: "Harvey Mansfield on Party Government and Modern Political Philosophy"

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Зах зээлийн замд vдсэн тvvх оршвой

Хөдөлмөр сонин, 1991 оны нэгдүгээр сарын 3, №1 (10536)

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Вот дело в чем

У Цеденбала я довольно часто бывал, когда был послом в Монголии. Особенно Полина Семеновна. Они только по‑русски, по‑монгольски не говорят, вот дело в чем. Жена у него рязанская. Бесцеремонная баба такая. Только по‑русски – некрасиво, потому что монголам не нравится.
В. М. Молотов о Монгольских лидерах (из Ф. И. Чуев - "Сто сорок бесед с Молотовым")

Friday, January 16, 2015

Nostalgie

Аж богдын харуул нь ээ хө
Амгалан болоод тайван даа

Monday, December 08, 2014

The King o' Drinks

The king o' drinks, as I conceive it,
Talisker, Isla, or Glenlivet!
Robert Louis Stevenson - The Scotsman's Return From Abroad

Monday, November 24, 2014

On Traveling

If I’d learnt one thing from traveling, it was that the way to get things done was to go ahead and do them. Don’t talk about going to Borneo. Book a ticket, get a visa, pack a bag, and it just happens.
from Alex Garland's The Beach