Thursday, September 27, 2007
On September 26th, 1983, Lieutenant Colonel Stanislav Yevgrafovich Petrov was the officer on duty when the warning system reported a US missile launch. Petrov kept calm, suspecting a computer error.Given that the Soviet system punished independent judgement, Petrov's calm independence was all the more remarkable for the strength it took for him to preserve that crucial aspect of his character into adulthood.
Petrov was first congratulated, then extensively interrogated, then reprimanded for failing to follow procedure. He resigned in poor health from the military several months later. According to Wikipedia, he is spending his retirement in relative poverty in the town of Fryazino, on a pension of $200/month. In 2004, the Association of World Citizens gave Petrov a trophy and $1000. There is also a movie scheduled for release in 2008, entitled The Red Button and the Man Who Saved the World.
Pssst! It's called "individual rights"!
I haven't had the time to consider the full context of the Jena Six story, but found the end of this Clarence Page column about it interesting:
The best legacy for the Jena 6 march would be a new movement, dedicated this time to the reduction and elimination of unequal justice wherever it appears. I don't care who leads it, but it shouldn't be for blacks only.In other words, the best legacy would be the one that should have been left by the civil rights movement of the 1960's, but wasn't: a respect for the individual rights of all Americans.
Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, who are involved in this pale imitation of the days when the movement was fighting for what is right, are too busy keeping the government involved in racial discrimination to be the leaders Page is hoping for. (And their involvement smacks of opportunism at best.)
We will not have equal justice for all until everyone becomes willing to put aside the illusory benefits of government favoritism. This will not happen until more people understand the evil unleashed by the premise that it is okay for the government to violate the rights of "others".
And this won't happen until more people understand the vital, personal importance of the government's consistently protecting everyone's freedom to act in accordance to his own best judgement. Government favors and equal justice are mutually-exclusive goals, of which the second is the only legitimate mission for government.
Not only are Jackson and Sharpton too busy making the government everyone's enemy, they do not hold the requisite ideas in political philosophy to effect this cultural revolution. True political revolutions are started by intellectuals, not pull-peddling politicians.
Getting Things Done in Academia
Given that Diana Hsieh already knows about David Allen's productivity techniques and is ABD (all but dissertation) anyway, telling her about this blog now doesn't quite fit the bill of returning the favor of introducing me to Getting Things Done.
But if you are in academia and particularly if you are considering or starting grad school, take a look at Getting Things Done in Academia. It is loaded with excellent advice, including how to adapt Allen's techniques to academic work.
For example, had I grad school to do over again, I wish I could have run across something like this post: "5 Essentials for Your Grad School Survival Kit". Item 4 is particularly relevant, although it was written way back in the '70s.