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For the past weeks, Mideo Cruz and his artwork have been feverishly discussed.

I had not gone to the exhibit, but I have seen a number of pictures on the internet. Being a former Catholic, I could imagine how some of the Catholics would react. But being a spiritual atheist, such art did not bother me. I am not saying that Mideo Cruz created his exhibit to offend. In fact, in an interview, he explained his reasons for such display.

Most of the outcry has been about the phallic object placed on the works. Phalluses have been objects of devotion in many cultures; they use them as amulets, symbolic statues, etc. They might be a symbol of power and patriarchy.

If Mideo did have good intentions for the display, should the offended Catholics have the right to complain or not?

The purpose of this article is not on the Mideo’s intentions with his art. It is not even to figure out if Mideo is guilty of anything or not. What a lot of people here in the Philippines are concerned about is Mideo’s art and how it impacts the idea of “free speech” and “free expression”. While a lot of people are offended by his art, a lot of those same people also do not want to censor such expression since it might serve as a precedent and limit free expression in the future.

I am not a lawyer, but my curiosity made me read the on the internet on what possible laws may be related to free speech and expression?

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The International Institute of Management (IIM) released a white paper on the symptoms of dysfunctional organizations and dysfunctional leadership. Bad politics is a disease that can drain organizations of productive potential, and the IIM white paper also proposed some possible cures to help afflicted organizations out of the rut and back to health.

The white paper describes symptoms of bad leadership, which upon reading, have a strong correspondence to a lack of critical thinking:

3. Performance Diagnosis Checklist

Even fast-growing and profitable companies can develop bad internal politics and unproductive work habits that will eventually lead to declining performance. It is true that the larger the organization, the more susceptible it is to the breakdown of communication, the emergence of management silos and misalignment. Yet, in my experience many of the smaller companies also suffer from similar problems. When management tends to focus so much on one management area, e.g., sales, and has no time to manage the internal organization challenges, dysfunction creeps in and takes hold. To build and sustain high-performance teams, leadership and human resources managers should keep an eye open for the following symptoms and treat the root causes before it becomes too late.

Dysfunctional leadership symptoms and warning signs:

  • Dictatorial Leadership: Management that does not allow disagreements out of insecurity or arrogance.
  • No 360 Degrees Feedback: There is limited or no leadership performance feedback.
  • Personal Agendas: Recruitments, selections and promotions are based on internal political agenda, for example hiring friends to guarantee personal loyalty at the expense of other highly performing and more-qualified employees.
  • Political Compensation: Stock options, bonuses and perks are not fairly linked to performance.
  • Inefficient Use of Resources: Budgets are allocated between business units or departments based on favoritism and power centers rather than actual business needs.
  • Empire-building Practices: Managers believe that the more people they manage and the bigger the budget, the higher the chance that they will be promoted. This results in raging battles around budgets, strategies and operations.
  • Unequal Workload Distribution: You’ll find some departments are underutilized while other departments are overloaded.
  • Too Much Management: There are many management layers in the organization, thus, hindering communication and resulting in slower execution.
  • Fragmented Organization Efforts: Interdepartmental competition and turf wars between rival managers lead to the emergence of silos, which results in communication gaps. Management silos almost always result in fragmented and duplicated budgets and projects, thus wasting valuable company investments.
  • Too Much Talk: Plans are heavy on talk but light on action. In a political corporate culture, image management becomes far more important than actions.
  • Ineffective Meetings: Argumentative and heated cross-divisions meetings with discussion and language focusing on point scoring and buck-passing rather than sharing responsibility and collaborating to solve the problem
  • Lack of Collaboration: Every person for himself/herself. Low sense of unity or camaraderie on the team. The key criterion for decision-making is What is in it for me?
  • Low Productivity: Management wastes more time and energy on internal attack and defense strategies instead of executing the work, innovating and overcoming challenges. Critical projects fall behind on deadlines, budgets and performance targets (e.g. sales, market share, quality and other operational targets).
  • Constant Crisis Mode: Management team spends most of their time on fire fighting instead of proactive planning for next-generation products and services.
  • Morale Deterioration:Muted level of commitment and enthusiasm by other teams. Even successful results cannot be shared and celebrated due to animosity and internal negative competition.
  • Backstabbing: Backbiting among the executives and managers becomes common and public.
  • Highly Stressful Workplace: There is a high rate of absenteeism and a high employee turnover rate.

The IIM paper provides a good basis of how critical thinking can help (or the lack of can destroy) organizations from a practical perspective. 

Read more here.

Download the paper here.


 

Billionaire investor, industrialist and philanthropist, Warren Edward Buffett, and his thoughts on:

Vox populi

A public-opinion poll is no substitute for thought.

Overthinking

Beware of geeks bearing formulas.

Derivatives

Derivatives are financial weapons of mass destruction.

Suits

I buy expensive suits. They just look cheap on me.

Market Relativity

In the 20th century, the United States endured two world wars and other traumatic and expensive military conflicts; the Depression; a dozen or so recessions and financial panics; oil shocks; a flu epidemic; and the resignation of a disgraced president. Yet the Dow rose from 66 to 11,497.

Wall Street is the only place that people ride to in a Rolls Royce to get advice from those who take the subway.

Fear and Uncertainty

You know, people talk about this being an uncertain time. You know, all time is uncertain. I mean, it was uncertain back in – in 2007, we just didn’t know it was uncertain. It was – uncertain on September 10th, 2001. It was uncertain on October 18th, 1987, you just didn’t know it.

Americans are in a cycle of fear which leads to people not wanting to spend and not wanting to make investments, and that leads to more fear. We’ll break out of it. It takes time.

Media

The smarter the journalists are, the better off society is. For to a degree, people read the press to inform themselves-and the better the teacher, the better the student body.

Wealth

I always knew I was going to be rich. I don’t think I ever doubted it for a minute.

Of the billionaires I have known, money just brings out the basic traits in them. If they were jerks before they had money, they are simply jerks with a billion dollars.

Hindsight

If past history was all there was to the game, the richest people would be librarians.

Risk

Risk comes from not knowing what you’re doing.

Risk is a part of God’s game, alike for men and nations.

Rule No.1: Never lose money. Rule No.2: Never forget rule No.1.

Taxes

If anything, taxes for the lower and middle class and maybe even the upper middle class should even probably be cut further. But I think that people at the high end – people like myself – should be paying a lot more in taxes. We have it better than we’ve ever had it.

Investors

We believe that according the name ‘investors’ to institutions that trade actively is like calling someone who repeatedly engages in one-night stands a ‘romantic.’

Contrarian Thinking

We simply attempt to be fearful when others are greedy and to be greedy only when others are fearful.

Bad business

When a management with a reputation for brilliance tackles a business with a reputation for bad economics, it is the reputation of the business that remains intact.

Diversification

Wide diversification is only required when investors do not understand what they are doing.

Billionaire financier, businessman, philanthropist, and advocate of liberal idealism, Gyorgy Schwartz, more popularly known as George Soros, and his thoughts on:

Open Societies

A full and fair discussion is essential to democracy.

An open society is a society which allows its members the greatest possible degree of freedom in pursuing their interests compatible with the interests of others.

I chose America as my home because I value freedom and democracy, civil liberties and an open society.

Markets and Social Needs

I think there’s a lot of merit in an international economy and global markets, but they’re not sufficient because markets don’t look after social needs.

Markets are designed to allow individuals to look after their private needs and to pursue profit. It’s really a great invention and I wouldn’t under-estimate the value of that, but they’re not designed to take care of social needs.

Markets and Uncertainty

Stock market bubbles don’t grow out of thin air. They have a solid basis in reality, but reality as distorted by a misconception.

Markets are constantly in a state of uncertainty and flux and money is make by discounting the obvious and betting on the unexpected.

Philanthropy

I’m not doing my philanthropic work, out of any kind of guilt, or any need to create good public relations. I’m doing it because I can afford to do it, and I believe in it.

War on Terror

Bush’s war in Iraq has done untold damage to the United States. It has impaired our military power and undermined the morale of our armed forces. Our troops were trained to project overwhelming power. They were not trained for occupation duties.

Marijuana

Just as the process of repealing national alcohol prohibition began with individual states repealing their own prohibition laws, so individual states must now take the initiative with respect to repealing marijuana prohibition laws.

Who most benefits from keeping marijuana illegal? The greatest beneficiaries are the major criminal organizations in Mexico and elsewhere that earn billions of dollars annually from this illicit trade – and who would rapidly lose their competitive advantage if marijuana were a legal commodity.

The criminalization of marijuana did not prevent marijuana from becoming the most widely used illegal substance in the United States and many other countries. But it did result in extensive costs and negative consequences.

Testing

The financial markets generally are unpredictable. So that one has to have different scenarios… The idea that you can actually predict what’s going to happen contradicts my way of looking at the market.

Fallibility

Once we realize that imperfect understanding is the human condition there is no shame in being wrong, only in failing to correct our mistakes.

The people currently in charge have forgotten the first principle of an open society, namely that we may be wrong and that there has to be free discussion. That it’s possible to be opposed to the policies without being unpatriotic.

Contrarian Thinking

The worse a situation becomes the less it takes to turn it around, the bigger the upside.

The United States

We are the most powerful nation on earth. No external power, no terrorist organization, can defeat us. But we can defeat ourselves by getting caught in a quagmire.

We must recognize that as the dominant power in the world we have a special responsibility. In addition to protecting our national interests, we must take the leadership in protecting the common interests of humanity.

Sex and Subjectivity

Sex is a tricky subject for the reason that any discussion of sex almost automatically involves relationships and it could likely involve moral arguments — in short: ripe ground for subjectivity. Subjectivity is not necessarily the enemy of critical thinking, in fact it is the battleground of critical thinkers since subjective arguments are rarely completely decided by scientific evidence but by (ideally) rational debate. And by that I mean–it’s usually easier said than done.

A relatively recent piece by Charlie Glickman illustrates how sex and subjectivity can be a tricky path for critical thinking. Glickman gives his interesting critique of a NY Times article by Ross Douthat that deals with monogamy:

He (Douthat) seems to think that there are only two paths worth mentioning. There’s sex that’s part of a path that takes you towards marriage and there’s sex that’s promiscuous. Now, he seems to try to soften that by saying that it might be promiscuous or it might be ill-considered, but given that the definition of promiscuous is indiscriminate, or lacking standards of selection, this is another case of someone projecting a false dichotomy onto sexuality.

This is a problem for at least three reasons. First, it not only continues to place “matrimony” on a pedestal (something which is especially fraught with challenges in a political climate that restricts marriage to heterosexuality in most jurisdictions), it also requires that any and all relationships need to be a trial run for marriage. There’s no room to have a relationship for any other purpose- if it’s not going to lead you down the path to marriage, it’s no good.

You can see how the piece heats up in the first few paragraphs (see the rest of the article here). Apart from subjectivity, the other tricky thing about discussing sex is that we are all as human beings seemingly wired to want to talk about it, occasionally at the expense of reason.

We’ve discussed some of the more popular personality disorders under the DSM-IV before. However, excluded from that list are some diagnoses that for some (Millon) are considered valid, but since they were excluded or deleted from the DSM definition, do not have a concrete diagonistic criteria.

When subjects do not readily fit into the formally clustered disorders, a differential diagnosis of “not specified” may be offered. This may have referred to personalities that fall within the following types. These types of disorders are also referred to as categories requiring further study.

  1. Depressive personality disorder – is a pervasive pattern of depressive cognitions and behaviors beginning by early adulthood.
  2. Passive-aggressive personality disorder (negativististic personality disorder) – is a pattern of negative attitudes and passive resistance in interpersonal situations.
  3. Sadistic personality disorder – is a pervasive pattern of cruel, demeaning and aggressive behavior.
  4. Self-defeating personality disorder (masochistic personality disorder) – is characterised by behaviour consequently undermining the person’s pleasure and goals.

What we can see from the examples provided is how subjective the diagnoses can be, especially when no specified concrete and agreed criteria is prevalent. However it is the goal of future diagnostic query to find more statistically valid bases for classifying personality disorders.

Best known for his satirical novels: Nineteen Eighty-Four (1948) and Animal Farm (1945), english novelist, polemical journalist, literary critic, and poet, Eric Arthur Blair, more popularly known as George Orwell, and his thoughts on:

Happiness

Happiness can exist only in acceptance.

Honesty

In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act.

If you have embraced a creed which appears to be free from the ordinary dirtiness of politics – a creed from which you yourself cannot expect to draw any material advantage – surely that proves that you are in the right?

Morality

Mankind is not likely to salvage civilization unless he can evolve a system of good and evil which is independent of heaven and hell.

Media

Early in life I had noticed that no event is ever correctly reported in a newspaper.

Sides

There is hardly such a thing as a war in which it makes no difference who wins. Nearly always one side stands more or less for progress, the other side more or less for reaction.

Politics

In our time political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible.

In our age there is no such thing as ‘keeping out of politics.’ All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia.

Liberals

Liberal: a power worshipper without power.

Sainthood

Many people genuinely do not want to be saints, and it is probable that some who achieve or aspire to sainthood have never felt much temptation to be human beings.

Generations

Each generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.

Writing

It is also true that one can write nothing readable unless one constantly struggles to efface one’s own personality. Good prose is like a windowpane.

Bias

All political thinking for years past has been vitiated in the same way. People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome.

Doublethink

Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.

Freedom

Freedom is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.

Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.

Democracy

It is almost universally felt that when we call a country democratic we are praising it; consequently, the defenders of every kind of regime claim that it is a democracy, and fear that they might have to stop using the word if it were tied down to any one meaning.

Homo Sapiens

Man is the only creature that consumes without producing. He does not give milk, he does not lay eggs, he is too weak to pull the plough, he cannot run fast enough to catch rabbits. Yet he is lord of all the animals.

Invulnerability

Whoever is winning at the moment will always seem to be invincible.

Lunatics

What can you do against the lunatic who is more intelligent than yourself, who gives your arguments a fair hearing and then simply persists in his lunacy?

Tragedy

A tragic situation exists precisely when virtue does not triumph but when it is still felt that man is nobler than the forces which destroy him.

Equality

All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.

Propaganda

All the war-propaganda, all the screaming and lies and hatred, comes invariably from people who are not fighting.

Representation

As with the Christian religion, the worst advertisement for Socialism is its adherents.

Justification

Every war when it comes, or before it comes, is represented not as a war but as an act of self-defense against a homicidal maniac.

Love

To an ordinary human being, love means nothing if it does not mean loving some people more than others.

One can love a child, perhaps, more deeply than one can love another adult, but it is rash to assume that the child feels any love in return.