Monday, June 19, 2017

Do the job you are asked to. Do it well. No matter what.

After I finished my first doctorate I never got the fitted job I wanted. One I envisaged, strategized, and fought hard to make possible. Neither the next best one. Or next best.

I did my best in the jobs I got. I taught. I motivated. I helped students self motivate to levels they didn't think possible. Those who wanted to hear me and to work hard with themselves to make possible what I was showing them they can. 

I researched. Without any funding. Without any support. I dug for data by myself. No lab. No databases purchased by the University. Austin had them but Brownsville couldn't use them. No money available for conference participation but a requirement that you participate as part of your position. No typing service available but a requirement that you publish. 

We did well. We traveled. We interviewed. We wrote. We analyzed. We aggregated. We proposed improvements. Serious systematic improvements. Based on years of research by tens and tens of scholars from across several connected fields. We presented. We saw the work embraced at international scholarly conferences. We deepened the work. Applied the methodology in more suited fields. Perfected little by little the organizational structure-decision  making optimality link. Making progress all on our own time and with our own resources. Meanwhile we expend tax payers' money inefficiently and ineffectively. Lots of them. Many people loose their lives. Most often needlessly. We praise them but we wouldn't stop it. 

Then along came an election. We learned the organization--NATO--was all obsolete. That's it. 

Then it wasn't obsolete anymore. But we learned tenants didn't pay rent from behind. So they have to pay back now or else. Just like that.

Those of us who know these things because we studied them, and then we studied them some more and better and better and deeper and deeper, will do what now? 

I for one will keep teaching critical thinking and fighting hard to make more and more people understand how knowledge is produced and how and why it is often ignored. 

Because one day we will all get it. And I want to live that day. 

Adrian S. Petrescu, Ph.D., J.D.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Stay curious! Never let go of your curiosity!

It feels great to know someone--many caring someones--in your life cared and insisted that you do the right thing. 

Parents and teachers asked that I read when I have questions 

and that I figure things out the best I can 

by searching for sources to parts of answers and 

by learning to combine parts into higher level of organization partial wholes, and then again 

do the same with these new parts, and 

use chain inferences 

and just find more questions to ask 

and start all over again with answering the new questions. 

Yesterday in class I realized along with my students how thankful we need to be. 

They were laughing reading the news on #covfefe. 

We figured that Charles Lindblom and Stephen Cohen were great with their book on Usable Knowledge. They coined the term "cognitive impairment" that essentially means that where you stand today depends a lot on where you've been coming from. A physicist will ask and answer physics questions of the world. An accountant accounting questions. A biologist biology questions. We have inherent biases that come from how we got where we are. Unless we acknowledge them it's generally hard to eliminate them and free ourselves of those anchors. 

Then we figured:

It dawned on us why the current President of the United went to Brussels and asked everyone for back pay. 

His dad took him to work since he was 14 or so. Their work was collecting rent. 

That is what he's been doing since--collecting rent. The perception the President has on NATO is not one based on curiosity and a desire to learn how it works first. It is based on Lindblom and Cohen's cognitive impairment applied to the President. He is the rent collector in chief. Just as a physicist will see the world with the eyes of a physicist and an economist with the eyes of an economist or a parent through the eyes of a parent. The rent collector--without other factors enhancing the outlook of their path in life--sees the world as tenants who need to pay or be evicted or both and be sued as well.

Meanwhile my students have the curiosity to study, to ask meaningful questions, to go seek out complex answers, and to stay curious. 

To want to learn new things about the world. Not just for the tests they need to take in life, but for their own fulfillment as curious human beings with the satisfaction of knowing more and more every day. Just because the more we learn the less we know.

Stay curious friends. You'll be richer than you can imagine. And wiser too. 

Adrian S. Petrescu, Ph.D., J.D.