Is America no longer the land of innovation? Everyone from tech billionaires to Times columnists is sounding the alarm, and everyone has his own diagnosis of the problem: innovators kept out of the country by H1-B visa quotas and bureaucracy. Poor science education in public schools. Even U.S.-style health care has been implicated. Would-be entrepreneurs, the thinking goes, can't act on their breakthrough ideas because they feel tethered to middle-management jobs and the health benefits that come with them.
But his article eventually talks about research, not innovation. The two are often related, but not the same. Furthermore, the tone of the article dismisses the problems raised above and yet he never considers them. Nevertheless, the studies he describes are pretty interesting.
This New Yorker article on the Boies-Olson lawsuit to take gay marriage to the Supreme Court is pretty good.
I think it’s interesting to read old articles in hindsight: and hindsight of this Ralph Wiley piece on Ty Willingham has a few oops-in-retrospect moments (as you’d expect), but also has some more-than-worthwhile points on encouraging diversity:
Tyrone Willingham is no accident. Besides being very well-raised, having personal drive and character, he also was trained, tracked and institutionally groomed to be a big-time head football coach. His environment helped make him a great coach. That environment was the San Francisco Bay Area, starting when he was a DB with the 49ers.
The 49ers of the 1980s and early to mid-'90s won five Super Bowls, and part of the rhyme of that, the reason and genius of it, was Bill Walsh being willing, able, even eager to delegate, to be aware of the contributions and potential of his black employees and players, as well as the white ones. The 49ers didn't just draft Jerry Rice in 1985. They brought in the coaching staff at Mississippi Valley State and other HBCUs (historically black colleges and universities) for coaching clinics with the 49ers. Not a bad trade, since Walsh would borrow their formations. The 49ers PR director was black. Dr. Harry Edwards was brought in as a consultant. The 49ers didn't just talk a good game.
Bill Walsh groomed not just his figurative sons like Mike Holmgren and Mike Shanahan, but also his "other" figurative sons -- Ray Rhodes, Dennis Green and, yes, Tyrone Willingham. Walsh opened up his playbook, shared his philosophy, his structure; he gave them important and meaningful work, and recommended and referred them to jobs. Not just any jobs. He referred Tyrone Willingham to Stanford, one of the top and most difficult jobs in the country. Even Bill Walsh couldn't take Stanford to the Rose Bowl. But Tyrone Willingham did.
Because of the institutional leg up provided by Bill Walsh.
Without that institutional cooperation for tracking, training, grooming and then placing appropriate candidates, you just have a haphazard scattershot, turkey shoot approach; such as, "Well, that one doesn't threaten me, so move him up."
Without institutional cooperation, you are reduced to one man's opinion, be it a university president, or an NFL team owner. Such men can be notoriously limited.
James Fallows rounds-up post-Copenhagen coverage.