August 10, 2015: UPC WIM Book Club, next book “Citizen”

WIM Brown Bag Book Club
by Claudia Rankine ISBN 978-1-55597-690-3
Next Meeting: Monday, August 10, 2015, Noon to 1:00 Location DML 233, UPC
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Our previous book:
Cadillac Desert coverTHMB Review, Cadillac Desert by Marc Reisner

Marc Reisner’s book Cadillac Desert covers the history of water in the Western United States. The book looks at the first white explorers to the grand dams, powerplants, and canals of the US Bureau of Reclamation. Reisner took great pains to document the political machinations through 1986. It is a deep dive into the transformation of the American West from a desert not fit for human life to an agricultural and urban behemoth.

Reisner didn’t hide his opinion: “The drought itself, which may end up a more costly disaster than all of these combined, qualifies best as punishment meted out to an impudent culture by an indignant God.”

He felt that careerist bureaucrats, bloated land barons, greedy politicians “tamed” the wild rivers of the West in the search for cheap water and money. As the free and plentiful water drew more and more people to the desert, the plenty of it became more and more challenged. Surprisingly, not much has changed in the realm of water; the West in the last 30 years. The issues have gotten more pressing as groundwater depletion worsened through years of drought. The state of California is only now taking some of the ideas in this book into accord. But water remains prioritized to farms. Farms which left to nature would be “reclaimed” by the desert in the blink of an eye. Population growth in the Southwest exacerbate the problem to an immeasurable degree.

What struck me through reading was how little has changed. Through a rigged political system, a few wealthy white men pull strings to make their accounts larger, and work in concert with the to affect outcomes in such a grand scale. While we can give most of the people involved the benefit of the doubt, the problems multiply as they try to solve one water issue. Dams work for so long … and then they don’t. Irrigation of the desert might not have been the country’s finest idea. So what do we do next?
Aubrey Hicks

Women speaking

“The voice is our emotional engine. It carries our energy, health, vitality, joy and intelligence. But because our voices are powered by the breath, which is instantly responsive to stress and anxiety, it can also signal our anxiety, fear and self-doubt. Using your voice to convey confidence and authority is a challenge for everyone, of course, but it often has greater implications for women and can hurt their ability to influence and lead.”
Like, totally don’t talk like this to get ahead in business?, by Gina Barnett, Fortune, July 6, 2015

“Woman” and “Leader” — is there as connection?

“Women may face more barriers to leadership if there is a perceived conflict between their professional role and their gender. Organizations must detect any gender bias and promote a positive view of women leaders.

“Two generally agreed-upon facts characterize the state of gender equality in today’s workplace. The first is that despite increased attention paid to gender disparities, society’s archetypal business leader is still a man. The second is that, thanks to enormous, painstaking efforts by women and their advocates, this situation is changing, but very slowly.

“This is despite the tangible benefits of gender-diverse leadership. One might expect the curve of change to get steeper with each year, but that hasn’t happened. According to the International Labour Organisation, if the current rate of progress holds, we won’t see pay equality between men and women until 2086 at the earliest.”
Resolving the Conflict Between “Woman” and “Leader”, by Natalia Karelaia, Instead Knowledge, June 1, 2015

I’m sorry, but please stop apologizing

“For so many women, myself included, apologies are inexorably linked with our conception of politeness. Somehow, as we grew into adults, ‘sorry’ became an entry point to basic affirmative sentences.

“True, this affliction is not exclusive to our gender. It can be found among men — in particular, British men — but it is far more stereotypical of women. So, in the words of a popular 2014 Pantene ad, why are women always apologizing?

“One commonly posited theory, which informs everything from shampoo commercials to doctoral dissertations, is that being perceived as rude is so abhorrent to women that we need to make ourselves less obtrusive before we speak up. According to a 2010 study in the journal Psychological Science, ‘women have a lower threshold for what constitutes offensive behavior,’ so are more likely to see a need for an apology in everyday situations. We are even apt to shoehorn apologies into instances where being direct is vital — such as when demanding a raise.”
Why Women Apologize and Should Stop, by Sloane Crosley, NY Times, June 23, 2015

Interview with Laszlo Bock, head of People Operations at Google

“In this episode of the You Are Not So Smart Podcast, we interview Laszlo Bock, head of People Operations at Google, the company’s massive and unique human resources division. In his new book (Work Rules!) Bock explains how and why Google does what it does when it comes to everything internal, from perks and promoting to motivation and productivity. In the interview you’ll hear how the company combats confirmation bias, the halo effect, the Abilene paradox, pluralistic ignorance, survivorship bias, and more – all with a mix of behavioral science and Google’s immense power to test and re-test using its unique resources.”
YANSS 051 – How Google uses behavioral science to make work suck less, by David McRaney, You are not so Smart, June 1, 2015