Monday, April 25, 2011

The Paradox of Cobb's Paradox

Needless to say, I Googled Cobb's Paradox.

My first impression is that it is based on the assumption that we know why projects fail.

Assuming we do know why projects fail, do we know why this project failed?

Assuming that we know why this project failed, could we have known why this project would have failed.

Assuming that we know why this project would have failed, was there anything we could have done about it?

Assuming that we know why this project will fail, is there anything we can do about it?

Assuming we know why this project will fail, why do we go ahead with the project?

Here is the real paradox:

Knowing that we know Cobb's Paradox, and assuming it is valid, why do we continue to discuss Cobb's Paradox?

Knowing that we know Cobb's Paradox, and assuming it is invalid, why do we continue to discuss Cobb's Paradox?




ps. This material will be on the final exam.


Copyright (c) 2011 Slim Fairview

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Better Than Brand New--New Theories In Education


I taught math, very briefly. I taught in parochial school. My students voted math their favourite subject.

There is no teacher test in the world that will tell the principal what he or she needs to know in order to say, "I can see from the results of your teacher test that your students will vote math their favourite subject."

I left teaching because I could not afford to live on the pay in a parochial school, and I refused to embrace the theories in education propounded by those hired by the "boards of ed" to improve education in public school.

"Okay, class, how much is 10 x 10?"

"Okay, class, Billy says, 10 x 10 = 99"

"Now there are some old-fashioned, draconians who insist that 100 is the only correct answer. However, even if we pretend they are right, Billy said 99. That makes Billy 99% correct."


When I was in High School, we were told that only two high schools in the state required 4 years of math. I didn't go to one of those schools. I went to the other one. My grades went as follows. c; c+; b; b+; A!

I earned an exemption from the final exam. Jesuits do not believe in grade inflation. What I accomplished was hard work. Thus, I worked hard.

The problem with every theory on how to improve education that is implemented in the classroom is that it is predicated on the assumption that the students embrace the theories of the person(s) who've come up with the theory.

The results of the projected improvements in student performance are not connected to the performance of the students. The results are intended to validate the theories of the experts who've implement them. In short, the experts got paid to do that stuff.


My understanding of the "every child is gifted" school of education is that every child can (wants to) learn math at a very high level. It never occurs to anyone that to learn math at a very high level means not doing something else at a very high level. Drama club, soccer, oil painting, learning to play the French Horn. Dare to suggest that to any expert and he will insist that these are not mutually exclusive. He insists on that because that was what he got paid for.

Certainly, any child can learn high-level math. I will say that again for those who will choose to pretend that they "must have missed it, still..." Certainly, any child can learn high-level math. Now, each child, learning at his or her rate/consistent with ability will take varied amounts of time. If those running the school insist on mainstreaming, the teacher in a class of 30 will perhaps, explain the lesson to 3 children once, 4children twice, 5 children three times, 6 children four times, 5 children five times, 4 children six times, 3 children seven times. This alludes to the bell curve the author referenced at the beginning of the article. Now, explain how the first three children will learn high-level math, listening to the same lesson seven times. Yes, any child can learn high level math.

To understand the use of math to obfuscate the problems in education, lets look at reading. And Professor Harold Hill.

Yes, my friends, you have trouble. Right here in River City, with a capital T and that rhymes with P and that stand for phonics. You have one, two, three, four, five vowels in the alphabet. With 21 consonants you have 62 trillion, 900 billion, aught '09 combinations. No wonder your children can't read. You don't need to know phonics to talk, do you? You just think of a word and say it."

Back to math.

If your children haven't memorized the times tables (grade appropriate), your children will be spinning their wheels in math. Compare and contrast that statement with those who say,

"Memorization stifles creativity. No wonder the Chinese children and the Russian children and the German children outperform our children in international math competitions."

If any of you have doubts about the veracity or efficacy of what I have to say in this monograph, please enjoy some further reading.

"Teachers aren't allowed to teach anymore."

"How many parents want their children to get the appearance of an education?"

"No excuse to fail."

Three monographs on my blog about classroom happenings.

For my challenge to the experts, my blog contains a monograph entitled, wait for it,


Please feel free to Google me. Slim Fairview.

Sincerest regards,



Copyright (C) 2011 Slim Fairview

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Unforeseen in Project Management

"There are no unintended consequences--only unwanted consequences." Slim Fairview

If you have assembled a team that includes people with experience, you can minimize the unknown unknowns.

Perhaps what you mean are the unforseeables that can't be foreseen. Don't let what may happen complicate the task at hand. Too many people, (Me included) have worried about what might happen that they create problems for them selves that would not have happened it they'd been doing their jobs in the first place instead of worrying. (There is a sentence in there, somewhere, some assembly required.)

Needless to say, when the problem comes up, they declare it the result of an unknown unknown. Don't worry about it.

Assemble a team with people who have experience. (In different areas.) Keep a network of people who've had to work in crisis management situations. (It needn't have been a big crisis, the thought process is the same.)

Then get back to work. If something should crop up, (dare I say it) call a meeting.

A Small Meeting. One with a few people skilled in the particular area of contention.

Now, it should be just about tea time across the pond, enjoy a glass of chateau Fleet Street, and remember the admonition of Horace Rumpole: Never ask the witness a question unless you yourself know the answer.




UR Ad $$$ @ Wrk! The FOX in the MAD House

Fox Network and the Young Viewers. UR Ad $$$ @ Wrk!

This almost seems to repudiate my belief that television advertising is not the wave of the future.

I stated earlier that the networks are trying to attract viewers who don't watch television by broadcasting programmes that appeal to viewers who don't watch television. Thus, driving away audiences that do watch television.

Now, what did Mad Men think would happen when television went from a few stations, 2,4,5,7,9,11,13 and sometimes 31 to 150 stations?

Well, ad-heaven is an optimistic way of looking at it. It would have appeared that this meant more advertising dollars and a better bottom line for the agency. Of course, the number of viewers per station would be small. This brings a new market. Niche advertising. "Yes, Virginia, there really is an all golf network."

This reminds me of the joke about the man telling his friend that, "My son got his bachelors degree. Now he's going for his masters. After that, he's going for his PhD."

When his friend asked him what all that means, he replied, "That's when you learn more and more about less and less until you know everything about nothing.

None-the-less, the market forces came to the fore and the advertising industry is alive an well. Good news, bad news. The good news is that there is a television series about the industry. The bad news is, that is about the industry 50 years ago.

I've often had to be all things to all people. Well, two things to two people. At the age of 10, my one friend got a go-cart. Great on the downhill--read fast! My other friend got one of those electric toy cars. Not, fast, but it could go the distance. No hill required. There was friction between them. All I had to do was to help each friend feel he had the better car.

Good news, good news. The good news: The easy part was that at the age of 10 their egos were easily assuaged. The good news, the same holds true for clients who want so spend their advertising dollars on television, the internet, or both.

For an amusing aside: Ceo the Executive or The Executives New Clothes.
or The Deficit: A Moral Conundrum (This on the topic of moral conundrums more than on the deficit.)




Copyright (c) 2011 Slim Fairview

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Deficit--A Moral Conundrum

The Deficit—A moral conundrum

I have only two skills: An analytical mind and the ability to speak in metaphors. Here we go.

This is an example of a moral conundrum.

You arrive at work. You clock in. You go to your machine, put your Igloo® Brand cooler down by your machine, open it, and take out the key to your locker.

In the process of opening your cooler, a co-worker sees a delicious, imported chocolate bar sitting on top of your lunch.

You go to get your tools. You leave your cooler unattended.

Now, your company has a strict no-stealing policy. Caught stealing—you’re fired.

When you return from your locker, you see your supervisor, the manager, and a co-worker standing by your cooler. There is a problem.

Apparently, your co-worker stole your candy bar. The manager shows you the candy bar. A large piece is missing. The manager is angry. Your co-worker is upset. You supervisor looks to you for a way out.

Just then, the little Angel appears on one shoulder. He says, “Oh, be forgiving.”

Then, the little devil appears on your other shoulder. “Let him suffer the punishment, “he says.

“Be merciful. It was a good candy bar. Perhaps he couldn’t resist,” the Angel says.

“That’s the point,” the devil says. “It was a really good candy bar. The good chocolate. Don’t let him get away with that!”

“Oh, don’t be mean. It was a really, really good, imported, delicious Belgian chocolate, chocolate bar. The temptation was too great. Be forgiving, be merciful,” The Angel says.

“That’s the whole point, the devil says. It was a phenomenal, delicious, imported, expensive, Belgian chocolate candy bar. Don’t let him weasel out it. Have him fire!

Just then, as you are torn between mercy and justice, between forgiveness and punishment, thinking of that chocolate bar, you take the Angel into one hand and the devil into the other and you look at them—torn. Looking for an answer. Looking for a dignified way out.

You look at the Angel. You look at the devil. You look to the Angel for divine wisdom and guidance. You look to the devil to support your desire for vengeance. Then, it suddenly occurs to you. Both the little Angel and the little devil have their lips smeared with chocolate.

That is a moral conundrum.

Now look at the members of Congress; the members from both parties, and tell me they don’t have their lips smeared with chocolate.




Copyright © 2011 Slim Fairview

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Impending Failure of Western Diplomacy in the Middle East

In a previous monograph, I discussed the fallacy of US Diplomacy in Libya.

Now I would like to expand the subject matter to include Western Nations and The Middle East.
Memo to Western World Leaders

Re: Middle East Turmoil

Subject: Don’t get happy.

There are, no doubt, many who are secretively happy to see the turmoil in the Middle East.

Diplomatically, they may express their concerns, regrets, desire to help, compassion, support, and so on. Still, inside, they are embracing the wrong impressions. They secretively believe that this turmoil will bring about not merely change in the Middle East, not merely a positive change in the Middle East, but a change that will result in truly favourable diplomatic and economic relations.

The problem arises from the fact that the Diplomacy of late falls into the following categories:

1. Diplomatic relations with those with similar, agendas and common goals.
Pro-forma Diplomatic Relations.

2. Diplomatic relations with those with dissimilar agendas and common goals.
Goal Oriented Diplomatic Relations.

3. Diplomatic relations with those with dissimilar agendas and common goals.
Expedient Diplomatic Relations.

4. Diplomatic relations with those with dissimilar agendas and dissimilar goals.
Tenuous Diplomatic Relations.

5. Anticipated diplomatic relations with those with dissimilar agendas and with divergent goals.
Now we have the need to find and engage in a mutually beneficial Diplomatic Agenda to accommodate those divergent goals.

Why will we have problems?

We have been dealing with government leaders who operate within a system of unilateral decision-making. (Disagreements, if any, are not expressed publicly and often times are not expressed privately, either.)  

The old canard, “It takes ten people to say yes but only one person to say no.” does not apply.

The old system was simple. It takes one person to say yes. Full Stop.

Soon, if the revolutions result in regime change, the changes may or may not change the above system of decision-making. If the system stays the same, the West will have to contend with the divergent goals. If there is a new system, refer to the old canard.

A second reason we will have problems establishing Diplomatic Relations is that we are not equipped to accept the types of government that may arise from the changes in the different regimes.

Within new regimes, we will be contending with the following:

1. Pro-Western Regimes.

2. Anti-Western Regimes.

3. Regimes where most are Pro-Western and a few are Anti-Western.

4. Regimes where most are Anti-Western and a few are Pro-Western.

Our Diplomatic Relations will be different with different countries out of necessity. The differences in these relationships will give rise to contention both at home and abroad. The differences will be bargaining chips in Diplomatic Relations abroad and at home, they will become justifications for political rhetoric.

“Everybody knows what everybody knows. The rest is rhetoric.” – Slim Fairview from the Quotations of Slim Fairview ©

We are no longer engaged in relationships based on demonstrating sensitivity to a diversity of cultures. We are now about to approach people with divergent agendas, methods, and goals.

Their interests may not be our interests. There may be little common ground with some and much common ground with others.

We were told:

The friend of my enemy is my enemy. The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

We were also told:

It’s me and my cousin against my neighbor; but, it’s me and my brother against my cousin.

These we were told. Now it is up to us to establish Diplomatic Relations with a diversity of cultures where we’ve defined diversity as different from us.  

Now we will have to redefine diversity as those who are different from one another.

It will be interesting to watch Western Nations establish Diplomatic Relations in the Middle East with any new regimes that may arise.



Copyright © 2011 Slim Fairview

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Fallacy of U.S. Diplomacy in Libya

The Fallacy of U.S. Diplomacy in Libya

Slim Fairview’s Four Rules of Communication:

1. Precision

2. Concision

3. Enumerate

4. Specify

The Fallacy of U.S. Diplomacy in Libya. Review the following questions and answers to arrive at a conclusion if not an understanding of how we undermine our own efforts in the Middle East and Northern Africa.

A. We can't arm the rebels because the rebels may be a greater danger.
More so than Gaddafi? Yes? No? If yes, we wouldn’t be there. If no, then arm the rebels.

B. We can’t arm the rebels because the arms may fall into the hands of our enemies.
If the rebels are our enemies, our other enemies will arm the rebels. If our enemies did not arm the rebels, then the rebels are not our enemies.

C. We can’t arm the rebels because the rebels may be our enemy.
If we don’t arm the rebels, others will. If others arm the rebels, the rebels will be their friends not ours.

[Write one thousand times: The friend of my enemy is my enemy. The enemy of the enemy is my friend.]

D. Al Qaeda members may be in Libya.

Al Qaeda members may be anywhere. That does not justify not doing anything anywhere.

E. Let’s talk about the mission. Let’s not.
What we have is regime change under the guise of humanitarian aid.

Getting rid of Gaddafi is not regime change.

Talking about Gaddafi’s sons is not regime change.

F. What will we be getting into if we don’t have regime change?
We won’t be getting into anything. We will have what we’ve had all along

G. What will happen if Gaddafi leaves?

Nothing if we define Gaddafi leaving as regime change.

H. What will happen if the rebels win and take over Libya?

We will fail at yet another diplomatic mission. Why?

To understand why, answer this question:

What happens if the rebels win and the Tribal Leaders decide to form a government where a ruling council runs Libya: a ruling council where the Tribal Leaders choose members of the Ruling Council? 

We are not equipped to establish diplomatic relations with a country where the people fought a revolution to gain freedom and established a government not consistent with our perspective of governments.




I am not Paul Harvey.  However, I am open to becoming a paid commentator, columnist, or blogger. If you’ve found anything I said to be helpful, please don’t hesitate to send me one of those tricked-out laptops and to tuck a few dollars into the envelope along with the thank you note.

Sincerest regards,


Copyright © 2011 Slim Fairview

For further reading on Social Media Matters

Quill Pens and Powdered Wigs in Today’s Classrooms

Social Media is the Medium: Greater than the sum of its parts.

Copyright © 2011 Slim Fairview

Time-Management Time Again, Folks.

The boss has been given the responsibility of fixing the problems caused by his lack of qualification to manage.

The boss hires a time management consultant.

The consultant give the presentation. The consultant hands out Day-timers. (Or whatever is now fashionable. Everyone engages in much upbeat chatter about how positive they all feel about what they've learned.

It doesn't work.

The Boss puts pressure on the employees.

"The company paid for that programme to help you."

"There is no I in team."

"People, we have to co-operate. We all have to work together to succeed."

"Success comes in cans not can'ts."

The real problems are never solved. Things do not get better. The boss blames the employees.

The employees try to explain what the real problems are.

The boss says, "Don't play the blame game."

The whole time-management thing is scrapped. (Some of the problems do resolve themselves.)

Then, 20 years later, I clicked onto a discussion about time-management.

Repeat as needed.

Let's get together in 20 years to discuss it again.




Copyright (c) 2011 Slim Fairview