I spoke to a few folks this week about the late Linda Arcularius (see obituary on page eight).
District Five Supervisor Matt Kingsley had the best anecdote. He said he would sit next to Linda in Inyo County Board of Supervisors meetings (back in the old days when Supervisors had the courage to meet in public), and Kingsley kept a tin of dutch mints in a desk drawer that he’d buy from Schat’s Bakkery.
Typically, he’d offer Arcularius a mint for the afternoon session. He described them as being larger mints, the type you suck on.
“But I could hear when she’d crush down on a mint,” laughed Kingsley. “That meant something she’d heard didn’t sit well with her. But she never let it show, and her expression never changed.”
“It was great to be on her side [on an issue],” he added. “Just ask the people who were not.”
In terms of her political skills, Kingsley said Arcularius was the very best at synthesizing different points of view and seeing a path through. “She could frame consensus so that everyone felt good about it,” he explained.
Kingsley said the #1 lesson she imparted was to approach politics in a hyper-local way. To constantly ask what is best for one’s constituents.
This is a lesson District Four Supervisor Jennifer Roeser also alluded to, though she’s gotten off to a rough start putting theory into practice.
Roeser spoke admiringly of Linda’s integrity and adherence to her principles. She also spoke about the graciousness of Linda and Howard Arcularius as hosts – how they actively shared their way of life and values with any and all comers.
Mary Mae Kilpatrick was friends with Arcularius for more than forty years. They met because Mary Mae taught Linda’s son at Round Valley.
A testament to Linda’s quiet strength and character. When Mary Mae’s husband Chuck died at the end of 2020, Linda simply told her, “I’m taking care of the reception for you.” No dissent allowed.
“She never flaunted it,” said Mary Mae, “But [if you lived in Inyo County] you always knew where to get your information from.”
Being away for a week gave me time to catch up on some loafing. Which generally involves catching up on my back issues of the Wall Street Journal.
A gem from Peggy Noonan’s column last week on Biden:
“Asked what he will do different in the second year of his presidency, Biden spoke of a ‘change in tactic.’ He will get out of Washington more and speak to the people – ‘on the road a lot making the case around the country.’
He is misdiagnosing his problem. It isn’t that his stands and decisions haven’t been fully understood and will be embraced if comprehended more fully. It’s that his stands and decisions the past year were basically understood and disliked. It’s not a communications problem, it’s a substance problem. It would be better if he spent his second year readjusting his positions. But politicians always think it’s a communications problem. Because that means the back office is blowing it, not you.”
All this made me think of was that whole discussion Mammoth Lakes Town Council had a few months back devoted to its “communication” efforts with the public.
As if the only thing which stands between Council and wild popularity is a cogent explanation of all the great things it’s doing. That the public doesn’t understand what’s going on.
Rather than accepting that the public understands all too well and may want something far different than what Council is selling. That the public may really, really, really want a shift in focus (and dollars) to quality of life issues, and a drastic decrease in the marketing budget.
Of course, that would require saying no, and no one likes saying no. It’s uncomfortable. Especially when you have to deliver that message to a friend or a colleague.
Then there was the Andy Kessler column on Monday, titled. “90% of Everything Is … “
In the column, he quotes Sturgeon’s Law. Sturgeon was a sci-fi writer who famously said, “90% of everything is crap.”
Kessler brings up Sturgeon’s Law as he’s speaking to Marc Andreessen, a renownbed venture capitalist and onetime founder of Netscape. Andreesen is quoted as saying, “That is the nature of creative work. There are only a few people in each field that know what to do. The reason I’m so fascinated by this is the ethic of our times is egalitarianism. Everybody’s the same, everyone is equal. The conceit of the times, the ethos that if only you put the work in, you’ll get great results” -Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours nonsense- “It’s not just effort. It’s not just accidental … We have a very small number of people who know what to do. And we have a much larger number of people typically laboring under some set of delusions – generating crap. It is what it is. I wish there were more quality painters … or entrepreneurs.”
So Andreesen is referencing ‘creative work’ but he may as well be talking about anything. There’s just so much crap out there right now, and so much noise. And believe me, there are certainly weeks where I feel I’m doing nothing but adding to the landfill of crap thinking.
But I’m required by law to put this thing out once a week and some weeks, yeah, I’m gonna suck.
But those of you who don’t have much to say but insist on saying it every day – is there any way, for the good of larger society, that you can dial it back?
And while you suspect that I’m not talking about you, Sturgeon would say there’s a 90% chance that your posts are crap, so … let’s get realistic.
As I’ve often said recently in my most cynical, elitist, sarcastic moments, “There’s nothing more dangerous than a person with a 104 IQ in a position of power.”
Average (100) isn’t nearly as dangerous. Neither is below average. But a slightly above average person who thinks they are a whole lot smarter than that and wants to impose their 104 upon you … insufferable.
And often wrong.
You know what the triple whammy would be? A politician with a 104 and no sense of humor.
There are a lot of them out there at the moment.
From the weekend interview with Nicholas Eberstadt in last weekend’s Journal titled “The Underside of the Great Resignation.”
Eberstadt talks about the labor-force participation rate currently sitting at 61.9%. This is 1.5 points below the pre-pandemic number, and five points below the nationwide peak of 67% in 2000.
And as Eberstadt says, the problem is, non-workers don’t do civil society. They don’t volunteer or go to church. They generally stay home and watch television. 2,000 hours/year.
“In 2019, childless women without jobs said they spent seven hours a day in ‘leisure,’ a category dominated by entertainment.”
As interviewer Mene Ukueberuwa writes, “Eberstadt proposes no sweeping fix for the wave of worklessness. But he notes that widespread contempt for many ordinary jobs may be making the problem worse.
‘It’s astonishingly condescending to say that some work is meaningless … and it shows an astonishing ignorance of how other people live.’ It’s wonderful that millions of people are finding better work. But there are millions more who could fill the jobs they’re vacating, and disdain for low-skill work helps keep those people away.
Instead of stigmatizing low-skill jobs, we would do better to stigmatize idleness, especially among men. Not long ago, Mr. Eberstadt says ‘The idea that one in eight men should be neither working nor looking for work would have been an absolutely horrifying prospect.’
Re-embracing that perspective could do a lot of good for the economy, as well as for idle Americans.”
What has remained true at The Sheet for 19 years: The delivery driver is the highest-paid person in the company. Writers are hard to find. Business managers harder. But no delivery driver = no product = no billing = no revenue.
Real work is honest. Maybe that’s why fewer and fewer people want to do it.