The Sunday Post for November 20, 2016

Obama Reckons With a Trump Presidency

This David Remnick piece has received a lot of, rightful, attention this week. Imagine being one of the most capable, measured, and successful presidents of the modern age, and handing off to the hot gilded mess approaching the front gates. The horror.

But Obama has remarkable statesmen like resolve, and as he told a crowd recently, "I’m going to be constrained in what I do with all of you until I am again a private citizen.”

This quote, especially, is telling:

The official line at the White House was that the hour-and-a-half meeting with Trump went well and that Trump was solicitous. Later, when I asked Obama how things had really gone, he smiled thinly and said, “I think I can’t characterize it without…” Then he stopped himself and said that he would tell me, “at some point over a beer—off the record.”

I wasn’t counting on that beer anytime soon. But after the sitdown with Trump, Obama told staff members that he had talked Trump through the rudiments of forming a cabinet and policies, including the Iran nuclear deal, counter-terrorism policy, health care—and that the President-elect’s grasp of such matters was, as the debates had made plain, modest at best. Trump, despite his habitual bluster, seemed awed by what he was being told and about to encounter.

What’s the Use of Regret?

A professor of philosophy at St. Olaf College, Gordon Marino asks looks into the idea of regret and why we might need it.

Some thinkers have portrayed regret as a humanizing emotion. The 20th-century moral philosopher Bernard Williams pointed out that, in instances where a person hurts another through no fault of her own (to use his example, a truck driver who runs over a child), we still expect her to feel remorseful. She will feel the weight of the event more intensely than any spectator. Other people, Williams writes, will try to comfort her, “but it is important that this is seen as something that should need to be done, and indeed some doubt would be felt about a driver who too blandly or readily moved to that position” of comfort.

Others hold the commonsense view that regret over a past event you can do nothing about is a waste of time when you can actually do something instead.

"Music Confounds the Machines"

The one and only, musician and producer extraordinaire, T Bone Burnett gave a keynote address to AmericanaFest

This country has been led by artists from Thoreau and Emerson through Walt Whitman to Woody Guthrie, through Thelonious Monk and Charlie Parker, to Presley and Dylan to The Last Poets and Kendrick Lamar. The Arts have always led the Sciences. Einstein said that Picasso preceded him by twenty years. Jules Verne put a man on the moon a hundred years before a rocket scientist did. Medieval stained glass windows are examples of how nanotechnology was used in the pre-modern era. Those artists were high technologists, and many other things- they were aestheticians, ethicists, conjurers, and philosophers, to name a few.

They took risks. Risks a technocrat could never take. Artists risk everything in everything they do. Risk is what separates the artist from the artisan. Art is not a career, it is a vocation, an inclination, a response to a summons.

Theranos Whistleblower Shook the Company—and His Family

The Theranos whistleblower is the grandson of former secretary of state, George Schultz. This is a fascinating look inside power, companies, and families. Great reporting from John Carreyrou at the Wall Street Journal.

After working at Theranos Inc. for eight months, Tyler Shultz decided he had seen enough. On April 11, 2014, he emailed company founder Elizabeth Holmes to complain that Theranos had doctored research and ignored failed quality-control checks.

The reply was withering. Ms. Holmes forwarded the email to Theranos President Sunny Balwani, who belittled Mr. Shultz’s grasp of basic mathematics and his knowledge of laboratory science, and then took a swipe at his relationship with George Shultz, the former secretary of state and a Theranos director.

“The only reason I have taken so much time away from work to address this personally is because you are Mr. Shultz’s grandson,” wrote Mr. Balwani to his employee in an email, a copy of which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.