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Posts Tagged ‘Andrew Carnegie

“Cathedrals are unfinished. It is just the nature of the beast.”*…

 

St John

 

Why do cathedrals take so long to build? Because the finish line is besides the point. Cathedrals are so compelling because they make visible the continued commitment that every building, city, and institution requires of their participants if they are to survive. Cathedral building ritualizes construction; they are compelling because they are never finished…

Cathedrals are distinct from typical megaprojects in a very important way: an unfinished Cathedral is by no means a failure.

As Dr. Atif Ansar, a professor in major project management at Oxford, frames it, most infrastructure projects (the dams and bridges that are focus of Ansar’s research) are binary. They are done, or not; a 99% complete bridge is not very useful. Cathedrals, one the other hand, are not binary. The aspiration may be much larger, but in essence, a single room could act as a cathedral. Salisbury cathedral took a full century to build, but services commenced almost immediately in a temporary wooden chapel. At St. John the Divine, the congregation used the crypt for the first services in 1899, just seven years after construction commenced. Cathedrals, Ansar posits, are accretive – they gain value as they are built, “like a beehive.” Accretive buildings pose a challenge for the iron triangle, because the scope is, by nature, open-ended; the project will never be complete.

Accretive projects are everywhere: Museums, universities, military bases – even neighborhoods and cities. Key to all accretive projects is that they house an institution, and key to all successful institutions is mission. Whereas scope is a detailed sense of both the destination and the journey, a mission must be flexible and adjust to maximum uncertainty across time. In the same way, an institution and a building are often an odd pair, because whereas the building is fixed and concrete, finished or unfinished, an institution evolves and its work is never finished…

A consideration of construction (and on-going maintenance) as a way of being: “Building a Cathedral.”

[This piece is via a newsletter, “The Prepared,” that your correspondent highly recommends.]

* Tour guide, St, John the Divine, Morningside Heights, N.Y.

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As we take the long view, we might recall that it was on this date in 1891 that Carnegie Hall was officially opened, with an orchestral performance conducted by Pyotr Tchaikovsky.  First know simply as “Music Hall,” the venue was formally named for it’s funder, Andrew Carnegie, in 1893.

Q: How do you get to Carnegie Hall?

A: Practice, practice practice…

Carnegie Hall in 1895

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Carnegie Hall today

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Written by LW

May 5, 2019 at 1:01 am

Presto!…

In this month’s Smithsonian, Penn’s silent partner Teller spills the beans on magic… and in so doing shares a top hat full of lessons applicable to life-at-large.

… let’s take what magicians call a force, where the magician gives you a false sense of free action by giving you an extremely controlled choice… I compared that to choosing between two political candidates. But I see it everywhere. When I go to the supermarket, I have a choice of dozens of kinds of cereals—all made by the same manufacturer of essentially the same ingredients. I have the gut impression of variety and freedom, but in the end, the only real choice I have is not to buy…

In typical theater, an actor holds up a stick, and you make believe it’s a sword. In magic, that sword has to seem absolutely 100 percent real, even when it’s 100 percent fake. It has to draw blood. Theater is “willing suspension of disbelief.” Magic is unwilling suspension of disbelief…

Misdirection is a huge term that means whatever you use to make it impossible to draw a straight line from the illusion to the method. It’s an interruption, a reframing. It comes in so many varieties and is so fundamental, it’s quite hard to formulate in a neat definition—rather like the term “noun” or “verb” in grammar. We all know what these are, but only after seeing lots of examples…

Read Teller’s own piece here, and the companion interview here.

As we practice our reveals, we might recall that it was on this date in 1901 that Andrew Carnegie, recently retired from his role as one of the world’s foremost industrialists, offered the city of New York $5.2 million for the construction of sixty-five branch libraries… and began a philanthropic campaign that founded 2,509 libraries in the English-speaking world, established the educators’ retirement fund that has become TIAA-CREF, endowed Tuskegee Institute under Booker T. Washington, helped Washington found the National Negro Business League, established the Carnegie Endowment for Peace (among other foundations), and of course, built Carnegie Hall.  It’s believed that Carnegie gave away over $350 million before his death in 1919, when his last $30 million was distributed to foundations he’d started and charities he’d supported.

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Written by LW

March 12, 2012 at 1:01 am

Speak no evil…

In danger no longer! (source)

Gawker reports [from the Hindustan Times] that Pakistan’s Telecommunications Authority has issued a list of 1,700 words [and phrases] it considers “offensive and obscene,” and has demanded that mobile providers begin filtering them from text messages as of Monday. The list, which contains hundreds of familiar swear words as well as some truly puzzling choices, is meant to curb SMS spamming, according the PTA, which it defines as “the transmission of harmful, fraudulent, misleading, illegal or unsolicited messages in bulk to any person without express permission of the recipient.”

Some of the words:

Athlete’s foot
Deposit
Black out
Drunk
Flatulence
Glazed Donut
Harem
Jesus Christ
Hostage
Murder
Penthouse
Satan
Flogging the dolphin
Monkey crotch
Idiot
Damn
Deeper
Four twenty
Go to hell
Harder
Looser
No sex
Quickie
Fairy

The full list is on Google Docs, here… after a careful consideration of which, your correspondent will be choosing his words more carefully.

As we reconsider our morning glazed donut, we might recall that it was on this date in 1839 that the American Statistical Association was formed in a meeting at the Boston home of the American Education Society by William Cogswell, teacher, fund-raiser for the ministry, and genealogist; Richard Fletcher, lawyer and U.S. Congressman; John Dix Fisher, physician and pioneer in medical reform; Oliver Peabody, lawyer, clergyman, poet, and editor; and Lemuel Shattuck, statistician, genealogist, publisher, and author of perhaps the most significant single document in the history of public health to that date.

Over the next few decades, the membership grew to over 100, including Florence Nightingale, Alexander Graham Bell, Herman Hollerith, Andrew Carnegie, and President Martin Van Buren; by 1939, the roll had expanded to 3,000.  But it was after World War Two, and the explosion in the physical and social sciences, that the organization began to balloon.  Today the ASA has over 17,000 members, and 23 special interest section (like Business and Economics; Biometrics, and Agricultural, Biological, and Environmental).

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