The author’s uncle, Brother Bernadine James Elliott, FSC
The author’s uncle, Brother Bernadine James Elliott, FSC

I wonder what my Uncle Jim, pictured above, would have thought calling for ‘trial by combat’? Would he accept such an incitement as consistent with the values of a Catholic college education? Former New York City Mayor, Rudy Giuliani, used those words in stirring the crowd at President Donald Trump’s January 6th Washington DC rally, and thousands of the members of his audience then stormed the United States Capitol, destroyed property, forced terrified staff to evacuate, and assaulted peace officers​. …

Free Reading of WTCONC

George W.S. Trow’s Essay Within the Context of No Context changed how we looked at the world in November 1980; So Knowledge Workings offers a free reading on its anniversary

“Hilarious & Dangerous” that’s what Laurie Anderson said about Within the Context of No Context (WTCONC). And she wasn’t the only person wowed then or now by this essay celebrating its 40th anniversary. More recently, Kyle Chayka in The Nation described WTCONC as a work that allows us to “see the world differently; becomes part of your mental landscape. … seems to apply to each new moment.”

Al Pacino as Michael Corleone in The Godfather

Life imitates art and for the Boomer generation nowhere so much as when the art is ‘the movies’. A seminal example, which Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola in The Godfather likely never anticipated, occurred when Michael Corleone said to his older brother about a proposed assassination, “It’s not personal, Sonny. It’s strictly business.” That deadpan declaration would inspire and inform a generation of actual and wannabe bosses. Every swaggering exec adopted the motto as an anti-apology. The much-admired Dr. Anthony Fauci summoned the line earlier this year in an interview to explain how he handles criticism from officials in…

Yes, for three plays now including our upcoming Zoom production, Grudges — tix available here, Joe Queenan has been my insightful, sometimes sarcastic, always urging me to cut more lines, ever-faithful writing partner. Perhaps you know him. The BBC describes him as an “American satirist”. The Guardian calls Joe Queenan “a cultural critic and movie reviewer”. The Wall Street Journal tags him as their Moving Targets columnist. And there are many other labels thrown at Joe over the years; some of them especially from the targets of his wit are too offensive to repeat on LinkedIn. …

Grudges is an example of #maketheaterlive by using Zoom
Grudges is an example of #maketheaterlive by using Zoom

The famous last words, “dying is easy, comedy is hard” are attributed variously to celebrated actors David Garrick, Edmund Keane, and Edmund Gwenn. The last candidate appears to be authoritative, no matter how hard it is to think of Kris Kringle of Miracle on 34th Street saying something so uncheerful. But no records exist as to what any of these theater legends thought about comedy — and tragedy, and the rest of theater — dying, the situation we face as live stage work is flatlining as tens of thousands of actors, directors, playwrights, and tech wizards find themselves unable to…

Mindful Measurement: A Generalist Outsider’s View

The first known instance of the word ‘mindful’ in the English language occurred in a 1382 translation by John Wycliffe of the Bible — specifically, in a phrase from the Book of Proverbs 12:12 where it means ‘full of memories’. The memories that first invoke Mindful Measurement for me commence with my appointment as Chief Learning Officer at Educational Testing Service in 2002. Such a title (which I held until 2017 and then became a Knowledge Broker in Research until retiring this past February) would seem to explain my interest in this topic, but also obliges a disclaimer: my background…

Death of Socrates by Jacques Louis David Photo by Mayer for Corbis

In my visits as a ‘townie’ to the Princeton University Art Museum, one painting, ‘The Death of Socrates’, never fails to grab me. Attributed to Jacques Louis David and his studio, this work dramatizes Plato’s account of the moment before his great teacher drinks a fatal cup of poison — the punishment required by his conviction at trial in Athens. The painting in Princeton is a copy of the original, which hangs at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. In both versions, David fudged details such as who was there and how old they would’ve been, but…

addiction files from the 1970s
addiction files from the 1970s

Education and Addiction Treatment: An Insight Breeds Humility

The pack rat’s blessing is that long forgotten phenomena resurface and remind of how the world has and hasn’t changed. That New York Daily News headline of Gerry Ford telling New York City to ‘Drop Dead’ or the article about Chomsky and Skinner from the Saturday Review arguing behaviorism reveal what was the idea of the moment or passion of the past. I collected it all for a reason even I no longer recall the reason. In moving recently with my wife to cozier quarters, I encountered files from my days in…

Oligarchy includes aristocracy and plutocracy art credit
Oligarchy includes aristocracy and plutocracy art credit

Twitter has been ablaze recently with posts like this one:

“Trump’s daughter works at the WH

Her husband works at the WH

Rudy’s son works at the WH

Barr’s son in law works at the WH

Barr’s daughter works at Treasury

Trumps (sic) sons do foreign business

His daughter is getting Chinese patents and Saudi grants

But sure let’s talk about Biden”

Why not talk about all of them and include Chelsea Clinton and the lovely Obama children and Claire McConnell and Megan McCain and every child, in-law, or distant cousin who owes their job in some way to another…

Gather the building blocks of your reinvention

And so, we finally get to ‘how’, which is where most guides to reinvention and even invention start. Instead, we illuminated first the context of our journey to another field — the ‘why’ and ‘what’. The more secure those answers are in our own mind the more likely we are able to possess what Ralph Waldo Emerson described as self-trust:

“Self-trust is the first secret of success, the belief that, if you are here, the authorities of the universe put you here, and for cause, or with some task strictly appointed you in your constitution, and so long as you…

T.J. Elliott

Playwright w Joe Queenan: Alms & Grudges. Keeping Right solo Former ETS Chief Learning Officer Born in the Bronx, now in Princeton

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