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Post WAIS Gathering at Martin Packard's House, 9 March
Created by John Eipper on 03/10/14 7:43 AM

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WAIS Gathering at Martin Packard's House, 9 March (Francisco Wong-Diaz, USA, 03/10/14 7:43 am)

I want to express my strong appreciation to Martin Packard for hosting and to John Eipper for all the hard work spent in organizing yesterday's very successful gathering.

It was a beautiful California afternoon party with great conversation, tasty food, fine wine, and pleasant WAIS visitation.

Best wishes to all.

JE comments: Couldn't have said that better myself!  Seventeen WAISers and guests gathered in Martin's beautiful ridgetop home in Los Altos Hills. Here are a few photos. Once again, my thanks to Martin for welcoming us.

And Francisco:  It was great to see you again after nearly five years.


Seth Streichler, Edward Jajko, Clyde McMorrow and Francisco (Chiqui) Ramírez, 9 March 2014

Gen. Orlo Steele and John Eipper at Martin Packard's house, Los Altos Hills, 9 March

Drake Macario, Martin Packard, Roman Zhovtulya, and Bienvenido Macario

In a subsequent post, I'll include some photos from Bienvenido Macario.  Who else has pics to share?  Send them my way and I'll post.

As a PS, join me in wishing a very happy birthday to our host Martin Packard--March 10th.  Martin:  you are an inspiration to us all!



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  • WAIS Event of 9 March: More Photos (Edward Jajko, USA 03/10/14 1:24 PM)
    Great gathering yesterday! Hope you enjoy your Cara Cara orange.

    JE comments: The orange (fresh from the Jajko orchards) is much appreciated, Ed! I'm saving it today for an after-school snack.  Report to follow.


    Here are two more photos from yesterday's WAIS shindig, forwarded by Edward Jajko.  Forthcoming:  some images from Bienvenido Macario.





    Paul Pitlick, Seth Streichler, Massoud Malek, 9 March 2014.  Photo Ed Jajko





    Bobbie Fakkema and Francisco (Chiqui) Ramírez.  Photo Ed Jajko

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  • WAIS Event of 9 March (Mary Hilton Huyck, USA 03/10/14 4:37 PM)
    As Francisco Wong-Díaz put it in his description of the WAIS gathering, "great conversation, tasty food, fine wine..." My father would have loved being there. I'm sure he was--in spirit! Thanks, again, to Martin Packard for his gracious hospitality. Warmly, Mary Hilton Huyck

    JE comments:  And many thanks to Mary Hilton Huyck for the kind note. In my recent research in the Hilton archives at the Hoover Institution, I've come across dozens of postcards from Prof. Hilton to his young daughter Maimie (that's Mary Huyck). Some of them were sent almost daily during a 1952-'53 trip to Spain and Portugal, and invariably, the inscription would explain an architectural detail or a bit of history. Ever the educator, Prof. H never let a teaching moment go to waste!


    There is one thing that united everyone present yesterday at Martin Packard's house: a devotion to keeping alive Prof. Hilton's curiosity about the world.

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  • WAIS Event of 9 March: Some Topics of Conversation (A. J. Cave, USA 03/12/14 6:29 AM)
    I am glad I was able to carve out couple of hours and join the Bay Area WAISers on 9 March. It was good to see some WAISers from the 2009 Conference, and meet new ones and match names and faces.

    While the resident tortoise was happy eating roses in the backyard after a long winter hibernation, we chatted in small circles about a number of interesting topics--from technology to theology to turtleology--while soaking the pleasant air of the Peninsula, slightly warmer and sunnier than San Francisco.


    Among the conversation topics was the recent growing pains causing major disruption in San Francisco. While the economic recovery is not (yet) pervasive across the US and the rest of the country might be envious of the Silicon Valley and the fabulous multi-billion-dollar wealth of the technology workers--working for Google, Facebook, Twitter and others--who have (and continue to) move(ed) to San Francisco, the insider picture is not quite as rosy.   The influx of hundreds of millions of dollars into the City--similar to the old San Francisco gold rush--has been a mixed blessing. The cost of housing and living has gone through the roof in the last couple of years and long-term residents, especially elderly living in old rent-controlled units, are being displaced (kicked out) at an alarming rate. When a couple of mega-rich newbies publicly talked about the (poor) homeless ruining their multi-million dollar views of the City, the public outrage reached a fever pitch.


    Every city desperately wants an affluent core that could fuel progress and fund modernization, but just like anything else, too much too soon is not always a good thing. Nine women cannot "incubate" a child in one month.


    Some in Palo Alto--home of the Stanford University and Stanfordians--have even advocated separating from California and being governed by technology only. Got water?


    On top on the rapid and massive gentrification of San Francisco, it hasn't really rained for 3 years and we are running out of water. As of the beginning of this year the water-rate in the City has doubled, and according to one of the WAISers in the know, it would double and double again soon. One of the problems, save lack of rain and upstream damming of rivers, has been the sweetheart water deals that were granted to small Central Valley farmers a few hundred years ago (?) and extended to the agricultural giants who have snapped up almost all of these mom-and-pop farms. They seem to be paying less than $50 for water per 100 or so acres of lands (I don't remember the exact ratio), and passing it through untouched to the southlanders, who are willing to pay over $2,500. So, there is a lot of money to be made while the residential water-rates are doubling and quadrupling.


    Something to think about.


    After inhaling a sliver of divine chocolate cake celebrating Martin Packard's birthday a day early, as I was inching my way toward the door to leave, the birthday boy asked me a question that I couldn't resist talking about it--especially fortified with plenty of sugar. He asked, "What could we have done differently in the Middle East (and Iran)?"


    It is one of those $64,000 questions that have no answers, but always leads to plenty of speculation and pontification.


    Honestly, I don't know. It is easier to look back and play the game of "we should have and could have done this or that." It is interesting but impossible to know what this "something different" could have been and what would have come out of it.


    I can't even say with any certainty what "we" could do any differently now. Even an elected government is not necessarily doing what the electorates want them to do, as we have already discussed. The sanctions are sadly hurting the least fortunate--the elderly, the poor, the sick, and the children.


    A few years ago I wrote that one (of many) path(s) to peace was for plane-loads of Jewish Rabbis and Christian priests (of all denominations, including His Holiness, the Pope) to converge on Iran for talks with the Muslim mullahs (Shi'a and Sunni both). I didn't then and don't know consider this to be a sort of interfaith dialogue, but a meeting of "heads of states." It was not to discuss theological aspects of various religions but the political aspects of it with an eye to reach a new balance of power--a sort of UN of the People of the Book. I don't know. If it doesn't help, it won't hurt either. As other WAISers have noted, even if UN is dysfunctional, meeting and greeting and talking are good things.


    One of my favorite movies, Offside (Sony, 2006) about a bunch of diehard soccer fans who happen to be young girls banned from Iranian stadiums (just because they are girls), was directed by the great Iranian filmmakers, Jafar Panahi (who is persecuted by the current Iranian government, currently awaiting trial in Tehran for making anti-government movies), said (and I rephrase based on memory): "I always use Islamic Republic of Iran--not Iran. Because I want people (watching my movies) to know that the government of Iran and the Iranians are not one and the same."


    That seems like a good thing to take away with us.


    JE comments:  Thanks, A. J!  You've done a great job of summing up Sunday's conversation topics.  Glad we had the chance to re-connect after nearly five years.



    Our in-house California water expert is WAISer Clyde McMorrow, who as I learned at Martin Packard's house, is also an excellent raconteur.  I found his stories of Brazil especially captivating.


    My modest proposal for San Franciscans priced out of the market?  Move to Detroit!  It's affordable, friendly, earthquake- and hurricane-free, full of culture, and water is plentiful.  Just today, Aldona reports that we're being blessed with another 8 inches of snow--and the spring thaw is just around the corner.

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    • A. J. Cave; What Could Have Been Done Differently in Iran? (Tor Guimaraes, USA 03/12/14 3:00 PM)
      I have always enjoyed A.J. Cave's writing (12 March), and wondered what kind of beautiful personality lies underneath such apparent smooth disposition and well-balanced prose, keen to the details but wise to the overall picture regarding various issues. She reminds me of my younger sister, whose personality from an early age has always amazed me and made me think: if a brick house fell on her she probably would walk from the rubble dusting herself off and saying thank God it was not a large building. We can always learn something from such extraordinary human beings.

      Perhaps showing my in some ways inferior personality, I was miffed by A. J.'s response to Martin Packard's question, "What could we have done differently in the Middle East (and Iran)?" After showing brilliantly honest intelligence by saying, "honestly, I don't know," she wisely explained that "it is easier to look back and play the game of 'we should have and could have done this or that.' It is interesting but impossible to know what this 'something different' could have been and what would have come out of it."


      Then she took off on a serious of interesting remarks that perhaps hinted at some answers to the original question. Disappointed with her answer, I felt obliged to stick my neck out and come up with something. Obviously, I never expected to produce anything profound or even necessarily wise, certainly not something that powerful nations would actually do toward weaker ones. I settle for just an honest answer: How about "Western nations should not have taken over Iranian oil resources," or "our freedom-loving nation should not have destroyed an elected Iranian leader because he was too neutral regarding the USSR." Perhaps another answer might be "planting our puppet regime likely created great animosity against the US among the Iranian people, enabling the radicals to establish the leaders that Jafar Panahi is today justifiably struggling against."


      JE comments:  I'm overjoyed that the conversations begun at Martin Packard's "summit" home are continuing on the pages of WAIS.  Real-world WAIS gatherings are always invigorating to our virtual discussions.  Next up:  a comment from another distinguished WAISer I met for the first time Sunday:  Herb Abrams.

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    • What Could Have Been Done Differently in the Middle East? (Herbert Abrams, USA 03/12/14 5:16 PM)
      In response to A. J. Cave (12 March), one of many things we could have done differently in the Middle East stands out: skip the invasion of Iraq.

      A second item on a long agenda would have meant the use of our huge subsidies to the Middle East as powerful leverage for a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.


      A third would have been to maintain the support of Israel support only if there was a complete cessation of settling the West Bank.


      The list goes on and on and includes a rejection of our embrace of anti-democratic forces.


      Thanks for organizing the event at Martin Packard's on March 9; it's great to have some faces on ideas.


      JE comments: Meeting Herb Abrams was certainly one of the highlights of the WAIS afternoon soirée; I'm going to title this photo "A Great Mind, Accompanied by Your Editor"!





      Herb Abrams and John Eipper, Los Altos Hills, 9 March 2014


      (JE again):  Herb will be traveling to Cuba later this week as part of a two-week Stanford Alumni Tour.  ¡Feliz viaje, Doctor!
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    • Continuing the WAIS Conversations of 9 March (Bienvenido Macario, USA 03/14/14 7:06 AM)
      Last Sunday (9 March), Martin Packard mentioned how modern construction systems like pre-fab walls have made the traditional brick-layers obsolete. This trend is not limited to the construction industry. He asked what is the solution. (Actually he said: "If you find the answer come back," or something to that effect.)

      Economies of scale, safety concerns and of course maximizing profits prompted industries to use less skilled and non-skilled employees. Japanese car-makers have been using factory robots in production lines for a while now. American industries did not make adequate preparations for the day when the industrialized nations crippled by WWII would bounce back. Instead we have specialized training and dedicated job descriptions. When Japan, Germany and other nations' industries were back on their feet, the US was caught by surprise, even by South Korea.


      The geothermal plant I worked where my late wife was the reservoir engineer, was built after the second oil crisis of 1979. Construction jobs then were so hard to come by, that after the first power plant was finished the engineers hung around for any emergency or temporary jobs while waiting for the next power plant to begin construction. In any recession, construction-related jobs are first to disappear.


      To answer Martin Packard's question, what we need is to re-train workers towards multi-tasking. I believe Prof. Hilton referred to this as a "generalist." But right now K to 12 education is problematic. High school graduates used to learn basic skills that would enable them to work as bank tellers and bookkeepers. Not anymore. Businesses and industries are either monopolized or in a cut-throat competition. Then there is globalization that America is not quite ready for.


      JE comments: Yes, multi-tasking (or more precisely, the ability to master multiple skills and re-train as necessary) is the rule of today's economy. Prof. Hilton, as I've been reminded repeatedly over the last fortnight, embodied the ideal of professional adaptability. To cite just one example: he re-purposed himself from a French scholar to a Hispanist (and Luso-Brazilianist) to a Sovietologist over the course of his career--all the while mastering the newest technologies, from shortwave radio (1950s) to the Internet (1990s), as they became available.


      Japan and Germany certainly caught the US by surprise, but hasn't S Korea done the same to Japan?  Think Hyundai, and in particular, Samsung.

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      • Japan, Germany, South Korea... (John Heelan, UK 03/14/14 10:36 AM)
        JE commented on 14 March: "Japan and Germany certainly caught the US by surprise [with their postwar development], but hasn't S Korea [now] done the same to Japan? Think Hyundai, and in particular, Samsung."

        Perhaps the secret is to be on the losing side in a major war that necessitates investing in the rebuilding of the economy aided by the war's winners? (Perhaps there is a psychological component as well. I recall the saying in the 1960s and '70s that "The Allies may have won the war, but Germany and Japan are winning the peace!")


        JE comments: But wasn't the victors' rebuilding of the vanquished after WWII a historical anomaly, inspired by fear of the Soviet Union? Even post-WWI, vengeance and reparations were the order of the day. In really old times, it was about tribute and reducing the loser to vassal status.


        Remember that after the First Gulf War, President George H. W. Bush promised "not one dime" to the defeated Saddam Hussein.


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        • Are the Losers of Wars Reduced to Vassal Status? (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 03/14/14 3:38 PM)
          With reference to John Heelan's post 14 March and JE's comments, I strongly believe that the old custom of having the loser reduced to vassal status is valid still today.

          First of all, the rebuilding of the vanquished states after WWII was due only to the Cold War. Otherwise the criminal Morgenthau Plan would have been implemented along with directive 1067, which Eisenhower and the big shots of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff were happy to implement. The Plan was presented at the Conference of Québec on 16 September 1944.


          That in contrast the good ordinary people of the USA wanted to help is another beautiful story, but it was not initially the policy of the government. Only in July 1947 did things change.  However, it has been reported that in the two years of Morgenthau punishment 10 million Germans died of starvation, plus three million due to the forced relocations.  But if the Morgenthau Plan was abandoned, also under the pressure of Hoover in March 1947, a more subtle plan was devised: the brainwashing of the defeated which was extremely successful, so after a few years the vanquished people were very happy to have been defeated.  First of all, the Italians even believe to be among the victors, thanks to the King jumping on the bandwagon of the victors and the communist terrorists of the resistance.



          The defeated people of Germany, Japan and Italy were given some opportunities in the economy, providing that they abided by the capitalistic rules coming from Wall Street or from the large multinational corporations.  In order to be sure that they did not develop strange independent dreams, huge military bases were installed in their territories, in spite of the opposition of the local population, and that they should furnish "cannon fodder" for wars in which they have no interest at all while participating in self-defeating sanctions that may not damage a large power such as the US but are very detrimental for instance to Italy.


          JE comments:  Whether you call it nation-building or a "hearts and minds" campaign, the Western Allies were singularly successful at winning the peace post-WWII.  What, I'd like to ask Eugenio Battaglia, would an alternate outcome have looked like?  I think of post-war failed states, such as Iraq and (especially) Afghanistan.


          Ex-President Hoover's Hooverspeisung (Hoover meals) saved many thousands of Germans from starvation starting in 1947.  These last two weeks I've paid more attention to Hoover than ever before, and have come to a new appreciation of his humanitarianism.



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          • Japan's Recovery Post WWII; Total Quality Management (Tor Guimaraes, USA 03/16/14 7:44 AM)
            Besides the significant assistance received from the US, whatever the motivation, one extremely important aspect of growing beyond just recovery were Japanese initiatives.

            After the war Japanese products where famous for low quality and the markets joked about it. Probably the single most important initiative was the Japanese taking to heart W. Edwards Deming's powerful philosophy and concepts for Total Quality Management. The result was as Wikipedia states: "In 1960, the Prime Minister of Japan, acting on behalf of Emperor, awarded Deming Japan's Order of the Sacred Treasure, Second Class. The citation on the medal recognizes Deming's contributions to Japan's industrial rebirth and its worldwide success."


            A rare demonstration of the power of organized religion for the betterment of humanity. It is true that for a few decades many industry sectors were dominated by relatively high-quality Japanese products which devastated American competitors. After a major shock, we Americans got back in the saddle at least as far as the automobile industry sector.


            JE comments: I don't follow Tor Guimaraes's reference to "organized religion." Did Deming's TQM principles have religious underpinnings? I thought they were based primarily on statistics.  Deming is famously reported to have said, "In God we trust; all others must bring data."


            I'm just old enough to remember the tail end of "made in Japan" as a term of derision.  I often share this point with my students, who think I'm out of my mind.  We have Deming, and certainly the Japanese work ethic, to thank for that.



             



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            • Studying with W. Edwards Deming (Henry Levin, USA 03/16/14 10:29 AM)
              I have to share a personal note on Deming. (See Tor Guimaraes, 16 March.) I took my undergraduate degree at New York University in Business Administration in the years 1956-60. Frankly, I did this because my father thought that liberal arts studies were impractical and turned young students into Communists. So, I studied business. As a footnote, tuition at NYU was only $954 per academic year, now it's more $46,000 for tuition and fees. Actually, it didn't matter because I had a scholarship.

              In any event, business administration was a dreary field in those days, at least for me. The only good thing was that NYU was one of the only business schools that required half of its course requirements to be in the liberal arts (my Dad didn't know this). I loved all the liberal arts class as well as economics and statistics, but not the classes in management, marketing, etc. I was even allowed to take electives in the liberal arts, raising my dosage in those communist subjects to about 65 percent of my studies.


              However, two business courses stood out. One was a course on management with Peter Drucker that seemed to be much more a wise man telling interesting stories than a class on time and motion studies and Frederick Taylor. The other was a class on statistics of quality control using a book by the professor, some guy named W. E. Deming. Deming would lecture on the criteria for statistical analysis of production for quality control, but most of the course was about how quality is not an "end of the line issue," but is a design and process issue which must be built in to the manufacturing process, not a check at the end of the line. He complained constantly about the stupidity of General Motors and other US manufacturers in not understanding that. In the fifties the reputation of General Motors and the big manufacturers was so dominant and unquestionable that we didn't know if we had a mad and raving professor or if he was just angry that they refused to take his advice. The rest is history.


              JE comments: I love "Brushes with the Greats" WAIS posts. Might Deming have been the very first to point out that business as usual was not going to cut it for US manufacturing? To be sure, GM in the 1950s was like Apple today--omnipotent, haughty, and above all criticism.


              It just so happens that Roman Zhovtulya and I are going to visit the Apple campus in an hour's time. I'll ponder these things when we're there.

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              • W. Edwards Deming and Baldrige National Quality Awards (Mike Bonnie, USA 03/17/14 7:58 PM)
                Henry Levin's post of 16 March reminded me of the processes and values of the Deming Application Prize and the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. Both recognitions address vocational education. Bettina Lankard Brown points towards the general similarities and differences in the two programs. By evaluation criteria, both internal and external customer satisfaction are paramount.



                "The Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award recognizes quality improvement among manufacturing, service, and small business [including educational institutions]. The primary goal of the Baldrige Award is customer satisfaction."



                "The Deming Application Prize, established in honor of Dr. W. Edwards Deming, is awarded to companies [including educational institutions] that continually apply Company-Wide Quality Control and have achieved a certain quality standard."



                http://www.ericdigests.org/1998-1/awards.htm




                What piqued my concern about the Baldrige Award was that the 2010 award for education excellence was presented to the Montgomery County, Maryland, school district. Montgomery County is home to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), which houses the Baldrige National Quality Program. Montgomery County, located outside Washington DC, is one of the wealthiest counties in the US. My initial impression was that recognizing this particular district appears to be self-serving in a sense, and sets a standard far exceeding the capabilities of most school districts across the country.



                The Montgomery County School District is undoubtedly an excellent district. But, what else should be expected of a district with such advantages? I would hope outstanding acknowledgement will be given to educational institutions that overcome inherent obstacles, exceed and maintain increasing expectations, recognizing educators and students alike. Here is a profile of Montgomery County School District's 2010 accomplishments: http://www.nist.gov/baldrige/award_recipients/mcps_profile.cfm



                In 2013 the Baldrige Award was bestowed on Pewaukee School District, Pewaukee, Wisconsin (a suburb of Milwaukee, where I live). The district comprises four schools that serve 2,449 students in grades pre-Kindergarten through 12. Although Pewaukee could be considered an affluent city, relative to parts of Milwaukee, the district does not have the local resources (a key component of education) available to a school district such as Montgomery County and neighboring Washington, DC.

                Determining which award, the Baldrige Award or Deming Prize, is best or better depends greatly on values. Does customer satisfaction versus continuing development in education mean a tradeoff?



                The Deming Prize for education models the growth of Leander Independent School District (LISD), which is located 25 miles northwest of Austin, Texas. LISD hosted six campuses and 5,000 students in 1991 and today it serves 33,000 students through 37 campuses. Leander showcases the Deming philosophy of management, which began in manufacturing and service and has since expanded to include education.



                Key components of Deming's philosophy, the System of Profound Knowledge® (SOPK), are overcoming obstacles and to "drive out fear" (number 8 of Deming's 14 Points for Management). Fear in my opinion is the most detrimental obstacle to creativity, and creativity is America's greatest asset. LISD, according to reports, has produced outstanding outcomes year after year. Among the accomplishments being recognized: the Leander Independent School District continually excels in key areas of assessment and performance, with scores that are well above the state and national standards. https://www.deming.org/demingtoday/leander


                These areas include:



                1) Closing the performance gap between economically disadvantaged and non-economically disadvantaged students.


                2) Increasing the high school completion rate for all students.


                3) Increasing the percentage of students meeting or exceeding the commended standard on state assessment metrics.


                4) Posting higher PSAT scores (11th Graders) compared to state and national scores in the areas of critical reading, math and writing.


                5) Maintaining low turnover and high retention rates for classroom teachers.



                I dare to state that Milwaukee and Leander have more in common with one another than Montgomery County. Given Wisconsin's social and political climate since 2010 and current perspectives in education discourse, parents of students could learn well from the practices of Montgomery County. Superintendent Jerry Weast answered American Association Superintendents Association (AASA)'s questions about his school division's Baldrige Award:



                Q: How have you established and maintained such a collaborative relationship with your unions?


                A: The short answer is respect. We realize that the leadership of our employee associations have a job to do--they must represent their members zealously. But, we also know that they are motivated by the same goals that we are: providing our students with the best education possible. With that mutual respect for each other, we have been able to engage in interest-based bargaining with our unions and they are a partner in our teacher evaluation system. The union heads attend our Executive Leadership Team meetings and they are part of the team that helps me develop my initial budget recommendation. They have also been a key part of helping us reduce costs and make difficult budget cuts during the economic downturn. Most notably, the unions have voted to forgo their cost of living increases for the past three years, and this has been done with relatively little acrimony.


                http://www.aasa.org/content.aspx?id=17696


                JE comments: Wow; it's a talent to deny a pay increase and still maintain employee support.


                Mike Bonnie is a quality-oriented kind of guy; he began an interesting discussion on the Baldrige Award in February 2012:


                http://waisworld.org/go.jsp?id=02a&objectType=post&o=68132&objectTypeId=62380&topicId=111


                A chilly greeting to Mike and WAISworld from the "Biggest Little City in the World," Reno, Nevada.  When I arrived, I was touched to read a "welcome to Reno" e-mail from our colleague Martin Packard.  Thank you, Martin!
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                • Charles Crocker and Mary Deming: Some Railroad History (Norman Tutorow, USA 03/21/14 11:41 AM)
                  Following up on Henry Levin's post of 17 March, is W. Edwards Deming related to the Charles Crocker (Central Pacific Railroad) family? Crocker married Mary Deming of Indiana.

                  Another thing abut the Deming family. When the Southern Pacific Railroad was building from Yuma to New Orleans, in 1880 Deming, New Mexico, was named by Leland Stanford for the maiden name of Charles Crocker's wife, Mary Deming.


                  JE comments: An intriguing question, although I suspect Norman Tutorow knows more railroad history than anyone in WAISworld.


                  W. Edwards Deming was born in Sioux City, Iowa, which together with Herbert Hoover and John Wayne, makes him one of the Iowa-born greats. I traversed the state yesterday, and was very impressed by its tidy farms, ubiquitous windmills, and a brief stop in the cute-as-a-button Amana colonies. And the highway rest areas have free Wi-Fi! A most civilized place (Iowans boast the highest literacy rate in the US) that is too often dismissed as "flyover" corn country.


                  Speaking of railroads, yesterday morning I visited the Council Bluffs, Iowa mansion of Gen. Grenville Dodge, the founder of Crocker's opposite number, the Union Pacific RR. From the front porch...






                  ...you can appreciate the General's commanding view of Omaha across the Missouri, and presumably, the first few hundred miles of his Union Pacific tracks.  Council Bluffs is also home to the Union Pacific Railroad Museum, which unfortunately I didn't have time to visit.


                  My three-day drive from Hoover Tower to Council Bluffs followed the original Transcontinental RR for most of the time.  Traversing treacherous mountain and parched desert, I gained a new respect for the magnitude of their achievement.



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                  • More Great Iowans (Mary Hilton Huyck, USA 03/22/14 8:14 AM)
                    I hope that John Eipper will add my mother's name (Mary Bowie Hilton) to his "Iowa-born greats" list.

                    JE comments: Absolutely. To Mary Bowie Hilton we owe an enormous debt of gratitude for the existence of CIIS and WAIS. With the Hispanic American Report and World Affairs Report, our predecessor publications, Mary Bowie Hilton put in as much time as Prof. H. She is very much the matriarch of WAIS.


                    Other great Iowans? Grant Wood, Johnny Carson, and the advice sisters Ann Landers and Abigail Van Buren.  Or pollster George H. Gallup.  When I mentioned Council Bluffs, Iowa, Paul Pitlick wrote that his mother grew up in nearby Treynor. And if I'm not mistaken, our Chair Emerita Phyllis Gardner was born in Iowa--although please correct me, Phyllis, if I'm wrong.


                    For a state of barely 3 million inhabitants, it's an impressive record.  (Compare Iowa's population with the 7 + million who live in the San Francisco Bay Area.)  My theory?  From its beginnings, Iowa has placed a huge emphasis on education.



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            • Deming's TQM as Religion? (Tor Guimaraes, USA 03/18/14 7:04 AM)
              John Eipper added this comment to my 16 March post: "I don't follow Tor Guimaraes's reference to 'organized religion.' Did Deming's TQM [Total Quality Management] principles have religious underpinnings? I thought they were based primarily on statistics."

              I am sure JE heard that figures don't lie but liars figure. Also, that without blatantly lying, statistics can be presented in different ways to support/undermine one's position. Therefore, even though I agree with Deming's emphasis on measurement of processes, even statistics require a degree of faith. Most important, JE is quite wrong that Deming's TQM is primarily based on statistics, that is just a very useful tool to support his simple but powerful philosophy which I only half jokingly called a religion.


              As a consultant to industry and government, I learned a lesson early in my career which has remained absolutely true: for your clients to truly embrace difficult (sometimes painful) innovations being proposed, they must have faith (religion). American leaders had no belief in Deming TQM, so nothing happened in US industry until the Japanese got converted and ate our lunch.


              Following are some important tenets of Deming's philosophy/religion:


              "The prevailing style of management must undergo transformation. A system cannot understand itself. The transformation requires a view from outside. The aim of this chapter is to provide an outside view--a lens--that I call a system of profound knowledge. It provides a map of theory by which to understand the organizations that we work in.


              "The first step is transformation of the individual. This transformation is discontinuous. It comes from understanding of the system of profound knowledge. The individual, transformed, will perceive new meaning to his life, to events, to numbers, to interactions between people.


              "Once the individual understands the system of profound knowledge, he will apply its principles in every kind of relationship with other people. He will have a basis for judgment of his own decisions and for transformation of the organizations that he belongs to."


              Deming advocated that all managers need to have what he called a System of Profound Knowledge, consisting of four parts:


              Appreciation of a system: understanding the overall processes involving suppliers, producers, and customers (or recipients) of goods and services (explained below);

              Knowledge of variation: the range and causes of variation in quality, and use of statistical sampling in measurements;


              Theory of knowledge: the concepts explaining knowledge and the limits of what can be known.


              Knowledge of psychology: concepts of human nature.


              To me Deming was a management philosopher and TQM guru/prophet. He also believed in observation, measurement (data), and retesting, thus making him a scientist. That is an awfully powerful combination which, despite its obscurity in most people's minds even today, has greatly changed the world for the better.


              JE comments:  This "System of Profound Knowledge," especially if you use capital letters, does have a religious ring to it.  What does religion advocate other than a transformation of the individual?

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