Uniformity, creativity and the employee handbook

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George Hartzog, the greatest leader of National Park Service understood that creativity can be crushed in the name of “standards.” He killed the employee handbooks and set his people free.

Of youth, parking lots and the end of the university

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At over $50,000 a year for an Ivy League education, wouldn’t most kids be better off doing something else with their money? As Mario Botta said, “What are universities, but parking lots for youth?”

Child of Geneva or Child of God

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One of my oldest and dearest friends from sixteenth-century Geneva is a character named Jacques Simond. In one of my articles [“Cette loi ne durera guère” in the Bulletin de la Soc. d’Hist. de Genève, 1995–96], I wrote a brief “spiritual biography” of Simond. I originally came across him because I thought he represented the […]

Andrew Beattie, A Cultural History of the Alps (review)

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I bought this book because it came up in a Google Books search. That’s a first for me and, I think it was a mistake. Not that it’s a bad book, but it’s not the book I wanted. The search showed great promise — it returned a result showing that there was a chapter entitled […]

The Laughter of Monarchs (a brief quote from Mark Twain)

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This doesn’t have anything to do with Geneva this time, except for the fact that in the 1530s Geneva overthrew its prince and became an independent city state and republic. Genevans henceforth retained a deep and abiding distrust of monarchs. So on the occasion of a certain royal wedding and much fawning by those of […]

Secure Alternatives to Dropbox

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Dropbox has come under fire for not being as secure as we’ve perhaps been led to believe, but Secret Sync and Spider Oak promise more secure alternatives.

A Dwarf’s Life in Sixteenth-Century Geneva

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I’ve never done a search for information on dwarves in sixteenth-century Geneva and I’m not sure how much one would find in the Council and Consistory registers, but I did recently come across this illuminating tidbit from the life of Michel Die, a dwarf living in Geneva in 1550. Michel Dye, from Arsena, dwarf. This […]

John Muir, Antoine Saunier and the Perception of Mountains in Past Times

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I recently had the chance to visit Twenty Hill Hollow and environs with a couple dozen Yosemite naturalists, following in the footsteps of John Muir. It was in and around Twenty Hill Hollow that Muir spent much of his first year and a half in California and he dubbed that “delightful Hollow” the “Merced Yosemite […]