Moulton Lava

Moultonic Musings

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Location: New England, United States

Friday, December 28, 2012


In military jargon, C&C stands for Command and Control. It's a characteristic feature of hierarchical organizations, including governments and corporations, where power flows from the top down.

Command and Control is the antithesis of the kind of organizational culture which people like me thrive in. I prefer the other kind of C&C -- Collegiality and Congeniality.

Three times in my career, I have lived through a jarring culture change in which an organization I was associated with underwent change from my kind of C&C (Collegiality and Congeniality) to the opposite kind (Command and Control).

I do not function well in a Command and Control culture. It stifles my ability to contribute in a creative and innovative way to solve systemic problems.

Twenty-five years ago, I was briefly employed by a Federally-Funded Research and Development Center which did some work for the US government. The division that hired me was called CCCI, which stood for Command, Control, Communication, and Intelligence -- a fancier version of the original military culture of Command and Control. What I longed for was a completely different kind of CCCI -- one that valued Cognition, Comprehension, Consciousness, and Insight.

And now, once again, I long for a return to my kind of C&C -- the culture of collegiality and congeniality in which an otherwise hopeless academic can thrive in a culture that values creativity and innovation.

Saturday, December 22, 2012


The word, sake, (as in "for the sake of") is an old-fashioned word that means "worthwhile purpose."

Conversely, the old-fashioned word, forsaken, means "abandoning something that had once been valued or considered worthwhile."

The feeling of being forsaken is not one you hear mentioned a whole lot these days, but I reckon it's a lot more commonplace than one might realize.

It's not an easy feeling to process.  I suppose it's close to feeling heart-broken or feeling betrayed.

I'd like to believe there still exists worthwhile purposes for people and things which have otherwise become disvalued in our quirky and ever-changing culture.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Very Pretty Combination Locks

I like to reason by analogy.  In an analogy, we map something unfamiliar onto something familiar.  If one chooses an appropriate analogy, one can make good progress in understanding the unfamiliar.

I like puzzles.  I like to play puzzle games.   If one plays enough puzzles, one begins to appreciate the underlying commonality connecting seemingly unrelated puzzles.  The analogy I find most insightful is that of the ordinary combination lock.  A combination lock has a "secret" -- a precise sequence of moves or maneuvers that unlocks it.  A lot of puzzles turn out to be very pretty combination locks.  The challenge, then, is to discover the secret combination.

While there are lots of ways to characterize intelligence, one way is to measure the ability to solve a combinatorial problem -- finding the precise combination of moves and maneuvers to deftly unlock a compelling mystery.

Perhaps the question of intelligence isn't so much one of where it is located in the brain, but in which combination to recruit many different lobes of the brain, where each lobe contributes an essential element of the elusive solution.

Now and then I am obliged to recruit someone else's brain, because my own lacks a sufficiently complete combination of high-functioning lobes to solve the most vexing and perplexing puzzle at hand.

If one is going to entice others to work on an otherwise tedious combination lock, it helps to enrobe it and present it as a very pretty combination lock.