Commentary by Michael Wade on Leadership, Ethics, Management, and Life
Saturday, July 04, 2015
Cultural/Mindless Entertainment Flashback
Who can resist a good robot fight?
That was the reasoning behind "Robot Wars." [The program may have saved many a nerd from a life of crime.]
The clip is from the early days when Jeremy Clarkson was the host and Philippa Forrester was the interviewer.
Mississippi Fred McDowell: "You Gotta Move."
You may be quickly drawn into the brief lines of Michelle Tudor at David Kanigan's blog.
I want the sound of a train
so far in the distance I can barely hear it.
I want a good book and several quiet hours.
A Memorable Vote
The Declaration of Independence scene from the series John Adams.
Independence Day: Would You Have Signed?
I wrote this several years ago and post it each 4th of July:
The document is on the table.
Although some of your colleagues are making jokes, each one knows that the signature places the signer's head in a hangman's noose. To sign means you will be regarded as a traitor by the nation that has held your loyalty since birth. Your livelihood may be destroyed and your family doomed to a life of isolation and poverty. Many of your friends and associates will be under suspicion. Others will shun you. Your side, which has feeble and poorly-trained forces, will be fighting the greatest military power in the world. Despite all of the grand talk, the odds of success are small. Even if your side is successful, your new nation will be vulnerable to internal disputes and attacks from predatory powers. This theory of self-government, however attractive, might not work.
It's your turn. Will you sign?
Quote of the Day
. . . you might have tracked the army from White Marsh to Valley Forge by the blood of their feet.
- George Washington
Friday, July 03, 2015
. . . John Jay, our first chief justice, wrote a gripping account of how his paternal grandfather, a French Protestant, returned home to La Rochelle from a trading voyage abroad to find his parents, siblings, and neighbors gone. Their houses were occupied by soldiers, their church destroyed, their savings confiscated. While he had been away, he learned, France had revoked its toleration of the Huguenots. He was lucky to be able to sneak aboard a ship and sail away to freedom in the New World. Jay’s maternal grandparents similarly had to flee anti-Protestant persecution, one from Paris and one from Bohemia. Jay’s son and biographer tells us this proudly; it was a living family legend.
Read all of Myron Magnet on the vision of the Founding Fathers.
Short Story Break
"The Children's Story" by James Clavell.
Fireworks, Fingers, and Fun
Jeff at View From the Ledge has some advice. An excerpt:
In the center of this bobbing flotilla, was the barge where all the fireworks were set up, cabled down, fused, and ready. Finally, when the canvas overhead was dark enough, you could see the runner coming down the deck with the torch to light the fuses of the cannons lined up along the rails.
A clothing site for men who don't like to shop.
The Pioneer Woman, that is.
She has several nifty recipes for the 4th of July.
News You Can Use: Another Way to Cook Steak
He credits President Dwight D. Eisenhower, a native of Denison, Tex., with turning him on to this technique.
“I heard a rumor of Ike grilling these really thick four-inch sirloins,” said Mr. Byres, who tracked down a 1953 article in The Miami Daily News that confirmed his hunch: Eisenhower, it said, “rubs the steak with oil and garlic and then, as the horrified guests look on, casually flings the steak into the midst of the red and glowing coals.”
It should be noted that only natural chunk charcoal (not briquettes) ignited in a chimney is recommended, so that wood is the only ingredient touching the meat.
Read the rest of The New York Times article.
[Field test report expected from Cultural Offering.]
A Reminder of the Importance of Freedom
The joke scene from "The Lives of Others."
[A mere dictatorship demands obedience. A totalitarian dictatorship demands obedience and belief.]
Miscellaneous and Fast
Docastaway: For the desert island experience. (Who doesn't want to be marooned?)
Nicholas Bate will lessen your email pain. (Check the free download.)
Wally Bock has some lessons learned. (A voice of experience.)
Dentons: The world's largest law firm. (Run fast. Run far.)
Law Latte: Quick packing tips. (Nicely done.)
Cultural Offering: Entertainment in the wilds of Ohio. (You will smile.)
Esquire: Debbie Harry tells what she's learned. (The future Judi Dench!)
Anderson Layman's Blog has the right fortune cookie. (A life philosophy in one line.)
Sippican Cottage has a very useful question. (One to remember.)
David Kanigan: A raccoon mother's work is never done. (Notice the techniques.)
Maxim rides on a Triumph Steadfast Scrambler. (Leno is a Vincent Black Shadow man.)
A Simple, Village Undertaker has a cure for grumpiness. (Via Mandolin Orange.)
Sensory Dispensary on the passing of Chris Squire. (R.I.P.)
SquawkPoint suggests understanding how the work works. (Very wise. Very rare.)
Mary Jo Asmus on creating teamwork harmony. (Unique gifts and disrespect.)
My mother used to recall chasing the ice wagon when she was a girl. The neighborhood children would follow the route of the iceman (as in "The Iceman Cometh") and snatch small chips of ice off the back of the wagon; a real treat in the Arizona of her youth. The iceman would use large tongs to carry the large blocks to the iceboxes of the customers. [I never thought twice when my parents called our refrigerator "the icebox." It was a term left over from their childhood days. I find myself using it.]
Further evidence of their primitive lives can be seen in the fact that my father learned to swim in a large irrigation canal. He thought of it as a luxury although when the occasional dead dog floated past it might have lost some glamour. Both parents remembered sleeping outside during the summer. One of the techniques was to soak sheets, hang them on the clothes line, and then put your cot near the sheets so the breezes would be cooled.
A typewriter or a radio was about as high tech as things got.
I mention this to illustrate the great changes they saw in their lifetimes. Consider what you've seen in your own. We were still using slide rules when I went to high school. It was a notable event when color televisions and remote controls arrived and when the first neighbor bought a foreign car.
Change may not always come slowly but it usually arrives very quietly.
Quote of the Day
Now, I am not now, nor have I ever been, one of those who believes that "America is going into decline." This country self-corrects. But, I hesitate to bring it up, even I do not know the future. This, though, I predict: Should America founder, it will founder not on economics but on values.
- Ben J. Wattenberg
Thursday, July 02, 2015
Nicholas Winton, Hero
A man who rescued 669 children from the Holocaust.
May he rest in peace.
Barbarians with Cameras
Spiegel Online: The everyday horrors of life under Islamic State. An excerpt:
In late June, images made their way around the world of four men as they were locked in a car and killed with a rocket-propelled grenade. They showed seven men, chained together with explosive necklaces, as they were blown up. And they provided evidence that five men had been locked in a metal cage and lowered into the water to drown. As we learned last week, 16 men in total were murdered in these brutal ways. We know this because the executioners with the group calling itself "Islamic State" wanted to film their victims as they were dying.
On 24 November, 1940, the first light of dawn found the Bulgarian ore freighter Svistov pounding through the Black Sea swells, a long night's journey from Odessa and bound for Istanbul. The writer I. A. Serebin, sleepless as always, left his cabin and stood at the rail, searched the horizon for a sign of the Turkish coast, found only a blood red streak in the eastern sky. Like the old saying, he realized - red sky at morning, sailor take warning. But, a private smile for that. So many ways, he thought, to drown in autumn. The Svistov creaked and groaned, spray burst over the bow as she fought the sea. With cupped hands, Serebin lit a Sobranie cigarette, then watched the dark water churning past the hull until the wind drove him back to the cabin.
- From Blood of Victory by Alan Furst
Bad Moves Update: Macy's Trumps Itself
Fortune: Macy's is dropping Donald Trump merchandise in order to show disapproval of his remarks about Mexican immigrants.
One does not have to agree with Trump's comments - I certainly don't - to find the Macy's decision to be troubling. When I purchased a Trump necktie at Macy's several years ago (a nice tie, by the way) for some odd reason, it never occurred to me to think, "Gee, this must mean that Macy's agrees with Donald Trump's political opinions."
Consider the ramifications. Does this bizarre decision to dump Trump's goods imply that Macy's approves of the political and labor policies of the apparel lines it did not drop? Does it mean that goods made in China, an undemocratic nation, won't be found on Macy's shelves? And if fashions from the Cuban police state begin showing up on American shores, will Macy's boycott them?
Macy's decision to cite diversity as a reason for its action doesn't deserve applause. The voters are savvy enough to sort out Mr. Trump's merits in a very diverse political and intellectual marketplace.
In the meantime, the chain has opened itself up to a lot of hard questions by this move.
It deserves them.
Quote of the Day
If The Man is all-powerful, nobody will be able to point out the error of his ways, except himself - and he won't.
- Robert Heller
Wednesday, July 01, 2015
It's a Little Early for Halloween
But FutureLawyer reveals the creature lurking under the stairs and it is more frightening than you can imagine.
Back by popular demand: The chilling story by William Faulkner.
Works That Shaped Us
The king stood in a pool of blue light, unmoored. This was act 4 of King Lear, a winter night at the Elgin Theatre in Toronto. Earlier in the evening, three little girls had played a clapping game onstage as the audience entered, childhood versions of Lear's daughters, and now they'd returned as hallucinations in the mad scene. The king stumbled and reached for them as they flitted here and there in the shadows. His name was Arthur Leander. He was fifty-one years old and there were flowers in his hair.
- From Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Indirect and Incomplete Solutions
"Perhaps we can raise the chairs somehow."
"We can hold the meeting in the corner near the door."
"We can try another room."
"We can research similar situations."
"A new policy might do it."
"How about a committee?"
"Or a consultant?"
"We can postpone the session."
"We can sit on the tables."
"Soothing music might help."
"We can ignore it and hope that nothing happens."
Or you can just get rid of the snake.
"Hello, Brilliant Idea. I'd Like You to Meet Execution."
Tim Berry notes that "All ideas are brilliant until they are executed."
Quote of the Day
The resolutions of driven men in their prime often involve moving to Tahiti, giving their fortune to some communistic cause, or running off with a 19-year-old who "makes me feel young again."
- Christopher Caldwell
Tuesday, June 30, 2015
Greece has become the first developed country in history to default to the International Monetary Fund.
The cash-strapped nation failed to make a €1.5bn payment to the IMF by an 11pm deadline on Tuesday, triggering an arrears process which was last suffered by Zimbabwe in 2001.
In a statement, the IMF said: "We have informed our Executive Board that Greece is now in arrears and can only receive IMF financing once the arrears are cleared."
Read the rest of The Telegraph article.
Explaining Embarrassing Emails
Mr. Frisch showed the jury an e-mail Mr. Shutran sent in response to a note congratulating him on his work on the refinancing. “No problem,” Mr. Shutran replied, “I spend most days bulls—ing people.”
“Is that so?” Mr. Frisch asked in court. “No, it was a joke,” Mr. Shutran said.
In another e-mail that Mr. Frisch read aloud, Mr. Shutran said: “Do what I do. Work out a lot and do drugs.”
“You were joking, correct?” Mr. Frisch asked. “That’s something that happens in writing e-mails? You write something that’s not intended to be serious, correct?” Mr. Shutran agreed, saying, “That’s right.”
Read all of the story at The Wall Street Journal Law Blog.
Get the details at Drugstore Divas.
Of Course, They May Not Like the Word "Uber"
FutureLawyer thinks the politicians and the police need to interact more in France.
Arlo Guthrie with "Ukulele Lady."
Motivation: The Quotes
Entrepreneur has 20 quotes to motivate you to hustle.
Art Break: Soulen
Art Contrarian looks at the work of Henry Soulen.
One of the most beautiful words in the English language is "nap." ~ As motivators go, it's hard to beat panic.~ When opportunity knocks, some people don't just fail to answer; they bar the door, ~ The fact that a person calls others "haters" does not mean that the caller is not a hater. ~ Travelers on airplanes look embarrassed nowadays; possibly because they are submitting to a demeaning experience in order to get somewhere. ~ When it comes to politics, let your default mode favor the side that is the least coercive. ~ There are two subjects which contain important lessons for today's world: the history of the ancient world and the history of the Thirties. ~ People who favor a "philosopher-king" assume that person would share their philosophy. ~ It is not wise to re-fight civil wars. ~ For a quick dose of humility, consider what is needed to create a great symphony. ~ The list of common but wrong assumptions about management is long and always growing. ~ Showing up late is not a great way to start a meeting. ~ What is not said and what does not happen are two of life's most insightful teachers. ~ Some days are best handled in ten minute increments. ~ Some crises are best handled in ten second increments. ~ Despite all of the egotism in the world, there is also a huge amount of self-destructiveness. ~ It is jarring to go back to your old grade school and see how small everything is. ~ Taking things slowly is an admirable choice in a culture of speed. ~ Hemingway's short stories are a pleasant companion. ~ Time management largely consists of holding tactics. ~ Some writers could hypnotize you in an whirlwind. ~ An aging population would love the return of passenger trains. ~ My garage is a constant reproach. ~ A chore is not a chore if it takes you away from something you don't want to do.
Quote of the Day
The most powerful thing we can do to earn respect from those around us, though, is to call out one of our own when he crosses the line. "People like us, we don't do things like that." This is when real change starts to happen, and when others start to believe that we really care about something more than scoring points.
- Seth Godin
Monday, June 29, 2015
The trailer for "Harrison Bergeron."
"Everyone is equal and everyone is worse."
How Long Should a Business Book Be?
Wally Bock, a savvy man who has written more than a few, has the answer.
"This is London Calling"
The memorable intros and music from the BBC World Service.
"Solutions" and the Greeks
Political Calculations has worked the numbers on the situation in Greece. It is not a pretty picture.
The Forgotten 11
Nicholas Bate: 11 forgotten factors for leadership in large organizations.
Art Break: Harden
"Hillside" by Libby Harden.
[Profuse apologies for previous misspelling of artist's name. That was due to slipshod performance by blog editor. He has been hurt and punished.]
Context and Facts
The facts don't always speak for themselves. We also need to provide context.
If that sounds obvious, consider how often you may have made a proposal or presentation which eloquently set forth the facts but neglected to give the context.
We may believe the context is so clear it doesn't need to be mentioned. We may be wary of taking too much time. We may worry about insulting the intelligence of our audience.
And yet providing the context need not be lengthy or condescending and failing to provide it may be lethal.
Audiences are said to wonder, "What's in it for me?" That's fine.
You don't want them to be silently asking, "Why is this important?"
Quote of the Day
Political correctness is the enforcement arm of poetic truth. It coerces people into suspending their own judgment on matters of racial equality, women's rights, war, and the environment in deference to some prescribed "correct" view on these matters that will distance them from the stigma of America's sinful past. The very point of poetic truths is to supplant the actual reality of American life with a view of America as a nation still surreptitiously devoted to its past sins. It has no other purpose than to project these sins as the essential, if not the eternal, truth of the American way of life. Then political correctness tries to bully and shame Americans - on pain of their human decency - into conformity with this ugly view of their society
- Shelby Steele