Saturday, October 25, 2014

East West

If out early enough, I can get the eastern exposure yard work completed before the sun gets too high. I can then shift to the west side where the trees and house will provide some shade as I attend to its needs.

The back yard once had an enormous carob tree, a beautiful monster which sucked up irrigation water like a camel and dropped massive numbers of heavy pods. I never experimented with the culinary possibilities of carob but was content to enjoy the tree itself which eventually died of a disease that foiled the experts who treated the patient with the same creativity of an 18th century physician prescribing bleeding and purges.

With the monster gone, the yard has made a come-back and there is more grass to mow. We put in a ficus. Although pretty, it lacks personality.

I prefer trees that I'll remember.

First Paragraph

In the mid-1970s, boxing fever had swept through the Philadelphia-South Jersey area, where I grew up. Rocky, which was famously set in Philadelphia, had just struck gold at the box office for Sylvester Stallone. Muhammad Ali lived in my hometown, Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Heavyweight champion Jersey Joe Walcott was a constant presence. Joe Frazier had long-standing ties to the region, as did Sonny Liston. Middleweight world champion Joey Giardello was a neighbor, and Mike "the Jewish Bomber" Rossman was making headlines. 

- From Glass Jaw: A Manifesto for Defending Fragile Reputations in an Age of Instant Scandal by Eric Dezenhall

What is the Leader's System?

Have a rigid chain of command and you risk having information filtered. Have a loose organization and you risk wasted time. Too much bureaucracy and initiative is diminished. Too little and chaos may emerge. Decision-makers fight battles of information overload or information drought, too few options or too many, and an ongoing campaign to reduce unnecessary interruptions.

That's why a key question when evaluating any top leader is to ask, "What is this person's system?"

Quote of the Day

The words of a president have enormous weight and ought not to be used indiscriminately. 

- Calvin Coolidge

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Non-Citizen Vote

A very disturbing article in The Washington Post by Jesse Richman and David Earnest on whether non-citizens could decide the November election.

[HT: Drudge Report]

Finding Your Habits of Productivity

At Entrepreneur, Michael Simmons examines seven productive habits of young entrepreneurs.

5 Options

Five options to consider shortly after returning from an Ebola-stricken country:
  1. Self-quarantine and don't leave your home or have personal contact with others for 21 days.
  2. Monitor temperature while riding subway.
  3. Take dish to pot-luck dinner but don't bring the potato salad.
  4. Decompress at Disneyland.
  5. Visit enemies.

Music Break

Radio Days

I grieve for some of the old radios we threw away. 

Art Contrarian has a fine collection.

Cartoons and Life

As we grow beyond childhood cartoons and get into the turmoil of life, there are days when we find ourselves resembling:
  • Bullwinkle more than Rocky;
  • Goofy more than Mickey;
  • Wimpy more than Popeye;
  • Wile E. Coyote more than The Roadrunner; and
  • Elmer Fudd more than Bugs Bunny.
Make sure this isn't one of those days.

Our Daily Soap Opera

Nicholas Bate reminds us of some options.

First Paragraph

Adolf Eichmann is an icon of the twentieth century, of the Nazi regime and the genocide it waged against the Jews. The much-used official photograph of the smiling young SS officer with filmstar looks who deported millions of Jews to the death camps seems to personify all of the perpetrators of the Nazi genocide. The ubiquity of this image is equalled by that of Eichmann at his trial in Jerusalem in 1961, sitting or standing inside a bulletproof glass booth. Its power lies in the way it encapsulates the satisfying story of the perpetrator meeting justice at the hands of his former victims. In this picture the killer is now safely incarcerated; but his one-time prey allows him the dignity of a hearing, evincing the humanitarian values he trampled. Eichmann thus seems to be a metonym for the entire history of the Nazi persecution and mass murder of the Jews as well as its legacy. Along with Hitler, Himmler and perhaps Reinhard Heydrich, he is the face of Nazi mass murder. 

- From Becoming Eichmann: Rethinking the Life, Crimes, and Trial of a "Desk Murderer" by David Cesarani

Topics for Discussion in Elementary School

I would love to see a lesson plan for seventh and eighth graders on the following topics:

  • Honesty
  • Loyalty
  • Responsibility
  • Courage
  • Caring
  • Freedom
  • Logic

Quote of the Day

I believe that every meeting in every organization should be canceled, only those that have a specific purpose should be rescheduled, and the intervals of standing meetings should be set based upon the needs of current reality instead of habit. 

- David Allen

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Ebola and Politicians

We are holding a major press conference on a disease which is very hard to get and which you should not worry about.

Movie Break

The trailers for:


Workbooks. Roster. Evals. Notes. 
Cans of espresso. Directions. 

The briefcase is packed. Thoughts are swirling. 

I'll arrive early and get in the zone.


They don't agree with the facts or the goals or the necessity for change. They pretend to cooperate but instead covertly throw obstacle after obstacle in your path. Committees and delay are their friends. Papers get "lost." Meetings are delayed. Deadlines are subverted.

These people cannot be convinced by eloquence and evidence. They yawn at urgency.

What you regard as success, they regard as failure. In most cases, they sincerely believe that their position is best.

Their conduct would be less objectionable if they clearly identified themselves as opponents but they claim to be on your team. 

Only they're not.

Know this well: You will not win them over

Quote of the Day

Even in organizations that are clearly experiencing serious problems, devastating problems, business-as-usual can survive. 

- John P. Kotter

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Heavy Seas

Put your job in perspective. 

Check out this video with some amazing shots of ships in heavy seas.

Attacks in Canada

Maclean's is live-blogging information on the cowardly and vile attacks.

Bike It

The Telegraph has a virtual tour of the 2015 Tour de France route.

Start your prep.

All You Need is Love

All you need is love.*

* Along with good health, faith, money, ambition, friends, family, education, property, time, ethics, persistence, courage, focus, meaning, goals, and a few others. But love's a good start.

Who's Living in London?

I'll bet that you will not guess which country has the largest number of passport holders living in London. 

Check out The Telegraph article.

The Importance of Strong Men

Cultural Offering has an observation by C. S. Lewis which unfortunately fits our times far too well.

I'm currently reading - and enjoying - 7 Men: And The Secrets of Their Greatness by Eric Metaxas. Very interesting.

Quote of the Day

Nothing is more revealing than movement. 

- Martha Graham

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Entertainment Break

I think if I had to name the greatest film ever made, this would be my choice.

Which one would you name?

Modest Hero

Writing in The New Republic, Michael Kimmage reviews the new biography of George Marshall. An excerpt:

In their search for a statesman’s grand gestures, the Ungers and Hirshon devalue the challenge of coordination in World War II and in the early Cold War. Moving the U.S. to a wartime footing, between 1939 and 1941, was a Herculean task. Keeping the unruly Allies—the Soviet Union, Britain, and the U.S.—behind the common cause of fighting Nazi Germany was not just a military job. It was a diplomatic job, and Marshall excelled at it. Turning back the wave of isolationism that immediately followed the defeat of Germany and Japan was political work, as was the joining of the State Department, the White House and Congress into a coalition for the Marshall Plan. In American history, only George Washington and Dwight Eisenhower can compete with Marshall in the combination of political and military skill.

Death in the Sahara

On Oct. 15, 2013, a group of 113 men, women and children set out from Niger for Europe, where they hoped to find food, prosperity and happiness. The group included Samani, a 25-year-old Nigerien -- his intended destination, the Mediterranean coast, was 2,500 kilometers (1,553 miles) away.

Read all of the article at Spiegel Online.


Stepped on scale in my doctor's office. It read: "Come back alone."

[I think that was a Henny Youngman joke.]

My doctor does not age. He asks a lot of questions and gives me a great deal of time. Taps away on his computer, unlike my childhood doctors who carved notes on coconuts. We talked a great deal about allergies and how much exercise is needed to lose a pound.

A sign at the front counter asked patients to tell them if they have recently traveled to foreign countries. 

Art Break: De Glehn

Art Contrarian looks at the work of Wilfrid de Glehn.

The Old Neighborhood Medical Network

I go in for my quasi-annual physical today. Started going to a young internal medicine doctor several years ago because my other doctors kept retiring. Mel Brooks once said that Zero Mostel would rather eat a broom than go to a doctor. I'm with Zero on that one but you get to a point where prevention trumps fear of white coats.

My parents were of the generation where you did not go to a doctor unless you couldn't lift your head off the pillow. A former medical corpsman lived across the street and I can recall him arriving with his canvas bag and sprinkling white powder over my head to stop the bleeding from a large cut. My older brother once fell from the top of a bunk bed and bashed his head on a concrete floor. He swears that his legs were numb but my mother gave him an aspirin and told him to go back to bed.

We were into basics in those days. We also had the luxury of neighbors with practical skills; the sort of folks who knew how to dress a wound, wire a house or skin a deer.  My current neighbors include lawyers, insurance execs, consultants, and real estate wizards. 

There is no one for the informal medical care system which my parents used although - I just remembered - there is a retired dentist a few doors down.


Crisis Planning and Worst Case Scenarios

While watching the news, I pulled two books off the shelf:
The second book has a flu pandemic scenario which features "an internal public health crisis of the first order and an immigration crisis as well." [Large numbers of Mexicans cross the border in order to get medical care.]

Not good bedtime reading but the sort of analysis which you hope has already produced some practical contingency plans.

Quote of the Day

If you let your emotions take over, you'll be outplayed. 

- John Wooden

Monday, October 20, 2014

When Presidents Drink

Althouse points to a review of presidential drinking habits. An excerpt:

Chester A. Arthur. When a representative of the Temperance movement tried to pressure Arthur into a no-liquor policy in the White House, he thundered: “Madam, I may be the president of the United States, but what I do with my private life is my own damned business!”...

Worst Websites?

Web Pages That Suck compiled the 25 worst websites of 2013

[I'm way behind in posting this. We'll soon be seeing the 2014 winners.]

"Mission to Moscow"

The trailer only hints at a noted Hollywood whitewash of Joseph Stalin. You need to see the movie to get the full effect.

More Than a Punchline

Business Insider: A speech by an intern who fell in love with her boss

[HT: Instapundit]

Attention: All Serious Readers

Go to Anderson Layman's Blog for a list of Truths.

[One of many worth remembering: Always have a book with you.]

Now That We've Clarified That

BRITNEY HUGHES: Thank you, in a video message to countries in West Africa that are experiencing Ebola outbreaks, President Obama told residents that they cannot get the disease by sitting next to someone on a bus, but CDC recommendations state that travelers in West Africa who begin to show possible symptoms, or people whose experience a high risk of exposure should avoid public transportation including busses and we have also seen large amounts of concern regarding potentially infected people traveling on airplanes. My first question is did the CDC vet this video message before it was released and posted on U.S. Embassy websites, and is it true a person runs absolutely no risk of contracting Ebola on public transportation such as a bus.
TOM FRIEDEN: Yes, CDC vetted the message and yes, we believe it is accurate. I think there are two different parts of that equation. The first is if you're a member of the traveling public and are healthy, should you be worried that you might have gotten it by sitting next to someone. The answer is no. Second if you're sick, and you may have Ebola should you get on a bus, the answer to that is also no. You might become ill; you might have a problem that exposes someone around you. Because the risk is so low, we think there is an extremely low likelihood that anyone who travelled on this plane would have been exposed, but we're putting into place extra margins of safety and that's why we're contacting everyone who was on that flight.

- From the transcript of the October 15, 2014 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Press Briefing

Art Break

When Scandal Strikes

News for our times: Mother Jones magazine interviews crisis management consultant Eric Dezenhall. An excerpt:

What's different now is this combination of velocity, volume, and venom. Things go faster, there's more noise, and the nature of social media traffics almost exclusively in negativity. Social media is dispersive and what I do is containment driven. It's much easier to spread a controversy than put one out. Right as they begin, people take to the airwaves and say, "Well, so-and-so should resign." One of the arguments I make is that we're reaching the twilight of damage control, simply because there's a lot less you can do.

Quote of the Day

Progress is made by lazy men looking for easier ways to do things. 

- Robert Heinlein

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Find Something Beautiful Today