Monday, October 20, 2014

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

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Music Break

Leonard Bernstein conducting: The Candide Overture.

Great stuff.

Fast Track Route

Be sure to keep up with Nicholas Bate's career/life suggestions.

House of The Rising Ratings

Anderson Layman's Blog has a video of The Animals on The Ed Sullivan Show

Although Ed Sullivan usually seemed about as comfortable as Richard Nixon at a rock concert, the old guy knew how to put on a show. Those were the days before specialization and so everyone in the family watched the same programs. Sullivan wisely booked a variety of talent which would appeal to different generations. Note too that The Animals were not singing about a convent.

Typical Day in the Life of a Consultant

This clip from The Efficiency Expert shows the consultant (Anthony Hopkins) being introduced to the employees. 

And wouldn't you feel comfortable if the company hired an efficiency expert who looks like Anthony Hopkins?

Nullius In Verba

Coat of Arms

The motto for The Royal Society is roughly translated as "Take nobody's word for it."

Unorganized Hancock: Practice and Performance

See the video, listen to the music, and read the account by the band's elderly assistant :

We have an abandoned bedroom in the attic that they practice in. It doesn't have any heat, or even any electricity for that matter. If the boys want to practice, they have to drag an extension cord all the way down the hall. The plaster is coming off the walls in big chunks. Until my Heir and I jacked up the house, the floor sloped like the Titanic two hours after they stopped for ice. It's still kinda roly-poly, but a dropped pencil doesn't make it all the way to the back wall anymore. The room used to be filled with hornets all the time. I'm allergic to hornets, and one sting will kill me in an instant, so I kept the drum lessons short. The roof over this room was open to the air when we moved here, and while we got rid of the squirrels when I climbed up there and fixed it, the hornets stayed. The windows in the dormer were in such bad shape that the hornets passed in and out through the defunct weight pockets and the window frames. My Heir and I got some old, salvaged windows from a neighbor's remodel, and some boards from another neighbor who was cleaning out his garage, and we installed the windows in place of the old ones, and trimmed it out with the free boards. Now the room is filled with ladybugs.

Being There

Cultural Offering has thoughts from the road. An excerpt:

I like the nods, the glances, and the frowns (or smiles). I like the human back and forth. I like in person. We should see our customers in person. Talk with them. Listen to them. Hear them and respond. Take very opportunity to wield our advantage over what passes for service elsewhere.

Bock on Biz

Check out these items at Wally Bock's Three Star Leadership blog:
His background is also quite interesting. An excerpt:

“Don’t worry too much if you don’t make it all the way, son,” he said. “You’re seeking promotion to the most important job in the Marines. Those Generals may win a battle or two, but it’s Sergeants that win the wars.”

Mount Up

And speaking of civilization, here's some stirring music for Saturday morning.

Crank it up.

October Pledge

This morning my wife and I took a solemn pledge that no bag of Halloween candy shall be opened until the evening of Halloween because an early opening, however slight, invites barbarism and the fall of civilization. 

Not Enough

It is not enough to:
  • Tell people to connect the dots if they don't know what and where the dots are.
  • Stress results if they don't know the efforts required to produce the results.
  • Hold meeting after meeting if the only open conversations take place in hallways and after work.
  • Form a team if it has a saboteur or two as members.
  • Emphasize urgency if the actions are not directed at a key goal.
  • Lead by example and not discuss the related values.
  • Complete a mission without learning from it.
  • Give an order and not follow-up to make sure that appropriate action was taken.
  • Delegate responsibility if people lack the resources and authority needed to fulfill it.
  • Take action if the action is purely cosmetic.

First Paragraph

We knew we weren't going to take the case within thirty seconds of walking into the boardroom. This prospective client - a large consumer health products concern under attack by the news media, governmental regulators, activist groups, trial lawyers, and shareholders - was going to get slaughtered, but not because its crisis was so bad. It wasn't as if its best-selling product was alleged to be killing people. 

- From Damage Control: The Essential Lessons of Crisis Management by Eric Dezenhall and John Weber

Quote of the Day

Fault, n. One of my offenses, as different from one of yours, the latter being crimes. 

- Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary

Friday, October 17, 2014

New Leader

Coffee with a retired executive who is taking the chairmanship of a board. He is getting my reaction to various ideas as well as opinions on key people. He is a very bright guy and I don't need to add much other than a suggestion here and a caution there. Later, I will note the intangible areas where my advice probably helped the most and try to see if there is a common thread. One underlying question: "What am I missing?"

That's always a good question.

The Weatherman's Dog

The Dish: When taking your dog to work is a bad idea. [Memorable video]

"Who do they think we are?"

Peggy Noonan on the administration's handling of the Ebola crisis.

Harassment Investigations and Due Process at Harvard

Last summer Harvard University adopted a new policy for how to handle charges of sexual harassment, following the demands of the U.S. Department of Education. As at most schools, the new policy is grotesquely slanted in favor of accusers and against the accused. That is not surprising. With the government using the club of possible loss of federal funding, most schools feel they have no choice but to knuckle under. And, of course, on many, perhaps most, college campuses uber-feminist misandry is as thick as fog.

Read the rest at Commentary.

Random Thoughts

The ethical standards of an organization can be measured by the extent to which its leadership attempts to excuse the inexcusable. Much of television reflects two experiences: being stranded in a bar with loud drunks who think they're clever and the repeated watching of an 8th grade play. Fall, not Spring, brings a promise of renewal. Priorities and missions are not always self-evident. There used to be a cozy thought that if you only knew people better, you'd like them. The Internet has pretty much killed that theory. The world frequently reminds us that weakness is provocative, especially to evil people. There are gentle warriors and vicious pacifists. Shining your shoes is an art and a pleasure. It can take years to get a customer and seconds to lose one. If you want to destroy a nation, teach its children to be embarrassed of patriotism.  I wonder if the new methods for teaching math will produce a wave of math-phobia. Some political movements are suicidal. Why are supervisors upset because an incompetent employee has a lousy attendance record? Lack of sleep delivers frequent invoices. Generalists and specialists tend to envy one another. Allies promote focus while adversaries promote distraction. Drugstores become much more interesting as one grows older. Clarity and candor are key elements for effective teams and should become core values.  No level of joy surpasses that of an academic who has discovered a rival's error. Never stop asking about how things work.

Quote of the Day

Muddy water let stand will clear. 

- Chinese proverb

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Attila, I'd Like You to Meet Apple

Althouse points to a quick device to determine whether people with your first name lean conservative or liberal.


View From the Ledge has the story about an erroneous Latin inscription at a new library in New Jersey. 

They should correct the date but keep the inscription (and the story that goes with it) as a lesson in humility. 

[Featuring an e-reader was also questionable since its design may be quickly outdated.]

Do Your Research

A brief illustration of why so many of us are Sherlock fans.

Art Break: Machamer

Art Contrarian looks at the work of Jefferson Machamer.

The $20,000 Phone

Yes, my child, there are some new phones which even FutureLawyer won't buy.

Working Without Self-Development

These are not poor employees. They are hard workers. For the most part, they get the job done.

They could be doing much better but neither they nor their supervisors realize that. Their evaluations are fine and they earn bonuses and yet the scale is skewed if one considers what could be.

That is one reason why individuals need to engage in introspection and a disciplined personal development campaign. They cannot rely on the organization's evaluations because those may be inadequate. Today's inflated praise may short-change the future.

I've met people who acknowledge the wisdom of self-development but they quickly go back to the comfortable old habit of pleasing the boss and no more. It's their decision, of course, but somewhere out there, another person is preparing to meet a higher standard and if they ever have to compete with that person, they'll probably lose.

Quote of the Day

The best way to make your dreams come true is to wake up. 

- Paul Valery

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Ahead of Its Time

Check out the trailer for "Hot Millions" - a comedy about embezzlement, with Peter Ustinov, Maggie Smith, Karl Malden, and Bob Newhart,

The Ebola Surprise

If there is one killer virus that we should have been thoroughly prepared for, it's Ebola. 

Ever since The Hot Zone was published in 1995, it was obvious that one day, thanks to modern air travel, Ebola was going to arrive here. As a result, you'd expect the planning and execution to be pristine.

I've held off posting on this because, like most Americans, my natural inclination is to give the people on the ground the benefit of the doubt. So far, it appears that we are not as well prepared as one might expect.

The updates from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sound a lot like "catch-up ball." The commonly-cited explanations that nurses have not followed protocol prompt several questions:
  1. Why didn't they?
  2. Did they have sufficient training? If so, how recently and by whom?
  3. Did they have the right protective gear?
  4. When was the last time they had a training exercise while using the protective gear?
  5. Was a timely system in place to catch and correct a lapse in protocol?
  6. Is it clear which step in the protocol was not followed?
  7. Is it possible that everything was done properly and there is something wrong with the protocol?
The last one is the most troubling.

Born To Be Wild

I remember Columbus Day because I used to play music in a hundred and one bands anyone that would have me and try to make money to eat and get cigarettes and I don't smoke and there still was never enough money and I played at a tee-totaling biker association party for two members' wedding not gay a man and a woman that arrived on a motorcycle with the woman I think wearing a white Wedding Dress and no helmet and we played for one hundred sober bikers and ninety-nine of them were like accountants and one was like a serial murderer but they all looked exactly the same so you had to assume they all would kill you if they got the chance instead of the more likely thing that they'd do your taxes if you asked nice and I never played Born To Be Wild for a Wedding Song before. . . .

Read the rest at Sippican Cottage.

Vora on Vision

Tanmay Vora writes on the importance of a compelling vision. An excerpt:

In a creative economy, people will give their best output and exercise their discretionary effort only when they are completely aware of the vision. In moments of handling difficult conversations, choices and ways of working, vision serves as an anchor. It provides a meaning to our day to day work. Vision is not a destination, but more like a compass that guides us through our goals and decisions.

"When the Frost is on the Punkin"

An Execupundit October tradition:

Kent Risley recites the great poem by James Whitcomb Riley and tells about the promise to his father.

Active Fairness

Employees rightfully expect that management will actively seek to be fair and won't wait until a complaint or grievance to set matters right. Unfortunately, far too many executives, managers, and supervisors choose to be fair only when the question is pressed and seem content to allow unfairness in the neighborhood so long as it does not come a-knocking.

As a result, the complainers may be rewarded while those who are reluctant to complain - and more trusting that management on its own will take corrective action - are not. Problems linger and fester and the signal is sent: They don't care. Worse still is when the signal is: They approve of the unfairness.

The Golden Rule is an appropriate guide [Do unto others as you would have them do unto you] and yet it should also be supercharged with another rule: Act to identify and eliminate unfairness whenever it is possible to do so. 

Yes, life is unfair but we need not be accomplices.

Quote of the Day

In a way we can think of administrative law as a form of off-road driving. The Constitution offers two avenues of binding power - acts of Congress and acts of the courts. Administrative acts by executive agencies are a way of driving off-road, exercising powers through other pathways. For those in the driver's seat, this can be quite exhilarating. For the rest of us, it's a little unnerving. 

- Philip Hamburger, Columbia Law School

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Entertainment Break

The trailers for:

The Power of Voice

Take some time today and watch Peter Ustinov talking about the filming of "Spartacus."

Crisis Reactions

When the crisis arrived, some people:

  1. Denied its existence.
  2. Said it was really a good thing.
  3. Said we deserved it.
  4. Ignored it.
  5. Looked for a culprit.
  6. Did nothing other than hope that it would go away.
  7. Shopped for white flags..
  8. Didn't welcome it but weren't particularly bothered.
  9. Saw it as an opportunity for political exploitation. 
  10. Attacked the crisis management team.
  11. Attacked the CEO, either present or former.
  12. Started hoarding.
  13. Declared it wasn't as bad as last month's crisis.
  14. Became hard to find.
  15. Looked for ways to make money.
  16. Volunteered to help solve it.

Questions for a Meeting

  1. Is it necessary?
  2. What is its purpose?
  3. Who needs to be there?
  4. Will more than one meeting be needed?
  5. What's on the agenda?
  6. Is any special information needed?
  7. Are any special accommodations needed?
  8. Are there any audio-visual needs?
  9. Who is chairing the meeting?
  10. How long should it take?
  11. When should it be held?
  12. Where should it be held?
[One vital rule: When the meeting is over, leave.]

Quote of the Day

Practice isn't the thing you do once you're good. It's the thing you do that makes you good. 

- Malcolm Gladwell