Monday, July 31, 2006

Miscellaneous and Fast

Fidel Castro, before undergoing surgery, has given provisional power to his brother.

Northwest Airlines flight attendants have rejected a contract. Strikes are possible in August.

An interview with
Roger McGuinn of The Byrds. (Thanks to Ann Althouse!)

Dumb headline of the day.

review of whether sports psychology works.

Airport Security

The Heritage Foundation is arguing that there should be a new approach to airport security; one that focuses more on the person than on the bomb. An excerpt:

An improved risk-based approach to identifying dangerous people would entail separating passen­gers within the terminal checkpoints into at least three defined groups, based on the quantity and quality of information known about each:

Low-risk passengers, about whom a great deal is known;

“Ordinary” passengers (mostly infrequent flyers and leisure travelers); and

High-risk passengers, about whom nothing is known or there is specific negative information.

Not Quite 85 Years

Sure, you were convicted of a white collar crime, but you know you've had a good day when the prosecutor asks for an 85 year prison sentence but the judge only gives you 42 months.

The Wall Street Journal Law Blog looks at two very different sentences.

Happy Birthday Milton!

Today is Milton Friedman's birthday.

In contrast to the late and amusing John Kenneth Galbraith (taken to task here by Tom Peters), Friedman has made an enormous difference.

Carnival of the Capitalists is Up!

Click here for the Carnival of the Capitalists, which is hosted this week by the Selling to Small Business blog.

You'll find interesting posts from a variety of business bloggers.

P.S. Welcome to all Carnival visitors!

Tools with Curves

Barbara Kavivot’s marriage and company collapsed, but she picked up her toolbox and rebounded:

The Manhattan single mother has resurrected herself as a home-repair guru with a sleek set of tool kits to help women who want to do handiwork. Her tools are designed to better fit a woman's size and strength, such as lighter hammers with distinctive curves and screwdrivers with thumb rests.

She hasn't become the blue-collar Martha Stewart just yet, but she is making a bid for just such a moniker with her products at major retailers, two books and a new position as the home-improvement coach for America Online.

Read the entire article here.

Leaving Well

There is, as this CareerJournal article notes, a certain style that should go with leaving a job.

The two most important tips, I believe, are not burning bridges and not taking too long.

The first is crucial. Although it may be tempting to unload a few grievances about the efficiency or I.Q. level of certain executives, it is not wise. (As one observer noted with regard to another issue, "If you fire the boss's son because he's the dumbest person in the company, perhaps he was the second-dumbest person in the company.") Go with grace. Remember the maxim: All the brothers are valiant and all the sisters are virtuous. Trust me. You will cross the paths of some of those people in the future.

Go quickly. Two weeks notice and you're out of there unless you're the CEO and then perhaps you should make it a month. The point is you will rapidly become a ghost and if your departure is too long, people will begin to jump when they see you in hallways. "Are you still here?" will be the unspoken - and in some cases spoken - question. Don't kid yourself that there are megaprojects that need to be shaped up before you leave. The minute you announce your resignation, your clout on those projects will start to drain.

A word to those who receive the letter of resignation: If it comes as a total surprise, you haven't been paying enough attention to your employees.

Feminization of the Classroom?

Teacher Gary Garibaldi believes the feminization of the classroom is responsible for the poor academic performance of boys.

World Map of Happiness

A University of Leicester psychologist has prepared a world map of happiness.

The top ten are Denmark, Switzerland, Austria, Iceland, The Bahamas, Finland, Sweden, Bhutan, Brunei, and Canada.
Other rankings were: 23 - USA, 35 - Germany, 41 - United Kingdom, 62 - France, 82 - China, 90 - Japan, 125 - India, and 167 - Russia.

Lohan Gets Reprimand for Partying Too Much

Lindsay Lohan receives a letter of reprimand.

Rather well done too.


Good news. Now that Illycaffe is making out there, you can go to Starbucks and feel less yuppy.

Even so, Andrea Illy says he's not aiming to unseat Starbucks. Instead, his game is to create an exclusive destination with an emphasis on quality and aesthetics. The Espressamente experience will be oh-so-Italiano, focused on coffee served short and dark with perfect crema, or foam, in a designer demitasse. Illy hopes that great espresso, combined with surroundings that ooze modern cool, will have coffee cognoscenti purring buonissimo with every sip. "Starbucks is less about coffee and more about community," says Wendy Liebmann, president of market researcher WSL Strategic Retail. "Illy is about the elegance of coffee.... It is elitist."

Read the rest of the
Illycaffe story here.

Quote of the Day

Appeasers believe that if you keep on throwing steaks to a tiger, the tiger will become a vegetarian.

- Heywood Broun

Sunday, July 30, 2006

On The Moneyed Midways

Political Calculations has released its weekly collection of business and money-related posts from a variety of blogs.

Good stuff. Find it here.

Naturally Born Organizers' Tricks of the Trade

Okay, the new week is looming. It's time to get stuff together.

Read this if you are not a naturally born organizer.

Unfortunately, It May Not Be That "Dead"

Scrappleface reports that Mel Gibson has previewed a new "dead language" film.

Little Miss Sunshine

I haven't seen any previews but the buzz from several sources is that Little Miss Sunshine is an extraordinary movie. It will be opening soon.

Reviews from some very diverse reviewers:


Roger Ebert

Michael Medved

The American Enterprise

Can it be that Hollywood has discovered the importance of a story?

How to Manage Your Boss

Recently, I was re-reading Jacques Horovitz's 10 rules on managing your boss.

They're quite good.

Decision Papers

I’m surprised that decision papers are not commonly used in large organizations. They can reduce meetings and save a huge amount of staff time.

The classic decision paper is written by the department proposing a particular course of action and circulated to other departments that have an interest in the topic. The paper has a cover memo noting the topic and the list of individuals to whom the paper should be circulated. If an individual agrees with the proposals, the person can simply write “OK” next to his name and then pass the paper on to the next party on the list. If the person opposes the proposed decision, then the person can note that he disagrees and that his comments are attached at a tab.

Protocol dictates that once the paper has been fully circulated, it is returned to the author so that person has the chance to see any dissenting comments prior to taking the paper to the main decision maker. Some proposed decisions die at that stage if a dissenter has made a good point. If the paper moves on to the main decision maker, however, then that person has the advantage of reading an analysis of a proposed course of action that has been reviewed by all of the interested parties. The decision maker may choose to meet with some of the parties or may decide to accept or reject the proposed action.

Savvy operators learn to incorporate the concerns of the other parties into their recommendations. The decision paper process requires coordination – failing to include an obviously interested party on the coordination list is a major mistake – and the ability to write a persuasive recommendation. Far from being bureaucratic, decision papers streamline decisions. The papers can be circulating through the system as the parties are doing other things. One important requirement is that the papers must be logged in as they enter and leave each department so they can be tracked.

Large organizations that operate strictly through meetings should consider a decision paper system as an alternative. Odds are, they’ll like it.

Dig It

The largest public works project in history may be a classic lesson in the arcane workings of Massachusetts politics.

A systemic problem?

Islamic Imperialism

A review of a new study of Islam . The book's author, the head of the Mediterranean Studies Program at the University of London, notes a movement that is more political than religious. An excerpt from the review:

In his nervy, tightly documented Islamic Imperialism, Karsh challenges scholars and Muslim leaders to refute his own picture of Islam: an imperialist seventh-century Arabic movement that forced itself on neighboring lands such as today's Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Egypt for secular colonialist payoffs - money, booty, territory.

According to Karsh, Muhammad, by claiming Allah's authority to act as both a political and religious leader, was able "to cloak his political ambitions with a religious aura" and "channel Islam's energies" into geographic expansion.

[HT: Arts & Letters Daily ]

Pandemic Checklist

Here's a Business Pandemic Checklist from the U. S. Chamber of Commerce.

It - and others like it - will probably be dragged out only after a pandemic strikes.

Quote of the Day

Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.

- Eric Hoffer

Saturday, July 29, 2006


July is National Ice Cream Month.

(Just a few more days to celebrate with vast quantities of ice cream.)

Some stats from The Christian Science Monitor:

America's Favorite Flavors
1. Vanilla, 29%

2. Chocolate, 8.9%
3. Butter Pecan, 5.3%
4. Strawberry, 5.3%
5. Neopolitan, 4.2%

Read the
entire article here.

Bo Diddley and Civilization

Sometimes, great anthropologists work in indirect ways.

Using two Bo Diddley videos, Michael from 2Blowhards presents irrefutable evidence that civilization declined from 1964 to 1970.

I'd forgotten how cool Bo Diddley was. Michael's analysis of the two audiences is dead-on. Bo was probably thinking, "What is with these people?"

Possible explanations:

  • Faux sophistication;
  • Having to sit on the floor;
  • Stoned and fearful that Bo has turned into a giant woodchuck.

The "Yes Man" Boss

This CareerJournal article on the downside of having a boss who keeps saying yes to upper management and taking on new and unnecessary work should be read by all of those management advisors who tell people never to refuse an assignment.

A crucial skill in anyone's career is the ability to say no in a diplomatic but firm manner.

Chinese Teens

An interesting study by McKinsey & Co. on the attitudes of Chinese teenagers.

They are like teenagers elsewhere but are (1) more nationalistic; (2) more inclined to save money; and (3) interested in being able to support their aging parents.


I suppose if you live long enough you get to see everything at least twice, and in recent days I’ve seen replays of two old blunders that I’d hoped I wouldn’t have to endure again. The first is the Friend Who Has Gone Too Far, and the second is the Enemy Who Is Really Our Friend.

Read the rest of Michael Ledeen’s article on the repeat of blunders

Casual Dress Friday

George's Employment Blawg examines the natural course of casual dress Friday.

Security Scan

A hospital in Troy, Michigan had problems with employees stealing drugs from a storage area.

Its solution was simple.

Risk Calculator

Citigroup's geopolitical risk calculator charts the state of the world.

These calculations are interesting, but the human element is always the wild card. Examine the origins of the Korean War and you find it was sparked by the buzz between Joseph Stalin's ears.

Is "Nuts" a Foreign Word?

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has ordered government and cultural bodies to use modified Persian words to replace foreign words that have crept into the language, such as "pizzas" which will now be known as "elastic loaves," state media reported Saturday.

Click here for the entire article.

["Domino's Elastic Loaves?"]

Science for Us Non-Science Types

Russell Seitz has picked out five science books that even non-scientists can enjoy.

[I've read none of them. The guilt begins to build.]

Richard Branson Thinking Out Loud

When we entered the airline business, the very first plane Boeing sent over to us ran into a bunch of birds and lost an engine. Because it hadn't been delivered yet, the insurance didn't cover that, so we were $1.5 million down before we flew our first flight, which took the whole Virgin Group beyond its overdraft facility.

Two days later, as I returned from the inaugural flight, our bank manager was sitting on my doorstep and telling me that he's going to foreclose on the whole business if we don't get the money in by Monday - and that was a Friday.

Read the entire interview with Virgin Group founder Richard Branson here.

Quote of the Day

Nobody ever gossips about other people's secret virtues.

- Bertrand Russell

Friday, July 28, 2006

Selling Soap in a Kleptocracy

What is it like to run a company in the world's worst place to conduct business?

Risky but exciting.

Miscellaneous and Fast

Wal-Mart is selling its 85 stores in Germany and will instead be focusing on Central America and China.

The trial of Saddam Hussein has come to an end. How many other trials he may have is unclear. Get a rope.

In a sign of the times, the Milwaukee Brewers have added chorizo to their famous home game sausage races.

Ana Marie Cox, the founder of Wonkette blog, has been named the Washington editor of It must be Time's way of balancing its coverage from Left to Saucy Left.

Crime Writing, Fried Chicken, and Edna Buchanan

For those of you who like good writing, here’s a marvelous article about Edna Buchanan by Calvin Trillin. An excerpt:

In the newsroom of the Miami Herald, there is some disagreement about which of Edna Buchanan's first paragraphs stands as the classic Edna lead. I line up with the fried-chicken faction. The fried-chicken story was about a rowdy ex-con named Gary Robinson, who late one Sunday night lurched drunkenly into a Church's outlet, shoved his way to the front of the line, and ordered a three-piece box of fried chicken. Persuaded to wait his turn, he reached the counter again five or ten minutes later, only to be told that Church's had run out of fried chicken. The young woman at the counter suggested that he might like chicken nuggets instead. Robinson responded to the suggestion by slugging her in the head. That set off a chain of events that ended with Robinson's being shot dead by a security guard. Edna Buchanan covered the murder for the Herald—there are policemen in Miami who say that it wouldn't be a murder without her—and her story began with what the fried-chicken faction still regards as the classic Edna lead: "Gary Robinson died hungry."

Ebbers Conviction Upheld

The conviction of WorldCom CEO Bernie Ebbers has been upheld.

Deliver Criticism, How Not to

Delivering criticism is an important task in any workplace and yet relatively few people receive any formal training on how to do it well.

I've seen executives, managers, and supervisors who fumbled their delivery by:
  • Bringing in unrelated issues;
  • Weaving in a personal attack with what should be a discussion of performance;
  • Acting as if they enjoy being the bearer of bad news;
  • Behaving like an adversary instead of an ally;
  • Failing to give examples;
  • Using unnecessarily provocative language;
  • Failing to show its impact on others;
  • Rushing through the process; and
  • Failing to put the problem in context.

It is surprising to see how often people make comments that can only trigger anger or defensiveness. When questioned later about what they thought would be the reaction of the other person to their remarks, they frequently concede that the comments would create a barrier but - and this is the important part - they don't really care. The ostensible goal of the session is to improve the other person's performance and yet the real goal is to make the critic feel better. The moment that shift occurs, all hopes of a productive session are finished.

As one of the smartest executives I've ever known put it, "When you're mad, don't do anything that feels good."

United 93

Lest we forget:

The trailer for the film United 93.

If you missed the movie when it was in the theaters, you might want to catch the DVD.

(I had to be dragged to the theater, but found the film to be engrossing. It should be shown in crisis management classes.)

Tips from Big Warren

Not a bad guide at all: Warren Buffett's Five Rules for Success.

[HT: PRDifferently ]

Funny Bunny

Roberto Cavalli has designed a new Playboy bunny outfit.

The old one looked weird. This one looks dangerous.

[HT: Adfreak ]

When Street Gangs Get Missiles

Daniel Henninger, writing in The Wall Street Journal, raises some chilling questions on the meaning of the Katyusha missile attacks.

The world is confronted by fanatical groups - death cults in many cases - that willingly fire inexpensive, unguided, missiles at civilian areas. They aren't interested in political settlements or in coexistence. China, North Korea, and Iran are their eager suppliers.

And the West will be the target.

Where the Ideas Hide

In large organizations, the people with the power are so consumed by their schedules and job demands that they lack the perspective of those who are within but looking upward.

The latter have the perspective and the ideas, but they lack the power.

That's why talking to the folks in the mailroom or the person who climbs the poles or the new management assistant makes sense. It's not some glad-handing political stunt; it's a way of picking up different perspectives.

Over time, the astute executive or manager who knows how to listen for what is meant and not just to what is said will strike gold in those meetings.

Running Room

Some ideas are so basic they get overlooked:

CareerJournal examines the virtues of career paths.

The Count of Fashion Gothic

“I spend my whole life with women and I know quite well what goes on in their minds,” Lagerfeld says, his rapid, accented English mumbled through fascinatingly fleshy lips. Occasionally, he gives a delicate flutter of his hands, encased in grey fingerless driving gloves that match his signature Hedi Slimane gear. He laughs like Dracula. His eyes are hidden behind visor-like bespoke shades. He revels in political incorrectness, denouncing fat (or “volume”, as he now tactfully calls it) and appending highbrow answers to lowbrow questions with the coda, “But I don’t think you are well informed enough to make a discussion with me about this.” In short, he is a thoroughly evil genius, a piece of fabulous fashion gothic.

An interview with Karl Lagerfeld.

[HT: Adpulp ]

Hitchens on Bombing Germany

Christopher Hitchens, writing in The Weekly Standard, on whether the bombing of Germany's civilian areas in WWII can be justified.

When Cars Were Cars

The car that made Ralph Nader's career:

Check out the 1961 Corvair catalog.

[HT: Swankpad ]

Quote of the Day

Memory is a crazy woman that hoards colored rags and throws away food.

- Austin O'Malley

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Iraq Options

Frederick W. Kagan analyzes some of the options in Iraq. An excerpt:

The idea of creating some sort of Lebanon-type solution in Iraq is foolish for several reasons. First, Iraq is not Lebanon--its large numbers of ethnically mixed cities and regions would require substantial population movements to create stable ethnic zones. Since places like Baghdad and Mosul, two of Iraq’s largest cities, are also both heavily mixed and strategically important, it is almost inconceivable that such population movements could be accomplished without ethnic or sectarian violence on a vast scale. That violence would delay and disrupt progress toward any sort of new political solution and might well generate the kind of long-term vendetta mentalities that it has taken more than a decade of peacekeeping efforts in Bosnia just to keep under control. Nor has the Lebanon solution produced a Lebanon that is stable and able to resist the control of stronger neighbors, as recent events have made clear. Instability in a tiny country with few resources might be stra-tegically acceptable; instability in a country like Iraq, with vast oil reserves and troublous neighbors, is intolerable. Any solution that weakens the power of the central Iraqi government positively invites increased Iranian intervention, and perhaps the meddling of Iraq’s Sunni Arab neighbors in response. Such interventions would further destabilize and delegitimize the Iraqi government, increasing the likelihood of its total collapse.

Beyond Sand Castles

Take any casual endeavor and eventually it becomes formalized and very serious.

And, in this case, very impressive:

Sand sculptors are now competing for $15,000 in prize money.

Getting the Goods to Market

Is there any distribution system more poorly conceived than the one used by most U.S. car manufacturers and dealers? In the prevailing system, car prices are initially jacked up by locked-in labor concessions. Manufacturers pit dealers against other nearby dealers. Dealers are pressured to accept more vehicles than they can sell and—unable to make money from new cars—turn to service and trade-ins to eke out margins. And at the bottom of the chain are customers trapped in high-pressure negotiations for a car that isn't the exact model they want.

Sean Silverthorne
interviews Harvard Business School professor V. Kasturi Rangan regarding his book on the strategic way to get goods to market.

Marine Wins Award

Herb Peterson, 87, inventor of the Egg McMuffin, has been given the McDonald's Lifetime Achievement Award.

It's nice that they waited until he'd matured a bit before breaking loose with the award.

[HT: USA Today]

Writing, Stealing, or Packaging?

Tim Cavanaugh on ethics in the book publishing world:

Kaavya Viswanathan was riding high in April, shot down in May. The Harvard sophomore’s debut novel—How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life, for which she had received a $500,000 advance at the age of 17—was moving up the bestseller lists. The chick-lit book detailed the struggles of an Indian-American high-school girl trying to maintain a social life and get into the Ivy League. Opal Mehta’s apparently autobiographical story—celebrated in The New York Times, USA Today, and many other venues—was making Viswanathan a media sensation, a model of the kind of deranged precocity that Harvard increasingly demands of its students. Then in late April The Harvard Crimson revealed that Viswanathan had plagiarized more than a dozen passages from two young adult books by Megan McCafferty.

Totten on Lebanon

Last month I made a terrible mistake.

A reader from Lake Oswego -- a suburb of my city of Portland -- emailed and asked if he thought he should take his wife and children to Lebanon on their next vacation. I said sure. Just stay out of the Hezbollah areas along the border with Israel and in the suburbs south of Beirut. And make sure your kids understand that Lebanese drivers are considerably more reckless than drivers in Oregon, that they should be more careful than usual when crossing the street.

Needless to say, this was absolutely awful advice.

Read the rest of Michael J. Totten's piece on Lebanon here.

Charged But Not Convicted

A good article from The National Law Journal on a very tough question:

What should an employer do with an employee who has been charged with, but not convicted of, a crime?

Graf Zeppelin Found

A Polish oil firm, working in the Baltic Sea, has found the remains of Nazi Germany's only aircraft carrier, the Graf Zeppelin.

The carrier's demise still remains a mystery and the Russians aren't talking.

The Well-Informed CEO

How do some CEOs stay ahead of the rest?

Yet the unspoken and often unrecognized other strength a CEO brings to a company is a drive to digest large gobs of information, assess its value and act expediently—ahead of the competition. Such a CEO will know a supplier’s and even a customer’s moves before the rest of the market. Sometimes this intelligence will tell the executive it’s best to sit tight; other times, it screams for action before the competitive opportunity disappears. There are nearly as many ways to express the competitive intelligence competency as there are CEOs. For some, such as Vasella, it’s a cultural acuity, an ability to sort out the useful and potential profitable competitive insight from many competing and distracting pieces of information. In Crandall’s case, competitive knowledge is all about the numbers. Taylor likes to act quickly on the basis of instinct. While for Pickens, competitive intelligence means literally seeing your competition on the ground, watching its day-to-day movement.

Read the entire Chief Executive article here.

Austin Powers Flashback: Fashion Fembots

A humorous tour of a Spiegel catalog from 1969: Attack of the Fembots!

[HT: Neatorama ]

SEC and Exec Pay: Fess Up

The Securities and Exchange Commission voted unanimously today to require that public companies explain in plain English and easy-to-read charts exactly how much their top five executives earn and to provide a single number that includes pensions, stock options, and benefits such as life insurance and moving subsidies.

Read the rest of the US News & World Report article here.

Prestigious Jobs

Look at this Harris Poll listing of the most prestigious positions and you'll find that firefighter beat out doctor for the top spot.

(Only because, of course, "management consultant" was not on the list.)

The list also reveals that lawyers didn't fare too well.

New York's Crime Drop

Heather MacDonald examines the dramatic drop in crime in New York City.
An excerpt:

The national crime decline flattened out as the new century began. Some cities that were darlings of the media and the criminologists in the nineties have seen sharp increases in murder. Boston, lauded by the New York Times and others as the kinder, gentler corrective to New York’s allegedly overaggressive policing approach, has suffered its highest murder rate in a decade this year. Milwaukee and Memphis had double-digit homicide spikes in 2005. Philadelphia, Houston, San Francisco, and Kansas City are also seeing their nineties crime gains erode.

Not New York. From 2000 to 2005, the city’s crime rate fell another 30 percent. New York’s twenty-first-century experience is distinctive in the breadth and the depth of the continued decline. Even San Diego, the other favorite un–New York policing success story of the nineties, has not kept up with New York. While Gotham’s crime rate clocked in at 71 percent below its 1990 level in 2004, San Diego mustered a 55 percent decline. “Something qualitatively different is going on in New York,” says Zimring.

"A Better Human Being?"

A former city councilman in Black Hawk, Colo., who pleaded guilty last week to pistol-whipping his wife was sworn in Wednesday as town mayor.

David Spellman entered the guilty plea to felony menacing and third-degree assault charges after police said he hit his wife in the head several times with a .380-caliber handgun and fired three shots, the Rocky Mountain News reported in its Wednesday editions.

Sounds like the sort of person we want heading our town government. But wait! There’s more from a town spokesman:

"We don't think it detracts from his ability to be mayor, and will probably, in the long run, make him a better human being," said Ford. "We're all fallible. We come from a very tight knit small community in Black Hawk. We're probably a little more willing than the average listener in Denver to forgive and give people a second chance."

I think that after 5 to 10 years in another governmental facility, it might have made him a better person.

Read it
all here.

Roger Ailes ]

Blogger Gremlins

There's been a problem with Blogger today so please bear with me. It has made it impossible to post at various times but it may be squared away now.

Fingers crossed.

Charles Murray Interview

Gene Expression has 10 questions for Charles Murray about his innovative plan to replace welfare.

[HT: 2Blowhards ]

The Advertisement Burial Ground

You know you've longed to see them again:

Old newspaper and magazine ads with commentary by James Lileks.

Ethics Question

The Wall Street Journal Law Blog has an ethics question for lawyers:

You are taking a three-hour plane trip from Miami to New York to conduct a deposition in a matter involving client A. While on the plane, you spend the whole trip reviewing materials for a brief you will be filing for client B the following week. You normally bill clients for your time spent traveling on their behalf.

Can you bill each client for three hours?

Read their answer here.

Quote of the Day

Angels fly because they take themselves lightly.

- G.K. Chesterton

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Health Care Choice Act

While interstate commerce in goods and services is routine in virtually every other area of the national economy, such as banking and financial services, it is largely frustrated in the health care sector by law and government regulation. For individuals and families, this means that they are not able to secure the kind of coverage they want at the prices they wish to pay. The Health Care Choice Act (H.R. 2355 and S.1015), sponsored by Representative John Shadegg (R-AZ) and Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC), would amend current law to allow for interstate commerce in health insurance plans while preserving states’ primary responsibility for the regulation of health insurance. These changes would broaden and intensify competition among health plans and medical providers, encourage a serious review of existing health care regulation in the states, and expand the choice of millions of Americans of more affordable health insurance plans. The result: reduced health care costs and greater access to health care coverage.

Read the rest of Dr. Robert Moffit’s analysis of the
Health Care Choice Act here.

"Lifestyle Arbitrage"

Managing Globalization blog has a post on "lifestyle arbitrage" in which individuals work from and retire to whichever nation will give them the best lifestyle.

The downside, of course, is that a bargain in real estate may be accompanied by a lower standard in the justice system, emergency health care, and personal protection.

To borrow a line from the old movie, The In-Laws, you might say that staying alive is the key to the entire benefits program.

Courtroom Decorum Update

Rob Moodie, 67, arrived at Wellington's High Court on Monday in a navy blue woman's suit complete with diamond brooch and lace-topped stockings over his hairy legs, The Dominion Post reported.

"I will now, as a lawyer, be wearing women's clothing," Moodie said. He said he wants the court to address him as "Ms. Alice" — and that his wife and three children support his protest.

His attire, he insisted, is to highlight the insensitive "old boys' network" of New Zealand's judiciary.

Read the rest of the article here.

How Not to Form a Team

David Maister on how not to form a team. An excerpt:

"The best way to form teams in a business is not to say: ‘you guys are in the same department, therefore you will cooperate with each other', because giving orders like that is just not very effective in human terms.

"However, if you go to your people and say: ‘I've got the following six projects that need to be done superbly well in the next year, does anyone want to volunteer for any of them?', then the fact that people all joined in to the same team and put themselves in voluntarily is much more likely to get them to want to get on with each other - they self-selected to be interested in similar things.

"The trick of it is to unbundle the larger purpose of the total department and turn it into short-term, temporary projects, asking for volunteers, and then at the end of it, when the project is done, you redesign the next set of challenges for the business."


Joseph Epstein, in Commentary, on friendship among the intellectuals. An excerpt:

An interesting sidelight on this point was offered by George Orwell in a letter to the poet Stephen Spender, written just after the two had met for the first time at a party. Until that point, writes Orwell, he had always thought of Spender as the sort of person he despised: a Communist fellow-traveler, an effete poet, an all-around weak type. He had attacked Spender in print on these very grounds. But in person he found Spender to be rather agreeable, and therefore felt disarmed from ever again criticizing him with a clear conscience. Orwell concluded that it was probably a bad idea to attend parties where one might meet enemies and find oneself liking them.

A Little Privacy

I like this isolation chamber chair.

Now if they can only come up with a portable version for airlines.

MBWA Examples

Starbucks founder Howard Schultz is surrounded by very smart assistants and executives, yet he religiously visits at least 25 stores a week. A second strategy is making end runs around your own hierarchy. As President of PepsiCo, Andy Pearson would visit an operation such as Frito-Lay, and after an obligatory nod to the CEO, he would head directly to the bullpen where the junior sub-brand managers lived. He'd pick one at random, sit down with her for an hour and discuss what was going on in her neck of the woods. Not only would he be judging Frito's bench strength, but also zeroing in on un-masticated data.

Tom Peters is still giving
good examples of management by wandering around.

Java Justice

There may be some justice in the world after all.

More evidence that coffee may be a health food.

Good Eating

[Background: There is a report that Ambien may induce eating binges.]

Sorpresa con Queso

7 bags Cheetos-brand cheese snacks
17 to 19 glasses tap water
5 mg. Ambien

Place Cheetos bags in cupboard.

Take Ambien, fall asleep.

Wait 2-3 hours, then sleepwalk to kitchen, tear cupboard doors off hinges in search of Cheetos.

Find Cheetos, eat contents of all 7 bags.

Fall back asleep on kitchen floor.

When awakened by early-morning sunlight, get up and say, “What the—?”

Read the rest of Paul Simms’s Ambien recipes here.

Monopoly Debit Cards?

I've always liked the British version of Monopoly because its board has London locations, but now that they've released a version that uses debit cards instead of cash, we need to draw a line.

Is nothing sacred?

Staying Safe Abroad

Business 2.0 has assembled some tips for staying safe while doing business abroad.

Its ideas for unstable places (e.g., Have available $100 in cash and a cheap watch for bribes) are particularly good.

Making It Up as They Go

Why are the mainstream Protestant denominations losing members and bordering on serious splits?

Jim Tonkowitch, writing in The Weekly Standard, examines the factions. An excerpt:

For those who are shocked by the crack-up of the Episcopal Church, let me explain: The answer was on a T-shirt I saw last month while traveling to the Presbyterian Church USA General Assembly in Birmingham and the Episcopal Church General Convention in Columbus. It read, "I'm Making It Up As I Go."


Both denominational meetings were characterized by division, polarization, and discord as conservatives and liberals attempted to discern and approve God's will on issues ranging from divestment from companies doing business with Israel to gay clergy to the doctrine of the Trinity ("Mother, Child, and Womb"?). As left and right argued their cases, the real issue emerged. It is not the opposing opinions on assorted overtures and resolutions that divide left and right; it is the underlying understanding of truth, and how we know it.

Read the rest here.

Brainstorming Tips

I started reading this Business Week article on brainstorming with a certain amount of skepticism, but it's pretty darned good.

Hitchens, Wilson, and Niger

Christopher Hitchens revisits the Niger yellowcake story. An excerpt:

To summarize, then: In February 1999 one of Saddam Hussein's chief nuclear goons paid a visit to Niger, but his identity was not noticed by Joseph Wilson, nor emphasized in his "report" to the CIA, nor mentioned at all in his later memoir. British intelligence picked up the news of the Zahawie visit from French and Italian sources and passed it on to Washington. Zahawie's denials of any background or knowledge, in respect of nuclear matters, are plainly laughable based on his past record, and he is still taken seriously enough as an expert on such matters to be invited (as part of a Jordanian delegation) to Hans Blix's commission on WMD. Two very senior and experienced diplomats in the field of WMDs and disarmament, both of them from countries by no means aligned with the Bush administration, have been kind enough to share with me their disquiet at his activities. What responsible American administration could possibly have viewed any of this with indifference?

Quote of the Day

If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.

- George Orwell

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Bidding Techniques

From AtlanticBlog via Tom McMahon:

Three contractors are bidding to fix the White House fence; one from Chicago, another from Dallas, and the third from Fort Lauderdale. They go with a White House official to examine the fence.

The Fort Lauderdale contractor takes out a tape measure and does some measuring, then gets out his calculator, punches in some numbers and says, "Well, I figure the job will run about $900: $400 for material, $400 for my crew, and $100 profit for me."

The Dallas contractor steps up, takes some measurements, does some figuring, then says, "I can do this job for $700: $300 for materials, $300 for my crew and $100 profit for me."

The Chicago contractor doesn't measure or figure, but leans over to the White House official and whispers, "$2,700."

The official says, "You didn't even measure like the other guys! How did you come up with such a high figure"?

"Easy," the Chicagoan explains. "$1,000 for you, $1,000 for me, and we hire the guy from Dallas."

Great Moments in Government

From the Nashville Tennesseean via Governing magazine:

“I feel so strong about this. It’s my identity.”

- David Gatchell, a Franklin, Tenn., software developer and independent candidate for both governor and U.S. senator, who legally changed his middle name of Leroy to "None of the Above" and is suing state election commissioners to have that middle name appear on the November ballot

Military USERRA Rights

Lou Michels at Suits in the Workplace analyzes a USERRA case. An excerpt:

The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (known by the cumbersome acronym USERRA, pronounced "you-sarah") is a relatively recent statute that has not been the subject of widespread litigation in the courts until the events following September 11, 2001. Now the Fourth Circuit has
provided some very clear guidance on how the rights established by this law apply.

The case involved a plaintiff who worked for Booz Allen and was also a petty officer in the Naval Reserve. Following a 5-month active duty tour, the plaintiff alleged she was discriminated against and then discharged as a result of her military status and in retaliation for raising a claim of discrimination because of that status. She lost on all counts at summary judgment and appealed.

Read the rest of the article here.

Intelligent Deductions

The statisticians had one key piece of information, which was the serial numbers on captured mark V tanks. The statisticians believed that the Germans, being Germans, had logically numbered their tanks in the order in which they were produced. And this deduction turned out to be right. It was enough to enable them to make an estimate of the total number of tanks that had been produced up to any given moment.

Read the rest of The Guardian article here.

Kottke ]

Rodeo Kayaking

How do you market "rodeo kayaking?"*

According to this Harvard Business School article, you hit the user communities.

*Whitewater kayaking

Defamation by Union: "Dirty" Postcards

Workplace Prof Blog has more on the $17.3 million award against a labor union in a defamation case.

When you read about the tactic that was used, you can see why someone at union headquarters should have been saying, "Let's re-think this one."

From "Mini Me" to Globally Integrated Enterprises?

The head of IBM thinks multinational corporations are dinosaurs:

To succeed in this challenging global environment, Palmisano contends, IBM should be the last multinational corporation. Don't panic, Big Blue shareholders: He's talking evolution here, not extinction. In recent essays for the Financial Times newspaper and Foreign Affairs magazine, Palmisano went public with his big-think idea: The era of the multinational corporation is coming to a close. The very word "multinational," writes Palmisano, "suggests how antiquated our thinking about it is. The emerging business model of the 21st century is not, in fact, 'multinational.' This new kind of organization--at IBM we call it 'the globally integrated enterprise'--is very different in its structure and operations." Its many components, from back office to manufacturing to product development, will be dispersed around the planet in a vast network. Failure to adopt this model, he concludes, is not only bad for the immediate bottom line but in the long term will also exacerbate the many conflicts surrounding globalization. "People may ultimately elect governments that impose strict regulations on trade or labor," he warns, "perhaps of a highly protectionist sort. Worse, they might gravitate toward more extreme forms of nationalism, xenophobia, and antimodernism."

You can find the entire US News & World Report article here. The change can produce operational gains while undercutting political support for the antiglobalization movement.

The view that extensive economic ties reduce the chance of military conflict is less persuasive. Economics can be quickly trumped by other considerations. As I recall, France and Germany had strong trading relationships before the Second World War. The North and the South traded heavily before the American Civil War.

Now If They Can Discover How To Walk On It....

Although some unimaginative people feel that scientists should be devoting their time to finding cures to major diseases or global warming or people who talk in movie theaters, here are some folks who've developed a real contribution to human happiness: the ability to write on water.

Funny Numbers?

Charles Murray believes the No Child Left Behind Act has focused on the wrong numbers:

At stake is not some arcane statistical nuance. The federal government is doling out rewards and penalties to school systems across the country based on changes in pass percentages. It is an uninformative measure for many reasons, but when it comes to measuring one of the central outcomes sought by No Child Left Behind, the closure of the achievement gap that separates poor students from rich, Latino from white, and black from white, the measure is beyond uninformative. It is deceptive.

Click here for the entire article.

Passivity in the Workplace

Will Rogers said he'd rather have been the man who bought the Brooklyn Bridge than the man who sold it.

A noble sentiment, but you'll encounter a surprisingly large number of individuals who act as if those are the only choices.

An unwarranted fear of litigation has promoted a culture of passivity. Voices must be kept low and humor dulled lest someone get upset. A bland environment is presented as a superior alternative to the Neanderthal days of bullies and gropers. When examined though, it is almost as disrespectful. A person who regards you as so fragile that you cannot hear a dirty knock-knock joke without falling apart is not an individual who takes you seriously.

There is a large territory between being a rogue and being a wimp. The Greenbrier hotel's slogan on its anniversary, "One hundred years of ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen" was respectful without being weak. Ladies can be tough and gentlemen are both gentle and men.

A vapid environment in the workplace is not only weakening to our natures, it also reveals that a crucial ingredient to team success is missing. Individuals who must constantly be on guard do not fully trust their co-workers.

Employers should recognize that the culture of lawsuit avoidance so often touted by their attorneys is not a positive one. Courtesy and respect should be demanded, but if trust is desired, they must also be tempered with equal elements of tolerance and toughness. That is not too much to ask of ladies and gentlemen.

Earth to Boomers

CareerJournal has a good take on what work-obsessed, ego-driven, baby boomers can learn from the Generation Y, instant-messaging, slackers.

Just kidding!

Click Fraud

The proposed settlement in a click fraud case involving Google has drawn discussion on how such damages can be assessed.

The idea of having an independent service or board to determine just how many clicks are legitimate prospects and which are simply done to drive up advertising costs sounds appealing.

Thinking About Preferences

In some of my workshops over the past year, I've encountered people who carry a very relaxed view when it comes to quotas on the basis of race, sex or national origin.

After all, they say, schools give preferences to children of alumni and to jocks.

What's the big deal?

But even if we set aside the issue of illegality, isn't preference on the basis of race, etc., supposed to carry a greater stigma than preference on the basis of alumni ties? We didn't fight a civil war over alumni preferences, but we did fight a bloody one, in large part, over an extreme system of racial preference.

Remove that stigma and you are likely to see more discrimination in the future, not less.

Extraordinary Bookstores

Some extraordinary bookstores:

Foyles Bookshop in London [Huge. Chaotic. Marvelous. One entire room is dedicated to Pepys's diaries. They once tried to get Hitler to give them his banned books instead of burning them. He refused.]

The Poisoned Pen Bookstore in Scottsdale and Phoenix [Mystery books. Eventually, every mystery writer winds up here for a signing. Even the dead ones.]

The Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle [Be sure to check out their bargain section.]

Guidon Books (Western Americana and Civil War books) in Scottsdale [You'll find the hard-to-find ones in their specialty.]

Any other nominees?

Quote of the Day

To motivate your sales have to find better and more ways for them to struggle. Give them bigger projects where they can have even bigger losses. Hold huge company meetings where you give a salesperson the gold medal of rejection: Jonathan sold 500,000 computers last months, but he was rejected 5 million times! It may sound ludicrous, but this is the way to get fire in the belly of your sales force - particularly in America, where beating the odds is highly prized.

- G. Clotaire Rapaille

Monday, July 24, 2006

Werewolves of London

Here are some photos from London of the usual combination of hate groups and credulous loons demonstrating against Israel.

The unspeakable George Galloway, who has made a career of toadying to such protectors of human rights as Saddam Hussein and Fidel Castro and who mourned the fall of the Soviet dictatorship, was prominently featured.

It figures.

[HT: Tim Blair ]

Speakers to Watch or Download

Here's an interesting collection of speakers from the TED conference.

Among them: Al Gore, Rick Warren, Tony Robbins, and David Pogue.

[HT: Guy Kawasaki ]

The Carnival is Rolling

The Carnival of the Capitalists is up.

It has a great collection of posts on money, business, and management.

[Welcome to all Carnival visitors!]

The Boss: Neutral or Ally?

There is a simple observation that misses many executives, managers, and supervisors: You cannot expect to be regarded by your employees as an ally if you act like a neutral or, worse yet, an adversary.

Adversarial leaders get a lot of ink so I’ll save them for another day. For now, let’s just consider how department, division, and team leaders often treat their employees as resources to be managed, objects to be manipulated, or specimens to be examined. This neutrality seems much safer than any messy alliances that may imply, God forbid, some commitment. “I’m neither for you nor against you,” – the leader's actions proclaim – “and as a clinically-detached enforcer of rules and regulations I can, depending on the circumstances, treat you as the body or the tumor.”

In a cool frame of mind that would make James Bond envious, the savvy leader keeps all options open. If the decision comes down to fire old Frank or Sally or everyone in the division, things won’t get too emotional. After all, we’re adults here and being an adult means getting past childish attachments. While allies want you to succeed, neutrals are more focused on enforcing standards.

The problem is that while being neutral may be oh-so-sophisticated, in the eyes of the employees it is oh-so-unworthy-of-trust. Neutrality, with its lack of passion and caring, severs any serious connection between the follower and the leader. The follower knows that the leader, despite all of the rhetorical bunkum about the group being like a family, is more than capable of throwing grandma to the wolves if it will lighten the sleigh.

Being an ally carries risk. You may have to engage in some tough love. You might have to discipline a person you’ve come to like if all of your caring efforts to improve performance don’t work. But being an ally stands a far better chance of creating a cohesive team than a cold, neutral style that fosters mistrust.

Updike's Terrorist

Mark Steyn thinks John Updike’s new novel is less than impressive:

That said, Ahmad is a marvel of three-dimensional realization next to the novel's Jews and Irish (pale green eyes, freckles, red hair, pale skin) and blacks (with names like Tylenol Jones), all tied together neatly and geometrically: the Jewish guidance counsellor's lard-butt wife's sister is a secretary at the Department of Homeland Security who blabs incessantly. And Updike gets Ahmad a gig delivering furniture solely for the purpose of being able to conceal the dough for the terrorist operation inside an ottoman. An Ottoman! Geddit? You can't help feeling that real cells would find less clunky conveyances for cash disbursement and, if they were forced into using furniture, would be more likely to deploy an EZ Boy recliner. But an ottoman is the kind of pointedly elegant visual image you need a big-time novelist for.

Car versus Gymnasts

An odd British video of a race between a Peugeot 207 and a couple of French Parkour runners.

[HT: Jalopnik ]


YouTube's U.S. audience is exploding.

That's Deep, Man.

Neatorama has posted answers to questions that keep you up at night; weighty issues such as "Can a pregnant woman drive in the carpool lane?" and "Why does Hawaii have interstate highways?"

Not to forget "How much wood could a woodchuck chuck?"

Find it here.

Don't Get Too Clever

Creating Passionate Users has an insightful post (and amusing chart!) on when it is wise to ignore the competition and thus avoid messing up your product with unnecessary refinements.

It explains why "new and improved" may be new but not really improved.

Working Sabbaticals

Accenture is among an increasing number of employers offering company-backed nonprofit work to recruit and retain talent. In the Accenture Development Program, employees are paid half of their usual salaries, and nonprofit groups get Accenture's consulting expertise at steep discounts. Other employers that subsidize employee work with nonprofit groups include high-technology giant Cisco Systems Inc., pharmaceutical maker Pfizer Inc., Wells Fargo & Co. and consulting firm Bain & Co.

Read more about "working sabbatical" programs here.

Great Job Sites

Click here and then scroll down to find some great job sites.

Check Out JackRabbit

Check out JackRabbit, a site with tools for business start-ups.

[Thanks to BusinessPundit ]

Quote of the Day

One constant theme is, therefore, the need for the decision maker in the individual enterprise to face up to reality and resist the temptation of what "everybody knows," the temptations of the certainties of yesterday, which are about to become the deleterious superstitions of tomorrow. To manage in turbulent times, therefore, means to face up to the new realities.

- Peter Drucker

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Not Covered?

A strange court decision on harassment in a police department.

Here is the analysis of Workplace Prof Blog. I confess to being baffled by the court's reasoning.

Cheap Stuff for Productivity

It’s an amazing world when you can go on an Australian blog dedicated to HR and technology issues and find a link to another site giving a list of sites with cheap stuff for better productivity.

I especially appreciate the D*I*Y Planner site with items for organizing your day and its truly cheap wrist PDA.

Summer Gadgets

Click here for a slide show from Inc. magazine on gadgets for summer.

A waterproof iPod?

When Safe is Dangerous

This essay on how Disney initially was afraid of Johnny Depp's bizarre interpretation of Captain Jack Sparrow sparks comments on just when is the middle ground too safe.

[HT: kottke ]

Hidden Doors

It may be my life-long admiration of Vincent Price, but I've always wanted a house that had at least one hidden door.

Now, I know where to buy one.

Right here.

World Figure Photos

Photos of world figures in their youth.

Castro looked like an accounting student.

[HT: fark ]

The Multinationals are Coming

An American, cleaning up from Katrina, decided to buy a tractor:

But rather than buy an American-made John Deere or New Holland, brands he grew up with, Lucenberg chose a shiny red Mahindra 5500 made by India's Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. "I have been around equipment all my life," says Lucenberg, who also used the tractor to earn extra money clearing destroyed homes along the Gulf Coast. But for $27,000, complete with a front loader, the 54-hp Mahindra "is by far the best for the money. It has more power and heavier steel," Lucenberg says. "When you lock it into four-wheel drive, you can move 3,000 pounds like nothing. That thing's an animal." The local dealership in nearby Saucier, Miss. (population 1,300), figures it has sold 300 Mahindras in the past four months.

More here on how the multinationals from Asia and elsewhere are after your business.

What They Want

In one of the most admirably straightforward of Islamist declarations, Hussein Massawi, the Hezbollah leader behind the slaughter of U.S. and French forces 20 years ago, put it this way:

"We are not fighting so that you will offer us something. We are fighting to eliminate you."

Swell. But, suppose he got his way, what then? Suppose every last Jew in Israel were dead or fled, what would rise in place of the Zionist Entity? It would be something like the Hamas-Hezbollah terror squats in Gaza and Lebanon writ large. Hamas won a landslide in the Palestinian elections, and Hezbollah similarly won formal control of key Lebanese Cabinet ministries. But they're not Mussolini: They have no interest in making the trains run on time. And to be honest, who can blame them? If you're a big-time terrorist mastermind, it's frankly a bit of a bore to find yourself Deputy Under-Secretary at the Ministry of Pensions, particularly when you're no good at it and no matter how lavishly the European Union throws money at you there never seems to be any in the kitty when it comes to making payroll. So, like a business that's over-diversified, both Hamas and Hezbollah retreated to their core activity: Jew-killing.

Mark Steyn once again hits the target. His entire article is here.

April 30, 1864 Empowerment Letter

Executive Mansion
Washington, April 30, 1864

Lieutenant General Grant,

Not expecting to see you again before the Spring Campaign opens, I wish to express, in this way, my entire satisfaction with what you have done up to this time, so far as I understand it. The particulars of your plans I neither know or seek to know. You are vigilant and self-reliant; and pleased with this, I wish not to obtrude any constraints or restraints upon you. While I am very anxious that any great disaster, or the capture of our men in great numbers, shall be avoided, I know these points are less likely to escape your attention than they would be mine - If there is anything wanting which is within my power to give, do not fail to let me know it.

And now with a brave Army, and a just cause, may God sustain you.

Yours very truly,

A. Lincoln

Quote of the Day

The mind likes a strange idea as little as the body likes a strange protein and resists it with similar energy.

- Wilfred Trotter

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Human Rights in Iran

Given what's in the headlines, it may be appropriate to revisit this moving site on human rights abuses in Iran. One story:

A practicing doctor in 1979…
...He was arrested in his hometown shortly after the revolution. A former cellmate recalled: "He was well-spoken, warm-hearted, and brave. He had started his own medical clinic and, at the same time, had become a deputy in the parliament. He told me that he had barely escaped execution, had forfeited everything he owned, and had been condemned to a one-year exile. He said that they had sent him to Tehran to determine where he would finish his sentence. ... He talked about everything with simplicity, ease, and joy... 'I lost everything once before ... This time is no different. I'll start again.'" Yet, it was not to exile but to the 'Execution Corridor' that the revolutionaries sent him.

Levels of Civilian Culpability

Alan Dershowitz, writing in the Los Angeles Times, on differences in civilian casualties.

An excerpt:

There is a vast difference — both moral and legal — between a 2-year-old who is killed by an enemy rocket and a 30-year-old civilian who has allowed his house to be used to store Katyusha rockets. Both are technically civilians, but the former is far more innocent than the latter. There is also a difference between a civilian who merely favors or even votes for a terrorist group and one who provides financial or other material support for terrorism.

Finally, there is a difference between civilians who are held hostage against their will by terrorists who use them as involuntary human shields, and civilians who voluntarily place themselves in harm's way in order to protect terrorists from enemy fire.

[HT: RealClearPolitics ]

Who's Winning?

Military affairs writer Ralph Peters warns that Israel may be losing the war.

The Europeans, with the noble exception of Great Britain, are already wobbling.

[HT: RealClearPolitics ]

Restaurant of the Future?

This mixture of technology and the dining experience seems to remove a certain amount of pleasure:

The buzz was all about the technology. Legal Sea Foods, purveyor of traditional New England fare, was launching the restaurant of the future - or at least of today. Dubbed Legal Test Kitchen, LTK for short, a blustering press release promised "a glimpse into some of the restaurant industry's most innovative technology."

Here, diners would surf the Web or watch TV at their tables using portable plasma touchscreens while listening to their iPods via individual speakers. The hassle of ordering and paying would be mitigated by waiters toting hand-held PDAs and portable machines that let you swipe your own credit card.

Read the rest of the article here.

Project Runway Makes a Poor Personnel Decision

Finally saw the last week's Project Runway episode and was surprised.

The judges "fired" the wrong person.

They bounced Malan, who at least demonstrated creativity and was gutsy enough to take responsibility for his actions, and kept Angela, the poster girl for poor teamwork who tried to weasel out of any responsibility.

I'd love to hear their reasoning on that decision.

A Rich Soup of Reading

For years, I've recommended books on management and leadership to my classes and clients. While doing so, I tried to avoid glib, "turn everything around in one week", volumes that consume time and provide little insight. Some books have given just one good idea, but that can be enough to warrant a recommendation. Others are rich soups. Not all are strictly management books. Some histories and novels contain important lessons for the workplace.

These are some of the ones that I recommend most highly:

The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker. The common characteristics of effective executives are analyzed amid examples from business and government.

Leaders by Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus. A lively examination of just what makes leadership responsibilities different from managerial ones.

The Best and the Brightest by David Halberstam. How some extremely sharp people made terrible decisions regarding Vietnam.

Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. A psychiatrist's memoirs of his experiences in the Nazi death camps has much wisdom about life.

Master and Commander by Patrick O'Brian. O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin novels are a course in leadership.

How Successful People Succeed by Ben Stein. This self-help book should be mandatory reading in high schools.