Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A City Screams in Terror!

James Lileks discusses Halloween and has some neat horror movie posters.

Healthier Fried Chicken?

Business Week examines KFC's decision to change its recipe to get rid of trans-fat. An excerpt:

And given the direction American food habits have been heading in, getting rid of trans-fats is just one issue in the obesity debate. After all, research from the NPD Group shows that Americans are eating more hamburgers, doughnuts, French fries, and fried chicken than ever before. Harry Balzer, a noted food researcher at NPD Group, says "fried chicken is the fastest-growing fast-food menu item in the last decade" (see BusinessWeek.com, 11/9/05,
"Fat Times for Fast Food"). No wonder fast-food chains like Hardee's of CKE Restaurants (CKR) have introduced massive portions such as the Monster Thickburger (see BusinessWeek.com, 6/29/06, "Fast-Food Chains Buck the Healthy Trend").

Hitchens on Exits

Christopher Hitchens writes on indecent exit strategies in Iraq:

Many of those advocating withdrawal have been "war-weary" ever since the midafternoon of Sept. 11, 2001, when it was discovered that the source of jihadist violence was U.S. foreign policy—a mentality now reinforced by the recent
National Intelligence Estimate circulated by our emasculated, demoralized, and incompetent intelligence services. To this way of thinking, victory is impossible by definition, because any response other than restraint is bound to inflame the militancy of the other side. Since the jihadists, by every available account, are also inflamed and encouraged by everything from passivity to Danish cartoons, this seems to shrink the arena of possible or even thinkable combat. (Nobody ever asks what would happen if the jihadists had to start worrying about the level of casualties they were enduring, or the credit they were losing by their tactics, or the number of enemies they were making among civilized people who were prepared to take up arms to stop them. Our own masochism makes this contingency an unlikely one in any case.)

the entire thing.

RealClearPolitics ]

Discretion Needed

Employers are checking out job applicants by running their names on Google...

and for a sizable number, that proves to be fatal.

[HT: newsvine ]

Creative Advertising

Via Neatorama, one of the Pedigree light dog food ads.

Carnival of Business

The Carnival of Business is up at Mine That Data.

Like the Carnival of Capitalists, it has a collection of posts on business, management, and financial topics.

Both Style and Honesty

Any professional team that apologizes for poor performance has scored a lot of points - sorry - in my book.

The above ad, which I learned about via Adfreak, was placed by the Golden State Warriors.

Quote of the Day

An extraordinary affair. I gave them their orders and they wanted to stay and discuss them.

- The Duke of Wellington, following his first Cabinet meeting as prime minister

Monday, October 30, 2006

Economics and Then Some

Michael Barone talks to M&B about good news and a train wreck:

I was off the campaign trail for an interview late last week with Office of Management and Budget Director Rob Portman on the budget. He has good news and bad news. The good news is that the budget deficit has gone down far more than any model has predicted and seems headed to go down even further. The bad news is that in the longer term, we face a "train wreck" with rising spending on entitlements–Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

Read the rest here.

Fresh from Thailand!

Actor and comedian Larry Miller was in a less than pricey restaurant when a special guest appeared on the Larry King Show.

A guest so special that now Mr. Miller wonders about our culture.

How He Started: Roger Angell

In an interview, Roger Angell talks about both his writing career and editing for The New Yorker.

An excerpt:

I first contributed fiction to the magazine in 1944, when I was in the Army. My first fact piece for The New Yorker, the following year, was about a Seventh Army Air Force bomber mission—I wasn’t on it, thank God—from Saipan to Iwo Jima, in which the plane, a B-24 bomber, was hit by flak and fighters. The guys on the plane were wounded, and the plane fell through the air eight hundred miles back to the Marianas, and broke in half on landing. Everybody survived. It was basically a story about eleven really terrified guys.


The executive had heard Randall, one of her peers, make some inappropriate comments of a sexual nature.

"It wasn't anything approaching a proposition," she told the Human Resources specialist. "I'd say it was more of a tasteless remark but I think someone should let him know that comments like that just aren't professional."

The HR specialist replied, "Well, I agree that it is pretty mild but it could fall under our anti-harassment policy. We'll launch an investigation."

"I don't want an investigation," the executive replied, "and I don't want Randall to get into trouble. If you drag me into an investigation, I'll resign."

"I'll check with my boss," the HR specialist muttered.

Upon getting the news, the HR director contacted the company's attorney who, thinking of cases in which employers failed to have a prompt investigation, advised, "Too bad about the executive's feelings. Go ahead and investigate it."

The HR director said to the HR specialist, "We have no choice. Investigate it."

The HR specialist launched the investigation and scheduled interviews with several of Randall's co-workers..

Two days later, the executive who'd surfaced the problem resigned.

The HR director and the attorney discussed the matter and agreed that they'd had no choice.

Were they correct?

When is a Curmudgeon Lovable?

What is the difference between a lovable curmudgeon and a cruel abuser?

I ask this because you can find some individuals who are cranky and hard to handle but are revered and others who are simply abusive and mean.

An example: Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I worked with a retired criminal investigator who was in charge of background investigations. He was a rough old guy who never hesitated to tell you, in words of one syllable, how he felt about various matters. He would get angry and stomp off but he always came back. As far as I know, we all liked him.

What distinguished him from the classic workplace weasel?
  • He was blunt but never cruel.
  • He didn't pull rank. He'd argue with all levels and he never kissed up to gain favor.
  • He was tough but professional. The idea that he might tell inappropriate jokes or single someone out for harassment was unthinkable.
  • He was fair. He applied the same standards to himself that he'd apply to anyone else.
  • He was open to other opinions. If he felt your ideas had merit, he'd seriously consider them.
  • He put the mission above himself.

No wonder we liked him.

Protect the Cardinals

St. Louis is ranked as the most dangerous city in the United States.

Check out its competitors.

[HT: Drudge Report ]

Diversity in Iraq

Economist and ethnic studies scholar Thomas Sowell sees the main problem in Iraq has been diversity without assimilation.

In short, the melting pot is better than the salad bowl.

Searching for Insult

If you've been in the workplace any sizable length of time, you have probably encountered people who search for insult.

They listen carefully for every intonation and word that might signal a slight and are eager to label others as insensitive or bigoted. Usually, they are not disappointed in their quest, if only because their benchmark is so delicately calculated, the innocent and well-meaning are lumped in with the malevolent.

My guess is they don't care if their dragnet is too wide. Their game is not about spotting danger or discourtesy but instead is designed to establish their own superiority and, yes, innocence.

Unfortunately, many of these bitter souls work in the diversity field. There are diversity programs that promote practical ways of managing a mixed workforce that can be truly beneficial.

The ones that are conducted by zealots who seek to find racism, sexism, and homophobia under the corporate bed will divide your workforce far more than unite it. I continue to be surprised how often such practitioners are invited to facilitate diversity sessions at major organizations. Perhaps they aren't the only ones suffering from guilt.

Quote of the Day

Don't let your sorrow come higher than your knees.

- Swedish proverb

Sunday, October 29, 2006

7 Fast Tips on Files

  1. If you can't find a file quickly, it is as good as gone. Eliminate files or make them easy to find. Keeping hard to find files only clogs up the filing system.
  2. You don't lose things in fat files. It's when you become too clever and have minifiles that you begin to lose things.
  3. Remember this variation of the 80/20 rule: 20 percent of your files are related to 80 percent of your projects. 80 percent of your files only relate to 20 percent of your projects. Why do you have them mixed in together? Set aside your hot files.
  4. Beware of using both Word and WordPerfect. WordPerfect generously lists Word documents as well as its own. Word swinishly lists only Word documents. Unfortunately, since most people use Word, it has the advantage.
  5. Devote at least 30 minutes a week to eliminating files or else the jungle will start to grow back.
  6. Complete your email filing once a day. Don't let email messages pile up. Delete them, act upon them, or put them in files.
  7. Ask associates not to copy you on emails unless your participation or review is absolutely necessary.

Old Blogger Trick

Blogger has been acting strange again today. I'm posting this to see if it drags some of my other posts along with it.

Old blogger trick. Sometimes works and sometimes doesn't.

Stopping the Mullahs

Arthur Herman, writing in Commentary, believes there is a viable military option with regard to Iran and it involves going after their gasoline refineries.

Lighten Up Out There

A New York Times article - via Ann Althouse - on people who break up or never start relationships after learning the political views of the other person.

Wow. You mean they don't agree with me?

News flash: Your co-workers can be liberal, conservative, moderate, Democratic or Republican without being:
  • Evil
  • Greedy
  • Ignorant
  • Unsophisticated
  • Poorly informed
  • Unpatriotic
  • Bigoted
  • Warmongering
  • [Fill in the blank]

Same Sex Marriage in New Jersey

Law professor David M. Wagner on the New Jersey same sex marriage decision.

The Man Who Didn't Shout

I once knew a supervisor who didn't shout.

He was polite and soft-spoken. He didn't rush to judgment and when he reached a decision, it was after carefully considering a wide range of alternatives.

He drove many of his associates nuts.

Why? Because they thought he had a hidden agenda. The deadline he gave couldn't be a real deadline, it must be a negotiable one, and the standards he set must be open to haggling.

His rationality was a problem for them. He sought calm, order, and accuracy. They wanted emotion, loose arrangements, and rough estimates.

Both sides, of course, needed to understand the other, but the associates had the greater burden. Their supervisor was not going to engage in emotional pyrotechnics. He would never explode in rage or be abusive. But he was going to be disappointed if they did not learn his low-key lexicon. If he said, "I really don't like that option," that was his equivalent of throwing a lamp across the room.

He didn't have a hidden agenda. He just had a different language.

Ads That Repel

We know about commercials and ads that don't attract customers but what is shocking is how many businesses pay for advertising that actually repels potential buyers.

Do law firms realize that the "actual client" testimonials in their television ads are made by people who look guilty as hell? [But perhaps that is the client base they hope to attract. "Hey, if those fast talkers can get that clown off, they should be able to get my drunk driving charges bounced."]

Do the car dealers who feature their most stereotypic sales men (for some reason, they're always men) ever consider that Mr. High Pressure shouting their bargains might not present the best image? And having some speed reader rapidly recite the reservations, caveats, and disclaimers only adds to the impression that you're going to be taken?

Do political campaign managers know that placing a smarmy candidate in a commercial with a phony script and a doting wife only increases the sleazoid sensation? [I often suspect many of the campaign managers subconsciously do so to save the nation from such creeps.]

Quote of the Day

The ugliest of trades have their moments of pleasure. Now, if I were a grave digger, or even a hangman, there are some people I could work for with a great deal of enjoyment.

- Douglas Jerrold

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Just How Reliable Are Laptops?

What's the difference between a Sony or IBM or Toshiba laptop computer and one made at Gateway when it comes to reliability?

According to a Consumer Reports study, not a whole lot.

Lose Weight, Save Money

Want to spend less at the pump? Lose some weight. That's the implication of a new study that says Americans are burning nearly 1 billion more gallons of gasoline each year than they did in 1960 because of their expanding waistlines. Simply put, more weight in the car means lower gas mileage.

Using recent gas prices of $2.20 a gallon, that translates to about $2.2 billion more spent on gas each year.

"The bottom line is that our hunger for food and our hunger for oil are not independent. There is a relationship between the two," said University of Illinois researcher Sheldon Jacobson, a study co-author.

Read the rest here.

The Story That Doesn't Go Away

Neither prosecutor Mike Nifong nor any of his assistants have interviewed the accuser in the Duke lacrosse players rape case. They are relying solely on the police investigation.


[HT: Instapundit ]


Josh Manchester, writing in Tech Central Station, notes that the world is divided into two groups: the hunters and the hunted. An excerpt:

There are hundreds of websites featuring dozens of professionally produced videos of violence against US forces in Iraq. Dubbed with loud monotonal music for an extra creepy effect, at the point of the attack, the filmers usually erupt into cries of "Allahu akbar!"

The US might film its own missions for forensic or debriefing purposes sure, but that is a far cry from reveling in them. So what might motivate someone to be so twisted as to film and celebrate death?

One answer: recruitment.

Dalrymple on Crime

Theodore Dalrymple, in New Zealand for a meeting on crime, mentions some points that will surprise most of us:

But even if I had not been invited to New Zealand by the Sensible Sentencing Trust, I would have been alerted by reading the daily press to the existence of a dark side of New Zealand life: For every day there were stories of criminal brutality to which the official reaction seemed inadequate, or even casual.

On one day, a young man accused of murder made a vulgar and menacing gesture, in the very court in which he was being tried, to the sister of his alleged victim. Such a gesture could only have been indicative of the deepest possible contempt for the law, a contempt that was no doubt the fruit of long experience.

The day before, I had read of a young man who had attacked an old woman viciously, fracturing two of her facial bones and causing her other injuries from which it is unlikely that she will ever make a full physical or psychological recovery. For this, he was sentenced to a year's imprisonment. It is difficult to escape the conclusion that New Zealand is a country in which young men may with impunity attack old ladies with a murderous intensity; indeed, the government might as well issue them with an invitation to do so.

Of course, terrible things have always been reported in newspapers, for the reason first that they are interesting and second that they have always happened. In this sense, there is nothing new under the sun. But the statistics, as well as daily experience, tell the same story: Despite New Zealand's relative prosperity, it has the doubtful honour of being among the most violent and crime-ridden societies in the West.

Boxers or Briefs?

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — A Canadian city under pressure for alleged sexual harassment within its fire department has ordered firefighters to wear only boxer-style underwear.

Richmond, British Columbia, will spend $14,200 to buy six pairs of underwear for each firefighter in a bid to make firehalls in the suburb of Vancouver more gender neutral, a newspaper reported on Tuesday.

the rest here.

I have a feeling that changing the style of underwear may miss the main issue. It is similar to the old story about the wealthy man who came home one evening and discovered the maid and the butler making love on the sofa. The man was very upset. A week later, he came home unexpectedly and discovered his wife and his best friend making love on the sofa. He then decided to take action. He got rid of the sofa.

Justice Thomas Speaks

The Wall Street Journal Law Blog has an interesting post on some candid comments by Justice Clarence Thomas.

Among them: He doesn't like aggressive and hurtful questioning by judges and has some nice things to say about briefs filed by the American Civil Liberties Union.

Must Reading

Late last night - very late due to my insomniac dog - I finished Bruce Bawer's While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within.

It is not just a good book; it is an essential one if you want to understand what is happening in Europe. It also provides a great view of European anti-Americanism and how it thrived long before the Bush administration.

Bawer, who is gay and a liberal, writes a far more scathing indictment of the failure of Europe's leadership than anything I've seen from the Right.

The Tip

WaiterRant tells about a customer who left an unusual tip and then, something ethical happens!

Diva Update

Business Week looks at the reinvention of Martha Stewart:

Stewart, naturally, prefers not to talk about what the company would be like without her. At first, she will only express the hope that her name will have the longevity of Coco Chanel's or Walt Disney's. When pressed, she does say that "if I played a lesser role, the company could still do extremely well."At 65, though, she considers that prospect to be far off. She has no intention of pulling back her looming presence over the brand. She saw the damage that downplaying the Martha Stewart name caused for her company during "the legal problems," and she won't let that happen again. "I never agreed with that strategy because I believed in myself," says Stewart. The goal now is to take her brand as far as it will go and return her company to profitability (it hasn't made money since 2002 and in 2005 lost $76 million). "It's not like I'm an absentee founder, holed up in my château in France," she laughs. "I'm working every day."

Novels About Terrorism

Gerald Seymour gives his top five list of novels dealing with terrorism.

I'd add:

Harry's Game by Gerald Seymour

Quote of the Day

Reform always comes from below. No man with four aces asks for a new deal.

- The Irish Digest

Friday, October 27, 2006

Jargon Abuse

This CareerJournal article about people using corporate jargon at home is enough to make me scream:

When Michael Schiller, a management consultant, wanted to talk with his 15-year-old daughter about where she was going with her friends, he told her, "You have to recognize your ARAs and measure against them."

If my father had talked like that I might have recognized LSD and measured a rainbow.

His wife rolled her eyes, knowing that he was using HR speak to address accountability, responsibility and authority. His daughter, he says, "looked at me like I was from outer space."

That's because he is from outer space.

Sprawl Beyond Sprawl?

Joel Kotkin is high on suburbs and on America’s population growth:

Despite the desires of some new urbanists and "smart growth" activists to cram people into dense cities and regions, the America of 2050 — contrary to the contention of some demographers — also will likely be far more dispersed. A combination of new telecommunications technologies and rising land prices will accelerate the shift of population beyond the current suburban fringes and into the countryside. The demographer Wendell Cox calls this "sprawl beyond sprawl." It is driven by the simple fact, according to most recent surveys, that the vast majority of Americans — upward of 80% — still prefer single-family homes over apartments, while no more than 10% to 15% want to live near the central core.

Unless there is some sort of cultural revolution, most people, particularly families, are likely to continue migrating to places where they can acquire a spot of land and a little privacy. And despite the much ballyhooed "return to the city" by aging boomers, most experts suggest that most are either staying in the suburbs or moving to towns farther out in the hinterland. At least 30% of Americans, according to surveys by the National Association of Realtors and the Fannie Mae Foundation, express the desire to move to the country or a small environment, far more than live there now. The scale of this dispersion depends largely on urban governance. If cities cannot, due to economic or regulatory constraints, provide sufficient job opportunities, people and businesses naturally will flee elsewhere. Other factors, such as preserving family-friendly neighborhoods and stamping out a nascent resurgence in crime, will also be critical.

Light Amusement: Great Expectations

It's Friday. Time for some light humor.

A man and a woman eye one another in the lobby of a hotel:

Ignore the risque title. This is a brief and tasteful video about a rendezvous with a twist.

Bootlegging, Piracy, and Your Employees

Elizabeth W. Carroll, writing in the Oklahoma Employment Law Letter, on the dangers of employees downloading the property of others:

Employers are responsible for their employees' acts through a doctrine known as vicarious liability. In the same way that you might be responsible if your company truck driver slammed into the back of an unsuspecting bus full of children, you can be responsible if your mail clerk sits down at the computer and downloads bootleg copies of Pirates of the Caribbean.

"Quickie Time Tracking"

The cliche is correct: The simplest concepts are often the best.

From Work, in Plain English, "Quickie Time Tracking."

A very simple way to see how much remaining time you have on projects.

[HT: Political Calculations ]


Let’s say that your business is putting together “haunted houses” for the Halloween season and you need to know what will scare your customers. You’d do research, right?

Although the polling process did not adhere to scientific standards, Haskell, who lives in Brooklyn and is most scared of getting stuck in a cave, and Smithyman, an Englishman, who is afraid of being eaten alive, had ventured to draw a few conclusions. People from the Bronx and Queens, they said, tend to fear things that might actually happen, like being mugged (harpaxophobia), while Manhattanites are frightened of fantastical and unlikely occurrences (flying sharks, riding in an elevator that rockets through the roof of a building). “In Manhattan and Brooklyn, we heard ‘fear of the homeless,’ ” Smithyman said. “Then, in the Bronx, we heard ‘fear of becoming homeless.’ ” Staten Island residents apparently dread chemical spills and gas leaks.

Read the entire article from
The New Yorker here.

Three Unspoken Interview Questions

The three unspoken questions of every job interview:

Can I trust this person?

How will this person fit in with my team?

Will this person embarrass me?

Token Support?

The controversy over whether German and French troops in Afghanistan are avoiding action in the more dangerous parts of the country is growing...and getting notice even in Germany.

British, Dutch, U.S., and Canadian forces are bearing more of the combat burden.

Quote of the Day

The nature of every bureaucracy is to make functionaries and mere cogs in the administrative machinery out of men, and thus to dehumanize them.

- Hannah Arendt

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Oasis: Low Cost Flights

An airline that offers flights from Hong Kong to London for $128.

The Omnivore's Dilemma

Many books on food and diet are boring. Reason examines one with an intriguing difference:

As any TV news junkie could tell you, American food is a world in disarray. We're fat, sick, and sick of being fat, thanks to partially hydrogenated soybean oil, hormone-laden beef, and pesticide-coated cauliflower. Every local news station runs a weekly horrifying food-related exposé—some true, some false, all accompanied by a B-roll of big bellies. And when our food isn't a threat to us, we're a threat to our food: Chickens and cows, we're told, are being mistreated nationwide. The proposed solutions run the gamut from big government to huge government: new labeling requirements, bans on trans fats and soda machines in schools, lawsuits against McDonald's.

In the midst of all the chaos sits Michael Pollan, calmly nibbling a piece of homemade boar prosciutto and ruminating, "Let them eat cake made with unbleached organic flour and fresh butter from the local creamery." Pollan is the author of The Omnivore's Dilemma, an irritatingly excellent book. The reporting is illuminating, the writing is clear and swift, and I'm furious at myself for not having thought of the concept first. In this "Natural History of Four Meals," Pollan traces the ingredients of four meals from field to table: an industrial fast food lunch at McDonald's, a "big organic" winter supper from Whole Foods, a "local" dinner from a small farm in Virginia, and a final meal that he hunts, gathers, and cooks himself.


The top Muslim cleric in Australia is catching well-deserved criticism after providing an unusual spiritual message:

In a sermon marking the end of Ramadan, Sheikh Taj el-Din Al Hilali told worshippers in Sydney that women who display their bodies were like "uncovered meat". He said that women should stay hidden at home, or wear the hijab, or Islamic scarf, in public.

"If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside on the street, or in the garden or in the park ... and the cats come and eat it ... whose fault is it?

"The cats or the uncovered meat?"

[Note: See the prior post on The Dark Ages.]

Costco Stands Out

Why does Costco work?

Fortune article on its CEO Jim Sinegal provides a lot of insight. An excerpt:

With $59 billion in sales from 488 warehouse locations, Costco, No. 28 in the Fortune 500, is the fourth-largest retailer in the country and the seventh-largest in the world.

In the 23 years since Sinegal co-founded Costco with Jeff Brotman (now chairman), it has never reported a negative monthly same-store sales result. Yet he's modestly compensated - Sinegal earned $450,000 in salary and bonus last year, chump change by CEO standards. Add in his stockholdings and he's worth $151 million. (One note on that: On Oct. 12, Costco disclosed that an internal review of stock-option granting identified one grant to Sinegal that was "subject to imprecision" and "may have benefited [Sinegal] by up to $200,000." Sinegal says he takes "full responsibility.")

The company counts nearly 48 million people as members, and those customers are not only slavishly devoted (averaging 22 trips per year, according to UBS analyst Neil Currie), but surprisingly affluent as well (more than a third have household incomes over $75,000).
Wal-Mart (Charts) stands for low prices and Target (Charts) embodies cheap chic, Costco is a retail treasure hunt, where one's shopping cart could contain a $50,000 diamond ring resting on top of a 64-ounce vat of mayonnaise. Despite having 82 fewer outlets than its nearest rival, Wal-Mart's Sam's Club, Costco generates about $20 billion more in sales.

Take That, Ingrates!

Adfreak notes one woman's way to solve family quarrels over the future inheritance:

Place ads until the money runs out!

Now Showing: The Dark Ages

Victor Davis Hanson notes the giant steps backwards in The Middle East:

The most frightening aspect of the present war is how easily our pre-modern enemies from the Middle East have brought a stunned postmodern world back into the Dark Ages.
Students of history are sickened when they read of the long-ago, gruesome practice of beheading. How brutal were those societies that chopped off the heads of Cicero, Sir Thomas More and Marie Antoinette. And how lucky we thought we were to have evolved from such elemental barbarity.

Twenty-four hundred years ago, Socrates was executed for unpopular speech. The 18th-century European Enlightenment gave people freedom to express views formerly censored by clerics and the state. Just imagine what life was like once upon a time when no one could write music, compose fiction or paint without court or church approval?

Read the entire article here.

Ten Ways to Lose the Respect of Your Employees

  1. Play favorites.
  2. Ridicule people.
  3. Fumble the basics.
  4. Lie.
  5. Overpromise.
  6. Gossip.
  7. Waste their time.
  8. Take credit for their work.
  9. Blame them for your mistakes.
  10. Don't share their hardships.

For Your Election Day Fix

If you are a political junkie, Slashdot ("politics for nerds") has a posting with some nifty sites to monitor the results of congressional campaigns.

[HT: Futurismic ]

Thoughts for the Workplace

"We look at it and do not see it."
- Lao-tzu

"One of the paradoxes of an increasingly specialized, bureaucratized society is that the qualities required in the rise to eminence are less and less the qualities required once eminence is reached."
- Henry Kissinger

"It would perhaps be poetic justice if planners were paid in Susan B. Anthony dollars."
- Norman R. Augustine

"In life, as in war, the shortest route is usually mined."
- Old Saying

"85% of the world’s work is done by people who don’t feel very well."
- Winston Churchill

"No matter how much you like vegetables yourself, never try to feed a cat a carrot."
- Alex McEachern

"If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted or Beethoven composed."
- Martin Luther King Jr.

"He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city."
- 16 Proverbs 32

"Learn to say no. It will be of more use to you than to be able to read Latin."
- Charles Spurgeon

"The chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what you want most for what you want now."
- Zig Ziglar

"Coaches have to watch for what they don't want to see and listen for what they don't want to hear."
- John Madden

"If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail."
- Abraham Maslow

"You can't imagine the extra work I had when I was a god."
- Emperor Hirohito

"As soon as you are complicated, you are ineffectual."
- Maxim favored by Konrad Adenauer

"There is at bottom only one problem in the world and this is its name. How does one break through? How does one get into the open? How does one burst the cocoon and become a butterfly?"
- Thomas Mann

Movie Monologues

The House Next Door lists five great movie monologues.

From Citizen Kane: A fellow will remember a lot of things you wouldn't think he'd remember. You take me. One day, back in 1896, I was crossing over to Jersey on the ferry, and as we pulled out, there was another ferry pulling in, and on it there was a girl waiting to get off. A white dress she had on. She was carrying a white parasol. I only saw her for one second. She didn't see me at all, but I'll bet a month hasn't gone by since that I haven't thought of that girl.

[HT: kottke ]

Juan and The Coz

Abigail Thernstrom, Harvard professor, author, and member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, finds much to admire in the message of Bill Cosby and Juan Williams:

Williams is a senior correspondent for NPR and a strong liberal voice on Fox News. And yet he’s poured his heart and soul into delivering a heroic message that is deeply at odds with dug-in liberal orthodoxy. (Or rather, with the orthodoxy of the chattering classes; ordinary black folks are another story.) As Williams himself has said, “You become some sort of leper if you don’t lock-step your opinions in line with white liberals. They run the programming of CBS, NBC, and ABC, and they don’t want you to rock the boat of received opinion.”

Enough is a brave and wonderful book. It is also rather unusual; in effect, Bill Cosby is the co-author. I cannot think of another work quite like it. Williams is Cosby’s translator. As he acknowledges, his aim is to explain and defend The Cos, who gives speeches but does not write. Cosby is a beloved actor and comedian. But on May 17, 2004, in a speech to a glittering black-tie crowd celebrating the Golden Anniversary of Brown v. Board, he wasn’t funny and endearing. He delivered remarks from which his old friends in the civil-rights community (who have been substantial beneficiaries of his philanthropic largesse) have yet to recover.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” he said, “the lower-economic and lower-middle-economic people are not holding their end in this deal” — the deal being rights, accompanied by responsibility. Too many young men are dropping out of school, fathering children from whom they “run away,” and populating prisons. “We cannot blame white people,” he went on; the problem is the underclass culture. “Everybody knows it’s important to speak English except these knuckleheads. . . . These people are fighting hard to be ignorant.”

Quote of the Day

I have two very rare photographs. One is a picture of Houdini locking his keys in his car. The other is a rare photograph of Norman Rockwell beating up a child.

- Steven Wright

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

They Snigger

George Orwell’s essay, England Your England, written in 1941 resonates today.

Some things never change. An excerpt:

In intention, at any rate, the English intelligentsia are Europeanized. They take their cookery from Paris and their opinions from Moscow. In the general patriotism of the country they form a sort of island of dissident thought. England is perhaps the only great country whose intellectuals are ashamed of their own nationality. In left-wing circles it is always felt that there is something slightly disgraceful in being an Englishman and that it is a duty to snigger at every English institution, from horse racing to suet puddings. It is a strange fact, but it is unquestionably true that almost any English intellectual would feel more ashamed of standing to attention during ‘God save the King’ than of stealing from a poor box.

Alternative Fuel Vehicle

When primitive automobiles first began to appear in the 1800s, their engines were based on steam power, the same power source which had motivated the Industrial Revolution. Steam had already enjoyed a long and successful career in locomotive powerplants, so it was only natural that the technology evolved into a miniaturized version which was unshackled from the rails. But these early cars inherited steam's weaknesses along with its strengths. The boilers had to be lit by hand, and they required about twenty minutes to build up pressure before they could be driven. Furthermore, their water reservoirs only lasted for about thirty miles before needing replenishment. Despite such shortcomings, these newfangled self-propelled carriages offered quick transportation, and by the early 1900s it was not uncommon to see such machines shuttling wealthy citizens around town.

Read the rest of the
Damn Interesting story of the last great steam car.

But Of Course

Somehow the concern of running out of Halloween candy seems minor:

France is preparing for riots as November 1 approaches.

[HT: Instapundit ]

Letting It Go

Ask Uncle Bill discusses the concept of “never complain, never explain":

Each time I talk to him I try to steer away from the dot bust and back to his kids, his IRA, his paid up house, his rental houses, his great investment in San Diego townhouses but no, the talk always centers around the dot deal and that son of a bitch broker. My friend expends a lot of energy on that guy who, surpise, got cashiered out of the investment business and is probably in jail right now. Which is probably a good thing for him since I'm sure my friend would blast him away with a M-16 if he had one.

We all make mistakes, pass on good deals, invest in bad ones. I should have bought a house in San Francisco when I was three but I didn't. The real thing to avoid is betting the house on one deal. Or if you do, be ready to lose it all and walk away. People that buy businesses or start a business, do this all the time. That's fine but be ready to lose everything and be ready to start over again.

Bermuda Triangle Moves to Europe

Livestock farmers in Slovenia, only two years after joining the European Union, are proving as imaginative as Italian olive growers when claiming Brussels subsidies.

Inspectors found that half the cattle that Slovene farmers said they owned, so qualifying them for special EU cow and beef grants, did not exist. A quarter of their sheep and goats were equally invisible.

Read the rest of The Times of London article here.

Lileks from the Heartland

If a foreign visitor wants to get a sense of the American heartland, reading the columns and blog posts of James Lileks is a good start. Today, he’s discussing Halloween. An excerpt:

All the Halloween stuff came out today. There’s not much, but I remember (insert coot-signifying harmonica melody here) when there wasn’t any Halloween stuff to take out, let alone put away. Maybe one skeleton from the Ben Franklin, conveniently jointed so you could fold it up. Now we have rot-free faux pumpkins, strings of pumpkin lights, pumpkin bobbleheads, pumpkin bowls, pumpkin snowglobes, and pumpkin bubble-blowing bottles left over from three years ago. (I know, because I can carbon-date the detritus from the graphics. Target changes their Halloween designs every year.) I suppose I could dig down deep and find something horribly wrong about this, but I can’t; there’s nothing wrong with Halloween that November 1st can’t cure. No one wakes on December 26th to find the tree has been half-consumed by rodents. Pumpkins, on the other hand, have their faces chewed off in the night.

Leadership Techniques

Slow Leadership has a great post on the limits of leadership techniques.

One big limit: If the technique does not fit the person, it won't last. The person must be before the person can do. Many people go to workshops, get pumped up on some technique, go back and try it for a few days, and then revert to their old approach because although the technique was new, they weren't.

Another key point: You learn to lead by leading. Books and training are helpful in identifying things to avoid but the actual practice of leadership must be acquired by practicing leadership.

Ten PowerPoint Presentation Mistakes

  1. Too much information on the slides. [Never reproduce a page or paragraph.]
  2. Too many slides. [General rule: Never have more than eight.]
  3. Too many bullet points per slide. [No more than three.]
  4. Font too small to be easily read. [Should be at least 24 point.]
  5. Font color and background color make the slide impossible to read from the back of the room. [Hey! We're getting old!]
  6. Far too many background colors are used. [Stick to two or three for the background.]
  7. Inconsistent font styles. [Very tacky.]
  8. Font styles don't match tone of presentation; e.g., cheery font, somber topic.
  9. So many special effects that the message is missed. [Let your message provide the fireworks.]
  10. Overall effect is too formal for small audiences. [If the group is small, drop the PowerPoint and use a conversational tone.]

Sophisticated European Update

I routinely read European newspapers and magazines.

Their coverage of American politics and the United States in general is not merely poor, it's laughable. [Check out The BBC, The Guardian and der Spiegel for frequent examples.]

The electronic media aren't any better. Jane Galt is watching Sky News in Britain:

Watching Sky News is weird, because half the news is about America, and half of that is wrong. I mean, not factually wrong, but with a take on things that seems very strange to an American. For example, there was a very long piece on the "rising backlash" against George Bush on global warming. I care about global warming about as much as any quasi-libertarian, ever, I try to live a green(ish) lifestyle, and I follow the issue pretty closely. I had not noticed any rising backlash against anything except the rising gas prices preventing some Americans from taking long trips in their SUVs. Source of this "backlash"? Cities (and California) passing their own global warming ordinances.

This makes perfect sense from a British perspective, where about the only thing local councils are allowed to control is grotty public housing. But overlaying that worldview onto America has very strange results. Local governments can pass ordinances against global warming whenever they want; they can outlaw coveting your neighbour's wife, too, for all the good it will do. But in doing so, they don't strike a blow against the federal government; they are just making themselves part of the grand (classical) liberal experiment that is supposed to flower under federalism.

[HT: Instapundit ]

Quote of the Day

Learn to obey before you command.

- Solon

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Humor Break: Achieving Inner Peace

I don't know where this bit of advice came from but it's making the rounds of the Internet:

I am passing this on to my good friends because it definitely works, and we could all use a little more calmness in our lives. By following simple advice heard on the Dr. Phil show, you too can find inner peace. Dr. Phil proclaimed, "The way to achieve inner peace is to finish all the things you have started and have never finished." So, I looked around my house to see all the things I started and hadn't finished, and before leaving the house this morning, I finished off a bottle of Merlot, a bottle of White Zinfandel, a bottle of Bailey's Irish Cream, a bottle of Kahlua, a package of Oreos, the remainder of my oldProzac prescription, the rest of the cheesecake, some Doritos, and a box of chocolates.

[HT: Lou Rodarte]

Skyline GT-R

Can Nissan's sales get a boost from an $85,000 car?

I See Dead Planets

Via Neatorama, the perfect chair - it rotates! - for lazy stargazers.

Throw the bums out!

Adfreak looks at a survey that reveals which baseball teams we like to hate and notes that the World Series between the Detroit Tigers and the St. Louis Cardinals doesn't trigger raw emotions.

Naturally, the team that inspires the greatest hatred is the you-know-who.


If you are a worrier - and I am one of Olympic caliber - you might enjoy Edward Hallowell's extraordinary book, Worry.

I pass this along because I've found his insights and recommendations to be extremely helpful. Hallowell, a lecturer at Harvard Medical School and the founder and director of The Hallowell Center for Cognitive and Emotional Health in Concord, Massachusetts, explores how we can bring our worries into perspective. An excerpt:

I was "on" that day and gave a good talk. When it was over and the applause died down, my old teacher, Dr. Leston Havens, shook my hand and told me the talk was "superb." He told me I should feel proud. And I did...for about as long as it takes a light bulb to fade after you flick off a switch.

Why was it that at the very moment Dr. Havens was shaking my hand, I picked out the face of a woman at the back of the room who was scowling at me? My eyes connected with hers, and her scowling face stuck in my mind as if it were a poisonous dart. As I left the lecture hall, that face overwhelmed my mind. Rather than feeling the gentle warmth of a job well done, I felt a chill rising within me instead. What was the meaning of that scowl, I wondered to myself. Why had that woman looked so disapprovingly at me? What had I done wrong? And what bad thing would happen to me as a result?

End of the World As We Know It Update

Mark Steyn is looking at population stats again:

I wonder how many pontificators on the "Middle East peace process" ever run this number: the median age in the Gaza Strip is 15.8 years.

Once you know that, all the rest is details. If you were a "moderate Palestinian" leader, would you want to try to persuade a nation—or pseudo-nation—of unemployed poorly educated teenage boys raised in a UN-supervised European-funded death cult to see sense? Any analysis of the "Palestinian problem" that doesn't take into account the most important determinant on the ground is a waste of time.

Likewise, the salient feature of Europe, Canada, Japan, and Russia is that they're running out of babies. What's happening in the developed world is one of the fastest demographic evolutions in history. Most of us have seen a gazillion heartwarming ethnic comedies—"My Big Fat Greek Wedding" and its ilk—in which some uptight WASPy type starts dating a gal from a vast, loving, fecund Mediterranean family, so abundantly endowed with sisters and cousins and uncles that you can barely get in the room.

It is, in fact, the inversion of the truth. Greece has a fertility rate hovering just below 1.3 births per couple, which is what demographers call the point of "lowest-low" fertility from which no human society has ever recovered. And Greece's fertility is the healthiest in Mediterranean Europe: Italy has a fertility rate of 1.2, Spain, 1.1.

Read the entire NewsMax.com article here.

Legal Thrillers

Lars Ostrom lists titles that are still available for taut, fast-paced, legal thrillers.

Diversity and Turnover: Weak Link

Business Pundit has an interesting analysis of this study, which finds a weak link between diversity and turnover; i.e., diversity does not in itself help you to retain employees.

Very interesting:

One surprising finding of the study, however, is that women seem to dislike gender diversity. In fact, women are more likely to quit when the gender diversity of their workplace is close to fifty-fifty than when it is mostly female or mostly male.

Consultant Roles

David Maister, who has devoted his career to advising professional service firms, has raised an interesting question: What do consultants know?

In my consulting practice, I've found that our advice tends to fall into these categories:

Narrow Expert: We are asked to assist a client on a project that we've done many times. We know the subject extremely well because it has been our focus and we have a passion for the topic.

Related Expert: We haven't worked on the specific topic, but have handled related matters and the skills needed for success are interchangeable. We carefully consider these projects and only take on ones in which we are fully confident that not only can we do a good job, we can also bring a perspective that the Narrow Expert might miss.

Sage Advisor: On these projects, which usually involve executive or managerial coaching, we are asked to provide objective and sober advice. Our ability to do so comes in part from a knowledge of the particular subject area, but also from the fact that we have "street smarts" related to life and organizations and have the scars to prove it.

What I find interesting about the above categories is the greatest appreciation from clients tends to fall in the Sage Advisor role, possibly because of the personal nature of the service. The consultant is more of an ally and less of a tool. All of us, at some point in our lives, need a Sage Advisor.

Some less enjoyable roles for consultants are:

Fall guy

We do our best to avoid those assignments.

Ten Ways That Organizations Encourage Unethical Behavior

  1. Shooting bearers of bad news.
  2. Labeling dissenters as incompetents and malcontents.
  3. Letting the end justify the means.
  4. Aiming solely for legal compliance instead of ethical behavior.
  5. Seeking to be right instead of doing right.
  6. Justifying questionable behavior by noting that everybody does it or that the competition did it first.
  7. Punishing technical violations more severely than ethical violations.
  8. Identifying anything related to the success of the business as being synonymous with good ethics.
  9. Believing that the top decision makers are so bright that if they favor a course of action, then that course of action must be ethical.
  10. Valuing toughness over integrity.

Quote of the Day

Whenever I indulge my sense of humor, it gets me into trouble.

- Calvin Coolidge

Monday, October 23, 2006

"Why Men Hate Going to Church"

From an interview with David Murrow, author of Why Men Hate Going to Church:

Little things matter to men. For instance, how we decorate the sanctuary: soft, cushiony pews, fresh flowers, boxes of Kleenex, lace curtains, and of course, quilted banners on the walls. Honestly, how do we expect men to connect to a masculine God in an environment that feels like Aunt Polly's parlor?I think we could ditch the handholding, prayer requests and screeching violin offertories from seven-year-olds without driving women away. I know a lot of women who would appreciate a more masculine Jesus. I also know women who are sick of the "I'm in therapy forever" emphasis in our megachurches. Men and women need a mission, not just a personal relationship with Jesus.


But the male dominated church is largely myth. Men dominate the pulpit (and some governing boards), but women dominate everything else. The average worship service draws an adult crowd that's 61 percent female. Midweek activities are often 70 or 80 percent female. Church staffs are almost totally female. Author Leon Podles puts it this way: modern churches are ladies' clubs with a few male officers.If current trends continue, by 2050 the average pastor in America will be a 55 year-old woman. By 2075 the male pastor will be as uncommon as the male nurse is today. This is already happening in the Church of England; in 2005, that denomination will appoint more female priests than male ones for the first time. And their average age is nearing 60. One observer laments, "the priesthood is becoming a hobby for grannies."

"Street Meat"

Want to be a political commentator on the television news programs?

As this CareerJournal article shows, it's not a pretty process.

And we wonder why we are subjected to people like Ann Coulter, James Carville, and Ariana Huffington.

Carnival Time

The Carnival of the Capitalists is up at Blawg Review.

As always, an eclectic collection of posts on business, management, and financial topics.

Enron Exec Sentenced: 24 and 4

Former Enron executive Jeff Skilling has been sentenced to 24 years and four months in prison.

The Wall Street Journal Law Blog has the story and a list of the sentences in other white collar criminal cases.

Global Swarming

The sign of a real sickness in the legal profession:

Attorneys rushing make a case out of global warming.

Here’s an excerpt from the Business Week article:

So when friend and fellow trial lawyer Timothy W. Porter showed up to help with food and water, the two plotted a legal assault. Since Katrina's fury was powered by unusually warm Gulf water, and since such warmth could result from global warming, companies that have pumped the atmosphere full of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide should be liable for damages, they figured. "To me, Katrina was a clear result of irresponsible behavior by the carbon-emissions corporate economy," says Maples. He recruited suddenly homeless neighbors like Ned Comer and filed a class action on their behalf in federal court in Gulfport, Miss. The defendants? Dozens of oil companies, utilities, and coal producers, from Chevron and Exxon Mobil (
XOM ) to American Electric Power (AEP ) and Xcel Energy (XEL ). "This is a heartfelt effort," Maples says. "I don't want to leave this global warming mess to my children."

[Oh, yes, the children. It's always for the children.]

Great Moments in Television

Most Haunted, a big television hit in Britain, has an admirer at The Telegraph:

Last year's Hallowe'en special is out on DVD, and I recommend it to any student of stupidity: you will not find a finer example of sustained nonsense. The show comes from a pub cellar in which a murderer's spirit supposedly lurks among the barrels. The show's presenter Yvette Fielding and the entertainer Paul O'Grady are dispatched into the pitch-dark basement, joined only by a cameraman with an infra-red lens. The idea is that they spend the evening down there, recording any unusual events. Meanwhile upstairs, an audience of paranormal enthusiasts gather to watch the unfolding action on closed-circuit monitors.

That action largely consists of Fielding and O'Grady scaring themselves witless, squealing at every gurgle in the pub's plumbing. Occasionally, Fielding's face is framed in the camera, red-eyed and terrified, earnestly asking if anyone else heard what she just heard. No one has, so she shrieks: "Shush, listen, what was that? Did you hear that?" You listen hard, but there is nothing to hear.

At one point, O'Grady is convinced he sees something emerging from a corner of the cellar. In high excitement, the camera dashes over to the corner and discovers precisely nothing. Soon, the two presenters are joined by a medium who, to no one's surprise, given that his livelihood depends on sustaining the myth, quickly communes with the interloping spirit. As he flaps about the place woo-ing and moaning, the stupidity levels are cranked up so high that even Fielding has difficulty maintaining a straight face.

What They Say and What They Mean: Interpreting Workplace Phrases

"That's very creative."
We don't like creative.

"I'll back you to the hilt but, of course, I can't say anything right now."
My support will consist of meaningful hand gestures.

"Let's run it by the committee."
And then it will be unrecognizable.

"Your research is impressive."
My control over your information sources must be slipping.

"We value diversity."
Except for intellectual diversity, of course.

"The CEO knows about your work."
And you wouldn't believe what I've told him.

"We don't have the time to run it by the lawyers."
We'll mysteriously find the time later if we get sued.

Clever Ad for a Glass Cleaner

[HT: Creative Criminal ]

Box Office Mania

Dustin Hoffman on the film biz:

Hoffman criticised the film industry for being obsessed with looking almost hourly at the box-office takings of a film in its first few days of release, meaning poor quality but populist films could push out higher-quality productions.

“If the movie doesn’t make money it must therefore be a bad work,” said Hoffman, who won best actor Oscars for Kramer vs Kramer and Rain Man. “I don’t remember a time when there was so much respect for bad work.”

However, Hoffman was encouraged by the more recent success of some American films. “You cannot stop the artists.”

For Hoffman, “the most exciting film I’ve seen this year” is the small-budget Little Miss Sunshine, which tells the story of a dysfunctional family driving across America.

[HT: Drudge Report ]

Quote of the Day

It is usually expensive and lonely to be principled.

- Paul Theroux

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Claiming the Victim

From gapingvoid.


Poet R.S. Gwynn on reconnecting with old classmates:

Click here for the poem.

Bawer on Europe

Bruce Bawer, writing in The Hudson Review, examines several books on the crisis in Europe.

Bawer’s own book, While Europe Slept, is a fascinating look at the subject. (If you don't have time to read it, be sure to read the article. It's well worth your time.)

He also has a blog.

Duck and Cover

I had to pass along this law student t-shirt which was featured at Blawg Review.

Nice Finishes First

Writing in The Christian Science Monitor, Marilyn Gardner notes the rise of niceness in the workplace:

Patrick Morris could call it "a tale of two companies." As a new college graduate beginning his first job in public relations at a major cosmetics firm in New York, he knew he would be the proverbial low man on the totem pole.

"You feel you're going to get put upon and crunched and tossed around," he says. But instead of the huge egos and "attitude" he expected, he found himself surrounded by good, caring people. "It made all the difference in the world and helped to shape me into the professional I am today."

By contrast, his next job at a television shopping channel proved to be "an environment full of finger-pointing and backstabbing," he says. "It became a nightmare to go into the office."

Scalia on The Press

Justice Antonin Scalia on the press reporting of court decisions:

Scalia expressed disdain for the news media and the general reading public and suggested that together they condone inaccurate portrayals of federal judges and courts.

"The press is never going to report judicial opinions accurately," he said.

"They're just going to report, who is the plaintiff? Was that a nice little old lady? And who is the defendant? Was this, you know, some scuzzy guy? And who won? Was it the good guy that won or the bad guy? And that's all you're going to get in a press report, and you can't blame them, you can't blame them. Because nobody would read it if you went into the details of the law that the court has to resolve. So you can't judge your judges on the basis of what you read in the press."

Justice Scalia also noted, "It so happens that everything that is stupid is not unconstitutional."

[HT: Drudge Report ]

Ego-Free Leadership

Slow Leadership looks at ego-free leadership. An excerpt:

Here are the business qualities and behaviors Ms. Debnam gives as examples of ego-free leadership:

1. Put the business agenda ahead of your own agenda
2. Recruit the best person for the role – not just personal supporters
3. Discourage empires and cliques
4. Encourage people to challenge the status quo and question existing methods and strategies
5. Encourage leadership to flourish at all levels of the organisation
6. Respond to change initiatives according to business need vs personal need
7. Leave a legacy of ongoing excellence

This sounds very like Slow Leadership to me. All I would want to add is something like this:

8. Encourage good work and discourage cutting corners, even if it takes longer
9. Delegate everything you can (and then some)
10. Never trade off thinking time for mere busyness
11. Remember success is about creating long-term value, not snatching short-term profits
12. Enjoy life, it's the only one you have

[Execupundit note: I recall a person (but not his name!) who described his ego as curtains that kept the light from coming in. When he moved aside his ego, a new world was open to him.]

BBC News Admits Bias

Dog Bites Man: The BBC is biased.

Man Bites Dog: They admit it.

It was the day that a host of BBC executives and star presenters admitted what critics have been telling them for years: the BBC is dominated by trendy, Left-leaning liberals who are biased against Christianity and in favour of multiculturalism.

A leaked account of an 'impartiality summit' called by BBC chairman Michael Grade, is certain to lead to a new row about the BBC and its reporting on key issues, especially concerning Muslims and the war on terror.

It reveals that executives would let the Bible be thrown into a dustbin on a TV comedy show, but not the Koran, and that they would broadcast an interview with Osama Bin Laden if given the opportunity. Further, it discloses that the BBC's 'diversity tsar', wants Muslim women newsreaders to be allowed to wear veils when on air.

Read the entire Daily Mail article here.

Instapundit ]

1400 Years in Business and Then...

An extraordinary firm is closing its doors.

The oldest company in the world, which was founded in 578 in Japan by a group of people from the ancient Korean kingdom of Baekje, will go into liquidation in January. Kongo Gumi dates its foundation from the year when carpenter Shigemitsu Kongo built Shitennoji. Kongo had been invited to the island country by Prince Shotoku. His descendants continuously maintained the family business, and the construction firm was named the world¡¯s oldest company by the Economist monthly.

[HT: newsvine.com ]

The Fact - Idea Struggle

Joseph Epstein, one of the best essayists out there, on the relationship between facts and ideas:

The point (I don't say it is a fact or an idea) is that the more facts one has at one's command, the less is inspiration for ideas likely to arrive. Imagine the impressive ignorance of facts Rousseau required to come up with his two most famous ideas, those of the Noble Savage and of the Social Contract. Marx had Engels in Manchester supplying him with many of his facts for "Das Kapital," but given all the additional factual knowledge we have since acquired about industrial relations and the true interests of the working classes, it seems doubtful that even the always rage-ready Marx would be able to believe in the class struggle with the same certitude. Or, presented with the wretches of Enron, price-rigging, industrial spying and other corporate malfeasance, would Adam Smith still wish to argue on behalf of his Invisible Hand?

The most fertile ground for the formation of ideas, in other words, is one relatively barren of facts. As facts add up, ideas tend to go down. Facts, bloody damn facts, get in the way of conjecture, speculation, delightful mental footwork of all kinds. Facts, we say with a shrug, are facts.

Quote of the Day

All those who believe in psychokinesis raise my hand.

- Steven Wright

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Ten Reasons Why Managers Give Inflated, Inaccurate, Performance Evaluations

  1. They failed to talk to the employee about the performance problem or misconduct when it first occurred and are reluctant to bring it up months later.
  2. They believe the employee's poor performance will reflect poorly on them.
  3. They are afraid of confrontation.
  4. They are afraid of the employee.
  5. The performance evaluation system won't permit merit increases to be given to employees who receive a rating that is less than Meets Standards and the manager wants the employee to get a merit increase.
  6. They feel they could have done more to help the employee.
  7. They think a low evaluation will demoralize the employee and result in even worse performance. [See reasons 3 and 4.]
  8. The employee has miraculously improved performance two weeks before the rating is due ("The dead come to life!") and the manager feels that the employee has permanently rebounded. [This belief is almost always unjustified.]
  9. They are in a hurry and don't believe that they have sufficient time to give the employee's performance problems the thorough discussion they deserve. [See reasons 3 and 4.]
  10. They believe that upper management will not back them if they give an honest evaluation.