Saturday, June 30, 2007
Click here for some inspiration: Winston Churchill's "We will fight on the beaches" speech.
The story behind the death of a beloved mouse on Hamas TV. [HT: Tim Blair ]
American Heritage goes inside Philip Johnson's glass house.
Popular music was played, but the commentary (by one of several English speaking Japanese women) always hammered away on the same points;
1 Your President (Franklin D Roosevelt) is lying to you.
2 This war is illegal.
3 You cannot win the war.
[HT: Instapundit.com ]
Then the narrator says, “The monkey can now see very far, and has protection from predators. And the giraffe has a little friendly guy to ride around on him.”
The monkey is shot by a poacher and falls from giraffe. Put ketchup on monkey to make him look bloody, but put something bad-tasting in the ketchup or monkey will lick it all off. Shoot BB gun at giraffe to make him run off.
Narrator: “The monkey and the giraffe have been separated.”
Show monkey wandering around, injured, lost and alone. Make him trip, using fishing line attached to his leg. (Try to get this on first take, because after that monkey will probably try to bite off fishing line.)
Read the rest of Jack Handey's nature documentary here.
Meanwhile, Hindes has made his own small piece of literary history by becoming the first author to publish his rejection letters on toilet paper (which, connoisseurs might care to know, is facial-quality but not two-ply).
"George Orwell, James Joyce, Gertrude Stein and almost any writer you could name received rejection letters," points out Lulu's Bob Young. "Margaret Mitchell got rejection letters from 38 different publishers before anyone finally deigned to publish her novel, Gone With The Wind. How many talented writers are there who gave up without ever making it into print because of misguided rejection?"
William Saroyan may now be rated an American literary great but he amassed a stack of rejection slips 30 inches high — some 7,000 — before he sold his first story.
Rudyard Kipling managed to sell one article to The San Francisco Examiner in 1889, but the paper then rejected any future submissions, saying, "You just don't know how to use the English language."
John Kennedy Toole, meanwhile, received so many rejection letters for his novel, A Confederacy Of Dunces, that he finally killed himself. Only the persistence of his bereaved mother led to the eventual publication of his novel and its receipt of the Pulitzer Prize in 1980.
[HT: Stumbling and Mumbling ]
Friday, June 29, 2007
The U.S. has not undertaken a multi-phased operation on such a large scale since 2003, and it is not surprising therefore that many commentators have become confused about how to evaluate what is going on and how to report it. Sectarian deaths in Baghdad dropped significantly as soon as the new strategy was announced in January, and remain at less than half their former levels. Spectacular attacks rose as al Qaeda conducted a counter-surge of its own, but have recently begun falling again. Violence is down tremendously in Anbar province, where the Sunni tribes have turned against al Qaeda and are actively cooperating with U.S. forces for the first time. This process has spread from Anbar into Babil, Salah-ad-Din, and even Diyala provinces, and echoes of it have even spread into one of the worst neighborhoods in Baghdad--Ameriyah, formerly an al Qaeda stronghold. Violence has risen naturally in areas that the enemy had long controlled but in which U.S. forces are now actively fighting for the first time in many years, and the downward spiral in Diyala that began in mid-2006 continued (which is not surprising, since the Baghdad Security Plan does not aim to establish security in Diyala).
Recently, he stomped off the job at the end of a workday following a loud dispute with his supervisor, who had merely asked him whether he had taken care of a serious customer service problem with an important customer.
Later that evening, in an apparently intoxicated state, the employee left an extremely derogatory and threatening voice mail for the supervisor containing numerous offensive uses of the "F" word in a threatening manner as well as several negative and derogatory statements regarding the company and its management.
Shortly afterward, he was admitted to the local hospital after apparently overdosing on alcohol and drugs.
Given that the employee's voice mail contains numerous negative and derogatory statements about the company and its management as well as his immediate supervisor, do we have to take him back if he attempts to return to work? Does his alcoholism create coverage under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?
Read the rest of the article from the Nebraska Employment Law Letter here.
- 50 to 60 pounds overweight.
- An unusual hair style or color.
- A visible tattoo.
- Revealing that an outside interest is hunting or bird watching.
- Odd shoes.
- A misspelled word in the resume/CV.
- A garish tie or scarf.
- One-time use of profanity during the interview.
- Wearing a religious symbol such as a cross or a Star of David.
- Talking too much during the interview.
Putnam’s study reveals that immigration and diversity not only reduce social capital between ethnic groups, but also within the groups themselves. Trust, even for members of one’s own race, is lower, altruism and community cooperation rarer, friendships fewer. The problem isn’t ethnic conflict or troubled racial relations, but withdrawal and isolation. Putnam writes: “In colloquial language, people living in ethnically diverse settings appear to ‘hunker down’—that is, to pull in like a turtle.”
In the 41 sites Putnam studied in the U.S., he found that the more diverse the neighborhood, the less residents trust neighbors. This proved true in communities large and small, from big cities like Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, and Boston to tiny Yakima, Washington, rural South Dakota, and the mountains of West Virginia. In diverse San Francisco and Los Angeles, about 30 percent of people say that they trust neighbors a lot. In ethnically homogeneous communities in the Dakotas, the figure is 70 percent to 80 percent.
Diversity does not produce “bad race relations,” Putnam says. Rather, people in diverse communities tend “to withdraw even from close friends, to expect the worst from their community and its leaders, to volunteer less, give less to charity and work on community projects less often, to register to vote less, to agitate for social reform more, but have less faith that they can actually make a difference, and to huddle unhappily in front of the television.” Putnam adds a crushing footnote: his findings “may underestimate the real effect of diversity on social withdrawal.”
Felix Kent on what your name says about you.Ross Kaminsky on why Rudy Giuliani may well get the GOP nomination. [It has something to do with a minor item called winning the general election.]
But this young priest, this new immigrant, he looked at us and thought we were from the Mayflower. As far as he was concerned--as far as he could tell--we were old Yankee stock. We were the establishment. As the pitcher in "Bang the Drum Slowly" says, "This handed me a laugh."
This is the way it goes in America. You start as the Outsider and wind up the Insider, or at least being viewed as such by the newest Outsiders. We are a nation of still-startling social fluidity. Anyone can become "American," but they have to want to first.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
In July, 1956, Evelyn Waugh gave a dinner party for his daughter Teresa. In anticipation of the event, he wrote to a friend, Brian Franks, with a description of the menu, closing with the words “Non Vintage champagne for all but me.” Rarely has an edict been issued with such a firm smack of the lips, yet nothing could be sadder. At Oxford in the nineteen-twenties, Waugh had chosen his friends on the basis of their ability to handle, or entertainingly mishandle, the effects of alcohol; “an excess of wine nauseated him and this made an insurmountable barrier between us,” he wrote of one college acquaintance. Now, thirty years later, he would sit in solitude, grasping his glass, bullishly proud that there was nobody present who deserved to share a drop. The hint is clear enough: Waugh, and Waugh alone, was of vintage stuff.
Meanwhile, Justice Clarence Thomas, in a concurring opinion, took about half a line to say, "I agree," and proceeded to write one of the most compelling essays I've seen on the decline and fall of American public education. I would happily hand out Justice Thomas's opinion on street corners (though www.supremecourtus.gov relieves me of that burden).
What he's done is rummage back through school cases, mostly from 19th century state courts, to invoke the idea of a public school. His premise is that the schools' role was most certainly in loco parentis, in that they and parents broadly agreed on what made an adolescent grow into a good person; what schools need least is court interference in this hard job.
A North Carolina court in 1837 spoke of the need "to control stubbornness, to quicken diligence and to reform bad habits." In 1886, a Maine court said school leaders must "quicken the slothful, spur the indolent and restrain the impetuous." An 1859 Vermont court spoke of preserving "decency and decorum."
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
2Blowhards presents a gallery of cars that were neo-hot rods.
Roger Kimball likes The Dangerous Book for Boys.
A Pacific Ocean sunset from space.
David Louis Edelman gives a list of introductory science fiction books for literary readers.
[HT: Futurismic ]
There's something creepy about a political class so determined to impose a vast transformative bill cooked up backstage in metaphorically smoke-filled rooms on a nation that doesn't want it. It's an affront to republican government and quasi-European in its disdain for the citizenry. It's hard to imagine Senator Trenthorn Lotthorn as an EU Commissioner but his position on this immigration bill is basically the same as that of Jean-Claude Juncker, Prime Minister of Luxembourg and European "president", on the EU constitution. When asked what difference the referendum result in France would make, "President" Juncker replied:
If it’s a Yes, we will say ‘on we go’, and if it’s a No we will say ‘we continue’.
"You got a card son?" asked GoldwynThe nervous young man fumbled a card out of his breast pocket and slid it across the desk. Goldwyn didn't even look at it. He turned it over and pushed it back across the desk."Write your pitch on there."The young man looked, uncomprehending, at Goldwyn."Because if your idea for your movie doesn't fit on the back of a business card - you ain't got a movie."
If someone cuts you short, and really forces brevity upon you - your 45-minute presentation has to be delivered in 12 minutes, you meet your CEO in an elevator and she asks you what's the big issue in your department right now - will you have anything relevant or persuasive to say?
Check out the rest of Rowan Manahan's observations on the importance of elevator statements by clicking here.
I'd add that the products of major corporations can be summarized in one word:
Disneyland sells Fun.
Southwest Airlines sells Freedom.
Revlon sells Hope.
What are you selling?
- Call waiting. [They can wait.]
- White boards. [Gimme the old chalk boards.]
- Time gobbling group activities in training. [Just tell me.]
- Automated day planners. [I'm probably in a real minority on that one.]
- Intolerance for dissent. The positive autocrat Churchill would argue with his generals and with Parliament but respected institutions and would back off in deference to demonstrated expertise. Negative autocrats view dissent with suspicion. Voicing contrary views is a sure way of putting your career on the fast track to nowhere.
- Preference for security over effectiveness and efficiency. The negative autocrat's priorities begin and end with one word: ME. Everything else is optionable. They will permit staff in-fighting and rule-breaking just so long as those activities do not threaten their own security. When they do, the negative autocrat ruthlessly responds. This preference sometimes baffles outsiders who apply normal standards of measuring performance.
- Fostering dependency. The negative autocrat does not favor independent thinkers and strong personalities. Given time, those individuals are forced out or marginalized and the inner circle is filled with sycophants whose careers lean heavily upon continuing to curry the favor of the leader.
- Using fear. The negative autocrat invariably creates a climate of fear because fear is tied to a lack of control and such leaders only permit one person to have real control. There is an enormous amount of upward delegation as people fear taking responsibility for their decisions.
- Favoring activity versus authority. The further down the hierarchy one travels, the more one will find frenzied activities used as a substitute for authority. There's a committee for this and one for that and each disguises the fact that there is little real power at those levels.
- Divide and conquer. Negative autocrats break up any potential staff alliances that may threaten their power; indeed, they favor staff conflict. They rarely have a clearly accepted successor.
- Charisma. Not all negative autocrats have charisma but when present, it usually produces harmful effects. The associates begin to suspend judgment and defer to the leader even in circumstances where the leader may be delusional.
- Hidden intelligence channels. The close associates of such leaders spend an inordinate amount of time determining the leader's whims and biases so proposals can be fashioned accordingly.
A grand joke of negative autocrats is that they portray themselves as models of efficiency when the systems they create are anything but efficient.
Positive autocrats need short "shelf lives." Negative autocrats deserve zero.
For years Fatah and Palestinian Authority-sanctioned terrorists themselves have undermined civil society by torturing, murdering, and bombing innocents. It was accepted by them that the laws of civilization — due process, exemption of civilians from attacks, and the rule of law — did not apply to Yasser Arafat's government that was as corrupt as it was savage. If you ever were in need of dialysis after you blew up the local clinic and shot the doctors, you could always cross the border to the nearby Zionist entity for treatment.
But suddenly such Fatah terrorists are being out-terrorized by an even more barbaric Hamas, whose thugs have even looted the Nobel Peace Prize given Arafat. What barbarians! Where is the law?
So now the outgunned Fatah gangsters are suddenly crying about the uncivilized evils of looting, gangs, and random killings. Just as Thucydides warned about insurrectionists destroying civil society, so Fatah once erased civilization's protocols on the presumption that no one else would dare do to them what they routinely did to others. How bizarre that Arafat's followers of all people are reduced to appealing to international norms of decency and legality to avoid their utter destruction in Gaza by Hamas.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
- Treat me with respect
- Inspire me with your vision
- Teach me
- Are tolerant of my mistakes
- Are visible and available
- Talk with (and listen to) me
- Allow me to grow
- Don't give up, or change course arbitrarily
- Have the courage of your convictions
- Tell me the truth, and practice what you preach.
First, a fence.
A major fear of the proposed immigration bill's opponents is that the failure to do the obvious is an indication of an ulterior motive. If the fence isn't built first, they reason, it won't be built later.
The other side, in turn, believes that the emphasis on a fence is a ploy to avoid addressing the other issues. Build the fence, so the reasoning goes, and the rest of the changes will never occur.
This entire debate, as with many conflicts in the workplace, is fueled by a lack of trust. The opponents, however, have the edge in an important respect: There is a basic rule in crisis management. You stabilize the situation and then improve it. Seeking to improve it before it is stabilized is a recipe for chaos.
All day long. Grab a handful of nuts, spin them onto a screw, and fasten them down with what is essentially a Dewalt power drill. No matter how quickly you work, the cars keep rolling down the line. If the cars are selling and the line is moving quickly, there's no getting ahead. And if you fall behind, you pull a cord to stop the line and suffer the shame of holding up your co-workers.
The work is dull for an important reason. GM has torn a page from Toyota's (TM) factory book. The company has standardized every task in the plant, making the jobs simple and repetitive in a ceaseless effort to strip out the constant of human error and to catch Toyota and Honda (HMC) when it comes to productivity.
The last of our three finalists is president of Duke, Richard Brodhead. Because Michael Nifong made himself such a spectacular villain in the lacrosse case, Mr. Brodhead escaped without much criticism. But here is what Mr. Brodhead did: On hearing the first reports, he abruptly canceled the lacrosse season, suspended the two players named in the case, and fired the lacrosse coach of 16 years, giving him less than a day to get out.
This helped create the impression that the players were guilty. His long letter to the campus on April 20 did the same thing. He didn’t say the boys were guilty, but he talked passionately about the coercion and assault of women, the legacy of racism, and privilege and inequality — all of which fed the anger aimed at the lacrosse team.
[HT: The Manhattan Institute ]
Monday, June 25, 2007
"Is that true?"
"If it were not true, how would you respond?"
"Why not tell the truth?"
"Because people don't go to businesses that are in trouble. If they sense a problem, that's the kiss of death."
"Slow down. You're telling me that if you're honest with your customers, they'll run away?"
"At least in that regard. They don't want to hear sad stories. They want to hear that everything is running smoothly."
"That's odd, but I guess it makes sense."
"You bet it does."
"So setting business aside for a moment, how are you personally doing?"
The board-room was perfect: wonderful polished table, comfortable chairs. Chilled water available. Tasteful prints on the walls. Easy to operate AV with all wires hidden. Great views across London. Coffee poised; lovely pastries.
But there, in full view was a scawled note stuck on the wall with sticky tape: PLEASE LEAVE THIS ROOM AS YOU FOUND IT; DO NOT EXPECT OTHER PEOPLE TO TIDY UP YOUR MESS!
They're closing about 50 stores net this year, trying to make their business match the market. At the same time, it was pretty obvious from my visit that they're working hard to save money on sales staff, store designers and other expenses. It took me twenty minutes to check out. In the old days, it would have been two minutes. My reading of the Dip is that nickel and diming is a dumb strategy.
They should close 200 or even 500 stores and keep the very best people from each store, redeploying them to their best stores. They should invest in those great stores, invest in design, in targeted marketing. In other words, instead of shrinking themselves back to greatness, they ought to avoid the nickel and diming and go back to what made them great in the first place.
- "These people are so passive that if I don't start listing ideas we'll be here all week.
- "Why did Jane assume that she should list the team's ideas on the whiteboard? When was she named to chair this meeting? What an ego!"
- "I'm not familiar with this sort of project but I can probably just ride along with whatever the others suggest. If I keep writing they won't call on me."
- "They want spontaneous brainstorming? Forget it. I'm not opening my mouth about anything if I haven't had the chance to study the topic in advance."
- "Where did Seymour get that tie? A rummage sale?"
- "I know quite a bit about the marketing part of this project, but Rex is such a jerk I'm not going to contribute any ideas. Let's watch the genius figure it out on his own."
- "I think that is one of the nuttiest proposals I've ever seen. But wait a minute. They are so enthusiastic about it I might be wrong."
- "If we can get this done without offending anyone, it will really help my career."
- "How many meetings can I skip and still be on this committee?"
- "Jane likes it and she's very sharp."
- "Will I look like an idiot if I tell them I don't understand the marketing analysis?"
- "This idea is absolutely brilliant. There's no way this can fail."
- "Why can't that IT guy speak plain English?"
- "Just look at that blouse. Ellen dresses like Madonna and then wants people to take her seriously. I bet she's had work done."
- "As soon as I get back to my office, I'm going to try to get away from this bunch of losers."
- "Everyone else seems so bright and confident. How did I ever get here?"
- "If I can just get Rex Jr. to settle down at school and if Janice will get off my back about another pay raise, I just might start to have a life."
- "And then we'll go to Tahiti and find that little bar near the beach and...."
- "I wonder if Jane and Rex are having an affair."
- "Just twenty more minutes of this torture and then...."
- "No, Seymour. Please, please. We don't want to hear about the Branson account for the 500th time."
- "I shouldn't have bought these damned shoes. Cheap pieces of...."
- "Do they have donuts over there? Can I eat just one and still be on my diet?"
- "I think Ellen's in love with me."
- "Geez. When was this room last painted? 1922?"
Sunday, June 24, 2007
A pretty young oyster heaved a sigh
and addressed a pint of Guinness,
“How can we bivalves express ourselves
when our glory is cloistered within us”?
Read the entire poem here.
[HT: Global Province's Poetry & Business ]
If a week goes by without a visit to a bookstore I begin to have withdrawal pains. I used to think it a point of pride if I could go to a bookstore without purchasing a book, but that was only a minor victory. Like other addicts, I always had a stash at home. A big stash.
Years ago, when people began to buzz about electronic books, I knew they'd never catch on with true book lovers. A real addict likes the feel of a book, its binding, and its smell. Reading a great book can be a sensual experience. The author transports you to another world and that trip starts the moment you see the title, pick up the volume, sense its weight, and note the quality of the paper.
Here are some of the common signs of book addiction:
- Boarding an airplane without bringing a book is unthinkable...and you begin to rate airports on the quality of their bookstores.
- You have made pilgrimages to noted bookstores, such as Foyles in London, and/or you know all of the used bookstores within a 12 miles radius of your home.
- It is not unusual to buy a book and then not read it for ten years because until then the time was just not right.
- You've been known to read books while waiting for traffic lights to change.
- Discovering a great writer is cause for celebration, especially if the writer has already produced a sizable volume of work.
- When you see people on television who are being interviewed and there is a bookshelf in the background, you find yourself more interested in which books are on the shelves than in the interview.
If you have visited Machu Picchu, you will probably find Bingham’s excavated artifacts at the Yale Peabody Museum in New Haven to be a bit of a letdown. Mostly, the pieces are bones, in varying stages of decomposition, or pots, many of them in fragments. Unsurpassed as stonemasons, engineers and architects, the Incas thought more prosaically when it came to ceramics. Leaving aside unfair comparisons to the jaw-dropping Machu Picchu site itself, the pottery of the Inca, even when intact, lacks the drama and artistry of the ceramics of earlier civilizations of Peru like the Moche and Nazca. Everyone agrees that the Machu Picchu artifacts at Yale are modest in appearance. That has not prevented, however, a bare-knuckled disagreement from developing over their rightful ownership. Peru says the Bingham objects were sent to Yale on loan and their return is long overdue. Yale demurs.
[HT: Arts & Letters Daily ]
Saturday, June 23, 2007
Did this mean that Mr. Vargas Llosa supported the invasion of Iraq? "I was against it at the beginning," he says. But then he went to Iraq and heard accounts of life under Saddam Hussein. "Because there has been so much opposition to the war, already one forgets that this was one of the most monstrous dictatorships that humanity has ever seen, comparable to that of Hitler, or Stalin." He changed his mind about the invasion: "Iraq is better without Saddam Hussein than with Saddam Hussein. Without a doubt."
Mr. Vargas Llosa's broad, visceral hatred of dictatorships in part stems from personal experience, in particular growing up in 1950s Peru under the dictatorship of Manuel Odría. "All the political parties were prohibited, there was strict censorship of radio and the press," he explains. "The university had many professors in exile and many student prisoners . . . this is the atmosphere in which a boy of my generation entered adulthood."
Ethics experts are united in their view that that any company that takes its ethics seriously has the obligation to protect the identity of whistleblowers. "Some companies think they are set up to protect whistleblowers—but then you have to rely on the leadership and character of individual managers and business units to implement them," says Thompson of Johns Hopkins.
Well, mark me down as one ethics consultant who dissents. It is one thing to investigate anonymous complaints. That should be done. It is another to shield the identity of an accuser. Not only does an investigation have the aura of unfairness if the accuser is not revealed, but the non-disclosure policy may encourage litigation in order to discover the identity. Might not a disclosure policy encourage anonymous complaints? Sure. But you make ethical decisions based on the information you possess.
The Business Week article's main theme should revolve around retaliation, not disclosure. Organizations need to take tough and intensive steps to ensure that whistleblowers are not subjected to retaliation if their ethics programs are to have any credibility.
Friday, June 22, 2007
The role of law is not to allow anyone to sue for anything, but to draw lines of what's reasonable. Do people assume the risk of activities like stepping onto the dais? That needs to be decided as a matter of law. Otherwise people don't know where they stand. They become fearful in daily dealings. No one is drawing these lines today. Justice is, literally, out of control. Cases are decided jury by jury, without precedent or legal guidance.
Judges must take back control of the courtroom. Litigants will always push the envelope. They can't help themselves. Our founders believed that "man was an unchangeable creature of self-interest," historian Richard Hofstadter observed. That's why it would "not do to leave anything to his capacity for restraint."
Political Calculations has done the math on how many beers you should have at the company picnic.
Michael Barone on the impact of a Bloomberg candidacy. [HT: RealClearPolitics ]
China's Brilliance BS6 Sedan fails a crash test. And I mean, really fails. [HT: Instapundit ]
The ZegnaSport jacket has a solar collar so you can plug in your cell phone and recharge it.
Evil HR Lady has finally posted her photograph.
Relying on both Washington state law and a previous Ninth Circuit ADA case, the court disagreed: "[C]onduct resulting from a disability is part of the disability and not a separate basis for termination."
So if the employee's violent outburst was a consequence of her disorder, it was protected by discrimination laws. The court reasoned that if the employer made a decision to terminate her because of her violent outburst, it was discriminating against her because of her disability.
Now before you become too alarmed by this development, you should be aware of two things. First, the employer in this case forgot to assert a very important defense.
Under the ADA, the "direct threat" doctrine provides a defense when an employer terminates an otherwise protected employee because she poses a threat to the health or safety of others in the workplace.
[NOTE: If you read the entire article, it appears that a key word was omitted in the paragraph describing the employer's argument. The employer was arguing that the termination was not related to the disability.]
Thursday, June 21, 2007
The man pointed out something unique about the coffee mug. It had some special feature or something.
The man smiled, but his eyes were sad. It reminded me that one of the nicest things we can do for others, oddly enough, is to let them do something for us. The man at the booth probably wouldn't have minded if the woman had taken the mug home and given it to charity or tossed the darned thing in the trash. He wanted an acknowledgement that their conversation had been meaningful and that his gift had merit. The woman, who was quite kind, had taken a utilitarian view of the offer.
The man, however, saw it as much more.
[He wants Keith Richards as his running mate...but then, who wouldn't?]
An excerpt from his first interview shows that he's already mastered the technique:
Q: Dave, if a duck eats then goes swimming does it get cramps?
Eddie, Edgewood, Md 6/19/07
A: I am not going to comment on any matter currently being reviewed by the Supreme Court.
Dave Barry 6/21/07
[HT: Adfreak ]
Tomorrow at dawn you depart [from St. Cloud] and travel to Worms, cross the Rhine there, and make sure that all preparations for the crossing of the river by my guard are being made there. You will then proceed to Kasel and make sure that the place is being put in a state of defense and provisioned. Taking due security precautions, you will visit the fortress of Hanu. Can it be occupied by a coup de main? If necessary, you will visit the citadel of Marburg too. You will then travel on to Kassel and report to me by way of my charge' d'affaires at that place, making sure that he is in fact there. The voyage from Frankfurt to Kassel is not to take place by night, for you are to observe anything that might interest me. From Kassel you are to travel, also by day, by the shortest way to Koln. The land between Wesel, Mainz, Kassel, and Koln is to be reconnoitered. What roads and good communication exist there? Gather information about communications between Kassel and Paderborn. What is the significance of Kassel? Is the place armed and capable of resistance? Evaluate the forces of the Prince Elector in regard to their present state, their artillery, militia, strong places. From Koln you will travel to meet me at Mainz; you are to keep to the right bank on the Rhine and submit a short appreciation of the country around Dusseldorf, Wesel, and Kassel. I shall be at Mainz on the 29th in order to receive your report. You can see for yourself how important it is for the beginning of the campaign and its progress that you should have the country well imprinted on your memory.
[Source: Command in War by Martin van Creveld ]
I shall not tell you what to write, what to study, or what conclusions to come to. This is your task. My only instruction to you is to put down what you think is right as you see it. Don't worry about our reaction...And don't you, above all, concern yourself with the compromises that might be necessary to make your recommendations acceptable. There is not a single executive in this company who does not know how to make every single conceivable compromise without any help from you. But he can't make the "right" compromises unless you first tell him what "right" is.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Exploitation of the mentally ill in Germany.
If you're a history/politics buff, you should check out Niall Ferguson's The War of the World: Twentieth Century Conflict and the Descent of the West. Fascinating stuff.
Christopher Hitchens on why Scooter Libby should be pardoned. [The statement by the judge is amazing.]
A waitress may win CNBC's stockpicking contest and its million dollar grand prize.
Which companies are regarded as climate-friendly?
Justin Webb, the BBC's Washington correspondent, is quoted as saying that "in the tone of what we say about America, we have a tendency to scorn and deride." (Would "we" in this instance mean Matt Frei, I wonder?) Roger Mosey, former head of BBC television news, says he has "some sympathies with what Janet Daley says generally about a liberal/pinko agenda".
Stephen Whittle, a former controller of the BBC's editorial policy, says that its journalists work within a straitjacket of unchallenged liberal assumptions.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
- Freezing the hiring of needed staff.
- Not permitting the firing of incompetents.
- Forcing the work unit to provide staff support to an ever-increasing group of committees.
- Not financing attendance at professional conferences.
- Reorganizing the work unit every six to seven months.
- Holding the managers responsible for decisions outside of their control.
- Permitting all work units except the targeted one to flaunt various rules.
- Failing to support the work unit in the wake of meritless attacks from community groups.
- Bringing in executives who have no experience in the work unit's specialty to run the work unit.
- Not creating a career path so the work unit consequently becomes a dead-end.
- Have a vague goal.
- Assemble an inept team.
- Don't review ways in which similar projects have been completed.
- Avoid setting interim deadlines.
- Don't consider the supplies or staff that will be required until the actual need arises.
- Be a perfectionist and let your quest for the best defeat your ability to produce the good..
- Delegate to others and then fail to follow up until the final deadline is looming.
- Permit distractions.
- Spend large portions of time on the optional instead of the essential.
- Rely on inspiration instead of experience.
Monday, June 18, 2007
- They think the rules that apply to other departments should not apply to them. In their eyes, they face special challenges that are not encountered by other departments and therefore they should be cut extra slack or should be able to devise their own procedures without interference from the "civilians" at the main headquarters.
- They want their own departmental attorneys and HR-types and do not want to rely on ones who are independent of their department.
- They want to investigate all complaints against their own department and justify such authority by arguing that their culture is such that their employees would not open up to outside investigators. [That is rarely true.] They deny encouraging such attitudes.
- They may in fact provide more services or income than other departments. That adds to their view that they are special. It does not, however, justify any exemption from outside oversight.
- They are not above using outside leverage, such as customers or public opinion, to push their claims.
- They operate with a We - They view of the world where anyone who is not in their circle is viewed with suspicion.
Caving in to the demands of prima donna departments is always a mistake. Give one concession and you can bet they'll be back for more. Resisting takes no small amount of courage but the CEO must be prepared to draw the line. It's difficult enough dealing with individuals who are prima donnas. When that attitude extends to a department, the difficulty is multiplied.
Sunday, June 17, 2007
Commencement weekend is hard to plan at the University of California, Los Angeles. The university now has so many separate identity-group graduations that scheduling them not to conflict with one another is a challenge. The women’s studies graduation and the Chicana/Chicano studies graduation are both set for 10 AM Saturday. The broader Hispanic graduation, “Raza,” is in near-conflict with the black graduation, which starts just an hour later.
Planning was easier before a new crop of ethnic groups pushed for inclusion. Students of Asian heritage were once content with the Asian–Pacific Islanders ceremony. But now there are separate Filipino and Vietnamese commencements, and some talk of a Cambodian one in the future. Years ago, UCLA sponsored an Iranian graduation, but the school’s commencement office couldn’t tell me if the event was still around. The entire Middle East may yet be a fertile source for UCLA commencements.
Not all ethnic and racial graduations are well attended. The 2003 figures at UCLA showed that while 300 of 855 Hispanic students attended, only 170 out of 1,874 Asian-Americans did.