Commentary by management consultant Michael Wade on Leadership, Ethics, Management, and Life
Monday, December 31, 2007
Blackbeard, Management, and some LED Jellyfish
From the sales copy for ThinkGeek's latest gizmo: The LED Jellyfish Mood Lamp.
You know you want one.
Conventional wisdom would have it that a crisis is the most common trigger for change. A company faces bankruptcy, court proceedings, or sudden, fierce, business-destroying competition. Current strategies aren’t working. Urgent turnaround is needed. And in fact, the perceived threat of extinction is often a prelude to the dramatic entrance of a turnaround artist from the outside, such as Carlos Ghosn at Nissan in 1999, Robert Stevens “Steve” Miller at Delphi in 2005, and Robert Nardelli at Chrysler in 2007. The fate of the company often depends on how well this new heroic figure can draw upon leadership capabilities: his or her own, those of the senior leadership team, and those of people throughout the company.
In our experience, however, only about 15 percent of the companies that voice a need for change are truly in crisis. A far more common situation — involving as many as 60 percent of those companies — is a state of inconsistency. A leader recognizes that, of the half dozen or so strategic initiatives currently under way, one or more aren’t delivering results or living up to expectations. “Why aren’t we getting a better multiple?” asks the leader. “How can we improve our poor performers?” This was the condition of General Electric when Jack Welch was appointed CEO in 1981; he famously dealt with it by decreeing that every business unit would have to be number one or number two in market share in its niche; otherwise, he would “fix, sell, or close” divisions. The number-one-or-number-two criterion doesn’t apply to every company, but the general challenge is much the same: to find a prescient way to distinguish the value of activities and improve or prune the laggards.
Read the rest of the article by Steven Wheeler, Walter McFarland, and Art Kleiner in strategy + business.
Culture Break: Remington's Snaps
Remington first carried a camera with him in 1886 while in pursuit of Geronimo. He dreamed in color, but as an illustrator lived in a black-and-white world. The camera was an invaluable ally, supplementing sketches and color notes on the landscape (“The ground of the south west has more burnt sienna in it than I had thought”) by recording the precise details he needed in order to work up convincing illustrations. “After a good night rest” in Tucson, Arizona, he “went to the detachment of 10th Colored Cavalry—took a whole set of photographs.” He photographed soldiers, scouts, buildings and, at Fort Huachaca, a trooper posing for a painting he planned that would show Lt. Powhatan H. Clarke’s daring rescue under heavy Apache fire of a wounded man.
New Year's Resolutions for Managers and Supervisors
- I will not manipulate people and pretend that I'm withholding information for their own good.
- I will not automatically assume that anything that is good for me is also good for the organization.
- I will listen more and talk less. Much less.
- When I listen, I will listen for what they mean, not simply what they say.
- I will expand my network of informal advisors in order to gain a wider and perhaps more seasoned or fresher perspective.
- I will consider how the things that I do well may be damaging my team.
- I will seek anonymous feedback from my employees.
- I will avoid petty disputes over turf.
- I will drastically reduce the number of staff meetings.
- I will do what I say I will do and will avoid overpromising.
Auld Lang Syne
Aretha Franklin and Billy Preston
and the best - because it features bagpipes - Andre Rieu and his orchestra.
When the Best is the Enemy of the Good
"They are so caught up in doing the best science that they are failing to translate that science into anything useful," he said, his Hungarian-lilted voice rising and blue eyes intense."When we set out to develop the microchip," he had just told a packed room at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in San Diego, "we did not try to make the best chip, but one that worked for as little cost as possible." If one chip idea didn't work, he said, they tossed it and built a better one, learning from their mistakes.
Quote of the Day
- David Maister
Sunday, December 30, 2007
7 Things That Every Job Applicant Should Know
- The requirements that are in the job advertisement are probably not the real requirements.
- The person who placed the ad may not know what the job entails.
- The person who supervises the position may not know what the job entails.
- Odds are the people doing the screening do not know why "five years of experience" are needed.
- In most cases, the degree requirement means they want a person who is reasonably well educated, can write, conduct basic research, and is in possession of enough self-discipline to get through college. Needless to say, there are plenty of people without degrees who have those qualities.
- Although the application deadline is next week the job may already be filled.
- Landing the job and successfully performing the job are two very different things.
Miscellaneous and Fast
Back by popular demand: Loreena McKennitt sings The Lady of Shalott.
Still great after all these years: Our main man Rudy The Kip.
Yes, Virginia, there is a Tacky Christmas Yards blog.
Bhutto and the West
They have killed a woman. A beautiful woman. A visible, indeed a conspicuously, spectacularly visible woman.
A woman who made a point not only of holding rallies in one of the world's most dangerous countries, but did so with her face uncovered, unveiled--the exact opposite of the shameful, hidden women, the condemned creatures of Satan, who are the only women tolerated by these apostles of a world without women.
Quote of the Day
- Allan Bloom
Saturday, December 29, 2007
A Memorable New Year's Day Worker's Protest
Read the rest of the Soupy Sales story here.
"Other makers are ditching the category, but we see an opportunity," says Andrew MacLachlan, a senior strategic planner with Toyota. "If oil doesn't go below $90 a barrel in the foreseeable future, this could be where trucks are heading."
The Meaning of Cheese
Moments of Envy
It was early morning. The elegant, elderly gentleman sipped the last of his coffee as he sat on the resort's veranda. He watched the distant lights of a ship cruising past the Hawaiian coast. The waiter brought the bill.
"I'm leaving for New Jersey today," the old man said.
The waiter replied, "Will you be back again next winter, Mr. Carson?"
The woman at the front desk helped the first group in fluent French, then shifted to Italian for the second, and spoke to an associate in German before turning to me and asking, "How may I help you?"
Humor Break: Baldwin Does Bennett
Alec Baldwin as Tony Bennett in "The Tony Bennett Show."
[HT: Lou Rodarte ]
Top Five: Cold War Classics
Quote of the Day
- William Francis Butler
Friday, December 28, 2007
Laura and Scott Bell didn’t like their children’s school district’s dress-code policy. So they sued the school in Indiana state court, claiming violations of their guarantee of a free education and their children’s rights to free expression. To save money, they represented themselves. The school district had the case removed to federal court in Indianapolis, where the judge granted the school’s motion to dismiss the case and ruled that the Bells had to pay the school’s attorney fees — $40,931.50.
“What in the hell are we supposed to do?” Laura Bell asked, according to a report in the Indianapolis Star. “It’s flat ridiculous.” Later, she answers her own question: “I’m not paying it, obviously.”
Read the rest from The Wall Street Journal Law Blog.
Music Break: A Touch of Spain
Disaster Hunters and Porn-Surfers
Reasonableness in Style
By her standard - which relates more to style than to substance - Neville Chamberlain would have been a better selection than Winston Churchill and Daladier would have been preferable to de Gaulle.
Andrew Wylie Interview
Reprise: Note From Boss To Employees
- I am sometimes under enormous pressure from upper management; pressure that you seldom see. Anything that you can do to make my job easier will be greatly appreciated.
- Your interests are important, but please remember that I also have to juggle the concerns and feelings of a bunch of other people, including individuals outside of the department.
- I may not have been given a huge amount of training before being named to a supervisory position. As a result, I’ve had to learn through trial and error. That's not always bad. Many of my responsibilities can only be learned through practice.
- If you are a former co-worker of mine, please recognize that supervising former peers is one of the toughest jobs any supervisor faces. The support that you give me is crucial.
- I will make mistakes. Please give me the same understanding that you’d like me to give you when you blunder.
- If I do something dumb or am on the verge of doing so, please tell me. Don’t hint. Tell me.
- I don’t like unpleasant surprises. Let me in on bad news as soon as possible. (Things that you believe are obvious may not be that clear to me. On the other hand, you'd be surprised at how quickly the latest gossip reaches my ears.)
- I expect you to take initiative. If you keep bouncing things to me, I’m going to wonder why I have you around.
- You should ask questions if you don’t know what to do. On the other hand, you should not have to be taught the same thing over and over again.
- Let’s respect each other’s time. We each have a job to do and the more we can reduce unnecessary interruptions, the happier we'll each be.
- Don't let all of my talk about meeting goals and producing results lead you into unethical behavior. You always have my permission to be ethical.
- If either of us has a problem with the other's performance, let's talk about it.
2nd Anniversary: Execupundit.com
Quote of the Day
- Peter Drucker
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Miscellaneous and Fast
Foreign Policy magazine gives the top ten stories you missed in 2007.
Here's a shocker: Too much e-mail makes workers unproductive.
The Vlad Man? Roger von Oech wraps up the year with Russian sayings about Putin.
Where's Jagger's version? Getting down with Guy and Carmen Lombardo.
Bill Roggio on the Bhutto assassination.
Victor Davis Hanson reviews Norman Podhoretz's World War IV.
Jalopnik adds a Rolls-Royce Phantom to its "fantasy garage."
"They want them to think that working really hard matters."
HR Carnival Time
The Carnival of Human Resources is up at Compensation Force blog.
Conversations from the Workplace
If it's so basic, why aren't they doing it?
Well, because most of them don't know it.
You don't know these people. I just sense that at some point, it may be next month or five years from now, they will get back at me. These are very vindictive people.
So in other words, you can't trust them to follow their own rules?
If they violated their own rules in the first place, what's another violation more or less?
But if we do that, more people will take advantage of its provisions.
Isn't that the idea? After all, you circulate the policy to the employees.
Well, yes, that's right. That doesn't mean we want them to actually use it.
Let me get this straight. You want to be able to say that you have such a policy, but you really don't want anyone to use it.
Then why don't you just put it in a foreign language?
That's ridiculous. Nobody here would be able to read it.
The Torture Debate
He was, in short, a highly successful, fully engaged, career mass murderer. Think back to those pictures of workers crouched in windows high up in the burning World Trade Center towers, choosing whether to jump to their death or be burned alive. This was in part Abu Zubaydah's handiwork.
Read the rest of Mark Bowden's defense of waterboarding.
At the time of his capture in 2002, just six months after the Sept. 11 attacks, there was strong reason to believe Zubaydah knew virtually the entire organizational structure and agenda of al-Qaeda around the world. He was supervising ongoing plots to kill hundreds if not thousands of people. He was, for obvious reasons, disinclined to share this knowledge. Subjected briefly to waterboarding - less than a minute, according to published reports - he became cooperative and provided information that, according to the government, resulted in preventing planned attacks and capturing other key al-Qaeda leaders.
[HT: Instapundit ]
Quote of the Day
- Fred Allen
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Even the sheer profusion of products available represents a strategic choice. In an experiment in the early nineteen-nineties, people were first asked whether they preferred a $110 microwave oven made by Emerson or a $180 oven made by Panasonic. Only forty-three per cent chose the Panasonic. But when a higher-priced Panasonic model, costing $200, was introduced into the mix, people’s choices changed in a curious way: suddenly, sixty per cent wanted the $180 oven. Just adding a more expensive model made the medium-priced version look more attractive and boosted Panasonic’s total sales. Change what surrounds a product, in other words, and you can change what people think of it.
Voter I.D. Case
The Supreme Court will decide.
My take: Certainly.
[HT: Overlawyered ]
Top Career Blogs
You might want to check it out and vote because there are some really neat blogs on their list.
[Alas, Execupundit is in neither the top 50 nor the honorable mention group but there is a rumor that it was briefly considered for the coveted "Directing Traffic in the Parking Lot" category.]
Driving Through Detroit
I saw well-to-do people moving into $1-million homes. Forlorn people emerging from sleeping in weeds. Artists taking over old factories. Trash cooking in the sun. Neighbors talking on porches. Roosters crowing. A prostitute on a bicycle.
When I completed the journey, I went back out and re-explored a number of areas, and was joined by a team of Free Press photographers, videographers, designers, artists, editors and others.
I wasn't a stranger. I have covered Detroit for 35 years and lived in it or next to it for virtually my entire life. In some respects, Detroit was worse than I thought. In other respects, it was better.
[HT: 13th Floor ]
Stroup's Even Dozen
[I'm proud to be in such company and mentioned on such a fine blog.]
The Stem Cell Decision
Options and Other Dangers
IMPORTANT: Begin by lifting out the plune-wrapped section marked "Lithinode Distrillitor" and refer to the blue-colored picrochit-regulator intensity chart on the side. If the chart has the fuchsia-colored code BRZ3434, your unit requires an AC4(x2z3) power influrger. Extract the influrger pack from the distrillitor's surge-protection splange and check the code. If you have an AC5(x3z4) influrger instead of an AC4(x2z3) model, or if the intensity chart is colored burnt orange instead of blue, then call your local Vangplotz "Speedy Geek"™ home service provider at 1-800-UONHOLD. (WARNING: If the intensity chart is colored silver with pink stripes, then your distrillitor must be activated in person by a Vangplotz lithinode technician within 48 to 72 hours. Vangplotz service centers are conveniently located in the Yellow Dog, Ala., industrial campus and the six-story Grendel Mall-City in Frozen Badger, N.D.)
Quote of the Day
- Mark Twain
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Style and Grace
December 25, 2007
Quote of the Day: Christmas
- 2 Matthew 10
Monday, December 24, 2007
Miscellaneous and Fast
Don't forget On the Moneyed Midways.
Historian Paul Johnson on what we can learn from heroes.
Gentler times: The Avengers and Bing Crosby and Grace Kelly.
Bourdain Goes Underground
Regular viewers will know that in my quest to appease the television Gods, I have found myself in some difficult situations. In Namibia, for instance, where I found myself politely (if reluctantly) munching on a crap-filled tube. Weeks later, after a suitable interlude on high dosages of antibiotics, I made a silent vow to myself that I would try to avoid meals like this in the future. There would be no more crap filled tubes.
Read the rest of Anthony Bourdain's account of his cave-from-hell adventure.
Then, just a few days ago, I found myself and my crew descending into one. Yes. You heard right. Now, my producers are a fairly responsible bunch. When I read "cave exploring" on the list of suggested scenes for the Jamaica show, I figured there'd be hand rails and a gift shop. I figured we'd pull the production van into the parking lot, take a spin around the cave with our trusty guide, buy a T-shirt--and I'd be back at the hotel pool nursing a rum punch before you could say Peter Tosh. Perhaps I should have inquired further. Maybe we all should have.
One voice that is hardly ever raised is the consumer's. That voice is drowned out in the cacophony of the "interested sophistry of merchants and manufacturers" and their employees. The result is a serious distortion of the issue. For example, the supporters of tariffs treat it as self evident that the creation of jobs is a desirable end, in and of itself, regardless of what the persons employed do. That is clearly wrong. If all we want are jobs, we can create any number--for example, have people dig holes and then fill them up again or perform other useless tasks. Work is sometimes its own reward. Mostly, however, it is the price we pay to get the things we want. Our real objective is not just jobs but productive jobs--jobs that will mean more goods and services to consume.
Another fallacy seldom contradicted is that exports are good, imports bad. The truth is very different. We cannot eat, wear, or enjoy the goods we send abroad. We eat bananas from Central America, wear Italian shoes, drive German automobiles, and enjoy programs we see on our Japanese TV sets. Our gain from foreign trade is what we import. Exports are the price we pay to get imports. As Adam Smith saw so clearly, the citizens of a nation benefit from getting as large a volume of imports as possible in return for its exports or, equivalently, from exporting as little as possible to pay for its imports.
The misleading terminology we use reflects these erroneous ideas. "Protection" really means exploiting the consumer. A "favorable balance of trade" really means exporting more than we import, sending abroad goods of greater total value than the goods we get from abroad. In your private household, you would surely prefer to pay less for more rather than the other way around, yet that would be termed an "unfavorable balance of payments" in foreign trade.
Real or Fake Tree?
Colored Lights, White Lights, or No Lights?
Cards or No Cards?
Christmas Letter or Not?
Mocking Christmas Letters or Not?
Cards with Religious Theme, Nature Scene or Mr. Claus and Friends?
Signed or Printed Cards?
Mailing Cards in December or February?
Alistair Sims, Michael Caine, Mr. Magoo or George C. Scott as Scrooge?
Gift Limit or Not?
Gift for Dog, Cat, Fish, Parakeet or... Are You Kidding Me?
Fruitcake as Food or as Doorstop?
Sticking to the Recipient's List of Desired Gifts or Choosing to Live Dangerously?
Early Services, Late Services, or No Services?
"Silent Night" or "Santa Claus is Coming to Town?"
Opening Gifts on Christmas Eve or on Christmas Morning?
Having a Ritual for Opening Gifts or Letting the Good Times Roll?
Saving Ribbons or Not?
Taking Time to Consider the Deeper Meaning or Simply Having a Party?
For All Those
Open Mouth. Insert Foot. Instant Recognition.
Among the winners are "Once every hundred years, media changes" and the cuddly "I love my job. I hate my customers."
Quote of the Day
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Dear Old Dad
He appreciated jokes, although in telling them he could not sustain even a brief narrative. His own best wit entailed a comic resignation. In his late eighties, he made the mistake of sending to a great-nephew whom he had never met a bar-mitzvah check for $1,000, instead of the $100 he had intended. When I discovered the error and pointed it out to him, he paused only briefly, smiled, and said, "Boy, is his younger brother going to be disappointed."
The Mistakes of Students...and Teachers
I've noticed that there are some basics that even the brightest students sometimes overlook. Here are the key ones:
- Failing to read the course requirements. [Obviously a wise move but perhaps not that obvious.]
- Failing to read the test questions. [This is so common I wonder how often in my own school days I missed the aim of the question.]
- Padding essays. [That is hard to miss when the same concept has been reworded three times.]
- Failing to ask questions. [Believe me, most professors are thrilled when a student shows enough interest to ask a question. The best students ask the most questions.]
- Applying their own rules to the subject. [You may feel that the French have been mispronouncing a word for years or that a law should have been written a certain way but unfortunately your interpretation is not on the exam.]
Now, in all fairness, let's look at the mistakes that teachers make:
- Using arcane exam questions that are more likely to trap or embarrass students than to test actual knowledge of the subject.
- Failing to give extensions on assignment deadlines.
- Failing to provide jargon-free explanations in plain language.
- Automatically assuming that if a student doesn't do well on an exam then the fault must be the student's.
- Forgetting that the teacher's job is to convey knowledge and not go through the motions of conveying knowledge.
- Failing to acquire decent presentation skills.
- Turning what could be an interesting subject into a recital of boring material.
Miscellaneous and Fast
Clive James on a strange condition known as JK Rowling envy.
A double-standard on the Giuliani story?
Sasha Frere-Jones on the return of Led Zeppelin.
Some Wharton researchers think that firing bad customers isn't a good idea.
Robert P. George on "Law and Moral Purpose."
The Next Surprise from Apple?
What do you get when you cross an iPod with a Mac?
A super-slim laptop that uses chip-based flash memory in place of a spinning hard drive, of course. If the rumors are right, Apple (AAPL) will unveil one at the annual Macworld confab next month.
Before you begin salivating from gadget lust however, be forewarned. The rumors should be taken with a grain of salt (or a whole tub of it if you have one handy) — and not just because Apple prognosticators have predicted for years that an ultra-light dream machine is right around the corner.
Read the rest on the odds of whether Apple will produce a flash laptop.
Poetry Break: Ogden Nash
In Baltimore there lived a boy.
He wasn't anybody's joy.
Although his name was Jabez Dawes,
His character was full of flaws.
In school he never led his classes,
He hid old ladies' reading glasses,
His mouth was open when he chewed,
And elbows to the table glued.
He stole the milk of hungry kittens,
And walked through doors marked NO ADMITTANCE.
He said he acted thus because
There wasn't any Santa Claus.
Read the rest of Ogden Nash's The Boy Who Laughed at Santa Claus.
Quote of the Day
- David Brooks
Saturday, December 22, 2007
When Mad was In
Read the rest of Michael Dirda's review .
[HT: Arts & Letters Daily ]
Is That HAL?
[HT: Bob Fitch ]
Miscellaneous and Fast
Talking down to the audience: Mike Huckabee identified his favorite author. [HT: Instapundit ]
Justin Peters gives the best free web games.
Victor Davis Hanson on whether the war on terror is really a war.
Tech Attraction: Via Adrants, the top ten sexy geeks of 2007.
John McWhorter on the "witches of grammar."
Top Five: Christmas Stories
Quote of the Day
- Ralph Peters
Friday, December 21, 2007
Get a Rope
Glow Brick: Too Cool
Because We Care
Book Review: Strategy and the Fat Smoker
The subtitle of the book is Doing What's Obvious But Not Easy and that sums up Maister's point. We often know the right thing, but then refrain from doing it. Maister explores the reasons why and in so doing reveals, like most great teachers, things you might have suspected but not acknowledged. Among his observations are:
If strategic rules are justified only in terms of outcomes ("Treating employees well gets us more money"), the diet will always be seen as a punishment on the way to an uncertain and possibly unattainable reward. Accordingly, it will always be resented.
[When I read the above I recalled diversity programs that tout diversity as a business advantage. Those pronouncements have always made me wonder what the firms would do if diversity was not an advantage.]
If a number of top people have plainly not signed up for the journey or are clearly not true believers, no number of systems or amount of inspired speechmaking will transport the organization there.
[In other words, if they don't get with the program, get rid of them. Don't work around them. Maister notes that you may be able to make individual but not team progress if you keep them around.]
Any business that tries to deliver all four virtues of quality, cost, variety, and speed is doomed to failure.
[You can't have it all and your message will be garbled if you try to do so.]
As companies keep discovering to their detriment, it is certain business decay if you try to please all market segments. The broader the group of clients to which you appeal, or the wider the range of services you try to provide, the less customized your operation can be to each segment within that group.
[ You have to watch for "mission creep." One client requests this and another requests that and before too long you're lost, cold, and listening to strange noises in a very dark forest.]
Maister advocates the adoption of a larger purpose, a sense of meaning, that will go beyond the standard emphasis on pay. He analyzes the usual barriers to implementation, such as problems with systems, attitude, knowledge, and skills and proposes the use of scorecards to measure peformance, coaching as a form of monitoring and follow-up on progress, tools in place before training starts, training, and rewards and recognition when people achieve.
Big shrug. You've heard that all before.
But Maister is not naive. He knows that many companies reward the short-term and transactional and that customers and employees can also resist looking at the bigger picture. He is also aware that while many managers are rigid when considering direction and loose and open when it comes to execution, those tendencies should actually be reversed.
His underlying message is a challenge which I'll ungraciously word as "Are you serious about good management or do you simply want to go through the motions?"
If you're serious, Maister's general prescription for success is a focus on passion (have lots), people (care for and develop the individual), and principles (get and stick to them). He regards none of those as negotiable. He is a fan of the U.S. Marine Corps and its non-nonsense, seriously crafted, culture that leaves little question as to how Marines are expected to behave. "Give people a goal, and little will be accomplished," he observes. "Leave it to them to find self-discipline, and most will fail to sustain high intensity. But place them in an environment where they are well coached, with colleagues equally turned on, and - contrary to what cynics might believe - the overwhelming majority of people of all backgrounds and educational levels will respond with enthusiasm and commitment."
The book's journey to understand the gaps between good intentions and performance is not the equivalent of a banana milk shake diet. There are no quick fixes. Some teams, given their current make-up, can't be repaired. Maister is advocating rules, commitment, and a lot of hard work. He's telling us to get off of the couch.
I highly recommend reading and re-reading David Maister's thought-provoking book. His solutions may appear to be simple and yet for most groups they will be damned hard.
They have only one advantage: They work.
Food from Angels and Goats
All night, for five nights in succession - nay, for seven or eight - they clambered over rocks, cutting capers, chasing one another, bleating fantastically. They turned their bearded heads hither and thither; with reddened eyes they gamboled convulsively when they caught sight of the goatherds, and then they darted off swift as arrows speeding from the bow.
Having observed the frisky goats, the imam of a nearby monastery - a sort of medieval Carlos Castaneda - roasted the berries in a chafing dish, crushed them in a mortar, mixed them with boiling water, and drank the brew. When he lay down, he couldn't sleep. His heartbeat quickened, his limbs felt light, his mood became cheerful and alert. "He was not merely thinking," wrote Jacob. "His thoughts had become concretely visible. He watched them from the right side and from the left, from above and from below. They raced like a team of horses." The imam found that he could juggle a dozen ideas in the time it normally took to consider a single one. His visual acuity increased; in the glow of his oil lamp, the parchment on his table looked unusually lustrous and the robe that hung on a nearby peg seemed to swell with life. He felt strengthened, as Jacob put it, "by heavenly food brought to him by the angels of Paradise."
Miscellaneous and Fast
George Will takes a knife to Hillary Clinton and Mike Huckabee.
The Mad Chider has issued a challenge to bloggers.
Amazon can't offer free delivery of books in France.
Should other countries help China clean up its pollution?
A classic short story: O. Henry's The Gift of the Magi.
Quote of the Day
- First paragraph of Then We Came to the End, a novel by Joshua Ferris
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Mind the Thighbone
Read the rest of Graeme Wood's review of Roberto Saviano's Gomorrah: A Personal Journey into the Violent International Empire of the Naples' Organized Crime System.
When Stupidity Pays
One More Time: Steyn and Multiculturalism
Road Warrior Strategies
[HT: 13th Floor ]
Top Workplace Blogs
Bizdeanstalk came in number one and Evil HR Lady also made the list!
Congratulations to all!
The Hybrid Wars
But Honda is planning a counter-attack.
Quote of the Day
- George Orwell
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
You Know You Want One
It will be a hit at client meetings.
[HT: Bob Fitch ]
Disappearing Car Door
The disappearing car door!
[HT: Rick Miller ]
Law and Order Break: Mug Shots
Check out this gallery.
[HT: Linkbunnies ]
"Sex" Reaches Poland
Demographers get really excited about shifts like these, but in case you don’t get what the big deal is, consider: in 1960, 70 percent of American 25-year-old women were married with children; in 2000, only 25 percent of them were. In 1970, just 7.4 percent of all American 30- to 34-year-olds were unmarried; today, the number is 22 percent. That change took about a generation to unfold, but in Asia and Eastern Europe the transformation has been much more abrupt. In today’s Hungary, for instance, 30 percent of women in their early thirties are single, compared with 6 percent of their mothers’ generation at the same age. In South Korea, 40 percent of 30-year-olds are single, compared with 14 percent only 20 years ago.
Just a Thought
Miscellaneous and Fast
Random Culture has a bundle of links of folks (such as the party animals at McKinsey and the hippies at The Futurist) who are bold enough to make predictions for 2008.
Speaking of trends: Michael at 2Blowhards notes we may be witnessing the elimination of the middle man in Hollywood.
But it's still cool: National Geographic says the giant skeleton photo was a hoax.
Michael Kerr recommends some unusual travel books.
Progress? Michael Barone gives a review of this past year.
Excuse the knife: Jan Moir reports on a weird proposal in Britain to let juvenile offenders off if they apologize to their victims.
Intent and Effect
Quote of the Day
- Robert Louis Stevenson
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Fuzzy Bunny Interrogations?
Should it be illegal for CIA interrogators to try to scare the man into talking by yelling at him? By threatening to slap him? By pretending to be from Egypt's brutal intelligence service? What about turning up the air conditioner to make him uncomfortably cold? Or denying him hot food until he talks, while giving him all the cold food he can eat?
Stuart Taylor, writing in The National Journal, notes that these may be illegal under a proposed bill.
It is an ignoble end to a proud motoring era. Not more than 15 years ago, SUVs ruled the automotive landscape and produced record profits during Detroit's last golden age. Now the most popular SUV of that era, the Ford Explorer, is headed to the scrap heap, done in by fuel economy and the lingering effects of tire-shredding and rollover issues from several years ago.
The Explorer has been a shadow of its former self, selling at less than half of the 400,000 units a year it did during its glory years. The name will continue on but the vehicle is moving on the passenger car platform used by the Ford Taurus around 2011. (Those interested in a sneak preview can see Ford's (F, Fortune 500) concept-car version of the new Explorer at the 2008 Detroit auto show in January.) Likewise, the Chrysler Aspen and Dodge Durango, latecomers to the SUV party, will shift onto the unibody platform used by the Jeep Grand Cherokee.
Jackson is On
Pretend You Are Running
- The stupid remarks you made in high school are part of every comedy routine on late night television.
- The obnoxious guy you could have easily avoided prior to running has you by the collar and is droning into the final 15 minutes of his fool-proof plan to achieve world peace.
- Your quip that an opponent's foreign policy ideas are "pig-ignorant" has ignited protests from pig lovers throughout the nation. Hecklers dressed as pigs show up at your events.
- You can't use a public restroom without a herd of reporters waiting outside the door.
- You are expected to wolf down and praise every bizarre local dish held up by some eager street vendor.
- You are not sure if the person who is frantically pushing through a crowd is an ardent supporter or a murderous psychotic.
- Many of the reporters on your campaign bus secretly hope to smile and cajole you into some interesting revelation that will give them a headline, even if it is lethal to your dreams.
- If you entirely please all of the members of your base - the same dedicated folks who will make the rafters ring in the convention hall - you have probably sunk your chances in the general election.
- You sleep in a different hotel room every night.
- You have to be "on" and charming with everyone who crosses your path or they will tell their friends or a nearby microphone that you are an inconsiderate snob.
- The problems and challenges in your personal life - after all, you are no different from anyone else - have not disappeared.
- You get up early in the snowy morning to greet factory workers as they arrive at work and many of them refuse to take your hand.
- You drive across a city only to discover that the "Meet the Candidate" party at Rachel Emerson's home has attracted eight people.
- Every political junkie within 50 miles is eager to tell you how to improve your campaign.
- Some of them are correct.