Thursday, January 31, 2008
Andrew Klavan looks at Hollywood's war films.
A radio station employee sets fire to the station after they change his playlist.
National Journal has announced the most liberal senator of 2007. [HT: RealClearPolitics ]
Ryanair's latest ad has sparked controversy, which is probably exactly what the company wanted. [HT: Adrants ]
Opposing opinions on changes to civil rights law.
Cool Tools looks at the Scooba Floor Scrubber...and likes it.
A profile of Julie Christie.
- The capacity to play two roles almost simultaneously; e.g., the highly competent professional who is not only capable of handling any stressful assignment but would be seriously insulted if that capability were questioned...and the sympathetic victim who suffers severe emotional distress if someone utters a sarcastic remark or tells an off-color joke. Hypersensitivity and an eagerness to ascribe malice to innocent or blundering behavior are part of this performance.
- The declared and open recording of all perceived offenses... and the subsequent documentation of any co-workers or supervisors who avoid interaction because they don't want their casual remarks to become part of a court case.
- The creation of purported friendships in order to gain information that may assist an eventual case.
- A jail house lawyer's knowledge of all complaint procedures and lines.
- An expectation that supervisors and co-workers be understanding and tolerant of various lapses in job performance...combined with a failure to give those same individuals the benefit of the doubt.
- A conspiracy to demonstrate that all others are conspiratorial.
Wait a minute, the plaintiff attorneys may say. Don't causes of emotional distress defy logic? Cannot the combat veteran quake at the thought of giving a speech? Isn't the declared intention to document simply a form of self-defense? Who can plumb the reasons for a broken friendship and aren't you being harsh in implying ill intent? Shouldn't employees know their rights? Wouldn't you distrust people if you feel you've been subjected to poor treatment? Is it not possible that actions taken to prepare a defense may seem to be conspiratorial?
Those all are great questions and they illustrate not just the fine line that exists between proper and suspicious conduct but the reason why employers are so vulnerable to the predatory employee. Employers fear how suspicious or reprehensible behavior on the part of an employee may be represented to a jury as the expected conduct of a victim. They worry, in turn, about how a manager's reasonable and appropriate behavior may be portrayed as oppressive or harassing. Their assumption is that juries will have an automatic sympathy for the underdog - the employee - versus the big, rich employer. Fear of litigation is both the sword and shield of the predatory employee.
The impact of this fear should not be underestimated. Employers overlook misconduct and keep people on the job who are highly destructive to efficiency and morale. This cowardice fosters mistrust among the managers and supervisors who correctly sense that they won't be backed up if they try to manage properly. Matters that would normally be handled informally are lawyerized and candor is severely restricted.
The problem needs to be surfaced and discussed. Selection procedures need to be improved so the predators can be screened out. Early intervention in potential cases, with the energetic involvement of the firm's attorneys, should be the rule and not the exception. Team values need to be set forth and reinforced.
These actions, while hardly magical, are justified by one simple fact: A predatory employee can poison a workplace for years. The people who suffer the most from the predators, namedly their co-workers and immediate supervisors, deserve better.
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
- Don't be punctual. It's strange, but when employers say they want you there at 8:00, they don't mean 8:05, 8:17, or 9:00.
- Fight with your co-workers. If you have run-ins with Tom in operations, Dick in Marketing, and Mary in accounting, it won't be too long before your boss notices a common denominator to those incidents.
- Turn in sloppy work. They didn't hire you so they could do part of your job. Show them that you can delegate...upward.
- Miss deadlines. Few people have never missed a deadline but making it a habit is as lethal as scrawling "Unreliable" on your forehead.
- Be unenthusiastic. Although Fred's Furry Critters BBQ Joint may not play a main role in your career dreams, odds are Fred thinks it's a pretty important place. If you act like it's just a paycheck, don't be surprised if Fred is offended.
- Make excuses for poor work. Employers hate this. You can put a cherry on top by also failing to apologize.
- Shoot off your mouth. Lewdness, profanity, truculent opinions, and just flat-out indiscreet remarks have zapped many a career. Don't overlook this colorful option.
“Hell’s Kitchen has a rich history, but this is one for the books.”
- New York City police spokesman Paul J. Browne on the arrests of two men who allegedly pushed a corpse seated in an office chair along a sidewalk in the once-notorious Manhattan neighborhood to a check-cashing store to cash the dead man’s Social Security check.
Source: New York Times
John Lawson, who lives in Stockton, California with his wife Julia, began receiving threatening phone calls around 2 a.m. Saturday morning. He didn't know why until THREAT LEVEL explained that a hacking group calling itself the g00ns (goons spelled with zeros, not goons with the letter o) posted his home address, phone number and cell numbers, as well as Julia's Social Security number, online. The obscene and threatening calls have continued through Tuesday, according to Lawson.
Read the rest of this strange story.
- The employee who pesters the boss for some sort of special privilege is finally granted it in the name of peace.
- The negotiator who makes outrageous demands is rewarded with concessions instead of refusals or counter-demands.
- The attorney who doesn't abide by the meeting terms that were previously agreed upon is allowed to reshape the nature of the meeting.
- The customer who behaves rudely is given better treatment than those who are polite.
What should happen, of course, is that conditions should worsen, not improve, when a person behaves unacceptably. The best that the offending side should hope for is no change, not a better deal.
Take reasonable people for granted and reward the louts and you'll get more of the latter and fewer of the former.
The description of the action is a little baffling to me. The game that I knew was more chaotic. When the electric switch was flipped, the players "ran" all over the field or in the wrong direction. It was more Marx Brothers than Knute Rockne.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Still Back by popular demand: Flea Market Montgomery. Makes me want to drive down South and buy a sofa.
Jim Fusilli looks at the soundtracks nominated for the Oscar.
WaiterRant encounters a haggler.
Tim Ferriss on personal branding in the digital age.
As the ballot totals piled against him on Election Night, the candidate was asked his reaction. Referring back to his cemetery speech, Tuck quipped, "Just wait till the dead vote comes in." When defeat became inevitable, Tuck made the now notorious statement, "The people have spoken, the bastards."
Monday, January 28, 2008
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Read the rest of the story here.
Paul Boutin looks at a couple of books on predicting the future.
Saturday, January 26, 2008
Consumerist reports that far more iPhones were sold than were activated.
News from The Chauffeur of the Year awards.
Will China and India destroy the planet? And is that a fair question?
Voting is open on the 2008 "bloggies."
Fortune's slide show: 9 things you didn't know about Google.
Gridskipper provides hilltop views of San Francisco.
Friday, January 25, 2008
In the province of Quebec, it’s taken more or less for granted by all political parties that collective rights outweigh individual rights. For example, if you own a store in Montreal, the French language signs inside the store are required by law to be at least twice the size of the English signs. And the government has a fairly large bureaucratic agency whose job it is to go around measuring signs and prosecuting offenders. There was even a famous case a few years ago of a pet store owner who was targeted by the Office De La Langue Française for selling English-speaking parrots. The language commissar had gone into the store and heard a bird saying, “Who’s a pretty boy, then?” and decided to take action. I keep trying to find out what happened to the parrot. Presumably it was sent to a re-education camp and emerged years later with a glassy stare saying in a monotone voice, “Qui est un joli garcon, hein?”
Read the rest of Stanley Bing on Davos.
- You don't know what you want.
- They don't know what they want.
- The interview has all of the attraction of a blind date.
- The job you are interested in will always schedule an interview with you for one week after you need to make a decision on a job offer you don't want.
- Being "overqualified" doesn't pay the rent.
- Being the best person for the job doesn't mean you'll get it.
- Your best interview answers are composed on the way back to your car.
How is the strategy working? Consider China, the land of Yao Ming, the 7-foot, 6-inch Shanghai-born star of the Houston Rockets who was chosen number one in the 2002 draft. Sina.com, China’s premier sports website, estimates that one-tenth of all Chinese are soccer fans. That’s 130 million people. By contrast, the NBA reckons that 300 million Chinese watch NBA games on TV or the Internet. That’s roughly the entire U.S. population. Eighty-nine percent of Chinese aged 15 to 54 are aware of the NBA, according to a survey by the European research firm TNS of 11 major urban markets in China. Every year, thousands of basketball courts are constructed, even in the most remote provinces.
The NBA is also gaining huge popularity in other parts of Asia, Europe, and Latin America, and it is starting to make inroads in Africa. In the summer of 2007, the NBA held 262 international events in 162 cities spanning five continents—nearly double the 135 events in 87 cities in 2006. In October, the Cleveland Cavaliers and Orlando Magic played exhibition games in Shanghai and Macao. Four other teams—the Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors, Memphis Grizzlies, and Minnesota Timberwolves—held training camps and played exhibition games in Europe. NBA Commissioner David Stern has announced that his goal is to hold regular-season games in major European cities.
Read the rest of Charles Euchner's article on whether basketball can overtake soccer as the world's most popular sport.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
- Which important items were not discussed?
- Which relevant decision maker was not present or, worse yet, not invited?
- Which items seemed to flow to easy agreement and was that agreement just a bit too easy?
- Which areas will be likely points of blame if the project doesn't succeed?
- Which responsibilities do you assume are being handled elsewhere and why are you making that assumption?
- Is it possible that the decision that you supported because the others supported it was being supported by the others because they trust your judgment?
Omnivoracious has a list of science fiction and fantasy links. [HT: Instapundit ]
Steven Malanga looks at racial/ethnic turmoil and immigration.
Harvard Business School's Working Knowledge has a Q&A with Thomas J. DeLong on the challenges facing professional service firms.
Instead, many women focus on practicality. Michaela Jedinak, a London-based media and entertainment lawyer who advises executives on communications and style, says women need "hard-wearing" clothing that won't look sloppy and wrinkled by late afternoon. Don't wear make-up that has to be reapplied, she suggests, because it will make you too "self-conscious."
The attention brought to clothing is a two-edged sword for authoritative women everywhere. A style misstep can be career-limiting. Yet paying too much attention to one's appearance risks accusations of frivolity -- which is equally career-limiting.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
In his day, he was the best chess player in the world, maybe the best the world had ever seen. For fans of the game, the tragedy is that his day passed all too quickly. And for the last 30-odd years of his life, Bobby Fischer was the chess world's mad uncle, an embarrassment to be apologized for, belittled or ignored. He died last week at the evocative age of 64.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Read the rest of the Business Week article on India's younger generation.
Monday, January 21, 2008
- Keeping a departmental log of important presentations to boards, councils, and key decision makers so future presenters will know which issues were surfaced, the types of questions that were asked, and which decision makers had special concerns;
- Creating and updating a book of how significant challenges were overcome by individuals or groups (one example: sales reps who described how they dealt with customer objections or problems);
- Writing an annual history of the department's key accomplishments and setbacks complete with analyses of what was done well and what should have been handled differently; and
- Having departing executives, managers, professionals, and technicians write an account of the lessons they learned on the job and tips they would give to their successors.
Would such accounts be sanitized? Sure. But they'd contain enough substance to be of real assistance and it is ridiculous that such accounts aren't more common.
As good as it gets: Greenstreet and Bogart in The Maltese Falcon.
The sad story of a computer hoax that led to a girl's suicide.
Less is More: Some communities are seeking to save their local bookstores.
Mark Steyn on The New York Times's version of the Oxford Declaration. [HT: RealClearPolitics ]
Road warriors know there's no substitute for face-to-face communication.
Sunday, January 20, 2008
Read the rest of Jerry Weinberger's City Journal article.
Saturday, January 19, 2008
"I remember when Phil was a little kid, instead of picking up a book, getting bored, and then throwing it at his sister, he'd actually sit down and read the whole thing," said mother Susan Meyer, who declared she has long given up trying to explain her son's unusual hobby. "At the time, we thought it was just a phase he was going through. I guess we were wrong."
From The Onion: "Area Eccentric Reads Entire Book."
Over the years, Meyer has read dozens of books from beginning to end, regardless of whether he was forced to do so by a professor in school or whether a film version of the reading material already existed. According to girlfriend Jessica Kohler, he even uses a special cardboard marking device so that he can keep track of where he has stopped reading and later return to that exact same place.
If home improvement is not your thing, anybody who has ever flown Southwest Airlines or used a George Foreman grill understands this concept. George Foreman made millions off of this very simple principle. The old way of making hamburgers was a two-step, 14-minute process. Step 1, cook side A for 7 minutes. Step 2, cook side B for 7 minutes. Foreman, with five little Georges to feed, asked the question, "Why can't we cook side A and side B at the same time?" Voila! One fully cooked hamburger in half the time. (Again, the work itself is still the same — 7 minutes per side. He sped up the process, not the cooking. Microwaving the burger would be an example of speeding up work time — but you know how well that turns out!)
Southwest Airlines is one of the few airlines that consistently makes money. Why? Because the company was founded on the radical idea that "airplanes don't make money on the ground." That is, the more flights we can squeeze out of the same fleet, the more money we can make. So Southwest used a NASCAR pit crew (another beautiful example of parallel processing) to see how they could turn a plane around quickly. The airline learned how to sequence all of the tasks necessary to clean and restock a plane and get it ready to board in 10 minutes. One of Southwest's chronically bankrupt large competitors just instituted this concept and was able to add 125 more flights with the same fleet at no additional cost. That's pure profit.
At a hearing of the House Committee on Science and Technology last February, Pelosi assured Republican lawmakers that she would not be an “active opponent” of nuclear energy. “I have a different view on nuclear than I did 20 years ago,” she said. “The technology has changed and I bring a more open mind to that subject now.” Similarly, during a February campaign stop in South Carolina, Mrs. Clinton denied any “preconceived opposition” to nuclear power. “It doesn’t put greenhouse gas emissions into the air,” she said.
More and more Democrats and ardent environmentalists are now rethinking the nuclear option. They have been joined in Europe by politicians anxious to meet their emissions targets under the Kyoto Protocol and wary of their vulnerability to energy blackmail by unpredictable or hostile governments in nations like Russia and Iran. “It is impossible to fulfill the Kyoto objectives without using nuclear energy,” Michael Glos, the German economics minister, said in early 2007.
The behavior of this generation has spawned a number of recent books, including Diana West's "The Death of the Grown-Up," Jean Twenge's "Generation Me," and such academic studies as "Emerging Adults in America," edited by Jeffrey Jensen Arnett and Jennifer Lynn Tanner. For a better understanding of this cohort, of which I happen to be a part, I turned to Robert Wuthnow, a Princeton sociologist and the author of a new book called "After the Boomers." Surrounded by college students, and the father of three children who are now ages 35, 33 and 27, Prof. Wuthnow, a kind-looking gentleman with a full head of white hair, has long been fascinated by the demographic differences between young adults today and his own generation.
Here are the crucial ones he identifies: When compared with their parents and grandparents, 20- and 30-somethings are spending more time in school, remaining financially dependent on their parents longer, marrying later in life, having kids later (and have fewer of them), and changing jobs and locations more often. As Prof. Wuthnow sees it, this extended adolescence or "emerging adulthood" (a phrase coined by Prof. Arnett in a 2000 article in American Psychologist) is largely a product of longer life expectancies and has both upsides and downsides.
Read the rest here.
Friday, January 18, 2008
Read the rest of The Wall Street Journal Law Blog post.
Bruce Weinstein looks at the ethics of discussing politics at work.
Around 8,000 people applied for the job of Chief Beer Officer.
Commemorating 25 years of Judge Richard Posner.
Unusual medical procedure discovered in Illinois.
Fashion consultant Amanda Brooks looks at men with scarves.
Self-assessment: 28 attributes of a failed security system.
Sol Stern calls for instructional reform in the schools.
- Talking too little.
- Talking too much.
- Not socializing.
- Not keeping up with developments in the profession.
- Not keeping a confidence.
- Being abusive to subordinates.
- Having turf wars with peers.
- Having an office affair.
- Dressing inappropriately.
- Missing deadlines.
- Not having a degree.
- Exhibiting bigotry.
- Being indecisive.
- Being disloyal.
- Losing money.
- Failing to advertise successes.
- Using sarcasm.
- Being overweight.
- Refusing assignments.
The origins of There Will Be Blood can be traced to a bookstore in London, where homesick Paul Thomas Anderson spotted the Upton Sinclair novel Oil!, which then became an unlikely life raft for the struggling writer/director.
"I had been trying to write something, anything — just to get something written," Anderson says. "I had a story that wasn't really working. It was about two families, fighting. It just had that premise. And when I read the book, there were so many ready-made scenes and the great venue of the oil fields and all that. So those are all of the obvious things that seemed worth making a film about."
Read the story behind the founder of Proclivity Systems.
Thursday, January 17, 2008
Bottled water companies try to go green.
Doc Guide: A guidebook to help you find a good doctor.
Arthur C. Brooks on political stereotypes and hate.
Conspicuous consumption: Wealth signals and race.
Art Comber: Cool Tools has the details on a portable art studio.
Victor Davis Hanson on the politics of immigration.
Fortune picks the best stocks for 2008.
On the day we launched Hospira, we began educating our employees by giving them all a book—The Integrity Advantage by Adrian Gostick and Dana Telford—that explains integrity in a corporate setting. It boils integrity down to 10 characteristics, which it then defines. Among my favorites:
You know the little things count.
You mess up, you ’fess up.
You keep your word.
You care about the greater good.
You act like you’re being watched.
You hire integrity.
We also used this book as the inspiration for an employee Code of Business Conduct, which we distributed to all 14,000-plus employees. We followed up with live training sessions, and we asked everyone to sign a “Statement of Ethics and Compliance.” Finally, we set up a worldwide Ethics and Compliance Hotline. As 2004 ended, we conducted an employee benchmark survey. It found that just 24 percent of respondents would “strongly agree” that they were encouraged to act with integrity. Just 22 percent felt their managers set an example of integrity.
You can now watch Steve Jobs's 90 minute keynote address at MacWorld...in 60 seconds.
The home-improvement industry has always been a no-woman's land known for its drab aisles lined with nail bins and mysterious steel objects whose purpose was understood only by grunting guys in flannel shirts. Now it is going designer pink. Companies such as Tomboy Tools, Barbara K Enterprises and Girlgear Industries are offering the female do-it-yourselfer fabulous pink hammers and saws in stores and on the Web. These items usually fit snugly inside a smart satchel of the same hue, the tool box as it might be interpreted by Sarah Jessica Parker. Tomboy Trades, a Canadian concern, has also recently introduced adorable pink work boots; they also come in stylish, but less assertively girly, red, blue and green. Pink or blue, these boots are made for workin'.
Read the rest of Kay Hymowitz's article here.
There has been an explosion of womantargeted self-help books, videos, radio shows (including one called "A Repair to Remember"), TV spots and home-improvement Web sites. Some sites—including bejane.com and toolgirl.com—are specifically for women, while others offer female-friendly links and columns. Home Depot has introduced "Do It Herself" clinics for women interested in learning how to use a stud finder; the classes are evidently a success since, as NPR has reported, in some locales the store is becoming known as a hot singles spot. Even schoolgirls are joining the revolution. The Girl Scouts now offer a Ms. Fix-It badge for members eager to learn how to rewire a lamp or fix a leaky toilet, and an outfit called Vermont Work for Women has introduced a summer program called Rosie's (as in Rosie the Riveter) Girls promising "hands on instruction in the skilled trades."
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
I just returned from a business trip and am fighting a hellish sinus/allergy condition.
Will be posting during the recovery stage but please be merciful if I start to hallucinate.
[Granted, some may say, "What's different?"]
- We should replace the selection process with a Talent Evaluation Process. Selection is far too mechanical. It places the round peg in the round hole - at least we hope - and its overall emphasis is on filling a slot. Serious evaluation of the available talent is often secondary. In too many cases it is a very far second.
- The selection process produces two camps: the successful applicant and the losers. The latter may be highly talented souls but the selection process is not horseshoes and you normally don't gain any points from being the Almost Selected. [Although that's a nice thing to emphasize to your mother: "I was really, really, close."]
- Due to the warm and caring intervention of the lawyers - those altruists! - organizations clam up when it comes to giving feedback to the also-rans. "We were impressed by your qualifications," we lie, "but decided to hire another applicant. Your application will be kept for a year in case another opening occurs." [See. We aren't bad people. We just tossed a fish!]
- This practice means that people can apply for job after job and never get any meaningful feedback. No one says, "Lose the tie" or "Stop talking down to the oral board." We actually think our silence is kind but with kind friends like that, you don't need any...well, you get the point.
- The Talent Evaluation Process would be candid. Its emphasis would be on evaluating the skills, knowledge, and attitudes of the applicants and telling them where they missed the mark. Now before the HR folks start moaning over the extra work and the legal exposure, let me propose a compromise: Limit the detailed feedback to the internal applicants, at least at the start. Let candor be one of the little benefits of working for your firm.
- The advantage is obvious: You can tell people what they need to do to make themselves more competitive. Some will huff and puff and claim you missed their inner beauty but others will take that budget class or dress more appropriately or learn how to handle a job interview. They will improve their ability to rise.
- As for the legal exposure, that is indeed real. There would be more of it. But if you let fear of litigation dictate all of your decisions, you will not be doing the right thing. There are some cranks out there, but most people are adults. They will prefer the hard truth over the cold caress of the bureaucratic rejection. They will know that you cared enough to be honest. And that's not a bad signal to send.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Dubious moments in comics history: Lileks looks at Night Nurse.
Thinking globally: What happens when someone with way too much time and questionable taste critiques the flags of the world. [HT: Andrew Sullivan ]
Nano Nano: What a small car in India means to the environmental movement. [Real Clear Politics ]
The old debate: Did Columbus bring syphilis to the New World or did he bring it back?
The Onion: Area Man Sorry He's Late.
Monday, January 14, 2008
- What types of things outside of our "insect" specialties are not a waste of time but actually add to our ability to perform the narrower tasks?
- Does a wide range of experiences and skills make us better or more confident decision makers?
- Lying, which usually will be cloaked as a fib or a fudge or simply not telling the whole truth.
- Evading responsibility.
- Taking credit for the work of others.
- Kissing up to superiors.
- Abusing subordinates.
- Faking expertise.
- Covering up blunders.
- Blaming subordinates or peers.
- Blaming superiors.
- Pretending that selfish actions are really driven by altruism.
- Adopting an attitude of entitlement.
- Pointing to the misconduct of others as justification for ethics violations.
- Dining out for years on the value and significance of one good deed.
- Letting glibness trump sincerity.
- Arguing that what was truly a choice was instead driven by necessity.