Zen and Witness Prep
Attorney Michael P. Maslanka was reading some zen when he discovered an important lesson on the preparation of witnesses.
The lesson goes far beyond the law.
Commentary by Michael Wade on Leadership, Ethics, Management, and Life
Attorney Michael P. Maslanka was reading some zen when he discovered an important lesson on the preparation of witnesses.
Cultural Offering: In Praise of Jack.
2Blowhards: You're a real film director now. How has becoming a film director affected your life?
Wally Bock gives us some ways to determine if we believe in the Planning Fairy.
Rowena Mason has a reading list for the G20 leaders.
Plainly, whatever company emerges from this turmoil will have fewer employees working for more sensible wages and fewer Cadillac-style benefits. Right now the argument has been that no one will buy cars from a company that files for bankruptcy. But if you had to bet, which offers the best chance for a brighter upside: a company that restructured under Chapter 11 or one restructured with the help of Congress and the White House?
Recently, my computer was zapped by the creative product of some sociopath.
Let's pretend that all of the lawyers and judges are in a box in the corner and there is no danger of winding up in court.
Political Calculations looks at inflation, deflation, and why the baby boomers are inherently evil.
What's the single most crucial thing to take on a trip? A very small shortwave radio, to alert you to world events, the possible horrors of the place you're in, and to give you something to listen to in the hours of the night, when you're alone in the dark.
Churchill's breakfast menu: This is the way to fly.
They may be different now. I pray that they are. But when I went to high school, the guidance counselors were notoriously bad. I hope that my school was an exception and that most students got solid and practical advice from their guidance departments.
I've seen an estimate that a person may take as much as 20 minutes to get back up to speed after a single interruption. That brings to mind the other subtle ways in which certain events may erode effectiveness.
...[F]rom ages six to eighteen Americans live mostly in what I call Soft America - the parts of our country where there is little competition and accountability. But from ages eighteen to thirty Americans live mostly in Hard America - the parts of American life subject to competition and accountability. Soft America coddles: our schools, seeking to instill self-esteem, ban tag and dodgeball, and promote just about anyone who shows up. Hard America plays for keeps: the private sector fires people when profits fall, and the military trains under live fire.
Seth Godin explains why people visit social online sites.
My post on exploitation by committee is up at U.S. News & World Report.
Holman W. Jenkins, Jr. on the congressional reaction to the AIG bonuses:
Years ago, a union leader asked for my opinion about labor's chances of winning a political election on a particular issue. He was shocked when I replied that the chances were slim because most voters distrusted the labor unions as much as they did the corporations.
Soap and education are not as sudden as a massacre, but they are more deadly in the long run.
Think of the terrible casting decisions that you've seen in various films.
From the stand, Todd Gleason, the dean of Arts and Sciences, noted that no academic inquiry originates from strictly neutral ground: "It's only common sense to expect that the source of most complaints against a faculty member is going to be someone who nine times out of 10 has a personal or professional disagreement with the author." Pure motives can be in short supply, even in the supposedly collegial world of higher education. And which is worse: To check out some footnotes after an inflammatory essay brings shame on your profession, or to submit a complaint about a colleague's work after he snubs you in the faculty lounge?
I once knew a man whose main talent was his ability to put others at ease.
The Rushdie affair, Kureishi believes, transformed not just his own work, but also “the very notion of writing.” The fatwa “created a climate of terror and fear. Writers had to think about what they were writing in a way they never had to before. Free speech became an issue as it had not been before. Liberals had to take a stand, to defend an ideology they had not really had to think about before.” How have they borne up to the task? “The attacks on Rushdie showed that words can be dangerous. They also showed why critical thought is more important than ever, why blasphemy and immorality and insult need protection. But most people, most writers, want to keep their heads down, live a quiet life. They don’t want a bomb in the letterbox. They have succumbed to the fear.”
Charlotte Simonsen, the company's spokeswoman, says more than 400 million people will play with Lego this year. After 50-odd years of production, there are apparently 62 Lego bricks for every man, woman and child on the planet. And most of us, I'd imagine, would say we felt pretty warmly towards these little chunks of injection-moulded acrylonitrile butadiene styrene. Some would go considerably further. Lego reckons it has maybe 250,000 Afols, or Adult Fans of Lego, around the globe. They gather for mammoth week-long conventions with names such as BrickFest, and vie with each other to build the World's Largest Lego Boat (14ft 7in long; 300,000 bricks), construct the Biggest Lego Train Layout Ever (3,343ft, and it ran through an entire Lego cityscape) or beat the Fastest Time to Build the Lego Imperial Star Destroyer (3,104 pieces; five builders maximum and no pre-sorting allowed; record: 1 hour 42 minutes 43 seconds).
This is why so many of us read the thoughtful and thought-provoking Nicholas Bate.
You are sitting across from a young, freshly-minted, supervisor who has asked you for one piece of advice.
Courage is the art of being the only one who knows you're scared to death.
I've written earlier about the mistake of addressing a team problem with an individual solution.
You are selling Rocky Road and they want vanilla.
Two weeks ago, Abe Moscowitz dropped dead of a heart attack and was reincarnated as a lobster. Trapped off the coast of Maine, he was shipped to Manhattan and dumped into a tank at a posh Upper East Side seafood restaurant. In the tank there were several other lobsters, one of whom recognized him. “Abe, is that you?” the creature asked, his antennae perking up.
The community organization had bogged down. Its membership was stagnant and there were few programs that would attract members.
Still sorting out some computer issues.
Rob Long gives an interesting perspective on a subject all dog owners ponder.
Cultural Offering has an excellent post on "Outrage Fatigue."
Rough economic times are often used to justify an "Every man for himself" attitude in the workplace.
Why won't Carl and Maria do their job?
The silver trump of freedom had roused my soul to eternal wakefulness. Freedom now appeared, to disappear no more forever. It was heard in every sound, and seen in every thing. It was ever present to torment me with a sense of my wretched condition. I saw nothing without seeing it, I heard nothing without hearing it, and felt nothing without feeling it. It looked from every star, it smiled in every calm, breathed in every wind, and moved in every storm.
My post on the territory between clear success and clear failure is up at U.S. News & World Report.
This post by John Phillips on the woes of the Secretary of the Treasury was before the most recent stories on the AIG bonuses.
Yogi was, Mr. Barra claims, the greatest winner in American professional sports and the greatest catcher in the history of baseball. The first point is inarguable -- Yogi was the backstop, and backbone, of 10 World Series championships and 14 American League pennant winners between 1947 and 1963. The second point is open to debate, especially from anyone who remembers Johnny Bench in the 1970s, playing for the Cincinnati Reds. In an appendix, Mr. Barra compares a handful of star catchers, examining their batting and fielding performances and applying advanced statistical methods to level their records across differing eras, leagues and ballparks. He doesn't quite succeed in making an incontrovertible case for Yogi's pre-eminence, but he does manage to eliminate even such notable figures as Bill Dickey, Roy Campanella and Mickey Cochrane and to narrow the all-time winner to Berra or Bench.
If you want a golden rule that will fit everybody, this is it: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.
Stanley Bing on excuses that no longer work:
Here's an interesting interview of Jackie Gleason by Johnny Carson in which Gleason tells of a terrible television show he once made and what he did the week after that program.
Almost any man worthy of his salt would fight to defend his home, but no one ever heard of a man going to war for his boarding house.
From Japan: the best game show ever.
The client says, "We want to make this process better. We think we'll do this and that."
Throw some spam on the griddle. Bring me an RC Cola and a Moon pie.
There are all sorts of jobs out there and this may be one of the better ones.
Consultant, professor, and prolific author Nicholas Bate gives 5 ways to get extra business by 12 noon.
A couple days ago I finally got being a good startup founder down to two words: relentlessly resourceful.
Till then the best I'd managed was to get the opposite quality down to one: hapless. Most dictionaries say hapless means unlucky. But the dictionaries are not doing a very good job. A team that outplays its opponents but loses because of a bad decision by the referee could be called unlucky, but not hapless. Hapless implies passivity. To be hapless is to be battered by circumstances—to let the world have its way with you, instead of having your way with the world. 
Expressive individualism is thus the ideal context in which the mode of life as appearing can take hold. Here what matters about the products we buy is not their use value but their sign value. We do not buy a car simply for the purpose of getting from one place to another. Rather, we buy a particular make or style of car so that in driving it we will project a desired image. I don't actually have to be an outdoorsman or a Hollywood starlet to participate in the look by driving a four-wheel-drive sport utility vehicle or a convertible roadster. What has happened here is the elevation of the sign, image, or style above reality or substance. Given suitable attire and props (and funds!), we can share in the look of any identity without participating in the discipline of relationships that would make it real. We live in what the French theorist Guy Debord called the "society of the spectacle."
Donald at 2Blowhards analyzes the covers of pulp fiction magazines and notes:
Fortune magazine explores the question of whether Meg Whitman can save California:
Manjoo cited all the statistics: Facebook had just added its 150-millionth member and since last August is signing up 374,000 people each day. It has achieved absolute critical mass, thus compounding its utility and effectiveness. Not joining now is an affectation in itself, like refusing to own a cellphone or rejecting the social lubricant of antiperspirant. "Facebook is now at the same point," he wrote. "Whether or not you intend it, you're saying something by staying away."
How right you are, Mr. Manjoo. I am indeed saying something, and it is this: I hate Facebook and everyone on it, including my friends, who I like. My wife just joined it, and I dearly love her. But scratch that. I hate her too. After all, right is right. Sometimes, we courageous few must make a stand.
Read all of the Matt Labash article here.
The scoundrels are understandable. We know they're weasels. But why don't otherwise good people protest an injustice in the workplace? Some reasons:
Assume you can only have one.
Christopher Hitchens recalls the author John Mortimer. An excerpt:
CEOs select the best and worst states for job growth and business. An excerpt:
Some points to ponder from Mark Steyn. An excerpt:
The only American automaker whose 1958 sales had not declined happened to be the only one featuring homemade smaller cars. American Motors Corporation, a company born out of the desperate 1954 marriage of two failing veteran car makers—Hudson and Nash—doubled its sales, from 91,469 in ’57 to 186,227 in ’58. The cars that did the trick were the Rambler, built on a 108-inch wheelbase, and its newly introduced little brother, the Rambler American, built on a 100-inch wheelbase with the body dies from the original Nash Rambler of 1950. Most American cars at that time were riding on wheelbases of 115- to 130-plus inches and often weighed a half-ton more than the 2500–3000-pound Ramblers.
To say that a man is an idealist is merely to say that he is a man.
Who says you can't find business tips in the movies?
My post on how e-mail becomes dangerous is up at U.S. News & World Report.
Third, GM, Ford, and Chrysler handled failure better than success. When they made money, they tended to squander it on ill-conceived diversification schemes. It was when they were in trouble that they often did their most innovative work—the first minivans at Chrysler, the first Ford Taurus, and more recently the Chevy Volt were ideas born out of crisis.
My text is drawn from Federalist 62, probably written by James Madison: "A good government implies two things: first, fidelity to the object of government, which is the happiness of the people; secondly, a knowledge of the means by which that object can be best attained." Note the word: happiness. Not prosperity. Not security. Not equality. Happiness, which the Founders used in its Aristotelian sense of lasting and justified satisfaction with life as a whole.
I have two points to make. First, I will argue that the European model is fundamentally flawed because, despite its material successes, it is not suited to the way that human beings flourish--it does not conduce to Aristotelian happiness. Second, I will argue that twenty-first-century science will prove me right.
Read the rest of Charles Murray's speech here.
Stanley Bing is going analog:
Be sure to read it all. We've all been there.
Forget about Madoff, the economy, and the glum stories of the world for just a moment and check out just one of the many great scenes from "A Night at the Opera."
Here are some quotes from Bernard Madoff at his hearing.
Interview expert Rowan Manahan gives outstanding advice on what to do when the job interviewer talks too much. My favorite part:
For a friend who has been "restructured":
We've all seen films in which parts were poorly cast. This is no reflection upon the talent of the actors. It is simply a poor match between the person and the part.
Daniel Henninger looks at the budget and sees a document shaped by "redistribute the wealth" theorists . An excerpt:
Arthur C. Brooks examines the advantages of moderate drinking. An excerpt:
HP and its boutique/luxe division Voodoo deserve serious praise for what they've accomplished with the Firebird 803. Taking a mix of laptop and desktop guts, juicing it up with high-end components, cooling it with liquid goo instead of noisy fans, and encasing it inside a gorgeous, curvy shell that would make most industrial designers weep with envy, they've made the Firebird a testament to how the envelope can be pushed in the typically boring PC world.
It's also a veritable bargain, priced at $2,100, fully loaded.
Around 7:30 p.m. Pacific Time, Symantec noticed that its Norton support forums were being flooded with blank messages that had PIFTS.exe in their subject line. Within three hours there were 600 posts about PIFTS.exe. The posts contained no text, only subjects such as "IF PIFTS.EXE WAS HERE, THEN WHO WAS PHONE?" and "OH GOD YOU GOT CHOCOLATE IN MY PIFTS."
Symantec began deleting the messages, assuming they were from spammers.
Read the rest of the CSO story here.
When he died in 1910, Mark Twain left behind a mass of papers. (”The largest collection of personal papers created by any 19-century American author,” says publisher HarperStudio.) Now some of those papers will be seeing the light of day.
Among them was an unpublished story that will appear in next week’s issue of the mystery quarterly The Strand. “The Undertaker’s Tale” is a never-before-published humorous piece by Twain. “Twain uses his razor sharp wit to pen a tongue-in-cheek tale about the funeral industry which could easily have been written today,” says Strand editor Andrew Gulli.
We know that some people are turned down for positions because they are "overqualified."
We can easily cite examples of when a virtue becomes a vice. The analytical person may be indecisive. The courageous person may be rash. But that criticism may be too easy. Groups may benefit from an examination of when virtues become drawbacks.
That discussion may also assist in dissecting the roots of "Here comes someone who is bright, attentive, and helpful. Obviously, he must be destroyed."
If justice is a neutral process - with no effort by judges to rein in extreme claims or dubious defenses - then people know they can't rely on their instincts of what's reasonable. They become self-conscious and defensive in daily dealings. For them to feel free in daily interactions, legal boundaries must correspond with their reasonable sense of right and wrong.
Wally Bock points us to management wisdom from Fred Smith.
Rex likes lots of discussion with everyone in the same room and little in writing. He wants to hear arguments between opposing points of view and picks the debaters. His goal is the fastest and most workable course of action rather than the best course of action. Rex is often both excited and exhausted by his decision making process.
A statesman is an easy man,
Because you've earned it:
Hollywood is going to undergo a radical simplification during the next few years, and so will the independent film market. The number of films released will decline by at least a third, and probably more, this year, and will be down by 50 percent in 2010.
The economic logic is inescapable. Hollywood no longer has hedge-fund capital to burn. The kinds of tricky European tax shelters that allowed studios to make movies for almost nothing (detailed brilliantly in Edward Jay Epstein's The Big Picture) are going to be closed. Even Steven Spielberg was forced to go shopping for new backers in India, and when those backers went broke, he came back to the United States and found that his old friends at Universal had lost their stomach for doing business with him.
Read the rest of John Podhoretz here.
Writing in City Journal, Laura Vanderkam examines the pros and cons of being self-employed.
Manufacturers are flooding the marketplace with multiple incentives - 14 different brands were offering low financing, cash back, and lengthened payment terms in the first quarter (most come-ons are released on a quarterly basis). Chrysler led the bargain charge, but others weren't far behind; Mazda is letting buyers drive off without making a payment for three months, and Hyundai is allowing new owners to return a car if they lose their job within a year of purchase - and will even kick in a couple of payments.
Here's an excerpt of a Book TV interview with Philip K. Howard, author of Life Without Lawyers.
It may be grossly unfair that people in organizations place labels on individuals but it happens. Think of how often you've seen the following labels dispensed in the workplace:
Those are just a few and they need not have any strong connection to reality in order to stick. [I've run across some workers with the Incompetent label who were quite able.] All that is required is for someone with influence to ascribe the label and then the sealing process begins.
This not only limits the victim; it also narrows the perception of those who deal with the person. The Complainer may have some valid points about a particular problem, but once the label has been applied, many listeners will be too quick to dismiss those points.
The standard warnings about gossiping should also include cautions against the use of labels. A person who has earned an especially negative label should be turned around or turned out. Keeping the person on board with the equivalent of The Scarlet Letter does no one any good.
There are some labels for organizations that permit this. They aren't very complimentary.