Renee Fleming sings l'adieu des bergers.
Commentary by Michael Wade on Leadership, Ethics, Management, and Life
Renee Fleming sings l'adieu des bergers.
Wired has an intriguing report on Virgin Galactic's plans to put private citizens into space:
Clive Crook at The Atlantic has reversed his earlier stance on Climategate:
Once a skeptic, Ira Winkler now believes that an Electronic Pearl Harbor is "very possible." An excerpt from his CSO article:
Many managers and supervisors don't study management. This neglect does not stem any disdain for knowledge. It arises from a level of comfort. They often don't realize how much better they could be at their job.
Our job in this lifetime is not to shape ourselves into some ideal we imagine we ought to be, but to find out who we already are and become it.
Outside magazine gives its survival quiz.
A fascinating chart at Cultural Offering of the prior private sector experience of Cabinet appointments.
Here's a sign of the new economy: a new web site devoting to facilitating barter deals.
Dr. Helen Smith points to a Forbes article on why banks may give warm greetings to would-be robbers.
I am on a train from the south coast back to London. Across the aisle, three elderly passengers, two women and a man, buy coffee from the trolley.“What you do,” says the elderly man to his friends, “Is, you sip through the hole in the top of the lid.”The two elderly women give it a go, tentatively at first, and pronounce themselves amazed and delighted at this technological breakthrough.“I only found that out myself when I went to Hastings,” said the man.What happened in Hastings? I wish I knew.
Donald at 2Blowhards is discussing ideological inconsistencies.
In what are sure to be controversial choices, Rebecca Stott gives her list of the five best books of historical fiction.
Jeff Rose on the secret of In-N-Out Burger:
From a BBC documentary on Isaiah Berlin's concept of positive and negative liberty.
My post on what good bosses hate to see is up at U.S. News & World Report.
Bravo to Eric Felten for a great column on ethics, umpires, and modern sports. An excerpt:
We were floating the Yakima River in his guide quality drift boat south of Ellensburg, Washington. We were miles from anything remotely resembling civilization. Rock canyon walls were on either side of us. Bear with me as I try to explain this strange thing.
His “Blackberry” rang. It was blue and I asked him why it wasn’t called a Blueberry. He shook his head with that ‘dealing with an elder’ despair look I get a lot these days. It was another realtor who called to say that the sellers he represented had agreed to my son’s client’s changes and he had the signed documents in hand.
Read the rest of What Would Dad Say here.
Writing in City Journal, John P. Avlon on cyber-threats:
Okay, this is a subject of great dispute in some circles. Which film version of A Christmas Carol gets your vote?
Can you imagine Steve Jobs and Stephen Wozniak taking a break to read Dress for Success while wiring the first Apple computer? Try to picture Bill Gates consulting the book Success! when launching Microsoft. Michael Korda's 1977 book featured drawings that illustrated do's and don'ts for conveying the image of a winner. One pictured The Loser's Jacket Pocket. This pocket held three pens and a glasses case. The nerd look, in other words. At the very time that his readers were studying how to avoid looking like a loser, Korda's loser look was common among those who eventually enjoyed the most success of all - on the author's own terms. A 1978 picture of Microsoft's eleven scruffy founders that's posted on the Internet is labeled, "Would you have invested?"
It took humans thousands of years to explore our own planet and centuries to comprehend our neighboring planets, but nowadays new worlds are being discovered every week. To date, astronomers have identified more than 370 “exoplanets,” worlds orbiting stars other than the sun. Many are so strange as to confirm the biologist J. B. S. Haldane’s famous remark that “the universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose.” There’s an Icarus-like “hot Saturn” 260 light-years from Earth, whirling around its parent star so rapidly that a year there lasts less than three days. Circling another star 150 light-years out is a scorched “hot Jupiter,” whose upper atmosphere is being blasted off to form a gigantic, comet-like tail. Three benighted planets have been found orbiting a pulsar—the remains of a once mighty star shrunk into a spinning atomic nucleus the size of a city—while untold numbers of worlds have evidently fallen into their suns or been flung out of their systems to become “floaters” that wander in eternal darkness.
Jim Stroup dissects some guidance by Marcus Aurelius on God and chance:
A food historian outlines which items were probably on or off the menu at the first Thanksgiving:
Countless Victorian-era engravings notwithstanding, the Pilgrims did not spend the day sitting around a long table draped with a white linen cloth, clasping each other's hands in prayer as a few curious Indians looked on. Instead of an English affair, the First Thanksgiving soon became an overwhelmingly Native celebration when Massasoit and a hundred Pokanokets (more than twice the entire English population of Plymouth) arrived at the settlement with five freshly killed deer. Even if all the Pilgrims' furniture was brought out into the sunshine, most of the celebrants stood, squatted, or sat on the ground as they clustered around outdoor fires, where the deer and birds turned on wooden spits and where pottages - stews into which varieties of meats and vegetables were thrown, simmered invitingly.
Like fine film soundtracks? This is one of the best.
This will take many of you back to college days: The complete text of A.C. Bradley on Shakespearean tragedy. [I read the book while an undergraduate and found that it brought a certain amount of order to the universe.] An excerpt:
Rather nice: A video of Leonard Bernstein lecturing on music at Harvard.
The older I grow, the more I listen to people who don't say much.
From Cool Tools: You know you're in trouble when you use one of these to carry your lunch to the office.
I'm around a quarter of the way into Umberto Eco's The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana.
Check out this crash test at Eclecticity: A 1959 Chevrolet Bel Air versus a 2009 Chevrolet Malibu.
Cultural Offering looks at a preventable nightmare and asks some probing questions. Some examples:
It reminds me of an American Indian saying: Listen to the whispers and you won't have to listen to the screams. Except in the case of clients, they usually won't scream. They'll just go away.
Amy Henry, writing in The Wall Street Journal, suggests that the Puritans have gotten a bad rap over the years. I agree. They deserve more than a few toasts at Thanksgiving. An excerpt:
I have the actual letters that a relative of mine wrote during his service in the Union Army during the Civil War. His handwriting is beautiful. My mother and my grandmother both had marvelous handwriting.
The legibility of a male manager's handwriting is in inverse proportion to his seniority. The less legible a male manager's signature is, the higher his rank and the more education he has had.
Start with the alternative with the most votes and ask: “It looks like this one got the most votes – how about if this one stays for now?” If everyone agrees, then circle it. The go to the alternative with no votes, or the least, and ask: “OK, this one didn’t get any votes – can we eliminate it?” If no one objects, draw a line through it. If someone strongly objects – ask why. Give them time to make their case, and then move on to the next.
Employment attorney John Phillips on the criticism currently being directed at the Army over the Fort Hood murders. An excerpt:
I wrote this several years ago. It is back by popular demand:
Our local congressman admits his opponent resembles Abraham Lincoln - if you can imagine a short, fat, dishonest Abraham Lincoln.
Here is an interesting project:
I have a feeling that this is one singer of Handel arias who may persuade large numbers of young men to give classical music a second look.
At The Economist, a remembrance of the great Peter Drucker:
Rowan Manahan's presentations blog shows a video of a math teacher's special Halloween presentation.
Theodore Dalrymple discusses the architect as totalitarian:
James Lileks has a humorous slide show of classic matchbook covers. It's been a while since I've seen a business using matchbook ads. Hmm.
Portfolio gives its nominations for the 10 worst holiday gifts.
WE ARRIVED AT NEW DELHI'S Shanti Home hotel late at night, en route to Nepal, six men and a manager with almost zero experience about to belly-flop right into the 27th World Elephant Polo Championships. Thrilled to learn that he had America's elephant-polo team in his midst, and of course having no idea how important this actually was, Rajat, the Shanti's charming and mustachioed proprietor, gathered his staff in front of a statue of Sarasvati, the Hindu goddess of learning and the arts.
Antony Beevor picks a list of five works of fiction about World War II.
How many great ones have I missed? [Let's throw in all of the Alan Furst novels.]
A thoroughly enjoyable interview with Michael Caine in which he talks about learning American accents and getting old.
Business Week looks at the increasing problem of piracy:
A powerful post from A View From the Ledge.
My post on 7 moves for effective meetings is up at U.S. News & World Report.
Liz Wolgemuth gives a variety of insider secrets to getting hired.
Here's an interesting essay by Stephen M. R. Covey on how the best leaders build trust. An excerpt:
Employment attorney John Phillips on the new effort for major immigration law changes.
Slate magazine is just one of the countless media outlets convulsing with St. Vitus’ Dance over that demonic succubus Sarah Palin. In its reader forum, The Fray, one supposed Palinophobe took dead aim at the former Alaska governor’s writing chops, excerpting the following sentence from her book:
“The apartment was small, with slanting floors and irregular heat and a buzzer downstairs that didn’t work, so that visitors had to call ahead from a pay phone at the corner gas station, where a black Doberman the size of a wolf paced through the night in vigilant patrol, its jaws clamped around an empty beer bottle.”
Other readers pounced like wolf-sized Dobermans on an intruder. One guffawed, “That sentence by Sarah Palin could be entered into the annual Bulwer-Lytton bad writing contest. It could have a chance at winning a (sic) honorable mention, at any rate.”
But soon, the original contributor confessed: “I probably should have mentioned that the sentence quoted above was not written by Sarah Palin. It’s taken from the first paragraph of ‘Dreams From My Father,’ written by Barack Obama.”
The ruse should have been allowed to fester longer, but the point was made nonetheless: Some people hate Palin first and ask questions later.
Read the rest of Jonah Goldberg on the Palinophobes. I think he has it right. She is a politician. She should stand or fall on issues. (Issues? Remember those things? They were pretty important in the days before personality-driven politics.)
Andrew Sullivan has come unhinged on Palin. Reading his blog is like watching a train wreck.
Joe Queenan believes it's time to stop picking on fat people. An excerpt:
One afternoon last month, a woman in her early thirties, with shoulder-length blond hair and large brown eyes, arrived at Jean Georges, on the ground floor of the Trump International Hotel, in midtown Manhattan. The restaurant, which is owned by the chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, and is one of the highest rated in the world, has an understated décor, with bare white walls and floor-to-ceiling windows. The woman took a seat at one of the tables in the center of the room. She wore a light-blue dress with a high neckline, little makeup, and no jewelry. There was nothing remarkable about her appearance, and her demeanor was quiet and unassuming, as if designed to deflect attention—a trait indispensable for her profession as an inspector for the Michelin hotel-and-restaurant guide.
I cannot trust a man to control others who cannot control himself.
Take a break and listen to Sir Martin Gilbert, the official biographer of Winston Churchill.
Cultural Offering points us to Nicholas Bate at his best.
A wise man once observed that the young men know the rules and the old men know the exceptions. Schooling may hammer boundaries into our heads, but years of dealing with life's setbacks and adversaries tell us when to write against the lines.
I am convinced that many organizations and teams would be better off if, as a matter of course, they held discussions on key values. For example, these meetings could explore how management and employees regard:
In my experience, employees hunger for such discussions. The values may be on some poster in the break room, but people wonder about how they are translated in the board room or the conference room or out in the field. And they aren't going to learn it solely through example. Open discussion is required.
Obviousness is a property not of statements that require no proof but of statements made by those who are unwilling to have them questioned.
My hotel room has a unique alarm clock.
It is only by risking our persons from one hour to another that we live at all. And, often enough our faith beforehand in an uncertified result is the only thing that makes the result come true.
At some point in their climb up the ladder, many would-be leaders and leaders learn how to say what appears to be something without saying anything. Their weasel word vocabulary expands and their natural tendency is to avoid candor. Candor is glue and they want wax because for these individuals, principles are flexible in the extreme. As an old folk song went, "And this be a law that I'll maintain until my dying day sir, that whatsoever king may reign, I will be the Vicar of Bray, sir."
I am conducting some management workshops in Yuma, Arizona today and tomorrow.
I knew an executive who wore a beard amid a bunch of close-shaven wonders, swore like a first sergeant in a group that frowned on swearing, chain-smoked cigars in a smoke-free workplace, and was brutally frank when others were searching for just the right words to tell Darrell that he's an idiot. This wild man was promoted on a regular basis.
It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future.
Back by popular demand. Hank Williams Jr.: A Country Boy Can Survive.
Ask Uncle Bill explores why a bad first job is good for you.
The American has a review of the long and winding road of the Kyoto Protocol. An excerpt:
From a classic Joe Queenan article:
There's a new snail in town.
Your responsibility as a Ranger leader is to confirm what you think you know, and to find out what you don't.
"And" may be one of the most important words in the workplace. You and your boss. You and your peers. You and your goals and expectations.
I'll be at a meeting in the Old Pueblo for part of the day at the Arizona Historical Society. For those of you who are non-Arizonans, the "Old Pueblo" refers to Tucson and honors its history as one of the oldest cities in the state.
When the movie season seems filled with previews of special effects extravaganzas, there is a quiet power in this trailer for Schindler's List.
My post on fairy tales and fables in the workplace is up at U.S. News & World Report.
The Wall Street Journal has a marvelous interview with novelist Cormac McCarthy. The film based on his novel, "The Road," is coming out this month. [I've already praised the book in this blog.] An excerpt from the interview that immediately told me Cormac is my kind of guy:
Remember . . . an order that can be misunderstood will be misunderstood.
A clever ad agency in New Zealand has figured out the appropriate use of Paris Hilton's picture.
Tom Wolfe recalls a dinner with Hunter S. Thompson.
Cultural Offering gives some basic rules from an unsung American hero. A sample:
Any article that starts with an Avanti Studebaker has my attention: