They'll Be Dropping the Pinecone in Flagstaff
Commentary by Michael Wade on Leadership, Ethics, Management, and Life
Michael Yon: New Year's Eve, Arghandab, Afghanistan:
Because style is timeless:
A republic is not worth dying for just because it is prosperous—not if its self-satisfied citizens live like pigs. Nor is a republic worthy just because its citizens enjoy political freedom—not if those citizens dissipate their freedom in decadence, promiscuousness, and self-centeredness. Indeed, no republic will last long that ceases to strive for nobility of spirit, virtue, and self-sacrifice. Put another way, tyranny begins within the mind and the soul. If in that mind and soul there is no moral difference between the truth and the lie, and no moral difference between deeds good in themselves and deeds evil in themselves, then what is the argument for preferring liberty to tyranny? Opinion soundings show that a great many Americans no longer can express, or even recall, the ideas, specific virtues, and moral strivings on the embodiment of which this republic depends for its continuance.
Burns would be pleased: Dougie MacLean from his Tribute album.
I recently finished reading "The Time of the Assassins" by Godfrey Blunden, a novel about people caught between the competing forces of the SS and the NKVD during the Nazi occupation of Ukraine.
The usual way of doing things often gets in the way of doing things.
For those who get demoralized at unmet New Year's resolutions, here are a few new ones to consider:
Theodore Dalrymple has resolved to make fewer resolutions:
Kit Eaton at Fast Company with more than you will ever want to know about airport full-body scanners.
Writing in Fortune, Nadira A. Hira on an interesting management strategy designed to inspire innovation:
Why do questions matter more than answers? If you don't ask the right question, it doesn't matter what your answer is. And if you do ask the right question, no matter what your answer, you will learn something of value.
Dmitri Hvorostovsky sings "Ombra Mai Fu."
Christopher Hitchens eloquently expresses what many of us are thinking. An excerpt:
Political Calculations has tools on how to handle Geek Logik.
In Chief Executive, Owen Sullivan explores the changing world of work and its implications for leaders. An excerpt:
Law professor and blogger Ann Althouse has started compiling a list of the ten worst movies of the decade.
Writing in The New Yorker, Anthony Lane reviews a new book on Grace Kelly and notes this great moment in personnel selection decisions:
This spot on the Toyota Border Patrol is absolutely great.
I'm still ill but today I've shifted from the Exhausted in Bed stage to the Quite Tired But Wanting to Be Productive one.
Those who speak most of progress measure it by quantity and not by quality.
Business Pundit gives its list of the top 75 business blogs of 2009.
We have had some dramatic entrances and exits upon our small stage at Baker Street, but I cannot recollect anything more sudden and startling than the first appearance of Thorneycroft Huxtable, M.A., Ph.D., etc. His card, which seemed too small to carry the weight of his academic distinctions, preceded him by a few seconds, and then he entered himself—so large, so pompous, and so dignified that he was the very embodiment of self-possession and solidity. And yet his first action, when the door had closed behind him, was to stagger against the table, whence he slipped down upon the floor, and there was that majestic figure prostrate and insensible upon our bearskin hearthrug.
"This was a great athletic performance."
Check out Dave Barry's The Year in Review:
Writing in Business Week, Arik Hesseldahl explores possibilities but ultimately gives an ultra-cautious prediction about Apple's tablet. An excerpt:
Niall Ferguson on the tilt East:
If you get your news from the sources most Americans do, you will not know that India recently test-fired the Agni II, an intermediate-range, nuclear-capable ballistic missile. Nor will you know the test’s results, which were reported all over the subcontinent but not in America. You will probably be unaware of Sergei Magnitsky’s death in a Moscow prison, or of who he was; the news was barely reported in the United States. You will not know that former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic’s trial for war crimes and genocide was suspended, since that doesn’t appear to have been reported in the U.S. at all. Stories from Iraq and Afghanistan combined have accounted for less than 5 percent of the news hole this year, according to Pew Research. Aside from China and Iran, which make occasional cameos, the rest of the world is disappearing from American consciousness, as the New York Times’s list of the ten most e-mailed articles routinely confirms. Top stories at last glimpse: “Catching Tuna and Hanging On for the Ride”; “Payback Time: Wave of Debt Payments Facing U.S. Government”; “Why Exercise Makes You Less Anxious”; and seven other domestic items.
Matt Rutherford gives his list of the ten best blogs out there.
Eclecticity points out that Robert Morgenthau is retiring.
Charles Murray goes after the stereotype that the French are rude:
You know the dream. You are suddenly back in school and the English final is in an hour and you realize that you forgot to attend class all semester. How could that happen? You anxiously wander around trying to figure out how to tackle a test for which you are utterly unprepared. Eventually you recall that you graduated and this worry over a test makes no sense.
David Lagesse at U.S. News & World Report looks at Google's Android phones and is impressed:
Here's an old Outside magazine article by Jason Gay lamenting the disappearance of the angry bike mechanic.
Writing in Business Week, Philip Elmer-DeWitt on the rumors regarding the Apple touch-screen tablet and a new product announcement scheduled for January 26.
Matt Labash attempts to live a drastically reduced carbon-imprint life style:
Cool Tools points to a breakthrough science fiction novel and its sequel:
Victor Davis Hanson on the war the wannabe rich. An excerpt:
We start with the customer and we work backward. We learn whatever skills we need to service the customer. We build whatever technology we need to service the customer. The second thing is, we are inventors, so you won't see us focusing on "me too" areas. We like to go down unexplored alleys and see what's at the end. Sometimes they're dead ends. Sometimes they open up into broad avenues and we find something really exciting. And then the third thing is, we're willing to be long-term-oriented, which I think is one of the rarest characteristics. If you look at the corporate world, a genuine focus on the long term is not that common. But a lot of the most important things we've done have taken a long time.
I don't expect everyone else
Evening approaches. It's currently 56 degrees here in Phoenix. Will this brutal winter never cease?
When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
A recording of Enrico Caruso in 1916 singing "O Holy Night" in French.
The penalty is a fine of nearly a third of a billion dollars, which is significant enough to slightly dent MS's bottom line. But the injunction granted against Microsoft also requires the company to excise the infringing XML code from the on-sale version of Word. Within three weeks. Or, and this is the absolute shocker: Microsoft must stop selling Word.
My idea of the ideal jury is twelve Irish unionists deciding the case of my client, Patrick O'Brien, a union bricklayer, who was run over by Chauncey Marlborough's Rolls-Royce while Marlborough was on his way to deposit $50,000 in the bank.
Via Business Pundit and CNN, information on Modest Needs:
Peter Wehner, writing in Contentions, looks at hermetically sealed attitudes:
He was placed in solitary confinement. For many weeks, he was not allowed out of his cell, a chamber six and a half paces long. He was verbally abused by the guards, ignored by the prison authorities, and led to believe that he had been sentenced to death. At night, he listened to men crying for their mothers as they were dragged out of their cells to be shot. Once, he heard a priest, accompanied by guards, going from cell to cell leading prisoners out to be executed. When they reached his door, the priest began to fumble at the bolt. “No, not this one,” a guard said, and they moved on.
Writing in First Things, Joseph Bottum with some Christmas reminiscences:
Rowan Manahan, who is an expert on the subject, has found the origin of the job interview.
You'll enjoy these:
If you like history sites, check out Got Medieval.
Here's a very interesting article: Writing in Wired, Jonah Lehrer on the neuroscience of screwing up. An excerpt:
Back for the season: Sometimes, the only appropriate word is "Wow."
Historian David McCullough speaking of early American risk-taking.
Michael Novak on:
All the kill-joys can now remind us that every mince pies taking us, crumb by crumb, to an early death. To be honest, if it means one less year of being lectured to by grey, humourless nutritionists who know the calorie content of a toe-nail clipping, then pass the brandy butter.
SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance is the sequel written by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner to their highly successful Freakonomics.
Nelson also secured full and permanent federal funding for his state to extend Medicaid eligibility to everyone below 133 percent of the federal poverty level. The bill would require all states to do so, but Nebraska alone would not be required to pay a portion of the additional cost after 2016.
Have you ever disregarded the uneasy feeling that is trying to tell you that something is wrong?
Don't worry about avoiding temptation - as you grow older, it starts avoiding you.
Mark Steyn on the vibes from Copenhagen:
Have not read this in years: O. Henry's The Gift of the Magi.
Fast Company gives its list of the Best Business Books of 2009.
The non-trailer trailer for the marvelous film, The Bishop's Wife.
Stanley Bing describes a schedule of sleep deprivation:
The spirit of liberty . . . is the spirit which is not too sure it is always right.
What Would Dad Say questions the value of job boards. An excerpt:
Singing about Hannukah: The great Theodore Bikel.
A very disturbing story from The Wall Street Journal on whether a deal was made to protect the image of Tiger Woods.
My post on the importance of the extra touch is up at U.S. News & World Report.
John Phillips has some touching observations at the Bangor, Maine International Airport. It is certainly a contrast with the points made in the previously posted Peggy Noonan column.
I'd like to see a poll on this. Yes or no: Have we become a more vulgar country? Are we coarser than, say, 50 years ago? Do we talk more about sensitivity and treat others less sensitively? Do you think standards of public behavior are rising or falling? Is there something called the American Character, and do you think it has, the past half-century, improved or degenerated? If the latter, what are the implications of this? Do you sense, as you look around you, that each year we have less or more of the glue that holds a great nation together? Is there less courtesy in America now than when you were a child, or more? Bonus question: Is "Excuse me" a request or a command?
One of the great myths associated with brainstorming is that people will recognize a good idea when they see it. The truth is that it is extremely rare that a breakthrough new idea is recognized for its brilliance when first uttered. New ideas are almost always flawed in some way when they first appear. As Albert Einstein once said, "If at first a new idea doesn't seem totally absurd, there is no hope for it."
Zach Patton reports on the Ganja Gourmet restaurant in Denver, where you show your medical marijuana card and can get all sorts of pot-laced dishes.
The good news is that a tiger doesn’t need to completely understand the jungle to survive, navigate, and then dominate. It is not necessary to know every anthropological and historical nuance of the people here. If that were the case, our Coalition of over forty nations would not exist. More important is to realize that they are humans like us. They get hungry, happy, sad, and angry; they make friends and enemies (to the Nth degree); they are neither supermen nor vermin. They’re just people.
But it always helps to know as much as you can. This will take much time, many dispatches, and hard, dangerous work. Let’s get started.
Read the rest of Michael Yon's overview on Afghanistan.
I just got a free golf cart.
Actually, it cost me $6,490—but the dealer, Colin Riley of Tucson, Ariz., points out that there's a $6,490 federal tax credit on such vehicles. Riley runs ads that say: "FREE ELECTRIC CAR … !"
Some consumers probably assume it's a car-dealer scam, but it's not. It's an Uncle Sam scam.
Read the rest of John Stossel on free stuff from Uncle Sam.
Time for some nostalgia:
Workplace Prof Blog, one of the best law blogs out there, reports on an intriguing study regarding managers and hiring. It is the sort of report that raises more questions than it answers but is interesting nonetheless. An excerpt:
They are adversaries but:
The power of voice and word: Basil Rathbone and Charles Laughton read two Christmas Stories.
Back in the early days of "Saturday Night Live," the character Father Guido Sarducci (aka the comedian Don Novello) tried to explain the wages of sin to a secular, consumer society. As Father Guido described it, we all accumulate a certain balance in our heavenly bank account ($14.50 for every day we live, though he never said if this was inflation-adjusted), but we suffer withdrawals when we misbehave. Father Guido purported to know exactly how much each transgression cost us. A stolen bag of potato chips was $6. Lying cost us $10. An embarrassing sexual act? Just 35 cents but, as the good father pointed out, it added up if you did it over and over again.