Thursday, September 30, 2010
Losing a double-digit chunk of weight in one month was a piece of cake for Mark Haub. On August 25, the Kansas State University professor of nutrition began a 10-year-old's dream diet of Twinkies, Ho Hos, and brownies for each meal. Thirty days later and 15 pounds lighter, Haub not only feels great, but his bad cholesterol is down, his good cholesterol is up, and his blood pressure is fine. But while he is pleased about his new, trimmer self, that's not the reason he switched to junk food. He wanted his students to see for themselves that any diet can produce weight loss—and if accomplished with a menu all but guaranteed to wreak havoc, then weight shouldn't be the sole standard for good health.
You're a great schmoozer: Do you schmooze so much that you are becoming an irritant and are neglecting other responsibilities?
You are deferential: Do you defer so much to others that you are regarded as weak? Would it make more sense just to hand total responsibility for a particular issue over to others?
You are decisive: Are you weakening the decision making skills of your staff? Are you rushing through decisions that deserve more thought?
You are collegial: Are you going along with the group and is the consulting process consuming too much time?
You are a stickler for procedures: Is your rigidity keeping information from you? Are you missing the big picture?
You are results-oriented: In your hurry to get things done, are you failing to refine the efforts that can more consistently produce the desired results?
You are a pragmatist: Are you settling too often for the easy solution instead of the best solution?
You are a perfectionist: Is your quest for perfection becoming a form of paralysis?
You are cautious: Are you closing the door to new ideas and beneficial experiences?
You are creative: Is your creativity producing a lack of focus?
You are a hard worker: Are you giving yourself enough time to think?
You are upbeat and optimistic: Are you failing to see the dangers?
You can spot subtle messages: Are you reading too much into things?
You are eloquent: Do you rely on your ability to talk your way out of problems?
You are an achiever: Are you assuming that will be the case in all endeavors?
You are knowledgeable: Are you failing to consider the thoughts of others?
- SOX First reviews "The Shallows" by Nicholas Carr.
- The riveting action of "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy." Le Carre made the boredom of espionage an art form. [And those were the books I enjoyed before he wandered off into the fever swamps.]
- The Clancey Brothers and Tommy Makem: "Haul Away Joe."
- Melanie Phillips reports on an odd case of lip-reading in Britain.
- Ray Bradbury
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
In 2004, with ammunition running low, a British unit launched a bayonet charge toward a trench outside of Basra, Iraq, where some 100 members of the Mahdi Army militia were staging an attack. The British soldiers later said that though some of the insurgents were wounded in the bayonet charge itself, others were simply terrified into surrender.
Instilling such terror is at the heart of the philosophical argument for keeping bayonet training, historians say.
Read the rest of employment attorney John Phillips's post here.
Of all the liberal democracies, Australia is the one where the idea is most firmly entrenched among the local intelligentsia that the culture of the West is the only criminal, all other cultures being victims no matter what atrocities they might condone even within their own families.
I like to see the background material and the analysis in writing. I then can use that as a basis for discussion but you'll lose me with only an oral report.
Give me more than three options. The three options approach tucks a moderate option between two extremes, such as "Do nothing" and "Do a lot," and as a result the middle option looks more attractive than it may deserve. Besides, when there are more than three options, we really start to get creative.
Crazy ideas are welcome. As we brainstorm, we may find that the crazy idea makes sense or that a portion of that spliced onto a more conventional option may produce a formidable approach.
Along those lines, I like to think out loud so the fact that something is mentioned doesn't mean I favor it. I also tend to stare off in the distance a lot when sorting those thoughts. Rapid agreement makes me wonder what we've overlooked.
I am not chained to previous approaches and am willing to throw aside one of my ideas if someone else has something better. We are not here to score personal points. Major turn-off phrase: "We've always done it that way."
I prefer the best but will accept the "highest attainable under the circumstances." I'm not inclined to second-guess the person who is closest to the action. Easily reversible decisions can be made quickly. Decisions that are hard to reverse should be made slowly.
The overall approach comes from Hannibal: "We will either find a way or make a way."
That's mine in a nutshell. How would you describe your decision-making style?
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Germany will make its last reparations payment for World War I on Oct. 3, settling its outstanding debt from the 1919 Versailles Treaty and quietly closing the final chapter of the conflict that shaped the 20th century.
More here from Der Spiegel.
From John Leo's column at Minding the Campus.
The city was paying seven other mid-level functionaries salaries ranging from $229,992 to $422,707, while mayor Oscar Hernandez and three part-time council members were earning nearly $100,000 each, mostly for sitting on an array of dummy boards whose meetings consisted of little more than calls to order and adjournment. An August 25 Times story details a typical block of such meetings held on one evening in 2006:
The Planning Commission met from 8 p.m. to 8:03 p.m. The Redevelopment Agency followed from 8:03 to 8:04, the Surplus Property Authority from 8:05 to 8:06, the Housing Authority from 8:06 to 8:07 and the Public Finance Authority from 8:07 to 8:08.
Read the rest of Daniel Foster's National Review article on Bell, California.
Monday, September 27, 2010
All I know is the blahs are accompanied by occasional periods of exhaustion. This weekend, I took some ear medicine that the doctor prescribed and that may have made things worse.
This departure from my usual sunny self may inspire a return to a home remedy that caused my doctor, after I vividly described it, to stare at me for a few seconds. He obviously spotted brilliance and had little to add.
Anyway, I'm gathering together my computer work projects and am tackling them in bursts. In-between, various remedies will be applied. I'm trying to recall if any involve chocolate.
A very high transmission tower.
[HT: Bill Wade]
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Read the rest of Bruce Thornton's article here.
On the Old West frontier, Victorian clothes became a link to the civilized lives people had left behind. The clothes were an absurdly refined contrast to the people’s rough and tumble existence in a wild and untamed land.
In truth, contemporary Western wear is rooted more in Wild West shows and early rodeos than with the buttoned-up Victorian garb commonly worn before the turn of the 20th century. Yet you’ll still see some important holdovers from that era.
Arbib's designs are, well, distinctive. But totally at odds with either the hand-sweep or the watchband. He was involved with styling Hamilton watches for the better part of a decade, so presumably sales were acceptable. I think they look awful and apparently others agree because most watchmakers have avoided such styles for the past 50 years.
I did, however, find information on Ms. Lohan's legal difficulties.
The question and answer period is covered in parts Five through Eleven.
Friday, September 24, 2010
Coates dismissed as weak the department's rationale for abandoning the case, saying the department let one of the Black Panther members off the hook because a local police officer had determined he was a Democratic Party poll watcher. Coates called it "extraordinarily strange" for the department to rely on this and urged the commission to consider what the legal backlash would have been if the Panthers had been members of the Ku Klux Klan.
Here's the transcript of the testimony of Christopher Coates before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. It appears that the problem goes far beyond the handling of a single case.
This could - and should - become a very big story.
“Windfall” devotes 20 chilling minutes to Tug Hill. Filmmaker Laura Israel took her cameras there thinking that perhaps the reality would not bear out the Meredith naysayers’ fears. But, she reports, it did: “When you look out the window in the Flat Rock Inn, you see turbines; when you look in the rear view window of your car, you see turbines; when you look at a reflection in a puddle, you see turbines; when I closed my eyes to go to sleep I saw turbines spinning; they did start to take on the characteristics of the creatures from ‘War of the Worlds.’” A native of the town (“I’ve been here my whole life”) stands in front of his property and asks the camera, “Would you consider retiring in my home?”
After listening, I asked a simple question, "Did you always follow the policy?" Her answer was expected: No, she didn't. So I asked her if she had an "aha" moment where it came clear and she changed her ways. She did. Then I asked if she had shared that moment with others. She had not.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Unfortunately, we are mired — as in the case of many complex societies that become ever more top-heavy and bureaucratic, when salvation alone is found in becoming less so — in a new peasant notion of the limited good. Anything produced is seen to come at the expense of others. Absolute wealth is imaginary, relative wealth is not. We would rather be equal and unexceptional than collectively better off with a few more better off still.
Read the rest of Victor Davis Hanson here.
Employers should take it to heart.
Management of the Absurd: Paradoxes in Leadership by Richard Farson, and
Thinking About Management by Theodore Levitt.
These are very deep wells and you'll draw from them often.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Devour data. Managers will need to have their "ears to the ground" in order to hear changes as they are coming. That means you'll need to seek out fresh sources of information, intelligence and data. You'll need to follow the example of leaders like A.G. Lafley, former CEO of Procter & Gamble, who required his top executives to go out into the field and talk to the ordinary women who use P&G products.
Read all of Alan Murray's column in The Wall Street Journal. The guidelines cited strike me as basic management, regardless of the time period.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Monday, September 20, 2010
I'm not sure. Why would I resist working on a project that is quite important and which I'll be glad to have completed?
You're asking questions again. I'm the one who gets to ask the questions. Why are you resisting this project?
If I were resisting it - and I'm not confessing that I'm doing so - it might be because I've already put so much time into it that the thing has ceased being a project.
What is it?
It is a filthy rat, a ravenous beast, a rabid monkey - no, a vicious gorilla - on my back. I've put in my time with it. I don't want to see the damned thing again!
I thought you weren't resisting the project.
I'm not. But it's no longer a project. It is a creature.
What if we promise that if you do just a few things on it, clip one or two nails so to speak, you won't have to see it again?
You heard me.
Just don't call it a project. Call it The Thing. Then we'll both be clear.
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Saturday, September 18, 2010
So what changed?
Drive-ins faded away and the cost of distribution got bigger. And then “Jaws.” Vincent Canby wrote in the New York Times: “What is ‘Jaws’ but a big-budget Roger Corman film?” What he didn’t say was it was not only bigger but better. I’m perfectly willing to admit that. When I saw “jaws,” I thought, I’ve made this picture. First picture I ever made was “Monster From the Ocean Floor.” This is the first time a major had gone into the type of picture that was bread-and-butter for me and the other independents. Shortly thereafter, “Star Wars” did the same thing. They took away a lot of the backbone of the picture we were making.
[Execupundit note: Later in the interview, Corman mentions that the Internet may permit a comeback for low-budget films. I think he's correct. The Internet may break many of the distribution barriers for small film-makers. It could be revolutionary in scope.]
The speedboat was now parallel with us, its seven Somali occupants sussing us out as a potential target. They were armed with rocket-propelled grenade launchers, clearly visible to the trained eye of one of my fellow lecturers, Brigadier Hugh Willing. We were about 200 miles off the Somali coast, so the pirates must have been operating from a "mother" ship, perhaps a captured Taiwanese fishing vessel, a few miles over the horizon. Captain Brocklehurst fired two warning shots with a flare gun to show the Somalis that he knew they were there. Slowly the speedboat fell astern of us and veered off westwards. The impressive defences on Discovery – rolls of razor wire all over the stern rail, bundles of logs to be released to fall on any craft attaching itself to our hull – must have deterred them.
Read the rest of Susan Hill's article here.
If you have not read the novels, I recommend starting at the beginning. [A button for the first novel - The Kill Artist - is currently on the right side of this page.] The series is extraordinary.
And for further information, Daniel Silva's home page is here.
Friday, September 17, 2010
If your blog was dropped, it is because it has become inactive - that last post during the Truman administration was a tip-off - and not because of any disagreement. I link to a diverse group of bloggers and you don't have to agree with me to get a link. If a blog, be it right-left-middle, is mean, however, it won't get a link.
I also don't do "quid pro quo" links. If I like your blog, I'll probably link to it and I hope you'll follow the same approach, but it's your call.
This is a modestly successful blog; sort of a small corner drugstore as opposed to the major chains such as Instapundit and Althouse. I'm not pandering when I say that although I don't have a huge number of readers, the ones I do have are so many notches above the norm that there is no real comparison. I read comments on some other sites and they make me extremely appreciative of this audience. [I was recently likened to Darth Vader in a comment on one of my posts that bounced around the Internet. I had to smile at that one.]
I'm also amazed at the high quality of so many of the blogs out there. [You know who you are because I link to you all the time.] If these are written by a bunch of eccentrics in pajamas - as the media establishment likes to snort - then some magazines should issue sleep wear to their staff.
I continue to be slow in commenting on comments. Please forgive me. By the time I get around to responding to some remarks I'm sure the original commenter has moved on to other things. This is not something I'm proud of.
You'll be seeing some tweaks here and there but the core of Execupundit.com will remain the same.
Sloth. Pure sloth.
The EEOC had evidence that Area Temps used the following code: “hockey player” for white males; “basketball player” for black males; “small hands” for females; and “chocolate cupcake” for young black females. It’s a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act for temporary agencies to succumb to client demands like these. It’s also a violation for employers to demand this kind of a selection process.
Read the rest of employment attorney John Phillips's post here.
- Insult them in an ad. There is a home improvement store that I will go out of my way to avoid because of its ads of a couple of years ago which portrayed men as wimps.
- Have an ultra-confusing website. When they make you spend an hour or more trying to get a simple telephone number or chopping through a jungle of questions, they've made a lasting impression.
- Have poor customer service at Customer Service. Have you ever left a message with the Customer Service folks that wasn't returned for days?
- Don't apologize when you screw up. It is noticed when they jump ahead several steps and forget to acknowledge that something went wrong.
- Treat job applicants in an indifferent manner. Those people who apply for jobs are customers or potential customers. They also have a sizable pool of friends and relatives who won't forget how HR jacked around someone dear to them.
- Keep one unenthusiastic sales person on your payroll. Calculate how many people that employee can turn off in the course on a month.
- Create a language barrier. Have a Customer Help Line that is staffed by people with a remote understanding of English and who speak with such a strong accent that the customers have difficulty understanding what is said. [Another version is the computer store where the sales reps speak exclusively in computerese and smirk when asked for an explanation in plain language.]
These are easy ones. Any others?
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
There are times when committees need a bad cop. I'm not talking about a devil's advocate who points out the flaws in a proposed course of action. I mean a person who is willing to say what no one else is saying about not just a proposal, but the group itself, its history, its conflicts, and - to use an overused term - its hidden agenda.
Whereas the devil's advocate role in a group should be rotated around so one person doesn't get stuck with that responsibility, I've found that the bad cop role has less mobility. The reason is the bad cop says truths that are so hard to take that the role can only be assumed by someone who is beyond ambition; an ultra-senior person or one who doesn't have an eye on advancement. This is a person who doesn't care if the china gets broken just so what needs to be said is said.
Bad cops are rare on committees and boards. They have the capacity to irritate everyone - even those who agree with them - and few people have the requisite personality. There are times, however, when the bad cop glitters and sparkles and, although never thanked, saves an organization.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Inappropriate conduct constitutes sex harassment only if it’s “unwelcome.” Since the early days of sex harassment cases, there’s been the question of whether revealing attire can provoke harassment to the point of making it “welcome.”
In an exhaustive article written by law professor Theresa M. Beiner, this question is considered. (Here and here.) Surprisingly, Professor Beiner’s research shows that few employers have used dress as a defense. Rather, dress is usually made an issue by the female.
Which graduate is more attractive in today's job market? Sorry, Ivy Leaguers. This is where state schools win out.
A survey released this week bolstered the argument that the luster of private elite colleges might be fading. Under pressure to cut costs and simplify hiring efforts, U.S. companies are increasingly recruiting from large state schools over private elite institutions, according to The Wall Street Journal's survey of recruiting executives in nearly 30 industries including finance, consulting, marketing and technology.
Read all of the Fortune article here.
Needless to say, the truly important things went unsaid on those network news reports. Nobody pointed out that we wouldn’t be fretting like this if there weren’t something very special about Islam. You could announce plans to burn a stack of Bibles, or the Bhagavad-Gita, or the Dhammapada, or the Book of Mormon, or Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, or a truckload of copies of The Watchtower, or any other non-Muslim religious text without making the White House and Pentagon call emergency meetings and put embassies around the world on alert. How little time it’s taken for us to get used to paying Islam a unique degree of “respect”!
The architects and the accountants have left. The architects probably opted for cheaper digs since their new location requires running to your car if you work late. The accountants were definitely looking at reducing costs. One relocated to a condo. That's a shame. We enjoyed watching him commute to work on a Segway.
What's struck me is how many of the remaining firms are mystery businesses; performers of some niche specialty. They've hunkered down. Some are moving to smaller offices in the building. It's like musical chairs.
The landlord is reducing rent and yet right next door a store that sells expensive cupcakes has just opened. Business seems to be brisk.
It was understandable why the first group was excluded, but barring the second group baffled many people. Why would you keep out someone who can make things better? They didn't understand. The gatekeeper has a system. It may not be the best system - that is not his concern - but it is a system that works for the gatekeeper. He knows it inside-out. He could recite its nuances in his sleep. He is very comfortable with that system.
Making things better for the gatekeeper is not seen as an improvement - it is regarded as a threat - for even an improvement disrupts the gatekeeper's system and he is a lover of stability. Those who speak to the gatekeeper about the virtues of their ideas and how much they will help the gatekeeper may as well be speaking Martian. The gatekeeper may respond with "We're in pretty good shape here" or even "Let us study that for a while." That will be a long while.
It can be difficult to spot some gatekeepers. A few have learned how to imply openness when they are really barring the doors and gatekeepers may have bosses who are also gatekeepers. The trick is to keep climbing the ladder until you find the non-gatekeeper who has a larger perspective and who may be astute enough to know that comfort can lead to stagnation.
Monday, September 13, 2010
The library, started by Pope Nicholas V in the 1450s, includes the world's oldest known complete Bible, dating from around 325 and believed to have been commissioned by Emperor Constantine, the first Roman emperor to embrace Christianity.
The library's frescoed reading and research rooms will officially reopen on Sept 20.
Around 5,000 scholars are given permission to conduct research each year but only the Pope is allowed to take a book out of the library.
- Many tombstones would read, "I Wish I'd Spent More Time at the Office."
- A large number of attorneys think their clients are out of their minds.
- There are many congregations in which the members possess a stronger faith than the minister.
- The average Beltway journalist would support the creation of an American House of Lords, provided they -and others who believe as they do - would be members.
- One of the key abilities of a college graduate is to be able to go through four years of indoctrination and be an independent thinker.
- Human Resources departments would be transformed if the organization's entire leadership team had to reapply for their jobs every four years.
- The massive amounts of information that swirl about us do not mean that we are better informed, but instead become the means through which we can pretend to be better informed.
- The Man Who Never Sleeps: Nicholas Bate is back!
- Renovation before innovation: An interview with marketing expert Sergio Zyman.
- Revisionist view: The Battle of Dien Bien Phu.
- FutureLawyer on VersusLaw.
- You know you want one: The Lower 48 by Ida Automotive.
- Cats and people with way too much time on their hands.
- Keep in desk: To combat melancholia.
- The trailer for "The Deep."
- At Cultural Offering: Possible future presidential contender?
- CoolTools looks at the TreeGator.