Sunday, October 31, 2010

"His hair was perfect."

At Europe Tomorrow, no Halloween would be complete without "Werewolves of London."

Bram Stoker's Enduring Story

I was going through a box of books in a storage area and discovered a well-worn edition of Dracula by Bram Stoker.

While reading it years ago, I was amazed at how the book is so much scarier than the pale film versions. If you have never read the novel, I suggest giving it a try and locking the doors.

Happy Halloween

Here's the trailer for "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow."

A well-done movie and one in which Christopher Lee as the magistrate near the beginning of the film almost steals the entire show.

There are certain films that many people watch every Christmas - "It's a Wonderful Life," the various versions of "A Christmas Carol," "The Bishop's Wife," "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas" and others - but are there any films that you watch every Halloween?

Update: Cultural Offering has a great list of scary movie trailers.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

When the Frost is on the Punkin

It's that time of year again.

Back by popular demand: Kent Risley with "When the Frost is on the Punkin."

Some Respighi for Saturday

Ottorino Respighi, "The Flight into Egypt."

The Miami Model

There is no place better than Miami to begin reflecting upon the relations between the Latin American countries and the United States. For what 30 years ago was a sleepy, mid-sized American town, populated largely by vacationers and the elderly retired, has become one of the most powerful metropolitan centers of the North American continent. Any visitor to the city immediately discovers that in addition to the gangsters, drug-runners, and exiles the movies and TV have taught him to expect, Miami also features a constellation of bright lights, a forest of skyscrapers, a maze of superhighways, new industries, a succession of trade shows—in sum, an entire world that by force of sheer effort has established its place in the vanguard of modernity.

But Miami has also become something much more than that: the point where two utterly different worlds meet and produce an unexpected symbiosis. While not wholly without tensions or an occasional incident, nonetheless it is in Miami that “Hispanics” and “Anglos” have finally come to understand one another and work together.

The Face-Slap Standard

Michael P. Maslanka examines age discrimination and the face-slap standard and offers to buy someone a beer.

For That Cruise on The African Queen

You know you want one: Cool Tools features the Gator Machete Junior.

Quote of the Day

I learned that it is the weak who are cruel, and gentleness is to be expected only from the strong.

- Leo Rosten

Friday, October 29, 2010

Scary Cars

Jalopnik revs up the 8 Best Scary Movie Cars. An excerpt:

As if the Ford Pinto didn't have enough problems on its own, what with its tendency to burst into flames in a rear-end collision and all, the movie, Cujo, brought the car's scary reality to the fictional big screen. A mother and her son spend a terrifying few days stuck in a Pinto while Cujo – your average rabies-infected St. Bernard – waits to tear them to pieces. Thanks, Stephen King, for giving the Pinto yet another black mark.

Friday Music Break

Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens) with "Moonshadow."

Miscellaneous and Fast

Verse on the Attack

TwistedByKnaves waxes poetic.

I am honored. It is the first time in my life when I have been mentioned in a poem and I'm in very good company.

Time Travel Video

What Would Day Say has the bizarre video in which a time traveler seems to appear in a Charlie Chaplin film.

Assuming that the film itself is untampered, what is the explanation? I would think that time travelers would be more discreet.

Company Values

Take some time today to watch this: Leo Burnett on when to take my name off the door.

Bread, Wine, and a Nice Retirement Check

Workplace Prof Blog points to some articles on what the French riots say about work and retirement:

Marc DeGirolami (St. John's) discusses over on ProfsBlawg an article by Robert Redeker in Le Monde. Redeker argues that the current French outcry over raising the the retirement age should be understood in the context of a general French tendency to mythologize retirement generally, as a Candidian (not Canadian) earthly paradise (70 virgins? in retirement?) where the best of life will be concentrated. Redeker argues that this false vision of retirement renders the populace more docile about social ills such as inequality, exploitation, and submission: the promise of retirement "erodes social progress" because people are holding out for a future that will never come.

Small World

Yesterday, a university archivist sent an email to me noting that she'd found a 1968 news clipping while perusing the papers of Stephen Shadegg, the manager of Barry Goldwater's Senate campaigns, and was wondering if I am that "Michael Wade."

I am.

It was a reminder of how connected we are and how few things in the past are really past. As it turned out, I had another connection to the archivist via a friend who lives near the border and who is a historian when he's not doing business in Mexico. The rule of six degrees of separation sometimes seems that it can be reduced to two or three.

Quick aside and true story: A geography professor at the University of Arizona used to impress his classes with his extraordinary knowledge of various places. One class decided to stump him by asking if he knew anything about an obscure village in Russia. He smiled and then began to describe the town square, the surrounding buildings, and the local terrain. It turned out that he'd been stationed in the village during the foreign intervention in Russia following the Revolution.

Quote of the Day

The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.

- Stephen Covey

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Seasonal Entertainment Break

A brief clip from "Dracula - Dead and Loving It."

Ideas Spread When

Seth Godin on "I spread your idea because...."

Contempt for the Customer - Political Version

  1. Call them "sheeple," "the masses," and "the great unwashed."
  2. Think of them as a primitive tribe that lives in trailer courts and worships NASCAR.
  3. Deride their religious beliefs.
  4. Discount their political choices as simply being the result of manipulation by slick and/or evil forces.
  5. Believe that they harbor deep feelings of racism and xenophobia that must be frequently discouraged by their betters.
  6. Smirk at their affection for the flag.
  7. Claim to honor the military, but express shock or concern if a close relative or friend enlists.
  8. Love the courts and mock the legislatures.
  9. Regret that they lack the capacity to understand the complexities of your position.
  10. Describe their dissent as a "temper tantrum."

Camp Hyder Leadership

The initial shock of realizing that they had arrived in the middle of nowhere, in the realm of nothing, was followed by surprise encounters: "Sarge, Sarge! There's (puff) two big rattlesnakes in our tent!" someone shouted. The topkick withdrew the pipe slowly from the corner of his mouth and turned to face the excited young private. "Now lad, there's been a [expletive] foul-up. I've told those jackasses in supply to issue only one rattlesnake per tent. You go turn in that extra rattler this goddamn minute!"

- From "Only One Rattlesnake Per Tent: Lieut. Vernon L. Springer's Photographs of Camp Hyder, Arizona, 1943," by Lloyd Clark, Journal of Arizona History, Autumn 2010

Just Arrived

The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson. It won this year's Mann Booker Prize.

First line: He should have seen it coming.

Quote of the Day

If we all worked on the assumption that what is accepted as true is really true, there would be little hope of advance.

- Orville Wright

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

"Pay Yourself First" with Sleep, Exercise, Etc.

I spoke with Arianna Huffington the other day in New York City, and she was talking about how she’s working on getting more sleep. She used to be one of those who ran herself ragged and nearly bragged about it, because that’s what it takes to show that you’re dedicated and determined. A recent interview with Mike Arrington in Inc magazine said the same thing, that he used to really burn the candle at both ends, but that he’s backed off from that stance and is doing more to take care of himself. Well, count me in that same group.

Read the rest of Chris Brogan's article here.

Tim Berry asks, "Is work life balance in a startup a good thing?"

California Last

A brief interview with the editor of Chief Executive magazine on why California is the worst state for businesses.

[Note the Rube Goldberg-type ad at the beginning.]

Blog Traffic

Instapundit notes the key to increasing blog traffic. It involves kittens and cupcakes.

Sheer Fun

Anderson Layman's Blog has hoops.

Quote of the Day

We are more ready to try the untried when what we do is inconsequential. Hence the fact that many inventions had their birth as toys.

- Eric Hoffer

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Appropriate for the season:

Intro to The Nightmare Before Christmas. Marvelous film.

And, of course, a real horror show.

Halloween Loot

As Halloween approaches, so too does the annual discussion of the merits and flaws of Halloween candy. Eclecticity has one ranking. Cultural Offering has joined in.

Our neighborhood traditionally attracts around 200 trick-or-treaters. From what I can see, the quality of Halloween candy has risen considerably from the days when I trudged about with my brothers. In those ancient times when we had to evade chariots, homemade candy was common. Some people even dropped pennies in your pillowcase. [We always hated the pennies.] You might even get some carefully wrapped homemade fudge, carmel apples, and cookies, but nowadays the psychopaths have made such fare suspect.

Anyway, using the facial expressions of the recipients as a guide, here is a highly unscientific ranking system:

  1. Snickers

  2. Reese's Peanut Butter Cups

  3. M&Ms

  4. Butterfinger

  5. Hershey's or Kit Kat bars

  6. Mounds or Almond Joy

  7. Mr. Goodbar

  8. Baby Ruth or Tootsie Pops

Car Reliability

Business Week reports Toyota and Honda got the top scores in the Consumer Reports reliability survey.

Do the Humanities Possess Inherent Value?

Stanley Fish has a follow-up to his column on the crisis of the humanities.

Nobody is Interested

Here's a 2009 article by Steven Pressfield in which he recalls how his days in advertising taught him a very important writing lesson:

Let me repeat that. Nobody–not even your dog or your mother–has the slightest interest in your commercial for Rice Krispies or Delco batteries or Preparation H. Nor does anybody care about your one-act play, your Facebook page or your new sesame chicken joint at Canal and Tchopotoulis.

It isn’t that people are mean or cruel. They’re just busy.

Each Action

Analyzing each action:

Does it help or hurt? Is it a step backward, a form of drift, a needed rest, or progress, however slight? If you take the action you are inclined to take, how will you feel later? Do you need more time to think about it? Are you ignoring the gnawing feeling that something is wrong? What, if anything, is making you uncomfortable? Would someone whom you admire do that? Which adjective would describe the action?

Is it a positive move? If not, stop.

Quote of the Day

Forever is composed of nows.

- Emily Dickinson

Monday, October 25, 2010

Humor Break

At FutureLawyer, Rat writes a contract.

Learning from the Headlines

Employment attorney John Phillips looks at the political scene and finds an important lesson for the workplace.

Hint: It's related to trust.

Observation: It's hard to find workplace practices that are not related to trust.

Bate on Life

Why so many of us read the irreplaceable Nicholas Bate every morning.

This Week: Things to Do

In the coming week:

Reprimand less and discuss more.

Talk less than you listen.

Listen more for what is meant than for what is said.

Don't send an e-mail, call.

If possible, don't call but visit.

Stop whenever you find yourself emphasizing turf over mission.

Do the same when emphasizing rules over logic and experience.

Be kinder than necessary.

Count your blessings. There are millions of people for whom your life would be a beautiful dream.

Killing Time

Read Christine Rosen's article on killing time before it kills us.

Quote of the Day

When a cowboy's too old to set a bad example, he hands out good advice.

- Cowboy saying

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Perfect for Saturday

Cultural Offering brings us some Mozart.

Tim is Bilbo

The word is out: Martin Freeman, who played "Tim" in the British version of The Office, will be Bilbo Baggins in the upcoming film of "The Hobbit."

Good choice. Being a major Hobbit fan, I'm eager to see the movie.

Slacker Update

Europe Tomorrow has been linking to material on the French protests against raising the retirement age.

Techie Boo Radleys

The concern is rather the nature of television as a replacement for human relationships. By watching people interacting on TV sitcoms, the junkie is able to dispense with interactions of his own. Those energies and interests that would otherwise be focused on others — in storytelling, arguing, singing together, or playing games; in walking, talking, eating, and acting — are consumed on the screen, in vicarious lives that involve no engagement of the viewer’s own moral equipment. And that equipment therefore atrophies.

Read the rest of Roger Scruton's article here.

Cars: Some Improvements (And Some Setbacks)

Art Contrarian looks at some automobile facelifts.


Between the Being and the Strategy is the Insight.
Between the Strategy and the Execution is the Attitude.
Between the Execution and the Achievement is the Instinct.

Quote of the Day

Treason doth never prosper; what's the reason? For if it prosper, none dare call it treason.

- Sir John Harrington

Friday, October 22, 2010


The trailers for:

Names That Should Be Better Known

I recall wandering from blues club to blues club (which sounds better than from bar to bar) on Beale Street in Memphis and being stunned by the high caliber of the local performers.

There are also times when a relatively obscure writer causes me to set aside a book for a few moments so I can bask in the warmth of extraordinary prose.

Who is on your list of musicians and writers who should be - but are not - household names?

Croc Story

Well, this is a hell of a way to go.

An escaped crocodile causes an air crash?

[HT: The Cranky Professor, who also has a little Lotte Lenya for us.]

Gift Update: Doormat

Doormat available at The Onion.

Your Annual Career Check-Up

My post on the value of a career check-up is at U.S. News & World Report.

Internet Connection

I've had an Internet connection problem lately. I suspect that squirrels are involved.

Quote of the Day

Lead yourself, lead your superiors, lead your peers, employ good people, and free them to do the same. All else is trivia.

- Dee Hock

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Workshop

There is, of course, the obligatory start and the sooner that is over, the better. It is time to exude some - but not too much - energy and to let them know that this is one fascinating subject; one that they've secretly longed to learn more about, so secretly in fact that they may not have realized it until now.

The class must have case examples. The ideal example is one that will make them wonder if you've been reading their minds because they've been grappling with the question long before walking into the room. Discussion of the examples must draw in the audience but it must not lag. A fast pace is almost always better than a slow one and yet you must constantly study them to know when to slow things down and let them catch their breath.

Breaks must be nine or eleven minutes. No longer. Seven at the absolute shortest.

Humorous or informative asides can be very helpful but they must be asides and not the main program. Any humor should be one-liners so little is invested and by the time they catch it you've moved onto another point.

Anything that doesn't work should be jettisoned. Keep it moving and don't let technology slow your pace.

When they leave, you want them to be confident, well-informed, and yet hungry for more.

Go get 'em.

Quote of the Day

To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.

- Winston Churchill

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

So You Want to Go to Law School

Imagine that you are in your second year of law school and you've just watched this video and you suspect that much of it is true.

There's still time to go for a masters in something you like.

Crouch on the Attack

Stanley Crouch takes on the popularity of rap.

But We'll Be Back!

Business Pundit has a marvelous example of a business closure sign.

For the Policies and Procedures Manual

Worthy of consideration:

"These are policies and procedures, not substitutes for thought. In most cases, we follow them, but if, after careful coordination and reflection, we determine that another course of action makes more sense, we'll adopt that new approach."

DIY Education

Alan Jacobs looks at what may happen to higher education:

In his 1998 book Avatars of the Word, James O’Donnell, a classical scholar and academic administrator, could already see the ways that the internet’s firehose of information would change university education. “The real roles of the professor in an information-rich world will be not to provide information but to advise, guide, and encourage students wading through the deep waters of the information flood.”

Miscellaneous and Fast

Eclecticity: Superdog.
Somewhat Reasonable: A new blog from The Heartland Institute.
Scanning a book has a whole new meaning.
The Nation: Violence in the NFL.
California Crackup: A review.
Neatorama: You know you want a Critter Gitter.
Andrew Ferguson doesn't like Dinesh D'Souza's latest book.

Quote of the Day

When I was a kid my parents moved alot, but I always found them.

- Rodney Dangerfield

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Entertainment Break

From "Oliver": Ron Moody with "You've Got to Pick a Pocket or Two."

Looking the Part

I’m currently taking an 11 week course with the police department, designed to give citizens an insider’s look into law enforcement operations. In the first two classes, I dressed like I normally do: jeans, t-shirt, casual shoes – just like everybody else. For the 3rd class, I happened to be wearing a suit. We introduce ourselves each week, because there are always new speakers. My introduction really wasn’t much different than other weeks with the mention of being on staff at a church, but, because of the suit others began to refer to me as pastor. A few times during the presentation, it was mentioned that there was a “man of God” in the room and that the “pastor knows that being spiritually grounded is important for officers.” After the presentation, an officer said “thank you, pastor, for taking the time to be here tonight.”

Read the rest of Rick Knowles here.

When Failure is Only Apparent

Anderson Layman's Blog points to the wisdom of Wallace D. Wattles.

Great Moments in Film: Oops

At Althouse, a ten minute montage of camera dropping.


Michael P. Maslanka on mentorship programs for women:

The article mentions that several companies, impatient with the promotion of women in their ranks and with female job turnover, are adopting formal sponsorship programs for women. Hmm. My questions: When does a too-focused sponsorship program for women start to become gender discrimination against men? When do the laudable goals of mentorship morph into the illegal ones of a quota? Stay tuned.

[Execupundit recommendation: Let the participation in mentoring programs be open to every employee. Why assume that the daughter of the lawyer needs more mentoring than the son of a mechanic?]

The "Gentry" and the "Yahoos"

Writing in First Things, Elizabeth Scalia on the battle over the "elites":

Lately, the elitist notion has turned into a hardy grapple between the mainstream and alternative punditries. The mainstream, in a tacit admission that they are elitist, sniff “What’s the matter with elitism?” and—in a staggering display of distortive spinmanship—chide their lessers as being “anti-education.”

The alternative crew volleys between amusement and disdain while wondering whether the ignoble “elite”—who seem “educated” but not particularly smart—should more properly be referred to as the “credentialed gentry.”

What Can Go Wrong?

  1. The estimates are off.

  2. The assumptions are unfounded.

  3. The people are tired.

  4. The leaders are divided.

  5. The money is dwindling.

  6. The goals are conflicting.

  7. The resources are depleted.

  8. The rationale is confusing.

  9. The support is diverted.

  10. The opposition is energized.

  11. The mission is forgotten.

  12. The timing is terrible.

Quote of the Day

It is the test of a good religion whether you can joke about it.

- G.K. Chesterton

Monday, October 18, 2010

Plan Tips

An excellent list from Cultural Offering on what to remember about a plan.

The Toughest Man in Britain?

Chris Foot is taking the wrappers off his sweets, cutting the labels out of his clothes and then weighing them. He needs to travel light. Every excess gram is being eliminated as he prepares for the last remaining challenge in Antarctica – walking unsupported and alone to the South Pole. And back.

This 32-year-old former Royal Marine, once the youngest serving member of the SAS, will be away for 75 days, hauling his sledge a distance of 1,400 miles in a wilderness of screaming winds, often intense blackness and temperatures that may crack his teeth. He knows he will be in “an absolute world of hurt” at times.

Read the rest of The Telegraph article here. And then have a donut.

Such a Deal: The War of Art

Miscellaneous and Fast

Wired: Electric cars from VW.
Celine Dion and Terry Bradford: "Beauty and the Beast."
College grads moving back home? Not unusual in this economy.
Joan Osbourne: "What if God was one of us?"
Michael Barone on enduring characteristics of the Republicans and Democrats.
Sonoran Hot Dog:
A 2009 NPR piece on gourmet cuisine in Arizona.
National Geographic:
King Herod's retreat has been excavated.
Devin Brown on corkscrews, cathedrals, and The Chronicles of Narnia.

Free Speech in Europe

Europe Tomorrow has Bruce Bawer's take on the Geert Wilders case. [I'm wrapping up Bawer's book "Surrender" and highly recommend it. Fascinating.]

An "Interdepartmental Working Group on Cartoons?" That sounds like something out of "Fahrenheit 451."

Quote of the Day

You should never do anything wicked and lay it on your brother, when it is just as convenient to lay it on some other boy.

- Mark Twain

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Crisis of the Humanities

For someone of my vintage the elimination of French was the shocker. In the 1960s and ’70s, French departments were the location of much of the intellectual energy. Faculty and students in other disciplines looked to French philosophers and critics for inspiration; the latest thing from Paris was instantly devoured and made the subject of conferences. Spanish was then the outlier, a discipline considered stodgy and uninteresting.

Now Spanish is the only safe department to be in. Russian’s stock has gone down, one presumes, because in recent years the focus of our political (and to some extent cultural) attention has shifted from Russia to China, India, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq. Classics has been on the endangered species list for decades. As for theater, the first thing to go in a regime of bottom-line efficiency are the plays.

Read the rest of Stanley Fish here.

American Life: Lileks and the Barbers

James Lileks is mustering the courage to go into a regular barber shop:

Perhaps because I’m worried someone would ask me about the Big Game. Or how the Team is going to do. I’d say “sorry, I don’t follow sports,” and there would be a moment of silence – the clippers would cease their snicker-snack, the buzzing razor fall silent. Then the cutting would resume, but it wouldn’t be the same. It would be great if barber shops advertised their conversational repertoire, let you know you could talk about this or that if you wished, and avoid the other thing. Barbers with particular expertise would be available during certain hours. Art History: 2 – 4 PM. Why 80s Music Is Unjustly Slagged: 6 – 6:35 PM. And so on.

Music for the Open Road

Miscellaneous and Fast

Killing "Gourmet"

Be sure to read all of the article by travel writer Ann Patchett on the glory days of working for Gourmet magazine:

Are you still missing the dead magazines you once loved? The Saturday Evening Post? Mirabella? Wigwag? Well, chances are you don't miss them like I miss Gourmet. Not only did I read it cover to cover every month and always made several of the recipes, the editors sent me to Europe and South America and just about anyplace else I wanted to go. For 10 golden years they picked up the tab while I ate at the best restaurants and laid down my head on the highest thread-count sheets. I never saw a bill. They booked things directly. They took care of me. I was a travel writer, or, as my beloved editor Bill Sertl once told me, pointing to the tagline on the cover which read, Gourmet, a Magazine of Fine Living, "You are the fine-living part."

Educating a Civil Society

From a 2002 essay by historian Victor Davis Hanson on the civic education America needs:

The classical idea of civic virtue—the adult citizen accepts responsibilities in exchange for carefully delineated rights—is all but gone. In its place, the new dispensation defined every person (including every young person) as, foremost, a rights-bearing individual rather than a citizen with obligations inseparable from his privileges; thus the era of “citizenship” education truly came to an end, and accordingly the “citizenship” categories had to disappear from the report cards of the nation’s elementary schools. The pupil-citizen no longer was obliged to keep his desk clean for others or to accord his teachers courtesy, but instead sometimes sued to be allowed to wear an obscene T-shirt to school or to demand due process when disciplined for plagiarism, dishonesty, or hooliganism. Who now could even imagine giving a grade in “courtesy” or “civility” to a high schooler in a T-shirt emblazoned pimp? What can one learn of citizenship at schools whose administrators, embracing moral equivalence, suspend bullies and their victims alike when fisticuffs break out?

Quote of the Day

One of the lessons of history is that nothing is often a good thing to do and always a clever thing to say.

- Will Durant

Friday, October 15, 2010

Telling the Story of Data

Rowan Manahan, who knows a thing or three thousand about presentations, gives some great tips on how to present data. An excerpt:

3. Watch how he tells a story, with a timeline and characters - the Demographic Health Survey, the UN, Himself and, most importantly, the children of Kenya.

Learning point: 2+2=4, while being accurate, true and inarguable is not particularly interesting. Find the story behind your data. Think about how it will, or should, matter to your audience and then think about how you are going to tell that story. Dr R makes it look easy, conversational even. I wonder how long it takes him to come up with his story? I must ask him ...

Unconventional Wisdom

Anderson Layman's Blog has some great lines from Chris Guillebeau. Some samples:

If you save $2 a day for three years, you can go anywhere in the world. Most places will take much less than three years.

The list of really big mistakes that you can’t recover from is very short.

Despite appearances to the contrary, it’s OK for artists to make money.

You don’t have to feel guilty for having more than other people do. The goal is to help them get more by creating wealth, not by taking it away from you.

In many organizations, it’s not hard to stand out by being remarkable.

True Grit

Ah, a Christmas movie! The trailer for the remake of True Grit.

Open Recruitment: Post Those Jobs!

My post on open recruitment versus greased selections is up at U.S. News & World Report.

Stress Reduction: Jigsaw Puzzles

As noted earlier, there is a great online jigsaw puzzle page at National Geographic.

Now you can reassemble magazine covers at The New Yorker.

Not Really Elite

Glenn Reynolds distinguishes between the elite and the gentry.

Out of Europe

Europe Tomorrow, the only site where you can find info on the wave of anti-Semitism in Hungary as well as a risque calendar of German farm workers.

Early Friday Entertainment Break

Any film with Helen Mirren automatically gets 10 points. The trailer for "Red."

Rush Rush

Because the project is important, I must go slowly. Because the answers are desired quickly, I must be methodical. Because the pressure is growing, I must ignore it.

The goal is not to be fast or bold or strong or any number of things. The goal is to be effective.

In order to be effective, I will adopt a mindset that increases its likelihood.

Quote of the Day

The telephone, which once facilitated communication, now increasingly obstructs it.

- Russell L. Ackoff and Herbert J. Addison, Management f-Laws

Thursday, October 14, 2010


What a mobile phone looked like in 1964.

I believe I stopped using one like that in 2008.

[HT: Instapundit]

Melitta Perfect Brew Cone

Hitler Gallery

A gallery on Hitler is opening in Berlin. It's odd how a paper lantern can be chilling.

Hierarchy of Smart

Seth Godin looks at the Dreyfus model of skills acquisition, from Novice to Expert.

How Not to RIF

Call a mass meeting. Then, send everyone a color-coded message on their cell phone telling them whether their job is safe, whether they are "at risk", or whether they need to re-apply for their existing jobs.

Find more at Workplace Prof Blog.

Drill Bit

Daniel Henninger on the role of capitalism in the rescue of the Chilean miners:

If those miners had been trapped a half-mile down like this 25 years ago anywhere on earth, they would be dead. What happened over the past 25 years that meant the difference between life and death for those men?

Short answer: the Center Rock drill bit.

Civil Arguments

Characteristics of civil arguments include some basic "dos" and "don'ts."


Strive for clarity.
Listen for areas of agreement.
Keep a civil tone.
Research both sides of the issue.
Acknowledge facts that go against your position.
Recognize that there are issues on which reasonable people can disagree.


Ascribe bad motives to the other side.
Assume that the other person is uninformed.
Behave discourteously.
Use straw man arguments.
Distort the other person's position.
Dodge questions.
Become a blind advocate.

Boss's Day

Business Pundit reminds us that Boss's Day is October 16.

Does anyone outside of the greeting card industry really celebrate that day? It is not in the same league as Groundhog Day or even Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Going After Mario

I expected this reaction after the first report that Mario Vargas Llosa won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Now if he were an apologist for a brutal Cuban dictator, of course, the take would be quite different.

[HT: Arts & Letters Daily]

7 Reasons Why Nonjudgmentalism is Popular

  1. It is a convenient substitute for thinking.
  2. It avoids uncomfortable choices.
  3. It is disguised as open-mindedness.
  4. It is a cover story for highly judgmental people.
  5. It seems sophisticated.
  6. It can be selectively applied.
  7. Whatever.

Bate Elaborates

Nicholas Bate elaborates on some of the 7 deadly corporate sins. An excerpt from the solution side of the ledger:

Keep everything so simple that:
  • It's a no-brainer how to execute a process.
  • The highest performances can be noted and replicated.
  • Confusion is avoided.
  • Hiding places are eliminated.

Mini-Genius Grants

Over at the HBR blog, Julia Kirby offers up an innovation that is brilliant (and that I wish I’d thought of myself.) You know how each year the MacArthur Foundation awards those famous genius grants? How about if organizations did something similar?

Quote of the Day

Never let the fear of striking out get in your way.

- Babe Ruth

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Chile's Great Examples

Bravery, style, and patriotism: The Chilean miners.

And if you've been wondering about the words of their national anthem, click here.

It's Even Better The Second Day

Tomorrow is the birthday of Dwight Eisenhower, who was one of the best executives ever to hold the office of president.

Since you'll probably start partying in the morning and dance far into the night, here's some Eisenhower trivia to kick things off: Mamie's Million Dollar Fudge.

Creativity: "The Office"

Here's a clip of Ricky Gervais talking about the creation of the British version of "The Office."

[In my opinion, the British version is far superior to the American version.]

Boredom Battlers

Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project has six tips for fighting boredom.

Miscellaneous and Fast

San Francisco: Fighting the Bums

The homelessness industry has pulled off some impressive feats of rebranding over the years—most notably, turning street vagrancy into a consequence of unaffordable housing, rather than of addiction and mental illness. But for sheer audacity, nothing tops the alchemy that homelessness advocates and their government sponsors are currently attempting in San Francisco. The sidewalks of the Haight-Ashbury district have been colonized by aggressive, migratory youths who travel up and down the West Coast panhandling for drug and booze money. Homelessness, Inc. is trying to portray these voluntary vagabonds as the latest victims of inadequate government housing programs, hoping to defeat an ordinance against sitting and lying on public sidewalks that the Haight community has generated.

Read the rest of Heather MacDonald on the efforts to win back the sidewalks of San Francisco.

[San Francisco has long been one of my favorite cities. I can remember walking through the city years ago within once being panhandled.]

Quote of the Day

Formula for success: Rise early, work hard, strike oil.

- J. Paul Getty

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Surprise Winner

The Finkler Question is the first comic novel in the 42-year history of the prize, and Sir Andrew suggested that Jacobson had been overlooked in the past due to his wryly humorous take on the world. "Perhaps being entertaining disqualified him from being taken seriously in some people's eyes."

Jacobson has referred to himself as "the Jewish Jane Austen", but Sir Andrew likened his work to another literary great. "It would be a bit over-the-top to say it's Shakespearean, but he certainly knows something that Shakespeare knew - that the tragic and the funny are intimately linked."

Read the rest of The Telegraph article on the winner of the Booker Prize.

Film Break: Black Book

The trailer for "Black Book."

A poor trailer for a very good film.

Leadership Flaws and the Importance of Experience

Cultural Offering's excellent post on the flaws of leaders sparks a lot of reflection.

I've studied world leaders for years and have concluded that the person's flaws almost always emerge, but they are less likely to cause serious damage if the leader is seasoned enough to control and compensate for them. There are exceptions. Richard Nixon was probably far more effective as a president in 1969 than he would have been in 1961, but extreme defensiveness eventually brought down that highly capable man. Time had not removed his inner demons.

Winston Churchill was certainly a far better prime minister than he would have been had he gotten the office while a young man. [He learned a great deal from the Gallipoli disaster.] It can be argued that Charles de Gaulle was a much more astute leader in 1958 than he was during and immediately after the Second World War.

Experience matters. We see its value time after time in our own lives and yet often lose sight of that when choosing leaders. Are you more capable now than you were ten or twenty years ago? Formal education can help, but there is an intangible education that can only come with age. This does not mean that all older people are wiser. It means the ones who have been alert and engaged and humble enough to learn from their mistakes gain an insight that the less experienced person lacks.

The expression "rookie mistakes" comes from the real world. All large organizations need and can benefit from the passion and fresh ideas of rookies, but don't pick one as your leader. Give that person some time to mature.

Watch This

Take a few minutes and watch this video celebrating the anniversary of PEN Olympus Camera.

It is creative, thought-provoking, and fun. You will smile.


The minute I read about this retreat I started wondering where a mini-version could fit in my yard. [Finding the money to build it is another minor barrier.]

There's not much privacy for the eight occupants of the studio, a 62-foot-long tube measuring 750 square feet, with no office walls or enclosed conference rooms. But what it lacks in defined space it makes up for in beauty, openness and functionality.

Two Things

Make sure that you do two very important things today.

It will be nice if you do more than two, but if just two are completed, you'll still be ahead of the game you've played on numerous days when, after a series of meetings and emails and calls, very little if anything was truly accomplished.

Remember: At least two.

Quote of the Day

There seems to be some perverse human characteristic that likes to make easy things difficult.

- Warren Buffett

Monday, October 11, 2010

Where Does He Find That Stuff?

Every day is an Eclecticity day.

"Sell the Sizzle" Dept.

Cultural Offering is now in the used car market.

Unpersuasive Comments

Steve Bruce at HR Daily Advisor has started a series on things you don't want to say in court. An excerpt:

"I fired him for no reason"

This is the statement that "at-will believers" will have to make on the witness stand. They've always been told that if an employee is "at will" they can fire the employee for any reason or no reason. And although that's technically true, it's always unwise.

That employee is going to say he was fired because of his protected status—race, religion, national origin, sex—and your only defense is going to be "No, no, I didn't fire for that illegal reason, I fired for no reason."

No jury has believed that yet.

A New CEO Prototype

Stanley Bing is looking for a new type of CEO. The alternatives don't please him.

No. We're stuck. We need the position. The only answer is to look for a new kind of animal to fill it. One who doesn't cut a profile. One who operates quietly from his secret aerie. One who is capable of having fun without making a spectacle of himself. One too timorous to monkey with his expense account. One who has no need of sexy consultants. One who is willing to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent to his craven board, and then, when it's over, take his $100 million package and fade away in polite silence.

[Execupundit note: Sounds good, except for that consultant part.]

Cry Hard Cry Fast

Read the review at Pulp Serenade. When I was in my teens, my snobbish nature shunned such books, choosing instead to read Steinbeck and Hemingway. Besides, any book with a cover like the above would have drawn undue attention from my parents.

That's how I missed out on some very good writing.