Sunday, October 31, 2010
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.
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
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.
Friday, October 29, 2010
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.
- The snow and the peacock: A scene from "Amarcord."
- Natasha Wimmer reviews "The Black Minutes."
- Looks like fun: Rehearsing a scene from "The Damned Thing."
- Outside has the best running jacket for winter.
- Charles Murray on the new elite.
- MySpace is going niche.
- Neatorama: The most popular books in a prison library.
- Although the dated article suggests it was in peril, I believe this cultural treasure is still in business.
- Trailer: "Quest for Fire."
- Wired looks at the 1938 "War of the Worlds" panic.
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.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
- Call them "sheeple," "the masses," and "the great unwashed."
- Think of them as a primitive tribe that lives in trailer courts and worships NASCAR.
- Deride their religious beliefs.
- Discount their political choices as simply being the result of manipulation by slick and/or evil forces.
- Believe that they harbor deep feelings of racism and xenophobia that must be frequently discouraged by their betters.
- Smirk at their affection for the flag.
- Claim to honor the military, but express shock or concern if a close relative or friend enlists.
- Love the courts and mock the legislatures.
- Regret that they lack the capacity to understand the complexities of your position.
- Describe their dissent as a "temper tantrum."
- 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
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Read the rest of Chris Brogan's article here.
Tim Berry asks, "Is work life balance in a startup a good thing?"
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
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:
- Reese's Peanut Butter Cups
- Hershey's or Kit Kat bars
- Mounds or Almond Joy
- Mr. Goodbar
- Baby Ruth or Tootsie Pops
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.
Monday, October 25, 2010
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.
Sunday, October 24, 2010
- The trailer for "Dr. Strangelove."
- August of 2011: Jeremiah Johnson's Jackson Hole Wilderness Ride.
- Tangocity: The basics of the tango.
- Vanity Fair: Marilyn Monroe's monsters.
- Krauthammer on the treatment of Juan Williams versus that of Nina Totenberg.
- Michael Yon on an atrocity in Iraq.
- Dennis Prager on "The Missing Tile Syndrome."
- Eclecticity finds another clean well lighted place.
- Dan Neil likes the Volt.
- Sickened: Unhappy Hipsters.
Saturday, October 23, 2010
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.
Friday, October 22, 2010
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?
Thursday, October 21, 2010
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.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
"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."
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.”
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.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Read the rest of Rick Knowles here.
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?]
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.”
- The estimates are off.
- The assumptions are unfounded.
- The people are tired.
- The leaders are divided.
- The money is dwindling.
- The goals are conflicting.
- The resources are depleted.
- The rationale is confusing.
- The support is diverted.
- The opposition is energized.
- The mission is forgotten.
- The timing is terrible.
Monday, October 18, 2010
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.
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.
An "Interdepartmental Working Group on Cartoons?" That sounds like something out of "Fahrenheit 451."
Sunday, October 17, 2010
Saturday, October 16, 2010
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.
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.
- Art Contrarian: Looks at a style brother of the Studebaker Champion convertible.
- Courageous patience: John Phillips on the Chilean miners.
- Think horizontal: Tanmay Vora on hierarchy and process.
- Europe Tomorrow with a big development in the Geert Wilders case.
- The trailer for "RocknRolla."
- Ken Langone: "If we tried to start Home Depot today...."
- iPhone user? Sensory Dispensary has a shameless promotion.
- Althouse on Keith, Mick, and Johnny.
- Melanie Phillips on the Booker Prize.
- The trailer for "1984."
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?
Friday, October 15, 2010
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 ...
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.
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.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
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.
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.
Use straw man arguments.
Distort the other person's position.
Become a blind advocate.
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.
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?
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
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.
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.]
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
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.
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.
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.
Monday, October 11, 2010
"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.
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.]
That's how I missed out on some very good writing.