Friday, December 31, 2010
Blogging is a strange activity. Readership numbers can shift up and down, often for no discernable reason. Bloggers are often mocked as pajama-clad eccentrics hammering away on keyboards. Thinking about and writing posts consumes time.
And yet I am continually impressed by the high level of blogs that are out there. These new voices are reassurances that the old limited systems of information are gone and are never coming back.
Bloggers and blog readers are part of a revolution in communication and learning. Things can get sloppy and crude, but the net effect is beneficial. One look at the parts of the world that try to restrict access to blogs is enough to reveal that something extraordinary is going on. You are a crucial part of that.
May the New Year be one of great happiness for you and yours.
It was the first time I've been to one. My oldest sister used to go to the cattle auctions with my grandfather. If he bought a calf, he would put it in the back seat of his car. Armed with iced bottles of Barq's strawberry pop, the two would then drive back to the farm, singing songs with the calf mooing in back.
This morning, the auctioneer moved quite a few cattle through there. I would have stayed longer but I had to find some friends. I wandered around the fairgrounds, stumbling into pigs, sheep, goats, brahma bulls, and a 4-H event that seemed to focus on teaching students to judge livestock contests. Although the weather was very cold for Phoenix, it was an enjoyable way to spend part of the last day of the year.
Just watch where you step.
I loved them then and still do, although I've often strayed with The New York Times Almanac or the one put out by TIME.
The updates on the countries are reason enough to get an almanac, but there is another benefit: The ability to look at some statistics and ask, "Aside from the surface information, what do these figures reveal?"
I'm buying one today. Great stuff.
Some engineers planning to leave a company were planning their departure, and one of the confidential emails was mailed to an old company address, where the computer system routed it to the General Counsel. Rather than notifying the prospective Plaintiffs that the company now knew what they were planning, the Company's counsel kept quiet, and then used the information to defend the lawsuit.
Read all of the FutureLawyer post here. Very interesting.
Thursday, December 30, 2010
Anyway, I remembered reading in National Geographic a few months back about a town in the middle part of the country called Enviken. Enviken is of those small, nothing-happening-there places, with one exception: its citizens are apparently obsessed with mid-twentieth-century Americana. Rockabilly, cars with fins, women dolled up like circa 1950. It’s like American Graffiti, as directed by Ingmar Bergman. (Actually, that’s not funny, for if Ingmar Bergman had made American Graffiti he might then have gone on to make Star Wars, where Yoda is an elderly professor contemplating death, Leia is an insane woman contemplating death, and whose climactic battle consists of Luke and Darth Vader playing chess on the beach. It'd have made millions.)
Robert Stein, a conservative economist who served as deputy assistant secretary for macroeconomic analysis in George W. Bush's administration, says the tax code is unfair to one particular group of Americans: parents.
He says that parents invest thousands of dollars in raising members of society who eventually fund programs such as Social Security and Medicare, but retirees who chose not to raise children get the same old-age benefits as those who did.
Read the rest of the May 2010 Washington Post article here.
WSJ: How has New Year's Eve in San Francisco changed over the past 30 years?
Mr. Harold: It doesn't change. It starts off slow, then it builds to a crescendo. People are good early on—and then they get drunker. People can't find a cab, and when you drive by, they give you the finger. When they get in the cab, they're drunk. They're funny. I say, "I don't mind if you're going to be sick. I'll pull over." People are in a good mood, throwing money at you.
Read the rest of The Wall Street Journal interview here.
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Verdana and Ariel fans are close relatives but there is a world of difference between the Times New Roman crowd and the Comic Sans crew. [The Trebuchet advocates may be the sophisticates of the neighborhood.]
“The Corner Office” in The New York Times from Dec. 5 has an interesting interview with Kathy Savitt. She’s the CEO of Lockerz, a social network and e-commerce site. Among other questions in a job interview, she likes to ask a candidate, "If you could take 100 percent of your abilities and create a job description, what would it look like?" Why? Because when a candidate sees the job description, he tailors his answer to fit the description (“contorts” may be a better word). She also mentions that in hiring she puts a high premium on intelligence and a very high premium on wit.
Read the rest of Michael P. Maslanka's post here.
Alec Guinness plays Father Brown.
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
At Maggie's Farm, a 1948 appeal by Edward G. Robinson.
Jacobson Kick continued: His acceptance speech for the Booker Prize.
Elizabeth Scalia suggests unwrapping the silence.
The Beatles and nine film projects.
Victor Davis Hanson: Politically incorrect resolutions.
Wired: The best bits of 2010.
Terry Teachout: Thoughts on Jack Benny.
The war was as big as the world, and far too complicated to follow unless it was dramatized into a battle between good and evil. Nazi Germany was a rich source of villainous leading characters, quite apart from Hitler himself. Before the war, Hermann Goering had played a complicated role as the second man in Germany. Hitler, who suffered from no vices except an overdeveloped taste for cream cakes and mass murder, had looked austere and dedicated beside Goering, a conspicuous consumer of fine wines and other people’s property. Goering thought that he could divert attention from his weight problem by designing his own uniforms. It was a miscalculation on a massive scale. But Goering knew his way around a country estate, and this had fooled some of Europe’s more clueless aristocrats into believing that despite his regrettable fondness for building concentration camps he might be a civilizing influence on Hitler. Now the gloves were off and Goering had emerged as a simple roly-poly figure of fun. British newsreels helped the gag along with specially edited Fatty Hermann compilations plus comic voice-over. When Goering’s much publicized Luftwaffe failed to beat the RAF, even the Germans got the joke. On the rare occasions when the Gestapo wasn’t listening, ordinary Germans called Goering ‘Meyer’, ironically commemorating the moment when he had assured his countrymen that no enemy aircraft would ever appear over Germany, or else his name was Meyer.
Monday, December 27, 2010
...[T[he best vendors work to solve the entirety of your problem. If a mistake happens, or another problem surfaces, they realize that they are still in the business of solving problems instead of doing a duck-and-cover into CYA mode.
Read the rest of Andre Glucksmann's article here.
If only the world were that simple.
Sunday, December 26, 2010
Saturday, December 25, 2010
Friday, December 24, 2010
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Each of these fellows has a face that looks like a leather cushion dragged behind a pickup over 40 miles of bad road, so that the movie also has a tone of random grotesqueness for fans of bad orthodonture and nostrils the size of volcanoes.
Is it not a strange world in which predation means refraining from taking from others what is rightfully theirs and putting it into your own pocket? Look, then, at all those terrible predators on the street who so unscrupulously fail to relieve us of our wallets when we walk among them! As for those predatory German firms that make better products than anybody else, words fail me to describe their sheer dishonesty!
Read the rest of Theodore Dalrymple here.
One guy was an old manager. Not very polished and there was a whiff of desperation in some of his answers. It was combined with a possible rigidity. He worried that the "set in his ways" stereotype might be true.
One woman had related experience but nothing directly in the subject area. Her main drawback was she was politically connected to some executives within the organization. She dropped a few names, not knowing they were his adversaries.
Another woman flirted. Bad move. He didn't need that and he wondered about her judgment.
The final candidate was articulate, amiable, and experienced. He made one small but troublesome comment that hinted at a tendency to disregard the opinions of others, but all of his other answers were strong and well-reasoned.
He selected the fourth contender. Years later, he would look back and conclude that any of the other three would have been better.
Frank Costanza: Many Christmases ago, I went to buy a doll for my son. I reached for the last one they had, but so did another man. As I rained blows upon him, I realized there had to be another way.
Cosmo Kramer: What happened to the doll?
Frank Costanza: It was destroyed. But out of that a new holiday was born … a Festivus for the rest of us!
Cosmo Kramer: That must've been some kind of doll.
Frank Costanza: She was.
Much, much more at the Festivus site.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
"The guy on the corner assured me the watch is genuine."
"I wouldn't say it is inexpensive. It is more like, uh, unpretentious."
"Believe me, a lot of women use Brut cologne as a perfume. It really makes a statement."
"You told me you liked Etch-a-Sketch when you were a kid."
"How can I remember what I gave you last year?"
"And check out the label. 'Made in Bolivia.' How exotic is that?"
"You know that magazine you really like? I can't remember the name but you're getting a subscription to it."
Although, ultimately, Carr doesn’t quite convinced me that “The Web is a technology of forgetfulness” (p. 193), he has made a powerful case that its effects may not be as salubrious as many of us have assumed. Drawing upon a wealth of scientific studies, Carr calls into question the widely-held belief that the Net’s vast reserves of instantly accessible information have enabled us to “free up” brain space and made room for more mental processing and productivity. “Those who celebrate the ‘outsourcing’ of memory to the Web have been misled by a metaphor,” he argues. (p. 191) “When a person fails to consolidate a fact, an idea, or an experience in long-term memory, he’s not ‘freeing-up’ space in his brain for other functions,” he says. (p. 192) Instead, we are just losing that wisdom and experience, or at least dulling our intellects in the process of farming out that learning process to the Web.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Planners analyze opportunities. Execution is deals in limitations.
Planning is intellectual fun, with no responsibilities. Execution is all about work and there's lots of responsibility.
You can declare a victory when you produce a plan. Execution never ends.
I've seen similar quizes over the years, some elaborate and others fairly simple, and have been impressed by how many people describe themselves in a manner that doesn't really match their beliefs on specific issues.
No food is more masculine than ribs. I know women who eat ribs, and even show a genuine appetite for them, but at bottom ribs are a guy meal. What makes them so is their fundamental coarseness. Not always but usually one has to pick them up with one’s hands. Many napkins are required to remove sauce from one’s hands and around one’s mouth. The spectacle of a man eating ribs is reminiscent to me of a 1940 movie called One Million B.C., starring Victor Mature and Carole Landis. I can still see Victor Mature, who had glistening rib-lips to begin with, gnawing meat off a bone. Men, the movie underscored, are brutes.
- Nicholas Bate
Monday, December 20, 2010
Britain's winter ends tomorrow with further indications of a striking environmental change: snow is starting to disappear from our lives.
Sledges, snowmen, snowballs and the excitement of waking to find that the stuff has settled outside are all a rapidly diminishing part of Britain's culture, as warmer winters - which scientists are attributing to global climate change - produce not only fewer white Christmases, but fewer white Januaries and Februaries.
[HT: Drudge Report]
The minor residents, i.e. the children, of the aforementioned House, were located in their individual beds and were engaged in nocturnal hallucinations, i.e. dreams, wherein vision of confectionery treats, including, but not limited to, candies, nuts and/or sugar plums, did dance, cavort and otherwise appear in said dreams.
Read it all here. Very nicely done.
“Clearly this man is complex and likely fascinating to talk with,” Ms. Shafer wrote, “but potentially evangelical. If we hire him, we should expect similar content to be posted on or directly linked from the department Web site.”
Read the rest of the story.
- Fortune: How tech has changed shopping.
- Brian D. Johnson at Macleans lists the best movies of 2010.
- Anderson Layman's Blog: A great Calvin and Hobbes.
- Yum: A restaurant for vultures in India.
- Mary Jo Asmus: Helping them to think.
- Seth Godin does elite trappings: Causation and correlation.
- Melanie Phillips: Censorship on YouTube.
Saturday, December 18, 2010
I once asked Eric Siegel, the Director of the New York Hall of Science, why museums are rarely innovative shining stars on the cutting edge of culture. He commented that as non-profits, museums are built to survive, not to succeed. Unlike startups and rock stars, museums aren't structured to shoot for the moon and burn up trying. They're made to plod along. Maybe it's time to change that.
Read the rest of this 2009 article at Museum 2.0.
No hassle. Little worry of it burning the house down. No disposal problems. And I can take a blowtorch to the tree stands that never quite lived up to their hype.
For a songwriter, a Christmas hit is the ultimate jackpot. Singer Mel Tormé could easily have lived his whole life just on the royalties from "The Christmas Song" (Chestnuts roasting...), for which he wrote the music as a young man. The prospect of such annuities was one reason there was such an explosion of Christmas songwriting in the 1940s and '50s, when a majority of the current holiday repertoire was born. But given the rewards, why have so few songwriters since then had any luck giving Rudolph and Frosty a run for their not-insignificant money?
Read all of Eric Felten's article here.
Friday, December 17, 2010
Most of the houses in my neighborhood are white-light houses, and I have to admit they are lovely, but I was raised in a colored-light family, and I am raising Tom and Jack to be colored-light men, too. They do not take a lot of convincing on this. Boys are naturally colored lighters. We got up the first three strings of our lights the weekend before last, and another two last weekend, at which time we threw away the rotted Halloween pumpkin. I might have gotten more lights up by now except that the remaining three strings are not working. To fix them you have to go through and find the burned-out bulb and replace it, and there are a lot of bulbs in a string, and the whole enterprise is one of those things that leads Daddy to point out that this is really the sort of job Mommy does better, and Mommy claims that she doesn't know how to do it because she wasn't raised in a colored-light family. This is a cop-out, and unworthy of her.
Overnight, Bell became America’s most famous kleptocracy, featured in national publications and on network news programs. The quick resignations of the three hypercompensated civil servants failed to kill the story. Further efforts by Times reporters uncovered extravagant pay packages for other city employees, outlandish fringe benefits, and loans of public funds to city workers and favored businesses. The state attorney general filed a lawsuit against Rizzo and other Bell officials, while the Los Angeles County district attorney indicted him, the assistant city manager, and six current or former city council members on corruption charges. If none of those legal actions succeeds, taxpayers throughout California can expect to fund a pension for Rizzo worth $600,000 per year, according to the Times’s calculations, while the retired police chief makes ends meet on a pension of $411,000.
Read the rest of William Voegeli's City Journal article here.
- A review of the "C.S. Lewis Bible."
- Cool Tools: The Fantastic Ice Scraper.
- Joseph Epstein on Saul Bellow.
- The Day of the Triffids: The trailer.
- True West: A trip to Chaco Canyon.
- Rob Long: Is Mexico the next Afghanistan?
- Eclecticity has tongue-in-cheek video of the President's exit from a recent press conference.
- Dennis Prager on the Middle East problem.
- Paths of Glory: The trailer.
- Michael J. Totten: An interview with Giulio Meotti, author of "A New Shoah."
- Intruder in the Dust: The trailer.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
The last three weeks I have traveled about, taking the pulse of the more forgotten areas of central California. I wanted to witness, even if superficially, what is happening to a state that has the highest sales and income taxes, the most lavish entitlements, the near-worst public schools (based on federal test scores), and the largest number of illegal aliens in the nation, along with an overregulated private sector, a stagnant and shrinking manufacturing base, and an elite environmental ethos that restricts commerce and productivity without curbing consumption.
Read the rest of Victor Davis Hanson here.
As a community, these Afghans are also enormously understudied, except by law enforcement. After 9/11, journalists descended on Fremont, writing stories about “Little Kabul”—a short strip along Fremont Boulevard, really little more than a grocery store, jewelry shop, bookstore, and a couple of clothing shops that sold such items as long-sleeved tunics and head scarves for women and native hats called pakol for men. In 2003, Fremont got another jolt of publicity when the young Afghan author Khaled Hosseini set part of his best-selling novel, The Kite Runner, in the Fremont area.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Instead of trying to stabilize the Islamic world, suppose - just for the sake of argument - that one or two world powers set out to throw it into chaos. I am not advocating such a strategy, only evaluating its effectiveness.
In the long run, each party has strong cards to play. Demographic shifts favor Democrats, while geography tilts to the Republicans. Ultimately, the winner will be the party that offers a successful strategy for economic growth—but without culturally alienating the demographic groups destined to hold the balance in the political future.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
With that in mind, I picked up a copy of one of Jacobson's other books, The Making of Henry. I'm still reading it, but to give you a sense of Jacobson's style, here is the beginning:
Henry believes he knows exactly when the ninety-four-year-old woman in the neighboring apartment dies. He hears her turn off. Until now he has not been able to distinguish her from her appliances - her washing machine, her vacuum cleaner, her radiators, her television. But the moment she gives up the ghost he detects the cessation of a noise of which he was not previously aware. A hum, was it? A whirr? Impossible to say. There is no word for the sound a life makes.
"Ah well," his cleaning woman muses, once word of the death has seeped out, "what's one more?"
"Plenty, if you happen to be the one," Henry says.
- You need time to think;
- Your presence may be viewed as an endorsement of questionable activities over which you have little or no control;
- Your presence, due to your rank, will drain joy from what should be a happy occasion;
- You want to avoid making a commitment;
- The group is becoming overly dependent on your guidance;
- You have nothing constructive to contribute; and
- Your inner alarm system is saying, "Stay away."
Monday, December 13, 2010
Getting into traditional media sources as a quoted expert is still valuable. However, I think the true value comes from once those blurbs or clips are posted online. If you tell folks, “Tune in to the Sunday morning news. I’ll be on talking about kittens!” many folks will probably miss it. But once that links up online, it lives forever and people can tune in later. Traditional media isn’t bad by any respects and you use those shiny “as seen on” logos on your website.
Anyway, who doesn't find a comparison of Turkey with the Weimar Republic to be of interest, especially on a Monday morning?
Writing in City Journal, Claire Berlinski examines the subject. An excerpt: Could there be such excitement without danger? I doubt it. Never was the Weimar Republic viewed as legitimate by its enemies, and never has the secular state been viewed as legitimate by its enemies here. Both societies have been destabilized in turn by leftist subversion, right-wing militias, assassinations, endless coup plots, the savage repression of protests and strikes. The Nazis evoked nostalgia for a social and moral past that they proposed to restore, and so does Turkey’s AKP government. Just look at the map of the Ottoman Empire, say its diplomats. Turkey is returning to its rightful place.
"Every room of his [Seward's] palatial home contained associations from earlier days, mementos of previous triumphs. The slim Sheraton desk in the hallway had belonged to a member of the First Constitutional Congress in 1789. The fireplace in the parlor had been crafted by the young carpenter Brigham Young, later prophet of the Mormon Church. The large Thomas Cole painting in the drawing room depicting Portage Falls had been presented to Seward in commemoration of his early efforts to extend the canal system in New York State. Every inch of wall space was filled with curios and family portraits executed by the most famous artists of the day - Thomas Sully, Chester Harding, Henry Inman. Even the ivy that grew along the pathways and up the garden trellises had an anecdotal legacy, having been cultivated at Sir Walter Scott's home in Scotland and presented to Seward by Washington Irving."
Two decades ago, a very popular business guy here in my town always wore the same thing, a sincere blue suit with a vest, white shirt, various ties, black shoes. He confessed he owned three of exactly the same suit. He was my hero. I adapted his idea and now only wear black pants, black belt, black shoes, black socks. I go crazy with the shirt. I am telling you, this is a tip you know you will like, at least until Garanimals For Men hit the market.
Read the rest of What Would Dad Say here.