Trivia Test: Japan
If you think you know quite a bit about Japan, try this challenging quiz from National Geographic.
I'm heading back to the books.
Commentary by Michael Wade on Leadership, Ethics, Management, and Life
If you think you know quite a bit about Japan, try this challenging quiz from National Geographic.
I see articles like this one about the glories of 3D and question my own less than enthusiastic reaction.
BusinessPundit has a classic chart on How Do You See Your Colleagues?
Bravo to employment attorney Michael P. Maslanka, who wrote:
Cool Tools is asking for the names of "enthusiasts sources." Such sites provide an extraordinary amount of helpful information on a specialty.
Maria, a department director, supervises Jake, who heads one of her divisions. She finds various problems with the performance of Jake's area and is frustrated that no improvement has been made.
Ask Uncle Bill is building a house and he's beginning to feel like a famous gnome:
He was of the faith chiefly in the sense that the church he currently did not attend was Catholic.
I use outsourcing in my job, too. My cats were my in-house legal department until I discovered they were coughing up hairballs and recording the time as billable hours. Now I pay a human being in another city to handle my legal stuff. He still coughs up hairballs, but he has the professional courtesy to call it "phone conversation" when he lists it on the invoice.
Fast Company test-drives the Chevy Volt:
It may be the softest kiss in film history. The sun is setting over West Side rooftops, the sky persimmon. A man, his leg in a cast, sleeps near an open window, undisturbed by a neighbor singing scales. Just after the highest note is reached, a shadow climbs over the man’s chest, shoulder, and chin. We see a face: blue eyes, red lips, skin like poured cream, pearls. Then he sees it. The kiss happens in profile, a slow-motion hallucinatory blur somewhere between myth and dream, a limbic level of consciousness. The director, Alfred Hitchcock, liked to say he got the effect by shaking the camera. In truth, this otherworldly kiss comes to us by way of a double printing. Has any muse in cinema been graced with such a perfect cameo portrait of her power?
My blog posts automatically go to Twitter and I occasionally write a Tweet but I've never quite understood the entire Twitter concept. It is nice that Twitterers can write thought-provoking, zen-like Tweets as opposed to the "I'm now at the grocery story" sort of updates, but they are in the minority. And I've yet to figure out the folks who are "following" 15,000 other people. How can you do that? I'm about to prune my own numbers down to around 25. I'll lose some great people but less can be more.
Robert Samuelson believes the chances of a budget crisis have been raised. An excerpt:
Idea Anaconda has picked his five dinner guests.
"We're on top of that."
TwistedByKnaves* has posted a thoughtful reply to my earlier post on reducing the expectation that all e-mails will receive a prompt response.
Back by popular demand: Joseph Epstein, writing in 2004, on the perpetual adolescent. An excerpt:
"Just tell your hoodlum friend outside, you ain't got time to take a ride."
The story of Caswell's WRC entry is a story of weirdness: He entered the biggest motorsport event of his life with no crew; an untested, week-old E30 M3 engine swap and a junkyard transmission (don't ask); a car that was still covered in dirt from the previous season's rallies ("I'd wash it, but I gotta fix stuff instead"); and a rented panel van. His co-driver, a Rally America genius named Ben Slocum, had not spent more than five minutes in a car with him prior to the event. He did this not out of stupidity, but out of a lack of resources — he wanted to go rallying, and this was the only way he could make it happen.
Amazingly, they finished third in their class.
Read the rest of the Jalopnik article here.
Yesterday was the birthday of Robert Frost. Bells should have been rung throughout the land.
Jim Collins talking about a trait of great leaders.
W.H. Auden: The Fall of Rome.
Russell Smith worries that e-books will empty our bookshelves .
After C-SPAN reran a 1999 BookNotes interview about my first book, I received an email from a disappointed viewer. He was chagrined to hear that I was editing a website called DeepGlamour instead of writing “more serious nonfiction.” Glamour, he implied, is a trivial subject, unworthy of consideration by people who watch, much less appear on, C-SPAN.
To which I have two words of response: Barack Obama. In an era of tell-all memoirs, ubiquitous paparazzi, and reality-show exhibitionism, glamour may seem absent from Hollywood. But Obama demonstrates that its magic still exists. What a glamorous candidate he was—less a person than a persona, an idealized, self-contained figure onto whom audiences projected their own dreams, a Garbo-like “impassive receptacle of passionate hopes and impossible expectations,” in the words of Time’s Joe Klein. The campaign’s iconography employed classically glamorous themes, with its stylized portraits of the candidate gazing into the distance and its logo of a road stretching toward the horizon. Now, of course, Obama is experiencing glamour’s downside: the disillusionment that sets in when imagination meets reality. Hence James Lileks’s recent quip about another contemporary object of glamour, “The Apple tablet is the Barack Obama of technology. It’s whatever you want it to be, until you actually get it.”
My post on taking initiative is up at U.S. News & World Report.
Employment attorney John Phillips gives his thoughts on a report that diversity training doesn't work. An excerpt:
In times of change, learners inherit the Earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.
In 2008, Anton R. Valukas, a trial attorney in Chicago, published a four-page stiletto thrust of an essay entitled "Arrogance: My Favorite Sin." The piece, included in a lawyers' guide to cross-examination, recounted Valukas' delight in using understated questioning to tempt executives into making implausible statements of the sort that reliably alienate jurors. "Frequently, the smartest witnesses—the most sophisticated and the most arrogant—are most susceptible to this type of examination," he wrote.
The piece reads today like a preamble to Valukas' voluminous autopsy of Lehman Brothers, which he performed as the court-approved bankruptcy examiner in the investment bank's formal unwinding.
Read the rest of the Business Week article .
Back by popular demand: The Apple commercial that used Orwell to introduce a product.
So now people are bringing their own devices to work, because, among other reasons, these devices have become fashion accessories. It’s my iPhone with the black silicon protector versus your Google Nexus One. It’s become an arms race about who has the coolest toys. But these are more than just cool toys – they’re also critical tools, yet they’re causing tension in the workplace. Users crave and demand the flexibility, freedom and choice that these devices provide. IT has concerns about the potential security risks they pose. If I’m the IT person, I have to wonder, does this device that comes into my environment have the same security posture as those I have provisioned? The answer? It depends.
"Freedom of speech is an American concept, so I don't give it any value."
If you click here, you will find an article about an architect who has brought a new home design to a neighborhood in New Orleans.
Novelist Andrew Klavan weighs in on a tale of two cities:
Writing in The New Yorker, James Surowiecki on the danger of being in "the mushy middle":
Althouse has an excerpt from one of the Commerce Clause challenges to the new health care law.
Seth Godin analyzes the story on a $20 bottle of soap.
Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Nick Schulz reviews Joel Kotkin's new book:
The only way to get positive feelings about yourself is to take positive actions. Man does not live as he thinks, he thinks as he lives.
J. Ryan Stradal on working in the arctic:
I was there to work on a media production that shot on and between the natural gas fields of the Mackenzie Delta. The field crew at the sites told us to wear a hard hat at all times. They told us only go to the bars in groups. They told us not to go to anyone’s house, “especially if they’re native.” The acrimony between what they call “the oilpatch” and the locals has left blood in the snow of weekend mornings for decades. Even in a just world, if you take away the sunlight for a month, there will be fighting.
They told us to stay in our vehicles. If something happens, and you leave your vehicle, you will not be rescued in time. You do not leave the road; to leave the road is to die. You are given an orange safety vest, so they can find your body, in case you don’t listen.
[HT: Arts & Letters Daily]
Writing in Fortune, Philip Elmer-DeWitt has assembled 13 ways of looking at an iPad and, for the first time, I am getting a sense of why it might be attractive.
Michael Yon is in Afghanistan with the Warthogs. An excerpt:
Americans would do well to ponder a recent admission by a former British minister in the Blair government. On March 2, the Guardian reported that the ex-minister, now Lord Warner, said that while spending on Britain’s National Health Service had increased by 60 percent under the Labour government, its output had decreased by 4 percent. No doubt the spending of a Soviet-style organization like the NHS is more easily measurable than its output, but the former minister’s remark certainly accords with the experiences of many citizens, who see no dramatic improvement in the service as a result of such vastly increased outlays. On the contrary, while the service has taken on 400,000 new staff members—that is to say, one-fifth of all new jobs created in Britain during the period—continuity of medical care has been all but extinguished. Nobody now expects to see the same doctor on successive occasions, in the hospital or anywhere else.
I'm Wellesley St. Louis St. Drem and tonight on All Things Considered we'll look at just how awful the world is, why America made it that way, and the unmitigated success of apology in our foreign policy. But first, stay tuned for The Virtuous Vegan, with our favorite chef de cuisine, Amanda Stark.
Matthew Continetti on ten books that shaped his world.
My own list of more than ten [hardly all-inclusive and the Bible is a given]:
Our days are so consumed with doing, it can be easy to miss the importance of being.
Political Calculations reports on the "Arizona State Photo Radar Lottery."
The working of great institutions is mainly the result of a vast mass of routine, petty malice, self-interest, carelessness, and sheer mistake. Only a residual fraction is thought.
Doug Fine, who writes the excellent Eclecticity blog, has just experienced a hijacking of his site. Since he has put substantial time and creativity into his blog, this is not a minor event.
Consumers want the entire process simplified. ONE-stop shopping, ONE bill to pay, ONE single point of contact if and when something goes wrong, ONE person to hold accountable.
Henry E. Scott's list of the top five books about scandals.
Bricoleur (French): A person who constructs things by random messing around without following an explicit plan. [noun]
Cool Tools reviews the 100 Best Business Books of All Time.
When was the last time you ran into these guys in the waiting area at your local tire store?
In Outside magazine, an excerpt from Carl Hoffman's new book:
Peggy Noonan on the road to Demon Pass. An excerpt:
Suzanne Lucas, who blogs as Evil HR Lady, has written a thought-provoking article on why most managers need degrees.
. . . In the United States, Andrew Biggs of the American Enterprise Institute calculates that if the federal government were to increase every single tax by 30 per cent it would be enough to balance the books—in 25 years. Except that it wouldn’t. Because if you raised taxes by 30 per cent, government would spend even more than it already does, on the grounds that the citizenry needed more social programs and entitlements to compensate for their sudden reduction in disposable income.
But as early as 2004, if you looked at the numbers, you could clearly see the decline in lending standards. In Burry’s view, standards had not just fallen but hit bottom. The bottom even had a name: the interest-only negative-amortizing adjustable-rate subprime mortgage. You, the homebuyer, actually were given the option of paying nothing at all, and rolling whatever interest you owed the bank into a higher principal balance. It wasn’t hard to see what sort of person might like to have such a loan: one with no income. What Burry couldn’t understand was why a person who lent money would want to extend such a loan. “What you want to watch are the lenders, not the borrowers,” he said. “The borrowers will always be willing to take a great deal for themselves. It’s up to the lenders to show restraint, and when they lose it, watch out.” By 2003 he knew that the borrowers had already lost it. By early 2005 he saw that lenders had, too.
Some travel considerations when the destination is too far to be close and too close to be far:
Writing in City Journal, Adam Thierer reviews You Are Not a Gadget:
. . . Managers often feel they've failed when their actions produce complaints and demands. However, the paradox of rising expectations (i.e., revolutions are more likely as social conditions improve than when they're hopeless) suggests that when things get better, employee grumbling persists - and may even get louder - but about a higher level of concern. When this happens, managers can take the same approach therapists do, and see complaints as evidence of progress, not problems. It's not achieving contentment that matters, but improving the quality of discontent.
Cultural Offering has put together a great list of juke box selections. Idea Anaconda has followed suit, although the Snoop Dogg thing has me completely baffled.
It has been said that we shape our buildings and then they shape us. The same can be said for the workplace structures, policies, and practices that quietly dictate how we conduct business.
Employment law wizard John Phillips has a new blog.
Frank McCourt reading from Angela's Ashes.
The Wall Street Journal Law Blog interviews Philip K. Howard, attorney, chair of Common Good and author of Life Without Lawyers:
Truly bizarre: The Grim Reaper in an Italian public service announcement.
Today is St. Patrick's Day.
Writing in Reason, Ronald Bailey on the Toyota panic:
There is no healthy organization without a sense of common destiny linking it to a larger scheme.
Hugh Macleod at Gaping Void with some random thoughts on being an entrepreneur. A few excerpts:
If you have been in the workplace for any serious length of time, you have probably encountered conversations in which everyone knows what is being said but no one is saying it.
Regardless of one's feelings about health care legislation, the Slaughter option is a very bad idea.
A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks. It is rather the same thing that is happening to the English language. It becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts.
Some Beethoven played by a typical six-year-old.
Recently, my late night reading has been The Known World by Edward P. Jones.
Writing in The Wilson Quarterly, Richard Rodriguez on the man and the movement:
Being the new appointee or the holder of new ideas can cause a certain arrogance.
Cultural Offering points out a difference between the good guys and the bad guys.
A collection of the classic frogs and lizards Budweiser ads.
Watch this video via Eclecticity and take some time to relax today.
Writing in Outside, Elizabeth Royle on the question of safety and a new type of coyote :
Flashback to a very funny film: The trailer for the 1975 comedy, "Smile."
Clive James interviews historian Michael Burleigh about his book on The Third Reich.
Coming in July: Barbie Mad Men Collectors Dolls:
Gentler times: The first commercial for a car named Corvette.
I’ve been driving Toyota Priuses since 2001. As a junior defense lawyer in the mid-90s, I litigated a number of bogus sudden acceleration cases that were brought against General Motors.
So the recent kerfuffle over alleged mysterious electronic problems with the Prius and other Toyotas has certainly caught my attention beyond just throwing my floor mat in the trunk.
Frank Delaney gives his "five best" list of books about Ireland.
Svevo's subject is the weakness of the will, or abulia, and how a dreamy nature has little chance up against the temptations set out by the amazing and obdurate reality of life. In "Zeno's Conscience," Zeno Cosini, an unexceptional Trieste businessman, pits his will against the enslaving habit of smoking, the complexities of courtship, the delights of philandery, the discipline required by business, and loses every time, yet cannot quite be said to go down in defeat.
. . . Only strictly capable men reach the top in surgery, for instance. For some reason, Italians do not mind entrusting their national life to incompetent and intriguing generals, but refuse to entrust their personal lives to inept surgeons. For analogous reasons, they do not encourage bad opera singers, conductors, ballerinas, courtesans, actors, film directors, cooks, tailors and pilots. These people get ahead strictly on their merit.
Der Spiegel examines the last four minutes of Air France Flight 447. An excerpt:
It's Friday afternoon. Time to check out the known universe.
Tanmay Vora has some quick thoughts on differentiation. An excerpt:
Samsung ad: Do not trust profile pictures.