Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Best (Not Scary) Halloween Films

"The Nightmare Before Christmas"

"Beetlejuice"

Halloween

On most Halloweens, around 200 kids come by our house, hands out, begging for candy. Some have creative outfits - three boys who were loosely bound together with string declared they were The Internet - but most are the ghosts, vampires, princesses, and werewolves. All are polite.

The rush is over by nine o'clock, although some stragglers come by before 9:30. Our greatest fear is running out of candy. My wife, who is the enthusiastic Wade, has been under the weather so door duty will fall to me.

Words cannot express my level of excitement.

I'm busy learning my lines.

Boo.

In the Hall of the Mountain King



Hey, it's Halloween. Expect some spooky music today.

Suffering Fools Gladly


"He (or she) does not suffer fools gladly."

That is often said as a compliment and yet there are many jobs in which that precise skill is prized if not required. Someone is needed to pour oil on the troubled waters and soothe the feelings of those who may be inclined to find insult. Over time, talented managers acquire these exotic abilities:


  • Facing down bullies.
  • Seeing if complainers have a point.
  • Spotting the unsaid.
  • Sensing the atmosphere.
  • Suffering fools gladly.

Quote of the Day

There is no terror in a bang, only in the anticipation of it.

- Alfred Hitchcock

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Just Another Art Film

The trailer for "The Man with the Iron Fists."

Hurricane Sandy Pictures

The Weather Channel has a gallery of photographs of the storm and its aftermath.

Are You an Entrepreneur? Do You Want to Be One?

This short video at Tim Berry's blog is well worth your time.

It is especially worth the time of those who think that being an entrepreneur is a smooth ride with big paychecks.

North Korea: Where Fired Means Fired

Rob Long notes how the new young leader of North Korea is making some personnel changes . . . a la Stalin.

Art Break: De Kooning


Art Contrarian looks at the work of Willem de Kooning.

A Lawyer with Style



Why is it that a lawyer with a parrot reminds me of Long John Silver?

Rick Georges of FutureLawyer discusses his pet-friendly workplace.

The Transition


On Saturday, I step down as president of the board of directors of a state historical organization. It has been one of my volunteer projects. We have a two year term limit for presidents and although there have been times when an extra year would have been helpful, two years is just about right if the job is done well. I'll remain on the board for several more years.

The transition materials have been pulled together and I'm confident that my successor will do as well in the job, if not better. It has been a challenge to decide what to include in the intangibles; the list of subtle items not written in any report. These are essentially my personal "take" on the situation and many involve warnings of what to watch for and what to avoid.

That said, there are some things that can only be appreciated in the doing. No one crosses the same river and the next board president will face positives and negatives that I did not encounter. Any advice I give has to be filtered through that reality.

I've been struck by how much of it involves minor items that can cause problems; advice along the lines of "Those committees are fine until they have to work together"; "Don't let the XYZ Committee study matters to death"; and "John Doe is brilliant in this subject and a problem with that one."

Vision is vital, but in the day-to-day operations, the details and the system are where attention must be paid. Improve the system and you can spend less time on the details. Occasionally, make a bungee jump into the details in order to see what's there and to let people know that such questions are possible.

By Saturday evening that will be behind me. I'm looking forward to being an "emeritus."

Quote of the Day

Egotist. A person of low taste, more interested in himself than me.

- Ambrose Bierce

Monday, October 29, 2012

Interpreter as Star

I suspect that this sign language interpreter will be getting a lot of exposure in the days ahead.

Entertainment Break

The trailers for:

"Easy Money"
"Chasing Mavericks"
"Pusher"
"Simon and The Oaks"
"The American Scream"
"The Other Son"

The Weather Channel


Many thoughts and prayers for those in its path: A link for the storm.

Bloggery


In the interest of public health, Anderson Layman's Blog exposes the dangers.

Echidna Puggle

It's been a while since I've seen photos of a good puggle.

Set It and Forget It Shredder

FutureLawyer has news on a convenient, load it and walk away, shredder. This looks great.

A Dangerous Assumption


"Does everyone on the team share the same goals and values?"

That may be the single most important question for most teams. Attention is routinely paid to competence and resources but if the answer to that question is not a resounding yes, effectiveness will be impaired if not doomed.


Gaps



  • Who wasn't at the meeting?
  • What wasn't in the report?
  • What was not mentioned?
  • Which research was omitted?
  • Where were the counter-arguments?
  • Why were only percentages used?
  • What were the assumptions?

Quote of the Day

Unhappiness is not knowing what we want and killing ourselves to get it.

- Don Herold

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Dogs. Water. Camera.

A gallery of photos of what dogs look like underwater.

Some of them resemble Booth cartoons.

[HT: Jonathan Wade]

Find Something Beautiful Today


Saturday, October 27, 2012

Saturday Night Short Story


Edgar Allan Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado."

Entertainment Break

The trailers for:

"Cloud Atlas"
"Gangster Squad"
"Les Miserables"
"Man of Steel"

Language!


Cultural Offering has a proposal to make business meetings more understandable.

I'm not sure if I completely agree since a colorful expression or term can be powerful but his point is important, especially when there is overuse.

May "At the end of the day" soon disappear.

Miscellaneous and Fast

October tradition: "Werewolves of London."
FutureLawyer: Synopsis of a children's classic.
Videos of Babe Ruth.
The trailer for "I Walked with a Zombie."
Law Latte: Social media explains coffee.
The trailer for "Thale."
There's a Red Cross hurricane preparedness app.
Wally Bock: Weekend imagination igniters.
The trailer for "Dracula: Dead and Loving It."
Conan O'Brien on whether leaders are born or made.
Prager University: Capital punishment.
Der Spiegel: The Ferrari Red Communists.
The trailer for the Jack Palance version of "Dracula."

Benghazi: How Not to Handle a Crisis

A Benghazi timeline through October 24 and more, of course, is coming out.

When I revise my crisis management workshop, which currently includes examination of the Cuban Missile Crisis; Exxon Valdez spill; Bhopal, India gas disaster; and Tylenol tampering cases, Benghazi is going in as a textbook example of how to screw up before, during, and after a crisis.

It demonstrates a stunning level of ineptitude.

Management Question: Trust

"Do the team members directly surface concerns when the group meets or do they only complain outside of the meetings?"

Quote of the Day

Nothing is more destructive to this society than rock stars who think they are smart or politicians who think they are cool.

- Joe Queenan

Friday, October 26, 2012

All The Sweeter


A great story at Cultural Offering about a teacher's prediction gone wrong.

A Bias for Trust

If you enter an engagement filled with wariness, alert for the scam, the inauthentic and the selfish, you'll poison the relationship before it even starts. Those you deal with won't be challenged to rise to your expectations of excitement and goodwill. Instead, they'll struggle in the face of your skepticism.

Read the rest of Seth Godin here.

"Frankenstorm"

Scientific American on the storm that is threatening the East coast:

"This one has the potential of doing what Hurricane Irene did and dumping a tremendous amount of water, but also doing the kinds of damage we worry about with coastal flooding and very high winds," said Paul Kocin, a meteorologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "It has all the elements of a very significant hurricane as well as a very significant coastal storm."

The Search for Foam


I had a beard for a few years but, not being a Civil War re-enactor, found it to be a lot of work. All of that trimming and clipping was a hassle. I've also used electric razors and although they've certainly improved, something was missing.

The truth is one of the small pleasures that a man finds in life is a clean shave. The warm water, the soap, and, of course, the proper shaving lather and blade are part of a quasi-religious ritual in which a rigid order must be followed. I scrimp on the blade - those blue Gillette throw-away razors are fine with me - but want a decent shaving foam. [Gel is for wimps.]

The Old Spice Shaving Foam in the red can has long been a favorite since it seems to have more moisture than other foams but I've had difficulty locating it recently so other types are on the experiment shelf. I'm toying with the possibility of using a shaving soap and a brush although that clashes with the desire to keep things as simple as possible.

The search is on.


As for the aftershave, tradition prevails: bay rum does the trick.

And You Don't Have to Count Rings


Political Calculations on how to estimate the age of a tree.

More than Pocketbooks

Writing in The Weekly Standard, Yuval Levin analyzes the deeper debate this year. An excerpt:

Simply put, to see our fundamental political divisions as a tug of war between the government and the individual is to accept the progressive premise that individuals and the state are all there is to society. The premise of conservatism has always been, on the contrary, that what matters most about society happens in the space between those two, and that creating, sustaining, and protecting that space is a prime purpose of government. The real debate forced upon us by the Obama years​—​the underlying disagreement to which the two parties are drawn despite themselves​—​is in fact about the nature of that intermediate space, and of the mediating institutions that occupy it: the family, civil society, and the private economy.

Art Break: MacNicol


Art Contrarian looks at the work of Bessie MacNicol.

An Assignment: Idea Books


Get some simple three-ringed notebooks. Devote each to an important subject. Articles of interest as well as your notes on what you've learned will be periodically added to the notebooks. Check them once a month. Read articles you may have inserted but did not peruse. Put in references to helpful books and links.

At the end of 12 months, review what you've noted. Take out items you no longer need.

Continue the process. It will make a difference. These will be your books with your personal touch and insights. The beauty is in the simplicity.

Begin today.

Quote of the Day

My problem lies in reconciling my gross habits with my net income.

- Erroll Flynn

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Sowell on Diversity

Back by popular demand: Thomas Sowell on "Cultural Diversity: A World View." An excerpt:

If nations and civilizations differ in their effectiveness in different fields of endeavor, so do social groups.  Here there is especially strong resistance to accepting the reality of different levels and kinds of skills, interests, habits, and orientations among different groups of people.  One academic writer, for example, said that nineteenth-century Jewish immigrants to the United States were fortunate to arrive just as the garment industry in New York began to develop.  I could not help thinking that Hank Aaron was similarly fortunate-- that he often came to bat just as a home run was due to be hit.  It might be possible to believe that these Jewish immigrants just happened to be in the right place at the right time if you restricted yourself to their history in the United States.  But, again taking a world view, we find Jews prominent, often predominant, and usually prospering, in the apparel industry in medieval Spain, in the Ottoman Empire, in the Russian Empire, in Argentina, in Australia, and in Brazil.  How surprised should we be to find them predominant in the same industry in America?

The Sun Also Rises

At The Hammock Papers, the stylish announcement of a new book by a writer to follow.

What Does Your Car Color Say About You?

I'm always suspicious of lists that have no negatives; e.g. "This color means you are a tasteless fool who got bamboozled by the car dealer."

[My car color means Indifference. My wife bought all of our current cars.]

Switch It Off and Play More Lego


The Incomparable Bate has a November manifesto.

The Unwritten


If you want to preserve something, get it in writing, but if you want candor from someone, you'd better have a conversation. Even then, you might not get get candor but you'll stand a better chance. I recall a succession program that wanted executives to write down impressions of their subordinates. In this litigation-happy society, no one was willing to do that lest it be discovered.

There is another reason to opt for a conversation. It will permit you to hear the intonations and hesitation that often won't come through on paper. You can watch their facial expressions and measure their comfort with certain subjects. You can also pick up on minor topics that might be deemed as too trivial for a report but which will ultimately prove to be vital.

As much as many of us like reading, if the subject is sensitive, a conversation is best.

Quote of the Day

The authorities were at their wit's end, nor had it taken them long to get there.

- Desmond MacCarthy

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wolfe and Miami


In The Telegraph, Richard Grant interviews Tom Wolfe about "Back to Blood." An excerpt:

'Miami is a melting pot in which none of the stones melt,’ Wolfe says. 'They rattle around. A lot of Russians are there now, Haitians, Nicaraguans. Miami is plan B for everyone in Latin America at this point. And everybody hates everybody, as my guide put it.’

The Mountain


My desk is a mountain of files.

I'm sorting through ancient history: projects long ago completed, training topics once hot and now cold, articles that should have been read. There are entire boxes related to clients that were taken over or simply went out of business when management decided to pack it in.

An underlying lesson is how a few key contact changes can make a huge difference. An HR Director leaves and the successor brings in a new consultant. A new CEO decides to cut back on outsourcing. Relationships that were strong for years can suddenly change and no one is really to blame.

I recently learned that I've been sending updates and notices of various services to an executive who left a client a year ago. No one notified me.


Lesson learned: Make a point of periodically calling your contacts just to say hello. Even those nice handwritten notes don't always work.

The Game


Gretchen Wilson with "Take Me Out to the Ball Game."

Thinking about Ice Cream

Anderson Layman's Blog lists the beliefs of the Velvet Ice Cream Company. An excerpt: "...in order to be ice cream, it should have cream."

Art Break: Brenet


Art Contrarian looks at the work of marine artist Albert Brenet.

Shunning the High Ground


You've often seen it in the workplace. The side that loses its temper loses. The person who overstates an argument is vulnerable. "Straw man" arguments crumble. The optimist attracts and the pessimist repels. Sarcasm's gains are rarely long-term.

Are there exceptions? Sure, but as a general rule the side that slips into the above behavior is shooting itself in the foot. There is a bias in favor of reasonableness. Even a meritorious position can lose if it does not seem reasonable.

If this seems obvious, why would anyone succumb to the temptation to be negative? Because of several reasons:


  1. Anger spurs a desire to strike back.
  2. There is an insufficient filter to the expression of emotion.
  3. There are intemperate advisors.
  4. Contempt for the opposition dilutes standard courtesy.
  5. The desire to feel good overcomes the desire to be effective.
  6. An abrasive image is mistakenly thought to exhibit strength.
  7. Desperation.

Quote of the Day

Keep your fears to yourself, but share your courage with others.

- Robert Louis Stevenson

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Miscellaneous and Fast

The Onion tweets the debate.
CoolTools on Chef Knives to Go.
George Will on complicity and illusions.
Unhappy Hipsters: On trusting a self-described "creative."
Mel Brooks does impressions on The Dick Cavett Show.
Time to hit the wine: A day with the French ambassador.
Liza Minnelli with "Mein Herr."

Nitwittery Update

FutureLawyer has a tale of political correctness where a publisher wigged out over an image of Santa Claus smoking a pipe.

We live in Orwellian times.

Rickman Making Tea

I would listen to Alan Rickman read the phone book but how interesting would it be to watch him making tea?

Cultural Offering has the answer. You will smile.

Bookshelf Porn

Oh wow! Very suitable for work.

Art Break: Godwin


Art Contrarian looks at the work of Frank Godwin.

Those Old Biz Books

Peter Drucker's The Effective Executive is timeless. It will provide wisdom to readers 100 years from now. There are other business and management books, however, that have a short shelf life. They are so tied to the moment their lessons soon expire. This doesn't mean they aren't helpful. It means that when you sort through your office seven years from now, you'll find they can be easily donated to a used book store and they won't be missed.

Now for the scary question: If you were very impressed by the contents seven years ago, should you have been?

First Paragraph

The stooped figure peering out of the hatch of the chopper looked utterly out of place. He was a generation older than the next-oldest man aboard. The younger men wore bush jackets and olive drab pants bloused into jungle boots. He wore a plaid, short-sleeved sport shirt that exposed the wiry white hair on his arms. The shirt was not tucked in but hung out over a pair of baggy blue cotton slacks ending in brand-new tennis shoes. His face was puffed and pale with fatigue. With its sagging jowls, tired eyes, and gray flesh it seemed composed of old molten wax and cobwebs - an arresting face, a face out of Dickens, rendered all the more incongruous by the suburban weekend dress. The heavy lower lip hung loose and his head drooped as he gazed down at the moving shadow the helicopter towed across the jungle canopy. Undisciplined wisps of hair fluttered from beneath an army cap perched on top of his head. Blazoned across the front of the cap were the words "Tegoose Station - Send Lawyers, Guns and Money."

- From Casey by Joseph E. Persico

Management Question: Meetings

"If you could have an out-of-body experience and see your conduct at a meeting, would you be pleased?"

Quote of the Day

We do not drift into becoming the best version of ourselves.

- John Ortberg

Monday, October 22, 2012

Carving via Colt

Well, we all have a way of carving a jack-o-lantern.

The Danger of Recommending Books

This excerpt at Cultural Offering of the Joe Queenan article on books sparked some thoughts.

I tried reading Atlas Shrugged years ago but, despite liking the John Galt concept, could not get through it. Since then, I've met people who treat the book as a quasi-religious object. Go figure.

What is especially enjoyable, however, is to find a writer who lives up to the hype. I'd certainly put Shakespeare and Tolstoy in that realm. I also read Thackeray's Vanity Fair with a big smile.

It can be sad to re-read a book that was enjoyed in one's youth and wonder, "What did I see in this?" but at the same time, there is the grand pleasure of re-reading a book and liking it even more.

We may read some books too early. Classics are often wasted on the young.

Remembering the Human


I recall a fire chief who made an observation to the effect that the type of people who rush into burning buildings are not likely to return to the fire station and quietly watch public television. We demand a great deal from people and, in so doing, must not forget that they are human. This is especially the case when part of their job involves a suspension of the rational, such as entering a burning building or walking into a dark warehouse where a criminal may be lurking.

It can also apply to less extreme examples. Should we turn every instance of stupidity or indiscretion into a major event worthy of investigation and lawyers or instead regard most of them as simply meriting a firm "Don't do that again" underlined by the clear understanding that the warning was not an idle one?

An early lesson for any supervisor is that people screw up. They do so because they are neither angels nor machines. An environment that does not adjust for that may be the most dysfunctional of all. 

Quote of the Day

The acid test of effective leadership is the extent to which people in the organization trust their leadership.

- Manfred Kets de Vries

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Oz Ominous

Reka-Zsuzsanna, who usually posts charming photos from Sydney, has a picture from her office that looks like something from a disaster film.

La Folia

Back by popular demand: A captivating performance of Corelli's great work.

Elementary


Some subjects for an early age:
  • Courage
  • Integrity
  • Respect
  • Courtesy
  • Freedom
  • Persistence
  • Beauty
  • Logic
  • Self-discipline

The Story of "Hound Dog"


Neatorama has the story and, of course, the Big Mama Thornton version is far superior.

Music Break

Some classic country from an extraordinary group of performers.

Find Something Beautiful Today


Saturday, October 20, 2012

Saturday Night Short Story


"The Street That Got Mislaid" by Patrick Waddington.

A Love of Books


Books happen at View From the Ledge with some great memories by Harper Lee.

Jeff will love this article by Joe Queenan as well as his forthcoming book.

Poor Comic Sans

At Adfreak, the sad war on Comic Sans continues.

How about beating up on Times New Roman?

Americana

At Cultural Offering.

The Onion: "I'll Be Your Visionary."

The Onion mocks TED. Brutal.

Brief Biographies


In The Wall Street Journal, historian Paul Johnson recommends five brief biographies.

Gourmet Update: Corn Dog

I confess that I have never eaten a corn dog. My children find this to be amazing.

The Pioneer Woman
shows how to make a muffin version of the classic fair food.

Netbook? Laptop? Chromebook!

FutureLawyer looks at the new Samsung Chromebook. Tempting.

Management Chemistry


We often give too much attention to the qualifications of individuals and miss the significance of their relationships with others. Even if we factor in their overall ability to establish healthy relationships, when an exception arises our inquiries may slip into a default mode for the measurement of individual flaws - who is more to blame? - than whether the specific relationship is dysfunctional.

Pop a person onto a team and the chemistry may abruptly change for good or bad. Put a team through certain experiences and the entire group may not come close to resembling its attitudes and capabilities 12 months ago. [Consider the sports teams that fall apart a mere year after winning a championship.]

What is the picture in our mind's eye when we look at our employees and our teams? We know they aren't machine parts; they are infinitely changeable beings who can be very different today than they were a month ago.

If we overlook the chemistry, we will miss a lot.

Quote of the Day

Just because your voice reaches halfway around the world doesn't mean you are wiser than when it reached only to the end of the bar.

- Edward R. Murrow

Friday, October 19, 2012

Heroic Visions

Art Contrarian looks at some examples of memorial sculpture.

Game-Changer from Britain?


The Telegraph: A "petrol from air" technology? If true, the ramifications could be enormous.

Miscellaneous and Fast

The trailer for "L.A. Confidential."
The comedy team of Obama and Romney at the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Dinner.
ConfiscatoryThe tax controversy in France.
The trailer for "The Great Gatsby."
The Nobel Banquet speech by Orhan Pamuk.
The WSJ Law Blog on lawyers' salaries.
The trailer for "Cinema Paradiso."
The trailer for "Hating Breitbart."
Sarah Hoyt gives a heads-up to book publishers.
The trailer for "Casablanca."

Board Meeting Index


Number of Members Present: 20
Those Who've Read Minutes of the Previous Meeting: 11
Those Who Carefully Read the Minutes:  5
Vote to Approve the Minutes: 20

Hilary Mantel's Technique

Sophie Elmhirst at The New Statesman writes a profile of novelist Hilary Mantel. An excerpt:

This was not writing that can be identified as writing in the ordinary sense: spasmodic, agonised, write-delete-write-delete. These were eight-, ten-, 12-hour days, marathons of prose, a 400-page book written in five months, between May and September 2011. (Don’t be encouraged. The words spilled only because Mantel had done long, professorial research into her subject. She first had the idea for a book about Thomas Cromwell in her mid-twenties; she had read everything – all the books, all the books about the books and all the original sources; she filled red Chinese chests with meticulous notes and cards and folders of information. She checked every fact, every source, every date, every letter, every name. Her Cromwell books are a combination of wild imagining and unimpeachable accuracy.)

[HT: Arts & Letters Daily]

The Blahs


The Blahs should not drive you to drink, television or a disillusionment with the world. They should lead you to bed and the sweet medicine of sleep.

I'm fighting sinus-induced blahs today. Bear with me.

Causation or Correlation?

You can learn a lot at Anderson Layman's Blog. It should be a daily visit.

They Do That in Florida

FutureLawyer has added a new member to his firm.

Management Question: Problems


"Which problem is that problem solving and which problem is that solution creating?"

Quote of the Day

Chains required, whips optional.

- California highway sign

Thursday, October 18, 2012

First Paragraph

It can hardly be a coincidence that no language on earth has ever produced the expression, "As pretty as an airport."

- From The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul by Douglas Adams

Thar She Blows

Today is the 161st anniversary of "Moby Dick."

As The Christian Science Monitor article at the link shows, the book didn't gain its high status until many years after publication; a sad development since it robbed Herman Melville of the acclaim he richly deserved to see in his lifetime.

A Business Fable


Cultural Offering weaves a tale of excuses, but no one lives happily ever after.

"Fragile"

The holiday season will soon be upon us. Why not think ahead?

It's time for all good husbands to order that special lamp for the wife.

Handling Patton

There's a memorable story in Jonathan W. Jordan's Brothers, Rivals, Victors.

America had entered the Second World War. General George Patton was running the desert training center in Indio, California and was eager to get into action. General George C. Marshall, the highest ranking officer in the American Army, had asked Dwight Eisenhower, who was then working on the build-up of forces in Europe, to recommend a man to lead a one-division expeditionary force in North Africa. Eisenhower quickly recommended Patton.

Patton was elated. He told Ike, "To get an outfit destined for immediate battle I'd sell my soul!" He flew to Washington, D.C. and met with General Marshall who described the situation and noted that only one reinforced armored division could be spared for the effort. Marshall then sent Patton off to make some preliminary plans.

As Patton reviewed the matter, he concluded that two divisions would be needed and he sent word to Marshall's office. Marshall blew up since he believed that he had already considered the appropriate distribution of available forces. Besides, he was always suspicious of what he called "localitis" or a too-narrow view by commanders. He told his aides, "Send him back to Indio."

You can imagine Patton's reaction. He was devastated. Had he lost his big chance? He returned to California and pestered Marshall's office for days but Marshall didn't take his calls. What Patton didn't know was that George Marshall had already determined that the operation was not feasible so he'd canceled it. He also knew that Patton was a talented warrior who needed to know who was boss. He told his deputy chief of staff while Patton was trying to get through with apologies and explanations, "That's the way to handle Patton." Eventually, Marshall  let another officer inform Patton that Marshall had not been offended. Shortly afterwards, Patton was asked if he'd be willing to head an armored corps in an operation overseas.

George C. Marshall had carefully studied the Army's potential talent. He knew George Patton's strengths and weaknesses.

On occasion, it may be necessary to remind certain personalities that Indio is an option.


"Tell Me About When You Are Lazy."


That's not a bad request of job applicants. Even if you gave them advance notice, the discussion could be profitable. Discovering how they define the request would be revealing and it probably wouldn't be hard to spot self-serving versus candid replies.

It's not a question of whether people will goof-off or day-dream, but a question of how often and when. You want to know their priorities and their proclivities. Do they know when to back-off? Are they capable of relaxing? We usually hear more about the first than the second.

Vora on Generosity


The insightful Tanmay Vora examines the close relationship between generosity and growing others.

Quote of the Day

The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.

- William James

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Some Copland in the Night

A dash of music from the start of Aaron Copland's Symphony No.3.

Workplace Attire

If my dentist wears these, I'm out of there.

Mormons and Management

Consider these familiar names: Clay Christensen, Dave Ulrich, Stephen Covey, Kerry Patterson, and John Zenger.

Greg McKeown explores how Mormons have shaped management.

North Korea's Version of Professional Shoppers

Theodore Dalrymple recalls a trip to Department Store No. 1.

[HT: Instapundit]

To A Louse

This memorable, humorous, and wise poem by Robert Burns was often recited by my mother when I was a child.

I've had many an occasion to recall it over the years.

Happy Accidents for Writers

Accidents began to happen early, when behind the massive beams we found a Kentucky rifle and a Whistler etching, both perfectly preserved. As a boy, I habitually took a path past a house where I could hear what I thought was an old man (younger than I am now) playing the piano. He was pretty good. He was also Aaron Copland.

Read the rest of Mark Helprin's article here.

Art Break: Brangwyn


Art Contrarian looks at the railroad posters of Sir Frank Brangwyn.

Picking Battles


I once witnessed an incident in which a person was determined to fight a battle that could not be won and need not be fought. My advice against the action was not popular but it was needed. If I'd been indifferent to the person's interests, I could easily have stood back and watched the ensuing disaster.

The person's judgment, normally quite good, was blurred by a desire to be right and to squelch any hint that a mistake may have been made. It reminded me of the core rule: It is more important to do right than to be right. Simple stuff. If a mistake was made, correct it, regardless of whether or not the critic has flaws. [I've met few critics who are saints.]

There are days when our greatest achievement is avoiding acts of self-sabotage.

Staring at Some Items on My Home Office Wall

The famous "Pie in the Sky" photo by Howard Berman. A framed piece of barbed wire from my grandfather's farm. An impressionistic nude. A Maxfield Parrish print. A stunning color photo of the Arizona desert. An old family picture of a foot race in the 1920s. A print of Mr. Pickwick and his friends boarding a stagecoach. A picture my dad took of a Mexican fishing boat on the Sea of Cortez. An old picture of the mayor of Phoenix signing an International Year of Disabled Persons proclamation when I was the EEO Administrator for the City. A photo of the Alamo from a friend in Texas. A French World War I citation, signed by Marshal Petain, honoring the American Marines.

Sometimes, more is more.

Quote of the Day

Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of nonessentials.

- Lin Yutang

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Nemo Obi Elite 1P


If you read the CoolTools review of this tent, you will want one.

[I own a tent, haven't been camping in years, and I still want one.]

Shameless Plug: That's the Spirit!

Recently, I learned that someone of style, wisdom, and grace bought 35 copies of my book on How to Make Presentations to Councils and Boards.

I assume the copies will be distributed throughout an organization; a sage practice that should be duplicated until it becomes a national trend. In fact, I want to see President Obama, Governor Romney, and Honey Boo Boo thumbing through it and giving appreciative nods.

Keeping Costs Down and Life Simple


FutureLawyer explains why he doesn't go for those fancy, high overhead, non-parrot, law firms. Given what's happening with many of the mega-firms nowadays, it is very understandable.

Art Break: Sir John Lavery


Art Contrarian looks at Sir John Lavery's paintings of his wife, Hazel Martyn Lavery.

Nobel: Honor a Leader, Not a Bureaucracy

Yes, instead of giving the prize to a clutch of ugly plate-glass office blocks in Brussels, the Nobel committee should have awarded it to Margaret Hilda Thatcher.

Read the rest of Boris Johnson's essay here.

Is Email Obsolete?

Ryan Holmes, CEO of HootSuite, thinks it's time to replace email with a more inclusive online conversation.

The Empty Suit


It can take a while to spot an empty suit. They are usually neatly pressed and they puff out as if someone is inside. Words and deeds, however, eventually give the game away because there is one thing empty suits cannot do and that is deliver.

Rest assured that the empty suit will have extensive excuses. The times were rough or others were to blame or the failures were really unrecognized successes or victories on the installment plan. The last excuse is especially popular because empty suits prefer to talk about what's around the corner far more than about what's in front of your eyes or what has not been produced.

Don't be surprised if they advise you to get glasses. 

Quote of the Day

When prisoners are released from prison, they often say that they have paid their debt to society. This is absurd, of course: crime is not a matter of double-entry bookkeeping. You cannot pay a debt by having caused even greater expense, nor can you pay in advance for a bank robbery by offering to serve a prison sentence before you commit it. Perhaps, metaphorically speaking, the slate is wiped clean once a prisoner is released from prison, but the debt is not paid off.

- Theodore Dalrymple

Monday, October 15, 2012

Peace Love Beans

Some coffee creativity on display at Law Latte: Major Beatles fans- attention Nicholas Bate - will love this.

Entertainment Break

The trailer for "The Words."

Big Law: The Tree Has Stopped Growing

Bruce McEwen of Adam Smith, Esq., on the woes of big law firms.

[HT: Instapundit]

Long Suspected


Evil HR Lady on how online job searches worsen the jobs crisis.

Mark Helprin on Life and the Art of Fiction

Mark Helprin is one novelist I'd gladly invite to dinner. From The Paris Review interview:

...I had always wondered what would happen to people who spent six to ten years laboring on a five-hundred-page tome entitled “Vaginal Motifs in Etruscan Beekeeping,” and now I know. They go stark raving mad and then they get tenure. In an accident of history, the American university system mistakenly modeled itself after the German rather than the English and then distorted even that. The greatest sin in American academia is to make a generalization. That’s why Oxford and Cambridge seem so civilized in comparison; there, they recognize that life, history—even the deeper currents of science—are terms of art. Here, on the other hand, you spend the best years of your life grinding away at vaginal motifs in Etruscan beekeeping and when it comes time for independent thinking you’re about as ready as the lid of a garbage can.

Isn't It Romantic?

FutureLawyer has the latest in geek wedding rings.

[I think there had better be a back-up version.]

Free Will, Mind, and Brain


At Prager University, Frank Pastore explores the question: Do you have free will?

Miscellaneous and Fast

Eclecticity: Where does he find this stuff?
Anderson Layman's Blog: Absolutely.
Wally Bock gives a weekend imagination igniter.
Tanmay Vora on building engaged teams.
Seth Godin: The acute heptagram of impact.
Althouse: How much money does Amazon make on Kindles?
The trailer for "The Queen of Versailles."
Michael P. Maslanka on the use of stories to answer clients' questions.
James Taranto on Dr. Strangelaugh.
The trailer for "Atlas Shrugged Part II."
Cultural Offering has "Midnight Blue."
The Telegraph: A review of "Skyfall."
The Civil War in Arizona: Picacho Peak.
The trailer for "Seven Psychopaths."
Mary Jo Asmus on going beyond first impressions.

The Grand Evasion

"They didn't tell me there was a problem. I'm checking into why they didn't do so."
"That's a cop-out. This was not minor nor should it have been a surprise. What were you doing to prevent it? Did you ask ahead of time? Was there a serious strategy of prevention?"
"No, I had other things to do."
"And all of those were more important?"
"No, they were not, but I rely on people telling me things."
"So you are saying that you did not designate a specific person to deal with this specific major issue and give you a specific plan to prevent this from happening even though the disaster should have been anticipated?"
"No, I generally relied on the staff."
"I hope you realize how feeble that response is."
"Well, mistakes were made."
"That remark was one of them."

Quote of the Day

As to diseases make a habit of two things - to help, or at least, to do no harm.

- Hippocrates

Sunday, October 14, 2012

When Nerds Get Violent

The Best of Robot Wars.

The Style of a Great Man

Cultural Offering didn't just read Cita Stelzer's Dinner with Churchill, he devoured it:

Ultimately, what comes from this book is a portrait of the very human side of a great statesman.  An animal lover who loved meat.  A cigar smoker who loved to share his enthusiasm freely.  A great orator who was a great conversationalist.  And a great man who participated in the great experience of daily life with every bit of the exuberance he displayed in the consumption of public life.  We need these stories about great people.  We live in an odd world today where the public prescriptions for a good life are often mismatched with the need to live life.  We encourage tasteless chicken breasts on every plate when a little meat off the bone might do us some good. 

Find Something Beautiful Today


Saturday, October 13, 2012

Saturday Night Short Story


"The Leopard Man's Story" by Jack London.