Thursday, February 28, 2013

Brusha Brusha Brusha

The story of a toothpaste's rise and fall. 

Its memorable jingle. I like the Allen Ginsberg connection.

Brazilian Classical Music

Nelson Biagio Jr. has some Villa-Lobos on the speakers.


Underpaintings looks at some of the controversial work of James Whistler.

Music Break

The piano solo from "Terms of Endearment" with sheet music.

The Most Admired List

From Fortune magazine: Its most admired companies for 2013. The first is no surprise.

Highly Recommended: Child 44

A quick recommendation of a book that you should not miss.

Tom Rob Smith's novel
, "Child 44," is one of the most powerful depictions of the fear-driven life under Stalin.

Although a thriller, it is also a clear lesson on what crimes can be committed "for the greater good."

Lessons from the First 80

Cultural Offering has the lessons that Byron Wien gleaned from his first 80 years of life.

If you were to pass along three of your own lessons, what would they be?

Quote of the Day

Since when do you need to be hungry to eat a donut?

- Larry The Liquidator

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Entertainment Break

The trailers for:

Yahoo, Telecommuting, and Richard Branson

Sox First discusses the Yahoo telecommuting ban

In general, I'm with Richard Branson on this one but - consultant language ahead - it depends on the organization. [Reminds me of old comedy album: "My Plumber Doesn't Make House Calls."]

12 Product Trends

At Fast Company, Chris Butler examines 12 trends that will rule products in 2013. An excerpt:

Sales of LP records have quadrupled since 2007. It’s a powerful reminder that convenience isn’t the only thing people care about. Music, like video and telecommunications, reached a digital/analog split long ago, and digital won because it’s cheaper, faster, and more convenient. But analog persists, in part because of nostalgia but also because formats like film, print, and vinyl reflect the people and processes that made them, forming an emotional connection that digital can’t match.

Finding the Law

FutureLawyer notes a helpful resource for conducting free legal research online. This does not, of course, diminish the importance of finding a good attorney.

Nelson's Back!

Good news!

Nelson "Our Man in Argentina"  Biagio Jr. is blogging again. Check him out.

Fake Out

Be on the alert when...:

  • Excellence means comfort
  • Leadership means posturing
  • Team work means no accountability
  • Diversity means quotas
  • Coordination means turf wars
  • Research means cherry-picking
  • Lawyers mean gridlock
  • Orientation means boredom
  • Rules mean suggestions
  • Passive means aggressive
  • Candor means deception
  • Mission means morass

Quote of the Day

Everything seems stupid when it fails.

- Fyodor Dostoevsky

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Great Moments in Film

Joaquin Phoenix and the news clip scene in "Signs."

Miscellaneous and Fast

Emily Bazelon on how to stop bullying.
Some jobs are inherently exotic.
The Hammock Papers is like wandering through a beautiful park.
Anderson Layman's Blog with a Robert Fulghum kind of day.
Is the Oscars ceremony planned by the dumbest kids in high school?
Spiegel: Italian politics and reality.
Entrepreneur: Iconic motivational posters.

McLaren P1

Top speed is 217 mph. You know you want one.

Music Break

A dash of "In Dulci Jubilo."

Know When to Fold

Cultural Offering points to an interesting take by Charles Murray on the appeal of poker.

[I used to play a lot of 5 card stud while in elementary school. A friend came from a huge family and a game was always in progress at their house. My poker skills have been in a steady decline since. Sad.]

"Is a famous thinker better than a great one?"

Seth Godin considers the question. [Some of us have that laboring in obscurity part down cold.]

First Paragraph

"The Nazi conscience" is not an oxymoron. Although it may be repugnant to conceive of mass murderers acting in accordance with an ethos that they believed vindicated their crimes, the historical record of the Third Reich suggests that indeed this was often the case. The popularizers of antisemitism and the planners of genocide followed a coherent set of severe ethical maxims derived from broad philosophical concepts. As modern secularists, they denied the existence of either a divinely inspired moral law or an innate ethical imperative. Because they believed that concepts of virtue and vice had evolved according to the needs of particular ethnic communities, they denied the existence of universal moral values and instead promoted moral maxims they saw as appropriate to their Aryan community. Unlike the early twentieth-century moral philosophers who saw cultural relativism as an argument for tolerance, Nazi theorists drew the opposite conclusion. Assuming that cultural diversity breeds antagonism, they asserted the superiority of their own communitarian values above all others.

- From The Nazi Conscience by Claudia Koonz

Do You Swear to Tell the #%*/! Truth?

Employment attorney Michael P. Maslanka on how to handle profanity by a party or a witness.

Quote of the Day

He that waits upon fortune, is never sure of a dinner.

- Benjamin Franklin

Monday, February 25, 2013

How Could We Have Forgotten Bacon?

I'm slow in getting to this: The Pioneer Woman shows how to make Perfect Potato Soup.

Art Break: Sickles

Art Contrarian analyzes a picture by illustrator Noel Sickles.

The Idea

The idea is being seasoned. Soon, it will go into the oven where it will be periodically checked and basted. It may be taken out for a tasting and then, if more time is needed, put back in.

It makes no sense to rush something which cannot be rushed.

Poetry Break: Kipling

Few poems contain more wisdom: "If."

If you can keep your head when all about you
   Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
   But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
   Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
   And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

Miscellaneous and Fast

Wally Bock has leadership reading to start your week.
Cultural Offering and George Will on the sequester.
The trailer for "Shakespeare Wallah."
MC Hammer: "U Can't Touch This."
Matthew Continetti on finding the health care system's cure in Singapore.
Michael Nesmith: "Joanne."
Wall Street Journal Law Blog: Judges should think before "liking" someone.
From "Topsy-Turvy": The finale to "The Mikado."
Entrepreneur: Soundbites from Social Media Week.


It is an email which is not the same as a letter which is not the same as a telephone call which is not the same as a face-to-face meeting. But if the meeting were rushed and there was no time to explore what was left unsaid and to spot the hesitations and if we both were blindfolded and spoke in a monotone then I suppose it would be almost the same.


Quote of the Day

Managers have been brought up on a diet of power, divide and rule. They have been preoccupied with authority rather than making things happen.

- Charles Handy

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Colman, Crawford, and Company

An array of film stars from 1953: The first year the Academy Awards presentations were televised.

Interruptions and Clutter

If you have to choose between the two, choose clutter.

Those of us with messy desks know that clutter can be an important reminder of matters which, if neatly filed away, may be forgotten. We use clutter the same way some people use administrative assistants. And clutter can foster an atmosphere of creativity. At least that's our cover story.

London 1903

An extraordinary video. See how many automobiles you can spot.

Random Thoughts

Don't let pondering over where you want to be 10 years from now cause neglect of the next 10 minutes. Identify the practices that haven't worked and ask why you are still trying them. Miracles can be great to experience but lousy to rely upon. People, not organizations, have feelings and loyalties. Analyze plans to see if they can be achieved by the average human being. Consider what gives you joy. If life is a river, are you on the shore or on the water? Strive to be a good companion to others and to yourself. Don't be in the house when you should be in the yard. Listen to the surface message and then look for the hidden one. Find time today for some task that may significantly change your life for the better. Don't believe those who underestimate you. When you find patterns also find differences. Know and muster the essential ingredients for your best performance. Understand that balance is not always possible nor is it always desirable. Focus, then rest, then repeat. Cultivate gratitude and grace.

Find Something Beautiful Today

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Abbey's Truck

Just in case you were wondering whatever happened to Edward Abbey's truck. [And if you've never read Edward Abbey, start here.]

"so you want to be a writer?"

The poem by Charles Bukowski. An excerpt:

don't be like so many writers,
don't be like so many thousands of
people who call themselves writers,
don't be dull and boring and
pretentious, don't be consumed with self-
the libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to
over your kind.
don't add to that.
don't do it.

Best Picture Nominees

The trailers of the nominees for Best Picture:

The Psychology of Cheetos

At Althouse: The enduring appeal of junk food

I like the theory on why we think Cheetos have few calories.

After the What, Look for the How

Too often, once we hear what was done - he talked to her, they coordinated, safeguards were established - we stop, contented, and don't explore how that was done.

And that "How" can make all the difference. Add two people to a coordination meeting who will inhibit the sharing of information and coordination ceases.

The next time you hear the What, look for the How.

Quote of the Day

The most common question asked me by non-profit executives is: What are the qualities of a leader? The question seems to assume that leadership is something you learn in charm school. But it also assumes that leadership by itself is enough, that it's an end. And that's misleadership. The leader who basically focuses on himself or herself is going to mislead. The three most charismatic leaders in this century inflicted more suffering on the human race than almost any trio in history.\: Hitler, Stalin, and Mao. What matters is not the leader's charisma. What matters is the leader's mission. Therefore, the first job of the leader is to think through and define the mission of the institution.

- Peter F. Drucker in Managing the Nonprofit Organization

Friday, February 22, 2013

A Variety of Art

Underpaintings has a great list of exhibits and shows. The "Girl with a Pearl Earring" is at the de Young Museum in California.

Music Break

Fontella Bass with "Rescue Me." Crank it up.

Grammar Jousts

You’ve probably heard the old story about the pedant who dared to tinker with Winston Churchill’s writing because the great man had ended a sentence with a preposition. Churchill’s scribbled response: “This is the sort of English up with which I will not put.”

Read the rest of the Smithsonian article here.

[HT: Arts & Letters Daily]

Tea and Dizziness

Have some Friday tea at Eclecticity and when your head stops spinning you'll wonder where he finds that stuff.

From "Duel" to "Lincoln"

At The Telegraph: A gallery of comments by Steven Spielberg about each of his films. [One film was an apology for an earlier one.]

Big Earl

“Whatever we plant in our subconscious mind and nourish with repetition and emotion will one day become reality.”

Anderson Layman's Blog has some one-liners from Earl Nightingale. I recall most of them from the Nightingale tapes I used to listen to in the old "scurry to the airport" days.

A Few Management Books That May Make You Say "Wow!"

Some titles to check out:
  1. "Management of the Absurd" by Richard Farson.
  2. "The Culture Code" by Clotaire Rapaille.
  3. "Fierce Conversations" by Susan Scott.
  4. "Rules of Thumb" by Alan M. Webber.
  5. "Switch" by Chip Heath and Dan Heath.

Quote of the Day

What does a medium ask you to become in order to use it?

- Alan Kay

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Genius at Work

Back by popular demand: A dash of Glenn Gould.

We Need to Preach What We Practice

Cultural Offering has a great observation by Charles Murray about one of the strangest attitudes of our time. And he is on target with the exceptions.

Patience and Impatience

Just as there are highly ambitious people who will, when they get close to achieving a goal, succumb to self-doubt, I suspect there is a sizable group that alternates between impatience and patience.

After all, few people are patient or impatient all the time. My guess is that many of us are in a sub-group which has a 90 percent Patient/10 percent Impatient mode. We are hugely patient about most matters but quite impatient about a few. Those can be divided even further into Things That Always Trigger Impatience, Things That Occasionally Do So and, of course, Things That Never Do.

What are my triggers?

  1. Management books that don't get to the point. Do I really need to read a story about a kid's science project before the author lets slip some insight?
  2. Speakers that don't get to the point. Put me down as a Calvin Coolidge fan.
  3. Meetings that don't get to the point. I'm beginning to see a trend.
Your own?

Your Amazing Future

FutureLawyer has a nifty video on what it will be like to wear Google Glass.

[I figure my buying choices will be either that or a Timex watch with a day-glo feature.]

Quote of the Day

The demagogue is one who preaches doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots.

- H. L. Mencken

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Silvio Rising

Fans of the 76-year-old ex-premier see him as more than just a beacon of hope. "Berlusconi will now start a revolution," says teacher Marinella Romano. She confesses "I have always loved Silvio." Donatella Catalano, a friendly retiree, gushes, "He stands for everything that is good in the world." The unemployed Ferrante says that "only Silvio can save Italy, he will bring us much good."

Read the rest of the Spiegel article here.

[No, not this Silvio.]

Miscounted Calories?

When it comes to weight loss, a calorie is a calorie is a calorie. That’s been the mantra of nutritionists, dietitians, and food regulators in the United States and Europe for more than a century. But when it comes to comparing raw food with cooked food, or beans with breakfast cereals, that thinking may be incorrect. That was the consensus of a panel of researchers who listed the many ways that the math doesn’t always add up correctly on food labels on Feb. 18 at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. “Our current system for assessing calories is surely wrong,” said evolutionary biologist Richard Wrangham of Harvard University, the co-organizer of the panel.

Read the rest of Ann Gibbons here.

The Importance of Updates

Sage advice from Michael P. Maslanka: Keep clients posted even when there is nothing to report.

Be Very Afraid

FutureLawyer is not keen on the risks of using free, public wifi. Don't say he didn't warn you.

Art Break: Porter

Art Contrarian looks at the work of Fairfield Porter.

Low-Grade Management Ills

If it had been a large problem, it would have been addressed. Action would have been mandatory.

Instead, it was a low-grade management illness which went unnoticed for months. Its presence affected operations, but only indirectly so no one bothered to root out the cause. A few observers even ascribed the symptoms to something else.

Finally, at a time when people had the chance to kick back and think, someone looked at the process and said, "That doesn't make sense." Within hours, the problem was diagnosed and cured.

Only then did people begin to sense how much things had improved.

There are times when you don't know how bad (or good) something is until it's gone.

Bock: On Leaders

Wally Bock provides his weekly assortment of interesting posts about leaders.

Quote of the Day

Quiet people have the loudest minds.

- Stephen Hawking

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Creativity: Well Done

Check out the "Fresh Guacamole" video at Law Latte.

Very clever!

Best Western

In response to the previous post requesting nominees for Best Film of the Old West, my own nominee would be:

The 1939 version of "Stagecoach." [Not those weak remakes.]

It's got everything: cast, story, surroundings. Another example of why 1939 was such a great year for films.

First Paragraph

This morning I got a note from my aunt asking me to come for lunch. I know what this means. Since I go there every Sunday for dinner and today is Wednesday, it can mean only one thing: she wants to have one of her serious talks. It will be extremely grave, either a piece of bad news about her stepdaughter Kate or else a serious talk about me, about the future and what I ought to do. It is enough to scare the wits out of anyone, yet I confess I do not find the prospect altogether unpleasant.

- From The Moviegoer by Walker Percy

The Big Four

Today will be divided between Thinking, Reaching, Acting, and Maintaining. Not equally, of course, and with occasional blurs, but all are important.

Moral Presuppositions and Politics

It really would help our political culture if we understood that every one of us has an imperfect angle on reality and that our presuppositions refract truth. That our perception of justice is always distorted, even just a little bit. All of us see through a glass darkly and know things only in part. 

Read the rest of Peter Wehner's post here.

When Life is FUBAR

Erik Lacitis looks at the strange world of vanity plate censorship:
When Tony Cava got a letter from Washington state about somebody complaining that his personalized license plate came across as "vulgar, profane or offensive to good taste and decency," he was, well, "pretty befuddled."
The plate on his white 1989 BMW says, "GOES211."


Cultural Offering: We need more teachers like this.

The Blaming Diversion

Blaming others can be a shield that fends off:

  • Learning
  • Action
  • Development
  • Accountability
  • Thought
  • Values

Quote of the Day

Success comes from taking the path of maximum advantage instead of the path of least resistance.

- George Bernard Shaw

Monday, February 18, 2013

Lessons from Led Zeppelin's Manager

I'm late to notice this Business Week article on the extraordinary Peter Grant. An excerpt:

He knew TV had its benefits (it had undoubtedly helped launch the careers of Elvis Presley and the Beatles), but Led Zeppelin had a fuller, harder, more electrified sound that didn’t translate well on 1970s-era TV screens. Because fans couldn’t see Zeppelin in their living rooms, they sought out concert tickets—which earned the band more revenue than a television appearance ever would.

Security Tip

This FutureLawyer post on an unusual computer security strategy brought to mind the Mark Twain line about a liar having to have a good memory.

Best Film of the Old West?

Got into a lively discussion the other day regarding the best films of the Old West. That fierce argument/genteel disagreement sparked an even tougher question: If you were to pick the best Western, which one would it be?

There are the usual contenders, such as The Searchers, Stagecoach, High Noon, Rio Bravo, and Red River, just to name a few. There is the anti-hero category with films such as Once Upon a Time in the West, McCabe & Mrs. Miller, For a Few Dollars More, Unforgiven, and The Wild Bunch. The recent version of True Grit would certainly make my short list. My Darling Clementine, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, and Tombstone will be cited by many. The minute you start listing names, a load of others will come to mind. 

Your thoughts? [I'll post my nominee later and it may not be listed above.]

Quote of the Day

The Constitution requires that the President "shall, from time to time, give to the Congress information of the state of the Union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient." In complying with that requirement I wish to emphasize that during the past year the Nation has continued to grow in strength; our people have advanced in comfort; we have gained in knowledge; the education of youth has been more widely spread; moral and spiritual forces have been maintained; peace has become more assured. The problems with which we are confronted are the problems of growth and of progress. In their solution we have to determine the facts, to develop the relative importance to be assigned to such facts, to formulate a common judgment upon them, and to realize solutions in spirit of conciliation.

- From Herbert Hoover's first State of the Union Address, December 3, 1929

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Fantasy Art

Art and Influence reports that the New Hampshire Institute of Art is hosting an exhibition of the work of James Gurney.

Entertainment Break

The trailer for "Liberal Arts."

Book Addiction

Eclecticity gives me an excuse.


Staples: A Series

Cultural Offering has written an excellent series of posts on the staples of daily life.

This most recent one on household staples is an example of its scope and good sense. I bookmarked it for future reference.

Life of a Tailor

Check out this brief video by Galen Summer.

And We Don't Mean Congress

At Kottke, an "adorable bucket of sloths."

You will smile.

Baker on the "Media"

Rereading A.J. Liebling carries me happily back to an age when all good journalists knew they had plenty to be modest about, and were. From the 1920s through the Eisenhower years modesty was a clearly defined style in the American press, but it was already fading when Liebling died in 1963. By then what had once been “the press” had turned into “the media” and contracted the imperial state of mind, which is never conducive to modesty, whether in tsars of all the Russias or Washington correspondents.

- Russell Baker

Find Something Beautiful Today

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Self-Inflicted Decline

King Xerxes’ huge Persian force of 250,000 sailors and soldiers could not defeat a rather poor Greece in 480 b.c. Yet a century and a half later, a much smaller invading force from the north under Philip II of Macedon overwhelmed the far more prosperous Greek descendants of the victors of Salamis.

For hundreds of years, the outmanned legions of the tiny and poor Roman Republic survived foreign invasions. Yet centuries later, tribal Goths, Visigoths, Vandals, and Huns overran the huge Mediterranean-wide Roman Empire.

Read the rest of Victor Davis Hanson on the destruction of affluent societies.

Entrepreneurship is a Mid-Life Game

Scott Shane at Entrepreneur says the common image is wrong

Touch of Poetry

"The Second Coming" by William Butler Yeats.

Music Break

You'll find one of the best songs by Rascal Flatts at Anderson Layman's Blog.

WWII Mystery

It is shortly after 9 p.m. The man at the fence is dead. His body stiffened as he was jumping. The left leg is almost horizontal in the trip wire, and the right leg is bent. The body is left in this position for a considerable amount of time. It's a sensitive case for camp commandant Anton Kaindl, who has notified the Reich Security Main Office in Berlin. When an SS officer and two professors arrive the next day, the dead man is photographed, lifted out of the barbed wire and taken to the camp crematorium.

: New files shed light on the fate of Stalin's son.

When Mediocre is Not Bad

Many thanks to Eclecticity (Where does he find this stuff?) for pointing to James Altucher's essay, "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Mediocre People."

Very thought-provoking. Check it out and then check out the rest of Eclecticity.

Driving in Russia

The Guardian has dash-cam videos.

Bringing Out the Worst

There are also the dismissive comments that begin with “lol,” which is the international morse-code shorthand for “utter blithering idiocy follows immediately.”

James Lileks writes about reactions to the cruise ship story.