Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Greece Defaults

Greece has become the first developed country in history to default to the International Monetary Fund.

The cash-strapped nation failed to make a €1.5bn payment to the IMF by an 11pm deadline on Tuesday, triggering an arrears process which was last suffered by Zimbabwe in 2001.

In a statement, the IMF said: "We have informed our Executive Board that Greece is now in arrears and can only receive IMF financing once the arrears are cleared."

Read the rest of The Telegraph article.

Explaining Embarrassing Emails

Mr. Frisch showed the jury an e-mail Mr. Shutran sent in response to a note congratulating him on his work on the refinancing. “No problem,” Mr. Shutran replied, “I spend most days bulls—ing people.”

“Is that so?” Mr. Frisch asked in court. “No, it was a joke,” Mr. Shutran said.

In another e-mail that Mr. Frisch read aloud, Mr. Shutran said: “Do what I do. Work out a lot and do drugs.”

“You were joking, correct?” Mr. Frisch asked. “That’s something that happens in writing e-mails? You write something that’s not intended to be serious, correct?” Mr. Shutran agreed, saying, “That’s right.”

Read all of the story at The Wall Street Journal Law Blog.

Fashion Update

coffee shirt

Get the details at Drugstore Divas.

Of Course, They May Not Like the Word "Uber"

FutureLawyer thinks the politicians and the police need to interact more in France.

Music Break

Arlo Guthrie with "Ukulele Lady."

Motivation: The Quotes

Entrepreneur has 20 quotes to motivate you to hustle. 

Art Break: Soulen

Art Contrarian looks at the work of Henry Soulen.

Random Thoughts

One of the most beautiful words in the English language is "nap." ~ As motivators go, it's hard to beat panic.~ When opportunity knocks, some people don't just fail to answer; they bar the door, ~ The fact that a person calls others "haters" does not mean that the caller is not a hater. ~ Travelers on airplanes look embarrassed nowadays; possibly because they are submitting to a demeaning experience in order to get somewhere. ~ When it comes to politics, let your default mode favor the side that is the least coercive. ~ There are two subjects which contain important lessons for today's world: the history of the ancient world and the history of the Thirties. ~ People who favor a "philosopher-king" assume that person would share their philosophy. ~ It is not wise to re-fight civil wars. ~ For a quick dose of humility, consider what is needed to create a great symphony. ~ The list of common but wrong assumptions about management is long and always growing. ~ Showing up late is not a great way to start a meeting. ~ What is not said and what does not happen are two of life's most insightful teachers. ~ Some days are best handled in ten minute increments. ~ Some crises are best handled in ten second increments. ~ Despite all of the egotism in the world, there is also a huge amount of self-destructiveness. ~ It is jarring to go back to your old grade school and see how small everything is. ~ Taking things slowly is an admirable choice in a culture of speed. ~ Hemingway's short stories are a pleasant companion. ~ Time management largely consists of holding tactics. ~ Some writers could hypnotize you in an whirlwind. ~ An aging population would love the return of passenger trains. ~ My garage is a constant reproach. ~ A chore is not a chore if it takes you away from something you don't want to do.

Quote of the Day

The most powerful thing we can do to earn respect from those around us, though, is to call out one of our own when he crosses the line. "People like us, we don't do things like that." This is when real change starts to happen, and when others start to believe that we really care about something more than scoring points.

Seth Godin

Monday, June 29, 2015


The trailer for "Harrison Bergeron." 

"Everyone is equal and everyone is worse."

How Long Should a Business Book Be?

Wally Bock, a savvy man who has written more than a few, has the answer.

"This is London Calling"

The memorable intros and music from the BBC World Service.

"Solutions" and the Greeks

Political Calculations has worked the numbers on the situation in Greece. It is not a pretty picture.

The Forgotten 11

Nicholas Bate: 11 forgotten factors for leadership in large organizations.

Art Break: Harden

Hillside by Libby Harden.

"Hillside" by Libby Harden.

[Profuse apologies for previous misspelling of artist's name. That was due to slipshod performance by blog editor. He has been hurt and punished.]

Context and Facts

The facts don't always speak for themselves. We also need to provide context.

If that sounds obvious, consider how often you may have made a proposal or presentation which eloquently set forth the facts but neglected to give the context.

We may believe the context is so clear it doesn't need to be mentioned. We may be wary of taking too much time. We may worry about insulting the intelligence of our audience.

And yet providing the context need not be lengthy or condescending and failing to provide it may be lethal.

Audiences are said to wonder, "What's in it for me?" That's fine. 

You don't want them to be silently asking, "Why is this important?"

Quote of the Day

Political correctness is the enforcement arm of poetic truth. It coerces people into suspending their own judgment on matters of racial equality, women's rights, war, and the environment in deference to some prescribed "correct" view on these matters that will distance them from the stigma of America's sinful past. The very point of poetic truths is to supplant the actual reality of American life with a view of America as a nation still surreptitiously devoted to its past sins. It has no other purpose than to project these sins as the essential, if not the eternal, truth of the American way of life. Then political correctness tries to bully and shame Americans - on pain of their human decency - into conformity with this ugly view of their society

- Shelby Steele

Saturday, June 27, 2015

First Paragraph

Eight days ago my life was an up and down affair. Some of it good. Some of it not so good. Most of it uneventful. Long slow periods of nothing much, with occasional bursts of something. Like the army itself. Which is how they found me. You can leave the army, but the army doesn't leave you. Not always. Not completely.

 - From Personal by Lee Child

Supreme Court Justice Dumpty


"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said in a rather scornful tone," it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less."

""The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."

"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master - that's all."

- From Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll

Style's Ranks are Fewer

I'm catching up on things and just learned the sad news via Anderson Layman's Blog:

Patrick Macnee, the stylish actor who had every man's dream job of working with Diana Rigg, passed away.

Those who are fans of the Ted movies will never fully understand the appeal of the Macnee-Rigg episodes. 

Art Break: Stocks

Art Contrarian looks at the work of Gregory Stocks.

Short Story Saturday

Check out Roald Dahl's "Beware of the Dog."

Quote of the Day

Bureaucrats write memoranda both because they appear to be busy when they are writing and because the memos, once written, immediately become proof that they were busy.

- Charles Peters

Friday, June 26, 2015

Back from Houston

Tonight I returned from a business trip to Houston. 

Nice people. Crazy traffic. A booming downtown area with an impressive skyline. And some areas still affected by the recent flooding.

An egret flying over fields of green will be one of my lasting memories.

I taught supervision to a group of managers and supervisors. They had keen questions and observations and it was an honor to be with them. 

I believe we all had a great time.

Bear with Me

I am juggling business travel demands and projects on and off the grid.

All will soon be normal.


Consider the magnificence of dogs. With rare exception, they are affectionate, funny, brave, protective, playful, loyal, and fascinating to watch.

In short, they make great companions.

If you were to invent a mechanical device with all of the qualities of a good dog, you'd be rightfully regarded as a genius. 

I've concluded that dogs were domesticated not just because they provide protection but also because they are entertaining. They were the cave dwellers' equivalent of television, video games, smartphones, and computers wrapped up in one furry bundle.

Quote of the Day

That which is personal is most general. 

- Carl Rogers

Thursday, June 25, 2015


Muddy Colors: Greg Manchess discusses failure. An excerpt:

Learning to become an artist is all about training, and training is all about embracing your failures, to learn from them and press on. Generally, my lecture to the IMC students is to implore them to utilize the failures that are inevitable and necessary to the process. During the week, they fail in different ways, and in different quantities. In small ways and in large, devastating ways. Some of the students fail again and again and they keep going after it. Other students bury themselves in self-doubt and have a hard time recovering.

First Paragraph

A sound awoke O'Keefe instantly. He threw back his covers, slid from the cot, grabbed his B-pistol from the wall and, with his foot, smashed the alarm box. High frequency waves tripped emergency bells throughout the camp. As O'Keefe burst from his house, lights already flickered on every side. 

- From Shell Game by Philip K. Dick

Quote of the Day

Put God first in everything you do

- Denzel Washington

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Roger Miller and the Animals

Truly a cute commercial

You will smile.

Multiculturalism Update

Althouse: Jim Webb on the Confederate battle flag.

First Paragraph

We cannot speak of the systematic extermination of millions of men, women, and children without mentioning his name - and yet people are no longer even sure what his first name was: Karl Adolf? Otto? It's the simplest of questions yet it can still surprise us, long after we thought we'd established who he was. But are there really still such large gaps in our knowledge of a man who has been so thoroughly investigated for so many years, by both academics and the media? Adolf Eichmann's fame surpasses even that of Heinrich Himmler and Reinhard Heydrich. So why write another book? It was the simplest of questions: I wanted to find out who knew Adolf Eichmann before Mossad famously snatched him from Argentina and put him before a court in Israel. 

- From Eichmann Before Jerusalem: The Unexamined Life of a Mass Murderer by Bettina Stangneth

"Undo Send"

FutureLawyer has great news. Gmail now has an "Undo Send" button.

That may save many careers and friendships.

In Plain English

At the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) blog, Amy Howe gives brief descriptions of the cases due to be decided before the Justices leave for vacation.

Lights Flashing

  • It doesn't feel right
  • It doesn't look right
  • You don't have enough time to analyze the situation.
  • You can spot potential ethical problems right at the start.
  • You don't know the people involved.
  • The deadlines are artificial.
  • You are being pressured.
  • The numbers don't add up.
  • Items which should be specific are vague.
  • The answers are glib or just a little too detailed.

Quote of the Day

You choose to be powerless or powerful every day. 

- Blaine Lee

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Entertainment Break

Groucho Marx. "Horsefeathers."

The dance scene. "Pulp Fiction."

James Horner, R.I.P.

James Horner, the composer of such extraordinary film soundtracks as "Braveheart," "Titanic," "A Beautiful Mind," and "Apollo 13," has died.

Business Travel

A debate continues. 

Which items do you find to be "not essential but darned close to it" on business trips?

Music Break

Peter Gabriel is at Cultural Offering. Great stuff.

Some Daily Questions

  1. What am I behind on?
  2. What am I overlooking?
  3. What might take longer than expected?
  4. Who needs help?
  5. What will make a difference?
  6. What needs to be done today?
  7. How can I make this easier?


Anderson Layman's Blog has John Barry's theme to "The Ipcress File."

Marvelous film and you can certainly hear the musical spill-over into the various James Bond film soundtracks.

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

Self-Improvement: Bate's Seven

Nicholas Bate lists the Inside-Out Seven.

My favorite is number 7.

I Smell a Best-Seller!

Modern Business Book Formula

First Chapter: Strong and interesting.
Second Chapter: Review of the first chapter's ideas, with another example or two.
Third Chapter: Thin gruel.
Fourth Chapter: More gruel. Perhaps a talking animal will be brought in.
Fifth through Ninth Chapters: Bullet points on the First Chapter, mixed in with gruel.
Tenth Chapter: Summary that is specific on What and vague on How.

Back Cover: Blurbs by close friends of the author.

Quote of the Day

Acute problems were often addressed, leaving the underlying chronic problems to fester and resurface. 

- Stephen R. Covey

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Dictionary Man

The BBC 4 documentary on Samuel Johnson.

He's high on the list of historical figures I'd like to meet.

Must Reading for Supervisors

The Hammock Papers has a memorable line from one of Herman Melville's stories.

Here is the entire story. File it under "Dealing with Difficult People."

Charleston and Doing It Right

Charleston deserves something, a bow. So too do the beautiful people who go to Wednesday night Bible study in America in 2015. They are the people who are saving America every day, completely unheralded, and we can hardly afford to lose them.

There’s only one thing Charleston doesn’t deserve. People apart from the trauma, far away, have already begun to bring their political agenda items to the tragedy and make sure they are debated. Because this is the right time for a political debate, right?

Here’s an idea: Why don’t you leave the grieving alone right now? Why don’t you not impose your agenda items on them? Why don’t you not force them to debate while they have tears in their throats?

Read all of Peggy Noonan's essay.


Emails to send. Folders to review. A briefcase to pack. Some drafts to finish. Three meetings to set up (and one is complicated). Several coaching sessions to book. Billing. A business trip is pending. Online class additions. An old friend deserves a call. Wife goes to doctor. An orange tree needs attention. The car's air conditioning is marginal. And there are some thank-you notes to write.

There are always thank-you notes to write.

First comes the prep so what needs to be done will be done well.

More coffee.

[Postscript: Be not deceived. I am a towering castle of sloth.]

Too True

Eclecticity Light has a chart with the elements of various types of music.

Dressing Up and Other Formalities

With this homily it’s time to close. Both Plato and Tocqueville talk about forms, but I have tried to find them in our daily life, in the difference we make between formal and informal, and why and how we do that. A formal ceremony shows what we want to be and covers up what we don’t want to show. Human life is part show, part concealment. We never show ourselves exactly as we are, but always a little more (when through formalities we conceal) or a little less (when with informality we leave out our self-importance).

Read all of the commencement speech by Harvey Mansfield at The Weekly Standard.

Quote of the Day

I'm a-gonna tell you how it's gonna be....

- Buddy Holly

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Well Said

Bastion wears his age less well. He is uglier than anything Joe has seen outside of a deep-sea aquarium. He seems an unlikely companion for a woman like Edie Banister, but the world, Daniel once observed, is a great honeycombed thing composed of separated mysteries.

- From Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway

Happy Father's Day

William Conrad Wade, devoted husband and father of five children.

The photo was taken when he was a member of the University of Arizona swim team where he was known as "The Peoria Porpoise."

Find Something Beautiful Today

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Need Therapy?


Cultural Offering, expert on a life well lived, has several versions.

First Paragraph

He awoke - and wanted Mars. The valleys, he thought. What would it be like to trudge among them? Great and greater yet: the dream grew as he became fully conscious, the dream and the yearning. He could almost feel the enveloping presence of the other world, which only Government agents and high officials had seen. A clerk like himself? Not likely.

- From We Can Remember It For You Wholesale by Philip K. Dick

I, Not Robot

  • The organization is not a machine. You can't simply replace a part with a duplicate.
  • The employees are not machines. They are far more complex.
  • The managers are not machines. Don't expect them to have the memory and consistency of computers.
All of that is good news. We are working with human beings, people with moods and mistakes, dreams and failures, and yes, skills we may not begin to appreciate.

And that means we should be kinder and more patient with one another.

Deadbeats and Guilt

The truth is, I could have easily been Lee Siegel if it had not been for my father being a hard-ass about not letting me take on student debt. Back in the 1980s, when I was preparing for college, everything in the system told me to take on whatever debt was necessary to acquire the education to which I believed I was entitled. Hell no, said my father; you go to LSU and get an education you can afford. And this, you see, made him the meanest man in the world. He just didn’tunderstand that it was my destiny to go to Georgetown! Years later, when I had graduated and was gainfully employed doing what I loved (writing), and owed not one cent of student loan debt, I was unbelievably grateful to that child of the Depression for standing firm. He was not only holding the line against his son’s sense of entitlement. He was also holding the line against an entire social ethos.

Read the rest of Rod Dreher's essay.

Hope and Talent in Maine

See Sippican Cottage

The Golden Age - Volume III

Illustration magazine announces that The Golden Age: Masterworks from The Golden Age of Illustration will be out in August.

Prevention and Remedy

It is easier to sell remedy than prevention. Some problem or pain has already arrived when remedy is sought but, despite all indicators, people tend to regard prevention as speculative. "Hey, it might not happen" is a fond wish and often it comes true. Most of us have worried about troubles which never transpired. Later on, we chastised ourselves for being fearful.

If you think being the bearer of bad news is hard, try being the bearer of bad news before it happens. Justifying expenditures on prevention has special challenges. I believe it was the late, great Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn who, when asked how much should be spent on defense, replied, "Enough." As Shakespeare would say, "There's the rub."

We hope we've invested enough in prevention and yet we won't know until the sad day comes when our precautions are tested. One of the unfair aspects of life is that many a reputation is built on saving a situation but few accolades are given to the person who prevents the crisis. In the aftermath of a successful recovery, so much attention is given to the victors of the moment that it seems churlish to request a review of how we got into the damned mess to begin with.

The wisest decision makers know that the disaster which didn't happen is the sweetest victory of all. They invest in prevention.

Short Story Saturday

"Sure," the boy said. "That's right." He was about nineteen or twenty with a long freckled face and a rather sharp birdlike nose. His chest was not very sunburned and there were freckles there too, and a few wisps of pale-reddish hair. He was holding the lighter in his right hand, ready to flip the wheel. "It never fails," he said, smiling now because he was purposely exaggerating his little boast. "I promise you it never fails."

"One momint, pleess." The hand that held the cigar came up high, palm outward, as though it were stopping traffic. "Now juss one momint." He had a curiously soft, toneless voice and he kept looking at the boy all the time.

Very short and truly unforgettable: "Man From the South" by Roald Dahl.

There's no Willy Wonka in this one.

Quote of the Day

The product is the organization, and the organization is the product. 

- Philip B. Crosby

Friday, June 19, 2015

"The Hardest Thing for a Manager to Learn"

Wally Bock has the details.

Health Food Update


The Pioneer Woman shows how to make Freddy's Burgers.

Film Break

The trailers for:


Matthew Lang has a game-changer.

Got History?

There are surveys indicating that many Americans think history is boring. Given that, I doubt if those individuals read much of it. [If they don't, I hope they don't vote.] It is difficult to understand what is going on today without a reasonably good grasp of what took place earlier, not just in this country but around the world. The actions of Cyrus the Great and Augustus Caesar have much to teach us about modern times and there is always more to learn.

That last part should instill humility in anyone who believes that he or she has been steeped in history for the subject is not a dry recitation of facts - although the idea that school children don't need to know when World War I started is nuts - but also a collection of interpretations. Look at the arguments over the origins of the French Revolution or whether the American Civil War was sparked by slavery or states' rights or whether the evidence justified toppling Saddam and you get a sense of how history is not always set in stone. Just as two people can witness the same event and walk away with opposite interpretations so too can historians draw highly conflicting conclusions.

And that's what makes it both fun and a great mental exercise.

It should be one of the most popular subjects in school and we should be students for life.

Evil Walks

The horrendous murders in Charleston are a reminder that evil exists.

It is surprising how often many of us forget that fact. We live in a world in which atrocities abound and where it would be more accurate to say "Peace broke out." War and violence are the norm.

But notice how it doesn't take long before personal accountability and evil are downplayed and other reasons are cited. Rather than running after the cause du jour as an explanation, we may learn far more by perusing some of the recent biographies of Adolf Eichmann.

As for the victims and their families, words cannot begin to express the pain and grief. All decent people, regardless of where they live, were harmed in that church in Charleston. 

We have all suffered a loss.

Quote of the Day

Take care to get what you like, or you will be forced to like what you get. 

- George Bernard Shaw

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Be Sure to Check Out the "Slip and Fall" Exhibit

The Wall Street Journal Law Blog has the details

Imagine telling your kids that the next family vacation will be to a tort museum. The excitement level will go through the roof. 

"Are we there yet?"

Get It Done

Often the things rattling around in your head are not the most urgent or important things you need to do—collecting the dry cleaning, calling your cousin, making dinner—but they all consume mental space. "If you don’t handle the unimportant things, they start to suck energy out of the important things," says Allen. "It’s not just about the important things. It’s about everything."

Read the rest of the Fast Company article on David Allen.