Saturday, July 30, 2016


The Rio games will feature sports in addition to beach volleyball.

Phil Collins

Cultural Offering has assembled the Essential Mixes for Phil Collins.

[On a related note; The "In the Air Tonight" scene from "Miami Vice."]


From His Girl Friday. The world would be better if the cinematic role models were Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell.

The Russians are Coming

Anderson Layman's Blog has experienced an influx of visitors from Russia. I've occasionally noticed similar waves and suspect it is related to "bots" automatically flooding certain blogs. It comes and goes.

A general ground rule: Never click on a referring site or your life may become too interesting.

Jack Davis, RIP

Jack Davis, one of the great and memorable artists at MAD magazine, has passed.

Exploring the Shadow

You can find many workplaces where people talk "around" the job. What I mean by that is they talk about various actions and projects with the assumption that everyone has the same goals and yet they really don't. They may have a mission statement and perhaps the objectives are printed out and posted but in between those fine pronouncements and the actions falls a shadow.

And the shadow needs to be explored.

Highly Recommended

Quote of the Day

Cheer up. It's still not North Korea! 

- Dennis Prager on happiness and the state of the nation

Friday, July 29, 2016

Music Break

A taste of the John Williams soundtrack from "Seven Years In Tibet."

Gene Tierney Break

The trailer for "Laura."


The concept of "more" from a variety of sources:

Hotel Russell

My family's favorite hotel in London

Great location and it's hard to resist a place with "Lucky George."

The Employer's Memory

As a management consultant, I often encounter people who wrestle with their organization's failure to preserve what is called organizational or institutional memory. Not surprisingly, this usually occurs where there has been a lot of turn-over, but the loss of just one key person can leave a big memory gap.

The analysis and perspective gained by past decisions are frequently lost. Sad is the day when people learn that they've been researching a matter that was thoroughly studied seven years ago.

Surface the idea of keeping the history of major decisions, however, and the confidentiality question quickly arises. "What if that leaks to our competitors?" "What if the newspapers get hold of that?" "What if it is used against us in a lawsuit?" The proposal rarely proceeds beyond such alarms.

I know attorneys who will argue that the fears are baseless and that adequate precautions can be taken. An acquaintance of mine is a historian for a large organization. Part of her job involves providing a perspective gained from knowing what was done earlier. 

This is one area where the arrival of the attorneys is a good sign. It means the idea is being taken seriously.

Highly Recommended

Quote of the Day

If you want to be happy, be

- Henry David Thoreau

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Art Break: Belarski

Art Contrarian looks at the work of Rudolph Belarski.

Most Qualified Candidate Ever?

Let's be clear: Not one of the many candidates running this year would be the most qualified person ever to seek the presidency.

This fellow could be a strong contender for that title. 

So could this one.

Guardians of the Galaxy and NASA

NASA puts Rocket Raccoon and Groot in its new mission patch.

[HT: Lou Rodarte]

First Paragraph

Leaders are not remembered for their dreams, aspirations, or intentions. They are remembered because they moved agendas. Ideas and visions don't necessarily make someone a leader, and neither do charm and personality. Brilliant ideas are a great starting point, and charisma and charm are fine, but leadership means being able to get things done. Leadership is not simply about having an agenda but having the pragmatic skills to move that agenda. 

- From The Agenda Mover: When Your Good Idea Is Not Good Enough by Samuel B. Bacharach

Uh Oh

I believe it was Jeff Foxworthy who said that the most common last words are "Hey fellers, watch this."

Here are some other warning signs:
  • "It is impossible to hack that."
  • "None of my friends are voting for him (or her)."
  • "We have to pass the bill in order to see what's in it."
  • "It's a slam-dunk."

Highly Recommended

Quote of the Day

God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one of them to say "thank you?"

- William A. Ward

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Recognition in the Workplace

Back by popular demand:

Libertarian Ron Swanson, of Parks and Recreation, receives the Government Employee of the Month award.

Types of Officers

It helps to review this occasionally:

There are only four types of officer. First, there are the lazy, stupid ones. Leave them alone, they do no harm. Second, there are the hard-working, intelligent ones. They make excellent staff officers, ensuring that every detail is properly considered. Third, there are the hard-working, stupid ones. These people are a menace and must be fired at once. They create irrelevant work for everybody. Finally, there are the intelligent lazy ones. They are suited for the highest office. 

- General Von Manstein on the German Officer Corps

Political Science Theater

Althouse gives her take on C-Span, the convention, and Bill Clinton's speech.

And that leads to an idea:

Remember Mystery Science Theater?

Here's my modest proposal for the next presidential election, assuming that by then we aren't battling zombies and cooking gophers over a grill fired up by old stock certificates.

"Political Science Theater" would have two panels of informed and witty individuals. The Democratic team would get to provide commentary on the GOP Convention and the Republican team would do the same for the Democratic Convention.

The success of Mystery Science Theater stemmed from the fact that it reflected the commentary of B movie audiences.

Political Science Theater could do the same. Reality would be the straight man. Consider the potential commentary that rolled across the nation when Ted Cruz said, "Vote your conscience" and Bill Clinton said, "In the spring of 1971, I met a girl."


The Two Pizza Rule

Much has been written on The Two Pizza Rule used at Amazon; i.e. that no team should be larger than one that can be fed with two pizzas. Makes sense. We've all experienced teams and meetings that are just too large.

What are some good (but perhaps quirky) rules you've encountered?

Here's my partial list:

  1. No staff paper shall exceed two pages. [Attachments are permitted.]
  2. Staff meetings shall be held only when needed.
  3. There should limited "open doot" in order to provide time to think.
  4. Junior people should be called upon first.
  5. Officers eat last.
  6. There should always be more than three options.
  7. The case should always be understated.
  8. Meetings should always start on time.
  9. Err on the side of over-coordination.
  10. Others?

Highly Recommended

Quote of the Day

People who believe in nothing, including themselves, will ultimately submit to anything. 

- Bret Stephens

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Part Jackrabbit and Part Wolf

Burnham easily made his way to the drop site, where he buried a brass matchbox containing the message and lit a fire above it. When the message was picked up, an answering fire would inform the young courier. When he saw the fire on the third night, he started for home, about an hour before midnight, riding west of Fronteras.

Read the rest of the story at True West magazine.

The Normandy Attack

The Telegraph reports on the terrorist attack in Normandy. We are fighting monsters. 

Daily Mantra

May I do so many positive things that I don't have time to do anything negative.

Highly Recommended

I'm re-reading this. It is volume 2 in the series. Stunningly good.

Quote of the Day

The true value of a human being is determined primarily by the measure and sense in which he has attained liberation from the self. 

- Albert Einstein

Monday, July 25, 2016

Dead Accurate

Nicholas Bate draws the route to many corporate decisions.

Lincoln Does PowerPoint

Back by popular demand; Lincoln delivers the Gettysburg Address while using PowerPoint.

Art Break: Sousa Lopes

Art Contrarian looks at the work of Adriano Sousa Lopes.

Bock's Leadership List

Wally Bock provides a selection of leadership reading to start your week.

Marni Nixon, RIP

She was not a household name but all of us have enjoyed hearing her sing.

Letters from Another World

The other night I was reading letters sent by my great uncle when he was a Marine in France during the First World War. He went into the trenches and "over the top" at Soissons and some other engagements. After the armistice he stayed on in Germany for a while with the Army of Occupation.

There is something eerie about reading such letters. In addition to the content, you notice the penmanship and paper quality. One of the post-war letters still had dirt from Germany on it. He often speaks of his plans for the future.  It is like reading a mystery to which you already know the ending.

He also kept a diary which is far more candid than the discreetly worded letters he sent to his mother and his siblings.  

The good news is he returned home and taught school for many years, never thinking, I'm sure, that in 2016 someone would be reading his letters and diary from "The Great War."

Extraordinary person. Extraordinary life.

Highly Recommended

Quote of the Day

People here pride themselves on a kind of militant open-mindedness. It is the kind of place that will severely punish any deviations from accepted schools of thought. 

- Farhad Manjoo, Silicon Valley-based journalist

Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Surprising Habits of Original Thinkers

TED talk: Adam Grant discusses his research on original thinkers.

Happy Birthday, Raymond!

Raymond Chandler was born on this date in 1888.


I periodically link to this mini-series from 1986: An admirable spoof on "Dallas."

Note the cast. Hard to resist a program with characters named Talon and Torch.

The Man Knows Music

Cultural Offering has the Essential Mixes for Peter Gabriel.

Art Break: Tom Lovell

Muddy Colors has information on the book.

Here is an earlier post about his work.

I'm reminded of the old joke that an illustrator is an artist who can draw.

Alleged Harassment at Fox News

The Washington Post: Did Roger Ailes foster a "locker room" atmosphere?

First Paragraph

Mr. Avery, managing director of the Insular and Continental Steam Navigation Company, had just arrived at his office. He glanced at his inward letters, ran his eye over his list of engagements for the day, and inspected the return of the movements of his Company's steamers. Then, after spending a few moments in thought, he called his chief clerk, Wilcox. 

- From The Cask by Freeman Wills Crofts

Vandalism and Politics

Here in Arizona, I've seen quite a few Bernie Sanders bumper stickers and a small but roughly equal number of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump stickers. 

Bumper stickers and campaign buttons aren't as popular as they used to be. They may be regarded as somewhat downscale or simply as a pain to remove. Way back in 1964 when passions were high and favorite son Barry Goldwater was running against President Lyndon Johnson, there were plenty of bumper stickers for both candidates and yet I never heard of anyone's car being vandalized because of a sticker.

That tolerance has been gone for some time. It is not unusual to hear people mention that they'd never put a political sticker on their car. The primary reason cited is fear of vandalism. The specific fear is that the car will be "keyed." That is a cruel and extreme way of harming someone who simply expresses a different opinion.

The "bumper sticker fear" may be a small reflection of what has happened to political discourse. 

What Do They Really Want Fixed?

A job can resemble a repair call where the home owners tell you that the washing machine needs to be fixed but, truth be known, they really want you to repair their car.

Highly Recommended

Quote of the Day

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy - they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom. 

- Marcel Proust

Friday, July 22, 2016

Bardot Break

Your Book Ground Rules

First, the confession. Depending upon the book, I may dog-ear pages, write in the margins, underline, put stars next to particularly important parts, scrawl a point of disagreement with the author, put question marks next to points that are unclear, etc.

Ultra-expensive books rarely get such treatment. Non-fiction is more likely to be scrawled upon because I see it as a tool. A cheap paperback novel might get dog-eared but I use index cards as bookmarks in most instances.

There may be some bias. A copy of War and Peace will receive reverential treatment. A paperback mystery or western may not. 

Do you have ground rules for the treatment of your books?

Shootings in Munich

At least for now, here is the streaming Sky News report.

Radical Chic: That Party at Lenny's

From New York magazine in 1970: The classic report by Tom Wolfe

Highly Recommended

Quote of the Day

Goodness is the only investment that never fails. 

- Henry David Thoreau

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Art Break: Walton

Art Contrarian looks at the work of Edward Arthur Walton.

First Paragraph

Grofield jumped out of the Ford with a gun in one hand and the empty satchel in the other. Parker was out and running too, and Laufman stayed hunched over the wheel, his foot tapping the accelerator. 

- From The Black Bird by Donald Westlake writing as Richard Stark

Pokemon Go: Here to Stay?

I just learned the other day that Pokemon Go can, on occasion, require running after objects that are invisible to on-lookers. That alone may seriously diminish my enthusiasm for the game.

- Execupundit

For another take, read writer and producer Rob Long's essay at The National.

What's Your Mindset?

From 2015: A review by Bill Gates of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.

Your Secret Significant Action Report

For many years I have recommended that managers and supervisors ask their direct reports to submit a biweekly or monthly Significant Action Report. The idea is to have one document that can be easily reviewed and used as a basis for discussion. What either party regards as significant is revealing in itself but the listing provides a handy way to track progress.

Even if you report to no one, however, it can be helpful to prepare and update a Significant Action Report for your own benefit. It is reminder of what is important and what is starting to drift. You may decide to share its contents with nobody but you will find that it is one of your most important documents.

Don't go into huge amounts of detail - the report should be no longer than two pages - but note the current status of important projects. I find that a weekly report permits me to catch changes while nudging me to address neglected priorities.

Try it. You'll like it.

Highly Recommended

Quote of the Day

Do things for others and you'll find your self-consciousness evaporating like morning dew. 

- Dale Carnegie

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A Clear Padlock for Lock Pick Practice


Well, this is certainly more practical than that clear figure of the human body that used to be in toy stores. 

CoolTools has the details.

COMIC CON The Musical

From Nerdist Presents.

Our Man at Comic Con will be providing a review. It's his fourth year there and he told me he'll be disguised as an old man.

Wait. That was also his disguise last year.

[HT: Lou Rodarte]

Checking Ourselves Out

"One of the worst things about life is not how nasty the nasty people are. You know that already. It is how nasty the nice people can be." 

- Anthony Powell

For online training on ethical decision making, see "Practical Ethics for Honest People."

Churchill Solitaire

Forget Pokemon Go. 

The real question is "What is your rank on Churchill Solitaire?"

Military Strength

The National Interest: The five most powerful armies in 2030.

Question Time

Click here and watch the new British Prime Minister Theresa May scoring points.

Good, solid, hits below the water line.

[Update: The previous link got strange, Here is a longer but more reliable video.]

Above The Timberline

At Muddy Colors, Gregory Manchess gives an update on his novel.

Something to Think About

Seth Godin's point about portion control. An excerpt:
Busy corporate lawyers spend twelve hours a day at work, and somehow, are busy the entire time. It's easy to imagine that they could get their work done (most days) in 8 hours, but the container they're using is size XL, and so the work expands to fit.
Dieters have been shown to eat less when they use smaller plates.

Execupundit Note: Mix in Parkinson's Law.

Some Helpful Cautions

When using e-mail, I'd like to see the following messages pop up on my computer screen:

  1. "Would the person who sent you that e-mail be completely comfortable if you forwarded it to another person?"
  2. "After the count of 15, you will be asked if you really want to send that message."
  3. "Did you proof-read that?"
  4. "If you are angry, click YES to delay the transmission of messages."
  5. "Would it be better to call or visit the designated recipient?"