Saturday, August 31, 2019

"The Biggest Little Farm"

Cultural Offering has the trailer.

Something to Remember

"Great opportunities never have 'great opportunity' in the subject line."

- Scott Belsky

First Paragraph

His name was Gaal Dornick and he was just a country boy who had never seen Trantor before. That is, not in real life. He had seen it many times on the hyper-video, and occasionally in tremendous three-dimensional newscasts covering an Imperial Coronation or the opening of a Galactic Council. Even though he had lived all his life on the world of Synnax, which circled a star at the edges of the Blue Drift, he was not cut off from civilization, you see. At that time, no place in the Galaxy was.

- From Foundation by Isaac Asimov

The Not Quite Honest

photography of people near cave at night time

I have known individuals who could be trusted to give you an honest answer provided you asked the right question. 

If the question was slightly off in any way, even though the information you sought was clear, you would not get a straight-forward response.

You had to utter the magic words.

Some of them took pride in such tactics and thought they were clever. There was a certain charm.

Despite that, I have always thought they deserve a special cell in Hell. 

In deference to their quasi-honesty, however, it could be on the first level and close to the main entrance.


[Photo by Ybrayym Esenov at Unsplash]

Friday, August 30, 2019

Art Break



Art Contrarian examines Saul Tepper's vignette illustrations.

Verdict First, Trial Later

If you are accused of racism, it is because you are a racist. Case closed. Apologize at once and cease being so hateful. That is the current standard in woke academic thinking on race relations.

Read the rest of Abe Greenwald in the New York Post.

Quick Looks

The trailers for:

Stages of a Cold


It started with a stuffy nose and then shifted to Kleenex time and then to coughing. A tiring process. A lot more sleep has been required but sleep and water definitely help.

Obviously I can't go to meetings but one attitudinal shift that has helped is simple: not worrying about the work that is not getting done. Worrying won't help.

Sole focus: getting better.

Planning Exercise

McSweeney's: "Diary of My Failed Antarctic Expedition" by Tom O'Donnell.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Modern Life: "I can't get happy"

Somehow I sense that this man's problems go beyond his inability to get a Popeyes chicken sandwich.

Not a Single Successful Person

Cultural Offering posts an observation that I strongly believe to be true.

The Important Things

road in between brown wooden fences

The important things, I've come to conclude, are the small things because the big things are composed of the small.

And yet where do we place our attention?

[Photo by Werner Sevenster at Unsplash]

Quick Looks

The trailers for:

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Roy Orbison Glasses



FutureLawyer gives an update on his Bose SmartGlasses.

[The proximity of parrots didn't void the warranty.]

What I'd like is a detailed post on exactly what the SmartGlasses do.

[Update: Our Man in Florida provides the answers.]

Coffee: Key to a Moral Life



The Babylon Bee has issued an important study on coffee.

"Wasting Time"

high-angle photography of man surfing giant wave


What fools call "wasting time" is most often the best investment.

- Nassim Nicholas Taleb


[Photo by Silas Baisch at Unsplash]

U Turn


I had no idea that Oliver Stone made an Arizona-based film with a bunch of stars.

A clear sign to get out more often.

And yes, there is a Superior, Arizona.

Health Tip

Image result for blood and money sarah dunant amazon


If you have a cold and are spending a lot of time in bed, this is a good novel to have within reach. 

As is well known, reading about the Borgias is very therapeutic.

Heavy is the Crown

The trailer for "The King."

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Music Break

Little River Band: "Cool Change."

Family Traditions

The trailer for "Ready or Not."

Cold

I have a cold. 

The question now is whether it is one of those old-fashioned "over in either a week or seven days ha ha" colds or the new version that lasts for weeks.

Aargh.

Political Apologies


Does a politician gain or lose support by apologizing?

Steven Malanga breaks down the process in City Journal.

Another Art Film


The trailer for "47 Meters Down: Uncaged."

The Villain

Just the other day, I was remembering a villain.

At least that's the way the man was described. As is often the case, his reputation preceded him. Some people told me that he was untrustworthy and lazy. They implied that his sole interest was in his own career. Their central message was "Beware."

Of course, I looked forward to meeting him because I knew our job responsibilities would often cross. I was also curious as to whether there was a way in which we could work well together.

The "villain" turned out to be one of the best people I've known. He never lied to me. He kept all of his promises and he was quite industrious. He gave credit to others and spoke up for people who needed defending.

He passed away - far too early - a few years ago. I still miss our conversations. 

After all, despite being such a villain, he was a very nice guy.


Monday, August 26, 2019

We Certainly Don't Want to Harm the Equipment

"Do not allow children or pets to swallow the equipment so as not to injure or cause the equipment to explode."

- From the safety information for phone battery charger.

Get Ready

In September: a Ken Burns documentary on Country Music.

Quick Look

The trailer for "Lucy In The Sky."

Recruitment Approaches



In Example One, an administrative assistant job needs to be filled. The hiring department tells Human Resources. Human Resources looks over the job description and crafts a job announcement. When it is approved by the hiring department, the announcement is posted and advertised. Applications are received and screened at various stages and particular attention is given to making sure that no equal opportunity laws are violated. A list of potential candidates is given to the hiring department. That department conducts interviews and then makes a selection. HR is notified of the choice and handles the necessary paperwork to get the person on board.

In Example Two, an executive position needs to be filled by a department. The vice president in charge of the department meets an executive from another organization at a professional conference. They chat over dinner and the other executive expresses an interest in the available job. He or she sends background information and the hiring executive, once back home, passes the information on to Human Resources, noting that a job offer has been made and accepted and HR should promptly handle the paperwork.

HR protests that the proper procedures have not been followed but the vice president replies that the position needs to be filled quickly and the person has already accepted the job.

It is a rare HR director who has never seen this.

Bouncing Back: Fast Then Slow



Coffee. Schedule simplification. A contest to see how many email responses I can write in 20 minutes. There will be a lot of small stuff packed into an hour.

But then comes relaxed focus. 

Reading. Thinking. Building on some thoughts I jotted down last week for a client project that is complicated but very interesting.

For most of the day, the watch word will be: Slowly.

First Paragraph

"I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice - not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother's death, but because he is the reason I believe in God; I am a Christian because of Owen Meany. I make no claims to have a life in Christ, or with Christ - and certainly not for Christ, which I've heard some zealots claim. I'm not very sophisticated in my knowledge of the Old Testament, and I've not read the New Testament since my Sunday school days, except for those passages that I hear read aloud to me when I go to church. I'm somewhat more familiar with the passages from the Bible that appear in The Book of Common Prayer; I read my prayer book often, and my Bible only on holy days - the prayer book is so much more orderly."

- From A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

Saturday, August 24, 2019

First Paragraph

In the winter of 1417, Poggio Bracciolini rode through the wooded hills and valleys of southern Germany toward his distant destination, a monastery reputed to have a cache of old manuscripts. As must have been immediately apparent to the villagers looking out at him from the doors of their huts, the man was a stranger. Slight of build and clean-shaven, he would probably have been modestly dressed in a well-made but simple tunic and cloak. That he was not country-bred was clear, and yet he did not resemble any of the city and court dwellers whom the locals would have been accustomed to glimpse from time to time. Unarmed and unprotected by a clanging suit of armor, he was certainly not a Teutonic knight - one stout blow from a raw-boned yokel's club would have easily felled him. Though he did not seem to be poor, he had none of the familiar clothes and perfumed hair worn in long lovelocks, nor was he a nobleman out hunting and hawking. And, as was plain from his clothes and the cut of his hair, he was not a priest or a monk.

- From The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt

Disruption

Wally Bock's weekend leadership reading assignments deal with the subject of "disruption."

Not that we ever encounter that, of course.

Promising Star Wars Film

The trailer for "The Mandalorian."

Here's hoping it's not a dog.

Worthwhile Weekend Activities

brown wooden swing

There is one which is the superior choice by far.

(A) Binge viewing of "The Sopranos."
(B) Sleep, sleep, and still more sleep.
(C) Gardening.
(D) Binge viewing of Harry Potter movies.
(E) Making the world's best coffee cake and then eating half of it.
(F) Binge viewing of "Justified."
(G) Sitting on the front porch of a cabin during a gentle rain and declining to go into town.

[Photo by James Garcia at Unsplash]

Friday, August 23, 2019

Thursday, August 22, 2019

First Paragraph

"The use of travelling, Doctor Johnson wrote Mrs. Thrale, "is to regulate imagination by reality, and instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are." Johnson spoke for the age in this desire to see things as they are and to avoid the dangerous imaginings of how they may be. His England and much of pre-Revolutionary America shared a suspicion of what he called "airy notions" - the illusions of dreams and fancies. Johnson's great American contemporary, Benjamin Franklin, as a young man put aside speculations on the nature of reality in favor of living as a reasonable creature in contact with the world that presented itself through the evidence of his senses.

- From The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution, 1763-1789 by Robert Middlekauff

Flashback

A friend told me this reminds him of his first day in law school. 

I was in the same class and can attest that the initial scene's resemblance to the professors is shockingly accurate.

"Your dreams may never be the same again"

The trailer for "The Last Wave."

Music Break

Image result for gorecki symphony no. 3 amazon


Click here.

An Unusual Approach to Scheduling Meetings

Inc. in 2016 on the Warren Buffett approach to scheduling meetings. An excerpt:


"If someone wants to see him,"  [Jason] Fried writes of Buffett, "they are told to call and set up the meeting when they can see him tomorrow. So if you want to meet with him next Friday, you call next Thursday and say 'Can I see Mr. Buffett tomorrow?'"
Why is this a good idea? For Fried, the beauty of the approach is that it puts Buffett back in the driver's seat, allowing him to control his schedule, rather than the other way around. This way, if something comes up (and when does something not come up?), Buffett is free to react instead of being hemmed in by pre-commitments.

[Execupundit note: I share some of the skepticism. It's much easier to set such a rule when you are Warren Buffett but it is an approach to keep in mind if only for occasional use.]

First Paragraph

History always begins in the middle of things. It doesn't matter where you choose to start the story; there is always something essential that came before, some prior context that is assumed. This is why the past can't be divided up into convenient self-contained units, with clear and distinct beginnings and endings, much as we might wish it were otherwise. Instead, the spectacle that lies before us when we gaze backward is more like a sprawling, limitless river with countless mingling branches and tributaries, stretching back to the horizon. Like a river, time's restless force pushes ever forward, but its beginnings lie far back, extending far beyond what we can see, fading into the mists of time at the edges of lands beyond our knowing.

- From Land of Hope: An Invitation to the Great American Story by Wilfred M. McClay

Conversations

A person's success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have.

- Tim Ferriss

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Back By Popular Demand

Image result for indila amazon

I'll Have to Transfer You to Another Department

Bureaucracy is a construction designed to maximize the distance between a decision-maker and the risks of the decision.

- Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Tension in the Newsroom

The trailer for "Bombshell."

Music of The Cassette Era

pile of assorted-title case lot

Kurt Harden at Cultural Offering gives his selections amid a much larger posting of the "500 best songs of the cassette era."

The man knows music.


[Photo by Jon Tyson at Unsplash]

Sounds Like a Modern English Class

"The Art of Interpreting Non-Existent Inscriptions Written In Invisible Ink On A Blank Page"

- A chapter in The Hall of Uselessness: Collected Essays by Simon Leys

[I should note this is a good book.]

Quick Looks

The trailers for:

Great Memoirs - A Series

Image result for legionnaire amazon

An unforgettable account. There are particularly memorable parts about the war in Algeria.

First Paragraph

Herds of reindeer moved across ice and snow. Slim-shouldered Lapps squatting on Ski-Doos nosed their animals toward an arc of stockades. A man in a corral held a pair of velvet antlers while another jabbed a needle into a damp haunch. I made my way toward the outer palisades, where Lapps beyond working age stoked beechwood fires and gulped from bowls of reindeer broth, their faces masked in musky steam. The first new snow had fallen, and the Harrå Sámi were herding reindeer down to the winter grazing. A livid sun hung on the horizon. Sámi, or Lapps, were the last nomadic people in Europe, and until recently they castrated reindeer at this place by biting off their balls. In the stockade I took my baby son from his wooden sledge, prowed like a miniature Viking ship, and wrapped him closer in his calf pelts.

- From The Magnetic North: Notes from the Arctic Circle by Sara Wheeler

Five Chimps

"There's a theory I call 'the five chimps theory.' In zoology, you can predict the mood and behavior patterns of any chimp by which five chimps they hang out with the most. Choose your five chimps carefully."

- Naval Ravikant

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

The Fairest Rules

The fairest rules are those to which everyone would agree if they did not know how much power they would have.

- John Rawls

Political Labels

Douglas Murray on telling right from wrong in European politics. 

[A good test for balance: see how often journalists use the term "far-left" as well as "far-right."]

Miles Davis Documentary

The trailer for "Miles Davis - Birth of the Cool."

The Unaddressed and the Undiscovered



Leaders often have the uneasy feeling that there is a large problem or opportunity that is just out of sight and that they should devote more time to finding it. 

I don't want to dismiss that uneasiness or its accompanying desire but in most cases the unaddressed - those known opportunities or problems that are being overlooked or neglected - may produce even greater benefits.

This tendency is akin to neglecting current customers while frantically trying to find new ones.

Look for the green grass beneath your feet.

Attacking a Pain

man rides bike pointing to follow that dream signage

The best entrepreneurs are the ones who are passionate about solving a problem because they've had it or seen others have it, love those customers, love solving that problem, or have been domain experts. Those are authentic entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs, at their heart, are artists. What comes out from the great artists is something completely unexpected. World-class entrepreneurs understand something that is driven by passion.

Steve Blank


[Photo by Austin Distel at Unsplash]

Great Memoirs - A Series


The accounts of his exchanges with Secretary of State Dean Rusk are memorable.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Principles

white and black ceramic cup filled with brown liquid on brown wooden sufface

Center your life on principles. Principles don't react to anything. They won't divorce us or run off with our best friend. They aren't out to get us. They can't pave our way with shortcuts and quick fixes. They don't depend on the behavior of others, the environment, or the current fad for their validity. Principles don't die. They aren't here one day and gone the next.

- Stephen R. Covey


[Photo by Nathan Lemon at Unsplash]

They Don't Find Nemo

The trailer for "Underwater."

A Baywatch Break

Image result for baywatch amazon


Althouse shifts from media to subjects as diverse as the "Baywatch" swimsuits.

I never watched a single episode (honest!) but this clip will reveal the general formula.

Resignation Notice



Since it is different, it is at Eclecticity Light.

Where does he find this stuff?

A Very Civilized Layman

beige wall decor


There's always a lot of great stuff at A Layman's Blog. 

Check it out.


[Photo by Michael Nunes at Unsplash]

Sticks and Carrots

dog biting log

As knowledge-making regimes go, nothing is as successful or as respectful of diversity or as humane as liberal science. The trouble is that liberal science often does not look very humane. It uses sticks as well as carrots. The carrots are the respectability, frequent use, and public credit that it bestows on the opinions that it validates; the sticks are the disrespect and the silent treatment that it inflicts on the opinions that fail. Those sticks are nonviolent, true. But it is unconscionable not to admit that denying respectability is a very serious matter indeed. 

- From Kindly Inquisitors: The New Attacks on Free Thought by Jonathan Rauch


[Photo by K. Mitch Hodge at Unsplash]

Time



Is time linear or circular, an hour-glass, or ocean waves? Can time be managed or should it be regarded as an investment? Once lost, can it ever be recovered? If it could, would we know where it went?

Is time a collection of actions and omissions, moves and dodges, diligence and neglect, where the assessment of winning and losing largely depends on where the deadline is drawn? [One coach noted that his team really didn't lose the game, they just ran out of time.]

The only thing that is clear about time is the usual request is for more.

The Successful Start-Up



You need three things to create a successful start-up: to start with good people, to make something customers want, and to spend as little money as possible.

- Paul Graham

Quick Looks

The trailers for:

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Build Judgment and Intuition


man standing on focus photography


Management turns out to be dynamic and situational and personal and emotional. So it's pretty hard to write a formula or instruction book on it.

- Ben Horowitz


[Photo by Start Digital at Unsplash]

Trust

person sun bathing on white inflatable buoy under sunny skies

Wally Bock's weekend leadership reading assignments are on the BIG issue in most organizations.


[Photo by Jared Rice at Unsplash]

Another Optimistic View of the Future




The trailer for "Aniara."

[I'd say that as films go, management consultants have a better batting average than scientists. No wonder children want to be management consultants.]

The Inadvertents and the Incrementals


person stepping on blue stairs

As you consider the coming weeks and months, I suggest two things:  

(1) identify how to glean side benefits from the "inadvertents": actions large and small, particularly ones you would have done anyway (e.g. the added benefit of walking instead of driving to the bookstore); and 

(2) measure the small things - the "incrementals" - every day to see if they are heading in the right direction (e.g. the small actions that will eventually lead to completion of a large project).


[Photo by Lindsay Henwood at Unsplash]

Virgin Galactic's Spaceport

The Sun has a story and video of the spaceport in New Mexico.

I'm ready.

Planning and Reality

At Berkshire there has never been a master plan. Anyone who wanted to do it, we fired because it takes on a life of its own and doesn't cover new reality. We want people taking into account new information.

- Charlie Munger

Friday, August 16, 2019

"Acquarela"

The trailer for "Acquarela.

Joe Morgenstern of The Wall Street Journal describes this documentary as "A work of singular beauty and a significant technical achievement . . . ."

How Well Do You Notice?



Click here for Wally Bock's review.

What is the Working Model?

stack of jigsaw puzzle pieces

Too many Americans believe that we have a divine destiny and that God will watch over us no matter how diverse we become or how hedonistic, selfish, myopic, or inefficient we become. This is a dangerous hubris.

- Richard D. Lamm, former Governor, State of Colorado


[Photo by Hans-Peter Gauster at Unsplash]

Inside the Bubble at the New York Times

pearlescent gemstone

Slate reports on a meeting held by the staff at the New York Times.

They really need to get out more often.


[Photo by Marc Sendra Martorell at Unsplash]

Great Memoirs - A Series

Image result for goodbye to all that robert graves amazon

One to read and re-read.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

The Glory of Woodstock?

A dissenting view is at The Federalist.

"Slobs in the mud?"

Check It Out

Image result for brief encounters with che guevara amazon

Last night I started reading Brief Encounters with Che Guevara, a collection of stories by Ben Fountain.

So far, not just good, but excellent.

Here's an excerpt from the first story, "Near-Extinct Birds of the Central Cordillera":

"I'm not a spy," Blair answered in his wired, earnest way. "I'm an ornithologist. I study birds."

"However," Alberto continued, "if they wanted to send a spy, they wouldn't send somebody who looked like a spy. So the fact that you don't look like a spy makes me think you're a spy."

Blair considered. "And what if I did look like a spy?"

"Then I'd think you were a spy."

"Comprehensive"

I share the wariness expressed by A Layman's Blog regarding comprehensive healthcare legislation.

It's easy to see the appeal of "comprehensive" when it comes to political horse-trading.  We all get some of what we want along with some of what we don't want but regard the overall package as a plus. That can work with some issues while creating mega-problems with others.

Comprehensive immigration reform poses a problem because if you don't already have a way of controlling immigration - such as a wall - at the time you pass a bill that contains advantages for illegal immigrants who are here, you create a major incentive for others to come across the border before the controls are tightened.

Healthcare has special problems of its own. The subject is so complicated that an incremental approach, while not addressing related concerns, has the advantage of reducing the number of unintended consequences.

We tried comprehensive. Let's consider incremental.

Increase and Decrease

man reading magazine


Many organizations would benefit enormously if they would increase communication about the important subjects and decrease communication about the minor ones.

Fall into the trivia trap and your team can easily become a cross between a rumor mill and a soap opera.



[Photo by Austin Distel at Unsplash]

Quick Looks

The trailers for:

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Hmm

The trailer for "Parasite."

The Meaning of Fredo

Ann Althouse and others weigh in on the meaning and sadness of Fredo.

The Bitter Issue

Image result for Michael Wade Arizona


My first book was published in 1976 by the Arizona Historical Society and is now out-of-print. I'm preparing a revised edition.

The Bitter Issue focuses on a major change in post-WWII Arizona politics. That shift ultimately affected the political careers of Barry Goldwater, John Rhodes, and Morris Udall.

Straight Line Selling

"In fact, now that I thought about it, no matter what objection the prospect hit me with, I would never just answer it and ask for the order again. That would be pointless, since the objection was merely a smoke screen for uncertainty. By itself, in fact, all an answer would do (even a perfect one) is force a prospect to shift to a new objection, because the root problem still hadn't been addressed."

- From Way of the Wolf: Straight Line Selling by Jordan Belfort