Friday, November 27, 2020
Jonathan Turley sees Thanksgiving as a good time to celebrate nonconformists. He also notes the ominous signs that free expression is imperiled. An excerpt:One of the more chilling cases of this trend is Richard Stengel, the man selected to lead the transition team on media agencies and policies. He wrote a Washington Post column last year that denounced speech as a threat to harmony. He failed to convince readers that what they need is less freedom. “All speech is not equal, and where truth cannot drive out lies, we must add new guardrails. I am all for protecting thought that we hate, but not speech that incites hate,” Stengel argued.
Over the years I have posted this advice from Adrian Savage, the leadership author and scholar:
Thursday, November 26, 2020
We were sitting on the patio under a black, moonless sky, our faces lit by the flickering light of a few candles in the center of a large stone table. We all had iced drinks in our hands or in front of us. His interruption took the form of very slowly putting down the glass that was in his hand - so slowly and so quietly, and with such a measured, even movement that at first it seemed like some kind of ritual gesture. Everyone suddenly became quiet and looked at him, waiting. I remember listening for a long time to the waves of the bay and watching the lights of San Francisco across the water. The wind was shifting and turning cool. People were putting their collars up and hugging themselves, but no one dared get up. Foghorns were answering each other like far-off, unseen sea creatures.Just as slowly and evenly, he angled his long, lean body back in his chair and gazed at nothing in particular. Then he turned his head as though it were a gun turret and looked directly at the husky, bearded young man who had just been speaking about the crimes of America. In the flickering candlelight, his bony face seemed wondrously alive and menacing at the same time. What he said to the young man - and of course to all of us present - was only this:
"You don't know what you have here." Then, after an uncomfortable pause, "You simply don't know what you have."
- From The American Soul: Rediscovering the Wisdom of the Founders by Jacob Needleman
Wednesday, November 25, 2020
The elevated desk works well. I am going to have to move a large photo of Churchill on the wall behind me so I can squeeze in a flip chart but I'll have plenty of room for hand gestures and other elements of the performing arts.
Because every class is a performance. The presentation cannot be dry. It must be memorable.
The delayed adolescence and hyper-fear of risk-taking that have become evident in recent years makes me wonder if a sizable portion of our population would eagerly give up freedom in order to live out the rest of their days in a "Club Fed" type of prison or a very hip nursing home.
[Photo by Zacke Feller at Unsplash]
Penguin Random House employees in Canada are upset about the firm publishing a new Jordan Peterson book.
[I will, of course, make a point of buying that book.]
Tuesday, November 24, 2020
The first executive has a lot of rough edges, is blunt to the point of rudeness and sometimes even far beyond. But this person has one saving grace: he or she produces results.
The second executive is ultra smooth and sophisticated. Picture-perfect and quite charming. But this person has one flaw: talks a great game but doesn't seem to produce very much.
You can learn a lot about an organization by seeing which one is favored.
My home office "reformation" is progressing nicely.
The electric desk is assembled. Another, more traditional, desk arrives in early December. Both desks have large work spaces and the elevated desk will permit me to stand while teaching classes on Zoom. A reading chair, a bookcase, and a new filing cabinet also are in the pipeline.
The two desks will have very different "personalities" and will be separated with a diagonal walkway leading to a small reading area.
I know I should have addressed the matter of the floor first but that was not possible. Getting the furniture in order will be a relief and will speed up completion of some projects. The issues with the floor can wait.
P.S. Major cheers for banker's boxes and trash bags.
Monday, November 23, 2020
The New Criterion: When Princeton's systemic racism confession backfired.
[Photo by Kirubakaran Manoharan at Unsplash]
My son and I had a talk the other day about the practice of the late and great rabbi, Menachem Mendel Schneerson (often called the Rebbe) who followed a practice of immediately doing important things.
Did that mean that the Rebbe had no sense of priorities? Does that mean that his practice should always be followed?
No. It means that he knew the power of immediate action and that he was wary of the immense temptation to lapse into unnecessary delays.
I suggest keeping two people in mind:
Rabbi Schneerson with his "Do it now" approach and former Secretary of State George Shultz with his advice to "Don't just do something. Stand there."
Each can be right but not at the same time.
From City Journal in 2019: Kay S. Hymowitz on the problem of loneliness. An excerpt:
Loneliness, public-health experts tell us, is killing as many people as obesity and smoking. It’s not much comfort that Americans are not, well, alone in this. Germans are lonely, the bon vivant French are lonely, and even the Scandinavians—the happiest people in the world, according to the UN’s World Happiness Report—are lonely, too. British prime minister Theresa May recently appointed a “Minister of Loneliness.”
Sunday, November 22, 2020
Saturday, November 21, 2020
New York Post: Scientists reverse the aging process in a new study.
[Photo by Naassom Azevedo at Unsplash]
"Why . . . do boards tend to spend hours debating small issues while large ones sail by comparatively unexamined? Why do groups of competent and assertive individuals allow themselves to be held hostage by the loudest or most insistent board member? Why do boards spend hours making decisions that they then forget they made or that go unrecorded or, if recorded, are difficult to locate? . . . Why are boards of effective individuals so often ineffective groups?"
- John and Miriam Carver in The Policy Governance Model and the Role of the Board Member
Naomi Schaefer Riley on the effects of remote learning on vulnerable children.
"The most striking among Milgram's findings is the inverse ratio of readiness to cruelty and proximity to its victim. It is difficult to harm a person we touch. It is somewhat easier to afflict pain upon a person we only see at a distance. It is still easier in the case of a person we only hear. It is quite easy to be cruel towards a person we neither see nor hear."
- Zygmunt Bauman in Modernity and the Holocaust
Friday, November 20, 2020
Thursday, November 19, 2020
I wrote this post several years ago and it is now an Execupundit tradition:
- Thou shalt not discuss politics at the dinner. There is next to no chance that you'll convert anyone and any hard feelings that are generated may last long after the pumpkin pie is finished. Why spoil a good meal?
- Thou shalt limit discussion of The Big Game. This is mainly directed at the men who choose to argue plays, records, and coaches while their wives stare longingly at the silverware. The sharp silverware.
- Thou shalt say nice things about every dish. Including the bizarre one with Jello and marshmallows.
- Thou shalt be especially kind to anyone who may feel left out. Some Thanksgiving guests are tag-alongs or, as we say in the business world, "new to the organization." Make a point of drawing them in.
- Thou shalt be wary of gossip. After all, do you know what they say when you leave the room? Remember the old saying: All of the brothers are valiant and all of the sisters are virtuous.
- Thou shalt not hog the white or dark meat. We know you're on Atkins but that's no excuse.
- Thou shalt think mightily before going back for seconds. Especially if that means waddling back for seconds.
- Thou shalt not get drunk. Strong drink improves neither your wit nor your discretion. Give everyone else a gift by remaining sober.
- Thou shalt be cheerful. This is not a therapy session. This is not the moment to recount all of the mistakes in your life or to get back at Uncle Bo for the wisecrack he made at your high school graduation. This is a time for Rule #10.
- Thou shalt be thankful. You're above ground and functioning in an extraordinary place at an extraordinary time. Many people paid a very heavy price (and I'm not talking about groceries) to give you this day. Take some time to think of them and to express gratitude to your friends and relatives. Above all, give special thanks to the divine power who blesses you in innumerable ways.
- Outside magazine: A guide to having Thanksgiving outdoors.
- First Things: Michael Connelly's 35th crime novel.
- The Governor of California does not dine at a laundry.
- The trailer for "Alabama Snake."
- Priorities: Strip clubs opening before churches.
- Crank it up: Beethoven's "Turkish March."
- City Journal: "Trump's Pennsylvania Long-Shot."
- Delish: Cherry Garcia brownies.
- Mediaite: New York's election train wreck.
- The Federalist: Threatening children in Michigan.
- The Paris Review: Isaac Bashevis Singer's short story: "The Murderer."
Some revolutions begin with a gunshot, others with a party. This one was kicked off on a Friday night in downtown Athens, in 415 BCE. Alcibiades, a prominent Greek general and politician, had invited a small circle of friends to his villa for what was to become one of the more famous bacchanals in history. Hooded in the stolen robes of a high priest, Alcibiades swept down his marble staircase, recited a forbidden incantation, and produced an ornate decanter. Carefully, he poured a single shot of a dark liquid into each guest's glass. A few words, an exuberant cheer, and everyone drained their cups.
- From Stealing Fire: How Silicon Valley, the Navy SEALs, and Maverick Scientists Are Revolutionizing the Way We Live and Work by Steven Kotler and Jamie Wheal
Wednesday, November 18, 2020
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court says that election observers don't need to see anything, they just need to be in the room?
No, this is not an article from The Onion.
Charles Dickens would have smiled. Mr. Bumble has moved up in the world.
Tuesday, November 17, 2020
Real Clear Books: Rod Dreher sees a quiet totalitarian revolution coming.
[Photo by Steve Harvey at Unsplash]
Columbia Journalism Review: Clio Chang on Substack and its writers. Clio soon lets us know her take:But as you peruse the lists, something becomes clear: the most successful people on Substack are those who have already been well-served by existing media power structures. Most are white and male; several are conservative. Matt Taibbi, Andrew Sullivan, and most recently, Glenn Greenwald—who offer similar screeds about the dangers of cancel culture and the left—all land in the top ten. (Greenwald’s arrival bumped the like-minded Yascha Mounk to eleventh position; soon, Matthew Yglesias signed up for Substack, too.)
As part of my management consulting practice, I have been teaching a workshop on "Equal Employment Opportunity" for decades.
Equal Employment Opportunity is a fascinating subject. The various types of discrimination are discussed via fast-paced case examples and there is always one goal: to provide practical information that is easy to understand and which can be put to immediate use.
Well, the bad news is that when the pandemic hit, all of my workshops began to evaporate. My coaching practice continued but marketing in-person training became next to impossible.
But now there is good news. I will be teaching my first EEO workshop via Zoom in December.
I look forward to scheduling many more.
[Photo by Jon Tyson at Unsplash]
Monday, November 16, 2020
Read all of James B. Meigs in City Journal.
- It's a Southern Thing: In defense of bologna sandwiches.
- Douglas Murray gives his thoughts on privilege.
- The Federalist: Target gets woke and drops a book.
- The trailer for "Brother Orchid."
- Jonathan Turley on efforts to target Trump's election attorneys.
- Cultural Offering: Essential mixes by Kansas.
- Glenn Greenwald: ACLU attorney cheers suppression of a book.
- The trailer for "They Shall Not Grow Old."
The great comedian Henny Youngman once joked that when he said he couldn't afford an operation, his doctor offered to touch up his x-rays.
Many managers resemble the doctor. Rather than directly addressing a problem, they "touch up the x-rays" so they can pretend that the matter either doesn't exist or that it has been resolved.
The question for any major action: "Does this stand a reasonable chance of genuine progress or is it touching up the x-rays?"
Sunday, November 15, 2020
Saturday, November 14, 2020
Read all of Lance Morrow's essay in City Journal.
With regard to the story that historian and MSNBC commentator Jon Meacham commented on a Biden speech without disclosing that he helped write it:
That revealed a sin of commission and a major screw-up by Meacham.
[As for the sins of omission where a news channel fails to cover - or only superficially covers - a significant story because the channel favors a particular candidate, well that, of course, is not news. In their world, news is not news until they determine it to be so.]
Friday, November 13, 2020
There are two key questions when it comes to "stuff":
- "At which point are you bothered by a lack of stuff?"
- "At which point are you bothered by an abundance of stuff?"
Measure your frustration level and seek the Goldilocks standard.
[Photo by Klara Avsenik at Unsplash]
Thursday, November 12, 2020
- William Goldman, Adventures in the Screen Trade
Some of my related random thoughts:
It is usually in the best interests of top management and the employees that an organization be well-run but that doesn't mean it is.
And even if an organization is well-run that doesn't mean it will continue to be so.
There can be pockets of excellence or mediocrity in any organization. Those may exist at any level and may even exist side-by-side.
The individuals with power have to struggle to acquire new ideas.
Those with insight have to struggle to gain power.
So much of the scene is blurred and transitory. Excellence may be especially fleeting and knowledge - true knowledge - may be a ghost.
Everyone is scrambling.
It was easy for Doctor Plarr to remember the first time he met Charley Fortnum. The meeting occurred a few weeks after he had arrived in the city from Buenos Aires. The Honorary Consul was exceedingly drunk, and he had lost the use of both legs. Doctor Plarr was making his way up to Bolivar when an elderly gentleman leant from the window of the Italian Club and called to him for help. 'The bloody waiter's gone home,' he explained, speaking in English.
- From The Honorary Consul by Graham Greene