Wednesday, April 17, 2024

For Members of The Perry Mason Fan Club

 


A Time for Choosing

 "You're either for civilization or you're not."

- Victor Davis Hanson

The Practical Philosopher

"People used to tell me that business administration is for the practical life and philosophy is for the spirit. Through the years I have found it is exactly the opposite - I used philosophy much more practically."

- Israeli General Herzl Halevi

Bring It Back Home

 Mike Rowe talks to Steven Kurutz on what it takes to make a flannel shirt in America.

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Not to Mention the Sixties

“If you think the ’80s were dumber than the ’70s, either you weren’t there or you weren’t paying attention.”

- James Lileks

I Miss Tom Wolfe

 


Falls

Rather than being consumed by the fall of the Roman empire, it makes more sense to study the fall of France in 1940.

Falls don't always take a long time.

First Paragraph

 Through the fence, between the curling flower spaces, I could see them hitting. They were coming toward where the flag was and I went along the fence. Luster was hunting in the grass by the flower tree. They took the flag out, and they were hitting. Then they put the flag back and they went to the table, and he hit and the other hit. Then they went on, and I went along the fence. Luster came away from the flower tree and we went along the fence and they stopped and we stopped and I looked through the fence while Luster was hunting in the grass.

- From The Power and the Fury by William Faulkner

Viewpoint Diversity at NPR

 Althouse has more on the National Public Radio dissenter.

Sometimes Perhaps Is Precise

 "We are ready."

"The project was done on time."

"Twelve people attended the meeting."

"There were no complaints."

Consider the potential gaps in all of the above.

Words can reveal and they can also conceal.

Focus

 Einstein didn't invent the theory of relativity while he was multitasking at the Swiss patent office.

- David Meyer

Might Be a Good Time to Re-Watch

 


Monday, April 15, 2024

"Berkeley Eats Its Own"

 City Journal: Corbin K. Barthold on the now-infamous dean's dinner for first-year law students.

First Paragraph

 Sasha's eyes were set in a huge pan-shaped head and he studied Arkady as someone who might share his misery. The bear was a towering beast but his customary roar was weakened by alcohol. His mate, Masha, sat on her rump, a half-empty bottle of champagne pressed to her breast. A plaque on the zoo guardrail read "Sasha and Masha, American Brown Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)." That sounded about right, Arkady thought.

- From The Siberian Dilemma: An Arkady Renko novel by Martin Cruz Smith

Confession: I Don't Think I've Ever Seen the Film

 


Don't Overlook This One

 


The Danger of Secondary Sources

 The other night I was looking through a book by a respected British historian who was contrasting the records of General Ulysses S. Grant and General Robert E. Lee.

At one point, the book has the following comment by Grant about Lee's surrender at Appomattox, Virginia:

"What General Lee's feelings were I do not know. But my own ... were sad and depressed. I felt like anything rather than rejoicing at the downfall of a foe who had fought so long and so valiantly, and who had suffered so much for a cause."

Hold on, I thought. Something's missing! 

A quick search of Grant's excellent autobiography found the full quote:

"What General Lee's feelings were I do not know. As he was a man of much dignity, with an impassable face, it was impossible to say whether he felt inwardly glad that the end had finally come, or felt sad over the result, and was too manly to show it. Whatever his feelings, they were entirely concealed from my observation; but my own feelings, which had been quite jubilant on the receipt of his letter, were sad and depressed. I felt like anything rather than rejoicing at the downfall of a foe who had fought so long and so valiantly, and had suffered so much for a cause, though that cause was, I believe, one of the worst for which a people ever fought, and one for which there was the least excuse. I do not question, however, the sincerity of the great mass of those who were opposed to us."

On My List

 


In the Mood

 


More Than Kind

Nicholas Bate is more than kind

If you scroll down his blog, you'll see all of his books - fiction and non-fiction - and realize his range.

The man never sleeps. 

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Saturday, April 13, 2024

Why Are Our Intellectuals So Dumb?

 


Reality Knocks

 The Free Press: Bari Weiss with "The Holiday from History is Over."

Perhaps Some Rossini?

I am getting into a Marie Kondo approach with my office. 

Large trash bags. Banker's boxes. Clear objectives.

And a ruthless standard as to what gets thrown out.

All I need now is the right background music.

Gird Your Imagination

 


First Paragraph

 Sitting beside the road, watching the wagon mount the hill toward her, Lena thinks, 'I have come from Alabama: a fur piece. All the way from Alabama a-walking. A fur piece.' Thinking although I have not been quite a month on the road I am already in Mississippi, further from home than I have ever been before. I am now further from Doane's Mill than I have been since I was twelve years old.

-- Light in August by William Faulkner

OED

 City Journal: Edward Short on the dictionary of dictionaries.

Friday, April 12, 2024

Good Exercises

 Push-ups, pull-ups, and throwing away things.

Circumstances are Uncaring

 You shouldn't give circumstances the power to arouse anger, for they don't care at all.

- Marcus Aurelius

First Paragraph

 For a long time the horizon had been a monotonous flat blue line separating the Pacific Ocean from the sky. The Navy helicopter raced forward, flying low, near the waves. Despite the noise and the thumping vibration of the blades, Norman Johnson fell asleep. He was tired; he had been traveling on various military aircraft for more than fourteen hours. It was not the kind of thing a fifty-three-year-old professor of psychology was used to.

- From Sphere by Michael Crichton


Hmm

 


Dumbing Down

 ... What they don't want to admit, at least not publicly, is that most American students don't read much anyway and quite a few, left to their own devices, would not read at all.

Their moronic national babysitter, the television set, took care of that. In 1991, the majority of American households (60 percent, the same as in Spain) did not buy one single book. Before long, Americans will think of the time when people sat at home and read books for their own sake, discursively and sometimes even aloud to one another, as a lost era - the way we now see rural quilting-bees in the 1870s.

- From Culture of Complaint by Robert Hughes (1994)

Dangerous Assumptions

 If you're on a board of directors, do not assume that the other board members read the minutes. In my experience, most of them do not unless they have a pet project that's being discussed.

If you've applied for a job, recognize that application letters and resumes receive little attention. So too with job applications. The way careers are shaped via such indifference is nothing short of scandalous.

If you've had an important business meeting, the odds that more than a small percentage of the attendees were listening are remote. As the great C. Northcote Parkinson noted years ago, more attention will probably be given to trivial matters, such as reserved parking spaces, than to major issues that could produce disaster.

What all of the above means is it is dangerous to assume attentiveness or a sound sense of priorities.

Many organizations survive despite a routine neglect of key matters.


Thursday, April 11, 2024

In the Pipeline


 

First Paragraph

 My journal is a private affair, but as I cannot know the time of my coming death, and since I am not disposed, however unfortunately, to the serious consideration of self-termination, I am afraid that others will see these pages. Since however I will be dead, it should not much matter to me who sees what or when. My name is Thelonious Ellison. And I am a writer of fiction. This admission pains me only at the thought of my story being found and read, as I have always been severely put off by any story which had as its main character a writer. So, I will claim to be something else, if not instead, then in addition, and that shall be a son, a brother, a fisherman, an art lover, a woodworker. If for no other reason, I choose this last, callous-building occupation because of the shame it caused my mother, who for years called my pickup truck a station wagon. I am Thelonious Ellison. Call me Monk.

- From Erasure: a novel by Percival Everett

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

A Biz Lunch with Focus

A great luncheon meeting at a great spot.

After a broad overview, the meeting produced two priorities.

Only two but very important.

WWII

 


Journalism with a Wink

 NPR responds to Uri Berliner's critique.

Not persuasively, but it was a response.

I Need to Go Back and Read Saul Bellow

 


Back Away from the Smartphone

The Center for Health and Biosciences has advice on navigating the digital age for children.

Taiwan legally requires parents to restrict their children's use of electronic devices.

Scared of AI? Don't Worry, Those Nice People in Silicon Valley Will Save Us.

 


Underestimation

"What is America but beauty queens, millionaires, stupid records, and Hollywood?" 

- Adolf Hitler in 1939

Tuesday, April 09, 2024

The Basics

 Nicholas Bate notes two powerful and reliable business tools that are easy to use.

I use them every day.

A New Tourist Attraction in Paris

 


How NPR Lost America's Trust

 The Free Press: Uri Berliner on what happened to National Public Radio.

I listened to NPR for years. That practice steadily declined and completely ended when they refused to cover the story about Hunter Biden's laptop.

Brunch

 Patrick Rhone has a story of customer service; the type that contains so much more.

We've Been Crazy Before

 Then in August 1939, on the eve of war in Europe, the Army held major war games at Plattsburgh, New York, to find out what it could do. Fifty thousand men were put on the field - but more than two-thirds were part-time National Guardsmen. They quickly lost their direction as units haplessly bumped into one another. Without radios to issue orders, soldiers began wandering in search of officers to give them. Some stumbled on lines of Good Humor trucks parked in a field: The Army had been forced to hire them to serve as decoy tanks because there weren't enough real tanks or armored cars to go around. "The U.S. Army," Time magazine said, summing up, "looked like a few nice boys with BB guns."

- From Freedom's Forge: How American Business Produced Victory in World War II by Arthur Herman

Eclipse

 Phoenix was not supposed to be a good place to see the eclipse. 

The daughter of an old friend went to Toadsuck, Arkansas for the event, which may not be that great either, but you'll return with memorable t-shirts.

Anyway, my astronomy-loving son had gotten the right glasses and so once I returned from some client meetings, I joined him in our quasi-sunny front yard and looked up.

It was impressive.

Some things match the hype.

Way to go, Moon.

Sunday, April 07, 2024

Saturday, April 06, 2024

Excerpt

 As time went by our need to fight for the ideal increased to an unquestioning possession, riding with spur and rein over our doubts. Willy-nilly it became a faith. We had sold ourselves into slavery, manacled ourselves together in its chain-gang, bowed ourselves to serve its holiness with all our good and ill content. The mentality of ordinary human slaves is terrible - they have lost the world - and we had surrendered, not body alone, but soul to the overmastering greed of victory. By our own act we were drained of morality, of volition, of responsibility, like dead leaves in the wind.

- T. E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom

Promising

 


Start Asking

It's only in fairy tales, novels, and Hollywood movies that wishes come true simply from wishing. It will not happen to you. In real life, successful people, those who get what they want out of life, ask for those things over and over again.

- Ben Stein

Unusual Diversions

 I recommend reading some novel or nonfiction work that is completely outside of your usual interests.

Do it at least twice a year.

A personal example: The White Road: Journey into an Obsession by Edmund De Waal. It is about the history of porcelain.

Deceptive Opportunities

Some grand opportunities are ravenous wolves.

Learn to spot them.

Something for the Weekend

 


Making Change

 When it comes to making change, Yogi Berra was only half right: it's never over till it's over - and it's still not over then. The same battles keep reoccurring in companies and in politics, and you've got to be there to fight them with your eyes on the long-term outcome.

- Alan M. Webber, Rules of Thumb

First Paragraph

 I sat in a drab Soviet hotel room in May 1992. Gunfire rattled the windows. Across the room, on a bed with a nasty brown blanket, sat Marcus Warren, a British journalist. We had been trapped in the hotel for hours, as battles raged on the streets outside in Dushanbe, the capital city of Tajikistan. We had no idea how many had died.

- From Anthro-Vision: A New Way to See in Business and Life by Gillian Tett

Friday, April 05, 2024

Best Films about Leadership?

It's been a while since I posted a list of films that can spark interesting discussions about leadership. Please feel free to recommend additions.

  • "Moneyball"
  • "Selma"
  • "Henry V"
  • "The Iron Lady"
  • "Schindler's List"
  • "Margin Call"
  • "Captain and Commander"
  • "Lawrence of Arabia"
  • "A Man for All Seasons"
  • "Tora, Tora, Tora"
  • "Stand and Deliver"
  • "Hoosiers"
  • "Gandhi"
  • "Darkest Hour"
  • "Saving Private Ryan"
  • "Zero Dark Thirty"
  • "Zulu"
  • "Sully"
  • "Apollo 13"
  • "Invictus"
  • "Paths of Glory"
  • "United 93"
  • "Lincoln"
  • "The Bounty"
  • "Patton"
  • "Waterloo"
  • "The Godfather"
  • "Chariots of Fire"
  • "Northwest Passage"
  • "Twelve O'Clock High"

French Lessons

 


Better Living Through Science

 


RV Lawyer

 


You've seen "The Lincoln Lawyer."

Well, from the wilds of Florida an announcement has been made: "RV Lawyer" is out.

Foresight

 In 1861, Richard Ewell, a Confederate lieutenant general, wrote about the Union forces: "There is one West Pointer, I think in Missouri, little known, and whom I hope the northern people will not find out. I mean Sam Grant. I knew him at the Academy and in Mexico. I should fear him more than any of their officers I have yet heard of."

Executive Coaching

Here, you're comfortable. Here, you're inspirational. Here, you're invisible.

And there, right there, you are sitting on a railroad track and a train is approaching.

Drift

 If careers were sailing ships, most would make it from Europe to North America (or vice-versa) but few would go from one specific port to another.

Some would hit icebergs. Others would drift to and remain at one of the islands.

The point of this exotic vision is to urge specificity and frequent progress checks.

Drift is not your friend.

Thursday, April 04, 2024

Whoa

 The U.S. Secretary of State has said that Ukraine will become a member of NATO.

Have they really thought that through?

A Missed Voice

 


Sad But True

If the reasons for many employment selections were clearly and honestly stated, competence would rank no higher than third.

Public Service

 A Layman's Blog features eyewear for the presidential election.

I Think I'll Stick with Sinatra

 


Stay in the Wings

 Commentary magazine: Seth Mandel on when stars bungle their big political moments.

Revealing

Background.

Recent training.

Reading habits/publications.

Heroes.

Achievements.

Setbacks.

Hobbies.

Strengths.

Weaknesses.

Typical workday.

Amount of time on social media.

Typical Arizona Rest Stop

 


Some Memories of Undercover Agents

 The first undercover agent I met way back in the Seventies had very long hair and a beard. He was wearing a dirty yellow t-shirt with a full portrait of Mickey Mouse on the front. He chain-smoked throughout the meeting.

The other agents were in Germany. I was not to acknowledge them. They were passing as Germans and everything about them - their fluency in German, the slang, their body language, and every article of clothing - had been dissected for authenticity. Any gap, of course, could be dangerous.

The next agent was in a completely different part of the country. She'd gotten a tattoo during the assignment. Her police supervisor said that troubled him. "There is a chance," he said, "that she may be on the verge of going too far into the role." He'd seen that before and it could make things unpredictable. Unpredictable is not good.

The final ones were observing motorcycle gangs. They were big, heavy, and greasy. One had a large chain as a belt. They operated with clear boundaries and admitted that if one notorious gang entered a bar where they were drinking, they immediately left. Why? Because the gang was extraordinarily violent. Anyone operating undercover risked either getting hurt or blowing their cover.

Undercover is undercover. The last thing wanted is escalation. 

Purging PowerPoint

 I am reviewing possible PowerPoint slides for an upcoming leadership workshop.

Less is more when it comes to PowerPoint.

As a result, I am seriously considering just using a flip chart.

[Over the years, I have received notes from class participants thanking me for NOT using PowerPoint.]

On My List

 


Tuesday, April 02, 2024

Promising

 


Mandatory DEI Statements Must Go

 Harvard law professor Randall Kennedy on mandatory DEI statements.

First Paragraph

 Some of the evil of my tale may have been inherent in our circumstances. For years we lived anyhow with one another in the naked desert, under the indifferent heaven. By day the hot sun fermented us; and we were dizzied by the beating wind. At night we were stained by dew, and shamed into pettiness by the innumerable silences of stars. We were a self-centered army without parade or gesture, devoted to freedom, the second of man's creeds, a purpose so ravenous that it devoured all our strength, a hope so transcendent that our earlier ambitions faded in its glare.

- From Seven Pillars of Wisdom by T.E. Lawrence

SpaceX Launch


Last night, we stood in our front yard in Phoenix and watched the SpaceX rocket launch from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

It was a Wow moment.

Am getting re-hooked on space.

Many thanks to Elon Musk and his team.

The Good Old Days

 


Monday, April 01, 2024

Disney, Florida, and Media Crickets

Jonathan Turley on Disney's litigation against Florida.

The Needle

 [Stanford psychiatry professor Anna Lembke] calls the smartphone the "modern-day hypodermic needle," the delivery mechanism to which we now turn for whatever it is that we crave, whether it's validation, distraction from boredom, or a trigger for our ever-present propensity for anger.

- From Our Biggest Fight: Reclaiming Liberty, Humanity, and Dignity in the Digital Age by Frank H. McCourt, Jr.

Time to Re-Watch


 

Workshop Preparation

Good start. Flow. Flow. Group Exercise. Flow. Flow. Speed Bump! (Where did that come from? Remove it.) Flow. Group Exercise. Flow. Flow. Flow. Quiz. Flow. Flow. Wrap-Up.

All workshops are a mix of prose and poetry. Neither can be omitted.

Each section should have something they'll want to pass on to their friends.

First Paragraph

 The men had been hiding down by the gatekeeper's lodge for half an hour or so, passing a bottle of the best between, and then, the gatekeeper having been carried off to bed, they dodged up the path at six in the evening and looked at the great house with the warm lights lit in each window.

- From "The Terrible Conflagration Up at The Place" in I Sing the Body Electric! by Ray Bradbury

As Common Sense Evaporates

 Jonathan Turley on the Easter versus Transgender fiasco.

The PETA potato part was a nice contribution to the nitwittery.

Saturday, March 30, 2024

This Was Not Accidental

 The White House Proclamation of March 31, 2024 as the Transgender Day of Visibility.

Agua Donkeys

 


Confession Is Good for the Soul

 I recall that the American car companies went through various stages of denial before admitting that they had a lot to learn from the Total Quality Management programs of the Japanese car companies.

That was the beginning of a big come-back in the American automobile industry.

Are American journalists beginning to acknowledge the low quality of their product?

Jargon Enclaves

 Spend time in these fields and see how often jargon emerges:

  • Law
  • Information Technology
  • Economics
  • Military
  • Literature
  • Science
  • Engineering
  • Accounting
Just to name a few. 

That's why when you find someone who can translate the professional mumbo-jumbo into plain language, you are inclined to smile.

Become a translator. The failure to describe something in plain language should sound an alarm bell.

First Paragraph

 I've always found race boring. Sure, it can be good source material for jokes at a comedy club. But in most real-life situations, a person's race tells you next to nothing about them. It doesn't tell whether they're kind or selfish, whether their opinions are right or wrong, whether they'll become your best friend or your worst enemy. Of all the qualities you could list about somebody - their personality, beliefs, sense of humor, and so forth - their race is just about the least interesting you could name.

- From The End of Race Politics: Arguments for a Colorblind America by Coleman Hughes

Friday, March 29, 2024

Danger

 


Generalizations and Examples

 I'm revising and simplifying a leadership class. The old version is packed with practical material and that's a problem because you need to give class members the chance to ponder, digest, and remember.

Generalizations are used to present key concepts.

Examples are used to show how those concepts operate in real life.

Both groups need balance. 

Too many generalizations produce fog. 

Too many examples and people get lost in the nitty-gritty.

I have enough material for a large feast, but I need to reduce it to a simple meal.

As You Munch Your Breakfast

 


First Paragraph

 'Of course they must let you wear your Spanish Civil War medals,' pronounced my uncle in the brisk, cheerful tones that generations of Indian Army subalterns had learnt not to contradict.

- From No Colours or Crest by Peter Kemp

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Liberation

 Africa Brooke: "Why I'm Leaving the Cult of Wokeness."

Hmm

 


Impatience and Foreign Policy

 Impatience was one of the common characteristics of the German, Italian, and Japanese leaders prior to their involvement in World War II.

It contributed to their defeat.

Today, Russia's leader is certainly more impatient than his counterpart in China, and yet he appears to have more patience than the aggressors in the Thirties and Forties.

There are reasons why a more restrained approach is wise. 

Why interrupt the Western nations when they are busily creating disasters of their own?

Hmm

 


First Paragraph

 It is hard now to recall the atmosphere of 1936. When I came down from Cambridge in June of that year the pattern of European politics was confused and obscure. The foundations of peace seemed in danger of collapse, but as yet few were convinced that another World War was inevitable, or could foresee the alignment of the Powers if it should happen. The bewilderment of the peoples of Europe was reflected in the mistakes and hesitations of their rulers.

- From Mine Were of Trouble by Peter Kemp

The Enablers

 City Journal: If New York's leaders want to find the cause of crime, they should look in the mirror.

Throw Away Day

 May at least one day a month be designated as "Throw Away Day."

That can pertain to electronic as well as paper files. 

The day can also include "Preserve This!"

I just found some taped interviews that are truly irreplaceable.

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

From Political Operative to Media Analyst

 Politico: Jeff Greenfield gives his take. An excerpt:

Like much of the Fox News audience, MSNBC’s followers hear every night an affirmation of their views. Years ago, Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer told me she went home each night and watched MSNBC. Why, I asked, after endless hours in the Senate, do you do that? “Because,” she said, “it’s like sinking into a nice warm bath.” It’s not clear she or her fellow viewers would welcome an ice-cold splash of pro-Trump perspectives.

[HT: Althouse]

Reminder

To keep a lamp burning we have to keep putting oil in it.

- Mother Teresa 

Impostor Syndrome

 Tablet magazine: Walter Russell Mead on the "Twilight of the Wonks."

How Did I Miss This?

 


A Missing Perspective

 When you become the manager, people stop telling you things - especially about your own performance.

- David Maister

Old School, Good School

 The Free Press: "Inside the New Wave of Old School Education."

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Street Addiction Crisis

 


Steeped in Fragility

 City Journal: A review of Jonathan Haidt's "The Anxious Generation."

DEI

 


Childhood Back Then

 Remembering my early childhood:

  • We rarely watched television. Our family was the last one on the block to get a TV. It was, of course, black and white and the TV stations stopped broadcasting at midnight.
  • Most people had "party" and not private telephone lines. Everyone was listed in the phone book.
  • Few houses had fences, but some had oleander hedges. There were plenty of irrigation ditches.
  • Kids played all over the neighborhood. A popular game was "kick the can." Those games would last until darkness made play impossible.
  • We read a lot. Even in the summertime, we could check books out of the school library.
  • There was a morning and an evening newspaper. Most people subscribed to one or the other. It seemed like everyone subscribed to LIFE magazine, Reader's Digest, and The Saturday Evening Post. The Book of the Month Club was also popular.
  • My parents were not poor, but money was tight. Buying clothes at rummage sales was common. So were "hand me downs." My older brother got old shirts from a cousin. Those were handed down to me and then to my younger brother.
  • My father worked at the power company. He started as a laborer and worked up to middle management. He would often interrupt family drives to show us a new power station.
  • Every Saturday at noon, the fire stations would test their air raid sirens.
  • It was not unusual to see large spotlights swirling around in the night sky as a way to lure people to a car dealership.
  • My mother "took in ironing." We eventually had an "Iron Rite" machine in our kitchen to expedite the ironing. I got to be pretty good on it.
  • She was also active in the local PTA and the Arizona women's clubs.
  • Neighborhoods had a status and income mix. You had judges living in the same area as plumbers. I knew of no kids who went to private schools. The caliber of the public schools was well-regarded. 
  • There were no blacks living in the immediate neighborhood, but there were several Mexican American families. A Chinese American family owned and ran the local grocery store. The largest family I knew was Irish American. They had nine kids.
  • We had an old encyclopedia that was very outdated. It was a good lesson in not believing everything in print.
  • There were no leash laws. Pets wandered at will.
  • We walked a lot. If you wanted a Coke, you could walk to a soda fountain around a mile away. We thought nothing of walking great distances.
  • Paperback books were 25 cents, then 35 cents, then 50 and 75. I remember buying the paperback version of The Rise and Fall of The Third Reich for $1.25. A little jarring, but it was a big book. Most of our paperback purchases were at the drugstore.
  • Our elementary school had a lot of male teachers. Most of them had served in World War II or the Korean War. Our school principal had been a POW after being shot down over Germany.
  • Across the street lived a man who'd been in the Hitler Youth and served in the German Navy.
  • The men often repaired their own automobiles. My dad rarely took a car to a mechanic.
  • Our pediatrician always had a pack of Lucky Strike cigarettes in his pocket. 
  • The elementary school had a Buffalo Barbeque as an annual fundraiser. You had a choice of beef, venison or buffalo meat.
  • There was a lot of emphasis on "do it yourself." The grade schools had Industrial Arts classes for the boys and Home Economics classes for the girls.
  • We had "swamp" coolers instead of air conditioning and yes, we walked to school, but since this was in Phoenix, Arizona we had it easy: there was no snow.

Put Down the Smartphone

 Politico: How Phones Warped Gen Z.

Good Neighbors

 No one can live happily who has regard to himself alone and transforms everything into a question of his own utility; you must live for your neighbor, if you would live for yourself.

- Seneca

Monday, March 25, 2024

Greatness

 


Moods

I know there are serious medical exceptions, but life becomes much more enjoyable if you don't believe in or fall prey to moods.

I have found that rapidly shifting moods are a luxury I cannot afford. I also do not wish to inflict bad moods upon others. 

Google's AI Fiasco

 


The Problem Is Not Out There

 Anytime we think the problem is 'out there,' that thought is the problem. We empower what's out there to control us.

- Stephen R. Covey

Sunday, March 24, 2024

Saturday, March 23, 2024

Leadership

 The best executive I've ever known wore a Hawaiian shirt most of the time. [He worked in Arizona.]

His office was unpretentious, even spartan. He boasted that he could move out of it within an hour with many minutes to spare.

He was plain-spoken, had a great sense of humor, and made a point of making visits to the field.

A great listener, he was constantly examining ways to improve the workplace.

In our last conversation about leadership, he said that the most under-rated virtue of a leader is benevolence.


Marc Goodman in 2015: You're Connected and Vulnerable

 


Friday, March 22, 2024

To Be Sung by My Relatives When I Arrive at Thanksgiving

 


Truly a Classic

 


A Desk Covered with Papers

 A vow: my desk with have four neat decision stacks by the end of this morning and progress will have been made on all four.

One strategy: gaining focus by avoiding the screen. Most of the key work can be done without a computer.

Nicholas Bate Stories

 The man has a wide range. He never sleeps.

Just In

 


Great Maxim

 Gently in manner, strong in deed.

- Maxim favored by Dwight Eisenhower

A Film Based on the Tom Wolfe Novel?


 

Let's hope it is better than The Bonfire of the Vanities

Alert the Stoics!

The Assumptions

We don't need to challenge the assumptions as much as we need to know what they are.

A Forgotten Point About Immigration

 Ellis Island sent a lot of people back.

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Hit the Books!

 Live & Learn: Why some people become lifelong readers.

Defining Deviancy Down

 UnHerd: Ayaan Hirsi Ali on "The West Has a Deviancy Problem."

Hamas and The Times

 The Free Press: Eli Lake on who is in charge at The New York Times.

South Africa

 The New Criterion: Alexander Chula looks at its state thirty years after apartheid.

New Breakfast

 A cup of Earl Grey tea followed by a double shot of espresso and cream.

Works wonderfully.

Someone is Killing Jedi

 


Some Thoughts on Behalf of Job Applicants

 Remember the old days when you could attach your resume to job applications? Remember making copies of your CV so it could be enclosed with a cover letter? One you mailed via the postal system?

Those were not necessarily pleasant tasks, but they greatly differed from a world in which you must apply online and complete a questionnaire tailored to each organization.

I realize that there are job search outfits that will automatically send your "application" off to a legion of employers; so much, in fact, that you may receive calls inviting you to interviews for jobs you never knowingly applied for.

My main point, however, is that the new system was designed with HR, not the applicant, in mind.

Job searches were difficult enough in the old days without complicating the process.

[Another thing from days gone by: It was standard to receive rejection letters. I now hear of employers who never send rejection letters. That practice is rude and a very poor public relations practice.]

Accountability and Transparency

 I want to see approval signatures on all policies and regulations.

HR's Composition

 DATAUSA has the numbers.

A few excerpts:

In 2021, there were 906,148 HR workers in the United States.

73.4% female

26.6% male

Most common race/ethnicity: White

The Good Old Relationships

 In the good old days, people expected hardship, illness, and enemies because those adversaries were seldom far away and if they visited, your family could well be your first and only line of defense. There's a reason why so many of those old photographs show tough and wary people. Their grim expressions were produced by far more than poor dental care.

They knew that life awaited, and it was seldom a church picnic. Their large families were a calculated work and defense force, and they cultivated strong ties with neighbors because those were part of a mutual aid society long before such groups were formally created.

In short, relationships were a necessity, not an indulgence. 

We need more of them today.

Beautifully Conceived and Beautifully Written

 He decided to join the clamdiggers on the Bayonne Marsh, knowing that they would give him shelter and a place on dry land for the horse, since they had found Peter Lake and raised him (for a time) much in the style of benevolent wolves. They were fiercer than the Short Tails, who now dared not dip an oar or push a pole within miles of their spacious domain for fear of being instantly beheaded.

- From Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Reclaim The Real World

 


Know Your Paths

 Amid a wealth of options, it is important to know the difference between a path, a distraction, and a trap.

Extra Insight and Humility

 Unlike the revolutionaries in France, Russia, China, Cuba, and Iran, the American revolutionaries had an extra insight: they did not trust revolutionaries. 

They developed the framework for a government and included powerful provisions to protect the people from the government. 

As Judge Learned Hand noted many years later, "The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right."

Groundhog It


Remember the point in "Groundhog Day" when it is evident that the Bill Murray character has abandoned self-pity and started a serious campaign of helping others and improving himself? 

We know that's a very good place to be. It's time to get there.

Lonely At The Top

Pick a song that would fit a surprising number of executives and managers.

My choice: "Eleanor Rigby."

And yes, we need to get people back into the office.

Surrounded by History

 I have harped on this subject before. Please bear with me. The subject keeps returning.

My grandfather left the family farm in Tennessee to ride the rails out west. He worked in San Francisco following the Great Earthquake, and rolled through a number of states before winding up in the very small town of Glendale in the Arizona Territory where he picked cotton, delivered mail, and sold vegetables before buying some nearby farmland shortly before statehood. He lived well into his eighties and had a number of interesting habits, such as giving a dollar bill for birthdays. If you were one year old, you got a dollar and if you were 30 years old, you got a dollar.

Quaint. Charming. We all know the type, but here's the interesting part: My brothers and sisters and I never thought to ask him about his life. We grew up near a man who knew people who'd fought in the Civil War, but we didn't bother to ask questions. No queries about San Francisco after the quake or what it was like to jump off a freight train in Colorado, although he could have - and probably would have - told us some interesting stories.

And, of course, no one bothered to write anything down because we'd collected nothing that could be put on a page.

Recommendation: Don't make that mistake.

Fashion Advice


 

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Making Things Worse

 UnHerd magazine: Abigail Schrier on how therapy culture creates victims.

Quick Look

 


The Elite War

 Commentary magazine

Christine Rosen on "The Elite War on the American Middle Class and How to End It."

From "Soap": Magic Trick

 


End DEI

Bari Weiss writing in Tablet magazine. An excerpt: 

What I saw was a worldview that replaced basic ideas of good and evil with a new rubric: the powerless (good) and the powerful (bad). It replaced lots of things. Colorblindness with race obsession. Ideas with identity. Debate with denunciation. Persuasion with public shaming. The rule of law with the fury of the mob

Google's Woke AI

 The Free Press: Francesca Block and Olivia Reingold were there. 

They say Google's woke AI wasn't a mistake.

Shakespeare Surrounds Us

 The world is indeed a stage and, if we knew more, there are days when Grave Digger No. 2 is the most interesting character.

If You are Lucky

 If you are lucky this week, there will be only one totally unexpected interruption to your plans.

Need for Clarity

 Whenever you are in a position of power, it helps to consider how many people in your organization are seriously wondering about what you want.

First Paragraph

 I almost didn't answer the call. I had been gazing absentmindedly out at the hills and the purple splash of heather as the train sped south toward York. But the car was almost empty so I took out the phone and clicked on the button. A voice confirmed my name and asked abruptly if I could go to China. Glancing around me, I whispered, "I can't really take a call right now. I'm in the quiet coach, you see."

- From Chinese Rules: Mao's Dog, Deng's Cat, and Five Timeless Lessons from the Front Lines in China by Tim Clissold

Sunday, March 17, 2024

Saturday, March 16, 2024

"And the Robots Take Over"

 


Seriously Green

A Large Regular has some music recommendations for St. Patrick's Day.

I flash back to a St. Patrick's Day when I was teaching a management workshop in a large hotel ballroom. Unfortunately, the ballroom was right next to the hotel's bar.

From the Beaches of Florida

 FutureLawyer's new book is on philosophy

I'm looking forward to reading what the old Stoic has to say.

Being Wowed All Over Again

 


The Danger of The Sovereign Individual

 The notion that we're all just independent operators with no obligation to our neighbors, our community, or our nation is both short-sighted and poisonous. The idea that the Internet can replace the relationships built through face-to-face communication is ridiculous.

Here's a rule of life: you have to be there. You have to listen and laugh and argue and comfort the people around you in a multitude of exchanges where life's mystery means you may not know just which exchange was the most important.

I can recall off-hand conversations from long ago that seriously affected my life and even my world view.

You never know, but that raised eyebrow, that quiet reassurance, that brief pat on the back may be another person's life changer.

Don't hide away. Get out among 'em.

Friday, March 15, 2024

Ayaan Hirsi Ali on "Defining Civilization Down"

 


When a Plan Is Requested


They want a plan that will provide a direction. I want a clear direction that will shape a plan.

Much of this will collide with reality and will be changed, but the direction must be the constant north star. All of the efforts must contribute to its achievement.


[Photo by Mike Setchell at Unsplash]

Great American What?

 "The Great American Novels" listed by The Atlantic magazine are, in many instances, a real stretch.

Many of the omissions are a real injustice.

Follow the Science

 


Portable Office Floor Plan

 Check out Airstream's "Flying Cloud."

Nitwittery in Canada

 The Post Millennial reports that the Toronto Police Department is advising residents to leave their car key fobs outside so thieves don't need to break into the house to get them.

Thursday, March 14, 2024

Early Gordon

 


Let Children Have Real, Not Fake, Friends

 The Atlantic: Jonathan Haidt on "End the Phone-Based Childhood Now."

The Challenge Surrounding Us

 "Do we want to envision, write, and be in charge of a future in which we are respected as individuals and in which we can enhance and enrich our society? Or do we want our future to be written by a few giant corporations whose technology, algorithms, and devices steadily chip away at our humanity? It's a choice between human beings and machines. Everything - and I mean everything - hinges on this decision."

- Frank H. McCourt, Jr., Our Biggest Fight: Reclaiming Liberty, Humanity, and Dignity in the Digital Age

I Know Which One I Like

Two interpretations of Benjamin Franklin. 




Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Just Arrived

 


Reorganization

 I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing; and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency, and demoralization.

- Petronius Arbiter (circa 60 A.D.)

Harvard and The Truth

 City Journal: An account of a Harvard professor who diverged from the Covid lockdowns.

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Against the Narrative

Jonathan Turley on whether President Trump offered 10,000 troops to protect the Capitol on January 6.

Our Deepest Fear

 Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate,

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented,

and fabulous - 

Actually, who are you not to be?

- Marianne Williamson

It Takes Some Dancing

The new products and services that wow us can be impressive in a variety of ways, but one of them is usually the fact that the need for them has been dancing in front of us and beckoning our attention for years.

But we didn't notice.

Bad Luck Has Relatives

 You never know what worse luck your bad luck has saved you from.

- Cormac McCarthy

Monday, March 11, 2024

Time for Another Look

 


True

There is no education in the second kick of a mule.

- Sam Rayburn

The Career Manifesto

 I wrote this many years ago.  It received a lot of notice when Hugh MacLeod of gapingvoid.com included it with a bunch of manifestos.


1. Unless you’re working in a coal mine, an emergency ward, or their equivalent, spare us the sad stories about your tough job. The biggest risk most of us face in the course of a day is a paper cut.

2. Yes, your boss is an idiot at times. So what? (Do you think your associates sit around and marvel at your deep thoughts?) If you cannot give your boss basic loyalty, either report the weasel to the proper authorities or be gone.

3. You are paid to take meaningful actions, not superficial ones. Don’t brag about that memo you sent out or how hard you work. Tell us what you achieved.

4. Although your title may be the same, the job that you were hired to do three years ago is probably not the job you have now. When you are just coasting and not thinking several steps ahead of your responsibilities, you are in dinosaur territory and a meteor is coming.

5. If you suspect that you’re working in a madhouse, you probably are. Even sociopaths have jobs. Don’t delude yourself by thinking you’ll change what the organization regards as a “turkey farm.” Flee.

6. Your technical skills may impress the other geeks, but if you can’t get along with your co-workers, you’re a litigation breeder. Don’t be surprised if management regards you as an expensive risk.

7. If you have a problem with co-workers, have the guts to tell them, preferably in words of one syllable.

8. Don’t believe what the organization says it does. Its practices are its real policies. Study what is rewarded and what is punished and you’ll have a better clue as to what’s going on.

9. Don’t expect to be perfect. Focus on doing right instead of being right. It will simplify the world enormously.

10.If you plan on showing them what you’re capable of only after you get promoted, you need to reverse your thinking.