Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Rain Producers and Rain Workers

Coaching executives, managers and supervisors often involves an exploration of how to get the job done in spite of external pressures or obstacles. It's the classic "working in the rain" situation.

But there are times when you have to address the "weather." That's much harder, of course, but far easier to accomplish than in the natural world. The answer is frequently found by repairing the broken connection between the rain producers and those who have to struggle through the storm.

Leaders need to keep an important aspect of management in mind: that all bold ideas have ripples throughout the organization. There are trade-offs as people choose between competing priorities and then there are times when the demand on available resources reaches a limit. When the latter occurs, eloquent efforts at motivation will do little that is positive.

Great Book Titles

Image result for the fools in town are on our side ross thomas

Quote of the Day

The executive branch of the United States is the largest corporation in the world. It has the most awesome responsibilities of any corporation in the world, the largest budget of any corporation in the world, and the largest number of employees. Yet the entire senior management structure and team have to be formed in a period of seventy-five days.

- H. R. Haldeman

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

News You Can Use

Eclecticity Light: What happens when you drop a cannonball into mercury.

"Sheriff with a Deadly Addiction"

In 1899, Frank sent out an invitation to a hanging, required by law of Arizona Territory sheriffs, which President William McKinley failed to see the humor in. It stated: “Latest improved methods in the art of scientific strangulation will be employed and everything possible will be done to make the proceedings cheerful and the execution a success.”

Read the rest of the True West magazine article. Great photographs. Tragic story.

"Life with a Star"

Image result for life with a star amazon

If I could add a book to the "required reading" list in high schools, it would be Life with a Star by the Czech author Jiri Weil. 

Its main character is a Jew in Prague who is attempting to survive as repression by the Nazis steadily increases. The book's power comes from its understatement. The Germans are always referred to as "they" and the protagonist's daily challenges, which often involve finding enough to eat or figuring out how to get from one place to another without attracting undue attention, are powerful and memorable.

An excerpt:

"Hello, sheriff!" a boy called to me. And everyone laughed, but I knew they weren't laughing at me. I laughed too. It was a funny thing to be going about with this emblem. It was a masquerade that was alien to a world where people worked. It belonged to a fair, to a Punch and Judy show, to somersaults, powdered faces, and kicks in the behind.

Weil managed to elude the death camps by faking his death and hiding in Prague. His other Holocaust-related novel, Mendelssohn Is on the Roof, is also excellent but Life with a Star has a quiet message that never leaves you.

First Paragraph

The First Missouri Mounted Volunteers played an honorable part in the year of decision, and looking back, a private of Company C determined to write his regiment's history. He was John T. Hughes, an A.B. and a schoolmaster. Familiarity with the classics had taught him that great events are heralded by portents. So when he sat down to write his history he recalled a story which, he cautions us,was "doubtless more beautiful than true." Early in that spring of 1846, the story ran, a prairie thunderstorm overtook a party of traders who were returning to Independence, Missouri, from Santa Fe. When it passed over, the red sun had sunk to the prairie's edge, and the traders cried out with one voice. For the image of an eagle was spread across the sun. They knew then that "in less than twelve months the eagle of liberty would spread his broad pinions over the plains of the west, and that the flag of our country would wave over the cities of New Mexico and Chihuahua."

- From The Year of Decision: 1846 by Bernard De Voto

Great Book Titles

Image result for the last camel died at noon amazon

Quote of the Day

We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.

- Teilhard de Chardin

Monday, April 24, 2017

First Paragraph

Bach the musician is an unfathomable genius; Bach the man is all too obviously flawed, disappointingly ordinary and in many ways still invisible to us. In fact we seem to know less about his private life than about that of any other major composer of the last 400 years. Unlike, say, Monteverdi, Bach left behind no intimate family correspondence, and very little beyond the anecdotal has come down to us that can help in painting a more human portrait or to allow a glimpse of him - as son, lover, husband or father. Perhaps there was a fundamental reluctance in him to pull back the curtain and reveal himself; unlike most of his contemporaries, he turned down the opportunity to submit a written account of his life and career when the opportunity arose. The limited, heavily edited version that we have inherited is one he himself spun and handed down to his children. It is not surprising some have concluded that Bach the man is something of a bore.

- From Bach: Music in the Castle of Heaven by John Eliot Gardiner

Presidential Desks? Not Quite.

This article from Town & Country on an expert's view of the neat versus messy desk habits of U.S. presidents not only comes across as biased, but also as ignorant.

For example, anyone who spent ten minutes studying Nixon's management style knows that the photo used was clearly unusual. Study Carter's management style and you'll conclude that it was far from focused.

I also like the wholly subjective call that some examples are staged while others are not. [The most staged item of all was probably the Nixon photo.]

Articles such as these illustrate a common problem with modern journalism: blending bias with ignorance in order to produce a quick hit piece.

That may work provided the readers know nothing about the subject.

Questions: Not Just for Monday

Are you:

  • Initiating or reacting?
  • Advancing or restoring?
  • Taking action or pretending to act?

First Paragraph

Every year officials from the Cochise County, Arizona towns nearest the border get together with their Sonora, Mexico, counterparts for sport and pleasure. They call the event "A Celebration Nation to Nation." In the spirit of international amistad, politicians on both sides proclaim their mutual and eternal goodwill. On other days they might take issue over the problems of migration, drugs, pollution, and smuggling, but on this day the abrazo, the embrace, is in order. As part of this annual observance, officials play volleyball against each other in a game advertised as "a symbol of solidarity and a hand of friendship extended."

- From On the Border: Portraits of American's Southwestern Frontier by Tom Miller

Quote of the Day

I don't wait for moods. You accomplish nothing if you do that. Your mind must know it has got to get down to work.

- Pearl S. Buck

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Essential Bach Mixes

At Cultural Offering, of course.

Theory: If you listen to Bach on Sunday, you'll have a better week.

Unusual But Great

Image result for delicatessen movie amazon

To Le Pen or Not to Le Pen

For those of us who enjoy the intricacies of French politics, there is streaming news regarding today's election at France 24.

First Paragraph

There have been two moments in my life when everything changed. Moments when things could have gone either way. Moments when I had to make a choice.

- From Just One Damned Thing After Another (The Chronicles of St Mary's Book One) by Jodi Taylor

Find Something Beautiful Today

Saturday, April 22, 2017

"No Good Deed Goes Unpunished" File

Althouse makes a valid point about criticism of the new uniforms for employees of McDonald's.



In the Background

Image result for sinatra best of the best amazon

Bock on Books: Pre-suasion

Wally Bock was not persuaded.

Another 1984?

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The French Vote

The Telegraph has a detailed article on tomorrow's elections in France.

The French political scene is always fascinating. Expect the unexpected.

First Paragraph

The world we work in today is not the world of Michelangelo, of Marie Curie, of Ernest Hemingway, or even of Paul Rand. It is a new world, empowered and entranced by the rapid-fire introduction of new technologies - a world where our metaphysical front door is always open, where anyone can whisper in our ear, where a "room of one's own" no longer means you're all alone.

- From Manage Your Day-To-Day: Build the Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind. Edited by Jocelyn K. Glei

Quote of the Day

Wise people are never less alone than when they are alone.

- Jonathan Swift

Friday, April 21, 2017

Music Break: Zaz

Zaz will perk you up for the weekend.

Campus Alert

The Onion: "Berkeley Campus On Lockdown After Loose Pages From 'Wall Street Journal' Found On Park Bench."

Miscellaneous and Fast

Matthew Lang steps back from Twitter.
Eclecticity Light shows the armadillo's defense.
Andrew Munro notes a great line about the Internet.
The trailer for "Versailles."
Ross Runkel expects 10 changes in NLRB rules.
The Simpsons: Mr. Burns visits Yale.

The Queen's Birthday

Queen Elizabeth II was born on this day in 1926.

Extraordinary person. An extraordinary life.

Imagine being in the room for her meetings with the British prime ministers who have served during her reign:
  1. Winston Churchill
  2. Anthony Eden
  3. Harold Macmillan
  4. Alec Douglas-Home
  5. Harold Wilson
  6. Edward Heath
  7. James Callaghan
  8. Margaret Thatcher
  9. John Major
  10. Tony Blair
  11. Gordon Brown
  12. David Cameron
  13. Theresa May

Business of Life + Life of Business

Spend some time today with Nicholas Bate.

Make that "Some time each day."


My knee hurts. 

Not the one that got messed up many years ago when I was with the Army of the Potomac but the other one. 

The good one.

I have a ton of things to do and nursing a bum knee is not on my list. Spent some time last night looking for a password which I failed to enter in the ultra-secret password book (I know, I know) and so I have taken the advice of FutureLawyer and have purchased 12 smartwatches. No, wait, not that advice. I've gone on LastPass and have begun The Long March to store my passwords in a secure spot where I'll only need to remember ONE password.

I feel better already.

In the meantime, I'm hauling out the Sloan's Liniment that I've stored in the back of a drawer lest my wife read the expiration date and throw it out. I don't think it even has an expiration date but if it did I'd ignore it because I subscribe to the notion that medicines improve with age. Besides, the stuff is supposed to hurt. I've heard that the new stuff is a weak version of the killer liniment that was so much a part of my tormented childhood but that just means I'll put on more.

I've tried ointments and the fancy icy stuff that turns hot. This knee demands serious heat.

I'll know it's working when every password I've ever known flashes before my eyes.

[UPDATE: The Sloan's worked. Great stuff.]

McBain Break

Image result for ed mcbain amazon

Quote of the Day

The obvious is that which is never seen until someone expresses it simply.

- Khalil Gibran

Thursday, April 20, 2017

"Her Opponent"

Althouse: An off-Broadway play is going to feature actors playing Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, but with the sexes switched.

This stems from an experiment that was very revealing as to why Trump won.

40 Albums You Should Own

Keep following the postings at Cultural Offering.


Art Break: Schönberger

Art Contrarian looks at the work of Armand Schönberger.

Europe and Its Cultures

With the French elections on the near horizon, it makes sense to revisit a brief video of Mark Steyn's perspective on multiculturalism.

Quote of the Day

  1. Does this action attempt to deceive anyone or allow anyone to be deceived?
  2. Does this action gain or allow the gain of a privilege or advantage to which I or someone else would not otherwise be entitled?
  3. Would I be satisfied by the outcome if I were on the receiving end of the action?
- The U.S. Military Academy's Rules of Thumb