Friday, December 30, 2022

If the past few years have taught anything..... is do not trust the "fact-checkers."


Ah, history...............................

 It has been known for millennia that any understanding of the future is only possible if it includes a reasonable understanding of the past. Thucydides already saw history as, in part, "an aid to the interpretation of the future."

     For humanity, as it exists now, is a product of the past—of the intricate, interweaving complexities of recent, and of less recent, history or histories.  The psychological, as well as physical, conditions we thus inherited must be considered with as much care and clarity as can be attained.  This should, of course, include a proper understanding of backgrounds—so different in different cultures and countries.

     Our current confrontations with the enemies of our civilization are in some ways unlike the earlier threats we faced over much of the twentieth century.  The West prevailed then but was much hampered by misevaluations of the hostile motivations of the other side, which diverted our citizens' attention from the realities.  Writing in the early nineteenth century, Thomas Macaulay expressed the hope that in the future our crises would be handled by people "for whom history has not recorded the long series of human crimes and follies in vain."

     Do our countries today meet Maccaulay's standard?  Alas, no.  Both the actions and intentions of the adversaries and the supporters of a plural society are still being misrepresented by some of those responsible for the transmission of Maccaulay's message.

-Robert Conquest, The Dragons of Expectation:  Reality and Delusion in the Course of History

Thursday, December 29, 2022

Lagging indicators......................

 Success as a lagging indicator is a phenomenon that holds true across most areas in life. . . .

When I look in the mirror and I’m a little flabby, that is a lagging indicator that, for weeks and months, I’ve slacked on eating healthy and exercising. . . .

Nothing comes from nowhere. Not success. Not inspiration. Not the muses. Not writer’s block. Everything is a lagging indicator. Of whether or not you did the work.

-as culled from this Ryan Holiday post

Fifty years ago........................

Tumbling Dice.............................The Rolling Stones



 The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself.

-Michel de Montaigne, The Complete Works, Book 1, Chapter 39


      One way to understand Jackson's unconventional courtship of Rachel is to see it as part of a broader personal approach by which he reckoned with the world.  Over a long public service career, he was occasionally accused of skirting legal niceties in the name of expediency.  While president he controversially removed federal deposits from the country's National Bank (thus earning a Senate censure for "assuming upon himself authority and power not conferred by the constitution"), and in another episode he tacitly supported southern postmasters who, in direct opposition to postal law, refused to deliver abolitionist materials.  Jackson, and indeed much of the political movement he headed, believed the country too confined by treaties and technicalities, the kind of formalities and piddling points that easterners presumably used to maintain hegemony over westerners.  In a similar vein, he believed his marriage to Rachel legal in the only sense meaningful to him, showing little concern for the lack of a contract.  In both contexts, in and out of power, he demonstrated a tendency for the intuitive, the immediate, and the practical.  This attitude no doubt reveals something about his personality and temperament, though it is almost certainly indicative as well of the frontier's mounting pressure upon older American institutions, practices, and protocols.

-David S. Brown:  The First Populist: The Defiant Life of Andrew Jackson

True Customer Obsession............

 There are many ways to center a business.  You can be competition focused, you can be product focused, you can be technology focuses, you can be business model focused, and there are more.  But in my view, obsessive customer focus is by far the most protective of Day 1 vitality.

    Why?  There are many advantages to a customer-centric approach, but here's the big one: customers are always beautifully, wonderfully dissatisfied, even when they report being happy and business is great.  Even when they don't yet know it, customers want something better, and your desire to delight customers will drive you to invent on their behalf.  No customer ever asked for Amazon to create the Prime membership program, but it sure turns out they wanted it, and I could give you many such examples.

     Staying in Day 1 requires you to experiment patiently, accept failures, plant seeds, protect saplings, and double down when you see customer delight.  A customer-obsessed culture best creates the conditions where all of that can happen.

-Jeff Bezos, Invent & Wander:  The Collected Writings of Jeff Bezos

Checking in .........................

....................................with Jim Nantz. 

 For an interesting exposition on "goal minded lifestyles" make sure you listen a few moments after the 3:00 minute mark as Jim Nantz chats with Dave Lapham.

Opening paragraphs.................

Samuel Adams delivered what may count as the most remarkable second act in American life.  It was all the more confounding after the first:  he was a perfect failure until middle age.  He found his footing at forty-one, when, over a dozen years, he proceeded to answer to Thomas Jefferson's description of him as "truly the man of the Revolution."  With singular lucidity Adams plucked ideas from the air and pinned them to the page, layering in moral dimensions, whipping up emotions, seizing and shaping the popular imagination. On a wet 1774 night when a group of Massachusetts farmers settled in a tavern before the fire, and pipes in hand, discussed what had driven Bostonians mad—reasoning that Parliament might soon begin to tax horses, cows, and sheep; wondering what additional affronts could come their way; and concluding that it was better to rebel sooner rather than later—it was because the long arm of Samuel Adams had reached them.  He muscled words into deeds, effecting, with various partners, a revolution that culminated, in 1776, with the Declaration of Independence.  It was a sideways, looping, secretive business.  Adams steered New Englanders where he was certain they meant, or should mean, to head, occasionally even revealing the destination along the way.  As a grandson acknowledged: "Shallow men called this cunning, and wise men wisdom."  The patron saint of late bloomers, Adams proved a political genius.

Monday, December 26, 2022

Sounds like a fun place.........

      Langport was a scrum of contending Christian faiths when Walter was going to school.  More than one family was split as the Bagehots were, with adherents of the established church lined up against dissenters.  Walter, attending Unitarian services with this father in the morning and Anglican services with his mother in the afternoon, favored the Church of England.  The town made room for Baptists, Wesleyans, Plymouth Brothers and Sisters, and members of the Home Missionary Society.  It set a place for heathens, too. "From time immemorial," contended James Moreton, a dissenting minister, "Langport was a stronghold of the powers of darkness, proverbial for ignorance of spiritual things, prejudice and wickedness."

-James Grant, Bagehot: The Life and Times of the Greatest Victorian

In the background.........................

Miles Davis......................................Porgy and Bess


Checking in with......................

................................Alan M. Webber

 It's not credentials that count.  It's character.

The world is hungry for heart and for effectiveness.  Not one at the expense of the other, but both together.

We're all simultaneously living at the center of the world.

Don't ignore the emotional side of business.

Most things, from the telephone to the laser to the Internet, don't get used for the purpose for which they were invented.  The inventor creates the technology, and then we find uses for it.

Start small.  Do what you can with something you care about so deeply that you simply can't not do it.

If you don't watch the news regularly and get into a shouting match with your TV set, you're not practicing.  They're not telling you the news; they're telling you how they see the news.  You're entitled to tell them back.

Each of us is brand, and every choice we make communicates what our brand it.

Every leader I've ever met, from politics to business, shares on overriding attribute:  they're all control freaks.  They all think they're in control.  Which is undoubtedly the biggest illusion of our time.

Good question.............

      "I guess maybe it's because I don't know the answer to this question," I said and pointed at the menu.  "Without knowing exactly why I am here, and what I want to do, I just kind of do the things most people are doing."

      "In your experience, does doing what 'most people' are doing help fulfill your Purpose For Existing?" she asked.

-John P. Strelecky, The Why Café


 I do not share that common error of judging another by myself.

-Michel de Montaigne, The Complete Works, Book 1, Chapter 37

Opening paragraphs................

      The wind whistled down the frozen run of Shasta Creek, between the blacker-than-black walls of pine.  The thin naked swamp alders and slight new birches bent before it.  Needle-point ice crystals rode it, like sandpaper grit, carving arabesque whorls in the drifting snow,

     The Iceman followed the creek down to the lake, navigating as much by feel, and by time, as by sight.  At six minutes on the luminous dial of his dive watch, he began to look for the dead pine.  Twenty seconds later, its weather-bleached trunk appeared in the snowmobile headlights, hung there for a moment, then slipped away like a hitchhiking ghost.

     Now. Six hundred yards, compass bearing 270 . . .

-John Sandford, Winter Prey