“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else, you are the one who gets burned.” – Buddha
This is what a hero looks like. Running at an active shooter with a trash can as a shield to save others.
Wendi Winters stood as soon as she heard the bangs.A man with a gun had broken the glass doors leading to the newsroom of the Capital Gazette and was shooting at her colleagues, many of whom dropped to the floor or dove under their desks. Not Winters.
Grabbing the trash can and recycling bin she kept by her desk, she ran toward the man and yelled at him to stop — distracting him long enough to allow some of her colleagues to escape. Of the 11 people in the room that day, six survived.
It is important to note that suddenly, and against all probability, a Sperm Whale had been called into existence, several miles above the surface of an alien planet and since this is not a naturally tenable position for a whale, this innocent creature had very little time to come to terms with its identity.
This is what it thought, as it fell:
Ahhh! Woooh! What’s happening? Who am I? Why am I here? What’s my purpose in life? What do I mean by who am I?
Okay okay, calm down calm down get a grip now. Ooh, this is an interesting sensation. What is it? Its a sort of tingling in my… well I suppose I better start finding names for things. Let’s call it a… tail! Yeah! Tail! And hey, what’s this roaring sound, whooshing past what I’m suddenly gonna call my head? Wind! Is that a good name? It’ll do.
Yeah, this is really exciting. I’m dizzy with anticipation! Or is it the wind? There’s an awful lot of that now isn’t it? And what’s this thing coming toward me very fast? So big and flat and round, it needs a big wide sounding name like ‘Ow’, ‘Ownge’, ‘Round’, ‘Ground’! That’s it! Ground! Ha!
I wonder if it’ll be friends with me? Hello Ground!
“Let us not plot against others, lest we injure ourselves. When we supplant the reputation of others, let us consider that we injure ourselves, it is against ourselves that we plot. For perchance with men we do him harm, if we have power, but ourselves in the sight of God, by provoking him against us. Let us not, then, injure ourselves. For as we injure ourselves when we injure our neighbors, so by benefiting them we benefit ourselves” (‘Hom. 14, in Phil.,’ Oxford transl.).
“Stop waiting for your ship to come in–there is no ship–start swimming!”
The Don had not seemed surprised when Hagen returned from California late tuesday evening and told him the results of the negotiations with Woltz. He had made Hagen go over every detail and grimaced with distaste when Hagen told about the beautiful little girl and her mother. Had had murmured “infamita,“ his strongest disapproval. He had asked Hagen one final question, “does this man have real balls?“
Hagen considered exactly when the Don meant by this question. Over the years he had learned that the Don’s values were so different from those of most people that his words also could have a different meaning. Did Woltz have character? Did he have a strong will? He most certainly didn’t, but that was not what the Don was asking. Did the movie producer have the courage not to be bluffed? Did he have the willingness to suffer heavy financial loss delay on his movies would mean, the scandal of his big star exposed as a user of heroin? Again the answer was yes. But again this was not what the Don meant. Finally Hagen translated the question properly in his mind. Did Jack woltz have the balls to risk everything, to run the chance of losing all on a matter of principle, on a matter of honor; for revenge?
Hagen smiled. He did it rarely but now but he could not resist jesting with the Don. “You’re asking if he is a Sicilian.“ The Don nodded his head pleasantly, acknowledging the flattering witticism and its truth. “No,“ Hagen said.
That had been all. The Don had pondered the question until the next day. on Wednesday afternoon he had called Hagen to his home and given him his instructions. The instructions had consumed the rest of Hagen’s working day and left him dazed with admiration. There was no question in his mind that the Don had solved the problem, that Woltz would call him this morning with the news that Johnny Fontane had the starring part in his new war movie.
At that moment the phone did ring but it was Amerigo Bonasera. The undertaker’s voice was trembling with gratitude. He wanted Hagen to convey to the Don his undying friendship. the Don had only to call on him. He, amerigo Bonasera, would lay down his life for the blessed Godfather. Hagen assured him that the Don would be told.
The Daily News had carried a middle-page spread of Jerry Wagner and Kevin Moonan lying in the street. The photos were expertly gruesome, they seemed to be pulps of human beings. Miraculously, said the News, they were both still alive though they would both be in the hospital for months and would require plastic surgery. Hagen made a note to tell Clemenza that something should be done for Paulie Gatto. He seemed to know his job.
Hagen worked quickly and efficiently for the next three hours consolidating earning reports from the Don’s real estate company, his olive oil importing business and his construction firm. None of them were doing well but with the war over they should all become rich producers. He had almost forgotten the Johnny Fontaine problem when his secretary told him California was calling. He felt a little thrill of anticipation as he picked up the phone and said, “Hagen here.“
The voice that came over the phone was unrecognizable with hate and passion. “You fucking bastard,“ Woltz screamed. “I’ll have you all in jail for a hundred years. I’ll spend every penny I have to get you. I’ll get that Johnny Fontane’s balls cut off, do you hear me, you guinea fuck?“
Hagan said kindly, “I’m German-Irish.“ There was a long pause and then a click of the phone being hung up. Hagen smiled. Not once had Woltz uttered a threat against Don Corleone himself. Genius had its rewards.
Jack Woltz always slept alone. He had a bed big enough for ten people and a bedroom large enough for a movie ballroom scene, but he had slept alone since the death of his first wife ten years before. This did not mean he no longer used women. He was physically a vigorous man despite his age, but he could be aroused not by only very young girls and had learned that a few hours in the evening were all the youth his body and his patience could tolerate.
On this Thursday morning, for some reason, he awoke early. The light of dawn made his huge bedroom as misty as a foggy meadowland. Far down at the foot of his bed was a familiar shape and Woltz struggled up on his elbows to get a clearer look. It had the shape of a horse’s head. Still groggy. Woltz reached and flicked on the night table lamp.
The shock of what he saw made him physically ill. It seemed as if a great sledgehammer had struck him on the chest, his heartbeat jumped erratically and he became nauseous. His vomit splattered on the thick bear rug.
Severed from its body, the black silky head of the great horse Khartoum was stuck fast in a thick cake of blood. White, reedy tendons showed. Froth covered the muzzle and those apple-sized eyes that had glinted like gold, were mottled the color of rotting fruit with dead, hemorrhaged blood. Woltz was struck by a purely animal terror and out of the terror he screamed for his servants and out of the terror he called Hagen to make his uncontrolled threats. His maniacal raving alarmed the butler, who called Woltz’s personal physician and his second in command at the studio. But Woltz regained his senses before they arrived.
He had been profoundly shocked. What kind of man could destroy an animal worth six hundred thousand dollars? Without a word of warning. Without any negotiation to have the act, its order, countermanded. The ruthlessness, the sheer disregard for any values, implied a man who considered himself completely his own law, even his own God. And a man who backed up this kind of will with the power and cunning that held his own stable security force of no account. For by this time Woltz had learned that the horse’s body had obviously been heavily drugged before someone leisurely hacked the huge triangular head off with an ax. The men on night duty claimed that they had heard nothing. To Woltz this seemed impossible. The could be made to talk. They had been bought off and they could be made to tell who had done the buying.
Woltz was not a stupid man, he was merely a supremely egotistical one. He had mistaken the power he wielded in his world to be more potent than the power of Don Corleone. He had merely needed some proof that this was not true. He understood this message. That despite all his wealth, despite all his contacts with the President of the United States, despite all his claims of friendship with director of the FBI, an obscure importer of Italian olive oil would have him killed. would actually have him killed! Because he wouldn’t give Johnny Fontane a movie part he wanted. It was incredible. People didn’t have any right to act that way. There couldn’t be any kind of world if people acted that way. It was insane. It meant you couldn’t do what you wanted with your own money, with the companies you owned , the power you had to give orders. It was ten times worse than communism. It had to be smashed. It must never be allowed.
Woltz let the doctor give him a very mild sedation. It helped him calm down again and to think sensibly. What really shocked him was the casualness with which this man Corleone had ordered the destruction of a world-famous horse worth six hundred thousand dollars. Six hundred thousand dollars! And that was just for openers. Woltz shuddered. He thought of this life he had built up. He was rich. He could have the most beautiful women in the world by crooking his finger and promising a contract. He was received by kings and queens. He lived a life as perfect as money and power could make it. It was crazy to risk all this because of a whim. Maybe he could get to Corleone. What was the legal penalty for killing a racehorse? He laughed wildly and his doctor and servants watched him with nervous anxiety. Another thought occurred to him. He would be the laughingstock of California merely because someone had contemptuously defied his power in such arrogant fashion. That decided him. That and the thought that maybe, maybe they wouldn’t kill him. That they had something much more clever and painful in reserve.
Woltz gave the necessary orders. His personal confidential staff swung into action. The servants and the doctor were sworn to secrecy on pain of incurring the studio’s and Woltz’ undying enmity. Word was given to the press that the racehorse Khartoum had died of an illness contracted during his shipment from England. Orders were given to bury the remains in a secret place on the estate.
Six hours later Johnny Fontane received a phone call from the executive producer of the film telling him to report for work the following Monday.
– from “The Godfather“
Scores of readers, often students, wrote to Wilder over the years seeking his position on the questions posed in The Bridge. In this excerpt from a letter written march 6, 1928, four months after the appearance of the novel, Wilder responds to a query from John Townley, one of his former pupils at Lawrenceville.
Lawrenceville, New Jersey
The book is not supposed to solve. A vague comfort is supposed to hover above the unanswered questions, but it is not a theorem with its Q.E.D. The book is supposed to be as puzzling and distressing as the news that five of your friends died in an automobile accident. I dare not claim that all sudden deaths are, in the last counting, triumphant. As you say, a little over half the situations seem to prove something and the rest escape, or even contradict.
Chekhov said: “The business of literature is not to answer questions, but to state them fairly.“
I claim that human affection contains a strange unanalyzable consolation and that is all. People who are full of faith claim that the book is a vindication of this optimism; disillusioned people claim that it is a barely concealed “anatomy of despair. I am nearer the second group than the first; though some days I discover myself shouting confidentially in the first group.
Where will i be thirty years from now? – with Hardy or Cardinal Newman?
– Thornton Wilder
Afterward, The Bridge of San Louis Rey
“When the pressure is intense, a driver who is being chased relentlessly by a competitor, realizes that he might be better off pushing from behind than pulling from the front. In that case the smart move is to yield his lead to the trailing car and let the other driver pass. Relieved of his burden our new leader can tuck in behind and make the leader drive his mirrors.
Sometimes however it is important to hold one’s position, and not allow the pass. For strategic reasons. Psychological reasons.
Sometimes a driver simply has to prove that he is better than his competition. Racing is about discipline and intelligence. Not about who has the heavier foot. The one who drives smart will always win in the end.
Sometimes you have to assert yourself.
And dramatically speaking, intention is everything.
No race has ever been won in the first corner. But many a race has been lost there.”
– Enzo, The Art of Racing in the Rain
The West went to Vienna accusing Asia of trying to undermine the ideal of universality and determined to blame Asia if the conference failed. Inevitably Asia resisted. The result after weeks of wrangling was a predictable diplomatic compromise ambiguous enough so that all could live with it, but settled very few things. There was no real dialogue between Asia and the West, no genuine attempt to address the issues or forge a meeting of minds.
– Ambassador Kausikan, World Conference on Human Rights, Vienna, June 1993
“…nothing so liberalizes a man and expands the kindly instincts that nature put in him as travel and contact with many kinds of people. An Englishman, an Irishman, a Scotchman, an Italian or so, several Frenchmen and a number of Americans were present, and you couldn’t ask a question about any possible country under the sun, but some fellow in the crowd had been there and could give the information from personal experience.”
– Mark Twain
“did I say that? “¦. whatever”¦. shit”¦.. Whenever you play some shit and someone else feels inspired to get off their ass and do something creative, positive. That’s some shit, right?”
“I know that, all my life, I’ve been going around in a fog. You’re just a bunch of molecules until you know who you are. You spend your time getting to be a big Hollywood actor. But then what? You’ve reached a comfortable plateau, and you want to stay on it; you resist change. One day, after many weeks of LSD, my last defense crumbled. To my delight, I found I had a tough inner core of strength. In my youth, I was very dependent upon older men and women. Now people come to me for help!“
– Carey Grant
“I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.” – Douglas Adams
“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘press on’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”
– Calvin Coolidge
Kay: We do not discharge our weapons in view of the public!
Jay: Man, we ain’t got time for this cover-up bullshit! I don’t know whether or not you’ve forgotten, but there’s an Arquillian Battle Cruiser that’s about to…
Kay: There’s always an Arquillian Battle Cruiser, or a Corillian Death Ray, or an intergalactic plague that is about to wipe out all life on this miserable little planet, and the only way these people can get on with their happy lives is that they DO NOT KNOW ABOUT IT!
Connor: Now you will receive us.
Murphy: We do not ask for your poor, or your hungry.
Connor: We do not want your tired and sick.
Murphy: It is your corrupt we claim.
Connor: It is your evil that will be sought by us.
Murphy: With every breath we shall hunt them down.
Connor: Each day, we will spill their blood till it rains down from the skies.
Murphy: Do not kill, do not rape, do not steal, these are principles which every man of every faith can embrace.
Connor: These are not polite suggestions, these are codes of behavior and those of you that ignore them will pay the dearest cost.
Murphy: There are varying degrees of evil, we urge you lesser forms of filth not to push the bounds and cross over, into true corruption, into our domain.
Connor: For if you do, one day you will look behind you and you will see we three. And on that day, you will reap it.
Murphy: And we will send you to whatever god you wish.
[Murphy and Conner join II Duce behind Yakavetta]
Connor, Murphy, Il Duce: And shepherds we shall be, for Thee, my Lord, for Thee. Power hath descended forth from Thy hand.
Connor, Murphy, Il Duce: That our feet may swiftly carry out Thy command. So we shall flow a river forth to Thee, and teeming with souls shall it ever be.
Il Duce: In nomine Patri.
Connor: Et Fili.
Murphy: Spiritus Sancti.
“People react to fear, not love. They don’t teach that in Sunday school, but it’s true.” – Richard Nixon
“I always laugh when somebody says, “don’t be so judgmental.“ Being judgmental is just what we do. Not being judgmental really would be like death. Normative behavior is normal. That original self-conscious, slightly despairing glance in the mirror (together with, “Is this it?“ or “Is that all there is?“) is a great enabler because it compels us to seek improvement.”
– Andy Martin, NYT The Phenomenology of Ugly
“I hate the word “genius.“ I think people misuse it. They think that if someone’s a genius, everything just happens. That’s bullshit. It’s about respecting yourself and your talent, and realizing that there are no shortcuts. Whether it’s now or later, you have to put in the effort to get from point A to point B. You can’t just take a side street.“
I emailed out to the company today’s quote of the day, something we do internally, with the three quotes below. But given how popular advice from 37 Signals is among some of my employees, I wanted to add some commentary (after the jump). And BTW, I definitely agree with these three quotes from Rework.
“You need less than you think”¦Do you really need six months or can you make something in two?“ (pg. 53)
“No time is no excuse. The most common excuse people give: “There’s not enough time.“ They claim they’d love to start a company, learn an instrument, market an invention, write a book, or whatever, but there just aren’t enough hours in the day. Come on. There’s always enough time if you spend it right.“ (pg. 40)
“When you put off decisions, they pile up. And piles end up ignored, dealt with in haste, or thrown out. As a result, the individual problems in those piles stay unresolved. Whenever you can, swap “˜Let’s think about it’ with “˜Let’s decide on it.’ Commit to making decisions. Don’t wait for the perfect solution. Decide and move forward. You want to get into the rhythm of making choices. When you get into that flow of making decision after decision, you build momentum and boost morale”¦You can’t build on top of “˜We’ll decide later,’ but you can build on top of “˜Done.’ The problem comes when you postpone decisions in the hope that a perfect answer will come to you later. It won’t.“ (pg. 77)
All from Jason Fried and David Hansson in the book Rework
COMMENTS: 37 Signals has been successful creating jobs for people and making a profit. They build tools for themselves and then share their applications with others. There is no question Basecamp is a success. The 37 Signals formula is to build products to the exact specifications of THEIR customers, it just so happens the customer is first and foremost THEM.
Our business model is different. We make products for OTHER people. This is a subtle but important distinction. Picture a male fashion designer who makes women’s clothes. He can appreciate them. He has a creative vision. But the clothes he designs will be worn by his female clientele. The male fashion designer’s success is when women purchase his designs built for the them. The male fashion designer is challenged to make a simple and beautiful product that works with the physical reality of his customers.
While I usually agree with the content of Rework, I find I do not always agree with the 37 Signals viewpoint. Yes, it works for them. Yes I agree with 90% of it. But just as critical is to know what advice is bad advice for a firm like ours. I think it is important that I plan for the company’s future. Thus I do not agree with statements such as this:
“Writing a plan makes you feel in control of things you can’t actually control”¦Why don’t we call plans what they really are: guesses. Start referring to your business plans as business guesses, your financial plans as financial guesses and your strategic plans as strategic guesses. Now you can stop worrying about them as much.“ (pg. 19)
It is catchy. It makes for a good anti-establishment Purple Cow type of quote. But I suspect the employees at Schipul appreciate me applying that advice carefully. Does that advice relate to our particular situation? No. And I think the team at 37 is plenty of smart enough to tell people to apply their advice…well, if it applies!
Sometimes advice is populist, but there is a logical flaw. A company who follows the infamous “work smarter not harder“ quickly falls to a company that believes “work smarter AND harder.“ Working smarter-not-harder would only work if hard workers were dumb. But we get smarter through experience! So unfortunately, hard workers are typically also smarter than you. Oooops. But we don’t like to admit that. What we want to hear is that the 4 hour work week is a winner. I certainly wish the global economy worked that way!
I guess I am saying, use common sense and trust experience built upon DOING stuff.