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Friday, October 31, 2003


Now that the Bush administration is gearing up for a second term- my previously held notion that Al Gore was robbed off the Presidency in 2000 is in need for a review. In doing so, I re-read the interviews conducted with the two presidential candidates by Fast Company editor Alan M.Webber, one of FC’s founders.
In these interviews the presidential nominees presented two completely different views of leadership and character. Reading them once again- the tight and “wooden” Al Gore- and his hawkish opponent; the populist Texan conservative- George Bush, current President of the US are reanimated in a bout for consistency.

Bush -“The president has to be steady and accurate-to make decisions that are consistent in nature, regardless of the political consequences. A president has to make decisions on principle; he can’t chase public opinion”- defines his view for a clear and uncompromisable political directive, one that he has not strayed far from since his election.

Gore –“One of my missions, if I’m entrusted with the presidency, is to bring about a transformation of the federal government. Three years ago, I published a book called Access America, a blueprint for moving government services onto the Web, I challenged each governmental organization-the departments and the agencies-to plan a transition to Web-based service and to change its organizational style” – sticks with the Web related metaphors which he considered a blueprint for a transparent and streamlined governance. Looking back “the odd candidate” George W. Bush has shown a consistent pattern of focused and uni-directional leadership that may ultimately bring the US on a collision course with its former allies, as well as endangering its geo political foothold in the Arabic world.

In an IHT article that explores the relationship between George W. Bush and his mother Barbara- light is shed on Bush’s personality and the inspirational bond that he shares with his mother ever since young George W.’s sister died of leukemia. From his mother George W. inherited the bluntness- stubbornness and the instinctive, morality-charged political compass which typifies the current President of the US.


From: BUSH: Like mother, like president, some say – by Dana Milbank

“ For April Foley, a friend of Bush’s since Harvard Business School, the moment Bush demonstrated himself to be the mother’s son came when the president, in the rubble of the World Trade Center, bellowed into a bullhorn. “The people who knocked down these buildings will hear from us soon.”
“That moment at Ground Zero was very much a Barbara Bush moment,” she said. “from his mother I see that feistiness, that street-smart person who ahs a good nose for people, a good political nose.”
For Rich Bond, who ran George H.W. Bush’s primary campaign in Iowa in 1980, the moment came when Bush said shortly after Sept. 11, “When I take action, I’m not going to fire $2milllion missile at a $10 empty tent and hit a camel in the butt.”
“That’s classic, classic Barbara Bush,” Bond said. “She cuts to the chase.”
Craig Stapleton, a close Bush freind who is ambassador to the Czech republic, points out that Bush has also demonstrated some of his father’s qualities in the past year, including a new appreciation for history. And family and friends say the simillarities to his mother seen in the last year are nothing new to them.
The difference, many say, is that the crisis atmosphere has demanded from Bush the traits typically identified with his quick-witted mother rather than his diplomatic father. “His mother came out over the past year,” said one of the president’s closest friends. “He probably has more of his mother’s traits- the sharp tongue, the wit, the combination of love and reproach.”

IHT 7-8 Sept 2002


From Fast Company – October 2000

“The Web is freeing people.”

-George Bush- Texas Governor


FC: Does the economy change the job of the president?

George Bush: “I view the president as someone who sets the tone and goals for the country. A president, however, cannot set numerous goals. There is only so much political capital to spend. So the president has to set just a few powerful goals. One such goal is reforming Social Security. Another is educating every child. These are powerful goals.
Another goal that fits into the new world has to do with the military. We have a chance to redefine war-the terms of war, the grounds on which war will be fought-and therefore to redefine how peace is kept. The new economy is driving much of the technology that can yield a different type of military 30 years from now-if we have adequate money for refocused research and development. But now’s the time to start.”


“Our constitution should be seen as a piece of software.”

-Al Gore- Vice President of the US


FC: Does the new economy change what it means to be a leader today?

Al Gore: “The new requirements for leadership are very different from the old ones. First, in any organization-whether it’s a company, a government, or a nation-the right kind of leader accepts responsibility for articulating and making manifest a clear vision of what the organization is all about. That means not only where it’s going but also how it’s going to get there.
Second, a leader also accepts and discharges responsibility for creating and constantly maintaining a shared set of values that can serve as a constant guide for decision making in any part of the organization. Most organizations encounter change at their edges, not at their centers. The leader of an organization is usually at the organization’s center. That means that the people at the outer edges of the organization, not the leader, are more likely to encounter change expressed by a customer.
Now, it’s totally inefficient to require those people to engage in time-consuming communication-conveying descriptions of the change, begging for permission to respond to that change, and waiting for a lot of information processing to occur at the center before teaking action. And, of course, it’s also inefficient for the leader at the centetr to respond to similar requests for permission that are coming from all parts of the organization simultaneously.
Instead, it’s far more efficient for a leader constantly to refresh the shared understanding of the organization’s values. That way, in any situation, the person who is meeting directly with the customers is likely to make the same decision that the leader would make in that situation.
Third, a leader has to articulate specific goals, a rough prioritization of work, and a time frame for achieving those goals that everyone can understand. The goals, of course, have to be consistent with the values, and the goals should be in line with the vision that the entire organization is pursuing.”


posted by Walter at 10/31/2003

Sunday, October 26, 2003


At first the flame burning from the window sill of the apartment on the third floor seemed inconspicuous. My girlfriend and I passed it by underneath; looking up I spotted it. The flame curled up and down, and I couldn’t quite make out whether its strength was intensifying or not. The flames transmitted an eery and ominous atmosphere though, since they must have been at least 40 cms in height. Momentarily we stopped and wondered whether to warn the occupants of the apartment. We decided to pass on, since all rooms were brightly lit, and the apartment seemed occupied.

We paid no further heed to the incident, until early this morning. News radio reported a serious fire which had occurred in the town center last night, destroying an apartment on the upper floor of a canal building. Killing both occupants, a male and a female.

Did we experience a (light) case of precognition? These two events seemed foreboding and inter-related.

A curious and engaging little book that I salvaged from my late father’s book chest details many of these supernatural phenomena. Below are six cases excerpted from the book’s introduction.


Apparition Seen by Eight People

“Captain Towns died in Sidney, Australia. Six weeks later two friends entered one of the rooms in his house. “They were amazed to see, reflected as it were on the polished surface of the wardrobe, the image of Captain Towns. It was like an ordinary medallion portrait, but life-size. Surprised and half-alarmed at what they saw, their first idea was that a portrait had been hung in the room, and that what they saw was its reflection, but there was no picture of any kind. “Whilst they were looking and wondering ... Miss Towns came into the room, and before either of the others had time to speak she exclaimed, “Good ghracious! Do you see papa?” “One of the housemaids, happening to pass, was called in and said, “Oh miss! The master!” Captain Towns’s old servant was sent for and exclaimed, “Oh Lord save us! Mrs. Lett, it’s the Captain!” The butler and the nurse were called and saw the image.
“Finally, Mrs. Towns was sent for, and, seeing the apparition, she advanced towards it with her arm extended as if to touch it, and as she passed her hand over the panel of the wardrobe the figure gradually faded away, and never again appeared.”

The Dying Dog That Called Its Master

“I was awakened,” wrote Rider Haggard, “by my wife’s voice calling to me... As I awoke, the nightmare itself, which had been long and vivid, faded from my brain. But between the time when I heard my wife’s voice and the time that my consciousness answered to it, I had another dream. “I dreamed that a black retriever dog, a most amiable and intelligent beast named Bob... was lying on its side among brushwood by water... in my vision the dog was trying to speak to me in words, and, fealing, transmitted to my mind in an undefined fashion the knowledge that it was dying.
“then everything vanished, and I woke to hear my wife asking me why on earth I was making these weird noises. I replied that I had dreamed that old Bob was in a dreadful way, and was trying to tell me about it.”
Soon after, the dog’s collar was found on an openwork railway bridge and three days later, its body in the river beneath. It had evidently been struck by a train.”

American Salesman

An American traveling salesman, while making out his orders and smoking a cigar, saw the apparition of his dead sister. She looked perfectly natural, except for a red scratch on her right cheek. When he told his mother, she nearly fainted, and explained that when preparing the girl’s body for burial she had accidentally made a scratch on it, had at once covered it with powder, and had said nothing to anyone.

Wife’s Apparition Visits Husband at Sea

In 1863 two Americans, Mr.Wilmot and Mr. Tait, were crossing the Atlantic and occupying the same two-berth cabin, Mr. Wilmot being in the lower berth. The cabin was right aft and, owing to the slope of the ship’s side, the two berths were not vertically over one another. One night, he tells us, “toward morning I dreamed that I saw my wife... come to the door of my state-room, clad in her nightdress. At the door she seemed to discover that I was not the only occupant of the room, hesitated a little, then advanced to my side, stooped down and kissed me, and after gently caressing me for a few moments, quietly withdrew..
“Upon waking I was surprised to see my fellow passenger.... leaning upon his elbow, and looking fixedly at me. “You’re a pretty fellow,” said he at length, “to have a lady come and visit you in this way.” I pressed him for an explanation... but at length he related what he had seen while wide awake, lying in his berth. It exactly corresponded with my dream.”On arrival at his home, Mr. Wilmot’s wife asked him if he had had a visit from her on the previous Tuesday week, at a time when he was 1,000 miles from land and at the time when he was having his dream.
Mrs. Wilmot explained that being anxious about the bad weather and reported loss of the ship, she had felt herself transported into her husband’s cabin. “Tell me,” she added. “Do they ever have state-rooms like the one I saw, where the upper berth extends further back than the under one? A man was in the upper berth looking right at me, and for a momnet I was afraid to go in, but soon I went up to the side of your berth, bent down and kissed you, and embraced you, and then went away.” The report was confirmed by Mr. Wilmot’s wife and sister.

Incurable Crocodile Skin Disappears

Crocodile skin, or congenital ichtyosis, is not a disease; it is an incurable misfortune inherited from a parent. Somewhere in the genes, the carriers of heredity, a change has taken place, a change for the worse, which later is manifested in this hideous deformity- a human being with thick scales instead of soft skin.
A sixteen-year-old boy suffered from this. A black, horny layer covered almost all his body. A small mercy was that at least his face and neck were normal.
In february 1951, the boy was thrown into a hypnotic trance and in that state firmly and gently told that his left arm would be cleared of the horrible excrescence. Some five days later the horny scales fell off. Next the right arm was treated in the same way, and then the legs and the torso. Today there is little sign of the original deformity except on the fingers. The legs and feet are 50 per cent cleared. The doctors can offer no explanation.

The Dream House That Existed

Mrs. Butler, who lived in Ireland, kept dreaming of “the most enchanting house I ever saw.” Night after night she seemd to spend hours in it. The conservatory and gareden were particularly delightful. The family got to regard it as a family joke.
Some time after, Mr. And Mrs. Butler went to England and looked for houses within forty miles of London. The agents gave them long lists, and they inspected many and had many disappointments. One day they drove to see a property in Hampshire. When they reached the lodge gates, Mrs. Butler said: “Why, this is the lodge of my dream house.” When the housekeeper let them in, Mrs. Butler said: “You will think it very odd, but do you mind my showing Y O U the house? That passage leads to the library, and through that there is a conservatory, and then through a window you can enter the drawing room.” They came to a braize door which puzzled Mrs. Butler. She hadn’t seen it in her dreams. Naturally not; it had only been put in six weeks before.
The Butlers decided to buy the house. The price was, they thought, ridiculously low. They went to the agent, who started up in his chair when Mrs. Butler entered his office. The house, he said, was supposed to be haunted, and he added: “But you, madam, need be under no apprehension. You are the ghost!”
When Mrs. Butler had been dreaming of the house, its occupants had seen her apparition.


From: THE UNKNOWN – IS IT NEARER? – by Eric J.Dingwall and John Langdon-Davies
(C) Signet Books 1956


posted by Walter at 10/26/2003