TOTD 2018/5/8: Ambassadorial Wisdom

As some of you all know, I lived in Japan as a young child.  During the mid-to-late 1970s, my father was a U.S. Customs representative assigned to the embassy in Tokyo and my mother taught Spanish at an all-girls Catholic school.  My dad’s first boss during his tenure was Ambassador James Day Hodgson, who before being appointed to that position by Gerald Ford, had served as Secretary of Labor under Richard Nixon.

In 1992, Hodgson published a book titled American Senryu: Verses by a Former Ambassador.  I purchased a copy in 1993 on a visit to Tokyo, and the tome remains one of my most valued possessions, for the wisdom contained therein is timeless.

For those unfamiliar with the Japanese literary art form of senryu, click here.

Apropos of recent events elsewhere, I was reminded of the good ambassador’s verse about pettiness, found on page 53 of his book:

A melange of evil
Swims noisily in the small mind
Before subsiding.

Hodgson explains:

“About all that can be said on behalf of the mean-spirited is that their fulminations are rarely rewarded. Most of their spiteful scheming sputters and peters out in pathetic ineptitude.”

Sou desu ne.

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TOTD 2018-5-1: Quotes by Rob Schneider

http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2018/04/30/alec-baldwin-says-rob-schneider-has-point-in-criticism-snl-trump-impersonation.html

I read the above article and it made a lot of sense. It comes from the viewpoint of comedy has been lost.

 

 

 

Well, what are your thoughts, nutjobs? 


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Quote: America’s Formula for Success in WW2

Dwight Eisenhower understood. In 1943 the American commander wrote to Washington from North Africa requesting equipment to set up ten bottling plants. His staff had determined that Coke was crucial to the war effort. “I had them make a survey to see just what the men wanted,” Ike afterward told a congressional committee, “and more of them voted for Coca-Cola than beer.” Beer might quench the men’s thirst, but Coke reminded them what they were fighting for. A sergeant from Kansas explained to his parents: “It’s the little things, not the big things, that the individual soldier fights for or wants so badly when away.” “It’s the girl back home in a drug store over a Coke, or the juke box and the summer weather.” Eisenhower (another Kansan) felt exactly the same way. “I wish I could be home and go down to the cafe this morning and have a Coke with the gang,” Eisenhower wrote a friend. “I can’t do that here.”—Masters of Enterprise by H. W. Brands

Ike knew that Pepsi would not have gotten the job done.


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They had Henry Kaiser over a barrel.

The railroad decided to play tough with Henry Kaiser. Kaiser was supplying the cement for the building of the Shasta Dam. The Southern Pacífic Railroad had close ties to the cement cartel that lost the contract so they wanted to get even. When Kaiser asked for a good rate to ship his cement from the plant around a mountain, they said, “No.” They weren’t even going to lay track to his cement plant. He had to build a conveyor belt to their tracks. Kaiser was over a barrel.

This is what happened:

“Then one of my boys said to me, ‘Why don’t we just build our own conveyor belt the whole distance across the mountain?’” recalled Kaiser. This was more than Kaiser had been planning to take on, and he dismissed the idea. “Then he had the nerve to say to me, ‘Are you chicken?’ Well, I sure didn’t like that either, so I said, ‘I’m not chicken; we’ll build it.’”
And so they did. The ten-mile belt was the longest conveyor in the world. It went up ridges and down; it crossed the Sacramento River twice; it traversed four creeks, five county roads, the main state highway and—to Kaiser’s distinct pleasure—the S. P. line. Where it passed near a school a special mesh was placed to catch any falling rocks; all along the route horizontal bars were placed low over the belt to discourage thrill-seeking riders. Costing a modest $ 1.5 million to build, it delivered more than ten million tons of aggregate at a third less than the railroad wanted to charge. Kaiser couldn’t have been happier at sticking a finger in the eye of his antagonists. “Losing out on the construction of the Shasta Dam was one of the best things that ever happened to us,” he chuckled.—Masters of Enterprise by H.W. Brands

 

Henry Kaiser had problems understanding what was impossible. Like we all know you can’t make a ship in less than a week let alone in “four days, fifteen hours, and twenty-six minutes”.

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Andrew Carnegie Quote

Here is another quote from, Masters of Enterprise by H. W. Brands.

In his instructions to his subordinates Carnegie made his philosophy succinct and explicit.
Show me your cost sheets. It is more interesting to know how well and how cheaply you have done this thing than how much money you have made, because the one is a temporary result, due possibly to special conditions of trade, but the other means a permanency that will go on with the works as long as they last.


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Andrew Carnegie Quote

Yet he strove constantly to bring them down. Efficiency became an obsession with Carnegie. He adapted accounting methods from the Penn to monitor every item his mills used. “There goes that damned bookkeeper,” grumbled one of his foremen. “If I use a dozen more bricks than I did last month, he knows it and comes round to ask why.” Carnegie found ways to use what other companies tossed out as scrap. He hired a full-time chemist who overturned received notions about ore quality and saved millions of dollars in purchasing. Appalled at the high cost of fire insurance, Carnegie ordered his wooden buildings replaced with iron and cancelled his policies. He was always on the lookout for the latest improvements in production technology, which he implemented at once almost without regard to current cost. In one case he ordered his lieutenants to tear out a three-month-old rolling mill when he found something more efficient. Encountering a British steel man who boasted that his company maintained its equipment so well that it was still using facilities that were twenty years old, Carnegie retorted that that was precisely what was wrong with Britain’s industry. “It is because you keep this used-up machinery that the United States is making you a back number.”[emphasis not in the original]—- “Masters of Enterprise” by H. W. Brands

 


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Cornelius Vanderbilt Quote

I am reading the book, Masters of Enterprise by H. W. Brands, and came across this quote. His associates chose unwisely.

His canal plans, however, ran afoul of the British government, which refused to sanction a Central American waterway it didn’t control; they also collided with the machinations of some former associates who, during the first vacation of his life, attempted to swindle him out of control of his own company. Vanderbilt responded with a letter that became legendary in the annals of American business:

Gentlemen:

You have undertaken to cheat me. I won’t sue you, for the law is too slow. I’ll ruin you.

Yours truly, Cornelius Vanderbilt


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