Sundry Ramblings & Photos

Sunday, February 07, 2016

posted by William 2/07/2016

Thursday, October 09, 2008

I won't jinx this time by offering an electoral vote prediction, like four years ago...
posted by William 10/09/2008

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Thank you, Joe.
posted by William 1/08/2008

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

posted by William 1/09/2007

Friday, December 31, 2004

this is an audio post - click to play

posted by William 12/31/2004

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

My prediction: Kerry wins with 309 electoral votes. Here's to hoping...

posted by William 11/02/2004

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

posted by William 10/06/2004

posted by William 10/06/2004

posted by William 10/06/2004

Thursday, January 08, 2004


At his first news conference since his return, Gibbs said something like, "When it came right down to it, I couldn't coach anywhere else. It had to be here." See my last post to see how this is so wonderfully consistent with his character. Thanks Joe, for being such an inspiration.
posted by William 1/08/2004

Why Gibbs' Return Matters

The Redskins have been the most unstable team in the NFL for the past decade. With five head coaches, at least 10 starting quarterbacks, meddling ownership, and a fixation on celebrity free agents that have not pulled their weight, Redskins football has been a zoo. Even in the era of free agency, with the general instability that has wrought, the Redskins have stuck out.

It had gotten to the point where one, even as a die-hard fan, had to ask the question: "What am I routing for here -- is it just a jersey now?" And, as importantly, "Does that jersey represent what it used to � when I was a young, impressionable kid?"

Gibbs redeems us. His return, due partly to his frustration watching the franchise deteriorate, reaffirms not only that there will be something extraordinary to root for these coming seasons, but also that our faith has not been in vain.

We (at least people my age, who grew up with Gibbs coaching) have been passionately rooting for the Redskins because the old Redskins organization -- led by Gibbs -- stood for not only success and three Super Bowl victories, but also Gibbs' loyalty to his players, even when critics thought they were past their prime. Also, Gibbs' Redskins were always prepared, always tough, and (unlike some opponents) never a vulgar team. The teams, writ large, were a reflection of Gibbs the man.

The glory days Redskins had great players, to be sure, but fewer of them than other dominant teams. The key to the Redskins success lay in their ability to truly play as a team, with the sum becoming greater than the parts. The lunch pail/blue collar -- whatever you want to call it -- ethos of Gibbs' old teams was unique, palpable, and appreciated.

I deeply, madly, want Gibbs� to succeed. But he can go 0-16 for all I care. His teams will be prepared. He'll make the best use of the talent he has at his disposal. He's more than a bridge to the past -- he brings true and rare class back to the Redskins, and for that alone he has my unyielding support.

In the past, he regularly had his teams, even when they were champions, believing they were underdogs. This managing of expectations kept his players sharp and where they needed to be. Contrast this style with the common refrain from Redskins players after their losses the last several seasons, when they've said, "We've got too much talent on this team to be losing like this."

They won't be talking like that with Gibbs around. Did you see him on T.V. yesterday? He's got the same low-key, self-effacing attitude as ever. He�s already talking about how hard it�s going to be to win. He�s already managing expectations brilliantly, and getting the team ready to prepare, and work, with a new level of intensity and dedication.


posted by William 1/08/2004

Wednesday, January 07, 2004


I heard the preliminary announcement right after our alarm clock radio started this morning. I turned to my wife and asked, "Am I dreaming, darling?"

Twenty three years after first being named the Washington Redskins head coach, Joe Gibbs has returned.

This is my happiest day as a Redskin fan since I was at the last Super Bowl the Redskins won. The Redskins will return to playing quality football -- but regardless of how they do, just seeing Gibbs back on the sidelines is a priviledge.

The suffering the Redskins fans have faced since Gibb's departure in March 1993 makes this day that much sweeter.

posted by William 1/07/2004

Monday, December 29, 2003

posted by William 12/29/2003

posted by William 12/29/2003

Monday, December 22, 2003

posted by William 12/22/2003

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

posted by William 10/21/2003

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

"Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought."

-- Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, 1937 Nobel Laureate in Medicine
posted by William 6/11/2003

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

check out
    MC Mabon
and his hit People Are So Stupid

posted by William 5/06/2003

Monday, May 05, 2003

Whatever you can do,
or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius,
power and magic in it.


What does "Be Bold" mean?

It means that your greatest chances for success come from bold actions.

When you experiment, make big changes.

When you choose factors, choose as many as you can afford to study.

Choose factors nobody has studied before.

Dare to ignore company folklore.

Be willing to question theories.

Be bold, but don't be reckless. Gambling is for vacations -- not your work.

Excerpted from

posted by William 5/05/2003

Monday, June 10, 2002

Maybe free will is the result of something called ''computational irreducibility'' -- the fact that the only way to know what many systems will do is to just turn them on and let them run.

From George Johnson's review in the New York Times of "A New Kind of Science,'' by Stephen Wolfram.
posted by William 6/10/2002

Thursday, June 06, 2002

I hope everybody is enjoying their dinner.
posted by William 6/06/2002

Wednesday, February 13, 2002

posted by William 2/13/2002

Thursday, February 07, 2002

Excerpted from the New York Times
February 5, 2002

Henry Kloss, 72, Innovator in Audio and Video, Dies


Henry Kloss, an inventor of innovative audio and video components who became a hero to audiophiles, died on Thursday in Cambridge, Mass. He was 72.

Throughout his career, Mr. Kloss (pronounced close) was guided as much by his senses as by his intellect. Loudspeaker manufacturers tend to stress the technical specifications of their products, which is like describing a wine by its levels of alcohol and tannin or a chocolate cake by its caloric content alone.

In 2000, Mr. Kloss unveiled an elegant tabletop radio, the Model One. Once again, the Kloss faithful marveled at the rich sound from the small wooden cabinet, which was designed with just three knobs: a large, smooth-gliding tuning dial, another to adjust the volume and the third for turning the radio on and off. The deceptively simple device concealed sophisticated circuitry used in cellular phones to lock onto a radio signal; a result was a $99 radio that sounded as good as models costing many times more.

At every stage of his career, Mr. Kloss remained a tinkerer at heart, his executive offices cluttered with equipment and circuit boards and his gray hair pulled back in a ponytail.

In an interview before he brought out the Model One, Mr. Kloss said the quality of radio receivers had declined over the years because buyers did not appreciate quality.

"People are not asking for good radios," he told an interviewer, "Today, people don't think in terms of buying something that 20 years later they'll be glad they bought and will still be using."

The disposable lifestyle was hurting quality, he said, adding that customers believe that "things are so cheap that I'll buy it, and if I like it, then O.K; if I don't like it, I can always get another one."

David Kloss [Henry Kloss' son] said that even at the height of success: "His real big thing was not to make money, ever. It was to pay the bills, and get great stereos for the masses."

posted by William 2/07/2002

Wednesday, September 05, 2001

Critique of Hankook Tire Advertisement

A few obvious brand-management and advertising problems:

Hankook's name is a problem. In English it's too close to "kooky." There is not enough equity built into the Hankook name to warrant keeping it.

The advertisement lacks focus. In the ad copy the headline and main paragraph focus on the range of tires Hankook produces, and in the side paragraph the Ventus K102, a performance tire, is featured. The blend of technical information and flowery generalities does not work in the same advertising space.

It's just ludicrous. A smirking fellow named "Jack," with The Wall Street Journal rolled underneath his chin, is the featured Hankook customer. Not only is the picture bad, it's a stock image that's been in other advertisements. The copy reads: "Jack is free-spirited, free-thinking, and free-wheeling. He's self-made: can do anything, go anywhere. Today-- a drive to the mountain -- on Ventus K102 from Hankook."

(click on this picture for an enlargement)
posted by William 9/05/2001

Thursday, July 26, 2001

Darrell Green of the Washington Redskins

"I'm motivated by impact. If your impact does not touch human lives in a way that has generational consequences, you have failed. The foolishness of celebrityism in America has given me the ability to help people."
posted by William 7/26/2001

Friday, March 09, 2001

Patrick Bedard, in his April 2001 Car & Driver column, Oldsmobile's problem: Barnum was wrong, correctly argues that General Motors' (GM) massive drop in U.S. market share -- from nearly 48% in 1978 to 27% in 2000 -- is a consequence of not just increased competition, but mismanagement at GM.

A key reason, I think, is that marketing is conceived of in a hopelessly narrow way at GM, and it's utterly divorced from communicating the virtues of GM cars. That's because, in part, there's nothing special about GM cars these days. The trucks are ok, so is the Corvette, but GM's negligence on cars borders on criminal.

GM's marketing function is obviously an organizational weakling, as marketing is conceived of narrowly, being exclusively the domain of "professionals," as opposed to an organizational imperative. The reason? Weak leadership, starting at the top and persisting for decades.

Bedard, formerly an engineer at Chrysler, is expert at pointing out obvious examples of poor build quality at GM. He's also good at spotting a shoddy management that is not executing marketing responsibilities half as well as the old GM that Alfred Sloan built.

Bedard writes: "The quacks du jour at GM are 'brand managers,' pantyhosers brought in from Procter & Gamble because, the thinking goes, they can sell anything. These brand wranglers operate on the assumption that competing products in any market are pretty much interchangeable, so the sales go to the advertiser who tells the best story."

When marketing becomes rooted in logos, advertising, and public relations "spin," it deserves a mocking like Bedard's. At GM, it appears that each car is now a brand -- the Chevy Monte Carlo, Impala, and Malibu are all separate "brands," which means that GM is trying to manage over 70 different brands!

Alfred Sloan had something workable with the traditional brand heirarchy of Chevrolet, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Buick, and Cadillac, but obviously over 70 distinct brands is unworkable.

Marketing must be grounded in "making selling easy" through attention to marketplace realities and customers' wants and needs. GM, though, has been consistently inattentive to customers. Customers' wants and needs should be met by the product, or the product should create want and surpass expectations. Advertising and PR should simply communicate the product's substance.

It has been said, correctly, that marketing is too important to be delegated solely to the marketing department. Yet that is what GM is wont to do. Because of its strategic marketing weakness, GM has had a "design by committee" mentality for over 25 years. This product planning system has repeatedly been criticized for the bland products that are the predictable results of such a process.

GM can look within, however, for a successful example of accomplishing marketing's most important functions. Consider the efforts of Chevrolet Corvette Chief Engineer David Hill and his team. Hill went so far as to redesign the windshield wiper stalk on the C5 (fifth generation) Corvette after discovering that it was easy to activate the windshield sprayers inadvertently.

'Vette owners polish their cars to high perfection, and Hill knew that the last thing they want, after a morning of polishing, is spray marring an otherwise perfect finish. Hill spends a lot of time with Corvette customers, and it shows. His deep, genuine, brand knowledge puts most of GM's professional marketers to shame.

Of course "Corvette" stood for something distinct and positive before Hill arrived, making his job of knowing the brand, and executing brand-enhancing strategies, easier. As Lexus has proven, however, powerful brands can be built quickly. And as Chrysler demonstrated with its distinct designs in the mid and late 1990s, old brands can be resurrected when people care passionately and are consistent.


posted by William 3/09/2001

Thursday, March 08, 2001

The following excerpt is about the late, great, Dale Earnhardt.

....A high school dropout, Earnhardt bullied his way into the sport, scrimping and borrowing against the wages he earned at the gas station and the mill to build his first race cars.

Years later, as a multimillionaire, Earnhardt still raced with the fury of a man trapped in a dead-end job. He raced as if he were getting even with every boss he ever hated. He raced as if he had looked in the mirror and seen nothing but compromise and mediocrity closing fast.

And somehow Earnhardt's black No. 3 Chevrolet took on his persona, whipping around the track with more swagger and attitude than NASCAR had ever seen.

So when NASCAR fans lept to their feet and thrust three fingers in the air each time the black Chevy roared past, they weren't just cheering Earnhardt. They were cheering his defiance and declaring that life wasn't going to defeat them, either.

- Liz Clarke, The Washington Post, February 22, 2001; Page D01

posted by William 3/08/2001

Wednesday, March 07, 2001

Production is not the application of tools to materials, but logic to

- Peter Drucker

posted by William 3/07/2001

Wednesday, January 24, 2001

The New York Times: Opinion The president's power to grant pardons is absolute, but Congressional concern over how the president dispenses these pardons should be a signal to future chief executives that Bill Clinton is not a role model to follow.
posted by William 1/24/2001

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