Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Bits and Pieces - May 7

More interesting reading for your edification and education:

  • If you've never seen Imprimis the speech digest from Hillsdale College, you need to check it out. Hillsdale brings in some of the most interesting speakers on diverse topics -- and they'll send you the digest of their speeches for free (gratis, without charge, no further obligation -- you get the idea). This month's issue features a speech by Michael Flaherty, the president of Walden Media speaking about his mission to get children reading -- using the great stories of great books and great historic figures to challenge children to read again. "You are what you read. We are shaped and influenced by the books that we read. They prepare us for more than interesting conversations -- they actually prepare us to face real crises that we encounter in life." Check out the speech online -- it's worth it.

  • Scary news from Al-Ahram Online (an Egyptian daily newspaper) -- commentator Ayman El-Amir reflects on the growing arms race in Persian Gulf States, and he speculates as to why. "Gulf Arab states are going on a shopping spree for the purchase of sophisticated Western weaponry at an estimated cost of $60 billion. A recent report in The New York Times, of which The Daily Telegraph had published another version two months earlier, said the lethal weapons order would include Apache attack helicopters, cruise missiles, Typhoon fighters and tanks, in addition to other war accessories. Saudi Arabia, which already has US-installed and operated Patriot anti- missile batteries, will reportedly spend $50 billion, representing the lion's share of the military package. The UAE has earmarked almost $8 billion to buy fighter aircraft, missiles and other military materiel. Other states vying for modern armament are Kuwait and Oman. And money is no problem. The oil revenues of Middle Eastern producing countries in 2006 is estimated at more than $400 billion, based on an average price of $57 per barrel. Suddenly, the Gulf Arab region has become a vendor's paradise for Western arms manufacturers. An arms race is accelerating in the region, with incalculable consequences. The question is: for what purpose? "

  • The Wall Street Journal has this fine article on becoming a leader from below (not a CEO, but leading as a middle manager or even an employee) -- this has implications for nonprofits and churches as well. Here are some key points: Make the decision to be a leader, Focus on influence rather than control, make your mental organization chart horizontal rather than vertical, work on your "trusted adviser skills".