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December 31, 2011

The power of vulnerability

The University of Houston's remarkable Brene Brown.









Posted by Tom at 12:00 AM | Comments (0) |

December 30, 2011

The Pistol

With the start of a new NBA season, it's always good to take a look at the NBA stars of the past, such as the amazing Pistol Pete Maravich and this 68 point gem.

Posted by Tom at 12:00 AM | Comments (0) |

December 29, 2011

There are no mistakes on the bandstand










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December 28, 2011

The Ultimate Con Man

The incomparable Robert Preston as Harold Hill of The Music Man at the 1971 Tony Award show singing "Trouble." It's amazing how many contemporary governmental officials resemble Harold Hill. And, unfortunately, how many of their constituents resemble the gullible townspeople.

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December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas Everywhere

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The Santa Tracker

Don't miss the hilarious story in this video from the NORAD officer who took the calls from children looking for Santa based on a wrong phone number contained in a Sears catalog advertisement.

Posted by Tom at 12:00 AM | Comments (0) |

December 25, 2011

Larry Ribstein, R.I.P.

lribstein_136My friend and Clear Thinkers favorite Larry Ribstein died unexpectedly yesterday at the age of 65. I convey condolences and deepest sympathies to Larry's wife Ann and their daughters, Sarah and Susannah.

Larry was a teacher who understood precisely what his life's purpose was and pursued it with an endearing combination of intellectual curiosity, vitality, humanity and good humor. Although I will miss Larry deeply, I feel blessed to have known him.

Larry and I came across each other in 2003, early in our respective blogging careers. The particular case that brought us together was that of Jamie Olis, which involved many of the issues about which Larry wrote passionately over his eight-plus years of blogging - criminalization of agency costs, over-criminalization generally, prosecutorial misconduct, anti-business mainstream media business reporting, etc. 

But Larry and my friendship really ripened during the Enron case. Inasmuch as Larry and I both blogged frequently on business generally and business law issues specifically, we both watched in horror as the Enron case exposed many of the worst flaws of the American criminal justice system.

Larry and I were initially two of the only writers in the blogosphere who contended that most of the Enron-related criminal prosecutions were based on appeals to juror prejudice against business executives rather than true crimes, so we fast became blogging colleagues and commiserated often, eventually not only on Enron, but on a wide array of business law cases that arose after that seminal case.

Stephen Bainbridge, Ted Frank, Ilya Somin, Geoff Manne and others have already posted fine remembrances of Larry, whose academic contributions were prodigious. However, I believe that Larry's most important contributions were his blog writings, which - along with those of Professor Bainbridge - have done more to improve the legal profession and general public's understanding of complex business issues than any other information source over the past eight years.

To get a taste of Larry's insights, just take a moment to review the dozens of Clear Thinkers posts over the years in which Larry's research and observations are highlighted. The breadth and depth of his body of work is truly remarkable.

Beyond his special intelligence and intellectual honesty, though, the trait that drew me most to Larry was his humanity. Although he decried how our government's senseless criminalization of business was destroying jobs and hindering the creation of wealth, Larry cared even more deeply about the incalculable damage to executives and their families that resulted from the absurdly-long prison terms that were often the product of such dubious prosecutions. When family members of wrongfully prosecuted executives came upon Larry's writings, many of them would reach out to Larry for support, which he generously provided to them.

And I will never forget Larry's touching note to me after he read a blog post that I wrote on the death of Bill Olis, Jamie Olis' father. Larry understood in his big heart what it takes to be a loving father.

Larry Ribstein - husband, father, lawyer, teacher, scholar, colleague, writer, counselor, friend.

A fine legacy, indeed.

Posted by Tom at 12:01 AM | Comments (0) |

December 24, 2011

The hidden light of Afghanistan










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December 23, 2011

"So much inconvenience for so little benefit at such a staggering cost"

tsa-sarcastic-logoCharles C. Mann meets security expert Bruce Schneier to assess the state of the Transportation Security Administration's security theater at U.S. airports:

Since 9/11, the U.S. has spent more than $1.1 trillion on homeland security.

To a large number of security analysts, this expenditure makes no sense. The vast cost is not worth the infinitesimal benefit. Not only has the actual threat from terror been exaggerated, they say, but the great bulk of the post-9/11 measures to contain it are little more than what Schneier mocks as "security theater": actions that accomplish nothing but are designed to make the government look like it is on the job. In fact, the continuing expenditure on security may actually have made the United States less safe. [.  .  .]

To walk through an airport with Bruce Schneier is to see how much change a trillion dollars can wreak. So much inconvenience for so little benefit at such a staggering cost. And directed against a threat that, by any objective standard, is quite modest. Since 9/11, Islamic terrorists have killed just 17 people on American soil, all but four of them victims of an army major turned fanatic who shot fellow soldiers in a rampage at Fort Hood. (The other four were killed by lone-wolf assassins.) During that same period, 200 times as many Americans drowned in their bathtubs. Still more were killed by driving their cars into deer. . . .

Read the entire article. It is a sad reflection of the increasing non-responsiveness of government that this utter nonsense continues to be foisted upon U.S. citizens.

Posted by Tom at 12:01 AM | Comments (0) |

December 22, 2011

How not to conduct a coaching search

RhoadesGiven the recent success of the University of Houston football program, UH athletic director Mack Rhoades has been able to fly largely under the radar of public scrutiny.

Rhoades came to UH after the past two UH head coaches Art Briles and Kevin Sumlin were hired, so he really had nothing to do with the revitalization of Houston's traditionally innovative football program that Briles and Sumlin engineered.

Rhoades' first coaching change after coming to UH was dubious, although he at least had the good sense to mitigate the negative impact of that decision by hiring a protégé of the coach that he replaced.

Rhoades' second coaching change was equally uninspired. Why replace an older coach who had at least revived the basketball program somewhat with another older coach who had been out of coaching for several years?

But despite those missteps, Rhoades was in a perfect position to hire the best coach available to replace Sumlin, who everyone even remotely connected with college football knew was going to be plucked by a program in a BCS conference after leading UH to a 12-1 record. Given UH's recent success, how hard could that be?

Well, maybe harder than you would expect, particularly if you are ill-prepared to conduct the search.

Two weeks after Sumlin elected to take the head coaching position at Texas A&M, it is painfully clear that Rhoades was inexplicably unprepared to replace Sumlin.

After being used by the coaches at Wyoming and Louisiana Tech to improve their respective contractual positions, Rhoades panicked and bestowed the head coaching position at Houston to Tony Levine, an obscure assistant coach who has never been seriously considered for a major college head coaching position before.

Indeed, but for reaping the benefit of Rhoades' questionable decision-making, Levine probably would not have been a candidate for more than a relatively minor assistant coaching position at another college program.

Meanwhile, Rhoades chose Levine over a more qualified member of the Houston staff, Jason Phillips, whose background is remarkably similar to that of Sumlin at the time the latter was hired as Houston's head coach. Phillips - who is indisputably the best recruiter on the current UH staff - will almost certainly now move on to greener pastures, probably as the offensive coordinator for SMU's June Jones, who tried to hire Phillips four years ago when Sumlin persuaded him to stay at his alma mater. After being rejected by UH for a less-qualified candidate, it is extremely doubtful that Phillips will stick around this time.

And realistically, given that Levine has never coordinated either an offense or a defense at the major college level, how likely is it that he is going to be able to attract the coaching talent necessary to sustain Houston's tradition of innovation that has been built under the regimes of Bill Yeoman, Jack Pardee, John Jenkins, Briles and Sumlin?

As a Houstonian and a UH alum, I hope Coach Levine well. He appears to be a genuinely nice fellow and a good member of UH's current staff.

But as a longtime observer of - and participant in - the politics of big-time college football, my instincts are telling me something much more troubling about the UH athletic program.

That is, Mack Rhoades is a lightweight who is in way over his head.

Posted by Tom at 12:00 AM | Comments (2) |

December 21, 2011

Understanding Consciousness










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December 20, 2011

Plane Truth for the golf swing

Houstonian Jim Hardy is one of the one of the best teachers of the golf swing in the world. These days, Jim dedicates a substantial amount of his time to instructing other golf pros from around the world on how to teach the golf swing.

On a chilly November afternoon a couple of weeks ago, my buddy Jerry Sagehorn and I participated in one of Jim's teaching seminars at Houston's Blackhorse Golf Club in which Jim assisted teaching pros from around the world in analyzing our swings and giving us instruction on how to improve. Here is a video of the concluding part of our sessions in which Jim identifies the key flaws in our swings and instructs us on how to correct them. The video is an example of a master teacher at work.

Enjoy!

Posted by Tom at 12:00 AM | Comments (0) |

December 19, 2011

Compact Swing

Continuing on the previous post's golf theme, here is another segment in our continuing series on creative commercials.

Posted by Tom at 12:00 AM | Comments (0) |

December 18, 2011

Do Not Quit Your Job

Another entry in our continuing series of innovative commercials.

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December 17, 2011

Four on Six

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December 16, 2011

Voices from the front lines of America's worst war

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December 15, 2011

Inspiring action










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December 14, 2011

Experiments in self-teaching

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December 13, 2011

"500 Miles"

The magnificent Rosanne Cash absolutely nails it.

Watch Rosanne Cash "500 Miles" on PBS. See more from AUSTIN CITY LIMITS.

Posted by Tom at 12:00 AM | Comments (1) |

December 12, 2011

Gratitude

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December 11, 2011

Fueling the Age of Enlightenment

H/T Greg Mankiw.

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December 10, 2011

The Gift of Water

[AC] Haiti Orphanage from Advent Conspiracy on Vimeo.

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December 9, 2011

George Carlin's key to his success

It's when he finally realized the importance of not giving a shit what people think.

Posted by Tom at 12:00 AM | Comments (0) |

December 8, 2011

Justin Townes Earle's "Harlem River Blues"

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December 7, 2011

The amazing story of Dr. Terry Wahls

The University of Iowa internist tells her fascinating story on battling M.S.

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December 6, 2011

The paradox of income equality


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December 5, 2011

Visualizing the explosion of medical data

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December 4, 2011

The benefits of regret










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December 3, 2011

Making Florida One

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December 2, 2011

How toilets can change the world

Watch live streaming video from techonomy at livestream.com

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December 1, 2011

Can Technology be Society's Economic Engine?

techonomy on livestream.com. Broadcast Live Free

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