Saturday, April 24, 2010

An Amazing Story of Heroism on the Battlefield in Afghanistan - Saving Specialist Channing Moss

My friend, Rye Barcott, a combat-tested Marine, has just shared an astonishing story of heroism at many different levels. Here are the introductory words that lead into the video (author unknown):

"Here is something that came out of the war in Afghanistan....

This is an unbelievable story. The video is incredible.

This story is about PVT Channing Moss, who was impaled by a live RPG during a Taliban ambush while on patrol. Army protocol says that medivac choppers are never to carry anyone with a live round in him. Even though they feared it could explode, the flight crew said damn the protocol and flew him to the nearest aid station.

Again, protocol said that in such a case the patient is to be put in sandbagged area away from the surgical unit, given a shot of morphine and left to wait (and die) until others are treated. Again, the medical team ignored the protocol.

Here's a seven-minute video put together by the Military Times, which includes actual footage of the surgery where Dr. John Oh, a Korean immigrant who became a naturalized citizen and went to West Point , removed the live round with the help of volunteers and a member of the EOD (explosive ordinance disposal) team."

Click link below:

Military Times Video

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There are so many heroes in this story. It is difficult not to be moved to tears of wonder, astonishment, pride at all of those who made instantaneous decisions to defy standard protocol to risk their lives to save another.


"Fight Club's" Author Comes Out Swinging at Hollywood: "Tell-All" by Chuck Palahniuk

In his acclaimed novel, “Fight Club,” Chuck Palahniuk portrays a group of violent and testosterone-besotted pugilists pummeling one another into oblivion using their bare fists as weapons. In his new work, “Tell-All,” (due in bookstores on May 4) the author portrays a different kind of violence. A bevy of Hollywood sycophants and hangers-on wield invective and bloviated vapid faux praise as the cudgels with which to thrash each other. Written in the style of a classic Golden Era Hollywood gossip column, complete with bold type face to highlight the names of those being gossiped about, Palahniuk offers an amusing and disturbing send-up of the worst of Tinsel Town excesses. The center of all of the literary action is Lillian Hellman, portrayed as Every Woman. She inserts herself – as writer and actor - into every possible historic or key fictional scene as the unlikely heroine from John Glenn’s Friendship 7 space flight to the Kennedy assassination in Dallas.

At another level, a story is unfolding that is a film noir Whodunit. Fading Old Hollywood starlet, Katherine “Katie” Kenton, in a Norma Desmondesque attempt to hang onto youth and fading beauty, falls for the young gentleman caller, Webster Carlton Westward III. Katie is a serial bride – in real life and in the roles that she has played on the silver screen. Is this latest real life leading man insinuating himself into her life because he loves her, because he is writing a “Tell-All” expose about her or because he plans to kill her? Katie’s long-time companion and gatekeeper, Hazie Coogan, will have something to say about all of that.

There is no shadowy corner of Hollywood and its denizens that Palahniuk does not debunk and pillory in this wickedly funny confection. Every fan of Chuck’s work will smile at his left jabs and right hooks.

Enjoy, dear reader!


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Is It Too Late to Dream? - by Jeff Caliguire

My friend, Jeff Caliguire, in Chicago publishes a wonderful on-line column entitled, appropriately enough, "JeffCaliguire OnLine. In his recent article, Jeff cites a book by Dr. Paula Caligiuri entitled: "Get a Life: Not Just a Job." My eye was arrested by the wonderful line drawing of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. As you will see below, continuing to dream throughout one's lifetime need not be a quixotic enterprise.

Jeff quotes from the book:

"Paula Caligiuri writes, “There is a wide open space between ‘unattainable dream’ and ‘get serious career’ that should allow for plenty of room for creativity to fulfill the underlying motivations and abilities of why we held a certain dream. We just need to root our career dreams in the realities of our natural skills and abilities – and the probability that we can attain the career act.” (p. 58)

  • So, if you’re 48 and dread Sunday nights, and feel stuck…. why not do the work to dust off your real dreams? What do you have to lose? What might you gain?
  • If you’re 65, in decent health and have a vision to make a difference in India – what’s holding you back?
  • If you’re 80 and you have a vision to mentor teens, who says you “just don’t get it!”
I encourage you to read Jeff's article in full, linked below:

Is It Too Late to Dream?



Thursday, April 15, 2010

Harvard Business School Veterans Pitch a Tent for Homeless Vets

If you are in the neighborhood of Harvard Business School today or tomorrow, stop by the area in front of Spangler Hall and make a donation. Veterans who are pursuing their MBA at Harvard are once again extending themselves to raise funds in support of the New England Center for Homeless Veterans.

See below the recent article that appeared in the HARBUS, written by Matt Thompson, HBS 2010 and Co-President of the Armed Forces Alumni Association:

"Every year for the past decade MBA students who have served in the Armed Forces spend two days in a military tent outside of Spangler Hall to raise money to support the New England Center for Homeless Veterans (NECHV). The problem is bigger than you might think. While there are no national records on homeless veterans, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that more than 275,000 veterans are homeless on any given night, and, more than 500,000 experience homelessness over the course of a year. Conservatively, one out of every four adult homeless males who is sleeping in a doorway, alley, or box in our cities and rural communities has put on a uniform and served our country. It is a shame to think that those who put their life on the line for our freedom would end up living on the street begging for money. But, war is a terrible thing. Many who are lucky enough to make it back fight with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, alcohol and drug addiction, or struggle to re-integrate with "normal" life. They need your help and on April 21-22 you can by donating at the tent or through and making a gift to NECHV through The money will go to the NECHV, an organization that for over twenty years has extended a helping hand to homeless men and women veterans who are addressing the challenges of addiction, trauma, severe and persistent mental illness, and/or unemployment and who will commit themselves to sobriety, non-violence, and working for personal change. They are recognized as one of the most effective private veteran's transition programs in the country. Please go to to learn more. We look forward to seeing you, rain or shine, on April 21 and 22!"

If you are unable to stop by, you can still donate on-line. I encourage you to do so in supporting this worthy cause.


Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Talent Alert - Berklee College of Music Student Looking for Summer Internship

A talented student from the Berklee College of Music is looking for an opportunity in the Boston area for a summer internship, working is some aspect of the music business. In addition to his skills as a musician and performer, he has worked in the Office of the President at Berklee, using a wide variety of computer skills (MS-Office Suite, graphic and web design), plus several of the music-specific software packages. He has also organized events for the Office of the President, and is prepared to perform a broad variety of tasks for a summer employer. It is important for him to gain experience in the world of the music business, and is willing to offer his services in an unpaid internship.

If you know anyone in the music business that could use some help this summer, contact me for further details, and I will be happy to put you in contact with this student. It will be music to his ears!



Mini-Review: "Mrs. Dalloway" by Virginia Woolf

When I first saw the film, "The Hours," I knew that I would someday have to read the book that inspired the film makers, Virginia Woolf's landmark novel, "Mrs. Dalloway." There were a number of reasons behind my reaching that conclusion. First, and most simply, the movie intrigued me, and I was curious to learn how much of the film arose directly from the novel and how much was the result of the film maker's artistic license. There was also an element of my feeling as if there were an unchecked box in my list of literary accomplishments. Harking back to the days of the received Western Canon of Great Literature, there is a consensus group of books and authors that one must have read to be truly considered literate and classically educated - including Joyce, Proust, Balzac, Dickens, Dostoevsky, Chaucer. I had been able to check off most of the boxes with the exception of Woolf, so she haunted me as someone whose work I needed to explore.

My conclusion is that the writings of Virginia Woolf must be an acquired taste. Like Proust, although more sparse and efficient in the use of language, she spends many of the pages of the novel and many of the hours of the day in question examining interior thoughts, musings, motivations, fears, longings, doubts. The tone of the novel reminded me a great deal of one of Woody Allen's lesser known films, "Interiors." The "action," in the story often occurs within the mind of one of the characters or in stylized conversations between two of the actors whose day is being chronicled and the hours tolled by Big Ben and lesser time keeping devices in London on an ordinary day following World War I.

I came upon an excerpt from the musing of Peter Walsh, a war veteran who had wooed and lost the hand of Clarissa, the novel's protagonist, to Mr. Dalloway. Walsh's thoughts seem to describe precisely what Virginia Woolf was attempting to do in crafting this novel: "The compensation of growing old, Peter Walsh thought, coming out of Regent's Park, and holding his hat in his hand, was simply this; that the passions remain as strong as ever, but one has gained - at last! - the power which adds the supreme flavour to existence, - the power of taking hold of experience, of turning it around, slowly, in the light." (Page 79)

Turning around the mundane and hour-by-hour actions, thoughts, conversations, chores and rememberings of a typical day in the life and showing them in the changing light of that inexorably advancing day is what Virginia Woolf does in this novel. In doing so she is sending the reader the message that a life need not be dramatic or "exciting" in order to be worthy of examination.



Monday, April 05, 2010

Mini-Review: "The Boys from Santa Cruz" by Jonathan Nasaw

In his new novel, "The Boys from Santa Cruz," Jonathan Nasaw weaves a very chilling and plausible tale about the development of a serial killer in the tradition of Hannibal Lecter.

The ironically named protagonist, Luke Sweet, is a kid who just can't catch a break. Orphaned and homeless and betrayed by his grandparents, he is locked up and kept docile by way of "chemical restraint." He plots his escape and weans himself off of the drugs by learning to imitate the movements and affect of the zombies that surround him. Wherever he turns, death follows in his wake, so he finally gives in to the inevitable and begins planning the murders that seem necessary for both survival and revenge.

The action is set in California. The fault lines that run through the hearts of some of the characters echo the unstable tectonic plates that lead to frequent seismic activity in and around Santa Cruz, home to Sweet's grandparents and another character whose importance grows as the story develops

The clues that explain the skein of violence are put together by FBI agent E.L. Pender. Sweet manages to stay one step ahead of the law throughout much of the book, until a surprising and fascinating plot twist shows everything in a new light.

Nasaw knows how to tell a taut and gripping cautionary tale.



A Magical Tale - a Mini-Review of "The Song of the Whales" by Uri Orlev

Uri Orlev has written a loving and mystical novel - really, a novella - that captures in poignant intimacy the special relationship between a grandson and his aged grandfather in Jerusalem.

Michael, the protagonist of "The Song of the Whales," is an introspective boy who does not easily make friends in America. When his family decamps to Israel and he becomes "Mikha'el," his only true friend is his paternal grandfather, Mr. Hammermann. Mikha'el and his Grandpa share one another's dreams and the mystical ability to manipulate "slight distortions in reality."

Orlev, in this book wonderfully translated by Hillel Halkin, delicately touches on the issue of the impending death of the beloved grandfather. He and the boy speak openly about this issue, and the boy is torn over the issue of wanting to use an imaginary "anti-time machine" so that time would freeze and he could always have his grandfather with him. But, he realizes that he himself would never grow, so he comes to accept the wisdom and inevitably of time moving on with its perennial blend of new births and ever-present death.

This book, easily read in one sitting, appears to be a mere appetizer, but offers a belly full of food for thought.



Red Sox lead AL East - Yankees in the Cellar: All's Right with the World! (At Least for One Day)

The new and improved "Run Prevention Red Sox" did not prevent many runs last night. The long evening included a botched attempt to thwart a double steal by the Yankees that felt like payback for last year's Jacoby Ellsbury steal of home off of Andy Pettitte. But at the end of the day - literally, the game ended near midnight! - the Sox wore down C.C. Sabbathia and his supporting cast and came out of the starting blocks for the 2010 MLB season with a victory.

It was a memorable night at the 98-year-old Grande Dame of baseball parks. Familiar faces on and off the field included the likes of Dr. Dre, Neil Diamond, Steve Tyler, Mike O'Malley, former Sox stars Nomar Garciaparra and Curt Schilling now working as baseball analysts and commentators. Pedro Martinez made a surprise appearance to throw out the first pitch. The defending World Champion New York Yankees were introduced to a hail of lusty boos. Then came the introductions of the 2010 edition of the Boston Red Sox. The crowd of 37,000+ saved their most impassioned greeting for Red Sox supernumerary, Mike Lowell, still with the Red Sox after a trade to the Texas Rangers was invalidated when an injured thumb caused Lowell to fail the physical.

The game was a seesaw affair. Initially, it looked as if the Yankees ace, Sabbathia - baggy pants and all - would hold the Sox offense at bay. But patient at bats finally wore him down and chased him from the mound. The Sox bullpen fared slightly better than the Yankees woeful middle relief. Kevin Youkilis scored the winning run, moving from second to third on a wild pitch and scoring on a passed ball. Not an artistic success as classic baseball, but the crowd loved it!

For one day, Red Sox Nation is happy.

This will be a fun season.

Go Sox!


Sunday, April 04, 2010

He Is Risen! Blessed Easter to Everyone

Христос Воскресе! - Russian

Christos a Inviat! - Polish

Kristus sudah bangkit! - Bahasa Indonesia

Hristos a înviat! - Romanian

Christus resurrexit! - Latin

Cristo e' Risorto! - Italian

Χριστός ανέστη! - Greek

Cristo ressuscitou! - Portuguese

Jezu Kri resisite! - Haitian Creole


They are saying it all over the world

Have a blessed Easter!


Friday, April 02, 2010

Why I Will Be Rooting for Duke This Weekend - Coach K As the Consummate Leader

My friend, Scott Snook, has a friendship with Duke coach, Coach K. As a result, he has access to some videotapes of Mike Krzyzewski talking about leadership. I have had a chance to view several of those videotapes on numrous occasions. To hear Krzyzewski philosophize about leadership is mesmerizing, instructive and humbling. Last evening, Charlie Rose interviewed him, and the link below will take you to a on-line version of that interview.

When was the last time you heard a basketball coach talk about the role of dancers in a Broadway musical operating in support of the lead actors? This is a Renaissance Man who understands how to lead, teach, train, motivate and carry his players to the next level. He pulls lessons from a wide variety of world views and disparate experience that extend far beyond the confines of the basketball court.

When asked about how long he expects to continue coaching, he responded: "I will do this as long as I have the passion to do it at the highest level."

I have no idea if Duke is capable of of beating a very fine West Virginia team tomorrow night, but I will be one Bostonian cheering for the guys in blue.

Enjoy listening to a molder of leaders talk about how he continues to grow in his craft and in his profession. Listen to him talk about listening! It fits perfectly with the recent Blog posting about Solitude and Leadership.

Charlie Rose Interview with Coach K



Thursday, April 01, 2010

Mini-Review of "The Reluctant Fundamentalist" by Mohsin Hamid

It is no surprise that Mohsin Hamid's second novel, "The Reluctant Fundamentalist," became a New York Times Bestseller and the winner of multiple literary awards. It is a brilliant book that is a small gem that glistens softly and darkly - more of a star opal than a glittering diamond. Hamid using a unique approach - a sole narrator, the young Pakistani, Changez. The action - much of which is interior and psychological action -unfolds as Changez converses with an unnamed American stranger with whom he shares a table at a cafe in Lahore, Pakistan. The effect is like that of listening in on only one half of a phone conversation and having to fill in the missing pieces from the context of the answers given and questions posed by the narrator.

With the exception of Changez, all of the other characters exist only as seen through his perception of them or as revealed through his description of them. It is akin to our not being able to see the wind, but to learn of its nature by the effect that it has upon the objects that move in response to its shifting currents and eddies.

Hamid does a breath-taking job of subtly limning the ambiguities of interpersonal intercourse and international intrigue. One never knows - even at the end of the story - if we are dealing with two "normal" human beings interacting in space and time at an outdoor cafe in Lahore, or if one is an actual or potential terrorist and the other a potential assassin. The clues and muted red herrings are there for the reader to interpret based upon his world view, fears, prejudices and presuppositions. This is a post-9/11 tale of dark and muted rage and paranoia.

The themes swirl around the twin towers of fear and ghosts. I dare not say more, lest I spoil what should be an intriguing and delicious read for most sentient readers.



Solitude and Leadership - A Unique Perspective by Bill Deresiewicz

Last fall at West Point, former Yale professor William Deresiewicz delivered to the Plebe class a remarkable lecture that has now been printed in the current edition of The American Scholar. In this lecture and article, Deresiewicz makes a compelling argument for solitude to be an integral part of the growth and development of a leader's tool kit.

As the author defines solitude, it includes such activities as reading and active reflection on what one has read. The feedback that I receive from young officers serving in Afghanistan and Iraq is that finding time for this kind of deep thinking is an important part of managing the challenges of leadership in a difficult and ever-changing and ever-challenging environment.

I thank The American Scholar and Professor Deresiewicz for their permission to reproduce his thoughts in this space.

Solitude and Leadership

If you want others to follow, learn to be alone with your thoughts

William Deresiewicz

The lecture below was delivered to the plebe class at the United States Military Academy at West Point in October of last year.

"My title must seem like a contradiction. What can solitude have to do with leadership? Solitude means being alone, and leadership necessitates the presence of others—the people you’re leading. When we think about leadership in American history we are likely to think of Washington, at the head of an army, or Lincoln, at the head of a nation, or King, at the head of a movement—people with multitudes behind them, looking to them for direction. And when we think of solitude, we are apt to think of Thoreau, a man alone in the woods, keeping a journal and communing with nature in silence.

Leadership is what you are here to learn—the qualities of character and mind that will make you fit to command a platoon, and beyond that, perhaps, a company, a battalion, or, if you leave the military, a corporation, a foundation, a department of government. Solitude is what you have the least of here, especially as plebes. You don’t even have privacy, the opportunity simply to be physically alone, never mind solitude, the ability to be alone with your thoughts. And yet I submit to you that solitude is one of the most important necessities of true leadership. This lecture will be an attempt to explain why."

After continuing his argument in this direction for the first half of his lecture, Deresiewicz shifts gears and offers his explication of the expediency of carving out time for solitude. Here is part of that exposition:

"So solitude can mean introspection, it can mean the concentration of focused work, and it can mean sustained reading. All of these help you to know yourself better. But there’s one more thing I’m going to include as a form of solitude, and it will seem counterintuitive: friendship. Of course friendship is the opposite of solitude; it means being with other people. But I’m talking about one kind of friendship in particular, the deep friendship of intimate conversation. Long, uninterrupted talk with one other person. Not Skyping with three people and texting with two others at the same time while you hang out in a friend’s room listening to music and studying. That’s what Emerson meant when he said that 'the soul environs itself with friends, that it may enter into a grander self-acquaintance or solitude.'

Introspection means talking to yourself, and one of the best ways of talking to yourself is by talking to another person. One other person you can trust, one other person to whom you can unfold your soul. One other person you feel safe enough with to allow you to acknowledge things—to acknowledge things to yourself—that you otherwise can’t. Doubts you aren’t supposed to have, questions you aren’t supposed to ask. Feelings or opinions that would get you laughed at by the group or reprimanded by the authorities."

The author has done a great service to these future military leaders by offering them a perspective that they will not find in a Field Manual. I encourage you to read the article in its entirety.

To read the entire article, click on the link below:

The American Scholar Article