Rank and Yank: There’s Only so Much Fat to Be Cut

From Lights Out: Pride, Delusion, and the Fall of General Electric (2020,)

Rank-and-yank worked well for GE’s acquisitions, providing a formula for trimming fat and squeezing profits out of the operations. But some managers didn’t see it as helpful, especially after it had been used for a few years and some competent employees were ending up in the bottom 10 percent. You can trim fat only for so long. Also, some thought that the policy made workers fight each other for survival and inhibited managers’ ability to bring their workers together to operate as a team for the good of the company. One manager tried to subvert the system by putting an employee who’d recently died in the bottom 10 percent of the ranking list in order to save another employee’s job.

The Economics Nobel Isn’t A Nobel

The “Economics Nobel” prize was established in 1968 by the Bank of Sweden. It isn’t a Nobel Prize technically, even if its winners are announced with the Nobel Prize recipients, and the honor presented at the Nobel Prize Award Ceremony:

Technically, there is no Nobel Prize in economics. Instead, there is the Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel. It was first awarded in 1969 and is named not after a person, but after the central bank of Sweden—the Sveriges Riksbank—which funds it. The Nobel Foundation doesn’t pay out the award or choose the winner (though the winner is chosen in accordance with the same principles used by the Nobel Foundation,) but it does list the prize on its website along with the Nobels, tracks winners the same as Nobel laureates, and even promotes the prize alongside its own. Members of the Nobel family have spoken out against the award.

Globalization Wasn’t Such a Blessing

Paul Krugman and others are now acknowledging that globalization hurt American workers far more than they thought it would:

Back in the ’90s, when the post-Cold War consensus was just emerging, economists tended to take a simplistic either-or view of trade—either you were a free trader or a protectionist—and forced people to choose sides.

Paul Krugman branded just about everybody who questioned the rapid pace of globalization a fool who didn’t understand economics very well. Now Krugman has come out and admitted that his own understanding of economics has been seriously deficient as well. Many of these working-class communities have been hit hard by Chinese competition, which economists made a “major mistake” in underestimating, Krugman says.

The Genius of Spinoza

Jeffrey Collins, professor of history at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, reviews Steven Nadler’s Spinoza: A Life (2001):

In the 1660s and ’70s, Spinoza produced one of the most significant intellectual systems in the history of Western philosophy. It encompassed natural science, religion, politics and ethics. Of his two masterworks, the “Ethics” was written first but remained unpublished when Spinoza began to fear the intolerant vigilance of the Dutch ministers. His “Theological-Political Treatise” was anonymously printed in 1670, to torrential public outrage. By his death in 1677, Spinoza’s infamy had spread well beyond Amsterdam’s Jewish quarter.

Ukraine Off the Beaten Track

Travel bloggers Megan & Aram on what to visit beyond the main two touristic cities in Ukraine:

  1. Mukachevo: The Carpathian mountains are just a stone’s throw away. The city runs the charismatic Latorica River, where people fish, swim and even wash clothes.
  2. Zhovkva: The town is small and walkable with places to eat from coffee and cakes to Ukraine borscht.
  3. Uzhhorod: Uzhhorod Castle has a vast Citadel, the town’s biggest attraction. Nearby, the bright yellow Greek-Catholic Cathedral, with its two steeples, stands out as one of Uzhhorod’s finest buildings.
  4. Lutsk: A mix of architecture inspired by its complex history and the must-see Lubart’s Castle.
  5. Zatoka: People, especially summer heat lovers, should go to the Ukrainian seaside. One of the most popular places among Ukrainians, particularly during summer when the temperatures.
  6. Truskavets: Resort spa town that is quite popular for domestic tourism within Ukraine. The water is dispensed to the public for free inside a few different structures throughout town that special house fountains.
  7. Kremenets: The town’s one main street is packed with pretty churches and cathedrals painted in pastel colors and topped with golden domes.
  8. Drohobych: Once a flourishing multicultural center of oil and gas industries. Jews, Poles, and Ukrainians came here to build financial fortunes and—later on—beautiful villas.
  9. Dnipro: The banks of the Dnepr river provide a great place to chill out watching the people go past while you drink a lukewarm beer from a kiosk.
  10. Zaporizhia: A bit off the path in Ukraine, but still want a city with a fair amount of things to keep one occupied.

Braggarts Only Seem Self-confident

New York Times social manners advice columnist Philip Galanes on bragging parents:

Question: My brother and his wife constantly brag about their two children. (I mean, constantly!) Would it be evil of me to let them know that I know their teenage son was arrested recently for driving under the influence? I could slip it casually into conversation.

Answer: It’s cruel to rejoice in the misfortune of a child because you bear a silly grudge against his parents. Especially here, where the boy could have hurt himself or someone else. As for his parents’ bragging, hasn’t anyone told you that braggarts only seem self-confident? Usually, they’re overcompensating for insecurity. Play nice!

10 Secluded Spots in Asia to Find Inner Peace

In the SilverKris Magazine of Singapore Airlines, James Wong lists ten Asian get-away destinations to find some inner peace:

  1. Nikko, Japan … for beautiful shrines from the Edo period
  2. Jeju Island, South Korea … for the beaches, mountains, and scenic getaways
  3. Pulau Ubin Island, Singapore … for lush unspoilt forestation and wildlife
  4. El Nido, Philippines … for sandy beaches with turquoise green waters
  5. Ko Bulon Leh, Thailand … for warm sandy beaches
  6. Koh Rong, Cambodia … for 20 gorgeous white sand beaches
  7. Lamma Island, Hong Kong … for stunning rock formations
  8. Komodo, Indonesia … for rugged hillsides and panoramic views of savannahs
  9. Havelock Island, India … for its white sand and clear waters
  10. Pom Pom Island, Malaysia … for dreamy resorts and guesthouses

The Upside of Stress

O, The Oprah Magazine (January 2010) considers a Stanford study about how stress can boost immune system:

A Stanford University study found that acute stress may protect against a common type of skin cancer. “Quick bursts of stress seem to direct the body’s ‘soldiers’ [cancer-fighting immune cells] to ‘battlefields’ [skin and lymph nodes,] increasing their ability to fight damage,” says lead author Firdaus Dhabhar, PhD. So while it may seem counterintuitive, try to get your stress hormones flowing for short periods (think playing sports, not hosting your mother-in-law for two weeks.)

Questions You Need to Ask Yourself If You’re Feeling Overwhelmed

O, The Oprah Magazine suggests questions you can ask yourself when you’re feeling overwhelmed:

  • Why am I overwhelmed?
  • Am I really busy or does it just feel this way?
  • What’s the priority here?
  • What if I don’t have enough time?
  • Am I surrounded by energy suckers?
  • Do I have to do it all by myself?
  • What would it take for me to just say no?
  • Is my stuff taking over my life?
  • But, I want so much. Will I ever be enough?
  • Am I breaking out because I’m stressed out?
  • Is all stress bad?
  • Is it better to fight anxiety or is it okay to be nervous?
  • How do I stop focusing on the clock?

Winter Travel to Tromso, Norway

Wall Street Journal’s Nina Sovich on how to spend the winter season in some of Europe’s top destinations:

After the sun sets on Tromsø on Nov. 27 (at 11:45 a.m.,) it won’t peek above the horizon again until mid-January. But this Arctic Circle city doesn’t use winter darkness as an excuse to sleep in; if anything, its cultural and sporting opportunities only increase in the depths of winter. Under a sky frequently illuminated by aurora borealis, visitors can set off by sea to watch whales, or across the tundra to visit the indigenous Sami people and attempt to endear themselves to reindeer. Within the city, the Northern Lights cultural festival and the Tromsø International Film Festival are two bright spots.