Whom Not To Marry by Father Pat Connor Read by Robin Sachs

Friendly, low-key, perspicacious suggestions on how to think about a marriage, how to prepare for it, and how to judge a potential marriage partner. Humorous anecdotes drive home the way to work your beliefs into your relationships. A mother who believes in original sin knows that every human being is fundamentally flawed so she doesn’t expect rational behavior from her husband, her children or her houseguests:

I allow my husband two moments of insanity per day, I allow each of my children three moments of insanity per day, and I’ve been allowing you four.

Warren Buffet’s Management Secrets by Mary Buffett & David Clark. Performed by Mary Buffett.

A catholic tailor used his life savings to go to the Vatican. When he returned his parish gathered to find out what he had seen. “What kind of a fellow is the Pope?” they asked him. “44 Medium,” he said.

This is the kind of obsession Buffet is looking for in his managers. “In Warren’s world it is not so much about how smart we are, but how obsessed we are,” says Mary Buffet, in her sweet voice. Find an obsessive with ‘recurrent and persistent thoughts, impulses or images which cannot be ignored or suppressed’ (DSM 300.3). And make sure that he is obsessed with your business.

This is a sweet book read by a sweet voice, easy to hear and easy to understand. Indeed, sometimes it reads like a recipe book, with generous margins for adding ingredients. Sometimes it reads like the ROMPER ROOM list of Do-bees and Don’t-bees. DON’T be greedy when choosing a job. DON’T borrow money. DO delegate. DON’T criticize your employees. Do what you love to do and hire people who love what they do. DO be obsessed. DO choose the right company.

When a company owns a piece of the consumer’s mind, it never has to change its products. That means more profits, and more managerial bonuses. It is good to work for such a company.

When a company sells a unique service, like H & R Block, it doesn’t have to worry about falling demand: “There is never a recession in the tax filing business.” It also doesn’t have to worry about spending lots of money on capital. It is good to work for such a company.

Below-cost buyers and sellers like Walmart’s and Costco also have a competitive advantage; but beware — the stress on keeping prices low puts a great deal of pressure on managers. Still, these chains offer good managerial opportunities.

Sometimes it reads like a macroeconomics textbook, and sometimes like a handbook in human psychology (We all have a deep and honest need to be appreciated.). Or etiquette (When meeting someone for the first time, behave in a friendly way. ).

But mostly this is a manual of common sense with instructions on how to be a good human being, not only a good manager.

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Drive by Daniel Pink

This looks like a book, but its an ad for the guy who’s going to talk at your next off-site. Welcome to the Motivational Operating System and it’s “sets of assumptions and protocols about how the world works that run beneath our laws, economic arrangements and business practices.” It is called an operating system rather than a ‘common sense’ because the language of IT lends credibility to a non-science of social behavior. Also and because it is an “operating system” it can be tweaked, and Pink is here to tweak it.

With “autonomy boosts” — because the language of nutritional energy drinks turns a boring moral notion something measurable, blendible and drinkable. Boosts have an immediate effect. They make it to possible to increase “flow” which describes something in between enlightenment and a serotonin fry-up. “Flow” resonates both eco- and ego-culture, it sounds liquid and monetary and vaguely green. And very credible, from the Latin credo, lending itself to belief, and credit.

What becomes clearer and clearer in Pink’s ad is the generation gap between operating systems. The generation hiring believes that labour is and should be unpleasant, while the generation they are hiring believes that labour should flow, feel good, and produce something monetary and vaguely green.

Sometimes Pink is here to play Nanny: the next generation of Americans needs to be given “Goldilocks Tasks” — tasks that are neither too challenging nor too boring, pre-packaged, and served with a straw. A kind of Jobucino. Sometimes he simply proclaims, with that relentless enthusiasm born of sun and Mexican labour, what companies need to do to keep their employees happy.

Le Mariage by Diane Johnson read by Suzanne Toren

Yes, this is about a French woman who is preparing to be married, about the dozens of chores, duties, invitations, financial arrangements, foods, realtors, contracts and miscommunications fringing the prolonged event called a ‘wedding’. But it is more about the bureaucracy of French life, the stiff protocols, the delicate rules of engagement, the intricacies of public manners and traditions, and the entire merde-ridden fantasy of a plan of the couple.

It is, in short, about the beginning of one couple at the intersection of many others, slowly or not so slowly decomposing, when this couple is located in France, at a time when Americans were even less popular than usual….

Americans weren’t popular this season… The U.S. was embarked on a rescue mission in the Balkans that was seen by the French as a barely submerged drive for world domination…

Tim, the American reporter on the brink of marrying a Parisian woman who buys things in the Pouc, the flea-market, and sells them at high prices to decorators et al., is accused of his intrusive, neo-colonialist birthplace at a party where he meets another American ex-patriate, Clara, the beautiful, vulnerable, devoted wife of a rich, vulgar Hollywood director.