Dropped off a rental car and ran home. Spent three full days in Myrtle Beach, SC, which was fun, but had to spend about 26 hours in the car, which wasn't fun. I finished one book and started two more. I sat through three hours of timeshare presentation and salesmanship (in exchange for a free room and $75 in gift cards), and I'm really glad I left without buying. You really need to think these things over for a few days. What sounded really watertight during the presentation just keeps sprouting more holes the more I think about it.
I finished "The Machine That Changed the World: The Story of Lean Production"
, by Womack et al (1990). Someone recommended it to me in the early 90s because it was required reading in his office, and I bought it and never read it. A few months ago, I took a neat little course that mentioned it, so I dug it out. I'm really glad I read this, although I think a newer book by the same people might be better. It starts out light and quick, but about about 2/3 of the way through it bogs down and goes into a lot of detail about the specific situation when the book was written (which one presumably might skip today). It's about the Toyota system of making cars, which the authors call "Lean Production", and which they distinguish from Henry Ford's "Mass Production". The most surprising thing was the analogies my brain kept inserting regarding Democrats v. Republicans and Capitalism from an adversarial short-term perspective v. a long-term cooperative teaming arrangement perspective (between the big company and suppliers, in this case). This book made me question a lot of what I thought I knew about manufacturing, politics, capitalism, and economics. One interesting thought I had, based on recent events (which the authors do not discuss), was the idea that oversight from governments and trade unions is considered a form of waste: If a company acts responsibly and does things like protect the environment and treats its employees fairly, then how necessary is government oversight and unionization? I have a hard time believing a large corporation can be trusted to "always do right." Repeat after me: "Checks and Balances are GOOD."