Saturday, May 25, 2019

Pens Pens Pens

Earlier this month I put an item on Twitter about favorite pens and quickly received many fine replies. Here is the list with some subsequent additions. I have also given the names of those making the recommendations.

  • Cross pens; Jetstream Uniballs (John Ballard)
  • Namiki Falcon; Kaweco; Pelikan 3776 in fine point (Julian Summerhayes)
  • Pilot Precise V5 extra fine retractable roller ball (Stephen Landry)
  • Parker Jotter refilled with Quink Gel ink; Sharpie's Super Time Tip (Nelson Howard)
  • Uniball Signo 207 (Kurt Harden)
  • Pilot Aeroball (Joel Engel)
  • Aegir (Rick Georges)
  • Pilot G-2; Bic Gel-ocity medium; Kaweco; Pilot Metropolitan ballpoint (Michael Wade)
[Update: I corrected my mistake in the reference from Quick Gel ink to Quink Gel ink.]

Modern Entertainment

"John Wick - Part Two" can be summed up by one of the subtitles: "Man screaming."

A Rule for Writing

That word, sentence, or paragraph that you wondered about? 

Change it.

Believe me, there's a reason.

Some Time Travel

The trailer for "Downton Abbey: The Movie."

Bock's Assignments

Wally Bock has some weekend leadership reading for us. I'd recommend having a few beers beforehand.

Friday, May 24, 2019

The Magic of Ducks

two ducks on pavement

As shown at:

[Photo by Brandon Riley at Unsplash]

Miscellaneous and Fast

Get Thee to a Vineyard

The trailer for "Star Trek: Picard."

Why Did We Get Rid of . . . ?

Cultural Offering asks a question that has long bothered me: "Why did we get rid of chalk boards?"

Of course, "we" didn't. People in schools and companies were persuaded that white boards (and worse yet, smart boards) were so much better and, cost be damned, the chalk boards went.

As a person who conducts a lot of workshops, I lament the loss of chalk boards and overhead projectors. Both provided an ease of use and flexibility that their jazzy substitutes lack.

And while we're on the subject of why we got rid of things, I'll add "Why did we get rid of teaching industrial arts and home economics in elementary school?" 

I still use skills learned in "shop class." It was hands-on education in how things are made. Anyone who sawed, planed, sanded, hammered, and stained lumber to make a magazine rack or a bookcase left with a true appreciation of those who can do such tasks well.

The Worrier's Mind

man holding his chin facing laptop computer

Did I say that right? What did I miss? What was meant by that tone? Was there a tone? Why would they want that? Did we explain it clearly? Is anything being hidden? Why the rush? Why did we ever commit to that? How many other surprises will emerge? Will we have enough resources?  Does the new person understand what's going on? Are we overlooking a legal problem? Do we need to run that by the board? Did you notice who didn't speak up at the meeting? What are we assuming? Why are we nervous? Did we drink too much coffee? Are we using the same definitions? Why were those people selected? Did you notice he took a call? We don't have a Plan B?

And on and on.

[Photo by bruce mars at Unsplash]

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Starlink Mission

SpaceX's page on the Starlink Mission. It has launched.

Corn and Coyote

I had some coaching sessions in the west valley yesterday. The trip involved a pleasant meander through farming country. One farm has just harvested onions but most of the others were growing corn. 

As I whipped past one field, keeping an eye out for tractors, a coyote wandered out, gave me a stare and then turned back, deciding against trying to cross the road. Vultures were also exploring the area but no egrets were present. My guess is they wait for the irrigation.

To those who ask if the trip is ever tiring, I reply, "Not at all." 

Hint: It Comes with Being Normal

Eclecticity Light has an important reminder for us.

Believe the Evidence, Not the Identity

Geoffrey Rush has won a big defamation award in Australia.

Postcard: Sagan at the Wheel

Clive James: "Postcard from Paris."

From the volume of his memoirs where he describes filming the ride with Fran├žoise Sagan at the wheel:

"My questions tended to fragment as we switched with yelping tyres from one boulevard to another, threading our way between cars driven by normal people and taking every red light as a sign to speed up. 'So when you first met Sartre what AAAGH! did he say?'"

Nationwide Injunctions: "I do not want to see any of them."

Attorney General William Barr has delivered a major speech to the American Law Institute on the subject of nationwide injunctions. An excerpt:

While the DACA case provides a stark example of the trend in nationwide injunctions, at this point, it is hardly an outlier. Since President Trump took office, federal district courts have issued 37 nationwide injunctions against the Executive Branch. That’s more than one a month. By comparison, during President Obama’s first two years, district courts issued two nationwide injunctions against the Executive Branch, both of which were vacated by the Ninth Circuit. And according to the Department’s best estimates, courts issued only 27 nationwide injunctions­ in all of the 20th century.

Some say this proves that the Trump Administration is lawless. Not surprisingly, I disagree. And I would point out that the only case litigated on the merits in the Supreme Court—the so-called “travel ban” challenge—ended with President’s policy being upheld. But my aim today is not to debate the merits of any particular policy; it is to discuss the improper use of nationwide injunctions against policies of all stripes. Specifically, aside from the particular oddities of the DACA case, I want to highlight five ways in which nationwide injunctions are inconsistent with our American legal system.

First Paragraph

November evenings are quiet and still and dry. The frost-stripped trees and the bleached grasses glisten and shine in the small light. In the winter-emptied fields granite outcroppings gleam white and stark. The bones of the earth, old people call them. In the deepest fold of the land - to the southwest where the sun went down solid and red not long ago - the Providence River reflects a little grey light. The river is small this time of year, drought-shrunken. It turns back the sky, dully, like an old mirror.

- From The Keepers of the House by Shirley Ann Grau


black and white honey bee hovering near yellow flower in closeup photography

Chances are you are quite unenthusiastic about bumble bees. But if you study bumble bees, find out what good they do, how they relate to other bees, how they reproduce, where they live in winter - if you find out all you can about  bumble bees, you will soon find yourself really interested in bumble bees.

- David J. Schwartz in The Magic of Thinking Big

[Photo by Boris Smokrovic at Unsplash]


The trailer for "The Flood."

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Be Happy in Your Work

MedBen President & CEO Kurt Harden at Local Leaders Breakfast

Kurt Harden of Cultural Offering has a day job.

He's starting to look younger. It must be the blogging.

One of the Many Inspirations for "Airplane"

The trailer for "The High and the Mighty."

Angela Merkel and Theresa May?

The Hollywood Reporter: "When Women Rule the World."

Moguls, Movies, and Manson

The trailer for "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood."

The Slow Time

Several times a week, I intentionally slow things down. Right now, for instance, I am typing very slowly and am slowly considering what I need to do to be ready for tomorrow. My schedule will be slowly written and later, when I read a book, that too will be done slowly. With that I can notice the author's pace as well as the choice of some words versus others.

Could I get more done if I didn't have these slow times? I'm sure I could but not in all cases. Slow execution of tasks helps to prevent mistakes. It permits you to savor the work. I overlook less when I slow things down.

[I wrote the above last night. I'm ready for the day and rather than making the slow times the exception, I'll make them the rule. Let speed be the exception.]

No Fortune Telling

coin lot on glass jar

I don't invest a dime based on macro forecasts.

- Warren Buffett

[Photo by Michael Longmire at Unsplash]

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Documentary: American B-17 Bombers in WWII Europe

The trailer for "The Cold Blue."

Here's more on the film from Popular Mechanics.

Quick Look

The trailer for "A Rainy Day in New York."

Herman Wouk

New York Post: Jonathan S. Tobin remembers Herman Wouk.

As for his books, don't miss:
  • "The Caine Mutiny"
  • "The Winds of War"
  • "War and Remembrance"

"Milkshaking" and British Politics

That we live in a country in which someone who eggs Corbyn can be jailed for a month, while someone who milkshakes Nigel Farage can become a meme hero, deserves an explanation. What it speaks to is a chattering class that is now so cut off, confused and panicked about its inability to connect with ordinary people that it is effectively green-lighting assaults on politicians it dislikes.

Read the rest of Brendan O'Neill in Spiked.

Adjusting Communication to the Individual

It makes no sense to treat everyone the same all the time. Some people are tough, others are fragile. Some require directness and others require tact. The list of differences is extensive and circumstances change.

When you make adjustments, however, be sure to consider another aspect. It is not just that in your eyes the person is different, it is also that the person may have a different view of you.

Here are two examples:

Jack is tough and very blunt. At the same time, however, Jack regards you as a wielder of great power and is wary of doing anything that might trigger your wrath.

Kim is soft-spoken and diplomatic but Kim is very comfortable being direct with you and with hearing any criticism you may have.

As a result, you may want to be more indirect when talking with blunt Jack and more direct when talking with soft-spoken Kim.

After all, you are adjusting your style to create effective communication with them and not to match their communication with others.

Remembering the Cold War

The ambition to conquer the world has two different sources in the mental equipment of Soviet leaders. One is the classic, traditional, permanent image of "world revolution," the certainty that all humanity is destined to become Communist. The other is the sense of the Communist system's inherent fragility, shown by the tendency of all peoples under its yoke to try to evade it or shake it off whenever a crack in the wall of police repression gives them a chance.

- From How Democracies Perish by Jean-Fran├žois Revel (1983)

Monday, May 20, 2019

America's Sexy Accents

Despite these rankings, it is highly unlikely that the Boston accent is the second sexiest accent in America.

[HT: Althouse]


Here's Wally Bock's review. 

Almost bought the book this past weekend and am glad I held off. 

I'll eventually read it but Wally provides some points to keep in mind.

First Paragraph

How often have you heard someone say, "It's crazy at work"? Maybe you've even said it yourself. For many, "It's crazy at work" has become their normal. But why so crazy?

- From It Doesn't Have to Be Crazy at Work by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

Candor in the Workplace

Doug Fine at Eclecticity Light expands upon the openness issue.

The Silva Solution

Image result for the black widow silva amazon

With regard to the list of novels I mentioned the other day: I quickly read The Secret Sharer by Joseph Conrad which is short and interesting but thin gruel compared to Heart of Darkness.

So it was back to the list. At the nudging of Steve Layman of A Layman's Blog, I started The Black Widow by Daniel Silva.

Long-time readers of this blog know I'm a major Silva fan. Although I recommend reading his Gabriel Allon series from the beginning, if you don't mind jumping into it at a later stage, The Black Widow is a good introduction. My guess, however, is that it will spark a desire to read the entire series.


Capitalism and Cool

Do you know what Steve Jobs did not need before returning to Apple and what Elon Musk did not need before starting Tesla? A paycheck. They wanted to do something cool, to create something new and delightful and previously unknown. 

- Kevin D. Williamson

Down on the Border

The trailer for "Sicario."