Thursday, September 21, 2017

Protecting The Grid

Cultural Offering points to a sobering issue that deserves far more attention. If all electricity were out for six months or a year, if modern technology went poof, our lives would be transformed. Civilization itself would be imperiled. 

You don't need to be a survivalist to worry about the possibility. Nations such as North Korea would love to be able to launch an attack on the American grid. Even more advanced adversaries would love for them to do so.

An excerpt from "Lights Out" by Ted Koppel: 

"There are emergency preparedness plans in place for earthquakes and hurricanes, heat waves and ice storms. There are plans for power outages of a few days, affecting as many as several million people. But if a highly populated area was without electricity for a period of months or even weeks, there is no master plan for the civilian population."

Former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta observed, "The danger we face right now is great, but so is the failure to acknowledge that the threat exists at all."

Quote of the Day

We are not a preemptive democracy. We are a reactive one. Rare are the occasions on which we act in anticipation of a potential problem.

- Tom Ridge

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Passion in Advertising

Back by popular demand: The commercial for Big Bob's Marshall Warehouse

Quick Look

The trailer for "Clerks."

Disability Accommodation and a Less Than Charming Professor

Althouse has a story about a professor and what appears to be a very reasonable way to accommodate a student with a disability. 

I wonder if the professor has any idea of how he comes across. Of course, he may not care.

Saharan Courtesy

"Unfortunately, the etiquette of the desert forbids you to ask the identity of any traveler whom you may meet. You may ask him where he is coming from, where he is going to, or questions of a similar nature, but you must on no account ask him who he is. There is a polite fiction to the effect that every man you meet, even if he is a common camel driver, is such a well-known personage that any inquiries concerning his identity are unnecessary." 

- W. J. Harding-King, 19th century English traveler, quoted in The Conquest of The Sahara by Douglas Porch

In The Background

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I was talking with a lawyer a few weeks ago about a story that had made national news. He had no difficulty with the conduct because he'd analyzed the matter and had found no legal problem. When I cited a multitude of management blunders, his response was along the lines of, "Oh, those. Yeah, those could be trouble."

Our respective fields can easily become traps. Always consider the backgrounds of those who are in the room.

Quote of the Day

A little integrity is better than any career.

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Celebrate Creativity

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Quick Look

The trailer for "Snakes On A Plane."

Leadership Reading

Fast Company: Seven books recommended by Microsoft's CEO.

I've read Mindset and thought it was very good.

Killer Morning

This is a black coffee and allergy medicine, think of last night's dream and wonder how much was real, wrestle with technology, slog through paperwork, check due dates, finish drafts, and get through a big list sort of morning.

Great Book Titles

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Quote of the Day

The professor was a bore on a Guggenheim, a long-range drone, an international ballistic fossil. I spent the whole hour drawing little pictures of hanged men.

- Clive James in May Week Was In June

Monday, September 18, 2017

Concerto Break

Time for some Handel. Crank it up.

[Op.6, No.9 in F Major]

Health Food Update

Homemade Orange Sweet Rolls

How To Feed A Loon shows how to make Homemade Orange Sweet Rolls.

Workplace at Sea

At Kottke: Check out Jeffrey Tsang's time-lapsed video of a cargo ship's voyage from the Red Sea to Hong Kong.


Breakfast Reading

Image result for douglas porch the conquest of the sahara amazon

I've started reading a few pages of this every morning. Fascinating.



Where you can find a lot of great things.

Denis Mack Smith, RIP

I just learned that Denis Mack Smith passed away in July

He graciously welcomed me into his home in Oxford many years ago when I was conducting some research on Mussolini. I can still vividly recall his observations as well as his kindness in devoting a day to meeting with an obscure American management consultant who was interested in the management style of an Italian dictator.

I learned a great deal that day.

A gentleman and a scholar. May he rest in peace.

Hoop Jumper

"So you didn't get the approval you wanted. What is your current plan?"

"I don't have one. They said no."

"They said no to one approach. That doesn't mean that another approach would be rejected."

"Yes, but even if they approve another approach, there's no guarantee that they wouldn't deep-six it at some point down the road."

"There are no guarantees on any of these projects. That possibility would have been present if they'd approved your original proposal."

"Yes, but I hate all of the hoops you have to jump through to get one approved."

"Do you still believe this matter is important and should be addressed?"


"Then get ready to jump through some more hoops."

Quick Look

The trailer for "Hamlet."

Life Lessons

Shannon Kaiser describes the life lessons she learned from running her own business. 

It's a fun list to argue against.

Great Book Titles

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Quote of the Day

Patience is the companion of wisdom.

- Saint Augustine

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Find Something Beautiful Today

Saturday, September 16, 2017


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Pressed over dinner to recite this poem from memory, I was stunned to discover that I could recite a fair amount.

I imagine many of you can do the same. 

Now pause a moment and consider all of the mega-practical things we've forgotten compared to "Jabberwocky."

Memory is rarely prioritized.

On the other hand, that's a pretty neat poem.

Persuasion Tips

The new book by Scott Adams is available for pre-order.

Quick Look

The trailer for "First They Killed My Father."

Hard at It


At Cultural Offering.

Quick Look

The trailer for "Paris, Texas."

First Paragraph

Before he went to sea, Bliven Putnam had wondered why men personify ships, name them, ascribe temperaments to them, refer to them in the feminine. It took only one day at sea in a stiff blow to understand it. When the sails of the Enterprise bellied out and the masts bent before the wind, when the ship buried itself in a trough and then vaulted to surmount a swell, she took on the life of the most spirited filly. A ship at sea - you ask things of her, sometimes difficult things, tricky things, and she responds, although not always in the affirmative. She becomes your home and your safety - your only safety - in the middle of an ocean, but does so with a grace and touch that is nothing if not feminine. To seamen this relationship with their vessel becomes embedded in their nature. Those who do not go to sea cannot understand it; they accept it readily enough, and they mimic the sailor's reference to a ship as "she," but they do not comprehend it, really. That is the seamen's bond alone.

- From The Shores of Tripoli: Lieutenant Putnam and the Barbary Pirates by James L. Haley

Great Book Titles

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Quick Look

The trailer for "Bullets Over Broadway."

Quote of the Day

The information-rich Dark Ages: in 2010, 600,000 books were published just in English, with few memorable quotes. Circa AD zero, a handful of books were written. In spite of the few that survived, there are loads of quotes.

- Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Campus Swamp

This Althouse post linking to an Arthur C. Brooks essay on the intellectual conformity on campus addresses a familiar topic.

It's a swamp. I'll believe something is being done about the problem when universities start to take meaningful action.

Quick Look

The trailer for "The Bookshop."

Back of the Mind Questions

  1. "How will this move us forward?"
  2. "Do they want to do something meaningful or do they just want to be able to say they did something?"
  3. "Does that position have any relationship to reality?"
  4. "Is there someone who should be here but isn't?"
  5. "Does everyone have the same goal?"
  6. "What is being downplayed?"
  7. "Is this a real meeting or will the real meeting take place elsewhere?"
  8. "If the specialists are acting like generalists, then who is bringing the expertise of the specialists?"
  9. "Is anyone going to ask the IT person for a translation?"
  10. "Does the lawyer really understand how that policy will be implemented in the field?"
  11. "Where did that money come from?"
  12. "Does anyone remember the last time we tried this?"

Great Book Titles

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Quote of the Day

Don't rely on being given anything you don't ask for.

- Morton C. Blackwell