Friday, February 24, 2017

Sleep


When you are young, sleep is a rival because there is so much to do.

When you are older, sleep is an ally because there is so much to so.

Quote of the Day

The greatest obstacle to discovering the shape of the earth, the continents and the oceans was not ignorance but the illusion of knowledge.

- Daniel J. Boorstin

Thursday, February 23, 2017

A Greater Appreciation


As I get older, I have a greater appreciation of:
  • The talent of Frank Sinatra.
  • A quiet Saturday night.
  • The sweetness of dogs.
  • Alfred Hitchcock films.
  • Walks.
  • Bach's genius.
  • A well-written sentence.
  • The insight of Abraham Lincoln.
  • Vincent van Gogh.
  • Comfortable clothes.

Film Break


The trailers for:

First Paragraph

It was only toward the middle of the twentieth century that the inhabitants of many European countries came, in general unpleasantly, to the realization that their fate could be influenced directly by intricate and abstruse books of philosophy. Their bread, their work, their private lives began to depend on this or that decision in disputes on principles to which, until then, they had never paid any attention. In their eyes, the philosopher had always been a sort of dreamer whose divagations had no effect on reality. The average human being, even if he had once been exposed to it, wrote philosophy off as utterly impractical and useless. Therefore the great intellectual work of the Marxists could easily pass as just one more variation on a sterile pastime. Only a few individuals understood the causes and probable consequences of this general indifference.

- From The Captive Mind by Czeslaw Milosz

Quote of the Day

When you receive a kindness, remember it; when you do a kindness, forget it.

- Greek proverb

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Poetry Break

Emily Dickinson: "Surgeons Must Be Very Careful."

Short and sharp.

Highly Recommended

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Small Wins


Nicholas Bate has the list

My favorite involves reading four pages of a classic novel every day.

HP's Attack on Equal Employment Opportunity

Center for Equal Opportunity: "Diversity Mandate to Partner Law Firms."

ABA Journal has a related story.

Evidence that truly vile policies can be dressed up in fine language. I wonder how many law firms will meekly comply. 

Plain Language


Whenever I hear a speaker use language that is unduly complicated, it sparks several reactions:

  1. "This person is blowing smoke to hide a lack of expertise."
  2. "This person confuses complexity with depth and is seeking to impress us."
  3. "This person may not be trying to deceive or impress anyone but simply doesn't know the subject well enough to put it in plain language."
  4. "This person may know the subject, but doesn't care enough about the audience to put it in terms that are easier to understand."
I realize that there are other possible interpretations but my usual conclusion is the third. I've met executives and managers who sincerely believe that they know a subject but, when pressed to describe it in plain language, they are stymied.

I've mentioned this idea before but a very wise Human Resources Director of my acquaintance writes a clear description of key HR issues on large note cards. When she finishes a management book, she jots what she learned on those note cards. It is a simple and brilliant habit because translating the complex into the simple is one of the surest ways to learn a subject.

If you can't put it in plain language, perhaps you don't know it.

First Paragraph

Through all the years of my sad youth Huysmans remained a companion, a faithful friend; never once did I doubt him, never once was I tempted to drop him or take up another subject; then, one afternoon in June 2007, after waiting and putting it off as long as I could, even slightly longer than was allowed, I defended my dissertation, "Joris-Karl Huysmans: Out of the Tunnel," before the jury of the University of Paris IV-Sorbonne. The next morning (or maybe that evening, I don't remember: I spent the night of my defense alone and very drunk) I realized that part of my life, probably the best part, was behind me.

- From Submission by Michel Houellebecq

Quote of the Day

A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject.

- Winston Churchill

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Study in Leadership: McMaster

From 2006: George Packer in The New Yorker on the man who was just appointed National Security Adviser.

Update: McMaster speaking on strategy.

Think "System"


In general, an intent will beat a wish, a goal will beat an intent, and a plan will beat a goal, But a clear goal, a solid plan, and a well-matched system will be formidable.

Start with a Good Cup of Coffee


And then read several posts at Cultural Offering.

A great way to ease into the morning.

First Paragraph

The early-morning, late-November sun began to come in low and slow and pale over the railroad bridge at the Dockett Street commuter-train stop on the Dedham-West Roxbury line, cheap-glittering the dirty windows on the southerly side of the yellow cinderblock auto-body shop - the sign on the roof in tall, hollow, red-plastic letters read: BUDDYS' YOUR BRUISED CAR'S BEST BUDDY -and Dell'Appa writhed in the passenger bucket of the blue-and-white Chevy Blazer. He exhaled loudly.

- From Bomber's Law by George V. Higgins

Quote of the Day

To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle.

- George Orwell

Monday, February 20, 2017

White House Tour

From 1962: A tour of The White House with First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy.

Eclecticity Light


Where does he find this stuff?

First Paragraph

The Sixty-Seventh Combat Support Hospital, located 250 miles northwest of Baghdad, was not like most hospitals. For starters, the doctors carried guns. As officers in the U.S. Army, the physicians were required to wear sidearms, which were deposited in a lockbox before every shift. The hospital often treated Iraqi insurgents, who were known to spit in attending physicians' faces as they received treatment. If they (or a disoriented U.S. soldier) got their hands on a weapon, a firefight could break out in the operating room.

- From Simple Rules: How to Thrive in a Complex World by Donald Sull and Kathleen M. Eisenhardt

Highly Recommended


Sherlock: Season 4.

But only if you're seen the previous seasons.

Do your homework.

Washington or Lincoln?


Since today is Presidents' Day in the United States, let's consider a classic question that can spark no small amount of debate. George Washington and Abraham Lincoln are commonly regarded as the two greatest presidents.

Which one would you say was the greatest? 

Presidents' Day


Quote of the Day

Never go out to meet trouble. If you just sit still, nine cases out of ten, someone will intercept it before it reaches you.

- Calvin Coolidge

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Find Something Beautiful Today


Saturday, February 18, 2017

Always a Pleasant Visit

Garbo Break

First Paragraph

It was a mystery in those parts for years what had happened to the old white ghost man, the barbarian with his huge shoulder bag. There were some who supposed him to have been murdered, and, later, they dug up the floor of Old Gao's little shack high on the hillside, looking for treasure, but they found nothing but ash and fire-blackened tin trays.

- From "The Case of Death and Honey" in Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman

Attention Learners!


If you are on Amazon Prime, you can take the Great Courses Signature Collection for $7.99 a month.

That is a smoking deal.

A Legion of Scribblers



While searching through a mountain of scholarly articles on history, I found it hard not to be impressed by the dedication of so many people writing on such obscure topics. 

Obscure, that is, until you need information on it and then the subject is front-page-worthy stuff that should have never been neglected.

Gratitude for their dedication is increased by the knowledge that most of them wrote simply out of love for the subject. They didn't make a cent. There may be a slight ego boost but that is more than outweighed by the knowledge that you'll go down in family lore as the eccentric uncle or aunt who wrote about Chinese grocery stores in Bisbee or about the reason why a particular color was used in a state flag.

We need people and preservation like that. As I've written before on this blog, history doesn't wait to be discovered. It can be lost. That unknown legion of scribblers helps to preserve its lessons.

Highly Recommended

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Quote of the Day

Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless. 

- Mother Teresa