Friday, May 22, 2015

Awaiting and Recovering

Consider how much time is squandered awaiting an event or recovering from one which took place. 

That amount may far exceed the time for the event itself.

Music Break

Art Break: Jugend

Art Contrarian looks at the covers of Jugend magazine.

The Iron Lady

Charles Moore is interviewed about his biography of Margaret Thatcher.


Product Details

Biographer Richard Norton Smith talks about Nelson Rockefeller.

Name Your Favorite Biographies

Image result for shlaes coolidge

I will soon be starting another volume in Robert Caro's masterful series on Lyndon Johnson but first need to wrap up Jonathan Fenby's fascinating book on Charles de Gaulle. The Amity Shlaes book on Calvin Coolidge also awaits.

This blog has covered the subject of biographies before simply because there are so many great ones out there and many are packed with information that can be helpful in our own lives.

It's time for an update. Give me your recommendations.

Every Speaker Should Read This

Nicholas Bate nails the fundamental problems with PowerPoint.

Motivational Speeches

James Lawther at SquawkPoint watched "The Replacements" and wonders how often motivational speeches work. He mentions several great ones from the movies.

I'd add:
  • George C. Scott in "Patton."
  • Russell Crowe in "Master and Commander."
  • Peter Finch in "Network."
And, of course, this one from "Gettysburg."

What Will It Be Today?

Busy ant or dozing ox? Swinging for the fences or bunting to get on base? Relying on magical wishes or focusing on what is within your control? Honing your efforts or assuming they're just fine? Television or a good book? A walk or an easy chair?

Will today move you toward something good or will all of the rushing about merely restore the status-quo?

Quote of the Day

Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision. 

- Peter Drucker

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Walking the Dog

I usually walk the dog in the early evening. 

The other dog walkers who go by my house don't seem to have an ongoing conversation with their pets but I talk to mine, making observations on her pace, her sanity (a frequent topic), and whether she sees any of her cat friends. 

I suspect that I've become known in some neighborhood circles as the man who talks to his dog. There's another notch on my eccentricity scale but that is fine. 

So far the dog hasn't answered back.

Give her time.

First Paragraph

Ever since the announcement of my "conversion" to deism, I have been asked on numerous occasions to provide an account of the factors that led me to change my mind. In a few subsequent articles and in the new introduction to the 2005 edition of my God and Philosophy, I drew attention to recent works relevant to the ongoing discussion on God, but I did not elaborate further on my own views. I have now been persuaded to present here what might be called my last will and testament. In brief, as the title says, I now believe there is a God! 

- From There Is a God: How the World's Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind by Antony Flew

Three Days

Wally Bock has some great advice on what to give your brain on a three-day weekend.

Military Rucksacks and Related Apparel

This and more at Goruck.

The Art Price Bubble

Art Contrarian looks at several examples of stunning prices.

A Techie Switches

FutureLawyer announces that he is leaving his beloved Google Chrome for Firefox.

Could he be that some day he'll surprise us by announcing another extraordinary switch? 

No, that could never happen.

Beyond the Campfire

The search for solutions to a problem can be thwarted by an early crush on a particular course of action.

Concluding that "This is the one and only way" can keep us from finding others which are just as good if not better. 

[In fact, if you want to spur your associates to come up with alternatives, try telling them "This is the one and only way" and watch their response. You may find yourself swimming in alternatives.]

If you don't believe there are other solutions, listen to your senses. This is far from scientific but have you ever noticed how often you suspect there is another approach just outside of your current view? 

Go beyond the comfort of your intellectual campfire and you'll find it.


They will work despite the lack of leadership, constant confusion, shifting goals, office politics, complex pay systems, inexplicable promotions, limited resources, second-guessers, poor communication, frequent interference, unfair criticism, and lack of appreciation,

But they may not stay.

You should worry more about the ones who remain.

Quote of the Day

To measure up to all that is demanded of him, a man must overestimate his abilities. 

- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Matt Dances

A pleasurable re-post from 2012: Matt Harding dances around the world.

You will smile.

Theory into Practice

A day to focus on Pareto's 20 percent of efforts that will produce 80 percent of the results; to do David Allen's specific "next actions" to complete projects instead being depressed by a list of projects which never seems to end; a day to remember John Wooden's emphasis on honing the efforts that are likely to achieve the desired results instead of madly rushing about and hoping for the results.

Go get 'em.

Music Break

Anderson Layman's Blog has "The Ballad of Easy Rider."

The Game of Management

In the game of management, if a player is not tackled by the opposing team there is the possibility that the tackle may be made by the player's own team mates or, as is often the case, by the player himself. Forward motion is sometimes penalized unless it has received a slight nod from the coach who may be on or near the bench or far up in the bleachers. The coach often has only a superficial notion of what the players do - some coaches go for long lunches - but that doesn't prevent the calling in of plays; indeed, the coach is often regarded by players as their most formidable adversary and many mutter that more games would be won if the coach were not present. The referees usually have no love for the game and in many instances are rewarded if they make the game more difficult. For some teams, the plays are the main reward and the actual scoring of points is optional. Others focus solely on scoring and care little for rule violations or injuries. Goal posts are shifted for no apparent reason. More so than with other sports, the spectators think the game is much easier than it is.

Quote of the Day

Two o'clock in the morning courage: I mean unprepared courage. 

- Napoleon Bonaparte

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

News You Can Use

FutureLawyer provides evidence that Vincent Price was reincarnated as a parrot.

First Paragraph

It was dark under the trees, only a little moonlight penetrating the half-bare branches. The ground was thick with fallen leaves; the horses' hooves made little sound and it was hard to tell whether we were still on the road. A wretched track, Barak had called it earlier, grumbling yet again about the wildness of this barbarian land I had brought him to. I had not replied for I was bone-tired, my poor back sore and my legs in their heavy riding boots as stiff as boards. I was worried, too, for the strange mission that now lay close ahead was weighing on my mind. I lifted a hand from the reins and felt in my coat pocket for the Archbishop's seal, fingering it like a talisman and remembering Cranmer's promise: 'This will be safe enough, there will be no danger.' 

- From Sovereign by C. J. Sansom

In Life

In life, you learn that there are many examples of:

  • Simple but not easy.
  • Caring but not gentle.
  • Efficient but not effective.
  • Loving but not kind.
  • Seeing but not noticing.
  • Listening but not hearing.
  • Busy but not progressing.
  • Polite but not friendly.
  • Understanding but not agreeing.
  • Obedient but not loyal.
  • Intelligent but not wise.


"Only five people will be leaving." 
[It's not "only" if they're five of your best.]

"Look at the size of that market. If we get just one percent of it we'll be rolling in money!" 
["Do you know how hard it is to sell just a few items?"]

"She said we'll have plenty of time."
["Since she isn't doing the work, let's find out how much "plenty" is."]

"He said it's impossible to miss the place."
["Where are we?"]

Quote of the Day

His devastating capacity to make his enemies underestimate him. The popular view of Eisenhower among educated Eastern people was that he was a boob. He talked in convoluted, involuted sentences that didn't parse when transcribed, unlike the rest of us, who like to think we come out in lapidary prose. It's very agreeable to think, He's not as smart as I am; that's what's the matter with him. It was probably a very agreeable thought to Eisenhower. That's the way people got their balls cut off.

- Daniel Patrick Moynihan's description of what made President Eisenhower such a good politician

Monday, May 18, 2015


A brief and memorable video on The Battle of Hastings.

Undercover Considerations

The recent biker gang stories remind me of a meeting I had years ago with two undercover police officers who traveled in the biker circles. Both thoroughly looked the part. I was meeting them about an investigation.

I thought the use of a chain as a belt was a particularly interesting fashion statement.

Anyway, the conversation moved to what happens in biker bars and how undercover officers can operate while maintaining their cover. The subject of a notorious biker gang (not the one you think) came up. 

One of them said, "If they come into a bar, we leave. They are really dangerous people." Those undercover cops - two huge guys - reasoned that if they stayed, they would either be harmed or would be put in a situation where they would have to reveal their identity.

It's a wild world out there.

Communication is So Easy

"He didn't volunteer to help."
"You didn't ask."
"I shouldn't have had to ask."
"But I thought I heard him at one point ask if you needed help and you said you didn't."
"I did that because he should have known that I needed help."
"So if he asked and you said no he should have known that you really meant yes?"

First Paragraph

Richard. Old John of Gaunt, time-honored Lancaster,
Hast thou according to thy oath and band
Brought hither Henry Hereford, thy bold son,
Here to make good the boist'rous late appeal,
Which then our leisure would not let us hear,
Against the Duke of Norfolk, Thomas Mowbray?

- From The Tragedy of King Richard the Second by William Shakespeare

The Dadly Virtues

A panel discussion: Jonah Goldberg, Steve Hayes, James Lileks, P.J. O'Rourke, Jonathan Last, and Tucker Carlson discuss fatherhood.

Soft But Lethal

Whims. Interruptions. Sarcasm. Haste. Bureaucracy. Fear. Perfectionism. Indiscretion. Hubris. Manipulation. Cowardice. Confusion. Sloth. Pride. Isolation. Prejudice. Ignorance.

Quote of the Day

Conflict is inevitable, but combat is optional. 

- Max Lucado

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Find Something Beautiful Today

Saturday, May 16, 2015

First Paragraph

I was very young and lived with my grandparents in a villa with white walls in the Calle Ocharan, in Miraflores. I was studying at the University of San Marcos, law, as I remember, resigned to earning myself a living later on by practicing a liberal profession, although deep down what I really wanted was to become a writer someday. I had a job with a pompous-sounding title, a modest salary, duties as a plagiarist, and flexible working hours: News Director of Radio Panamericana. It consisted of cutting out interesting news items that appeared in the daily papers and rewriting them slightly so that they could be read on the air during the newscasts. My editorial staff was limited to Pascual, a youngster who slicked down his hair with quantities of brilliantine and loved catastrophes. There were one-minute news bulletins every hour on the hour, except for those at noon and at 9 p.m., which were fifteen minutes long, but we were able to prepare several of the one-minute hourly ones ahead of time, so that I was often out of the office for long stretches at a time, drinking coffee in one of the cafes on La Colmena, going to class now and again, or dropping in at the offices of Radio Central, always much livelier than the ones where I worked.

 - From Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter by Mario Vargas Llosa

More Music

Check it out:
And the late and great B.B. King will always be with us.


I have a telephonic conference on Monday for a historical organization. The subject is very complicated and it would have been better to meet face-to-face but that was not possible. Since I'm chairing the committee, my job will be to give everyone a chance to surface their concerns on what will be areas of disagreement. That is key because none of us have all the answers on this issue - the implementation of a new law - and we need to take some recommendations to the full board.

My guess is we'll be taking more than one opinion on a few items but that's fine. All can be thrashed out at the board-level but we want to give the board the advantage of prior analysis. I've prepared a written outline of the topics and have tried to be fair in describing any conflicting positions. The participants can use it as a guide as the meeting progresses. It contains a lot of helpful information.

My initial hope is to get the minor areas (and yes, I'm aware of the danger of calling anything "minor") resolved as soon as possible so we can turn to the biggies. Early agreement creates a nice atmosphere and if we get stalled on the lofty crags we will have at least made it over the small hills. It is also an indirect reminder that we're all on the same team and that disagreement is not a problem.

I worry more about rapid agreement on the big subjects. If that happens, we'll have to pause a bit to consider what we may be overlooking. We can also have a "pre-mortem" and explore what would be the most likely source of the failure if our brilliance becomes less than stellar.

It will be interesting.

Tabletote Plus

CoolTools has the details. You know you want one.

Music Break

From 1958: Gisele MacKenzie and Roger Williams play "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue."

Raymond Chandler Saturday

Ted Carmady liked the rain; liked the feel of it, the sound of it, the smell of it. He got out of his LaSalle coupe and stood for a while by the side entrance to the Carondelet, the high collar of his blue suede ulster tickling his ears, his hands in his pockets and a limp cigarette sputtering between his lips. Then he went in past the barbershop and the drugstore and the perfume shop with its rows of delicately lighted bottles, ranged like the ensemble in the finale of a Broadway musical.

He rounded a gold-veined pillar and got into an elevator with a cushioned floor.

Read the rest of "Guns at Cyrano's."

Quote of the Day

You will never stub your toe standing still, The faster you go, the more chance there is of stubbing your toe,  but the more chance you have of getting somewhere. 

- Charles F. Kettering