Wednesday, September 23, 2020

These Are Still Around


Music Break


Surgical Mask Ground Rules

Remember the advice that you should wear the mask with its white side out if you want to avoid getting the virus and the blue (or green) side out if you want to avoid transmitting an illness? 

Here's hoping this simplifies matters.

[Executive summary: show your colors.]

Behind Many a Book Report


First Paragraph

On the afternoon of 23 May 1945, more than two weeks after the German surrender, a group of about twenty suspects - German civilians and soldiers - who had been rounded up two days previously, were brought into the British forces' 31st Civilian Interrogation Camp near L√ľneburg.

- From Heinrich Himmler by Peter Longerich

Knowing the Rules

It is not enough to know the rules. It is also important to know the exceptions and where the rules originated.

And then, along with those areas, it can help to know the proclivities of those who enforce the rules and which modifications, however unintended, they may insert in that enforcement. Such changes made be the equivalent of amendments.

What is a good demonstration of knowledge? Being able to provide a brief,  accurate, and understandable explanation to someone who has no background in the subject and who is eager to be elsewhere.



Educating Citizens and Unifying the Nation


Read the review by Joanne Jacobs here.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Shakespeare Moment


The Fool's Prayer

The royal feast was done; the King

Sought some new sport to banish care,
And to his jester cried: “Sir Fool,
Kneel now, and make for us a prayer!”

Read all of it here.

To Be Read Slowly


"Mme Yourcenar wrote a good deal of fiction, but her imperishable work is Memoirs of Hadrian, first published in French in 1951. The novel is in the form of a lengthy letter by the aged and ill Emperor Hadrian, who ruled from CE 117 to 138, to the 17-year-old but already thoughtful Marcus Aurelius."

- Joseph Epstein

Paranormal Investigations


Clueless in Seattle

 Seattle pays ex-pimp a bundle to offer alternatives to policing.

Somewhere Over the Rainbow


Pandemic-Inspired Thoughts About Government


Charming Bunch

The New York Times reports on the protests in residential neighborhoods.

An excerpt:

A small free literature selection was set up on the grass and overseen by three people in ski masks. It was a popular offering, and people crowded around, craning to see the pamphlets.

Titles included “Why Break Windows”; “I Want To Kill Cops Until I’m Dead”; “Piece Now, Peace Later: An Anarchist Introduction to Firearms”; “In Defense of Smashing Cameras”; and “Three-Way Fight: Revolutionary Anti-Fascism and Armed Self Defense.”

1955 Perspective on The New Political Class


Unlike the old Establishment, the Political Class depends directly or indirectly on the state for its special privileges, career structure and increasingly for its financial support. This visceral connection distinguishes it from all previous British governing elites, which were connected much more closely to civil society and were frequently hostile or indifferent to central government. Until recent times members of British ruling elites owed their status to the position they occupied outside Westminster. Today, in an important reversal, it is the position they occupy in Westminster that grants them their status in civil society.

- Henry Fairlie in The Spectator in 1955 on the change from the old British Establishment to the new Political Class

[Photo by Clever Visuals at Unsplash]

Some Books That Can Change Your Life


  • The Bible
  • Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankel
  • A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
  • Animal Farm by George Orwell
  • Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
  • John Adams by David McCullough
  • Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
  • War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  • The Gulag Archipelago by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
  • The First Circle by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
  • The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
  • Bleak House by Charles Dickens
  • The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  • Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers by Tom Wolfe
  • Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
  • Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
  • The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope
  • The Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay


Law professor (and Instapundit) Glenn Reynolds revives one of his old proposals: having a Supreme Court with 59 members.

That would be a grand illustration of solving one problem and creating some new ones that could well surpass the old problem in terms of severity.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Winning The Fight

Patrick Rhone, an extraordinarily talented person,
tells of his battle with The Piggyback Guy.

Odds are you know of someone who can be helped by his powerful story.

Mission Accomplished

 Cultural Offering, where life well-lived is a theme, has finished restoring his father's shop.

I Highly Recommend His Book "The Madness of Crowds"


Quick Look


News You Can Use: The Proper Preparation of Potlikker

 A Layman's Blog points to a humorous potlikker debate between an editor and The Kingfish.

Genius Test

If you think you are a genius, you probably aren't.

- Joseph Epstein

Autumn Leaves


A Murray Treat

 A Large Regular treats us to various sides of Bill Murray.

Here's the trailer for his latest film.

Time for Some Old Guidelines


As even the most remote hermit knows, we're going to have an election in November.

It won't be a coup. It won't be a revolution. It will be an election and after that we'll have a president. [All of us will have a president, not just the side that won.]

But what is just as important is that we need to have a country. It does no good for either side if an election is so acrimonious that it severely divides our people and makes governance next to impossible. 

I know individuals who will be voting for different candidates. These are fine and intelligent people who wish the best for this country and for future generations. They are not dunces or scoundrels.

To avoid needless acrimony, it might help to reach into the attic and dust off some tried and true guidelines. They are far from original but nonetheless they are valuable. Let us:

  • Give one another the benefit of the doubt; 
  • Lower the heat in our arguments; 
  • Avoid burning bridges with friends, relatives, and associates; and
  • Refrain from cheap shots.

As a wise old executive once said, "Whenever you're angry, don't do anything that feels good."

When passions are fevered, basic courtesy can be a tonic.

Eventually, all of us will feel much better as a result.

[Photo by Max Sulik at Unsplash]

Questions: Learning and Traps


Distinguish between those who ask questions to learn and those who ask questions to entrap. 

With that in mind, remember that not every question deserves an answer.

[Photo by Vlad Kutepov at Unsplash]

Oldie But Goodie


Saturday, September 19, 2020

The Confidence of the Elite Thinkers

I noticed that very intelligent and informed persons were at no advantage over cabdrivers in their predictions, but there was a crucial difference. Cabdrivers did not believe that they understood as much as learned people - really, they were not the experts and they knew it. Nobody knew anything, but elite thinkers thought that they knew more than the rest because they were elite thinkers, and if you're a member of the elite, you automatically know more than the nonelite.

- Nassim Nicholas Taleb in The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable

Remembering Ruth Bader Ginsburg

 David Post, a former RBG law clerk, remembers Ruth Bader Ginsburg. An excerpt:

Most of what I know about writing I learned from her.  The rules are actually pretty simple:  Every word matters.  Don't make the simple complicated, make the complicated as simple as it can be (but not simpler!). You're not finished when you can't think of anything more to add to your document; you're finished when you can't think of anything more that you can remove from it. She enforced these principles with a combination of a ferocious—almost a terrifying—editorial pen, and enough judicious praise sprinkled about to let you know that she was appreciating your efforts, if not always your end-product. And one more rule: While you're at it, make it sing. At least a little; legal prose is not epic poetry or the stuff of operatic librettos, but a well-crafted paragraph can help carry the reader along, and is always a thing of real beauty.

The Timeless Powerful Mantra

 Nicholas Bate notes it. Churchill would agree.

Back By Popular Demand: The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere


Quick Look


Kabuki Theater and the Supreme Court


With regard to filling the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court, we see both political parties adopting positions they previously opposed. 

That is what parties do. If their power positions were reversed, each would be embracing the exact strategy it now opposes. Senators Schumer and McConnell would exchange scripts.

Althouse weighs in here.

[Photo by Yu Kato at Unsplash]

Hollywood Story

Writing in Commentary, Terry Teachout
tells the sad story of the collaboration between Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett.

Two Plans

When preparing an important project, it helps to jot down a couple of plans that address these questions: How Can I Achieve This? and How Can I Screw This Up?

[I'm not joking.]

[Photo by Wonderlane at Unsplash]

Weekend Leadership Reading

Wally Bock has the assignments.

[Photo by Kinga Cichewicz at Unsplash]

Quick Look


Friday, September 18, 2020

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, RIP

 SCOTUS Blog has the story.

The Days of The Big Three



 FutureLawyer has an unforgettable song that resembles a novel with more than a touch of William Faulkner and Flannery O'Connor.



When the "Oppressor" is Bluecollar

Peterson describes Skidmore as a politically monolithic campus where the campus Republican club attracted only a handful of members and has since shut down. It’s the kind of place where students are shocked to meet anyone who holds right-of-center views. So if, in these times of protest, they want to go around looking for The Oppressor, the ideological opponent who represents everything that is wrong with the world, he can be a little hard to find. But then, as Peterson puts it, “There he is, screwing in lightbulbs.”

Read the rest of Robert Tracinski's column in The Bulwark.

How Infectious?

Just The News reports on the question of whether many COVID-19 cases might not be infectious at all.

The Worldometer country-by-country update

[I like to check out the Netherlands and Sweden because they largely avoided a lockdown.]

Quick Look


Strange But Productive Self-Improvement Exercises


To be done over any twelve-month period:

  • Pick a country, any country, but preferably one with a sizable literature. Over the next twelve months, read about its history, geography, economy, government structure, etc. Also watch its films, view its art, and listen to its music. Try out the cuisine. Studying the country's language is optional.
  • Pick a year from the past seven decades. Study the events that took place. Read that year's novels and non-fiction. Check out its fashions, art, architecture,  and music. Watch the films. Compare the quality of the political and cultural figures with their peers of today.
  • Any other similar projects?
Update: See Dan's ideas in the comments section. 

Quick Look


Thursday, September 17, 2020

The Bose Boo

FutureLawyer is ready for Halloween with his Bose Frames.

Now if he can only find a mask.

Another Reason to Read Raymond Chandler

“He looked about as inconspicuous as a tarantula on a slice of angel food cake.”

- Raymond Chandler

Princeton Admits to Embedded Racism?

 I don't want any federal money going to racist universities.

Bravo to the Department of Education!

A Fast and Cheap Covid-19 Transmission Test?

Malcolm Gladwell talks to Dr. Michael Mina about a possible inexpensive test that could be used every day.

Is this a case where the best has been the enemy of the good?

Update: A similar story at The Harvard Gazette.

Quick Look


The Courage Deficit

Jonathan Zimmerman on the latest campus free speech travesty.

If there are going to sack anyone they should start with the dean.

The Disaster Scout

Some of my favorite assignments are when an organization is interested in preventing - and not merely responding to - significant problems.

[Pictured above: Part of the Maginot Line.]

Mandatory Viewing


The Guardian: A report on the number of young Americans who know little about the Holocaust.

First Paragraph

Landscape-tones: brown to bronze, steep skyline, low cloud, pearl ground with shadowed oyster and violet reflections. The lion-dust of desert: prophets' tombs turned to zinc and copper at sunset on the ancient lake. Its huge sand-faults like watermarks from the air; green and citron giving to gunmetal, to a single plum-dark sail, moist, palpitant: sticky-winged nymph. Taposiris is dead among its rumbling columns and seamarks, vanished the Harpoon Men . . . Mareotis under a sky of hot lilac.

- From Balthazar by Lawrence Durrell