Tuesday, November 20, 2018

7 Novels with Lessons about Ethics

Image result for a river town thomas keneally amazon

If I were to pick a small group of novels containing powerful insights about ethics, these would be on the list:
  1. "The Warden" by Anthony Trollope. No, it's not about a prison warden. It is about a church warden; a very good man who finds himself accused of unethical behavior.
  2. "War and Peace" by Leo Tolstoy. Since this classic is packed with wisdom about people and life, it is not surprising that it also has ethical issues. If you've never read it, don't be intimidated by its size.
  3. "The Caine Mutiny" by Herman Wouk. Due to the fine film with Humphrey Bogart, many people have heard of Captain Queeg and the strawberries. The most important part, however, comes once the court-martial is over and the defense attorney opens up on his clients.
  4. "Life with a Star" by Jiri Weil. The hero has not been taken to the death camps. He is simply trying to live decently while the world has gone mad and "they" are out to kill him.
  5. "A Meal in Winter" by Hubert Mingarelli. Another Holocaust novel. Some killers get a chance not to kill. Will they take it?
  6. "A Good Man in Africa" by William Boyd. Who was really the good man in Africa? You may be surprised by the book's end.
  7. "A River Town" by Thomas Keneally. Can you do everything right and still lose in a remote Australian town that is beset by moral rot?
Please let me know of any others that you would add to the list.

Perfection and Reality

brown dried leaves on sand

I don't know where many young people get the idea that they and the world are supposed to be perfect but that is a cause of paralysis in the first case and delusion in the second.

Let's start with the first. Being reasonably good in most jobs will put you close to super-star status. Do you think Babe Ruth or Ted Williams always hit home runs? Is every play by Shakespeare great? Are the works of Charles Dickens beyond editing?  Do you think [pick a famous author] is incapable of writing trash or that [pick a famous film director] couldn't make a bad movie?

Each noted achiever was willing to be ridiculed. While not wishing to fail, each also knew that repeated failure is the toll-booth on the path to success. They worked hard and sought to slant the odds in their favor but they also were well aware that not one of us functions in a well-ordered environment.

To expect the world to be fair, just, and generous is to ask for a stomach-punch. The world is the world: cruel, kind, unfair, generous, beautiful, ugly, indifferent, exciting, and often, beneath a veneer of civilization, savage as hell.

We are imperfect people functioning in imperfect systems within an imperfect world.

Recognizing that should not be discouraging or depressing. 

Instead, that strong grasp of reality should inspire, discipline, and liberate our lives.

Go on. Get out among 'em.

[Photo by sydney Rae at Unsplash]

Quick Look

The trailer for "If Beale Street Could Talk."

Health Food Update

Information on the Hot Cheetos turkey for Thanksgiving dinner.


Monday, November 19, 2018

In the Background

Best Handel 50

BTW: an absolute bargain on Amazon.

Shall Not Perish

gray concrete pillars

Cultural Offering notes the greatest of speeches.

[Photo by Colby Ray at Unsplash]


Justice Sotomayor on welcoming Justice Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.

First Paragraph

We weren't supposed to get rain during the dry season in Malawi, but it was pelting down that October morning in 1965 when two men drove up to my school compound in a Jeep and demanded to see me. I had just left the school, having finished an early class, and was wobbling through the rain on my bike to collect the mail. The Jeep pulled up beside me on the muddy road and the door swung open. The man in the driver's seat said, "Get in, Paul. We've got some bad news for you." He said it somewhat mechanically, as if he had rehearsed it, the way people do when they learn in advance that they have to deliver bad news.

- From: "The Killing of Hastings Banda" by Paul Theroux in Sunrise with Seamonsters: Travels and Discoveries

Today is International Men's Day

man wearing weight lifting belt

Check out Jordan Peterson on the meaning of life for men: responsibility.

[Photo by Alora Griffiths at Unsplash]

Two Therapists

wireless headphones leaning on books

Handel and Copland: Two therapists who have made and continue to make a positive difference in my life. 

[Photo by  Mark Solarskiat Unsplash]

Rules for Writers

“The early years were harder than anyone can imagine… It is never easy to be hungry, never easy to be alone, never easy to believe in oneself when nobody else does.”

Fashion Alert

Image result for louis XIV

FutureLawyer has a fashion warning. If we go this route, it won't be long before wigs, handkerchiefs up the sleeve, and taking snuff are the norm.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

10 Rules for Thanksgiving

I wrote this post several years ago and it is now an Execupundit tradition:

  1. Thou shalt not discuss politics at the dinner. There is next to no chance that you'll convert anyone and any hard feelings that are generated may last long after the pumpkin pie is finished. Why spoil a good meal?

  2. Thou shalt limit discussion of The Big Game. This is mainly directed at the men who choose to argue plays, records, and coaches while their wives stare longingly at the silverware. The sharp silverware.

  3. Thou shalt say nice things about every dish. Including the bizarre one with Jello and marshmallows.

  4. Thou shalt be especially kind to anyone who may feel left out. Some Thanksgiving guests are tag-alongs or, as we say in the business world, "new to the organization." Make a point of drawing them in.

  5. Thou shalt be wary of gossip. After all, do you know what they say when you leave the room? Remember the old saying: All of the brothers are valiant and all of the sisters are virtuous.

  6. Thou shalt not hog the white or dark meat. We know you're on Atkins but that's no excuse.

  7. Thou shalt think mightily before going back for seconds. Especially if that means waddling back for seconds.

  8. Thou shalt not get drunk. Strong drink improves neither your wit nor your discretion. Give everyone else a gift by remaining sober.

  9. Thou shalt be cheerful. This is not a therapy session. This is not the moment to recount all of the mistakes in your life or to get back at Uncle Bo for the wisecrack he made at your high school graduation. This is a time for Rule #10.

  10. Thou shalt be thankful. You're above ground and functioning in an extraordinary place at an extraordinary time. Many people paid a very heavy price (and I'm not talking about groceries) to give you this day. Take some time to think of them and to express gratitude to your friends and relatives. Above all, give special thanks to the divine power who blesses you in innumerable ways.

Find Something Beautiful Today

lion in close up shot

[Photo by Luke Tanis at Unsplash]

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Recent Sources of Helpful Insights

gray brick buildings

The Peloponnesian War ~ A survey of police officer attitudes ~A board meeting ~ Frederick Douglass ~ A wellness program coordinator ~ An Eric Ambler short story ~ Alexander Solzhenitsyn ~ The Hagia Sophia ~ Little Dorrit ~ a consulting proposal ~ a retired judge.

[Photo by Blaque X at Unsplash]


Image result for kate and leopold movie poster amazon

The trailer.

Bank Shot

Some people have to attend lengthy meetings on Saturday.

The good news is that attending a meeting on Topic A often spurs great ideas that can be used on Topic B or Topic Z. 

In fact, I have already had one idea that makes the overall day a big plus and I probably wouldn't have had the idea were it not for that initial meeting.

So, as a famous philosopher once said, I've got that going for me.

"Pieces of April"

Image result for pieces of april poster amazon

There are good Christmas movies and good Halloween movies, but what about Thanksgiving?

Yes, there is a charming and funny Thanksgiving film.

First Paragraph

"Let there be light," he said, in a tone between mockery and reverence. And there was light: a single beam of it, at this one moment of the midmorning, finding the gap where ice had taken a limb off the big maple, and illuminating only his hands as they lay on his chest. The window was open, admitting a soft breeze, and the sun catching the edge of his ring was reflected in an arabesque of thin gold that seemed to cut the cloth of the coverlet.

- From Montenegro by Starling Lawrence

Friday, November 16, 2018

Great Moments in HR

person using black typewriter
Close enough

BBC: Japan's cyber-security minister has never used a computer.

[Photo by rawpixel at Unsplash]

Bock's Reading Assignments

I anticipate disagreeing with the conclusions reached in some of the articles included in Wally Bock's reading assignments for this week but that's fine. I read a lot of stuff I disagree with.

The Character of Your Team

people on snow covered mountain

When you have managers of high character running businesses about which they are passionate, you can have a dozen or more reporting to you and still have time for an afternoon nap. Conversely, if you have even one person reporting to you who is deceitful, inept or uninterested, you will find yourself with more than you can handle.

- Warren Buffett

[Photo by Claire Nolan at Unsplash]

Will May Remain?

shallow focus photography of piles of newspapers

The Americans and the French have their moments but it is hard to beat British politics for sheer drama.

[Photo by Thomas Charters at Unsplash]

The Diversity of Illegal Immigration

field during sunset

Race and ethnicity were richly diverse; yet assimilation was the collective shared goal—made easier because immigration was almost entirely a legal and measured enterprise. No one much carried for the superficial appearance of his neighbors. My own Swedish-American family has intermarried with those of Mexican heritage. My neighbor’s grandchildren are part white, Japanese, and Mexican. The creed growing up was that tribal affiliation was incidental, not essential, to character.

Read all of the article by Victor Davis Hanson here.

[Photo by Karsten Wũrth at Unsplash]

Your Film for the Weekend

Image result for behemoth movie poster amazon

A full appreciation of "Behemoth" may require large quantities of beer and chips.

Gift Idea

"Carry the Fire" Zippo Lighter

You can find the "Carry the Fire" Zippo lighter at The Art of Manliness.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Quick Look

The trailer for "Sophie Scholl: The Final Days."

Bias in the Workplace

GQ has the details. Many of us have battled this affliction for years.


Take a few minutes and check out the John Lewis and Partners Christmas ad, "The Boy and The Piano."


First Paragraph

I was very young and lived with my grandparents in a villa with white walls in the Calle Ocharán, in Miraflorea. 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 cafés 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

App This

Art Institute Chicago

Jason Kottke has the details on what the Art Institute of Chicago has done.

"Architecture Does Not Lie" - Tom Denny

brown wooden door

If I had to say which was telling the truth about society, a speech by a Minister of Housing or the actual buildings put up in his time, I should believe the buildings.

- Kenneth Clark in Civilization

[Photo by Alexey Shikov at Unsplash]

Not Bad

The Brooks Review looks at Casio's inexpensive diver watch.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

"Salt Fat Acid Heat"

person pouring seasonings on clear glass bowl

Cultural Offering, of course, has the trailer.

Get out there and cook.

[Photo by Taylor Kiser at Unsplash]

Is Boris in the Wings?

silhouette of 3-tower building with flag of U.K.

The Telegraph on the Brexit withdrawal agreement. The story is bubbling.

[Photo by Matt Milton at Unsplash]

Amazon's HQ Choices

So after all of the hubbub surrounding Amazon's choice of a second headquarters, they are going to New York City and the Washington, DC area.

Round up the usual suspects.

My bet was they would pick Denver: good location, nice amenities, big airport with a gazillion direct flights, skiing, and it's more true west than the tech bubble of Seattle.

Some others that would have made sense: Dallas, Columbus, Indianapolis, and Austin.

What I like about those choices is they would have put Amazon executives in touch with non-East and West coast America. 

That item, however, does not seem to have been on their list.


man holding a bottle

Nicholas Bate has some quick and sound advice on moods.

[Photo by Samuel Dixon at Unsplash]

Quick Look

The trailer for "High Society."

Florida Once Again

City Journal: Myron Magnet on Florida elections and voter fraud. An excerpt:

Our democracy’s legitimacy rests on the honesty and trustworthiness of our voting process, which has grown as suspect as the days when loyal partisans would grow beards before election day to vote with them first in their full luxuriance, then with a trim to Vandyke neatness, next with the chin whiskers shaved off, then with the moustache gone, and finally with the mutton chops erased. Barbers were indispensable to the vote-and-vote-again process.

Briefly Off the Grid

Back soon.