Friday, November 28, 2014

Nostalgia Break

From 1956: The "Beat the Clock" game show with host Bud Collyer.

I especially like the contest with the hands. They were into high tech in those days.

Going Home

This morning I realized that for the past few weeks, I’ve picked the same seat on the train that I had taken when I first began my commute 25 years ago. I used to sit across from a paper salesman I knew in my hometown who always kept his day’s orders on a single sheet of paper folded in his shirt pocket. As old as he was he was still a street kid with a pair of beefy hands that could handle any problem. He would say things to people just to see the lights go on in their eyes but the smarter ones didn’t tangle with him. Yet he always watched over me like an older brother occasionally showing up at my house with cuttings from his garden for me to plant in the front of the small house we just bought.

Read the rest at View From the Ledge.

First Paragraph

Today a rare sun of spring. And horse carts clanging to the quays down Tara Street and the shoeless white faced kids screaming. 

- From The Ginger Man by J. P. Donleavy

What Leaders Should Know About Office Parties

Wally Bock has some excellent "laws" for leaders when it comes to office parties. An excerpt:

Natural Law 1: The party changes when you arrive. It changes again when you leave. What you see is not the real party. It’s “the party when you’re there.” 

Strange Times

A US Forest Service article on safe marshmallow-toasting did not neglect to nag us: It suggested fruit rather than chocolate in s’mores. The droll Orange County Register wondered, “Why not replace the marshmallow with a Brussels sprout?”

Read all of George Will's column here.

Don't Expect

In this life, it can be very dangerous to expect fairness, urgency, competence, openness, accountability, empathy, reliability, gratitude, and logic as well as a host of virtues and qualities. They often require effort, great effort, and the task of providing them can be easy to elude. This is especially so if people are rewarded for the opposite forms of conduct. 

I've yet to encounter a large organization that is immune from such negative practices. They are like the flu. Prevention requires periodic inoculations.

I've Got to Raise My Speaking Fees

When officials at the University of California at Los Angeles began negotiating a $300,000 speech appearance by Hillary Rodham Clinton, the school had one request: Could we get a reduced rate for public universities?

The answer from Clinton’s representatives: $300,000 is the “special university rate.”

Read the rest of The Washington Post article.

Quote of the Day

The challenge of education is not to prepare a person for success, but to prepare him for failure. 

- Admiral James Stockdale

Thursday, November 27, 2014

P.D. James, R.I.P.

The Telegraph: The great detective novelist P.D. James has died. She was 94 years old.

Copland Break

From "Rodeo": "Saturday Night Waltz."

Be Thankful You're Not Them

If you are having difficulty feeling grateful, Political Calculations has two videos: one of a hipster Thanksgiving and one of a highly dysfunctional family Thanksgiving.

The hipster one, of course, wins hands-down.

Music Break

The Beatles: "In My Life."

News You Can Use

A very well done video from Whole Foods Market on how to carve a turkey.

One key point: the meat must not be too dry.

Quick Tips

From Inc.:

Serious Tents

There are tents and there are serious tents. Check out the Autonomous Tent.

An Unusual Thanksgiving

Some of my family members are scattered this year: one to New Jersey and two to Kansas and that's not counting the multitude outside of my immediate family who, for the first time in a long time, are out in Washington, Colorado, California, and other parts of Arizona.

The rest of us improvised and have sound plans. Of course, I'll miss the tradition where the entire family rises and sings when I first enter the big event, but that can be overlooked in the interest of schedules and humility.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Be thankful - Eat - Visit - Nap - Take a walk - Eat - Watch a game - 
Be thankful

Quotes of the Day

No more turkey, but I'd like another serving of that bread he ate. 

- Anonymous

My favorite word is 'pumpkin.' You are a pumpkin. Or you are not. I am.

- Harrison Salisbury

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


I organized my paperwork and have been reading on the sofa in the living room while the dog sleeps on a rug. An owl can be heard in the distance; probably the huge one I've seen during late night walks. I just finished Out of Africa which I enjoyed, partly because it was so different from the film. I've also delved into Diana West's The Death of the Grown-Up and tomorrow will focus on The Professional by Subroto Bagchi. 

Since the Africa book is done, Memoirs of Hadrian by Yourcenar will be the new bedtime reading. I tried reading it years ago and set the novel aside not because it is poor but because it is very good and the time wasn't right to do the book justice. Mood and schedule now converge.

The neighborhood is very quiet. The heater just kicked on. Thanksgiving is coming. There is much to be thankful for.

Time to turn in.

For the Urban Farmers Out There

CoolTools has the details.

New Words

Covered at Here & Now: The American Heritage Dictionaries add some new words. An excerpt from the story:

On updating the pronunciation of ‘harass’
“Harass, as you mentioned, is interesting in that in 1987, the panel was split as to whether it was pronounced HAIR-iss or huh-RASS and then in 2001, 70 percent favored huh-RASS, and just last year, 90 percent of the panel, that was their preferred form. So in 25 years, among the makeup of the panel that time, it’s gone from a 50/50 split to a 90/10 split. Casually, anecdotally, from listening to the news, it seems to me as well that newscasters are saying huh-RASS more than HAIR-iss.”

They Got My Attention

Anderson Layman's Blog reminds us of the importance of a persuasive sales offer.


Take a few seconds and read this post at David Kanigan's blog.

Talking Turkey

From 2007: The Pioneer Woman shows how to roast a Thanksgiving turkey.

She promises that it's easy.

News You Can Use

At Fast Company: Everything you can make with Thanksgiving leftovers.

The Smooth Path

People say take the smooth path, the one everyone else takes who wants to go where you're going, but they may not really know your goal and yet if you leave the trail you may get lost and wander before finding the right direction and the trail you eventually discover may be hard but that should not be a surprise because for some destinations there is no smooth path.

Art Break: Humphrey

Art Contrarian looks at the work of Walter Beach Humphrey.

Some Extraordinary Films for a Long Weekend

Additional Perspective

As years pass - and I follow the standard that "old" is always ten years above my current age - I've noticed the following tendencies:

  • Appreciation of small but pleasurable moments instead of grand occasions;
  • Heightened awareness of things which others might miss if only because I'm not thinking three meetings ahead but am focusing on now;
  • Belief that many parts of life are like the re-make, be it good or bad, of a film you've seen before;
  • Knowledge that the best approach for many issues is to leave them alone; i.e. I really don't need to have a personal foreign policy; and
  • Understanding the wisdom of combining burning ambition with subdued expectations.

Quote of the Day

The planning fallacy is only one of the manifestations of a pervasive optimistic bias. Most of us view the world as more benign than it really is, our own attributes as more favorable than they truly are, and the goals we adopt as more achievable than they are likely to be.We also tend to exaggerate our ability to forecast the future, which fosters optimistic overconfidence. In terms of its consequences for decisions, the optimistic bias may well be the most significant of the cognitive biases. Because optimistic bias can be both a blessing and a risk, you should be both happy and wary if you are temperamentally optimistic. 

- Daniel Kahneman

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Best Nonfiction of 2014?

At Marginal Revolution, Tyler Cowen gives his list of the best nonfiction books of 2014. The post also has a link to his list of the best fiction of 2014.

Two books [both came out before 2014] which I've recently started and am enjoying:
  • Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr.  by Ron Chernow
  • On Looking: Eleven Walks with Expert Eyes by Alexandra Horowitz

First Paragraph

The Upper West Side of Manhattan, just above Columbus Circle, was until quite recently a relatively poor neighborhood, and some of the veteran firemen at Engine 40, Ladder 35, located at Sixty-sixth Street and Amsterdam Avenue, like to recall how Amsterdam was once the dividing line between an Irish neighborhood to the east and a black neighborhood, just to the west. The black neighborhood used to be known as San Juan Hill, some say in honor of the black soldiers who moved there after the Spanish-American War, or perhaps because of the frequent, bloody street fights that occurred between the Irish and black kids early in the century, or finally because some of the city's earliest Puerto Rican settlers lived there. But after World War II, as the city became ever more affluent, as every piece of real estate in Manhattan became more and more valuable, the neighborhood began to change. The tenements that had housed the poor, where bookies haunted the hallways and homing pigeons were sometimes still kept on the roofs, and the cheap single-room occupancy (SRO) hotels, in which rooms rented for five dollars a night, began to disappear, to be replaced by solidly middle-class apartment buildings. The process accelerated in 1959 with the groundbreaking for Lincoln Center, a vast new cultural complex that would house the Metropolitan Opera, the New York City Ballet, the New York Philharmonic, and the Julliard School. 

- From Firehouse by David Halberstam

The Obvious and Not-So-Obvious

When considering why an individual or team is not doing the obvious, it is helpful to explore the following:

  • Is the obvious truly obvious?
  • When was the last time it was tried?
  • What were the results?
  • Will they be punished, however informally, for doing the obvious?
  • Is their current conduct a solution to another problem?
  • How do they benefit from not doing the obvious?
  • Is there an aspect to their current behavior which is not selfish or small but indeed could be seen as altruistic?

Quote of the Day

I've got good news and bad. The bad news is that we're lost. The good news is that we're making great time. 

- Old joke 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Invasion of the Monster Turkeys

Political Calculations has the weight chart.

A Drone for Christmas?


No, not that relative you've been avoiding. 

A tiny drone. 

FutureLawyer has the details.

Entertainment Break

The trailers for:

100 Years, 100 Thinkers

The New Republic gives its list.

How Many Jobs Do You Have?

The challenge of so many jobs is that, in reality, each one is so many jobs. 

A manager has to be, among other things,  a visionary, motivator, diplomat, judge, investigator, liaison, spokesperson, entrepreneur, consultant, technician, accountant, coach, and trail boss. We expect police officers to have the courage of a soldier and the sensitivity of a social worker as well as the people skills of a psychologist and the calm of a monk.

Anyone new to a job should conduct a quick assessment of which roles fit which circumstances and which jobs, if handled poorly, can produce very bad results. There are some roles which must be performed daily, others which can be delegated, and still more which can be completely botched with few negative consequences.

There is one job which is implied in every job description: juggler.

Dick Tracy Update

FutureLawyer looks at a SmartWatch which is a SuperWatch

Barring a zombie invasion, most of us will be wearing those in a few years.

Power Games: The Popular Mr. Krone

From The New York Times profile of David Krone, aide to Senator Harry Reid:

It did not take much time for the president’s comments to reach Mr. Reid’s right-hand man. To Mr. Obama’s surprise, Mr. Krone was listening in on the call. Suddenly, the aide piped up and made it clear to the president that he did not appreciate the accusation.

Quote of the Day

We must always say what we see, but above all and more difficult, we must always see what we see. 

- Le Corbusier 

Sunday, November 23, 2014


Cultural Offering has a photo which says it all.

The Unforgettable Marion Barry

Marion Barry has passed away

Flashback to the 2009 profile of Mayor Barry by Matt Labash in The Weekly Standard

Labash has written a brief remembrance following Barry's death. An excerpt:

Marion Barry helped me more than I ever did him. For he reminded me that if you give a man a say when he is willing to talk, he’s bound to tell you something interesting. Though he was accused of many things—and was probably guilty of at least three-fourths of them—being uninteresting was never one of them. And on his best days, Barry might have even found something approximating a state of grace.

Sunday Treat

Back by popular demand: Torvill and Dean, Bolero, 1984 Olympics.


David Kanigan has the story of Luna, a dog in Mexico. Be sure to watch both parts.

Preparing for Thanksgiving

Pumpkin Sheet Cake

The Pioneer Woman shows how to make Pumpkin Sheet Cake.

Find Something Beautiful Today

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Saturday Night Tap Dancing Break


From 1933: Ruby Keeler and friends singing "42nd Street."

The Secret Life of Passwords

Howard Lutnick, the chief executive of Cantor Fitzgerald, one of the world’s largest financial-services firms, still cries when he talks about it. Not long after the planes struck the twin towers, killing 658 of his co-workers and friends, including his brother, one of the first things on Lutnick’s mind was passwords. This may seem callous, but it was not.

Read the rest of Ian Urbina's article in The New York Times Magazine.

[HT; Arts & Letters Daily]

Remembering Mike Nichols

If you're in any contest at all where you can win or lose, try to win. 

- Mike Nichols

Terry Teachout remembers the great comedian/director and includes a clip of The $65 Funeral comedy skit with Elaine May.

The Price of Celebrity

At Althouse, impressions of celebrities stuck in traffic.

Great Moments in Dog Training

Which competitor resembles your dog?

[HT: Hilary Wood]

Get It Done

Get it done. 

Life will not end, critics won't matter, dogs won't bite, and your house will still stand. 

The chore's completion will simply give you a ticket to another task, perhaps a tougher challenge where you'll again use your experience and learn a few things. 

Any scars will make you more attractive.

Flow and Underestimation

While organizing some thoughts on the creation of a new class, my initial feeling was that there might not be enough material for such a specialized topic. As I began jotting ideas, however, pages were quickly filled with important points.

Although there are plenty of times when we know less than we think we know, there are also many other occasions when we know far more than we initially suspect for we have grossly underestimated what is lurking within our instincts.

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.

Quote of the Day

Let us not, then, be ashamed of teaching the people. Those jealous ones who would guard their knowledge from the world have only themselves to blame if their exclusiveness and their barbarous terminology have led the world to seek in books, in lectures, and in adult education, the instruction which they themselves have failed to give. Let them be grateful that their halting efforts are aided by amateurs who love life enough to let it humanize their teaching. Perhaps each kind of teacher can be of aid to the other: the cautious scholar to check our enthusiasm with accuracy, and the enthusiast to pour warmth and blood into the fruits of scholarship. 

- Will Durant