Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Plessy v. Ferguson

From the 1996 issue of Kentucky Humanities: Charles Thompson on Justice Harlan's great dissent. An excerpt:

"Our constitution is colorblind." It was Marshall's favorite Harlan quotation, and is now so familiar that we take it for granted. But to get to the point of coining it in his great dissent of 1896, John Harlan of Kentucky, one-time slave owner and defender of slavery, had to come a very long way.

Sophia Loren Break

Antony Jay, RIP

A very interesting man

Antony Jay was the co-creator of Yes Minister and the author of several books, including Management and Machiavelli. Here is his description of the anti-Establishment bias at the BBC:

“We were not just anti-Macmillan,” he wrote of his experience. “We were anti-industry, anti-capitalism, anti-advertising, anti-selling, anti-profit, anti-patriotism, anti-monarchy, anti-Empire, anti-police, anti-armed forces, anti-bomb, anti-authority. Almost anything that made the world a freer, safer and more prosperous place, you name it, we were anti it.”

"Silicon Valley"

The trailer.

The Vacation: 22 Things

Review this list and it is likely that you will conclude that Nicholas Bate knows how to take a vacation.

A Multitude of Excuses

  • Bad parents.
  • Mean siblings.
  • Bad companions.
  • Smoking.
  • Terrible teachers.
  • Bullies.
  • Cafeteria food.
  • Junk food.
  • The economy.
  • Too much television.
  • Racism.
  • Sexism.
  • Lack of exercise.
  • Hollywood.
  • The Internet.
  • Bosses.
  • Co-workers.
  • Movies.
  • Video games.
  • Divorce.
  • Promiscuity.
  • Lawyers.
  • Wall Street.
  • No role models.
  • Rock and roll/punk/rap/hip hop/you name it.
  • Drugs.
  • Booze.
  • Porn.
  • Sugar.
  • Red meat.
  • Facebook.
  • Guns.
  • Religion.
  • Money: too much or not enough.
  • Lack of religion.
  • Lack of discipline
  • Too much discipline.
  • Lack of sleep.
  • Instant gratification.
  • Self-esteem programs.
  • Incivility.
  • Anything else? Oh yes, lack of decent values and personal accountability.

Remember Sherman Adams

To get a sense of how far our standards have fallen, consider why Sherman Adams was forced out as Eisenhower's chief of staff and compare that to current events, such as the ethical issues described in this recent Associated Press story.

Highly Recommended

Quote of the Day

The French, under the old monarchy, held it for a maxim that the king could do no wrong; and if he did do wrong, the blame was imputed to his advisers. This notion made obedience very easy; it enabled the subject to complain of the law, without ceasing to love and honor the lawgiver. The Americans entertain the same opinion with respect to the majority. 

- Alexis de Tocqueville

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

In the Background

Progress in the War on Poverty

Ricochet: Very interesting. James Pethokoukis looks at the numbers.

Music Break

Some breathtaking Bach at Cultural Offering.


Paging John Stuart Mill

The viewpoint diversity resolutions of Heterodox Academy.

Jonathan Haidt wonders which will be America's first Heterodox University?


True West magazine does some detailed detective work on whether a photo contains the famed dentist/gunfighter Doc Holliday.

"The Dispute"

Althouse analyzes how The New York Times, once a newspaper, slants a story.

"The dispute" reminds me of this film, from when it was dangerous to go to the movies.

A Tad Wet

Of course, I have a meeting out in the countryside but it will give me a chance to check on the crops.


I've known extremely smart people who didn't complete elementary or high school and I've also known dolts with doctorates. I've listened to people who made enormous sense in broken or ungrammatical English and have also heard individuals with many letters behind their name who spoke eloquent nonsense. 

The list could go on: minorities who are racist, tough operators who are sensitive, and old ladies with more street smarts than a gang member.

Titles, credentials, and group identities can easily cloud our view. 

Take each person as an individual.

Responsibility and Introspection

Nationwide news coverage of the rioting in Milwaukee following the Aug. 13 death of 23-year-old Sylville Smith in a police confrontation has focused on the torched buildings, gunfire and scorched shells of cars. Yet the most important voice and powerful message amid this tragedy has largely been ignored. The young man’s father, Patrick Smith, in an anguished statement to local TV, declared:
"I had to blame myself for a lot of things, too, because your hero is your dad, and I played a very big part in my family’s role model for them. Being on the street, doing things of the street life: Entertaining, drug dealing and pimping and they’re looking at their dad like 'he’s doing all these things.' I got out of jail two months ago, but I’ve been going back and forth in jail, and they see these things. So I’d like to apologize to my kids because this is the role model they look up to. When they see the wrong role model, this is what you get.”

Read all of the essay by Robert L. Woodson, Sr. here.

Highly Recommended

Quote of the Day

I am almost frightened by the vitality these Germans show after what they've undergone. I believe, once they've been given the word GO, they'll have a bridge over the Rhine in three months, and that in a short time their output of steel will be huge. 

- British colonel, the Ruhr, May 2, 1945 

[Quoted in The Pride and The Fall by Correlli Barnett]

Monday, August 22, 2016

Parenting Skills - Level 1000

At Eclecticity Light, of course.

First Paragraph

On June 25, 1996, Bill Griffin, age twenty-six, was ambushed in a drive-by shooting and became one of more than 350 young black men who are killed in street violence each year in our nation's capital. Black-on-black murders in Washington, D.C., have become so common that Griffin's death was newsworthy only because he was the last of his mother's four children to be murdered before the age of thirty. 

- From The Triumphs of Joseph: How Today's Community Healers Are Reviving Our Streets and Neighborhoods by Robert L. Woodson, Sr.

Art Break: Zinkeisen

Art Contrarian looks at the work of Anna Zinkeisen.

Delete Doesn't Mean Delete

Esquire: How to see every Google search you've ever made.

Miles Davis Break

That, and so much more, can be found at The Hammock Papers.

That Teapot is Fascist

A political discussion at Althouse. The term "fascist" gets tossed around so much nowadays that it seems to have a new definition: "Something I don't like." 

As with "racist" its overuse may eventually make it meaningless.

What's Happening Now, Soon, and Eventually

The organization thinks it knows what is happening now and yet it often does not know what is happening now that will strongly shape what will happen soon or what will happen eventually.

The wolf that is now leaping for the throat gets all appropriate attention but what about the one behind that tree or those just over the top of that hill?

A healthy organization should have a spot reserved for a touch of paranoia and the willingness to pay serious attention to those who can provide sober predictions. 

[A historical question to illustrate how things get overlooked: Do you know how the Russo-Japanese War started?]. 

Highly Recommended

Quote of the Day

How much larger your life could be if your self could become smaller in it. 

- G. K. Chesterton

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Right Stuff

One extraordinary person.

Find Something Beautiful Today

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Fighting Those Who Would Squelch Free Speech

Author Mark Steyn speaking to the Institute of Public Affairs in Melbourne on the importance of protecting freedom of speech.

This should be shown on American college campuses but, unfortunately, the average campus is one of the last places it would be permitted.

A 24.5 Million Dollar House by the Side of the Road

I confess to being underwhelmed by this 24.5 million dollar home in Scottsdale

Even if you have the money, less can indeed be more. 

[And does anyone else remember the Sam Foss poem?]

First Paragraph

For numberless years a myna had astounded travelers to the caravansary with its ability to spew indecencies in ten languages, and before the fight broke out everyone assumed the old blue-tongued devil on its perch by the fireplace was the one who maligned the giant African with such foulness and verve. Engrossed in the study of a small ivory shatranj board with pieces of ebony and horn, and in the stew of chickpeas, carrots, dried lemons and mutton for which the caravansary was renowned, the African held the place nearest the fire, his broad back to the bird, with a view of the doors and the window with its shutters thrown open to the blue dusk. On this temperate autumn evening in the kingdom of Arran in the eastern foothills of the Caucasus, it was only the two natives of burning jungles, the African and the myna, who sought to warm their bones. The precise origin of the African remained a mystery. In his quilted gray bambakion with its frayed hood, worn over a ragged white tunic, there was a hint of former service in the armies of Byzantium, while the brass eyelets on the straps of his buskins suggested a sojourn in the West. No one had hazarded to discover whether the speech of the known empires, khanates, emirates, hordes and kingdoms was intelligible to him. With his skin that was lustrous as the tarnish on a copper kettle, and his eyes womanly as a camel's, and his shining pate with its ruff of wool whose silver hue implied a seniority attained only by the most hardened men, and above all with the air of stillness that trumpeted his murderous nature to all but the greenest travelers on this minor spur of the Silk Road, the African appeared neither to invite nor to promise to tolerate questions. Among the travelers at the caravansary there was a moment of admiration, therefore, for the bird's temerity when it seemed to declare, in its excellent Greek, that the African consumed his food in just the carrion-scarfing way one might expect of the bastard offspring of a bald-pated vulture and a Barbary ape. 

- From Gentlemen of the Road by Michael Chabon

Mild Kingdom

Obligatory viewing: Skunk family meets cyclist.

Cuter than cute.

Medical Advice

"Give that child plenty of red meat and red wine." - Advice given by family doctor to my grandparents when one of their daughters was anemic.

The doctor went on to become governor, perhaps due in part to such wisdom.

In Between and In Front

Re a consulting assignment. The components would seem to add up. Even those who don't like the results would agree that they add up. Theorists would insist that they add up. But there is an essential element that is missing and it is hidden in the space between the components; a space that can be sensed but not easily spotted.

The sum of the parts is not greater than the whole because the process of addition injects an important item that is not counted.

After watching, listening, and thinking (mainly thinking) I've identified it.

One of the pleasures of pondering a client's problem is finally seeing what has been in front of your face.

Highly Recommended

Quote of the Day

Many runabout after happiness like an absent-minded man hunting for his hat, while it is in his hand or on his head. 

- James Sharp

Friday, August 19, 2016

In the Background


  • How would we speak if we learned to talk the same way we learned to write?
  • Would most of us benefit from a course on how to make smarter mistakes?
  • When people who use ungrammatical language hear those who use proper grammar, do they think the others are wrong?
  • How many school subjects are mere venues for larger lessons?
  • Would the caliber of teaching improve if the course length were shortened?

When You Want to Be Seen


Scotchlite Spoke Reflector Bicycle Clips.

CoolTools has the details.

My favorite part of the description:
  • easy to pop on and off your spokes
  • boring enough that nobody wants to steal them
  • cheap enough in case they do

Random Thoughts

There should be a statue to the inventor of orange marmalade. ~ Never underestimate the anger of otherwise good people who have been caught committing a grave injustice. ~ Most of today's achievements will be inadvertently attained. ~ Once we embrace the habit of seriously noticing things our mental "eyesight" enormously improves. ~ It is good that so many of our leaders and trend-setters are at a distance. That spares us the embarrassment of having taken them seriously. ~ The biggest challenge we face today is not climate change. It is mustering the will to combat evil. ~ Two subjects worthy of further study are the fall of Rome and the start of the First World War. ~ People joke about herding cats but the decline in attention spans may make that a more common chore. ~ Past generations had many flaws but they did not honor weakness. ~ Modern journalism seeks less to inform and more to sway. ~ Take frivolous books, food, and entertainment in very small doses. ~ A good day starts with serious coffee. ~ Many who oppose religion in politics make politics their religion. ~ There are days when my best thinking occurs while shaving. ~ In the name of knowledge let's hope that someone high in a European government was keeping a secret diary on the deliberations that produced their immigration policies. ~ A hot shower, clean sheets, and a good book make a grand end to most days. ~ It helps to remember that imagination is both an ally and a foe.

Highly Recommended

Quote of the Day

The wise man will want to be ever with him who is better than himself. 

- Plato

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Music Break

Jay Ungar and Molly Mason Family Band: "Ashokan Farewell."

Miscellaneous and Fast

The Weekly Standard: The burkini debate in France.
The trailer for "I Vitelloni."
Cultural Offering on supercharged media bias.
Law Latte: The solar system - to scale.
The trailer for "Arrival."
Wally Bock: Getting fairness right.
The trailer for "Little Men."
Political Calculations: The anti-junk science checklist.
The trailer for "Disorder."
Althouse: The death of Gawker.

"A German Life"

The Guardian: The memories of the 105-year-old former secretary to Joseph Goebbels.

Step By Step: The Presentation

Nicholas Bate has 11 ways to improve an "assigned" presentation.

My favorites are items 3 and 4.

The above picture is a slide I use in my council presentations class. It is an example of what to have on the screen when discussing fire department emergency response times.

Old Books and an Arizona Briefing

While reviewing material for a briefing I'll be presenting on Arizona, I found an old book on the council-manager system of government in Phoenix. It was written by Paul Kelso, the professor who taught the Introduction to Government class at the University of Arizona. 

Aside from the fact that I took Paul Kelso's class, I regarded this find as rather exciting. If you think a book on council-manager municipal government sounds boring, it isn't and it directly ties to Arizona's development. Between 1914 and 1947, Phoenix had more than twenty city managers. After many scandals, a group of reformers (including a young man named Barry Goldwater) was elected to the city council in 1949 and the city began a dramatic turn-around in 1950 by bringing in an honest and highly competent city manager named Ray Wilson.

And Phoenix became the engine that pulled the state.

[The same book with the reference to Kelso's research also had citations to an obscure book on the Arizona Right to Work Law by an author named Michael Wade.]

A Life of Study

If you are a citizen, read the Constitution.

If you are in an organization, study the bylaws.

If you attend meetings, read the minutes.

If a proposal is being discussed, pretend that you've been asked to summarize the key points of each side.

Regardless of our age or our endeavor, we are students.

Highly Recommended

Quote of the Day

Silence is the ultimate weapon of power

- Charles de Gaulle