Monday, September 30, 2013

Hiring English Majors, The Wisdom of

I apologize for not catching this sooner: 

Tim Berry (and Steve Strauss) on the wisdom of hiring English majors

Makes sense to me. Some of the sharpest people I've known were English majors. The Philosophy majors were another bright bunch.


Cultural Offering examines the many dangers of temptation.

"Truly fine poetry must be read aloud."

Borges is at The Hammock Papers.

Vapirius AX2

Vapirius ax2

FutureLawyer, the legal techie who is ever in quest of a modern Dick Tracy wrist radio incarnation, has the info on a new candidate and yet - drum roll, please - is not ordering it. 

Shame and scandal.

I'm deeply disappointed. Not so disappointed, of course, that I'd donate a dime to the quest since the price is a tad steep and the watch is yet another Italian exploration inton Tracydom.

Besides, I look forward to having lunch with FutureLawyer someday and spotting a Timex on his wrist.

If you've tried the Vapirius AX2, please report.


Client proposal. Reading. Ethics class revision. Seminar marketing. New workshop outline. Sinus medicine. A slew of e-mails. Follow-up on investigations training proposal. Prep for upcoming meeting. Reading. Some important phone calls. Review of notes. Setting meetings. Dropping off material with client. Follow-up on ethics proposal. Reading.

Oh, yes. Thinking, thinking, thinking.

And choosing what not to do is as important as choosing what to do.

Child Star Stories

AARP has a gallery of updates on what happened to child TV stars. Many did not live happily ever after.

Backyard Sugarin'

CoolTools has information (and photos!) on a how-to guide for making maple syrup.

Bock on Real Life

Don't miss Wally Bock's stories and strategies from real life.

Thoughts About Autumn

There is a part of me that will forever want to be walking under autumn leaves, carrying a briefcase containing the works of Shakespeare and Yeats and a portable chess set. I will pass an old tree under which once on a summer night I lay on the grass with a fragrant young woman and we quoted e. e. cummings back and forth. - Roger Ebert

Love autumn. Sweater weather, football, apples, traffic signals, cotton swabs, cobra baskets, rotary phones, teeth. - Tim Siedell

When Diversity Training is Oppressive

Jason Morgan, a teaching assistant at the University of Wisconsin - Madison, has blown the whistle on their mandatory diversity training. Here's an excerpt but be sure to read his entire email:

As you are probably aware, all new TAs in the History Department are required to attend one orientation session, two TA training sessions, and two diversity sessions. Yesterday (Friday, September 20th), we new TAs attended the first of the diversity sessions. To be quite blunt, I was appalled. What we were given, under the rubric of “diversity,” was an avalanche of insinuations, outright accusations, and suffocating political indoctrination (or, as some of the worksheets revealingly put it, “re-education”) entirely unbecoming a university of our stature.

[HT: Althouse]

Language to Remember and Use

"It was clear that Cranston was the Senator's chief aide and toady."

Little Things

Most days are filled with little things. If we are wise and fortunate they will each tie to a big thing.

Often there is no continuous flow. We may spent ten minutes on one task and five on another, working in bursts and returning after any interruptions. If most of the efforts move us forward and not down a dead alley, then the day will have been well-spent.

Are there exceptions? There are always exceptions and yet we achieve the same way we decline, in increments.

Quote of the Day

So many revolutionaries are intellectuals, a class of people whose aspirations tend to run ahead of their capabilities.

- William T. Vollmann in Europe Central

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Film Break

The trailers for:

Getting It Across

Michael P. Maslanka notes some advice from Amy Gallo on how to make your message heard.

Good stuff.

Language to Remember and Use

"The old reprobate sat in the corner and smirked."


David Aikman reviews Duc: A Reporter's Love for the Wounded People of Vietnam by Uwe Siemon-Netto. An excerpt:

He describes weeping Marines coming across hundreds of women and children murdered by the Vietcong on their way to enjoy the holiday. Then, slowly, the full horror of the Tet atrocity emerging when it became clear that the Vietcong had targeted at least 3,000 South Vietnamese civilians on written execution lists even before the offensive started. When this fastidious German reporter came upon a mass grave of victims, he was astonished to find an American television crew standing around with idle cameras. The crew refused to shoot the scene because, they said, they didn’t want to film “anti-Communist propaganda.”

The Accessory That Shouts "Geek!"

There are some geek lines that even FutureLawyer will not cross.

He examines a wrist computer that is not - repeat not - for the fashion-conscious but it may work nicely with a polyester short-sleeve shirt and plastic sandals.

Jihadist "Tourists" in Syria

A third Internet café opened in mid-June to accommodate the many jihadists wanting to communicate with their relatives and friends at home via phone, email or chat programs. This prompted the owner of the first café to hang al-Qaida flags above his computers as a sign of loyalty to his customers. The move has improved business despite the growing competition. The heavily armed customers use Skype to tell their friends at home about what a paradise Atmeh is. The rents are cheap, they say, the weather and food are good, they can walk around with their weapons and, with a little luck, they can even find wives. In the evenings, the sound of several jihadists playing Counter-Strike spills into the streets in a cacophony of video game warfare. 

Read the rest of the Spiegel Online article here.

Art Exhibitions

Underpaintings has a great list of art exhibitions for October 2013. The painting above is by Gregory Manchess.

Meat Eaters and Grass Eaters

On the plains of life (and the workplace), the decisions are easy when the two groups are clearly identified. A basic rule is you don't send a grass eater to negotiate with a meat eater.

What is tricky is when a zebra pretends to be a lion and a lion pretends to be a zebra. It is surprising how long some can get away with that ruse. [For an example from history, consider how often Stalin mastered the faux grass eater routine.]

The truth eventually emerges but it may be too late. 

First Paragraph

At the end of 2009, the National Endowment for the Arts released a sobering report on the state of arts attendance in the United States. The authors didn't mince words; in the preface, they wrote, "The 2008 survey results are, at a glance, disappointing." Over the last twenty years, audiences for museums, galleries, and performing arts institutions have decreased, and the audiences that remain are older and whiter than the overall population. Cultural institutions argue that their programs provide unique cultural and civic value, but increasingly people have turned to other sources for entertainment, learning, and dialogue. They share their artwork, music, and stories with each other on the Web. They participate in politics and volunteer in record numbers. They even read more. But they don't attend museum exhibits and performances like they used to.

- From The Participatory Museum by Nina Simon

Law School Rankings

Above The Law gives its rankings of the top law schools.

U.S. News & World Report does the same.

Quote of the Day

These aren't the droids you're looking for.

- Obi-Wan Kenobi

Friday, September 27, 2013

But, Of Course, He Dresses Like Garibaldi

Anderson Layman's Blog has diverse items. You can be reading about the music of Betty Everett one moment and Garibaldi the next.

Always great stuff.

Six Word Stories of Law School

Attorney Fred Stork, who knows much about the law and humor, passed this along from the ABA Journal.

The Night Watch

Law Latte has a brief video of a flash mob re-creating one of Rembrandt's most famous paintings.

Well done.

Language and the Kenyan Attacks

This BBC story on the Kenyan mall attack and how a rented shop was used as a storage place for weapons is interesting and disturbing.

Note how the terrorist murderers are called "militants."

That is far too soft a term.

Health Food Update: For Vitamin C


I do not know how I missed these.

The Pioneer Woman shows how to make citrus butter cookies.

Language to Remember and Use

"He enjoyed playing the role of resident curmudgeon."

Time Management Tip: Celebrities

It was quite a while back when I began to make a conscious effort to avoid stories about celebrities. I stand in line at the grocery store and see tabloid headlines shouting about this person's daring bikini and that person's fifth divorce.I have little or no knowledge of those people; in many cases that chore can be left to the receptionist at the Betty Ford Clinic.

This gap provides some amusement to younger members of my family. "You don't know who (celebrity name) is?"

No, I don't nor do I care to make that acquaintance. Why mess with the tabloid fodder when you can spend time with Mr. Micawber, Long John Silver, Tom Sawyer, Atticus Finch, Augustus McCrae, Captain Ahab, Jane Eyre, Jack Aubrey, Robert Merivel and a host of others?

They are far better company and time with them is well spent. They have much more to teach.

Lean to the Left. Lean to the Right. Stand Up. Sit Down. Fight, Fight, Fight.

Fast Company has a brief video on a "kinetic" desk that has information on . . .you.

First reaction: "I bet that's expensive."

Second reaction: "It looks so clean."

Third reaction: "Do I really need a record of how long I've been sitting?"

Friday I'm in Love

Long-time readers will know this is the official Friday song at this blog.

Crank it up.

Happiness Tip

At The Happiness Project, Gretchin Rubin interviews author Elizabeth Svoboda. An excerpt:

Have you always felt about the same level of happiness, or have you been through a period when you felt exceptionally happy or unhappy – if so, why? If you were unhappy, how did you become happier?

While I’m usually a pretty happy person, I have a tendency to worry about things that probably won’t happen, but could. If I’m not careful, that kind of anxiety can depress me. This is where thinking about what I can do for other people has been a lifesaver; it’s often just what I need to snap out of the cycle of anxious, self-focused thought. (Science backs this up: People who devote more time to volunteering or helping others are both happier and healthier.)

The Promise of Living

Here's a choral arrangement, complete with beautiful photography, of the music from Aaron Copland's "The Tender Land."

Back to Blundering

At the start:

"Wow! That's correct. Y will be so much better than X. You know, I've been doing X for years. This Y approach will make a huge difference."

A week later:

"What are you doing?"


"I thought you were going to do Y."

"Oh, yeah. You're right. Sorry for the slip-up. I'll get on Y right now."

Two weeks later:

"You're still doing X, aren't you?"

"You got me. But you see, I really know how X operates and although Y will produce much better results, it just doesn't seem to fit. I really see myself as sort of an X person."

"So in order to be comfortable, you'll stick with an approach that is inferior and perhaps even risk doing damage to your career?

"I'm hoping that doesn't take place. Do you have something like a nicotine patch for people who want to quit bad management practices?"

Quote of the Day

Effective leadership is putting first things first. Effective management is discipline, carrying it out.

- Stephen R. Covey

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Did Pink Floyd Get Tenure?

Although I'm tempted to pretend that I thought Pink Floyd was a sociology professor, I have some rough knowledge of the group.

Kurt Harden at Cultural Offering, however, is highly informed on all matters musical (as well as much else) and has assembled an essential mix list.

TV Trivia: When Years Fly

Remember Elly May Clampett of The Beverly Hillbillies?

Do you know how old the actress who played her is?

Entertainment Break

The trailers for:

Epstein on Genius

A distinction needs to be made between genius and talent. “Talent is like the marksman who hits a target, which others cannot reach,” wrote Schopenhauer. “Genius is like the marksman who hits a target, which others cannot see.” Mere talent cannot hope to rival genius, but neither can genius dispense with talent. “Talent without genius isn’t much,” wrote Paul Valéry, “but genius without talent is nothing.” On good days, I am talented. Shakespeare was a genius every day.

Read the rest of Joseph Epstein's essay here.

Art Break: Terpning

Art Contrarian looks at the work of Howard Terpning.

Music Break and More

Guitarist John Williams, the BBC Proms: Concierto de Aranjuez.

A demonstration of excellence.

[BTW: Some information on the composer, Joaquin Rodrigo.]

Plenty of People with Lots of Talent

Eclecticity Light has some thoughts by the prolific Stephen King on his productivity.

Hey. What are you waiting for? An invitation? Get out there.

Language to Remember and Use

"Since he is a rock star and a vulgarian, we believe he is a natural fit for reality TV."

First Paragraph

A squat black telephone, I mean an octopus, the god of our Signal Corps, owns a recess in Berlin (more probably Moscow, which one German general has named the core of the enemy's whole being). Somewhere between steel reefs, a wire wrapped in gutta-percha vibrates: I hereby  . . .zzZZZZZ . . . the critical situation . . . a crushing blow. But because these phrases remain unauthenticated (and because the penalty for eavesdropping is death), it's not recommended to press one's ear to the wire, which bristles anyhow with electrified barbs; better to sit obedient, for the wait can't be long; negotiations have failed. Away flees Chamberlain, crying: Peace in our time. France obligingly disinterests herself in the Prague government. Motorized columns roll into snowy Pilsen and keep rolling. Italy foresees adventurism's reward, from which she would rather save herself, but, enthralled by the telephone, she somnambulates straight to the balcony to declare: We cannot change our policy now. We are not prostitutes. The ever-wakeful sleepwaker in Berlin and the soon-to-be-duped realist in the Kremlin get married. This will strike like a bomb! laughs the sleepwalker. All over Europe, telephones begin to ring.

- From Europe Central by William T. Vollmann

The Most Toxic Item in the Workplace

I don't care if you work in a bug spray factory, the most toxic item in the workplace is lack of trust. Take trust away and there will be problems in all parts and aspects of the organization. Morale will be low and cooperation spotty while the role of the trust deficit is overlooked.

The tricky part: The people who created the deficit are often the ones treating the symptoms instead of the cause.

Quote of the Day

Every library should try to be complete on something, if it were only the history of pinheads.

- Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Bad Move: Shuts Down Its Comments

Anyone who has been around the Internet for a while knows about the trolls and loons who haunt many sites.'s explanation of why it will no longer allow comments, however, goes beyond issues of civility. 
If courtesy is the issue, why not just exclude comments that are rude but permit ones which, however unconventional or even odd, are politely stated?

Because they want the "correct" opinions.

Bad move. 

Music Break

The Platters with "The Great Pretender."

Bill Gates at Harvard

“His habit was to do 36 hours or more at a stretch, collapse for 10 hours, then go out, get a pizza, and go back at it,” he recalled. “And if that meant he was starting again at 3 in the morning, so be it.” When working hard, Gates would rock back and forth. Then he would grab Znaimer for a frenzy of playing Pong, the Atari video game, in the dorm lounge, or Spacewar!, a legendary game invented at MIT, on one of the mainframes in Harvard’s computer lab.

Read the rest of the
Harvard Gazette article here.

The New Kindle Fire

At Fortune: Information on Amazon's new Kindle Fire HDX.

This looks very tempting.

7 Types of Meetings

  1. All goes according to plan and it ends on time.
  2. All goes according to plan until the zombies arrive.
  3. All goes according to plan but afterwards everyone agrees it wasn't a very good plan.
  4. Nothing goes according to plan and people leave hating one another.
  5. Nothing goes according to plan and it was the greatest meeting ever.
  6. What plan?
  7. Everything goes beautifully until the last three minutes when you realize you're in the wrong meeting.

Go Ahead and Think About The Lone Ranger

From Rossini's William Tell Overture. Crank it up.

More Creative When We're Tired?

Belle Beth Cooper at Fast Company on 10 surprising things about the brain.

Language to Remember and Use

"It is said that if a schlemiel opened a funeral parlor, people would stop dying."

"Don't Do It"

Dewar's has taken the advice to writers by Charles Bukowski to produce a memorable ad.


When Jack says, "I don't think that would be a good idea," he means "That's one of the stupidest ideas I've ever heard. Never mention it again."

When Carlos says, "I don't think that would be a good idea," he means "Tell me some more about its merits because I'm willing to be persuaded."

When Mary says, "I don't think that would be a good idea," she means "I don't want any extra work."

When Ellen says, "I don't think that would be a good idea," she means "I have a much better one."

Quote of the Day

The remarkable thing about Shakespeare is that he is really very good - in spite of all the people who say he is very good.

- Robert Graves

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Music Break

Youngok Shin with "Plaisir D'Amour."

Buckley and Wolfe

Here's a snippet of a 1981 interview by William F. Buckley, Jr. of Tom Wolfe about Wolfe's controversial book on modern architecture.

[By the way, it's a marvelous book. I think of it every time I ponder some architectural monstrosity.]

At Least It's Not a Christmas Album

You thought that it was controversial when Bob Dylan used an electric guitar. Now he's into heavy metal. The Telegraph has the details.

Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee

Jerry Seinfeld visits Don Rickles.

Modern Life: The New Prof

I hereby apply for the position of professor of interdisciplinary creativity.


How much vacation is there and when do I get tenure?

Even If It's Only for Flights to the Hardware Store

You can get your flight jacket at Alpha Industries.  

Language to Remember and Use

"One look at who was in the conference room and she decided it was time to skedaddle."

Unusual Films

Worth checking out. Each has moments that will stay with you for a very long time.

Attitudes and Speed

You usually don't hear:

  • "Go faster or you'll make a mistake."
  • "Rush through it in order to savor the experience."
  • "The more slap-dash the better."
  • "I don't trust her. She's a slow-talker."
  • "Please don't take time to think it through."
  • "He's the fastest brain surgeon in town so he must be good."
  • "I could use fewer hours in the day."
  • "This year has gone by so slowly."


If a meeting is scheduled for 10:00, what is the latest appropriate time to be there?
  1. 9:55
  2. 10:05
  3. 10:15 if you had something else going
  4. Whenever you can get to it but you have to speak last
  5. 10:00
Lately, for some odd reason that has nothing to do with culture and is yet to be identified, I've seen more examples of 2, 3, and 4 than of 1 and 5. 

Language to Remember and Use

"He may give bold speeches but he is a poltroon."

Quote of the Day

We sit by and watch the Barbarian, we tolerate him; in the long stretches of peace we are not afraid. We are tickled by his irreverence, his comic inversion of our old certitudes and our fixed creeds refreshes us; we laugh. But as we laugh we are watched by large and awful faces from beyond; and on these faces there is no smile.

- Hilaire Belloc

Monday, September 23, 2013

Music Break

Some more Leon Redbone: "Up a Lazy River."

So Much for State Pride

This map at Cultural Offering of "What is your state the worst at?" is partly tongue-in-cheek.

Be sure to click through for the details. I was surprised at some of the items, including my home state's ranking. It must be all of those hot summers and cold beers.

Writing That is Truly Spooky

3 Geeks and a Law Blog on "The Legend of Jargon Hollow."

Hemingway's Hamburger

Writing at The Paris Review, Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan makes a valiant effort to re-create Ernest Hemingway's perfect hamburger. She includes the full recipe. An excerpt to whet your appetite:

As both a food writer and Hemingway acolyte, I had long been aware of his immense appetites—for life, adventure, drink, and a good meal. So it wasn’t surprising that one line in this article should strike me: “The more mundane, like his instructions to the household staff, including how to prepare his hamburgers: ground beef, onions, garlic, India relish, and capers, cooked so the edges were crispy but the center red and juicy.” Hemingway’s idea of a perfect hamburger? I had to try it.

Victims of Evil

Althouse points to an article on two of the innocent people who were murdered in the Nairobi terrorist attack.

Make that three people since the woman was pregnant.

We are fighting monsters who intentionally harm the innocent.

A Global Warming Pause

Spiegel has a revealing - in more ways than one - article on climatologists, the warming plateau, and the reliability of the data upon which dire predictions were made. A cringe-inducing excerpt:

Despite resistance from many researchers, the German ministries insist that it is important not to detract from the effectiveness of climate change warnings by discussing the past 15 years' lack of global warming. Doing so, they say, would result in a loss of the support necessary for pursuing rigorous climate policies. "Climate policy needs the element of fear," Ott openly admits. "Otherwise, no politician would take on this topic."

Failure as a Route to Success

At Entrepreneur, Catherine Clifford has a great chart on how many times business leaders tried and failed before they were successful. [I was surprised by the Richard Branson figures.]

Music Break

"Letter from Home" by Aaron Copland.

Rapid Loss of Credibility


Art Break: Mathews

Art Contrarian looks at the paintings of Arthur Mathews. [Above: Centaur and Mermaid on Beach at Sunset.]

New Book on The Birth of The Beatles

At The Telegraph, author Mark Lewisohn discusses what happened when Paul McCartney met John Lennon.

Memorable quote: "He'll get you into trouble, son."

Achieving Clarity

With all of the fog generated by egos, policies, and procedures as well as external complications, it can be a constant battle to achieve clarity in the workplace. So often teams resemble the blind men describing an elephant except these blind men aren't talking to one another. Their different perceptions are not discovered until later, if ever.

Don't be surprised if you see this pattern:

  • "The problem is definitely A."
  • "The problem is A." 
  • "Our research indicates that the problem is A."
  • "We believe the problem is A."
  • "The problem is probably A."
  • "Our hunch is the problem is A."
  • "Several of us believe the problem is A."
  • "Ed thinks the problem is A."
  • "We're wondering if the problem could possibly be something such as B or C or perhaps A."
  • "We're not really sure what the problem is."

Team Project Checklist

  • Mission? Check.
  • Supplies? Check.
  • Assignments? Check.
  • Skills? Check.
  • Timelines? Check.
  • Plan of action? Check.
  • Higher purpose? Nope.

Language to Remember and Use

"We've been bamboozled."

Quote of the Day

We wear masks. We wear fancy dress with each other. I often think of people meeting the way cars meet, they dim the lights when they approach each other at night. The real person inside one car never meets the real person inside the other one.

- Frederick Buechner

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Eat the Cup

I hope that Starbucks rolls with Nicholas Bate's idea about the peppermint coffee cups.

Reiner and Brooks

Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee: Jerry Seinfeld visits with Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks.

[HT: Lou Rodarte]

Reflection: When You Are Old

Here's the poem by William Butler Yeats.

News You Can Use: Oktoberfest

Der Spiegel has a photo gallery on getting the most out of Oktoberfest.

[If you ever go to Munich, I highly recommend this place.]

Finding a Second Chance in North Dakota

Writing in The Weekly Standard, Michael Warren profiles some new pioneers. An excerpt:

That’s the way life is in North Dakota now. The oil boom that began in 2007 has transformed this area of sleepy ranching communities into America’s new energy powerhouse. Shortly after the drilling process called hydraulic fracturing (commonly known as “fracking”) made available the oil and natural gas buried two miles beneath the surface in the Bakken shale formation, the engineers and drill hands and rig workers swooped into town. That brought more people, with more disposable income. Businesses not directly connected to the energy sector soon followed to serve the growing region: retailers, service stations, hotels and man camps, fast-food restaurants, and, yes, boutiques like Lynden Chocolate.

Beyond "Essential Functions"

Employment attorney Michael P. Maslanka discusses a disability accommodation case which takes an expansive view of reasonable accommodation. Very interesting. Must reading for in-house counsel.

Never Pick on a CPA

Anderson Layman's Blog has cartoons about a profession that is noted for its humor.

First Paragraph

Justice? - You get justice in the next world, in this world you have the law.

- From A Frolic of His Own by William Gaddis

Subjects That Deserve More Discussion

  • Beauty
  • Freedom
  • Honesty
  • Gratitude
  • Loyalty
  • Duty
  • Courage
  • Respect
  • Caring

Meetings and Minutes: A True Fable

"Honest Minutes A Business Fable" is at Cultural Offering. Autumn has arrived and Kurt is going right for the jugular.

Fleetwood Mac in Dublin

There is nothing smooth about Fleetwood Mac. Somehow, even after all this time, they don't have the polish of a west coast harmonic rock machine like The Eagles. Their set is surprisingly gnarly and edgy, constantly being dragged between all these opposing musical poles. Indeed, they seem to delight in contrariness, filling up a nearly three hour set with offbeat selections from the provocatively odd and unloved Tusk and new material from a recent EP, frequently preceded by rambling monologues from Buckingham or Nicks that are longer and more involved than the songs themselves. "If we're looking a little frazzled it might be because we are a little frazzled," apologises Nicks, blaming the stresses on it being the first date of a European tour. But actually Fleetwood Mac are a group who are permanently frazzled by the intensity and complexity of their relationships, particularly that of teenage sweethearts Nicks and Buckingham, who still seem to be working out their separation and reconciliation onstage in the longest and most public group therapy session ever. 

Neil McCormick describes the return of Fleetwood Mac.

Bock Habit

A good habit: Checking out Wally Bock's stories and strategies from real life.