Saturday, November 30, 2013

First Paragraph

Johns Davis remembered feeling a chill the first time he entered the mission building of the Alamo, where Mexican troops in Napoleonic shakos and crossed white belts bayoneted and were bayoneted by the defenders of the Republic of Texas. At the time he'd associated the sensation with the presence of the spirits of the honored dead. Now he knew it was the air-conditioning.

- From Something Borrowed, Something Black by Loren D. Estleman

Long Live Analog!

Cultural Offering provides a reason.

Music Break

James Taylor, Mark O'Connor, and Jerry Douglas with "Ol' Blue."

Old Photos

Went through some old family photos last night. I mean old. None of this "the Seventies were a long time ago" stuff. These were mainly from the 1920s. There's one from my dad's side of the family which could have been used in The Grapes of Wrath. [Not that I'm immune. One of my elementary school photos clearly puts me in the Most Impoverished Looking Child category.]

Some are extraordinary. There's one of a relative being baptized in a canal. [They knew how to save on frills in those days.] There's another of my great aunt with her elementary school class. Many of the boys are wearing bib overalls and a few are barefoot. Both my great aunt and uncle were teachers and they often bought shoes for their students. My great aunt also taught her classes how to play baseball. [I wish I had pictures of that.]

But there are so many photos of relatives I never knew. I look into their faces and wonder, "What was that person like?"

The Pershing Test

Whenever you hear government or business leaders talking about how hard they work or the various challenges they face, consider what General John J. Pershing had to deal with to prepare the American army for its 1917 participation in the First World War:

  1. The American army only had 127,588 men. The National Guard had 80,446 men. [Those numbers were minuscule compared to the casualties that the British and French were suffering in single battles.] A draft would be needed.
  2. The initial planning indicated that one million soldiers would be needed. This turned out to be around half the number that was eventually deployed.
  3. Huge amounts of training were needed for the troops while they were in the United States and once they got overseas.
  4. Prior to the war, President Wilson had interrupted army planning for a possible war with Germany.
  5. Only 55 military airplanes existed and all were used for training. There were few pilots.
  6. No large scale American industries existed to produce weapons and shells.
  7. Radios and machine guns were rare.
  8. Supply resources, such as trucks, were scarce.
  9. There was an inadequate General Staff. A new one needed to be organized.
  10. There were limited ways to transport large numbers of troops over waters patrolled by German submarines.
  11. The housing and feeding of the troops once they arrived in France had not been determined. 
  12. Communication lines needed to be established.
  13. Intelligence operations needed to be expanded.
  14. Coordination with the British and French allies had not been done. The allies wanted the Americans blended into their units and under their command. That was strongly opposed by the Americans.
  15. The front line sector which the Americans would cover had not been determined.
  16. They would be fighting one of the best armies in the world.
By the way, in 1915, while Pershing was at Fort Bliss in Texas, his wife, son and three daughters were in San Francisco. Their house caught on fire. Only the young son survived.

[For a quick and interesting read, check out Pershing by Jim Lacey.]

Language to Remember and Use

"The auditor was a notorious fussbudget who was inclined to miss the forest for the trees."

Quote of the Day

A professional is a man who can do his job when he doesn't feel like it. An amateur is a man who can't do his job when he does feel like it.

- James Agate

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Gobblers

George Will on turkeys of 2013. An excerpt:

Some of today’s brains. A Tennessee judge’s ruling was reversed: She had ordered a family to change their child’s name, Messiah, because that “title” has “only been earned by one person.” At the school where a Maryland kindergartner is supposed to learn reasonableness, school officials interrogated him for more than two hours before notifying his mother that he possessed a cap gun. Fortunately, it contained no caps; otherwise it would have been deemed an explosive. Michigan educators forced the removal of the little plastic soldiers a mother had put on cupcakes she brought to school on her son’s birthday.

Art Break: Wyspianski

Art Contrarian looks at the work of Stanislaw Wyspianski.

Hannukah: 77,798

A blessed Hannukah to all. Here is an interesting observation from The Huffington Post:

This year, some are celebrating "Thanksgivukkah," as Thanksgiving is celebrated the day after the first Hanukkah calendars are lit on Wednesday night. The convergence of these two holidays won't happen again for another 77,798 years, according to some calculations.


Labels are put on an item so you'll know exactly what it is and you won't need to figure out its identity in the future.

They can also be put on people but that is much less accurate and, although convenient, can shut down thinking.


Nicholas Bate gives the first 76 plus ten.

If There is to Be a Mistake

If there is to be a mistake, let it stem from something which no reasonable person could have predicted. Let it be so shocking that no one can fairly say "You were warned" or "This was clearly in the works" or "You should have taken more time" or "You knew but chose to gloss over the warnings."

May it not be a human failing that could have been prevented with better listening, more openness or a firmer grasp of reality. Don't let it arrive in the wake of underestimation, fantasy, pride or arrogance.

If it comes from one of those very human causes, then we can't blame a thing or a theory or fate. We'll have to look harshly at ourselves.

And that may be edifying but it will not be enjoyable.

First Paragraph

Tilman had had his stroke in the state capital, where he had gone on business, and he stayed two weeks in the hospital there. He did not remember his arrival home by ambulance but his wife did. She had sat for two hours on the jump seat at his feet, gazing fixedly at his face. Only his left eye, twisted inward, seemed to harbor his former personality. It burned with rage. The rest of his face was prepared for death. Justice was grim and she took satisfaction in it when she found it. It might take just this ruin to wake Walter up.

- From Why Do the Heathen Rage? by Flannery O'Connor

Language to Remember and Use

"She was flabbergasted that he was not familiar with the word."

Quote of the Day

Half our life is spent trying to find something to do with the time we have rushed through life trying to save. 

- Will Rogers

Thursday, November 28, 2013


Nice people. Nice meal. And loads to be thankful for.

May all of us be here next year to do it again.

A Whale of a Tale

School assignment: Write an essay on why Althouse choose to post an exploding whale video on Thanksgiving. Extra credit for symbolism.

A Musical Treat for Thanksgiving

Back by popular demand: Some impeccable Corelli.

Crank it up.

Happy Thanksgiving!

May you have many blessings.

Language to Remember and Use

"When they paused and thought, they had a cornucopia of blessings."

Quote of the Day

Gluttony is not a secret vice.

- Orson Welles

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


"He is the equal of any and the superior of most."

- General George Davis recommending that John J. Pershing be directly promoted from captain to brigadier general.

Art Break: Marin-Marie

Art Contrarian finds art in a marine museum in Paris.

Norman Rockwell, Story Teller

An interesting video: Norman Rockwell from the Collections of George L. Lucas and Steven Spielberg.

Many of us grew up seeing Rockwell's paintings on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post. Lucas and Spielberg were among those fans.

[By the way, The Saturday Evening Post is still around.]

[The earlier headline was "Normal Rockwell, Story Teller." That may have been subliminal wishful thinking.]

Redoing a Home Office

Still in the thinking stage. I need more book shelves and desk space and perhaps one corner for the sort of cushy leather chair you might find in a gentleman's club in London; a chair that would be a great reading spot. The electrical outlets are limiting and the ceiling fan may have to go, especially if tall free-standing book shelves are put in the center of the room. Right now, the walls are filled with pictures. That collection will have to be reduced. The window curtains can be replaced by shutters and ringed with project boxes. I want to keep the globe. Some fold-out desks would be handy but they'd look strange. The Bose stereo is essential and stays. So too the saber and the Springfield rifle. I wonder if smaller book shelves could be in the middle of the room and positioned to be covered with a door-size top which would serve as a large temporary desk for project materials. I also wonder if all of this can be done without evoking groans and shudders from family members who fail to appreciate the beauty of a room dedicated to projects. That, of course, is doubtful.

Vora: Managing Team Aggression

“Aggression” he said, “is a double edged sword. If used correctly, aggression can lead to improved performance. It elevates the intensity of your game”.

The coach continued, “I like to call this ‘good aggression’ because it is instrumental in generating new energy within the team. As a team, we must be aggressive but only assertively. The purpose of our aggression is to help ‘ourselves’ not to harm others.”

Read the rest at Tanmay Vora's blog.

Language to Remember and Use

"His great-aunt was a flapper and created quite a stir."

Quote of the Day

People in London think of London as the center of the world, whereas New Yorkers think the world ends three miles outside of Manhattan.

- Toby Young

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Health Food Update: Pancakes

For the season, The Pioneer Woman shows how to make Silver Dollar Pumpkin Pancakes.

High Tech

contact chuck

I confess to liking this photo from Senator Schumer's web page.

Lawyers and Dentists: So Much in Common

The Wall Street Journal Law Blog looks at the problems of law schools [I know that keeps you up nights] with ones experienced earlier by dental schools.

When Gun Control Means Being Able To Hit Your Target

Instapundit's Glenn Reynolds (a.k.a. The Blogfather) tries out a home pistol training kit

It's less expensive than firing ammunition but the pistol, the laser device, and the target are sold separately.

Over The River

Thanksgiving will be at my older brother's place. He has a large piece of property where he raises cattle and fights marauding raccoons when he's not sampling tequilas in Mexico. A neighbor's horse was attacked by a mountain lion a few years back. The horse survived but since then I'd be ready for more than varmints when wandering at night. The place is pretty and borders a small river.

The weather should be civilized so we'll be out on a deck. An advantage of having the meal outside is that in the early socializing stage of the calorie consumption festival you can stroll from conversation to conversation and not worry about being cornered. If someone wants to talk about hybrids, reality television or the Illuminati you can flee.

Thanksgiving is one of the grand family reunion times; a moment to catch up with others and see how much they've aged.

I, of course, retain my youthful looks and exuberance but I'll try to hide that from the others.

A Hat

I like hats, particularly in hot or cold weather, but am picky when it comes to the style. 

Baseball caps will not do because they turn me into a poor imitation of Jonathan Winters playing a coach. A Western hat along with my thick glasses produces a version of Nerd Cowboy.

I bought a fine Panama hat by mail several years back but underestimated the size of its crown. The result was that instead of a dashing South American rogue I resembled an Amish farmer.

Another problem is head size. Several years ago while in London, I popped into Burberry to check on hats. A very small man, so impeccably dressed that I wanted to put him on a mantel, took one look and explained that they didn't have what I was looking for. Since they did have some smallish hats, that may have been Polite British for: "Sorry sir. We don't carry hats for pumpkin heads."

It has been a challenge. This week I plan to explore a hat store. My hopes are up but I'll have to see if they have a Pumpkin Head section.


Computer problems today. 

Bear with me.

Podhoretz on Redford's Latest

There is only one person on screen. We hear him in a brief voiceover at the beginning of the movie, after which he speaks a total of 40 words during the 106-minute running time. What we do is watch this man as he copes with a disaster at sea. The movie is called All Is Lost, and it’s nothing short of amazing.

Read the rest of the review here.

Language to Remember and Use

"Whose idea was it to hand a sensitive assignment to those rapscallions?

Quote of the Day

Thanks to Freud, it has been joked, when a person thinks a thing, the thing he thinks is not the thing he thinks he thinks but only the thing he thinks he thinks he thinks. Fair enough. And thanks to Marx, when a social class thinks a thing, the thing it thinks is not the thing it thinks it thinks but is instead a "false consciousness," in a word, ideology.

- Robert Nisbet

Monday, November 25, 2013

Don't Put Off Reading This

John E. Smith. a.k.a. The Strategic Learner, has some sage thoughts about procrastination.

Through the Museum and Into the Park

A visit to The Hammock Papers will lift your spirits.

Miscellaneous and Fast

Cultural Offering, basic training, and the fine cuisine encountered in the field.
The trailer for "Peter's Friends."
Matthew Willens advises: Don't go to law school, at least not now.
Eclecticity Light: Doug goes back to his old ship.
George Will: How a presidency unravels.
The Telegraph: A Doctor Who gallery.
David Kanigan has a Thanksgiving Triple Shot. Looks great.
The trailer for "Sherlock: Season 3."
Max Hastings reviews "Year Zero: A History of 1945."
Michael P. Maslanka on corner offices and honesty.
The trailer for "The Merchant of Venice."

Low-Cost Tools

CoolTools has a holiday gift guide and several items are tempting.

And I Suppose We'd Have Seen Tasseled Loafers Much Sooner

Following his tradition, FutureLawyer lists 10 reasons to be thankful there were no lawyers on the Mayflower.

Tips for Achieving and Maintaining Credibility

  • Do what you say you will do.
  • Follow-up on matters.
  • If you cannot fulfill a commitment, immediately notify the other person and explain why.
  • Don't parse words.
  • Show that you care.
  • Avoid insincerity.
  • Avoid overstatements.
  • Check the facts.
  • Be methodical and objective.
  • Don't blame others for your mistakes.
  • Consider the appearance of your conduct.
  • Don't underestimate the cost of weasel-like behavior.
  • Consider The Golden Rule.
  • Don't claim that others have done worse things.
  • Avoid convoluted explanations.
  • Be honest with others and with yourself.
  • Be able to give a candid description of your motives in one sentence. If that makes you uncomfortable, consider why.
  • Don't think you can talk your way out of a credibility gap.

Language to Remember and Use

"The couple held a literary salon, mainly devoted to the novels of Dickens and Trollope."

Quote of the Day

Ask yourself whether you are happy, and you cease to be so.

- John Stuart Mill

Sunday, November 24, 2013


The boss at the gold mine was a talker named Sam Sheridan, a man who could tell a joke, shape almost anything that happened to him into a story, and charm investors into putting up cash for any number of his half-baked schemes. But mostly what I remember is his constant patter, the commentary that poured out from him while we worked - always culminating in some claim of universal law, coined for the occasion. As we realigned the rollers on the twenty-foot perforated drum that spiraled out the rocks too big to wash down the sluice, he'd say, "The rule to remember is: When something's broken, first you bang on it a little, then you curse at it a little, and then you go and get a bigger hammer." As we connected the linkage for the vibrating table, he'd explain, "The lesson here is: Some baling wire, some duct tape, and there's nothing you can't patch up."

- From The Christmas Plains by Joseph Bottum 

Spacing Out

At FutureLawyer: A creative suggestion to NASA receives an equally entertaining rejection.

Find Something Beautiful Today

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Veronica Lake and Friends for a Saturday Night

The trailers for:
"Sullivan's Travels" is far and away the best of the list.

Seeing Eye People

Seeing eye guides for people who are texting? 

Anderson Layman's Blog has the spoof video which is both humorous and painful.

Can any of us say without hesitation that this will never be adopted?

The Story of J. Carter Brown and the Museum Revival

“Treasures of Tutankhamun” (1976-77) was the first exhibition to be deemed a “blockbuster,” and its arrival at the National Gallery was a stunning proclamation that a new day had arrived in museum life. It was also a signal to other high-on-the-radar museums that the National Gallery was now a significant cultural force. That it beat out Thomas Hoving’s Metropolitan Museum for the Tut extravaganza speaks to Brown’s ability as a cultural diplomat—he involved both President Richard Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in landing the exhibition—and his fierce ambition. Brown happily admitted that he loved “the chase” as well as the spectacle, and Hoving later confessed that he had “watched, grinding my teeth, as Carter Brown plucked show after show away from me.” 

Read the rest of The Weekly Standard review of Capital Culture.

Art Break

Underpaintings looks at November exhibits. The painting above is by Jeff Gola.

Miscellaneous and Fast

Andrew Munro's Blog: The fairy tale business plan.
Eclecticity Light: Carl Sagan on books.
The trailer for "American Hustle."
Spiegel: Importing priests in Germany.
Matthew Lang reveals his background tools.
Booking Mama: A blog for book-lovers.
George Will on JFK the conservative.
Althouse: How many cups of coffee to drink.
Push back modern remake of the infamous "Daisy" ad of 1964.
A Simple, Village Undertaker: This is John Galt.
Tim Berry on a terrible business pitch.
The trailer for "Bringing Up Baby."
True West magazine: Tombstone posse versus San Carlos Apaches.

Words to Avoid

The insightful Nicholas Bate: Words to avoid in the same sentence as the word "love."

Film Break

The trailers for:

Connecting Dots

Pulling together a new and unusual training program. Connecting demographic, historical, political, and business dots. One of the most enjoyable and complicated projects I've worked on for years. 

What has been a real kick has been analyzing the convergence of diverse influences on policies and economic development. I'm being intentionally vague here but promise to bore you with the details once the program is ready to roll out.

In the meantime, dots and connections are being prospected in an eclectic manner. [That explains the stack of books on Mexican history in my living room.]

Language to Remember and Use

"When the minister warned against backsliding, several people turned and looked at Garth."

Quote of the Day

A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way.

- Mark Twain

Friday, November 22, 2013

Lennon Looks Good

Cultural Offering points out some creative guesses of what dead rock and roll stars might look like if they were still alive.

Bock: Stories About Leaders

Wally Bock's blog on leadership is one of the best out there, largely because he cuts through much of the nonsense written on the subject. He also points out some great resources.

Check out his on and about leaders post. [In the link on pet peeves, there is one that may make you laugh out loud. That leader needs some serious introspection.]

Desktop Cellular Phone

Some products just scream "hipster." CoolTools has the details.

Film Break

The trailers for:

The Consequence Paradox

But the more important reason has to do with what I call the "Consequence Paradox." It goes like this. You may have made a weighty decision, and later you may understand that it wasn't a good call. And unfortunate consequences may have happened as a result. Very likely your life would have been different, perhaps better in many ways, if you had done something else.

But what you fail to acknowledge is that some good things flowed from your "bad choice" as well.

Take a few minutes today and read this post by Denny Coates. You should especially do so if you have the frequent tendency to revisit your poor decisions.

To Dance or Not to Dance? That Is the Question.

Anderson Layman's Blog has some great photos that explore the arcane subject of dancing.

I'd add the tango scene from "Scent of a Woman."

Tops in Business

From Fortune: 2013's top people in business.


This is the anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy by a twisted little Communist. 

For many of us who were alive at that time, the sound of the drums at the President's funeral will never be forgotten.

The Fantasy Man

Writing in The New Republic, Laurie Penny interviews Neil Gaiman.

Smart Is Not Enough

Think of events that are synonymous with defeat or disaster:
  • Waterloo
  • The Bay of Pigs
  • The Edsel
  • Pickett's Charge
  • New Coke
  • The Munich Agreement
  • Watergate
  • The Maginot Line
  • Heaven's Gate
  • The Vietnam War
Remember that some very bright people were involved in the planning and execution of each. 

Language to Remember and Use

"The journalist's oikophobia made her comfortable in every country but her own."

Quote of the Day

A nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.

- John F. Kennedy

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Remembering C.S. Lewis

He certainly played a major role in strengthening my own religious beliefs. Peter Wehner looks at the significance of C.S. Lewis. An excerpt:

Fifty years ago tomorrow–on November 22, 1963–C.S. Lewis passed away. His death then, like the anniversary of his death now, was overshadowed by the assassination of President Kennedy. But Lewis–a medieval and renaissance scholar, professor, poet, novelist, a writer of children’s fantasy stories, and the most important Christian apologetics writer of the 20th century–was quite an extraordinary figure. And he, too, is worthy of remembrance.

The Pianist

In bits and pieces, I'm re-watching this film. I had forgotten how powerful it is.

Fairy Tales

  • "Once upon a time there was an obscure company that built an excellent mouse trap. Despite no advertising whatsoever, the world beat a path to its door."
  • "Once upon a time, an organization appointed a person with no significant managerial experience to the position of chief executive officer and, lo and behold, the person did an outstanding job."
  • "Once upon a time, an oral board considered two candidates - one who was the highest qualified but reserved and another who was above average but well-liked - and chose the first."
  • "Once upon a time, a manager told his employees that if they were ever uncomfortable with any comments made in the workplace, they should just speak up and people would back off, and people did speak up and people did back off."
  • "Once upon a time, people complained because the staff meetings were too short."
  • "Once upon a time, a company president walked through a factory and during the walk, as the president glanced about, no one's behavior changed."
  • "Once upon a time, a person said, 'This will take just a minute,' and it did."

Health Food Update

Brown Sugar Oatmeal Cookies

The Pioneer Woman shows how to make brown sugar oatmeal cookies.

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.

Language to Remember and Use

"If his brain had been as formidable as his proboscis there would have been no problem."

Quote of the Day

To managers, an ounce of knowledge is worth a pound of information.

- Russell L. Ackoff

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

"I had botherations that led to good things"

Talk about language to remember and use! 

Check out the Shelby Foote profile at Cultural Offering.

[I have an old friend who does a spot-on imitation of Shelby Foote. I seldom see him without asking for his rendition of Shelby describing Stonewall Jackson's conversation with Dr. McGuire.]

Discretion and Candor Index

Times when you regretted not saying something: 12
Times when you regretted saying something: 980,712

First Paragraph

They seemed to bring with them the smell of the snow falling in Seventh Avenue. Or perhaps the other people who had entered before them had done it, bringing it with them in their lungs and exhaling it, filling the arcade with a stale chill like that which might lie unwinded and spent upon the cold plans of infinity itself. In it the bright and serried shopwindows had a fixed and insomniac glare like the eyes of people drugged with coffee, sitting up with a strange corpse.

- From Pennsylvania Station by William Faulkner

Andy Kaufman: Mighty Mouse

Back by popular demand: Something to make you smile.

Art Break: Mehoffer

Art Contrarian looks at the work of Jozef Mehoffer.

A Reading Bubble

The New Republic has an article on the media diet of several people.  Note the pattern and the lack of ideological diversity.