Friday, February 28, 2014

Unhappy Hipsters

Good news! They are back!

Tell Me Not

The Hammock Papers has a great poem by a great poet. He was sort of a rock star in his day and deservedly so.

Life in the Old West

May 2, 1873: "Yuma holds its first legal hanging across the road from the schoolhouse." 

- From An Arizona Chronology: The Territorial Years 1846 - 1912 by Douglas D. Martin

Well Said

It did not strike Keisha Blake that such feelings of alienation are the banal fate of adolescents everywhere. She considered herself peculiarly afflicted, and it is not an exaggeration to say that she struggled to think of anyone besides perhaps James Baldwin and Jesus who had experienced the profound isolation and loneliness she now knew to be the one only true reality of this world. 

- From NW by Zadie Smith

Faithful Execution of the Law

I apologize for the formatting problem with the excerpt earlier. There are gremlins in the system.

Read all of George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley's testimony before the House Committee on the Judiciary.

See video of the panel testimony here.

The Arizona Religious Freedom Restoration Bill

Some law professors of various political persuasions contrast the Arizona bill on religious rights with the one in Kansas. Here are some other reactions to the bill and Governor Brewer's veto:

Quote of the Day

The philosopher deals with truth; the statesman addresses contingencies. The thinker has a duty to define what is right; the policymaker must deal with what is attainable. The professor focuses on ultimate goals; the diplomat knows that his is a meandering path on which there are few ultimate solutions and whatever “solutions” there are, more often than not turn into a threshold for a new set of problems.

- Henry Kissinger

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Honest University Commercial

Watch this humorous(?) video at Instapundit and weep. 

It is good to see this issue is getting more attention.

Thoughts in Common

I suspect that people inside - and outside of - the inner circle often have the same thought when thinking of the other group:

"They don't know what they're talking about."

Art Break: Hagege

Art Contrarian looks at the work of Logan Maxwell Hagege.

The Impending Fall of Rome

The Telegraph: Repairing roads every 52 years? Sounds like a plan.

Miscellaneous and Fast

The WSJ Law Blog looks at religious freedom bills.
Spiegel Online: Turmoil in Venezuela.
Wes Anderson: American Express commercial.
LawLytics: Can lawyers be happy?
Althouse features some well-expressed skepticism at the sculpture of Steve Jobs.
The Telegraph: Ryanair is talking about bargain flights to the United States.
CoolTools reviews The Systems Bible.
Fast Company: How busy people make time to read.
USA Today: Disney World hikes admission prices.

A Beatles Morning

Anderson Layman's Blog has just the right song to start your day. Crank it up.

Human Monsters

Nikita Khrushchev recalled Joseph Stalin's kindness in dealing with a young diplomat who'd been bamboozled. Adolf Hitler was thoughtful and patient with his secretarial staff. Benito Mussolini could turn on the old charm and listen to jazz.

You know the stories and their appeal. There is a natural wish that people in history who did hugely evil things were not entirely evil and that somehow they could have been turned around. We tell ourselves that the positive anecdotes reveal at least an ounce of goodness. 

But rather than making these characters less frightening, shouldn't the episodes of kindness and pleasantness make them scarier? These weren't mad dogs. They were human beings who could be moved by great music and literature, play with children, laugh at jokes, and then, on the same day, do absolutely terrible things and still think they were good people.

That goes far beyond the standard horror film.

Quote of the Day

Living is my job and my art. 

- Montaigne

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Persuader Rule

Ethical issues, a chilling of the attorney-client relationship, and added costs for employers? Expect to hear more about "the persuader rule" in the days ahead.

Read the rest of the letter (via SHRM) opposing the Department of Labor's proposed rule

See also:

Some Useful Questions for Executives and Managers

  • "Is this one of those situations in which the poorest employee should be treated the same as the best employee?"
  • "If competence were a crime, would there be enough evidence for a conviction?"
  • "Assuming the person is a low-down weasel, how have you treated the other low-down weasels in your department?"
  • "How many of the statements in this report are wishes and how many are facts?"
  • "Where did that deadline come from and can it be changed?"
  • "Do we know enough to even guess at the worst-case scenario?"
  • "Once we've achieved our goal, which challenges will we face?"
  • "It has been said that the lawyer says this cannot be done. Can the lawyer tell us how it can be done?"
  • "Things look great but if they somehow go wrong, what will be the likely reason?"
  • "Is this a battle worth fighting?"
  • "How does the organization benefit from this?"
  • "What were the lessons learned?"
  • "Is a decision required now?"
  • "Are we agreeing too quickly?"
  • "Is this person a good fit for the assignment and, if so, how long will that be the case?"
  • "Was this a problem in job knowledge or in job values?"
  • "Is this real action or an effort to pretend that action was taken?"
  • "How well do I know my employees?"
  • "Are the priorities clear?"
  • "Do we really know the exact Who, What, and When?"

Quote of the Day

Every day, in every way, I am getting better and better. 

- Emile Coue

Paging Dr. Zorba

Out to see the doc.

Back soon.

Update: All systems go. Must be all of that clean living.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Working at Biglaw

And then there’s face time – an essential component of Biglaw. Just because there’s no work to do doesn’t mean you’re not required to be sitting at your desk, pretending to do it. You know the tricks – tell your secretary to open your office door when she gets in, and turn on your light, so it looks like you’re there. Set your email to send in the middle of the night, so the timestamp will say 2:37 a.m. Keep an empty Fedex box in your office, so you can stuff your overcoat into it – that way, when you sneak out at 7 p.m., it will look like you’re just popping out to mail something. And, of course, you’ll need two overcoats – one always carelessly tossed over the back of a chair in your office to imply you’re permanently “in residence.”

Read all of Will Meyerhofer's essay at The People's Therapist.

[HT: Althouse]


James Lawther's blog is packed with great stuff.


The Onion has a shocking report about the Reverend Al Sharpton.

Charles Murray: Movie Fan

Charles Murray has a new book coming out and he also has sound advice about "Groundhog Day."

Photo-Shopping Beauty

Law Latte has a woman's photo-shopped transformation. [I think she looked better at the beginning. Perhaps that was the point.]

Harbingers of Doom

Take a few minutes and read Wally Bock today.

Shelves to Love

Cultural Offering points to some hallowed sites for book lovers.

Time Inadvertently Spent

  • "Where did the day go?"
  • "Where did the month go?"
  • "Where did that decade go?"
Have you ever looked back at a time period and wondered how it had shot past and yet you don't have a strong recollection of your activities?

It's enough to make you believe in alien abductions.

Well, perhaps not, but it does indicate that much of our time is inadvertently spent. We were sorta kinda somewhat present and we assume that we were working on what we were supposed to be working on or else we would have been fired but we don't really have a strong recollection of what was achieved.

We need to stop that right now. Let's chart out on our calendars what will be achieved and at the end of each month write down our progress. No smoke. No mirrors. No self-deception. 

Above all, no drift and no drain.

Quote of the Day

I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.

- Oscar Wilde

Monday, February 24, 2014

Looks Promising

The trailer for "The Grand Budapest Hotel."

Harold Ramis, R.I.P.

"May he now get the answers he was always seeking."

Harold Ramis has passed away.

Explorer's Grants

Want some money and equipment to kick-start your great adventure?

You can apply for explorer's grants at Huckberry.

"Us as New York City Students"

Almost every letter was filled with spelling, grammar and punctuation errors. A junior wrote: “What do you get of giving false accusations im one of the students that has blended learning I had a course of English and I passed and and it helped a lot you’re a reported your support to get truth information other than starting rumors . . .”

Another wrote: “To deeply criticize a program that has helped many students especially seniors to graduate I should not see no complaints.”

Read other examples at Instapundit.

Art Break: Detaille

Art Contrarian looks at the work of Edouard Detaille.

Munro. Andrew Munro.

Do yourself a favor. Check out Andrew Munro's Blog.


The virtue of trustworthiness is the keystone for an admirable career for it encompasses competence as well as honesty, integrity, and the other virtues commonly associated with an ethical person. One cannot simply "get by" with mediocre performance and be trustworthy because when a person dances on the edge of competence, one never knows when the dancer will fall off. Given the dynamic nature of jobs, trustworthiness demands that skills be continually developed and that the individual have a keen ethical sensitivity to spot when other ethical virtues such as fairness, caring, and respect may be violated.

A person who simply does the job and does not strengthen the foundations of trustworthiness may be a good employee and yet fall far short of the excellence which is achieved by those attend to all of its components. It is not unusual for people to look back at points in their career when they thought they were outstanding and realize, after years of growth, that they had much room for improvement.

Simple Pleasures

Wet-nosed dogs. Slow shaves. Warm showers. Black coffee. Hot buttered toast. Raking leaves. Watching birds. Clouds. Walks. Sea breeze. "Justified." Cold milk. Trimming bushes. A clean car. Fountain pens. Dickens. Studying a leaf. Hawks. Re-reading a well-written paragraph. Orange marmalade. Letter openers. Binoculars. Pizza. Naps. Bicycles. Bacon. Raymond Chandler stories. Classical music stations. Chocolate chip cookies. "Sherlock." Popcorn. Land's End shirts. "Casablanca." Old trucks. Tennyson. Shotguns. Shakespeare. Lightning storms. Copland. Twain. Family trees. Lemonade. Sweat shirts. Spanish. Porches. Faulkner. Camping. Fall. Globes. Swiss Army knives. Shade. Fridays. Smiles. The open road.

Language to Remember and Use

"Just before she went on stage, her agent told her, 'Break a leg.'"

Quote of the Day

It is charming to totter into vogue

- Horace Walpole

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Writer

Wally Bock recalls a 40-year-old conversation in which a person made a thoughtless remark about his having written non-fiction books. My reactions:
  1. He is a real writer.
  2. This is an example of the ability to wound via a casual remark and the comment is remembered 40 years later.

The Ever-Present Need for Manners

Medieval life, Hitchings argues, was marked by a need to contain and regulate violence. Thus, customs evolved that we still observe, such as placing an honored guest to one’s right—towards which the host can draw his sword, should the need arise—and polite conventions such as not attacking an enemy while he is “at stool” (defecating). Since there was no real distinction between private and public space, boundaries and hierarchies were maintained largely through “the symbolic effects of gesture.” Crossing one’s legs or closing one’s eyes in company could be interpreted as a deliberate insult. Looking skyward when belching was considered polite. Going down on one knee (rather than both knees) demonstrated partial submission while preserving one’s personal honor: Gentlemen proposing marriage still unconsciously practice this subtle social negotiation.

Read the rest of Sara Lodge's review of Henry Hitchings's book about civility.

Lifestyle: Choose One

Pretend that you could be guaranteed one of the following. Which one would you choose?

  1. Rich and famous.
  2. Famous but not rich.
  3. Rich but not famous.

In the Marshland

Eclecticity Light: Where does he find this stuff?

California Divided

At Neatorama: Should California be split into six states?

The Unusual Project Continues

Spanish versus Mexican administration. Jesuits versus Franciscans. The decentralization of the Apache tribal leadership. The Gadsden Purchase. An important Confederate map. A gold strike. 850 miles of canals. Italian stone masons. Texas muleskinners. Floods in Phoenix. World War I and the cotton market. Brothels and municipal government. Demographic shifts. Old alliances. Tunnels. Single-parent households.

Dots being assembled and connected. Points being simplified. This unusual but fascinating project is coming together. The stacks of books on my dining room table are being converted to cards and then to pages. Things are clicking. 

I learned a lot about reclamation yesterday afternoon.

The Ultimate Science Project for School

Anderson Layman's Blog has the picture.

As the Work Week Ends

While reflecting back on the previous week, there should be two questions:

  1. How much of the work merely restored the status-quo?
  2. How much of it moved us forward?
It is possible for time to be gobbled up by activities which put out fires and yet don't produce progress. Since people are so busy, this can create the illusion of progress while none has taken place.

When the smoke has cleared, check your location.

Quote of the Day

There are several good protections against temptations, but the surest is cowardice.

- Mark Twain

Friday, February 21, 2014

"The Giant Claw"

This trailer is representative of the fine movie-viewing fare that was available at the nearest drive-in theater back in the good old days.The special effects are stunning.

Music Break

The theme for "The Magnificent Seven."
Opening song from "The Ballad of Cable Hogue."
The main theme from "The Big Country."
The theme from "Lonesome Dove."
The main theme from "How The West Was Won."

Farewell to Emma

You won't find an article about her in the paper. No commentator will write about her death. It wasn't "newsworthy." But hundreds of people travelled to a small church in rural South Carolina because Emma cared about them.

Wally Bock recalls the person.

The One Ball

Although all jobs require the juggling of various responsibilities, there are some positions where the juggler can drop every ball but one and still retain employment. If you ever wonder why a person who performs poorly in a wide range of responsibilities is able to elude termination, look for the area that receives inordinate emphasis by his or her superiors.

That is the one ball.

Language to Remember and Use

"The post-war years were so hard, by the age of fifteen, he was an accomplished scrounger."

Diversity as Conformity

One could easily dismiss these students as part of that long and glorious American tradition of smart young people saying stupid things. As Oscar Wilde remarked, “In America the young are always ready to give to those who are older than themselves the full benefits of their inexperience.”

Read the rest of Jonah Goldberg's essay here.

In Search of Snug

James Lileks looks up his street.

Keeping Perspective

  • How to listen can be learned quickly. What to listen for takes longer. 
  • The rules can be learned quickly. The exceptions take longer.
  • How to take action is prose. Whether and when to take action are poetry.
  • Getting into a project is easy. Extricating yourself is another story.
  • What is wanted is important. What is not wanted is even more important.
  • Information can be found on every street corner. Wisdom may require an appointment.
  • Being positive is appreciated but learning to say no is vital.
  • Strategy soars and yet logistics brings it down to earth.
  • Kind words are rubies. Generosity and gratitude are diamonds.

Vital Standards

There will always be disagreement with regard to particular issues but when there is a lack of general agreement as to what constitutes honesty, decency, and basic competence, an organization is in serious trouble. It is as if a crew of carpenters did not agree on what makes an inch or a foot.

Quote of the Day

The dream of reason produces monsters.

- Goya

Thursday, February 20, 2014

For Dog Lovers Everywhere

At David Kanigan's blog: you will smile.

Health Food Update

Spicy Dr Pepper Ribs

The Pioneer Woman shows how to make Spicy Dr Pepper Ribs.

Entertainment Break

A memorable scene from "The Departed." [NSFW]


Not paddling, sailing, rowing, puttering, or cruising.

Just drifting.

And drifters get to no place in particular.

Some Organizations

In some organizations . . .

  • Customers are a nuisance.
  • Excellence is celebrated so long as it doesn't interfere with comfort.
  • You can find zombies, vampires, and at least one Siberia.
  • The stories told in the lunch room are more accurate than those told in the board room.
  • Uriah Heep gets promoted and David Copperfield is driven away.
  • There are sizable numbers of employees whose fervent wish is to be ignored by upper management.
  • No one is quite sure of what one department does.
  • The people sending people to the counselors in the Employee Assistance Program should be making appointments for themselves.
  • The employee handbook could have been written by a union organizer.
  • On any given day, a good person who is leaving could be persuaded to stay.
  • There are several touted programs which 99 percent of the employees regard as a joke.
  • The most accurate part of the job descriptions is "other duties as assigned."


If a strategy needs to be hammered through an organization, that alone is a sign (or more accurately an alarm bell) that the strategy is probably not a good fit.

Mention that to some executives and they'll froth on about mossbacks and people who need to evolve and how the dissenters need to get on the bus. They'll groan about the need for action.

I like action as much as anyone but have a strong preference for action that doesn't make matters worse. It's also nice to have an approach that encounters less resistance and accomplishes much more in less time than the hammer technique.

In short, if you catch yourself straining to force the famous square peg into the round hole, step back, ask why, and don't accept the easy explanation that others lack your brilliant insight.

Seek clarity, not an ego boost.

Quote of the Day

What happens to a nation whose elites laugh at its citizens?

What happens to its elites?

- Peggy Noonan

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Joke

A revealing clip from "The Lives of Others." 

One of the best films ever made about totalitarianism.

A Public Service Reminder

No joke.

This Dave Barry column says it all. If you have not had one, get one.

Decadent Elites

Noonan (and Harden) are correct. It is a sign of decadence.

Good Stuff

Be sure to check out Wally Bock's "By and About Leaders."

Art Break: Wootton

Art Contrarian looks at the travel posters of Frank Wootton.

Cats and Dogs

Oddly enough, the important subject of penguins was not covered.

Time magazine survey: Liberals like cats more than conservatives do.

[HT: Althouse]

Internal versus External

Here's some wisdom by Nicholas Bate that should be posted inside interview rooms. 

Not a Far Side Cartoon: A Parrot and Her Lawyer

Futurelawyer hard at work

The complete story is at FutureLawyer.

Frequently Heard in My Childhood

  • "Because I said so." [Oddly enough, this never sparked any argument. It was a different time.]
  • "If all of your friends jumped off a cliff, would you?" [Since I had friends who were likely to do so, this was not an outlandish question.]
  • "You can't have your cake and eat it too." [As a child, I could never understand this one. After all, if the cake is mine, why can't I eat it?]
  • "The ones who care don't matter and the ones who matter don't care." [I continue to ponder just who is in which group.]
  • "You're a day late and a dollar short." [That was usually right on target.]
  • "I don't want to hear any alibis." [My dad had that one on a loop.]
  • "A watched pot never boils." [Still true.]
  • "Wear clean clothes. What if you're in an accident and have to go to the hospital?" [I had a feeling that my clothes would be the least of my worries.]

Quote of the Day

The Answer to the Great Question Of. . .  Life, the Universe and Everything . . . [is] Forty-two. 

- Douglas Adams, The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Thirties

Read the headline stories. Keep current on the undercurrents. But also review what was happening in the Thirties.

We live in dangerous times.

I Weep for You

Take a moment and read "The Walrus and the Carpenter" by Lewis Carroll.

You'll be glad you did.