Saturday, May 30, 2015

Miscellaneous and Fast

Nicholas Bate: May redux.
Wally Bock: Leadership "wisdom."
Maxim: Mazda's "boyhood" commercial.
Michael Barone: America's dysfunctional universities.
The Pioneer Woman makes crazy brownies.
Althouse: The Dennis Hastert story.
The trailer: "Viktor and I."
Krauthammer: Doctors and digital by 2015.
The unusual career of Pedro Gonzalez-Gonzalez.
Vienna to London: By train in a single day.
Anderson Layman's Blog has some Scaramouche.

First Paragraph

Sometimes life's choices are overwhelming. Start with the data explosion we all live with, from Google searches that produce a million results in a split second to software programs that generate data analyses faster than we can read them. You would think that with all this data at our fingertips life would become more manageable, and decisions might come easier. It hasn't worked out that way in the digital age. As any Google search will tell you, more data can mean more complexity, and more information to sort. Do you want to buy a car? Three hours after you start your search, you've compared dozens if not hundreds of vehicles, but you may be no closer to a decision. In fact, there's a good chance you feel more overwhelmed than ever, drowning in a sea of data. 

- From The Head Game: High Efficiency Analytic Decision-Making and the Art of Solving Complex Problems Quickly by Philip Mudd

Raymond Chandler Saturday

It must have been Friday because the fish smell from the Mansion House coffee-shop next door was strong enough to build a garage on. Apart from that it was a nice warm day in spring, the tail of the afternoon, and there hadn't been any business in a week. I had my heels in the groove on my desk and was sunning my ankles in a wedge of sunlight when the phone rang. I took my hat off it and made a yawning sound into the mouthpiece.

A voice said: "I heard that. You oughta be ashamed of yourself, Johnny Dalmas. Ever hear of the Austrian case?"

It was Violets M'Gee, a homicide dick in the sheriff's office and a very nice guy except for one bad habit-passing me cases where I got tossed around and didn't make enough money to buy a secondhand corset.


Read the rest of "Bay City Blues."

Quote of the Day

Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents, which in prosperous circumstances would have lain dormant

- Horace

Friday, May 29, 2015

Entertainment Break

A classic which recently made the rounds on Twitter: Albert Brooks, ventriloquist. 

"5 Free Apps for Getting Your Morning Started"

Fast Company has the details.

Economic Update

While statistical quirks and one-time factors like wintry weather in some parts of the country played a role, as did a work slowdown at West Coast ports, the lackluster report for January, February and March underscores the American economy’s seeming inability to generate much momentum.

Read the rest of The New York Times article.

Art Break: Logsdail

Art Contrarian looks at the work of William Logsdail.

First Paragraph

On a sunny afternoon in Silicon Valley, two proud fathers stood on the sidelines of a soccer field. They were watching their young daughters play together, and it was only a matter of time before they struck up a conversation about work. The taller of the two men was Danny Shader, a serial entrepreneur who had spent time at Netscape, Motorola, and Amazon. Intense, dark-haired, and capable of talking about business forever, Shader was in his late thirties by the time he launched his first company, and he liked to call himself the "old man of the Internet." He loved building companies, and he was just getting his fourth start-up off the ground. 

- From Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success by Adam Grant


Was the vision clear or murky? Was the action too late or too weak to make a difference? Was the intention to make a difference or to appear to do so? Was the aim a meaningful result or a shallow alibi? Did turf trump the mission? Was everyone pulling in the same direction? Was there substantive and timely information or were people using a status report on matters which were over and could not be changed? Was the team focused on serious progress or consumed by matters which, although important, would not be game-changers? 


Did the team believe that something extremely important was being accomplished?

Quote of the Day

Depend on the rabbit's foot, if you will, but remember, it didn't work for the rabbit. 

- R. E. Shay

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Entertainment Break

The trailer for "A Walk in the Woods." 

I liked the book and the one scene which I hope made it to the film involves Snickers bars.

Hackers and Planes

Spiegel Online explores the disturbing question of whether hackers could bring down a plane. An excerpt:

The officials from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) were not at all happy about what they were hearing. An unshaven 32-year-old from Spain, his hair pulled back in a ponytail, was talking about cockpit computers and their weaknesses and security loopholes. Specifically, he was telling the EASA officials how he had managed to buy original parts from aviation suppliers on Ebay for just a few hundred dollars. His goal was to simulate the data exchange between current passenger-jet models and air-traffic controllers on the ground in order to search for possible backdoors. His search was successful. Very successful.

BBC Job, No Make that Training, Advertisement

The Telegraph: The BBC advertises for a weather presenter.

Self-Sabotage Techniques

Time-tested and widely used:

  • Indiscretion
  • Anger
  • Desire for failure
  • Hubris
  • Sloth
  • Lack of focus
  • Bad associates
  • Fear
  • Insecurity
  • Lack of ambition
  • Distractions
  • Immediate gratification
  • Lack of self-discipline
  • Failure to plan
  • Fear of success
  • Regret
  • Disloyalty
  • Ingratitude
  • Lack of self-development
  • Overpromising
  • Unreliability
  • Dishonesty
  • Slipperiness
  • Disrespect
  • Pride
  • Cruelty
  • Rudeness
  • Narcissism
  • Rashness
  • Arrogance
  • Complacency
  • Lack of initiative
  • Cowardice
  • Hypocrisy
  • Ego
  • Selfishness
  • Prejudice
  • Others?

Quote of the Day

The bottleneck is always the top of the bottle. 

- Peter Drucker

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Scooter Libby Case

“A terrible thought struck me,” she writes. “Contrary to my testimony, had someone else told me that Plame worked at the State Department?…My heart sank. What if my testimony about events four years earlier had been wrong?…Had I helped to convict an innocent man?”

The inescapable conclusion is that she had—with the help of a prosecutor intent on gaining a conviction regardless of the truth. “I could have made good use of that,” Libby’s lawyer wistfully said when Miller told him of Plame’s State Department employment. Indeed he could have, which is why Fitzgerald made sure Libby’s team never got any information about Plame’s employment history. Fitzgerald had claimed it was irrelevant (and the judge in the case, Reggie Walton, had backed him up).

Read the rest of the Commentary review of Judith Miller's book.

The Skimpole Syndrome

Harold Skimpole never quite manages to lose his charm, and yet readers of Bleak House become increasingly appalled by him. He affects unselfishness, but is in reality fanatically, even maniacally, self-centered”existing in the soap bubble of an almost perfect solipsism. He insists in his sunny prattle that he is “a mere child,” while he is fact a grotesque parasite: a colossal tick, a leech, a tapeworm with a taste for Mozart, who, it turns out, is childlike in his pursuit of pleasure, but shrewd and willful in his studied neglect of responsibility. His sensibilities are exquisitely tender, and yet he has a talent for causing pain, for making his benefactors feel slightly soiled by their own honest labor. He professes universal tolerance and sweetness to all, though is willing to put his friends through shame, fear, and harm rather than see his own comfort threatened.

Read all of the 1993 essay by Paul V. Mankowski in First Things.

Spyderco Bug Knife

CoolTools has the details. You know you want one. 

[But, although not as small, the Swiss Army pen knife is hard to beat.]

Satire Update: The All-Male Feminist Support Group

Althouse has a clip from "Portlandia."

Art Break: Harden

Self-portrait. Elizabeth Harden.

Self-portrait by Elizabeth Harden.

[HT: Cultural Offering]

The Bigot Bomb

Kirsten Powers suggests giving "the bigot bomb" a rest. An excerpt:

"They were great to work with," one of the w​omen, Nicole White, told a reporter. "They seemed to have no issues. They knew the two of us were a same-sex couple." She went on to explain, "I have no issues with them believing in what they believe in. I think everyone's entitled to their own opinion. But I don't think they should put their personal beliefs inside their business." One wonders whether this same rule applies to displaying symbols supporting lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders.


"Follow-up" has a bad connotation. It is not as bold as initiating or embarking or launching but it is, if we are wise, what composes much of our time. Without follow-up, the boat that left the harbor is soon on the beach and the novel that was started is never finished. We can lose friends and clients and momentum without those many tasks which may seem small but are not.

And because so many people fail at it, our follow-up will be all the more noticeable.

First Paragraph

In the Frank Capra classic It's a Wonderful Life, George Bailey gets a chance to see what his world would have looked like had he never been born. It would be nice if we could do the same for the United States, to see what the world would have looked like had the United States not been the preeminent power shaping it for the past six decades, and to imagine what the world might look like if America were to decline, as so many nowadays predict. 

- From The World America Made by Robert Kagan

Connecting Dots

Some items on execution. A point on total quality management. Urgency issues. An example from sports. Another from history. Throw in dealing with chaos. Crisis management. Setting priorities. Decision making. Goals.

They are now ready to be connected.

But in what order?

Quote of the Day

You can't talk your way out of a situation you have behaved yourself into! 

- Stephen R. Covey

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Film Break

The trailers for:

The Edit

I went over the draft at least 15 times and left some time between several of those visits in order to gain perspective. A considerable amount of time later I reviewed the draft yet again. It looked very good but the first paragraph needed tweaking. That caused me to go through the entire document. 

No changes.

But then, just as I was about to declare it finished, done, and over with, something troubled me. I checked the last page. Three of the words were fine but they could be just a little better. Three replacements sang to me and they got the part.

At that point, it was truly done.

Art Break: Gibson

Art Contrarian looks at the work of Charles Dana Gibson.

Assembly Required

Most career goals cannot be quickly obtained off-the-shelf and with all of the parts nicely functioning. 

We must assemble the ultimate result one part at a time. This requires thinking big and small in order to know which small steps are important and which ones won't fit. That is difficult because the world marches in with legions of diversions and if it doesn't we provide plenty of our own. 

Diversions are dangerous because they lure our efforts to a quiet death where our memory becomes blurred by a swirl of unproductive activities, so much so that one day we wonder, "Whatever happened to that project? How could I have forgotten it?"

Quote of the Day

Let your credo be this: Let the lie come into the world, let it triumph. But not through me. 

- Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Monday, May 25, 2015

All Year Round

"Taps" performed in the summer and winter at Arlington National Cemetery. 

Memorial Day

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

- Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address

Saturday, May 23, 2015

First Paragraph

A few days shy of his twenty-fifth birthday, John Nagl saw his future disappear. 

- From The Insurgents: David Petraeus and the Plot to Change the American Way of War by Fred Kaplan

Wolf Hall

The novels by Hilary Mantel are marvelous. So is the television series

I eagerly await the third novel. [The first two books of the trilogy are Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies.]

If you are a history buff, check them out.

Miscellaneous and Fast

Wally Bock: Stories and strategies from real life.
The Telegraph in 2012: The chocolate cake diet.
Kirsten Powers on the political bias of American journalists.
Tanmay Vora: Deming on work, innovation, and leadership.
The trailer: "The Farewell Party."
John Steele Gordon: Warren Buffett and the minimum wage.
Sippican Cottage: Unorganized Hancock versus James Bond.
The trailer: "Sunshine Superman."

The Great Shelley Berman

Shelley Berman, brilliant comedian, had monologues which still come back to me after around 50 years, [I never fly without thinking of the one about airline travel.]

Here is a sample of his humor. [You can find the other portions of the comedy album on YouTube.]

Morning Chores

The elderly retainer mowed the front lawn this morning while his wife slept in. The dog, being wise, got up, ate breakfast, and then wandered back to bed. I had planned to get out before the sun was too high but I lollygagged. By the time the gardening chores were impeccably finished the neighbors who strolled past were probably wondering about the sweaty madman staggering about my yard, looking for a stray leaf.

The backyard will be done in stages. More time is required to reclaim it from the ravages of the dog.

Raymond Chandler Saturday

The doorman of the Kilmarnock was six foot two. He wore a pale blue uniform, and white gloves made his hands look enormous. He opened the door of the Yellow taxi as gently as an old maid stroking a cat.

Johnny Dalmas got out and turned to the red-haired driver. He said: "Better wait for me around the corner, Joey."

The driver nodded, tucked a toothpick a little farther back in the corner of his mouth, and swung his cab expertly away from the white-marked loading zone. Dalmas crossed the sunny sidewalk and went into the enormous cool lobby of the Kilmarnock. The carpets were thick, soundless. Bellboys stood with folded arms and the two clerks behind the marble desk looked austere.

Dalmas went across to the elevator lobby. He got into a paneled car and said: "End of the line, please."

The penthouse floor had a small quiet lobby with three doors opening off it, one to each wall. Dalmas crossed to one of them and rang the bell.

Derek Walden opened the door. He was about forty-five, possibly a little more, and had a lot of powdery gray hair and a handsome, dissipated face that was beginning to go pouchy. He had on a monogrammed lounging robe and a glass full of whiskey in his hand. He was a little drunk.

Read the rest of "Smart-Aleck Kill."

Quote of the Day

You'll find us rough, sir, but you'll find us ready

- Charles Dickens, David Copperfield

Friday, May 22, 2015

Awaiting and Recovering

Consider how much time is squandered awaiting an event or recovering from one which took place. 

That amount may far exceed the time for the event itself.

Music Break

Art Break: Jugend

Art Contrarian looks at the covers of Jugend magazine.

The Iron Lady

Charles Moore is interviewed about his biography of Margaret Thatcher.


Product Details

Biographer Richard Norton Smith talks about Nelson Rockefeller.

Name Your Favorite Biographies

Image result for shlaes coolidge

I will soon be starting another volume in Robert Caro's masterful series on Lyndon Johnson but first need to wrap up Jonathan Fenby's fascinating book on Charles de Gaulle. The Amity Shlaes book on Calvin Coolidge also awaits.

This blog has covered the subject of biographies before simply because there are so many great ones out there and many are packed with information that can be helpful in our own lives.

It's time for an update. Give me your recommendations.

Every Speaker Should Read This

Nicholas Bate nails the fundamental problems with PowerPoint.

Motivational Speeches

James Lawther at SquawkPoint watched "The Replacements" and wonders how often motivational speeches work. He mentions several great ones from the movies.

I'd add:
  • George C. Scott in "Patton."
  • Russell Crowe in "Master and Commander."
  • Peter Finch in "Network."
And, of course, this one from "Gettysburg."

What Will It Be Today?

Busy ant or dozing ox? Swinging for the fences or bunting to get on base? Relying on magical wishes or focusing on what is within your control? Honing your efforts or assuming they're just fine? Television or a good book? A walk or an easy chair?

Will today move you toward something good or will all of the rushing about merely restore the status-quo?

Quote of the Day

Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision. 

- Peter Drucker

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Walking the Dog

I usually walk the dog in the early evening. 

The other dog walkers who go by my house don't seem to have an ongoing conversation with their pets but I talk to mine, making observations on her pace, her sanity (a frequent topic), and whether she sees any of her cat friends. 

I suspect that I've become known in some neighborhood circles as the man who talks to his dog. There's another notch on my eccentricity scale but that is fine. 

So far the dog hasn't answered back.

Give her time.

First Paragraph

Ever since the announcement of my "conversion" to deism, I have been asked on numerous occasions to provide an account of the factors that led me to change my mind. In a few subsequent articles and in the new introduction to the 2005 edition of my God and Philosophy, I drew attention to recent works relevant to the ongoing discussion on God, but I did not elaborate further on my own views. I have now been persuaded to present here what might be called my last will and testament. In brief, as the title says, I now believe there is a God! 

- From There Is a God: How the World's Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind by Antony Flew

Three Days

Wally Bock has some great advice on what to give your brain on a three-day weekend.

Military Rucksacks and Related Apparel

This and more at Goruck.

The Art Price Bubble

Art Contrarian looks at several examples of stunning prices.

A Techie Switches

FutureLawyer announces that he is leaving his beloved Google Chrome for Firefox.

Could he be that some day he'll surprise us by announcing another extraordinary switch? 

No, that could never happen.

Beyond the Campfire

The search for solutions to a problem can be thwarted by an early crush on a particular course of action.

Concluding that "This is the one and only way" can keep us from finding others which are just as good if not better. 

[In fact, if you want to spur your associates to come up with alternatives, try telling them "This is the one and only way" and watch their response. You may find yourself swimming in alternatives.]

If you don't believe there are other solutions, listen to your senses. This is far from scientific but have you ever noticed how often you suspect there is another approach just outside of your current view? 

Go beyond the comfort of your intellectual campfire and you'll find it.


They will work despite the lack of leadership, constant confusion, shifting goals, office politics, complex pay systems, inexplicable promotions, limited resources, second-guessers, poor communication, frequent interference, unfair criticism, and lack of appreciation,

But they may not stay.

You should worry more about the ones who remain.

Quote of the Day

To measure up to all that is demanded of him, a man must overestimate his abilities. 

- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Matt Dances

A pleasurable re-post from 2012: Matt Harding dances around the world.

You will smile.

Theory into Practice

A day to focus on Pareto's 20 percent of efforts that will produce 80 percent of the results; to do David Allen's specific "next actions" to complete projects instead being depressed by a list of projects which never seems to end; a day to remember John Wooden's emphasis on honing the efforts that are likely to achieve the desired results instead of madly rushing about and hoping for the results.

Go get 'em.

Music Break

Anderson Layman's Blog has "The Ballad of Easy Rider."

The Game of Management

In the game of management, if a player is not tackled by the opposing team there is the possibility that the tackle may be made by the player's own team mates or, as is often the case, by the player himself. Forward motion is sometimes penalized unless it has received a slight nod from the coach who may be on or near the bench or far up in the bleachers. The coach often has only a superficial notion of what the players do - some coaches go for long lunches - but that doesn't prevent the calling in of plays; indeed, the coach is often regarded by players as their most formidable adversary and many mutter that more games would be won if the coach were not present. The referees usually have no love for the game and in many instances are rewarded if they make the game more difficult. For some teams, the plays are the main reward and the actual scoring of points is optional. Others focus solely on scoring and care little for rule violations or injuries. Goal posts are shifted for no apparent reason. More so than with other sports, the spectators think the game is much easier than it is.

Quote of the Day

Two o'clock in the morning courage: I mean unprepared courage. 

- Napoleon Bonaparte

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

News You Can Use

FutureLawyer provides evidence that Vincent Price was reincarnated as a parrot.

First Paragraph

It was dark under the trees, only a little moonlight penetrating the half-bare branches. The ground was thick with fallen leaves; the horses' hooves made little sound and it was hard to tell whether we were still on the road. A wretched track, Barak had called it earlier, grumbling yet again about the wildness of this barbarian land I had brought him to. I had not replied for I was bone-tired, my poor back sore and my legs in their heavy riding boots as stiff as boards. I was worried, too, for the strange mission that now lay close ahead was weighing on my mind. I lifted a hand from the reins and felt in my coat pocket for the Archbishop's seal, fingering it like a talisman and remembering Cranmer's promise: 'This will be safe enough, there will be no danger.' 

- From Sovereign by C. J. Sansom

In Life

In life, you learn that there are many examples of:

  • Simple but not easy.
  • Caring but not gentle.
  • Efficient but not effective.
  • Loving but not kind.
  • Seeing but not noticing.
  • Listening but not hearing.
  • Busy but not progressing.
  • Polite but not friendly.
  • Understanding but not agreeing.
  • Obedient but not loyal.
  • Intelligent but not wise.


"Only five people will be leaving." 
[It's not "only" if they're five of your best.]

"Look at the size of that market. If we get just one percent of it we'll be rolling in money!" 
["Do you know how hard it is to sell just a few items?"]

"She said we'll have plenty of time."
["Since she isn't doing the work, let's find out how much "plenty" is."]

"He said it's impossible to miss the place."
["Where are we?"]

Quote of the Day

His devastating capacity to make his enemies underestimate him. The popular view of Eisenhower among educated Eastern people was that he was a boob. He talked in convoluted, involuted sentences that didn't parse when transcribed, unlike the rest of us, who like to think we come out in lapidary prose. It's very agreeable to think, He's not as smart as I am; that's what's the matter with him. It was probably a very agreeable thought to Eisenhower. That's the way people got their balls cut off.

- Daniel Patrick Moynihan's description of what made President Eisenhower such a good politician

Monday, May 18, 2015


A brief and memorable video on The Battle of Hastings.

Undercover Considerations

The recent biker gang stories remind me of a meeting I had years ago with two undercover police officers who traveled in the biker circles. Both thoroughly looked the part. I was meeting them about an investigation.

I thought the use of a chain as a belt was a particularly interesting fashion statement.

Anyway, the conversation moved to what happens in biker bars and how undercover officers can operate while maintaining their cover. The subject of a notorious biker gang (not the one you think) came up. 

One of them said, "If they come into a bar, we leave. They are really dangerous people." Those undercover cops - two huge guys - reasoned that if they stayed, they would either be harmed or would be put in a situation where they would have to reveal their identity.

It's a wild world out there.

Communication is So Easy

"He didn't volunteer to help."
"You didn't ask."
"I shouldn't have had to ask."
"But I thought I heard him at one point ask if you needed help and you said you didn't."
"I did that because he should have known that I needed help."
"So if he asked and you said no he should have known that you really meant yes?"

First Paragraph

Richard. Old John of Gaunt, time-honored Lancaster,
Hast thou according to thy oath and band
Brought hither Henry Hereford, thy bold son,
Here to make good the boist'rous late appeal,
Which then our leisure would not let us hear,
Against the Duke of Norfolk, Thomas Mowbray?

- From The Tragedy of King Richard the Second by William Shakespeare

The Dadly Virtues

A panel discussion: Jonah Goldberg, Steve Hayes, James Lileks, P.J. O'Rourke, Jonathan Last, and Tucker Carlson discuss fatherhood.

Soft But Lethal

Whims. Interruptions. Sarcasm. Haste. Bureaucracy. Fear. Perfectionism. Indiscretion. Hubris. Manipulation. Cowardice. Confusion. Sloth. Pride. Isolation. Prejudice. Ignorance.

Quote of the Day

Conflict is inevitable, but combat is optional. 

- Max Lucado

Saturday, May 16, 2015

First Paragraph

I was very young and lived with my grandparents in a villa with white walls in the Calle Ocharan, in Miraflores. I was studying at the University of San Marcos, law, as I remember, resigned to earning myself a living later on by practicing a liberal profession, although deep down what I really wanted was to become a writer someday. I had a job with a pompous-sounding title, a modest salary, duties as a plagiarist, and flexible working hours: News Director of Radio Panamericana. It consisted of cutting out interesting news items that appeared in the daily papers and rewriting them slightly so that they could be read on the air during the newscasts. My editorial staff was limited to Pascual, a youngster who slicked down his hair with quantities of brilliantine and loved catastrophes. There were one-minute news bulletins every hour on the hour, except for those at noon and at 9 p.m., which were fifteen minutes long, but we were able to prepare several of the one-minute hourly ones ahead of time, so that I was often out of the office for long stretches at a time, drinking coffee in one of the cafes on La Colmena, going to class now and again, or dropping in at the offices of Radio Central, always much livelier than the ones where I worked.

 - From Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter by Mario Vargas Llosa

More Music

Check it out:
And the late and great B.B. King will always be with us.


I have a telephonic conference on Monday for a historical organization. The subject is very complicated and it would have been better to meet face-to-face but that was not possible. Since I'm chairing the committee, my job will be to give everyone a chance to surface their concerns on what will be areas of disagreement. That is key because none of us have all the answers on this issue - the implementation of a new law - and we need to take some recommendations to the full board.

My guess is we'll be taking more than one opinion on a few items but that's fine. All can be thrashed out at the board-level but we want to give the board the advantage of prior analysis. I've prepared a written outline of the topics and have tried to be fair in describing any conflicting positions. The participants can use it as a guide as the meeting progresses. It contains a lot of helpful information.

My initial hope is to get the minor areas (and yes, I'm aware of the danger of calling anything "minor") resolved as soon as possible so we can turn to the biggies. Early agreement creates a nice atmosphere and if we get stalled on the lofty crags we will have at least made it over the small hills. It is also an indirect reminder that we're all on the same team and that disagreement is not a problem.

I worry more about rapid agreement on the big subjects. If that happens, we'll have to pause a bit to consider what we may be overlooking. We can also have a "pre-mortem" and explore what would be the most likely source of the failure if our brilliance becomes less than stellar.

It will be interesting.

Tabletote Plus

CoolTools has the details. You know you want one.

Music Break

From 1958: Gisele MacKenzie and Roger Williams play "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue."

Raymond Chandler Saturday

Ted Carmady liked the rain; liked the feel of it, the sound of it, the smell of it. He got out of his LaSalle coupe and stood for a while by the side entrance to the Carondelet, the high collar of his blue suede ulster tickling his ears, his hands in his pockets and a limp cigarette sputtering between his lips. Then he went in past the barbershop and the drugstore and the perfume shop with its rows of delicately lighted bottles, ranged like the ensemble in the finale of a Broadway musical.

He rounded a gold-veined pillar and got into an elevator with a cushioned floor.

Read the rest of "Guns at Cyrano's."

Quote of the Day

You will never stub your toe standing still, The faster you go, the more chance there is of stubbing your toe,  but the more chance you have of getting somewhere. 

- Charles F. Kettering

Friday, May 15, 2015

Music Break

The version of "Jacob's Ladder" from Ken Burns's documentary, The Civil War.

Miscellaneous and Fast

Audrey Hepburn: "Moon River."
The trailer: "The Bicycle Thief."
Anderson Layman's Blog has a classic Calvin and Hobbes.
Political Calculations analyzes the Apollo Group.
Eclecticity Light: Where does he find this stuff?
Frankie Laine: "The Cry of the Wild Goose."
Michael Barone on the inaccurate U.K. election polls.
The trailer: "Fading Gigolo."
Punahou School: Barack Obama's prep school.
The trailer: "Awful Nice."
Sippican Cottage: "Blind Beautiful Devotions Only Women's Hearts Know."

Ruins of Berlin

Matthew Lang has an extraordinary fly-over video showing the damage to Berlin in World War II.

By and About Leaders

Wally Bock points to several very interesting articles.


Kurt Harden at Cultural Offering is reading and re-reading. He has also launched a very  impressive "short story per day" project

My current re-read list includes:
  • The Edge of Sadness by Edwin O'Connor
  • The Warden by Anthony Trollope
  • Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
  • War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  • Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
  • Modern Times by Paul Johnson
  • The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker
  • The Balkan Trilogy by Olivia Manning
  • A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
  • I, Claudius by Robert Graves
Much of this summer's reading will involve re-reading several of Shakespeare's plays. There will be a strong preference for the tragedies. 

Given the nature of mankind, they never go out of style.

Back in Town

I'm back from Indianapolis where I taught a management and supervision class to a very bright bunch indeed. Great questions are the spice of any class and they came through admirably. My schedule was a "fly in one day and fly out the next" and the three hour time difference will turn Friday into a day for coffee and no heavy lifting.

One ancillary item: Most of my business travel over the past few years has been within driving distance in Arizona and it was enlightening to see how far air travel has declined. What once had a certain air of glamour has now become a bus station of the sky; a description that is unfair to bus stations because the buses have better seating. It was also embarrassing to see flight attendants hawking credit cards and selling small bottles of wine.

In Indianapolis, I was chosen for a "random test" by the security people where the Transportation Safety Administration attendant brushed my palms with a wand. A story about the process is here and I confess to missing that when it was published. I was mildly amused by it, if only because when traveling to Britain during the IRA terrorist days, you could take any 50 people and I would be the one selected for intensive screening.

It must be that naturally furtive appearance.

Quote of the Day

Good company and good discourse are the sinews of virtue. 

- Izaak Walton

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Scrambling Stoic

I'm out doing noble things. 

Look for me on Friday morning. 

Write it down. I'll be looking for you.

First Paragraph

At seven fifteen a.m., his bedroom slightly colder than the vacuum of space, Joshua Joseph Spork wears a longish leather coat and a pair of his father's golfing socks. Papa Spork was not a natural golfer. Among other differences, natural golfers do not acquire their socks by hijacking a lorryload destined for St. Andrews. It isn't done. Golf is a religion of patience. Socks come and socks go, and the wise golfer waits, sees the pair he wants, and buys it without fuss. The notion that he might put a Thompson sub-machine gun in the face of the burly Glaswegian driver, and tell him to quit the cab or adorn it . . . well. A man who does that is never going to get his handicap down below the teens. 

- From Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway

Quote of the Day

I put a piece of paper under my pillow, and when I could not sleep I wrote in the dark. 

- Henry David Thoreau

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Moore's Law

Brian Krzanich, the current CEO of Intel, opened the evening by putting the achievement of Moore’s Law into perspective. Intel’s chips have improved performance a factor of 3,500 since they were introduced, he said, reflecting a 90,000-times improvement in energy efficiency and at one-60,000th of the cost. Were a 1971 Volkswagen Beetle to undergo the same transformation, he said, it would travel at 300,000 miles per hour, achieve 2 million miles per gallon, and cost four cents.

Read the rest of the Fortune article about Gordon Moore.

U.S. Religious Denominations

Althouse: The recent Pew Study on the U.S. Religious Landscape

This is not good news but I can understand why the mainstream churches are losing members. Many resemble a sociology department with a pulpit.

Intolerance on Campus

The root of nearly every free-speech infringement on campuses across the country is that someone—almost always a liberal—has been offended or has sniffed out a potential offense in the making. Then, the silencing campaign begins. The offender must be punished, not just for justice’s sake, but also to send the message to anyone else on campus that should he or she stray off the leftist script, they too might find themselves investigated, harassed, ostracized, or even expelled. If the illiberal left can preemptively silence opposing speakers or opposing groups— such as getting a speech or event canceled, or denying campus recognition for a group—even better.

Read all of the Kirsten Powers essay at The Daily Beast.

Memorable Subjects and Professors

Kurt Harden at Cultural Offering remembers some extraordinary professors from his college days.

I had some amazing professors. In those days, there were fewer required classes and you could pack in a wide variety of subjects. My undergraduate degree was in Government and my minor was History and yet I took classes in Roman, Soviet, American, French, Mexican, English, and Russian history and several subcategories such as the History of the French Revolution. That's in addition to classes in Humanities, Introduction to Government, American Government, Administrative Law, Constitutional Law, Soviet Foreign Policy, American Foreign Policy, the American Presidency, Public Administration, Political Philosophy, Public Opinion and Polling, Economics, Comparative Government, and a slew of others.

It was like being in a candy store.

A common characteristic of the great professors: a mixture of solid subject matter knowledge, teaching expertise, tolerance for dissenting opinions, and a love of the material.