Out to Get You
FutureLawyer has a warning about hackers.
And when he gets nervous, we should take it seriously.
Art Break: Rippi-Ronai
Art Contrarian looks at the work of Jozsef Rippi-Ronai.
You know you've encountered bad design in the physical world when you see a fat instruction manual telling you how to do something. The digital world is similar: I want an interface I can understand right away, with no explanation whatsoever - that fits under my fingers as though it has always been there.
- Daniel Gelernter
I watched a spring training game with an old friend the other day.
He is a retired attorney. We go way back to when both of us worked for the city government; a time when we formed an alliance to combat the weasels du jour. His knowledge of baseball is formidable and it is a pleasure to hear his views on the records and experience of the players but most of the time was spent catching up.
He almost died a few years ago following an arcane medical emergency that involved a massive loss of blood. I told him then that such developments are unacceptable and that he should plan on staying around for a while, if only to spare me the hassle of visiting the hospital.
Old friends are comfortable. You don't need to make conversation, it just arrives, and we're way past needing to impress one another, if that need was ever present.
Our team lost. We barely noticed.
Quote of the Day
We shall return to proven ways - not because they are old but because they are true.
- Barry Goldwater
Attention: James Taylor Fans
Cultural Offering has the Essential Mixes and asks if you can name the three people in a photograph.
Hmm. I think I know one.
Wally elaborates at Anderson Layman's Blog.
My guess is that Wally is the most popular character in the Dilbert comic strip.
This book has had a long gestation. It started with the fox-trot. The fox-trot has no raison d'etre. There is no reason to dance at all except one - pleasure - and the greatest pleasure is calculated uselessness. One evening several years ago I stood on the sidelines at Manhattan's Lincoln Center, watching the dancers at the three-week event called A Midsummer Night Swing. They were smiling; they were having fun. I took one look and realized that dancing can make you happy. This is a book about happiness, about the pleasurable things you can do to promote it and to increase a sense of general well-being, of what is called sanguinity.
- From Seven Pleasures: Essays on Ordinary Happiness by Willard Spiegelman
[HT: Alan Max]
They Mean Well
Lord save us from those who mean well.
Their efforts know few restraints because, after all, they mean well. They'll not blink at coercion and punishment, silencing and ostracism, because they alone understand just how much better off we'll be once their work is finished.
And their work is never finished.
While claiming to dislike power, they move toward it like - well, not like a moth to a flame - more like a woodsman to an ax.
We are their trees and we just need some trimming.
Quote of the Day
I know only that what is moral is what you feel good after and what is immoral is what you feel bad after.
- Ernest Hemingway
Here dies another day
During which I have had eyes, ears, hands
And the great world round me;
And with tomorrow begins another.
Why am I allowed two?
- G.K. Chesterton
In True West, Allen Barra explores the true history of the film version of "Lonesome Dove."
We dodged a bullet with the possible casting of John Wayne and James Stewart.
The film is excellent but I'd suggest reading the novel first. It could be "The Great American Novel."
"The Rise and Fall of American Growth"
Nineteenth-century medicine mostly made patients as comfortable as possible until nature healed or killed them. In 1878, yellow fever killed 10 percent of the Memphis population. But 20th-century medicine moved quickly from the conquest of infectious diseases (the cause of 37 percent of deaths in 1900; 2 percent in 2009) to the management of chronic ailments of the elderly. There were 8,000 registered automobiles in 1900 but 26.8 million in 1930. Ford’s Model T, introduced in 1908 at $950, sold in 1923 for $269.
Read the rest of George Will's review of Robert J. Gordon's new book.
It's a Job. A Monstrous Job.
Tell a person that something is his or her job and you may open a gate to a meadow or lock them in a narrow channel. Either way, they are likely to take the job seriously. [Granted, there are notable exceptions.]
While studying the Holocaust, I've often wondered about the extent to which so many people participated in the planning, construction, and operation of the death camps solely because it was their job. After all, those facilities had file clerks, secretaries, architects, builders, plumbers, engineers, electricians, lawyers, cooks, railway workers, and others who weren't involved in the bloodier part of the crime. A company supplied ink for the tattoos. Some architects designed the camp structures and lay-out. When you have a small part in the killing process, delusion and deniability are possible. You can tell yourself that your role is only a small part. If you are actually pushing people into gas chambers then your dodge is to say that you were following orders.
Much has been written about the Holocaust. A detailed analysis of the "indirect" participants is long overdue.
Who is more evil: the guard patrolling the perimeter or the architect who drew up the plans?
Quote of the Day
Everyone knows the usefulness of what is useful, but few know the usefulness of what is useless.
- Zhuang Zi
Wally Bock reviews the book.
I completely concur. The book is very helpful provided you bring your self-discipline.
Check it out.
European Union Discusses Payment Plan in Greece
The Nature of Cybercrime
INSEAD: Gilles Hilary and Christophe Durand on how cybercrime is evolving.
Layman Gets Down
Steve Layman gives the soundtrack of his life.
[Good choices although I was surprised that Al Jolson and Rudy Vallee were not mentioned.]
Jim Harrison, RIP
It was appropriate that I first heard of the death of Jim Harrison at the site of one of his greatest admirers; another extraordinary man who knows how to live the good life.
Which of the Following?
Which of the following is most likely to improve your outlook on life?
- Five million dollars.
- A severe beating.
- An advanced degree.
- An award.
- A promotion.
- True love.
- The adoration of the crowd.
- A serious effort by you to improve that outlook.
22 Things to Do on Planet Earth
The incomparable Nicholas Bate has the list.
Quote of the Day
Glory is like the bed of Louis XIV in Versailles; it is magnificent and there are bugs in it.
- Victor Hugo
Jim Stroup has a new blog. Check it out.
Also be sure to read about his extraordinary background.
Bock: Advice for New Managers
My advice is that it is always wise to pay close attention when Wally Bock gives advice because his advice is invariably wise.
For Inspiration, Not Revenge
JK Rowling, whose Harry Potter novels sold more than 400 million copies, has released two rejection letters she received for the relatively recent novels she wrote that had the Robert Galbraith pseudonym.
Alone among the Maoist leaders, Zhou Enlai had cosmopolitan sophistication, charm, wit and style. He certainly was one of the greatest and most successful comedians of our century. He had a talent for telling blatant lies with angelic suavity. He was the kind of man who could stick a knife in your back and do it with such disarming grace that you would still feel compelled to thank him for the deed. He gave a human face (and a very good-looking one) to Chinese communism. Everyone loved him. He repeatedly and literally got away with murder. No wonder politicians from all over the world unanimously worshiped him. That intellectuals should also share in this cult is more disturbing - although there are some extenuating circumstances.
- From "The Wake of an Empty Boat: Zhou Enlai" by Simon Leys [Published in his essay collection, The Hall of Uselessness]
Greta Garbo. "Grand Hotel."
Back by popular demand: Peter Gabriel with "In Your Eyes."
Get thee to Eclecticity Light today and read "The Plate Should Never Widen."
A Common Mistake
Beware of assuming that people will behave logically. They often do not. Whims, biases, and "baggage" may drive them and the person who has carefully worked out how they will behave may prove to be as persuasive as a PowerPoint presentation at a rock concert.
All of us know that because all of us have seen it and yet, for many of us, our default mode is to assume logical conduct. Not a bad assumption up to a point but only up to a point.
Use two maps in your reasoning. One is the route that will be taken if logic is the guide and the other is the route if emotion is the guide. The roads may merge but it helps to know the route other than the one you would have taken.
Quote of the Day
The problem is never how to get new, innovative thoughts into your mind, but how to get old ones out.
- Dee Hock
AI Ethics: When AI Doesn't Play Nice
The Telegraph: Madhumita Murgia discusses AI ethics and the MicroSoft chat-bot named Tay; an experiment that quickly went wrong. An excerpt:
Instead, “she” turned into a complete PR disaster - within hours of being unleashed on Twitter, the “innocent teen” bot was transformed into a fascist, misogynistic, racist, pornographic entity. Her tweets, including phrases like “Heil Hitler”, were disseminated widely as an example of why Twitter reflects the worst of humanity.
In First Things, "Passion Play" by Peter J. Leithart. An excerpt:
It worked so well that Paul followed the same method in Iconium, Lystra, Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea, and Ephesus: Preach Jesus, gain a following, provoke a riot, get stoned or imprisoned or dragged or chased out of the city, escape, repeat. It’s not a plan found in most textbooks of missiology, but it’s the most common one in Acts.
The Short Meeting
I'm printing a copy of this post by Cultural Offering so I'll be prepared when someone says, "I'm not here to sell you anything."
"I agree in principle..."
"But in practice, I'll need to be more hard-hearted, practical, selfish, mass-oriented, short-term, callous..." Principles, it seems, are for other people.
Read the rest of Seth Godin here.
"And Then There Were None"
When the first guest drops dead, there is a tendency to think they really should have seen this coming: After all, a tangible sense of dread permeates the island. The shadowed halls, the tempestuous sea and stormy sky, the ghosts of guilt haunting the victims—it all builds to a nerve-wracking, claustrophobic atmosphere. After the second death, the characters start to piece it together.
In The Weekly Standard, Hannah Long reviews the new BBC production of the Agatha Christie novel.
The Magic of Natalie Wood
Art Break: Rogers
Art Contrarian looks at the work of Hubert Rogers.
Action and Reactions
How much of your day will be action and how much will be a collection of reactions?
If much time is given to the latter, you may have surrendered control to others. You may be devoting too much effort to "getting back at" and not enough to getting ahead.
My son saw a swarm of bees entering a neighbor's shed. A dead roof rat was found in our backyard.
This place is turning into Wild Kingdom.
I talked to the neighbor. He seemed nonchalant about the bees but that's his nature. A rhino could be on his front porch and he wouldn't fret. It's a skill.
This is our second roof rat. We don't have citrus and so I suspect the rat migrated from someone's orchard in order to find a pleasant place to expire. The Roof Rat's Burial Ground.
I didn't see the rat - my wife and son performed last rites - but I found the first one; a big sucker who looked as if he'd wandered back in time from The Great Plague. I threw him in the dumpster before alerting my wife. A plague enthusiast, she was disappointed that she didn't get a look. Well, she got her wish with this recent one.
Better a dead roof rat than a swarm of bees.
I miss the coyotes but they're probably out there, lurking. Waiting for us to let down our guard.
[Update: Althouse spots a fox.]
Quote of the Day
I entered life on earth in the aspect of a human being.
- Adolf Eichmann
Training today. Exhaustion tonight. Writing tomorrow.
The rest of the evening will be exercise. reading, NyQuil, and collapse.
At least I don't have to catch a plane to another city where I'll do it all again in the morning.
I've never regretted making a checklist but I have regretted not having used one.
The idea that our memory is so thorough that it will rapidly reveal everything we need for a particular task or project is, to put it politely, nuts. How often have you compiled a checklist only to make additions later?
After using checklists sporadically, I have adopted a new rule: If the project is important, make (and keep) a checklist.
FutureLawyer, the indispensable blog written by Rick Georges, a Florida attorney who is expert in all things techie and who owns more parrots and smartwatches than anyone on earth, is celebrating its 20th birthday. Rick is a bit hazy on the precise date; a vagueness that may reveal his inner Luddite. He may have a sundial in his back yard.
Congratulations to Rick and FutureLawyer.
Long may they thrive!
Quote of the Day
Crocodiles are easy. They try to kill and eat you. People are harder. Sometimes they pretend to be your friend first.
- Steve Irwin
Everything a Film Should Be
Suggestion: If you've never seen The Third Man, see it. If you've seen it, watch it again.
When the Time Bomb Doesn't Tick
Stephen Hayes has some thoughts from a former CIA interrogator. An excerpt:
But what if, in a more likely situation, I was sitting across from the same guy conducting an interrogation without the knowledge that he had planned and set into motion an attack? There are no red alerts, no blinking lights – nothing is ticking. He is, at that moment, simply a high-level detainee with a devastating secret. What would you not want me to do, within the law, to retrieve that information from him – whether or not I had prior knowledge of his intentions? What would be the difference, morally, in my choice of techniques before or after I get word that an attack is imminent and he's been identified as the planner?
Aside from the Interviews
"Go Back to Bed" and Other Bits of Advice
A list of advice we need to heed more often:
- Go back to bed.
- Check the figures.
- Drink more water.
- Eat less.
- Take your time.
- Get out of that chair.
- Say thanks.
- Consider the opposing arguments.
- Shine your shoes.
- Look at the sky.
And the question continues: Where does he find this stuff?
The north-eastern quarter of the continent of Africa is drained and watered by the Nile. Among and about the headstreams and tributaries of this mighty river lie the wide and fertile provinces of the Egyptian Soudan. Situated in the very centre of the land, these remote regions are on every side divided from the seas by five hundred miles of mountain, swamp, or desert. The great river is their only means of growth, their only channel of progress. It is by the Nile alone that their commerce can reach the outer markets, or European civilisation can penetrate the inner darkness. The Soudan is joined to Egypt by the Nile, as a diver is connected with the surface by his air-pipe. Without it there is only suffocation. Aut Nilas, aut nihil!
- From The River War: An Account of the Reconquest of the Sudan by Winston S. Churchill
The Age of Celebrity
This is a good year to pick up a book by Winston Churchill - any book will do - and then, after reading a couple of chapters, marvel at the depth of the man who guided Britain through very tough times.
After that, consider the current contenders for the American presidency.
Voters visiting local election offices today in Arizona.
Quote of the Day
At least I have the modesty to admit that lack of modesty is one of my failings.
- Hector Berlioz
Sadness for, and anger on behalf of, Belgium.
Election Day in Arizona
The polls are packed.
For some reason beyond comprehension, the elections people decided to make a drastic reduction in the number of polling places. I mailed in my ballot several days ago but the rest of my family, being traditionalists, opted for the old system.
I may see them later tonight.
[Update: I just heard an estimate of a three-hour wait at one site. My guess is this favors Donald Trump. The anti-Trump protests that blocked a highway the other day have probably also helped his campaign.]
[Update: One new report was that a 60 to 65 percent turn-out is expected.]
Why Isn't This Film Better Known?
The trailer for "Beat the Devil."
Good Mood Break
An extraordinary performance of "Mr. Touchdown USA."
On the steps of the old mission house, the sergeant sat with the boy who called himself Robin, and watched a pigeon being swallowed by a pelican.
- From Tigerman by Nick Harkaway
"We write our own screenplays."
Jim Harrison has some thoughts worth pondering. Find them at Cultural Offering.
I am chaining myself to my chair and completing my online ethical decision making class.
No more research. I already have more than enough material.
No more dodging in the name of creativity. I know how everything should come together.
One draft is almost completed. It will now be finished and reviewed. The next draft will be final.
As in final, done, over, finito.
Barring last minute tweaking, of course.