Thursday, June 30, 2016

Shakespearean Ambush?

Ah, the drama of British politics.

"Is this a dagger which I see before me,
The handle toward my hand?" (Macbeth)

Just Talked about Golf and Grandkids

Should Attorney General Loretta Lynch have had a private meeting with former President Bill Clinton?

Run into him at the airport and it's a brief meeting in a public area? No big deal.

A private 30 minute meeting on her jet? No, the appearance is terrible and the meeting was unnecessary. 

My initial reaction was "What was she thinking?" 

NPR has a good report but quotes a law professor who says the Attorney General wasn't free to refuse to meet with the former President. That is nonsense. Of course, she could have declined that meeting.

Music Break

Back by popular demand: The Leningrad Cowboys and a noted back-up group.

Note to Hell: Put on loop in Stalin's cell.

"Why don't you just give the kid the books?"

A memorable story at View From the Ledge.

Read it. You won't forget it.

The Glory of a Fountain Pen

Althouse exults in her new Pelikan fountain pen. [The priciest pen I've ever owned was a Waterman and someone walked off with it years ago.] Since then I've used a Cross ballpoint and a Lamy fountain pen and neither are in the Pelikan league when it comes to price. The Cross ballpoint is very smooth and the Lamy gets the job done while not evoking strong feelings.

There is a special sensation that comes when you use a pen that flows beautifully. Fountain pens do have an edge. Mont Blanc was the "status" pen awhile back. 

Is there a fountain pen that you would highly recommend?

Highly Recommended

Quote of the Day

All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence. 

- Martin Luther King, Jr.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Going Positive

Cultural Offering points to a different question for mental health therapists.

First Paragraph

Two dozen bodies lay in duct-tape-patched nylon sleeping bags atop cardboard folded for padding against the pebbled, cigarette-butt-and-bottle-cap-littered earth. Empties were discarded around the sleepers, duffels and packs were torn open, contents spread in the dark, waiting to be gathered at first light. Animal tracks wound around the packs and the bedding; a stray dog had been sniffing around last night. Above was the roar of automobiles on a crumbling freeway, so dilapidated and overdue for resurfacing you could glimpse through cracks the sooty undercarriage of cars passing overhead; and higher, on reinforced pylons straddling the old road, was the elevated skyway, one of the new toll roads that whisked the wealthy from mansions to airports. Smog rose in crowning layers and somewhere up there, presumably, was blue - had to be - though most days you saw only brown smudge. 

- From The Subprimes by Karl Taro Greenfeld

Out There: Unusual Jobs

I found this brief video at David Kanigan's blog to be beautiful with more than a touch of melancholy.

Fasten Your Seat Belt

This is going to be one interesting presidential race.

We may get nostalgic for the warm and cuddly days of 1964 and 1968.

Old Friends

Late Monday night, I decided to re-read Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin series so I picked up Master and Commander.

It is even better than I recalled. That is saying a great deal.

The entire series of novels is also an excellent look at the very human challenges of leadership. 

When you are in the company of Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin, you are with old friends.

Highly Recommended

Quote of the Day

Be more concerned with your character than your reputation. Character is what you really are. Reputation is what people say you are. Reputation is often based on character - but not always. 

- John Wooden

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

And Now for Something Completely Different

The Old West in the 1850s. The protagonists are a couple of hired killers. An interesting but strange book.

It is, of course, being made into a film.

Terrorist Attack

Evil strikes at the Istanbul airport.

Water Discovered in California

A sizable water supply has been found in California. Arizonans may be happier than Californians at that development, if you know what I mean and I think you do. 

I will say no more on that controversial topic.

A Strange Silence

Ayaan Hirsi Ali: "Why Don't Feminists Fight for Muslim Women?"

Art Break: Jagger

Art Contrarian looks at the work of David Jagger.


Is there a match between:

  • What is promised and what is delivered?
  • What is said and what is done?
  • What is implied and what is fulfilled?
  • What is needed and what is assigned?
  • What is desired and what is designed?

Highly Recommended

Quote of the Day

Decisions are largely determined by existing skills. 

- Richard Tanner Pascale

Monday, June 27, 2016

Documentary: "Chaos on the Bridge"

Relax. We'll always have Shatner.

The First Management Consultant?

Time passes but Jethro's advice to Moses remains wise.

Interviewing Techniques

Governance by Mechanics

Back by popular demand: Here is an old but interesting column by Sam Steiger who was one of the true characters of Arizona politics. It appeared in the Prescott Courier. Key excerpt:

"I want you to go out and find me a dirty, rude, overalled son of a gun who can fix my car."

First Paragraph

Me, a wizard? Until a week ago, I was an astronomer contentedly designing telescope optics. Looking back on it, I'd lived in an academic dreamland. All these years, never planning for the future, right up to the day my grant money ran out. 

- From The Cuckoo's Egg: Tracking a Spy Through the Maze of Computer Espionage by Cliff Stoll

Authenticity: No Robots Need Apply

One of the bits of advice that I give to new supervisors is "Do what you say you will do." It sounds less than impressive until you consider the number of leaders who don't do that.

Our times are awash with the desire for authenticity. People are suspicious of smooth delivery and slick answers because they feel that they are being "handled" by someone who doesn't mean what's being said and who won't do what's been promised.

They've heard the eloquent speakers and have felt an appropriate chill at certain phrases and yet so much of that now seems to be an act. There is an oversupply of insincerity.

In short, people have become wary of robots. They know that robotic personalities are empty suits and that their smiles are insincere. As a result, they are attracted to the person who is less polished but who seems human. 

It is better to be flawed than to be a robot. A few blunders and scars can signal authenticity and that is a very desirable type nowadays.

Highly Recommended

Quote of the Day

If depressed you are living in the past. If anxious you are living in the future. If at peace you are living in the present. 

- Lao Tzu

Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Immigrant Experience

Mark Armao on ten notable novels about the immigrant experience.

Pulp Break

Why Britain Left

David Frum writing in The Atlantic. An excerpt:

Is it possible that leaders and elites had it all wrong? If they’re to save the open global economy, maybe they need to protect their populations better against globalization’s most unwelcome consequences—of which mass migration is the very least welcome of them all?

Postcard from Cairo

An episode from the Clive James series.

Learning about Economics from Cows

Political Calculations explores the subject.

Some Things Never Change

The idiot who praises, with enthusiastic tone,
All centuries but this and every country but his own.

- From The Mikado by Gilbert & Sullivan

Lawn Cam

Since it is a tad warm in Phoenix, I started to mow my backyard at 6:30 this morning. My immediate neighbors rise early and so there was no risk that they'd be abed and I had to get at least one section done before the sun got too high. My dog provided company by running fast laps and then thrashing about like a beached salmon.

For Father's Day, my son gave me a night-vision motion-detector camera that I can rig up to discover how much wildlife is creeping through the lawn at night. [Judging from experience, the answer is "Plenty."] That has caused me to wonder if any of my neighbors have such cameras. If so, it would be very tempting to rent a yeti outfit.

First Paragraph

Charles Street, the principal thoroughfare on Boston's Beacon Hill, is a comfortable street bordered by four-story brink buildings with apartments above antique stores and other shops on the ground level. At one time on one block American flags regularly hung over the entrances to the United States Post Office and the liquor store. Then the Post Office stopped displaying the flag, and on September 11, 2001, the liquor store flag flew alone. Two weeks later seventeen flags flew on this block, in addition to a huge Stars and Stripes suspended across the street a short distance away. With their country under attack, Charles Street denizens rediscovered their nation and identified themselves with it. 

- From Who Are We? The Challenges to America's National Identity by Samuel P. Huntington

When the Quality of Results May Take Second Place

Beware of placing an emphasis on achieving good results and ignoring whether the process of that achievement will cause others to feel left out or diminished.

We can be misled by the assumption that cold, hard, results will always overcome feelings. 
In fact, people may even prefer inferior results if those are attained without an implied insult. Colonial powers used to argue that they would provide better government than their native successors. They did not notice the larger negative message that was inherent in their governance.

Results will not be celebrated if they are accompanied by implications of inferiority. Status and respect can trump quality. Team assignments and reorganizations should be made with this in mind.

Life can be prose but often it is poetry.

Highly Recommended

Quote of the Day

We meet no ordinary people in our lives. 

- C.S. Lewis

Friday, June 24, 2016

Democracy in Action

Consider the magnitude of what has just happened. Against the warnings of experts, the pleas of the vast majority of MPs, the wishes of almost every capitalist, and overtures from Brussels, a majority of British people have said No to the EU. They’ve done the thing almost everyone with power and influence said they shouldn’t: taken a leap into the dark; chased after the devil they don’t know in preference for the one they do; taken a big, exciting risk with the very nature of their nation. They have — let’s just say it — rebelled, and rebelled against virtually every wing of the establishment.

Read the rest of Brendan O'Neill in The Spectator.

You Can Find Anything on the Internet

T-Rex Dancing Ballet.

In The Bubble

From this Vox story, one of my favorite quotes of the week:

"I have about 2,000 friends on Facebook — and all but three were voting ‘Remain.’ That tells you what kind of bubble you can live in, and how you can delude yourself it’s going to go one way and then it doesn’t."

Good News for Britain

If The New Yorker thinks something is dumb, it's probably smart. 

CEU Workshops

I offer several continuing education unit-certified workshops through a training broker. We are reviewing which ones to emphasize in a special marketing effort to various professional organizations. The classes are:
  1. How to Make Presentations to Councils and Boards
  2. Equal Employment Opportunity
  3. Leading with Honor (Leadership and Ethics)
  4. Ethics and Ethical Decision Making
  5. All I Said Was (Diplomacy and Tact in the Workplace)
Out of these, which workshop(s) do you think will have the greatest appeal?

Coming in November

Pottermore: The trailer for "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them."

War Novels

Recently, my late night reading has included Rabble in Arms by Kenneth Roberts. It's one of those grand historical novels - a type that was popular in the forties - and its focus is on the American forces that fought alongside Benedict Arnold to thwart the British on what may be called the Canadian front during the American Revolution..

It may be the greatest novel about those days but, let's face it, the competition is sparse. While you could fill large sections of libraries with novels set during the American Civil War, the Revolutionary War gets far less attention. This resembles how World War II novels far outnumber the ranks of the World War I cadre. Novels about Vietnam are much easier to find than ones about the Korean War. The War of 1812 has probably lured more novelists than has the Spanish-American War.

The popularity of Civil War novels is understandable. Brother versus brother. Blue versus Gray. Freeing slaves. Lincoln. Lee, Grant. Sherman. Given the dramatic appeal, the surprise may be that there aren't more Civil War novels.

World War II has a similar stark appeal. The Nazis were stereotypical villains and then some. One glance at an SS uniform and you conclude, "We've got to get rid of those guys." Put a Nazi in a novel and not a lot of heavy lifting is required to convince readers that the character is dangerous and evil. Remember Marathon Man? You can still fight Nazis long after 1945.

So here are some questions:

What is the best novel about the American Revolution?

What is the best novel about the American Civil War?

What is the best novel about World War I?

What is the best novel about World War II?

What is the best novel about the Korean War?

What is the best novel about the Vietnam War?

I realize there are several wars and conflicts left out of the above so feel free to fill in any blanks. [The Valley by John Renehan is in my reading stack.]

The nominees should not be limited to American writers. [We can guess which novel will take first place for World War I.]

Your replies are eagerly awaited.

First Paragraph

The idea of a classless, fully egalitarian society first emerged in classical Greece. Ancient Greece happened to have been the first country in the world to recognize private property in land and to treat land as a commodity, and hence it was the first to confront the social inequalities that result from ownership. Hesiod, a contemporary of Homer (seventh century B.C.), in the poem Works and Days extolled a mythical "Golden Age" when people were not driven by the "shameful lust for gain," when there was an abundance of goods for all to share and mankind lived in perpetual peace. The theme of the Golden Age resounded in the writings of the Roman poets Virgil and Ovid; Ovid spoke of the time when the world knew nothing of "boundary posts and fences." 

- From Communism: A History by Richard Pipes

One of Those Days

The above photo is of upcoming projects.

Highly Recommended

Quote of the Day

Your vocation is when your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet. 

- Frederick Buechner

Thursday, June 23, 2016

We Live in a World of Specialization

Pulp Break

Miscellaneous and Fast

Althouse: Donald Trump seeks to win over the Bernie Sanders supporters.
Andrew Gold with "Lonely Boy" and "Thank You for Being a Friend."
Wally Bock: By and about leaders.
The Telegraph: Floods and a close vote on Brexit.
FutureLawyer has a video on Wisewear: jewelry with a function.
Maxim: Pepsi has remade the commercial with Cindy Crawford.
Fast Company: Why so many diversity programs fail.

To Brexit or Not to Brexit

That is today's question for Britain.


With luck and diligence, maturity brings:

  • The knowledge that even very bright people can lapse into foolishness.
  • An awareness that time is one of the most valuable commodities in life and yet, unlike many other commodities, it cannot be replaced.
  • A realization that most experts are faking it.
  • The deep appreciation of gratitude and humility.
  • A sincere respect for those who know when to act and when to hesitate.
  • An increased ability to spot when something is not quite right.
  • An assurance that most worries never become reality.
  • An accurate form of introspection; one which usually eludes the young..

Highly Recommended

I vowed to get serious about my studies. I chose to major in English, since it sounded like something I might already know. I assumed that my classmates and I would study the classics and analyze their major themes and such, but instead we were buffeted with talk of "theory," whatever that was. The basic meanings of the poems, short stories, and essays contained in the hefty Norton anthologies that anchored our entry-level reading lists were treated by certain professors as trivial, almost beneath discussion; what mattered, we were given to understand, were our "critical assumptions."

- Walter Kirn

Quote of the Day

A thinking system based on argument is excellent just as the front left wheel of a car is excellent. There is nothing wrong with it at all. But it is not sufficient. 

- Edward de Bono

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

"Gotta Love Millennials"

A catchy tune.

And here's a song about the Boomers.

[HT: Rick Miller]

Pusher Man

This post at Anderson Layman's Blog prompts this reaction: I truly grieve for anyone who has not read the Aubrey-Maturin series by Patrick O'Brian. 

I started the series years ago after reading that O'Brian had been invited to lunch with the Joint Chiefs of Staff. My plan now is to re-read the series as some of my friends have done.

Marvelous books. Great characters. 

The Federalist and Human Nature

I've read plenty of Locke, Machiavelli, Marx, Bakunin and others but in my opinion the greatest insight on political power and human nature can be found in The Federalist Papers.

Although Federalist No. 10 gets great attention, a few minutes spent with Federalist No. 1 is a reminder of how blessed we were to have minds of that caliber influencing public policy.

An excerpt: 

"...So numerous indeed and so powerful are the causes which serve to give a false bias to the judgment, that we, upon many occasions, see wise and good men on the wrong as well as on the right side of questions of the first magnitude of society. This circumstance, if duly attended to, would furnish a lesson of moderation to those who are ever so much persuaded of their being in the right in any controversy. And a further reason for caution, in this respect, might be drawn from the reflection that we are not always sure that those who advocate the truth are influenced by purer principles than their antagonists. Ambition, avarice, personal animosity, party opposition, and many other motives not more laudable than these, are apt to operate as well upon those who support as those who oppose the right side of a question. Were there not even inducements to moderation, nothing could be more ill-judged than that intolerant spirit which has, at all times, characterized political parties. For in politics, as in religion, it is equally absurd to aim at making proselytes by fire and sword. Heresies in either can rarely be cured by persecution."

Highly Recommended

Quote of the Day

Pacing oneself by appropriate withdrawal is one of the best approaches to making optimal use of one's resources. The servant-leader must constantly ask: How can I use myself to serve best? 

- Robert Greenleaf

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Pulp Break

"Dilbert" and the Campaign

Yes, this is a strange year. 

Some of the most interesting observations on the presidential campaign have come from Scott Adams, the creator of "Dilbert."

Buffalo Soldiers: 150th Anniversary

On many occasions, black soldiers clashed with outlaws and Mexican revolutionaries, and campaigned against determined, skillful American Indians in a new, daunting landscape. Black troops were involved in hundreds of skirmishes, from Beecher’s Island to Wounded Knee. They even ventured into Mexico as part of Gen. John J. “Black Jack” Pershing’s Punitive Expedition after Pancho Villa’s March 1916 terrorist raid on Columbus, New Mexico. During the course of their Indian Wars military encounters, 18 brothers in arms would be recognized for valor above and beyond the call of duty that resulted in the presentation of the Medal of Honor.

Read the rest of John P. Langellier's article in True West magazine.

First Paragraph

Nelson Rockefeller is not a patient man. For the most powerful member of the most powerful family in the most powerful nation on earth, time is a commodity, like wealth, women, art, and talent, to be experienced on his terms. To a staff assistant with the temerity to point out that he is running late for an event, Rockefeller replies tartly, "That's your problem, not mine." As good as his word, Rockefeller left both British prime minister Harold Macmillan and the newly crowned Pope Paul VI to cool their heels while he dallied in art galleries. 

- From On His Own Terms: A Life of Nelson Rockefeller by Richard Norton Smith


  • We've never done that before.
  • It's too risky.
  • This will drain needed resources.
  • There won't be enough resources.
  • This will be a distraction.
  • We should just revise what we've done before.
  • Sitting tight will be lethal.
  • We can't afford to study it. We need to act now.
  • We need a plan.
  • We need a whole new program.
  • Right idea. Wrong approach.
  • Right approach. Wrong idea.
  • Bad timing.
  • Tinkering won't solve the problem.
  • Tinkering will reveal what needs to be done.
  • The goal is hazy.
  • There are too many goals.
  • The goals conflict with other goals.
  • It's not worth the effort.
  • Others?

Highly Recommended

Quote of the Day

There is no "scientific" way to set objectives for an organization. They are rightly value judgments, that is, true political questions. One reason for this is that decisions stand under incurable uncertainty. They are concerned with the future. And we have no "facts" regarding the future. In this area, therefore, there is always a clash of programs and a conflict of political values. 

- Peter F. Drucker

Monday, June 20, 2016

Nice Touch


FutureLawyer, the ultra-techie who practices law when not writing poetry or buying smartwatches, is a major parrot fan.

As can be seen from the above, he has now installed what will undoubtedly become an icon in southern Florida.

Health Food Update


From March: The Pioneer Woman shows how to make Hot Fudge Sauce.

Art Break: Narazyan

At Muddy Colors, Vanessa Lemen looks at the work of Vachagan Narazyan.

Chicken Man

Part of my schedule for the first of this week involves the care and feeding of chickens.

Details to follow.

"The Clash of Generations"

Half-reformed welfare states, plus lengthening lifespans, proved a toxic combination for the fiscal systems of most developed countries. Already in the late 1990s, my friend Laurence Kotlikoff had spotted that the true liabilities of the US federal government vastly exceeded the stated government debt. It was he who first drew my attention to the system of generational accounting, which makes explicit the gap between the government’s future outgoings and its future revenues — and therefore the difference between this generation’s fiscal burden and that of future generations. To close today’s fiscal gap, he estimates, would require that every federal tax immediately be increased by 53 percent, or every federal expenditure cut by 34 percent.

Read all of Niall Ferguson's essay here.

First Paragraph

January 10, the seven-hundred-and-fifth year since the foundation of Rome, the forty-ninth before the birth of Christ. The sun had long set behind the Apennine mountains. Lined up in full marching order, soldiers from the 13th Legion stood massed in the dark. Bitter the night may have been, but they were well used to extremes. For eight years they had been following the governor of Gaul on campaign after bloody campaign, through snow, through summer heat, to the margins of the world. Now, returned from the barbarous wilds of the north, they found themselves poised on a very different frontier. Ahead of them flowed a narrow stream. On the legionaries' side was the province of Gaul; on the far side Italy; and the road that led to Rome. Take that road, however, and the soldiers of the 13th Legion would be committing a deadly offense, breaking not only the limits of their province, but also the sternest laws of the Roman people. They would, in effect, be declaring civil war. Yet this was a catastrophe for which the legionaries, by marching to the border, had shown themselves fully steeled. As they stamped their feet against the cold, they waited for the trumpeters to summon them to action. To shoulder arms, to advance - to cross the Rubicon. 

- From Rubicon: The Last Years of the Roman Republic by Tom Holland


Surrounded by information, options, opportunities, challenges, crises, requests, fears, needs, dreams, and demands, you must decide where to place your focus.

You cannot do it all.

Choose and achieve, then choose again.

Highly Recommended

Quote of the Day

Serenity now! 

- Frank Costanza

Sunday, June 19, 2016


Veronica Lake

Best Picture: "Sullivan's Travels"

This Could Have Been a Great Father's Day Gift

Hannibal Lecter, CEO

Time lists the professions with the most psychopaths.

Management consulting, of course, has the most saints.

Now I Know Why I Get the Stares

A patron of Starbucks is analyzed at Eclecticity Light.

Summer Time

Forecast for Phoenix:


As in real hot but probably not the highest it has ever been.

That's why I keep a sweater nearby.

Art Break: Harden

Flowers. Quick sketch. Libby Harden

Flowers. Quick sketch. Libby Harden.

Father's Day

Today is Father's Day in the United States.

For those of you not familiar with the holiday, it is one of lavish festivities and numerous gifts. 

Bowing is common.

Pancakes play an important role with some ethnic  groups.

The father, following a traditional script, receives the accolades and presents with a show of modesty Tears are sometimes shed at the appearance of the obligatory bottle of Brut aftershave. Surprise is the expected reaction when unwrapping ties or golf balls. Some cultural anthropologists insist that many of the presents are "joke" gifts but that has not been confirmed by research.

Father's Day is unique because it only happens once a year. Every day, of course, is Mother's Day.