Monday, October 31, 2016

Halloween Night

As my wife hands out candy to urchins, the dog and I are in my study with the door closed. 

I am attempting to work on the computer. My dog is attempting a Werewolf of London imitation.

Only one of us is succeeding.


For Your Next Vacation

The Telegraph shows the world's 25 most scary, haunted, and macabre places.

It's Monday. Get It Together.

Mood Music

"In the Hall of the Mountain King."

Crank it up.

Movies for Halloween

The trailers for:

Escape the Room

A very interesting business. You are locked in a room with other contestants and given a particular scenario. Your goal is to figure out how to escape within 60 minutes. My son and some of his friends recently went through one of the exercises. 


Fun and quite well-run.

Highly Recommended

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Quote of the Day

In a high-trust relationship, you can say the wrong thing, and people will still get your meaning. In a low-trust relationship, you can be very measured, even precise, and they'll still misinterpret you

- Stephen M. R. Covey

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Art Break: Ward

Art Contrarian looks at the work of Edmund F. Ward.

First Paragraph

Western philosophy is now two and a half millennia old, but a great deal of it came in just two staccato bursts lasting some 150 years each. The first was in the Athens of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, from the middle of the fifth century to the late fourth century BC. The second was in northern Europe, in the wake of Europe's wars of religion and the rise of Galilean science. It stretches from the 1630s to the eve of the French Revolution in the late eighteenth century. In those relatively few years, Descartes, Hobbes, Spinoza, Locke, Leibniz, Hume, Rousseau and Voltaire - most, that is, of the best-known modern philosophers - made their mark. All these people were amateurs: none had much to do with any university. They explored the implications of the new science and of religious upheaval, which led them to reject many traditional teachings and attitudes. What does the advance of science entail for our understanding of ourselves and for our ideas of God? How is a government to deal with religious diversity? What, actually, is a government for? Such questions remain our questions, which is why Descartes, Hobbes and the others are still invoked and argued with today. 

- From The Dream of Enlightenment: The Rise of Modern Philosophy by Anthony Gottlieb

Highly Recommended

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Quote of the Day

It's not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are. 

- Roy Disney

Friday, October 28, 2016

Music Break

Back by popular demand: Julie London with "Cry Me a River."

Time Management: Let Me Pencil It In

If I ever win a Nobel Prize and am asked if I will attend the awards ceremony, I will respond, "Absolutely. If it's at all possible."

Just What You Needed for Friday: Some Canal Trivia

Some of my recent research on the development of Phoenix has dealt with the canal system. As mentioned in a previous post, it is well-known that the earlier irrigation canals - stay with me - were dug and later abandoned by an Indian tribe and then some go-getters decided to revive the concept. In no time people were flocking to the area because there was land to be farmed and by then Geronimo and his friends tended to lurk in distant areas, such as southern Arizona and Sonora, Mexico.

Anyway, amid stuff on who dug which canals and who controls the canals now, various gems have "surfaced." Two examples:

What is a zanjero?

What is an amur?

And I Plan on Strict Observance

Anderson Layman's Blog reminds us that this is a major religious holiday.

Filters and Alerts

When your mind says not now, it has a reason. When you sense something isn't right, it probably isn't.

The positive feelings are not as reliable as the ones with warnings. Check out the former but heed the latter.

Highly Recommended

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Quote of the Day

People just want to know that somebody knows, and cares. 

- Dennis P. LeStrange

Thursday, October 27, 2016


I heard that a project management app is easy to learn since it is "intuitive."

Apparently, I have the wrong intuition. Not that the app is bad. I like it. But I would like to talk to the designers about that intuitive part.

The old Word Perfect, which I loved, was very intuitive. You didn't need to go through arcane manuals written in French, Italian, and Hebrew to figure out how to proceed.

And then Word Perfect became more like non-intuitive Word and lost its soul. I haven't used it in years. Perhaps it has made a turn-around.

The drift toward the complexity must be vigorously opposed.


Medical test. Sinus headache. Ear infection. Crazy traffic. Lots of thinking on a client project. Coffee, yes, but more coffee to come.

Attitude adjustment.

Stoicism needed.


The trailer for "Rules Don't Apply."


The Hammock Papers: Horowitz in Moscow.

Highly Recommended

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Quote of the Day

It is not enough to do your best; you must know what to do, and THEN do your best. 

- W. Edwards Deming

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

A Good Problem

Once again, Anderson Layman's Blog has added to my reading list.

A Theory about "Halloween"

The film "Halloween" has enjoyed well-deserved popularity over the years. 

I suspect one of the reasons is it has a genuine heroine. Unlike people in so many other horror films, the teenage girl played by Jamie Lee Curtis is not just pretty but also is intelligent. Her intuition is healthy. She is alert. She catches on early. She doesn't go bumbling about in cellars or attics. She develops a plan and fights back.

After years of silently telling dolts, "Don't split up" and "Don't go in that basement," movie-goers were pleased to see a person with smarts and no small amount of courage.

"Halloween" has a great combination of Boo and Bravo.

When the Frost is on the Punkin

This has become an Execupundit tradition:

Kent Risley with 
a marvelous recitation of the poem.

The Shadow Knows

Have you ever seen these?

  • Not a friend. Not an enemy. Somewhere in-between.
  • Listening, no. But not quite not listening. Somewhere in-between.
  • Not working, but not goofing off. Somewhere in-between.
  • Thinking about something by not thinking about something. Where is that? You know where.
Much of life is spent somewhere in-between. It may not have anything to do with laziness or indecision. It may be a form of deliberation.

Some of our best thinking occurs when we are somewhere in-between.

Highly Recommended

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Quote of the Day

Evil is powerful, palpable, and very real. Rationalism would wish to reduce it to a poetic expression of something else - social, psychological or perhaps economic stresses and currents. In our age of postmodern cacophonies of competing voices, narratives and viewpoints, evil seems a leftover, a relic of an earlier, religious age. Yet for me, the writing of this book has been accompanied by the growing awareness of the aridity of these explanations and, finally, of their futility. Having spent years watching Adolf Eichmann and his colleagues from as close as I dared, I was forced to re-evaluate the understanding with which I began my research; eventually, an honest appraisal of what I was finding forced me to recognize the evil in them. 

- Yaacov Lozowick, author of Hitler's Bureaucrats: The Nazi Security Police and the Banality of Evil

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Art Break: Guillaume

Art Contrarian looks at the work of Albert Guillaume.

Miscellaneous and Fast

Cultural Offering: What would Jim Harrison eat?
Anderson Layman's Blog: Carl Sandburg on happiness.
FutureLawyer is going full Epictetus.
Clive James chats with David Hockney. [HT: Arts & Letters Daily]
Sippican Cottage looks back at Unorganized Hancock.
Althouse on the story of a Trump sign-grabber.
Matthew Lang takes an Aviemore break.

The Bigger Picture

Those who benefit from a program rarely question the program. Those who pass a test rarely question the test. Those who are accorded status seldom doubt its worthiness. And a person with a convenient answer is unlikely to search further.

The bigger picture is difficult to see from an easy chair.

First Paragraph

On December 11, 1935, in Buffalo, New York, federal judge John Knight of New York's Western District denied the citizenship petition of three Mexican expatriates named Timoteo Andrade, Porfirio Bravo, and Francisco Velez. Although naturalization petitions are denied almost as a matter of daily routine, in the case of Timoteo Andrade, Judge Knight also wrote a detailed opinion explaining why he had denied the petition. Although all three had been denied, Knight probably focused on Andrade simply because he appeared first in the alphabet. Knight ruled that Andrade was "not a free white person" as defined by Section 359, Title 8, of the United States Code, which allowed that only "aliens being free white persons, [or African]" could be naturalized. He further asserted that not only was Andrade ineligible under existing US naturalization laws, but that most Mexican nationals were also ineligible due to their race. Knight's judgment, therefore, provided the United States with a firm legal definition of the racial status of Mexican natives at a time when world intellectuals were still debating that very issue. 

- From A Quiet Victory for Latino Rights: FDR and the Controversy Over "Whiteness" by Patrick D. Lukens

Highly Recommended

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Quote of the Day

The way to use life is to do nothing through acting,
The way to use life is to do everything through being.

- Lao Tzu

Monday, October 24, 2016

Over and Over

He allowed himself to be swayed by his conviction that human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but that life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.

― Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez, Love in the Time of Cholera

Back By Popular Demand

Bock: Stories and Strategies from Real Life

Check out Wally Bock's selections.

Great stuff. Amazon. Walmart, Chick-fil-A. General Mills, and even St. Louis Area Maps.

Solo Law v. Big Law

FutureLawyer weighs in on billing targets in law firms. An excerpt:

Billing Targets? Seriously? We don't need no stinkin' billing targets. If you are working at a law firm that demands that you hit billing targets, you need to reevaluate your life.

The Election

Two interesting takes on the election:

Scott AdamsThe Crook versus the Monster.
David Wong on the (expletive deleted) support for Trump.

The Daily Try

Considering the argument of an opponent. Going a day without making a single excuse. Completing what I said I would complete. Showing up five minutes early. Smiling more. Whining less. Being as patient with others as I would like them to be patient with me. Moving matters forward. Shunning distractions. Acting with calm deliberation. Listening and then listening again. Seeking wisdom. Slowing down. Pausing to be grateful. 

Highly Recommended

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Quote of the Day

The product is the organization, and the organization is the product.

- Philip B. Crosby

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Right Next to Hitler and Stalin

An Internet comment on a movie theater that was destroyed years ago in downtown Phoenix:

I saw King Solomon’s Mines here in 1950. Great movie, great, fantastic theatre. The politicians who razed it should rot in hell forever.

Reasons to Be Cheerful

It is odd how we can quickly find reasons to be down but have to remind ourselves of the opposite. 

Nicholas Bate lists some major ones.


I think it's time to drop by the KGB Bar in New York. 

Details in The Paris Review.

Have you ever had a paranormal experience?

First Paragraph

Bread, cash, dosh, dough, loot, lucre, moolah, readies, the wherewithal: call it what you like, money matters. To Christians, the love of it is the root of all evil. To generals, it is the sinews of war; to revolutionaries, the shackles of labour. But what exactly is money? Is it a mountain of silver, as the Spanish conquistadors thought?  Or will mere clay tablets and printed paper suffice? How did we come to live in a world where most money is invisible, little more than numbers on a computer screen? Where did money come from ? And where did it all go? 

- From The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World by Niall Ferguson

There Was Magic in the Air

We've all seen the videos of the wild and enthusiastic audiences at Beatles concerts. 

Well, here are The Beatles singing "Twist and Shout" to a small audience largely composed of Stepford Wives.

Eclecticity Light

Where does he find this stuff?

At the Garage

Yesterday afternoon I took my car to a small garage near my house. While they worked on the brakes I sat in the small and spartan waiting room, read a management book, and jotted down thoughts.

They mercifully did not have a television in the room so there was some welcome silence. I glanced at the stack of magazines. The one that interested me was from 2013. I'd already read it.

So I could sit and think. Although the book provided several good ideas, the activity of reading also sparked others. They are only remotely related to the subject but will nonetheless be helpful.

If determined, we can turn the world into an office.

Highly Recommended

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Quote of the Day

If there are no stupid questions, then what kind of questions do stupid people ask? Do they get smart just in time to ask questions? 

- Scott Adams

Friday, October 21, 2016

Pulp Break

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First Paragraph

The girl was young with a dancer's body and a dress that clung expensively and just right. She was the hostess and knew everyone around her. He stood over near the draperies drawn across the windows against the dusk, watching her drink heavily, hearing the dissonant tautness of her voice - and he thought how incredible it was that she had given up all the things she could have become in order to marry Gus Lench, in order to have this Westchester home. And in this long room softly lighted, here in the mechanical babble of the cocktail party, she had become the assistant executioner. 

- From Secret Stain, a short story by John D. MacDonald

Film Break

The trailers for:

Two Important Questions in Decision-Making

How can you win and still lose?

How can you lose and still win?

Question and Flow

I was asked a question about a management matter. My response was brief but a flood of memories rushed in. I could recall the investigation of a supervisor who waved a revolver, declared that he knew how to deal with dissenters, fondled women, avoided tough assignments, and was frequently drunk on the job. 

The same flood carried recollection of a subsequent case where the man's attorney made him out to be a cross between Mother Theresa and Albert Schweitzer.

A few seconds later and I was in the Pentagon listening to a colonel insisting that some officers could not have been prejudiced because they were highly educated. [I gained his animosity when I noted that Goebbels had a doctorate.]

One nudge and the memories flow. 

Fortunately, if I don't like one there are plenty of others.

Highly Recommended

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Quote of the Day

If humanity does not opt for integrity we are through completely. It is absolutely touch and go. Each one of us could make a difference. 

- Buckminster Fuller

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Pure Entertainment

Back by popular demand:

First Paragraph

There was once a young man who wished to gain his Heart's Desire. 

- From Stardust: Being a Romance Within the Realms of Faerie by Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess


FutureLawyer: When you live in the wilds of Florida, you see signs like this.

Two Common Gaps

The words were fine but no one trusted the speaker. 

The solution would have worked had it not been rushed. 

In the first instance, the source was overlooked.

In the second instance, the process was not considered.

Both can easily occur when a broader view is missing.

Highly Recommended

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Quote of the Day

When you win, nothing hurts. 

- Joe Namath

Wednesday, October 19, 2016


I may miss tonight's debate in order to attend an important ferret-legging competition.

Bock: Leadership

Wally Bock's "By and About Leaders" is always good but it is particularly good this week.

No Particular Place to Go

Chuck Berry is 90.

Let that sink in.

Althouse has details as well as the song.

The Nobel Committee may be looking for him.

Art Break: Cuneo

Art Contrarian looks at the work of Terence Cuneo.

Rules are Made to Be Broken? Sometimes, It Goes Even Further.

Let us explore the saying: "Rules are made to be broken."

There are some rules that we hope will never be broken. Marital fidelity and certain safety rules come to mind. In those instances we want the rigidity of a rule and not simply a strong suggestion. That is, after all, the reason for the word "rule." Even the dictionary, however, puts in some weasel words. Note the definition from The American Heritage Dictionary:
  1. Governing power; authority.
  2. An authoritative direction for conduct or procedure.
  3. A usual or customary course of action or behavior.
  4. A statement that describes what is true in most cases.
  5. A standard method or procedure.
You could, to borrow a line, drive a truck through some of those. A very large truck.

Okay, so we know there will be plenty of times when rules will have exceptions, perhaps even desirable ones. A characteristic of leadership can be a willingness to break rules to achieve the mission but if the exceptions overwhelm the rule, then there is no rule.

There is another aspect that is even more interesting. Sometimes, rules are expected to be broken but the rule serves as a speed bump or a filter so the exceptions do not become commonplace. Consider prohibitions against torture. Just as an honest person may lie to a terrorist, a person who loathes the very concept of torture may concede that there are extreme instances - such as the classic where a terrorist knows the location of a hidden nuclear weapon that will take out New York City in an hour - where torture may be justified. The fact that an important rule has exceptions does not mean that the rule is not important, In that role, a rule serves as a restraint and not as a rigid barrier.

And a restraint is not a minor thing. Civilization depends upon it.

But we also depend upon what is called "street justice."

That is the subject for another day.

Highly Recommended