Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Churchill's Birthday

Winston Churchill was born on this day in 1874. 

Whenever you hear people say that no one is indispensable ask them to consider what would have happened to the world if Churchill had not become prime minister in 1940.

"Highway Patrol"

Image result for broderick crawford 10-4 amazon

This brief clip of the beginning and the close of a "Highway Patrol" episode reveals how much our society has changed since the days when Broderick Crawford was a household name.

Fat Desert Island Novels

Ground rules: No thin books. Just chubbies. Tell me some that you would take. [And omit books about boat-building.]

My current contenders:
  1. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  2. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
  3. The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe
  4. Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
  5. Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
  6. A Man in Full by Tom Wolfe
  7. A Soldier of the Great War by Mark Helprin
  8. Memoir from Antproof Case by Mark Helprin
  9. Bleak House by Charles Dickens
  10. The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco

Highly Recommended

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Quote of the Day

Happiness isn't something you experience; it's something you remember.

- Oscar Levant

Tuesday, November 29, 2016


Smart people. Great questions. New twists on old subjects.

Exhausting but an instructor's dream.

Marvelous day.

Where's my chair?


You learn early on that life consists of stuff. 

George Carlin made a lot of money talking about it. 

Stuff seems to be everywhere.

People spend time and energy acquiring stuff. 

And more stuff.

What you learn later is that the most important stuff doesn't take up space.

That truly valuable stuff usually is invisible.

But there are times when it can be seen.

Highly Recommended

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Quote of the Day

The most challenging one to manage is you. 

- Scott Belsky

Monday, November 28, 2016

Please Repeat That

Mike. India. Charlie. Hotel. Alpha. Echo. Lima.

Quickly spell your first name using the military phonetic alphabet.

Handy when dealing with call centers.

Art Break: Okun

Art Contrarian looks at the work of Edward Okun.

Too Much, Not Enough, or Somewhere In-Between?

Governing: Police Chief David Brown's efforts to change the Dallas Police Department. An excerpt:

What Brown’s career -- and his surprise resignation -- shows is that it’s extremely difficult to get it right when it comes to police reform. Homicides in many cities are rising again. At the same time, a string of questionable and, in some cases, horrifying police shootings has made police reform a necessity. Brown’s story is about how one police department facing a rising homicide rate has sought to change the way its officers use force. It’s a story about real accomplishments, difficult tradeoffs and pushback from many sides. And as in so many American cities, it’s a story that begins with a shooting.

First Paragraph

Edward Paul Abbey began keeping a personal journal in 1946, viewing it as an important resource in his hoped-for career as "a writer of creative fictions." He was nineteen at the time, serving as an army motorcycle cop in postwar Italy. Abbey continued the  practice of writing to himself until days before his death on March 14, 1989. The product of those four-plus decades of "scribbling" (his term,) was twenty cursive volumes kept in eight-by-ten and five-by-seven notebooks

- From Confessions of a Barbarian: Selections from the Journals of Edward Abbey, 1951 - 1989, edited by David Petersen

Disguised Distractions

Distractions can be disguised as meetings, research, analysis, entertainment, networking,and a variety of other actions. 

They can be facilitated by computers and smartphones which, in the name of keeping us connected, frequently distract our attention from things that would be far more beneficial.

What might those be? 

Listening, thinking, and achieving..

Look at your workweek and ask, "Are distractions the norm or the exception?"

Highly Recommended

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Quote of the Day

I have little patience with anyone who is not self-satisfied. I am always pleased to see my friends, happy to be with my wife and family, but the high spot of every day is when I first catch a glimpse of myself in the shaving mirror. 

- Robert Morley

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Servant Leadership

From 2010: A General Mattis Christmas Story.

"Touch of Evil"

Reprise: My nominee for the greatest opening scene in the history of film.

A primer on how to build tension.

Naked and in a Crab Walk Position

Yes, the best stories come out of Florida.

And, of course, drugs or alcohol may have been involved.

[HT: Dave Barry]

Candor and Finding the Right School

"Father with horrible memories of his own schooldays at Wellington is searching for a school for his son where the food matters as much as the education, and the standards are those of a good three-star seaside hotel."

- From an ad that actor Robert Morley placed in The Times

First Paragraph

"In every show," my friend Sidney used to say, "there's a payoff scene. You don't have to kill them along the way if you bring off your finish, and it doesn't matter how great you are up to then if you don't. The end is everything." 

- From The Understudy by Elia Kazan

When Dictators Die

Years ago, a friend of mine, while stationed with the U.S. Army in West Germany, had a copy of The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich in his apartment. His housekeeper, an elderly German lady, noticed the book, reverently picked it up, and said, "He was a good man."

The mind boggles.

There are people in Russia today who shed tears for Stalin, a psychotic who slaughtered more people than Hitler while retaining the affection of credulous apologists in the West.

Mao, the "agrarian reformer" and holder of the world record for victims, is still honored in China.

Fidel Castro has died. May he be given justice in the afterlife and no excuses in this one.

Logs and Omissions

I suggest that clients who make presentations to councils and boards keep a log of each presentation along with details on questions, answers, and particular areas of interest.

Conversely, it is not only wise for board members to keep close tabs on what was decided or requested, but also to study staff reports and presentations for what was omitted.

What does the silence say?

Highly Recommended

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Quote of the Day

All of us do foolish things, but the wiser realize what they do. The most dangerous error is failure to recognize our own tendency to error. That failure is a common affliction of authority. 

- B. H. Liddell Hart

Friday, November 25, 2016

"Thin Man" Break

Myrna Loy and William Powell

Art Break: Robert McGinnis

Detective novel cover by Robert McGinnis

If you have seen old mystery novels or an early James Bond film, you have probably seen the work of Robert McGinnis.

"I don't know of a better Christmas movie."

A sacred event takes place on Thanksgiving evening at the home of Cultural Offering.

Harlan Ellison

The Washington Free Beacon: Matthew Continetti brings us up to speed on the science fiction master. An excerpt:

In the early 1960s, when Neil Gaiman was eight years old, he read a story called “The City on the Edge of Forever” in the collection Star Trek 2. The piece was an adaptation of a Star Trek teleplay that had been written by one Harlan Ellison. Two years later, Gaiman read a story called “I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream” in the anthology World’s Best SF Third Series. This hallucinatory, post-apocalyptic tale of four humans trapped inside a sentient and psychotic computer had such a terrifying effect on Gaiman that he looked up its author. Ellison had written it too.

Trickle-Down Sabotage

Give them a lot of responsibilities so they don't have time to think. Give them a mountain of information so what matters is provided but hidden. Give them team members who row in opposite directions. Have frequent reorganizations and overlapping lines of authority. Reward fluffy activities. Question serious action. Shift focus. Shift it again. Delay for the sake of delay. Watch the talented leave.

Works every time.

Highly Recommended

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Quote of the Day

I've given up reading books. I find it takes my mind off myself. 

- Oscar Levant

Thursday, November 24, 2016

A Poster for Every Single Day

Among other great things at Anderson Layman's Blog.

Aaron Copland: The Promise of Living

Reprise: Copland's music and this video fit nicely with the holiday.

Why are You Thankful?

Some reflections on Thanksgiving by:

Happy Thanksgiving!

May all of you have a great Thanksgiving!

Gratitude is the sign of noble souls
- Alsop

At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us. 
- Albert Schweitzer

Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.  
- William Arthur Ward

When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.  
- G. K. Chesterton

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Eclecticity Light

Where does he find this stuff?

Total Envy

Bloggers Matthew Lang and Patrick Rhone meet for lunch.

I would have loved to have been there.

Health Food Update

Chocolate Mint Cake

From 2013: The Pioneer Woman shows how to make Peppermint Patty Cake (with Vanilla Mint Frosting).

Cabot Does Dylan

Actor Sebastian Cabot reciting "Like a Rolling Stone."

"The Universe is Yet Young"

Many thanks to Nicholas Bate, who is a daily inspiration.

Thanksgiving Moderator

Wolf Blitzer has a new gig.

[HT: Lou Rodarte]

Early Morning Chore

It is the day before Thanksgiving. I have a ton of work on the computer but there is a chore that must be done early. It is one of the following:
  1. Read a chapter in a book by Paul Johnson.
  2. Outline an action plan for a coaching client.
  3. Buy dog food.
You guessed correctly.

Films Somewhat Connected with Thanksgiving

Obligatory turkey photo
[Full disclosure: I have only seen one of these films.Guess which one.]

Looking Beneath the Surface

People often describe good conduct as noble, just, and necessary.

It is important to remember that when a rationalization is needed, people may also describe unsavory conduct as noble, just, and necessary.

Highly Recommended

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Quote of the Day

Civilization is built on the practice of keeping promises. It may not sound a high attainment, but if trust in its observance be shaken the whole structure cracks and sinks. Any constructive effort and all human relations, personal, political, and commercial, depend on being able to depend on promises.  

- B. H. Liddell Hart

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

You Know You Want One

Law Latte Blog has found FutureLawyer's next office: a retired airliner.

Presidential Transitions

The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum: JFK names Cabinet officers.

"Animal House" Safe Zone

Fast Takes

The Atlantic has "17 of the Best Internet Reactions to the Original iPhone." An excerpt:

“Touch screen buttons? BAD idea. This thing will never work.”

Art Break: De Mougins

Art Contrarian looks at the work of Pierre de Mougins.

Simplest of Pleasures - continued

Nicholas Bate: The list groweth.

What is Hidden in the Plus Sign?

For the sake of clarity, it helps to consider the meaning of the expression "greater than the sum of its parts."

Components can grow when combined with one another. When three people are meeting, a fourth is always present.

Highly Recommended

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Quote of the Day

You are a product of your environment. So choose the environment that will best develop you toward your objective. Analyze your life in terms of its environment. Are the things around you helping you toward success - or are they holding you back? 

- Clement Stone

Monday, November 21, 2016

Abe Vigoda Moment

Miscellaneous and Fast

Bloomberg: Fillon as a French Thatcherite?
Visa Check Card: The Donald Trump Commercial.
Ford has an autism hiring program.
The trailer for "I Am Not Madame Bovary."
The trailer for "Allied."
Law Latte: Flying with the Blue Angels.
For the college students out thereCheapestTextbooks and TextbookRentals.

Bubble World

Althouse has the SNL skit about "The Bubble" where, no doubt, they'll defend unto death your right to agree with them.

Verizon Loses a Customer - Best SmartWatch

FutureLawyer pauses from hard beach duty and discusses his switch from Verizon to TMobile. He also provides a video on what he, the ultra-techie, regards as the best SmartWatch on the planet.

Courtesy and "Hamilton"

The story about Vice President-Elect Mike Pence's experience before, during, and after attending the hit play "Hamilton" has gotten a lot of attention. Since I teach workshops on ethics and tact, I found the incident to be especially interesting. Several thoughts:
  1. Here Come the Particularists. The reactions to the event evoke memories of the distinction between Universalists and Particularists made by cultural scholar Fons Trompenaars in his book, Riding the Waves of Culture. Universalists believe that rules should apply equally to all. Particularists make exceptions for family and friends; fellow believers in this case. The Universalists would declare that if Donald Trump or Mike Pence are going to be treated in one manner, then it is appropriate to treat Hillary Clinton or Tim Kaine in that same manner. Treat all of them the same. Add to that the additional rule that a basic level of respect is given to an office regardless of how much we disagree with the holder's politics. Also mix in the notion that certain areas should be off-limits. Can't our leaders attend a Broadway play or a Kennedy Center performance without being beset by partisanship? The Particularists defend the booing. The Universalists regard it as tasteless and rude. [Where are those who lecture us on the importance of civility? They may be closet Particularists.]
  2. The Great Unmentioned. The booing also raises the question of the treatment of the other audience members. Many of them - even in New York City - probably voted for the person being booed. How are they supposed to react if they wish to show their opposition to the conduct? Moreover, what if they simply sought a nice evening out and wished to avoid the divisions of current politics? When they got their tickets, they didn't sign on for street theater. They are the Great Unmentioned in this incident; a group that deserves respect.
  3. It Was Not a Conversation. Let's consider the conduct of the cast. One of the cast members later said that the incident was not harassment but a "conversation." Baloney. If they'd wanted a conversation with Pence, they would have invited him backstage where a genuine conversation would be possible and he would have a chance to respond. Making a statement from the stage was political grandstanding; a monologue, not a conversation. 
  4. They Had the Power. They were not "speaking truth to power." A theater is their turf. The audience was, I would guess, largely on their side. They had the power. [Fact known by all presenters: the person on stage with the microphone has the power.] If they really wanted to influence Pence, a quiet conversation backstage would have had promise. Delivering a manifesto in front of an audience that has booed Pence is not an attempt to reach out. It is a sophisticated form of bullying.
  5. I Look Forward to Seeing the Play. It sounds fascinating and the reviews have been great. Any play about Alexander Hamilton automatically scores points with me. I do have one reservation: When I go to a theater, I expect to see all of the customers, regardless of their political party, treated with basic courtesy. No exceptions. No excuses. And no phony "conversations."

Highly Recommended

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Quote of the Day

I am not a teacher but an awakener. 

- Robert Frost

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Gaining Power

Anderson Layman's Blog is daily reading, full of neat stuff.

He has pointed to Ryan "The Obstacle is the Way" Holiday's list of books on strategy.

Real Life

Wally Bock has Stories and Strategies from Real Life, including an unusual source.

They Saw It

Cultural Offering points to some observers who spotted the political tsunami before it reached shore.

Vargas Llosa

The Paris Review: An interview with Mario Vargas Ilosa.

When the People Who are Supposed to Know, Don't

The National: Rob Long on why Hollywood is shaken by the pollsters' inability to predict the election.

Pulp Break

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10 Rules for Thanksgiving

I wrote this post several years ago and it is now an Execupundit tradition:

  1. Thou shalt not discuss politics at the dinner. There is next to no chance that you'll convert anyone and any hard feelings that are generated may last long after the pumpkin pie is finished. Why spoil a good meal?

  2. Thou shalt limit discussion of The Big Game. This is mainly directed at the men who choose to argue plays, records, and coaches while their wives stare longingly at the silverware. The sharp silverware.

  3. Thou shalt say nice things about every dish. Including the bizarre one with Jello and marshmallows.

  4. Thou shalt be especially kind to anyone who may feel left out. Some Thanksgiving guests are tag-alongs or, as we say in the business world, "new to the organization." Make a point of drawing them in.

  5. Thou shalt be wary of gossip. After all, do you know what they say when you leave the room? Remember the old saying: All of the brothers are valiant and all of the sisters are virtuous.

  6. Thou shalt not hog the white or dark meat. We know you're on Atkins but that's no excuse.

  7. Thou shalt think mightily before going back for seconds. Especially if that means waddling back for seconds.

  8. Thou shalt not get drunk. Strong drink improves neither your wit nor your discretion. Give everyone else a gift by remaining sober.

  9. Thou shalt be cheerful. This is not a therapy session. This is not the moment to recount all of the mistakes in your life or to get back at Uncle Bo for the wisecrack he made at your high school graduation. This is a time for Rule #10.

  10. Thou shalt be thankful. You're above ground and functioning in an extraordinary place at an extraordinary time. Many people paid a very heavy price (and I'm not talking about groceries) to give you this day. Take some time to think of them and to express gratitude to your friends and relatives. Above all, give special thanks to the divine power who blesses you in innumerable ways.

Miscellaneous and Fast

Reprise of Mitchell and Webb: Their classic Nazi succession scene.
Rob Long on Benedict Cumberbatch's accent in "Dr. Strange."
Althouse: Kanye West, political philosopher.
Bloomberg: Ford says it is keeping its Lincoln SUV production line in Kentucky
Michael Barone analyzes the Clinton campaign.
Independent: Harriet Marsden reports on intolerance in Britain.

If You Owned a Robot

Assume that you purchased an expensive robot that is a close replica of a human being. It can handle very complex tasks. There is no other robot that is quite the same; it is indeed unique.

Would you protect it from abuse, treat it courteously, and make sure that it is well maintained?

Would it receive better treatment than some of its human coworkers?

[Photo: From the film Ex Machina.]