In the Background
Commentary by Michael Wade on Leadership, Ethics, Management, and Life
It is very likely that never in human history have there been as many treaties, essays, theories and analyses focused on culture as there are today. This fact is even more surprising given that culture, in the meaning traditionally ascribed to the term, is now on the point of disappearing. And perhaps it has already disappeared, discreetly emptied of its content, and replaced by another content that distorts its earlier meaning.
Anderson Layman's Blog has a nifty one.
I went out in 1928 or '29 and I started taking flying lessons for $10 an hour, and when I had 10 hours, I soloed, and so it cost me a hundred dollars. Had no ground school. About all I knew is one wing had a red light on it and the other had a green light, and nothing at all about weather. They didn't tell us a thing about it. They never taught us spins, and the first goddamn time I went up with a passenger, I said, 'Well, I'll give her a tight circle over her house.' I did, it flipped over and started to spin, and I said, 'Jesus Christ!' So I let go of everything, and by God, it just came right out. I put both hands on that stick, shaking like a dog, flew it back to the airport, and went home and got drunk.'
If you find yourself in a fair fight, you didn't plan your mission properly.
Cultural Offering has an observation by Thomas Sowell, economist and national treasure.
The rule is : The basics are the basics, and you can't beat the basics.
The Weekly Standard: America's greatest essayist, Joseph Epstein, on hitting eighty. An excerpt:
They had rung the iron gong outside and it was still echoing, at first for real in the courtyard, and then, for a longer time, inside our heads. We would not hear it again. We had to get up straight away. Lieutenant Graaf never had to ring the iron twice. A meager light came through the frost-covered window. Emmerich was sleeping on his side. Bauer woke him. It was late afternoon, but Emmerich thought it was morning. He sat up on his bed and looked at his boots, seeming not to understand why he'd slept in them all night.
The real division is not between conservatives and revolutionaries, but between authoritarians and libertarians.
Carrie Fisher has passed away.
The Great, or Spanish, Influenza of 1918-19 killed approximately fifty million people worldwide. Although there are no exact numbers, it is estimated that as many as 675,000 Americans died as well. There is no way around the fact that this extraordinary loss of life was tragic. But only through foresight and preparation can we avoid, or at least minimize, the impact of this kind of wave of death and destruction in the future. Understanding and preparing for such a challenge must begin with learning the lessons of the past, and looking at how weak presidential leadership at the time cost lives.
Tristan Bernard said that he never read the books he was supposed to review; he was afraid he might become biased.
Jeremy Irons in one of the many great scenes from "Margin Call."
"Say I'm too old at my age to travel that far to eat with strangers."
Reprise: Anton Karas plays "The Third Man" theme.
If leadership is the solution, what is the problem? On this, the Torah could not be more specific. It is a failure of responsibility.
I need to keep reminding myself that a truly independent thinker may look like an accountant.
First Things: "Dakota Christmas" by Joseph Bottum.
Through the thick lenses of his glasses his eyes were larger than life, and he peered into my face and into all the faces around me and behind me with a look so keen and so charged that I could not escape the feeling that he must be looking for someone in particular. He was not a potentate nodding and smiling to acknowledge the enthusiasm of the multitudes. He was a man whose face seemed gray with waiting, whose eyes seemed huge and exhausted with searching, for someone, some one, who he thought might be there that night or any night, anywhere, but whom he had never found, and yet he kept looking.
Remember that the world's greatest leader washed the feet of His associates.
Evelyn Waugh on Stephen Spender's autobiography:
Check out the P-51 Griffon Engine test run.
In a jungle full of totalitarian monsters liberal democracy needs teeth.
In the beginning - not the imagined beginning of patriarchs and prophets, and certainly not the beginning of the whole universe, just the documented beginning of ordinary Jews - in that beginning, a father and mother were worrying about their son.
The New York Times: Ross Douthat provides a list.