Friday, March 31, 2017

100 Best

Fortune magazine's list of the 100 best companies to work for in North America.

See how many you recognize.

Which Novelists Make You Smarter?

I'll start by naming two novelists whose books left me with the sense that I was a lot smarter when I finished than when I started.

Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace has stunning insights into people. No other work has made me pause to marvel over what was revealed about human nature.

The other novelist is Saul Bellow. There isn't a particular novel that I have in mind - I could not get into his Henderson the Rain King - but Mr. Sammler's Planet, Humboldt's Gift, Ravelstein, and Herzog certainly hit home.

What about Bellow's most famous book? I'm late to the party on that one but am currently reading The Adventures of Augie March. [Bellow reportedly was asked "What's it about?" and he replied, "It's about 200 pages too long."] 

But I am enjoying it.

Which novelists would be on your Made Me Smarter list?

On My List

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Quote of the Day

The world is round and the place which may seem like the end, may also be only the beginning.

- Ivy Baker Priest

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Film Music Break

The opening titles and music from "The Big Country."

Crank it up.

First Paragraph

I had just finished breakfast and was filling my pipe when I got Bullivant's telegram. It was at Furling, the big country house in Hampshire where I had come to convalesce after Loos, and Sandy, who was in the same case, was hunting for the marmalade. I flung him the flimsy with the blue strip pasted down on it, and he whistled.

- From Greenmantle by John Buchan

Gen Xers in California

Here in Southern California, Los Angeles, Orange and Ventura counties all suffered losses in their Xer population share, while the more suburban — and affordable — Inland Empire expanded its proportion significantly, with Riverside up by over 30 percent and San Bernardino up by over 10 percent. Communities that have become more Xer-oriented since 2000 include places like Perris, Indio, Murrieta, Hemet, Victorville, Temecula, Corona and Moreno Valley. The only coastal community to rank among the top 10 for Xer growth was Irvine, with Lake Forest ranked 11th.

Read the rest of Joel Kotkin's essay here.

Modern Times

Althouse: Senator McCain calls a vicious dictator a "fat crazy kid."

Hilarity ensues.

We've Been There for Quite a While

"We have now sunk to a depth at which restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men." - George Orwell

Miscellaneous and Fast

Tanmay Vora: Feed your focus.
The trailer for "The Zookeeper's Wife."
BloggingHeadsTV: Glenn Loury and Ann Althouse on Trump, law, and politics.
The trailer for "Upstart Crow."
Film footage: Berlin 1945.
The trailer for "Jungle."
FutureLawyer: A red storage container won't be his next office.

Pulp Break

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Quote of the Day

In every senior position I held, I made extensive use of task forces to develop options, recommendations, and specific plans for implementation. I relied on such ad hoc groups to effect change instead of using existing bureaucratic structures because asking the regular bureaucratic hierarchy (as opposed to individuals within it) if the organization needs to change consistently yields the same response: it almost never provides bold options or recommendations that do more than nibble at the status quo.

- Robert M. Gates

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Art Break: Goupil

Art Contrarian looks at the work of Jules Adolphe Goupil.

Chasing Cat

Cultural Offering has the essential mixes of Cat Stevens.

Valuable, but here's rare video of when Cat was touring with someone who, with a slight hair change, looks very familiar.

"Fiction and Identity Politics"

I am hopeful that the concept of “cultural appropriation” is a passing fad: people with different backgrounds rubbing up against each other and exchanging ideas and practices is self-evidently one of the most productive, fascinating aspects of modern urban life.

Read the rest of Lionel Shriver's speech at the Brisbane Writers' Festival in 2016.


You have been given a day. Don't mock that gift by squandering it.

Unorganized Hancock Update

Sippican Cottage provides the latest news on the band from the wilds of Maine. The boys and their parents are grand examples of gumption, a word we need to use more often.

First Paragraph

This is the story of what a woman's patience can endure and what a man's resolution can achieve.

- From The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

Quote of the Day

Never read a book review written by an author whose books you wouldn't read.

- Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

And You Can't Have Too Many of Them

Eclecticity Light is always finding a clean, well-lighted place to blog.

First Paragraph

On the afternoon of May 9, 1940, at the resort town of Clervaux, in the forested north of Luxembourg, Camille Schneider entered the telephone booth outside the post office. An undercover representative of the French Secret Service, Schneider had tried in vain to reach his chief in Luxembourg's capital and was making a direct call to the next echelon, the regional intelligence center at Longwy, just over the border in France. Schneider's message was urgent. With his own eyes he had seen soldiers on the German side of the Sure River preparing pontoon bridges on which heavy vehicles could cross into Luxembourg.

- From Strange Victory: Hitler's Conquest of France by Ernest R. May

"I got a scheme!"

From 2015: Writing in The Guardian, Zachary Leader on how Saul Bellow found his voice. An excerpt:

In Chicago, new ingredients were added to this linguistic mixture. Neither home, nor school, nor Hebrew school could keep Bellow from the street. Street language in Chicago was “rough cheerful energetic clanging largely good-natured Philistine irresistible” (a typically comma-free sequence) and American. “The children wanted the streets,” Bellow wrote, “they were passionate Americans, they talked baseball, prizefights, speakeasies, graft, jazz, crap games, gang wars.” The neighbourhood schools Bellow attended “earnestly tried to convert or civilise their pupils, the children of immigrants from every European country. To civilise was to Americanise us all.” In English class, “there was a core programme of literary patriotism”. In English composition, “we, the sons of immigrants, were taught to write grammatically. Knowing the rules filled you with pride. I deeply felt the constraints of ‘correct’ English. It wasn’t easy, but we kept at it conscientiously, and in my 20s I published two decently written books.” 

Quote of the Day

A friend should always underestimate your virtues and an enemy overestimate your faults.

- Don Corleone

Monday, March 27, 2017

The CEO's Bold New Plan

The Onion provides an update.

High Notes

No, Althouse is not discussing Vivaldi.


A Tip from the Coach

Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.

- Vince Lombardi

The Uncomfortable Topic

Which one of the following topics would be most likely to spark immediate unease and cause people to back away?

  • Death
  • Sex
  • Politics
  • Religion
  • Economics
  • Children
  • Relatives
  • Sports

What's in a Name?

The Hotel Russell was a charming hotel right on Russell Square in London.

A great location.

It needed remodeling so that chore was completed.

They seem to have done a fine job.

But then they renamed the hotel.

Downright chilly. No warmth. No tradition.

Bad move.

Quote of the Day

A child on a farm sees a plane fly overhead and dreams of a faraway place. A traveler on the plane sees the farmhouse and dreams of home.

- Carl Burns

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Hit the Road, Jack

Anderson Layman's Blog has the ultimate performance of a song that will never go out of style.

Toughen Up

Cultural Offering points to a blog that might have been written by 1970s moms if they had blogs back then.

Go back a few more decades and they were wrestling with raccoons in order to get a snack for dinner. 

In the Fifties my older brother fell out of a bunk bed and hit his head on a concrete floor. [We had no carpeting then.]

He was feeling numb but my mom gave him an aspirin and put him back in bed.

Problem solved.

Quote Monger

For some thought-provoking quotes, check out Yahooey's Blog.

Remembering Jimmy Breslin

A total urbanite, Jimmy had never learned how to drive—he was raised by a single mother who earned a meager salary as a social worker, and drank to excess. The Breslins couldn’t afford a car. But this wheel-less liability turned out to be his greatest asset. He went everywhere on foot or by public transportation, chatting up pedestrians, shopkeepers, cops, fellow passengers—anyone who would give him an ear and a mouth. He made the rhythms of their replies into a kind of municipal jazz that only he could record.

Read the rest of Stefan Kanfer's essay in City Journal.


Two works with the title of "Genius."

One is a film starring Jude Law, Colin Firth, and Nicole Kidman. It is about Thomas Wolfe.

The other is a National Geographic series starring Geoffrey Rush. It is about Albert Einstein..


Very Interesting

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40 Albums You Should Own

Cultural Offering is on #24 and it has automatic appeal.

The man knows music.

First Paragraph

The janitor makes her way through the corridor with purpose, suctioning space dust and human debris from crevices of the space station. She is good at her job. She can push off from the walls in a steady trajectory without even looking; her eyes are always on the windows and the impossibly bright stars beyond.

- From "The Janitor in Space" (The Unfinished World and Other Stories by Amber Sparks)

Scoring System for Presentations

Start with 100 points and then, if the speaker uses:
  1. "The bottom line" = minus 15 points.
  2. "Walk the talk" = minus 20 points.
  3. "Go to the mat" = minus 20 points.
  4. "Unpack" = minus 8 points.
  5. "Jumped the shark" = minus 18 points.
  6. "Empower" = minus 5 points.
  7. "Cut to the chase" = minus 15 points.
  8. "At the end of the day" = minus 30 points.
  9. "In the weeds" = minus 10 points.
  10. "C suite" = minus 25 points.
  11. "It is what it is." = minus 30 points.
  12. "Throw (someone) under the bus." = minus 20 points.

Chandler Break

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Quote of the Day

Serenity is not freedom from the storm but peace amid the storm.

- Alcoholics Anonymous

Friday, March 24, 2017

Bate: Deep Productivity

With the envy of many of us, Matthew Lang attended Nicholas Bate's Deep Productivity seminar at Oxford.

I wish I'd been there.

The Poisoned Pen

The Poisoned Pen Bookstore in Scottsdale, Arizona is an example of a business that has a focus and executes it very well. 

Every major mystery writer in recent times has probably appeared there. 

The Most Beautiful Colleges

Travel + Leisure gives its choices for the most beautiful college in every state.

They certainly picked the right one for Arizona.

[HT: Althouse]

First Paragraph

I looked at my notes and I didn't like them. I'd spent three days at U.S. Robots and might as well have spent them at home with the Encyclopedia Tellurica.

- From I, Robot by Isaac Asimov

Thoughts about Politics

  1. The ones who want political office the most may be the ones who deserve it the least.
  2. We'll never know how many Churchills and de Gaulles went into the political wilderness and never found their way back.
  3. In most cases, it is wiser to fear cozy agreement more than gridlock.
  4. Reporters and politicians should not socialize. 
  5. Beware of any judge who lets personal feelings replace the law.
  6. A journalist who claims that objectivity is impossible should not be a journalist.
  7. Some of the most evil political movements in history were started by young idealists.
  8. The subject of government is not a science and universities look foolish when they pretend that it is.
  9. The best approach to government is to assume that the best people will seldom be in control and not to trust them if they are.
  10. Any organization whose basic power depends upon the ability to physically coerce people bears watching.

Quote of the Day

Patience is the companion of wisdom.

- Saint Augustine

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Buster Keaton

A natural for Eclecticity Light.

Bock on Books

Wally Bock reviews a management classic. I often find myself returning to that one.

Music Break

Alison Krauss and friends with "Slumber, My Darling."

First Paragraph

Sometimes, two, three times a year, there would be card parties, or at least invitations to them. Notices by the security desk in the lobby, or left by the door at each condominium, or posted in the game or laundry rooms, or maybe nothing more than a poster up on the easel near the lifeguard's station on each of the half-dozen rooftop swimming pools in the condominium complex, announced that scheduled at such so-and-so a time on so-and-such a Saturday night there was to be a gala, come one come all, sponsored by the residents of this or that building - "Good Neighbor Policy Night," "International Evening," "Hands Across the Panama Canal." Usually there would be a buffet supper, followed by coffee, followed by entertainment, followed by cards.

- From Mrs. Ted Bliss by Stanley Elkin

Film Break

The trailers for:

Hidden Time Killers in the Workplace

  1. Attempting to decipher the true meaning of cryptic emails.
  2. Recovering from phone calls or meetings.
  3. Waiting for others to get back with you.
  4. Finding the document that was right in front of you a minute ago.
  5. Reading emails from people who claim they'd contacted you earlier but who never did.
  6. Wondering why you were invited to a meeting.
  7. Wondering why you weren't invited to a meeting.
  8. Recovering from a brief moment when you unwisely said "yes."
  9. Eluding the after-effects of the CEO's latest encounter with a management best seller.
  10. Ennui.

Highly Recommended

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Quote of the Day

It is not the strongest or most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.

- Charles Darwin

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Practical Ethics for Honest People

My on-line class.

I can say with all appropriate modesty and objectivity that it is truly marvelous.

Art Break: Marty

Art Contrarian looks at the work of Andre Edouard Marty.

Shots in London

The Telegraph provides updates.

First Paragraph

Now in these dread latter days of the old violent beloved U.S.A. and of the Christ-forgetting Christ-haunted death-dealing Western world I came to myself in a grove of young pines and the question came to me: has it happened at last?

- From Love in the Ruins: The Adventures of a Bad Catholic at a Time Near the End of the World by Walker Percy

In Search of Goldilocks

Do they hire too much or too little? Fire too much or too little? Have meetings too much or too little? Praise too much or too little? Coordinate too much or too little? Analyze too much or too little? Measure too much or too little? Offer too much or too little? Promise too much or too little? Focus too much or too little? Explain too much or too little? Consult too much or too little? Train too much or too little? Work too much or too little? Socialize too much or too little? Listen too much or too little? Think too much or too little? Care too much or too little? Talk too much or too little? Research too much or too little? Trust too much or too little? 

The list can go on until the porridge is just right. All is balance.

Wasteland Update

Scan the guest list of The Dick Cavett Show over the years and the contrast with today's programming becomes apparent.

Quote of the Day

Must one point out that in ancient times a decline in courage has been considered the first symptom of the end?

- Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Which Actor Was the Best Doc Holliday?

Mary Doria Russell, author of a novel on Doc Hollidaygives her choice in True West magazine.

The winner is here.

Happy Birthday to Dame Vera Lynn

Okay, this is a day late. Her birthday was on Monday. The Telegraph noted that her picture was projected on the white cliffs of Dover.

The bluebirds went wild.

She is 100 years old and one of Britain's national treasures.

Rightfully so.

You may recall that her song "We'll Meet Again" was played at the end of "Dr. Strangelove."

[HT: Suzanne Stork]

"Monasteries of the Mind"

More and more Americans today are becoming Stoic dropouts. They are not illiberal, and certainly not reactionaries, racists, xenophobes, or homophobes. They’re simply exhausted by our frenzied culture.

Read all of Victor Davis Hanson's essay at National Review.

Life Down Yonder

FutureLawyer lives in Florida and so exotic birds follow him to work.

First Paragraph

Dwight D. Eisenhower remains an enigma. For the majority of Americans he is a benign fatherly figure looming indistinctly out of the mists of the past - a high-ranking general who directed the Allied armies to victory in Europe, and a caretaker president who presided over eight years of international calm and domestic tranquility. To those who knew him, Ike was a tireless taskmaster who worked with incredible subtlety to move events in the direction he wished them to go. Most would agree he was a man of principle, decency, and common sense, whom the country could count on to do what was right. In both war and peace he gave the world confidence in American leadership.

- From Eisenhower in War and Peace by Jean Edward Smith 

The Press Opera

When I was in college, I knew some of the people who worked on the campus newspaper. They operated with deadlines, of course, and even back in those days of innocence I noticed that if the news pickings were a tad sparse, they were not above making a mountain out of a mole hill. They wouldn't create something out of nothing but next to nothing was often sufficient for several stories. After all, they had ethics.

Those memories return when I see some of the stories that have "all Washington talking." Most of them are pretty thin. If you take a two week vacation in the wilderness, you can depart with the assurance that, in true soap opera fashion, little will have changed when you return: Troy and Francesca will still be feuding, Oscar will still be awaiting an accurate medical diagnosis, and Estelle's indecision over whether to run off with her plastic surgeon or join the Peace Corps will be never-ending.

Just put that in its political terms and you'll have a modern newscast..

Highly Recommended

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Quote of the Day

Human beings are the most elusive material there is, but only human beings can consistently go beyond what customers expect. You design a slick mobile phone, people buy it, and then it's not so amazing anymore. It's a phone. You build a beautiful store, the first time I walk in I'm impressed, but after a few visits I take it for granted. It's a store. If you want to create something exciting and compelling, a performance that keeps evolving, the human spirit is the only thing that delivers. Leaders have to ask themselves: Do we want to move product, or do we want to move people?

- Lior Arussy

Monday, March 20, 2017

Chuck and Bo

Two Great Guitars - Bo Diddley & Chuck Berry.jpg

Another album to get.

[HT: Rick Miller]

First Paragraph

"Don't use clean water to wash your hands!"

- From The Mandibles: A Family, 2029 - 2047 by Lionel Shriver

The Ideal Age

This subject occasionally arises: what would you say is the ideal age?

Many of us don't envy teenagers or those in their twenties, but which age do you regard as ideal?

Perhaps none come to mind. You might even have a floating ideal, such as "ten years younger than my current age."

Pick a number.

The Other Side of the Wind

The strange story behind the film that is being brought out on Netflix.

But then again, most Orson Welles stories are different. [Arizona readers will like the Wallace and Ladmo connection.]

First Paragraph

A single bird call began the day. Each day the same bird, the same call. It was as if the bird signaled the approach of dawn to its brood. Jacob opened his eyes. The four cows lay on their mats of straw and dung. In the middle of the barn were a few blackened stones and charred branches, the fireplace over which Jacob cooked the rye and buckwheat cakes he ate with milk. Jacob's bed was made of straw and hay and at night he covered himself with a coarse linen sheet which he used during the day to gather grass and herbs for the cattle. It was summer, but the nights were cold in the mountains. Jacob would rise more than once in the middle of the night and warm his hands and feet on the animals' bodies.

- From The Slave by Isaac Bashevis Singer

Jimmy Breslin, RIP

Althouse remembers Jimmy Breslin.

Quote of the Day

There's nothing to winning, really. That is, if you happen to be blessed with a keen eye, an agile mind, and no scruples whatsoever.

- Alfred Hitchcock

Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Blizzard That Was

For the first time since I've lived here in Maine, I had to begin shoveling snow while I was still standing inside my foyer. I opened the front door, and there was six inches of snow against it, even though the door lives beneath an eight foot overhang. It took a little while to simply shovel my way to a place where the crystal blue sky was above me. That was unusual.

Read the rest at Sippican Cottage.

Chuck Berry, RIP

Chuck Berry has passed. Details at Althouse.

He was 90.

Bock on Books

Read Wally Bock's review. If Wally Bock likes a book, it is worth our attention.

First Paragraph

He woke at first light: up instantly out of sleep and totally awake without effort, the way he woke each morning before day came. It was cool then and quiet in the bluegrey light and he could work undisturbed. He got a lot of work done if he was undisturbed. Work was the answer to a lot of things.

- From The Thousand Hour Day by W. S. Kuniczak

Art Break: Bazille

Art Contrarian looks at the work of Frederic Bazille.


I hate to edit on a computer screen. If it is a document that is more than a page, I usually print it off and edit from the hard copy. Why? I don't know. There is simply the sense that it is easier to miss something on a screen.

Another quirk: the more serious the business meeting, the more inclined I am to wear shoes that tie instead of loafers. Why? My theory is it conveys a more serious image. Odd, perhaps, but the small things matter. Serious meetings also require a white or blue shirt - usually white - and a tie that conveys gravitas. No wild designs.

Still another quirk: If a book is a classic, I probably won't read it on an e-reader. It deserves to be read in its paper version as a silent honor.

And yes, thank-you notes should be written with a fountain pen.

Your quirks?

First Paragraph

Everybody hates bureaucracies, even those who work in them. Yet in twenty-first century America, apart from a handful of hermits and survivalists living off the grid, dealing with impenetrable, impersonal, infinitely complex, obdurate, arrogant, and often stupefyingly incompetent bureaucracies is an everyday travail for everyone. Think about it:Social Security. Medicare, Local, state and federal taxing agencies. Getting a driver's license. Obtaining documents for business, remodeling your house, or getting a building permit. Any federal department or agency. Dealing with the phone company, your credit card issuer, a credit bureau, a billing error by a big chain store. Navigating airport security, health-care insurance, university and public school administrations.

- From A Passion for Leadership: Lessons on Change and Reform from Fifty Years of Public Service by Robert M. Gates

Highly Recommended

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Quote of the Day

Patience is power. Patience is not an absence of action; rather, it is "timing"; it waits on the right time to act, for the right principles and in the right way.

- Fulton J. Sheen

Friday, March 17, 2017

Vivid Description

...[Arctic explorer John Franklin], a man whose natural pace of living and thinking is portrayed as that of an elderly sloth after a long massage and a pipe of opium.

- From How to Live: A Life of Montaigne by Sarah Bakewell

St. Patrick's Day Music Break

Sinead O'Connor: "He Moved Through the Fair"

Better Quality What?

This is an odd post by Nicholas Bate. I've yet to see evidence that the man sleeps.

Challenges of Growth

Recently, I've been reviewing some population statistics on cities in Arizona. Several of them are grand examples of how quickly an area can change. Consider the following:

1990: 5,040
2014: 58,795

1990: 29,810
2014: 235,493

1990: 6,300
2014: 74,743

1990: 2,320
2014: 40,342

1990: 1,629
2014: 27,476

1990: 7,150
2014: 123,797

In the same time period, the state population went from 3,680,800 to 6,667,241.

Basic Bat

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