Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Standards and Free Speech

Jonah Goldberg on what the free speech debate misses. An excerpt:

. . . The free speech argument is downstream of the real dilemma: The people running what should be citadels of civilizational confidence have turned against our civilization. Maybe some atheist speaker has been banned because he would hurt the feelings of religious students, but I’ve not heard about it. In other words, these administrators aren’t principally concerned with the sensitivities of “students” or even “students of color” or female students, but of particular students who adhere to a specific ideology. The administrators use them as props and excuses to justify their ideological, quasi-religious, agenda.

Rain Producers and Rain Workers

Coaching executives, managers and supervisors often involves an exploration of how to get the job done in spite of external pressures or obstacles. It's the classic "working in the rain" situation.

But there are times when you have to address the "weather." That's much harder, of course, but far easier to accomplish than in the natural world. The answer is frequently found by repairing the broken connection between the rain producers and those who have to struggle through the storm.

Leaders need to keep an important aspect of management in mind: that all bold ideas have ripples throughout the organization. There are trade-offs as people choose between competing priorities and then there are times when the demand on available resources reaches a limit. When the latter occurs, eloquent efforts at motivation will do little that is positive.

Great Book Titles

Image result for the fools in town are on our side ross thomas

Quote of the Day

The executive branch of the United States is the largest corporation in the world. It has the most awesome responsibilities of any corporation in the world, the largest budget of any corporation in the world, and the largest number of employees. Yet the entire senior management structure and team have to be formed in a period of seventy-five days.

- H. R. Haldeman

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

News You Can Use

Eclecticity Light: What happens when you drop a cannonball into mercury.

"Sheriff with a Deadly Addiction"

In 1899, Frank sent out an invitation to a hanging, required by law of Arizona Territory sheriffs, which President William McKinley failed to see the humor in. It stated: “Latest improved methods in the art of scientific strangulation will be employed and everything possible will be done to make the proceedings cheerful and the execution a success.”

Read the rest of the True West magazine article. Great photographs. Tragic story.

"Life with a Star"

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If I could add a book to the "required reading" list in high schools, it would be Life with a Star by the Czech author Jiri Weil. 

Its main character is a Jew in Prague who is attempting to survive as repression by the Nazis steadily increases. The book's power comes from its understatement. The Germans are always referred to as "they" and the protagonist's daily challenges, which often involve finding enough to eat or figuring out how to get from one place to another without attracting undue attention, are powerful and memorable.

An excerpt:

"Hello, sheriff!" a boy called to me. And everyone laughed, but I knew they weren't laughing at me. I laughed too. It was a funny thing to be going about with this emblem. It was a masquerade that was alien to a world where people worked. It belonged to a fair, to a Punch and Judy show, to somersaults, powdered faces, and kicks in the behind.

Weil managed to elude the death camps by faking his death and hiding in Prague. His other Holocaust-related novel, Mendelssohn Is on the Roof, is also excellent but Life with a Star has a quiet message that never leaves you.

First Paragraph

The First Missouri Mounted Volunteers played an honorable part in the year of decision, and looking back, a private of Company C determined to write his regiment's history. He was John T. Hughes, an A.B. and a schoolmaster. Familiarity with the classics had taught him that great events are heralded by portents. So when he sat down to write his history he recalled a story which, he cautions us,was "doubtless more beautiful than true." Early in that spring of 1846, the story ran, a prairie thunderstorm overtook a party of traders who were returning to Independence, Missouri, from Santa Fe. When it passed over, the red sun had sunk to the prairie's edge, and the traders cried out with one voice. For the image of an eagle was spread across the sun. They knew then that "in less than twelve months the eagle of liberty would spread his broad pinions over the plains of the west, and that the flag of our country would wave over the cities of New Mexico and Chihuahua."

- From The Year of Decision: 1846 by Bernard De Voto

Great Book Titles

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Quote of the Day

We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.

- Teilhard de Chardin

Monday, April 24, 2017

First Paragraph

Bach the musician is an unfathomable genius; Bach the man is all too obviously flawed, disappointingly ordinary and in many ways still invisible to us. In fact we seem to know less about his private life than about that of any other major composer of the last 400 years. Unlike, say, Monteverdi, Bach left behind no intimate family correspondence, and very little beyond the anecdotal has come down to us that can help in painting a more human portrait or to allow a glimpse of him - as son, lover, husband or father. Perhaps there was a fundamental reluctance in him to pull back the curtain and reveal himself; unlike most of his contemporaries, he turned down the opportunity to submit a written account of his life and career when the opportunity arose. The limited, heavily edited version that we have inherited is one he himself spun and handed down to his children. It is not surprising some have concluded that Bach the man is something of a bore.

- From Bach: Music in the Castle of Heaven by John Eliot Gardiner

Presidential Desks? Not Quite.

This article from Town & Country on an expert's view of the neat versus messy desk habits of U.S. presidents not only comes across as biased, but also as ignorant.

For example, anyone who spent ten minutes studying Nixon's management style knows that the photo used was clearly unusual. Study Carter's management style and you'll conclude that it was far from focused.

I also like the wholly subjective call that some examples are staged while others are not. [The most staged item of all was probably the Nixon photo.]

Articles such as these illustrate a common problem with modern journalism: blending bias with ignorance in order to produce a quick hit piece.

That may work provided the readers know nothing about the subject.

Questions: Not Just for Monday

Are you:

  • Initiating or reacting?
  • Advancing or restoring?
  • Taking action or pretending to act?

First Paragraph

Every year officials from the Cochise County, Arizona towns nearest the border get together with their Sonora, Mexico, counterparts for sport and pleasure. They call the event "A Celebration Nation to Nation." In the spirit of international amistad, politicians on both sides proclaim their mutual and eternal goodwill. On other days they might take issue over the problems of migration, drugs, pollution, and smuggling, but on this day the abrazo, the embrace, is in order. As part of this annual observance, officials play volleyball against each other in a game advertised as "a symbol of solidarity and a hand of friendship extended."

- From On the Border: Portraits of American's Southwestern Frontier by Tom Miller

Quote of the Day

I don't wait for moods. You accomplish nothing if you do that. Your mind must know it has got to get down to work.

- Pearl S. Buck

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Essential Bach Mixes

At Cultural Offering, of course.

Theory: If you listen to Bach on Sunday, you'll have a better week.

Unusual But Great

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To Le Pen or Not to Le Pen

For those of us who enjoy the intricacies of French politics, there is streaming news regarding today's election at France 24.

First Paragraph

There have been two moments in my life when everything changed. Moments when things could have gone either way. Moments when I had to make a choice.

- From Just One Damned Thing After Another (The Chronicles of St Mary's Book One) by Jodi Taylor

Find Something Beautiful Today

Saturday, April 22, 2017

"No Good Deed Goes Unpunished" File

Althouse makes a valid point about criticism of the new uniforms for employees of McDonald's.



In the Background

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Bock on Books: Pre-suasion

Wally Bock was not persuaded.

Another 1984?

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The French Vote

The Telegraph has a detailed article on tomorrow's elections in France.

The French political scene is always fascinating. Expect the unexpected.

First Paragraph

The world we work in today is not the world of Michelangelo, of Marie Curie, of Ernest Hemingway, or even of Paul Rand. It is a new world, empowered and entranced by the rapid-fire introduction of new technologies - a world where our metaphysical front door is always open, where anyone can whisper in our ear, where a "room of one's own" no longer means you're all alone.

- From Manage Your Day-To-Day: Build the Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind. Edited by Jocelyn K. Glei

Quote of the Day

Wise people are never less alone than when they are alone.

- Jonathan Swift

Friday, April 21, 2017

Music Break: Zaz

Zaz will perk you up for the weekend.

Campus Alert

The Onion: "Berkeley Campus On Lockdown After Loose Pages From 'Wall Street Journal' Found On Park Bench."

Miscellaneous and Fast

Matthew Lang steps back from Twitter.
Eclecticity Light shows the armadillo's defense.
Andrew Munro notes a great line about the Internet.
The trailer for "Versailles."
Ross Runkel expects 10 changes in NLRB rules.
The Simpsons: Mr. Burns visits Yale.

The Queen's Birthday

Queen Elizabeth II was born on this day in 1926.

Extraordinary person. An extraordinary life.

Imagine being in the room for her meetings with the British prime ministers who have served during her reign:
  1. Winston Churchill
  2. Anthony Eden
  3. Harold Macmillan
  4. Alec Douglas-Home
  5. Harold Wilson
  6. Edward Heath
  7. James Callaghan
  8. Margaret Thatcher
  9. John Major
  10. Tony Blair
  11. Gordon Brown
  12. David Cameron
  13. Theresa May

Business of Life + Life of Business

Spend some time today with Nicholas Bate.

Make that "Some time each day."


My knee hurts. 

Not the one that got messed up many years ago when I was with the Army of the Potomac but the other one. 

The good one.

I have a ton of things to do and nursing a bum knee is not on my list. Spent some time last night looking for a password which I failed to enter in the ultra-secret password book (I know, I know) and so I have taken the advice of FutureLawyer and have purchased 12 smartwatches. No, wait, not that advice. I've gone on LastPass and have begun The Long March to store my passwords in a secure spot where I'll only need to remember ONE password.

I feel better already.

In the meantime, I'm hauling out the Sloan's Liniment that I've stored in the back of a drawer lest my wife read the expiration date and throw it out. I don't think it even has an expiration date but if it did I'd ignore it because I subscribe to the notion that medicines improve with age. Besides, the stuff is supposed to hurt. I've heard that the new stuff is a weak version of the killer liniment that was so much a part of my tormented childhood but that just means I'll put on more.

I've tried ointments and the fancy icy stuff that turns hot. This knee demands serious heat.

I'll know it's working when every password I've ever known flashes before my eyes.

[UPDATE: The Sloan's worked. Great stuff.]

McBain Break

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Quote of the Day

The obvious is that which is never seen until someone expresses it simply.

- Khalil Gibran

Thursday, April 20, 2017

"Her Opponent"

Althouse: An off-Broadway play is going to feature actors playing Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, but with the sexes switched.

This stems from an experiment that was very revealing as to why Trump won.

40 Albums You Should Own

Keep following the postings at Cultural Offering.


Art Break: Schönberger

Art Contrarian looks at the work of Armand Schönberger.

Europe and Its Cultures

With the French elections on the near horizon, it makes sense to revisit a brief video of Mark Steyn's perspective on multiculturalism.

Quote of the Day

  1. Does this action attempt to deceive anyone or allow anyone to be deceived?
  2. Does this action gain or allow the gain of a privilege or advantage to which I or someone else would not otherwise be entitled?
  3. Would I be satisfied by the outcome if I were on the receiving end of the action?
- The U.S. Military Academy's Rules of Thumb

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

In the Background

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From India to France

Tanmay Vora

Tanmay Vora's sketchnotes have gained a lot of well-deserved attention and they are about to get more.

As he notes here, he's been interviewed for a French book on the subject.

Cosmo and the Cuban Diet

You can't make this stuff up.

Words Wrapped in Gauze

Surgical strike. 
Collateral damage. 
Investments in infrastructure. 
Revenue enhancements. 
Reduction in force. 
Urban renewal.

Language. Always watch the language.

1918: The Mother of All Pandemics

By the early 1990s, 75 years of research had failed to answer a most basic question about the 1918 pandemic: why was it so fatal? No virus from 1918 had been isolated, but all of its apparent descendants caused substantially milder human disease. Moreover, examination of mortality data from the 1920s suggests that within a few years after 1918, influenza epidemics had settled into a pattern of annual epidemicity associated with strain drifting and substantially lowered death rates. Did some critical viral genetic event produce a 1918 virus of remarkable pathogenicity and then other critical genetic event occur soon after the 1918 pandemic to produce an attenuated H1N1 virus?

Read the rest of the article at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Quote of the Day

I was equally struck by my colleagues' lack of concern. They seemed completely unworried, as if none of this had anything to do with them - that, for all their education, university professors can't even imagine political developments having any effect on their careers: they consider themselves untouchable.

- From Submission by Michel Houellebecq

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Music Break

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The piano version of the main theme of Hans Zimmer's soundtrack for "Interstellar."

The Starbucks Experience: In But Not Of

Cultural Offering and FutureLawyer weigh in on Starbucks.

FutureLawyer likes Panera Bread which is so yuppified it makes Starbucks look like a steelworkers' bar. [If there are any videos of Cultural Offering at Panera Bread, please send them along.]

I like Starbucks. It is a convenient and comfortable meeting spot. I ignore the computer users who are tapping away at, no doubt, the next War and Peace. The Americano is a nice watered-down version of their strong coffee. When ordering I still use small, medium, and large rather than their menu lingo. That immediately signals "out of touch" to the staff and thus is desirable.

One item: I have not noticed the shoes of the other customers. 

Ideological Diversity in Law Schools

How ideologically slanted are the law schools? 

Check out the chart at Althouse.

First Paragraph

Rahm Emanuel was so cold he could see his breath as he crossed the White House parking lot and entered the West Wing lobby. It was December 5, 2008, an unusually frigid morning in Washington, D.C. But it wasn't the weather that sent a chill through Emanuel; it was the unbelievably daunting challenge that lay ahead.

- From The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency by Chris Whipple

For Creativity and Productivity

  • Take a nap.
  • Give yourself less time for completion.
  • Take a long walk.
  • Sit in a chair and do nothing until you're ready to get to work.
  • Work on an unrelated chore for additional ideas.
  • Write a one-page description of what the work will entail. Consider using Situation, Mission, Execution, Administrative Support and Conclusion as components.
  • Complete a detailed outline based on that description.
  • Complete all of the prep work.
  • Use interim deadlines.
  • Do one small segment in the next hour, another in the hour after that, and so on
  • Remember that the best is the enemy of the good..

Quote of the Day

There is a majesty in simplicity.

- Alexander Pope

Monday, April 17, 2017

No Bull

The Onion: Study Finds Dangers Even in Casual Bullfighting.

Information's Companion

There are times when telling them a little may be telling them a great deal and telling them too much may be telling them too little.

Tolstoy and Lincoln

Leo Tolstoy on the greatness of Abraham Lincoln.

Art Break: La Thangue

Art Contrarian looks at the work of Herbert La Thangue.

Quote of the Day

There is no such thing as the right way for a manager to operate or behave. There are only ways that are appropriate for specific tasks in specific enterprises under specific conditions.

- Theodore Levitt

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Happy Easter!

Resurrection means the worst thing is never the last thing.

- Frederick Buechner

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Cult Hit Update: The Disaster Artist and The Room

Was "The Room" the best worst movie ever?

Check out the trailer for the book about the film.

Music Break

The Frankfurt Radio Symphony with Mendelssohn's "Reformation Symphony."

Great stuff. Crank it up.

First Seasons

The trailers for:

Quote of the Day

The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.

- Frederick Buechner

Friday, April 14, 2017

Music for Good Friday

Judy Collins: "Amazing Grace."

First Paragraph

At the hour of the hot spring sunset two citizens appeared at the Patriarch's Ponds. One of them, approximately forty years old, dressed in a grey summer suit, was short, dark-haired, plump, bald, and carried his respectable fedora hat in his hand. His neatly shaven face was adorned with black horn-rimmed glasses of a supernatural size. The other, a broad-shouldered young man with tousled reddish hair, his checkered cap cocked back on his head, was wearing a cowboy shirt, wrinkled white trousers and black sneakers.

- From The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

Bock: Become an Intentional Reader

Wally Bock has great advice on how to select and read business books.


Jonathan Pie, who was anti-Brexit, takes on the current anti-Brexit marchers. (Very R-rated)
Victor Davis Hanson compares Obama and Baldwin. [I wonder how many journalism grads know anything about Stanley Baldwin.]
Max Holleran on Marshall Berman's freestyle Marxism.
Alice B. Lloyd on "Charging Bull" versus "Fearless Girl."

Signs of Aging

This is the order in which I begin to notice that people in certain jobs seemed younger than I'd expected:

  1. Cops. I recall looking at a police officer years ago and thinking, "That guy looks like he's in high school."
  2. Politicians. I confess to a certain bias here. Although JFK was a major political figure of my youth, so was Eisenhower and I've never bought into the "younger is better" baloney. And now I see some presidential candidates and wonder if they strolled in from a race for student council.
  3. Baseball Players. What is this? Little League?
  4. Doctors. This was the final trench. I met a doctor a couple of years back who seemed like a very bright eighth grader. Of course, she probably thought I look like Rip Van Winkle. Both of us may be correct.
Have any other jobs jarred you with youthfulness?

Quote of the Day

The rare individuals who unselfishly try to serve others have an enormous advantage - they have little competition.

- Andrew Carnegie

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Music Break

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The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra in a recording session of the overture from the soundtrack of "Is Paris Burning?"

Maurice Jarre was a genius.

Perhaps They Will "Re-Accommodate" Him

Anderson Layman's Blog notes a creative foreign policy idea.

A Formula to Remember

Cultural Offering gives the change formula. It's one to put on the wall.


The stuff comes in the middle of the night and it jumps us in the morning. It slips in during the day, catches us at meetings and even in-between bites at lunch. Then it follows us home.

Emails, calls, ideas, proposals, problems, complaints, news reports, rumors, changes (always changes), interruptions, surprises and planned events, crises, jokes, and reading - more reading than ever.

Along with that come illnesses, accidents, wars, deaths, weddings, failures, graduations, successes, and reunions. All are awash with the creation or revival of memories.

The stuff is not separate from life. It doesn't distract us from life. It is life.

First Paragraph

There was commotion in Roaring Camp. It could not have been a fight, for in 1850 that was not novel enough to have called together the entire settlement. The ditches and claims were not only deserted, but "Tuttle's grocery" had contributed its gamblers who, it will be remembered, calmly continued their game the day that French Pete and Kanaka Joe shot each other to death over the bar in the front room. The whole camp was collected before a rude cabin on the outer edge of the clearing. Conversation was carried on in a low tone, but the name of a woman was frequently repeated. It was a name familiar enough in the camp - "Cherokee Sal."

- From The Luck of Roaring Camp by Bret Harte

Highly Highly Recommended

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Quote of the Day

If you want to be respected, you must respect yourself.

- Spanish proverb

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Fort Sumter: April 12, 1861

On this day in 1861, the Civil War began when the Confederates attacked Fort Sumter.

Civil War Trust has an excerpt from the diary of Mary Chesnut.

[Her diaries are extraordinary.]

First Paragraph

Cass Wakefield was born in a double-pen log cabin just at break of day, and before he was twenty minutes old, he was almost thrown away with the bedclothes. The midwife, Queenola Divine, heard him squalling, however, and so it was that Cass, blue-faced and complaining, was untangled from the wad of bloody sheets and saved for further adventures.

- From The Judas Field: A Novel of the Civil War by Howard Bahr

The Party

There are days when"good enough" is chosen over excellent. The best person isn't always selected for the job or even actively sought. Fools make magazine covers.

We have to see the world as it is. This doesn't mean that injustice, vulgarity and shallowness should be welcomed but there should be no surprise when they come dancing down the street, on their way to a party.

They may even be celebrated, but let that be done by others.

Quote of the Day

Something we were withholding made us weak
Until we found it was ourselves.

- Robert Frost

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Highly Recommended

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John Galt in Silicon Valley

The Guardian: Ayn Rand, Trump and Silicon Valley.

The trailers for:

When Have You Boarded a Plane?

FutureLawyer weighs in on the United Airlines controversy (and if you haven't heard about it you have been in a cave) to note that the definition of when one has boarded a plane is unclear.

It would seem to me that there could be other circumstances when the airline might not want to argue that a passenger who is on the plane has not boarded until the plane takes off. Another factor is most people would argue that when you are on the plane and in your seat, you have indeed boarded the plane.

All of this does not necessarily side with the doctor who was dragged off the plane. Althouse discusses that aspect.

Art Break: Goodall

Art Contrarian looks at the work of Frederick Goodall.