Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Music Break

The Isley Brothers with "Twist and Shout."

Crank it up.

The Report

A report may contain information without providing information. The technique resembles that of people who answer the precise question without answering the one that was clearly intended. Reports have much more wiggle room.

Authors of such documents carry an ethical obligation to determine the actual needs of their audience and then to provide the information as clearly as possible. The deceivers won't be so obvious as to say,"That key point was indeed addressed on page 188" but that's the game being played.

Is it a real report or a report that is meant to be an alibi?


Online training: Gordon Ramsay teaches cooking.

Great Book Titles

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Quote of the Day

If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old.

- Peter Drucker

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Music Break

From France: Indila with "Derniรจre Danse."

Safe Space Dedicated

“I’ll never forget the morning my daughter called and told me in a trembling voice, ‘Mom, my professor said some stuff today I didn’t like,’” recounted an emotional Cassie Stigmore, who also remarked that Alexis was left further traumatized upon looking at the course syllabus and finding it contained a book she did not want to read because it was written by an author whose politics she opposed. “As a parent, I’ll always wish I could have been there for her in that lecture hall, protecting her from those unwelcome concepts.”

Read the rest of The Onion story.

Tiger Woods

Kevin D Williamson looks at the "public denunciation of fallen idols" and finds something ignoble in it.

Always Check the Back of the Book

From 2013: The strange story of the discovery of the lost Medal of Honor belonging to one of the most important figures in American history.

50 Big Ones


Cultural Offering has added ten more to his 40 Albums You Should Own list.

A Multitude of Lists

Nicholas Bate (a.k.a. The Man Who Never Sleeps) provides an array of helpful lists.

Ignore them at your peril.

Where Does He Find This Stuff?

A reason to visit Eclecticity Light.

Art Break: Tepper

Art Contrarian looks at the work of Saul Tepper.

Great Book Titles

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Quote of the Day

Yet regimes of correctness (even the softer American variety) always stifle the human imagination and lead to cultural stagnation because they are inherently repressive. They impose an empty and often tyrannical conformity on society. One need only think of communism and socialism in postwar Europe - entire peoples policed into a socialist form of political correctness by autocrats and their henchmen. America, of course, is not Eastern Europe, but many of our institutions are being held in thrall to the idea of moral intimidation as power.

- Shelby Steele

Monday, May 29, 2017

Who We Are and What We Stand For

Image result for the american spirit david mccullough amazon
Marvin Kalb interviews historian David McCullough.

Memorial Day

It is Memorial Day in the United States. Since we are at war and still suffering casualties, it is as appropriate as ever to remember those who paid the heaviest price for our freedom.

Saturday, May 27, 2017


A brief video of historian D. Scott Hartwig at the Gettysburg battlefield.

Some of the best videos are informal. Here's tour guide Gary Kross describing what happened at Little Round Top, a key part of the battlefield.


So, in effect, my young nemesis had spoken out in order to bring the conference back into alignment, to enforce the boundaries of the new liberal identity. He wanted this friendly, upscale, and overwhelmingly white crowd to see me as a snake in the garden of their liberal identity, enticing them with the "apple" of an escape from white guilt. He wanted them to understand that the price they might pay for listening to anyone like me could be much higher than they thought: they could lose their liberal identity itself and, along with it, the good opinion of themselves as decent and socially concerned people. I wasn't just a threat to their politics. I threatened them with a kind of moral disgrace - since their agreement with any part of my argument would open them to charges of racism. Of course, he never said it, but he wanted no serious discussion of ideas or of public policy. Arguing thoughtfully would only make me less a snake, and, above all else, he wanted to mark me as an outsider.

- From Shame: How America's Past Sins Have Polarized Our Country by Shelby Steele

Elizabeth Taylor's Lesson for Supervisors

Wally Bock relates a great anecdote about Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton that should be remembered by every supervisor.


The American cemetery in Normandy.

Miscellaneous and Fast

A Simple, Village Undertaker shows a common frustration for dieters.
Althouse: Left-wing hoodlums harass another professor.
Health and Human Services Department: The Opioid Epidemic.
Aaron Goldstein on the gentle nature of Johnny Carson.
Black Sabbath: "Iron Man."
Scott Adams: The Short Attention Span President.
Jonah Goldberg on the origins of the term "wop."
"Parks and Recreation" Reprise: Ron Swanson gets an award.

What is Your Personal Monopoly?

What is it that you can do well which, to your knowledge, no one else can do in quite the same way?

Obviously, the answer to that is very important. It helps to know areas in which you are not just the best but are the only person with a particular combination of insights and skills.

This doesn't mean that you have a lock on winning a project or job. You may be a unique flavor of chocolate but the buyer or prospect wants vanilla.

Knowing your "monopoly" can help to clarify your message and increase your persuasiveness. It can also be an advantage to hone. 

Great Book Titles

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Quote of the Day

Where is the wisdom we have
lost in knowledge? Where is the
knowledge we have lost in information?

- T. S. Eliot

Friday, May 26, 2017


The trailer for "Taking Chance."

In The Background

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Summer is Here

Julie London: "Summertime."

First Paragraph

On December 13, 1931, a fifty-seven-year-old English politician, still a member of Parliament but quite unwelcome in his own party's government, stepped out of a taxi on New York's Fifth Avenue. He was in New York to begin a speaking tour in an attempt to recover some of the small fortune he had lost in the stock market crash two years earlier. Being English, and perhaps distracted by his troubles, he looked the wrong way down the avenue, and did not see the automobile that, traveling at about thirty miles per hour, knocked him to the pavement and dragged him for a spell, cracking some ribs and slashing open his scalp. Had he died, he would be remembered today by a few historians specializing in early twentieth-century British history. But he did survive. His name was Winston Churchill.

- From Churchill and Orwell: The Fight for Freedom by Thomas E. Ricks

The Federalist Papers

Image result for hamilton madison jay

Insightful then and insightful now.

"None of the students were suspended or expelled"

Middlebury College Administrator

Disrupt a speech? Act like a bunch of thugs?

No big deal if you're on the Middlebury College campus. The New York Times reports on one of the latest cases of administrative spinelessness.

It's Not

It;s not "Can we do it?" but "Should we do it?" 

It's not What so much as How. 

It's not simply being legal but also being ethical. 

And sometimes it's not the finding but the looking.

Great Book Titles

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Quote of the Day

It's easier to correct course 100 yards into the journey than 100 miles into it.

- Mike Figliuolo

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Get Your Kicks

Specialty license plate wins national contest:

(ADOT Image)

Music Break

Reprise: Iris DeMent, Emmylou Harris, and Aly Bain with "Our Town."

The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere

An enchanting video of various children reciting the famous Longfellow poem.

You will smile.

Dismal Futures

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Some films are so bad, they're, well, bad.

The trailers for:

CBO Scoring and Insider Lies

Cultural Offering provides a very interesting analysis of the scoring by the Congressional Budget Office. An excerpt:

I can’t pick on the news media for reporting on the CBO scoring. It is what they do. Increasingly I find that there are what I will call “insider lies” which insiders - the media, politicians, and analysts - know aren’t true but propound anyway because they are all they have. Insider lies offer a clear but incorrect explanation. Since everyone wants an explanation, they accept the lies.

The Waiting Game

Waiting for a return call or email. Waiting to get in the right mood. Waiting until all of the information is available.Waiting until the moment seems just right. Waiting for someone else to say something. Waiting for a better option. Waiting until your schedule clears up. Waiting until everyone is back from vacation. Waiting until the right people are on board. Waiting for s change in opinion. Waiting for perfection. Waiting for others to stop waiting.

Sometimes, waiting becomes a major activity. 

How many years do we spend simply waiting?

First Paragraph

Benjamin Disraeli's career was an extraordinary one; but there is no need to make it seem more extraordinary than it really was. His point of departure, though low by the standards of nineteenth-century Prime Ministers, was neither as humble nor as alien as some people have believed. It is possible to overestimate the obstacles in his way and underestimate the assets he possessed.

- From Disraeli by Robert Blake

Great Book Titles

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Quote of the Day

It did seem to me, in my early army days, that too many of the older officers, when they came to command posts, made it a study to think what orders they could publish to annoy their subordinates and render them uncomfortable.

- Ulysses S. Grant

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

When Pondering Change

Anderson Layman's Blog points to a very astute question by Amazon's Jeff Bezos.

Consider how seldom that one gets asked.

And Now, #1

I've followed Cultural Offering's periodic postings of 40 Albums You Should Own with a great sense of humility as I own darn few of them.

He has now posted his top choice.

I just ordered it.

Evil Losers

President Trump called them "evil losers." I have no problem with the use of that label. The "loser" part may be calculated to diminish ISIS recruitment of young people but it carries weight on its own. The "evil" part, of course, is the main feature.

There is something particularly evil about a group that supports and applauds the intentional murder of young people and children. This recent atrocity, however, is simply a reminder of their nature; a nature that includes cutting throats and burning people alive. We've seen enough evidence of how they revel in cruelty.

No negotiations. No rationalizations. They have got to be destroyed.

First Paragraph

We all know the noun "adult." But I was perplexed last year to begin regularly hearing the new verb "to adult." In social media, especially on Twitter and Instagram, it birthed a new hashtag as well: #adulting. As in: "Doing laundry/dishes/cleaning my bathroom at midnight #adulting" or "Just paid this month's bills on time #adulting" or "Decided I couldn't watch Netflix for 8 hours straight and went to the grocery store instead #adulting."

- From The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming-of-Age Crisis - and How to Rebuild a Culture of Self-Reliance by Ben Sasse

Great Book Titles

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Quote of the Day

Abundance of knowledge does not teach a person to be wise.

- Heraclitus

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

You Have a New Job

You have a new job. 

It is your current job but pretend that you've just gotten it. Which items would you change? Which projects would you drop and which ones would you initiate? Would you have more meetings with your colleagues to get their thoughts? Get a better handle on the concerns of your customers? Would you change your priorities and adopt an entirely new strategy?

You might.

And if so, why aren't you doing that now?

First Paragraph

It was a dumb thing to do but it wasn't that dumb. There hadn't been any trouble out at the lake for years. And it was so exquisitely far from the rest of my life.

- From Sunshine by Robin McKinley

Great Book Titles

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Quote of the Day

We sit by and watch the barbarian. We tolerate him in the long stretches of peace, we are not afraid. We are tickled by his irreverence; his comic inversion of our old certitudes and our fixed creed refreshes us; we laugh. But as we laugh we are watched by large and awful faces from beyond, and on these faces there are no smiles.

― Hilaire Belloc

Monday, May 22, 2017

Attack in Great Britain

The Telegraph has updates.

Both sad and infuriating.

40 Albums You Should Own

He's down to album #2.

I can hear a drum roll in the distance.

Greatest Threats

The Incomparable Nicholas Bate lists the seven greatest threats to Earth and mankind.

Thought-provoking. I'm pondering what would be on my list. What would be on yours?

The Sippican Habit

Obligatory Moose Photo

Get thee to Sippican Cottage. Read, scroll down, and read some more.

The Making Things Harder List

The plan for every major project should include a Making It Harder List. 

That one sheet can be a simple accounting of ways in which, if we don't watch out, a project can be made more difficult. It can include traditional approaches such as "Refuse to seek help" and "Let your research be never-ending" but new ones are also likely to appear.

Acknowledging and controlling our proclivity for complexity can help to produce simplicity. Teams don't just tackle problems, they also produce a few along the way.

First Paragraph

Life is not orderly. No matter how we try to make life so, right in the middle of it we die, lose a leg, fall in love, drop a jar of applesauce. In summer, we work hard to make a tidy garden, bordered by pansies with rows or clumps of columbine, petunias, bleeding hearts. Then we find ourselves longing for the forest, where everything has the appearance of disorder; yet, we feel peaceful there.

- From Wild Mind: Living the Writer's Life by Natalie Goldberg

Great Book Titles

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Quote of the Day

I would have written a shorter letter but I did not have the time.

- Blaise Pascal

Saturday, May 20, 2017

First Paragraph

The woman veered toward Ravic. She walked quickly, but with a peculiar stagger. Ravic first noticed her when she was almost beside him. He saw a pale face, high cheekbones and wide-set eyes. The face was rigid and masklike; it looked hollowed out, and her eyes in the light from the street had an expression of such glassy emptiness that they caught his attention.

- From Arch of Triumph by Erich Maria Remarque

Creating a Culture of Candor

Wally Bock explores a subject that deserves wide attention.

A Daily Visit

Anderson Layman's Blog: Where you can learn about the perfect gift (attention, wine lovers) and the importance of shoes.

Military Recruitment Ads: An International Sample

Recruitment videos (some are a tad strange) for the:

Media Bias

Althouse notes the Harvard Kennedy School's study.

It's as if most of the major media sites no longer even pretend to be objective. I think that CNN in particular has wigged out.

Great Book Titles

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Quote of the Day

Who is wise? Those who learn from everyone.

- Benjamin Franklin

Friday, May 19, 2017

Film Break

The trailers for:

Essential Albums

Cultural Offering's list of 40 albums you should own is now down to #4.

Prediction: The ones to come will not include albums by Boxcar Willie or Slim Whitman.

Marriage, Italian Style

As portrayed in a BMW commercial

Update: The above link was edited. Here is the full (and far superior) commercial.

Speaking of Presentations

An individual's annual compensation is inversely proportional to the number of slides they can look at before they have a stroke.

- Mike Figliuolo in The Elegant Pitch

The Identity Politics Game: A Documentary on Racial Categorization

The trailer for "I Am or How Jack Became Black."

Genius Requires Many Drafts

What do Hamlet, Bleak House, and War and Peace have in common?

Well, one easy guess is that each one required a lot of drafts. 

And producing those required a lot of patience.

First Paragraph

The conversation we've been having about Wall Street in this country for the past decade has become so utterly hyperbolic, supercharged, entrenched, and polemic that if you're like most people, amid all the outrage you've totally lost the thread of the discussion. Maybe you think the whole system is rotten to the core. Maybe you think, sure, there's greed, excess, and bad behavior on Wall Street, with nary a consequence for those responsible, but is the right answer to these problems to break up the big banks? Maybe that's about when you just checked out.

- From Why Wall Street Matters by William D. Cohan

Great Book Titles

Image result for no matter what they'll call this book racist amazon

Quote of the Day

Believe those who are seeking the truth; doubt those who find it.

- Andre Gide

Thursday, May 18, 2017

And Rembrandt Weeps

Althouse points to the latest art sale.

The Not-So-Good Old Days

The trailer for the BBC restoration of "The Third Man."

Once Again: Quick Tips on Presentations

  1. Always check out the room ahead of time. If something presents a problem, get rid of it.
  2. Never dim the lights.
  3. Know your goal.
  4. Know your core message.
  5. If you think of a gimmick that is particularly clever, eliminate it.
  6. Large audience: PowerPoint might be needed but don't have a large number of slides.
  7. Use large font on the slides. No more than three bullet points.
  8. Small audience: No PowerPoint. Just use a flip chart or a white board. Have multi-colored markers.
  9. If you are teaching, take questions throughout the presentation.
  10. Any presentation that lasts several hours should have a 9 or 11 minute break on the hour.
  11. Why the odd break times? Because people will check their watches and will be more likely to return on time.
  12. Aim for the mid-level of knowledge. That avoids the impression of talking over their heads or down to them
  13. Practice. Practice. Practice. Then stop. You can be over-prepared.
  14. Have a conversational tone.
  15. Don't focus on putting yourself at ease. Put your audience at ease.
  16. You don't need to be smooth. You need to be effective.
  17. Each presentation is a learning experience. Later on, jot down what you noticed or what you might change.

Quote of the Day

To speak with the tongue of men and angels, and to spend laborious days and nights in administration, is no good if a man does not inspire trust.

- Herbert Asquith

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Imagining the Future

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The trailers for:

First Paragraph

We humans have a long history of pursuing neural enhancement - ways to improve the brains that evolution gave us. We train them to become more dependable and efficient allies in helping us to achieve our goals. Law schools, business schools, and medical schools, music conservatories and athletic programs, all strive to harness the latent power of the human brain to deliver ever higher levels of achievement, to provide an edge in a world that is increasingly competitive. Through the sheer force of human ingenuity, we have devised systems to free our brains of clutter, to help us keep track of details that we can't trust ourselves to remember. All of these and other innovations are designed either to improve the brain we have, or to off-load some of its functions to external sources.

- From The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload by Daniel J. Levitin

Comey, Trump, and the Media

Althouse on the reporting of the "Comey memo." 

My immediate reaction was to compare the story to President Obama's remark about the investigation of the IRS. Also consider how the press reacted to that.

The game now is to read a headline and then examine whether or not it is supported by solid evidence. Notice the recent contrast between the breathless "Secret Information Disclosed to the Russians" headlines and the subsequent denial by the highly respected National Security Advisor who was actually in the room.

We live in interesting times.


Is this the greatest rock and roll album ever? Cultural Offering argues the case.

[But what about Rubber Soul and Abbey Road?]

Get Off the %/##!!! Plane!

Waiter Rant provides a different and unexpurgated take on the United Airlines incident.

The Process

As you take notes, you filter what you thought, saw or heard and put it in a particular form on some paper. Your interpretation is crucial. You determine what to preserve and what to ignore. You may emphasize certain words or sections and may even add illustrations.The process is key.

When evaluating any project, always consider the How and not just the What. The How is where the problems arise.

Great Book Titles

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Quote of the Day

The truth knocks on the door and you say, "Go away, I'm looking for the truth" and so it goes away. Puzzling.

- Robert M. Pirsig