Monday, July 31, 2017

Upcoming Best Seller

"White House Memoirs" by Anthony Scaramucci.

Don't tell me you wouldn't read it.

Quick Look

The trailer for "Sneakers."

Will Healthcare Bankrupt the Nation?


After doubling to $20 trillion since 2009, the national debt is now projected to soar to an unfathomable $92 trillion over the next 30 years. At that point, depending on interest rates, between 60 and 100 percent of all individual income taxes will go towards paying the interest on this debt.

What is driving the federal budget into bankruptcy? Health care spending.


Read the rest of Brian Riedl's essay.

Off the Cuff


Let us rush rush rush rush rush rush to make our mistakes.

Decisions made "off the cuff" can later make us wish that someone had taken us by the elbow.

Quick Look

The trailer for "Smiley's People."

Great Book Titles

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Quote of the Day

A lonely place is an unmotivated place.

- Laird Hamilton

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Bock on Books


Wally Bock on how Art Petty gets the most from business books.

Quick Look

The trailer for "The Commitments."

First Paragraph

Two hundred forty-three million Americans crowd together in the 3 percent of the country that is urban. Thirty-six million people live in and around Tokyo, the most productive metropolitan area in the world. Twelve million people reside in central Mumbai, and Shanghai is almost as large. On a planet with vast amounts of space (all of humanity could fit in Texas - each of us with a personal townhouse), we choose cities. Although it has become cheaper to travel long distances, or to telecommute from the Ozarks to Azerbaijan, more and more people are clustering closer together in large metropolitan areas. Five million more people every month live in the cities of the developing world, and in 2011, more than half the world's population is urban.

- From Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier by Edward Glaeser

Music Break

Reprise: Billy Joel with "A Matter of Trust."

Quick Look

The trailer for "Queen of the Desert."

Stoics and More Stoics

Seneca would agree

You can find them everywhere:
[Ryan Holiday's The Obstacle is the Way draws a lot from Marcus Aurelius. Seneca and Epictetus, of course, are in the top tier. Tom Wolfe's novel, A Man in Full, in which the protagonist discovers stoicism, is fun and worth more than one reading.]

Chandlerisms


Some reasons why the murder mysteries by Raymond Chandler are not to be missed:
  • From 30 feet away she looked like a lot of class. From 10 feet away she looked like something made up to be seen from 30 feet away.
  • It was a blonde. A blonde to make a bishop kick a hole in a stained-glass window.
  • Even on Central Avenue, not the quietest dressed street in the world, he looked about as inconspicuous as a tarantula on a slice of angel food.
  • I smelled of gin. Not just casually, as if I had taken four or five drinks of a winter morning to get out of bed on, but as if the Pacific Ocean was pure gin and I had nosedived off the boat deck. The gin was in my hair and eyebrows, on my chin and under my chin. It was on my shirt. I smelled like dead toads.
  • Anna Halsey was about two hundred and forty pounds of middle-aged putty-faced woman in a black tailor-made suit. Her eyes were shiny black shoe buttons, her cheeks were as soft as suet and about the same color. She was sitting behind a black glass desk that looked like Napoleon's tomb and she was smoking a cigarette in a black holder that was not quite as long as a rolled umbrella. She said: "I need a man." 
  • There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands' necks. Anything can happen. You can even get a full glass of beer at a cocktail lounge. 


Quick Look

The trailer for "A Prophet."

Great Book Titles

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Quote of the Day

We are whatever we pretend to be.

- Kurt Vonnegut

Friday, July 28, 2017

Celebrate Westerns

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Art Break: Lăzărescu



Art Contrarian looks at the work of Emilian Lăzărescu.

Quick Look

The trailer for "A Very Long Engagement."

Wolf Hall Trilogy

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The Guardian gives an update on when the final volume will follow Wolf Hall and its sequel Bring Up the Bodies.

Aargh. I've been eagerly awaiting it.

Here's the trailer for the excellent BBC series.

The Politicization of Sports


David French on a survey showing why fans tuned out the National Football League.

Quick Look


The trailer for "Darkest Hour."

First Paragraph

A rod of burnished copper, affixed by a laboratory vise-grip, rose from the corner of the claw-footed desk, which was topped with the finest Moroccan leather. At the height of fifteen inches the rod terminated in a gimbaled joint which allowed a second extension full freedom of movement in nearly a complete sphere of space. A third length of rod, mated to the first two with a second joint, ended in a fitting shaped to accommodate a writer's grip: four finger grooves and a thumb recess. Projecting from this fitting was a fountain-pen nib.

- From The Steampunk Trilogy by Paul Di Filippo

Great Book Titles

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Quote of the Day

The struggle ends when the gratitude begins.

- Neale Donald Walsch

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Ronald Colman Break

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Quick Look

The trailer for "Amelie."

Pick Some Time Today


to hide from your computer.

In The Background

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Occupational Excuse

When a friend of mine who is a rancher recently dropped out of contact, I began to worry that he might have had some health problems.

Yesterday, I was relieved to find the real reason: cattle auctions.

Random Thoughts


We cannot afford to receive some gifts. ~ It is an alluring but dangerous assumption to believe that the parties in a dispute are speaking the same language even if they are, technically, speaking the same language. ~ To learn a group's values, find out what it punishes. ~ No one is the same at the end of a journey. ~ The ability to tolerate boredom is often essential to success. ~ A book reader is a far more active participant in the telling of the story than is the person who watches that same story in a film.  ~ A poor advocate can be more harmful than a powerful enemy. ~ Unless you are bluffing, understatement beats overstatement. ~ Feigning an injury should be condemned, not subsidized. ~ Eloquent and persuasive are not the same as wise and true. ~ The clock always casts a vote. ~ School children should be required to scan news stories for examples of "apples and oranges." ~ The advocates of utopia have a hellish performance record. ~ Removing or adding an object rarely if ever solves a problem of values. ~ A modern curse would wish that an adversary has an excess of a particular quality. ~ Personalities are easy culprits to identify but an organization's alignment.deficiencies hide behind a curtain. ~ Every day is a battle against the tendency to drift. ~ Some flexibility is essential but it helps to work from a daily script.

Great Book Titles

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Quote of the Day

I always say I got all my understanding of how business and life works from studying the Second World War.

- Casey Neistat

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Art Break: Fuchs



Art Contrarian looks at the work of Bernie Fuchs.

Quick Look

The trailer for "Ready Player One." [An upcoming Spielberg film.]

Getting Things Done in a Deliberative Body

Cultural Offering has the video of John McCain's speech upon his return to the Senate. 

Here's hoping it is taken to heart by both sides and by all factions.

"La Dolce Vita" Break

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Quick Look

The trailer for "Margin Call."

The Missing How


The theory is that a supervisor should simply tell team members what he or she wants done and then back off and let them work out how it will be done. The result of this magical practice is that the employees will naturally come up with a great way of achieving the mission.

Or they won't.

It all depends, of course, on the ability of the employees and the nature of the mission. The reason why I am skeptical of that clever avoidance of the "how" is that if the employees are not prepared to handle it, the only creativity you'll see is in the caliber of their excuses as to why it was not done.

A quick example: the leadership for a nonprofit organization tells a group of employees that knows next to nothing about fund-raising to raise funds. They receive no training on how to do so but are given extensive briefings on why it is desirable; a bit of information they already knew.

The result? The fund-raising project fails and the following month another briefing on the necessity of fund-raising is given.

The cycle continues.

The Why is where thought dwells. The How is where action will, or will not, appear. 

Great Book Titles

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Quote of the Day

He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have.

- Socrates

Monday, July 24, 2017

Celebrate Westerns

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Art Break: Broders



Art Contrarian looks at posters by Roger Broders.

Anne Dufourmantelle, RIP

The French academic and author, who wrote about the importance of taking risks, died while trying to save a child.

Automation, Professionals, and Managers


Here’s the dirty little secret about automation: it’s easier to build a robot to replace a junior attorney than to replace a journeyman electrician. And that fact helps explain why economists and politicians are feeling misgivings about “creative destruction,” which, up to now, they have usually embraced as a net good for society. Technology and automation, they’ve argued—correctly—boost productivity and create more jobs overall (even as some kinds of work get eradicated).

Read the rest of the essay by Mark P. Mills in City Journal.

This Old Horse


Sprained my shoulder. Am applying a variety of home remedies, beginning with BenGay. Am saving the nuclear option - Sloan's Liniment - for last.

I tried some approaches from the Internet because, as we know, it is the source of all wisdom. They made it worse. The BenGay has helped. I like the version that smells like Pepto-Bismol because I want some indication of when it may be wearing off, assuming that has any relation to logic. 

Absorbine Jr. is my middle option. 

Since it was originally used for horses it may be a good fit.

Quick Look

The trailer for "The Battle of Algiers."

Get Out There and Fail


A person tells you about a disastrous presentation he made and you're thinking, "That's not even in the top thirty of the worst presentations I've seen." You wish you had a few videos of those because he'll think you're just being kind when you're really being honest.

Our own poor performances can be powerful lessons but the less than stellar performances of others can be inspirational. Pick a famous writer, artist, or musician and you'll probably be able to find some cringe-worthy efforts in their work. (Okay, let's exclude Beethoven, Mozart, and Bach). Not all of Shakespeare's plays equaled "Hamlet." Dickens wrote some so-so stuff. Many a famous actor has performed in films that were mediocre. And let's not get into the number of skilled executives who have a termination or two in their background.

Failure is part of the process. You win some, you lose some, and you keep moving.

You don't take it lightly but you take it and learn.

Get out there and fail.

Great Book Titles

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Quote of the Day

There is no future in a job. The only future is inside yourself.

- Stephen R. Covey

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Bock on Books


Wally Bock reviews The Outward Mindset by The Arbinger Institute.

Celebrate Westerns

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True

My elder daughter should take some of the credit, or blame, for getting me to start reading again as if there might be a tomorrow, when I was ready to settle down on my deathbed and read nothing but the Bible. She had all of Patrick O'Brian's Jack Aubrey novels in her house and urged me to try the first one, Master and Commander, with a promise that it was even better than the movie. She was like a drug dealer handing out a free sample.

- Clive James in Latest Readings

Quick Look

The trailer for "Amarcord."

A World Awash in Change

Real Clear Politics: Former Secretary of State George P. Shultz gives his thoughts. An excerpt:

Early in Ronald Reagan's presidency, the U.S. air-traffic controllers struck. People came into the Oval Office and counseled him that this presented very complex problems. He said, "It's not complicated; it's simple. They took an oath of office and they broke it. They're out." All over the world, people thought that Reagan was crazy, but he turned to his secretary of transportation, who had been the chief executive of a large transportation company and who understood the problems and knew how to execute. He kept the planes flying. All over the word, people thought, "This guy plays for keeps. Be careful."

What Are You Reading Each Morning Before Coffee?


Check the start of the list by Nicholas Bate.

Great Book Titles

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Quote of the Day

Most people say that their main fault is a lack of discipline. On deeper thought, I believe that is not the case. The basic problem is that their priorities have not become deeply planted in their hearts and minds.

- Stephen R. Covey

Friday, July 21, 2017

Celebrate Westerns

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Greatness

Winston Churchill: "We shall never surrender."

Another Explanation: They are Immoral and Cruel

Althouse analyzes the case of the boys who watched a man drown and did nothing to assist him. An excerpt:

They talk to the man. What they say is crude, but it communicates a truth to the man. They will not help him. And they struggle to explain why: He shouldn't have gone in there. They laugh in the end when he goes under. I haven't heard the laughing. But it could be anxiety, shock, and denial.

Quick Look

The trailer for "Nowhere in Africa."

The Strange Death of Europe


Mark Steyn talks to Douglas Murray about Murray's new book on immigration, identity, and Islam.

Quick Look

The trailer for "True Confessions."

McCain, Comedy Central, and Sam McGee

From The Weekly Standard in 1999: Andrew Ferguson tells about the time that Comedy Central tried to trap Senator John McCain with a question about his favorite poet.

Be sure to read the story all the way through to the end.

For those unfamiliar with the poetry of Robert W. Service, here are two of his most famous poems:

First Paragraph

It was November. Although it was not yet late, the sky was dark when I turned into Laundress Passage. Father had finished for the day, switched off the shop lights and closed the shutters; but so I would not come home to darkness he had left on the light over the stairs to the flat. Through the glass in the door it cast a foolscap rectangle of paleness onto the wet pavement, and it was while I was standing in that rectangle, about to turn my key in the door, that I first saw the letter. Another white rectangle, it was on the fifth step from the bottom, where I couldn't miss it.

- From The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

Great Book Titles

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Quote of the Day

The world is changed by your example, not by your opinion.

- Paulo Coelho

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Oh, That Way.

Althouse provides some indirect advice on how to get a reality TV show.

Dickens

At Five Books, Jenny Hartley recommends the best books on Charles Dickens.

I confess to being particularly fond of Bleak House.

The Toilet Exhibit at The Guggenheim

For AmericaCattelan replaced the toilet in this restroom with a fully functional replica cast in 18-karat gold, making available to the public an extravagant luxury product seemingly intended for the 1 percent. Its participatory nature, in which viewers are invited to make use of the fixture individually and privately, allows for an experience of unprecedented intimacy with a work of art. Cattelan’s toilet offers a wink to the excesses of the art market but also evokes the American dream of opportunity for all—its utility ultimately reminding us of the inescapable physical realities of our shared humanity.

Read the rest about this 2016 exhibit at The Guggenheim Museum.

Consider it they would ever have a similar exhibit named for any of the following:
  • Islam
  • Europe
  • Mexico
  • Socialism.

Reading Lists


Politico magazine: What politicos are reading this summer.

Art Break: Cuneo



Art Contrarian looks at the work of Rinaldo Cuneo.

Another Reason Why I Gave Up Cycling

Althouse has the photo.

I think I'll go eat a cookie.

Quick Look

The trailer for "The Philadelphia Story." 

Note the reference to the cost of Broadway seats.

Thinking Recipe



The idea involves a dash of libertarian legal philosophy, a pinch of labor law, a couple of ounces of communication theory plus several cups of experience working with executives, managers, and supervisors. That will be marinated in a few theories of my own and left in the back of my mind for several days. It will then be blended with some observations by Napoleon Bonaparte, George Orwell, and Ray Bradbury.

Thinking can be complicated. 

I'll have to make sure it's not half-baked.

Great Book Titles

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Quote of the Day

When confused as to how you're doing as a leader, find out how the people you lead are doing. You'll know the answer.

- Larry Bossidy

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Health Food Update

DSC_5359

From August 2016: The Pioneer Woman shows how to make Lemon Pancakes.

First Paragraph

The floor of the crimson and gilt Senate Chamber filled quickly as the senators and representatives took their places to hear Congressman Ben Butler of Massachusetts present the case against President Andrew Johnson. Twenty-five days earlier, on March 5, 1868, the president's trial had formally opened with Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase residing over the fifty-three senators who sat as a court of impeachment. One hundred and ninety-two members of the House of Representatives, having voted to impeach Johnson for "high crimes and misdemeanors in office," were present as accusers. On March 3, the representatives had adopted eleven articles of impeachment, the most notorious, Article X, having been written by Butler himself. In it, he had accused Johnson of bringing Congress into disgrace by "inflammatory and scandalous harangues" and of degrading his office "to the great scandal of all good citizens." That ailing but most savagely vindictive Radical Republican leader Thaddeus Stevens had taken the occasion to warn the president: "Unfortunate, unhappy man, behold your doom!"

- From American Heritage History of The Confident Years, 1866-1914 by Francis Russell

Quick Look

The trailer for "The Fifth Element."

Medusa


I've sometimes noticed that an answer will only become clear if I look at a matter indirectly.

Great Book Titles

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Quote of the Day

Nothing in this world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty.

- Theodore Roosevelt

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Celebrate Westerns

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Quick Look

The trailer for "The Transporter."

An Amnesia to Remember

Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray's case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward—reversing cause and effect. I call these the "wet streets cause rain" stories. Paper's full of them.

In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.


- Michael Crichton

Great Book Titles

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