Thursday, August 31, 2017

Art Break: Steiner

Art Contrarian looks at the work of Bernd Steiner.

Quick Look

The trailer for "Michael."

A Great Companion

Going in my appointment book:

September is "Macbeth."
October is "Hamlet."
November is "Henry V."
December is "Romeo and Juliet."

January is "King Lear."
February is "The Taming of the Shrew."
March is "Othello."
April is "The Merchant of Venice."
May is "Pericles."
June is "As You Like It."
July is "Richard III"
August is "Henry VIII"
September is "Julius Caesar"
October is "Antony and Cleopatra."
November is "Coriolanus."
December is "Much Ado About Nothing."


A sizable amount was done on Wednesday. 

More will be done on Thursday. 

And this was meaningful stuff, not busy work.

Friday will be for correspondence, wrapping up this week, and planning the next.

Remember the time management rule of focusing on the next 25 minutes. Those 25 minute bursts are jarringly effective if you treat them like a commandment and not a suggestion.

First Paragraph

For the first couple of years that I taught a seminar called "Making a Living Without a Job," I kept meeting people who would say, "Oh, you're that woman who teaches the class about not working, aren't you?" As politely as possible, I would respond, "No, I teach a class about not working for someone else." I do, however, understand the confusion.

- From Making a Living Without a Job: Winning Ways for Creating Work That You Love by Barbara J. Winter

Great Book Titles

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Quote of the Day

If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

- Wu-Men

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Eclecticity Light

Where does he find this stuff?

In The Background

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Celebrating Eccentricity

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Music Break

Leonard Bernstein conducting the Candide Overture.

Crank it up.


Espresso, oatmeal, and a review of the crises of the day. 

Email, notes, and reading while the morning is quiet. 

There is always much to ponder inside and outside but much more to appreciate.

Think Again

Just be yourself. If you want it badly enough, it will happen. Persistence always pays off. You can solve any problem with money. Never say no to an opportunity. Volunteer and then volunteer some more. Merit wins out. Crucial decisions aren't based on emotion. The cream rises to the top. He who hesitates is lost. None of us is as smart as all of us. You'll be sure to be noticed. If only the boss knew. That's the ticket.

Quick Look

The trailer for "The Appaloosa."

Great Book Titles

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Quote of the Day

Life isn't about what you know - it's about who you are.

- Rabbi Daniel Lapin

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Health Food Update

Chocolate Chunk Cookies

From 2014: The Pioneer Woman shows how to make Chocolate Chunk Cookies and says, "Your life will be forever altered."

Celebrate Westerns

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Civilization Update

Cultural Offering has found poetry in a pork chop.

Consider Your Own Advice

Be very wary whenever you find yourself not following the advice that you'd give to a good friend.

We can be too harsh or too gentle on ourselves but can have much greater objectivity when advising a friend who is in similar circumstances.

Consider the advice that you'd give to a friend and then take it. 

In most instances, you'll be on the right track.

Quick Look

The trailer for "Advise and Consent."

Great Book Titles

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Quote of the Day

Gently in manner, strong in deed.

- Maxim favored by Dwight Eisenhower

Monday, August 28, 2017

Celebrate Noir

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The stories continue to roll in of the weather's devastating effects in Houston. 

I was in Houston a few years ago to conduct a management workshop and there were roads still closed from the flooding of a previous hurricane. 

Even further back, I did weeks of training for a natural gas company in downtown Houston. One of the eccentricities of the downtown area is that many of the skyscrapers are connected by underground tunnels. The tunnels are large and cheery with coffee, gift and floral shops tucked into their sides. I'd take a hotel escalator down to the tunnel, weave around to the company's elevator which would sweep me up to the floor devoted to training rooms. It was possible to work for days without ever going outside.

You can imagine the condition of those tunnels now.

Pray for Houston and do what you can to help.

First Paragraph

The Hegemony Consul sat on the balcony of his ebony spaceship and played Rachmaninoff's Prelude in C-sharp Minor on an ancient but well-maintained Steinway while great, green, saurian things surged and bellowed in the swamps below. A thunderstorm was brewing to the north. Bruise-black clouds silhouetted a forest of giant gymnosperms while stratocumulus towered nine kilometers high in a violent sky. Lightning rippled across the horizon. Closer to the ship, occasional vague, reptilian shapes would blunder into the interdiction field, cry out, and then crash away through indigo mists. The Consul concentrated on a difficult section of the Prelude and ignored the approach of storm and nightfall.

- from Hyperion by Dan Simmons


Reprise of Cirque du Soleil: the extraordinary performance with hoops

May your week be as good as this.

Two Rules of Communication

  1. If it can be misunderstood, it will be misunderstood.
  2. It can always be misunderstood.

Quick Look

The trailer for "Russian Ark."

Great Book Titles

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Quote of the Day

One of the pains of growing older, so it's said, is a growing feeling that the world is going to pot. Maybe so. But what can be just as trying is the repetitive monotony of the way the world gets there. After a certain number of decades have passed you can't pick up the morning newspaper or a current magazine, all chock-full of laments on the decline of just about everything, without feeling that you've been there before. The word is not so much despair as boredom.

- Vermont Royster in 1966

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Celebrate Westerns

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Quick Look

The trailer for "Wind River."

National Dog Day

Every single day should be Dog Day. They were the world's original home entertainment and security system. 

Most dogs have a nobility to which humans can only aspire.

Simple Rules for Leaders and Managers

On August 17 I invited readers to submit a list of simple rules for leaders and managers.

David Radnell submitted an excellent list:

1. Provide the vision so the team has direction.
2. Set expectations of quality, behavior etc.
3. Isolate team as far as possible from external distractions, politics etc.
4. Provide feedback
5. Provide an environment where all team members feel empowered to contribute.
6. Minimize bureaucracy but measure what is important.
7. Focus on getting stuff done.

I would add:
  • Do what you say you will do.
  • Give as more attention to hiring a person than you do to buying a computer.
  • Increase your courage by doing courageous things.
  • Document wisely and promptly.
  • Never tolerate cruelty or bigotry.
  • Avoid sarcasm
  • Fire carefully but without procrastination.
  • Recognize that a bad attitude is bad performance.
  • If you make a mistake, admit it.
  • Don't inadvertently reward negative behavior.
  • Develop your skills and their skills.
  • Don't manage to the dysfunctional.
  • Guard your time.
  • Lead by example but also talk about key values.
  • Be discreet but honest.
  • Be trustworthy and foster a climate of trust.

Quick Look

The trailer for "Life of Pi."

Great Book Titles

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Quote of the Day

There is now less flogging in our great schools than formerly, but then less is learned there; so that what the boys get at one end, they lose at the other.

- Samuel Johnson

Friday, August 25, 2017

Quick Look

The trailer for "Harvey."

People Behind the Sticker

How many people could have been fed by the cost of that sports car? 

A Simple, Village Undertaker helps to estimate.

A Savage Injustice

Cultural Offering shows the protest.

Hey, hey, ho, ho.

Bock: After The Talk

Wally Bock, who always provides sound advice on management and supervision, has a short but powerful observation on how the employee should feel after a talk about performance or behavior.

18 Rules for Living

Reprise: The Dalai Lama's 18 rules for living

Quite thought-provoking.

Great Book Titles

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Quote of the Day

A true friend is one who likes you despite your achievements.

- Arnold Bennett

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

It Can Be Done

A video at Cultural Offering: An Arizona Militia member and an anti-Trump protester have a civil discussion in Phoenix.

Quick Look

The trailer for "Blaze."

ESPN's Bobby Lee Decision

Robert E. Lee s not announcing football games

At first it seemed like a joke or a prank. Subsequent reports indicate that it is not

ESPN really did remove an Asian American announcer from covering a football game because the man's name is Robert Lee.

Perhaps one of these reasons was behind their decision:
  1. The belief that some ESPN viewers cannot hear the name of the Confederate general without falling into a racist frenzy.
  2. A fear that even more viewers would hear Lee's name and ask, "Wait a minute. Is the announcer the same guy as the one in that statue?"
  3. The sales staff said their viewership was missing "sociology professors.".
  4. They simply had to outdo Six Flags Over Texas in the sensitivity sweepstakes.
  5. They have a sense of humor and wanted to beat The Onion to the story.

A Pleasant Stroll

For a pleasant stroll with a wise friend, visit The Sovereign Professional and The Hammock Papers.

The Great Olivia Manning

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Several years back, after reading that Christopher Hitchens thought that "The Balkan Trilogy" by Olivia Manning was one of the finest novels of World War II, I gave it a try.

I was stunned at how good it was and immediately read Manning's second work, "The Levant Trilogy."

As you can see above, in newer editions the first volume has been titled "Fortunes of War." 

An excellent BBC program with Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson was made but the book is far better.

Both trilogies deserve to be ranked as classics.

Quick Look

The trailer for "My Favorite Year."

Great Book Titles

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Quote of the Day

The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right. The spirit of liberty is the spirit which seeks to understand the minds of other men and women.

- Learned Hand

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Be in the Hologram

Law Latte has some fascinating videos on the immersive holographic experience.

Coming soon to your life. Get ready.

"The Best Books Based in Every State"

Travel  & Leisure has compiled a list.

Not a good list, but a list.

Looking Down On

The whole tribe came up to Lancaster, and we went for a meal in a little village called Heysham, which was awkward to get to but classier than the Brewers’ Fayre some had suggested and enabled me to show that I was now a bit more upmarket than that. Whilst we were waiting, Gramps and I went for a stroll, settling just along from a rock with graves carved into it, looking out over the sands of Morecambe Bay. I was in heaven. I’ve always idolised my Gramps – he was different, from somewhere else, with stories to tell. And so when we talked, and he began to give his sage advice, I lapped it up. And then he said, without hint of humour or irony, ‘Michael, you’re a bright boy – have you ever thought about running a pub?’ As my memory tells it, I guffawed, and assured him I had my sights set on greater things. He fell quiet and, after five minutes or so looking out to sea, we made our way back for the meal.

Read the rest of Michael Merrick's "Notes from Nowhere."

In The Background

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'Convinced about that beard, are you?' he inquired tentatively, then lapsed into silence while I explained about radical socialism. I interpreted his apparent torpor as a sherry-fueled sloth. It was only years later on, when I found out how sharp he was, that I realized he was politely but immovably bored rigid at meeting his ten thousandth young savior of the world. With his direct line to an earlier and better qualified envoy sent on the same task, the Dean was in the position of a senior manager who is required, for form's sake, to go on interviewing candidates after the job has been filled.

- From May Week Was In June by Clive James

Quick Look

The trailer for "Taken."

Procrastinating on Training

Certain workshop topics draw voluntary attendance. Others must be required. Jack or Maria may be willing to put in a request to attend a class on supervision or communication or presentation skills but they are less inclined to go to the boss and say, "I think I need a class on ethics." Or, better yet, "I think I need a class on harassment prevention."

Either of those observations could significantly enlarge the scope of the conversation.

In my experience, the employers (and employees) who need training the most get it the least. The effective ones use training as booster shots to enhance current skills. The wisest employers keep close tabs on the amount and types of training their employees have received and then - key point - provide needed training before the need is acute. They stay ahead of the game.

Unfortunately, far more employers wait for a crisis or disaster before considering that it just might have, sort of, made sense to train these people in that topic. They usually don't recognize the need but when they do, their interest is intense.

It is all too human but waiting until something needs to be fixed can be a very expensive management practice.

Great Book Titles

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Quote of the Day

To be everywhere at once is to be nowhere forever, if you ask me.

- Edward Abbey

Monday, August 21, 2017

Eclipse in Casper, Wyoming

Time magazine has a neat video of the eclipse in Casper, Wyoming. Note that you can direct the camera in the icon in the top left.

As you move the camera further to the left, you can also seen the screen photo of the sun. Look for the "diamond ring" effect toward the end of the eclipse.

Quick Look

The trailer for "To Catch a Thief."

Night Reading

I read a ridiculously large amount but not as much as I should. Each item is carefully suited to the moment. Late at night, care must be taken to select a book that, while interesting, won't be so interesting that it will keep me up. Nothing spooky, of course, and that's why my current late night choice of a nonfiction book about a Siberian tiger that not just kills but murders with a vengeance is an exception. [The publisher also printed the damned thing in such small type that there are times when my nose brushes the pages. That puts me all the closer to the tiger.]

Long ago I abandoned the idea that starting a book meant that I'd have to finish it. I'll give a writer three or maybe four chapters and if I'm not hooked it's adios. Some are chucked after a few pages. Stephen King's first volume of The Dark Tower was so bad so early that I was tempted to take it out into the yard and shoot it.

Anyway, back to late night reading. Business books won't work because I'll get too many ideas and will stay up late jotting down notes. Some histories and biographies are fine. Classics are best. Anthony Trollope and Charles Dickens are grand choices but the Russian, Spanish, and French novelists will also serve. [Tell a friend, "I was up last night with a Trollope" and your reputation may change.]

If you've found a great late-night author, let me know.

Eclipse Day

The day of the eclipse. I have client meetings. Although we may take a break to peek out windows it is unlikely that there will be much excitement. 

Arizona is not prime eclipse territory so I've had to scrap plans to demand total obedience lest I blot out the sun.

Which is a shame. It could have been a day of high drama.

Bate Watch

I suspect that Nicholas Bate now has a branch office.

Great Book Titles

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Saturday, August 19, 2017

Celebrate Noir

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Quick Look

The trailer for "Moneyball."

"The Quest for Cosmic Justice"

Reprise: Check out Dr. Thomas Sowell's speech on his book about cosmic justice. An excerpt:

When you try to condense a book representing years of thought and research into a half-hour talk, a certain amount of over-simplification is inevitable.  With that understood, let me try to summarize the message of The Quest for Cosmic Justice in three propositions which may seem to be axiomatic, but whose implications are in fact politically controversial:
  1. The impossible is not going to be achieved.

  2. It is a waste of precious resources to try to achieve it.

  3. The devastating costs and social dangers which go with these attempts to achieve the impossible should be taken into account.

Great Book Titles

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Quote of the Day

The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials. 

- Lin Yutang

Friday, August 18, 2017

Celebrate Noir

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"Extreme Ownership"

Take a few minutes today to listen to Navy SEAL Jocko Willink's TED talk on ownership.

Highly recommended.

First Paragraph

This is a history of the Gulag: a history of the vast network of labor camps that were once scattered across the length and breadth of the Soviet Union, from the islands of the White Sea to the shores of the Black Sea, from the Arctic Circle to the plains of central Asia, from Murmansk to Vorkuta to Kazakhstan, from central Moscow to the Leningrad suburbs. Literally, the word GULAG is an acronym, meaning Glavnoe Upravlenie Lagerei, or Main Camp Administration. Over time, the word "Gulag" has also come to signify not only the administration of the concentration camps but also the system of Soviet slave labor itself, in all its forms and varieties: labor camps, punishment camps, criminal and political camps, women's camps, children's camps, transit camps. Even more broadly, "Gulag" has come to mean the Soviet repressive system itself, the set of procedures that prisoners once called the "meat-grinder": the arrests, the interrogations, the transport in unheated cattle cars, the forced labor, the destruction of families, the years spent in exile, the early and unnecessary deaths.

- From Gulag: A History by Anne Applebaum

Art Break: Aylward

Art Contrarian looks at the work of William James Aylward.

The Mass Hysteria Bubble

If you’re in the mass hysteria, recognizing you have all the symptoms of hysteria won’t help you be aware you are in it. That’s not how hallucinations work. Instead, your hallucination will automatically rewrite itself to expel any new data that conflicts with its illusions.

But if you are not experiencing mass hysteria, you might be totally confused by the actions of the people who are. They appear to be irrational, but in ways that are hard to define. You can’t tell if they are stupid, unscrupulous, ignorant, mentally ill, emotionally unstable or what. It just looks frickin’ crazy.

Read the rest of the Scott Adams post here.

Lessons of Modern Life

  • Social media is generally unsociable.
  • Authenticity is over-rated. Insincere kindness beats sincere cruelty. 
  • The traditional news media bemoan informal news sources but then do everything possible to enhance the appeal of those sources.
  • In the game of ideas those who can't score a point can always feign an injury.
  • People who barely know their own minds can tell you, in minute detail, the arcane motives of a person whom they've never met.
  • The draft did more for the nation than it did for the military..
  • .Walk slowly and observe. Read slowly and do the same.
  • The government should move several cabinet departments to the Midwest, the Southwest, and the South.
  • This may be one of those times in history when the kids won't be all right.
  • Hollywood political endorsements should be the kiss of death.
  • If the quality of your life is to be depicted by either an email or a handwritten letter, choose the letter.

Great Book Titles

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Quote of the Day

80/20 wisdom is to choose a basket carefully, load all your eggs into it, and then watch it like a hawk.

- Richard Koch in The 80/20 Principle