Saturday, September 30, 2017

Obligatory Pumpkin Update

Pumpkin Sheet Cake

From 2014, The Pioneer Woman shows how to make Pumpkin Sheet Cake.

This Strikes Home

FutureLawyer has a sign for every family.


Resolve to be tender with the young,
Compassionate with the aging,
Sympathetic with the striving, 
And tolerant of the weak and the wrong,
Because sometime in your life
You will have been all of these.

- Lloyd Shearer

The Incomparable Bate

A simple approach to Nicholas Bate: Visit. Click. Ponder. Learn.

A Lesson in Poise


What happened when pianist Eliane Rodrigues encountered a problem with her piano during a performance.

Ayn Rand, Adam Smith, Marcus Aurelius and Friends

The Sovereign Professional's Andrew Munro packs a lot of insight into a single post.


I once heard an executive describe a decision as a "no brainer." He meant that the action he'd taken was such an obvious one that no serious thought was required.

There were several reasons why some additional brain power would have helped. Still, my opinion wasn't solicited at that time so I held an uncharacteristic silence and instead raised an eyebrow. 

[My eyebrows are eloquent.]

He then asked for my opinion and so I outlined the ways in which the decision could blow up. 

I didn't persuade him.

That was fine. His decision was not a poor one and could even have been sound.

But I do know one thing for certain; it was not a "no brainer."

Quick Look

The trailer for "Star Wars: The Last Jedi."

Great Book Titles

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Quote of the Day

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.

- Theodore Roosevelt

Friday, September 29, 2017

A Dramatic Reading for Our Times

Reflecting what was once known as a sense of humor, the Reverend Jesse Jackson recites the gospel of Dr. Suess.

Dr. Suess Books

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The story of the librarian who objected to Melania Trump's gift of Dr. Suess books sounds like something out of The Onion.

I eagerly read Dr. Suess books as a child and later read them to my children. The books are clever and imaginative so rather than try to crawl into the worldview of a would-be re-education camp director in Massachusetts, let's think of our Suess favorites.

My top choices are If I Ran the Zoo and Scrambled Eggs Super.

Art Break: Benton

Art Contrarian visited the Thomas Hart Benton exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Indirect Thought

You know the experience. 

You aren't directly thinking about something but you are thinking about it. It is in your thoughts, not front row center but certainly in the theater. Despite your efforts to focus on another topic, you are really thinking about that one.

We pretend that life is in boxes.

First Paragraph

A little after 8:30 p.m. on Monday, 2 April 1917 President Woodrow Wilson asked the US Congress to support his declaration of war on Germany. Wilson delivered his speech with his usual careful, slightly nasal enunciation; his audience was spellbound, the silence being interrupted only by a loud and eerie crash as a soldier standing guard dropped his rifle. 'The world,' Wilson told Congress, 'must be made safe for democracy.' By 11 November 1918 it was evident that part of the price paid by the United States to ensure the safety of democracy in Europe was the weakening of its defences at home.

- From The Doughboys: America and the First World War by Gary Mead

Great Book Titles

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Quote of the Day

That feeling of hopelessness only serves your masters.

- Mort Sahl

Thursday, September 28, 2017

In the Background

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Quick Look

The trailer for "To Die For."

Up from Mexico

Anderson Layman's Blog has a brief video of a lightning storm. 

It reminded me of days in Tucson when the storms would roll up from Mexico and life outside became damned dangerous because of the lightning and yet if you were in a safe place and could watch the water pour down while massive amounts of electricity ripped the sky then that was one of the best features of life in The Old Pueblo.

Brand New Firm. Same Old Dog.

For a number of reasons - all of them happy - I have formed a new firm, Execupundit Consulting, LLC. 

Hmm. Catchy name.

The new website can be found here.

Be sure to provide your email at the bottom of its web page if you'd like to be informed of upcoming classes and books.

Art Break: Adams

Art Contrarian looks at the work of Austrian painter John Quincy Adams.

Quote of the Day

Don't be confused by surfaces; in the depths everything becomes law.

- Rainer Maria Rilke

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Celebrate Noir

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Music Break

Back by popular demand: Suzanne Vega with "Tom's Diner."

First Paragraph

To write the Life of him who excelled all mankind in writing the lives of others, and who, whether we consider his extraordinary endowments, or his various works, has been equalled by few in any age, is an arduous, and may be reckoned in me a presumptuous task.

- From The Life of Samuel Johnson by James Boswell

Tipping Point

"Yeah, that's a problem."

"How big of a problem is it?"

"Not very big."

"Have you ever calculated its indirect costs?"

"No. We just focus on the direct ones. Those are the ones that get measured."

"If the indirect costs, such as the amount of staff time affected across the organization, were calculated, would that be a large number?"

"Now that you mention it, I suppose it would be significant."

"And within your own department?"

"I see where you're going. It's a much bigger problem than we thought."

Great Book Titles

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Quote of the Day

Let us train our minds to desire what the situation demands.

- Seneca

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Quick Look

The trailer for "Blade Runner 2049."

When Minor Becomes Major

If minor characters show signs of becoming major characters, you at least give them a shot at it because in the world of fiction it may take many pages before you find out who the major characters really are just as in the real world it may take you many years to find out that the stranger you talked to for a half an hour once in a railway station may have done more to point you to where your true homeland lies than your closest friend or your psychiatrist.

- Frederick Buechner on writing fiction, from "Secrets in the Dark"

Art Break: St. John

Art Contrarian looks at the work of J. Allen St. John.

The NFL's Slow Suicide

Salena Zito on protests and the Pittsburgh fans. An excerpt:

“Villanueva stood alone out there. It hurt because not a single player or coach thought to go stand with him. Not one. And that’s tragic because Villanueva had their backs on the battlefield, and no one had his on the football field during our anthem,” he said.

Eclectic Learning

I am currently reading - and getting ideas from - The Conquest of The Sahara by Douglas Porch; Great Contemporaries by Winston Churchill; A Spark From Heaven? by Adrian Savage;  Better and Faster by Jeremy Gutsche; Secrets in the Dark by Frederick Buechner and The Old Ways by Robert Macfarlane.

Completely undisciplined, I know, but the variety is nice. There is only one management book in the bunch and yet so far the jaw-dropping insights on management have been in the book on the Sahara. 

Great Book Titles

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Quote of the Day

The future is not some place we are going to, but one we are creating. The paths are not to be found, but made, and the activity of making them changes both the maker and the destination.

- John Schaar

Monday, September 25, 2017

Yes, Your Dog Loves You.

Writing in National Review, Jonah Goldberg explores a new study. An excerpt:

In one test they alternated between giving the pooches hot dogs (the food, not Dachshunds) and offering them praise. Looking at the pleasure centers of the dogs’ brains, the researchers found that nearly all the dogs responded to “Who’s a good boy?! You are!” (or whatever they actually said) with at least as much pleasure as when they got a Hebrew National. A fifth of the dogs actually preferred praise to food.

Can Democracy Survive Tribalism?

"One of the great attractions of tribalism is that you don't actually have to think very much."

Read the rest of Andrew Sullivan's essay in New York magazine.

Pillars of a Decent Society

Princeton professor Robert P. George argues that a decent society needs three pillars:

  1. Respect for the individual and his dignity.
  2. The institution of the family.
  3. A fair and effective system of law and government.
Take away any one of these pillars and society will have major problems.

Quick Look

The trailer for the latest version of "Murder On the Orient Express."

Basic Courtesy and the NFL

If I were a professional athlete (I know, use your imagination) and, let's say, my team were going to play athletes from Iran or Cuba and China - nations with which I have a lot of disagreements - and the national anthems of those nations were played, despite all of those disagreements, I would stand.

Basic courtesy. Traditional courtesy. Doesn't mean there haven't been historical wrongs. Is not an endorsement of current policies. It is basic courtesy.

Don't lawyerize everything. Don't politicize everything.

Basic courtesy goes a very long way. 

Great Book Titles

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Quote of the Day

Comment is free but facts are sacred.

- Charles Scott

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Back to the Cave

Althouse provides yet another reason why exploring caves does not appeal to many of us.

I'll bet the next meeting of that caving club will be interesting.

Of course, there can be worse alternatives to a few nights near a cave entrance.

In The Background

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Quick Look

The trailer for "I Believe I Can Fly."

Note: If you are afraid of heights, this is not for you.

Projects and Relationships

Beware of projects.

Projects are temporary. At times, they may seem never-ending but they eventually end. 

No one like to be thought of as a project because that makes you a thing and many projects are a grind. They are gray, mechanical, and external objects; something we are eager to finish.

The best relationships are meaningful and treasured.

All of us have projects but they go more smoothly when accompanied by positive relationships.

Work on relationships and the projects will follow. Focus on projects and the relationships may disappear.

Highly Recommended

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Recently saw the fourth season. Excellent series.

Quote of the Day

When Henry James, of all people, was saying good-bye once to his young nephew Billy, his brother William's son, he said something that the boy never forgot. And of all the labyrinthine and impenetrably subtle things that that most labyrinthine and impenetrable old romancer could have said, what he did say was this: "There are three things that are important in human life. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. The third is to be kind."

- Frederick Buechner

Friday, September 22, 2017

Quick Look

The trailer for "Guns at Batasi."


Althouse on the story about 45 men who were dressed like Magnum P.I. being forced to leave a Detroit Tigers game.

The story has no details on what they were doing. Personally I believe that everyone who goes to a Detroit Tigers game should dress like that.

From the comments: "It would have been more disturbing if they'd been dressed like Higgins."

Quick Look

The trailer for "Kingsman: The Secret Service."

How to Survive a Bear Attack

FutureLawyer, a man of many skills, has a helpful chart.

Slide Wars

I have harped on this topic before but shall stress it again: when it comes to teaching, an overhead projector is far more useful than that odious tool known as PowerPoint.

Now I know there are people who will point to various ways in which you can write or draw on a PowerPoint slide but none of them is as simple as using a wax pencil on an acetate sheet on an overhead projector.

Why is that important? Because the ability to provide a quick illustration in response to a student's question is part of dynamic teaching. You don't just feed prepared slides to your classes. You engage, listen, and elaborate on various points. With a small audience, you can always use a flip chart or a white board (and it was a sad day when chalk boards left the classroom but I'll save that rant for another time) but with a large audience, the overhead projector puts PowerPoint to shame.

I can recall the early days of the mad rush to PowerPoint. It reminded me of the 1970s when otherwise sane people suddenly thought bell-bottoms were high fashion. It has been decades and their credibility is still suspect. PowerPoint was likewise hip and cool because it was, well, hip and cool. If you pressed them for explanations they became suspiciously vague. They then went on the attack and anyone who resisted the PowerPoint trend was mocked as a Luddite, a mossback, and a cave-dweller.

Such attacks revealed the weakness of their case.

Those attending my next workshop on how to make presentations to councils and boards may be in for some time travel. They will see the usual PowerPoint slides and advice but hold on: another device may make a surprise appearance.

Great Book Titles

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Quote of the Day

A life without God is like a boat without an anchor.

- Billy Graham

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Passion in Advertising

Back by popular demand: "Flea Market Montgomery."

Quick Look

The trailer for "A Room with a View."

Thinking of Puerto Rico

I've been to Puerto Rico twice. Each time was to teach a workshop on supervision.

I loved it.

The people are great, the island is beautiful, and there is plenty of history to soak in.

While reading the recent news of the hurricane's devastation, memories returned: the length of the flight from Miami (it's a greater distance than many people assume); the old Spanish fortress; the amiable cab driver who knew the capital of every state; the casinos overlooking the sea; the workshop attendees who quietly waited for me to invite them into the training room; and the high price of paperbacks at the San Juan airport.

Send prayers and help to Puerto Rico.

Protecting The Grid

Cultural Offering points to a sobering issue that deserves far more attention. If all electricity were out for six months or a year, if modern technology went poof, our lives would be transformed. Civilization itself would be imperiled. 

You don't need to be a survivalist to worry about the possibility. Nations such as North Korea would love to be able to launch an attack on the American grid. Even more advanced adversaries would love for them to do so.

An excerpt from "Lights Out" by Ted Koppel: 

"There are emergency preparedness plans in place for earthquakes and hurricanes, heat waves and ice storms. There are plans for power outages of a few days, affecting as many as several million people. But if a highly populated area was without electricity for a period of months or even weeks, there is no master plan for the civilian population."

Former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta observed, "The danger we face right now is great, but so is the failure to acknowledge that the threat exists at all."

Quote of the Day

We are not a preemptive democracy. We are a reactive one. Rare are the occasions on which we act in anticipation of a potential problem.

- Tom Ridge

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Passion in Advertising

Back by popular demand: The commercial for Big Bob's Marshall Warehouse

Quick Look

The trailer for "Clerks."

Disability Accommodation and a Less Than Charming Professor

Althouse has a story about a professor and what appears to be a very reasonable way to accommodate a student with a disability. 

I wonder if the professor has any idea of how he comes across. Of course, he may not care.

Saharan Courtesy

"Unfortunately, the etiquette of the desert forbids you to ask the identity of any traveler whom you may meet. You may ask him where he is coming from, where he is going to, or questions of a similar nature, but you must on no account ask him who he is. There is a polite fiction to the effect that every man you meet, even if he is a common camel driver, is such a well-known personage that any inquiries concerning his identity are unnecessary." 

- W. J. Harding-King, 19th century English traveler, quoted in The Conquest of The Sahara by Douglas Porch

In The Background

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I was talking with a lawyer a few weeks ago about a story that had made national news. He had no difficulty with the conduct because he'd analyzed the matter and had found no legal problem. When I cited a multitude of management blunders, his response was along the lines of, "Oh, those. Yeah, those could be trouble."

Our respective fields can easily become traps. Always consider the backgrounds of those who are in the room.

Quote of the Day

A little integrity is better than any career.

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Celebrate Creativity

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Quick Look

The trailer for "Snakes On A Plane."

Leadership Reading

Fast Company: Seven books recommended by Microsoft's CEO.

I've read Mindset and thought it was very good.

Killer Morning

This is a black coffee and allergy medicine, think of last night's dream and wonder how much was real, wrestle with technology, slog through paperwork, check due dates, finish drafts, and get through a big list sort of morning.

Great Book Titles

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Quote of the Day

The professor was a bore on a Guggenheim, a long-range drone, an international ballistic fossil. I spent the whole hour drawing little pictures of hanged men.

- Clive James in May Week Was In June

Monday, September 18, 2017

Concerto Break

Time for some Handel. Crank it up.

[Op.6, No.9 in F Major]

Health Food Update

Homemade Orange Sweet Rolls

How To Feed A Loon shows how to make Homemade Orange Sweet Rolls.

Workplace at Sea

At Kottke: Check out Jeffrey Tsang's time-lapsed video of a cargo ship's voyage from the Red Sea to Hong Kong.


Breakfast Reading

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I've started reading a few pages of this every morning. Fascinating.



Where you can find a lot of great things.

Denis Mack Smith, RIP

I just learned that Denis Mack Smith passed away in July

He graciously welcomed me into his home in Oxford many years ago when I was conducting some research on Mussolini. I can still vividly recall his observations as well as his kindness in devoting a day to meeting with an obscure American management consultant who was interested in the management style of an Italian dictator.

I learned a great deal that day.

A gentleman and a scholar. May he rest in peace.

Hoop Jumper

"So you didn't get the approval you wanted. What is your current plan?"

"I don't have one. They said no."

"They said no to one approach. That doesn't mean that another approach would be rejected."

"Yes, but even if they approve another approach, there's no guarantee that they wouldn't deep-six it at some point down the road."

"There are no guarantees on any of these projects. That possibility would have been present if they'd approved your original proposal."

"Yes, but I hate all of the hoops you have to jump through to get one approved."

"Do you still believe this matter is important and should be addressed?"


"Then get ready to jump through some more hoops."

Quick Look

The trailer for "Hamlet."

Life Lessons

Shannon Kaiser describes the life lessons she learned from running her own business. 

It's a fun list to argue against.

Great Book Titles

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Quote of the Day

Patience is the companion of wisdom.

- Saint Augustine

Saturday, September 16, 2017


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Pressed over dinner to recite this poem from memory, I was stunned to discover that I could recite a fair amount.

I imagine many of you can do the same. 

Now pause a moment and consider all of the mega-practical things we've forgotten compared to "Jabberwocky."

Memory is rarely prioritized.

On the other hand, that's a pretty neat poem.

Persuasion Tips

The new book by Scott Adams is available for pre-order.

Quick Look

The trailer for "First They Killed My Father."

Hard at It


At Cultural Offering.

Quick Look

The trailer for "Paris, Texas."

First Paragraph

Before he went to sea, Bliven Putnam had wondered why men personify ships, name them, ascribe temperaments to them, refer to them in the feminine. It took only one day at sea in a stiff blow to understand it. When the sails of the Enterprise bellied out and the masts bent before the wind, when the ship buried itself in a trough and then vaulted to surmount a swell, she took on the life of the most spirited filly. A ship at sea - you ask things of her, sometimes difficult things, tricky things, and she responds, although not always in the affirmative. She becomes your home and your safety - your only safety - in the middle of an ocean, but does so with a grace and touch that is nothing if not feminine. To seamen this relationship with their vessel becomes embedded in their nature. Those who do not go to sea cannot understand it; they accept it readily enough, and they mimic the sailor's reference to a ship as "she," but they do not comprehend it, really. That is the seamen's bond alone.

- From The Shores of Tripoli: Lieutenant Putnam and the Barbary Pirates by James L. Haley