Friday, March 24, 2017

Thoughts about Politics

  1. The ones who want political office the most may be the ones who deserve it the least.
  2. We'll never know how many Churchills and de Gaulles went into the political wilderness and never found their way back.
  3. In most cases, it is wiser to fear cozy agreement more than gridlock.
  4. Reporters and politicians should not socialize. 
  5. Beware of any judge who lets personal feelings replace the law.
  6. A journalist who claims that objectivity is impossible should not be a journalist.
  7. Some of the most evil political movements in history were started by young idealists.
  8. The subject of government is not a science and universities look foolish when they pretend that it is.
  9. The best approach to government is to assume that the best people will seldom be in control and not to trust them if they are.
  10. Any organization whose basic power depends upon the ability to physically coerce people bears watching.

Quote of the Day

Patience is the companion of wisdom.

- Saint Augustine

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Buster Keaton

A natural for Eclecticity Light.

Bock on Books

Wally Bock reviews a management classic. I often find myself returning to that one.

Music Break

Alison Krauss and friends with "Slumber, My Darling."

First Paragraph

Sometimes, two, three times a year, there would be card parties, or at least invitations to them. Notices by the security desk in the lobby, or left by the door at each condominium, or posted in the game or laundry rooms, or maybe nothing more than a poster up on the easel near the lifeguard's station on each of the half-dozen rooftop swimming pools in the condominium complex, announced that scheduled at such so-and-so a time on so-and-such a Saturday night there was to be a gala, come one come all, sponsored by the residents of this or that building - "Good Neighbor Policy Night," "International Evening," "Hands Across the Panama Canal." Usually there would be a buffet supper, followed by coffee, followed by entertainment, followed by cards.

- From Mrs. Ted Bliss by Stanley Elkin

Film Break

The trailers for:

Hidden Time Killers in the Workplace

  1. Attempting to decipher the true meaning of cryptic emails.
  2. Recovering from phone calls or meetings.
  3. Waiting for others to get back with you.
  4. Finding the document that was right in front of you a minute ago.
  5. Reading emails from people who claim they'd contacted you earlier but who never did.
  6. Wondering why you were invited to a meeting.
  7. Wondering why you weren't invited to a meeting.
  8. Recovering from a brief moment when you unwisely said "yes."
  9. Eluding the after-effects of the CEO's latest encounter with a management best seller.
  10. Ennui.

Highly Recommended

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Quote of the Day

It is not the strongest or most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.

- Charles Darwin

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Practical Ethics for Honest People

My on-line class.

I can say with all appropriate modesty and objectivity that it is truly marvelous.

Art Break: Marty

Art Contrarian looks at the work of Andre Edouard Marty.

Shots in London

The Telegraph provides updates.

First Paragraph

Now in these dread latter days of the old violent beloved U.S.A. and of the Christ-forgetting Christ-haunted death-dealing Western world I came to myself in a grove of young pines and the question came to me: has it happened at last?

- From Love in the Ruins: The Adventures of a Bad Catholic at a Time Near the End of the World by Walker Percy

In Search of Goldilocks

Do they hire too much or too little? Fire too much or too little? Have meetings too much or too little? Praise too much or too little? Coordinate too much or too little? Analyze too much or too little? Measure too much or too little? Offer too much or too little? Promise too much or too little? Focus too much or too little? Explain too much or too little? Consult too much or too little? Train too much or too little? Work too much or too little? Socialize too much or too little? Listen too much or too little? Think too much or too little? Care too much or too little? Talk too much or too little? Research too much or too little? Trust too much or too little? 

The list can go on until the porridge is just right. All is balance.

Wasteland Update

Scan the guest list of The Dick Cavett Show over the years and the contrast with today's programming becomes apparent.

Quote of the Day

Must one point out that in ancient times a decline in courage has been considered the first symptom of the end?

- Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Which Actor Was the Best Doc Holliday?

Mary Doria Russell, author of a novel on Doc Hollidaygives her choice in True West magazine.

The winner is here.

Happy Birthday to Dame Vera Lynn

Okay, this is a day late. Her birthday was on Monday. The Telegraph noted that her picture was projected on the white cliffs of Dover.

The bluebirds went wild.

She is 100 years old and one of Britain's national treasures.

Rightfully so.

You may recall that her song "We'll Meet Again" was played at the end of "Dr. Strangelove."

[HT: Suzanne Stork]

"Monasteries of the Mind"

More and more Americans today are becoming Stoic dropouts. They are not illiberal, and certainly not reactionaries, racists, xenophobes, or homophobes. They’re simply exhausted by our frenzied culture.

Read all of Victor Davis Hanson's essay at National Review.

Life Down Yonder

FutureLawyer lives in Florida and so exotic birds follow him to work.

First Paragraph

Dwight D. Eisenhower remains an enigma. For the majority of Americans he is a benign fatherly figure looming indistinctly out of the mists of the past - a high-ranking general who directed the Allied armies to victory in Europe, and a caretaker president who presided over eight years of international calm and domestic tranquility. To those who knew him, Ike was a tireless taskmaster who worked with incredible subtlety to move events in the direction he wished them to go. Most would agree he was a man of principle, decency, and common sense, whom the country could count on to do what was right. In both war and peace he gave the world confidence in American leadership.

- From Eisenhower in War and Peace by Jean Edward Smith 

The Press Opera

When I was in college, I knew some of the people who worked on the campus newspaper. They operated with deadlines, of course, and even back in those days of innocence I noticed that if the news pickings were a tad sparse, they were not above making a mountain out of a mole hill. They wouldn't create something out of nothing but next to nothing was often sufficient for several stories. After all, they had ethics.

Those memories return when I see some of the stories that have "all Washington talking." Most of them are pretty thin. If you take a two week vacation in the wilderness, you can depart with the assurance that, in true soap opera fashion, little will have changed when you return: Troy and Francesca will still be feuding, Oscar will still be awaiting an accurate medical diagnosis, and Estelle's indecision over whether to run off with her plastic surgeon or join the Peace Corps will be never-ending.

Just put that in its political terms and you'll have a modern newscast..

Highly Recommended

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Quote of the Day

Human beings are the most elusive material there is, but only human beings can consistently go beyond what customers expect. You design a slick mobile phone, people buy it, and then it's not so amazing anymore. It's a phone. You build a beautiful store, the first time I walk in I'm impressed, but after a few visits I take it for granted. It's a store. If you want to create something exciting and compelling, a performance that keeps evolving, the human spirit is the only thing that delivers. Leaders have to ask themselves: Do we want to move product, or do we want to move people?

- Lior Arussy

Monday, March 20, 2017

Chuck and Bo

Two Great Guitars - Bo Diddley & Chuck Berry.jpg

Another album to get.

[HT: Rick Miller]

First Paragraph

"Don't use clean water to wash your hands!"

- From The Mandibles: A Family, 2029 - 2047 by Lionel Shriver

The Ideal Age

This subject occasionally arises: what would you say is the ideal age?

Many of us don't envy teenagers or those in their twenties, but which age do you regard as ideal?

Perhaps none come to mind. You might even have a floating ideal, such as "ten years younger than my current age."

Pick a number.

The Other Side of the Wind

The strange story behind the film that is being brought out on Netflix.

But then again, most Orson Welles stories are different. [Arizona readers will like the Wallace and Ladmo connection.]

First Paragraph

A single bird call began the day. Each day the same bird, the same call. It was as if the bird signaled the approach of dawn to its brood. Jacob opened his eyes. The four cows lay on their mats of straw and dung. In the middle of the barn were a few blackened stones and charred branches, the fireplace over which Jacob cooked the rye and buckwheat cakes he ate with milk. Jacob's bed was made of straw and hay and at night he covered himself with a coarse linen sheet which he used during the day to gather grass and herbs for the cattle. It was summer, but the nights were cold in the mountains. Jacob would rise more than once in the middle of the night and warm his hands and feet on the animals' bodies.

- From The Slave by Isaac Bashevis Singer

Jimmy Breslin, RIP

Althouse remembers Jimmy Breslin.

Quote of the Day

There's nothing to winning, really. That is, if you happen to be blessed with a keen eye, an agile mind, and no scruples whatsoever.

- Alfred Hitchcock

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Time Lapse: Sedona

Beautiful photography of the area around Sedona, Arizona.

Find Something Beautiful Today

Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Blizzard That Was

For the first time since I've lived here in Maine, I had to begin shoveling snow while I was still standing inside my foyer. I opened the front door, and there was six inches of snow against it, even though the door lives beneath an eight foot overhang. It took a little while to simply shovel my way to a place where the crystal blue sky was above me. That was unusual.

Read the rest at Sippican Cottage.

Chuck Berry, RIP

Chuck Berry has passed. Details at Althouse.

He was 90.

Bock on Books

Read Wally Bock's review. If Wally Bock likes a book, it is worth our attention.

First Paragraph

He woke at first light: up instantly out of sleep and totally awake without effort, the way he woke each morning before day came. It was cool then and quiet in the bluegrey light and he could work undisturbed. He got a lot of work done if he was undisturbed. Work was the answer to a lot of things.

- From The Thousand Hour Day by W. S. Kuniczak

Art Break: Bazille

Art Contrarian looks at the work of Frederic Bazille.


I hate to edit on a computer screen. If it is a document that is more than a page, I usually print it off and edit from the hard copy. Why? I don't know. There is simply the sense that it is easier to miss something on a screen.

Another quirk: the more serious the business meeting, the more inclined I am to wear shoes that tie instead of loafers. Why? My theory is it conveys a more serious image. Odd, perhaps, but the small things matter. Serious meetings also require a white or blue shirt - usually white - and a tie that conveys gravitas. No wild designs.

Still another quirk: If a book is a classic, I probably won't read it on an e-reader. It deserves to be read in its paper version as a silent honor.

And yes, thank-you notes should be written with a fountain pen.

Your quirks?

First Paragraph

Everybody hates bureaucracies, even those who work in them. Yet in twenty-first century America, apart from a handful of hermits and survivalists living off the grid, dealing with impenetrable, impersonal, infinitely complex, obdurate, arrogant, and often stupefyingly incompetent bureaucracies is an everyday travail for everyone. Think about it:Social Security. Medicare, Local, state and federal taxing agencies. Getting a driver's license. Obtaining documents for business, remodeling your house, or getting a building permit. Any federal department or agency. Dealing with the phone company, your credit card issuer, a credit bureau, a billing error by a big chain store. Navigating airport security, health-care insurance, university and public school administrations.

- From A Passion for Leadership: Lessons on Change and Reform from Fifty Years of Public Service by Robert M. Gates

Highly Recommended

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Quote of the Day

Patience is power. Patience is not an absence of action; rather, it is "timing"; it waits on the right time to act, for the right principles and in the right way.

- Fulton J. Sheen

Friday, March 17, 2017

Vivid Description

...[Arctic explorer John Franklin], a man whose natural pace of living and thinking is portrayed as that of an elderly sloth after a long massage and a pipe of opium.

- From How to Live: A Life of Montaigne by Sarah Bakewell

St. Patrick's Day Music Break

Sinead O'Connor: "He Moved Through the Fair"

Better Quality What?

This is an odd post by Nicholas Bate. I've yet to see evidence that the man sleeps.

Challenges of Growth

Recently, I've been reviewing some population statistics on cities in Arizona. Several of them are grand examples of how quickly an area can change. Consider the following:

1990: 5,040
2014: 58,795

1990: 29,810
2014: 235,493

1990: 6,300
2014: 74,743

1990: 2,320
2014: 40,342

1990: 1,629
2014: 27,476

1990: 7,150
2014: 123,797

In the same time period, the state population went from 3,680,800 to 6,667,241.

Basic Bat

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Quote of the Day

No great person ever complains of want of opportunity.

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, March 16, 2017


Pianist Emily Pei En Fan with Rhapsodie D'Auvergne for Piano and Orchestra by Saint-Saens. 

The Abilene Paradox

The Aspen Institute has an edited version of Jerry B. Harvey's classic management essay.

If you think dissent can be challenging, watch out for agreement.

The Switch

Consider how much of your time is consumed by entertainment and worries as opposed to learning and achievement.

Is it more than fifty percent? Is it possible to reverse the percentages?


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Quote of the Day

The main difference between government bailouts and smoking is that in some rare cases the statement "this is my last cigarette" holds true.

- Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Wednesday, March 15, 2017


Many a good idea needs neglect in order to determine whether it is a good idea.

That is not a problem. It won't be lonely.

City of Gold

Be sure to examine the slides in this story on the City's Manager's salary at the City of San Antonio.  The slides show the pay of other City employees.

First Paragraph

FIRST WITCH: When shall we three meet again? In thunder, lightning, or in rain?

- From The Tragedy of Macbeth by William Shakespeare

Quote of the Day

Accountability is essential to any successful reform effort.

- Robert M. Gates

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Off the Grid

I will be off the grid for a while. 

Bear with me.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Five Questions

Five obvious and yet often overlooked questions:
  1. Who are our customers?
  2. What are our top priorities?
  3. What is our system?
  4. How are our people developed?
  5. How will we know when we have succeeded?

The Evolution of Need

  • Why on earth would we need that?
  • We might need that some day but not now.
  • No, we have bigger fish to fry. We'll get it next year.
  • Uh oh. We need it right now!
  • Why didn't you tell me we needed that?

First Paragraph

Colonel Vladimir Ilyich Kosnov walked silently down the prison hallway and entered cell number 108. The two green-uniformed men in front of the cot moved to one side so that he could examine the body. Polakov was lying on his back, his eyes wide open. His left hand was clenched to his mouth.

- From The Kremlin Letter by Noel Behn

News You Can Use

Law Latte Blog has a 1984 video on how to send an email.

To Be Read Once a Year

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Quote of the Day

Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

- Proverbs 12:18

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Find Something Beautiful Today

Saturday, March 11, 2017

First Paragraph

All the lights went out at once, those inside the American ambassador's weekend house south of Jakarta as well as the huge floodlights that illuminated it from outside and filled the humid air with a locustlike sizzling.

- From Soldier's Duty by Thomas E. Ricks

Improving My Links

I've got to update my blogroll so it is easier to reach Matthew Lang, Andrew Munro, and Jim Stroup.

Every visit to their blogs is enjoyable.

The Perils of Working at Home

Has every parent in the world seen this video (via Cultural Offering) of the BBC reporter being interrupted by his children?

My favorite part is how the wife (or sitter) stays low while dragging out the kids.

Nice try.

Comedy at its greatest. I hope the BBC adopts this as a model for future reporting. 

Update: I think he should give his next report from the same room but with large boards nailed across the door.

Art Break: Benigni

Art Contrarian looks at the work of Leon Benigni.

Is There a Woolly Mammoth in Our Future?

The Atlantic reports on a Russian bio-dome project that might involve mammoths.

And who doesn't like mammoths?


When Al Gore has nightmares.

"Engineering Evil"

Documentary: "Engineering Evil: Inside the Holocaust."

The trailer for "Shoah," which may well be the greatest documentary ever made.

Quote of the Day

All know that the drop merges into the ocean, but few know that the ocean merges into the drop.

- Kabir

Friday, March 10, 2017

Album Aficionado

Kurt Harden at Cultural Offering knows fine music. 

Be sure to scroll through his blog to check on the postings of "40 Albums You Should Own."

In The Background

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Health Food Update

Texas BBQ Smoked Wings from Hooters / Brent Scher

The Washington Free Beacon: In order to get a fresh take on a story about protest, Brent Scher goes to a restaurant, hobnobs with the friendly staff, eats more food than a village consumes in a year, and discovers that his life has been changed forever.

Margaritaville Awaits

FutureLawyer notes that Jimmy Buffett is opening a chain of Margaritaville retirement communities; an effort that should answer the national question of what to do with aging parrotheads.

For those who appreciate the song's fine lyrics, here they are.

Highly Recommended

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Film Break

The trailers for:

The Play

You are part of the cast, of course, and so are aware that new members arrive and old ones depart. [In the case of the latter, that can be frustrating because they usually leave without permission.] 

You have your lines and the others have theirs but there is a great deal of improvisation. The directors must drink heavily because they are seldom around but there always are plenty of critics.

Curtain up and curtain down with little time for rehearsals. If you are lucky you'll know the name of the play and whether it is a comedy or a tragedy. Most of us don't.

Try not to bump into the furniture.

First Paragraph

Disruption has been the buzzword of the decade. And it's true that there have been some significant changes afoot, from the wiring of the whole world to the coming of unprecedented levels of multiculturalism and tolerance. But as important and yet neglected is a story that's happening alongside and to some degree in reaction to all of that change. It involves people making decisions that are at first glance in their best interests - that is, they are economically and indeed socially rational decisions. But the effects of these decisions at the societal level are significant, unintended, and not always good. They have made us more risk adverse and more set in our ways, more segregated, and they have sapped us of the pioneer spirit that made America the world's most productive and innovative economy. Furthermore, all this has happened at a time when we may need American dynamism more than ever before.

- From The Complacent Class: The Self-Defeating Quest for The American Dream by Tyler Cowen

Middlebury College's Appeasement of Bullies

College boards of trustees, are you listening? Why do you appoint people whose only talent is to appease bullies? Why do you sit back and let them do what President Patton just did? Do you think Middlebury just purchased “peace in our time”? I think Middlebury purchased a long lasting scar on its reputation. It will be known as a place more concerned about political posturing than education.

Read the rest of Peter W. Wood's essay.

Quote of the Day

The only time that any of us have to grow or change or feel or learn anything is in the present moment. But we're continually missing our present moments, almost willfully, by not paying attention.

- Jon Kabat-Zinn

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Noir Break

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Miscellaneous and Fast

The trailer for "Spaghettiman."
Ian Tuttle sees the possibility of a broad, centrist coalition.
Laura Cox: "Sweet Home Alabama."
The trailer for "Le Mepris."
The Telegraph: The Knights Templar cave.

In the Background

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First Paragraph

It was in the Depression, deep down in the empty soul of the Depression in 1932, when we were heading west by 1928 Buick, that my mother, father, my brother Skip, and I came upon what we ever after called the Inspired Chicken Motel.

- From the short story, "The Inspired Chicken Motel," in I Sing The Body Electric! by Ray Bradbury

Briefing Preparation

A few questions I've been considering while preparing a briefing on Arizona history:

  1. What are the effects if the major industries are locally-owned or owned by people who live out-of-state?
  2. What are the effects if a sizable immigrant population can easily go back and forth to the mother country?
  3. What are the effects if the primary industry is one that cannot be moved?
  4. What are the values fostered by various industries?
  5. What are the long-term effects if the local leadership has a culture of cooperation versus one riven by factions?
  6. What happens if the key decision makers are satisfied with the way things are?
  7. To what extent does convenience play a role?
  8. Which area has benefited the most from technology?
  9. What were the local goals?
  10. Which industries were prone to communicate across the board and which were insular?