Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Reading Goal

books closed selective focus photo

[Photo by Kiwihug at Unsplash]

Cultural Offering notes some calculations showing that you can read 200 books a year.

I would say it depends on the type of books. Even allowing for some of the more challenging ones, it is not difficult to read at least 40 books a year. 

50 to 55 is a good goal.

It's International Talk Like a Pirate Day

woman wearing sleeveless crop top

[Photo by Vladislav Todorov at Unsplash]

As if I needed to tell you. You've probably been planning for weeks.

Of course, Robert Newton set the standard.

Seeing Your Neighbor

man taking selfie

[Photo by Timothy Barlin at Unsplash]

To love your neighbor is to see your neighbor. To see somebody, really to see somebody, you have to love somebody. You have to see people the way Rembrandt saw the old lady, not just a face that comes at you the way a dry leaf blows at you down the path like all other dry leaves, but in a way that you realize the face is something the likes of which you have never seen before and will never see again. To love somebody we must see that person's face, and once in a while we do. Usually it is because something jolts us into seeing it.

- Frederick Buechner in The Remarkable Ordinary: How to Stop, Look, and Listen to Life

Orson as Falstaff

The re-release trailer for "Chimes at Midnight."

The Kavanaugh Hearings

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Quick Look

The trailer for "Presumed Innocent."

First Paragraph

white concrete temple frame near body of water

[Photo by Cristina Gottardi at Unsplash]

The beginning of the Peloponnesian War is now 2,436 years in the past. Yet Athens and Sparta are still on our minds and will not go away. Their permanence seems odd. After all, ancient Greek warring parties were mere city-states, most of them smaller in population and size than Dayton, Ohio, or Trenton, New Jersey. Mainland Greece itself is no larger than Alabama, and in antiquity was bordered by empires like the Persian, which encompassed nearly one million square miles with perhaps 70 million subjects. Napoleon's army alone had more men under arms by 1800 than the entire male population of all the Greek city-states combined. In our own age, more people died in Rwanda or Cambodia in a few days than were lost in twenty-seven years of civil war in fifth-century B.C. Greece.

- From A War Like No Other: How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War by Victor Davis Hanson

Coming Out in December

The Chain

TED Talk: Bob Davids on leadership without ego.

Modern Times

[Photo by Maria Darii at Unsplash]

The dogs bark and the caravan moves on.

- Arabian proverb

"The Last Man on Earth"

person standing near cliff

[Photo by Leio McLaren at Unsplash]

Cultural Offering reviews the series and then outlines what he would do if he were the last man on earth.

A sound plan. I'd add ammo to his list but I know he already has plenty of it.

[Here's the trailer for the series.]

"The Girl from Ipanema"

Her song is at The Hammock Papers.

Monday, September 17, 2018

More Hans

Hans Zimmer:  "Chevaliers de Sangréal."


five black toy bats with sticks

[Photo by Mel Poole at Unsplash]

Don’t forget to take a break from planning your elaborate Halloween costume to ask yourself how things went this wrong for you.

- Tim Siedell

This Looks Promising

The trailer for "Green Book."

First Paragraph

Around the time that he reached the unnerving milestone of turning thirty, Leonardo da Vinci wrote a letter to the ruler of Milan listing the reasons he should be given a job. He had been moderately successful as a painter in Florence, but he had trouble finishing his commissions and was searching for new horizons. In the first ten paragraphs, he touted his engineering skills, including his ability to design bridges, waterways, cannons, armored vehicles, and public buildings. Only in the eleventh paragraph, at the end, did he add that he was also an artist. "Likewise in painting, I can do everything possible," he wrote.

- From Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson

One Damned Thing After Another

silhouette of person kicking on mid air

[Photo by Jason Briscoe at Unsplash]

If life is one damned thing after another, then let that be your strategy and take them on one at a time.

Not two or three at a time. Just one. And then another. And another.

Quick Look

The trailer for "A Simple Favor."

If there'd only been a clue.

First Paragraph

George Washington was dying. The rumor spread quickly through Manhattan neighborhoods ravaged by influenza, the "contagious distemper" first diagnosed on Roman streets half a century earlier. Impartial to class, color, or politics, the disease was more democratic than the young American republic whose ruling elite it threatened. At a boardinghouse on Maiden Lane, Congressman James Madison took to his bed, too sick to argue with Alexander Hamilton over the secretary of the treasury's audacious plan to consolidate federal power by having the government in New York assume the debts and revenue sources formerly reserved for individual states.

- From Patriarch: George Washington and the New American Nation by Richard Norton Smith

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Off the Grid

Back soon.

Slow Learning

photography of person holding book

[Photo by Annie Spratt at Unsplash]

Tanmay Vora explores the advantages of "slow learning."

I've long enjoyed the benefits of slow reading. Savor the words.

Bock's Assignments

man sitting on staircase behind woman sitting on highest staircase

[Photo by Viktor Kiryanov at Unsplash]

Wally Bock has some weekend leadership reading assignments for us.

Always thought-provoking stuff.

Times Change

I know it is possible to find this program on cable. I was always a fan and it was particularly heartening to see a show where the bad guys lost and the good guys had clear values.

But take a quick look at the show's beginning and ask if a new program of that nature would have a chance today. 

Far from being a threat, the hero was a walking "safe zone."

In those days, to borrow a line from Churchill, people knew the difference between the arsonist and the fire brigade.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Gabriel Allon Fan

Image result for the kill artist daniel silva amazon

I am slowly completing the entire "Gabriel Allon" series by Daniel Silva

Truly excellent. Check it out.

What is Most Worth Seeing

There is an astute observation on this subject at The Hammock Papers.

What Not to Wear on "Casual Friday"

woman in gray cardigan seating

[Photo by Valerie Elash at Unsplash]

Several opinions:

The Dumbest Management Fad of All Time

Inc. magazine describes a serious contender.

[HT: Hilary Wood]


Some More Hans Zimmer

Image result for interstellar amazon

The main theme from "Interstellar."

Distance and Presence

grayscale photogaphy of man sitting on concrete bench

[Photo by Matthew Henry at Unsplash]

Who says you cannot be present and distant at the same time? 

It need not be either/or. 

It can be both/and.

And that ability can permit you to see the picture when you are inside the frame.


Hans Zimmer with "Time" from the film "Inception."

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Quick Look

The trailer for "The Swimmer" with Burt Lancaster.

[Be sure to look for Joan Rivers.]

Music Break: Rhapsodie D'Auvergne

Back by popular demand: Let's have some Saint-Saens.

A Blog for Stoics and Other Thinkers

brown maple leaf on open book

[Photo by Ksenia Makagonova at Unsplash]

The Sovereign Professional has lots of great stuff.

The "Without Glasses" Policy

They insisted that I remove my glasses

Around a year ago I had a passport renewed and received the sad news that I could not wear eyeglasses for the passport photo despite the fact that, being as blind as the famous bat, I wear glasses almost all of the time. The result was a photo of some leg-breaker straight out of The Sopranos; not the sort of person you'd want to let past Customs.

I recently went in to renew my driver's license. Once again, the no-glasses rule was applied. This time, a photo of a villain from one of the Ghostbusters films emerged. 

It will be interesting to see how this works out in the field. In the old days of IRA bombings in London, whenever I went to Britain I was invariably and politely taken aside for questioning; an interruption which amused friends and family. Now that I have a passport photo which could be reasonably described as menacing, the old days may be revived.

What You Feel Like When You Reach a Certain Age

white single cab pickup truck parked near green tree at daytime

[Photo by Ben Cliff at Unsplash]

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Music Break

The great Hans Zimmer conducting his own music from "Gladiator."

Google's Bubble

Cultural Offering analyzes the video of the Google executives shortly after the election.

I suspect that most, if not all, of the executive teams I've encountered over the years have had a diverse range of political opinions. The opinions are usually hidden but whenever some have surfaced it was quite clear that the places aren't echo chambers. I've always regarded that as a plus.

The assumption expressed by the Google execs that most of the people in the room shared the same political views would certainly send the signal that if you don't have those views, you'd better keep quiet.

Two Things about Problems and Solutions

It is important to remember that one explanation of why a problem has continued to exist is that it may be a solution to another problem. 

Also remember that solutions, however bright and shiny they may be, can create new problems.

Quick Look

The trailer for "Cold War."

Bock's Summer Read

smiling woman holding clear glass cup filled with juice sitting on cushion

[Photo by Roberto Nickson at Unsplash]

Wally Bock reveals what he read this summer and it is an impressive list.

The Best Day for a Meeting

man holding pen pointing on calendar

[Photo by rawpixel at Unsplash]

Mondays and Fridays are bad. People are either recovering from or anticipating the weekend and an increasing number of organizations work longer hours from Monday through Thursday so Friday can be taken off.

So that leaves Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Of those, Tuesday and Wednesday are prime real estate because Thursday is becoming the new Friday and is packed with things that need to be done before the weekend.

Make that the longer weekend.

Can it be that Wednesday will be the last one standing?

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Quick Look

The trailer for "Birds of Passage."

When Evil Planned

A few months later bin Laden, Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, and Abu Hafs gathered in Kandahar to pick potential targets. The three men were the only ones involved. Their goal was not only to inflict symbolic damage. Bin Laden imagined that America - as a political entity - could actually be destroyed. "America is a great power possessed of tremendous military might and a wide-ranging economy," he later conceded, "but all this is built upon an unstable foundation which can be targeted, with special attention to its obvious weak spots. If it is hit in one hundredth of those spots, God willing, it will stumble, wither away and relinquish world leadership." Inevitably, the confederation of states that made up America would dissolve.

- From The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 by Lawrence Wright

Autumn 2018

selective focus photography of orange leaves

[Photo by Aaron Burden at Unsplash]

Cultural Offering has the essential mixes.

Go Munch a Zebra

Anderson Layman's Blog shows what happens when you free the animals on the boxes of Animal Crackers.

Nice change.

What Would You Ask?

The trailer for "An Interview with God."

Lest We Forget

Image result for united 93 poster amazon

The trailer for "United 93."

Monday, September 10, 2018

First Paragraph

I first met Antonin Scalia when he served on the faculty of the University of Chicago's School of Law. He was in Washington, D.C. to deliver a lecture on an issue generating controversy among scholars of administrative law, a field in which then-Professor Scalia was a widely recognized leader. I disagreed, in considerable part, with the substance of his presentation, but his acumen, affability, and high spirits captivated me.

- Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in Scalia Speaks: Reflections on Law, Faith, and Life Well Lived, edited by Christopher J. Scalia and Edward Whelan

Quick Look

The trailer for "Kursk."

Where is the Wisdom?

[Photo by Chris Ried at Unsplash]

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

- T. S. Eliot

Don't Forget

fountain pen on spiral book

[Photo by Aaron Burden at Unsplash]

  • The team members who always do what they say they will do.
  • The person who spoke up for you while others remained silent.
  • The colleague who listened to all perspectives and then was able to identify what everyone else had missed.
  • The power of an unexpected note of thanks.
  • The time you need to do what you want to do is not unlimited.

Days of Monkey Business

The trailer for "The Front Runner."


bokeh photography of condenser microphone

[Photo by israel palacio at Unsplash]

Some people have a way with words. Other people, um . . . not have way.

- Steve Martin

Saturday, September 08, 2018

The Enemies of Wellness

woman sitting on seashore

[Photo by Simon Rae at Unsplash]

Nicholas Bate lists the enemies of wellness

I'm in frequent contact with four of them.

Before Climate Change, There was Faulkner

The trailer for "The Long, Hot Summer."

After a While

high-angle photography of staircase

[Photo by beasty at Unsplash]

After a while, you get tired of the faucet that drips, the glove compartment that keeps falling open, or the bushes that need pruning. 

The same can be said of problems within organizations but in those cases the remedy is often delayed because the problem either cannot be clearly identified or its existence is denied.

Lunacy at Friends Seminary

Althouse points to further evidence that we live in crazy times.

The school administration might want to consider a catchy tune that was sung when Nazis were a real threat.

Fine Cars

Top Gear with the British Leyland Challenge.

Don't try this at home.

Achievement and Values


[Photo by tof Mayanoff at Unsplash]

FutureLawyer has revealed something about his background that is truly impressive.

Bock's Assignments

Wally Bock's weekend leadership reading assignments contain some real gems.


Mount Rushmore

[Photo by Ronda Darby at Unsplash]

Tell Me

[Photo by Alexandru Zdrobău at Unsplash]

"'Tell me,' are the two most beautiful words in the English language."

- Max Beerbohm

Friday, September 07, 2018


It would be nice if elementary and high school teachers used Senator Ben Sasse's remarks to the Senate Judiciary Committee as a starting point for discussions about the branches of government.

Just Do It?

City Journal: Emmett Hare on Nike's new ad campaign. An excerpt:

Kaepernick might be better than the worst quarterbacks now playing, but NFL teams are commercial enterprises that must satisfy multiple stakeholders, including fans. If Kaepernick were the best quarterback out there, surely some team would decide that the negative publicity that he attracts was outweighed by the prospect of winning a Super Bowl. While the NFL owners’ approach to off-the-field distractions is inconsistent, their avoidance of players (even quarterbacks) who might damage their brand is well established. Tim Tebow won quite a few NFL games in scintillating fashion, but his foregrounded religious fervor—combined with the limited effectiveness of his own running-quarterback style—led teams to bypass him, even for backup or third-string duty. Tebow now plays minor-league baseball.

First Paragraph

"The Jew is being legislated out of Russia," Mark Twain wrote in Harper's Magazine in 1898. "Spain [decided] to banish him four hundred years ago, and Austria about a couple of centuries later. In all the ages Christian Europe has . . . curtail[ed] his activities. Trade after trade was taken away from the Jew by statute till practically none was left. He was forbidden to engage in agriculture; he was forbidden to practice law; he was forbidden to practice medicine, except among Jews; he was forbidden the handicrafts. Even the seats of learning and the schools of science had to be closed against this tremendous antagonist."

- From Israel: A Concise History of a Nation Reborn by Daniel Gordis

And All Good Things are Yours

tilt shift lens photo of woman wearing dress shirt

[Photo by Mean Shadows at Unsplash]

Fear less, hope more; eat less, chew more; whine less, breathe more; talk less, say more; hate less, love more; and all good things are yours.

- Swedish proverb

Thursday, September 06, 2018

Quick Look: Italian Film

The trailer for "Emma."

Rest in Peace

Image result for burt reynolds book amazon

Art Break

Art Contrarian looks at Adolphe Willette's "Parce Domine."

A wild painting. Visit the site for close-up views.

Typical Christmas Movie

The trailer for "Anna and the Apocalypse."

Random Thoughts

mixed paints in a plate

[Photo by Mike Petrucci at Unsplash]

Barbarians have one area in which they completely lack candor: They never admit to being barbarians. ~ You may not be able to sweep back the daily waves of paperwork but you'd better figure out how to make the tide recede. ~ Meetings favor people who do not like to read. ~ Those who demand What and eloquently proclaim Why often get very hazy or unrealistic when asked to tell us How. ~ If you ever have to fight for your life, think "wild animal" and not "professional boxer." ~ Life may resemble high school but I don't recall that the dumbest kids wrote the school newspaper. ~ If you have difficulty praying, rest assured that one day your skills will improve. ~ Secret worries far outnumber the open ones. ~ A good guide can turn an old trail into a new path. ~ Mindfulness is important but so too is indifference. ~ Even careful researchers can make large and reckless assumptions. ~ If you want to learn about a society discover what is commonly excused. ~ The most revealing anecdotes are the ones that were not meant to be revealing. ~ All large organizations possess a sizable territory which could accurately be called The Unquestioned. ~ Those looking into a room often see more than those who are seated.

[Older thoughts can be seized here.]

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Freshman Bill Gates

There is a Bill Gates story at Greg Mankiw's Blog.

The Supreme Court Nomination

Retired law professor Ann Althouse is covering the Kavanaugh hearings.

A somber event, of course, filled with a sense of majesty and civility. We are approaching the stage in which everyone forms a circle, backs up ten paces, and then a knife is dropped in the center.

On My Watch List

The trailer for "At Eternity's Gate."

The Out-Basket

black framed eyeglasses on top of white printing paper

[Photo by Jonathan Richard at Unsplash]

One of the seemingly smallest and yet quite important questions in a manager's workday is "What happens after I put something in my out-basket?"*

This was quite jarring back in 1984 when I started a one-person consulting practice. I put things in my out-basket and, lo and behold, they stayed there until I did something with them.

That was not a happy moment.

But let's get beyond that sad anecdote and consider what happens in larger organizations. How quickly is the material handled? Is special attention given to special items?

Of course, the in-basket can be equally important. Who determines what lands there? Which items are screened out so they never reach it? And is the material organized in a manner that facilitates sound decision-making?

Simple devices. Good questions.

*The subject itself may date me. I see fewer and fewer of the old-fashioned out-baskets. All that may mean is the problem is now largely electronic.

Sound Advice from a Stoic

The Sovereign Professional passes along some wisdom from Seneca.

The old guy's observations never lose relevance.

Painful and True

group of people having meeting using laptop computers

[Photo by rawpixel at Unsplash]

Portlandia demonstrates (or demolishes) the modern meeting.