Thursday, February 22, 2018

Two Characters

Reprise: Jimmy Durante visits Monty Woolley in "The Man Who Came to Dinner."

Eclecticity Light



Where does he find this stuff?

On the Street: Nogales

Google Maps: Near the border in Nogales, Arizona

Quick Look

The trailer for "The Boys of '36."

Bock on Books

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Wally Bock reviews the book.

[He just added to my reading stack.]

Novels for Leaders

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A novel that follows its characters through a wide range of America's wars and contrasts the leadership of one officer with the careerism of another.

Eternally Relevant


TED talk: Jorge Sa explores the questions of Peter Drucker.

Quick Look

The trailer for "The Young Karl Marx."

It should be shown back-to-back with "The Inner Circle."

The Calm

A fountain pen on a spiral notebook

Find a quiet place to plan the next seven days.

Nothing fancy.

Use a large note card or a journal and jot down the tasks.

If you don't go overboard with expectations then when you do more it will be a pleasant surprise.

[Photo by Aaron Burden at Unsplash]

Quick Look

The trailer for "Electric Dreams."

Books for Leaders

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Can a biography be almost too fascinating as well as surprising? 

Yes.

Quote of the Day

Managers who don't know how to measure what they want settle for wanting what they can measure.

- From Systems Thinking for Curious Managers by Russell L. Ackoff

-

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Courage

image

Let us remember and honor Cadet Peter Wang.

Quick Look

The trailer for "The Party."

First Paragraph

Like tombstones of forgotten graves, the decayed apartment buildings in the Friedrichstrasse pooled haphazard shadows in the approaching dusk and both men expertly used the cover, walking close to the walls. Although together, they carefully avoided physical contact and there was no conversation.

- From Charlie M by Brian Freemantle

How Can That Be?

From The Babylon Bee

"Man Joins CrossFit Without Telling Anyone."

"The Poison We Pick"

Andrew Sullivan on the opioid crisis. An excerpt:

More than 2 million Americans are now hooked on some kind of opioid, and drug overdoses — from heroin and fentanyl in particular — claimed more American lives last year than were lost in the entire Vietnam War. Overdose deaths are higher than in the peak year of AIDS and far higher than fatalities from car crashes. The poppy, through its many offshoots, has now been responsible for a decline in life spans in America for two years in a row, a decline that isn’t happening in any other developed nation. According to the best estimates, opioids will kill another 52,000 Americans this year alone — and up to half a million in the next decade.

Rest in Peace

My home is in Heaven. I'm just traveling through this world.

- The Reverend Billy Graham

I Am in the Swamp of Technology



Fighting snakes and gators. Back soon.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Embrace the Boredom

It is likely that some many of the most important things you do this day or this week will be boring. 

You won't be following a dream or indulging in a passion. You will be doing something that needs to be done.

And your ability to do that will determine whether or not you can eventually follow a dream or indulge in a passion.

Novels for Leaders

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Tolstoy's classic is one which, because of its size, many people plan to read someday, perhaps, when they get around to it. Don't procrastinate. Although the depiction of General Kutuzov's strategy against the invading Napoleon is valuable in itself, the real value for leaders (and anyone for that matter) will be found in the novel's sharp insights on human nature.

Mr. Time Management

As chairman and chief executive officer of a global alliance of auto companies—including Groupe Renault, Nissan Motor Co., and Mitsubishi Motors Corp., all three of which he also leads as chairman or chairman/CEO—his travel schedule begins to fill up six months to a year in advance. A typical month for him consists of a week in France, a week in Japan, and the remaining two weeks split among the U.S., Morocco, Russia, India, or any of the other countries where his companies have factories or executive offices.

Read the rest of
Bloomberg Businessweek's article: "If Davos Were a Person, It Would Be Carlos Ghosn."

First Paragraph

Although he was one of the most famous men in the world, Henry Peel was a will-o'-the-wisp. Paparazzi could not plague him because they didn't know what he looked like. Hardly anyone did. The only known photograph of him was the one on his student ID at Caltech. He was fifteen years old when the picture was taken. The image was blurred. He never posed for a yearbook picture because, working alone during the summer between his junior and senior years, he solved the problem of the room temperature superconductor and shortly thereafter dropped out of college. Not long after that he patented a feasible design for a fusion reactor. His discoveries earned him a large fortune before he was twenty-five. As time went by, he perfected other inventions that had been regarded as unachievable and made more money - a lot more. Forbes magazine, estimating that he was richer than all the billionaires on its annual list of the filthy rich, called him a trillionaire. He was the only one in the world.

- From Ark: A Novel by Charles McCarry

Quote of the Day

All my best thoughts were stolen by the ancients.

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, February 19, 2018

Quick Look

The trailer for "Manhattan Night."

Silicon Valley and the City of the Future



In The Daily Beast, Joel Kotkin paints a disturbing picture of urban designs that could jettison the concept of privacy.

"I was wrong"

Major General Grant

My dear General


I do not remember that you and I ever met personally. I write this now as a grateful acknowledgment for the almost inestimable service you have done the country. I wish to say a word further. When you first reached the vicinity of Vicksburg, I thought you should do, what you finally did -- march the troops across the neck, run the batteries with the transports, and thus go below; and I never had any faith, except a general hope that you knew better than I, that the Yazoo Pass expedition, and the like, could succeed. When you got below, and took Port-Gibson, Grand Gulf, and vicinity, I thought you should go down the river and join Gen. Banks; and when you turned Northward East of the Big Black, I feared it was a mistake. I now wish to make the personal acknowledgment that you were right, and I was wrong.

Yours very truly

A. Lincoln



[The above is taken from Abraham Lincoln Online]

Quick Look

The trailer for "The Looming Tower."

Biographies of Leaders

Image result for john adams amazon

The tendency to jump from George Washington to Thomas Jefferson overlooks a man who was a leader almost in spite of himself. 

David McCullough's biography of Adams provides a fascinating view at an astute political thinker who attracted followers through competence and integrity.

It is not only a book to read but to re-read.

The Inauguration of George Washington


As depicted in the series based on the David McCullough biography of John Adams.

And here is the trailer for that series.

It is Presidents Day

Image result for warren harding

Do something presidential. No, wait. Make that something nice that's also presidential.

Quote of the Day

I feel I no longer fit in with these times.

- Calvin Coolidge

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Quick Look

The trailer for the restored version of "The Third Man."

It is described as the best British film ever made. 

I think it may well be the best film ever made, period.

Southern Rock

Cultural Offering has the essential mixes.

Perhaps


All the good music has already been written by people with wigs and stuff.

- Frank Zappa

No Magic Shower

One of the arguments for being very wary of dicey corporate practices overseas is that however much executives may argue that they are simply "doing as the Romans do," at some point those same executives will be returning home. They won't emerge from a magic shower that washes away their questionable foreign conduct. Those loose ethical attitudes may linger.

I find a similar problem with what is currently going on at many college campuses. Students who have shown an eagerness to suppress free speech are future teachers, HR officers, lawyers, and judges. 

As with the business executives, we should not assume that they will go through a transformation. The number who do not may seriously affect the future of our society.

Quick Look

The trailer for "The Secret Agent."

Art Break: George Wunder



Art Contrarian looks at the details within Terry and the Pirates.

Novels for Leaders

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It would be impossible to compile a list of novels for leaders without including this classic by Michael Shaara. I read it years ago and a vivid memory is the impact of the fact that when the forces of the North and the South met, both sides usually were commanded by men who knew one another. They either had been at West Point at the same time or had served together during the war with Mexico. That meant they knew the personality and temperament of their opponent and often had a grasp on that person's likely approach.

Check it out.

First Paragraph

Mellas stood beneath the gray monsoon clouds on the narrow strip of cleared ground between the edge of the jungle and the relative safety of the perimeter wire. He tried to focus on counting the other thirteen Marines of the patrol as they emerged single file from the jungle, but exhaustion made focusing difficult. He also tried, unsuccessfully, to shut out the smell of the shit, which sloshed in the water that half-filled the open latrine pits above him on the other side of the wire. Rain dropped from the lip of his helmet, fell past his eyes, and spattered onto the satiny olive cloth that held the armor plating of his cumbersome new flak jacket. The dark green T-shirt and boxer shorts that his mother had dyed for him just three weeks ago clung to his skin, heavy and clammy beneath his camouflage utility jacket and trousers. He knew there would be leeches clinging to his legs, arms, back, and chest beneath his wet clothes, even though he couldn't feel them now. It was the way with leeches, he mused. They were so small and thin before they started sucking your blood that you rarely felt them unless they fell on you from a tree, and you never felt them piercing your skin. There was some sort of natural anesthetic in their saliva. You would discover them later, swollen with blood, sticking out from your skin like little pregnant bellies.

- From Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War by Karl Marlantes

Great Book Titles

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Quote of the Day

Pay attention to what they tell you to forget.

- Muriel Rukeyser

Friday, February 16, 2018

Black Ice

The Hammock Papers, usually a place of serenity, has video and sound of a person skating on thin ice.

The sound is spooky and you may find your tension rising as the skater glides along.

Quick Look

The trailer for "The Kremlin Letter."

Reading to Consider


Inc.: 32 favorite books of high achievers.

Any list that has a Saul Bellow novel gets my attention.

As We Approach the Presidents Day Weekend


The excitement builds.

In many homes, the fans of Warren G. Harding are retrieving decorations from the attic. In others, Buchanan and Carter advocates do likewise. The Andrew Johnson Fan Clubs normally meet in bars, sipping beer and bemoaning the evils of impeachment. William Henry Harrison followers, whose slogan is "Quality, Not Quantity," volunteer in medical clinics. 

Nixon devotees don dress shoes, brood, and wander the beach.

All of that is well and good but let's go back to separate holidays for Washington and Lincoln.

FutureLawyer Enters an iPhone Store



If the reality TV people had any sense, they'd head for south Florida and begin a series about a lawyer with a solo practice who also is a poet and a tech wizard with parrots in his lobby and a disdain for Apple products. The first episode could involve a purchase of an iPhone. Hilarity ensues.

Media Manipulation

Sheryl Attkisson speaking on "Astroturf" and media manipulation.

Great Book Titles

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Quote of the Day

You'd be surprised at how much it costs to look this cheap.

- Dolly Parton

Thursday, February 15, 2018

In the Background

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Quick Look

The trailer for "Moonstruck."

Fear and Intuition

Here is a video of Gavin de Becker, author of "The Gift of Fear," talking about paying attention to intuition.

De Becker runs a personal security firm in California; one which provides protection for many celebrity clients.

I've been recommending his book for years and have pressured family members into reading it.

A Taste of Why "The Civil War" series by Ken Burns is Great

Shelby Foote on the South's chances in the Civil War.

Here's a clip on his view of the importance of the war.

Candid Conversation

"What did you tell them?"

"I told them we wanted to hear the truth and that they should be absolutely candid about any problems that are facing us either now or in the near future."

"Did they believe you?"

"I hope so because they will be crucial players in turning the place around."

"Would you say they were open?"

"They talked quite a bit."

"But were they open?"

"I'm not sure.  One conversation isn't enough. We need to earn their trust."

Quick Look

The trailer for "The Sorrow and The Pity."

Great Book Titles

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Quote of the Day

Economics has gained the title Queen of the Social Sciences by choosing solved political problems as its domain.

- Abba Lerner

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Peterson of "The 12 Rules for Life"

Cultural Offering notes the Psychology Today interview with Jordan Peterson. 

Dr. Peterson's thought-provoking book is a best-seller and deservedly so.

Bear Down

A sad tale of vicious discrimination at a bar in Tempe.

Quick Look

The trailer for "Shakespeare in Love."

Poetry for Wooing



Christopher Marlowe's "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love."

But then reality steps in with Sir Walter Raleigh's "The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd."

[Update: My apology for the earlier spelling error. Unforgivable.]

Organizing Computer Files

Ah, the joy of organizing computer files. 

I have been remiss in sorting the worthless from the important although the good news is I can quickly spot the difference between the two. The entire exercise is a lesson in humility. "Why did I ever think File X was important enough to save?" 

It is also a reminder to name files in such a way that their subject is easy to ascertain. Anything too specific or too broad can be mysterious and mystery is not good with files. 

The real joy comes not from finding some forgotten work of brilliance - that has yet to occur - but from deleting masses of those suckers. [A machine gun sound effect would add to the pleasure.] 

"If in doubt, throw it out" is the mantra of office re-organization wizards and it works well with files. I am toying with the idea of creating a File Limbo, in which those close to salvation could linger, but I fear that could be a dodge.

The culling continues.

Happy Valentine's Day



Not a day to forget.

A Job with Meaning


Years ago, I heard a man talk about recruiting for police officers. 

He said that if the recruiters emphasized pay and benefits, they got blank stares but when they emphasized community service, the applications shot up.

Whether the subject is recruitment, supervision or motivation, when you provide genuine meaning you will reach the heart.

Great Book Titles

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First Paragraph

The coppers smashed my father's printer when I was eight. I remember the hot, cling-film-in-a-microwave smell of it, and Da's look of ferocious concentration as he filled it with fresh goop, and the warm, fresh-baked feel of the objects that came out of it.

- From "Printcrime," a story by Cory Doctorow in the book, Overclocked

Quote of the Day

The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge.

- Bertrand Russell

Monday, February 12, 2018

Quick Look

The trailer for "Bond 25: RISICO."

Wanted: Generic Father Figure for Backyard BBQ

Cultural Offering has the ad.

The list of desired names is unimaginative. I'd suggest adding Jack, Hal, Rex, Wolfgang, Carlo, and Kurt.

Especially the last one.

A Busy Little Bee

In one post, Althouse manages to combine "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel," "Gladiator," porn, and a few other subjects.

She was wrong, of course, about "Gladiator."

"A Remarkable Example"

Winston Churchill accepts a rather controversial portrait.

[It is believed to have been destroyed.]

Quick Look

The trailer for "The Exception."

Portraits

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Above: Jamie Wyeth's portrait of John F. Kennedy.

The portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama.

Poetry Break

One of the best by the great Robert Burns. The last stanza is famous.

Popular Reading at NBC

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Today is Lincoln's Birthday



Abraham Lincoln is one of those rare figures whose greatness increases with familiarity. I plod through books about him not because he is boring but because the material is so rich that it cannot be quickly consumed.

I am still shifting between Lord Charnwood's great biography and Harry Jaffa's classic on the Lincoln - Douglas debates. Each book has had plenty of "wow" moments.

To call him "great" demonstrates the inadequacy of words.

"Thanks"



For many of us, a cause for embarrassment is recalling times when we failed to thank someone who richly deserved our thanks.

Consider how many times a boss has thanked you in your career. Sadly, that is a rare event with many people.

Thank someone.

You Can Trust Dictatorships to Be Dictatorships

When the 1936 Olympics were held, Nazi Germany could do all it could to act civilized but all of the pictures of a happy audience around a smiling Hitler could not erase the fact that the nation was in the grip of a thuggish regime that threw opponents into prison and terrorized Jews. [Large-scale slaughter would occur later.]

It is interesting to watch the reactions to the North Korean delegation's appearance at this year's Olympics. The savages of the world don't always seem to be savages. [Herman Goering is said to have had a certain charm.] 

We would so like the truly evil people of the world to be open to reformation but reality tells another story. The North Korean dictatorship is mind-boggling in its cruelties. The cruel can also be sly.

The Train to Istanbul

Reprise: Taking the train from London to Istanbul

It is interesting to see how the quality of the trains varies.

Very Interesting

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Quote of the Day

A writer is a person for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.

- Thomas Mann

Sunday, February 11, 2018

An Axiom

Consider then that the alleviation of unnecessary pain and suffering is a good. Make that an axiom: to the best of my ability I will act in a manner that leads to the alleviation of unnecessary pain and suffering. 

- Jordan B. Peterson, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos

Find Something Beautiful Today


Saturday, February 10, 2018

Not Nostalgic for East German Judges

For those of us of a certain age, today's Olympics are very different from the old days when you could scan the judges' scores and immediately spot the ones from the Soviet bloc.

Their bias was an inadvertent way of demonstrating the lunacy of their system.

"Dinner Discussion"

Saturday Night Live pretty much nailed this one.

Intellectual Feast

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Slow but fascinating reading.

Acting Like a Grown-Up



The Sovereign Professional on John Perry Barlow's 25 Principles of Adult Behavior.

Famous Films Not Seen



I'm sure you have your own list of films that almost everyone else seems to have seen but which, for whatever reason, you did not. My own (partial) list of Not Seen films includes:
  1. Saturday Night Fever
  2. Bull Durham
  3. Fight Club
  4. The Color Purple
  5. Scarface
  6. A League of Their Own
  7. Full Metal Jacket
  8. The Dark Knight
  9. Goodfellas
  10. Back to the Future
  11. Apocalypse Now
  12. Taxi Driver
  13. Raging Bull
  14. Kill Bill
  15. Rain Man
  16. The Sound of Music
  17. The Night of the Living Dead
  18. Reservoir Dogs
  19. Planet of the Apes
  20. The Hurt Locker
  21. Platoon
  22. The King's Speech
  23. Terms of Endearment
  24. Chicago
  25. Chorus Line

On the Street: Moscow

Google Maps: Moscow, Russian Federation.

2081: Everyone is Equal

This deserves periodic posting: The trailer for the film based on the Kurt Vonnegut story.

Shots Fired in 1918

Before dawn on a bitterly cold morning on Feb. 10, 1918, a posse of four men sat on their mounts in a remote canyon in southern Arizona. They looked down at a small cabin. Smoke trickled from the chimney.

Read the amazing story of "the infamous Power brothers shootout."

The Thrill of Curling

Here is a cheat sheet on your favorite Olympic sport.

Don't burn a rock.

Quote of the Day

Many reviews compared this property to a dump. That just isn't fair to the dumps of the world.

- A hotel review mentioned in Decisive by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

Friday, February 09, 2018

Bolero

Reprise: The memorable performance by Torvill and Dean.

Sheer excellence.

The Outmatched Axis

National Review has excerpts from The Second World Wars by Victor Davis Hanson. 

Smart Glasses


Why have smart glasses when you can get these?

FutureLawyer discusses Intel's new smart glasses

The Myth of Marshall's Little Black Book



One of the most popular myths about George C. Marshall concerns a “little black book” that he was purported to keep. The story goes that as chief of staff of the United States Army Marshall kept a “little black book” in his desk that contained the names of officers that Marshall identified as capable leaders. The names supposedly spanned from classmates of Marshall’s when he attended the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth in 1906-1907 through students and instructors during the time he was vice commandant at the Infantry School at Fort Benning, to officers who performed well when he was observing maneuvers. The myth of the “little black book” has particular staying power because Marshall’s official biographer, Dr. Forrest C. Pogue, referenced it on page 95 of volume 2 of the biography. 

Read the rest at the
George C. Marshall Foundation.

Quick Look

The trailer for "Spinning Man."

Circular Motion

"Have you filled out the form?"

"Yes. Several times. I submitted it more than once."

"Here. I've found it on my screen. That may be the problem. You probably confused them. You should have just sent in one."

"But I had not heard back for days after the original submission. I was worried that they'd lost it. My initial contact was with a man named Leonard."

"Leonard is very busy."

"I tried reaching him again but he said he was swamped and I should talk to you."

"He did?  That's odd because matters like these are really in his department."

"I'm under a deadline. Is there any way this can be expedited?"

"Yes. There is an extra $25 charge."

"Fine. I'll pay it."

"Very well. I've just forwarded your paperwork via the Expedited Process. You'll be emailed a receipt and should be hearing back from us within 48 hours."

"That's great. Can you give me the number of the office I should call if there is any delay?"

"You already have it."

"What?"

"It's Leonard's."

On the Street: Scottsdale

Google Maps: Old Town, Scottsdale, Arizona.

Quote of the Day

If you lose yourself in your work, you find who you are. If you express the best you have in you in your work, it is more than just the best you have in you that you are expressing.

- Frederick Buechner

Thursday, February 08, 2018

Humor

From 1988: Rita Rudner performing in Australia.

Quick Look

The trailer for "Knight and Day."

Because a Good Pencil is Hard to Find

The Cramped says this is "the best mechanical pencil ever invented."

Did I immediately buy it? 

Yes.

Hyper-Sensitivity about Micro-Management


Over the past few years I've seen executives, managers, and supervisors who are so wary of micro-managing that they shun soliciting information which they should have or giving advice which they should give.

Let's start with the advice. Giving advice differs from giving orders. If a subordinate confuses the two there may be a bigger problem going on beneath the surface. I've even seen situations where an executive refused to meet with his replacement because of fear that his remarks on the status of the operation could be seen as pressuring action in a particular direction. In so many words I told him, "So what? If your successor has any smarts then that advice should be seen as something that can be disregarded." Once again, advice is not an order. Information is even less so.

What is even stranger is when people shy away from asking for fairly basic information because they don't want to be seen as a meddling boss. That attitude ignores the fact that getting information is on one continent and meddling is on another. Bosses are expected to know at least roughly what's going on. The incidents I saw involved super-basic information; not the sort that should cause anyone to get defensive.

Sometimes you need to micro-manage. It shouldn't become a habit. If it does then the management system probably has flaws. Fear of micro-managing can spark its own problems and that fear deserves further examination.

Essential Board Games

Image result for scrabble game amazon

I was in a conversation the other day in which the main topic - somewhat controversial - was board games.

Yes, board games. 

I move in strange circles.

Is there one which is as good as Scrabble?

On the Street: Miami Beach

Google Maps: On Collins Avenue in Miami Beach, Florida.

Quote of the Day

I think we all have a need to know what we do not need to know.

- William Safire

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Music Break: "Paperback Writer"

Great song and the first time I've seen this video of The Beatles.

Crank it up.

The Thought Leader



It’s still very hard for senior executives to get frank feedback — or to welcome it. I worked with a corporate leader from the Caucasus who got a perfect score in his subordinates’ appraisals of him. They said he was a great manager. Then I found out that he had handed out the feedback forms to his subordinates with their names printed on them, and said, “Bring these back to my office.” This case may be extreme, but that’s the kind of feedback that many leaders get. There’s the famous scene in Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 where Lieutenant Scheisskopf says, “I’ll be grateful to the man who tells me the truth,” and then court-martials the one person who dares to speak up.

- From the strategy + business interview with Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries.

"Three Minutes"


Patrick Rhone on a very short and powerful film.

Lost in Translation

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When in Rome?

I know a man whose international business dealings often bring him into what may be called interesting circumstances.

He was involved in a lawsuit in another country and retained local counsel. In a long discussion with the attorney, they both wondered what the opposing counsel had up his sleeve. 

At the next meeting, his attorney seemed much calmer. The man explained that he'd had a peek at the other lawyer's file. My friend asked, "How on earth did you manage to do that?"

His lawyer said, "Oh, I waited until he went to lunch and then paid his secretary some money to let me look at the case file."

Being of a cynical bent, I wonder how much the opposing counsel paid to look at the file of my friend's lawyer.

And whether either file was the real file.

In Stitches

Yesterday, my dermatologist cracked jokes and talked politics and philosophy while sewing up my forehead.

Anything to divert my thoughts from the needle moving in-and-out.

I go back in a week to have the stitches removed. The result should be quite dashing.

On the Street: Munich

Google Maps: Marienplatz in Munich, Germany.

Quote of the Day

Human nature is largely something that has to be overcome.

- Rita Rudner

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

A Girl Scout Who Knows How to Sell Cookies

Instapundit has the details. 

Give her a merit badge!

A Touch of Dante

When I had reached the middle of life's journey,
I came to myself in a dark wood with the straight path gone missing.
Ah, how painful a thing it is to tell you what that was like, 
that wild, rough and impenetrable wood,
the very thought of which revives my fear!

- From The Inferno

Quick Look

The trailer for "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom."