Friday, August 31, 2018

A Tad Bizarre

The trailer for "The Other Side of the Wind."

"Some London Architecture 1912 and Recent"

Art Contrarian gives several examples

The photo above made me cringe.

Read, Remember, and Act

woman wearing red sleeveless shirt

[Photo by Tanja Heffner at Unsplash]

"Nobody truly knows how good you are."

Nicholas Bate's post should be read daily.

Remember: The Obvious is Not Obvious

man wearing brown dress shirt

[Photo by rawpixel at Unsplash]

Far too many leaders believe that what they do and why they do it must be obvious to everyone in the organization. It never is. Far too many believe that when they announce things, everyone understands. No one does, as a rule.

- Peter F. Drucker

Typical Summer

The trailer for "Under the Silver Lake."

First Paragraph

Whisking into his apartment house on West Eight-Ninth Street, Edgar Kellogg skulked, eager to avoid eye contact with a doorman who at least got a regular paycheck. His steps were quick and tight, his shoulders rounded. Unable to cover next month's rent, he peered anxiously at the elevator indication light stuck on twelve, as if any moment he might be arrested. Maxing out the credit cards came next. This place used to give him such a kick. Now that he couldn't afford it, the kick was in the teeth, and tapping cordovans literally down at the heel, he calculated morosely that for every day in this fatuous dive he was out ninety bucks. Waiting on a $175 check from the Amoco Traveler was like trying to bail out a rowboat with an eyedropper while the cold, briny deep gushed through a hole the size of a rubber boot.

- From The New Republic: A Novel by Lionel Shriver

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Quick Look

The trailer for "Roma."

Desk Cleaning

brown wooden desk with typewriter

[Photo by Randy Fath at Unsplash]

Going through every paper on my desk. Massive culling. They pile up through the week and as Friday approaches I can hear them whimpering for attention.

The Good Old Days

statue of horses on body of water at daytime

[Photo by Nikolay Maslov at Unsplash]

BBC: "The Real Versailles."

Another Cheery Look at the Future

The trailer for "The Manual."


brown fountain pen on notebook

[Photo by David Travis at Unsplash]

The key is not to prioritize what's on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.

-        Stephen Covey

Man of Thought

tortoiseshell sunglasses

[Photo by Nick Hillier at Unsplash]

Anderson Layman's Blog has a lot of thought-provoking items. He has been on the mountain top. Check it out.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Free Advice

From "You Had One Job."

[HT: Caroline Fraker]

Our Man Neil

quarter moon

[Photo by Alexandre Godreau at Unsplash]

The trailer for "First Man."

Name the Justices

Group Photo of Nime Justices

[Photo by Franz Jantzen, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States]

According to a poll, there are many people out there who have difficulty naming a single one.

First Paragraph

Doro discovered the woman by accident when he went to see what was left of one of his seed villages. The village was a comfortable mud-walled place surrounded by grasslands and scattered trees. But Doro realized even before he reached it that its people were gone. Slavers had been to it before him. With their guns and their greed, they had undone in a few hours the work of a thousand years. Those villagers they had not herded away, they had slaughtered. Doro found human bones, hair, bits of dessicated flesh missed by scavengers. He stood over a very small skeleton - the bones of a child - and wondered where the survivors had been taken. Which country or New World colony? How far would he have to travel to find the remnants of what had been a healthy, vigorous people?

- From Wild Seed by Octavia E. Butler

Quick Look

The trailer for "Submergence."

Contemplating the Day

sunlight pass through cactus during golden hour

[Photo by Robert Murray at Unsplash]

Meetings. Coaching. Proposals. Correspondence. 

Some interesting stuff.

Yesterday, an HR Director told me: "I asked around the HR community about getting some harassment prevention training and your name kept coming up."

That's very nice. 

On the more exotic front: An upcoming project will take me to Tombstone. I may even be going there more than once.

Also nice and it will be an excuse to watch the movie again.

Business Strategy

[Photo by Felix Mittermeier at Unsplash]

Wally Bock, a brave man, gives his picks of the best books on business strategy.

Although these are certainly not business books, two of my favorite books on strategy are:

  • On Grand Strategy by John Lewis Gaddis 
  • On Strategy: A Critical Analysis of the Vietnam War by Harry G. Summers

Quick Look

The trailer for "Hold the Dark."


The movie business is the only business in the world where the assets go home at night.

- Attributed to Dorothy Parker

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Quick Look

The trailer for "A Private War."

First Paragraph

My first paycheck came in the summer of 1987, when I was fourteen years old. My best friend, Jason Corley, and I had been invited by our high school to enroll in a summer school debate class the year before ninth grade. By the next year, we were teaching it. We earned $420 each.

- From WORK RULES! Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead by Laslo Bock

And I Return with a Strange Post

Separated at birth: "Paul Revere" and Boris Johnson.

Back Soon

Off the grid for a short time.

How short?


Monday, August 27, 2018

A Rockwell Contender?

Althouse believes an artist is in the running to be another Norman Rockwell.

Sorry. Not even close.

First Paragraph

There is a theory that the United States needed its great war of brothers to weld in a terrible fire what had been and what might be, that the end of one epoch and the birth of another could not be accomplished peacefully; that the irrepressible conflict was preordained. Across a tiny strip of land, not much more than 100 miles in length and 50 in breadth, the rise of the middle class and the modern industrial state was decided. The Industrial Revolution won. Yesterday gave way to Tomorrow. Feudal Europe transported to the New World bowed to modern America. And leading the great armies that decided the issue were two generals who almost too perfectly, almost too precisely, exemplified the meaning of the causes they served. Neither could more exactly represent the South and the North: Lee the Christian soldier, the knight-crusader of ancient lineage at the head of his legions, the image of noblesse oblige whose example reached downward to inspire the men who followed him because he was the representative of all that was best in their doomed society of polished old ways and understood relationships; Grant the great soldier of no roots whose weakness for liquor was known to the least of his followers, who had risen from nowhere, from failure and griminess and physical labor to do heroic and magical things and to hold out to those who followed him the hope that they too - farmers, laborers, craftsmen, new immigrants - could in America attain great heights, rise in the world, lead men, grow rich, grow famous, become President.

- From Lee and Grant: A Dual Biography by Gene Smith

Rise and Shine

[Photo by alan KO at Unsplash]

At Popular Mechanics: Allison Young on what she experienced when she got up at 4 a.m. for a week.


A sizable number of people have unreasonable expectations of themselves or of others. 

One of those expectations: sainthood

Start with Season One

The trailer for Season 2 of "The Tunnel."

Very well done. Highly recommended.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

First Paragraph

Sheppard sat on a stool at the bar that divided the kitchen in half, eating his cereal out of the individual pasteboard box it came in. He ate mechanically, his eyes on the child, who was wandering from cabinet to cabinet in the panelled kitchen, collecting the ingredients for his breakfast. He was a stocky blond boy of ten. Sheppard kept his intense blue eyes fixed on him. The boy's future was written in his face. He would be a banker. No, worse. He would operate a small loan company. All he wanted for the child was that he be good and unselfish and neither seemed likely. Sheppard was a young man whose hair was already white. It stood up like a narrow brush halo over his pink sensitive face.

- From "The Lame Shall Enter First" in Everything That Rises Must Converge by Flannery O'Connor

Find Something Beautiful Today

A close-up photo of the bright center of a star cluster.

[Photo by NASA at Unsplash]

Saturday, August 25, 2018

John McCain, Rest in Peace

Related image

Books and More Books

This has been a day for selecting books to be donated to my favorite family used bookstore. It is a sometimes reckless process and I have, on occasion, found myself buying back books I once gave away.

But the sorting is necessary and there is plenty of second-guessing. [I just retrieved The Psychology of Dictatorship from a stack. That was a close call.]

Finding books that had been forgotten is one of the small joys. The really old books can be very hard to let go. They often have signatures of departed loved ones and so deserve special protection particularly if there is also some eccentric aspect tied to a personality. [Did she really study Latin? Why did he have that book on mining?]

The dining room table is the current holding area and it is getting filled.

Time well spent.

A Fulfilled Life

Bohemian woman with braided hair, sunglass, and a luggage sitting on top of a vintage volkswagen with a coca cola case on the beach.

[Photo by Amos Bar-Zeev at Unsplash]

Nicholas Bate's "Jagged Thoughts for Jagged Times" are anything but jagged.


[Photo by raw pixel at Unsplash]

I finally understand what pluralism is: it's when lots of people share my point of view.

- Giancarlo Pajetta

Friday, August 24, 2018

Music Break

Image result for heaven's gate movie poster amazon

The "Ella's Waltz" scene from Heaven's Gate.

Open-Plan Offices

[Photo by Social Cut at Unsplash]

Wally Bock's weekend leadership reading assignments tackle the open-plan office.

Quick Look

The trailer for "Mrs. Miniver."

Tech Meets the Weather

A massive, rip-roaring, thunderstorm moved through Phoenix last night, knocking out electricity, and blowing over trees. As I watched the downpour from my darkened living room, I checked the weather app on my phone. 

The report indicated that we had cloudy skies and ten percent chance of rain.

But the graphics were great.

Hurry Up and Wait (and Its Reverse)

[Photo by Kevin Ku at Unsplash]                                                                                                      

"Hurry up and wait" - Refers to the practice of urging others to move quickly and then rewarding their haste with delay.

"Wait and hurry up" - Refers to those memorable moments where prolonged delay by X has been followed by X's urging Y and Z to get a move on. 

Quick Look

The trailer for "Outlaw King."


[Photo by Tom Coe at Unsplash]

As the light changed from red to green to yellow and back to red again, I sat there thinking about life. Was it nothing more than a bunch of honking and yelling? Sometimes it seemed that way.

- Jack Handey

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Art Break

Art Contrarian looks at some unfinished portraits by Thomas Lawrence. 

Skateboarding through Life

[Photo by Li xianan at Unsplash]

The trailer for "Minding the Gap."

Sit Down and Take a Look at Your Oldest and Most Unfair Critic

[Photo by Kirill Zakharov at Unsplash]

Well Worth Remembering

An African American man looking down at his hands while sitting for a prayer.

[Photo by  Andrew Itagaat Unsplash]

Remember that the world's greatest leader washed the feet of His associates.

- Sign at Union University, a Baptist college in Jackson, Tennessee

Martin. Aston Martin.

Aston Martin is building a Bond car for people who have very long driveways.

Since it won't have an ejection seat, I've crossed it off my list. The price may have been another consideration.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Quick Look

The trailer for "The Pawnbroker."

Music Break

[Photo by Kinga Cichewicz at Unsplash]

And speaking of Jordi Savall, back by popular demand: Folias de España.

Pusher Man


Once again, Cultural Offering has busted my music budget.

Click here to see his list.

The Phone Bargain

FutureLawyer believes the Essential Phone is the best phone ever for little money.

And since he is a tech wizard, that is worth considering.

High-Maintenance People

Whenever I hear an employee described as "high-maintenance" I wonder if the maintenance fee is worth it. If the person is a temperamental genius - think Steve Jobs - and can be sufficiently separated from others to reduce damage, then it may be logical to have the brilliant loon around.

In my experience - and probably in yours as well - such cases are rare. The high maintenance person drives off good people, reduces respect for management, and lowers morale. 

Despite whatever good qualities they may possess, over time they become more of a deficit.

Don't keep them around too long.

Miscellaneous and Fast

Quote of the Day

Spies & journalists have a fatal attraction to each other. The spies are often aspiring writers, the reporters would-be secret agents. Both groups feel unappreciated by their bosses & the public. Also underpaid. Lord help us when they scheme together at lunch.

- A tweet by Walter Kirn

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

"Margin Call"

A great scene from a great movie. Jeremy Irons is brilliant.

Fame and Wisdom

[Photo by chuttersnap at Unsplash]

Has this ever happened to you?

You hear that some leader or thinker is profound and then, when you listen to their speeches or read their essays on a substantive issue ("Why did the chicken cross the road?"), you are unable to find anything deeper than the most obvious of conclusions ("To get to the other side."). 

[It is very thin stuff and they often keep a straw man argument nearby.]

Just as some people are "famous for being famous" there may be far more who are famous for being wise. 

Unfortunately, they often turn out to be not quite as wise as their boosters imply.

This is hardly a new observation.

Hans Christian Andersen's famous story cleverly described the problem

And "Being There" had a lot of fun with the subject.

The Consequences

[Photo by at Unsplash]

Everything has both intended and unintended consequences. The intended consequences may or may not happen; the unintended consequences always do. 

- Dee Hock

First Paragraph

The pursuer took the last landing-card in his hand and watched the passengers cross the grey wet quay, over a wilderness of rails and points, round the corners of abandoned trucks. They went with coat-collars turned up and hunched shoulders; on the tables in the long coaches lamps were lit and glowed through the rain like a chain of blue beads. A giant crane swept and descended, and the clatter of the winch drowned for a moment the pervading sounds of water, water falling from the overcast sky, water washing against the sides of channel steamer and quay. It was half past four in the afternoon.

- From Orient Express by Graham Greene

Monday, August 20, 2018

Quick Look

The trailer for "The Weather Man."

First Paragraph

In late 2011, a sixteen-year-old Bahraini boy named Abdelaziz Kuwan approached his Syrian uncle and asked for an introduction to Riad al-Asaad, a colonel in the Syrian Air Force and one of the first military defectors from the dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad. Abdelaziz wanted to join the armed rebellion in Syria. His parents had forbidden him from doing so, but he was ready to defy their wishes.

- From ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror by Michael Weiss and Hassan Hassan

To Be the Schlemiel or the Schlimazel

[Photo by Heather Schwartz at Unsplash]

The beauty of Yiddish can be found in the classic distinction between the schlemiel and the schlimazel.

There are days when I may rotate between the two roles.

To Learn It, Explain It

[Photo by Animesh Basnet at Unsplash]

It can be said in defense of the many who attend classes with the sole aim of getting through school and not through any desire to master the subjects, that the design of the process encourages such attitudes. Many regard teachers as somewhat amiable adversaries who seek to trap them with pop quizzes and tricky exam questions. It should not be surprising that a simple and early bit of street wisdom is that teachers should be approached with wariness. The less contact with such tricksters, the better.

The teachers can, of course, be equally wary.

That brings me to the wish that more classes would require an occasional one-on-one teacher and student meeting where the students would be asked to explain, in plain language, an important concept from the class material. Nothing fancy. Just a casual discussion of the subject as a way of seeing whether or not the student gets one of the most important concepts of all: gaining mastery in a subject is not the same as learning enough to make a good grade. 

To learn it, explain it. 

First Paragraph

All is quiet in Moscow. The squeak of wheels is seldom heard in the snow-covered street. There are no lights left in the windows and the street lamps have been extinguished. Only the sound of bells, borne over the city from the church towers, suggest the approach of morning. The streets are deserted. At rare intervals a night-cabman's sledge kneads up the snow and sand in the street as the driver makes his way to another corner where he falls asleep while waiting for a fare. An old woman passes by on her way to church, where a few wax candles burn with a red light reflected on the gilt mountings of the icons. Workmen are already getting up after the long winter night and going to their work - but for the gentlefolk it is still evening.

- From The Cossacks by Leo Tolstoy

Quick Look

The trailer for "Storm Boy."

Quote of the Day

He taught by instruction and example alike. "Young man," Farrell addressed John Lewis Gaddis, the future historian of the Cold War, at their first meeting, having just read a draft of Mr. Gaddis's dissertation, "you must always remember, when you write, 'on the other hand,' to tell what the first hand was."

- James Grant, in a remembrance of historian Robert H. Ferrell [The Wall Street Journal, August 18 - 19, 2018]

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Seems a Little Tame

Image result for arizona movie

Speaking as a native Arizonan, I can take pride that our state is about to get recognition in a new film.

Planning and Reality

[Photo by Chris Knight at Unsplash]

With all plans there is a point where you have to take the plunge. Planning is good, is essential and teaches you a lot. But it isn't reality.

- Nicholas Bate

Cuisine and Theology

Chicken thighs are proof of God’s love for us.

Cultural Offering has the right food and the right philosophy.

First Paragraph

Image result for farnam's freehold amazon

It's not a hearing aid," Hubert Farnam explained. "It's a radio, tuned to the emergency frequency."

"Troll level Galactic Overlord"

[Photo Sam Wheeler by at Unsplash]

Ann Althouse has a post on a letter to an advice column in The New York Times.

[An advice column in The New York Times?]

Anyway, the best line is one of the comments on her blog:

"If you have to bust your ass trying to figure out if something is a parody, it's the real thing that has the problem."

Cultural Update

The trailer for "The Last Sharknado."

Sitting indoors and reading Proust looks better all the time.

Art Break

Art Contrarian looks at the work of August Bleser, Jr.

First Paragraph

Bentley Price, photographer for Global News Service, had put a steak on the broiler and settled down in a lawn chair, with a can of beer in hand, to watch it, when the door opened underneath an ancient white oak tree and people started walking out of it.

- From Our Children's Children by Clifford D. Simak

British-French Mystery

The trailer for "The Tunnel."

Nicely done and on Prime.

It's the Weekend

[Photo by Tyler Hendy at Unsplash]

I like work/life separation, not work/life balance. What I mean by that is, if I'm on, I want to be on and maximally productive. If I'm off, I don't want to think about work. When people strive for work/life balance, they end up blending them. That's how you end up checking email all day Saturday. 

- Tim Ferriss

Friday, August 17, 2018

Crank It Up

Rhonda Vincent and the Rage with "Orange Blossom Special."

Bock's Assignments

[Photo by Kinga Cichewichz at Unsplash]

Wally Bock has issued his weekend leadership reading assignments.

The Journalism Game

Take the above headline to an elementary school. Fourth or fifth grade would probably work but let's be kind to the newspaper and take it to a seventh or eighth grade class.

Ask the students how the headline would read if it reflected the defense counsel's opinion on the evidence. Then ask them why a highly respected newspaper chose to run the headline.

Modern Times

Wait until Southwest Airlines hears that I have a honey badger as a service animal.

"Unreal but True"

Image result for touch of evil movie poster amazon

Well worth a few minutes: Orson Welles (and Charlton Heston) talking about"Touch of Evil."

Minor Requests

[Photo by Joao Tzanno at Unsplash]

Four minor requests:
  • Don't "reach out" to her. Contact her.
  • Don't "gift" him. Give him.
  • Don't "share it" with us. Tell us.
  • Don't "unpack" it. Explain it.
That's all for now.

Oh wait, there's one more. Please remember that we already got to the chase and reached the bottom line at the end of the day.