Friday, November 30, 2018

Beatles Territory is Sacred Ground

Barry Lenser at The Federalist ranks all of the songs on the White Album and gets them wrong, wrong, wrong.

But then, the only definitive list would come from the incomparable Nicholas Bate.

The "Palessi" Stunt

Payless opened a fancy store (Palessi) and sold the same items they normally sell in Payless stores.

How much more will people pay for a $20 pair of shoes? You'd be surprised.

Adweek has the story.

The Beauty of the Essay

Some of the volumes published by Notting Hill Editions

Notting Hill Editions publishes essays and only essays. 

End of Times

Althouse has details on Oreo beer.

Business Model

An old 60 Minutes episode on the unconventional model of the Saint Paul Saints.

Fun is a key component.

First Paragraph

From the beginning of time, the centre of Asia was where empires were made. The alluvial lowlands of Mesopotamia, fed by the Tigris and Euphrates, provided the basis for civilisation itself - for it was in this region that the first towns and cities took shape. Systematised agriculture developed in Mesopotamia and across the whole of the "Fertile Crescent," a band of highly productive land with access to plentiful water, stretching from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean coast. It was here that some of the first recorded laws were disseminated nearly 4,000 years ago by Hammurabi, King of Babylon, who detailed his subjects' obligations and set out fierce punishments for their transgressions.

- From The Silk Roads: A New History of the World by Peter Frankopan

The Notorious Bar Exam

The State Bar of California has done it again, failing nearly 60% of the law school graduates who took the exam in July. It was the worst outcome since 1951. And yet thousands of these graduates, if they had taken the test in virtually any other state, would now be embarking on their legal careers instead of having to prepare to take it again in February.

Read the rest of the article in The Los Angeles Times.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Another Time

Film by an unknown American of France and Germany in the 1930s.

It reminds me of watching a horror movie and wanting to warn the characters.


Had lunch with an old friend. We swapped stories of recent medical experiences.

I won.

No, wait.

Doing The Day

silver iPhone 5s near Field Notes book

"Urgent and Important" tasks? Easy choice. Those get tackled first.

"Not Urgent But Important?" Spend as much as possible of your remaining time on these.

And if you decide to slip into the "Not Urgent and Not Important" or the "Urgent But Not Important" territory, carefully limit and record how much time you spend (waste?) on those.

[Photo by Kari Shea at Unsplash]

And Speaking of Grad School

Check out the Vanity Fair article on Sheryl Sandberg and Harvard Business School.

Grad School Hells

Image result for peter robinson snapshots from hell amazon

Several years ago I read Peter Robinson's book about his experience in Stanford's MBA program. [It seemed very similar to what I encountered in law school.] 

In short, the environment described by Robinson was high-pressured and highly unpleasant. I've posted on this subject before but the questions continue to arise and I'm baffled. What sort of organization abuses its primary customers? What sort of people pay through the nose to be abused? Is there any evidence whatsoever that a grueling experience in graduate school produces a better graduate?

This isn't like the military where the ability to handle significant stress can be crucially important. There is a rationale for the challenge and stress of boot camps.

Perhaps you have a theory on the subject. I can understand the students far more than I can understand the faculty. The students, after all, are after the status and advantages that come with the degree. It is hardly to their credit that they put up with the weirdness, but they have a motive. I believe some of them regard the experience as some sort of intellectual version of Outward Bound.

What, however, explains the conduct of the faculty in such places? Are they trying to keep the students tired and on the defensive? And what sort of graduate do they believe is produced by such environments?

[Note: I recognize that not all graduate programs are hellish. I knew some law profs who were thoroughly decent and kind. The above post relates to institutions where the general culture is abusive. Btw: Read Robinson's book. It's very interesting.]

Quick Look

The trailer for "Artemis Fowl."

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

First Paragraph

Thomas Decker was half an hour from home when Whisperer stopped him in his tracks.

- From Project Pope by Clifford D. Simak

Does It Involve Condos in Costa Rica?

Martin Feldstein on how to save social security systems.

Good Questions for Leaders

Is this organization coherent? Are we pulling in the same direction?

[In many organizations, the answers are no and no.]

Twitter Bans a Feminist

Quillette has feminist Meghan Murphy's take on her ban from Twitter. An excerpt:

In this case, however, the notion that my commentary could be construed as “hateful” baffled me. One tweet read, simply, “Men aren’t women,” and the other asked “How are transwomen not men? What is the difference between a man and a transwoman?” That last question is one I’ve asked countless times, including in public speeches, and I have yet to get a persuasive answer. I ask these questions not to spread hate—because I do not hate trans-identified individuals—but rather to make sense of arguments made by activists within that community. Instead of answering such questions, however, these same activists insist that the act of simply asking them is evidence of hatred.

"History knows her way"

brown and white high-rise concrete building

The late and great Daniel Patrick Moynihan once defined the communist doctrine of "democratic centralism" as "mindless obedience." Last night, while reading Arthur Koestler's classic novel, Darkness at Noon, I came across this passage in a conversation between the main character - Rubashov - and a young German communist:

"The Party can never be mistaken," said Rubashov. "You and I can make a mistake. Not the Party. The Party, comrade, is more than you and I and a thousand others like you and I. The Party is the embodiment of the revolutionary idea in history. History knows no scruples and no hesitation. Inert and unerring, she flows toward her goal. At every bend in her course she leaves the mud which she carries and the corpses of the drowned. History knows her way. She makes no mistakes. He who has not absolute faith in History does not belong in the Party's ranks."

There are echoes of that whenever people boast of being on "the right side of history." 

My reaction can be summed up in one word: Beware.

[Photo by Mike Kononov at Unsplash]


woman standing on front of neon signage

It is much easier for one person to bring down a team than for one person to uplift it. 

A single critic's negative remarks can linger long after the praise of multitudes has faded. 

We can cut with a glance and wound with a word. That ability alone argues for self-restraint. 

As an old friend of mine suggested: "Whenever you're angry, don't do anything that feels good."

[Photo by Bruno Cervera at Unsplash]

"They Shall Not Grow Old"

The new and longer trailer for the extraordinary First World War documentary.

Time Management Hacks for Gig Workers

You can’t move from one task to the next without a break. Each time you complete a project, step away from your workspace. Play that video game, take a walk, even do some cleaning. The goal is to clear your head.

Read all of the Forbes article by Abdullahi Muhammed.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Quick Look

The trailer for "The Decent One."

Musical Motivator

The Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra with "The William Tell Overture."

Watch it all the way to the end.

You will smile.

[HT: Rick Miller]

Robin Hood

There are some decisions made by film-makers that are so bizarre that you would pay to have been in the room when the project was initially being discussed.

"Robin Hood" is one of them.

Setting Boundaries

group of people talking about chart paper

Gerald Loeb's Rule: "If an investment loses 10 percent of its initial value, sell it."

- From Simple Rules: How to Thrive in a Complex World by Donald Sull and Kathleen M. Eisenhardt

[Photo by rawpixel at Unsplash]

Monday, November 26, 2018

Quick Look

The trailer for "Mrs. Wilson."

Ricky Jay, RIP

The great magician Ricky Jay has passed away.

The first part of this 1993 article in The New Yorker provides an example of his work.

Happiness Strategy

Anderson Layman's Blog has some fascinating advice from Michael Crichton on how to achieve happiness.

To Prevent Drift

If you have not already done so, take some time to jot down what you want to get done on each day of this week. Don't just list appointments and meetings; instead, list the important tasks you want to complete. 

In other words, block out time on each calendar day for your priorities.

Then get busy completing them.

Back to Paradise

Althouse points to a story about people who have returned to live in what's left of their homes after the devastating fire in California. Memorable quote:

"If my cat starts talking to me, I'll leave."

Digital Time, Real Friends, & What We Care About . . . List

people using smartphones

  1. Your thousandth social media friend won't make you any happier. Your fourth real friend will.
  2. Uninterrupted time is life's most valuable limited resource.
  3. Most news isn't news.
  4. Envy isn't good therapy. Rage isn't good therapy. Working out is good therapy.
  5. Do something now you'll want to talk about at the dinner table tonight.
- From a list developed by the Sasse family as noted in Them: Why We Hate Each Other and How to Heal by Ben Sasse

[Photo by rawpixel at Unsplash]

First Paragraph

I returned from the city about three o'clock on that May afternoon pretty well disgusted with life. I had been three months in the old country and was fed up with it. If anyone had told me a year ago that I would have been feeling like that, I should have laughed at him, but there was the fact. The weather made me liverish, the talk of the ordinary Englishman made me sick, I couldn't get enough exercise, and the amusements of London seemed as flat as soda water that has been standing in the sun. "Richard Hannay," I kept telling myself, "you have got into the wrong ditch, my friend, and you had better climb out."

- From The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan

Quick Look

The trailer for "The City and The City."

Go for the Lamp

A Christmas Story House

They have a gift shop.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Saturday, November 24, 2018

First Paragraph

I can squeeze between buildings through spaces you can't even see. I can walk behind you so close my breath raises goose-flesh on your neck and you won't hear me. I can hear the muscles in your eyes contract when your pupils dilate. I can feed off your filth and live in your house and sleep under your bed and you will never know unless I want you to.

- From King Rat by China Miéville

Food for Thought

Jordan Peterson plus BBC interviewer = good times ahead.

Eclecticity Light

Where does he find this stuff?

Virtual Reality: Consider the Dangers


I went to this trailer for Oculus Go after reading FutureLawyer's post about a current bargain on its goggles/mask/device.

This is all very impressive but what will be the long-term effects on a society in which Virtual Reality has wide usage? 

Will VR produce more loneliness, alienation, and passivity? Will it stifle creativity? 

It is easy to see the positives but what are the dangers?

Navy Lightnings Over California

[U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communications Specialist Shannon E. Renfroe]

See much more at Strategy Page.

[HT; Instapundit]

Time Management and Carlos Ghosn

The story of the arrest of Carlos Ghosn, the multi-tasking CEO of several car companies, will be getting major media attention over the coming weeks.

The question I've long wanted to ask him is unrelated to legal issues: how can one person find the time to run more than one major car company? 

Bock's Assignments

wooden furniture inside library

Wally Bock has some weekend leadership reading for us.

[Photo by Michael D. Beckwith at Unsplash]

First Paragraph

I was leaning against the bar in a speakeasy on Fifty-second Street, waiting for Nora to finish her Christmas shopping, when a girl got up from the table where she had been sitting with three other people and came over to me. She was small and blonde, and whether you looked at her face or at her body in powder-blue clothes, the result was satisfactory. "Aren't you Nick Charles? she asked.

- From The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett

Friday, November 23, 2018

The Danger of Technology

The trailer for "Click."

As Relevant as Ever

Image result for darkness at noon amazon

Brilliant as this book is as a novel, and a piece of brilliant literature, it is probably most valuable as an interpretation of the Moscow "confessions" by someone with an inner knowledge of totalitarian methods. What was frightening about these trials was not the fact that they happened—for obviously such things are necessary in a totalitarian society—but the eagerness of Western intellectuals to justify them.

- George Orwell

Rhone's Reading

Check out Patrick Rhone's interesting and eclectic reading list

[He just added to my Books to Be Read pile.]

Quick Look

The trailer for "Escape Room."

A Management Mixture

refill of liquid on tubes

Let us examine a scenario. 

The executives and managers are capable but even the excellent ones are not always so. Some may lack the skill to foster positive relationships in particular situations. When that is the case, a troubled relationship between two or more people becomes a separate entity with a life of its own. That separate entity can be an influential but invisible presence.

Mix in a system with its rewards and punishments and, recognizing that the unintended rewards and punishments may be as influential as the intentional ones, try to identify what has been hidden. Once all of those influences are on the table, then another potent factor - culture - must be considered.

I am studying that mixture in my "laboratory" right now.

The eventual solution might be simple but discovering it is not. 

Now where did I put my microscope?

[Photo by Louis Reed at Unsplash]

To Be Re-Read

Image result for the comedians graham greene amazon

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Crank It Up

Image result for harvest home jay ungar molly mason amazon

"La Chanson de Mardi Gras."

Better Than Granola

In comparison to most of today's other food choices, I think we can agree that apple pie (via The Pioneer Woman) qualifies as health food.

Provided that there are large quantities of cinnamon.

A Book That Should Be Widely-Read

Image result for them ben sasse amazon

I'm ripping through this very good and timely book. Some excerpts:

I grew up in a middle-class home. Some of my friends had more than we did, some had less - but socioeconomics had basically no bearing on our relationships in our 25,000-person town. At the Fremont Wrestling Club, I cared only who threw the best headlock and who had the quickest sweeping single-leg shot. I honestly didn't know whose mom and dad had higher-status jobs. There was only one Little League baseball association, and there was only one Jaycees football league, and everyone was in both.

This is no longer true.

Brad Wilson, a sociologist at the University of Virginia, has labeled this elite unwillingness to admit the importance of family structure and parenting "talking left, walking right." What he's put his finger on is the difference between what so many college graduates tend to preach for others versus what they actually practice in their own lives. At the same time that the upper third of modern America is proclaiming its open-mindedness on matters of family life and sexual ethics, most of us are actually living staunchly "conservative" or "bourgeois" lives.


So far, my selection of a film for this Thanksgiving afternoon's entertainment has not received wide support.


couple dancing

Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.

- Robert Brault

[Photo by John Moeses Bauan at Unsplash]

The Meal

bokeh lights photography of brown maple leaf

The Pilgrims may have also added fish to their meal of birds and deer. In fall, striped bass, bluefish, and cod were abundant. Perhaps most important to the Pilgrims was that with a recently harvested barley crop, it was possible to brew beer. Alas, the Pilgrims were without pumpkin pies or cranberry sauce. There were also no forks, which did not appear at Plymouth until the last decades of the seventeenth century. The Pilgrims ate with their fingers and their knives.

- From Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War by Nathaniel Philbrick

[Photo by Aaron Burden at Unsplash]

Happy Thanksgiving!

slice of pie with whipped cream on ceramic plate near coffee

By the time you reach the coffee and the dessert, may your day have been one of many blessings and immense gratitude.

[Photo by Element5 digital at Unsplash]

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

In the Background

Image result for Amelie soundtrack amazon
A soundtrack that always makes me happy.

A Tribal Reservations Case

The specific question is whether the reservation once afforded the Creek Nation in what is now eastern Oklahoma remains a reservation for purposes of the Major Crimes Act. If it remains a reservation, then the state of Oklahoma was powerless to try Patrick Murphy for a murder he committed on that land in 1999, because the Major Crimes Act requires federal prosecution of certain major crimes committed on Indian reservations. If the land is no longer a reservation, then Oklahoma retains the authority to prosecute crimes in that territory.

Read all of Ronald Mann at SCOTUSblog on a very interesting tribal reservation case to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.

History has a way of catching up with things. Oh, and here's a line of particular interest:

A ruling in favor of Murphy would suggest, among other things, that all major prosecutions in eastern Oklahoma since 1907 were invalid as a violation of the Major Crimes Act.

A Cozy Family Film for the Holidays

The trailer for "The Vanishing."

The Story of Pie

French Silk

I had one Thanksgiving-related chore today: to pick up some pies at Village Inn

[Go ahead and mock, you pie purists, but first try the French Silk.]

Anyway, the efficiency of the pie distribution scheme was impressive: one line for walk-ins and another line for the online registrants. The second line was longer - the orders were larger - and although a lot of pumpkin and apple pies were moving out the door, the best seller appeared to be the French Silk.

It's probably based on an old Pilgrim recipe.

True and Wise

person holding pumpkin

Cultural Offering points to the fool-proof way to win that argument at Thanksgiving.

[Photo by Ryan Christodoulou at Unsplash]

Small Gestures of Kindness

white and blue floral teacup with tea bag in saucer in tilt shift photography

In a world being reshaped by technology, what so many of us crave are small gestures of kindness that remind us of what it means to be human.

- William C. Taylor

[Photo by Morgan Sessions at Unsplash]

"The Simplest of Productivity Boosters"

person holding white mini bell alarmclock

Nicholas Bate points to a big booster

I can personally attest that the 20 minute technique makes a huge difference.

[Photo by Lukas Blazek at Unsplash]

25 Blogs

Cultural Offering, an outstanding blog, has an updated list of "25 Blogs Guaranteed to Make You Smarter."

I am honored to be in such company.

[Photo by Olav Ahrens Røtne at Unsplash]

Presentation Skills

No one likes to be upstaged.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

"Emerald City"

I always knew those munchkins were hiding something.

7 Novels with Lessons about Ethics

Image result for a river town thomas keneally amazon

If I were to pick a small group of novels containing powerful insights about ethics, these would be on the list:
  1. "The Warden" by Anthony Trollope. No, it's not about a prison warden. It is about a church warden; a very good man who finds himself accused of unethical behavior.
  2. "War and Peace" by Leo Tolstoy. Since this classic is packed with wisdom about people and life, it is not surprising that it also has ethical issues. If you've never read it, don't be intimidated by its size.
  3. "The Caine Mutiny" by Herman Wouk. Due to the fine film with Humphrey Bogart, many people have heard of Captain Queeg and the strawberries. The most important part, however, comes once the court-martial is over and the defense attorney opens up on his clients.
  4. "Life with a Star" by Jiri Weil. The hero has not been taken to the death camps. He is simply trying to live decently while the world has gone mad and "they" are out to kill him.
  5. "A Meal in Winter" by Hubert Mingarelli. Another Holocaust novel. Some killers get a chance not to kill. Will they take it?
  6. "A Good Man in Africa" by William Boyd. Who was really the good man in Africa? You may be surprised by the book's end.
  7. "A River Town" by Thomas Keneally. Can you do everything right and still lose in a remote Australian town that is beset by moral rot?
Please let me know of any others that you would add to the list.

Perfection and Reality

brown dried leaves on sand

I don't know where many young people get the idea that they and the world are supposed to be perfect but that is a cause of paralysis in the first case and delusion in the second.

Let's start with the first. Being reasonably good in most jobs will put you close to super-star status. Do you think Babe Ruth or Ted Williams always hit home runs? Is every play by Shakespeare great? Are the works of Charles Dickens beyond editing?  Do you think [pick a famous author] is incapable of writing trash or that [pick a famous film director] couldn't make a bad movie?

Each noted achiever was willing to be ridiculed. While not wishing to fail, each also knew that repeated failure is the toll-booth on the path to success. They worked hard and sought to slant the odds in their favor but they also were well aware that not one of us functions in a well-ordered environment.

To expect the world to be fair, just, and generous is to ask for a stomach-punch. The world is the world: cruel, kind, unfair, generous, beautiful, ugly, indifferent, exciting, and often, beneath a veneer of civilization, savage as hell.

We are imperfect people functioning in imperfect systems within an imperfect world.

Recognizing that should not be discouraging or depressing. 

Instead, that strong grasp of reality should inspire, discipline, and liberate our lives.

Go on. Get out among 'em.

[Photo by sydney Rae at Unsplash]

Quick Look

The trailer for "If Beale Street Could Talk."

Health Food Update

Information on the Hot Cheetos turkey for Thanksgiving dinner.


Monday, November 19, 2018

In the Background

Best Handel 50

BTW: an absolute bargain on Amazon.

Shall Not Perish

gray concrete pillars

Cultural Offering notes the greatest of speeches.

[Photo by Colby Ray at Unsplash]


Justice Sotomayor on welcoming Justice Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.

First Paragraph

We weren't supposed to get rain during the dry season in Malawi, but it was pelting down that October morning in 1965 when two men drove up to my school compound in a Jeep and demanded to see me. I had just left the school, having finished an early class, and was wobbling through the rain on my bike to collect the mail. The Jeep pulled up beside me on the muddy road and the door swung open. The man in the driver's seat said, "Get in, Paul. We've got some bad news for you." He said it somewhat mechanically, as if he had rehearsed it, the way people do when they learn in advance that they have to deliver bad news.

- From: "The Killing of Hastings Banda" by Paul Theroux in Sunrise with Seamonsters: Travels and Discoveries

Today is International Men's Day

man wearing weight lifting belt

Check out Jordan Peterson on the meaning of life for men: responsibility.

[Photo by Alora Griffiths at Unsplash]

Two Therapists

wireless headphones leaning on books

Handel and Copland: Two therapists who have made and continue to make a positive difference in my life. 

[Photo by  Mark Solarskiat Unsplash]

Rules for Writers

“The early years were harder than anyone can imagine… It is never easy to be hungry, never easy to be alone, never easy to believe in oneself when nobody else does.”

Fashion Alert

Image result for louis XIV

FutureLawyer has a fashion warning. If we go this route, it won't be long before wigs, handkerchiefs up the sleeve, and taking snuff are the norm.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

10 Rules for Thanksgiving

I wrote this post several years ago and it is now an Execupundit tradition:

  1. Thou shalt not discuss politics at the dinner. There is next to no chance that you'll convert anyone and any hard feelings that are generated may last long after the pumpkin pie is finished. Why spoil a good meal?

  2. Thou shalt limit discussion of The Big Game. This is mainly directed at the men who choose to argue plays, records, and coaches while their wives stare longingly at the silverware. The sharp silverware.

  3. Thou shalt say nice things about every dish. Including the bizarre one with Jello and marshmallows.

  4. Thou shalt be especially kind to anyone who may feel left out. Some Thanksgiving guests are tag-alongs or, as we say in the business world, "new to the organization." Make a point of drawing them in.

  5. Thou shalt be wary of gossip. After all, do you know what they say when you leave the room? Remember the old saying: All of the brothers are valiant and all of the sisters are virtuous.

  6. Thou shalt not hog the white or dark meat. We know you're on Atkins but that's no excuse.

  7. Thou shalt think mightily before going back for seconds. Especially if that means waddling back for seconds.

  8. Thou shalt not get drunk. Strong drink improves neither your wit nor your discretion. Give everyone else a gift by remaining sober.

  9. Thou shalt be cheerful. This is not a therapy session. This is not the moment to recount all of the mistakes in your life or to get back at Uncle Bo for the wisecrack he made at your high school graduation. This is a time for Rule #10.

  10. Thou shalt be thankful. You're above ground and functioning in an extraordinary place at an extraordinary time. Many people paid a very heavy price (and I'm not talking about groceries) to give you this day. Take some time to think of them and to express gratitude to your friends and relatives. Above all, give special thanks to the divine power who blesses you in innumerable ways.

Find Something Beautiful Today

lion in close up shot

[Photo by Luke Tanis at Unsplash]

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Recent Sources of Helpful Insights

gray brick buildings

The Peloponnesian War ~ A survey of police officer attitudes ~A board meeting ~ Frederick Douglass ~ A wellness program coordinator ~ An Eric Ambler short story ~ Alexander Solzhenitsyn ~ The Hagia Sophia ~ Little Dorrit ~ a consulting proposal ~ a retired judge.

[Photo by Blaque X at Unsplash]


Image result for kate and leopold movie poster amazon

The trailer.

Bank Shot

Some people have to attend lengthy meetings on Saturday.

The good news is that attending a meeting on Topic A often spurs great ideas that can be used on Topic B or Topic Z. 

In fact, I have already had one idea that makes the overall day a big plus and I probably wouldn't have had the idea were it not for that initial meeting.

So, as a famous philosopher once said, I've got that going for me.

"Pieces of April"

Image result for pieces of april poster amazon

There are good Christmas movies and good Halloween movies, but what about Thanksgiving?

Yes, there is a charming and funny Thanksgiving film.

First Paragraph

"Let there be light," he said, in a tone between mockery and reverence. And there was light: a single beam of it, at this one moment of the midmorning, finding the gap where ice had taken a limb off the big maple, and illuminating only his hands as they lay on his chest. The window was open, admitting a soft breeze, and the sun catching the edge of his ring was reflected in an arabesque of thin gold that seemed to cut the cloth of the coverlet.

- From Montenegro by Starling Lawrence