Saturday, September 21, 2019

Kiwis and Clowns

Suzanne Lucas, a.k.a. RealEvilHRLady, tells the story of the time a person brought an emotional support clown to a termination meeting.

The Good Old Days

The trailer for "The First King."

Leadership Reading

black twist pen and planner

Wally Bock has reading assignments for us.

[Photo by Rachel Lynette French at Unsplash]

First Paragraph

"Now, my dear Sir Harry, I must tell you," says her majesty, with that stubborn little duck of her head that always made Palmerston think she was going to butt him in the guts, "I am quite determined to learn Hindoostanee."

- From Flashman and the Mountain of Light by George MacDonald Fraser

BBC Proms: Rule Britannia

The final song of the BBC Proms in 2009.

The final song of the BBC Proms in 2019.

2009 wins hands-down.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Back By Popular Demand

Mitchell and Webb: "The New Fuhrer."


Wally Bock notes the power of this book.

He also observes that the value of its key messages never becomes outdated.

First Paragraph

"He's been taking pictures three years, look at the work," Maurice said. "Here, this guy. Look at the pose, the expression. Who's he remind you of?"

- From LaBrava by Elmore Leonard

Thursday, September 19, 2019

In the Pipeline

Image result for douglas murray madness of crowds amazon

A British "Police Squad"

The trailer for "A Touch of Cloth."

The SmarterWatch

If you could add to the current list of what smartwatches do, what would be your desires?

Some of my candidates:

  • A small voice telling me to get back to work.
  • A beep whenever I am within walking distance of a bookstore.
  • A list of the friends and relationships I've been neglecting.
  • Automatic directions to where the best coffee is sold.
  • A quick reading of the body language of everyone at a meeting.
  • Instant identification of birds and trees.
  • An accurate interpretation of the body language of a dog.
  • An alert whenever a cold is coming on.
I see many of these as doable now and others as possible in the near future.

Other candidates?

A Bargain at Twice the Price

The Babylon Bee: "Introvert Hires Personal Representative to Engage in Church Small Talk."

Have Insight. Will Travel.

In addition to one-on-one coaching, the latest hits include briefings on ethical decision-making and classes on tact in the workplace.

Something is going on out there.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Satire Update

UnHerd: Titania McGrath on "Why I've Reported Douglas Murray to the Police." An excerpt:

For the best part of 300 pages Murray spews his hateful bile – on white paper, no less – denouncing social justice, identity politics and intersectionality. Even the font has a certain heteronormative quality about it. He rails against “millennial snowflakes” who all “identify as attack helicopters” and how “you can’t say anything anymore” and that “you can go to prison for singing the national anthem these days”. I mean, he doesn’t actually write any of these words, but we all know that’s what he’s thinking.

Quick Looks

The trailers for:


Nicholas Bate's "How to Be Brilliant" post on execution is a major reminder for those of us who too easily get wrapped up in analysis.

Remember the U.S. Army's three elements of leadership: 

Be - Know - Do


"An hour and a half is ideal, but two hours will work."

"They want to get back to work."

"Can you blame them? They know things are piling up while they're away. That's why they'd rather attend training that's just down the hall than have to drive to some hotel."

"I've noticed that people don't talk with one another during breaks. The phones emerge and they stare at them. I always wonder whether things are so pressing they can't be away for a few hours."

"It's a habit. Most of what they see on the phone could wait. It's also a thing the cool kids do, even if they're fifty-five."

"But they miss a chance to make connections."

"True, but that would take them outside of their cocoon. With the phone, you can go somewhere else but not really be somewhere else."

"And it wouldn't be cool."

"Absolutely. Start chatting away and people will think you're Gomer Pyle."

"I doubt if many of them know who Gomer Pyle is."

"They probably don't, but they'll still think you resemble him if you start talking."

"I'm going to do that anyway."

"Be my guest, Gomer."

First Paragraph

Stick said he wasn't going if they had to pick up anything. Rainy said no, there wasn't any product in the deal; all they had to do was drop a bag. Stick said, "And the guy's giving you five grand?"

- From Stick: A Novel by Elmore Leonard

Tuesday, September 17, 2019


The trailer for "In the Shadow of the Moon."

Yang's Style

Kevin Kruse on the communication techniques of Andrew Yang.

[See "Win Bigly" by Scott Adams re Trump's communication style.]

Roughing It

Santorini, Greece

I'd risk this.

Tyler Cowen asserts that some places which (due to headlines) seem unsafe are actually pleasant places to visit.

[Photo by Hello Lightbulb at Unsplash]


woman sitting on sand field

Patrick Rhone's yoga instructor has a profound observation on worry.

My advice: make Rhoneisms a daily visit.

[Photo by Patrick Schneider at Unsplash]

Dragon Anywhere

This post by FutureLawyer is a big nudge for me.

The allure of sipping coffee and dictating documents.

Monday, September 16, 2019


The trailer for "Inside Bill's Brain: Decoding Bill Gates."

Update: How Bill Gates reads books.

Enabling Evil

metal gears

Fortune magazine: Emma Hinchliffe on the systems around Epstein and Weinstein.

[Photo by Bill Oxford at Unsplash]

Satire Update

Twitter has suspended the account of Titania McGrath.

Of course, Jarvis Dupont is still posting.

Block Out Time for Small Stuff

The small stuff, such as brief responses to emails and making sure certain meetings are set, is best handled in a block. If you address them at separate moments, they will simply disrupt and distract from larger efforts. 

Just as you may run various errands while you happen to be in one part of town, it makes sense to perform minor tasks when you are in the same frame of mind.

First Paragraph

I now live like a hermit on the outskirts of Moscow. I have practically no communication with other people. I communicate only with those who guard me from others - and who guard others from me. I suppose the people around me spend most of their time guarding others from me.

- From Khrushchev Remembers by Nikita Khrushchev

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Beautifully Written. Great Escape.

Image result for fairness ferdinand mount amazon

The Myth

teal Chevrolet coupe

Every revolution has its myths. One of the myths dearest to the counterculture is that America in the 1950s was a sterile, soulless society, obsessed with money, stunted emotionally, negligible culturally and intellectually, brutal and hamfisted in its politics and social policy. Never mind that, when it came to cultural and intellectual achievement, America in the 1950s looks like fifth-century Athens in comparison with what came afterward.

- Roger Kimball

[Photo by Court Prather at Unsplash]

Bock's Assignments

woman holding book by the table

Wally Bock's weekend leadership reading assignments.

[Photo by Greg Kantra at Unsplash]

First Paragraph

Like most twenty-year-olds, I thought I was invulnerable. Then, on a steep ridge in eastern Washington, in the winter of 1971, I fell toward my death. I was looking at the tiny figures of workers on a dam far below when my foot slipped and I plunged down an icy sheet toward the Columbia River. I threw my body back to avoid pitching headlong into space, sliding on my back down the steep slope. I tried to dig in my heels, but my boots slid off the rocks. My pack tore loose as I accelerated down the slope. I had a Ka-Bar in my belt, a fighting knife given to me by a Marine veteran. I pulled it and stabbed at the sheet ice, only to find it torn from my hands. I kept sliding, picking up speed. I twisted over and frantically clawed and scratched. But I wasn't slowing down.

- From Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead by Jim Mattis and Bing West

Friday, September 13, 2019

Art Break

[Sogni (Dreams) - 1896]

Art Contrarian looks at the work of Vittorio Matteo Corcos.

Perfection Paralyzes

Nicholas "How to Be Brilliant" Bate: forget perfect.

Unperceived Transformation

In a democratic society like ours, where free elections are guaranteed, political revolution is almost unthinkable in practical terms. Consequently, utopian efforts to transform society have been channeled into cultural and moral life. In America, scattered if much-publicized episodes of violence have wrought far less damage than the moral and intellectual assaults that do not destroy buildings but corrupt sensibilities and blight souls. The success of America's recent cultural revolution can be measured not in toppled governments but in shattered values. If we often forget what great changes this revolution brought in its wake, that, too, is a sign of its success: having changed ourselves, we no longer perceive the extent of our transformation.

- From The Long March: How the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s Changed America by Roger Kimball

Trending Today

Post-debate coverage.

The Long March

From the 2016 City Journal: 

Harry Stein on "How My Friends and I Wrecked Pomona College."

Quick Looks

The trailers for:

Thoroughly Enjoying

Image result for land of hope amazon

Thursday, September 12, 2019

First Paragraph

"My spare parts from Lifetime Mechanics Co. Ltd., didn't arrive in time for my departure, so I left instructions for them to be forwarded to me at the beach house at Barren Cove. Beach house was a generous term. It was more accurately a cabana: a large front room with sliding accordion doors that opened directly onto the sand, and a small changing room with a human bathroom complete with shower and running water. The cabana was nestled along the base of a steep cliff, cast in shadow from one in the afternoon on. The setup could have been seen as solitary, but since I had left the city to leave behind the pitying looks of my friends and family, and the growing sensation that strangers thought it selfish of me to not be gracefully deactivated, I was satisfied with the rented accommodations."

- From Barren Cove by Ariel S. Winter 

The Reasoning Techniques of Professions

Do doctors, engineers, lawyers, scientists, business executives, generals, and professors use the same reasoning pattern?

Most of us would probably doubt it. Executives are certainly more inclined to focus on results than lawyers or purchasing officers. The latter two are strongly tied to process.

This is an area I'm studying if only because of assertions that one way of reasoning is common or even best. 

Any book recommendations on the subject will be greatly appreciated.

The Cobra Effect

man playing flute in front of king cobra

Antony Davies and James R. Harrigan examine examples of unintended consequences.

[Photo by Dil at Unsplash]

In the Pipeline

Image result for primal screams mary eberstadt amazon

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

What Made Them Do Their Duty

As terrible as their loss was, however, we must never forget how successful the rescuers actually were. Nearly 30,000 people escaped before the towers fell, in large part because the omnipresent cops and firefighters made sure that their own sense of calm and order guided the evacuation. Some of the saved made it out just seconds before thousands of tons buried their saviors on stairs and in hallways.

Read the rest of Victor Davis Hanson's 2001 essay on the rescuers of 9/11.

Never Forget

blue body of water near high rise concrete building at nighttime

[Photo by Dan Gold at Unsplash]

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

In Preparation for Tomorrow

Watch the trailer for "You are Here."

The great people of Gander.

"In the Fen Country"

A classic by Ralph Vaughan Williams.

Future Billionaires at Stanford

alley photography of walkway during daytime

Max Read at New York magazine gives a cynic's guide to killing it at Stanford.

[Photo by Emily Karakis at Unsplash]

Caution and Office Politics

man wearing white dress shirt sitting on chair while using gray Dell ThinkPad laptop

If people are cautious in large workplaces it may be because they know that a single word, sharp as a stiletto, can end career opportunities more effectively than a full-fledged denunciation.

[Photo by Sebastian Herrmann at Unsplash]

First Paragraph

Jura, April 1947. It was his third day back on the island but the first he had managed to get out of bed. He knew what he had to do: transfer to paper the ceaseless, grinding monologue that had been working through his mind since . . . when? His days at the BBC? The betrayal in Barcelona? The discovery of the proles in Wigan? Those glorious summers of his youth? Prep school and H.G. Wells? He couldn't remember; perhaps the obsession had always been with him.

- From The Last Man in Europe by Dennis Glover

Monday, September 09, 2019

Quick Looks

The trailers for:

Fame's Limitations

Althouse has a John Cleese example of the limits of fame.

Here's an account of how Bill Murray handled fame after "Ghostbusters."

My favorite observation on fame is from the astute Mr.  Murray: 

"I always want to say to people who want to be rich and famous: 'try being rich first.' See if that doesn't cover most of it. There's not much downside to being rich, other than paying taxes and having your relatives ask you for money. But when you become famous, you end up with a 24 hour job."

A Harvard Option

If you want to get a degree from Harvard, this is not a bad option to explore.

First Paragraph

I have been told many stories about Russian, and I have told a few myself. When I was eleven or twelve, in the late 1970s, my mother told me that the USSR was a totalitarian state - she compared the regime to the Nazi one, an extraordinary act of thought and speech for a Soviet citizen. My parents told me that the Soviet regime would last forever, which was why we had to leave the country.

- From The Future is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia by Masha Gessen

Saturday, September 07, 2019


Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without the strategy.

- Norman Schwarzkopf

Quick Looks

The trailers for:

"Join my Nato or watch critical thinking die"

three person standing on university grass field

The lesson of the Cold War is clear. From now on an attack on one of us must be considered an attack on all of us. I therefore invite all who believe in the fundamental human freedoms to sign a new Non-conformist Academic Treaty.

Read all of Niall Ferguson's proposal.

[Photo by delfi de la Rua at Unsplash]

This Doesn't Say Much for Their Pre-Yale Education

Every Monday and Wednesday afternoon each fall semester I lecture to several hundred Yale undergraduates on the subject of Cold War history. As I do this, I have to keep reminding myself that hardly any of them remember any of the events I'm describing. When I talk about Stalin and Truman, even Reagan and Gorbachev, it could as easily be Napoleon, Caesar, or Alexander the Great. Most members of the Class of 2005, for example, were only five years old when the Berlin Wall came down. They know that the Cold War in various ways shaped their lives, because they've been told how it affected their families. Some of them - by no means all - understand that if a few decisions had been made differently at a few critical moments during that conflict, they might not have even had a life. But my students sign up for this course with very little sense of how the Cold War started, what it was about, or why it ended in the way that it did. For them it's history: not all that different from the Peloponnesian War.

- From The Cold War: A New History by John Lewis Gaddis, published in 2005

Reading Assignment

woman in white long-sleeved shirt and black skirt sitting on sofa

Wally Bock provides the weekend leadership reading assignment.

[Photo by Tran Mau Tri Tam at Unsplash]

Friday, September 06, 2019

First Paragraph

The five most egotistical personalities in history. Go.

- From The Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu

Quick Look

The trailer for "Criminal."

Needed Satire

"Activists such as myself are spearheading a new culture war, sniffing out prejudice like valiant bloodhounds of righteousness, courageously snapping at the heels of injustice. To give a tangible example of our achievements, consider how the definition of the word 'Nazi' has been successfully broadened to include anyone who voted for Brexit, has ever considered supporting the Conservative Party or who refuses to take the Guardian seriously. Although this is a great victory for the progressive cause, it does mean that there are now more Nazis living in modern Britain than even existed in 1930s Germany. This makes Woke: A Guide to Social Justice not only timely, but essential."

- From Woke: A Guide to Social Justice by Titania McGrath

Where's the Gingerbread?

The trailer for "Gretel & Hansel."

Identify and Shed

pile of printing papers

Some of the most destructive interruptions of your work are not lingering outside your door or in your in-basket or on the telephone.  They may be in your briefcase or on your desk. These interruptions are devious because they are shape-shifters. They can disguise themselves as work, real work.

To be more specific, these interruptions are the numerous minor and peripheral projects that you have willingly and perhaps enthusiastically embraced and yet they have little to do with your personal effectiveness or the mission of your organization.

Identify them and slowly back away.

[Photo by Sharon McCutcheon at Unsplash]

First Paragraph

I was born woke. My wokeness is innate. It flows through me like a magical elixir, keeping my soul purged and poised for the fight. In many ways, I am a modern-day Joan of Arc: indomitable, precocious, fluent in French.

- From Woke: A Guide to Social Justice by Titania McGrath

A Song for Your Friday Staff Meeting

From 1934: Charles Coborn sings "The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo."

Crank it up.

[Post updated; Spelling correction due to pure sloppiness.]

Thursday, September 05, 2019


The trailer for "Nosferatu The Vampyre."

A 1979 film from our old friend Werner.

Unusual Products

Abi Travis lists 28 things she bought on Amazon that she'd buy 100 times again.

1,000 Years of Music

woman playing violin beside grand piano

Cultural Offering gives his top ten list.

A man to be heeded.

[Photo by Michel Catalisano at Unsplash]

Quick Looks

The trailers for:

First Paragraph

The last government in the Western world to possess all the attributes of aristocracy in working condition took office in England in June of 1895. Great Britain was at the zenith of empire when the Conservatives won the General Election of that year, and the Cabinet they formed was her superb and resplendent image. Its members represented the greater landowners of the country who had been accustomed to govern for generations. As its superior citizens they felt they owed a duty to the State to guard its interests and manage its affairs. They governed from duty, heritage and habit - and, as they saw it, from right.

- From The Proud Tower: A Portrait of the World Before the War, 1890-1914 by Barbara W. Tuchman

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

The Greatest Show on Earth

If you think the American political scene is wild, the British Parliamentary debates on Brexit provide a fascinating alternative.

Also consider some of the complications of the recent vote .

Yes and No

No is no to one thing. 

Yes is no to a thousand things.

- Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson in It Doesn't Have to Be Crazy at Work

Kick Back

The trailer for "The Weekend."

First Paragraph

Without a moon, small islands disappeared and Venice sank into the dark. Stars, however, were so brilliant that Cenzo felt drawn to them, even as mud oozed between his toes. The faint report of church bells carried over the lagoon, from farms drifted the smell of manure, and once or twice he caught the tremolo of a German gunboat plowing the water.

- From The Girl from Venice by Martin Cruz Smith

Peace of Mind

shallow focus photography of white feather dropping in person's hand

When analyzing the quality of possible courses of action, be sure to consider which one will produce the greatest peace of mind.

It is one of the best tie-breakers out there.

[Photo by Javardh at Unsplash]

Creativity in a Short Time Period

And this is only a partial listing of Trollope's novels in that time period:
  • 1840: The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens
  • 1844: The Luck of Barry Lyndon by William Makepeace Thackeray
  • 1846: Dombey and Son by Charles Dickens
  • 1847: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
  • 1851: Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  • 1855: Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens
  • 1855: The Warden by Anthony Trollope
  • 1857: Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope
  • 1858: Doctor Thorne by Anthony Trollope
  • 1859: On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
  • 1860: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  • 1861: Utilitarianism by John Stuart Mill
  • 1865: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  • 1866: The Last Chronicle of Barset by Anthony Trollope
  • 1867: Phineas Finn by Anthony Trollope
  • 1868: The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
  • 1869: Suez Canal opened
  • 1871: Middlemarch by George Eliot
  • 1874: Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
  • 1874: The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope
  • 1875: Alexander Graham Bell patents the telephone
  • 1876: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
  • 1877: The American by Henry James
  • 1878: The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy
  • 1881: Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

Looks Promising

The trailer for "Sometimes Always Never."

Blocking Out Time for Reading

It makes enormous sense to me that Warren Buffett blocks out hours each day for reading. If you only do your reading when you "get a chance" you won't read as much as you should.

Simple fact. 

[Written by a man who is about to retreat to a corner with some leadership books and a notepad.]

Setting the Stage

Before arguing for a particular decision, it can be essential to make sure that key decision-makers are well-briefed on the overall subject matter. 

Even if (perhaps especially if) the reasons seem self-evident to you, they may not be to others and your advocacy may appear to be unreasonable or unrealistic unless you give the reasons for the reasons.

This can be the case even if the key decision-makers act as if they possess a high level of expertise and a background in the subject.

The time spent "explaining the why" is usually time well spent. You may couch it as a "review" or a "quick reminder of what brought us to this stage" but make sure it is done and that the explanation is clear.

Quick Looks

The trailers for:

Monday, September 02, 2019

Hard Work

"What you seek will take hard work." - Nicholas Bate

He continues here.

I was wondering this morning whether the maxim "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" has hurt more people than it has helped.

Miscellaneous and Fast

woman biting pencil while sitting on chair in front of computer during daytime

[Photo by JESHOOTS.COM at Unsplash]

Implicit Bias Training

The premise is that an officer should approach everyone with the same assumption of threat level. But police develop instincts about how to do their jobs based on long experience. “If I see an old lady crossing the street,” says an NYPD sergeant, “I will have a different expectation than if I see a tinted-out Nissan Maxima with Pennsylvania plates driving around a high-crime area at midnight.” 

Read the rest of Seth Barron's City Journal essay on implicit bias training.

Labor Day - USA

seven people standing on rooftop

In the name of God, stop a moment, cease your work, look around you.

- Leo Tolstoy

[Photo by Scott Blake at Unsplash]

Sunday, September 01, 2019

First Paragraph

She kept looking between the rearview mirror and the road ahead. She couldn't see the motorcycle, not just then. It had been there a moment before, looming up behind her, then it disappeared. She pulled into the inside lane of the highway, trying to seek cover from the cars behind her.

- From The Andalucian Friend by Alexander Söderberg

Poetry Break

Oliver Tearle on the best Philip Larkin poems everyone should read.

It's hard to beat "This Be The Verse."

Find Something Beautiful Today

people riding on paddle boat during daytime

[Photo by Priscilla Du Preez at Unsplash]

Saturday, August 31, 2019

"The Biggest Little Farm"

Cultural Offering has the trailer.

Something to Remember

"Great opportunities never have 'great opportunity' in the subject line."

- Scott Belsky

First Paragraph

His name was Gaal Dornick and he was just a country boy who had never seen Trantor before. That is, not in real life. He had seen it many times on the hyper-video, and occasionally in tremendous three-dimensional newscasts covering an Imperial Coronation or the opening of a Galactic Council. Even though he had lived all his life on the world of Synnax, which circled a star at the edges of the Blue Drift, he was not cut off from civilization, you see. At that time, no place in the Galaxy was.

- From Foundation by Isaac Asimov

The Not Quite Honest

photography of people near cave at night time

I have known individuals who could be trusted to give you an honest answer provided you asked the right question. 

If the question was slightly off in any way, even though the information you sought was clear, you would not get a straight-forward response.

You had to utter the magic words.

Some of them took pride in such tactics and thought they were clever. There was a certain charm.

Despite that, I have always thought they deserve a special cell in Hell. 

In deference to their quasi-honesty, however, it could be on the first level and close to the main entrance.

[Photo by Ybrayym Esenov at Unsplash]

Friday, August 30, 2019

Art Break

Art Contrarian examines Saul Tepper's vignette illustrations.

Verdict First, Trial Later

If you are accused of racism, it is because you are a racist. Case closed. Apologize at once and cease being so hateful. That is the current standard in woke academic thinking on race relations.

Read the rest of Abe Greenwald in the New York Post.

Quick Looks

The trailers for:

Stages of a Cold

It started with a stuffy nose and then shifted to Kleenex time and then to coughing. A tiring process. A lot more sleep has been required but sleep and water definitely help.

Obviously I can't go to meetings but one attitudinal shift that has helped is simple: not worrying about the work that is not getting done. Worrying won't help.

Sole focus: getting better.

Planning Exercise

McSweeney's: "Diary of My Failed Antarctic Expedition" by Tom O'Donnell.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Modern Life: "I can't get happy"

Somehow I sense that this man's problems go beyond his inability to get a Popeyes chicken sandwich.

Not a Single Successful Person

Cultural Offering posts an observation that I strongly believe to be true.

The Important Things

road in between brown wooden fences

The important things, I've come to conclude, are the small things because the big things are composed of the small.

And yet where do we place our attention?

[Photo by Werner Sevenster at Unsplash]

Quick Looks

The trailers for:

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Roy Orbison Glasses

FutureLawyer gives an update on his Bose SmartGlasses.

[The proximity of parrots didn't void the warranty.]

What I'd like is a detailed post on exactly what the SmartGlasses do.

[Update: Our Man in Florida provides the answers.]

Coffee: Key to a Moral Life

The Babylon Bee has issued an important study on coffee.