Saturday, November 16, 2019

Hans Break

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

Hans Zimmer and friends with the theme from "Interstellar."

[Photo by NASA at Unsplash]

Impeachment Zen

The first week of hearings in the Trump impeachment inquiry presented a dizzying array of names and dates from the Ukrainian scandal for the public to digest. However, one Zen like question seemed to be left at the conclusion of the testimony. If a quid pro quo was uttered in Washington but no Ukrainians heard it, did it make an impeachable sound?

- From The Hill: Read the rest of Jonathan Turley's column here.

Aphantasia: "When the Mind's Eye is Blind"

I know two people who have aphantasia.

Have you ever heard of that condition?

I certainly had not until these two told me that they cannot picture things in their mind's eye.

Here are some details from Scientific American

What other ways of thinking do most of us take for granted that are not be shared by everyone?

Artificial Intelligence

Wally Bock's weekend reading assignments delve into artificial intelligence.

[Photo from the film Ex Machina.]

Friday, November 15, 2019

Quick Looks

The trailers for:

Bolero Break

You're at the mall and some music breaks out.

[HT: Mark]

Generational Differences

FutureLawyer points to an Ellen episode where a young person tackles the challenge of folding a map, looking up a number in a phone book, and then using a rotary phone.

Success and Failure

black and red wooden board

The common idea that success spoils people by making them vain, egotistic, and self-complacent is erroneous; on the contrary it makes them, for the most part, humble, tolerant, and kind. Failure makes people bitter and cruel.

- W. Somerset Maugham

[Photo by Randalyn Hill at Unsplash]

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Handel Break

Nathalie Stutzmann with "Ombra Mai Fu."

Fun Times Ahead

City Journal's Erica Sandberg on San Francisco's new district attorney.

Questions of Balance

gray top

When considering a program, project, rule, or working relationship, variations of these two (often unspoken) questions can be helpful:

  1. How much is too much?
  2. How much is too little?

[Photo by Christophe Hautier at Unsplash]


Image result for berlin stories christopher isherwood amazon

Highly recommend.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

"We are going through a great derangement"

Check out the video of author Douglas Murray at The Sovereign Professional.

It will be a great day when Douglas Murray gets as much attention as episodes of "The View."

Not the Standard Book Introduction

Usually when you agree to write the introduction to a book, you do so because you truly care about the book: it's readable, it's got a high literary quality, so that you like or at least admire the author. This book, however, is the extreme opposite. It's filled with evil, and this evil is narrated with a disturbing bureaucratic obtuseness; it has no literary quality, and reading it is agony. Furthermore, despite his efforts at defending himself, the author comes across as what he is: a coarse, stupid, arrogant, long-winded scoundrel, who sometimes blatantly lies. Yet this autobiography of the Commandant of Auschwitz is one of the most instructive books ever published because it very accurately describes the course of a human life that was exemplary in its way. In a climate different from the one he happened to grow up in, Rudolph Hoess would quite likely have wound up as some sort of drab functionary, committed to discipline and dedicated to order - at most a careerist with modest ambitions. Instead, he evolved, step by step, into one of the greatest criminals in history.

- Primo Levi's introduction to Commandant of Auschwitz by Rudolf Hoess

Valuable Experiences

brown dried leaves on sand

A few experiences that can bring important perspectives:

  • Having capable competitors or adversaries and knowing their worth;
  • Losing a fight or two along the way;
  • Almost finishing a lengthy project and then realizing that it will have to be done over;
  • Gaining support from the most unlikely of quarters;
  • Catching yourself in a lie;
  • Comparing your reputation with your character;
  • Discovering that, regardless of your reservations, you really are the best person for the job;
  • Forgetting something that you thought you'd never forget;
  • Analyzing and changing a long-held assumption;
  • Preventing a crisis;
  • Understanding an enemy; 
  • Losing a cherished friend; and
  • Realizing that something very important depends on you.

[Photo by sydney Rae at Unsplash]

Kicking Around the Thirties with Sir John Wheeler-Bennett

Knaves, Fools & Heroes: Europe Between the Wars by Sir John Wheeler-Bennett was published in 1974. It is a witty and fascinating account by a well-connected British historian who knew many of the diplomats and government officials of his time. The book is especially revealing with regard to the fall of the Weimar Republic in Germany. The portraits are memorable. An example:

"There may have been stupider politicians than [Franz] von Papen but, if so, I have not encountered them. There were really very few virtues that one could attribute to him save the valour of ignorance and the imperturbability of supreme conceit."

Monday, November 11, 2019

Eclecticity Light

Where does he find this stuff?

"Let's Get Spooky"


Cultural Offering features a very impressive veteran for Veterans Day.

Music Break

The Hammock Papers, an oasis of civilization, has some Handel for us.

Crank it up.

Knowing What We Have

Mount Rushmore

We were sitting on the patio under a black, moonless sky, our faces lit by the flickering light of a few candles in the center of a large stone table. We all had iced drinks in our hands or in front of us. His interruption took the form of very slowly putting down the glass that was in his hand - so slowly and so quietly, and with such a measured, even movement that at first it seemed like some kind of ritual gesture. Everyone suddenly became quiet and looked at him, waiting. I remember listening for a long time to the waves of the bay and watching the lights of San Francisco across the water. The wind was shifting and turning cool. People were putting their collars up and hugging themselves, but no one dared get up. Foghorns were answering each other like far-off, unseen sea creatures.

Just as slowly and evenly, he angled his long, lean body back in his chair and gazed at nothing in particular. Then he turned his head as though it were a gun turret and looked directly at the husky, bearded young man who had just been speaking about the crimes of America. In the flickering candlelight, his bony face seemed wondrously alive and menacing at the same time. What he said to the young man - and of course to all of us present - was only this:

"You don't know what you have here." Then, after an uncomfortable pause, "You simply don't know what you have."

- From The American Soul: Rediscovering the Wisdom of the Founders by Jacob Needleman

[Photo by John Bakator at Unsplash]

Veterans Day

time lapse photo of man carrying U.S. flag while riding brown horse

[Photo by Melissa Newkirk at Unsplash]

Saturday, November 09, 2019

First Paragraph

We were greeted in the reception hall of the Emperor's villa by an ancient gentleman whom my mother addressed as 'my dear Count.' He kissed her hand gallantly and ignored me, possibly because he did not see me. In any case, my own attentions were claimed by a row of glass cases filled with stuffed birds of every description.

- From The Interpreter: Memoirs of Doktor Eugen Dollmann

Quick Looks

The trailers for:

Art Break



From The Atlantic in 2007: Walter Kirn on the Autumn of the Multitaskers.

[Photo by Brigitte Tohm at Unsplash]

[Update: I apologize for the miss-spelling. I was multitasking.]

Scribble Scribble

A long weekend with the essentials:  fountain pen, ink, and paper. 

The journals in which earlier thoughts have been jotted are assembled. The outline is holding.

The second draft is on its way.

Books Every Child Should Read - A Series

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Leadership Reading

woman reading book

Wally Bock has issued his weekend leadership reading assignments.

[Photo by Ryan Jacobson at Unsplash]

Friday, November 08, 2019

First Paragraph

Two years into his sixties. Duane Moore - a man who had driven pickups for as long as he had been licensed to drive - parked his pickup in his own carport one day and began to walk wherever he went.

- From Duane's Depressed by Larry McMurtry

They're Out to Get You

The trailers for:
Update: And to start off the new year: "The Invisible Man."

The "Front Lines"

blue Escape neon signage

Even the troops in the trenches during the First World War were periodically replaced by other units so those who'd been in the front lines could enjoy some time away from the front and, at least to whatever extent it was possible, recuperate.

I think of that when seeing high-pressure jobs in which there are no efforts to provide escape and where the overall culture promotes seldom taking leave.

As the maxim goes, organizations get the results they are designed to get.

Don't just examine individual cases, look at the design and the culture.

[Photo by Jason Leung at Unsplash]

Books Every Child Should Read - A Series

Image result for tom sawyer amazon

Thursday, November 07, 2019

In the Background

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Be Bold 101

Take time for the Nicholas Bate film version .

Be Bold.

First Paragraph

History records no phenomenon like him. Ought we to call him "great"? No one evoked so much rejoicing, hysteria, and expectation of salvation as he; no one so much hate. No one else produced, in a solitary course lasting only a few years, such incredible accelerations in the pace of history. No one else so changed the state of the world and left behind such a wake of ruins as he did. It took a coalition of almost all the world powers to wipe him from the face of the earth in a war lasting nearly six years, to kill him - to quote an army officer of the German resistance - "like a mad dog."

- From Hitler by Joachim C. Fest


man smoking smoking pipe

Some people need to be more patient, and some people need to be less patient.

- Michael Levine

[Photo by Clement Falize at Unsplash]

Tucson: No Sanctuary

cacti silhouette across sunset photo

The vote by the citizens of Tucson, Arizona against a sanctuary city initiative  is very interesting. Tucson is one of the most liberal cities in Arizona. 

In fact, the colorful Congressman Sam Steiger once described Tucson as "the Venice Beach of Arizona politics." 

[Photo by Bob Chester at Unsplash]

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Some La Folia to Make Your Day

The Greatest Shot of Adrenaline

It is the greatest shot of adrenaline to be doing what you've wanted to do so badly. You almost feel like you could fly without the plane.

- Charles Lindbergh

Quick Look

The trailer for "Wonder Boys."

Books Every Child Should Read - A Series

Image result for alice's adventures in wonderland book amazon

Bookworm Getaway

Dwell features the "bookworm cabin."

Nice but it needs more shelf-space.

Planning: Normandy and Beyond

Eisenhower's general plan to win the war in Europe beginning with the Normandy Invasion:

  1. Land on the Normandy coast.
  2. Build up the resources needed for a decisive battle in the Normandy-Brittany region.
  3. Pursue on a broad front with two army groups - one to gain necessary ports and reach the boundaries of Germany and threaten the Ruhr, and the other to link up with forces to invade France from the south.
  4. Secure ports in Belgium, Brittany, and the Mediterranean and build up a base along the western border of Germany.
  5. While building up forces, keep up an unrelenting offensive to wear down the enemy and gain advantages for the final fight.
  6. Complete the destruction of enemy forces west of the Rhine, while constantly seeking beachheads across the river.
  7. Launch the final attack as a double envelopment of the Ruhr, and follow up with an immediate thrust through Germany.
  8. Clean out the remainder of Germany.

An Unusual But Very Good Thanksgiving Film

Image result for pieces of april amazon

You don't hear of a lot of films related to Thanksgiving. This odd one is my favorite.

Here's the trailer.

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Art Break

Art Contrarian analyzes the "Nymphs and Satyr" painting by William-Adophe Bouguereau. 

It was painted in 1873; i.e. long before Hollywood and the Internet made the theme too common.

Quick Look

The trailer for "Belgravia."

Our Intrepid News Media

Althouse: ABC News Amy Robach says the Jeffrey Epstein story was squelched.


three person pointing the silver laptop computer

The tools for learning are abundant. It's the desire to learn that's scarce.

- Naval Ravikant

[Photo by John Schnobrich at Unsplash]

Books Every Child Should Read - A Series

Image result for treasure island novel amazon

And be sure to get a copy with the N. C. Wyeth illustrations.

Which Great Idea?

Part of my morning routine involves reviewing yesterday's "great ideas" and pushing some of them to another time or, as is often the case, to the wastebasket.

Monday, November 04, 2019


Gee, it's a drag about your old man.

- Chet Baker to Romano Mussolini

No "Follow Your Dream?"

Inc.: Bill Gates gives advice to high schoolers.

Books Every Child Should Read - A Series

Image result for the wind in the willows amazon

Better Living Through Science

The trailer for "Little Joe."

The Anne Frank Mystery

History examines the question: "Who betrayed Anne Frank?"

Quick Look

The trailer for "Le M├ępris."


My plan for the next twelve months includes more:

  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Coffee
  • Steak
  • Exercise
  • Sleep
  • Bach
  • Proust
  • Shakespeare
  • Marcus Aurelius
  • C.S. Lewis

[Photo by Maria Fernanda Gonzalez at Unsplash]

First Paragraph

Well, now, let's see. I have my documents about me, the tape is running, I'm ready to report. This is in response to the letter from the legal department asking me to give a detailed summation of my part in the Ilha Pombo Affair. I know the request was for a written summary, but I tried writing it all down twice and I just couldn't do it. I'm a radio man - I'm a Network man - and I'm much more comfortable with a microphone in my hand. And since I know that certain people are prepared to blame me for the whole situation and the current mess the Network is in, I think I'd better be sure I get my own side of it down as accurately and completely as I can. Therefore, this tape. The legal department can borrow a cassette from an engineer in the news department, if necessary, and play this report through the speaker in one of the elevators at The Hub.

- From I Gave at the Office by Donald E. Westlake

Saturday, November 02, 2019

Something to Remember

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Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful.

- Samuel Johnson


Kindness, thy name is Kurt Harden at Cultural Offering.

And Los Angeles Today Is Just as Predicted

Image result for blade runner poster amazon

"Blade Runner" took place in November 2019.

Ally or Restraint?

photo of bronze-colored thumb tacks and paper clips in clear glass bottles

You've filled a department head position. Let's assume that the person is capable of doing the job. That is very basic.

What often is unaddressed is whether the person will do the right type of job; i.e. whether the person will take the department in the right direction.  

It is important to remember that the person need not be incompetent or obstructionist to become a problem. He or she may simply have a different view of what the department should be doing.

Competence is not enough. Will the person serve as a restraint or an ally? 

It may be more a question of how than can.

[Photo by Plush Design Studio at Unsplash]

Leaders are Readers

woman standing beside another woman sitting on chair

Here are the weekend leadership reading assignments from Wally Bock.

[Photo by Kinga Cichewicz at Unsplash]

Friday, November 01, 2019

Modern Lingo

The sales person noted by Cultural Offering did not "unpack" the question, which is a little disappointing.

But It's So Woke

Althouse: The term "Latinx" does not seem to be catching on.

The Pleasure of the First Draft

The first draft of my next book will be completed this weekend. 

I can assure you that the draft will be terrible. A great deal of additional work will be required. But the draft will be done.

There is even more good news.

The draft will be the launching platform for future drafts. Each one will be much better than its predecessor.

I am not a writer. I am a re-writer.

Identity Politics

close-up photography of person lifting hands

Lionel Shriver and Douglas Murray discuss the problem with identity politics.

[Photo by Nadine Shaabana at Unsplash]

Solutions and Problems

man standing in the middle of woods

The solutions bring new problems and many a problem is an attempted solution to another problem.

A large part of my coaching practice deals with this.

Why isn't this obvious? Because good and smart people have to deal with pressing problems and quick solutions and when you are close to the action it can be very difficult to see what's going on. It can be easy to - presto - embrace an off-target strategy which feels good but accomplishes little or even makes things worse.

Questions to consider:

  1. What is the perceived problem?
  2. Is that the real problem?
  3. Is that problem a solution to another problem?
  4. What appears to be a solution to the real problem?
  5. What types of problems will the solution process bring?
  6. What types of problems will the solution itself bring?
  7. How will your action or inaction bring the organization forward?

[Photo by Vladislav Babienko at Unsplash]

Love Your Lawyer Day

As if we needed a reminder, FutureLawyer notes that today is Love Your Lawyer Day. 

[The man practices law when he's not on the beach or out buying smartwatches.]

Every day, I suppose, is Worship Your Management Consultant Day but that's another subject.

A good lawyer is like a good tailor. When you find one, hang onto that marvelous person and yes, expressing appreciation for their fine and complicated work is more than appropriate. 

It is simple justice.


The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.

- William James