"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
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.
"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."
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
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.
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
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]
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
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
"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."
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.
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.
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]
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
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."
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
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.
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
"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
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.
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
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
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
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]
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.]
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.
"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.
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.
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
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
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]
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.
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.]