Sunday, May 26, 2019

Thought for the Coming Week

stack of six brown hardbound books

To go back now and read Swift and Defoe and Samuel Johnson and Smollett and Pope - all those people we had to read in college English courses - to read them now is to have one of the infinite pleasures in life. 

- David McCullough

[Photo by Chris Lawton at Unsplash]

Find Something Beautiful Today

closeup photo of red star fish beside seashore

[Photo by Pedro Lastra at Unsplash]

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Pens Pens Pens

Earlier this month I put an item on Twitter about favorite pens and quickly received many fine replies. Here is the list with some subsequent additions. I have also given the names of those making the recommendations.

  • Cross pens; Jetstream Uniballs (John Ballard)
  • Namiki Falcon; Kaweco; Pelikan 3776 in fine point (Julian Summerhayes)
  • Pilot Precise V5 extra fine retractable roller ball (Stephen Landry)
  • Parker Jotter refilled with Quink Gel ink; Sharpie's Super Time Tip (Nelson Howard)
  • Uniball Signo 207 (Kurt Harden)
  • Pilot Aeroball (Joel Engel)
  • Aegir (Rick Georges)
  • Pilot G-2; Bic Gel-ocity medium; Kaweco; Pilot Metropolitan ballpoint (Michael Wade)
[Update: I corrected my mistake in the reference from Quick Gel ink to Quink Gel ink.]

Modern Entertainment

"John Wick - Part Two" can be summed up by one of the subtitles: "Man screaming."

A Rule for Writing

That word, sentence, or paragraph that you wondered about? 

Change it.

Believe me, there's a reason.

Some Time Travel

The trailer for "Downton Abbey: The Movie."

Bock's Assignments

Wally Bock has some weekend leadership reading for us. I'd recommend having a few beers beforehand.

Friday, May 24, 2019

The Magic of Ducks

two ducks on pavement

As shown at:

[Photo by Brandon Riley at Unsplash]

Miscellaneous and Fast

Get Thee to a Vineyard

The trailer for "Star Trek: Picard."

Why Did We Get Rid of . . . ?

Cultural Offering asks a question that has long bothered me: "Why did we get rid of chalk boards?"

Of course, "we" didn't. People in schools and companies were persuaded that white boards (and worse yet, smart boards) were so much better and, cost be damned, the chalk boards went.

As a person who conducts a lot of workshops, I lament the loss of chalk boards and overhead projectors. Both provided an ease of use and flexibility that their jazzy substitutes lack.

And while we're on the subject of why we got rid of things, I'll add "Why did we get rid of teaching industrial arts and home economics in elementary school?" 

I still use skills learned in "shop class." It was hands-on education in how things are made. Anyone who sawed, planed, sanded, hammered, and stained lumber to make a magazine rack or a bookcase left with a true appreciation of those who can do such tasks well.

The Worrier's Mind

man holding his chin facing laptop computer

Did I say that right? What did I miss? What was meant by that tone? Was there a tone? Why would they want that? Did we explain it clearly? Is anything being hidden? Why the rush? Why did we ever commit to that? How many other surprises will emerge? Will we have enough resources?  Does the new person understand what's going on? Are we overlooking a legal problem? Do we need to run that by the board? Did you notice who didn't speak up at the meeting? What are we assuming? Why are we nervous? Did we drink too much coffee? Are we using the same definitions? Why were those people selected? Did you notice he took a call? We don't have a Plan B?

And on and on.

[Photo by bruce mars at Unsplash]

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Starlink Mission

SpaceX's page on the Starlink Mission. It has launched.

Corn and Coyote

I had some coaching sessions in the west valley yesterday. The trip involved a pleasant meander through farming country. One farm has just harvested onions but most of the others were growing corn. 

As I whipped past one field, keeping an eye out for tractors, a coyote wandered out, gave me a stare and then turned back, deciding against trying to cross the road. Vultures were also exploring the area but no egrets were present. My guess is they wait for the irrigation.

To those who ask if the trip is ever tiring, I reply, "Not at all." 

Hint: It Comes with Being Normal

Eclecticity Light has an important reminder for us.

Believe the Evidence, Not the Identity

Geoffrey Rush has won a big defamation award in Australia.

Postcard: Sagan at the Wheel

Clive James: "Postcard from Paris."

From the volume of his memoirs where he describes filming the ride with Fran├žoise Sagan at the wheel:

"My questions tended to fragment as we switched with yelping tyres from one boulevard to another, threading our way between cars driven by normal people and taking every red light as a sign to speed up. 'So when you first met Sartre what AAAGH! did he say?'"

Nationwide Injunctions: "I do not want to see any of them."

Attorney General William Barr has delivered a major speech to the American Law Institute on the subject of nationwide injunctions. An excerpt:

While the DACA case provides a stark example of the trend in nationwide injunctions, at this point, it is hardly an outlier. Since President Trump took office, federal district courts have issued 37 nationwide injunctions against the Executive Branch. That’s more than one a month. By comparison, during President Obama’s first two years, district courts issued two nationwide injunctions against the Executive Branch, both of which were vacated by the Ninth Circuit. And according to the Department’s best estimates, courts issued only 27 nationwide injunctions­ in all of the 20th century.

Some say this proves that the Trump Administration is lawless. Not surprisingly, I disagree. And I would point out that the only case litigated on the merits in the Supreme Court—the so-called “travel ban” challenge—ended with President’s policy being upheld. But my aim today is not to debate the merits of any particular policy; it is to discuss the improper use of nationwide injunctions against policies of all stripes. Specifically, aside from the particular oddities of the DACA case, I want to highlight five ways in which nationwide injunctions are inconsistent with our American legal system.

First Paragraph

November evenings are quiet and still and dry. The frost-stripped trees and the bleached grasses glisten and shine in the small light. In the winter-emptied fields granite outcroppings gleam white and stark. The bones of the earth, old people call them. In the deepest fold of the land - to the southwest where the sun went down solid and red not long ago - the Providence River reflects a little grey light. The river is small this time of year, drought-shrunken. It turns back the sky, dully, like an old mirror.

- From The Keepers of the House by Shirley Ann Grau


black and white honey bee hovering near yellow flower in closeup photography

Chances are you are quite unenthusiastic about bumble bees. But if you study bumble bees, find out what good they do, how they relate to other bees, how they reproduce, where they live in winter - if you find out all you can about  bumble bees, you will soon find yourself really interested in bumble bees.

- David J. Schwartz in The Magic of Thinking Big

[Photo by Boris Smokrovic at Unsplash]


The trailer for "The Flood."

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Be Happy in Your Work

MedBen President & CEO Kurt Harden at Local Leaders Breakfast

Kurt Harden of Cultural Offering has a day job.

He's starting to look younger. It must be the blogging.

One of the Many Inspirations for "Airplane"

The trailer for "The High and the Mighty."

Angela Merkel and Theresa May?

The Hollywood Reporter: "When Women Rule the World."

Moguls, Movies, and Manson

The trailer for "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood."

The Slow Time

Several times a week, I intentionally slow things down. Right now, for instance, I am typing very slowly and am slowly considering what I need to do to be ready for tomorrow. My schedule will be slowly written and later, when I read a book, that too will be done slowly. With that I can notice the author's pace as well as the choice of some words versus others.

Could I get more done if I didn't have these slow times? I'm sure I could but not in all cases. Slow execution of tasks helps to prevent mistakes. It permits you to savor the work. I overlook less when I slow things down.

[I wrote the above last night. I'm ready for the day and rather than making the slow times the exception, I'll make them the rule. Let speed be the exception.]

No Fortune Telling

coin lot on glass jar

I don't invest a dime based on macro forecasts.

- Warren Buffett

[Photo by Michael Longmire at Unsplash]

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Documentary: American B-17 Bombers in WWII Europe

The trailer for "The Cold Blue."

Here's more on the film from Popular Mechanics.

Quick Look

The trailer for "A Rainy Day in New York."

Herman Wouk

New York Post: Jonathan S. Tobin remembers Herman Wouk.

As for his books, don't miss:
  • "The Caine Mutiny"
  • "The Winds of War"
  • "War and Remembrance"

"Milkshaking" and British Politics

That we live in a country in which someone who eggs Corbyn can be jailed for a month, while someone who milkshakes Nigel Farage can become a meme hero, deserves an explanation. What it speaks to is a chattering class that is now so cut off, confused and panicked about its inability to connect with ordinary people that it is effectively green-lighting assaults on politicians it dislikes.

Read the rest of Brendan O'Neill in Spiked.

Adjusting Communication to the Individual

It makes no sense to treat everyone the same all the time. Some people are tough, others are fragile. Some require directness and others require tact. The list of differences is extensive and circumstances change.

When you make adjustments, however, be sure to consider another aspect. It is not just that in your eyes the person is different, it is also that the person may have a different view of you.

Here are two examples:

Jack is tough and very blunt. At the same time, however, Jack regards you as a wielder of great power and is wary of doing anything that might trigger your wrath.

Kim is soft-spoken and diplomatic but Kim is very comfortable being direct with you and with hearing any criticism you may have.

As a result, you may want to be more indirect when talking with blunt Jack and more direct when talking with soft-spoken Kim.

After all, you are adjusting your style to create effective communication with them and not to match their communication with others.

Remembering the Cold War

The ambition to conquer the world has two different sources in the mental equipment of Soviet leaders. One is the classic, traditional, permanent image of "world revolution," the certainty that all humanity is destined to become Communist. The other is the sense of the Communist system's inherent fragility, shown by the tendency of all peoples under its yoke to try to evade it or shake it off whenever a crack in the wall of police repression gives them a chance.

- From How Democracies Perish by Jean-Fran├žois Revel (1983)

Monday, May 20, 2019

America's Sexy Accents

Despite these rankings, it is highly unlikely that the Boston accent is the second sexiest accent in America.

[HT: Althouse]


Here's Wally Bock's review. 

Almost bought the book this past weekend and am glad I held off. 

I'll eventually read it but Wally provides some points to keep in mind.

First Paragraph

How often have you heard someone say, "It's crazy at work"? Maybe you've even said it yourself. For many, "It's crazy at work" has become their normal. But why so crazy?

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

Candor in the Workplace

Doug Fine at Eclecticity Light expands upon the openness issue.

The Silva Solution

Image result for the black widow silva amazon

With regard to the list of novels I mentioned the other day: I quickly read The Secret Sharer by Joseph Conrad which is short and interesting but thin gruel compared to Heart of Darkness.

So it was back to the list. At the nudging of Steve Layman of A Layman's Blog, I started The Black Widow by Daniel Silva.

Long-time readers of this blog know I'm a major Silva fan. Although I recommend reading his Gabriel Allon series from the beginning, if you don't mind jumping into it at a later stage, The Black Widow is a good introduction. My guess, however, is that it will spark a desire to read the entire series.


Capitalism and Cool

Do you know what Steve Jobs did not need before returning to Apple and what Elon Musk did not need before starting Tesla? A paycheck. They wanted to do something cool, to create something new and delightful and previously unknown. 

- Kevin D. Williamson

Down on the Border

The trailer for "Sicario."

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Your Wish is Granted: A Bill Murray Zombie Movie

The trailer for "The Dead Don't Die."

Go for Cinches

I like to go for cinches. I like to shoot fish in a barrel. But I like to do it after the water has run out.

- Warren Buffett

Dance Like It's 1612

Cultural Offering has some music from 1612 for us.

Great stuff.

Far Too Cozy

It was said that the late Senator Henry Jackson (D-WA)  avoided the D.C. party cocktail party circuit because he was wary of the coziness between politicians and the press.

This spoof video based on Kevin Spacey's "House of Cards" character inadvertently illustrates a far too cozy relationship between the politicians, the press, and Hollywood.

Bock's Assignments

lion in close up shot

Wally Bock has issued his weekend leadership reading assignments. Always thought-provoking.

[Photo by Luke Tanis at Unsplash]


Just finished reading Tishomingo Blues by Elmore Leonard. Am currently reading several books on politics, history, and management so there is now an opening for another novel. The contenders are:

  • The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene
  • China White by Peter Maas
  • The Secret Sharer by Joseph Conrad
  • The Last Chronicle of Barset by Anthony Trollope
  • The Black Widow by Daniel Silva
  • Volk's Game by Brent Ghelfi
  • Blood & Beauty: The Borgias by Sarah Dunant
  • The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett
  • Dictator by Robert Harris
  • Terror by Dan Simmons
All of them look good. I read the Greene book many years ago.


[Update: My choice was The Secret Sharer.]

Recent Film

Plot: Predictable.
Dialogue: Wooden.
Characters: Shallow.
Body count: High.
Special effects: Ample.
Box office: Major hit.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Quick Look

The trailer for "Daughter of the Wolf."

I. M. Pei

Passed at the age of 102. An amazing life.


selective focus photography of woman

If we only wanted to be happy, it would be easy; but we want to be happier than other people, and that is almost always difficult, since we think them happier than they are.

- Montesquieu

[Photo by Logan Isbell at Unsplash]


I was the only child of two barristers. I learnt early on that my private education and frequent family holidays to Montenegro and the Maldives were merely a ruse by which my parents could distract me from my oppression.

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

Uncovered: Popular Writing Assignments

Assignment No. 1: Pick a famous person from the past. Using modern standards of conduct, write an essay describing how that person's achievements were not achievements at all but were harmful, unethical, and marred by racism.

Assignment No. 2: Write an essay unfavorably comparing your country to a utopia that has never existed and which is not likely to exist. Frame your analysis as if that utopia does in fact exist but do not name it.

Assignment No. 3:  Write an analysis of a political issue. In order to present the illusion of balance, quote the most persuasive arguments from one side and the least persuasive arguments from the other. Begin and conclude by referring to the position that is favored. [Extra points will be given if you imply that the weaker side is uneducated or evil.]

[Photo by Nijwam Swargiary at Unsplash]

The Biggest Problem?

three wise monkeys statuette on log at daytime

If I were to pick the biggest problem in most organizations it would be a lack of openness. Dissent goes underground not because it is driven there (although sometimes it is) but because people want to avoid conflict. They self-censor, often in the name of caring, but mainly because they don't want the hassle and unpleasantness that is risked when one is candid. 

I've encountered some management teams that have not had a frank discussion in years.

If you want to turn a place around, do everything possible to encourage a culture of openness. This has to be a team effort and it must be genuine. No one person will want to be open if everyone else is going to pretend that their partial truths are candid.

[Photo by Joao Tzanno at Unsplash]

First Paragraph

American public policy has lost its way. Since the middle of the last century, it has chased national economic growth, expecting that the benefits would be widely shared. Yet while gross domestic product (GDP) tripled from 1975 to 2015, the median worker's wages have barely budged. Half of Americans born in 1980 were earning less at age thirty than their parents had made at that age. Millions of people have dropped out of the labor force entirely.

- From The Once and Future Worker: A Vision for the Renewal of Work in America by Oren Cass

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Music Break with Blunt Opinion

"Stardust" sung by Nat King Cole

Other versions may be noble efforts but they don't even come close.

A Walk Through Notre Dame

From Australian Broadcasting, a review of the fire that struck Notre Dame.

[HT: Bill]

I Believe Morgan Freeman Has Been Our Longest-Serving President

The trailer for "Angel Has Fallen."

An Extraordinary Man

In City Journal, Heather Mac Donald remembers George Kelling, co-author of the "broken windows" theory. An excerpt:

Kelling and Wilson hypothesized that communities where public disorder goes unchecked were likely to enter a spiral of decline. Most people avoid public spaces perceived as being out of control, fearing that such hubs of disorder give cover to criminals. That perception becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy as the law-abiding stay indoors, ceding terrain to miscreants who flout the bourgeois social order. As aggressive begging, public inebriation, graffiti, and vandalism increase, thieves and robbers spot an environment where they can target victims with impunity.

Minor Cast

Image result for heat movie poster amazon

The trailer for "Heat."

Mood Management

man holding brown stick smiling

Nicholas Bate raises a subject that deserves daily attention.

[Photo by Capturing the human heart at Unsplash]

Journalism's Fall

Cultural Offering and Victor Davis Hanson explore the death of journalism.

After the 2016 election, I naively thought that most of the major journalists and commentators would go through a period of humility and introspection. I've concluded that they are not capable of that.

At least, not for now.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Art Break

Art Contrarian looks at the work of Fred Ludekens.

Your Trip to Sweden

The trailer for "Midsommar."

Modern Life

Michael J. Weingarth at McSweeney's: 

"A Monster-Truck Announcer Breaks Up with His Girlfriend."

When Overlooking Tasks

We've all, at various times (Inner Voice: how about right now?) have overlooked a task. 

That's human.

Closely examine a task that has been overlooked, however, and you may find that it represents a realm of neglected tasks. If there is one in a particular area, there are probably others.

Dystopian Novels

Jessica Doyle gives her list of the 60 best dystopian books.

I have not read all of them. The books in that general category that I'd recommend are:

  1. Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell. Still the best. Big Brother is still a threat.
  2. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. It can be argued that Huxley's predictions (drugs,sex) were more on target than Orwell's but Orwell's book is more powerful.
  3. Submission by Michel Houellebecq. France gets a Muslim-dominated coalition government and the nation undergoes a transformation. A best seller in France and we all know why. [After I read it I wondered if the Germans have ever wondered what would happen if the far-right ever allied with the Islamists.]
  4. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess. I think the book is better than the film. You'll even learn a new language while navigating the world of the unrepentant and the ultra-vi. So much for rehabilitation.
  5. The Road by Cormac McCarthy. One scary book with a father who is a genuine hero in a world that has fallen apart. Oh yes, and there are gangs of cannibals to avoid.
  6. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. A society where firefighters burn books may not be as troubling as one that does not read them.
  7. Fatherland by Robert Harris. World War II reaches a stalemate, President Joseph Kennedy is going to meet with Hitler, and a secret is emerging.
  8. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. A traveling theater troupe performs Shakespeare in a world where a mysterious illness has rapidly wiped out around 90 percent of the population. Sounds strange? Give it a read.
  9. On the Beach by Neville Shute. A nuclear war has finished off every country but Australia and radiation is heading south. The film version with Gregory Peck is also worth watching.
  10. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson. Being a sole survivor is rough enough but Matheson was the first to put vampires into the mix. There goes the neighborhood.

[Photo by Pawl Janiak at Unsplash]

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Well Put

Patrick Rhone is reading grant applications.

First Paragraph

Supper was over by sundown, and Henry Edwards walked out from the house for a last look around. He carried his light shotgun, in hopes the rest of the family would think he meant to pick up a sage hen or two - a highly unlikely prospect anywhere near the house. He had left his gun belt on its peg beside the door, but he had sneaked the heavy six-gun itself into his waistband inside his shirt. Martha was washing dishes in the wooden sink close by, and both their daughters - Lucy, a grown-up seventeen, and Debbie, just coming ten - were drying and putting away. He didn't want to get them all stirred up; not until he could figure out for himself what had brought on his sharpened dread of the coming night.

- From The Searchers by Alan Le May

Back Soon

landscape photography of brown wooden house with trees around

[Photo by Thomas Schweighofer at Unsplash]

Churchill and Burke

man wearing coat statue showing building with flag

The New Criterion: Andrew Roberts on Churchill's debt to Edmund Burke.

[Photo by Arthur Osipyan at Unsplash]

Monday, May 13, 2019

Going to Memphis

The trailer for "Mystery Train."

Just Keep Moving

FutureLawyer, a.k.a. The Robert Redford of South Florida, has some sage advice on retirement.

Machines, Humans, and Work

white and brown human robot illustration

One of the central lessons of artificial intelligence is that a variety of tasks that are easy for humans are difficult for machines, while a variety of tasks that are difficult for humans are easy for machines. For example, the tasks of giving manicures and pedicures or placing water glasses just so on a restaurant table, while rather easy for many humans, can be extremely difficult for a machine, while tasks that involve high-level reasoning - bookkeeping, accounting, many banking functions, and the analysis of legal documents and medical scans - are relatively easy for machines.

- From The Job: Work and Its Future in a Time of Radical Change by Ellen Ruppel Shell

[Photo by Franck V. at Unsplash]

Miscellaneous and Fast

Worth Checking Out

Kanopy: Streaming movies for free with your library card.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Quick Look

The trailer for "Who Will Write Our History."

Sunday Evening

Often a time for melancholy but today Sunday evening brings a sense of accomplishment. Much was done in the past week and on Saturday. The coming two weeks are planned. 

This week I have client projects, meetings, and a routine medical test. Celebratory moon-walking is penciled in for Wednesday morning.

Why am I even writing this? Because the distance between a highly productive week and a merely acceptable one can be very short.

Stack the deck in your favor.

"The wind is in from Africa"

Cyndi Lauper singing the Joni Mitchell song "Carey."

Happy Mother's Day

We celebrated Mother's Day a day early due to work schedules. It was a low-key, coffee and pastries event, and the star was a new grandchild. The mothers, of course, were honored. I could say "mothers past and present" but I had the feeling that even those who are past were indeed present.

Find Something Beautiful Today

black and brown bird on metal pole near tree at daytime

[Photo by Dev Leigh at Unsplash]

By the way, there's always beautiful stuff at The Hammock Papers.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

I'm Awaiting a Film Called "Gravedigger No. 2"

The trailer for "Ophelia."

"Brown Bear"

This Dingbats journal arrived in the nick of time. I had just finished scribbling in the Tiger and was worried about withdrawal symptoms.


The trailer for "The Poison Rose."

Some Business History: Worshipful Company of Grocers

vegetable stand

In the year 1345, 22 members of the Ancient Guild of Pepperers founded a fraternity which in 1376 became known as the Worshipful Company of Grocers of London. The Pepperers Guild was first heard of in 1180, and to its members was entrusted the duty of garbling' or preventing the impairment of spices and drugs. They were also in charge of the King's Beam which weighed goods by the aver-do-poys weight, or "peso gross," and it seems likely that the Company derived its name from the medieval Latin "Grossarius" -- one who busy and sells in the gross.

Jean Bellamy provides additional details at Time Travel - Britain.

[Photo by NeONBRAND at Unsplash]

The Flaw in the Eton Education

So far it would appear that work played a small part in our lives; this was not so, however for the first two years most boys did not enjoy their work and found it a tedious drudgery. It was not smart at Eton to work; to be a "sap" was a disgrace and to compete for prizes eccentric. Everybody used cribs though the punishments for being caught were severe. For boys at Eton wanted one thing, popularity, and the flaw in the Eton education was that work was unpopular. Indeed for twenty years I was never able to grasp that the love and friendship which I sought were in this world the rewards not of seeking them but of hard work and success.

- Cyril Connolly in Enemies of Promise [published in 1938]

Kick Back

person lying on chair and facing on body of water

New York Times: Olga Mecking makes the case for doing nothing.

[Photo by Simon Migaj at Unsplash]

Bock's Assignments

woman holding white mug while standing

Wally Bock has issued his weekend leadership reading assignments.

[Photo by Brooke Lark at Unsplash]

First Paragraph

He had to have planned it because when we drove onto the dock the boat was there and the engine was running and you could see the water churning up phosphorescence in the river, which was the only light there was because there was no moon, nor no electric light either in the shack where the dockmaster should have been sitting, nor on the boat itself, and certainly not from the car, yet everyone knew where everything was, and when the big Packard came down the ramp Mickey the driver braked it so that the wheels hardly rattled the boards, and when he pulled alongside the gangway the doors were already open and they hustled Bo and the girl upside before they even made a shadow in all that darkness. And there was no resistance, I saw a movement of black bulk, that was all, and all I heard was maybe the sound someone makes who is frightened and has a hand not his own over his mouth, the doors slammed and the car was humming up and gone and the boat was already opening up water between itself and the slip before a thin minute had passed. Nobody said not to so I jumped aboard and stood at the rail, frightened as you might expect, but a capable boy, he had said that himself, a capable boy capable of learning, and I see now capable of adoring worshiping that rudeness of power of which he was a greater student than anybody, oh and that menace of him where it might be all over for anyone in his sight from one instant to the next, that was what it all turned on, it was why I was there, it was why I was thrilled to be judged so by him as a capable boy, the danger he was really a maniac.

- From Billy Bathgate by E. L. Doctorow

Friday, May 10, 2019


black adjustable-weight barbell

"Either you're in, or you're in the way."

- Mark Bell

[Photo by Alora Griffiths at Unsplash]

Quick Look

The trailer for "Billy Bathgate."


From 1916: Henry Burr, the Mick Jagger of his time, singing a song that became a classic.

Back By Popular Demand

Clive James: "Postcard from Rome."

My favorite is the man at the front desk.

The Perfect Interview

I met Ustinov quite early on and he was even more bounteous with his gifts than I had expected, like a Father Christmas who arrives with a sack full of toys and immediately sets about manufacturing new ones in case you don't like the ones he's given you already. As he settled back into his chair with his cherubic face rising like the sun over the global curve of his paunch, I only had to press the ignition switch and he was off and away with a stream of memories, impressions, illustrated short stories and sound effects. Russian ballet dancers met German generals. Hollywood producers hob-nobbed with the clientele of a hamburger joint in Nepal. Jet airliners took off. Marlene Dietrich recited Milton. This guy was a universe.

- From The Blaze of Obscurity: The TV Years by Clive James

You Will Shake Hands

cathedral interior

As one rambles through modern life, it is interesting to take a few steps back and observe how often various events have a slant that appeals to extroverts. One that I find to be particularly irritating is when churches "ask" members of the congregation to turn around and greet the people seated around them.

You will be friendly.

To object, of course, invites being regarded as aloof and yet I suspect that I am not alone in disliking the coercive nature of the practice. Once I've gotten past the greeters at the door - and I have no problem with that welcoming ritual - if I want to shake hands with someone, I'll do so. Making it obligatory cheapens its meaning. 

Furthermore, the idea that one might attend a religious service in order to quietly contemplate God and the nature of one's obligations is now grafted to a practice which is more suitable for a cocktail party or a "networking" event.

What is also missed in that those of us who are shy simply don't follow the same ground rules as those who are not. That doesn't mean we are somehow afflicted. As you may have noticed at business meetings, often the quietest person in the room has the best things to say.

Some people talk in order to think. Some others think in order to talk. Both practices have advantages.

In the meantime, I'll be found in the back pew.

[Photo by Debby Hudson at Unsplash]

Quick Look

The trailer for "The Wedding Guest."

To Be Considered

greyscale photography of man standing beside man sitting on mobile

Perhaps the problem in issue A is a solution in issue B. 

[Photo by Tina Bosse at Unsplash]

Thursday, May 09, 2019

A Reasonable Price

FutureLawyer has found a bargain on a smartwatch

Hmm. Very tempting.

Admiral James Stockdale, Hero

FutureLawyer has the details and a link to the Admiral's paper on stoicism.

A remarkable man.


When there's a break at a workshop, write. When you've arrived early for a meeting, write. When the house is quiet and no one is up, write. When the house is noisy and people are up, write.  When you are out for coffee, between projects, waiting for the doctor, whenever and wherever and with very rare exceptions, write.

May the incremental be with you.