Monday, January 21, 2019

Before There was Twitter

The "two minutes of hate" scene from the film version of "1984."

Old But Timely

printing machine

The trailer for "Absence of Malice."

[Photo by Bank Phrom at Unsplash]


We must be careful to make a distinction between the intellectual and the person of intellectual achievement. They two are very, very different animals. There are people of intellectual achievement who increase the sum of human knowledge, the powers of human insight, and analysis. And then there are the intellectuals. An intellectual is a person knowledgeable in one field who speaks out only in others.

- Tom Wolfe

Highly Recommended

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The website for The King Center.

First Paragraph

"Get up, Herman Redpath," my father-in-law Leo Bebb said. His fat face was slippery with sweat and his eyes tight shut as though he'd gotten soap in them. The box had not been lowered into the ground yet but still hung cradled in canvas straps. Inside the box, Herman Redpath was laid out in his brown silk shirt and chocolate-brown suit with a Navajo blanket tucked around him at the waist. Possibly there were damp sots on the blanket. My father-in-law crowded him with his prayer as though if he didn't, the old man might dawdle there indefinitely.

- From Open Heart by Frederick Buechner

"It was a different time."

And George Lucas and Ron Howard made a film. 

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Some Old Friends

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One of the quiet joys as a parent is when you discover a children's book which both you and your children can enjoy.

Excellent stories. Beautifully written.

Update sample:

Frog put the cookies in a box. “There,” he said. “Now we will not eat any more cookies.”
“But we can open the box,” said Toad.
“That is true,” said Frog.

Quick Look

The trailer for "Modern Romance."

To Reach the Unreachable Star?

The trailer for "John Wick: Chapter Three: Parabellum."

I confess to being amused that such an uplifting song is used with this high-body-count trailer. 

Someone in Hollywood has a sense of humor.

First Paragraph

The morning Rino telephoned, I thought he wanted money again and I was ready to say no. But that was not the reason for the phone call: his mother was gone.

- From My Brilliant Friend [Book One of the Neapolitan Novels] by Elena Ferrante


The Rusanovs loved the People, their great People. They served the People and were ready to give their lives for the People.

But as the years went by they found themselves less and less able to tolerate actual human beings, those obstinate creatures who were always resistant, refusing to do what they were told and, besides, demanding something for themselves.

- From Cancer Ward by Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Getting Back to Basics

two person playing chess on park

There are decent and intelligent people who voted for Hillary Clinton. 

There are decent and intelligent people who voted for Donald Trump.

All of them are our fellow Americans and they deserve, as a minimum, some basic respect and even - dare I say it? - some friendliness.

Let others savage one another on the Internet. We need not fall prey to the weirdness and meanness of our times.

[Photo by AP x 90 at Unsplash]


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Wally Bock has weekend leadership reading assignments for us.

[Photo by Us Wah at Unsplash]

Novels for Leaders

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Raw ambition, for one thing.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Quick Look

The trailer for "The Sense of an Ending."

In The Background

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As Martin Luther King Day Approaches

. . . Our great national achievement - fashioning a common citizenship and identity for a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, multi-racial people - is now threatened by a process of relentless, deliberate Balkanization. The great engines of social life - the law, the schools, the arts, - are systematically encouraging the division of America into racial, ethnic and gender separateness.

- Charles Krauthammer in 1990

Novels for Leaders

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Seven Career Viruses

  1. Fear of failure. The opportunity-killer. Careers are made by seizing opportunities.
  2. Lack of judgment. Just make sure you don't seize every opportunity. An open door sometimes leads to the basement.
  3. Fear of success. Beware if you notice that whenever success is within reach, you choose to re-tie your shoe laces or reassess your strategy.
  4. Perfectionism. You want to do excellent work but a quest for perfectionism can be paralyzing.
  5. Indiscretion. If saying something will bring intense pleasure, it may be time to edit your words or to embrace an old ally named Silence.
  6. Sloth. Do your research and get the job done. (Repeat)
  7. Unreliability. You don't need to be a wizard, but it pays enormously to be known as a reliable performer.

Rome Reading

Historian Tom Holland picks the best books on ancient Rome.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Everyone in Ireland is a Poet

Go to Ireland and get some people to try a variety of Krispy Creme donuts.

I felt like I was watching "The Commitments."


Althouse has a video of children trying 100 years of school lunches.

What? No sloppy joes?

Don't Do Anything Great Today

person holding black mug filled with black liquid

Don't do anything great today. Do a bunch of small things. Do them well. Take pleasure from the process.

Remember, just small things. The calls that need to be returned. The files that need to be updated. A chore or two. A note to a friend. Some loose ends that need to be tied. Perhaps the small part of a much larger project.

Nothing big.

And as the day ends, see what you've accomplished. See how you feel.

[Photo by Cathryn Lavery  at Unsplash]

The Benefit of Curiosity

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Walter Isaacson talking about the brilliant subject of his most recent book.

Novels for Leaders

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"I get the willies when I see closed doors."


You do not have to be in London to enjoy The Spectator's article on the best hot chocolate in London.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

I Want an "Abandon Area" Sign

The trailer for "Dr. No." 

It was the first Bond film.

Have a System

close-up photography of brown wooden card catalog

Nicholas Bate gets into specifics.

[Photo by Erol Ahmed at Unsplash]

The Expected Unexpected

The day is planned. Time is blocked out. You finally have the chance to catch up on things and then, well, you know what happens.

The expected unexpected arrives.

Fortunately, it was always in the back of your mind. You weren't sure what form it would take but you knew that the odds of its non-appearance were small. That's why you always book in some cushions. As the old line goes, it is better to have them and not need them than to need them and not have them.

It also reminds me of a Old West saying about having a revolver: you didn't often need one but when you did, you needed it real bad.

[Photo by Michal Mrozek at Unsplash]

Novels for Leaders

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"Excuse me," answered Kostoglotov, restraining himself with difficulty. He stretched one arm toward Rusanov. "No one on this earth says anything 'once and for all.' If they did, life would come to a stop and succeeding generations would have nothing to say."

Pavel Nikolayevich was taken aback. The tops of his delicate white ears turned quite red, and round red patches appeared on his cheeks.

(He shouldn't be expostulating, entering into a Saturday afternoon argument with this man. He ought to be checking up on who he was, where he came from, where his background was, and whether his blatantly false views weren't a danger in the post he occupied.)

Monday, January 14, 2019


The trailer for "Isle of Dogs."

First Paragraph

Send the boy to Apollonia.

- From Augustus by John Williams

Shaving "Toxic Masculinity?"

Not a smart move, Gillette.

"Engineers of the Soul"

Joel Kotkin, writing in City Journal, describes the bias of journalism, universities, and the entertainment industry. An excerpt:

Our cultural climate has become depressingly monochromatic. Award ceremonies, once a largely nonpolitical experience, have become reflecting pools for preening progressive artistes. Those emceeing the awards must be as politically pure as possible—sorry, Kevin Hart—and those winning acclaim get the best press if, besides thanking their producers and agents, they take a shot at Donald Trump.

Problems and Solutions

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Never, ever, underestimate the number of problems that are produced by solutions to other problems. Problem-solvers can also be problem-creators.

[Photo by rawpixel at Unsplash]

Novels for Leaders

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One to read and re-read. Also read its sequel, Claudius The God.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Adam Smith, Giant

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At City Journal, a review of Jesse Norman's new book on Adam Smith.

First Paragraph

Way past midnight, up in the network's New York control room, a man and a woman sat in a glass cubicle watching a pair of television monitors. The man was only in his early forties, but already he was bald on top except for a narrow little furze of reddish hair that arched up over his freckled dome like an earphone clamp. He had jowls, eyeglasses for nearsightedness, a shell back, rounded shoulders, and a ponderous gut, which his old gray sweater only made look worse. He also had a slovenly way of slouching in his seat so that his weight rested on the base of his spine. In short, a slob, which he realized; and the hell with it.

- From "Ambush at Fort Bragg: A Novella" in Hooking Up by Tom Wolfe

Back By Popular Demand

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The trailer for "Barcelona."

Novels for Leaders

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One of the best novels about ancient Rome as it neared its end.

And Yet Another Family Film

The trailer for "Velvet Buzzsaw."

Calling All Barbarians

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Get thee to Cultural Offering for guidance on how to become civilized.

[Photo by Jonathan Farber at Unsplash]

Frozen Jack and Sunny Jack

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The Hammock Papers honors Jack London's birthday. Although London is often associated with his tales of Alaska, he also wrote great stories about Hawaii.

Finding Time to Read

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Nicholas Bate gives sound tips on finding more time for reading.

[One of my rules: always have a book nearby.]

[Photo by Les Anderson at Unsplash]

Novels for Leaders

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Still one of the best looks at modern life.

Weekend Leadership Reading

closed brown and gray Little Free Library

Wally Bock has some assignments for us.

[Photo by Eliot Peper at Unsplash]

Worth Seeing But The Book is Better

The trailer for "A Good Man in Africa."

Friday, January 11, 2019

I Like It

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The Star Formerly Known as Anderson Layman is now simply  "A Layman."

[Photo by frankie cordoba at Unsplash]

The Man is a Beatle

man holding a bottle

Nicholas Bate continues his series on "Why We Love The Beatles."

[Photo by Samuel Dixon at Unsplash]

First Paragraph

"The whole trouble with your farm," Romano Muscari said, "is that it is too far uphill for the American suntanners, and too low for the German skiers. Location is everything."

- From In Calabria by Peter S. Beagle

Novels for Leaders

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"A novel of the founding of Hong Kong." 

Adventure for the adventurous. 

"He was the Tai-Pan of The Noble House."

Proposal Writing

hardbound book on top of brown binder

I will be back soon. I'm currently preparing a mega-proposal. That tedious process includes deciphering the ancient Greek used by the Purchasing people in their RFP.

Always a fun bunch, the Purchasing folks.

[Photo by Kelly Sikkema at Unsplash]

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Anti-Male Bias

In modern society, many of the ways we talk about male identity have either negative connotations or encourage disparaging, eye-rolling satire. If the term is man, then common terms we hear are “man flu,” “manspreading,” or “mansplaining.”
If the term is dad, then there is a droll shaking of the head at a “dad bod” or at “dad jokes.” If the term is guy, it is often in relation to stubbornly self-defeating behaviour: ‘I got sick, but I did the typical guy thing, and didn’t go see the doctor.” Or: “I was battling with my mental health, but I did the typical guy thing and didn’t ask for help.” If the term is masculinity, it is often used in relation to things males must atone for or confront: “toxic masculinity,” or “the crisis in masculinity.”

Read the rest of Nick Sheppard's essay at The Federalist.

Modern Journalism

Reporter Jim Acosta, out to inadvertently prove the efficacy of a border barrier.

Quick Look

The trailer for "The Punisher."

"Hands Up"

Art Contrarian on the millions paid for an N.C. Wyeth illustration.

I am reminded of the wise observation that an illustrator is an artist who can draw.

41 Albums?

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The Sovereign Professional has gone full-Dylan.


From 1989: A 60 Minutes interview with the late, great founder and CEO of Southwest Airlines, Herb Kelleher.

Also check out this list of articles on Kelleher that Wally Bock compiled.

First Paragraph

In the winter of 1538, an Englishman living in Italy travelled to Florence. Cardinal Reginald Pole was a devout adherent of the Church of Rome at a time when the English Reformation threatened to tear the Church apart. He had fled into self-imposed exile from his native shores after opposing King Henry VIII's divorce from Catherine of Aragon, and settled in Italy.

- From Be Like the Fox: Machiavelli's Lifelong Quest for Freedom by Erica Benner

Novels for Leaders

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“There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.

"That's some catch, that Catch-22," he observed.

"It's the best there is," Doc Daneeka agreed.”

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

"I prefer not to"

The trailer for "Bartleby."

Novels for Leaders

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"The novel romanticized the life of elite soldiers, out on their own, along the edge of civilization, surviving on their wits, integrity, and courage. It all resonated with Petraeus, as it did with many airborne officers. For decades after, he would cite it as his favorite novel - one of his favorite books, period - and he would frequently retrieve it from his bookshelf, not just for pleasure but to consult its meticulous descriptions of small-unit tactics and morale-building rituals."

- From The Insurgents: David Petraeus and the Plot to Change the American Way of War by Fred Kaplan

On a Roll

person holding silver Acer Chromebook laptop

As always, Anderson Layman's Blog is packed with great stuff.

[Photo by Andrew Neel at Unsplash]

First Paragraph

On top of everything, the cancer wing was Number 13. Pavel Nikolayevich Rusanov had never been and could never be a superstitious person, but his heart sank when they wrote "Wing 13" on his admission card. They should have had the ingenuity to assign number 13 to some kind of prosthetic or intestinal department.

- From Cancer Ward by Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Rise and Shine

Kurt Harden at Cultural Offering gives an interesting description of his morning routine.

It is similar to my own but I'm up earlier - my wife gets up at 4:30 because of her bizarre work schedule - and I get up shortly afterwards to feed the dog, bring in the newspaper, and see her off. 

My children are now out on their own but Kurt's stories about his kids brought back memories.

Other areas of commonality: large amounts of coffee are part of the process along with morning conversations with the dog.

Just think, every morning there are dog owners around the world chatting with their pets.

Sharp-Dressed Man

Be sure to follow Patrick Rhone.

ZZ Top would applaud.