Thursday, February 28, 2019

"Musical Polymath"

NPR: André Previn, R.I.P.

Detective Flicks

ScreenRant's list of the best detective movies of all time.

They got the top choice right.

I Don't Agree with Their Definition

Exhibit A

Leadership is that process in which one person sets the purpose or direction for one or more other persons, and gets them to move along together with him or her and with each other in that direction with competence and full commitment.

- Elliott Jaques and Stephen D. Clement in Executive Leadership: A Practical Guide to Managing Complexity

My biggest reservation is with the "with competence and full commitment" part. 

Leadership, like management, is an assortment of responsibilities that may or may not be executed well. There are great leaders, terrible leaders, and a huge number in-between.

A Key Question for Any Workplace

woman using phone while sitting inside the room

What are you working on when you're not working on what you're supposed to be working on?

[Photo by rawpixel at Unsplash]

Recent Arrival

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Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Novels for Leaders

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Brilliant at the Basics

I was going through this excellent list by the incomparable Nicholas Bate and flashed a big smile at "Learn how to ride a horse."

Check. I acquired a rough grasp of that skill years ago in Virginia.

There were even times when the horse and I made it over the fence together.

Trans Athletes, Women's Sports, and a Heretic

Tennis legend Martina Navratilova’s recent statements regarding biological males competing against women in sporting events provoked an angry response from activists who accused the winner of 59 Grand Slam titles and longtime spokeswoman for LGBT rights of attempting to “dehumanize trans people.” She was removed from the advisory board of Athlete Ally, a group advocating for LGBT concerns in sport, and faced severe criticism for stating her view that forcing female athletes to compete against biological males is “insane” and “cheating,” given the average physical differences in strength, musculature, and bone density between males and females.

Read the rest at City Journal.

Fascinating Book

The most urgent need, however, was rifles. Churchill approached Roosevelt, who in turn approached General Marshall. What from the Army's own current stores could be spared? That was the question Marshall posed to his chief of ordnance. By June 3 he had his answer. There were some 500,000 old Enfield rifles, all made during the last war and packed away in grease. Since the Army was planning to deploy a new infantry firearm, the M-1 semiautomatic, Ordnance Chief Charles M. Wesson figured he could spare these plus 80,000 World War I-era machine guns, nine hundred 75mm guns, and 130 million rounds of ammunition without setting back the Army's own rearmament plans.

- From Freedom's Forge: How American Business Produced Victory in World War II by Arthur Herman

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Health Food Update

A taste test of some World War II rations.

I wonder how the rest of the day went.

Hurray for Old Hollywood

Kyle Smith examines the evolution of the Oscars ceremony and wonders if it has lost so much glamour that it has turned into a zoning hearing.

Perhaps next year they'll have a PowerPoint presentation.

Art Break

Art Contrarian looks at the work of Melbourne Brindle.

Late Night Reading

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And so far very good.

Natural Question

When you have started the morning with espresso and then switch to instant decaffeinated coffee, after a grimace the inevitable question arises: is there a decent instant decaf coffee brand out there?

The Importance of Journals

I have recently dedicated some time to going over a stack of journals that I've maintained over the past few years. The purpose for the review is to check on notes about a particular project; thoughts jotted down at random and yet with a common theme.

They are a treasure chest and an overall reminder of the importance of having a journal in hand so thoughts can be quickly preserved.

Because we all know what happens when we say, "I'll write that down later."

[BTW: Although some of the journals are inexpensive ones, my favorites are the Moleskines and the Dingbats. You can't go wrong with either brand. A Dingbats Wildlife journal is shown above.]

Novels for Leaders

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Monday, February 25, 2019

First Paragraph

On the first day of my sophomore year of high school, I was hit in the face with a baseball bat. As my classmate took a full swing, the bat slipped out of his hands and came flying toward me before striking me directly between the eyes. I have no memory of the moment of impact.

- From Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear

Work as a Religion

Derek Thompson in The Atlantic: Workism is making Americans miserable. An excerpt:

In 1980, the highest-earning men actually worked fewer hours per week than middle-class and low-income men, according to a survey by the Minneapolis Fed. But that’s changed. By 2005, the richest 10 percent of married men had the longest average workweek. In that same time, college-educated men reduced their leisure time more than any other group. Today, it is fair to say that elite American men have transformed themselves into the world’s premier workaholics, toiling longer hours than both poorer men in the U.S. and rich men in similarly rich countries.

Great Moments in Advertising

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A trailer for Frank Capra's "You Can't Take It with You" that does a grand job of not telling you about the film.

On the Serengeti

Ascribing animal characteristics to today's chores, I'll be dealing with one lion, two zebras, and several warthogs.

Private Victory

Private Victory precedes Public Victory. Self-mastery and self-discipline are the foundation of good relationships with others.

- Stephen R. Covey

Pick a Belief or Assumption

Pick one of your beliefs or assumptions; something you've used as an operating principle or guideline for years.

Jot it down.

Now see if you can tighten its meaning and application so it more closely jibs with reality.

Once done, find another.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Saturday, February 23, 2019

You Know You Want One

The Citroen 2CV.

As The Oscars Neareth

The trailer for "The Player."

Art Break

Art Contrarian looks at the naval art of Henry Reuterdahl. [Above is a recruiting poster from 1917.]

Thriller from 1948

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The trailer for "Sorry, Wrong Number."


Which Beatles album sold the most copies?

Abbey Road? Nope.

Sgt. Pepper? Nope.

Althouse has the details.

Poor Investments of Time

space gray MacBook Pro, Calendar chart, and Business magazine on table

Don't think of time as either productive or a waste. There is territory in-between that can snare otherwise highly productive people.

While not a waste, such activities may simply be a poor use of your time.

They can be interesting and a poor use of your time.

They can be good for the community and a poor use of your time.

They can be educational and a poor use of your time.

Review your schedule and watch for areas where B or C level activities are depriving you of time which could be devoted to A level ones. 

[Photo by rawpixel at Unsplash]

The Art of Disagreement

Arthur Brooks, author of Love Your Enemies, provides tips on how to disagree better.

First Paragraph

There was something about a fête which drew Arthur Rowe irresistibly, bound him a helpless victim to the distant blare of a band and the knock-knock of wooden balls against coconuts. Of course this year there were no coconuts because there was a war on: you could tell that too from the untidy gaps between the Bloomsbury houses - a flat fireplace half-way up a wall, like the painted fireplace in a cheap dolls' house, and lots of mirrors and green wallpapers, and from round a corner of the sunny afternoon the sound of glass being swept up, like the lazy noise of the sea on a singled beach. Otherwise the square was doing its best with the flags of the free nations and a mass of bunting which had obviously been preserved by somebody ever since the jubilee.

- From The Ministry of Fear by Graham Greene

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Givers, Takers, and Matchers

men standing in the middle of forest

Tanmay Vora analyzes and provides a SketchNote of Adam Grant's influential book.

[Photo by Jorge Flores at Unsplash]


Althouse: The Trump administration is "launching a global campaign to end criminalization of homosexuality."

Miscellaneous and Fast

woman standing on the swimming pool near the macarons

[Photo by Noah Buscher at Unsplash]   

Novels for Leaders

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Property's True Value

"Property is not just the house itself but an economic concept about the house, embodied in a legal representation." 

Legal property . . . gave the West the tools to produce surplus value over and above the physical assets. Property representations enabled people to think about assets not only through physical acquaintance but also through the description of their latent economic and social qualities. Whether anyone intended it or not, the legal property systems became the staircase that took these nations from the universe of assets in their natural state to the conceptual universe of capital where assets can be viewed in their full productive potential.

With legal property, the advanced nations of the West had the key to modern development; their citizens now had the means to discover, with great facility and on an on-going basis, the most potentially productive qualities of their resources. As Aristotle discovered 2,500 years ago, what you can do with things increases infinitely when you focus your thinking on their potential. By learning to fix the economic potential of their assets through property records, Westerners created a fast track to explore the most productive aspects of their possessions. Formal property became the staircase to the conceptual realm where the economic meaning of things can be discovered and where capital is born.

- From The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else by Hernando de Soto

[Photo by Scott Webb at Unsplash]

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

A Variety of Peppers

Behind The Circle has behind-the-scenes photos from the shooting of the Sgt. Pepper album cover.

What Happens Behind Those Doors Marked "Private"

The trailer for "Executive Suite." 

As always, no one steals a scene from Louis Calhern.

Get Ready for Blast-Off

The trailer for "The Wandering Earth."

Novels for Leaders

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The old master's last novel and he hit a bull's eye.

Journalism Self-Destructs

woman reading newspaper

Interesting takes on the American media's self-defeating bias at Althouse and at Cultural Offering

All the media have to do is to embrace basic professionalism and that will work wonders for their reliability.

Remember Michael Crichton's observation on the Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect?

[Photo by rawpixel at Unsplash]

The "What's Not Happening" Report

group of people talking about chart paper

Progress reports can be informative and yet they often are silent when it comes to items that have been sidelined or not started. That's why it helps to have a section of progress reports that is dedicated to identifying what is not happening. The What is Not Happening section should note uncompleted projects that have been sidelined as well as projects that are important but which have been abandoned entirely or have not been started.

You may be surprised by what emerges. Consider yourself fortunate if you are not.

[Photo by rawpixel at Unsplash]

Monday, February 18, 2019


Brian Keith as Theodore Roosevelt in "The Wind and The Lion."

The Counterinsurgency Novel

"It's difficult to explain exactly, but it's rather like bridge as compared to belote. When we make war, we play belote with thirty-two cards in the pack. But their game is bridge and they have fifty-two cards: twenty more than we do. Those twenty cards short will always prevent us from getting the better of them. They've got nothing to do with traditional warfare, they're marked with the sign of politics, propaganda, faith, agrarian reform . . .
"What's biting Glatigny?"
"I think he's beginning to realize that we've got to play with fifty-two cards and he doesn't like it at all . . . Those twenty extra cards aren't at all to his liking."

- From The Centurions by Jean Lartéguy

Presidents' Day

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President Warren G. Harding in a natural pose

Let us remember and honor the giants.

Quick Look

The trailer for "Lincoln."

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Some Bruno Ganz Films

The trailers for:

My New Typist

silver typewriter in shallow focus photography

FutureLawyer has just erased my reluctance and I'm going full Dragon.

[Photo by Peter Lewicki at Unsplash]

Bruno Ganz, R.I.P.

Althouse has a clip from one of his most famous scenes.


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Take some time today and check out Cultural Offering's list of perfect albums.

After studying the list, compile the Top Ten.

If none of the following made your list, review your work.

  • Abbey Road
  • Blood on the Tracks
  • Brothers in Arms
  • In the Wee Small Hours
  • Kind of Blue
  • Red Headed Stranger
  • Revolver

Attention: All Beatles Fans

stack of white books

Nicholas Bate - consultant, blogger, author, Man Who Never Sleeps and major Beatles fan  - should check out this trailer for the new film "Yesterday."


[Photo by Umberto Cofini at Unsplash]

Problem or Inconvenience?

man standing under gray bridge

I think the oddest thing about the advanced people is that, while they are always talking about things as problems, they have hardly any notion of what a real problem is.

- G. K. Chesterton

[Photo by Sebastiaan Stam at Unsplash]

Weekend Leadership Reading

wooden furniture inside library

Wally Bock has assignments for us.

[Photo by Michael D Beckwith at Unsplash]

Friday, February 15, 2019


The trailer for "Long Shot."

Novels for Leaders

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It could be the ultimate "bad boss" novel.

As the Weekend Approaches

shallow focus photography of dwarf figurine

Notes to coaching clients. Billing. Preparatory test for some surgery. Dog to groomer. Finalizing a briefing on Arizona's leadership. Thank-you notes that are long overdue. Book suggestions requested by clients. Resolving a question about a board's policies. Reading two novels about French Indochina. Haircut. More material on Machiavelli. Drafting a solution to conflicts between an organization's departments.

And the inadvertent but seemingly unavoidable goofing-off.

[Photo by Craig McLachlan at Unsplash]

Always Worth Checking

person standing beside car

The Sovereign Professional combines classic wisdom with what's happening out there right now.

[Photo by NICO BHLR at Unsplash]

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Time to Get Away

The trailer for "Withnail and I."

Words and Wishes

two person talking while standing near wall

"It was a long while ago that the words God be with you disappeared into the word good-bye, but every now and again some trace of them still glimmers through."

- Frederick Buechner

[Photo by Cristina Gottardi at Unsplash]

Happy Valentine's Day

"A Tale of Teens in Two States"

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Political Calculations compares California and Texas. An excerpt:

Here, we see that both states start out in a similar place, where from 2003 to 2005, the share of the teen population with jobs in California and Texas was about the same.
Since 2006 however, a persistent gap has opened up, with a larger share of Texas' teen population working as compared to California. In 2018, 28.1% of Texas' working-age teen population were earning paychecks, while only 22.7% of California's Age 16-19 population had jobs.

How big is that difference? If the same share of its teen population were working as in Texas, over 108,000 more Californian teens would have had jobs in 2018. At the same time, if the same share of its teen population were working as in California, over 84,000 fewer Texan teens would have jobs in the same year.

[Photo by Sammie Vasquez at Unsplash]

No Problem

The judge in the El Chapo trial warned the jurors not to speak to the press.

Quick Look

The trailer for "The Hustle."

El Chapo Act

I eagerly await the vote on this bill.

The Line

I told the young man not to worry so much about making mistakes but instead to focus on doing his best.

He looked puzzled and no doubt wondered what the difference was between the two. 

That part of the coaching session required more time.

First Paragraph

First came the routine request for a breach of privacy permit. A police officer took down the details and forwarded the request to a clerk, who saw that the tape reached the appropriate civic judge. The judge was reluctant, for privacy is a precious thing in a world of eighteen billion, but in the end he could find no reason to refuse. On November 2, 2123, he granted the permit.

- From Flatlander by Larry Niven

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Song as Novel

Bobbie Gentry's "Ode to Billy Joe."

William Faulkner would have loved it.

Business Travel

Kurt Harden at Cultural Offering discusses the difficulty/impossibility of getting a decent night's sleep at a hotel.

I have the same problem. The closest I've gotten to a solution is to bring my own pillow but that only improves the situation while not removing the overall problem.

Let's face it. For the most part, business travel is hellish. Its time demands are so constrained that there is little space to ease into the experience. Airports have lost their glamour and have become bus stations. 

The one advantage of great wealth is the ability to have a private jet. That single element of control would reduce the hotel hassle while eliminating the airport one.

There is a Quiet Joy

There is a quiet joy when preparing a class that has so many good things that the challenge is in deciding what to leave out.


Glatigny liked the commissar better when he was carried away by his hatred, for by restoring his natural reactions this hatred made him seem more human. When he became smarmy and sanctimonious like this, he frightened and at the same time fascinated him. This sad little man, who hovered about like a ghost in clothes several sizes too large for him and who spoke about Truth with the vacant gaze of a prophet, plunged him back into the termite nightmare. He was one of the antennae of the monstrous brain which wanted to reduce the world to a civilization of insects rooted in their certainty and efficiency.

- From The Centurions by Jean Lartéguy