Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Grit Required. Sand Optional.

FutureLawyer, who practices law near the beaches of Florida, points to a nifty site for those wanting to start their own law firm.

Just What I Need

Chevrolet has brought back the Blazer.

Just Started. Very Interesting.

Image result for the suicide of the west jonah goldberg amazon

The Good Old Days

The trailer for "Deadwood: The Movie."



Chap is celebrating its 100th edition and this is the first I've heard of it?

I'm beginning to feel like a thawed-out Dr. Evil.

Door Sign

selective focus photography of spiral notebooks

If you do not disturb me right now . . . 

you will indeed be blessed.

[Photo by Arren Mills at Unsplash]

First Paragraph

The pony stepped carefully down the rock-strewn path, the pony boy walking ten paces behind, his long hillman's stride effortlessly keeping pace. Rodney eased his weight forward, loosened the reins, and sighed with content. The sound of the Girwan torrent came muted to him up here, nearly six hundred feet above the gorge, adding a deep undertone to the soughing of the wind in the deodars and the rhythmic crunch of the pony's hoofs. Straight ahead, looking down the V of the valley, the forested hills across the Liddar fell like a dense dark curtain from a pale blue sky, streaked with high, slow-moving cirrus clouds. Behind him a parapet of snow, glittering now in the direct rays of the late morning sun, blocked the upper end of the Girwan. Over his right shoulder, as he turned to look, Kolahoi towered in aloof splendor, veils of snow streaming away from its thrusting pines.

- From The Himalayan Concerto by John Masters

Modern Times

Made by JimBob.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Quick Look

The trailer for "Murder Mystery."

I Like Some of These

person doing wall graffiti

The New Yorker has some work by a new poet.

[Photo by Trust "Tru" Katsande at Unspash]

Turn Loose the Gargoyles

Theodore Dalrymple on some of the architects discussing the rebuilding of Notre-Dame. An excerpt:

If French president Emmanuel Macron had any sense, he would forbid any modernist British architect from coming within a radius of 100 miles of Notre-Dame—not that French modernist architects are any better, of course.

Memorable Scene. Marvelous Movie.

The King meets with Mr. Pitt in "The Madness of King George."

Must Read Memoirs

You will ask why I don't buy an automatic toaster, and the answer is that I have, several times, but they all broke. I have a cupboard full of their corpses, each preserved in case the plug should come in handy. Here is yet more proof that I remain, as I approach the last lap of my life, someone who, left to himself, would die of exposure even on a warm day. On the tropical island with everything, I would choke on a coconut. There was once a terrible song that started 'People who need people'. Barbra Streisand used to sing it. As far as I remember, the next line wasn't 'Are to be avoided'. It should have been. In the concourse of the great railway stations you can pick us out by the way we stand in front of the automatic ticket machines and look around for advice. All too often we take it from each other, with predictable results.

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

[Clive James has written a multi-volume autobiography that is an unmitigated pleasure. In order, the volumes are: Unreliable Memoirs; Falling Towards England; May Week Was in June; North Face of Soho; and The Blaze of Obscurity.]

Keep On

white open book on brown wooden table in front of clear glass window in dim room

Since life is a story, avoid writing the final draft.

[Photo by Ilya Ilford at Unsplash]

Let's Have Details on How That Got Published

Althouse on the anti-Semitic cartoon published in the international edition of the New York Times.

First Paragraph

I had a fine Norton that year, in Bhowani. It's got smashed up since, but it was looking good the day I went down to see Victoria after she came back from the Army. I got to the house, cut off the engine, and sat there in the saddle while it coughed, hiccupped once or twice, and died. The truth is I was afraid to go in. She'd been away a long time. She was an officer. She'd have changed.

- From Bhowani Junction by John Masters

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Caro's "Working"

In City Journal, Lance Morrow reviews historian Robert Caro's latest book. An excerpt:

We have not yet come to the actual writing. Early on, Caro discovered that he was too facile on the typewriter. So, to slow himself down and to teach himself not to write before thinking, he adopted the practice of doing his first several drafts in pencil or pen, in longhand, on long legal pads. With those drafts completed, he would switch to his Smith-Corona electric typewriter, which he still uses. He honors the writing habits of his youth, before the coming of computers, which he never uses. He puts his words on paper. He dresses in jacket and tie when he goes to his writing office, near Columbus Circle. He believes that the formality induces in him a mood to do serious work. 

Music Break

The Danish National Symphony Orchestra with "A Fistful of Dollars."


Who was the writer, Stoppard wonders, who, when his publisher asked him for a better photograph for the book jacket, replied with a blunt telegram: “Little, Brown: you have an ugly author”? But nobody knows.

- From the NewStatesmenAmerica article cited in the earlier "Gathering of Old Friends" post.

First Paragraph

I remember the cries of Caesar's war-horns chasing us over the darkened fields of Latium - their yearning, keening howls, like animals in heat - and how when they stopped there was only the slither of our shoes on the icy road and the urgent panting of our breath.

- From Dictator by Robert Harris

Thoroughly Enjoying

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A Gathering of Old Friends

An afternoon with Clive James, Tom Stoppard, and Julian Barnes.

Being the Best

Nicholas Bate has re-read it and wouldn't change a thing.

You can find it at Amazon.

Bock's Assignments

man with sunglasses sitting

Wally Bock has weekend leadership reading assignments for you.

Don't wait until the night before the quiz.

[Photo by micaela Marianthi at Unsplash]

Friday, April 26, 2019

Quick Look

The trailer for "Animal Matters."

Long Overdue

A statue of Ulysses S. Grant has been unveiled at West Point. 

Here is a video on its creation.

Miscellaneous and Fast

When Numbers Stun

"By latter 1942, the Eastern Front was costing the Third Reich a hundred thousand dead each month."

- From The Second World Wars by Victor Davis Hanson

First Paragraph

Anyone looking for a good used machine tool should talk to Noel Dempsey, a dealer in Richmond, Virginia. Noel's bustling warehouse is full of metal lathes, milling machines, and table saws, and it turns out that much of it once resided in schools. EBay is awash in such equipment, also from schools. Most of this stuff has been kicking around the secondhand market for about fifteen years; it was in the 1990s that shop class started to become a thing of the past, as educators prepared students to become "knowledge workers."

- From Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work by Matthew B. Crawford

Talking Past One Another

Amanpour: Walter Isaacson and Frank Luntz talking about today's toxic political scene.

Thursday, April 25, 2019


Daniel Hope and the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra playing the love theme from "El Cid."

Still Relevant

The trailer for "1984."

Training Tales

black swivel chair beside rectangular brown wooden desk

Like many management consultants, I've conducted a ton of management workshops over the years. They've provided many good memories. On the other hand, I recall:

  • When a client decided to change the name of the workshop to something entirely different (and not tell me). [I'm still baffled by that one and I'm sure the class was.]
  • When the hotel conference room had an outside wall that had partially collapsed. [We worked around it.]
  • When a hotel arranged a training room by putting the chairs for some attendees behind large pillars. [I vetoed that arrangement.]
  • When an attendee sat in the front row and checked off every time I mentioned a subject that had been promised in a brochure. [He wanted to make sure I didn't leave anything out. I didn't.]
  • When my night flight from Atlanta to Tallahassee was cancelled and the subsequent juggling had me on an early morning flight on the day of the training. As a result, I had to run from a cab right into the Tallahassee hotel's conference room. [But I started the class exactly on time!]
  • My favorite: When a five-alarm fire interrupted a large class I'd just started at a fire academy. Within one minute the entire audience had disappeared. [It was not a false alarm.]
Since I've been training for over 40 years, that's really not bad at all.

Lessons learned: You can only worry about so much and it helps to keep in mind that the day has brought far greater concerns to millions of other people. Roll with it.

[Photo by Changbok Ko at Unsplash]

35 Home Library Ideas

Architectural Digest has the pictures.

I think I'll take all of them.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Modern Times

From 2018: Jack Dorsey on viewpoint diversity at Twitter.

When Everyone Becomes Big Brother

1984 steel decor

As I said before, somewhat joshingly - 1984 is coming to pass not because it's imposed, but because everyone is volunteering to do their part.

- James Lileks

[Photo by Viktor Forgacs at Unsplash]

A Sign

"Let me tell you how dumb they are despite the fact that they beat us."

A sign of bias is continually overestimating the intelligence of one side while underestimating the intelligence of another side.

Peterson's Influence

The New York Times: Rob Henderson on "What Jordan Peterson Did for Me."

First Paragraph

It is almost midnight. I am sitting at a small table by an open window, in the north German town of Hamm, writing these first lines. The rest of the house is quiet, but voices rise and fall on the street below, some talking quietly, others loud with drink and the end of a working week.

- From Diary of a Dead Man on Leave by David Downing

For All Leaders

closeup photo of chocolate chip cookies

Wally Bock has a baker's dozen of things to master.


[Photo by Erol Ahmed at Unsplash]

Quick Look

The trailer for "Avengers: Endgame."

Tuesday, April 23, 2019


Possibly the greatest film score ever written and there is very stiff competition in that arena.

Time to Read

fountain pen on spiral book

In hiding. Reading and jotting thoughts in prep for some meetings.

[Photo by Aaron Burden at Unsplash]

In the Mail

Image result for shop class as soulcraft amazon

First Paragraph

Lane starts the month with two bottles of decent pinot noir from the Washington State Liquor Store up on Lake City Way. He determines these wines to be decent, based on their price and minimalist label design. Plus, Mia always drinks pinot noir or pinot something. In the winter, anyway.

- From Lake City: A Novel by Thomas Kohnstamm


The trailer for "The White Crow."

American Exceptionalism

flag of United States of America hanged on brown house during daytime

Writing in Commentary, John Steele Gordon on what makes America exceptional.

[Photo by specphotops at Unsplash]

Keeping Alive

I understand that it's the music that keeps me alive . . . . That's my lifeblood. And to give that up for, like, the TV, the cars, the houses - that's not the American dream. That's the booby prize, in the end. Those are the booby prizes. And if you fall for them - if, when you achieve them, you believe that this is the end in and of itself - then you've been suckered in. Because those are the consolation prizes, if you're not careful, for selling yourself out, or letting the best of yourself slip away. So you gotta be vigilant. You gotta carry the idea you began with further. And you gotta hope that you're headed for higher ground.

- Bruce Springsteen in Rolling Stone magazine


The trailer for "Skin."

Monday, April 22, 2019

I'm Awaiting a Comment from Mr. Bumble

Tire chalking is declared unconstitutional in Michigan.

Standing Together

My wife has been under the weather. She ate some lentil soup today. 

As a sign of solidarity I ate a chocolate rabbit.

From the Wilds of Maine

Update: Sippican Cottage and Unorganized Hancock are at Vimeo.

Quick Look

The trailer for "About Schmidt."

Modern Times

But the weird thing is that many of the people who are outraged by benign nationalism or the benign pan-nationalism that is pride in Western civilization take no umbrage when someone from Iran or China says they think their civilization is best. This of course is a manifestation of the ancient cult of identitarianism, which the best traditions of the West have battled internally at great cost for thousands of years. Saying Western civilization is great hurts the feelings of some people invested in some other source of identity. And it hurts the feelings of some Westerners because they think it’s a sign of enlightenment to get offended on other people’s behalf or to denigrate the society that gave them their soap box.

- Jonah Goldberg

A Visitor from Korean War Days

A Sabre jet joins modern aircraft in a show at Davis-Monthan Air Base. 

Strategy Page has the details.

[U.S. Air Force photo by 2LT. Samuel Eckholm]

Sounds Fascinating

Schiltz, P.J. "On Being a Happy, Healthy, and Ethical Member of an Unhappy, Unhealthy, and Unethical Profession." Vanderbilt Law Review, 52 (1999): 871-918.

First Paragraph

The man is sitting on the shore, looking out upon the sea, his arms about his knees. That's what he has done for a long time now, longer than he can remember. He sheds a tear.

- From Nostalgia: Going Home in a Homeless World by Anthony Esolen

From the review by Tracy Lee Simmons in National Review:

"This book is, in other words, for adults, not children. It's for those willing to ask ultimate questions and armed with the courage to listen to a few answers and follow up."

Scared Brave

woman holding a microphone performing on stage

Scared is what you're feeling.

Brave is what you're doing.

- Emma Donoghue

[Photo by MD Duran at Unsplash]


This may be ordered at Illustration magazine.


"Journey to the Line" from The Thin Red Line soundtrack by Hans Zimmer.

Bach's Secret

Cultural Offering has Bach's secret.

It makes a lot of sense to me.

[Photo by Josh Applegate at Unsplash]


The danger of heavy-handed politics is noted in Judith Miller's City Journal review of the new revival of "Oklahoma!" An excerpt:

But Fish’s determination to highlight the carnage inflicted by guns leads him to rewrite—indeed, to pervert—the play’s crucial scene: the fight between Curly and Jud, in which Jud dies. In the original production, a drunken Jud attacks Curly with a knife. As Curly dodges the blade, Jud falls on his own knife. At a makeshift trial, a jury made up of local town folk, aware of the longstanding rivalry between the men and believing that Jud’s death was accidental, declare Curly “not guilty.” Moments later, Curly and Laurey leave for their honeymoon on their proverbial surrey with the fringe on top.
In Fish’s rendition, Jud presents a gun to Curly as a wedding gift, seeming to offer himself up for slaughter. There is no struggle. Curly simply points the gun at Jud and fires—point blank—splattering his own and his bride’s faces and white suits with his rival’s blood.

[Here is a collection of links to other reviews.]

First Paragraph

Hello? Hello?

- From Tuf Voyaging by George R. R. Martin

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Friday, April 19, 2019


And speaking of Maurice Jarre soundtracks, here is the "Building the Barn" scene from "Witness."

Maurice Jarre Soundtrack Break

Clemente Mata directs the Orquesta y Coro Cathedral de Cordoba with the main theme music from "Jesus of Nazareth."


The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles but to irrigate deserts.

- C. S. Lewis

Hollywood and Then Some: Stanley Donen

Commentary: Frederic Raphael writes an appreciation of Stanley Donen. An excerpt:

In the early 1960s, Matthau had played a minor part in Charade. Stanley, always polite, went to meet him at Charles de Gaulle airport. On the way into Paris, Matthau said, “You know I should be playing the Cary Grant part, don’t you?” Stanley laughed. Matthau didn’t. A few years later, he was a big star. But he was never Cary Grant. Stanley told us how one day Cary was asked to a charity event to which, he was warned, entry was forbidden to anyone not carrying a ticket. Cary forgot his. Head down over her list, the lady at the desk said, “Then you can’t come in.” Cary said, “I’m Cary Grant.” She looked up and said, “You don’t look like Cary Grant.” Cary said, “Nobody does.”

Art Break

Art Contrarian looks at the work of Edgar Degas.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Dylan in Vienna

Hurrah for Bob Dylan.

If the trend keeps up, when the world ends 90 percent of the people will be taking its picture.

Quick Look

The trailer for "Transit."

Late Night Reading

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Free Speech on Campus

Charles Murray has a modest proposal for making a campus safe for speakers.

The key is finding campus administrators with the courage to implement it.

To Talk of Many Things

Image result for the walrus and the carpenter amazon

I can either watch a press conference or read "The Walrus and the Carpenter."

There are similarities but the latter will be more informative.


Learn how to handle the three big distractors: digital, people and our own insatiable curiosity to be doing anything but the main thing.

- Nicholas Bate

It Will Not Hurt

man in chair with table beside coffee

It will not hurt if I grab a bunch of files today and go off somewhere and think. 

I deeply regret not having done so at various times in the past. Distractions are deadly and impatience is a cancer.

[Photo by Jeff Sheldon at Unsplash]

Roman Holiday

Coliseum, Rome

The Sovereign Professional has just added to my reading list.

[Photo by Mauricio Artieda at Unsplash]

Scribble Scribble

The very rough first draft of my new book gets run off today. 

I figure it will take four to five drafts before it gets near an agent.

The topic is confidential. The subject is unusual.

Make that very unusual.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

On Dasher! On Dancer!

FutureLawyer has a video demonstrating the impressive strength of robots.

Impressive and a tad creepy.


Joe Bonamassa music video.

They Didn't Tell Me There'd Be Math

Star Trek alert: A History of The Borg.

Philosophy and Food

meta balls with noodles served on white ceramic bowl

Althouse: The Twitter CEO eats one meal a day and nothing on weekends.

If it works for him, that's fine. I'm not sure how closely linked that is to stoicism.

[Photo by Jason Leung at Unsplash]


If you've got a problem, make it a procedure and it won't be a problem anymore.

- Ben Feldman

No Contest

Solid Dark Chocolate Easter Bunny Rabbit, Half Pound, Small Batch, Hand-Made in USA
Anyone who believes there is equivalency between a chocolate rabbit and a bunch of Peeps is a moral agnostic.

First Paragraph

On chill misty mornings, I liked to walk down to the river and fish for a while. I never caught anything, but that didn't matter, particularly. It was relaxing just to stand on the bank and cast and watch the bright orange tip of my float drift downstream. Arblaster, my Residence's Porter, provided me with sandwiches and a Thermos, and I could quite happily stay there all day. Sometimes I could almost forget about the other things I should have been doing.

- From Europe at Midnight by Dave Hutchinson

Not So Modern

grayscale photography of telephone booth

I got a text message last night from a friend who had just emerged from a canyon in a remote part of Arizona where there is no cell phone coverage. He promised to be in touch once he got to Page, Arizona where the coverage would be stronger. [Look it up. It's up yonder.]

This is not a surprise. There are parts of central Phoenix that have lousy cell phone coverage.

People can call from the top of Mount Everest, of course, but not with the average cell phone service. I look forward to the days when such limited coverage will be a quaint story for one's grandchildren.

This is said, however, with a certain nostalgia for the days of phone booths.

[Photo by Dariana Anairad at Unsplash]

In Paris, as Notre Dame Burned

My doorbell rang insistently. It was my father. “Notre Dame is on fire,” he said through the intercom. I rushed downstairs. “It’s burning to the ground,” he said. I was speechless. 

Read the rest of Claire Berlinski in City Journal.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019


I have wasted some time today which should have been devoted to reading.



I don't know which would be worse: being subjected to repeated viewings of "The Egyptian" or simply listening once to its soundtrack.


person wearing watch near laptop

Waiting for someone to call you back or to send an email can squander a great deal of time that would be far better spent calling people or sending emails.

[Photo by NordWood Themes at Unsplash]

First Paragraph

landscape photography of mountains

I have lived in the Sonoran Desert since I was a boy and unless I get unlucky, I will die here. My home is a web of dreams. Thousands move here each year under the banners of the New West or the Sunbelt. This is the place where they hope to escape their pasts - the unemployment, the smoggy skies, dirty cities, crush of human numbers. This they cannot do. Instead, they reproduce the world they have fled. I am drawn to the frenzy of this act.

- From Blue Desert by Charles Bowden

[Photo by Robert Murray at Unsplash]

Quick Look

The trailer for "Pavarotti: Genius is Forever."

Monday, April 15, 2019

The Skin of Our Teeth

This is a good time to view Kenneth Clark's classic series on "Civilisation."

Notre Dame

Notre Dame: A reminder that while science waits to be discovered, history can be lost.

A sad day for France and the world.

Fractures in France

officers standing on pavement road

[Photo by Kilyan Sockalingum at Unsplash]

And Now for Something Very Different

Image result for soulless amazon

Some novels that are sort of "out there" can enliven the imagination. Here are a few to consider.
  • "Zeroville" - Steve Erickson. Very strange main character and an equally strange plot with a lot of trivia about Hollywood. As for the ending, I'm still not certain what took place.
  • "The Price You Pay" - Aiden Truhen. One of the best-written books I've read. Bizarre, funny, and fascinating. I re-read it a few months later and will be reading it again.
  • "Wild Seed" - Octavia Butler. Strange science fiction from a major sci-fi writer. I just started this one.
  • "Mr. In-Between" - Neil Cross. The main character is a hit-man, the others are London criminals, and they don't much like one another.
  • "Europe in Autumn" - Dave Hutchinson. Odd doings in a very fractured Europe of the future.
  • "Method 15/33"  - Shannon Kirk. A crime story in which the young and pregnant kidnap victim is no one to mess with.
  • "Cosmocopia" - Paul Di Filippo. Steampunk well done. Let's say you enter another world in which you are the odd creature.
  • "Soulless" -  Gail Carriger. A woman in Victorian times is standard stuff. In this case she doesn't have a soul and she's dealing with werewolves and vampires.

Continuing with a Life Well-Lived


Kurt Harden, a very wise man, has some thoughts on turning 55.

Ways of Thinking

brown turtle on green grass during daytime

Farnam Street has some reflections on how Darwin thought. It includes an observation by Charlie Munger:

Darwin’s result was due in large measure to his working method, which violated all my rules for misery and particularly emphasized a backward twist in that he always gave priority attention to evidence tending to disconfirm whatever cherished and hard-won theory he already had. In contrast, most people early achieve and later intensify a tendency to process new and disconfirming information so that any original conclusion remains intact. They become people of whom Philip Wylie observed: “You couldn’t squeeze a dime between what they already know and what they will never learn.”

[Photo by Aron Visuals at Unsplash]

The College Bargain

Salena Zito believes the answer to the rising costs of college may be found at the community colleges.

I agree.

A Film about Skills

The trailer for "Anna."

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Saturday, April 13, 2019


The Joe Bonamassa music video.

Failure, Learning from

man pouring coffee in white mug

Wally Bock has some weekend leadership reading on failure.

[Photo by Nathan Dumlao at Unsplash]

First Paragraph

This is the time of year when wars break out and when a broken glass betrays the woodland to the vindictive sun. Already the forest fires have accounted for a thousand hectares of the Var. We fight them by starting little manageable blazes which burn a strip to ashes before the main conflagration has had time to arrive. These flames in turn must be extinguished and isolated by setting fire to other and still more obedient strips till the last cinders expire in the garden where I am writing.

- From Enemies of Promise by Cyril Connolly


man holding his chin facing laptop computer

"Great opportunities never have 'great opportunity' in the subject line."

- Scott Belsky

[Photo by bruce mars at Unsplash]

Friday, April 12, 2019

Post on the Wall

"Elmore Leonard was working on his forty-sixth novel when he died at the age of eighty-seven."

- Donald Sull and Kathleen M. Eisenhardt in Simple Rules

Quick Look

The trailer for "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker."

Short Shelf Life

Cultural Offering has a video of what passes for deep thought in some areas.

First Paragraph

In January 1913, a young army officer, Edward Cobb, passing through London on his way home after a tour of duty in South Africa, was taken by a friend to a party in Chelsea. There he found himself among people he had never encountered before - actors, artists, writers, publishers and young women who smoked cigarettes, drank gin and danced the Boston and the Tango. Edward was drawn to one young woman in particular who was dark and pretty and taught him the steps of the Turkey Trot, the latest craze. When they went out on to a narrow balcony to escape the heat and noise, she became more serious and asked him about South Africa: what were the differences between General Herzog and General Botha? Had he seen the effects of the recent drought?

- From Alice in Exile by Piers Paul Read

In the House of Andres Segovia

arch-shape doorway

A documentary on the master of Spanish guitar.

[Photo by Victoriano Izquierdo at Unsplash]