Monday, July 22, 2019

We Few

The trailer for "Henry V."

Success and Destruction

Business success contains the seeds of its own destruction. Success breeds complacency. Complacency breeds failure. Only the paranoid survive.

- Andy Grove

First Paragraph

It came down to this: if I had not been arrested by the Turkish police, I would have been arrested by the Greek police. I had no choice but to do as this man Harper told me. He was entirely responsible for what happened to me.

- From The Light of Day by Eric Ambler

Lion of France

Charles de Gaulle was perhaps the most thoughtful and impressive statesman of the twentieth century. His only possible rival in this regard is Winston Churchill, another statesman-thinker, though Churchill presided over a longstanding, stable, and free political order in the United Kingdom, something on which de Gaulle could not depend in the French case. De Gaulle has been the subject of fine biographies in the past, among them a somewhat mythologizing three-volume work by Jean Lacouture, a well-researched but less than sympathetic account by Eric Roussel (who clearly prefers the supranationalist Jean Monnet to de Gaulle’s passionate partisanship for the nation), and a more popular and readable account in English by Jonathan Fenby. Added to these now is this superb and equitable portrait by the British historian of twentieth-century France, Julian Jackson.

Read the rest of Daniel J. Mahoney's review in City Journal.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Saturday, July 20, 2019

"I hate vacations."

The Atlantic in 2013: An interview with novelist/travel writer Paul Theroux.

Sign Me Up

The extended Comic-Con trailer for "Star Trek: Picard."

Quick Looks

The trailers for:

The Risk of "Infinite Jest"

Image result for infinite jest amazon

I confess that when it comes to choosing books, size matters. The other day I was considering the purchase of Infinite Jest and the reason I returned it to the shelf was the question: "Do I really want to spend that much time with this giant?"

It seemed more infinite than amusing.

Don't misunderstand me. I've heard great things about the novel and will probably tackle it some day. 

But not now.

And yes, I frequently read mega-volumes - Tolstoy's War and Peace and Hersey's The Wall are on my re-read list - but those had a guarantee of greatness before I started them. 

With books of unknown quality, more is less.

In the days of extensive business travel, I always had an Elmore Leonard or Ed McBain novel within reach. Those were quick and very well-written reads that would keep me entertained from New York to Phoenix. 

And they were conveniently small. Imagine trying to cram Infinite Jest into your briefcase.


Art Contrarian looks at the paintings of Joseph Wright of Derby.

Above is "Bridge Through a Cavern, Moonlight - 1791."

First Paragraph

I'm a senior at Cesar Chavez High in San Francisco's sunny Mission district, and that makes me one of the most surveilled people in the world. My name is Marcus Yallow but back when this story starts, I was going by w1n5t0n. Pronounced "Winston."

- From Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

Weekend Leadership Reading Assignments

Wally Bock has an assortment with a particular focus on artificial intelligence.

[Photo by NeONBRAND at Unsplash]

Friday, July 19, 2019


These deep thinkers were the only people he could not stand to be around for long, these people who’d never manufactured anything or seen anything manufactured, who didn’t know what things were made of or how a company worked, who, aside from a house or a car, had never sold anything and didn’t know how to sell anything, who’d never hired a worker, fired a worker, trained a worker, been fleeced by a worker — people who knew nothing of the intricacies or the risks of building a business or running a factory but who nonetheless imagined they knew everything worth knowing.

- From American Pastoral by Philip Roth

Time Well Spent

book lot on black wooden shelf

For regular doses of wisdom, get thee to The Sovereign Professional.

[Photo by Giammarco Boscaro at Unsplash]

Serious Nutrition

Nicholas Bate has thoughts that go beyond what's on your plate.

Quick Looks

The trailers for:

Candor and Job Announcements

Unfortunately, I have yet to see this candor in job announcements:

Although it might help if you can meet the degree and experience "requirements" listed in the above announcement, they really aren't needed to do this job. The fact is that if you are reasonably intelligent and have a positive attitude, strong communication skills, and a willingness to learn, we can easily teach you the basics in three weeks.

Four weeks at the outside.

For My Fellow Political Junkies

Here's a clip from "Primary," a documentary on the Democratic presidential race in 1960. The clip shows John Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Back By Popular Demand

Hans Zimmer and friends perform "Time" from the film Inception.

A Rare Argument for Privacy

Radio celebrity and host Howard Stern's statement when, rather than fill out financial disclosure forms, he withdrew as the Libertarian candidate for governor of New York in 1994:

 "While I've told you everything about myself, and I've been telling you about myself since the first day I started broadcasting, there's only one fact I never revealed. I never told you how much money I made, I never told you how much money I have in the bank. And the reason I never told you how much money I have in the bank is because it's none of your business."

First Paragraph

My Way signage

If we want to change a world with too many leadership failures, too many career derailments, and too many toxic workplaces, we must begin by acknowledging the facts and understanding why we are where we are. Only then will we begin to enjoy long-delayed progress. Myths and inspiring stories can be comforting, but they are worse than useless for creating change.

- From Leadership BS: Fixing Workplaces and Careers One Truth at a Time by Jeffrey Pfeffer

[Photo by Rommel Davila at Unsplash]

Just Another Week in Florida

The trailer for "Crawl."

Bell Bottoms, For Example

A Layman's Blog has been taking us back to the days of Woodstock.

The change came and it wasn't all that pleasant.

Making Happiness Your Priority

A Large Regular has a clip of the Naval Ravikant interview on The Joe Rogan Show.

There's also a link to the entire interview.

An Age Besotted or the Sleeper Curve?

Ours is an age besotted with graphic entertainments. And in an increasingly infantilized society, whose moral philosophy is reducible to a celebration of "choice," adults are decreasingly distinguishable from children in their absorption in entertainments and the kinds of entertainments they are absorbed in - video games, computer games, hand-held games, movies on their computers and so on. This is progress: more sophisticated delivery of stupidity.

- George Will

Where most commentators assume a race to the bottom and a dumbing down - "an increasingly infantilized society," in George Will's words - I see a progressive story: mass culture growing more sophisticated, demanding more cognitive engagement with each passing year. Think of it as a kind of positive brainwashing: the popular media steadily, but almost imperceptibly, making our minds sharper, as we soak in entertainment usually dismissed as so much lowbrow fluff. I call this upward trend the Sleeper Curve, after the classic sequence from Woody Allen's mock sci-fi film, where a team of scientists from 2173 are astounded that twentieth-century society failed to grasp the nutritional merits of cream pies and hot fudge.

- Steven Johnson

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

The MacArthur Maxim

Wally Bock gives a vivid example of leadership by example.

In the Pipeline

Image result for Ghost fleet amazon

Quick Look

The trailer for "Batla House."

Required Reading

At the pinnacle of the Great Terror, the Politburo issued "quotas" to the police authorities, instructing them as to what percentage of the population in their district was to be shot and what percentage sent to camps. For example, on June 2, 1937, it set a quota of 35,000 persons to be "repressed" in Moscow city and Moscow province, of which number 5,000 were to be shot. One month later, the Politburo provided each region with quotas of persons to be "rounded up" nationwide; 70,000 of them were to be executed without trial. A high proportion of the victims of the Great Terror were persons with a higher education considered difficult to control and prone to engage in "sabotage."

- From Communism: A History by Richard Pipes

Use Your Imagination

Popular Mechanics lists the best sci-fi TV shows ever.

Daily Rule

Less screen time. More page time.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

In the Background

Image result for karajan beethoven symphonies amazon

28 Things

Abi Travis would buy these on Amazon 100 times again.

Modern Times

TIME: The 25 most influential people on the Internet.

I think that Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit easily belongs on that list.

From Behind the Vent

Sometimes on the street a woman would pass and you'd hear something from behind the vent in her burqa. Sometimes it was light and flirtatious, sometimes a little darker.

"I was a teacher of Persian," one of them said once from behind her vent. "This is like a death."

- From The Forever War by Dexter Filkins

Banality of Evil? No.

"...As I dug deeper, I grew more and more uncomfortable with [Hannah] Arendt's explanations. The more I came to know these bureaucrats, the less familiar they became. I realized that this was a group of people completely aware of what they were doing, people with high ideological motivation, people of initiative and dexterity who contributed far beyond what was necessary. And there could be no doubt about it: they clearly understood that their deeds were not positive except in the value system of the Third Reich. They hated Jews and thought that getting rid of them would be to Germany's good. They knew that not everyone thought this way, and they deliberately hid information that might have deterred others from cooperating. While most of them sat behind desks rather than behind machine guns, from time to time some were called upon to face flesh and blood Jews and decide their fate, and this they did, ferociously, without batting an eyelid.

"The facts that stare one in the face, it seems to me, indicate the opposite of Arendt's thesis. There was nothing banal about the evil of Eichmann and his comrades."

- From Hitler's Bureaucrats: The Nazi Security Police and the Banality of Evil by Yaacov Lozowick

Monday, July 15, 2019

Quick Look

The trailer for "The King's Man."

MAGA Overreaction


At Tax Prof Blog some law professors react to an article by another law professor about a student wearing a MAGA hat in class.

I found the original article to reveal a huge overreaction to what should have been no big deal. Should a professor freak out if a student wears a hat depicting a left-wing position? 

News You Can Use

From 1984: How to send an email.

Fair Fight

man with steel and chainmail armor holding sword

If you find yourself in a fair fight, you didn't plan your mission properly.

- Colonel David Hackworth

[Photo by Henry Hustava at Unsplash]

First Paragraph

On Friday, July 6, 1888, the price of sugar went up from forty to forty-two kreuzers a kilo in Imperial Vienna. On the afternoon of the same day, the gates of Franz Joseph's palace swung open. A carriage swept out onto the cobbles of the Ringstrasse. Many of the strollers stopped, as if they'd been waiting for the canter of these two horses.

- From A Nervous Splendor: Vienna 1888/1889 by Frederic Morton

Saturday, July 13, 2019

How to Remember Ross Perot

On the one-year anniversary of his wounding, I joined Alan and his family for a small gathering. He was still in very bad shape, neurologically and physically incapacitated. When I asked his mother, Rosie,  what I could do to help, she said she was eager to get him out of the hospital and back home, but struggling with the prospect of transporting Alan to his many medical visits.

Read the entire Dallas News story here.

First Paragraph

The marines were pressed flat on a rooftop when the dialogue began to unfold. It was 2 a.m. The minarets were flashing by the light of airstrikes and rockets were sailing on trails of sparks. First came the voices from the mosques, rising above the thundery guns.

- From The Forever War by Dexter Filkins

Let's Remember This One

You do your job so everyone around you can do their job. There's no big secret to it.

- Tom Brady

Weekend Leadership Reading

girls reading book while lying

Wally Bock has issued some great assignments.

[Photo by Kinga Cichewicz at Unsplash]

"Not Without My Swamp"

The complete story of the Budweiser Swamp Gang.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Trouble Brewing

Private property in land came to Russia - exclusively to its nobility - only at the close of the eighteenth century; until then, all the land had belonged to the Crown.

- From Communism: A History by Richard Pipes

Quick Looks

The trailers for:

Process versus Event

please stay on trail signage on forest

Don't expect that an event will provide a solution when a process is needed. Likewise don't pretend that a process will do the trick when an event is needed.

It may be "both/and" rather than "either/or."

[Photo by Dan Gold at Unsplash]


Open Culture has a video of the restoration of Rembrandt's "The Night Watch."

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Time Travel

London street scenes in 1967.

News You Can Use

Campaign Slogan

Althouse plays the current Twitter game of designing your campaign slogan by using your last name + 2020 + the last text you sent.

Mine is:

Wade 2020
And wise they are to do so.

First Paragraph

With a rap of his gavel on June 27,2018, Chief Justice John Roberts declared another Supreme Court term over, and the nine justices disappeared behind the dark red curtains that hang behind the bench. The assembled journalists politely stood at attention until the last justice was out of view, then rushed to file stories about a non-event - no justice had announced his retirement. Speculation had been running high that Justice Anthony Kennedy, appointed by President Ronald Reagan and nearly eighty-two years old, would be leaving now that a Republican again occupied the White House. Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa had publicly advised the justices that if they were "thinking about quitting this year, do it yesterday." Grassley, and the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee he chaired, would have to manage the intense confirmation process, and with the midterm elections looming, they would need all the lead time they could get.

- From Justice on Trial: The Kavanaugh Confirmation and the Future of the Supreme Court by Mollie Hemingway and Carrie Severino

Immersed: Back Soon

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Quick Looks

The trailers for:

When a Society Loses Its Mind

The examples are numerous. One of the most bizarre:

San Francisco to paint over a George Washington mural.

On the Street

EarthCam: Bourbon Street, New Orleans.


In 1994, comedian Dennis Miller described Admiral James Stockdale:

"He's a brilliant, sensitive, courageous individual. But he committed the unpardonable sin in our culture: He was bad on television."

Lee Iacocca

Wally Bock points to some articles about the late Lee Iacocca, the auto industry executive whose personality and skills were widely associated with revitalization and rescue.

He was also an extraordinary salesman: "If you can find a better car, buy it."

Office Politics Reminder: The Difficult May Look Simple

When you do highly demanding work which may seem simple to outsiders, it can be important to brief those who evaluate your performance on just what went into an achievement.

They may not know. The work does not always speak for itself. Silence may imply simplicity.

No Change Can Be a Virtue

Our approach is very much profiting from lack of change rather than from change. With Wrigley chewing gum, it's the lack of change that appeals to me. I don't think it is going to be hurt by the internet. That's the kind of business I like.

- Warren Buffett

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

In the Background

Image result for lost horizon dimitri cd amazon


A Large Regular lists books he re-reads.

Re-reading The Killer Angels occurred to me the other day. I will have to follow through.

I've started re-reading Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin novels. [I know a consultant who has read them six times!] 

Last year, I re-read The Wind in the Willows. It was as charming as ever. An old friend reads Treasure Island every year. 

I plan to give Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere another look.

It is true that some books bring special pleasure with repeated reading.

Book Book Time

woman sitting down near table reading 101 Essays book

Most of us have a sizable amount of reading to do. We need books and journals for professional development as well as personal enjoyment and yet it is surprising how often reading is regarded as optional: something to fit in if the time allows.

When booking time for meetings, project work, contacts, entertainment, family, rest, and exercise, be sure to book time for books.

[Photo by Thought Catalog at Unsplash]

Creativity and Restriction

Image result for green eggs and ham amazon

James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, tells the story of an odd bet that prompted Dr. Suess to write a best-selling book.

Quick Looks

The trailers for:

Monday, July 08, 2019

Starting Tonight

The trailer for "Chasing the Moon."


A fascinating video of Paris in the late 1890s.

Your Default Mode

What is your default mode?

Is it positive or negative? Does it tend to blame others or does it foster personal accountability? Is it quick to anger or is it less volatile? Is it universal and consistent or do you easily make exceptions for yourself or your allies? Is it feelings-based or thought-based? Does it promote self-discipline or self-indulgence?

The nature of your default mode is one of the most important influences in life and yet many people do not examine their mode. 

My advice is to know it well.


Santa Fe Productions: Welcome to Southern California.

Summer Music

road lined with coconut trees

Kurt Harden at Cultural Offering provides essential mixes for summer.

[Photo by Itte Ahmed at Unsplash]

Well Done, Starbucks

Starbucks issued an excellent apology regarding the incident involving the Tempe police officers.

No hedging. No non-apology apology as in "to any who may have been offended."

A straight-out apology.

Well done.

Seen on the Internet

"My list of companies I'd rather not deal with gets longer and longer."

- Tank, commenting at Althouse

Saturday, July 06, 2019

An Upcoming Film for Thanksgiving!

The trailer for "Knives Out."

Feel Good and Feel Bad Immigration

My theory is that while the child of well-off immigrants who wins the science fair tells us exactly what we want to hear about ourselves, the one who doesn't have enough to eat is a rebuke: a reminder that rags-to-riches stories delight and inspire us precisely because they are so rare. The fact that Sergey Brin, the celebrated cofounder of Google, was born in Russia (to parents who were accomplished scholars) is a feel-good story. The fact that 70 percent of Hispanic infants in America are born to mothers with a high school diploma or less, most of whom are either in or near poverty, is a feel-bad story.

- From Melting Pot or Civil War?: A Son of Immigrants Makes the Case Against Open Borders by Reihan Salam

Prevent Complaints. Foster Teamwork.

Distribute it to your team.


Althouse on the co-author of "The Banana Boat Song."

Here's the Harry Belafonte version.

Back By Popular Demand

W.C. Fields, juggler.

Lazy and Effective

"Tell me about it. I won't read it."
"How was it done elsewhere?"
"Can we get a copy of that report?"
"So if we do it that way, our chances of passing any audit are close to 100 percent?"
"I don't know how to do that. Find someone who does."
"Give me a condensed version."
"If your report is more than one page, I definitely won't read it."
"I assigned it to you, not to me. Handle it."
"If I take that on, we lose an executive and gain a specialist."
"I may not be an expert in the subject but I can spot weasel words a mile away."
'What new problems will this solution produce?"
"Don't tell me how hard you work. Show me how well you work."
"Do I want the back-up material? In a word, no."
"I do spend more time selecting people. It saves a lot of time down the road."
"No staff meeting will be longer than ten minutes."
"Give me the third paragraph first."
"I don't need to be better at the jobs of those who work for me. That's not my job."
"If the decision can be easily reversed, I'll make it now."

Friday, July 05, 2019

In the Background

Image result for dances from terpsichore amazon


CNN Business: The joy of renting a bunk bed in San Francisco for $1200 a month.

Quick Looks

The trailers for:

Facebook, Google, and Viewpoint Discrimination

Althouse has a post on an interesting bill in Michigan. 

Is the central issue fraud or property rights?

Tell Him It's Safe to Come Out of the Basement

The resemblance to days before Tiananmen Square is chilling.

This May Take Us Awhile

My household treasures good conversation and amid the usual discussions of business and the president and politics and cars and the weather and travel and the dog - the dog is a frequent subject - I've found one of the most interesting to be how to judge the quality of chocolate fudge.

No agreement was reached. I've agreed to participate in further studies.

And So Friday Arrives

And so Friday arrives with shouts and bold promises to squelch any fears that we'll squander the weekend.

A good companion, Friday.

Thursday, July 04, 2019


Come in many forms.

Independence Day: Would You Have Signed?

I wrote this several years ago and post it each 4th of July:

The document is on the table. 

Although some of your colleagues are making jokes, each one knows that the signature places the signer's head in a hangman's noose. To sign means you will be regarded as a traitor by the nation that has held your loyalty since birth. Your livelihood may be destroyed and your family doomed to a life of isolation and poverty. Many of your friends and associates will be under suspicion. Others will shun you. Your side, which has feeble and poorly-trained forces, will be fighting the greatest military power in the world. Despite all of the grand talk, the odds of success are small. Even if your side is successful, your new nation will be vulnerable to internal disputes and attacks from predatory powers. This theory of self-government, however attractive, might not work.

It's your turn. Will you sign?

Americana: Fourth of July - 2019

[Photo by Andrew Neel at Unsplash]

Wednesday, July 03, 2019

Note to Young People

As you go through life you will experience a profound thankfulness for not having gotten some of the things that you actively sought. 

Young Theodore

Roosevelt got off the train about three in the morning, when it was still cold and dark. He was alone and he looked very little like the man he was to become. At most he weighed 135 pounds, "a little feller" with a wispy mustache and large, metal-rimmed eyeglasses. That he was the classic child of privilege, the very essence of the era's gilded youth by all appearances, escaped no one once day came and he made his presence known. There was something faintly comic about him. He talked in a thin, piping voice and with the swallowed broad a's of an upper-class New Yorker. Later, in an effort to head off some stray calves, he would immortalize himself along the Little Missouri by calling out to one of his cowboys, "Hasten forward quickly there!"

- From "Glory Days in Medora" in Brave Companions: Portraits in History by David McCullough

Music Break

Mississippi John Hurt with "I Shall Not Be Moved."

Crank it up.

A Vote for Your Identity

Patrick Rhone posts a thought about "Atomic Habits" by James Clear.

I've been recommending the book to my clients. It's excellent.

Important Guideline: Know What You Are Doing

"What are you doing?"

"I'm not doing what it looks like I'm doing. What I'm really doing is avoiding working on what I should be doing."

The Secret to Happiness

man sitting on floor beside woman smiling inside white painted room

Yes, there is a "secret to happiness" - and it is gratitude. All happy people are grateful, and ungrateful people cannot be happy. We tend to think that it is being unhappy that leads people to complain, but it is truer to say that it is complaining that leads to people becoming unhappy. Become grateful and you will become a much happier person.

- Dennis Prager in Happiness is a Serious Problem: A Human Nature Repair Manual

[Photo by Eric Froiehling at Unsplash]

Tuesday, July 02, 2019


Bill Maher talks with Jonathan Haidt about "The Coddling of the American Mind."

In The Background

Image result for copland orchestral works philadelphia orchestra amazon

Nike's Decision Making

I have to admit that given this story and this story, I would love to have been in the room when Nike made those decisions. 


Patience, n. A minor form of despair, disguised as a virtue.

- Ambrose Bierce in The Devil's Dictionary

"Mother Country"

Image result for john stewart california bloodlines amazon

John Stewart: "Whatever happened to those faces in the old photographs?"


fountain pen on spiral book

I use the fountain pen and write slowly, sometimes surrounding one thought with related ones, and at other times jotting the steps backwards from an ultimate destination in order to identify the necessary tasks I'd gloss over if I started at the beginning. 

Slower is better and it guards me from distractions; those wolves that seize and so thoroughly shred one's focus that the parts are later unrecognizable.

Pen. Ink. Paper. Thoughts.

Thinking. Thinking. Thinking.

[Photo by Aaron Burden at Unsplash]

Trip to Shanghai

The standard of service in the hotel was fabulous. When I opened the door of my suite, there were always a couple of young ladies in black pyjamas crouched outside ready to rush in and change the flowers, the toilet rolls, the wallpaper. They called me, in their language, One Fat Important Man, and equipped me with a tiny cup of red wax and a jade seal (called a chop) on which the name was carved in Chinese characters. They also joined in the task, gladly shared by every local we met including senior members of the Communist Party, of teaching me quite a lot of Mandarin dialect: a very pretty way of speaking Chinese, as opposed to the Cantonese dialect, which is impossible to mimic unless you have the vocal equipment of a dying dog.

- Clive James in The Blaze of Obscurity

Monday, July 01, 2019

Remembering "V"

The spooky 1983 TV series about an invasion by space aliens.

First Paragraph

War is a nightmare. It is awful, indifferent, devastating, and evil.

- From The Dichotomy of Leadership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin


The best of the Paris Air Show 2019.

End of a Love Affair

Car and Driver reports on the sad end of its affair with the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio. An excerpt:

Our honeymoon lasted 2400 miles. Then the Giulia failed us for the first time. We still hadn't taken it to the track to perform our initial battery of tests when, on a 650-mile road trip, our Giulia lit its "service electronic throttle control" warning as well as a check-engine light. The car was still operational, but its mode selector became inoperative, locking the car in its stand­ard suspension and powertrain settings. Once it was back near our Michigan headquarters, we took it to the dealer, who could find no cause for the warnings, which were no longer lit by then anyway. While crawling around the car for a solid week, though, the dealership tech found a small coolant leak. Tightening a loose hose clamp stemmed the flow. This incident is what's known as foreshadowing.

Sibling Rivalry and Family Fortune

It was June 4, 2014, and Bryan, then 54 years old, was incredibly stressed out. He had just left a mediation meeting in Lafayette, Louisiana, with his elder brother, Mark; his younger sister, Kelley Sobiesk; and their team of respective lawyers. Mark and Bryan had for a decade been locked in a battle over control of their family company, Knight Oil Tools, the largest privately owned oil-and-gas-equipment-rental company in the world. That might not sound like much to boast about, but the company was worth an estimated $800 million; each sibling was worth over $100 million. The meeting, at which Bryan’s inheritance was at stake, had been contentious, and he found it supremely coincidental that, after pulling him over, the sheriff’s deputy almost immediately asked to search his vehicle.