Monday, September 30, 2019

Briefly Off the Grid

[Photo by Alex Bertha at Unsplash]

On Order


Sight and Imagination

You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.

- Henry (Hank) Morgan, the "Connecticut Yankee" in Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

The Dark Room

gray stainless steel armor

If I were advising both sides in the upcoming impeachment debates, my advice would be as follows:

You are entering a pitch-black room with no idea of its contents. 

[An old curse: "May you be involved in a lawsuit in which you know you are right."] 

The only guarantee is that it will contain many unintended consequences, far more than existed when people were considering impeaching Andrew Johnson or Richard Nixon or Bill Clinton. The conversation at the center for the efforts can easily lead to questions about the current and past administrations as well as ones about the CIA and the FBI and the 2016 election. It will not be as narrowly focused as whether a president lied under oath or whether a quid pro quo was offered. I am not being critical of such an expansive approach. Letting everything come out is far better than the calculated release of a slanted portion.

But keep history and grand strategy in mind. Remember that large events have a propensity to get out of control. It is quite likely that - whichever way this winds up - the result will not be what you imagined. 

And if there is one area in which high-level decision-makers are notoriously deficient, it is imagination.

[Photo by Nik Shuliahin at Unsplash]

Early Opinions on Impeachment

Opinions by:

Wearable Law

CAUTION LAWYERED UP - Men's Premium T-Shirt

Law Phrases has the t-shirts.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Saturday Night Socializing Lesson

The danger of first impressions from "The Ballad of Buster Scruggs."

Cheap Trick

Cultural Offering has the essential mixes for a group I have heard of but, to my knowledge, have never heard.

I like the photo. They'd make a great ad for an accounting firm.

Black Sox Forever

Harry Stein remembers America's greatest sports scandal.

Good to Remember

Satisfy our demands, and we've got twelve more. The more demands you satisfy, the more we got.

- Jerry Rubin, Yippie leader

To Be Re-Read

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Processed Foods and Diet

grilled steak with vegetables on white ceramic plate

Scientific American: "A New Theory of Obesity." An excerpt:

Why are more of us tempted to overindulge in egg substitutes and turkey bacon than in real eggs and hash brown potatoes fried in real butter?

[Photo by Alex Munsell at Unsplash]

Teams Teams Teams

woman placing sticky notes on wall

Check out Wally Bock's weekend leadership reading.

[Photo by You X Ventures at Unsplash]

Friday, September 27, 2019

T-Shirts for Lawyers

FutureLawyer has one that should have broad appeal.

Evil Lurks (Always)

The trailer for "La Rafle" (The Round Up).

Argue the Other Side

It is jarring how often you can encounter people who, when considering important issues, have never argued the case from the perspective of the other side. Some of them pretend to do so but only assemble the weakest arguments as straw men that can be easily knocked down.

Recently I had a conversation with a very bright executive about a series of proposals he wanted to take to his colleagues. The purpose of his phone call was to listen as I argued the other side on some of the more sensitive issues. I don't think I brought up anything that he hadn't already sensed in general but there were some new perspectives that he might have otherwise missed.

The result was that his list of proposed actions was reduced by several items.

Always be prepared to argue the other side with the most powerful arguments possible. You don't prepare for boxing matches by fighting weak opponents.

It helps to remember von Moltke's observation that his staff would always show him the three things the enemy could do and his enemy would always show him a fourth.

A Post-Apocalyptic World

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Emily St. John Mandel discusses her novel.

Upon first hearing about the book I thought, "What?"

After reading it: "Very well done."

First Paragraph

"Hello, ship," Jake Holman said under his breath.

- From The Sand Pebbles by Richard McKenna

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Quick Looks

The trailers for:

Briefcase. Pens. Pads.

black smartphone beside brown leather bag

Briefcase. Pens. Pads. Update on prior work. Review of participants. Update on deadlines. Theme. Key points. Ancillary items. Goal.


[Photo by Jonathan Velasquez at Unsplash]

The Cook's Tour

man sitting on gang chair with feet on luggage looking at airplane

Fortune magazine on the Thomas Cook collapse and what's next.

[Photo by JESHOOTS.COM at Unsplash]

Gray and Busy

Bloomberg Businessweek: 

Older Americans are starting more businesses than ever.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

"Genius Within"

Back by popular demand: The trailer for "Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould."

As Possums Compete with Prime Time Television

The best of MEpearlA, the Opossum Lady.

Her site is here.

Three Basics for Individuals

Here are three basics:

  • Mindfulness. Watch your drift. Pay attention to the small things. Get the "incrementals" going in the right direction.
  • Self-Discipline. Restrain or eliminate any behavior that you know is negative. Stop making excuses.
  • Nobility. Act in such a manner that if nobleness were a crime, you'd be easily convicted.

For Serious George Orwell Fans

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Nicely Done

Eclecticity Light has a clean well-lighted place to blog.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019


Here's the drone video fly-through of the City Museum of St. Louis.

Strange Turns

The trailer for:

A Calling and an Ethical Obligation

A Layman's Blog points to a calling for all of us.

It reminded me of Zig Ziglar's line about the person who brightened a room by leaving it.

Remote Island: Five Novels

You are stranded on a remote island. Although there is sufficient food and water, it is unlikely that you will be rescued soon. Fortunately, the one trunk that floated ashore contains five novels that could keep you well entertained for decades. 

What are they?

[My choices would be: War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy; Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray; Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry; The Balkan Trilogy by Olivia Manning; and A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.]

First Paragraph

Every time they got a call from the leper hospital to pick up a body Jack Delaney would feel himself coming down with the flu or something. Leo Mullen, his boss, was finally calling it to Jack's attention. "You notice that? They phone, usually it's one of the sisters, and a while later you get kind of a moan in your voice. 'Oh, man, I don't know what's the matter with me. I feel kind of punk.'"

- From Bandits: A Novel by Elmore Leonard

Monday, September 23, 2019

Behavior Has Consequences

Behavioral poverty is reflected in the attitudes, values, and beliefs that justify entitlement thinking, the spurning of personal responsibility, and the rejection of traditional social mechanisms of advancement. It is characterized by high self-indulgence, low self-regulation, exploitation of others, and limited motivation and effort. It can be correlated with a range of antisocial, immoral, and imprudent behaviors, including substance abuse, gambling, insolvency, poor health habits, and crime.

Read all of the article by Matt DeLisi and John Paul Wright in City Journal.

Quick Looks

The trailers for:

Window or Aisle Seat?

Over the years I've heard many people express a preference for the aisle seat and I always have a quick response: they're wrong.

The window seat is clearly superior. You can sleep. You don't have drink carts bumping into you. You can admire the scenery or check on whether the engines are aflame. Granted, the aisle seat has its moments when the flight is over and people are departing the plane or if you have to take restroom breaks. In most cases, however, that advantage is slight and fleeting. The window seat's advantage can last for hours.

The middle seat, of course, is no one's first choice. It has no emotional advantages other than the pity of strangers who see you squished between two linebackers. Most window and aisle people will surrender the armrests to the middle seat passenger. That's a tacit acknowledgement that the sad little middle seat deserves some charity.

In an ideal world, the middle seat would not exist. On the happy day when it disappears - don't hold your breath - still go for the window seat. 

It is the seat. 

First Paragraph

We are going through a great crowd derangement. In public and in private, both online and off, people are behaving in ways that are increasingly irrational, feverish, herd-like and simply unpleasant. The daily news cycle is filled with the consequences. Yet while we see the symptoms everywhere, we do not see the causes.

- From The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race and Identity by Douglas Murray


vinyl record on white desk

Cultural Offering has the essential mixes for Sting.

[Photo by Denise Jans at Unsplash]

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Kiwis and Clowns

Suzanne Lucas, a.k.a. RealEvilHRLady, tells the story of the time a person brought an emotional support clown to a termination meeting.

The Good Old Days

The trailer for "The First King."

Leadership Reading

black twist pen and planner

Wally Bock has reading assignments for us.

[Photo by Rachel Lynette French at Unsplash]

First Paragraph

"Now, my dear Sir Harry, I must tell you," says her majesty, with that stubborn little duck of her head that always made Palmerston think she was going to butt him in the guts, "I am quite determined to learn Hindoostanee."

- From Flashman and the Mountain of Light by George MacDonald Fraser

BBC Proms: Rule Britannia

The final song of the BBC Proms in 2009.

The final song of the BBC Proms in 2019.

2009 wins hands-down.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Back By Popular Demand

Mitchell and Webb: "The New Fuhrer."


Wally Bock notes the power of this book.

He also observes that the value of its key messages never becomes outdated.

First Paragraph

"He's been taking pictures three years, look at the work," Maurice said. "Here, this guy. Look at the pose, the expression. Who's he remind you of?"

- From LaBrava by Elmore Leonard

Thursday, September 19, 2019

In the Pipeline

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A British "Police Squad"

The trailer for "A Touch of Cloth."

The SmarterWatch

If you could add to the current list of what smartwatches do, what would be your desires?

Some of my candidates:

  • A small voice telling me to get back to work.
  • A beep whenever I am within walking distance of a bookstore.
  • A list of the friends and relationships I've been neglecting.
  • Automatic directions to where the best coffee is sold.
  • A quick reading of the body language of everyone at a meeting.
  • Instant identification of birds and trees.
  • An accurate interpretation of the body language of a dog.
  • An alert whenever a cold is coming on.
I see many of these as doable now and others as possible in the near future.

Other candidates?

A Bargain at Twice the Price

The Babylon Bee: "Introvert Hires Personal Representative to Engage in Church Small Talk."

Have Insight. Will Travel.

In addition to one-on-one coaching, the latest hits include briefings on ethical decision-making and classes on tact in the workplace.

Something is going on out there.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Satire Update

UnHerd: Titania McGrath on "Why I've Reported Douglas Murray to the Police." An excerpt:

For the best part of 300 pages Murray spews his hateful bile – on white paper, no less – denouncing social justice, identity politics and intersectionality. Even the font has a certain heteronormative quality about it. He rails against “millennial snowflakes” who all “identify as attack helicopters” and how “you can’t say anything anymore” and that “you can go to prison for singing the national anthem these days”. I mean, he doesn’t actually write any of these words, but we all know that’s what he’s thinking.

Quick Looks

The trailers for:


Nicholas Bate's "How to Be Brilliant" post on execution is a major reminder for those of us who too easily get wrapped up in analysis.

Remember the U.S. Army's three elements of leadership: 

Be - Know - Do


"An hour and a half is ideal, but two hours will work."

"They want to get back to work."

"Can you blame them? They know things are piling up while they're away. That's why they'd rather attend training that's just down the hall than have to drive to some hotel."

"I've noticed that people don't talk with one another during breaks. The phones emerge and they stare at them. I always wonder whether things are so pressing they can't be away for a few hours."

"It's a habit. Most of what they see on the phone could wait. It's also a thing the cool kids do, even if they're fifty-five."

"But they miss a chance to make connections."

"True, but that would take them outside of their cocoon. With the phone, you can go somewhere else but not really be somewhere else."

"And it wouldn't be cool."

"Absolutely. Start chatting away and people will think you're Gomer Pyle."

"I doubt if many of them know who Gomer Pyle is."

"They probably don't, but they'll still think you resemble him if you start talking."

"I'm going to do that anyway."

"Be my guest, Gomer."

First Paragraph

Stick said he wasn't going if they had to pick up anything. Rainy said no, there wasn't any product in the deal; all they had to do was drop a bag. Stick said, "And the guy's giving you five grand?"

- From Stick: A Novel by Elmore Leonard

Tuesday, September 17, 2019


The trailer for "In the Shadow of the Moon."

Yang's Style

Kevin Kruse on the communication techniques of Andrew Yang.

[See "Win Bigly" by Scott Adams re Trump's communication style.]

Roughing It

Santorini, Greece

I'd risk this.

Tyler Cowen asserts that some places which (due to headlines) seem unsafe are actually pleasant places to visit.

[Photo by Hello Lightbulb at Unsplash]


woman sitting on sand field

Patrick Rhone's yoga instructor has a profound observation on worry.

My advice: make Rhoneisms a daily visit.

[Photo by Patrick Schneider at Unsplash]

Dragon Anywhere

This post by FutureLawyer is a big nudge for me.

The allure of sipping coffee and dictating documents.

Monday, September 16, 2019


The trailer for "Inside Bill's Brain: Decoding Bill Gates."

Update: How Bill Gates reads books.

Enabling Evil

metal gears

Fortune magazine: Emma Hinchliffe on the systems around Epstein and Weinstein.

[Photo by Bill Oxford at Unsplash]

Satire Update

Twitter has suspended the account of Titania McGrath.

Of course, Jarvis Dupont is still posting.

Block Out Time for Small Stuff

The small stuff, such as brief responses to emails and making sure certain meetings are set, is best handled in a block. If you address them at separate moments, they will simply disrupt and distract from larger efforts. 

Just as you may run various errands while you happen to be in one part of town, it makes sense to perform minor tasks when you are in the same frame of mind.

First Paragraph

I now live like a hermit on the outskirts of Moscow. I have practically no communication with other people. I communicate only with those who guard me from others - and who guard others from me. I suppose the people around me spend most of their time guarding others from me.

- From Khrushchev Remembers by Nikita Khrushchev

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Beautifully Written. Great Escape.

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The Myth

teal Chevrolet coupe

Every revolution has its myths. One of the myths dearest to the counterculture is that America in the 1950s was a sterile, soulless society, obsessed with money, stunted emotionally, negligible culturally and intellectually, brutal and hamfisted in its politics and social policy. Never mind that, when it came to cultural and intellectual achievement, America in the 1950s looks like fifth-century Athens in comparison with what came afterward.

- Roger Kimball

[Photo by Court Prather at Unsplash]

Bock's Assignments

woman holding book by the table

Wally Bock's weekend leadership reading assignments.

[Photo by Greg Kantra at Unsplash]

First Paragraph

Like most twenty-year-olds, I thought I was invulnerable. Then, on a steep ridge in eastern Washington, in the winter of 1971, I fell toward my death. I was looking at the tiny figures of workers on a dam far below when my foot slipped and I plunged down an icy sheet toward the Columbia River. I threw my body back to avoid pitching headlong into space, sliding on my back down the steep slope. I tried to dig in my heels, but my boots slid off the rocks. My pack tore loose as I accelerated down the slope. I had a Ka-Bar in my belt, a fighting knife given to me by a Marine veteran. I pulled it and stabbed at the sheet ice, only to find it torn from my hands. I kept sliding, picking up speed. I twisted over and frantically clawed and scratched. But I wasn't slowing down.

- From Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead by Jim Mattis and Bing West

Friday, September 13, 2019

Art Break

[Sogni (Dreams) - 1896]

Art Contrarian looks at the work of Vittorio Matteo Corcos.

Perfection Paralyzes

Nicholas "How to Be Brilliant" Bate: forget perfect.

Unperceived Transformation

In a democratic society like ours, where free elections are guaranteed, political revolution is almost unthinkable in practical terms. Consequently, utopian efforts to transform society have been channeled into cultural and moral life. In America, scattered if much-publicized episodes of violence have wrought far less damage than the moral and intellectual assaults that do not destroy buildings but corrupt sensibilities and blight souls. The success of America's recent cultural revolution can be measured not in toppled governments but in shattered values. If we often forget what great changes this revolution brought in its wake, that, too, is a sign of its success: having changed ourselves, we no longer perceive the extent of our transformation.

- From The Long March: How the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s Changed America by Roger Kimball

Trending Today

Post-debate coverage.

The Long March

From the 2016 City Journal: 

Harry Stein on "How My Friends and I Wrecked Pomona College."

Quick Looks

The trailers for:

Thoroughly Enjoying

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Thursday, September 12, 2019

First Paragraph

"My spare parts from Lifetime Mechanics Co. Ltd., didn't arrive in time for my departure, so I left instructions for them to be forwarded to me at the beach house at Barren Cove. Beach house was a generous term. It was more accurately a cabana: a large front room with sliding accordion doors that opened directly onto the sand, and a small changing room with a human bathroom complete with shower and running water. The cabana was nestled along the base of a steep cliff, cast in shadow from one in the afternoon on. The setup could have been seen as solitary, but since I had left the city to leave behind the pitying looks of my friends and family, and the growing sensation that strangers thought it selfish of me to not be gracefully deactivated, I was satisfied with the rented accommodations."

- From Barren Cove by Ariel S. Winter 

The Reasoning Techniques of Professions

Do doctors, engineers, lawyers, scientists, business executives, generals, and professors use the same reasoning pattern?

Most of us would probably doubt it. Executives are certainly more inclined to focus on results than lawyers or purchasing officers. The latter two are strongly tied to process.

This is an area I'm studying if only because of assertions that one way of reasoning is common or even best. 

Any book recommendations on the subject will be greatly appreciated.

The Cobra Effect

man playing flute in front of king cobra

Antony Davies and James R. Harrigan examine examples of unintended consequences.

[Photo by Dil at Unsplash]

In the Pipeline

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Wednesday, September 11, 2019

What Made Them Do Their Duty

As terrible as their loss was, however, we must never forget how successful the rescuers actually were. Nearly 30,000 people escaped before the towers fell, in large part because the omnipresent cops and firefighters made sure that their own sense of calm and order guided the evacuation. Some of the saved made it out just seconds before thousands of tons buried their saviors on stairs and in hallways.

Read the rest of Victor Davis Hanson's 2001 essay on the rescuers of 9/11.

Never Forget

blue body of water near high rise concrete building at nighttime

[Photo by Dan Gold at Unsplash]

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

In Preparation for Tomorrow

Watch the trailer for "You are Here."

The great people of Gander.

"In the Fen Country"

A classic by Ralph Vaughan Williams.

Future Billionaires at Stanford

alley photography of walkway during daytime

Max Read at New York magazine gives a cynic's guide to killing it at Stanford.

[Photo by Emily Karakis at Unsplash]

Caution and Office Politics

man wearing white dress shirt sitting on chair while using gray Dell ThinkPad laptop

If people are cautious in large workplaces it may be because they know that a single word, sharp as a stiletto, can end career opportunities more effectively than a full-fledged denunciation.

[Photo by Sebastian Herrmann at Unsplash]