Saturday, November 30, 2019

Quick Look

The trailer for "Restoration."

Modern Times

The Daily Wire: Stanford University and gender pronouns.

THE Game

aerial photography of football field

Tonight in Tempe, a traditional rivalry will continue as the Arizona State University Sun Devils play the visiting University of Arizona Wildcats in a football game for the Territorial Cup.

Bear down.

[Photo by Ameer Basheer at Unsplash]

Easy Call

Instapundit: Angela Merkel is the second-worst German chancellor in 100 years.


For many people, "populism" is like the term "fascism" as George Orwell saw it: a handy negative epithet, a weapon, whose very lack of semantic precision is one of its chief attractions. Anything or anyone you don't like can be effectively impugned if you manage to employ the F word and get it to stick. But what does it mean? Ninety-nine times out of a hundred it means little more than "I don't like this person or this policy." Connoisseurs of cant will have noticed that the term "racism" has a similar all-purpose, content-free aura of malignity, but exploring that malodorous development is a topic for another day.

- Roger Kimball in Vox Populi: The Perils & Promises of Populism

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving!

Give Thanks and Eat Pie poster with brown frame on green grass field

[Photo by Preslie HIrsch  at Unsplash]

It is a great holiday that is centered around gratitude, family, and food.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Clive James, RIP

Image result for falling toward england amazon

Clive James has passed away. His memoirs are witty and wise and he will be missed.

Truly a life well-lived. 

[Check out the first episode of his documentary on fame.]

Not a Thanksgiving Movie

The trailer for "Strange Days."

10 Rules for Thanksgiving

I wrote this post several years ago and it is now an Execupundit tradition:

  1. Thou shalt not discuss politics at the dinner. There is next to no chance that you'll convert anyone and any hard feelings that are generated may last long after the pumpkin pie is finished. Why spoil a good meal?

  2. Thou shalt limit discussion of The Big Game. This is mainly directed at the men who choose to argue plays, records, and coaches while their wives stare longingly at the silverware. The sharp silverware.

  3. Thou shalt say nice things about every dish. Including the bizarre one with Jello and marshmallows.

  4. Thou shalt be especially kind to anyone who may feel left out. Some Thanksgiving guests are tag-alongs or, as we say in the business world, "new to the organization." Make a point of drawing them in.

  5. Thou shalt be wary of gossip. After all, do you know what they say when you leave the room? Remember the old saying: All of the brothers are valiant and all of the sisters are virtuous.

  6. Thou shalt not hog the white or dark meat. We know you're on Atkins but that's no excuse.

  7. Thou shalt think mightily before going back for seconds. Especially if that means waddling back for seconds.

  8. Thou shalt not get drunk. Strong drink improves neither your wit nor your discretion. Give everyone else a gift by remaining sober.

  9. Thou shalt be cheerful. This is not a therapy session. This is not the moment to recount all of the mistakes in your life or to get back at Uncle Bo for the wisecrack he made at your high school graduation. This is a time for Rule #10.

  10. Thou shalt be thankful. You're above ground and functioning in an extraordinary place at an extraordinary time. Many people paid a very heavy price (and I'm not talking about groceries) to give you this day. Take some time to think of them and to express gratitude to your friends and relatives. Above all, give special thanks to the divine power who blesses you in innumerable ways.


When conducting research there are times when you stand on the shoulders of giants and times when you notice things that even the most keen-eyed giants happened to miss.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

In the Background

Image result for the mission soundtrack amazon


You know you want one.

Drucker Break

The popular picture of innovators - half pop-psychology, half Hollywood - makes them look like a cross between Superman and the Knights of the Round Table. Alas, most of them in real life are unromantic figures and much more likely to spend hours on a cash-flow projection than to dash off looking for "risks."

- Peter F. Drucker

Monday, November 25, 2019

Road Manners

A public service announcement from Britain in 1964.

More Than Just Another Genocide

metal bar

The Holocaust was a hideous reversion to tribal murder, this time using paperwork and train timetables. It shocks us precisely because we thought we had moved on as a species. Slavery and slaughter had been the lot of our ancestors for longer than we know, and Jews had had more than their fair share, going back to the Books of Exodus and Esther. But there is a difference between a genocide planned by a courtier in the palace of a Persian king in the fifth century B.C., and a genocide planned by educated men who listened to Beethoven and took an interest in nuclear physics.

Read all of Daniel Hannan's column in The Washington Examiner.

[Photo by Majkl Velner at Unsplash]

First Paragraph

Wolves are usually born with deep blue eyes. These lighten and then gradually fade to their adult color, which is most often yellow. Huskies, on the other hand, have blue eyes and because of this, people think that there must be blue-eyed wolves, too, but, strictly speaking, there aren't any; if you ever meet a wolf with blue eyes, then it is very likely not a pure-blooded wolf but a hybrid. Dalia Dresner had the most strikingly blue eyes of any woman I ever saw; but I'll bet that there was a small part of her that was wolf.

- From The Lady From Zagreb by Philip Kerr

5 Proven Time-Savers

round Timex analog clock at 2:33

  1. Ignoring anything in the news media which experience has shown is likely to be inaccurate.
  2. Doing tasks slowly.
  3. Finishing an uncompleted chore that has been nibbling at your attention and feeding your guilt.
  4. Right-clicking on email messages and creating a rule to send them to a Deletion Candidates file.
  5. Showering the night before so you have an edge on your morning routine.

[Photo by Sonja Langford at Unsplash]

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Highly Recommended

Image result for gitta sereny the healing wound amazon

Humor Break

Rita Rudner in 1987.

Weekend Leadership Reading

person working on blue and white paper on board

Wally Bock has a diverse collection for us.

[Photo by Alvaro Reyes at Unsplash]

First Paragraph

To be a good writer, you must have the paradoxical trait of being a gregarious loner. Marcel Proust claimed that he needed to leave his friends so he could truly be with them; while thinking and writing about his friends, he communicated with them far more thoroughly and excitingly than when he was with them at a party.

- From Fiction Writer's Workshop by Josip Novakovich

Friday, November 22, 2019

Kindness. Civility. Respect.

The trailer for "It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood."

People are Complicated

He was one of the most remarkable people I have ever known, combining in one contradictory personality, great kindness with vitriolic hatred, amazing charm and ability with an almost irrational irresponsibility, wit and humour with depression and frustration, arrogance and a certain ruthlessness with naïveté and childish vanity.

- Historian Sir John Wheeler-Bennett on American diplomat William C. Bullitt

Quick Look

The trailer for "Portrait of a Lady on Fire."


selective focus photography of woman with braided hair

They have the same job title. Can we stop thinking now?

They have the same level of education. Can we stop thinking now?

They grew up in the same part of the country. Can we stop thinking now?

They are the same race. Can we stop thinking now?

They all voted for the same candidate. Can we stop thinking now?

Slap a label on someone and see how quickly you stop thinking.

[Photo by Irina Iriser at Unsplash]


A long, long, time ago, in a galaxy in southern Florida, FutureLawyer started his blog.

It is a daily must-read.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Deep Listening Mode

road leading to red mountain

Back in action. I was in deep listening mode today with coaching clients.

[Photo by Matthew Ronder Seid at Unsplash]

Delivery, Delivery, Delivery

concrete structure with black texts

The Spectator: Peter Jones on what we can learn from the ancients about rhetoric.

[Photo by Phil Goodwin at Unsplash]

What Seems to Be an Increasingly Popular Question

A question that seems to be increasingly popular in some corporate board rooms: 

"What can we do to alienate most of our customers?"

They're Coming for Gauguin

Image result for gauguin amazon

Althouse notes the controversy.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Crichton's Predictions

From March 1999: Novelist Michael Crichton talks about the future.

Quick Looks

The trailers for:

Drucker Break

Effective people do not make a great many decisions. They concentrate on the important ones. They try to think through what is strategic and generic, rather than "solve problems." They try to make the few important decisions on the highest level of conceptual understanding. They try to find out the constants in a situation. They are, therefore, not overly impressed by speed in decision-making. Rather, they consider virtuosity in manipulating a great many variables a symptom of sloppy thinking. They want to know what the decision is all about and what the underlying realities are that it has to satisfy. They want impact rather than technique; they want to be sound rather than clever.

- Peter F. Drucker

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Highly Recommended

Every age before this one has performed or permitted acts that to us are morally stupefying. So unless we have any reason to think we are more reasonable, morally better or wiser than at any time in the past, it is reasonable to assume there will be some things we are presently doing - possibly while flushed with moral virtue - that our descendants will whistle through their teeth at, and say 'What the hell were they thinking?' It is worth wondering what the blind spots of our age might be. What might we be doing that will be regarded by succeeding generations in the same way we now look down on the slave trade or using Victorian children as chimney sweeps.

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

An Interruption-Free Zone

I recently found a coffee shop that is very close to being an interruption-free zone.

It is run by a church and staffed by volunteers. Everyone is polite and quiet.

Make that very polite and very quiet.

The chairs are comfortable and during the week days the place has few customers in the early morning.

Who could possibly be attracted to a place like that?

First Paragraph

Willi Krug cocked an eye at the battered alarm clock he kept within arm's reach on the floor. Five-thirty, still dark out, with only the pewter light of the moon angling down from the barred window and spilling through the open doorway of his cell. The rare sound of a truck revving and pulling out of the prison yard had awakened him. Earlier his sleep had been broken by the noise of hammers banging and the muffled shouts of GIs. He had fallen back to sleep until the truck woke him again.

- From Nuremberg: Infamy on Trial by Joseph E. Persico

Monday, November 18, 2019

Quick Looks

The trailers for:

I Await the Curling Issue

A Large Regular discusses changes at Sports Illustrated.

This is What They . . .

There are times when, while mastering a concept, it is important to take a step or two back and ask whether it makes sense.

Knowing it is not the same as agreeing with it but if you don't clarify why you disagree, you may find yourself adopting the thinking by default.

I recently encountered this while researching the operations of a now-defunct bureaucracy. The organization had a principle that was widely known, touted, and even revered. It would be easy to say, "This was their real standard" if you didn't consider the question of "How did this operate in the real world?"

Beware of the easy answer because in the real world, there are gaps.

This is what they said they valued. 

This is what they said they did. 

This is what they really did.

Drucker Moment

If I put a person into a job and he or she does not perform, I have made a mistake. I have no business blaming that person, no business invoking the "Peter Principle," no business complaining. I have made a mistake.

- Peter F. Drucker

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Hans Break

A close-up photo of the bright center of a star cluster.

Hans Zimmer and friends with the theme from "Interstellar."

[Photo by NASA at Unsplash]

Impeachment Zen

The first week of hearings in the Trump impeachment inquiry presented a dizzying array of names and dates from the Ukrainian scandal for the public to digest. However, one Zen like question seemed to be left at the conclusion of the testimony. If a quid pro quo was uttered in Washington but no Ukrainians heard it, did it make an impeachable sound?

- From The Hill: Read the rest of Jonathan Turley's column here.

Aphantasia: "When the Mind's Eye is Blind"

I know two people who have aphantasia.

Have you ever heard of that condition?

I certainly had not until these two told me that they cannot picture things in their mind's eye.

Here are some details from Scientific American

What other ways of thinking do most of us take for granted that are not be shared by everyone?

Artificial Intelligence

Wally Bock's weekend reading assignments delve into artificial intelligence.

[Photo from the film Ex Machina.]

Friday, November 15, 2019

Quick Looks

The trailers for:

Bolero Break

You're at the mall and some music breaks out.

[HT: Mark]

Generational Differences

FutureLawyer points to an Ellen episode where a young person tackles the challenge of folding a map, looking up a number in a phone book, and then using a rotary phone.

Success and Failure

black and red wooden board

The common idea that success spoils people by making them vain, egotistic, and self-complacent is erroneous; on the contrary it makes them, for the most part, humble, tolerant, and kind. Failure makes people bitter and cruel.

- W. Somerset Maugham

[Photo by Randalyn Hill at Unsplash]

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Handel Break

Nathalie Stutzmann with "Ombra Mai Fu."

Fun Times Ahead

City Journal's Erica Sandberg on San Francisco's new district attorney.

Questions of Balance

gray top

When considering a program, project, rule, or working relationship, variations of these two (often unspoken) questions can be helpful:

  1. How much is too much?
  2. How much is too little?

[Photo by Christophe Hautier at Unsplash]


Image result for berlin stories christopher isherwood amazon

Highly recommend.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

"We are going through a great derangement"

Check out the video of author Douglas Murray at The Sovereign Professional.

It will be a great day when Douglas Murray gets as much attention as episodes of "The View."

Not the Standard Book Introduction

Usually when you agree to write the introduction to a book, you do so because you truly care about the book: it's readable, it's got a high literary quality, so that you like or at least admire the author. This book, however, is the extreme opposite. It's filled with evil, and this evil is narrated with a disturbing bureaucratic obtuseness; it has no literary quality, and reading it is agony. Furthermore, despite his efforts at defending himself, the author comes across as what he is: a coarse, stupid, arrogant, long-winded scoundrel, who sometimes blatantly lies. Yet this autobiography of the Commandant of Auschwitz is one of the most instructive books ever published because it very accurately describes the course of a human life that was exemplary in its way. In a climate different from the one he happened to grow up in, Rudolph Hoess would quite likely have wound up as some sort of drab functionary, committed to discipline and dedicated to order - at most a careerist with modest ambitions. Instead, he evolved, step by step, into one of the greatest criminals in history.

- Primo Levi's introduction to Commandant of Auschwitz by Rudolf Hoess

Valuable Experiences

brown dried leaves on sand

A few experiences that can bring important perspectives:

  • Having capable competitors or adversaries and knowing their worth;
  • Losing a fight or two along the way;
  • Almost finishing a lengthy project and then realizing that it will have to be done over;
  • Gaining support from the most unlikely of quarters;
  • Catching yourself in a lie;
  • Comparing your reputation with your character;
  • Discovering that, regardless of your reservations, you really are the best person for the job;
  • Forgetting something that you thought you'd never forget;
  • Analyzing and changing a long-held assumption;
  • Preventing a crisis;
  • Understanding an enemy; 
  • Losing a cherished friend; and
  • Realizing that something very important depends on you.

[Photo by sydney Rae at Unsplash]

Kicking Around the Thirties with Sir John Wheeler-Bennett

Knaves, Fools & Heroes: Europe Between the Wars by Sir John Wheeler-Bennett was published in 1974. It is a witty and fascinating account by a well-connected British historian who knew many of the diplomats and government officials of his time. The book is especially revealing with regard to the fall of the Weimar Republic in Germany. The portraits are memorable. An example:

"There may have been stupider politicians than [Franz] von Papen but, if so, I have not encountered them. There were really very few virtues that one could attribute to him save the valour of ignorance and the imperturbability of supreme conceit."

Monday, November 11, 2019

Eclecticity Light

Where does he find this stuff?

"Let's Get Spooky"


Cultural Offering features a very impressive veteran for Veterans Day.

Music Break

The Hammock Papers, an oasis of civilization, has some Handel for us.

Crank it up.

Knowing What We Have

Mount Rushmore

We were sitting on the patio under a black, moonless sky, our faces lit by the flickering light of a few candles in the center of a large stone table. We all had iced drinks in our hands or in front of us. His interruption took the form of very slowly putting down the glass that was in his hand - so slowly and so quietly, and with such a measured, even movement that at first it seemed like some kind of ritual gesture. Everyone suddenly became quiet and looked at him, waiting. I remember listening for a long time to the waves of the bay and watching the lights of San Francisco across the water. The wind was shifting and turning cool. People were putting their collars up and hugging themselves, but no one dared get up. Foghorns were answering each other like far-off, unseen sea creatures.

Just as slowly and evenly, he angled his long, lean body back in his chair and gazed at nothing in particular. Then he turned his head as though it were a gun turret and looked directly at the husky, bearded young man who had just been speaking about the crimes of America. In the flickering candlelight, his bony face seemed wondrously alive and menacing at the same time. What he said to the young man - and of course to all of us present - was only this:

"You don't know what you have here." Then, after an uncomfortable pause, "You simply don't know what you have."

- From The American Soul: Rediscovering the Wisdom of the Founders by Jacob Needleman

[Photo by John Bakator at Unsplash]

Veterans Day

time lapse photo of man carrying U.S. flag while riding brown horse

[Photo by Melissa Newkirk at Unsplash]

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Saturday, November 09, 2019

First Paragraph

We were greeted in the reception hall of the Emperor's villa by an ancient gentleman whom my mother addressed as 'my dear Count.' He kissed her hand gallantly and ignored me, possibly because he did not see me. In any case, my own attentions were claimed by a row of glass cases filled with stuffed birds of every description.

- From The Interpreter: Memoirs of Doktor Eugen Dollmann

Quick Looks

The trailers for:

Art Break



From The Atlantic in 2007: Walter Kirn on the Autumn of the Multitaskers.

[Photo by Brigitte Tohm at Unsplash]

[Update: I apologize for the miss-spelling. I was multitasking.]

Scribble Scribble

A long weekend with the essentials:  fountain pen, ink, and paper. 

The journals in which earlier thoughts have been jotted are assembled. The outline is holding.

The second draft is on its way.

Books Every Child Should Read - A Series

Image result for call it courage amazon

Leadership Reading

woman reading book

Wally Bock has issued his weekend leadership reading assignments.

[Photo by Ryan Jacobson at Unsplash]

Friday, November 08, 2019

First Paragraph

Two years into his sixties. Duane Moore - a man who had driven pickups for as long as he had been licensed to drive - parked his pickup in his own carport one day and began to walk wherever he went.

- From Duane's Depressed by Larry McMurtry

They're Out to Get You

The trailers for:
Update: And to start off the new year: "The Invisible Man."

The "Front Lines"

blue Escape neon signage

Even the troops in the trenches during the First World War were periodically replaced by other units so those who'd been in the front lines could enjoy some time away from the front and, at least to whatever extent it was possible, recuperate.

I think of that when seeing high-pressure jobs in which there are no efforts to provide escape and where the overall culture promotes seldom taking leave.

As the maxim goes, organizations get the results they are designed to get.

Don't just examine individual cases, look at the design and the culture.

[Photo by Jason Leung at Unsplash]

Books Every Child Should Read - A Series

Image result for tom sawyer amazon

Thursday, November 07, 2019

In the Background

Image result for copland symphony 3 amazon

Be Bold 101

Take time for the Nicholas Bate film version .

Be Bold.

First Paragraph

History records no phenomenon like him. Ought we to call him "great"? No one evoked so much rejoicing, hysteria, and expectation of salvation as he; no one so much hate. No one else produced, in a solitary course lasting only a few years, such incredible accelerations in the pace of history. No one else so changed the state of the world and left behind such a wake of ruins as he did. It took a coalition of almost all the world powers to wipe him from the face of the earth in a war lasting nearly six years, to kill him - to quote an army officer of the German resistance - "like a mad dog."

- From Hitler by Joachim C. Fest


man smoking smoking pipe

Some people need to be more patient, and some people need to be less patient.

- Michael Levine

[Photo by Clement Falize at Unsplash]

Tucson: No Sanctuary

cacti silhouette across sunset photo

The vote by the citizens of Tucson, Arizona against a sanctuary city initiative  is very interesting. Tucson is one of the most liberal cities in Arizona. 

In fact, the colorful Congressman Sam Steiger once described Tucson as "the Venice Beach of Arizona politics." 

[Photo by Bob Chester at Unsplash]