Saturday, February 22, 2020

Quick Looks

The trailers for:

4-Day Work Week?

black headphones beside space gray iPhone on brown table

Check out Wally Bock's weekend leadership reading assignments.

[Photo by Jens Kreuter at Unsplash]

First Paragraph

"What is wrong, Sister Winifrede," says the Abbess, clear and loud to the receptive air, "with the traditional keyhole method?"

- From The Abbess of Crewe by Muriel Spark

Friday, February 21, 2020

Phoenix Rising

gray pathway in between green palm trees viewing mountain

A look at the Valley of the Sun in the 1960s.

[HT: Jonathan]

[Photo by Lisa Campbell at Unsplash]

Biz Books

yellow and black come in we're open sign

Inc. magazine recommends five books for entrepreneurs.

[Photo by Alvaro Serrano at Unsplash]

Quick Looks

The trailers for:


standing man wearing white dress shirt and black dress pants

It can be very difficult to see employee burn-out when your office is on the top floor of a headquarters building. 

Likewise, you will not hear about complaints that weren't filed because the complaint process lacked credibility and people figured it wasn't worth the effort.

You might learn that some talented employees left but no one in your inner circle will tell you why because they don't really know and no one asked and besides, people move around a lot these days.

But from where you stand, things are looking good.

[Photo by Ameer Basheer at Unsplash]

Thursday, February 20, 2020

First Paragraph

"On Tuesday, September 15, 1992, I received a call from my literary agent Theron Raines, a man of learning who was born in Arkansas and who earned degrees at Columbia College and Oxford University. Raines is always to the point, always clear. My new book, he said, was going to be reviewed on the following Sunday in the New York Times. I thanked him for the call, but in a relaxed manner as if to suggest that I was now at an age when such news was not about to make me euphoric. Still, I was pleased. I no longer had any professional enemies who might want to tear me down in print. Consequently there was everything to look forward to and nothing to fear. But then, Theron Raines added, 'You are not going to like the last sentence of the review.'"

- From The Politics of Memory: The Journey of a Holocaust Historian by Raul Hilberg

Poetry Break

black wild boar on grass field

"I think I could turn and live with animals. . . ." - Walt Whitman

[Photo by Henning Borgersen at Unsplash]

No Trigger Warnings

I will have great hope for the country's political future when every college student reads at least 15 of these novels.
  1. "The Last Hurrah" by Edwin O'Connor
  2. "1984" by George Orwell
  3. "Animal Farm" by George Orwell
  4. "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
  5. "Brave New World" by Aldous Huxley
  6. "First Among Equals" by Jeffrey Archer
  7. "Darkness at Noon" by Arthur Koestler
  8. "Lincoln" by Gore Vidal
  9. "The Way We Live Now" by Anthony Trollope
  10. "Life with a Star" by Jiri Weil
  11. "The First Circle" by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
  12. "The Balkan Trilogy" by Olivia Manning
  13. "Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand
  14. "Heart of Darkness" by Joseph Conrad
  15. "Fahrenheit 451" by Ray Bradbury
  16. "The Grapes of Wrath" by John Steinbeck
  17. "Submission" by Michel Houellebecq
  18. "War and Peace" by Leo Tolstoy
  19. "Children of the Arbat" by Anatoly Rybakov
  20. "I, Claudius" by Robert Graves
  21. "The Radetzky March" by Joseph Roth

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Just Started

Image result for the hundred-year marathon amazon

Especially timely given the news stories.

Quick Look

The trailer for "Gangs of London."

"American Dirt" and Identity Politics Madness

man standing in the middle of road

The campaign against the novel "American Dirt" has become all-too-familiar

I wonder how many publishers would turn down Tony Hillerman's Navajo detective novels if he were starting out today simply because Hillerman wasn't Navajo.

[Photo by Dave Herring at Unsplash]


"Steal the firewood from under the cauldron."

- From The Thirty-Six Stratagems

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Impromptu and Great

Cultural Offering has George Benson with "On Broadway." 

Crank it up.

Trade School versus Law School

Quick Look

The trailer for "The Vast of Night."

Random Thoughts

When assessing the health of a person or an organization, examine "the daily incrementals" and ignore the "strategic plan." ~ When an item that has never appeared before is added to a detailed and lengthy report, that item is the first thing to explore. ~ A job that is flawlessly performed in terms of technical quality is not admirable if it serves a flawed purpose. ~ If someone makes a job seem easy that does not mean it is an easy job. ~ The surest way to provide great customer service is to hire nice people. ~ Monasteries could make a great deal of money if they rented out rooms by the month to people who were willing to adopt a vow of silence, do some manual labor, and eat a lean diet. ~ We should remove calculators from elementary schools and high schools. ~ No matter how fancy the television, the most important mechanism is the "off" switch. ~ A high school that gave a certificate for serious knowledge of reading, writing, and arithmetic would find those students to be in high demand even if they didn't graduate. ~ The wish of millions: to decrease fear and increase control.


white and brown house surrounded with trees

Wendell Pierce's New Orleans.

[Photo by Joaquin at Unsplash]

Monday, February 17, 2020

Jane Austen Alert

The trailer for "Emma."

Highly Accurate

Art Contrarian looks at future clothing styles  as seen from the 1930s.

Coastal Insight Coming Soon to Farm Country

First Paragraph

Outside, twilight swooped down on the city like a vandal's hand: suddenly without warning. On the red and gray rooks of the squat houses, on the living wall of ants surrounding the cemetery, on the nervous, watching dogs. No light anywhere. Every window blind. The streets almost empty. In the square near the Municipal Theater only Old Martha, the official town drunk, exuberates. She has the whole city to herself, and her performance unfolds in a kind of demoniac ecstasy. She dances, flaps her voluminous skirt, displays her naked, scabrous belly, gestures obscenely, shrieks insults, flings her curses to the four winds. Joyfully she prances before the universe as if before an audience, her mirror.

- From The Town Beyond the Wall by Elie Wiesel

May This Be an Example for Others

Purdue University is freezing its tuition for the 9th straight year.

In the Workplace Jungle

area covered with green leafed plants

You are more likely to be threatened by snakes than by a giant gorilla.

[Photo by Chris Abney at Unsplash]

Time to Stock Up

The stories on the Coronavirus continue to pop and articles such as this one are hardly reassuring.

I may urge my family to stock up on obvious supplies such as pizzas, pancakes, and cookies.

You know, food that can be slipped under a door.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Five Stars

Image result for paris in the present tense amazon

Just finished it. Highly recommend.

Poetry Break

Here's a good rule of thumb
Too clever, is dumb.

- Ogden Nash

Weekend Leadership Reading Assignments

man wearing white sweater while reading book

Wally Bock has a list to nudge our thinking.

[Photo by Tamarcus Brown at Unsplash]

First Paragraph

Jack Reacher ordered espresso, double, no peel, no cube, foam cup, no china, and before it arrived at his table he saw a man's life change forever. Not that the waiter was slow. Just that the move was slick. So slick, Reacher had no idea what he was watching. It was just an urban scene, repeated everywhere in the world a billion times a day. A guy unlocked a car and got in and drove away. That was all.

- From The Hard Way by Lee Child

Friday, February 14, 2020

Essential Mixes

woman playing guitar while singing

Kurt Harden at Cultural Offering has performed a public service by assembling Essential Mixes for Valentine's Day.

I'd add a couple of songs:

[Photo by Nick Karvounis at Unsplash]

Quick Looks

The trailers for:

Where Did Those Numbers Come From?

I recently saw a report in which a startling conclusion was made as to whether or not an organization's on-going practice was producing a loss rather than a gain in income.

How that conclusion was reached, however, was not disclosed. That was troubling because it is fairly easy to think of different ways in which one can play with the numbers to produce a particular outcome. The proponents of the conclusion would have strengthened their argument - and reduced suspicion - by showing the basis for their conclusion. I would hope that by doing so, they also would be better prepared to address likely challenges.

I'm an old dog. I want to know where those numbers came from.

Valentine's Day

chocolates with box on white surface

[Photo by Food Photographer Jennifer Pallian at Unsplash]

Thursday, February 13, 2020


You are not practicing what you know, so why do you seek what you do not know?

- Anonymous

Quick Looks

The trailers for:

The Morning Dog Talk

There are few conversations that are better for the soul than the morning dog talk. 

It may be partly due to the intense listening and observation that is done by both parties and which achieves a level seldom matched by the human-to-human conversations that take place later in the day.

First Paragraph

Murder didn't mean much to Raven. It was just a new job. You had to be careful. You had to use your brains. It was not a question of hatred. He had only seen the Minister once: he had been pointed out to Raven as he walked down the new housing estate between the small lit Christmas trees, an old grubby man without friends, who was said to love humanity.

- From This Gun for Hire by Graham Greene

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Even Die-Hard Warren Harding Fans Should Agree

Abraham Lincoln statue

Drop "Presidents' Day." 

Go back to separate celebrations of the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln (February 12) and George Washington (February 22).

They deserve it.

[Photo by Joshua Bedford at Unsplash]

But It Has Bill Murray

The trailer for "The French Dispatch."


person pouring flour on table beside eggs and whisk

The incomparable Nicholas Bate gives us seven to make time for.

And remember, just because they are basic doesn't mean they are easy.

[Photo by Mae Mu at Unsplash]

The Gold Standard

As motion picture soundtracks go - and there are many great ones - it is difficult to beat this one.

The Insanity of Campaigns

Many years ago I heard a professor who'd studied a wide variety of presidential campaigns describe the thinking of candidates the day before the election. He said that no matter how hopeless the race, near the end a delusion would capture both the candidate and the campaign staff, and they would think, however briefly, that they just might be able to pull it off.

That's one reason why, even if I strongly oppose a candidate, I hold a certain sympathy for those strange souls who've been living in motels, sleeping on strange mattresses, and dealing with sleazy reporters. 

While the rest of us have gone about our normal lives, they have been standing outside factory gates at five in the morning while some people refuse to shake their hand. They have been delivering the same speech over and over again, often to sparsely-attended events. They have missed their families and friends and have gone for months always having to be "on" and weighing every word lest a legion of second-guessers savage them.

It's a brutal process and much of it has little to do with how they might perform the job. And have no doubt, the process itself drives off many potential candidates. That is our loss.


US flag

I would rather be governed by the first three hundred names in the Boston telephone book than by the Faculty of Harvard University.

- William F. Buckley Jr.

[Photo by Andrew Neel at Unsplash]

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

California's "Gig-Work" law

City Journal: The AB5 Backfire.

Skin Doc

A dermatology appointment today. He told me a General Patton story as he zapped my head and forehead with dry ice. 

I'm sure I'll look great tomorrow. The price of having grown up in the Valley of the Sun.

First Paragraph

England in  the spring of 1944 was weighed down by the masses of guns and equipment which the British and Americans had brought together for an early return to the continent. Wags said that but for the barrage balloons, which could be seen straining at their cables throughout the country, the island would sink beneath the waves. The Western world had gathered its might for an unprecedented attack against Hitler's Festung Europa.

- From Pogue's War: Diaries of a WWII Combat Historian by Forrest C. Pogue

"The Kind of Men Who Carry a Pocket Knife"

Mitigating Chaos points to the article and shows his own collection of pocket knives.

I've carried a small Swiss Army knife for years. 

Carry a knife and you'll be surprised at how often it comes in handy.

A Glance Up

Have things on your office wall that bring pleasure.

That Thing You're Going Through

grayscale photo of person inside the plant formation

Patrick Rhone with an important reminder of life.

[Photo by Maksym Kaharlyskyi at Unsplash]

The Culprit is Out Yonder

oval brown wooden conference table and chairs inside conference room

Have you ever noticed that whenever leaders have assembled in a room to discuss who is to blame for the organization's poor performance, they seldom point at anyone who is in the room?

[Photo by Benjamin Child at Unsplash]

Bach Break

Yo-Yo Ma plays Bach's "Sei Lob und Preis mit Ehren."

This is the piece that plays such a significant role in Mark Helprin's novel Paris in the Present Tense.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Joy Division/New Order

One of the genuine pleasures of the essential mixes compiled by Kurt Harden at Cultural Offering is I often see the extensive work of musicians I've never heard of.

That means there is new music to discover.

Reviving the Language

I'm glad to see that "lying, dog-faced, pony soldier" has grabbed some attention but let's not opt for Hollywood-bred lines. 

Instead, let's revive "poltroon" and "scalawag."

And may "hornswoggler" and "vamp" be somewhere in the mix.

Very Well Done!

Congratulations to Ray at Mitigating Chaos for his blog's 10th anniversary.

All of us look forward to reading him for the next ten years.

The Pause

man holding telephone screaming

"Who are your problem employees?"

"That's easy to answer. Our problem employees, the ones who really make it difficult for other people to work, are Jack, Evelyn, Carol, and Morgan."

"Why are they still here?"


[Photo by Icons8 Team at Unsplash]


Measured by their actual function rather than Nazi theory, Jewish legal advisors were lawyers, even if they had a limited client base. To the extent that German lawyers stopped performing those functions, i.e. representing the interests of their clients, they were the ones who ceased acting like lawyers. One flagrant example was a defense attorney who, in representing a defendant accused of conspiring to assassinate Hitler on 20 July 1944, told the People's Court that his client's acts horrified him. Then he demanded the death penalty.

- From "Discrimination, Degradation, Defiance: Jewish Lawyers under Nazism" by Douglas G. Morris in The Law in Nazi Germany: Ideology, Opportunism, and the Perversion of Justice, edited by Alan E. Steinweis and Robert D. Rachlin

Gilbert and Sullivan Break

"I am the very model of a modern major general."

Sunday, February 09, 2020

Cutting Edge

I'm somewhat behind on my movie-viewing. These are the last two films I've watched:

The Academy Awards 1939

The Golden Year for Best Picture nominees is commonly regarded to be 1939.

The nominees were:
  • "Gone with the Wind" [winner]
  • "The Wizard of Oz"
  • "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington"
  • "Stagecoach"
  • "Wuthering Heights"
  • "Of Mice and Men"
  • "Goodbye, Mr. Chips"
  • "Love Affair"
  • "Dark Victory"
  • "Ninotchka"
Looking back, if you were to pick a winner, which one would it be?

Find Something Beautiful Today

lined white, purple, and red vehicles

[Photo by Ricardo Tamayo at Unsplash]

Saturday, February 08, 2020

Quick Look

The trailer for "Brassed Off."

Bock's Assignments

low angle photo of tower of books

Very interesting: Wally Bock's weekend leadership reading assignments.

[Photo by Ajda Berzin at Unsplash]

Cheers for Classical Architecture

Althouse: There's word of a possible Executive Order in which President Trump goes after the use of modern architectural design for federal buildings.

I immediately thought of two dormitories at the University of Arizona. Guess which one was built in 1921. 

Maricopa Hall

Maricopa Hall 

Image result for kaibab-huachuca university of arizona

Kaibab-Huachuca Dormitory

Friday, February 07, 2020

JFK and Ike

A recording of a conversation between Presidents Kennedy and Eisenhower during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

More Novels Not to Miss

woman covering her face with white book

  • Submission by Michel Houellebecq
  • A Meal in Winter by Hubert Mingarelli
  • The Price You Pay by Aiden Truhen
  • A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby
  • Jem and Sam by Ferdinand Mount
  • Laughing Boy by Oliver La Farge
  • City Primeval by Elmore Leonard
  • Ice by Ed McBain
  • Ghost Story by Peter Straub
  • Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes

[Photo by Siora Photography at Unsplash]

Back By Popular Demand

Bob Seger: "Still the Same."


FutureLawyer has been blogging for 25 years!

That is very impressive, especially when you consider that he is a lawyer, poet, smartwatch collector, parrot compadre, and lives near a beach.

He obviously knows how to manage his time.

The Meaning of Life

office table with pile of papers

I wrote a brilliant post on this subject but it seems to have disappeared.

[Photo by Wonderlane at Unsplash]

Nicely Done

A Large Regular has Regina Specktor with "While My Guitar Gently Weeps."

A Treat

The other day, I got more than my normal amount of sleep.

I had forgotten how great that is.

And, oddly enough, when I got up everything I needed to do was waiting for me.

Thursday, February 06, 2020


No one in Birmingham had ever broken his promise to the Mayor; surely nobody in Europe would break his promise to the Prime Minister of England.

- Duff Cooper, "Chamberlain: A Candid Portrait" quoted in Appeasement: Chamberlain, Hitler, Churchill, and the Road to War by Tim Bouverie

A Life of Virtue

JP Sears on the advantages of being a Tesla owner.

Off the Grid

blue book on round brown end table near sofa

Mainly sitting and thinking.

Back soon.

[Photo by Kari Shea at Unsplash]

Wednesday, February 05, 2020


three tri-color guinea pigs on brown surface

The chair of a twelve-person committee was surprised that the chair of a three-person committee was able to get so much done in such a short amount of time.

It is, of course, hard to explain.

Photo by Karlijn Prot at Unsplash]


woman climbing on rocks during daytime photography

Intuition is a poor guide but a great guard. 

[Phto by AJ Yorio at Unsplash]

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

The Meeting Index Card

At the end of each important meeting, fill out an index card with your response to this question:

"Specifically what do I have to do now?"

[Some day you'll thank me for that.]

First Paragraph

rock formation beside trees during daytime

The desire to avoid a second world war was perhaps the most understandable and universal wish in history. More than 16.5 million people died during the First World War. The British lost 723,000; the French 1.7 million; the Russians 1.8 million; the British Empire 230,000; the Germans over 2 million. Twenty thousand British soldiers died on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, while the ossuary at Douaumont contains the bones of some 130,000 French and German soldiers - a mere sixth of those killed during the 302-day Battle of Verdun. Among the survivors there was scarcely a soul that was not affected. Almost everyone had a father, husband, son, brother, cousin, fiancé, or friend killed or maimed. When it was over, not even the victors could feel victorious. The Cenotaph, unveiled on Whitehall on June 19, 1919, was no Arc de Triomphe but a symbol of loss. Every Armistice Day, thousands of Britons shuffled past it in mournful silence, while, on both sides of the Channel, schools, villages, towns, and railway stations commemorated friends and colleagues with their own memorials. In the years that followed the mantra was as consistent as it was determined: "Never again!"

- From Appeasement: Chamberlain, Hitler, Churchill, and the Road to War by Tim Bouverie

[Photo of Verdun by Arjan de Jong at Unsplash]

Monday, February 03, 2020


Image result for paris in the present tense amazon

"For such a simple thing?"

"For such a simple thing: depositions, motions, discovery, countersuit. And Acorn is not invested in it emotionally. Whereas the Acorn principals will never think of it other than at the end, you will obsess and your dreams will be monopolized. For them, depositions will be fun. They're sadists when it comes down to it. You're analytical and perhaps brave. You won't collapse in deposition, but no matter that you might do well, you'll still be angry, frustrated, insulted, and your blood pressure will double."

Americana: "Ambush"


Days of Matchbook Advertising

James Lileks explores the field.


group of people using laptop computer


  • Design an organization for a brilliant team. Design one so even a mediocre team can do a brilliant job.
  • Discuss a subordinate's job performance once a year. Discuss it once a month so there are no surprises at the end of the year.
  • Expect people to speak up if they encounter a problem. Foster team values so those problems are prevented.

[Photo by Annie Spratt at Unsplash]

Sad Decline

red concrete bridge surrounded by clouds

Those of us who remember San Francisco as one of the most beautiful cities in the world and a great place to visit are saddened to see stories such as this one in the Daily Mail.

[Photo by Joshua Sortino at Unsplash]