Wednesday, April 08, 2020

Back to the Scythe

"Touch Up My Appearance"

FutureLawyer points to some Zoomie advice.


Block Out Time to Read

man holding reading magnifying glass rearing a book on brown wooden table

If you read when time is available, then you have placed little emphasis on reading because time is rarely available. 

Add to that the idea that reading is goofing off or strictly a form of leisure and those reading moments will be stigmatized.

Block out time to read. It is important and it will pay dividends.

[Photo by Nathan Bingle at Unsplash]


By learning you will teach; by teaching you will learn.

- Latin proverb

Tuesday, April 07, 2020

Clearing Up?

Political Calculations on Corona Virus, Atmospheric CO2 and GDP.

Back By Popular Demand

Cut The Red Tape

We need an immediate intervention to break America free from its bureaucratic addiction. It must be done if the nation is to come back whole in any reasonable time frame. The first step is for Congress to authorize a temporary Recovery Authority with the mandate to expedite private and public initiatives, including the waiver of rules and procedures that impede public goals. States, too, should set up recovery authorities to expedite permitting and waive costly reporting requirements.

Save Your Sanity and Escape to Oxford Masterpiece Mystery!: Endeavour: The Pilot & Series 1 ...

During the 2016 election campaign my wife and I escaped the insanity of the political scene by watching all of the episodes of the great Poirot series starring David Suchet as the eccentric Belgian detective.

We're re-watched that series since then. Each time has been a pleasure. 

Now, while eluding the virus and the usual media hype, we are re-watching "Endeavour" - the extraordinary series that covers the early career of Inspector Endeavour Morse.

Highly recommended.


A Taboo Question: Have We Overreacted?

The New York Times (March 18, 2020): Amy Harmon on whether America has overreacted to the coronavirus.

Monday, April 06, 2020

Quick Looks

The trailers for:

Feel Good Films - A Series

How Many People Die from the Flu?

The numbers are jarring and, keep in mind, there already is a flu vaccine.

Once the coronavirus is subdued, there will be detailed comparisons with how the government dealt with it versus its usual strategies regarding the annual flu epidemics. 


The United States COVID-19 Tracker.

This continues to be updated.

Diversity in Weather Reporting

Back by popular demand:

From a 2016 post: Consider international styles of weather reporting:
[Observation: Iran and Mexico should swap for a month and test viewer reactions.]

Dunce Cap, Iron Cross, and a Supporter Down Below

This January account in the Washington Examiner of how President Franklin D. Roosevelt treated the press deserves wider exposure.

I ran across the FDR stories years ago while researching a book on leadership. They should cause a certain amount of eyebrow-raising when reporters act as if the abrasive Trump-media relationship is precedent-breaking.

And, of course, there's also the story of what President Truman did when a critic panned a musical performance by Truman's daughter. 

In Shakespeare's Time

Most of these young men came from either Oxford or Cambridge, where they had been given a good education in the classics but had not been given any way of making a living. Most of them were sons of middle-class parents who had ambitiously sent their sons to the university, either through a scholarship or at some personal sacrifice, but with no clear idea of what they should do with their expensive educations afterwards.

- From Shakespeare of London by Marchette Chute

Use This Time Well

Just because we're hunkering down doesn't mean we should feel trapped.

This is grand time to get thoughts and paperwork in order, catch up with old friends, flesh out a project, and study another language. 

It is also an opportunity to catch up on rest.

My guess is we are going to be returning to a quasi-normal work schedule much sooner than expected. 

It will be nice to be able to look back and say, "I used that time well."

The Week: Let Your Imagination, Not Your Fears, Run Free

woman sitting on brown chair while reading book inside well lighted room

[Photo by Thought Catalog at Unsplash]


black and white Welcome to Carnaby Street signage

Douglas Murray on The New York Times campaign against Britain.

[Photo by Anthony DELANOIX at Unsplash]

In the Greatest Show on Earth

British politics: Keir Starmer replaces Jeremy Corbyn

Saturday, April 04, 2020

An Orchestra Connects

Heather Mac Donald on what the Los Angeles Philharmonic conductor Gustavo Dudamel is providing online.

Bravo, Gustavo!

Seger Break

Good Times


If God lived on earth, people would break his windows.

- Jewish proverb

Back in the USSR

The Telegraph in 2018: Marcel Theroux on remembering the Soviet Union.

My favorite part is the one on fellow travelers.

Quick Looks

The trailers for:


man writing on paper

"Reorganization" is a bold word because it implies that a viable organization will emerge from the changes. 

In cases where reality is insufficiently considered, however, what emerges is "disorganization."

Any major change on an organization chart should have, somewhere in the background, an escape plan in case disorganization surfaces. 

Use fences, not walls.

[Photo by Helloquence at Unsplash]

First Paragraph

Jason Tennyson, fleeing for his life, came in low over the precipitous mountain range that lay to the west of Gutshot. Immediately after he caught sight of the lights marking the town, he pressed the ejection button and felt himself flung upward with a greater violence that he had expected. For a moment he was enveloped in darkness; then, as his body spun, he saw the lights of the town again and thought that he also saw the flier. But whether he saw the flier or not, he knew, was of slight importance. It would continue over Gutshot, angling slightly downward over the ocean that hemmed in the tiny town and spaceport against the towering mountains. Some fifty miles out to sea, if his calculations were correct, the flier would go into the water and be lost. And lost as well, he hoped, would be Dr. Jason Tennyson, lately court physician to the margrave of Daventry. The radar at Gutshot space base undoubtedly had picked up the flier and would track it on its course across the water, but at its low altitude, the base would soon lose contact with it.

- From Project Pope by Clifford D. Simak

Friday, April 03, 2020

What's on Your Shelves?

Open Culture lists the 430 books in Marilyn Monroe's home library.

Feel Good Films - A Series

A Good One for These Days

Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging: Junger, Sebastian ...

A Soviet Moment

spoon of powder

Yesterday I bought a large package of sugar at the drug store.

I also bought some coffee and some other items that might be hard to find at the nearby grocery store.

When I returned home, my wife and I had what I would call a five second "Soviet moment" in which we rejoiced over my finds, all in recollection of the bad old days when shoppers in the Soviet Union had to seize any chance to buy scarce items.

And that reminds me of George Orwell's story of the Spanish Civil War. As I recall the account, while he was in the trenches with the Loyalist forces who were fighting Franco's Fascists, both sides would shout out propaganda messages to dishearten their enemies. The most effective taunt, he noted, came one day when the other side shouted: 

"We've got toast! Hot buttered toast!"

[Photo by Sharon McCuthcheon at Unsplash]

Remote Working

woman holding white ceramic cup while using laptop

Wally Bock's weekend leadership reading assignments deal with this very timely topic.

[Photo by Becca Tapert at Unsplash]

The Goal

man performing wall climbing under clear sky

I like working slowly, step-by-step, and taking time to read and think.

Life brings inevitable interruptions and there are times when the best thing to do is to do nothing at all.

And yet.

It helps to have one big goal in the back of your mind, especially if it ties together an array of much smaller goals. If it does not do so, then that is a big goal in itself.

[Photo by Mars Williams at Unsplash]

Thursday, April 02, 2020


An Oasis

airliner on flight

Phoenix's classical music station:

KBAQ, a.k.a. KBACH

[Photo by Meritt Thomas at Unsplash]

Rainbow Break

A Legend Has Passed

The Times-Picayune: Ellis Marsalis, Rest in Peace.


Reminder: Make a Note

Good ideas have a schedule of their own and will come and depart when they wish.

Unless you write them down.

When the Jungle is Not as Dangerous

skull lot on forest

I believe that most organizations resemble a farm in a jungle. Without constant care, the jungle will grow over the farm.

Some organizations, however, are so dysfunctional that, although the jungle has not grown back, a tribe of amiable cannibals is now running the farm. People are not valued.

And suddenly the jungle is a pleasant alternative.

[Photo by Cristian Grecu at Unsplash]

Be There for Them

shallow focus photo of thank you for shopping signage

This post by Cultural Offering about helping your small local businesses get through this hard time is very important. 

My wife and I are going out of our way to continue to support the restaurants and shops that are important parts of our life. 

We are tipping even more generously than usual (and that's saying something since the staff starts dancing whenever my wife walks in the door).

Amid all of the hunkering down, let's do what we can.

[Photo Tim Mossholder by at Unsplash]

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

"The Old Ways"


Fortunately, my local deli has a take-out window.

Age is Never Having to Say You're Sorry

It is Ali MacGraw's birthday.

Insight The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race and Identity ...

The Sovereign Professional recommends.

I strongly agree.

ABBA Break

Breakfast with Thucydides - continued

Spent part of my breakfast reading time looking for the location of Corcyra. [Its location was a shock, given its distance from Corinth and Athens.]

The other part was regretting that I didn't read Thucydides in high school. The eloquent arguments made in Athens by the emissaries of Corcyra and Corinth should be studied in law school.

This also sparked a recollection of what historian Alan Bullock wrote in Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives:

"Looking back, I cannot think of a better preparation for writing about Hitler and Stalin than a close study of Thucydides, Tacitus, and those sections of Aristotle's Politics that deal with the Greek experience of tyranny."

"Force Majeure"


Fast Company explores a legal concept that is surfacing more and more nowadays.

[Photo by NASA at Unsplash]

The Vaccine is Coming

City Journal: Peter Kolchinsky on a coronvirus vaccine that will work.

Currently Reading


A good description of this is in The Paris Review.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020


And yet another news site.


The United States COVID-19 Tracker.

Very interesting.

How to Be Perfect

"Make eye contact with a tree."

Cultural Offering has a helpful list.

Back By Popular Demand

Into It

The Orient Express [wish I were on it]

Espresso. Breakfast. Correspondence. Reading. Exercise. Coffee. 

And now some research which will be followed by more correspondence, exercise, coffee, and reading.

Busy is Not Enough

person using phone while standing near Gondola beside Venice canal during daytime

What you're busy with may be very different from what is getting done.

And what is getting done may be very different from what matters.

[Photo by Clay Banks at Unsplash]

Monday, March 30, 2020


Renewing Old Acquaintances

A few of the old acquaintances I am renewing during The Period of Social Isolation:

Herman Melville, Mark Twain, Viktor Frankl, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Peter Drucker, John Kennedy Toole, Jane Austen, Graham Greene, Malcolm Muggeridge, Paul Theroux, Frederick Buechner, Malcolm Gladwell, William Shakespeare, and Olivia Manning.

Quick Looks

The trailers for:

A Late Thought

I had written down a rough analysis of a client problem shortly before going to bed.

That is not my usual practice nor do I recommend it because doing so can foil sleep, but this time the thoughts had to be captured because in the morning they may have scattered.

But then, in early morning, another perspective surfaced. It didn't conflict with the others but instead gave then added strength. 

It was, of course, so obvious I had not noticed it.

If you can sleep on a decision, do so.

Slow Down

Hurry, n. The dispatch of bunglers.

- From The Devil's Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce

TED Talk: Pat Leach on Slow Reading

Just Finished Masterpiece Mystery!: Endeavour, Season 6 DVD: Shaun ...

Just finished watching this season on Saturday night.

Outstanding but if you've never seen the series, start with the beginning season. 

[The series is about "Inspector Morse" in his early years.]

Saturday, March 28, 2020

First Paragraph

The sun was only half as hot as he had known sun to be, but it was hot enough to keep him confused and dizzy. He was very weak. He had not eaten for seventy-two hours, or taken water for forty-eight.

- From Nothing to Lose (A Jack Reacher Novel) by Lee Child

Coronavirus Resource Center

Johns Hopkins University Medical School continues to update this site.

Becoming a Professional Zoomer

Once again, FutureLawyer comes to the rescue.

Due to the evil virus and the consequent need for distant one-on-one coaching, I am preparing to Zoom.

I Won't Back Down

Sage Advice

FutureLawyer has been on a roll with advice on working at home and maintaining a practice during the coronavirus.

Cultural Appropriation?

Conversation with the Dog

"Oh, you came in for a little visit. Wait, you want something? I gave you a treat around thirty minutes ago. Do you want to go outside? I mean do you really want to go outside? This isn't another one of your scams where I walk into the other room and open the back door and then you stare at me and look at the kitchen? Okay, hold on. I'll be with you in a minute."


First Paragraph

No one had any doubt that the bombers would come. Defense planning began well before the war, though the planners had no specific threat in mind. Europe was Europe. If past experience was any sort of guide, a war could break out anywhere, anytime. Britain's military leaders saw the world through the lens of the empire's experience in the previous war, the Great War, with its mass slaughter of soldiers and civilians alike and the first systematic air raids of history, conducted over England and Scotland using bombs dropped from German zeppelins. The first of these occurred on the night of January 19, 1915, and was followed by more than fifty others, during which giant dirigibles drifting quietly over the English landscape dropped 162 tons of bombs that killed 557 people.

- From The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz by Erik Larson

Friday, March 27, 2020

Cancel Culture

The New Criterion: Woody Allen and the Hachette Book Group.

[Note: I am currently reading - and so far enjoying - the book in its Kindle version. The decision by Hachette to withdraw from publication prompted me to buy it.]

Off the Coast of Florida

A Treatment from France?

black and gray stethoscope

For two reasons, I hope that the professor is right, bearing in mind that he has not yet been proved wrong, either. The more important reason is that, if he is right, his treatment regime offers hope that the epidemic will be cut short. The second, more trivial, is that I would like so colorful (if arrogant) a man to prove justified in his self-confidence and to cause embarrassment to the establishment.

Read the rest of Theodore Dalrymple in City Journal.

[Photo by Hush Naidoo at Unsplash]

Crank It Up

Weekend Leadership Reading

E-mc2 written on chalkboard

Wally Bock has some assignments for us.

[Photo by JESHOOTS.COM at Unsplash]

Risk Stratification

Althouse on Cuomo, Trump, coronavirus, and thinking aloud.

Feel Good Films - A Series

Recently Released Song by Bob Dylan

Top Three Television Show Themes

This is what happens when people are sitting at home. They think up weird contests.

Well, who can resist? There has been some argument on Twitter about the top three musical themes for television programs. It is difficult, nay impossible, to beat this list:

1st Place

Second Place

Third Place

A Partial First Paragraph

Like Holden, I don't feel like going into all that David Copperfield kind of crap, although in my case, a little about my parents you may find more interesting than reading about me. Like my father, born in Brooklyn when it was all farms, ball boy for the early Brooklyn Dodgers, a pool hustler, a bookmaker, a small man but a tough Jew in fancy shirts with slicked-back patent leather hair a la George Raft. No high school, the Navy at sixteen, on a firing squad in France when they killed an American sailor for raping a local girl. A medal-winning marksman, always loved pulling a trigger and carried a pistol till the day he died with a full head of silver hair and twenty-twenty eyesight at a hundred. One night during World War I his boat got hit by a shell somewhere off the coast in the icy waters of Europe. It sank. Everyone drowned except for three guys who made the miles-long swim to shore. He was one of the three that could handle the Atlantic. But that's how close I came to never being born.

- From Apropos of Nothing by Woody Allen

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Back By Popular Demand: Five Minute University

The Sacrifice of the Celebrities

Althouse and Titania McGrath have observations.

Coronavirus Resource Center

Johns Hopkins University Medical School continues to update this site.

Five Things


Wally Bock, as always, provides excellent advice. Take a few minutes and look over his list.

A Grand Story for Strange Times

Image result for jayber crow wendell berry amazon

I think I was a better person by the end of this novel.

Jayber Crow is beautifully written with great characters and great values. 

An extraordinary story of a barber in a small town. 

[I know that sounds boring but it isn't.]

Feel Good Films - A Series

The Power of Solitude

Solitude is often portrayed as a negative time filled with gloomy thoughts, envy, regret, resentment, and self-reproach.

But it can be a glorious occasion for growth if embraced with gratitude for good times and spiced with fresh analysis and an appreciation of small things.

I think the key to many of its benefits is vigorous curiosity. 

How does this place work? Which word would be better in this paragraph? How did that author make such a minor character so memorable? Why did the composer choose that particular note? What tipped the scales at that committee meeting? What was valued? What was overlooked? Could this problem have been spotted earlier? How would a person of significant achievement regard this matter? Do the assumptions withstand scrutiny? What do I need to stop doing? Am I failing to help someone?

Here's a related point: A lack of gratitude and a lack of curiosity are two of the most dangerous gaps in life. 

Fill them in and life changes for the better.

Playing with Words

Choose your words tiles

The Paris Review: Adrienne Raphel on the brief history of word games.

[Photo by Brett Jordan at Unsplash]

Returning Safely to Work

please stay on trail signage on forest

Paul Romer and Brandon Fuller discuss a two-pronged strategy for getting people back to work.

[Photo by Dan Gold at Unsplash]

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Mellow Out

Visit The Hammock Papers.


Political Calculations is visualizing the progression of COVID-19 in the United States.

Feel Good Films - A Series

First Paragraph

The names of Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler will forever be linked to the tragic course of European history in the first half of the twentieth century. Only weeks after the Russian Revolution the Bolsheviks created secret police forces far more brutal than any that had existed under the tsar. The Nazis followed suit and were no sooner in power than they initiated the dreaded Gestapo. Under both regimes millions of people were incarcerated in concentration camps where they were tortured and frequently worked to death. The Nazis invented camps equipped for the industrial killing of millions of Jewish women, men, and children on the basis of supposed racial criteria.

- From Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler: The Age of Social Catastrophe by Robert Gellately

China and Northern Italy

The American Spectator: Chinese labor, coronavirus, and northern Italy.

If we had a serious press corps, we might be hearing far more about this.

[HT: A Large Regular]

Quick Looks

The trailers for:


We encounter a whole lot of stuff in the workplace that changes nothing for the better or the worse other than the fact that it consumes time that could have been devoted to worthier pursuits.

It's just stuff. Programs that were doomed from the beginning. Meetings that should have never been held. Relationships that are beyond repair. Prospects that have evaporated. Difficult people who are still trying to exorcise the ghosts of old grievances.


And the sooner we put a sizable distance between ourselves and stuff, the better.


black and white UNK street sign

The future comes one day at a time.

- Dean Acheson

[Photo by Nick Fewings at Unsplash]

Feel Good Films - A Series

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Coronavirus Resource Center

Johns Hopkins University Medical School continues to update this site.

Serious Social Isolation

Beyond the Quarantine: Getting Back to Work

blue couch and white armchairs

City Journal: Arpit Gupta on how Americans can safely return to work.

[Photo by Anna Sullivan at Unsplash]

Breakfast with Thucydides

Each morning with breakfast, I'm reading a small portion of the history of the great war between Athens and Sparta. The classic history by Thucydides is much more than that, of course, and contains insights into society and people.

Not a bad way to start the day.

McKennitt and Yeats: The Two Trees

And here's the poem by William Butler Yeats.

NSFW: From "Other People's Money"

Reverse Hypocrisy

Another post I wrote in 2014:

Reverse hypocrisy: A form of hypocrisy where the person excuses lax or irresponsible conduct by others - conduct which fosters failure - but personally follows much higher standards. Some examples:

  • "I'll make excuses for your children using foul language or not doing homework. Of course, I wouldn't tolerate it with my own children."
  • "I'll applaud Jack or Mary's marginal performance but I'd never regard it as even close to acceptable in my own case."
This hypocrisy would be less harmful if its practitioners were not influential. Consider the film star or famous author who privately possesses a strong work ethic but whose public statements portray achievement as something produced by a magic bean called Inspiration. Consider the chief executives who grossly understate what it really takes to get to the top job. [It's as if their aim is to thin out the competition.]

Remedy: Preach what you practice.

Getting Back to Work

traffic lights in green sign in the middle of the street

The Atlantic: Yuval Levin on returning to normalcy.

[Photo by Collins Lesulie at Unsplash]

Mindfulness and Meditation

Get thee to Patrick Rhone and Rhoneisms.

While in Quarantine

There will be plenty of time to perfect your ferret-legging skills.

Monday, March 23, 2020

One of Those "It Could Be Worse" Films

Coronavirus Resource Center

Johns Hopkins University Medical School continues to update this site.

Quick Looks

The trailers for:

Monday Morning Advice for Leaders

I wrote this in 2014.
  • If you are not going to be pleasant then you'd better be ultra-competent.
  • If you think you have all of the answers that is a sign that you do not have all of the answers.
  • Before you hammer a change through the organization, use the hammer on your ego and listen to more people.
  • Beware of simple explanations for human behavior. Beware of the complicated ones too.
  • At least once a week, have coffee or lunch with someone who is not in your usual circle.
  • Contacts are nice, but relationships are better.
  • Be forgiving but also be alert.
  • People need to be studied in order to be understood and the knowledge which is obtained may have a short expiration date.
  • Evaluate your work for its effectiveness today and for how you are likely to regard it ten years from now.
  • You can focus on some subjects only by not focusing on them.
  • Organizations don't make decisions. People do.
  • A major decision that may be slept on, should be slept on.
  • Keep track of your organization's history. It is not a "nice to know' but a "need to know."