Political Calculations has the details.
I especially liked Keller's Conjecture. [Note the tiles above.]
[Photo by Zbysiu Rodak at Unsplash]
Read all of Jacob Siegel's essay in Unherd.
But Petraeus also absorbed intellectual lessons from his self-taught crash course in French military history. He took particular note of a passage midway through The Centurions [the novel by Jean Larteguy] in which a French officer first realizes that the Viet Minh had a different concept about how to wage war. Talking with a fellow officer in the POW camp, he likens it to the difference between the card games of belote and bridge: "When we make war, we play belote with thirty-two cards in the pack. But the Viet Minh's game is bridge, and they have fifty-two cards, twenty more than we do. Those twenty cards short will always prevent us from getting the better of them. They've got nothing to do with traditional warfare, they're marked with the signs of politics, propaganda, faith, agrarian reform."
- From The Insurgents: David Petraeus and the Plot to Change the American Way of War by Fred Kaplan
[I definitely regard this as a Wow book. Aside from the military topics, it has a great deal of insight on management and bureaucracy.]
Rick Georges, beach denizen and FutureLawyer, is eagerly awaiting the arrival of his Remarkable 2, a "thin, light digital tablet" that will permit him to transcribe what he writes to his computer and the cloud.
Smartwatches may come and go, but the Remarkable 2 has serious appeal.
Lives can be shaped by casual influences. An off-hand remark results in choosing a different field of study or a particular school. A baseless anecdote steers someone toward or away from a career of excellence. A compliment, uttered at the right moment, may possess special power just as a discouraging remark can be remembered for decades.
Granted, there are minor comments that remain minor and are soon forgotten. Beware, however, of underestimating a comment solely because it is minor.
Our lives are novels. Minor characters and little remarks may continue to inspire or demoralize long after they are introduced.
Appearance and grooming were very important to the Romans, and especially the aristocracy. It was no coincidence that the bathhouse, a complex devoted to the comfort and cleanliness of citizens, required some of the most sophisticated engineering ever devised by the Romans.
- From Caesar by Adrian Goldsworthy
[Photo by Markus Leo at Unsplash]
There is no doubt that the man I most admired among those I met was Winston Churchill. Churchill had the qualities of a poet and a pirate; I can ask no better mixture. Among public figures, de Gaulle alone had equal courtesy of manner.
- C. L. Sulzberger, A Long Row of Candles: Memoirs & Diaries, 1934-1954
Sport? Art? Death wish?
When considering all of the work and time these people devote to skateboarding, this video may be one of the strangest things you see all day.
When skateboards first appeared, I thought they would soon go the way of the hula hoop.
I received The Street of Crocodiles for Christmas.
"If Schulz had been allowed to live out his life, he might have given us untold treasures, but what he did in his short life was enough to make him one of the most remarkable writers who ever lived."
- Isaac Bashevis Singer
You can ask what the customers want. [Uh oh. Get ready to hear about Henry Ford and the horse.]
You can look at what they've always wanted and then, after some modifications, put together a slick (New and Improved!) campaign to sell it to them.
Or you can get to know the customers so well that you have a sense of what they want before they do. [Cue Steve Jobs.]
That last one can be far more risky but it also may be the most rewarding.
Just don't believe in magic more than in the basics.
Cinema Blend's Mike Reyes believes On Her Majesty's Secret Service is a Christmas movie.
The Art of Manliness has a very good list of the best Western films, but it missed these:
In November 1949 Major Warren Lewis, brother of C. S. Lewis, wrote what was probably the first ever review of J. R. R. Tolkien's novel The Lord of the Rings. The manuscript he read was in an inchoate state. It did not even have a title. But this 'New Hobbit', the long-awaited sequel to Tolkien's 1937 children's story of that name, had captivated Lewis immediately. 'Golly, what a book! The inexhaustible fertility of the man's imagination amazes me,' Lewis enthused in his diary. He was struck by Tolkien's mastery of description, his poignant characterisations and the unflagging energy of the narrative. This, he felt, was 'a great book of its kind'.
- From Britain At Bay: The Epic Story of the Second World War, 1938-1941 by Alan Allport
"This dreadful history shows the necessity of standing up to categorization and conspiracy peddling, of refusing to turn a blind eye or a deaf ear to defamation. There can be no drawing of distinctions between citizens when it comes to fundamental human rights, no hair-splitting about who gets to have them and who does not. In fact, such rights are for the people we fear or dislike because they are the people who need them."
- Peter Hayes in Why? Explaining the Holocaust
The Trottas were a young dynasty. Their progenitor had been knighted after the Battle of Solferino. He was a Slovene. Sipolje - the German name for his native village - became his title of nobility. Fate had elected him for a special deed. But he then made sure that later times lost all memory of him.
- From The Radetzky March by Joseph Roth
Read the rest of Lance Morrow's City Journal essay here.
I don't claim to be any Master Blogger. That title should be held by mega-blogs such as Instapundit or Althouse. I have, however, noticed a few things over the years and, for whatever they are worth, pass them along to anyone who is interested in starting a blog. The key thing is whether a particular approach works for you. After all, it's your blog.
Here are my ground rules:
In The Guardian: Do factory farms increase the chances of a pandemic?
My Jewish Learning discusses the story of Jethro's advice to Moses.
That's why I call Jethro the first management consultant.
The post also discusses the extent to which justice is delayed in India. An excerpt:Jethro’s advice heads off a corrosive situation for the young nation, one that unfortunately proliferates throughout the world today. India’s example–where an average 27.2 million cases are pending in the lower courts yearly–is particularly sobering. Transparency International deems India’s judge-to-citizen ratio “abysmally low,” with 12 to 13 judges per 1 million persons. Such a mind-boggling disparity means that it would take an estimated minimum of 300 years to clear all cases pending in India’s courts–if no further ones were brought.
City Journal: Christopher F. Rufo on teaching hate in the Seattle schools.
On Saturday afternoon, March 4, 1961, an expectant crowd shifted its feet on the cobbles of a small village in southwestern France. Windows brimmed with faces, bristled with binoculars. Shortly after two P.M. a crimson-sashed band sent a fanfare across adjoining vineyards. A specially imported battalion of gendarmes took up positions along the curb. And slowly the fairytale came into view.
- From The Rothchilds: A Family Portrait by Frederic Morton
Very well-written and quite funny about his early life. As might be expected, it provides a perspective that is often missing from newspaper accounts on his "troubles" with Mia Farrow.
[BTW: I was highly amused by his discovery of the flaws of The New York Times.]
The one major omission: The book has next to nothing on the mechanics, the techniques, of his film-making.
Whereas, on or about the night prior to Christmas, there did occur at a certain
improved piece of real property (hereinafter "the House") a general lack of
stirring by all creatures therein, including, but not limited to a mouse.
[Photo by Ricky Kharawala at Unsplash]
The FutureLawyer is toying - if that is the correct word - with the idea of practicing out of a recreational vehicle.
Get out on the road, enjoy the scenery, and live off the fat of the land.
Which is a bit more out-going than my desire for a castle with a moat.
But it is in keeping with a famous lawyer in the movies.
The Philadelphia Inquirer on the Trump campaign's recent effort to obtain a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Pennsylvania court changes to state election law. An excerpt:Instead, it challenges three Pennsylvania Supreme Court decisions on mail ballots and says the state court overstepped its constitutional role. Those opinions, which resolved multiple cases, prohibited counties from comparing mail ballot signatures to those on file; said campaigns and political parties can’t challenge ballots as they are being processed and counted; allowed limitations on observers to the vote count in Philadelphia; and allowed ballots to count even if voters had forgotten to fill out the address or date on the envelope.
Read the rest of Joel Zinberg in City Journal.
"One evening towards the end of 1999, I was at home watching the news on television. After the presenter had delivered the main stories of the day, she started to introduce a résumé of what I thought would be the events of the past twelve months, as usual on such late-December evenings. That year, however, she began a review of the whole twentieth century. 'As we draw to the end of the century that has seen more change than any other . . .' she began. I caught those words in my mind, held them there, and started thinking about them. What do we really know about change? I wondered. What makes this presenter so confident that the twentieth century saw more change than, say, the nineteenth, when railways transformed the world? Or the sixteenth, when Copernicus suggested that the Earth rotates around the Sun, and Luther broke the Christian Church in two? Soon black-and-white movies, a mushroom cloud, space rockets, cars and computers began to fill my television screen. The presenter's statement that the twentieth century had seen more change than any other was clearly based on the assumption that 'change' is synonymous with technological development - and that the twentieth century's innovations were without parallel."
- From Millennium: From Religion to Revolution: How Civilization Has Changed Over a Thousand Years by Ian Mortimer
Her hair was the same thin shade of gray as the weather-beaten pickets of the fence around her frozen garden. She had a way with horses, and she was alone on Christmas Eve. There is little in my life I regret as much as that I would not stay for just one cookie, just one cup of tea.
I recall this every Christmas. It is a short story that stays with you.
["Dakota Christmas" can be purchased on Amazon as a Kindle single.]
So far today I have gotten a haircut, put gasoline in my car, visited a used bookstore, had lunch at a restaurant, and picked up some items at a drugstore.
At least three of those stores were happy for the business. They also had plenty of precautions against spreading the COVID-19 virus.
Now I'm catching up on the Christmas lock-down in Britain.
"When the red light blinked on the bedside telephone, a sophisticated recording device was automatically activated in the Paris apartment near the Pompidou Center in the lively Fourth Arrondissement. The light had been wired in by an Israeli communications technician who had flown from Tel Aviv to install the recorder, intended to allay any suspicions neighbors would have about the phone ringing at ungodly hours. The technician was one of the yahalomin, a member of a Mossad unit that dealt with secure communications in the safe houses of Israel's secret intelligence agency."
- From Gideon's Spies: The Secret History of the Mossad by Gordon Thomas