Saturday, February 29, 2020


woman wearing brown sweater holding lips

Steve Layman points to an exciting concept called "Off."

[Photo by Anthony Tran at Unsplash]

Sound Advice Then and Sound Advice Now

So let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself - nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.

- Franklin D. Roosevelt

The Expensive Watch

During a trip to the Geneva factory of Vacheron Constantin, whose watches often cost in the low five figures, Mr. Mayer met a worker who specialized in making minuscule screws that go inside a watch. The worker finished 1 1/2 screws by hand a day.

- From "Time is (a lot of) Money" by Jacob Gallagher in The Wall Street Journal, February 29 - March 1, 2020, p. D2.

Weekend Leadership Reading

woman in grey shirt reading magazine while having coffee

Wally Bock has some assignments for us.

[Photo by BBH Singapore at Unsplash]

Friday, February 28, 2020

Crank It Up

Cultural Offering has Lou Gramm with "Midnight Blue."

Family Structure and Student Outcomes

Ian Rowe examines the issue in City Journal.

To paraphrase Tom Wolfe, we live in a time when what was common knowledge years ago is a shocking discovery.

Presidential Signatures

Business Insider has a fascinating article showing the signatures of all of the presidents of the United States.

I think my signature may be closest to Trump's. 

Where would yours fall?

First Paragraph

Adolf Hitler was born on April 20, 1889, in the Austrian town of Braunau am Inn on the German-Austrian border. His father, Alois Hitler, was a provincial customs official of liberal views who had risen from an unpromising background to the respectable status of middle-grade civil servant of the Habsburg Empire. Alois's patrimony was a source of controversy and rumor. He was the illegitimate son of Maria Anna Schicklgruber and an unknown father. In 1842 Maria Anna married Johann Georg Hiedler, and in 1876 Alois adopted the name of his stepfather, later changing the spelling to Hitler. As the Nazis came to prominence and Adolf Hitler emerged a national political figure, there was some speculation that Adolf's unknown grandfather was Jewish, but no credible evidence to support such rumors has ever surfaced.

- From The Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany by Thomas Childers

Quick Looks

The trailers for:

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Fifty Years Ago?

How can that be? 

Will Black Sabbath be playing at Sun City?

A Layman's Blog is on the case. He has Black Sabbath with "Iron Man."

Thank You for Not Using PowerPoint

unknown persons sitting indoors

Nicholas Bate zeroed in on PowerPoint's problems in 2015.

He's still on target.

[Photo by Charles Deluvio at Unsplash]

Attorney at Sea

FutureLawyer has the right idea about retirement


But he is also flexible enough to move his desk to a beach or a cruise ship.

Memorize Some Longfellow Today

The Hammock Papers reminds us it is Longfellow's birthday. 

I can still recall memorizing and reciting poetry in elementary school. 

One classmate memorized some Longfellow but only the required number of lines. 

Nobly, he did not cut off in mid-sentence.

Zygmunt Bauman: Thinker

white painted wall building inside taken at daytime

[Photo by Seth Weisfeld at Unsplash]

Commerce versus Ideology

two people looking upward

Commerce is greedy. Ideology is blood-thirsty.

- Mason Cooley

[Photo by Jason Row at Unsplash]

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Not a Date Movie

The trailer for "Promising Young Woman."

Creator of Dirk Pitt

Rest in Peace: Clive Cussler.

A true gentleman.

Powerful Debating Point

Newsweek did not receive a response in time for publication.

First Paragraph

In the capital of Turkey, in a palace with a thousand rooms, a man sits on a gilt throne. Some of his soldiers are ornamental and armed with sabres, others fly F-16s and protect him from military coups. The year is 2018. The man is President Erdoğan. The fantasy is Ottoman.

- From Ottoman Odyssey: Travels Through a Lost Empire by Alev Scott


Image result for the fear peter godwin amazon

A Product to Touch

black car macro shot

Despite all of the talk about an information society and intellectual capital, I confess to a wariness when it comes to straying from tangible products.

[Photo by Serge Kutuzov at Unsplash]

Quick Looks

The trailers for:

Modern Political Debate

wrestler on ring

[Photo by Jason Pofahl at Unsplash]

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Level and Rule

gray bird standing beside warning signage near body of water during daytime

The project sounded very interesting. The work certainly would have been lucrative but the situation evoked a level of uneasiness which in turn triggered one of my rules. That rule is simple: Whenever that level of uneasiness is reached, say no. 

I have never regretted those decisions. The rule is important because it keeps me from telling myself stories and ignoring warning signs. It is a rule, not a suggestion, and so must be obeyed.

[Photo by Tyler B at Unsplash]

A Great Time to be a Recluse

green dome near brown wooden dock near green leaved trees

Cultural Offering on Coronavirus, three weeks, and the current value of social distancing.

[Photo by Kyle Glenn at Unsplash]

There are Killers Out There

man holding black smartphone in front of a windowpane

Assumptions. Fatigue. Impatience. Greed. Lust. Envy. Fear. Ego. Anger. Ignorance. Indiscretion. Arrogance. Sloth.

The list continues.

[Photo by Jim Reardan at Unsplash]

First Paragraph

The early-morning, late-November sun began to come in low and slow and cold and pale over the railroad bridge at the Dockett Street commuter-train stop on the Dedham-West Roxbury line, cheap-glittering the dirty windows on the southerly side of the yellow cinderblock auto-body shop - the sign on the roof in tall, hollow, red-plastic letters read: BUDDYS' YOUR BRUISED CAR'S BEST BUDDY - and Dell'Appa writhed in the passenger bucket seat of the blue-and-white Chevy Blazer. He exhaled loudly.

- From Bomber's Law by George V. Higgins

Monday, February 24, 2020

Quick Look

The trailer for "Persepolis."

Home Libraries: Serious Envy Here

Literary Hub takes a look at novelist Larry McMurtry's home library.

First Paragraph

It was a perfectly ordinary Friday afternoon in tropical Panama until Andrew Osnard barged into Harry Pendel's shop asking to be measured for a suit. When he barged in Pendel was one person. By the time he barged out again Pendel was another. Total time elapsed: seventy-seven minutes according to the mahogany-cased clock by Samuel Collier of Eccles, one of the many historic features of the house of Pendel & Braithwaite Co. Limitada, Tailors to Royalty, formerly of Savile Row, London, and presently of the Via España, Panama City.

- From The Tailor of Panama by John le Carré


plane flying during daytime

You've got an entire week to do great work.

[Photo by Clement Falize at Unsplash]

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Saturday, February 22, 2020

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]