Monday, June 29, 2020


Pink Floyd Break

A New Flu from China?

BBC News: A flu virus with the potential to become a pandemic has been discovered in China. An excerpt:
The virus, which the researchers call G4 EA H1N1, can grow and multiply in the cells that line the human airways.
They found evidence of recent infection starting in people who worked in abattoirs and the swine industry in China.
Current flu vaccines do not appear to protect against it, although they could be adapted to do so if needed.

Unusual Films I Recommend - A Series


He was privileged because his parents couldn't give him everything and early on he learned the importance of self-discipline and hard work.

She was privileged because at a young age her mother got her into the habit of using the public library; a practice that gave her a great love of learning which lasted her entire life.

He was privileged because his father provided a powerful example of what it means to be a responsible adult and a good citizen. 

She was privileged because her parents taught her the values of honesty, thrift, courage, kindness, and self-respect. 

The most important privileges do not have a price tag.

Oxford's Strategic Edge

three person standing on university grass field

Make Nicholas Bate's blog a daily visit.

[Photo by delfi de la Rua at Unsplash]

First Paragraph

The elderly passenger sitting on the north-window side of that inexorably moving railway coach, next to an empty seat and facing two empty ones, was none other than Professor Timofey Pnin. Ideally bald, sun-tanned, and clean-shaven, he began rather impressively with that great brown dome of his, tortoise-shell glasses (masking an infantile absence of eyebrows), apish upper lip, thick neck, and strong-man torso in a tightish tweed coat, but ended, somewhat disappointingly, in a pair of spindly legs (now flanneled and crossed) and frail, almost feminine feet.

- From Pnin by Vladimir Nabokov

An Unfolding Scandal

Law professor Jonathan Turley on the "dangerous game of legal improvisation" in the Flynn case.

This will likely get much worse.

Unusual Films I Recommend - A Series

I could not find a trailer for "A Thousand Clowns" but here's a clip.

Mug Shot

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Sounds Promising

friends of mine are starting a new university: admission by written exams only, no US-style bureaucrats ("Deans"), just professors, cleaners & students. No funding for student life, sports, community service etc, just teaching & learning. Staffed by refugees ex Ivy League

Mobs and Wimps

But I think the most disturbing aspect of this episode, which perhaps indicates how deep our societal rot goes, has less to do with the rioters than with those in positions of authority. Rioters and miscreants we will always have, but that is why we have authorities. Ours, however, seem to have utterly abdicated. In city after city, mayors and governors decline to act against vandals, the police stand down, and the devil is allowed to take the hindmost. Corporations fall over themselves to advertise their virtuousness, and give what looks very much like protection money to organizations whose goals are openly subversive of the fundamental American political and social order. University administrators are all too willing to side with those who suppress free inquiry, and routinely cave to protestors rather than defend even the most fundamental tenets of academic freedom. 

Read the rest of Wilfred M. McClay in First Things.

First Paragraph

In the mid-1960s, at a moment of deceptively permanent-looking prosperity, the country's most energetic and ideological leaders made a bid to reform the United States along lines more just and humane. They rallied to various loosely linked moral crusades, of which the civil rights movement, culminating in the 1964 Civil Rights Act, provided the model. Women entered jobs and roles that had been male preserves. Sex came untethered from both tradition and prudery. Immigrants previously unwanted in the United States were welcomed and even recruited. On both sides of the clash over the Vietnam War, thinkers and politicians formulated ambitious plans for the use of American power.

- From The Age of Entitlement: America Since the Sixties by Christopher Caldwell

Unusual Films I Recommend - A Series

Wait a Minute

Every group of decision-makers needs someone who will say "Wait a minute" whenever the group begins to fall in love with a particular course of action.

Weekend Leadership Reading

man siting while readign

Wally Bock has some great material for us.

Heed the wisdom of Jeff Bezos regarding PowerPoint.

[Photo by Varun Gaba at Unsplash]

An Affectionate Return to the Reliant Robin

Friday, June 26, 2020

Like an Eagle

One should not read like a dog obeying its master, but like an eagle hunting its prey.

- Dee Hock

In the Abyss

I am working on a book that deals with the attitudes of people working in dictatorships. This builds on research I began many years ago. The work requires extensive study of fascist, Nazi, and communist governments. 

And yet there are moments when I lean back in my chair, stunned and surprised.

Studying history is not just time travel. It can also resemble space travel.


Is the MBA Obsolete?

man holding incandescent bulb

Forbes: Paulina Karpis on whether an MBA is worth it after Covid-19.

[Photo by Riccardo Annandale at Unsplash]

Unusual Films I Recommend - A Series

Miscellaneous and Fast

The Fix is Never In

Wally Bock recalls some very good advice from his father about an employee Wally fired.

This may be one of the best things you read all day.

Hotter Than Hot

New Times: An oral history of the hottest day ever in Phoenix.

I vividly recall that day. It was unbelievably hot.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Suspense in South Florida


Will FutureLawyer get a Galaxy Watch 3?

Robert Boyers on The Tyranny of Virtue

College Sex Assault Rules

The New York Times: The Trump administration gains surprising support for its restoration of due process rights in sexual assault cases on campus.

Back By Popular Demand

"We blew up this woman's life for no reason."

Althouse and New York magazine on a mean story at The Washington Post.

Modern life. Charming.

Born on June 25, 1903

Good old George Orwell is more important than ever. This is a great time to re-read "Animal Farm" and "1984."

First Paragraph

Rachel died six months ago. He was thirty-three. One day, about two years ago, something in his head just snapped and he started tearing around all over the place - France, Algeria, Germany, Austria, Poland, Turkey, Egypt. Between trips, he'd hole up in a corner and read, think and write stuff - and he'd rage. He lost his health. Then his job. Then his mind. Ophélie walked out on him. One night he killed himself. It was this year, 24 April 1996, at about 11 P.M.

- From The German Mujahid by Boualem Sansal

Empty Cradles and Serious Results

"Our birthrate has never been so low in America."

Click here for the rest of the Newsweek essay by Lyman Stone and W. Bradford Wilcox.

Miscellaneous and Fast

Wednesday, June 24, 2020


I had a cataract operation on my right eye yesterday. One for my left eye is scheduled for next month. I'm now in recovery mode. Can't drive for a few days. Kick back. Move around but take it easy.

As for my eyesight, the effect is strange. When I look only with my untouched left eye, there is a faint golden tone. When I look with my new right eye, colors are more intense and the overall picture is brighter.

The left eye's "atmosphere" has a hint of dusk, as if it's later in the day. 

The new eye's view is cheery. There is the distinct feeling that it is a little earlier in the day.

I'm looking forward to July.

Unusual Films I Recommend

Barbarism versus Civilization

Althouse on what happened to the "Forward" statue in Madison.

In that battle, it's easy to choose sides. 

Put me down for Civilization.

Human Resources Can Learn Much from the Romans

“When [Servius Galba] was a commoner he seemed too big for his station, and had he never been emperor, no one would have doubted his ability to reign.”

- Tacitus

The Profession We Have Chosen

A memorable scene from "Mountains of the Moon."

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Eye See You

All went well but I am in recovery from eye surgery.

Bear with me.  

Back Soon

house on black mountain covered by snow

[Photo by Boris Baldinger at Unsplash]

"Tactical Urbanism"

Demand a Recount!'—William F. Buckley's Quixotic 1965 Run for NYC ...

Althouse has the stories on the idea of revising the relationship between cities and cars.

Which mayoral candidate in 1965 proposed the dedication of major streets as bike lanes?

This guy.

Have Yet to Track This Down

Monday, June 22, 2020

Escaping Seattle

KTAR: Due to unrest, a Seattle investment firm is moving to Phoenix.

Unusual Films I Recommend - A Series

"Solzhenitsyn's Prophecy"

Robert P. George writing in First Things in 2018. An excerpt:

In 1978, the Cold War was raging, and the U.S. was still reeling from its humiliation in the disastrous war in Vietnam. Anti-Americanism was flourishing both abroad and at home. Many Americans—particularly young Americans—had lost faith in their country, its institutions, its principles, its culture, its traditions, its way of life. Some proposed communism as a superior system; many suggested what came to be known as “moral equivalency” between American democracy and Soviet communism. By 1978, to suggest such equivalency had become a mark of sophistication—something to distinguish one from the allegedly backward hicks and rubes who believed in the superiority of the American to the Soviet system. There were many such “sophisticated” people at Harvard. And Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn came to Harvard to confront them and others.

First Paragraph

The shy northern sun had already set by teatime when three of the Tsar's gendarmes took up positions at the gates of the Smolny Institute for Noble Girls. The end of the term at the finest girls' boarding school in St. Petersburg was no place for policemen but there they were, unmistakable in their smart navy-blue tunics with white trimming, shiny sabers, and lambskin helmets with sultan-spikes. One clicked his fingers impatiently, another opened and closed the leather holster of his Mauser revolver and the third stood stolidly, legs wide, with his thumbs stuck into his belt. Behind them waited a traffic jam of horse-drawn sleighs, emblazoned gold and crimson with family crests and a couple of gleaming limousines. The slow, slanting snow-fall was visible only in the flickering halo of streetlights and the amber lamps of touring cars.

- From Shashenka (Volume One in The Moscow Trilogy) by Simon Sebag Montefiore

Unusual Films I Recommend - A Series

Sunday, June 21, 2020

The Greatest Film Father?

Jonah Goldberg tweeted about how Richard Dreyfuss portrayed a worthless father in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind."

The father in "Taken," of course, is not just great, he has skills.

Last Minute Father's Day Gift: A Suggestion

Master and Commander: Patrick O'Brian: Books

Father's Day

William C. Wade, a.k.a. "The Peoria Porpoise"

Craftsman of many memorable comments, such as: 

"I send my kids off to school and they come back dumber than when they left."


"I don't want to hear any alibis."

Find Something Beautiful Today

woman sitting on white cushion near glass window

[Photo by Roberto Nickson at Unsplash]

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Eskimo Pie? Not an Onion Story.

I would love to have a full transcript of the meeting that produced this decision.

Blondie and More

man standing beside wall with art

Cultural Offering has New Wave - Essential Mixes.

[Photo by Johny vino at Unsplash]

First Paragraph

Commute ships roared on all sides, as Ed Morris made his way wearily home to Earth at the end of a long hard day at the office. The Ganymede-Terra lanes were choked with exhausted, grim-faced businessmen; Jupiter was in opposition to Earth and the trip was a good two hours. Every few million miles the great flow slowed to a grinding, agonized halt; signal-lights flashed as streams from Mars and Saturn fed into the main traffic-arteries.

- From "Sales Pitch," a story by Philip K. Dick


Stories and observations by:

Weekend Leadership Reading

woman covering her face with teal book

Wally Bock has assembled an intriguing collection for us.

[Photo by Sincerely Media at Unsplash]

Thursday, June 18, 2020

When Late Night Shows were Kind

Dame Vera Lynn, RIP

Dame Vera Lynn passed at the age of 103

Many of us will remember that her iconic "We'll Meet Again" song from World War II was used at the end of "Dr. Strangelove."

(Partial) First Paragraph

A student at a graduation party tells you she thinks you're "woke," and you say thank you and you're not sure you know what that means. "It's no small thing," she continues, "for an old white guy like you." And so you think further about it the next day. Try to process the idea. Obvious that you can talk the talk. Invoke the system and the market, inequality and abuse, neoliberalism and privilege. That you don't offend. After three classes with you the student probably means mainly that. You don't offend. Willing to talk politics when teaching your courses. Not averse to assigning books sure to provoke unrest. Michel Houellebecq and Claudia Rankine. Susan Sontag and Slavoj Žižek. Zadie Smith and Philip Roth. And yet no prospect, you think, that you'll spontaneously utter something that will lead decent people to walk out or turn their backs. Decent people. The kinds who sign up for your classes, attend your lectures, read your articles, and occasionally send you email letters to express their encouragement or disappointment. Even your kids, who are given to noting your deficiencies, assure you that you've written nothing to embarrass them - not yet, though they are wary of your insistence on coming out with things uncomfortable or contrarian. Your habit of criticism. Your tendency to quarrel with people in your own left-liberal cohort. The pleasure you take in saying no to things many of your friends embrace. Maybe too reluctant to let people know you're with them. Pissed off about always needing to show your papers and confirm you're on board.

- From The Tyranny of Virtue: Identity, the Academy, and the Hunt for Political Heresies by Robert Boyers

Tech Today

Unusual Films I Recommend - A Series


Expecting to achieve all that we demand of ourselves is a love affair with disappointment.

- Dee Hock

The Missing Histories

Jack retires. Mary goes back to school. Carlos gets a promotion with a firm several states away.

And before you know it, no one on the job can remember how a particular matter was handled seven years ago.

This is not uncommon and yet the idea of preserving the history of various decisions is regarded as odd. In some instances, fear may play a role. People may get nervous at the slightest chance that a detailed history of How We Made Decision X will some day be referred to by lawyers as Exhibit A.

If it's a macro-decision, let the company attorney request and keep all of the history.

But most of the problems I see are not macro in nature. They deserve a one or two page summary of why a policy or a decision reached.

Remember, science waits to be discovered. History, on the other hand, can be lost.

The Reversal

Glenn Greenwald notes the abrupt reversal by public health experts on the virus and public gatherings.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Artwork by Robert E. McGinnis

Artwork for Thunderball by Robert E. McGinnis

Find Your Style

grayscale photo of woman standing in the middle of the road

[Photo by Morgan Sessions at Unsplash]

Out in the Schools

The Tablet: David Mikics on "100,000 Little Stalinists."

The Atlantic: George Packer on "When the Culture War Comes for the Kids."

The World Rises Out of Extreme Poverty

Political Calculations has the details.

Find Some Middle Ground

woman in white tank top sitting on white chair using macbook

You can be at the job site or office.

Or you can be working from home.

But what about a mid-point?

We may discover more organizations formally designating schmooze times or areas where people are encouraged to meet either online or in person to exchange the small talk and tips that are finally being recognized as a very important part of most workplaces and teams.

The blessings and perspective of lawyers will be needed and yet the middle ground between the workplace and the home workplace may be key territory.

The small things are not always the small things.

[Photo by Damir Spanic at Unsplash]

In the Stack : [Greg Lukianoff] The Coddling of The American Mind ...

Unusual Films I Recommend - A Series

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

"The American Soviet Mentality"

Russians are fond of quoting Sergei Dovlatov, a dissident Soviet writer who emigrated to the United States in 1979: “We continuously curse Comrade Stalin, and, naturally, with good reason. And yet I want to ask: who wrote four million denunciations?” It wasn’t the fearsome heads of Soviet secret police who did that, he said. It was ordinary people.

Read the rest of the Tablet article on "collective demonization" here.

Property as an Essential Ally of Freedom

The ultimate objective of totalitarianism is the concentration of all public authority in the hands of a self-appointed and self-perpetuating corps of the elect who call themselves a "party" but resemble rather an order, members of which owe loyalty only to their leaders and each other. This objective presupposes control, direct or indirect, depending on the circumstances, over the country's economic resources. Property which by its very nature sets limits to state authority is either abolished or transformed into possession contingent on satisfactory service to the ruling party.

- From Property and Freedom by Richard Pipes

Next Month, I Will Be Going on a Hong Kong Film Binge

Any other recommendations?

Just What We Don't Need

The BBC has a recent story about a violent clash between Chinese and Indian troops.

Meanwhile, in another area of peace and understanding, a liaison office is not just closed, but blown up

Ethics Probe of Scientists

Science magazine reports on the number of scientists who have resigned or have been dismissed due to their financial links to foreign governments.

Which government had the most links? Hmm.

Quick Look

"Great American Novel" Contenders - A Series

Herzog: Library Edition: Bellow, Saul, Kandinsky, Wolfram ...


Find Your Style

person holding a skateboard in a hill near body of water during daytime

[Photo by 30daysreplay at Unsplash]

Unusual Films I Recommend - A Series

Monday, June 15, 2020

Crank It Up

Gotta Keep Your Sense of Humor

American Assimilation and Public Schools

The public school was created for the purpose of teaching immigrant children reading, writing, and arithmetic and what it means to be an American with the hope that they would then go home and teach their parents.

- Albert Shanker

Orwell Remains with Us

No, the George Orwell statue is not being removed.

The times are crazy but we have not yet reached that level of craziness.

BTW: My view is that there should be a moratorium on removing statues until the lawless mobs cease their hooliganism and that, at all times, anyone who pulls down a statue should be prosecuted.

Title VII Expanded by the US Supreme Court

The New York Times reports on the surprise shift.

[An unintended consequence: Those who argue that laws can have, regardless of legislative intent or even wording, a slippery slope have been strengthened.]

Commentary by:

To Mask or Not to Mask

man in red sweater with face mask

Nassim Nicholas Taleb looks at the analysis.

[Photo by engin akyurt at Unsplash]

Miscellaneous and Fast

Unusual Films I Recommend


woman in white vest and black bikini with hand on chest

You want praise from people who kick themselves every fifteen minutes, the approval of people who despise themselves. (Is it a sign of self-respect to regret nearly everything you do?)

- Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

[Photo by Darius Bashar at Unsplash]

Virus Models and Education Models

woman in red tank top and black skirt

No, not that type of model!

Michael Goldstein on the failure of virus experts and their models and how that relates to schools.

[Photo by Utopia by Cho at Unsplash]

Job Interview

A memorable scene from "The Departed." The language may be a tad rough for the average workplace.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Congratulations, Tanmay!

pink fireworks photography

Tanmay Vora, who is regularly cited as one of the most influential HR bloggers in India, has just celebrated 14 years of blogging.

A gentleman and a scholar as well as an artist and photographer, he deserves a large audience.

May he continue to blog for many more years.

[Photo by Shireah Ragnar at Unsplash]