Saturday, October 31, 2020

Another Reason to Read Raymond Chandler

“Marlowe's the name. The guy you've been trying to follow around for a couple of days."

"I ain't following anybody, doc."

"This jalopy is. Maybe you can't control it. Have it your own way. I'm now going to eat breakfast in the coffee shop across the street: orange juice, bacon and eggs, toast, honey, three or four cups of coffee, and a toothpick. I am then going up to my office, which is on the seventh floor of the building right opposite you. If you have anything that's worrying you beyond endurance, drop up and chew it over. I'll only be oiling my machine gun.”

- Raymond Chandler

Halloween Picks

 The staff at The Paris Review has some spooky selections.



Apocalypse Always

Walter Kirn's article in Harper's magazine.



2020 List of Litigation Horrors

Jonathan Turley gives his annual list of Halloween torts and crimes.

[Photo by Johannes Giez at Unsplash]

"The Scariest Story Ever Told"

A story by Colin Nissan in The New Yorker.

Quick Look



Wally Bock has your weekend leadership reading assignments. 

[Photo by Randy Fath at Unsplash]

Crime Update


Happy Halloween!


[Photo by Carter Baran at Unsplash]

Friday, October 30, 2020

You Will Smile


[HT: Randy Barnett]

Another Reason to Read Raymond Chandler

“I hung up. It was a good start, but it didn’t go far enough. I ought to have locked the door and hidden under the desk.”

- Raymond Chandler

Find Your Style


[Photo by OSPAN ALI at Unsplash]

A Visual Rhoneism

I have no doubt that Patrick Rhone is the most fashionable of bloggers.

[It should be noted, however, that the competition is not fierce.]

David Bowie? I'm More in the Mood for a Jim Bowie Film


Nine Months of COVID-19 Visualized

Political Calculations has the charts.

Quite interesting.

Nostalgia Break: MacArthur Park


Red Guard Update

Law professor Jonathan Turley comments on the report that the student government at the University of Wisconsin - Madison has unanimously voted to remove a statue of Abraham Lincoln.

Critical Theory

In one sentence, Critical Theory is the belief that society is rotten to the core, that your life actually sucks even though you don't know it, and that you must be brainwashed or filled with evil motives if you disagree.

- James Lindsay, co-author with Helen Pluckrose of Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything about Race, Gender, and Identity and Why This Harms Everybody

Why I Live in the Desert


Speaking Out About Identity Politics on Campus


Currently Reading This Novel for the Third Time

Antonin Becvar and Josef Stankovsky were on the roof, walking around the statues. It wasn't a dangerous job - the statues were on a balustrade and the roof was relatively flat. Julius Schlesinger, a Municipal official and a candidate for the SS - not even for the Elite Guard, but the plain, ordinary SS - was afraid to go out on the roof. Had he a higher rank, he wouldn't have had to waste time like this here. He might have found more lucrative work with the Gestapo. Still, a job at Municipal was more comfortable. Anyway, how far could he advance as a former locksmith? Unless they sent him to the front, out there in the East, and that would be a bad thing. Until this moment he had been doing pretty well in the Municipal division. But now things were beginning to go wrong. 

- From Mendelssohn Is on the Roof by Jiří Weil

Thursday, October 29, 2020

From 2012: Dressing for the Occasion


Another Reason to Read Raymond Chandler

“One moment, please. Whom did you wish to see?” 

Degarmo spun on his heel and looked at me wonderingly. “Did he say ‘whom’?” 

“Yeah, but don’t hit him,” I said. “There is such a word.” 

Degarmo licked his lips. “I knew there was,” he said. “I often wondered where they kept it.”

- Raymond Chandler

Another Upbeat Film


Greenwald Leaves The Intercept

I had no objection to their disagreement with my views of what this Biden evidence shows: as a last-ditch attempt to avoid being censored, I encouraged them to air their disagreements with me by writing their own articles that critique my perspectives and letting readers decide who is right, the way any confident and healthy media outlet would. But modern media outlets do not air dissent; they quash it. So censorship of my article, rather than engagement with it, was the path these Biden-supporting editors chose.

Read all of Glenn Greenwald on why he left The Intercept.

[It is a publication he helped found.]

Song Around the World


The Elites Close Ranks

Spiked: Fraser Myers on why the actions of the media elites on the Biden corruption story are more troubling than the story itself. An excerpt:

The implications for after the election are stark. Matt Taibbi has warned that ‘this same press corps might be weeks away from assuming responsibility for challenging a Biden ­administration. If they’ve already calculated once that a true story may be buried for political reasons, because the other “side” is worse, they will surely make that same calculation again.’

Hot Times in London

Jeremy Corbyn has been suspended by the Labor Party.

Following British politics is far superior to subscribing to Netflix.

PowerPoint Rule

"Never use PowerPoint with a jury or a judge."

- Rick Georges, FutureLawyer


Yahoo reports on the good news about the gross domestic product.

I Want a Visa


Living Down to Human Nature

"Take away religion, take away philosophy, take away the higher aims of art, and you deprive ordinary people of the ways in which they can represent their apartness. Human nature, once something to live up to, becomes something to live down to instead. Biological reductionism nurtures this ‘living down’, which is why people so readily fall for it. It makes cynicism respectable and degeneracy chic. It abolishes our kind, and with it our kindness.”

- Roger Scruton

[Photo by Clem Onojeghuo at Unsplash]

Two Universes

Sometimes, vigorous disagreement stimulates people to think more intelligently. Not this year, when the country’s deep and centrifugal divisions, its blood-feud loathings, have caused Americans in the millions to abandon thinking altogether, even as they have given up on compromise. More and more of us have shut down the possibility that we might change our minds. In 2020, a mind open to the other side’s point of view—a mind capable of truly understanding that point of view—is rare.

Read all of Lance Morrow's essay in City Journal.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Another Reason to Read Raymond Chandler

“All she did was take her hand out of her bag, with a gun in it. All she did was point it at me and smile. All I did was nothing.”

- Raymond Chandler

Loved the Novel


The Desire to Accuse

"The desire to accuse, which brings with it a reputation for virtue without the cost of acquiring it, takes over from the normal flow of human forgiveness, creating a wooden personality."

- Roger Scruton in The Decline of Laughter

Opinion: Different on the Ground

Ann Althouse notes a New York Times article about the polls in Pennsylvania.

Cultural Offering provides historian Victor Davis Hanson's contrasting argument to the assertions heard in much of the mainstream media.

[Photo by Andrew Neel at Unsplash]


I slept and dreamt

that life was joy.

I awoke and saw

that life was duty.

I worked - and behold,

duty was joy.

- Rabindranath Tagore

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Quick Look


Poetry Break




From the film classic, The Lion in Winter.

Mirror Needed

Law professor Jonathan Turley notes historian Jon Meacham's vivid description of Trump supporters.

Jon Meacham, author of The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels, takes a break from making better angels to describe Trump supporters as lizard-brained.



It was a long while ago that the words God be with you disappeared into the word goodbye, but every now and again some trace of them still glimmers through.

- Frederick Buechner

Bylaws and Policy Manuals

I've recently been asked to assume a role that requires deep immersion in bylaws and policy manuals.

You know, exciting stuff.

And yet, they really are because bylaws and policy manuals can, in so many ways, determine whether an organization succeeds. 

Ignore them and the factions run wild. Ignore them and in a short amount of time they will have conflicting provisions. Ignore the bigger picture and you'll soon have a board involved in staff activities and a staff stomping on board territory. The results are chaos, ineffectiveness, and the loss of accountability.

So the work will be fun.

On a step-by-step basis.

Crank It Up


They Didn't Want to Say No


So they sent it to a committee.

[Photo by Casey Allen at Unsplash]

"Unfriending Free Speech"

 Other media platforms, too, have moved on from disinterested presentation and examination of the facts to explicitly supporting particular political causes. National Public Radio, for example, announced that it would have nothing to do with the Post’s story about Hunter Biden’s laptop. “We don’t want to waste our time on stories that are not really stories,” a managing editor explained, “and we don’t want to waste the listeners’ and readers’ time on stories that are just pure distractions.” (In August, NPR felt that an excellent use of its journalists and listeners’ time was a long, sympathetic interview with Vicky Osterweil, who had written the book In Defense of Looting.) Similarly, Glenn Reynolds devoted one of his weekly USA Today columns to Facebook and Twitter’s efforts to halt the spread of the Post’s story on the Bidens. USA Today spiked the column without explanation; it was available only to readers of Reynolds’s blog.

Read the rest of William Voegeli's essay in City Journal.

First Paragraph

Elsie hadn't meant to burn down the workhouse. 

- From Spellbreaker by Charlie N. Holmberg

Monday, October 26, 2020

Dr. Jessica Hooten Wilson Teaches the Classics


A great introduction by a great professor. 

[Of course, she's wrong about the greatest novel. The greatest novel is Tolstoy's War and Peace.]

Time to Get Your Summer Hide-Away

An Italian town is auctioning off abandoned homes for just over $1.00

And suddenly you're in a novel.

Get Lit


Flash Mob


First Paragraph

It was in March 1947, as they were collecting information for the Nuremberg trials, that staff of the American prosecutor made the discovery. Stamped "Geheime Reichssache" - "Secret Reich Matter" - and tucked away in a German Foreign Office folder were the minutes of a meeting. The meeting had involved fifteen top Nazi civil servants, SS officials, and party representatives and had taken place on January 20, 1942, in a grand Berlin villa on the shores of Lake Wannsee. The Americans had stumbled across the only surviving copy of the minutes, number sixteen out of an original thirty.

- From The Wannsee Conference and The Final Solution: A Reconsideration by Mark Roseman

Quick Look



A briefcase with papers and books. Plenty of pens. A smartphone. A notepad and a plan.

Waiting for the mechanics to finish repairing my car will not be time wasted.

It will be a valuable opportunity to think.

A waiting room can be a monastery.

[Photo by Alvaro Serrano at Unsplash]

Poetry Break


Sunday, October 25, 2020

Another Reason to Read Raymond Chandler

“I lit a cigarette and dragged a smoking stand beside the chair. The minutes went by on tiptoe, with their fingers to their lips. I looked the place over. You can't tell anything about an outfit like that. They might be making millions, and they might have the sheriff in the back room, with his chair tilted against the safe.”

- Raymond Chandler

As We Approach Halloween


Find Something Beautiful Today


[Photo by Marek Okon at Unsplash]

Saturday, October 24, 2020

The COVID Candy Chute

Political Calculations has information on the COVID candy chute and on Halloween masks.

[Photo by Daniel Lincoln at Unsplash]

Bird Box


The Gaps

I recently attended a board meeting for a state agency. Almost four hours long. No breaks. I sat in an auditorium with other board members while the wiser members attended via Zoom.

The Zoomers had the better deal. They were at home and comfortable and were shamelessly sipping cool drinks and leaning back in comfortable chairs while those of us in the auditorium got to stare at them on a large screen while rubbing our trick knees.

Aside from issues with the meeting's environment, I noticed a sizable reluctance to comment on various issues. Those in the auditorium had to wave over a person with a microphone before they could speak to the group. I'm sure there were also people on Zoom who found the Zoom process to be awkward. The result was a stilted atmosphere that encouraged silence.

And a reluctance to speak produces information gaps.

Unfortunately, even small gaps can be hazardous.

[Photo by Chris Montgomery at Unsplash]

Reading and Enjoying


The End of Presidential Debates

"It featured no podiums, no list of topics, no fixed rotation of questions, no time limits on answers, and no formal closing statements. Bill Clinton and the other Democrats seeking the nomination sat around a table for a discussion moderated by Robert MacNeil and Jim Lehrer, the PBS anchors. Instead of dictating who spoke when and for how long about which issue, the moderators threw out general questions and let the candidates talk to one another. The moderators occasionally intervened to ask for specifics or keep the discussion from wandering, but they mostly let the candidates run the show."

Read the rest of John Tierney's essay in City Journal.

Poetry Break


Nobody Ever Leaves


Common Ingredients in Decision-Making


[Photo by Sarah Gualtieri at Unsplash]

Weekend Leadership Reading


Wally Bock has the assignments.

[Photo by Road Trip with Raj at Unsplash]

Friday, October 23, 2020

"The Elements" by Tom Lehrer


He wraps it up with the version by Aristotle.

Another Reason to Read Raymond Chandler

“A check girl in peach-bloom Chinese pajamas came over to take my hat and disapprove of my clothes. She had eyes like strange sins.”

- Raymond Chandler

Hit the Slopes


Tidy Up


[Photo by Jeff Sheldon at Unsplash]

"When the Frost is on the Punkin"


This has become an Execupundit tradition:

Kent Risley with 
a marvelous recitation of the poem.

[Photo by Sarah Gualtieri at Unsplash]

Thursday, October 22, 2020



New Math


Tom Lehrer from 1965.

The Four Horsemen of Procrastination

 Cultural Offering has the details.

Get a Stage. Call in the Press. Answer Questions.

Hunter Biden's business partner is talking.

Here is the referenced New York Post column by Michael Goodwin.

Humor Update


NOTE: Tom Lehrer's catalog of songs is now in the public domain.

The Mountain

I have assembled a mountain of research on a writing project and am now familiar with the trails, ledges, and ravines on the way up the mountain. As the writing progresses, I wander among stacks of books and files, searching for the right anecdote or example, the correct citation, or the best way to illustrate an otherwise complicated concept.

There are times when rocks and gravel must be moved to find a pebble with the appropriate shape or, even better, a gem.

It is time-consuming but there is no other way to get to the top of the mountain and know you're on the right peak.

[Photo by Joshua Earle at Unsplash]

20 Billion Years?

Writing in Commentary magazine on "Why the Media Stink at Science," James B. Meigs examines the sizable science - journalism gap.

[Photo by Stephen Leonardi at Unsplash]

Original Thinkers


Wednesday, October 21, 2020

He Was a Consultant? That Explains Everything.


Absolutely Brutal

Althouse notes that The Washington Post has taken off its gloves in a story about Joe Biden.

Find Your Style


[Photo by Alexander Kaunas at Unsplash]

Music Break


The Wardens

Those who seek to "protect" us from information and opinions they think are inaccurate or harmful have a very low opinion of our ability to judge for ourselves.

They don't want to be our protectors. They want to be our wardens.

Seattle's Segregated Diversity Training

These sessions are likely illegal. As U.S. Civil Rights Commissioner Peter Kirsanow has argued, racially segregated training sessions violate the 1964 act, which prohibits employers from segregating employees based on “race, color, religion, sex or national origin.” The Department of Justice is already investigating Seattle’s segregated diversity trainings. It should expand its investigation to include the King County Library System, the King County Prosecutor’s Office, and the VA’s Puget Sound Health Care System. Segregation in the name of social justice is still segregation—and it has no place in our public institutions.

Read the rest of Christopher F. Rufo's article in City Journal.

Get Ripped

A Large Regular has a video which contains, as all of the older readers of this blog will attest, an important lesson for the young.

The Debt

 Political Calculations: To whom does the U.S. Government owe money?

Selective Attention

Go to A Layman's Blog but go directly to the video of the people passing a basketball and don't read any of the text until you've finished watching the video.

How many people in white passed the basketball?


Isegoria: Not every maverick is a new Galileo.

Be open but not too open.

[Photo by Greg Rakozy at Unsplash]

Wanted: A Rude Mechanic

Back by popular demand: Here is an old but interesting column by Sam Steiger who was one of the true characters of Arizona politics. It appeared in the Prescott Courier. After the car dealer provided very smooth but ineffective service, Sam said:

"I want you to go out and find me a dirty, rude, overalled son of a gun who can fix my car."

[Photo by Mark Boss at Unsplash]

Atomic Habits


James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, talks about identity and habits. 

[I highly recommend his book.]

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Another Reason to Read Raymond Chandler

He snorted and hit me in the solar plexus. I bent over and took hold of the room with both hands and spun it. When I had it nicely spinning I gave it a full swing and hit myself on the back of the head with the floor.

- Raymond Chandler

Something in the Air Tonight

Kurt Harden of Cultural Offering knows music and musicians.

He even keeps up with their real estate problems.

[Photo by Hector Falcon at Unsplash]



Still Valid

There are some ideas so absurd that only an intellectual could believe them.

- George Orwell

Shelby Steele Documentary


Justice Elena Kagan Speaks to Harvard Law School Students


Alleged Anti-Trust Violations

 The Post Millennial: The Department of Justice is going after Google.

High Time

 Washington Examiner: France is expelling hundreds of "radicalized foreigners."

Poetry Break


As If Meetings on Zoom Aren't Bad Enough

 Althouse covers the "Jeffrey Toobin finishes his career" story.

Two Types of Hubris


It is beneficial to know how much you know but it is even more valuable to have a good sense of how much you don't know and how unlikely it is that you'll ever know it.

Unlike many of those leading the French Revolution, America's founders had a sense of humility about the range of their knowledge and even their virtue. They created a political structure of checks and balances because they knew the weaknesses of even the best and the brightest.

And so it goes with all of us but personality types can be deceiving. I have known cocky and even arrogant executives who respect key boundaries and modest, self-effacing ones who roll right over important restraints. Each group has a different form of hubris. The first is related to personal style while the second relates to structure.

The second type, however, personally pleasant, is the more dangerous.

A Beheading in France

 The Washington Examiner: Ayaan Hirsi Ali asks "Why is freedom of speech something you can be murdered for in Western Europe?"

The preferred technique in the United States is the destruction of reputations and careers. 

Quick Look


Monday, October 19, 2020

Find Your Style


[Photo by Damir Spanic at Unsplash]

"New York's Year from Hell"

Writing in City Journal, Nicole Gelinas notes the problems but also sees industries that can recover. An excerpt:

And in this crisis, New York is faring far worse than the rest of America. By late July, the nation had lost 8.1 percent of its jobs. But locally, industry after industry isn’t just in recession; it’s virtually nonexistent. New York is missing 53 percent of its 471,800 pre-Covid leisure and hospitality workers. The arts and entertainment field has lost 65,200 jobs, or more than two-thirds, and the restaurant and hotel field has hemorrhaged 184,500 jobs, or 49.2 percent. Retail outlets have laid off 45,300 people, or 13.2 percent. All these declines outpace national losses.

Filming "Tiny World"


Miscellaneous and Fast


[Photo by Ruslan Bardash at Unsplash]

"We're all star dust"


Skeffington! Skeffington!

The Last Hurrah by Edwin O'Connor was published in 1956.  A highly entertaining novel about the mayoral campaign of Frank Skeffington - an old school Irish American politician - it is also quite informative on the ways of municipal (and even national) politics. An excerpt:

The reporter had been persistent. "Which great books, Governor?"

Skeffington's eyes had opened, the silver head had lifted, and once more the reporters met the deadpan look. "I don't know whether you'd know them or not," he had said thoughtfully. "The Bible, which is a book composed of two parts, commonly called the Old and the New Testaments. The poems and plays of Shakespeare, an Englishman. And during the winter months I would also take the paper which you represent."

The reporter had said warily, "Thanks for the compliment, Governor. I suppose there's some special reason?"

Skeffington had nodded. "During the long winter months a glowing fire might be welcome," he had said. "And I have found that your paper burns very well. Makes grand kindling. I don't imagine that most people are aware of that. If they were, your paper's very small circulation might be substantially increased. Any more questions, gentlemen?"

"Work From Home" Sheds


Need a separate place to work from home? 

My Modern Met shows seven attractive options.

[Photo by Modern-Shed]

First Paragraph

"I grew up in the media. In seventies Massachusetts, my father took a job at a fledgling ABC affiliate called WCVB-TV. These being the glory days of local television news, my childhood ended up being a lot like the movie Anchorman."

- From Hate Inc.: Why Today's Media Makes Us Despise One Another by Matt Taibbi

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Art Break


Art Contrarian looks at the work of Edgar Payne.

Dustin's Back


Who Was That Masked Man?


A masked avenger has been found in Florida.

Alert Nicholas Bate


Escape to Fiction

Amid all of the weirdness, I am re-reading One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez. Here is its first sentence:

Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice. 

Find Something Beautiful Today


[Photo by Toa Heftiba at Unsplash]

Saturday, October 17, 2020

First Paragraph

"Kanai spotted her the moment he stepped onto the crowded platform: he was deceived neither by her close-cropped black hair nor by her clothes, which were those of a teenage boy - loose cotton pants and an oversized white shirt. Winding unerringly through the snack vendors and tea sellers who were hawking their wares on the station's platform, his eyes settled on her slim, shapely figure. Her face was long and narrow, with an elegance of line markedly at odds with the severity of her haircut. There was no bindi on her forehead and her arms were free of bangles and bracelets, but on one of her ears was a silver stud, glinting brightly against the sun-deepened darkness of her skin."

- From The Hungry Tide by Amitav Ghosh

Back By Popular Demand


Mental Health Day

Patrick Rhone gives a powerful reminder that for some, every day is Mental Health Day.



Time to Stock Up for Fall


Why Read?


Farnam Street has advice from Harold Bloom.

[Photo by Annie Spratt at Unsplash]

Huxley Break


The Abandonment of Liberalism

What unnerves those who lived under Soviet communism is this similarity: Elites and elite institutions [in the West] are abandoning old-fashioned liberalism, based in defending the right of the individual, and replacing it with a progressive creed that regards justice in terms of groups. It encourages people to identify with groups - ethnic, sexual, and otherwise - and to think of Good and Evil as a matter of power dynamics among the groups. A utopian vision drives these progressives, one that compels them to seek to rewrite history and reinvent language to reflect their ideals of social justice.

- From To Live Not By Lies: A Manual for Christian Dissidents by Rod Dreher

Weekend Leadership Reading


Wally Bock has the assignments and they revolve around how the pandemic may affect the workplace for some time to come.

[Photo by Tonic at Unsplash]

Mighty Ira


Reason magazine: Ira Glasser worries about the current ACLU's commitment to free speech.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Another Reason to Read Raymond Chandler

Anna Halsey was about two hundred and forty pounds of middle-aged putty-faced woman in a black tailor-made suit. Her eyes were shiny black shoe buttons, her cheeks were as soft as suet and about the same color. She was sitting behind a black glass desk that looked like Napoleon's tomb and she was smoking a cigarette in a black holder that was not quite as long as a rolled umbrella. She said: "I need a man." 

- Raymond Chandler



Avoid Fanatics

The Atlantic: Arthur C. Brooks argues that reading too much about politics can cause unhappiness.

[Photo by Leio McLaren  at Unsplash]

When You Get This Sign, Press the Space Bar and Get a Dinosaur Game


No internet



Quick Look



What happened in Texas when it was announced that due to technical difficulties the national anthem would not be played at the Katy-Brazoswood softball game.



Modern Destruction

The Daily Signal: Victor Davis Hanson on "Destroying the Institutions We Inherited."

Find Your Style


[Photo by Lorenzo Cerrato at Unsplash]

Dig It


Tree Fascists

"I have something in common with that mayor of Bordeaux."

City Journal: Theodore Dalrymple discusses the mayor of Bordeaux who regards those who oppose his decision to veto the annual city Christmas tree as - no surprise - fascists. 

It wasn't that long ago when the French knew about real fascists.