Thursday, December 31, 2020

The Biggest Math Story of 2020

Political Calculations has the details.

I especially liked Keller's Conjecture. [Note the tiles above.]

[Photo by Zbysiu Rodak at Unsplash]

As I Recall, There are Fireworks in This Film


How to Get What You Want in 2021


Nicholas Bate, whose mind is not under lockdown in Oxford, has the plan.

Print it and work it.

[Photo by Andrew Young at Unsplash]

New Year's Diet Resolution


Failing Upwards

The iron law of the American elite is that as long as everyone fails together, everyone fails upwards. Regime loyalty is the herd immunity of the ruling class, a protection against the consequences of their own failures. This is why the loss in authority that manifests in the “crisis of experts”, while real, doesn’t diminish their power. But it’s also why the regime has to become more ideological and nakedly coercive — for a kingdom of experts without reliable expertise falls back on propaganda and state power.

Read all of Jacob Siegel's essay in Unherd.

A Few Lessons Along the Way

23rd March 2020, when India declared a lockdown, was also the day when I was scheduled to take a flight and move to a different city with my family.

Read all of Tanmay Vora's account.


In today's hectic world, it is important to distinguish between distractions that are incidental and unintended and those which are designed to be distractions and are intentional.

[Photo by Filip Mroz at Unsplash]

How Many Cards are in Your Deck?

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.]

I, Techie

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.

The Version


A tradition on this blog: Dougie MacLean shows how to sing "Auld Lang Syne." 

Start singing it now and you'll be ready for tonight.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Drive & Listen

I think this is fascinating. Now you can experience what it is like to drive in a variety of cities from around the world while listening to traffic noises and the local radio.

Check out Drive & Listen.

[HT: Law Latte Blog]

Suggestions for New Year's Eve: A Series


Wow Books of 2020: A Series

For Orwell fans, this novel about his life is a definite treat. 

One lasting impression: the physical challenges that went into writing "1984." Orwell was typing pages while in a hospital bed.

Consider the Casual

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.

The Importance of the Bath

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]

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Poet and Pirate

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

Skateboarding Culture

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.

Friends of Friendless Churches

I am glad for the good work these people are doing but it is a sign of societal decline that they have to do it.

[HT: Rod Dreher]

Remembering Bruno Schulz


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

Dictatorships and Double-Standards

From Commentary in November 1979: The essay by Jeane Kirkpatrick that eventually shaped American foreign policy.

Selling the Tried and the New


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.

In the Stack

Suggestions for New Year's Eve: A Series


It's Always Fake When It Disagrees with Me

Jonathan Turley on using defamation law to go after "fake news."

2021 may be a very interesting year.

Monday, December 28, 2020

Ah, The Tactile Experience of a Real Book

When FutureLawyer considers an e-book library versus a real book library,
he thinks either/or.

I think both/and.

2020 is Almost Over


Its Main Advantage is The Rigg

Cinema Blend's Mike Reyes believes On Her Majesty's Secret Service is a Christmas movie.

Litmus Test

Anybody is a damn fool if he actually seeks to be president.

- Dwight Eisenhower


 Cultural Offering has a reminder from The Chairman.

Wow Books of 2020


Outstanding in so many ways. I highly recommend it to all leaders.

Best Westerns


The Art of Manliness has a very good list of the best Western films, but it missed these:

  • "The Appaloosa" (with Marlon Brando, not the inferior recent version)
  • "Arizona" (with a very young William Holden)
  • "3:10 to Yuma" (the Russell Crowe version)
  • "The Ballad of Cable Hogue" (Jason Robards and Stella Stevens)
  • "Monte Walsh" (Lee Marvin and Jack Palance)
  • "Hombre" (Paul Newman and Richard Boone)
  • "Ride the High Country" (Joel McCrea and Randolph Scott)
  • "Lawman" (Burt Lancaster)
  • "McCabe & Mrs. Miller" (Warren Beatty and Julie Christie in a depressing classic)
  • "Winchester '73" (James Stewart)
  • "Jeremiah Johnson" (Robert Redford)
  • "Little Big Man" (Dustin Hoffman and Faye Dunaway)
[Update: I should have given a hat tip to A Large Regular for first mentioning The Art of Manliness List.]

First Paragraph

 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

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Library Time

I am re-arranging my home library to facilitate a writing project and prepare for another set of bookshelves.

Am now envious of minor projects. 

[Photo by Fynn schmidt at Unsplash]

What Took You So Long?


Flash Mob


Find Something Beautiful Today

[Photo by Luke Tanis at Unsplash]

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Protecting Fundamental Rights

 "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

Therapy Films

First Paragraph

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

"Christmas in a Dark Time"

Scrooge will still send the goose around to the Cratchits, but the boy who delivers it will be wearing a mask. I imagine the nephew has called off his party, so that Uncle Ebenezer will not perform his usual Dickensian frolic (the geezer’s dance of grace and redemption). Instead, he will make the best of a bad time, sitting alone in the cold house and waving at his relatives through the Zoom lens.

Read the rest of Lance Morrow's City Journal essay here.

Find Your Style

[Photo by Inna Lesyk at Unsplash]

Friday, December 25, 2020

Merry Christmas to One and All

May the spirit of this day be with you always.

[Photo by Annie Spratt at Unsplash]

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Crank It Up


Scrooge's Doorknocker: A Compilation of Film Scenes





"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves." 

- William Pitt, British prime minister in the 18th century

Christmas Commercial


[HT: Gary Duncan]

Christmas Eve Morning


The dog came in with a list of demands.

Ground Rules for New Bloggers


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:

  1. Determine your theme. I can pretty much post anything that interests me on my blog. Other bloggers are less eccentric and far more focused. That works fine for them and it helps them get on specific lists of specialty bloggers. Whichever way you choose, aim for consistency.
  2. Pick a blog platform that suits you. I use Blogger because it is so easy. Other sites are flashier but I don't know of any that are easier. Find one that you can easily use without stress.
  3. Try to post every day. Don't waste the time of people by luring them to a blog that is seldom updated.
  4. Don't post anything that bores you. If you are frequently tempted to do that, go back to item #1.
  5. Ignore the trolls. They really don't want to argue or talk. Let them go back to Twitter.
  6. Proof-read before posting. [I need to get better at that.]
  7. Control your sarcasm. It is too easy to zap people with some quick and cute remark. As an old minister once said, treat people as if they are hurting.
  8. Study other bloggers. As this list demonstrates, there are plenty of good ones out there.
  9. Take breaks. The world is not hanging on your every word.
  10. Be generous to other bloggers. Refer your readers to their blogs. Don't worry about keeping them on your page. If your content is good, they will return.
  11. Don't "borrow" work from other bloggers. I hesitate even bringing that up, but years ago a blogger used to flat-out copy stuff from my blog and post it as his own. He's no longer around. Give people the appropriate credit and acknowledgement.
  12. If you permit comments, screen them. If you don't, you'll risk being swamped with spam comments.
  13. If someone criticizes a specific person via the comments, don't print the comment if the critic is anonymous. If they want to criticize, they should give their name. Also, delete any comments that may be defamatory.
  14. Beware of hot news stories. The initial reports have a bad habit of being wrong.
  15. Don't blog when you are tired or angry. 
  16. If you think some post is especially brilliant, delay posting it until the next day when you have a chance to review it with fresh eyes. You may find that elves hacked your computer during the night and sabotaged the once-brilliant post. 
  17. Put together your own ground rules and periodically update them. That is important because all of this is a learning process. [And I've saved one of the most important rules for the end.]
  18. Have fun. This shouldn't be a chore. If you're not having fun, you're not doing it right.

Quick Look


Growing a Pandemic?

In The Guardian: Do factory farms increase the chances of a pandemic?

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

I Know This is Not a Documentary of What Took Place But This Film Always Puts Me in a Good Mood


The Photo of the Day

 The Photo of the Day is at David Kanigan's Live & Learn blog.

20 Questions

 TLS: Twenty questions with Steven Pinker.

I especially like some of the either/or questions regarding authors.

Jethro: The First Management Consultant

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.

Niall Ferguson on China's Rise


Intolerance Update

City Journal: Christopher F. Rufo on teaching hate in the Seattle schools.

First Paragraph

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

Book Wows of 2020: A Series

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.

The Election

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Poetry, Legal Version

'Twas The Night Before Christmas, Legal Version.

The beginning:

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]

Quick Look


The Kids Are Not Alright

 New Discourses: A dissident women's studies Ph.D. speaks out.

Book Wows of 2020

I read a lot of books in 2020. Most of them were very good. I'm posting the few that went far beyond "very good." 

Here's the fifth one that comes to mind. If you want to get a sense of what's going on out there, this is a good place to start.

The RV Lawyer

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.

Books for Business Leaders

Wally Bock provides a great list of the best ones he read in 2020.

[Photo by John Mark-Smith at Unsplash]

Resilience in a Pandemic

Read all of the "It Could Have Been So Much Worse" essay by James B. Meigs in Commentary magazine.

[Photo by CDC at Unsplash]

Monday, December 21, 2020

Despite the Title, Not a Nature Film


Get Back

 Cultural Offering has a sneak peek at Peter Jackson's new documentary on The Beatles.

Carol Break


Experiment in Creativity


The Other Alan Rickman Christmas Movie


Seeking Cert

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.

All the News They Choose to Ignore

The Hill: Joe Concha on the strange silence of The New York Times regarding the case of Representative Eric Swalwell and a Chinese spy.

We are watching the suicide of the major news media.

A Path to Better Days

New vaccines will be used in a population that has already had significant exposure to SARS-CoV-2. The CDC is now estimating that eight times as many people may have been infected as there are confirmed Covid-19 cases. This is consistent with earlier estimates that the true number of people infected with SARS-CoV-2 had been substantially underestimated. Since the U.S. now has confirmed more than 17 million Covid-19 cases, more than 100 million people, or nearly a third of the population, may have already been infected and developed antibodies. We may be nearly halfway toward reaching the 60 percent to 70 percent of the population needed for herd immunity. Only 100 million previously uninfected Americans might need to be vaccinated with a highly effective vaccine to halt the pandemic.

Read the rest of Joel Zinberg in City Journal.

Quick Look


An Extraordinary Man: 100 Years of George P. Shultz


Book Wows of 2020: A Series

I read a lot of books in 2020. Most of them were very good. I'm posting the few that went far beyond "very good." 

Here's the fourth one that comes to mind. Even if you've read a lot about World War II, you'll find surprises in here.

Art Break

Art Contrarian looks at Edwin Blashfield paintings.

[The one above is "Christmas Chimes."]

Great Question

 Fast Company: Judith Humphrey on the one question Elon Musk asks job candidates.

Omega Man

Bloomberg Businessweek on what a major landlord does in New York City when the office workers are working from home.

First Paragraph

"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

History Buffs: Don't Overlook This


Very well-written account by one of General Crook's officers during the Apache wars in Arizona. 

The man was there!

And he writes with a Mark Twain flair.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Christmas Regret

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.]

Way Beyond Football


Find Something Beautiful Today

[Photo by Aaron Burden at Unsplash]

Saturday, December 19, 2020

First Paragraph

 I have taken Caliban's advice. I have stolen their books. I will have some run of this isle.

- From Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez by Richard Rodriguez

Okay, We'll Skip the Golden Rings

Political Calculations adds up the recent cost of the items in "The 12 Days of Christmas" song.

It is impressive.

Great Soundtrack. Great Film.


Getting There


The tree is up, thanks to Mary Ann. 

I had nothing to do with decorating which, when you think about it, was a major contribution.

A Great Christmas Album



Big Scrooge is Watching

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.

First Paragraph

"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

The Techie Lawyer from the Florida Beaches

The FutureLawyer has an electronic Christmas card with music that has become his theme song.

He's even revealing a bargain on the "greatest smartwatch in the world."

The Guardians


Americana: "Church"

Simply great.

25 Blogs Guaranteed to Make You Smarter

I am honored to be in the company of so many great bloggers on
Kurt Harden's list.

Kurt's Cultural Offering is an outstanding blog.

Remember Winston Churchill


Great Tips at All Times

Nicholas Bate has sound tips for a Covid Christmas.

[Photo by Michal Pechardo at Unsplash]

Weekend Leadership Reading


Wally Bock has the assignments.

[Photo by Varun Gaba at Unsplash]

Friday, December 18, 2020

10 Degrees and Getting Colder



Art Contrarian revisits the movie poster art of Bob Peak.

By the way, "Lawrence of Arabia" is a great film for management consultants. 

Consider the strategy Lawrence decides upon after he wanders off into the desert.

Donald, Harry, and Melania

The New York Post has the background. The heads of TDS victims explode.

Harry Truman winks.

Go Italian for the Holidays


Crank It Up


These Look Healthy to Me

Kate Tucker at Garden and Health shows how to make the easiest cookies in the world.

EarthCam Live: Times Square


Why I Live in the Desert


Since Gifts are in Mind


Yes, it is a shameless plug, but very team member needs this.

Face Masks with a Statement


Come, Let Us Be Offended Together

National Post: Jonathan Kay notes the humor-impaired zealots who lecture us about Christmas decorations. Even doughnuts are not beyond their lust for control.

[Photo by Courtney Cook at Unsplash]

Not a Christmas Movie


Book Wows in 2020: A Series

I read a lot of books in 2020. Most of them were very good. I'm posting the few that went far beyond "very good." 

Here's the third one that comes to mind. Simply extraordinary and, in today's cancel culture, brave.

Carol Break


The Cratchit Perspective

Wally Bock has a clear-eyed view.

Car Safety Advances: Old Does Not Fare Well in This Test


A Discussion on Critical Race Theory


Book Wows in 2020: A Series

I read a lot of books in 2020. Most of them were very good. I'll post the few that went far beyond "very good." 

Here's the second one that comes to mind. Given current debates, it is especially timely.

First Paragraph

In 2008, Memorial Day weekend promised to deliver beautiful weather - not always the case in Vermont at that time of year. So my wife, Kim, and I decided to spend that Saturday shopping, running errands, and catching up on chores. Spring cleaning was our big goal for the weekend, starting with the garage.

- From The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own by Joshua Becker

Thursday, December 17, 2020

A Pleasant Drive Through the Country


Missing Christopher Hitchens

National Review: David Harsanyi looks back at an extraordinary man.

I also miss Tom Wolfe, Michael Kelly, Hunter Thompson, Charles Krauthammer, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Stanley Crouch, and William F. Buckley Jr.



Book Wows in 2020: A Series

I read a lot of books in 2020. Most of them were very good. I'll post the few that went far beyond "very good." 

Here's the first one that comes to mind. It provided many a "wow" moment.