Saturday, July 31, 2021

Topics on My Desk

I know, I know. Butterfly mind. But the topics are:
  • Conversations
  • Hybrid workplaces
  • Vichy France
  • Email alternatives
  • Critical Race Theory
  • Loneliness
  • Mission creep
  • German bureaucracy
  • Executive decision-making
[Photo by Alfred Schrock at Unsplash]

Get Woke, Go Insane

FutureLawyer (and Bill Maher) on making the Olympics into the Oscars.

Radio Around the World

Do you wonder what is being broadcast on the radio in another city or town?

Check out Radio Garden. [I liked Lyon. Casablanca is interesting. So is Gibraltar.]

[HT: Jonathan Wade]

[Photo by Ryan Stefan at Unsplash]



If I could pick one intellectual who deserves a far greater attention and readership in international as well as American circles it would be Thomas Sowell. I first started reading him years ago when I was the EEO Administrator for the City of Phoenix. It was a revelatory moment.

The Male Friendship Recession

At The Art of Manliness they are talking about the timely subject of loneliness and the declining number of male friends.

Friday, July 30, 2021

Art Break

Art Contrarian looks at the work of Georges Rochegrosse.

Follow-Up Questions Help

 "What do you drive?"

"Nothing extraordinary. Just a sports utility vehicle."

GM Billboard


A Family Business


Big Tech and Free Speech

 Althouse points to an interview with former ACLU president Nadine Strossen in which she expresses concern about the free speech restrictions by Big Tech.

Modern Times: The Virus

 Andrew Sullivan on "How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Live With The Virus."

He Ends By Quoting Orwell

 Jonathan Turley on using social media to squelch speech.

Setting Up the Workplace for Failure


Book Beginnings for Our Times

"Someone must have slandered Josef K., for one morning, without having done anything wrong, he was arrested." 

- From The Trial by Franz Kafka


"It was a pleasure to burn." 

- From Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury


"It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen." 

- From 1984 by George Orwell


"I looked at my notes and I didn't like them. I'd spent three days at U.S. Robots and might as well have spent them at home with the Encyclopedia Tellurica." 

- From I, Robot by Isaac Asimov

Remember the Beepocalypse?

I recall an exterminator telling me that he was baffled by the news reports that honeybees were dying out. He cited some experts who were skeptical.

But journalists continued to write dire stories on the subject so I wondered if there was something to it.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

101 Years of Movies

 John Althouse Cohen is listing his favorite movies.

"The Third Man" is not listed! Well, John is listing his favorite movies, not the best ones.

In the Mood for Italian



 Pew Research Center's Michael Dimock on where the Millennials end and Generation Z begins. An excerpt:

The iPhone launched in 2007, when the oldest Gen Zers were 10. By the time they were in their teens, the primary means by which young Americans connected with the web was through mobile devices, WiFi and high-bandwidth cellular service. Social media, constant connectivity and on-demand entertainment and communication are innovations Millennials adapted to as they came of age. For those born after 1996, these are largely assumed.

To Find the Big Challenges of Your Future

Look at the bottom of your to-do list.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Alone Together

 Twenty years ago, as a practicing clinical psychologist, if I had met a college junior who called her mother fifteen times a day, checking in about what shoes to buy and what dress to wear, extolling a new kind of decaffeinated tea, and complaining about the difficulty of a physics problem set, I would have thought her behavior problematic. I would have encouraged her to explore difficulties with separation. I would have assumed that these had to be addressed for her to proceed to successful adulthood. But these days, a college student who texts home fifteen times a day is not unusual.

- Sherry Turkle in Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other

Life is Too Short


Rest in Peace, Dusty Hill

On My List


Discussing Thomas Sowell's "A Conflict of Visions"


When the Campus Changed

 ". . .[T]he campus trends that led us to write about our original Atlantic article - particularly the requests for safe spaces and trigger warnings - started to spread only when iGen began arriving on campus, around 2013. The demands for safety and censorship accelerated rapidly over the next four years as the last of the Millennials graduated, to be replaced by iGen. This is not a book about Millennials; indeed, Millennials are getting a bad rap these days, as many people erroneously attribute recent campus trends to them. This is a book about the very different attitudes toward speech and safety that spread across universities as the Millennials were leaving. We are not blaming iGen. Rather, we are proposing that today's college students were raised by parents and teachers who had children's best interests at heart but who often did not give them the freedom to develop their antifragility."

- Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt in The Coddling of the American Mind

When Conversation Goes, So Does Debate

 There are disturbing reports that many young people are so immersed in text messages, Twitter, and email that they have not developed conversational skills.

You remember conversation, that old-fashioned ritual where you listen to the other person and that person listens to you and, if the two of you disagree, both of you may listen more carefully to understand the other person's point of view. You might even find that you agree on some things.

Well, if people are not keen on conversation, then their ability to handle disagreements will be even more limited. If you want some samples, go to Twitter and read the comments on any political tweet.

Based on that, I'd say that young people are not the only ones who may have limited conversational skills. 

We make the technology and then it makes us.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

They're Currently Working on My Computer


Computer Problems


I may be off the grid for a while while some experts sort out the gremlins hiding in the depths of my computer.

Bear with me. Don't forget to check back.

Monday, July 26, 2021

Democracy versus Bureaucracy

 Philip K. Howard on how to counter the continuing power of the bureaucracy.



First Paragraph

 It was a miserable day in Walham Green, gloomy and wind-lashed and rain-soaked, and it seemed every pedestrian for miles had taken shelter in this Lyons Tea Room. The windows streamed with condensation, and the air was thick with hot breath and the smell of damp wool and camphor and boiled mutton. I'd been lucky to get a table to myself, and I was keeping it to myself, spreading out my legs and seeing off with a cold stare any customer who dared to approach. Selfish of me, perhaps, but I was on Queen's business and expecting a guest. The waitress, a thin, nervous woman in her thirties, looked worn-out and listless, much like the paper garlands that still festooned the place three weeks after Christmas. She could barely move between the tables, the place was so packed with customers and their sodden overcoats and dripping umbrellas. Stopping by my table she topped up my cup hastily, slopping tea into the saucer, but I made no remarks. There are times when it serves to make a scene and times to bite your tongue.

- From M, King's Bodyguard: A Novel by Niall Leonard

The Study

 Any blog with a post on pocket watches has my attention.

Be Wary of Magical Thinking

  • An aspiring actress goes to Hollywood. She is working at a drugstore soda fountain (remember those?) when a casting director notices her and a star is born.
  • A better mousetrap is invented. The world automatically beats a path to the inventor's door.
  • A farmer builds a ballpark in a cornfield. Without any publicity whatsoever, masses of people begin to arrive.
  • An extremely complicated military operation is cobbled together at the last minute. It is executed on time with no surprises or glitches and produces total success.
Does your organization have any magical thinking?

[Photo by Kenny Gaines at Unsplash]


Don't look for the big, quick improvement. Seek the small improvement, one day at a time. That's the only way it happens - and when it happens, it lasts.

- John Wooden

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Book Review

Wally Bock reviews Effortless.

I agree: read Essentialism first.

Rules for a Happy Life


First Paragraph

When the coronavirus pandemic took root in the United States, we entered a time machine to the future. Practically overnight, people in industries that had restricted telecommuting found themselves crawling out of bed and dialing into Zoom conference calls from their couch. For many teachers, bankers, lawyers, even NASA aerospace engineers, the coronavirus crisis was a trial run for remote work. With most of the country under orders to shelter in place, many business leaders pivoted on a dime to reimagine products, reassign workers, reshape supply chains, and reconfigure operations to join the heated race to save lives. Near the top of the critical list of needs was the demand for ventilators, potentially hundreds of thousands of ventilators. In an unprecedented move, Ford and General Motors shut down car production and went into the ventilator production business.

- From Work Disrupted: Opportunity, Resilience, and Growth in the Accelerated Future of Work by Jeff Schwartz

[Execupundit note: I don't think the Ford and General Motors moves were unprecedented. Consider what they did during World War II.]

Political Bubbles

Inspired by an opinion piece, Althouse (of Madison, Wisconsin) does some checking and finds that she lives in one of the smallest of bubbles.

What's the Worst City for Traffic?

The Washington Examiner reports that it is no longer Los Angeles.

But we already knew that.

Reading Like a Pro


Friday, July 23, 2021

The Ultimate Quality Control Problem

 "Italian tank armor sometimes shattered like glass."

- McGregor Knox, "The Italian Armed Forces, 1940-3" in Military Effectiveness, Volume III, The Second World War edited by Allan R. Millett and Williamson Murray

Scribbling During Bad Times

Bad times make for good diaries.

- Robert O. Paxton in his introduction to Season of Infamy: A Diary of War and Occupation 1939-1945 by Charles Rist

Hard to Finish Books

Here's a list of books people can't finish.

Hmm. I enjoyed Lord of the Rings, Catch-22, and Moby-Dick. I'm still wrestling with Ulysses. Perhaps Atlas Shrugged deserves another try. [I got a third of the way in before giving up.]

An observation: Few books would have been better if they were longer but many books would have benefited by being shorter.

[HT: A Large Regular]

Arrived Yesterday


Monsoon Season Returneth


The rains have returned to the Valley of the Sun. I was up part of the night with The Wonder Dog. She is not a fan of thunderstorms and it will be stormy today and throughout the weekend.

As things go, that is a good problem.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

On My List


Informative Failure

Failing looks bad but provides more information than success. Trying to understand why you got a good grade on a test isn't all that informative because you had to do well on every part of it. But analyzing a bad grade forces you to zero in on what you got wrong. In European military history, the strongest armies have repeatedly turned out to be the ones who lost the previous war, because the defeat inspired them to reorganize and make strategic innovations while the victors remained complacent. A reward forces you inward; a penalty forces you to look at the world more carefully and make changes.

- John Tierney and Roy F. Baumeister in The Power of Bad

John McWhorter on CRT


"The California Dream is Dying"

In The Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf explores the decline of the once-golden state.

[Photo by Chris Grafton at Unsplash]

The Excitement of the Water Cooler

Slate: Christina Cauterucci on why she loves going to the office.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Ping and Pong

I knew that when I posted about the need for a Ping for lost books, there would be stirrings in south Florida: drinks with paper umbrellas would be dropped, parrots disturbed, and alligators kicked off the front porch.

FutureLawyer's response.

Solid Hit

 The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable.

- John Kenneth Galbraith

Orderly Cycles

We tend to evaluate America based on day-to-day news stories and immediate trends and feelings, but the larger wheels of America are driven by two very orderly cycles - the institutional and the socioeconomic. The institutional cycle controls the relationship between the federal government and the rest of American society, and it runs its course roughly every eighty years. The socioeconomic cycle shifts around every fifty years and alters the dynamic of the American economy and society. Each cycle goes through the same process. The characteristics of a current cycle stop being effective, and the model begins to break down. A period of political tension emerges, ultimately forcing a change in the way things are done. New models emerge and solve the problems, and the country begins a new cycle which operates until that cycle runs into trouble. . . . 

- George Friedman, The Storm Before the Calm: America's Discord, the Crisis of the 2020s, and the Triumph Beyond

Trigger Warnings, Safe Spaces, and Assorted Nitwittery


Tuesday, July 20, 2021

German Flooding


Check Back

There is a technical problem with this blog and so it may be off-line for awhile I use hammer and tongs to fix it.

Your patience is greatly appreciated.




Style Guide

[The above is from the Wynwood Studio Store on Amazon.]

I propose a modification:

  • Dress like Cary Grant
  • Speak like Shelby Foote
  • Work like Agatha Christie
  • Play like Willie Mays
  • Argue like Abba Eban
  • Write like Gabriel García Márquez
  • Party like Bill Murray

Answers to Anti-Free Speech Arguments

Areo: Greg Lukianoff, co-author of The Coddling of the American Mind, presents counter-arguments to the "Speech is violence" movement.

[Photo by Brian Wangenheim at Unsplash]

Monday, July 19, 2021

Doesn't Everyone Make It That Way?

The Art of Manliness: "How to Make Coffee Like a Civil War Soldier."

[HT: Jonathan Wade]

The Viral Pandemic and the Panic Pandemic

 City Journal: John Tierney on "The Panic Pandemic." An excerpt:

The leaders responsible for these disasters continue to pretend that their policies worked and assume that they can keep fooling the public. They’ve promised to deploy these strategies again in the future, and they might even succeed in doing so—unless we begin to understand what went wrong.

The Creative Life


Signs of Decline

It was a sad day when the architecture of many schools began to resemble that of prisons.

Nothing uplifting. Nothing indicating the noble nature of the mission. Purely utilitarian and defensive.

No wonder the students want to escape.

[Photo by Yan Bertemy at Unsplash]

We Need a Ping for Books

I saw that book just the other day. Where did it go to? It's large - that doesn't narrow the field - and I think I recall the color of the book cover. I know it's not in the stack on the table.

Who cares about phones? A "ping" device is needed for missing books.



Find Your Style

[Photo by Amanda Vick at Unsplash]

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Saturday, July 17, 2021

"The Myth of the Winnable Culture War"


Matt Taibbi suggests something radical: talking to one another.

The Man Who Never Sleeps

Remember, Nicholas Bate has one novel out there so it is a safe bet that he's working on another.

Innovative. Thoughtful. Prolific.

One of the Must Reads


I recommend the Ann Dunnigan translation.

The Big One


Speech, Well Chilled

Our noble side states facts. Our opponents state misinformation.

[Photo by Shraddha Agrawal at Unsplash]


There are some very interesting perspectives on the post-pandemic world by an eclectic group of  thinkers (Stephanie Kelton, Mohamed A. El-Erian, Dambisa Moyo, Mariana Mazzucato, Ian Bremmer, Jayati Ghosh, Deirdre Nansen McCloskey, Ruchir Sharma, Vera Songwe, Kevin Rudd, Niall Ferguson, Antoine Van Agtmael, and Betsey Stevenson) in Foreign Policy magazine

[Photo by Ryo Tanaka at Unsplash]

Follow the Bureaucracy

America is losing its soul. Instead of creating legal structures that support our values, Americans are abandoning our values in deference to the bureaucratic structures.

- Philip Howard, The Rule of Nobody: Saving America from Dead Laws and Broken Government

Waiting for Sukarno


Friday, July 16, 2021

Packing Tips

Cultural Offering - my favorite site for a life well lived -
has the right priorities.

Something to Ponder


Experience's Drawback

Past experience carries with its advantages the drawback that things never happen the same way again. Otherwise I suppose life would be too easy.

- Winston Churchill

Films with Perspective

One of the Must Reads


Attorney at Beach

Any honorary society is going to have to up its game to lure the FutureLawyer.

Perhaps more parrots, beach time, mobile offices, Disney passes, cigars, and scotch might do the trick.

But I doubt it.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

This Makes Me Want to Read Some Jane Austen


2021 Audubon Photography Awards

 Kottke has some of the extraordinary photos.

Something to Ponder


Historical Intensity

Clearly, historical events have varying degrees of intensity. Some may almost fail to impinge on true reality, that is, on the central, most personal part of a person's life. Others can wreak such havoc there that nothing is left standing. The usual way in which history is written fails to reveal this. "1890: Wilhelm II dismisses Bismarck." Certainly a key event in German history, but scarcely an event at all in the biography of any German outside its small circle of protagonists. Life went on as before. No family was torn apart, no friendship broke up, no one fled their country. Not even a rendezvous was missed or an opera performance canceled. Those in love, whether happily or not, remained so; the poor remained poor, and the rich rich. Now compare that with "1933: Hindenburg sends for Hitler." An earthquake shatters 66 million lives.

- From Defying Hitler: A Memoir by Sebastian Haffner

More Summer Reading Lists

Wally Bock has a nice variety of lists.

[Photo by Ethan Robertson at Unsplash]

"The Man Who Re-Made Sinatra"

Commentary magazine: Terry Teachout on Nelson Riddle.

[Photo by Andrea Riondino at Unsplash]

Invading the Director's Island


Wednesday, July 14, 2021

The Real Cuba: Not a Potemkin Airbnb

Common Sense with Bari Weiss features an essay describing what living in Cuba is really like.

Political Opportunism Theme Song


Scribble, Scribble

 Steven Pressfield has wisdom from The Simpsons.

Well, Yes


Replying to
Ever get the impression we're all in an airplane hurtling to the ground at 800 mph and we're all arguing whether we want pretzels or Ritz bits

Two Questions When Pondering the News


  1. What's the Exaggeration or Crisis of the Day? [Remember the Greek debt articles?]
  2. Which truly important stories are not being covered?

Find Your Style

[Photo by Javier Reyes at Unsplash]

In-Between Fight and Flight


There is a stage between Fight and Flight. 

It's called Freeze, Wait, or Stay.

Sometimes the stage is a wise choice. Other times it is very dangerous.

Bastille Day

City Journal: Guy Sorman explores the significance of La Bastille.

[Photo by Joe DeSousa at Unsplash]

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Modern Times

Some of Us Talk That Way All the Time


Wit and Great Guests

 From 2018: Paul Ingrassia remembers The Dick Cavett Show.


 A conversation that took place years ago:

Manager: "These young employees aren't like us."

Department Director: "Thank God. Do you remember what screw-ups we were?"

Although that brings a smile, it should not lead to a blanket endorsement. Sometimes, there are problems exhibited by particular generations. 

Humility and introspection are important but pretending that all changes are minor deviations or even improvements may not be wise.

Monday, July 12, 2021

A Look Back: Living on a Powder Keg


Life is Often Unscheduled

Accidents. Illnesses. Problems at work or at home. Broken equipment. Delays. Unpleasant surprises. Challenges. Crises. Setbacks. 

They aren't on your schedule but they are lurking.

Bless the days when they don't appear.

Billionaire in Space. Heads on Earth Explode.

The moment I saw the videos of Sir Richard Branson in space, I knew that a swarm of critics would soon form. Such is the nature of our times.

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Films with Perspective




I read The Wall years ago while in high school. The hard-bound copy I had came with a List of Characters; a feature the new paperback version is missing.


But a great book nonetheless.