Tuesday, November 30, 2021
- The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Age 13 3/4 by Sue Townsend [part of a series]
- A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby
- Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
- Dead Famous by Ben Elton
- A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
- Flashman by George MacDonald Frazer [part of a series]
- The Price You Pay by Aiden Truhen
- Tourist Season by Carl Hiassen
- Alice, Let's Eat by Calvin Trillin
- Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
- Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
- Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson
- The Secret of Santa Vittoria by Robert Crichton
- Auntie Mame by Patrick Dennis
- The Joyous Season by Patrick Dennis
- The Dog of the South by Charles Portis
- Big Trouble by Dave Barry
- The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain
- Roughing It by Mark Twain
- White Teeth by Zadie Smith
- The Last Hurrah by Edwin O'Connor
Monday, November 29, 2021
When you are in charge, you will be both well-informed and ignorant. You'll be experienced in some areas and a novice in others. You may be smart and yet, like all smart people, you will retain the capacity to be as dumb as a rock.
In short, you will be a bundle of contradictions.
And there will be days when you'll be in charge in name only.
Never forget that.
Sunday, November 28, 2021
Saturday, November 27, 2021
- Andrew Sullivan on collusion and media overkill.
- "Family Formation in (Post) Covid19 America."
- Discourse: Erek Smith on when Blacks are shunned for their views.
- Counterweight: David Bernstein on when diversity eats diversity.
- We the Internet TV: "Woke Teacher, White Savior."
- The Dispatch: Yuval Levin: "The Changing Face of Social Breakdown."
- Take a class: Yale's online classes.
Although we take the value of information technology for granted today, back then it was a radically new idea. The legendary management guru Peter Drucker said of his first meeting with [Thomas J.] Watson in the early 1930s, "He began talking about something called data processing, and it made absolutely no sense to me. I took it back and told my editor, and he said Watson was a nut, and threw the interview away.... But if there had been a Harvard Business Review (during the 1930s), it would have run stories about him, and he would've been considered a nut or a crank."
- From Mapping Innovation: A Playbook for Navigating a Disruptive Age by Greg Satell
Friday, November 26, 2021
Read the rest of the essay by James B. Meigs in Commentary magazine.
It's odd to think of our devices as robots. But our phones, tablets, laptops, smartwatches, PCs, and connected home devices are, in fact, conduits for some of the most advanced forms of AI ever created. Companies like Facebook, Google, and Twitter have built sophisticated, planetary-scale machine-learning algorithms whose entire purpose is to generate engagement - which is to say, to short-circuit your brain's limbic system, divert your attention, and keep you clicking and scrolling for as long as possible.
- From Futureproof: 9 Rules for Humans in the Age of Automation by Kevin Roose
Thursday, November 25, 2021
"When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around."
- Willie Nelson
"This is a wonderful day. I've never seen this one before."
- Maya Angelou
“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.”
"Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things."
- Robert Brault
"Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some."
- Charles Dickens
"At times, our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us."
- Albert Schweitzer
"Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough."
- Oprah Winfrey
"In life, one has a choice to take one of two paths: to wait for some special day--or to celebrate each special day."
- Rasheed Ogunlaru
"There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle."
- Albert Einstein
[Photo by Daniel Schludi at Unsplash]
Wednesday, November 24, 2021
- Number of turkeys produced in the United States continues to fall. [Insert Congress joke here.]
- Cost of Thanksgiving Dinner 14% Higher Than in 2020.
Tuesday, November 23, 2021
"Irving Kristol famously discerned in modern American society the emergence of a new class, its standing founded more on educational achievements and cultural fluency than on older forms of wealth or social position, its specialty the manipulation of ideas and symbols rather than physical labor or the ownership of the means of production. Estranged from and suspicious of the world of property and business, the new class (Kristol argued) is instead friendly toward the continued expansion of governmental activity, in part because it is itself relatively successful in influencing the actions of government. In particular, it is skilled in argument, and it often achieves (whether in its voting patterns or in its likes and dislikes generally) a kind of class solidarity at least as cohesive and impressive as that of, say, business managers or factory workers.
"According to Kristol and others who took up his analysis, the characteristic redoubts of the new class include the universities, journalism, and the media, the public sector itself, and the professions, especially law. But has ever an institution been developed that is as powerful an engine of the new class ethos as the one that sits astride all four of these sectors - the modern elite law school?"
- From Schools for Misrule: Legal Academia and an Overlawyered America by Walter Olson
Every day, week, and month of life has follow-up tasks.
We neglect them at our peril for unfinished tasks rarely vanish. They linger and foster anxiety. Some may eventually do even greater harm.
The follow-up tasks can attain more importance than the achievements that produced them.
A great majority of our nine million college students are not in school because they want to be or because they want to learn. They are there because it has become the thing to do or because college is a pleasant place to be; because it's the only way they can get parents or taxpayers to support them without working at a job they don't like; because Mother wanted them to go, or some other reason entirely irrelevant to the course of studies for which college is supposedly organized.
- From The Case Against College by Caroline Bird (1975)
Monday, November 22, 2021
- "I'm still undecided on that."
- "You may be right."
- "Go ask your mother/father."
- "These are strange times."
- "What was your favorite subject in school?"
- "Can you imagine what our grandparents would think?"
- "Who makes the best arguments for the other side?"
- "May I get anyone another drink?"
- "Excuse me. I think I'm wanted in the kitchen."
On May 7, 1945, the German author Erich Kästner wrote in his diary: "People walk through the streets, numbed. The short pause in history lessons makes them nervous. The gaps between no longer and not yet bewilders them." This book is about the phase between "no longer" and "not yet" in Germany. The old order of National Socialist rule had collapsed, and the new order under the occupying powers had yet to be established. Many contemporaries experienced the days between Hitler's death on April 30 and Germany's unconditional surrender on May 7 and 8, 1945, as a profound caesura in their own life stories, as the oft-invoked German "zero hour." During this period, the clocks literally seemed to be standing still. "It's so strange living without papers or calendars, clocks or monthly accounting," one Berlin woman noted on May 7. "A ruthless time, which slips by like water, its passing measured only by the comings and goings of men in their foreign uniforms." This feeling of living in a kind of temporal "no man's land" lent the first days of May their unique character.
- From Eight Days in May: The Final Collapse of the Third Reich by Volker Ullrich
Professor Akhil Amar goes after Yale Law School.
Sunday, November 21, 2021
Saturday, November 20, 2021
I wrote this post several years ago and it is now an Execupundit tradition:
- Thou shalt not discuss politics at the dinner. There is next to no chance that you'll convert anyone and any hard feelings that are generated may last long after the pumpkin pie is finished. Why spoil a good meal?
- Thou shalt limit discussion of The Big Game. This is mainly directed at the men who choose to argue plays, records, and coaches while their wives stare longingly at the silverware. The sharp silverware.
- Thou shalt say nice things about every dish. Including the bizarre one with Jello and marshmallows.
- Thou shalt be especially kind to anyone who may feel left out. Some Thanksgiving guests are tag-alongs or, as we say in the business world, "new to the organization." Make a point of drawing them in.
- Thou shalt be wary of gossip. After all, do you know what they say when you leave the room? Remember the old saying: All of the brothers are valiant and all of the sisters are virtuous.
- Thou shalt not hog the white or dark meat. We know you're on Atkins but that's no excuse.
- Thou shalt think mightily before going back for seconds. Especially if that means waddling back for seconds.
- Thou shalt not get drunk. Strong drink improves neither your wit nor your discretion. Give everyone else a gift by remaining sober.
- Thou shalt be cheerful. This is not a therapy session. This is not the moment to recount all of the mistakes in your life or to get back at Uncle Bo for the wisecrack he made at your high school graduation. This is a time for Rule #10.
- Thou shalt be thankful. You're above ground and functioning in an extraordinary place at an extraordinary time. Many people paid a very heavy price (and I'm not talking about groceries) to give you this day. Take some time to think of them and to express gratitude to your friends and relatives. Above all, give special thanks to the divine power who blesses you in innumerable ways.
Friday, November 19, 2021
"Homo sapiens means wise hominin, and in many ways we have earned the specific epithet of our Linnaean binomial. Our species has dated the origin of the universe, plumbed the nature of matter and energy, decoded the secrets of life, unraveled the circuitry of consciousness, and chronicled our history and diversity. We have applied this knowledge to enhance our own flourishing, blunting the scourges that immiserated our ancestors for most of our existence. We have postponed our expected date with death from thirty years of age to more than seventy (eighty in developed countries), reduced extreme poverty from ninety percent of humanity to less than nine, slashed the rates of death from war twentyfold and from famine a hundredfold. Even when the ancient bane of pestilence rose up anew in the twenty-first century, we identified the cause within days, sequenced its genome within weeks, and administered vaccines within a year, keeping its death toll to a fraction of those of historic pandemics."
- From Rationality: What It Is - Why It Seems Scarce - Why It Matters by Steven Pinker
Conor Friedersdorf in The Atlantic: "The Medical Establishment Embraces Leftist Language."
It is a common mistake to overlook opportunities, advantages, and connections that swirl about us in one location and then desperately look for them once we have shifted to another.
This may be tied to that old line about hindsight being 20/20.
With that in mind, it is wise to consider how many opportunities, advantages, and connections we are currently overlooking.
Thursday, November 18, 2021
Wednesday, November 17, 2021
Less screen time results in greater attention, presence, contemplation, and listening as well as an increased appreciation of life and your role in it.
People worry about being replaced by robots.
Don't worry about that.
Worry about becoming a robot.
[Photo by Gian Cescon at Unsplash]
Tuesday, November 16, 2021
The Hollywood Reporter: A Harry Potter retrospective with everyone but the author.
I am in the process of working with a team to build an Arizona Chapter of the Foundation Against Intolerance & Racism (FAIR). [Click here for its website.]
The response has been great, the talent pool is very deep, and the meetings are numerous. A lot of them are held via Zoom but there is nothing like a face-to-face meeting. Those opportunities are invaluable.
Each one has pre and post segments which may be longer than the actual meeting. There is, however, an unspoken question that is always asked early on: Should someone else be handling this?
Eventually, most of the meetings will be delegated. For now, however, setting up a structure is in my territory. As I tell my consulting clients, organizations are like a farm in a jungle. Neglect certain responsibilities and the jungle quickly grows back.
We are plowing and irrigating.
The harvest will come later.
Monday, November 15, 2021
I once knew an able and accomplished man who had been fired from his first job after college because his employer decided he was deficient in positive attitude. "You'll never go anywhere," he was told as he departed. Unable to find another job, he spent the next several months seeing the world and, remembering the old employer and those parting words, he took particular pleasure in sending him a postcard from each stop along the way, from one foreign capital after another, to let him know just how far he was going.
I want you of the graduating Middlebury class of 1986 all to go far.
- David McCullough
As a matter of fact, show me any successful innovator, and I can show you another that is just as successful that does things very differently. Once again, there's no "silver bullet" for innovation. You have to start by defining problems, not preordaining solutions.
In 1977, a candidate for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors invited reporters to a press conference at a local park. He said he was going to announce legislation essential to improving the quality of life in the city. With a pack of cameras waiting for him, the man walked across the grass toward them before stopping, making a face, and lifting up his foot to look at the bottom of his shoe only to discover, in feigned horror, that he had stepped in dog poop. After pretending to be surprised, and flashing a big smile, the man turned toward the cameras and announced legislation he would introduce, once elected, that required San Franciscans to pick their dog's poop.
- From San Fransicko: Why Progressives Ruin Cities by Michael Shellenberger
Sunday, November 14, 2021
Saturday, November 13, 2021
A sizable Washington state school district recently figured out one way to minimise at least the Asian data just given. In its latest ‘equity report’, administrators working for North Thurston Public Schools, an urban district of almost 16,000 students serving much of Olympia (WA) and the Nesqually Indian reservation, simply grouped all Asian students in with whites and compared their academic results with those for ‘students of colour’. This second category included not only blacks, but also all Hispanic, Pacific Islander, Native American and mixed-race students. As it happens, the gap between ‘whites and Asians’ and students ‘of colour’, in middle-class Washington, was fairly small and had apparently been shrinking over time: it likely would have been narrow or non-existent had Asians not been summarily made white. This positive finding, however, was disallowed by definition.
Read the rest of Wilfred Reilly's essay in Spiked.
Andrew Sullivan: "When All the Media Narratives Collapse."
[Execupundit note: The other day I was recalling how Southern segregationist Senators were mysteriously rehabilitated by the media when they went after Nixon during the Watergate hearings.]
Friday, November 12, 2021
Initially, I ask a lot of questions. Most are designed to discount the importance of personalities. I also shy away from thinking of culprits. That may come later but my usual concern is with systems.
Boring? You bet.
But they are the source of many problems.
[Photo by Jeremy Bishop at Unsplash]
Thursday, November 11, 2021
“I am not, fellow citizens, one who believes that no advice may be given to leaders; nay rather I judge him to be not a sage, but haughty, who conducts everything according to his own opinion alone. What therefore is my conclusion? Generals should receive advice, in the first place from the experts who are both specially skilled in military matters and have learned from experience; secondly, from those who are on the scene of action, who see the terrain, the enemy, the fitness of the occasion, who are sharers in the danger, as it were, aboard the same vessel. Thus, if there is anyone who is confident that he can advise me as to the best advantage of the state in this campaign which I am about to conduct, let him not refuse his services to the state, but come with me into Macedonia. I will furnish him with his sea-passage, with a horse, a tent, and even travel-funds. If anyone is reluctant to do this and prefers the leisure of the city to the hardships of campaigning, let him not steer the ship from on shore. The city provides enough subjects for conversation; let him confine his garrulity to these; and let him be aware that I shall be satisfied with the advice originating in camp.”
Consul Lucius Aemilius
Sippican Cottage, one of my favorite blogs, is back to posting again. Here's a taste:
See the man on the sleigh, bringing the sap back to the shed to boil? He knows the tree like a brother. He knows the woods like a mother. He knows fire like a caveman. He knows commerce like a loanshark. He knows cold like a gravedigger. He knows sap like you know the alphabet. And he doesn't have the slightest idea what you're about, because you labor in a vineyard far removed from his -- where the meaning of your efforts is likely always obscure, as all intellectual pursuits must be. Remember always what you don't know about him, lest one day, you look down, and there it ain't.
See the rest here.
Wednesday, November 10, 2021
I continue to see workplaces that have far too many people working from home and which underestimate the price that is paid for that practice. Team morale, friendships, the informal exchange of information, mentoring, and other intangibles are diminished in an atmosphere that is mainly transactional and which fails to recognize that a job is more than behavior for rent.
Workplaces that straddle the fence between Normal and "New Normal" (whatever that is) will find their employees suffer from the indecision.
Diminished relationships are the main victims. In a world where loneliness is a grave problem, that is no small wound.
Tuesday, November 09, 2021
In City Journal, Heather Mac Donald explores a disturbing example of bullying in science.
As an old discrimination investigator, my question is simple: "Whatever happened to impartial investigations?"
If people have complaints, let them be investigated in a prompt, thorough, and impartial manner so appropriate action, based on the evidence, can be taken. What happened here is the all-too-familiar (and gutless) pattern of allegations, hasty surrender, and, of course, the obligatory abject apology.
This has shades of the Chinese Cultural Revolution.
A large problem can remain unaddressed because although everyone wants it solved, no one wants to solve it.
In order to avoid being assigned the unpleasant task of solving the problem, people will focus on the smaller problems that are routinely generated because the core problem has not been solved.
This can be the subject of much discussion. Amid all of the talk, however, one topic will not be mentioned, and you know what that is.
Monday, November 08, 2021
The numbers tell the story as well as any anecdote you’ve read in the headlines or heard within your own circles. Nearly a quarter of American academics in the social sciences or humanities endorse ousting a colleague for having a wrong opinion about hot-button issues such as immigration or gender differences. Over a third of conservative academics and PhD students say they had been threatened with disciplinary action for their views. Four out of five American PhD students are willing to discriminate against right-leaning scholars, according to a report by the Center for the Study of Partisanship and Ideology.
Read all of the essay by Pano Kanelos here.