Tuesday, November 30, 2021

In the Background

This Might Be a Horror Film


The Pathology of Passivity

A few days ago, I posted a link to this Yuval Levin essay in a bunch of links. It deserves more attention. 

[Photo by Javier Mazzeo at Unsplash]

21 Funny Books

  1. The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Age 13 3/4 by Sue Townsend [part of a series]
  2. A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby
  3. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  4. Dead Famous by Ben Elton
  5. A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
  6. Flashman by George MacDonald Frazer [part of a series]
  7. The Price You Pay by Aiden Truhen
  8. Tourist Season by Carl Hiassen
  9. Alice, Let's Eat by Calvin Trillin
  10. Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  11. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
  12. Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson
  13. The Secret of Santa Vittoria by Robert Crichton
  14. Auntie Mame by Patrick Dennis
  15. The Joyous Season by Patrick Dennis
  16. The Dog of the South by Charles Portis
  17. Big Trouble by Dave Barry
  18. The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain
  19. Roughing It by Mark Twain
  20. White Teeth by Zadie Smith
  21. The Last Hurrah by Edwin O'Connor
[Photo by Marcela Rogante at Unsplash]

Monday, November 29, 2021

"The Genealogy of Woke Capital"

Charles Fain Lehman does the tracing in City Journal.

In Charge

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.

The Golden Years


Let's Unite

In FAIR substack, Ye Zhang Pogue has a proposal: Let's have common humanity groups and not racial affinity groups in schools.

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Saturday, November 27, 2021

In the Background



Bock's Books

"Belonging." "Connection Culture." The Power of Us."

Learn about these and whakapapa at Wally Bock's blog.

[Photo by Natalie Pedigo at Unsplash]

Two Hours

A Large Regular has a collection of quotes that strike home. 

Naval Ravikant's "two hours" insight is important to keep in mind.

Modern Times

[Photo by Roman Kraft at Unsplash]

The Nuts and Innovation

 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

Groups to Know


Friday, November 26, 2021

Rest in Peace


Stephen Sondheim.


A relative of mine recently recommended Duolingo, a phone app that you can use for daily foreign language training.

I've just completed the first session in Spanish. I figure that being nagged every day to increase my Spanish vocabulary should help.

A Serious Question

 If you could only choose two Christmas music CDs, what would they be?

"Tapping the Brakes on Self-Driving Cars"

"In 1956, GM unveiled a high-tech concept car it called the Firebird II. If ever there was a Car of the Future, this was it. The sleek four-seater was powered by a jet engine, featured a titanium body, and sported a central tail fin that would have done the Batmobile proud. But the car’s most futuristic feature wasn’t visible on the outside: The Firebird II could drive itself, or at least, GM promised, such a car would be able to navigate unassisted in the not-so-distant future."

Read the rest of the essay by James B. Meigs in Commentary magazine.

Quick Look


Devices as Robots

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

Nicely Done


And There are Plenty of Them

City Journal: Guy Sorman on puncturing some prominent myths of our age.

[Photo by Some Tale at Unsplash]

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Soundtrack in the Background




There's a Lot to Be Said for a Holiday Based on Gratitude

All of Us are Pilgrims and Indians.

"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.” 

- Epictetus

"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]

To Whet Your Appetite


Wednesday, November 24, 2021

To Be Sung While Cooking


How to Lower Gas Prices

City Journal: Jonathan A. Lesser on politics at the gas pump. 

[Photo by Justin Chrn at Unsplash]

And How!

 A Large Regular notes how Silicon Valley has changed.

The Media, The Parents, and the School Boards

Commentary magazine: Christine Rosen on a war that has only just begun.

Crank It Up


Prose and Poetry

Amid the daily emphasis on prose, don't forget the poetry of your life.

[Photo by Allef Vinicius at Unsplash]

Political Calculations Always Has the Numbers


The Pie Man, Soon-to-Be Walrus

My assignment today.

[Photo by Keighla Exum at Unsplash]

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Another Argument for Bringing Back Drive-Ins


Freedom After Speech

Law professor Jonathan Turley on the case of the Norfolk, Virginia police officer who donated to the Kyle Rittenhouse defense fund and was fired.

The New Class and Its Trade School

 "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

Not a Thanksgiving Movie




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.

Why Are They There Today?

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) 

Tiger Professor

 Edward Luce interviews Yale law professor and author Amy Chua.

Monday, November 22, 2021

Repercussions from Failing to Maintain Order

 Althouse: Does the government deserve blame in the Kyle Rittenhouse incident?

The Religion of Woke


Handy Conversational Dodges

  • "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."

[Photo by Samantha Gades at Unsplash]

Crank It Up


"PowerPoint Does NOT Sell. You Do."

Nicholas Bate has the Sales 20.

Great stuff.

The Dark Psychology of Social Media


First Paragraph

 On May 7, 1945, the German author Erich K√§stner 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

"Dishonest, Duplicitous, and Downright Deplorable"

 Professor Akhil Amar goes after Yale Law School.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Groups of Interest

Beauty's Downside

 Fast Company in 2019: "The Bias Against Pretty Women at Work."


May I say that I have not thoroughly enjoyed serving with humans? I find their illogic and foolish emotions a constant irritant.

- Mr. Spock

This May Be More Accurate Than We Think


Being Rich and Famous

 Yahooey's Blog has a view from Truman Capote that will resonate with many of us.


 I want one but I'm not sure if I want other people to have one.

Advice from the Beach

FutureLawyer recommends adding extensions to your browser for more privacy.

10 Rules for Thanksgiving

I wrote this post several years ago and it is now an Execupundit tradition:

  1. 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?
  2. 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.
  3. Thou shalt say nice things about every dish. Including the bizarre one with Jello and marshmallows.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Thou shalt not hog the white or dark meat. We know you're on Atkins but that's no excuse.
  7. Thou shalt think mightily before going back for seconds. Especially if that means waddling back for seconds.
  8. Thou shalt not get drunk. Strong drink improves neither your wit nor your discretion. Give everyone else a gift by remaining sober.
  9. 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.
  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.

The Thanksgiving Movie


Friday, November 19, 2021

First Paragraph

"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

Another Profession Circles the Drain

 Conor Friedersdorf in The Atlantic: "The Medical Establishment Embraces Leftist Language."

Find Your Style

[Photo by Rick Govic at Unsplash]

Jury Films - A Series


Interesting cast.

But I Thought They Were Idealists!

Very revealing. Very disturbing. Highly recommended.

Opportunities are Clearer with Distance

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.

Jury Films - A Series


Thursday, November 18, 2021

Jury Films - A Series


Be Very Wary of Those Who Would Control Speech

Jonathan Turley on the Aspen Commission's Report on Information Disorder.

Thought-Provokers: A Series

 60 Minutes interview with Andrew Sullivan.

Quotes from McCartney, Jobs, and Friends

Nicholas Bate has seven quotes for a Thursday.

[Remember, there will be a sequel to Meet Molly. The man never sleeps.]

Links for Great Food

Want to order some great food for the holidays? 

Cultural Offering has the links.

[Photo by Jonathan Borba at Unsplash]

We're Together on This

Glenn Loury on "A Shared American Inheritance."

[Photo by Max Sulik at Unsplash]

I Kept Looking at the Fabric


If We Had a Press Corps

 Bari Weiss on "The Media's Verdict on Kyle Rittenhouse."

Life as a Rough Draft

I think of my life as a rough draft, just one of many revisions, and I'm scrawling still, and making comments in the margins.

As the Smart Ship Grew

 As the smart ship grew

In stature, grace, and hue,

In shadowy silent distance grew the iceberg too.

- Thomas Hardy, "The Convergence of the Twain" (1912)

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Quick Look

The New "I, Robot"

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]

Patience Appreciated

There was a problem with a domain manager yesterday.

Thanks for your patience. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

End of a Great Film


Nitwittery Update

 The Hollywood Reporter: A Harry Potter retrospective with everyone but the author.

The Whale

City Journal: Glen Sharp reviews Touching This Leviathan by Peter Wayne Moe.

Meetings and More Meetings


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.

And meeting.

The harvest will come later.

Monday, November 15, 2021

Safe Journey

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

The British are Coming


When Diversity Cloaks Discrimination

Put the Oregon HR people on the stand so they can explain why this is not discriminatory. An excerpt:

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Our goal is to become a diverse, equitable, and inclusive agency that implements an equitable and inclusive planning program for Oregon. Efforts are supported by the State of Oregon Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Action Plan and an agency Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Committee.

We recognize that to successfully meet our mission and agency values, our commitment to racial equity, diversity, equity, and inclusion is at the heart of our work. DLCD values the lived and professional experiences of individuals from historically and currently underserved and under-resourced communities. We are committed to building and sustaining an inclusive, belonging, and equitable working environment for all employees. Members of the following communities are strongly encouraged to apply:

  • Native American, members of Oregon’s nine federally recognized tribes, American Indian, Alaska Natives

  • Black, African, African American

  • Latina, Latino, Latinx, Hispanic

  • Asian

  • Pacific Islander (including Compact of Free Association Citizens)

  • Immigrants

  • Linguistically diverse, English language learners (ELL)

  • Women

  • Economically Disadvantaged

  • People with disabilities


  • Farmworkers, Migrant Workers



One Style Does Not Fit All

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. 

- Greg Satell, Mapping Innovation: A Playbook for Navigating a Disruptive Age

First Paragraph

 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

The Heavy Hand at Yale

David Lat notes that problems continue between Yale Law School and The Federalist Society.

Saturday, November 13, 2021

In Saudi Arabia

 Peter Santenello in one of his "man from out of town wandering on the street" videos.


You've got to think about big things while you're doing small things, so that all the small things go in the right direction.

- Alvin Toffler

The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.

- Stephen R. Covey

Re-Labeling Asians

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.

A Film That Forecast Our Current Political Scene


These Need Not Conflict

  • Action and Patience
  • Courage and Restraint
  • Openness and Firmness
  • Love and Opposition
  • Confidence and Humility
  • Candor and Discretion
  • Wisdom and Ignorance
  • Beauty and Plainness
[Photo by Samantha Gades at Unsplash]

Media Narratives Collapse

 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.]

Arguing for Truth


Friday, November 12, 2021

Important Lesson


It was Brutal


FutureLawyer has been on a roll.

The Probe

Is there a problem down here?

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]

Future Generations Will Regard Us as Insane

 The City of San Diego bans the use of "he" and "she" in its policies and laws.

[HT: FutureLawyer]

Thursday, November 11, 2021

The Willie Nelson Rules

 Wally Bock looks at an amazing career.

"Come with Me Into Macedonia"

 “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
168 B.C.



Warriors and Scholars

“The society that separates its scholars from its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting by fools.” 

– Thucydides

The Wuhan Lab

Commentary magazine: James B. Meigs on COVID and the Authorities: "It's Even Worse Than We Thought.". 

Veterans Day

All veterans have known a world that is very different from the world of civilians. 

The veterans who faced danger know a world beyond that; a far more dangerous world. 

That world is always out there.

[Photo by Thomas Ashlock at Unsplash]

"I Looked Down and There It Was"

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

Time to Re-Watch


Boola Boola Bureaucrats

 Yale Daily News: The number of administrators at Yale has significantly increased since 2003.

Picking Films


Back to the Office!

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.