Monday, October 31, 2022

When a Racial Preference Was Compared to a Preference for Oboe Players

  “We did not fight a civil war over oboe players.”

- Chief Justice John Roberts

Halloween Recommended Reading


Truly a scary book. Ignore the film.

Make Election Day a Holiday

I love the convenience of early voting but it needs to go. The voters of Pennsylvania recently learned during a debate that the media assurances about the health of a Senate candidate were less than accurate. Unfortunately, that revelation came after many early votes had been cast.

Here's my radical solution. Abolish early voting. Abolish drop boxes. Permit absentee voting for traditional reasons such as medical conditions or operations.

But then make Election Day a holiday. Make showing up at the polls both the standard practice and a big deal. Strengthen the sense of community as people line up with their neighbors to vote.

Voting should be more than sending a letter.

[Photo by Unsplash+ at Unsplash]

The Evolution of Dracula


The Importance of Chinese Restaurants

 What's missing in my neighborhood - sorely, sorely missing - is a Chinese restaurant. Jews need Chinese restaurants. An old joke is that Jewish civilization began nearly six thousand years ago, Chinese civilization nearly four thousand years ago, and so for nearly two thousand years the Jews went hungry.

- Joseph Epstein, In A Cardboard Belt!

Sunday, October 30, 2022

Saturday, October 29, 2022

To the Stake!

 The Guardian: Some members of the American publishing industry are objecting to a book deal for a US Supreme Court Justice who does not share their political beliefs.

I recognized one name.

First Paragraph

Becker stood up, stubbed his cigar in the ashtray, buttoned his jacket, and placed his right hand reassuringly on Silbermann's shoulder. "So take care, Otto. I think I'll be back in Berlin by tomorrow. If something comes up, you can simply call me in Hamburg." 

- From The Passenger by Ulrich Alexander Boschwitz

Make It So

 Jack Dorsey is working on a new site that will, inadvertently, improve Twitter.

Getting More Innovation From Your Team

Wally Bock on the beauty of small innovations.



Game Plan

The first stage will evolve into the second and the second into the third. All will be informal so modifications/retreats can be easily made and there will be no grand announcements until the end, if ever.

As one stage blurs into another, the participants will gain additional information and greater levels of trust in the mission and in one another. The activities will be designed with the overall mission in mind. A sense of community will be nourished and guarded.

Any complexity should trigger alarm bells because that will mean we're slipping off-track.

[Photo by Parabol at Unsplash]

Junk Science in the Courtroom

Read the Commentary magazine article by James B. Meigs.


Friday, October 28, 2022

Rest in Peace


The Pleasure of Slow Reading

I was hoping to find Proust easier in English than in French and do not. All the difficulties of the original are here faithfully reproduced. A sentence begins quite simply, then it undulates and expands, parentheses intervene like quick-set hedges, the flowers of comparison bloom, and three fields off, like a wounded partridge, crouches the principal verb, making one wonder as one picks it up, poor little thing, whether after all it was worth such a tramp, so many guns, such expensive dogs, and what, after all, is its relation to the main subject, potted so gaily half a page back, and proving finally to have been in the accusative case.

- E. M. Forster 

The complexity of Proust is an acquired taste, but once acquired, it becomes an abiding love.

- Joseph Epstein

These People are Insane

Authorizes minors to consent to medical, dental, health, mental health or hospital services if they comprehend the need for, the nature of, and the reasonably foreseeable risks and benefits involved, as well as any alternatives thereto.

A proposed law in New York.

See the City Journal article here.

"Let us build something extraordinary together"

Cultural Offering has Elon Musk's statement on Twitter.

Great news.

Look for the Weak Spots

You can learn a great deal about organizations by studying insurgencies.

This is Not "The Spy Who Came In From the Cold"


Thursday, October 27, 2022

The Squelchers

 John McWhorter on when the "woke playbook" kills free speech.



What Passes for Journalism

"Kris Mayes is hoping her vast resume in law and politics – an advantage she has over her younger opponent -- convinces voters she is the right candidate to run Arizona's top prosecutor’s office." - 12News

Where the Boys Aren't

According to the Tao of blue-state T-shirts—the sort that every nine-year-old soccer-playing girl in my Brooklyn neighborhood wears—“The Future Is Female.” On college campuses, that future has arrived. Women are now 60 percent of college graduates, men a mere 40 percent. This gender gap is not new—among college grads, the ratio has moved in women’s favor since the early 1980s—but it has reached a record extent, and people are paying attention.

Read the rest of Kay S. Hymowitz's City Journal article.


Working on drafting a system that works for an organization.

That was easy.

Now I need to design a system that works but which is simple.

Much harder.

The process of trimming begins.

[Photo by Annie Spratt at Unsplash]

The Internet is Weird, But It Has Nice Moments


Wednesday, October 26, 2022

First Paragraph

Think about why we are fascinated by history. All of those outstanding individuals and exotic peoples. The rise and fall of civilizations - and wondering why that happens. How did classical Greece achieve its Golden Age - the age of Socrates and Pericles, Euripides and Hippocrates? What explains the remarkable confluence of so many outstanding individuals in one era?

- From Nietzsche and the Nazis by Stephen R. C. Hicks

The Greatest Show on Earth


Your Next Car


In the Pipeline


Some Needed Questions in a Complaint-Happy World

  • What evidence do you have to support that conclusion?
  • What are the counter-arguments?
  • Was a violation of the law alleged?
  • If so, were the allegations investigated?
  • Were the proper procedures followed?
  • What were the findings?
  • Do the proposed remedies violate the law?

Thought-Provoking and Important


Poetry to Memorize

 "Father William" by Lewis Carroll.

Always a treat.

"Wake Up, Sleeper"


The attorney/poet/blogger is embracing life.

Monday, October 24, 2022

Poetry to Memorize

 A zinger of a poem by Elinor Wylie.

Who Will Defend Against Education Fallout?

 Is not the essence of education civil defense against media fallout?

- Marshall McLuhan, 1962

Boris is Out of the Race


But we'll always have this!

Talking to Myself


Doctors. Contractors. Researchers. Team members. Executives. Relatives. Lawyers.

This is a week for catch-up.

And one of the most important strategies is to follow the advice that I would give to others.

Infecting the Liberal Order

As a simple piece of advice for pushing back against Critical Race Theory, then, stop assuming it has good intentions. Individual people pushing Critical Race Theory might have good intentions, but the Theory they are applying does not. It only has one intention: seize as much institutional authority as possible to raise enough "racial consciousness" to establish a Dictatorship of the Antiracists that will enforce Critical Race Theory on everybody. For liberals, this is a tough pill to swallow. Critical Race Theory ideas are not liberal ideas, and they cannot be considered on liberal terms. They are viruses meant to infect the liberal order. Assuming the ideas must mean something more reasonable than it seems or that activists won't equivocate between meanings in a strategic way to seize power will cause you to lose every single time.

- James Lindsay, Race Marxism

Sunday, October 23, 2022

Saturday, October 22, 2022

Navigating Your Career

Wally Bock on "Calm Seas and Crucibles."

[Marcus Woodbridge at Unsplash]

Meanwhile on Campus


Far-Sighted in 1962

 "All I know," Will Rogers remarked in the earlier days of the Graphic Revolution, "is what I read in the papers." Today he might modernize his complaint: "All I see in the papers is what I already know."

- Daniel J. Boorstin, The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America (published in 1962)

Timing and Books


I suspect that it is a good book but I'm not in the right frame of mind.

If the book was written by a good writer then I have an obligation to be a good reader.

Friday, October 21, 2022

Superheroes with Restrictions


Needed Candor

"Tomorrow, our class will go on a field trip to the Phoenix Art Museum. This will be the first exposure to high culture that many of you have had so, by all means, wise-guy around, goof-off, remained trapped in the ignorance that has made you what you are today."

- Mr. Bowers, one of my high school English teachers

Great man.

Let's Hope Not

 New York Post: Will the NYC Schools Chancellor apologize?

We're in The Best of Hands

City Journal: Zach Goldberg and Eric Kaufmann on a survey showing that Critical Race Theory is being taught in schools.

Jeff Shaara


Thursday, October 20, 2022


 Against stupidity even the gods struggle in vain.

- Friedrich Schiller

"Math's Angry Man"

EducationWeek in 1993: A profile of John Saxon, the man who challenged the math establishment.

An Argument for Limited Government

When someone reaches middle age, people he knows begin to get put in charge of things, and knowing what he knows about the people who are being put in charge of things scares the hell out of him.

- Calvin Trillin

Crank It Up


British Politics: The Greatest Show on Earth

Looking forward to a multi-volumed historical analysis of the prime ministership of Liz Truss.

Gated Communities and Mobs

Reconstructing democratic pluralism in North America and Europe to permit cross-class power sharing is a challenge as difficult as it is urgent. The alternative is grim: a future of gated communities and mobs led by demagogues at their gates.

- Michael Lind, The New Class War

This May Be Scarier Than a Halloween Movie


First Paragraph

 The killers arrived in a sand-coloured jeep, and made short work of the village.

- From London Rules by Mick Herron

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Jonathan Haidt


The Maths of Personal Change

Nicholas Bate is on the numbers.
  • The cumulative power is greater than the component parts.
  • The cumulative power is greater than the component parts.
  • The cumulative power is greater than the component parts.
  • The cumulative power is greater than the component parts.

The Power of Numbers

You are meeting with a state legislator or a member of the city council. You represent a community or state-wide organization that anyone can join. The membership is free. Belonging to the club does not convey any particular prestige. Its officers are not members of any elite.

But the club has 10,000 members.

Do you have their attention now?

Highly Recommend

Part of the Slough House series of novels. Great stuff. 

["The spycraft of le Carré refracted through the blackly comic vision of Joseph Heller's Catch-22." - Financial Times]

Profile in Discretion

This City Journal essay on the problem with university "diversity pledges" makes several good points but they pale in comparison to the description of the author.

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Back By Popular Demand


Conversation Skills


False Equivalents

Consider how often you encounter on-line discussions in which A is declared to be the equivalent of B and yet they are quite different.

Did the schools stop teaching reasoning several decades back?

[Photo by Anastasiya Romanova at Unsplash]

For the Bulletin Board

Simple, clear purpose and principles give rise to complex, intelligent behavior. Complex rules and regulations give rise to simple, stupid behavior.

- Dee Hock

Monday, October 17, 2022

In the Background


Sweeping Waves


I am on the beach in my office, sweeping waves of paper.

On My List


"Our Mad Aristos"

Cultural Offering pointed to this Joel Kotkin essay.

Much to think about.

[Photo by Carles Rabada at Unsplash]

Seriously Great

Patrick Rhone is declaring this the Winter of Wine.

Sound move.

For health reasons, I no longer drink (and have not done so for decades) and yet I still have fond memories of Stag's Leap Cabernet Sauvignon.

Sunday, October 16, 2022

Saturday, October 15, 2022

Decision to Leave


Viewpoint Diversity at Harvard

Renu Mukherjee, writing in City Journal, notes a failing assumption of affirmative action preferences.

Stages of Leadership

 Wally Bock provides insight.

Time to Re-Watch "Lawrence of Arabia"


Can Statistics Catch a Cheater at Chess?

 Political Calculations has the answer.

Media Wizards

Althouse on Glenn Greenwald and the media scandal.

"In Theory"

I just saw an executive's explanation of how a matter would be handled if various players had been switched. She said there would have been no difference in the decision.

No difference?

Her problem is that no one with any serious objectivity believes that. It's fine to advocate a position in theory but the question is what is done in practice. 

Her team has given the answer.

In the Pipeline


Advertising Wars


When The Frost Is On the Punkin

This has become an Execupundit tradition:

Kent Risley with 
a marvelous recitation of the poem.

[Photo by Matt Eberle at Unsplash]

Friday, October 14, 2022

Just Arrived


While Big Tech May Be Big Brother


"Big Brother" May Be "Big Mother"

 I see an innumerable crowd of like and equal men who revolve on themselves without repose, procuring the small and vulgar pleasures with which they fill their souls. Each of them, withdrawn and apart, is like a stranger to the destiny of all the others: his children and his particular friends form the whole human species for him; as for dwelling with his fellow citizens, he is beside them, but he does not see them; he touches them and does not feel them; he exists only in himself and for himself alone ...

Above these an immense tutelary power is elevated, which alone takes charge of assuring their enjoyments and watching over their fate. It is absolute, detailed, regular, far-seeing, and mild. It would resemble paternal power if, like that, it had for its object to prepare men for manhood; but on the contrary, it seeks only to keep them fixed irrevocably in childhood ...

Thus, after taking each individual by turns in its powerful hands and kneading him as it likes, the sovereign extends its arms over society as a whole; it covers its surface with a network of small, complicated, painstaking, uniform rules through which the most original minds and the most vigorous souls cannot clear a way to surpass the crowd; it does not break wills, but softens them, bends them, and directs them; it rarely forces one to act, but it constantly opposes itself to one's acting; it does not destroy, it prevents things from being born; it does not tyrannize, it hinders, compromises, enervates, extinguishes, and finally reduces each nation to being nothing more than a herd of timid and industrious animals of which the government is the shepherd.

- Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America [quoted in The Great Degeneration: How Institutions Decay and Economies Die by Niall Ferguson]

Questions to Consider


  • If the situations were reversed, how would you decide?
  • Once you have solved this problem, what new problems will arise?
  • Assuming this subject is very important, at which point should it become a lower priority?
  • Since attention and resources are finite, which areas are being deprived in order to complete your favored program?
  • You want it done quickly. What would be regarded as too quickly?
  • Are you treating others the way you would like to be treated or are you treating them the way you think they would treat you?

Hayek and Lewis

The New Atlantist: Howe Whitman, III provides an interesting look at whether technocratic tyranny has encouraged a fusion between libertarians and traditionalist conservatives.

Thursday, October 13, 2022



The Day

Big meeting (important) followed by small meeting (very important) followed by errands (time sensitive). 

In-between will be updates and scheduling but then - then - then will come an uninterrupted session of thinking about a strategy. Pen and paper will be essential because I need to see my thoughts. The implicit aspects of the OODA Loop may play a role.

The idea is very close but I need to wave it in.

[Photo by Jeremy Bishop at Unsplash]

In the Stack


Strengthen Community. Fight Loneliness.

One of the big issues of our times:

Stella Morabito, writing in The Federalist, on "The Weaponization of Loneliness."

Clean Gene's Financial Supporters

In our time the men who supported McCarthy’s 1968 effort would be liable for the crime of contributing too much money to a political campaign. Not surprisingly we have many fewer upstart campaigns like McCarthy’s and 98 percent of incumbents win their bids to be re‐​elected to Congress.

Read the rest of the 2005 essay by John Samples on the Eugene McCarthy campaign.

Prepare for Halloween


Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Avoiding Disaster

 "Are you enraged at the hypocrisy of a Republican or Democratic senator? Try recalling a time when you, too, behaved hypocritically because you thought it might help an important cause or because you thought the other side was wrong. Are you enraged at a group of Trump supporters wearing MAGA hats and insisting on the rights of the unborn, or at a group of social justice activists demanding that we defund racist cops? Remind yourself that our democracy depends on these people having their voices heard. You don't have to like them or their opinions to realize that silencing them is a disaster for us all and makes us all less safe."

- Batya Ungar-Sargon, Bad News: How Woke Media Is Undermining Democracy

On the Path to Nuclear War?

Jeremy Shapiro in "War on the Rocks" has important observations about a strategy that appears to have no positive end-game.

The strategy of tactical nukes versus tactical nukes is nitwitted. Do we have to rely on Elon Musk to surface possible resolutions of a no-win situation?

Time for Corfu


Too Cynical By Half

UnHerd: David Patrikarakos on "How Smiley's people conquered Britain."

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Good Times Ahead


Miscellaneous and Fast

"Enemies of Food"

Tablet magazine: Marion Nestle, a nutritionist,  recalls a special dinner with Julia Child.

The Decline of Blind Auditions


Fascinating and Important

Confused about network news and the Internet? 

Check out The New Atlantis article by Jon Askonas on "How Stewart Made Tucker."

The Techies Are Coming for Us



 Tablet magazine: J. Hoberman on Diane Arbus.

Monday, October 10, 2022

No Kumbaya

 The Washington Examiner: Christopher Tremoglie wants to end Indigenous Peoples Day.

Power Politics

UnHerd: Nathan Levine on "Is China about to turn on Russia?" 


And also check out the book.


Executive Briefing

The briefing will have a core message pertaining to values and mission. All else will be ancillary. All talking points will be related to the core message. So will all examples.

The presentation will appear to be very simple but simplicity is difficult. [I've been pondering multiple drafts of the report for several months.] 

Counter-arguments have been considered. So has flexibility. I know where we can bend and where we must not.

We have not rushed. We've carefully coordinated. There has been checking and re-checking.

All is as it should be. 

[Photo by Matthias Wagner at Unsplash]

Danger, Will Robinson!



Saturday, October 08, 2022

California in the Forties



I won't be wronged. I won't be insulted. I won't be laid a-hand on. I don't do these things to other people, and I require the same from them.

- in J. B. Books in The Shootist

New Orleans Boo


You Can't Have It All

Wally Bock explores maximization and trade-offs.

[Photo by engin akyurt at Unsplash]

Liquor Store After Dark?

Esquire looks at an assortment of Timex watches.

Fear Stats

"Data on hospital admissions were also extremely relative. Throughout the crisis, any patient who tested positive upon admission was considered a COVID-19 patient, regardless of whether they had COVID-19 symptoms or, let's say, a broken leg. At a certain point, the Scottish government changed its methodology and began counting someone as a coronavirus patient only if they tested positve and were also admitted with COVID-19 symptoms. The result? They were left with 13 percent of the original number of COVID-19 patients."

- Mattias Desmet, The Psychology of Totalitarianism

Time to Re-Watch


Know Your Game


What is required to attain a particular position may be very different from what is required to succeed in that position. Fail in either category and you'll fail. 

Period. End of sentence.

That may not be fair but - let's all shout it together - life is unfair.

What is helpful is to know which game you are in. It will be helpful if you can acquire skills in the first stage that can be used in the second. If all you do is succeed in the first stage while giving little serious thought to the second, then disaster may await. 

The learning curve is very steep in the second stage. That's a cruel twist because those who devote early preparation for the second stage risk weakening the skills needed to emerge from the first.

Know which game you are in but don't forget which game is ahead.

Friday, October 07, 2022

"Winston Churchill Did These Things"

People do not do things like the things he did as a young man. They do not participate in cavalry charges and do not write powerful and best-selling books about them later. They do not do this having already fought in another war, and written another best-seller, and seen yet another war in Cuba as an observer or really a spy. They do not go on from there to a fourth war, and another book, and a novel, and only then begin their real career, politics. Especially they do not do these things before their twenty-seventh birthdays. Winston Churchill did these things.

- Larry Arn in The New Criterion, September 2022

Bram: A Spy Story

Nicholas Bate is always working on another book!

The Many Roads to Totalitarianism

But we must recognize that totalitarianism can as easily be the work of industrial managers, who are themselves revolting against the capitalists, or of labor leaders, scientists, church leaders, or any other group of intellectuals who may find themselves strategically placed to accomplish through revolution or bureaucracy the transition from free society to totalitarianism.

- Robert Nisbet, The Quest for Community



Thursday, October 06, 2022

The Art of the Deal: New Version

Michael Shellenberger on the Biden administration's offer to buy oil from OPEC.

[HT: A Large Regular]

First Paragraph

There is a direct relationship between wars and struggles for civil rights. If "war made the state," as Charles Tilly famously observed, it also stimulated some of the social movements that went on to change the state.

- From Waging a Good War: A Military History of the Civil Rights Movement, 1954-1968 by Thomas E. Ricks

[Updated with proper title.]

Kelly and Taibbi on "Jihad Rehab"


Don't Forget Your Malaria Pills

Black Swan Europa has an intriguing list of travel books by/about women.

Wednesday, October 05, 2022

Behind the Bond Music


Keep in Mind

A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself within. The essential causes of Rome's decline lay in her people, her morals, her class struggle, her failing trade, her bureaucratic despotism, her stifling taxes, her consuming wars.

- Will Durant, The Story of Civilization, Volume III, Caesar and Christ

Driving Wilshire Boulevard



The culture wars that have convulsed America since the sixties are best understood as a form of class warfare, in which an enlightened elite (as it thinks of itself) seeks not so much to impose its values on the majority (a majority perceived as incorrigibly racist, sexist, provincial, and xenophobic), much less to persuade the majority by means of rational public debate, as to create parallel or "alternative" institutions in which it will no longer be necessary to confront the unenlightened at all.

- Christopher Lasch, The Revolt of the Elites and The Betrayal of Democracy (1995)

More Than Present

If you are there, be there.

Present But Absent

In digital interactions, our minds are tricked into believing that we are together, but our bodies know that we are not; what's so exhausting about digital conversations is being constantly in the presence of the other person's absence.

- Gianpiero Petriglieri

Boola Boola Boycott

 The Washington Free Beacon: A boycott of - not by - Yale Law School graduates.

Tuesday, October 04, 2022

Fear and Control

Coercive control leads to fear and fear leads to more coercive control.

- Mattias Desmet, The Psychology of Totalitarianism

[Photo by Arno Senoner at Unsplash]

The Decline of Institutional Ambition

It is perfectly obvious that something has gone wrong with Congress in our time. In one respect, the intensity and energy of the institution are very high at present: Congress is the scene of constant dramatic confrontations and what seem like epic battles - fights over confirmations of judges and other officials, budget showdowns, heated oversight hearings, and more. But in other respects,Congress is doing next to nothing. There hasn't been a proper budget process in over a decade, very little significant legislation gets passed, and most members serving today have never really been part of a traditional legislative process. This juxtaposition of intensity and incapacity amounts to a profound dysfunction. Whether you measure it by legislation, public approval, member satisfaction, or even just the volume of committee work or each house's ability to live by its own procedures, the Congress now looks to be in disarray.

- Yuval Levin, A Time to Rebuild

And what does Levin think is the cause? Congress is weak because its members want it to be weak. Their behavior and priorities reflect a peculiar lack of institutional ambition.

In Search of Done Done

There is the document itself and the final review, then comes the formatting and the cover letter for the document and preparation of the press release and the talking points and the internal briefings and the media considerations and the follow-up plan as well as the scheduling of any periodic reviews.

When a project seems to be done, it might not really be done.

Meanwhile in Russia


Monday, October 03, 2022

The Court

Jonathan Turley: buckle up for a wild Supreme Court term.

Glenn Harlan Reynolds on affirmative action, democracy, and the Supreme Court.

In the Pipeline


A Study in Innovation: F-86 Sabre Jet


Check out Certain to Win by consultant Chet Richards. The book provides a fascinating examination of John Boyd's OODA theory and its application to business. The F-86 played an important role as Boyd's theories caught on in the Air Force.

Our Times


Healthy Skepticism

It helps to know when you are reading a report on a subject as opposed to the report on the subject and yet who knows when the report will be surpassed?

Stay Curious

The training of the infantryman can never be too many-sided.

- General Hermann Balck

Time to Re-Read


Sunday, October 02, 2022

Saturday, October 01, 2022

How to Support Your Teammates in Tough Times


Wally Bock recommends six ways.

Mind the Gaps

The information was in an inconvenient location. No one assumed that it would be helpful. People were pressed for time (at least they thought they were) and the tendency was to focus on what everyone else was studying. Precedent had set some informal boundaries. You would have looked strange if you'd looked elsewhere.

No one wanted to look foolish and no one wanted to raise questions. As a result, the information was not reviewed.

And that neglect helped to produce a disaster.

The disasters can be so much more informative than the victories.