Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Boys' Adventure Novels


Alexander Palacio: "Whatever happened to boys' adventure novels?"

Bringing back the historical novels of Thomas Costain would also help.

Distraction Sickness: "I Used to Be a Human Being"


New York magazine: Andrew Sullivan on the danger of information addiction

"I tried reading books, but that skill now began to elude me."


[Photo by Todd Trapani at Unsplash]

A Thousand Good Activities

A thousand good activities will mean little if they do not move the organization forward. 

In fact, they may even be harmful if they produce burn-out, exhaustion, or frustration.

More Powerful Than Ever

 


Tuesday, November 29, 2022

"Smears Instead of Investigation"

City Journal: John M. Ellis, who has written an excellent book on the breakdown of higher education, updates us on the subject.

Great Moments in Persuasion


 

Health Food Update

The British Museum: Discovering a 4,500-year-old olive oil factory in Jordan.

Ruffneck

It's World Cup time. 

Check out Ruffneck Scarves.

Shadow Committees

 The only subject area outside of parliamentary government where I have heard of the use of shadow committees is crisis management. You don't want your crisis management team to burn out before the crisis is resolved. It can make sense to have a fresh bench of talent that has been in the information loop while remaining ever ready to supply energy and perspectives.

The other area where a shadow committee can be helpful is where the subject is so important that the potential infusion of new ideas may make the difference between success and failure.

Remember: The insiders have the power to act but they lack the time and perspective of the outsiders. The outsiders have the time for ideas but they lack the power to act.

After a failure, the list of opportunities or dangers missed by the insiders can be quickly assembled by the outsiders. The insiders may shout, "Why didn't you tell us?" and yet - unless there is a formal shadow committee system - we know the answer: The insiders were too busy doing what they were doing to listen to any suggestions from the outside. The outsiders knew their ideas would not be welcome.

Got a major project? Consider a shadow committee.

First Paragraph

I come from Des Moines. Somebody had to. When you come from Des Moines you either accept the fact without question and settle down with a local girl named Bobbi and get a job at the Firestone factory and live there forever and ever, or you spend your adolescence moaning at length about what a dump it is and how you can't wait to get out, and then you settle down with a local girl named Bobbi and get a job at the Firestone factory and live there forever and ever.

- From The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America by Bill Bryson

Interview With the Author of "The New Class War"

 TexasMonthly in 2020: "Michael Lind Wants to Put America Back Together."

As I read the interview, I checked off the numerous areas where I disagree with Michael Lind and yet found others to be very thought-provoking.

Monday, November 28, 2022

Horror Show

Cultural Offering links to an account by a mother in Quebec trying to get emergency treatment for her child.

Elon and Twitter

The problem isn’t that conservatives are shouted down by louder or smarter voices. It’s that the digital elite decides which issues are even fit to be discussed. Hunter Biden’s laptop, the possible Wuhan lab leak, worries about “gender affirming” medical interventions for kids—Twitter diligently suppressed these topics, sometimes through subtle “shadow bans,” sometimes with an almost Soviet brazenness. (Remember when the New York Post’s whole account got locked over the laptop story? During a presidential election?) This kind of power makes Twitter a force multiplier in the war of ideas. 

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

Study the Classics

 


This Guy Is Onto Something

 


"Well," he drawled, "they haven't read enough literature."

He paused, and so did I. Usually, he would expound at length, but this diagnosis he let sit by itself. It was unexpected. What does literature have to do with students in the streets?

- From The Dumbest Generation Grows Up by Mark Bauerlein


[Photo by Jaredd Craig at Unsplash]


But They Can Google It!

"Mid-twentieth-century academia idealized a college graduate as one who recalls Socrates and Galileo and Beethoven's Ninth. The twenty-first-century college identifies her as one with habits of critique. We have evolved from knowledge to dispositions, materials to skills. This is coherence without content, an attempt to resolve the contrary demands of diversity and direction with a new spin on e pluribus unum: out of many unrelated college courses, one analytical mind."

- Mark Bauerlein, The Dumbest Generation Grows Up

Never Retire

 


"After Intersectionalism"

Tablet magazine: Joel Kotkin sees a return to intergroup rivalry

We live in interesting times.

Call a Lawyer

 


Sunday, November 27, 2022

Saturday, November 26, 2022

On Order: A Novel of the Pandemic



"The Evils of Elitist Altruism"

UnHerd: Ian Birrell on Sam Bankman-Fried's stint as billionaire geek savior.

Let's Begin

 


Take Time Off Seriously


An important tip from Wally Bock's tip-packed business book:
time off should be time off.

Memorable Scenes - A Series

 


Should Be Mandatory Reading in High School


 The first chapter alone is deeply insightful about the world then and our world today.

Hmm

 

What are the odds that the average college student has read novels by at least three of the following authors?

  • John Steinbeck
  • Ralph Ellison
  • Ernest Hemingway
  • Joseph Conrad
  • Willa Cather
  • Mark Twain
  • Zora Neale Hurston
  • William Faulkner
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Victor Hugo
  • Herman Melville

First Paragraph

For their first four centuries the energies of the Romans were absorbed in asserting control over Italy south of the river Po. Within this area they established a complex network of unequal alliances which increasingly developed, not into the genuine confederacy that had once seemed possible, but into an empire controlled by themselves.

- From The World of Rome by Michael Grant

First Sentence

The people who were declining should have known it; therefore I turn to them first for their views.

- Corruption and the Decline of Rome by Ramsay MacMullen 

Thursday, November 24, 2022

To Be Done Every Day

 Be thankful for what you have. Your life is someone else's fairy tale.

- Wale Ayeni

We Gather Together

 


Have a Extra Portion of Thanksgiving on Thanksgiving


[Photo by Prchi Palwe at Unsplash]

Remember

"We have not journeyed all this way across the centuries, across the oceans, across the mountains, across the prairies, because we are made of sugar candy."

- Winston Churchill

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Keep in Mind

To be an individual, the years have taught me, takes a constant effort. 

- William Deresiewicz, The End of Solitude

Social Studies, Minnesota, and the Ants

Historian Wilfred McClay pans Minnesota's draft of social studies standards.

Which reminds me of the ant farm scene in the film "Barcelona":



Crank It Up

 


The Haunting Fear

"One indication of moral progress in the United States would be the replacement of Thanksgiving Day and its self-indulgent family feasting with a National Day of Atonement accompanied by a self-reflective collective fasting."

University of Texas at Austin professor Robert Jensen

"Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy."

- H.L. Mencken


Remember

If it's stupid and it works - it isn't stupid.

- General Stanley McChrystal

Handel

 


I Am The Pie Man

My assignment for tomorrow - aside from being charming - involves pies. 

Pumpkin. Pecan. French Silk. 

Apple will be saved for the weekend.

Given the amount of effort in preparing for the meal, I got off easily.

My chore involves one trip to Village Inn (click and scroll down).

For which I am thankful.

A Continuing Issue

 Bari Weiss in 2021: "The Miseducation of America's Elites."

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Just Arrived

 


And Yet Another Christmas Movie

 


Gratitude

 


Clarity

Lee's army will be your objective point. Wherever Lee goes, there you will go also.

- Lieutenant General Ulysses Grant's order to Major General George Meade, April 9, 1864

10 Rules for Thanksgiving


[Photo by Claudio Schwarz at Unsplash]


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.

If You Are Looking for the Distinctive

 Check out The Armoury of St. James.

Monday, November 21, 2022

Craftsmanship and Beauty

 I always feel better (even restored) after visiting Whoa to Wow.

Gourmet Thinking

Farnam Street: How Julia Child Used First Principles Thinking.

[HT: A Large Regular]

The Media and the Illusion

Jonathan Turley on the news media and what should be a mega-story of influence-peddling.

Decline


 
The New Criterion analyzes the rot in American institutions. An excerpt:

By the third century A.D., Rome had turned definitively away from that cultural compact. It was then that decline wove itself inextricably into the sinews of Roman society. “The rot began at the top,” Goldsworthy writes, “and in time a similar attitude pervaded the entire government and army high command.”

Memorable Scenes - A Series

 


Not a Civil Rights Movement

What is Critical Race Theory? The critical race theory (CRT) movement is a collection of activists and scholars interested in studying and transforming the relationship among race, racism, and power. The movement considers many of the same issues that conventional civil rights and ethnic studies discourses take up, but places them in a broader perspective that includes economics, history, context, group- and self-interest, and even feelings and the unconscious. Unlike traditional civil rights, which embraces incrementalism and step-by-step progress, critical race theory questions the very foundations of the liberal order, including equality theory, legal reasoning, Enlightenment rationalism, and neutral principles of constitutional law.

- From Critical Race Theory: An Introduction by Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic

The Thanksgiving Movie

 


Sunday, November 20, 2022

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Passion and Genius

 


"The Immortal Irishman"

 "Mr. President, I have a cause of grievance."

      "Yes."

       "The morning I went to Colonel Sherman and he threatened to shoot me."

        Lincoln tipped his head, puzzled.  Unwilling to get in the middle of a spat between officers, he threw off a joke, with some truth to it.  "If I were you," he said, "and he threatened to shoot, I would trust him."  

Read the rest at A Layman's Blog.

The Halls of Hoover

Commentary: Eli Lake on "Can the FBI Be Saved from Itself and Can the Rest of Us Be Saved from the FBI?"

Solo Electric Car

 I saw one yesterday in Phoenix.

Very interesting. Three-wheeled.

Awaiting the Diagnosis

Washington Examiner: Rob Long on medical exams, uncertainty, and Google.

A Leadership Balancing Act

You can go the other way. You can care for the people and not worry too much about the mission. There’s a term that describes that: “career suicide.” And don’t be fooled. Your teammates don’t love you nearly as much as they want to be part of a successful team.

Read the rest of Wally Bock's perspective.

Work on Your French

 


Hmm


 

Bring It On



When extensive research and analysis pay off, the motivation to repeat the performance is intense.

One major project is nearing its end.

The horizon is beautiful.

Friday, November 18, 2022

Global Cooling Warning


 

Mellow Machines

 Wallpaper magazine: Jonathan Bell examines some minimalist devices to take the stress out of tech.

Planning Directions

I want a clear goal and a direct strategy for achieving it. Tell me what we gain.

I also want approaches for key groups and a description of the opposition's counter-arguments. 

No opposition? Use your imagination. They are out there.

Give me the cast of characters with an indication of how they think, what they've done, what each wants, and how well they get along. 

Tell me what they fear the most and what they are likely to do to avoid it.

Be thinking of the risks and resources and which side has time as an ally.

I also want to know which party cares the least. They're probably the most dangerous.

Give the costs - don't forget the costs - and be wary of any plan that does not seem to have a downside.

There is always a downside.

I want more than three options because there are always more than three options and I don't want to see a recommendation sandwiched between two extremes.

Throughout all of this we should be asking two questions: "And then what?" and "What are we relying on?"

Do all of the above and then we can talk some more about what we don't know.

First Paragraph

Feudalism is making a comeback, long after it was believed to have been deposited into the historical dustbin. Of course it will look different this time around: we won't see knights in shining armor, or vassals doing homage to their lords, or a powerful Catholic Church enforcing the reigning orthodoxy. What we are seeing is a new form of aristocracy developing in the United States and beyond, as wealth in our postindustrial economy tends to be ever more concentrated in fewer hands. Societies are becoming more stratified, with decreasing chances of upward mobility for most of the population. A class of thought leaders and opinion makers, which I call the "clerisy," provide intellectual support for the emerging hierarchy. As avenues for upward mobility are diminishing, the model of liberal capitalism is losing appeal around the globe, and new doctrines are arising in its place, including ones that lend support to a kind of neo-feudalism.

- From The Coming of Neo-Feudalism: A Warning to the Global Middle Class by Joel Kotkin

Memorable Scenes - A Series [Spoiler Alert]

 


Thursday, November 17, 2022

In the Background



Note to Elon

Given the vitriol of so many Tweets it would be helpful if Twitter added a new emoji meaning "Seek help."

The Eastern Airlines View of Equal Opportunity 1967

 


Survey Courses


Cultural Offering provides some thoughts on the value and structure of survey courses.

One of the most valuable classes I ever took was a survey course way back in the Sixties.

The class title was Humanities and it covered philosophy, art, literature, history, and architecture. (I am not sure if it covered music. If not, that was an oversight.)

Many of my peers dreaded it. I loved it.

The Final Word, Of Course

 


The Murder of Vincent van Gogh


I just learned of this book the other day from an old friend who is both an attorney and an art docent. 

"Killing Vincent" reviews the evidence concerning the death of Vincent van Gogh and concludes that it wasn't a suicide.

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Tanned, Rested, and Ready

 


America and "Stranger on the Shore"

The era we think of as the sixties began with relative suddenness around the time of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963. Americans are right to say that nothing was ever the same after Kennedy was shot. You can hear the change in popular music over a matter of months. A year-and-a-half before Kennedy was killed, "Stranger on the Shore," a drowsy instrumental by the British clarinetist Acker Bilk, had hit number one. A year-and-a-half after the assassination, the musicians who would form Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead, Big Brother and the Holding Company, and various other druggie blues and folk-rock bands were playing their first gigs together in San Francisco.

- Christopher Caldwell, The Age of Entitlement: America Since the Sixties



Impressive

 Yesterday, I went in for a medical appointment in Scottsdale at 1:00 p.m.

By 1:09 p.m. they had checked me in, taken my blood pressure, and completed a skull scan.

I was sitting there both impressed and stunned when the physician assistant returned at 1:12.

BTW: All is well. I am on antibiotics and expected to be fine.

Kindness, Brevity, Industry, and Insight

The consultant, teacher, blogger, and novelist Nicholas Bate.

a.k.a. The Man Who Never Sleeps.

And he has a spy novel in the mill!

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

"The Delusion of Diversity"

 


Mass Disenchantment

Our discontent begins by finding false villains whom we can accuse of deceiving us. Next we find false heroes whom we expect to liberate us. The hardest, most discomfiting discovery is that each of us must emancipate himself. Though we may suffer from mass illusions, there is no formula for mass disenchantment. By the law of pseudo-events, all efforts at mass disenchantment themselves only embroider our illusions.

- Daniel J. Boorstin

Monday, November 14, 2022

Reprise

 


Recommended

 


True Sweetness

The Kanigans have adopted a puppy.

And all that entails.

Cuter than cute. They now have a little work of art that wanders around the house and is a daily reminder of what sweetness is.

Upper Case and Lower Case

A Large Regular has something we all should know (but probably don't).

As a Noted Techie

 Yes, FutureLawyer, I have ordered a reMarkable tablet.

Leadership Mantra

I am going to share with you the personal mantra of great leaders: I am good at what I do - and I do it because I care about you.

- John B. Spence

Memorable Scenes - A Series

 


Red, Blue, and In-Between

Spiked: Joel Kotkin on a tale of two Americas.

Potential Shift

First Things: Colin Redemer on "Conservatives for Labor."

Saturday, November 12, 2022

Thursday, November 10, 2022

The Universe and Morgan Freeman


 

Sip, Don't Gulp

 


"Beware the barrenness of a busy life."

- Socrates

Van Nuys Blvd

 


Looming

Today, the full scale of the threat Sandworm and its ilk present looms over the future. If cyberwar escalation continues unchecked, the victims of state-sponsored hacking could be on a trajectory for even more virulent and destructive worms. The digital attacks first demonstrated in Ukraine hint at a dystopia on the horizon, one where hackers induce blackouts that last days, weeks, or even longer - intentionally inflicted deprivations of electricity that could mirror the American tragedy of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, causing vast economic harm and even loss of life. Or one where hackers destroy physical equipment at industrial sites to cause lethal mayhem. Or, as in the case of NotPetya, where they simply wipe hundreds of thousands of computers at a strategic moment to render brain-dead the digital systems of an enemy's economy or critical infrastructure.

- From Sandworm: A New Era of Cyberwar and the Hunt for the Kremlin's Most Dangerous Hackers by Andy Greenberg (2019)

Memorable Scenes: A Series

 


Wednesday, November 09, 2022

The MIM

Recently ran across the opportunity to recommend the Musical Instrument Museum to visitors.

Fascinating place.

Eye Contact

No this guy has eyes that spend way too much time seeing you. Most people, their eyes see you a little and then they skate. Eyes go someplace else then back then someplace else then back it is polite. Try not doing it sometime you will find it is hard and people start to edge away from you. But this guy: his eyes do not travel they just rest and sometimes he is looking at you and sometimes his eyes have not moved but he's seeing something else. Like the guy has a multiplex in his head and you are only one of the screens and not the best one.

- From Seven Demons by Aidan Truhen

Weird Ground Rules: Breakfast Books and Late Night Books


The breakfast books get the blood pumping and the mind churning. They are for notes in the margin and follow-up reminders. 

The late night books are lighter and although they can be mildly exciting, that must be tempered so sleep is not delayed.

The two categories should never be switched.

Tuesday, November 08, 2022

Good Book

 


Newspeak

Newspeak occurs when the primary purpose of language - which is to describe reality - is replaced by the rival purpose of asserting power over it. The fundamental speech-act is only superficially represented by the assertoric grammar. Newspeak sentences sound like assertions, but their underlying logic is that of the spell. They conjure the triumph of words over things, the futility of rational argument, and also the danger of resistance. As a result Newspeak developed its own special syntax, which - while closely related to the syntax deployed in ordinary descriptions - carefully avoids any encounter with reality or any exposure to the logic of rational argument. Fran├žoise Thom has argued this in her brilliant study La langue de bois. The purpose of communist Newspeak, in Thom's ironical words, has been 'to protect ideology from malicious attacks of real things'.

- Roger Scruton, Fools, Frauds and Firebrands

A Final Glance at the Polling

Real Clear Politics polling.

The polling biz is another one that deserves close scrutiny.

Get Ready

 


Monday, November 07, 2022

Fall Fashion

Political Calculations - ever a friend to inventors - unveils the leaf-gathering trousers.

Night Reading



Old School


 I am old-fashioned enough to prefer forming my own conclusions after reading a news account of an event instead of having the account tell me what my conclusions should be.


[Photo by Egor Vikhrev at Unsplash]


Reality

The knowing is easy; the doing is difficult.

- John Spence

Finding Common Ground

Matt Taibbi talks with Tim Robbins on the "lost art of finding common ground."

Very interesting.

"Listen, Matt, if you told me 20 years ago that there would be no video stores where you could talk to a clerk and see what that person might be recommending, or no record stores where you could go see what's new in music, or no bookstores in most towns, I would've told you you were crazy. But we're here. This is part of a larger movement away from the gathering place." 

- Tim Robbins

Flashbacks

Instant wine-drinking memories at Cultural Offering.

Sunday, November 06, 2022

Saturday, November 05, 2022

Those Creative Types!

 


The New Activists

 


Friday, November 04, 2022

Memorable Scenes: A Series



[Update: A longer clip has been used.]


A Strange Silence

Just received a book on diversity programs. 

It was published this year.

There is nothing in it on anti-racism programs, Critical Race Theory, or the relevant ideological divisions.

Whatever the authors may think of such topics, not addressing them at all sets off an alarm bell.

A New Way to Say Adios?

Duolingo's change strategy may go down in history with New Coke.

Thursday, November 03, 2022

Off the Grid

 


Off teaching an Equal Employment Opportunity class. Should be fun.

More later.

Wednesday, November 02, 2022

A Current Practice and Strategy

 If you redefine words, you can change laws without legislating.

- Konstantin Kisin

The Courage of Candor


 

Seek the Different


A friend once told me that he liked museums featuring people who looked like him.

That remark stunned me. The approach seemed like a recipe for boredom. 

Since elementary school I've purposely sought out books and films about people who differ from me.

It's been a good strategy. I still like to visit Long John Silver and Sydney Carton.

Back Off!

 From Axios in December 2021: Interesting political polarization figures among college students.

Tuesday, November 01, 2022

Virtue Signaling 101

City Journal: Heather Mac Donald on the Harvard president's defense of racial preferences

In Time for Thanksgiving Arguments


Dylan's book is out.

"We've got to stop this safety culture"

 


Unusual Novels

I am reading The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. Strange and great.

It joins the unusual novels list:

  • Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter by Mario Vargas Llosa
  • Beyond Black by Hilary Mantel
  • Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  • The Mosquito Coast by Paul Theroux
  • Fong and the Indians by Paul Theroux
  • A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
  • Mendelssohn Is on the Roof by Jiri Weil
  • The Price You Pay by Aiden Truhen
  • Life of Pi by Yann Martel
  • White Teeth by Zadie Smith
  • The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet by David Mitchell
  • Soulless by Gail Carriger
  • Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin
  • Memoir from Antproof Case by Mark Helprin
  • Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
  • Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir