Friday, June 30, 2023

No Surprise

 US State Department report on failed crisis management during the Afghanistan withdrawal.



Happy Birthday to Thomas Sowell


One of America's foremost intellectuals. He should be a household name.

Family Humor

My daughter, who for many years has accused me of being Alan Arkin, texted me this morning and asked, "Dad? Are you alive?"

Finding Meaning in Work

So on my path to adulthood, I did some bad work and I did some good work. And the difference between the good and the bad had less to do with my actual duties than it did with the context in which my duties were embedded. Someone working beside me, either in my family's business or in the psychology lab, might have regarded what she did as just a job, or even a bad job. But not me. There was meaning to be found in those activities, and I was able to find it.

- Barry Schwartz, Why We Work

Very Thought-Provoking: All Hell Is About To Break Loose


To Be Read Every Five Years: A Series


Thursday, June 29, 2023

Beware of the Bug Man

Cernovich: RFK Jr. pumps iron and the bugs come out.

The definition of "bug man" is on target.

Big News on Preferences

The U.S. Supreme Court decides on affirmative action preferences.

This will receive intense scrutiny over the coming days. 

As an old EEO/Affirmative Action officer and consultant, I am very pleased but I also expect that the universities will do their best to weasel around the changes.

Incidentally, here are biographies of the Supreme Court Justices.

Scary and True


The Conquest of Art

 City Journal: Pascal Bruckner on how ideology has distorted art.

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Big Roger

Remember, this is the Summer of Scruton. 

Black Swan Europa has an excerpt.



Reorganizing My Office

The Big Paper Purge continues. Mega-trash bags. Changing desks. Updating computers. Shifting book shelves to reflect key projects.

Staring and thinking.

Lots of staring and thinking.

The biggest danger zone is the usually-out-of-sight office area over my shoulder. It contains multiple briefcases as well as stacks of books and papers. 

Going through that is like an Indiana Jones film.

A Lesson from History

Don't worry about the barbarians. Worry about the gate-keepers.

This "Touch of Evil" Clip Beats Many Entire Films


Tuesday, June 27, 2023



To Be Read Every Five Years: A Series


The Reformers

 Their plan was simple: Replace the objectionable leader with the one they favor. 

That new leader would, in turn, bring in other good people. At least, that was the assumption.

Did they try to keep good people from leaving? 

"No. They probably would not have accepted our new program anyway. Their departure gives us the chance to bring in more like-minded leaders."

The message quickly spread. 

What they overlooked was that the previous leadership was actually quite good.

A truth they did not want to hear.

Divisiveness More Than Diversity

 UnHerd magazine: Martin Gurri on "How the Identity Cult Captured America."

In the Stack


Monday, June 26, 2023

A Serious Need

 Newsweek: Matthew Wilson on the need for institutional neutrality at universities.

Back By Popular Demand



The problem, of course, was that Baba saw the world in black and white. And he got to decide what was black and white.

- Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner


Breakfast reading was Timothy Garton Ash's book on his Stasi file. I'll get to The Wall Street Journal later.

The kitchen remodeling continues. The cabinets are expected today. I am meeting with my son on a consulting project. A stack of papers is on my desk and I am going to break in my new Lenovo laptop over the next few days. Billing also needs to be reviewed.

In short, the usual. Semi-retired but still in the game and a mega-project awaits. It whispers ideas.

I Will Get Here By Going There

In order to complete A, I must do B, C, and perhaps Z. 

Although those tasks are completely unrelated, doing them gives me some of my best ideas about A.

Each time that happens, I am surprised. I shouldn't be.

To Be Read Every Five Years: A Series


Take Responsibility


Sunday, June 25, 2023

Saturday, June 24, 2023

Life Advice

Give more.

Give what you didn't get.

Love more.

Drop the old story.

- Garry Shandling

Learning to Question

 Some important advice from the questioning Wally Bock.

"People Who Look Different But Think Alike"

City Journal: Joshua T. Katz on corporate culture wars.

Road Trip


Stop Doing


I certainly don't have the final word on this but I lean toward the position that not doing negative things may be far more important than doing positive things.

How often during the day do you check your Not to Do List?

Thursday, June 22, 2023

On My List


Fashion Statement

No, the 90s are not back.

The Supremes

SCOTUSblog is a great place to find updates on the new U.S. Supreme Court opinions.

"Intolerant Society"

 The New Criterion: Glenn Harlan Reynolds on challenges to free speech.

Mumbles in the Workplace

"We live in a gotcha environment. You have to choose words carefully. Very carefully." ~ "People used to be in the office but now a chunk of them are at home and I honestly don't know what they're doing. Worse yet, I don't really know many of them." ~ "The top executives have just enough knowledge of what we do to turn them into well-meaning adversaries." ~ "Once upon a time - not that long ago - I could tell you how we operate. You might say that we had a shade-tree mechanic type of system. Relatively simple and understandable. We're way beyond that now. I'm not sure if anyone here really knows how we operate. I sort of know, but not really." ~ "We have some young workers who can barely carry on a conversation." ~ "I've started banning smartphones at meetings just to get people talking to one another." ~ "A lot of junk comes in through HR. What the hell are they learning at their professional conferences?" ~ "There's a courage deficit at the top." ~ "The people who deserve praise don't get it because the bosses are more interested in placating complainers." ~ "Good people leave and no one tries to persuade them to stay. We're more interested in hanging onto good computers than keeping good people." ~ "I have become very suspicious of management trends. Most are diseases disguised as cures." ~ "We're too busy to be effective." ~ "We don't have silos. We have kingdoms."

"Trans Is the New Doping"

 Unherd magazine: Olympian Sharron Davies on unfairness in women's sports.

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Back to Basics


Mr Alberthon: What is a kosher phone?

[Photo by Alexander Andrews at Unsplash]

Controlled Demolition

Jonathan Turley on Hunter Biden and scandal management.

Remember John Sirica, the judge during Watergate?

Ideological Language


J.K. Rowling
'Cis' is ideological language, signifying belief in the unfalsifiable concept of gender identity. You have a perfect right to believe in unprovable essences that may or may not match the sexed body, but the rest of us have a right to disagree, and to refuse to adopt your jargon.

To Be Read Every Five Years: A Series



Most political revolutionaries make things worse. It is a rare political revolutionary who makes things better.

And yet "revolutionary" has such a nice sound. 

[Photo by Colin Lloyd at Unsplash]

A Fascinating But Disturbing Novel


Tuesday, June 20, 2023



Today's Class

Today's class will have plenty of case examples and discussion. There will be some theory but it will be mainly used to explain context. Much time will be spent on clarifications since a great deal assumed by those new to the subject isn't quite right. Interruptions will be encouraged so people don't need to sit on their questions. The interruptions also make the questions more timely.

I pander to my classes by giving lots of breaks so any specialized or sensitive questions can be asked then.

We'll identify the dots and connect them but we'll also discuss which areas are vague.

The idea is to know when to act and when to consult. The knowledge should expand one's intuition.

Oh yes, it will also be fun. Most of the class members arrive with the assumption that the class will be very boring and are pleasantly surprised.

I thrive on low expectations.

In the Stack


Sunday, June 18, 2023

Saturday, June 17, 2023

To Be Read Every Five Years: A Series


Writing Tips

The prolific Nicholas Bate notes the importance of writing an early version of the final chapter.

I entirely agree.

A Tip for Bosses

 I really like Wally Bock's "pay attention to what you pay attention to."

To Learn About Life

If you were asked to provide teenagers with a list of 12 works (fiction and non-fiction) that contain profound insights into life, which titles would be on your list?

My hastily compiled list would be:
  1. Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
  2. Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
  3. Life With a Star by Jiri Weil
  4. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  5. The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara
  6. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
  7. Bleak House by Charles Dickens
  8. The Warden by Anthony Trollope
  9. Chronicles of Wasted Time by Malcolm Muggeridge
  10. The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X
  11. Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
  12. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

Friday, June 16, 2023

The Great American Novel? Yeah. Probably.


Editor of Editors

Cultural Offering on a great editor.

I wonder if some book publishers even have editors.




Friday morning will largely consist of reducing a mountain of paperwork. 

This is going to be one of those sessions with a legal pad to list the items to be filed and a large trash bag for the material that is going.

May the trash bag win.

First Paragraph

At the heart of every European city lies a mystery: the figure of the cross. From the hulk of Saint Paul's in the sleek, financialized core of London to the dome of Saint Peter's in the Vatican statelet within Rome; from the spare façade of Saint Dominic's on the island of Corsica to the pale-wood-panelled apse of the Swalbard Church in Longyearbyen, Norway: the architectural lines of European settlements converge on a cruciform structure, a church, at the heart of which is set, in a state of semi-darkness and silence, the figure of the cross.

- From The Innocence of Pontius Pilate: How the Roman Trial of Jesus Shaped History by David Lloyd Dusenbury

Monday, June 12, 2023

Flagship Publications of the Digital Age

 Commentary magazine: Christine Rosen's essay on Buzz Feed and Vice.

Life Finds a Way


Urbanism's Newest Controversy

 City Journal: The pros and cons of the 15-minute city.


A meeting this afternoon but a portion of the morning is devoted to examining the reign of Tiberius Caesar.

It's part of a work project. Fact.

For Every Important Meeting

Have three types of notes: Pre-Notes, Meeting Notes, and Post-Notes.

Make no exceptions and clip all three together.

First Paragraph

The old man loved Capri. It was a pleasure to be back, if only for a few days. The visit would not be much longer than that, for he was about to manage his own death. Every detail had been decided. 

- From Augustus: The Life of Rome's First Emperor by Anthony Everitt

On Being Shunned


Saturday, June 10, 2023

Bock's Books

 As always, Wally Bock has a lot of very interesting book recommendations.

Great News!

 A Large Regular is back!

All best wishes for a complete recovery.

Speaking Out in Defense of Women's Sports


"When Race Trumps Merit"

Heather Mac Donald's new book is excellent.

I frequently see evidence of inept "representation" calculations that organizations use to justify racial preferences.

Danger Zones


I believe that these are the danger zones for certain activities:

  • Near the end of a journey.
  • At the beginning of a project.
  • In the middle of a speech.
  • At the end of an argument.
  • Before the start of a class.

An Offer You Can't Refuse?


Friday, June 09, 2023

Not a Surprise

 The Hill: RFK Jr. is rising.

Hardship and Necessity

Humans don't mind hardship, in fact they thrive on it. What they mind is not feeling necessary. Modern society has perfected the art of making people not feel necessary.

- Sebastian Junger

I Highly Recommend "Excellent Sheep"


First Paragraph

I was no stranger to the flash of lightning; I was no stranger to the thunderbolt. Enviably experienced in these matters, I was no stranger to the cloudburst - the cloudburst, and then the sunshine and the rainbow.

- From The Zone of Interest by Martin Amis

Thursday, June 08, 2023

Back By Popular Demand

 "The Fool's Prayer."

The Good Old Days of BBC Worldwide


On My List


And 10 Years From Now?


In the past decades, there have been multiple pressures to become more:

  • Passive
  • Robotic
  • Career-Obsessed
  • Cowardly
  • Isolated
  • Skeptical
  • Lonely
  • Race-conscious
  • Discourteous
  • Impatient
  • Detached
  • Dependent

First Paragraph

 America was built on the belief that every person is guaranteed the right to life, liberty, and the founding of a startup. Yet somehow conventional wisdom has created a laundry list of requirements to be an entrepreneur: Drop out of Harvard, sit in on a calligraphy class to develop multiple typefaces and proportionally spaced fonts, build a computer in a garage, etc., etc. This kind of thinking is wrong! In fact, we contend that there is only one requirement to being a successful entrepreneur: reading this handbook.

- From The Global Silicon Valley Handbook by Michael Moe and The Global Silicon Valley Team

Big Werner


Wednesday, June 07, 2023

Nitwittery Update

 Apple TV and The Criterion Channel censored parts of "The French Connection."

First Paragraph

I sit down at a small plastic-wood table in Frau Schulz's cramped room in the Federal Authority for the Records of the State Security Service of the former German Democratic Republic: the ministry of the files. As I open the binder, I find myself thinking of an odd moment in my East German life.

- From The File: A Personal History by Timothy Garton Ash


There is much to be said for neighborhoods where Atticus lives next door to Boo.

Gender Ideology: A Fundamentalist Religion

 Abigail Shrier says it is not wise to expect that the Gender Pendulum will swing back.

Tuesday, June 06, 2023

First Paragraph

In the summer of 2019, I began to notice a concerning trend among my coaching clients - high-ranking executives, successful entrepreneurs, physician leaders, and elite athletes. Whereas I used to spend most of my time with them discussing high-performance habits and routines, over the past few years I'd been hearing something else. "I'm dying for a break," said my client Tim, the chief physician of adult and family medicine at a large health care system. "But even when I try to take a single weekend off, I can't seem to go more than a few hours without opening my work email. Logically I know I don't have to - and I don't really want to - but I feel compelled to check. To be honest, I become restless and insecure if I don't."

- From The Practice of Groundedness: A Transformative Path to Success That Feeds - Not Crushes - Your Soul by Brad Stulberg

Remember D Day


Monday, June 05, 2023

Worth Repeating

 A friend who dropped by to see me a few nights ago expressed two fears in the course of the conversation. One was that, if he did not slow down, he would have a heart attack. The other was that, if he did not hurry up, he would not be able to accomplish enough that was useful before he had his heart attack.

- From The Decline of Pleasure by Walter Kerr, published in 1962

Never Forget This

The biggest test for any society is not defense or the economy or the environment but the caliber of the people it produces.

At the Bookstore


Kurt Harden goes to the bookstore.

Note to bookstore management: If a book lover like Kurt Harden leaves without a large number of purchases, you are doing something wrong.

I buy most of my new books from Amazon and Barnes & Noble, but the vast majority of my used book purchases are from a local used bookstore in Phoenix.

There are so many great writers whose works are never on the shelves in the major bookstores. 

Define "Woke"


Robert P. George🇻🇦🇺🇸🪕
Q. How do you define "Woke"? A. The attitude of a person who regards his or her opinions as so obviously correct and so profoundly enlightened that they may not legitimately be doubted or challenged, and that only hate or bigotry can explain others' holding different beliefs.