Saturday, September 30, 2023

Put Down the Phone: A Series

 237 phone prompts a day?

In the Work

I don't like work - no man does - but I like what is in the work - the chance to find yourself. Your own reality - for yourself not for others - what no other man will ever know.

- Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

The Coleman Hughes TED Talk That Upset Some TED Staffers


Put Down the Phone

 Why do people turn to smartphones during social interactions?

Rare Books


There are some people who are rare books.

When Wimps Aid Thugs

 New York Post: Douglas Murray on how stores surrendered to looters.

First Paragraph

I am a sick man . . . I am a wicked man. An unattractive man. I think my liver hurts. However, I don't know a fig about my sickness, and I am not sure what it is that hurts me. I am not being treated and never have been, though I respect medicine and doctors. What's more, I am also superstitious in the extreme; well, at least enough to respect medicine. (I'm sufficiently educated not to be superstitious, but I am.) No, sir, I refuse to be treated out of spite. Now, you will certainly not be so good to understand this. Well, sir, but I understand it. I will not, of course, be able to explain to you precisely who is going to suffer in this case from my spite; I know perfecty well that I will in no way "muck things up" for the doctors by not taking their treatment; I know better than anyone that by all this I am harming only myself and no one else. But still, if I don't get treated, it is out of spite. My liver hurts; well, then let it hurt even worse. 

- From Notes from Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Friday, September 29, 2023

On Target

 Cultural Offering has Charlie Munger's one-liners.

Get Ready for the Weekend


Just In

Online Education

I helped set up my wife's new computer and, after years of marriage, discovered we speak different languages.


Those of us who are familiar with Twitter know the shock of incidents in which someone is being beaten up while bystanders do nothing but stare or take videos.

Adding to the signals of decline are the inevitable Twitter comments defending the passivity. 

No sense of responsibility. No sense of shame.

There is a courage deficit in the Western world.

Times Have Changed

 I have never seen anything like it since. Every question was seen as a dagger pointed at the president.

- David Gergen recalling press relations during Watergate

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Let's Ban Special Effects



 ABC News on the death of Michael Gambon.

The Making of Disasters

For every loud, sudden, and dramatic disaster that makes the front pages, there are millions of quiet ones that slowly arrive in small increments, never making the news.

In the latter case, the number of victims is far greater and the results can be even sadder.

Beware of the incremental.

[Photo by Nikolas Noonan at Unsplash]

The Fetterman Rule is Reversed

 Either the Brooks Brothers lobbyists or good taste got to the Senators.

Find Your Style

[Photo by Steady Hand Co. at Unsplash]

Wednesday, September 27, 2023



Go Local

With the wonders of the Internet, we are filled with knowledge of events on the other side of the world while insulating ourselves from learning about neighbors just down the street.

[Photo by Ian MacDonald at Unsplash]

Not By Magic?

Spectacular achievements are always preceded by painstaking preparation.

- Roger Staubach

Ken Burns


Back By Popular Demand

We sit and watch the barbarian. We tolerate him in the long stretches of peace, we are not afraid. We are tickled by his irreverence; his comic inversion of our old certitudes and our fixed creed refreshes us; we laugh. But as we laugh we are watched by large and awful faces from beyond, and on these faces there are no smiles.

- Hilaire Belloc

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

It Wasn't "Rule Bureaucracy!"

Note The Guardian article.

Waving EU flags during "Rule Britannia!" was bad form. 

Crank It Up!


Does TED Have a Party Line?

The Free Press: Coleman Hughes gave a TED talk on civil rights and color-blindness.

And then things got really interesting.

Beyond Terrible



Would you rather be governed by Joe Rogan, Thomas Sowell, Jordan Peterson, Elon Musk, Mike Rowe, and Heather Mac Donald 


the entire faculty of Harvard University?


Individualism is rooted in the attempt to deny the reality of human interdependence. One of the major goals of technology in America is to "free" us from the necessity of relating to, submitting to, depending upon, or controlling other people. Unfortunately, the more we have succeeded in doing this, the more we have felt disconnected, bored, lonely, unprotected, unnecessary, and unsafe.

- Philip Slater, The Pursuit of Loneliness (1970)

The Need for History Education

The Canadian propaganda gift to Russia.

The minute I heard of the Parliament applauding a Ukrainian who'd fought against Russia in World War II, I thought 'Whoa."

Blaming the blunder on lack of vetting misses the point that vetting should not have been necessary. Studying history would have sufficed.

Monday, September 25, 2023

"The Cluster B Society"

 There is a creeping sense that our society has turned upside-down. Healthy debate is replaced by activist hysterics. Speech is declared violence; violence is excused as speech. Masculinity is condemned as “toxic,” while men in dresses are celebrated in the public square. It feels as if we are in the midst of a society-wide mental breakdown.

See the Christopher Rufo essay in City Journal.

The Good Old Days



Some of us study the swimmers and some of us study the water.

And some of us study both.

Our Vision

For those in leadership positions, what is most important is to remember that their visions are still personal visions. Just because they occupy a position of leadership does not mean that their personal visions are automatically "the organzation's vision." When I hear leaders say "our vision" and I know they are really describing "my vision," I recall Mark Twain's words that the official "we" should be reserved for "kings and people with tapeworm." 

- Peter M. Senge

Fierce Competitor

Conrad Black remembers Rupert Murdoch.

[Photo by Waldemar at Unsplash]

Saturday, September 23, 2023

Just In


First published in 1970, this looks more relevant than ever.

Memorable [Back By Popular Demand]


Beneath the Glitter

The biggest problems are often hidden inside of qualities commonly thought to be positive and of serious benefit.

Don't just look in dark corners for problems. Look as well in the bright rooms where matters are celebrated.

[Photo by Nicola Pavan at Unsplash]

Friday, September 22, 2023

The Golden State


Wild Kingdom


Over the years, I have heard people say that their workplaces contain the following creatures:

  • Snakes
  • Skunks
  • Weasels
  • Lions
  • Bears
  • Sharks
  • Owls
  • Mice
  • Rats
  • Eagles
  • Wolves
  • Cows
  • Bees
  • Sloths
  • Crocodiles
  • Sheep
  • Ants
  • Foxes
I should note that the foxes seem to be the rarest of all.

The Usual Workday


  • Interruptions
  • Distractions
  • Rumors
  • Changed priorities
  • Complaints
  • Assumptions
  • Goals
  • Delays
  • Announcements
  • Reminders
  • Meetings
  • Neglect
  • Achievement

Get Happy


Thursday, September 21, 2023

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Sound Move

We have zero tolerance for talking or cell phone use of any kind during films. We'll kick you out, promise. We've got backup.

- The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Austin, Texas

An Ordinary Tailor Shop


Coming Soon to an Employer Near You

 National Association of Scholars: DEI Cluster Hiring in Higher Education.

Those Friendly Nerd Gods

 The tycoons of social media have to stop pretending that they're friendly nerd gods building a better world and admit they're just tobacco farmers in T-shirts selling an addictive product to children. Because, let's face it, checking your "likes" is the new smoking.

- Bill Maher

In the Future, All Films Will Star Nicholas Cage


Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Presumption of Guilt

 Althouse and The New York Times on YouTube's suspension of Russell Brand.

Bon Voyage


Fortune magazine: Fake parts in plane engines.

Remember the story from several years ago about repair work being outsourced to other countries?

[HT: Joel Engel]



I'd Rather Have More Vespas Than Electric Cars

[Photo by Maria Teneva at Unsplash]

Bring Back the Old Banks

I miss the old banks.

They had at least five or six tellers: human beings who smiled and were able to answer questions while handling transactions.

They didn't urge you to adopt paperless banking.

Many of you may even remember the quaint ritual of those little "bank books" in which all of your deposits and withdrawals were written. 

In ink.

The ambiance was one of quiet competence and friendliness. 

Customers were not treated like potential robbers and the tellers were not walled in behind plexi-glass. 

Gentler times. Let's go back to that approach. 

Daniel Moynihan on Line 1

City Journal: Kay S. Hymowitz reviews "The Two-Parent Privilege."

A National Embarrassment

Robert Pondiscio reviews the current level of knowledge of American history and civics.

He has a new proposal.

Monday, September 18, 2023

Just to Perk You Up


Yes, Please


Cultural Offering wants to go back to basic appliances and cars.

[Photo by Philippe Murray-Pietsche at Unsplash]

What This Country Needs Are Some Good, Cheap, Paperback Books


Check out the intriguing history of paperback books.

First Paragraph

A filthy boy stood on the doorstep. He might be scrubbed of all that dirt, eventually - but not of so many orange freckles. No more than fourteen, with skinny, unstable legs like a marionette, he kept pitching forward, shifting soot into the hall. Still, the woman who'd opened the door - easily amused, susceptible to beauty - found she couldn't despise him.

- From The Fraud by Zadie Smith

Rules for Walking

 Nicholas Bate has the rules.

I sometimes wonder if it would make sense to negotiate an arrangement with a neighbor several blocks away in which we'd trade parking spaces in order to require a longer walk to our cars.

Sunday, September 17, 2023

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Elon Musk's Hardcore Intensity



Watched an old documentary about NASA. Then afterward I saw this documentary about how codfish have been gill-netted into extinction in Newfoundland in Canada, so I went out to a Burger King to get a Whaler fishwich-type breaded deep-fried filet sandwich while there was still time.

- From Microserfs by Douglas S. Coupland (1995)

The Wolfe Man


"Make America California"


The American Mind: Joel Kotkin looks at the California model.

Friday, September 15, 2023

Always Timely

Althouse: How often do men think about the Roman empire?

In my own case, frequently.

Social Justice Fallacies




When actions are later judged to have been too clever, they often were creative and unusual but were completely apart from the basics.

The basics, of course, may not be easy or pretty but they are essential.

Go for the boring basics.

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Every Generation Has Got to Be Humble


First Paragraph

The worst smell in the world is dead badger. He'd encountered it on his morning walk down a green lane; had caught the odour without seeing the corpse, but had guessed what it was before returning later with a shovel. Whether they all smelled that bad or whether this one had expired of noxious causes he didn't know. As it turned out, he couldn't do anything about it either  - the creature had crawled into a tangled nest of roots to die, and it would require heavy machinery and a strong stomach to recover it. Lacking the former, and not wanting to put the latter to the test, Max opted for a third way: he'd walk a different route for a while, and see if one of the local farmers shifted it in the meantime. Which was why he wasn't sure the badger would still be there a couple of nights later, when he was running for his life.

- From The Secret Hours by Mick Herron

Get Ready for the Backlash


Get ready for the backlash against:

  • Govt-Big Tech Alliances
  • Social Media's Erosion of Community
  • The Language Police
  • The Lack of Common Courtesy
  • Life as a Spectator
  • Inflated College Expenses
  • Smartphones
  • Entertainment via Super-Heroes
  • Double-Standards
  • Modern "Journalism"

[Photo by Liam Edwards at Unsplash]

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Find Your Style

[Photo by Hardini Lestari at Unsplash]

First Paragraph

 As a kid growing up in South Africa, Elon Musk knew pain and learned how to survive it.

- From Elon Musk by Walter Isaacson

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Time to Rebuild

You don't have to be an extravagant pessimist or an America-hater to think that the last twenty years have been among the most dispiriting periods in the relatively short history of the United States.

- From American Breakdown: Why We No Longer Trust Our Leaders and Institutions and How We Can Rebuild Confidence by Gerard Baker

[Photo by Thomas Kelley at Unsplash]

Modern Wizardry

Take a bunch of lawyers, managers, or engineers. Have them type up all of their letters and reports.

You have just created a highly-paid secretarial pool.

Coming Soon to a University Near You

 UnHerd: John Sailer on the cluster hires DEI strategy.

Monday, September 11, 2023



Never Forget: September 11


Evil exists.

[Photo by Julien Maculem at Unsplash]

A Gift


The Danger of Predictions

 One thing I have gleaned from a study of history is that horrible mistakes can be made by assuming that other groups will react in a specific way. Some decisions from World War II are especially interesting:

  • Mussolini's decision to declare war on Britain and France.
  • Hitler's decision to declare war on the United States.
  • Japan's decision to attack Pearl Harbor.

Digital Censorship

 City Journal: A conversation between Brian C. Anderson and Martin Gurri.



Sunday, September 10, 2023

Saturday, September 09, 2023

Crank It Up


The Tide Is Turning

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals decision protecting freedom of expression against attacks by the government-tech coalition.

In the Background


Moral Formation


In a healthy society, a web of institutions - families, schools, religious groups, community organizations, and workplaces - helps form people into kind and responsible citizens, the sort of people who show up for one another. We live in a society that's terrible at moral formation.

- David Brooks, "How America Got Mean" in The Atlantic, September 2023

[Photo by Nathan Lemon at Unsplash]

Too Well-Adjusted

 Like most Microsoft employees, I consider myself too well adjusted to be working here, even though I am 26 and my universe consists of home, Microsoft, and Costco.

- From Microserfs, a novel by Douglas Coupland

As Things Slide

Where have we seen decline?

  • Focus
  • Language
  • Courtesy
  • Knowledge of history/government
  • Patriotism
  • Dress
  • Music
  • Art
  • Frugality
  • Generosity
  • Courage
  • Family
  • Community
  • Ethics
  • Accountability
  • Trust

[Photo by Luigi Bisaccia at Unsplash]

The World Could Use This Right Now


Friday, September 08, 2023

First Paragraph

I can see by my watch, without taking my hand from the left grip of the cycle, that it is eight-thirty in the morning. The wind, even at sixty miles an hour, is warm and humid. When it's this hot and muggy at eight-thirty, I'm wondering what it's going to be like in the afternoon.

- From Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values by Robert M. Pirsig

In Your Quest for Success


In your quest for success, don't let others choose your destination, either as a goal or by declaring its achievement.

History's Lessons


An Ideological Shipwreck

 The New Criterion explores a heavy-handed museum exhibition that borders on parody.

Thursday, September 07, 2023

Nitwittery Update


Cultural Offering (and Joel Engel) on the foolishness of a bold proposal.



My Invitation List

An old parlor game involves inviting a group of famous historical figures to dinner.

But who'd be on your list among the living famous?

My current (rather lengthy) list:

  1. Elon Musk
  2. Eric Weinstein
  3. Zadie Smith
  4. Victor Davis Hanson
  5. Christina Hoff Sommers
  6. Nicholas Carr
  7. Thomas Sowell
  8. Nassim Nicholas Taleb
  9. Glenn Loury
  10. Jacob Rees-Mogg
  11. John McWhorter
  12. Megyn Kelly
  13. Yuja Wang
  14. Michael Shellenberger
  15. Mike Rowe
  16. Heather Mac Donald
  17. Jeremy Clarkson
  18. Sherry Turkle

First, Know Thyself

 At the outset of the fight against al-Qaeda in Iraq we fixated on understanding our enemy - but it quickly became apparent we needed to first understand ourselves.

- Lieutenant General Sir Graeme Lamb, former commander, UK Special Forces



Wednesday, September 06, 2023


 To the recommendation at A Layman's Blog.

A book is not supposed to be a bear trap.

Free Speech? What a Concept!

FIRE has released its 2024 campus free speech rankings.

This Interesting Interview Covers Far More Than The Title Implies



[Photo by Karla Hernandez at Unsplash]

Full Disclosure in Recruiting


In the event that we are unable to find qualified candidates, the word "must" in the position's job requirements will be changed to "may." 

The word "requirements" will be changed to "wishes" or "dreams."

Tuesday, September 05, 2023

I Could Use a Vacation


A Bug's Life

 A Large Regular has an excerpt from A Bug's Life that is more than a little jarring.

The Stuff

The stuff is not important until it is. There are no guarantees that it will never be important and priorities can shift within minutes.

That's why safeguards and buffers are valuable. That's why mindless exhortations of achieving greater speed are dangerous and regular reviews of Obvious Things We Are Neglecting are essential.

Don't count on common sense. I would like to see a comparison of the amount of planning on border security versus that on defense against interplanetary invasion.

It Always Comes

Fortunately or unfortunately, the one predictable thing in any organization is the crisis. That always comes.

- Peter F. Drucker

May It Be As Great As the Earlier Series

 There are rumors that a new version of "Rome" is being planned.

Monday, September 04, 2023

Read to Your Children

 Good advice by Cultural Offering.

Note: Steve Jobs did not let his children use iPads.

Back for Labor Day


First Paragraph

Tim Reed sits in the driver's seat of his ancient and rust-punched Datsun hatchback, balancing a screwdriver on the tip of his finger. Hutch and Tim are killing time, waiting for some poor guy to come home so they can terrify him and, if necessary, perform grievous harm to the fragile architecture of the man's body. It's the usual deal: reluctance to pay a debt owed. When this happens, when their boss encounters someone offering resistance, there are phone calls. Verbal requests. Polite reminders. A process as old as time. And finally, after all that, Tim and Hutch come by. It's just work. The screwdriver handle, pitted red plastic, wavers only slightly as they sit in the gloom, Tim's features lit pale green by the ghostly glow of the dashboard. The rain's coming down so hard it sounds like someone's flinging pennies on the roof.

- From Fever House by Keith Rosson

Labor Day

 When many of us honor labor by avoiding it.

Don't forget the history of Labor Day.

Old Film. Stunning Performances.



Bureaucracy is a construction by which a person is conveniently separated from the consequences of his or her actions.

- Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Sunday, September 03, 2023

Saturday, September 02, 2023

After Reading "War and Peace"

Sometimes a thing is called a masterpiece because it is a masterpiece.

- Peggy Noonan

Rest In Peace


Brilliant writing. Brilliant performances. Each song is a novel.

On My List


Don't Neglect The In-Between

The area between celebration and crisis is immense. While normally receiving far less attention than the extremes, it contains a multitude of essential skills.

Silver Fern Landscaping

 One of my all-time favorite business slogans.

Friday, September 01, 2023

Well Put

Arnold of Rugby, the greatest English educator of the nineteenth century, who created the English public school, defined its mission as making gentlemen out of savages.

- Peter F. Drucker

Hard Truth

The arrival of a crisis does not guarantee the emergence of a capable leader.

First Paragraph

For twelve years I lived and worked in some of the most sublime places in the world. Zion, Yosemite, and the Grand Canyon were all landscapes I was proud to protect. I participated in search and rescues, wildland firefighting, and law enforcement. I directed traffic around tarantula jams. I pursued bad guys while galloping on horseback. I jumped into rescue helicopters bound for the dark heart of the Grand Canyon and plucked the damned from the jaws of the abyss. I raced the sunset. I won arguments with bears. I dodged lightning bolts. I pissed on forest fires. I slept with a few too many rattlesnakes.

- From Ranger Confidential: Living, Working, and Dying in the National Parks by Andrea Lankford

Island Books


  • Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
  • Islands in the Stream by Ernest Hemingway
  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  • Kon-Tiki by Thor Heyerdahl
  • The Island of Doctor Moreau by H.G. Wells
  • Wooden Boat Books