Saturday, December 30, 2023

1964 Innovation


Cutting In Line

Think of how many news stories you have seen on the plight of illegal immigrants that even mention individuals who are trying to enter the United States through the legal process.

How many stories was it? Ten? Twenty? 


One of the common societal rules is against cutting in line and yet the injustice of those who cut the line in immigration is routinely ignored by reporters and many politicians. 

Another troubling fact is that it is clear that the administration is not seriously enforcing our immigration laws. That enforcement failure violates the current law by creating a de facto amendment; an amendment that was never debated and voted upon in Congress. That is hugely undemocratic, but how often is the circumvention mentioned in the news media? 

One can have enormous empathy for most of those people who want to enter the United States without wanting to favor line-jumping or bypassing the democratic process. 

There are solid reasons for our immigration laws. That's why they should be enforced. And we should favor those who are seeking to comply with the legal process.

The Mob Doesn't Go Forever


Go Local

 Monumental change... [can be achieved] by starting in our communities and recognizing the latent power of collective action not just to protest, but to build the foundations of a reimagined America.

- Robert Putnam and Shaylyn Romney Garrett

Friday, December 29, 2023

The Tide Is Turning


Great Moments in Modern Education: The Communism Gap

 "Victims of Communism Museum President Andrew Bremberg tells me that when he asks students how many have heard of Stalin, about 1 out of 10 hands goes up. And when he asks students or adults who has heard of the Hitler-Stalin pact, no one raises a hand."

- Michael Barone in The Washington Examiner, December 12, 2023

On My Desk


Serious Basics

Busy with: Hand-written notes. Taking time to think. Black coffee. Staring at the night sky. Setting priorities. Avoiding the smartphone. Holding face-to-face meetings. Reading slowly. Reducing clutter. Showing gratitude.

The Basic Questions

Over the years, I have coached people on presentations to boards and councils. They often have prepared for complex questions and that is fine, in so far as it may help settle their nerves. 

My emphasis, however, is on preparing them for the basic questions. 

You can fumble or hesitate on a complicated subject, and no one will blink. Do so on a basic question, however, and your credibility begins to fly toward the window.

I am surprised at the lack of preparation that so many witnesses bring to Senate or House hearings. These people have been advised by DC wizards who should know better than to let them to punt on key topics. 

The best questioners I have seen at the federal level are former Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts*, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, and Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana. 

Videos of their techniques should be shown to potential witnesses.

*An old friend of mine who served in the Reagan administration once told me about his being shredded by Representative Frank during a hearing. Years had passed and he was able to see the humor in the moment.



Nitwittery in Modern Media

 Commentary magazine: Seth Mandel on the press that lost its mind.

On My List


Thursday, December 28, 2023

His Book on "The Anxious Generation" Will Be Out Soon

“No smartphones before high school [age 14]... Just don’t give your kids a smartphone." 

“No social media before 16.”

- Jonathan Haidt, psychologist [co-author of "The Coddling of the American Mind"]



The Beautiful Blue Box

 Remember the truism that you don't lose anything in a fat file. 

That's quite true.

It's when you get clever and create a bunch of small files that things can go missing.

I strayed from my use of project boxes and paid the price with wasted time.

Having switched to a new computer, I assumed that when the storage software said all of the files had been shifted to the new machine, that was indeed the case.

Not so. One invoice was missing, and I needed to locate it over the holidays. I conducted searches and nothing surfaced until I began to review the paper files. 

Thar she be.

I still have no idea why one invoice out of many was not moved to the new computer. I know the document was saved.

The good news is that a beautiful blue project box now holds all of the important documents for that client.

And every time I see it, I smile.

Americans Who Accept Biology

 Quillette: The Southern Poverty Law Center's new enemy.

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

From 1947: A Prediction of Our Future

[HT: Jonathan Haidt]

A Serious Writer


Find Your Style

[Photo by Florian Klauer at Unsplash]


 Most of us quietly bear the burden of bureaucracy. We are resigned to the ponderous structures and convoluted processes that put a brake on speed, a headlock on initiative, and lead boots on creativity. Our collective quiescence is the product of a misconception. Whether new team members of veteran managers, we assume we have neither the capacity nor the warrant to reinvent how our organizations work.

- From Humanocracy: Creating Organizations as Amazing as the People Inside Them by Gary Hamel and Michele Zanini

A Russian Tradition

One of Putin's main critics has been placed in a remote prison camp called Polar Wolf.

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Back By Popular Demand


I'm Hooked

Publius Aelius Hadrianus - Hadrian - was a man well qualified to distinguish between civilization and barbarism. He had studied with philosophers and ridden to war against headhunters; lived both in Athens and on an island in the Danube. Prior to his arrival in Britain he had been on a tour of military bases along the Rhine, and given orders for a great palisade to be built beyond the river's eastern bank. Now, standing beside the grey waters of the Tyne, Hadrian had plans for an even more formidable marvel of engineering.  

- From Pax: War and Peace in Rome's Golden Age by Tom Holland

Speak Up

 The FutureLawyer recalls a lesson he learned in the 7th grade.

Recently Heard at Harvard

 Seven years of college down the drain.

- John "Bluto" Blutarsky, Animal House

First Paragraph

 The naked man who lay splayed out on his face beside the swimming pool might have been dead.

- From Russia with Love by Ian Fleming

In the Pipeline


Modern Times

 I find your lack of faith - disturbing.

- Darth Vader

Saturday, December 23, 2023

Academia Update


Curl Up

Amid the wildness of the holiday season, find a sofa and curl up with one of these:

  • Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
  • The Last Hurrah by Edwin O'Connor
  • The Comedians by Graham Greene
  • Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller
  • The Flame Trees of Thika by Elspeth Huxley
  • The Last Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux
  • A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
  • City Primeval by Elmore Leonard
  • Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin 

[Photo by Ed Robertson at Unsplash]

Who Would Not Like to Have Lunch with Howard Jacobson?



 There is a Wall Street Journal review of the now-classic film "Elf."

I have never seen the film, but that gap will be remedied.

Whether it is as great as claimed can be considered along with the debate over which version of "A Christmas Carol" is the best.

Friday, December 22, 2023

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Reasonable Creatures

 "So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable Creature, since it enables one to find or make a Reason for everything one has a mind to do."

- Benjamin Franklin

All of Us Are Historians

"As I recall, this department had a similar program ten years ago." 

"That sounds familiar. Ed Carson was in charge of it."

"Where's Ed?"

"Don't know. He left during the lay-off."

"No documents on it, I suppose."

"There used to be some files, but all of those documents were tossed a while back. It was a big deal and then it wasn't."

"So it worked?"

"That's what I heard. Don't know why they stopped it."    

Wednesday, December 20, 2023



The Fight Against Hamas

 The Free Press: Michael Oren looks at the coming stages.

The Colorado Ballot-Busters

Jonathan Turley on the Colorado Supreme Court decision.

Ann Althouse (and her commenters) weigh in.

Phil Hendrie Juggling Interviews

 Much more than your standard radio interview program.

Special Journals

Journals are great for jotting down random thoughts but here are some other ways in which they can be valuable:

  • A journal on the history of your house. It can contain details on repairs and warranties as well as information on various repair workers in your neighborhood. Six years from now, you may not easily recall who painted the eaves of your house.
  • A journal on the presents you've given to others. Was it your uncle or your niece who got the book about Paris?
  • A journal on your trips, where you stayed, restaurants you visited, etc.  This may be combined with a travel diary.
  • A medical journal with information on doctor's visits, inoculations, etc. I've found this to be very helpful.
  • Others?

Monday, December 18, 2023



Gift Idea


Well Done


Gift Idea


The Jungle Loves Neglect

 Life is a jungle and the paths of civilization need constant clearing. Don't think they can be neglected for long.

And don't think that the necessity for clearing is apparent to all. 

A surprising number of people are on the side of the jungle.

Get Ready for the Battle of the Accreditation Boards

 The universities are currently getting the most attention, but the focus will soon shift to the university and professional accreditation boards.

It would be the height of foolishness to think they have not been infected by the same madness.

Sunday, December 17, 2023

Saturday, December 16, 2023

On My List


Gift Idea


I started reading this in bed last night. 

Consumer warning: You will laugh out loud. It will add to the pleasure if you have read its predecessor, Nobody's Fool, but that is not necessary.

Hard Truth

Don't hire a master to paint you a masterpiece and then assign a roomful of schoolboy-artists to look over his shoulders and suggest improvements.

- Robert Townsend

I First Learned of This Film While Reading "Free to Obey"


Friday, December 15, 2023



Universities Waging War on Western Culture

The problem is an entire anti-Western ethos that now dominates most of the humanities and social sciences and that in STEM is corroding excellence and meritocracy.

Check out Heather Mac Donald's essay in City Journal.

First Published in 1970. Still Great.

Got a copy at a used bookstore yesterday.

Talk to People Day

The day would not permit exceptions. Email and text messages would not qualify. Phone calls could work if a video connection crashes, but the main emphasis would be on face-to-face conversations. You remember, the type in which you are in the same room with the other person.

And that's another thing. It would have to be one-on-one. No group discussions where one person might hog the floor as the others squirm and look at the clock.

Face-to-face. And the subject would be two-fold: How are you doing? How are we doing?

The extent to which that sounds scary is the extent to which you need it.

Thursday, December 14, 2023

Credibility Gap

The Economist: When the New York Times lost its way.



Helpful Questions

  • Is this an action or a reaction? 
  • What is too much and what is too little? 
  • Has the solution become a problem? 
  • Which virtues have blinded us? 
  • Has the once proud achievement started to rust? 
  • Do we need to do nothing, at least for a while? 
  • Is this on the wrong desk? 
  • Have we fallen in love with an option? 
  • Is our final conclusion merely a beginning?

Not a Christmas Series


Sort of an Always on the Horizon Repression

“For the past hour, I have my eyes fixed on the doors here. You talk about fascism and police repression. In Germany when I was a student, they come through those doors long ago. Here they must be very slow.”

- G√ľnter Grass, at a conference in America in the 1960s

I Have a Stack of Hoffer's Books on My Desk

 I met Eric Hoffer in the lobby of the Raphael Hotel in October, 1980, just three weeks before President Reagan's election. He was sitting quietly in a corner armchair, looking out of place in his laborer's clothes. A flat workingman's cap was perched on his head. In his knobbly hands he clasped a knobbly walking stick. Earlier we had corresponded. I had been flattered to receive his letters, written in his artless, looping hand. "Come any time," he had written. "We shall eat, drink and talk."

- Tom Bethell, author of Eric Hoffer, The Longshoreman Philosopher

Remember the Doom-Mongers?


Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Tech's Future

Commentary magazine: James B. Meigs on "The Future Isn't Going as Promised."

WWII in the Air


Memories of Apples or Oranges

An old criticism of military leaders is that they plan as if they were going to refight the last war.

To varying degrees, many of us are guilty of similar miscalculations. For example, many commentators look at American politics as if Dwight Eisenhower, JFK, Lyndon Johnson, Hubert Humphrey, and Richard Nixon were still around and the old constituencies were in play.

Likewise, I've heard people refer to the objectivity of the press as if Walter Cronkite, Frank Reynolds, and David Brinkley were calling the shots.

That's not just a different world. It is a different universe. 

Connect the Dots

Here is an essential principle of education: to teach details is to bring confusion; to establish the relationship between things is to bring knowledge.

- Maria Montessori

Monday, December 11, 2023

The Man Who Never Sleeps

A big thanks is due to Nicholas Bate: consultant, teacher, blogger, navigator of international airports, writer of many business books, and a multiple novelist.



Get the Facts Out

 Jonathan Turley on the House of Representatives and Hunter Biden.

The Treason of the Intellectuals

The Free Press: Niall Ferguson looks at the Third Reich.

A Few Helpful Questions


  1.  What is wanted?
  2. What is not wanted?
  3. Do we have the right goals?
  4. How much do we know?
  5. What do we don't know?
  6. Which four areas are likely to produce problems?
  7. Are we focusing too much on process?
  8. Are we focusing too much on substance?
  9. What are our assumptions?
  10. What are our competitors' assumptions?
  11. Have we thoroughly coordinated with other teams?
  12. Do we have sufficient resources?
  13. Do we have sufficient experience?
  14. Are key people well-trained? 
  15. How is morale?
  16. What are our fallback solutions?
  17. What are our nightmares/worst case scenarios?
  18. If our competitors knew our plans, what would they do?
  19. Are there any appearance or public relations problems?
  20. Are there any areas that pose questions of ethics?
  21. Is our schedule too loose or too tight?
  22. How will we know when we have succeeded?
  23. What can be lost or omitted?
  24. What cannot be lost or omitted?
  25. How prepared are we?
  26. Who has skin in the game?
  27. How much feedback will we have as our plans unfold?
  28. How flexible are we at each stage?
  29. Is time an ally or an enemy?
  30. Do we need to improve communications?
  31. What new problems will arise at each stage?
[Photo by Rory McKeever at Unsplash]

That's My State!


Aldous Is Making a Comeback Nowadays

Dream in a pragmatic way.

- Aldous Huxley

Sunday, December 10, 2023

Saturday, December 09, 2023

On My List



 Tim Daley: "Should schools ban cellphones?"

Escape the Phone


A time-locking box available from Amazon.

No Matter What

 No matter what you are doing today, you need something at A Layman's Blog.

Some of You Techies Will Remember This


And Speaking of Biographies

I've read quite a bit about most of these but need to read more.

  • Jesus Christ
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Benjamin Disraeli
  • U.S. Grant
  • George Marshall
  • Alexander Solzhenitsyn
  • William Slim
  • Daniel Patrick Moynihan
  • James Buckley
  • Elizabeth I
  • Leo Tolstoy
  • Winston Churchill
  • Charles de Gaulle
  • Elon Musk
  • Margaret Thatcher
  • Keith Richards
  • Graham Greene
  • Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Viktor Frankl
  • Malcolm Muggeridge
  • Dwight Eisenhower
  • Steve Jobs
  • Lee Kuan Yew
  • Edmund Burke
  • Caesar Augustus
  • Benito Juarez

No Sure Thing

A review of the life of the great Russian author and dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn is a lesson in overcoming numerous hardships: imprisonment in Soviet labor camps for expressing political opinions in private correspondence; divorce; cancer; exile; and then, after writing One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, realizing that, even with de-Stalinization, telling the truth about the Soviet system may result in further punishment.

Truly a remarkable man.

Friday, December 08, 2023


 Where is Black Swan Europa?

Denzel Washington on Social Media


TIME's Person of the Year

My wife believes that Judge Maryellen Noreika should have been TIME's Person of the Year. 

She's right.

The reasons can be found in Jonathan Turley's column on Hunter Biden.

Hooked on a Feeling

A Large Regular brings you The Hoff.

Crank it up.

First Paragraph

It is my impression that no one really likes the new. We are afraid of it. It is not only as Dostoyevsky put it that "taking a new step, uttering a new word is what people fear most." Even in slight things the experience of the new is rarely without some stirring of foreboding.

- The Ordeal of Change by Eric Hoffer

How Dictators Appeal to Intellectuals


That Gurgling Sound You Hear

 Victor Davis Hanson on how the universities were lost.

Thursday, December 07, 2023

Late Night Reading

 The Indictment of Hunter Biden.

The Wexford Carol


May It Be Blessed

[Photo by Diana Polekhina at Unsplash]

Remember Pearl Harbor

Those of us of a certain age can recall being told where people were when they first heard of the attack on Pearl Harbor. My mother recalled a newspaper boy riding his bicycle through a tranquil Phoenix neighborhood and announcing that he had a "special edition" - a clear sign that something big had happened.

Years later, the personal connections to the event have passed but Pearl Harbor abides as a reminder that evil lurks.

We shouldn't forget it.

From "Up in the Air"


I'll Have an Old Fashioned, Please

The customer service process for many organizations nowadays often begins with a "chat" stage in which you are not chatting with a real person. If the subject becomes more complicated, a real person eventually arrives. If you are lucky, you won't need to repeat what was said to the robot, but that's not always the case.

Note, however, that even if you are "chatting" with a real person, it is not a real chat. Everything is written. You cannot hear hesitations or points of emphasis. Often, there are gaps in-between the responses that would not be in a telephonic or face-to-face chat.

Those gaps, of course, permit the customer service person to handle several people at once. That adds to the superficiality of the exchange.

The very word "chat" implies something that is warm and casual.

Something personal.

I can't think of a decent substitute term for the faux chat, but it would be nice to have one.

Better yet, let's get old fashioned and talk over the phone.

So Often True


HT: Yahooey's Blog.


 A man's worth is what he is divided by what he thinks he is.

- Eric Hoffer


Every man can be seen as a fraction whose numerator is his actual qualities and its denominator his opinion of himself.

- Leo Tolstoy


Every man is the sum of his qualities, minus his vanity.

- Otto von Bismarck

Wednesday, December 06, 2023

True Masters


Deserve to Be Better Known


Thomas Sowell ~ Eric Hoffer ~ Wendell Berry ~ Olivia Manning ~ Ian Rowe ~ Jonathan Haidt ~ William Deresiewicz ~ Shelby Steele ~ Sherry Turkle ~ Jaron Lanier ~ Nicholas Carr ~ Jiri Weil ~ Raymond Aron ~ Mark Helprin ~ Michael Lind ~ Zygmunt Bauman

Loury and McWhorter on George Floyd and Minneapolis



Tuesday, December 05, 2023

Wood Man

 Sippican Cottage is in Maine and is busy seasoning firewood.

Or perhaps not.

[The logs from an ancient mesquite tree in our backyard would have had a great scent but the wood itself is a monster to burn. In an act of great generosity, I gave them to a neighbor.]


If you could dramatically improve only one of these, which would it be?

The high schools or the universities?

Also Read the Novel


Lighten the Load and Tighten the Focus

If I have a major project scheduled for a day, my usual practice is to cancel, reschedule or reassign any tasks which are not needed for that project.

Some people regard that as unproductive. After all, they argue, I could be doing other things. Why dedicate more time than is needed for the project?

What they miss is that by doing nothing that is likely to distract my attention - be it conscious or subconscious - I gain focus and self-confidence. The quality of the time dedicated to the project is expanded and enhanced. 

Gaps which might have been overlooked are spotted.

This has been my practice for many years. I've never regretted it.

Music Lesson


Monday, December 04, 2023

Brief Review

First he read his speech, second he read it badly, third it wasn't worth reading.

- Winston Churchill 

You Know You Want One

Car Style Critic looks at the styling of Austin-Healeys.

Alas, they are no more.

As the Holidays Approach: Some Slightly Out of the Ordinary Book Recommendations

  • The Wizard of the Kremlin by Giuliano da Empoli
  • Glow Kids by Nicholas Kardaras
  • American Breakdown by Gerard Baker
  • In a Cardboard Belt by Joseph Epstein
  • Why Men Hate Going to Church by David Murrow
  • The Dying Citizen by Victor Davis Hanson
  • Life with a Star by Jiri Weil
  • Goodbye to All That by Robert Graves
  • Bowling Alone by Robert D. Putnam
  • Slow Horses by Mick Herron
  • The Wonderful Country by Tom Lea
  • The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet by David Mitchell
  • All for Nothing by Walter Kempowski
  • America's Cultural Revolution by Christopher Rufo
  • Excellent Sheep by William Deresiewicz
  • The Fraud by Zadie Smith
  • Reclaiming Conversation by Sherry Turkle
  • Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry
  • Reveille in Washington by Margaret Leech
  • The Big Sort by Bill Bishop
  • Social Justice Fallacies by Thomas Sowell
  • Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport
  • The Earl of Louisiana by A.J. Liebling
[Photo by Tom Hermans at Unsplash]

Avoiding Certain Mistakes


Sunday, December 03, 2023

Saturday, December 02, 2023

Still Reading: Fascinating


Scan the Sky

 Check out the videos at Kitt Peak Observatory.

The AI Promise and Threat

Will Artificial Intelligence (AI) produce cures for major illnesses and societal problems?


Will AI seriously damage intellectual development in large numbers of people?

I fear the answer is that it will definitely do so.

Crank It Up


Revisiting Decisions

The emphasis on techniques, such as how and when, sometimes blurs or completely misses the question of whether the project itself should be undertaken at all.

Even if that question was answered, it should be periodically revisited because omission or commission of a particular course may eventually pass an expiration date in terms of its effectiveness and desirability.

In my experience, such reviews are seldom scheduled. The question only resurfaces when a crisis arises. 

If that happens, pray that it is a minor and not a major crisis.