Phone it in Friday XV: Blogger Buddies

It’s been another crazy week, but the rhythms of the school year are beginning to fall into their familiar patterns.  That said, I’ve put in more hours working this week than any in a long time.

Regular readers know what that means:  another edition of Phone it in Friday, now reaching its fifteenth installment.

It’s been a week for shout-outs to other commentators and platforms, so I figured I’d continue with that theme and recommend some of my blogger buddies to you.  I have to give a big hat tip for this idea to one of my best blogger buddies, photog, over at Orion’s Cold Fire.  He wrote a post—“A Word of Thanks to Our Boosters“—highlighting some of those blogs that routinely link to his page or reference his writing, and yours portly made the list.  Thanks, photog!

So on this rainy, overcast Friday, here are some excellent blogs for your consideration:

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SimEverything

Summer Break is approaching, which means unstructured time, our most precious resource.  I plan on using that time to work on some long-delayed eBooks—including one on Christmas carols—and to teach my History of Conservative Thought course.  I’m also hoping to rebuild my music lesson empire after The Virus sacked the imperial capital.  There will also be lot of family time built in.

In addition to all of those wholesome and productive activities, there is also the siren song of video games.  Video games can become a major time sink (I’m learning that with Stellaris), but they’re a good way to unwind, and require a bit more focus and decision-making than passively consuming television.

One of the major video games meta-series of my youth were the various Sim games from Maxis—SimCitySimEarthSimAnt, etc. (I had a particular fondness for the scope and breadth of SimEarth, which I obtained on a bootlegged 3.5″ floppy disk from my buddy Arun in high school, back before I knew about or respected intellectual property rights).  The sandbox style in play, which encouraged experimentation and open-ended decision-making, really made those Maxis games fun (not unlike Minecraft, which also encourages exploration and free play).

So it was with great interest—and a heavy dose of nostalgia—that I read “When SimCity got serious:  the story of Maxis Business Simulations and SimRefinery” on The Obscuritory, a website dedicated to exploring games lost, forgotten, and never played.

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New Mustang is a Sign of the Times

Before diving into today’s post, I’d like to give a YUGE “thank you” to Nebraska Energy Observer for reblogging yesterday’s postHis commentary on my post and Leslie Alexander’s moving personal essay adds greatly to the discussion of modern alienation, and gives me some encouragement in these dark days.

Everything awesome goes to crap.  That’s the thought I had yesterday when reading fridrix’s brief post lamenting the new electronic Ford Mustang, the Ford Mustang Mach-E.

Electric cars are fine, although environuts shouldn’t delude themselves that driving these battery-powered vehicles are saving the environment (it’s pedantic to point out, but batteries require a great deal of mining to get the metals necessary to build them, and the electricity to charge them comes from coal-, oil-, and nuclear-power, so it’s not like you’re truly making an end-run around fossil fuels).  But a Ford Mustang shouldn’t be an  electric car; at least, it shouldn’t be one that looks like this iteration.

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Lazy Sunday XXXVI: Best of the Reblogs, Part I

Last week’s posts had me diving into the blogs of some good friends.  Friday’s post featured blogger and musician friend fridrix’s Corporate History InternationalWednesday’s post looked at the writings of another blogger friend, Bette Cox.  And I daily read the blogs of photog (Orion’s Cold Fire) and Nebraska Energy Observer.  Indeed, one of the joys of blogging is discovering other bloggers’ work (I almost forgot Gordon Scheaffer‘s excellent history blog, Practically Historical).

In the spirit of these intrepid citizen journalists and commentators—and the cheeky fun and intellectual grit of their blogs—I thought I should pay homage to the posts that, when I’m struggling with writer’s block, helped me slap together some daily content.

I’ll be presenting these posts in chronological order in which I initially reblogged them, so if you don’t show up these week, Internet Friends, don’t worry; you’ll make it up here eventually!

  • Reblog: The Falling Down Revolt” –  This post examined photog’s “The Falling Down Revolt” essay, one of the most trenchant pieces I’ve read this year.  The issue that photog address is what dissident blogger Z-Man calls “anarcho-tyranny“; that is, the state in which all manner of violent and property crimes occur unmolested, but law-abiding citizens get the shaft.  The tiniest infraction gets convicted if you’re the average American citizen, but if you’re an illegal immigrant or a welfare-moocher of a certain background, you skate.  Police are ineffective at catching the real bad guys, so they ding you for rolling through a stop sign with no traffic on the road, or the government comes after you because you’re eight bucks short on your taxes.

    That situation leads to frustration among society’s straight-man.  Why do rule followers get the brunt of the state’s terrible force, but criminals blatantly break the rules, and get off scot-free?  It’s a recipe for an awakening.

  • Reblog: New White Shoe Review for You” – This piece reviewed fridrix’s review of a book about Wall Street during the Progressive Era of the early twentieth century.  It’s a fantastic review, and I recommend you check out it and fridrix’s other writings at Corporate History International.
  • Reblog: Of Grills and Men” – One of the most important bloggers in both the manosphere and the traditional Christian Right today is Dalrock.  I featured Dalrock on one of my lists of excellent dissident writers.  The occasion for this post was the infamous Gillette ad in which men were portrayed as toxic abusers and advocates of kid-on-kid violence.  Yeesh!  Get woke, go broke, as they say.

That’s it for this week.  Enjoy the waning hours of your glorious weekend!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

Corporate Grind II: The Return of Corporate History International

It’s been a golden week for reblogging, as some of my blogosphere buddies continue to generate some amazing content.  It looks like I may have to do another Dissident Write feature soon (here are I and II).  Armistice Day always brings out the best material, too.

As we head into the weekend—mercifully free of professional obligations—I’m pleased to note the revival of my buddy fridrix’s blog, Corporate History International.

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Lazy Sunday XXXV: Corporate Grind

Starting today, subscribers to my SubscribeStar page at the $5 level or higher will get an exclusive weekly doodle.  Just another perk of subscribing!

It’s been a very busy Sunday, the exact opposite of lazy. My little school hosts open houses for prospective parents and students about twice a year on Sunday afternoons, and as the go-to tech guy, I have slightly more to prepare than some of the other faculties.

I also play piano in my church on most Sunday mornings now (which I enjoy), and I play with a local jazz big band, which practices on Sunday afternoons (which I also enjoy).  Add it all up, and it made for a busy day.

So, with all that going on, not only is this Lazy Sunday late, it’s also focused on professional life—specifically, the rat race, the nine-to-five, the grind:

  • Meetings are (Usually) a Waste of Time” – One way I know that I’m getting old is that I’ve developed my own “best practices” for meetings.  I’ve sat through tons of pointless, lengthy meetings (and pointlessly lengthy ones), so I’ve come up approaches I attempt to stick to with meetings I run:  keep ’em short, limit it to two or three agenda items, and come in organized.
  • Phone it in Friday IV: Conferencing” – I despise meetings, but I love conferences—if they’re done well.  Just as there are best practices for meetings, there are best practices for conferences:  offer relevant sessions, keep the entire conference short in length, and have some decent food and coffee, appropriate for the length and nature of the conference.  A good conference is an opportunity to learn, network, and re-energize.
  • SubscribeStar Saturday: Culture Matters” – Culture matters!  That was the point of an excellent presentation I attended at the conference that occasioned the post above.  The presentation was specifically about the importance of growing and maintaining a healthy faculty culture, which largely means being thankful for faculty efforts, giving them the option to say no, and preventing burnout.  Read the whole thing with a subscription of just $1 a month!

That’s it!  A short, late Lazy Sunday after a decidedly busy Sabbath.

–TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

Reblog: New White Shoe Review for You

My good friend and fellow blogger Frederick Ingram of Corporate History International has written an intriguing review of what appears to be a quite intriguing book: historian John Oller’s White Shoe: How a New Bread of Wall Street Lawyers Changed Big Business and the American Century. Based on Ingram’s review alone, the book is a fascinating dive into the heady politics of early twentieth-century America, the transition from the relative laissez-faire capitalism of the so-called “Gilded Age” into the economic, political, and social reforms of the Progressive Era.

The Progressive Movement fundamentally transformed the United States, in many ways (constitutionally) for the worse. But it was an attempt to rectify some of the excesses of the Gilded Age, and to ensure that workers were not merely cogs in faceless corporate machines. In reading Ingram’s review, I heard echoes of Tucker Carlson’s recent on-air musings, particularly the idea that efficiency is not a god to be worshipped blindly, and that capitalism is great, but it should work for us, not the other way around.

The more things change, the more they stay the same: Carlson’s diagnosis of America’s current ills echoes attorney (and future Supreme Court justice) Louis Brandeis’s “curse of bigness,” the argument against efficiency-for-its-own-sake. I was struck, while reading Ingram’s review, how much our own age mirrors the period that, in many ways, begat our current crises: the Progressive Era of 100 years ago.

According to Ingram, a consensus of sorts was reached among these big Wall Street Lawyers (WSLs), which ultimately prevented radicalism and presented “capitalism with a human face”:

“The end of ‘The Last Great Epoch’ coincided with the end of World War I, flanked by the funerals of the earlier generation of great industrialists and white shoe pioneers. ‘Each year has the significance of a hundred,’ said William Nelson Cromwell in 1918, and this applied not just to armistice negotiations but vast swaths of human society. Business, law, and government in the US would be professionalized and regulated, but still relatively free by world standards. The reforms advocated by enlightened and informed WSLs formed a barrier against imported radicalism. Even rightwing attorneys backed movements such as social security, child labor prohibitions, and even minimum wage.”

 

Ingram, as I mentioned, is a good friend, and we’ve had some lively discussions over the years about the “big questions” of life. His thoughtfulness and reflexivity are in full display in his review here, as he links insights from this work to concurrent readings of Jordan Peterson and Christopher Andrews. He also brings in his own experiences working in “BigLaw,” as he calls it, the grueling world of billable hours and 80+-hour workweeks.

To (indulgently) block-quote Ingram once more:

“Having worked as a BigLaw accounting clerk myself, I have an issue with the Cravath System and the slavish devotion to billable hours. Is your spouse really going to leave you if you don’t make $250,000 this year? Will your children no longer look up to you? Is that worth being a cortisol-addled prick 80 hours a week, every weekday of your miserable life? Wouldn’t it be wiser to make, I don’t know, $100k or even $50k and have your peace of mind back?”

 

As much as I admire the energy and drive of the restless striver—and as much as I over-work myself—Ingram makes a compelling point. Money doesn’t buy happiness (although it certainly buys a great deal of freedom), and the pursuit of it can lead other, more enduring obligations—family, friends, faith—to wither.

An excellent review, from a good friend. Check it out at https://corporatehistory.international/2019/01/27/new-white-shoe-review-for-you, then pick up a copy of Oller’s book.

Corporate History International

White Shoe: How a New Breed of Wall Street Lawyers Changed Big Business and the American Century by John Oller (Dutton: 2019). Review by Frederick C. Ingram, CorporateHistory.International, January 27, 2019.

White Shoe promises to deliver an engaging and revealing tale regarding the handful of New York City attorneys who effectively created big business as we’ve known it, the “new high priests for a new century.” As an accomplished historian (The Swamp Fox: How Francis Marion Saved the American Revolution, Da Capo: 2016) and former Wall Street attorney himself (Willkie Farr & Gallagher), John Oller is well placed to fulfill this tall order.

20190127 white shoe cover squareIn a previous economy, I researched hundreds of corporations for the International Directory of Company Histories, so the prospect of peeking a little beyond the opaque public relations and investor relations curtain intrigued me. I’m also reminded of strolling along Fifth Avenue, whose equally opaque walls…

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