January 23, 2020

Chekhov on Storytelling.

Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.

--Anton Chekhov (1860-1904)

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Chekhov with Maxim Gorky in Yalta, probably 1900

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January 22, 2020

Oh New York City you talk a lot...

You look like a city. You feel like a religion.

--L. Nyro, 1969

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Five Points, George Catlin, 1827

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Foley Square, 1963 (Bettmann/CORBIS)

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Making Blind Men See: Rosamund Pike Does Isben

Great characters never go out of date.

When the lights go down and the curtain rises on the magic square of life, Ibsen's men and women will always hold the audience in their spell.

--S. L. Flaxman, January 1959, on dramatist Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906)

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Making Blind Men See: Rosamund Pike in 2010 as Hedda Gabler at London's Richmond Theatre. Photo: John Swannell.

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January 21, 2020

Rasputin.

Happy Birthday Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin (1869-1916).

Wanderer. Holy Man. Mystic. Drunk.

Insider. Healer. Player. Stud.

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Sharp Dressed Man

Cuff links, stick pin.
When I step out
I'm gonna do you in.

--Gibbons, Hill and Beard (ZZ Top)

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Consider “no engagement” letters to some would-be unsophisticated or crazy clients you’ve turned down.

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Lots of conversations with persons who approach your firm with a legal issue do not result in your getting hired. The matter might be too small, too insubstantial or not the kind of law you do. You usually know in the first few minutes. But very often the time from the initial call or meeting to saying "no" is protracted. You may need to review documents, or speak with someone they asked you to contact. However, that may take a few days, and involve a few conversations and emails.

In those cases in which you need to put off saying no, write a declination letter. Email. Regular mail. Something. Put it in writing that you are not her attorney. It's easy. It simply says you are confirming that you and your firm are NOT going to represent him, her or it in the matter at hand. It does not say why. It does not need to say why.

If the would-be client is an "unsophisticated user of legal services" or, in your view, a stone crazy person, the declination letter is especially important. You may even want to write one if there was only a short phone call or meeting to evaluate the matter followed by an immediate verbal "no". Again, if there may be any misunderstanding, write a declination letter. And do it quickly.

Frequent questions:

1. Do you really need to do this from time to time?

Answer: Yes. At least 4 or 5 times for would-be clients in a large or BigLaw firm during your career. In the smallest firms count on doing it at least 50 times in the course of a career. If you do plaintiff's PI or represent Mom and Pops business clients, you may do it more.

2. Who do you send them to and when?

Answer: (a) To would-be clients in situations where you take more time than usual to evaluate the matter they bring to you before saying no, (b) to unsophisticated users of legal services or, and most likely, (c) to crazy people who might tend to rely on your legal representation going forward despite the fact that you have declined the representation. Do it as soon as possible.

3. Why? Why would you ever need to send a declination letter?

Answer: Because unsophisticated and crazy clients are legion. They may not listen well. Or no one will represent them--and they may be so desperate for someone to move forward with their marginal or "dog" case that they in effect hijack you and your firm in hopes that you feel duty-bound to act or that you will change your mind. This is particularly true if a jurisdictional deadline is looming.

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Villon.

Que beaultè ot trop plus qu'humaine.
Mais ou sont les neiges d'antan?

--François Villon (1431-1463)

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Poet, Drifter, Dreamer, Thief.

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January 20, 2020

Pantheon: Janus Blythe

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H. L. Mencken: Fly the Colors.

Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.

— H. L. Mencken

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January 19, 2020

The Book of Kells

The Book of Kells. Is there anything human-made more beautiful? Below is Folio 292r (circa 800) of The Book of Kells, an illuminated manuscript of the four Gospels of the New Testament. The entire work is housed at Trinity College Library in Dublin. This page opens the Gospel of John. Illustrations in the Book of Kells are bursting with pre-Christian, pagan and Celtic symbols and motifs that had been evolving, mixing and merging in Ireland for nearly 8000 years. The result a ancient montage of mixed media that is playful, quirky, sexual, mystical and a yet still deeply Christian. And a masterwork of Western calligraphy. 680 pages of the work survives.

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Eagle Update

The email I got yesterday from “Boy Scouts of America” and National Eagle Scout Association bore the below image along with a note which read in part:

“HAPPY EAGLE ANNIVERSARY, John.

Board of Review Date: 01/18/1970”

There were no photos of Judy Garland, Bette Midler or Queen

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January 18, 2020

Henry Miller: The Classics

A man with his belly full of the classics is an enemy of the human race.

— Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer (1934)

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Bring Back Real Women.

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Catherine Elizabeth Middleton (born January 9, 1982)

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William Beard Hull (1837-1929), C.S.A.

William Beard Hull (1837-1929). Born Augusta County, Virginia. In 1858, as oldest son, Bill, 21, on saddle horse served as his family's scout to move his parents Dan and "Mae" and his six brothers and sisters to Kansas. They were not super-rich but from strain of the Hull family of German Lutheran farmers who had been settled in Middlebrook, Virginia since 1750. They freed the three slaves they owned before the trip west. They took two wagons, including a special "contraption" built by Dan, and driven by one of their servants from Middlebrook. Although they were headed to Kansas, they liked what is now Mountain Grove, Missouri. They stayed there. In 1861 Bill went back to Virginia to fight for the Confederacy, and he ended the war with the Missouri 10th Infantry, or Steen's Regiment. He died at 91 in Oklahoma at a Confederate Soldiers home. He must have seen amazing things and changes in the American South. He married. He had at six kids, including my great-grandfather, John Daniel Hull I.

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January 17, 2020

Guernica. The German Officer to Picasso: "Did you paint this?"

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Here's a WWII story I first heard in 1992 in Paris from a struggling young Irish painter named Richard hustling his drinks and living by his wit, humor, charm and talent on a few choice blocks of the Right Bank. I never found out what happened to Richard. But ever since I've thought about this simple and apparently fairly well-known Picasso story, and more and more since 2005.

In the Fall of that year, Julie McGuire and I were together in Madrid. We made time to see Guernica, very likely Pablo Picasso's most famous painting, and some other great modern Spanish works, at the Museo Reina Sofia in central Madrid. Picasso painted Guernica in 1937 after both German and Italian bombers shelled Guernica, in Spain's Basque Country, on April 26 of that year, during the Spanish Civil War. The bombing by Germany and Italy happened at the request of Spanish Nationalist forces. The painting is an outcry, protest and lament of the self-assured, polite, smooth and famously composed Picasso.

The smallest details of the story seem to change. But historians and journalists seem to agree on the following:

In 1942, during the 1940-1944 German occupation of Paris, German officers often visited Picasso's Paris studio at a time when some of his paintings were being burned as decadent. On one visit, an aggressive Gestapo officer found a simple postcard with an image of Guernica in the studio. The officer confronted the painter, and held before Picasso's face the postcard with its breathtaking indictments of war, national pride, meaningless death, pointless suffering, waste, government hypocrisy, inflamed leadership and self-destruction.

"Did you do this?", the officer asked.

“No, sir. You did."

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Flaubert on Standards.

I am irritated by my own writing. I am like a violinist whose ear is true, but whose fingers refuse to reproduce precisely the sound he hears within.

--Gustave Flaubert (1821-1880)

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Writing Well: Editors.

I have performed the necessary butchery. Here is the bleeding corpse.

--Henry James (1843-1916), after a request by the Times Literary Supplement to cut 3 lines from a 5,000 word article.

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January 16, 2020

Encore: Is “Narcissism” the New Cooties?

We all like to feel special, unique and, at times, superior. It doesn't mean we are insular, evil or bonkers. It doesn't mean you need to meet with your shrink Dr. Quaalude four rather two times a week. It means we are flawed, insecure, competitive and desperate for the Universe to acknowledge, and somehow validate, each one of us.

Narcissist. Narcissism. Narcissistic. These have been hot labels in the past few years. Lots of articles and pop psychology pieces in which writers bandy these terms around. There's been some name-calling, too. Boomers and Millennials are called narcissistic. So are certain bosses, public figures, artists, entertainers.

To name a few famous people who've been so accused: Pablo Picasso, Eva Peron, Warren Beatty, Sharon Stone, Charlie Chaplin, Margaret Thatcher, Christian Barnard, Donald Trump and William Shatner. Even Elvis. Then there are legions of more obscure folks who we see as uber-selfish, unfeeling, too full of confidence, grandiose. And a few who just make us feel uncomfortable or we just don't like.

What going on here? Is Narcissism the new Cooties, the dreaded but fictional disease you got from opposite sex classmates on the playground? If it is, let's find some other way to trash people. Let's trade in the entire narcissism lexicon for something that's fairer and we can all understand.

Because we are in over our heads, folks.

In conversation and writing, lots of non-experts--I am not an expert on this, are you?--employ the narcissism lexicon glibly snd confidently to describe all kinds of bad behavior as if everyone knows exactly what they mean. One problem with this is that nearly everyone who does it (like Tony Blair's talented friend in the article linked to below) seems to have no idea what they're talking about. Even worse, people who use the terminology often lump everyone with narcissistic traits together without making distinctions between "healthy" narcissists, garden variety egotists and deeply malfunctioning humans.

Not making those distinctions is not just silly, sad, ignorant and irresponsible. Given the powerful stigma narcissism carries with some people who are just as clueless, it's a dangerous assessment.

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Retired Alpha male pol having fun. Narcissist? (Adrian Wyld/AP)

You may think, as I do, that the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and other mental health authorities--which at this point have made almost every activity, eccentricity and wondrous human foible a "disorder" or condition which requires, or will soon require, professional treatment--went slightly batshit itself years ago. My favorite is the relatively recent addition to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) of caffeinism. There are five (5) types of caffeinism. One is Caffeine Withdrawal, which for a few years now has been a mental disorder. I expect to see jetlag very soon.

However, the APA and these other bodies continue to have the power to flag and define sickness and disorders. The power to define mental illness in our society is the power to suggest what is moral, immoral, good, bad, acceptable, unacceptable. With respect to medical expertise especially, we are at heart compliant and conformist. We remain happy to let others do the thinking for us.

And narcissists in the public mind are very bad. In addition to the usual suspects noted above, some of the worst villains and head cases in human history make the famous/infamous people list: Stalin, Hitler, Lee Harvey Oswald, Ted Bundy, Joseph Mengele, O.J. Simpson, Jim Jones, Ike Turner and, last but not least, Simon Cowell.

Although I will never be an expert on anything scientific, I did do some homework. Apparently, we should think of narcissists in three groups. The first group includes each human being who has ever lived. We all have a touch of narcissism--and we need it to survive. It's healthy.

The second group is actual narcissists. These are people who score high on tests based on traits (symptoms) listed in the DSM. Think politicians, many execs and entrepreneurs, 1980s-era bond traders, actors, writers, surgeons, go-getters, workaholics, a good chunk of the freshman class at Dartmouth College, all AUSAs and nearly every effective trial lawyer you will ever meet. You get the idea.*

The third group is comprised of those with a clinical diagnosis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). These are the few, the miserable, the hardcore. See my listing in the paragraph above. It's the same kind of folks--but now, according to the psychiatric community, they're stuck in the wild blue yonder, and can't get out. Their selfishness and self-absorption prevent them from ever having a meaningful relationship with another human being.

The traits for this group: (1) expectation to be recognized as superior and special, without superior accomplishments, (2) expectation of constant attention, admiration and positive reinforcement from others, (3) envy of others and believes others envy him/her, (4) preoccupation with thoughts and fantasies of great success, enormous attractiveness, power, intelligence, (4) lacks the ability to empathize with the feelings or desires of others, (5) arrogant in attitudes and behavior and (6) expectation of special treatment that are unrealistic.

The problem? On any given day, the above traits/symptoms for NPD describe most of your "enemies", and certainly every one of the insane, miserable and unreasonable opposing counsel you are putting up with. It's the candidate you are running against. It's the woman who just dumped you.

In my reading, lack of empathy stands out as a key trait shared by at least those in the second and third groups. To be honest, in my life I've met no one with zero or little empathy. However, lots of people I know seem to have trouble, at least initially, of "feeling the pain" of others. Most of them are men. I doubt that anyone who has read this far considers empathy to be a male trait. It's clearly not. So are most men narcissists?

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The Narcissus, Karl Bryullov, Russian, 1819

Continue reading...

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January 15, 2020

Byron Galvez: Rosa, 1989.

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"Rosa", 1989, Byron Galvez (1941-2009)

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January 14, 2020

Rule 4: Deliver work that changes the way clients think about lawyers.

Based on actual experience lawyering, we wrote and published 12 Rules of Client Service in installments during a six-month period starting in October 2005. The 12 rules do seem to have legs. We are flattered. In whole or in part, they regularly appear in publications and sites for lawyers and non-lawyers (e.g., accounting and real estate). Some folks who discuss, quote or mention them like all 12 rules. Others like one or two in particular.

Our favorite? It's Rule Four: Deliver Legal Work That Change the Way Clients Think About Lawyers. It's our "Harry Beckwith" rule. Harry Beckwith, who first ignited the thinking of many professional services thinkers in "Selling the Invisible", was a huge influence on how we could make changes in everyone's lawyering--and the idea here is really his, not ours. An excerpt from Rule 4:

Why try "to exceed expectations" when the overall lawyer standard is perceived as low to mediocre? If your clients are all Fortune 500 stand-outs, and the GCs' seem to love you and your firm, is that because your service delivery is so good--or because other lawyers they use are so "bad" on service? Why have a low standard, or one that merely makes you look incrementally more responsive and on top of things than the boutique on the next floor up? Why not overhaul and re-create the whole game?

If you read the better writers on selling and delivering services, like Harry Beckwith in Selling The Invisible, you pick up on this simple idea: Rather than under-promise/over-deliver, why not change the way people think of lawyers generally and what they can expect from them generally? Get good clients--those clients you like and want--to keep coming back to you by communicating in all aspects of your work that you care deeply about your lawyering for them, you want to serve their interests on an ongoing basis and that it's a privilege to be their lawyer. Show them you fit no lawyer mold.

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The Great Shark Hunt.

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When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.

--"Fear and Loathing at the Super Bowl", Rolling Stone #155, February 28, 1974) republished in Gonzo Papers, Vol. 1: The Great Shark Hunt: Strange Tales from a Strange Time (1979) at 49.

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January 13, 2020

Milan Kundera: On Older Women.

An older woman is a jewel in the life of a man.

--Milan Kundera (1929- ) in "Immortality", 1990

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One critic: The book will make you "maybe even a better lover".

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January 11, 2020

H.G. Wells: On Editors.

No passion in the world is equal to the passion to alter someone else's draft.

--H.G. Wells (1866-1946)

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January 10, 2020

Bring Back Real Women.

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Let’s bring back Real Women. Women with Everything. Isn't it time?

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“I know it, I see it. The Huns will not come..."

Get down on your knees and pray! I know it, I see it. The Huns will not come.

Sainte Genevieve (422-512) saved Parisians from the Huns, the legend goes, in 451. People had started to flee Paris in anticipation of the invasion led by Attila--but stopped when she told them she had a vision that the Huns would not enter Paris. She became the city's patron saint. In 1928, a grateful Paris erected a statue to her on the Pont de la Tournelle (now about 400 years old). Genevieve is facing east, the direction from which the Huns approached. She is also said to have converted Clovis, king of the pagan Franks, to Christianity. If you walk from the Right Bank to the Left Bank near the Ile Saint Louis, you walk right under her, with Notre Dame on your right.

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January 09, 2020

Elizabeth Lee Wurtzel (1967 - 2020)

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I was shocked Monday to learn that writer Elizabeth Wurtzel has died at 52. She was also a lawyer who worked for David Boies awhile. Wurtzel was one of us. Explorer. Sportfucker. Troublemaker. Picaresque city kid sporadically in love with the edge, the abyss and the wild blue yonder.

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January 08, 2020

Oscar Wilde: On Writing and Writers.

The only artists I have ever known who are personally delightful are bad artists. Good artists exist simply in what they make, and consequently are perfectly uninteresting in what they are. A great poet, a really great poet, is the most unpoetical of all creatures. But inferior poets are absolutely fascinating. The worse their rhymes are, the more picturesque they look. The mere fact of having published a book of second-rate sonnets makes a man quite irresistible. He lives the poetry that he cannot write. The others write the poetry that they dare not realize.

--Lord Henry Wotton, in The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde (1890)

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Real Women: Annabeth Gish.

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January 07, 2020

Merry Christmas, DC Ethiopia.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020.

Merry Christmas today to many new friends in Washington, DC’s growing Ethiopian community.

DC’s Ethiopians have added to American value in all the best ways.

Your Women. Your Work Ethic. Your Class. Your Spirit.

All Beautiful. Wow.

Thank you.

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January 06, 2020

Bohemian Paris 1840s: The Downwardly Mobile Arts.

At once playful and dead-serious, Paris is "the city where artists love and starve together, shock the bourgeoisie, then die tragically young." Visit Girls' Guide to Paris and read Cynthia Rose's "Arthur Rimbaud: The Poet as Pop Star."

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2020: Keep the Winter Homeless Alive.

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Hypothermia. Exposure. The Elements. Whatever you want to call it. Jack London and Hans Christian Andersen each wrote well-known stories about it. And you can die from hypothermia well above 32 degrees F.

You say you would really like to help the urban homeless on both cold and super-cold Northeastern and Midwestern nights? Both plain cold and the bitterly cold, often unpredictable nights that many cities are prepared to accommodate more homeless residents at shelters but for a number of reasons (both good and bad) thousands of Americas's rough sleepers take their chances outside?

Good. So see our inaugural post about our One Night, Person (March 5, 2015) campaign and our follow-up March 7, 2015 post. No, we don't have time to go over all of this again; we're working stiffs like you. Just read the posts.

Once again, and in short, here is the idea and the rules:

Continue reading...

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January 05, 2020

Santa Monica, 1904.

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Source: Legendary Surfers

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The 12 Rules of Client Service.

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1. Represent only clients you like.

2. The client is the main event.

3. Make sure everyone in your firm knows the client is the main event.

4. Deliver legal work that changes the way clients think about lawyers.

5. Over-communicate: bombard, copy and confirm.

6. When you work, you are marketing.

7. Know the client.

8. Think like the client--help control costs.

9. Be there for clients--24/7.

10. Be accurate, thorough and timely--but not perfect.

11. Treat each co-worker like he or she is your best client.

12. Have fun.

Copyright 2006-2020 John Daniel Hull. All Rights Reserved.

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January 04, 2020

Clients want Excellent--not Perfect. Excellent is way harder than Perfect.

Clients 99.5% of the time are not paying you to be perfect. Clients don't want perfect. In the rare instances they do want perfect, they will let you know. So clients want excellent. Be excellent, not perfect. See, e.g., "Rule 10: Be Accurate, Thorough and Timely--But Not Perfect" of our world-famous and irritating but life-changing 12 Rules of Client Service.

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Perfectionism: The horror, the horror. Above: Martin Sheen in Apocalypse Now (photo: Miramax).

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Cultural Literacy For Yank White Collars: When?

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Île Saint-Louis on the Seine, seen from a famous bridge.

Americans, the Alpha-humans, the elect and the "winners" in modern world history, are not well-rounded in our knowledge of the world, its people, and how we all got to this point on earth. Art, literature, the humanities, world history and political theory are not just for the rich, the elite, intellectual, and people who attended Choate and Oberlin. These things are the best part of all of us; they can inform, stir and improve every moment. If America could put real education before "jobs", we would astonish--and charm--the entire world.

Education is about more than just getting a job. Cultural literacy has never been an American strength. Oddly, even American professionals, and executives in leadership positions, continue to be satisfied with becoming, and remaining, in effect, "techs". Four years of college or university training. Seven years. Eight years. More. We are not "well-educated" in a traditional or historical sense.

If you don't regularly read this blog--we have a small but steady non-wanker following--here's a suggestion. Before reading further, skim "Thinking Warriors " and "Ernest, the French Aren't Like You and Me". If these posts make you angry, cause a tizzy, give you a headache, or make you pull a hamstring, just try another blog.

Put another way, Americans, the Alpha-humans, the elect and the "winners" in modern world history, are not well-rounded in our knowledge of the world, its people, and how we all got to this point on earth. Browse the American blogs of the Internet for a few hours. Mostly bad neighborhoods--and getting worse and dumber every month. We are insular and at best (being charitable here) semi-literate as a people. We are uninformed about the history, political roots, ideas and art of the West.

Sure, our schools and universities are called "the envy of the world"--and it's all a crock. We are delusional about our true educational achievement for the rank-and-file. We're a pretty dumb lot--and that includes the vast majority of our white collars and execs. The Net, ironically to some, has only made the situation worse; it imparts the idea that everyone (1) has great value and (2) has something very valuable to share. Neither is true. Neither has ever been true.

In short, very few people seem to know what they are thinking and talking about. But that's not important to most of us. We are 300 million "talkers" and know-it-alls, most of whom have four (4) die-hard hobbies: 1. Sitting, 2. Eating, 3. Watching Bad Television, and 4. A Relentless And Seemingly Eternal National Wankfest: Hanging Out With And Talking To The Same People Over And Over Again. Most of us never travel further than Lake Erie. It shows.

The result: not knowing very much, thinking we know everything, having a limited frame of reference about the World--and 80% of us are now Big Enough To Have Our Own Zip Codes.

The future? Well, it's not looking too good. Consider our human resources.

Some view the 18-35 generation as already broken down, and functionally retarded, with lots more budding failures coming up behind them flying the giddy colors of Sloth and McLife. The pattern mentioned above--in which American students at all levels are given poor grounding in global, cultural and historical "basics"--is even worse for these kids. We have dumbed them down silly.

Our short-term solution for younger adults? We've told them all along that they are "just fine". But they are not fine. They are a bust and--please don't lie to yourselves, your customers, co-workers or shareholders--they are dangerous to have in places of work where quality problem-solving is the main daily event. Or on any terrain where you cannot have a "bad day". Mostly drains and bad investments. Our firm will no longer hire them without probation periods--and very tough ones (which can still be a lot of fun for everyone). Nothing less is fair to our clients and co-workers.

Can Americans change any of this? Sure. If we could just learn some things, and put education before jobs, we would astonish and charm the entire world. We would produce better people. We'd have better employees. (Partners across the country again would be able to invite associates to lunch with clients who can read.)

Art, literature, the humanities, world history and political theory aren't just for the rich, the elite or the intellectual. They are the best part of all of us; they can inform, stir and improve every moment.

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January 03, 2020

Gustave Flaubert: On Standards.

I am irritated by my own writing. I am like a violinist whose ear is true, but whose fingers refuse to reproduce precisely the sound he hears within.

--Gustave Flaubert (1821-1880)

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January 01, 2020

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December 31, 2019

Longshanks, Scots and The Stone of Scone.

Apud Monasterium de Scone positus est lapis pergrandis in ecclesia Dei, juxta manum altare, concavus quidam ad modum rotundae cathedreaie confectus, in quo future reges loco quasi coronatis.

--14th century English cleric Walter Hemingford

An oblong block of red sandstone known as The Stone of Scone (or Scottish coronation stone) was already ancient and storied when Edward I "captured" it" in 1296 as a spoils of war. Edward took it to Westminster Abbey. There it was fitted into a wooden chair, known as King Edward's Chair. Most subsequent English sovereigns have been crowned on it.

The combative and opinionated Edward, who spent much of his reign taming and subjugating the Scots, and hated them, once referred to the Stone as "a turd".

Seven hundred years after Edward lifted the Stone from the Scots, on July 3, 1996, the British House of Commons finally ordered that the Stone would be returned. It was handed over to Scotland in November of that year at the England-Scotland border and taken to Edinburgh Castle. It will remain in Scotland except for future coronations at Westminster Abbey in London.

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December 30, 2019

This is East Anglia.

Neither the tiny rural village of Lindsey nor the surrounding countryside has changed much since 1634, when one side of my family called Holden left there via Ipswich on the River Orwell for Massachusetts and, in time, a new "Groton", named after another small village near Lindsey. Three hundred and eighty-four years later, Lindsey is pastoral, green, mainly un-peopled and fairly remote. No visible overt 21st century commerce. Some farming. No tourists.

St Peter, a rough Anglican church, at one time Catholic, the one my ancestors attended, built in the 1300s, and even older church ruin, St James (1200s), are the only man-made constants. Still a "parish", Lindsey is on the B1115 Hadleigh-to-Bury road.

This is part of East Anglia--coveted, held and loved for so long by the Danes. The region's been victor and victim over and over again. Mainstream tribes from all over Europe battled here for centuries. It is storied. It is still beautiful. Nothing compares to it.

And it is a key "feeder" region in the English migration to America. From 1625 to 1640, Charles I had tried to rule England without calling the Puritan-dominated Parliament. Puritan dissenters, lots of them, lived in the area around Lindsey, and

from here hundreds of families fled across the Atlantic to the new world. The Winthrops, of tiny Groton, would become founders of the State of Massachusetts. But most of the settlers were poor, working families, and they would devote themselves to quiet, prayerful unpersecuted lives, and of work hard to build new communities. Of course, they would never see Suffolk or the valley of the gentle Brett again.

--Simon Knott

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St. Peter in Lindsey

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Elvoy Raines (1951-1999)

I still miss my friend and old drinking pal Elvoy Raines, writer, lawyer-lobbyist, outlaw. We were very much alike; he was a toper, a writer, a life-long philanderer, a nightmare husband. He was on Oprah once. He checked into Harvard in his 40s like it was a rehab. He liked women. A lot. Anyway, with Elvoy, they broke the mold. I remember every conversation. He called me the "craziest white man in America." I called him Dr. Raines. He once said: "It's been good for our careers that bars in Georgetown close down during the week by 2 or 3 am, don't you think?" An American authentic. I hope some of his writing--of several genres--is still around.

His Washington Post obituary in fall of 1999:

Elvoy Raines Dies at Age 48

October 23, 1999

Elvoy Raines, 48, executive vice president of the Hawthorn Group, an Alexandria public affairs and public relations company, died Oct. 21 at Georgetown University Hospital after a stroke.

Before coming to the Hawthorn Group in 1997, Mr. Raines was a vice president of Ogilvy & Mather Public Affairs and later senior vice president of the Powell Tate public relations firm, both in Washington.

A native of Lakeland, Fla., Mr. Raines graduated from Florida State University. He earned a law degree at the University of Florida and a master's degree in labor law at the Georgetown University law school. He then attended the Harvard University School of Public Health, where he did doctoral work in public health.

He came to Washington in the 1980s. His positions included deputy executive director of the American Society of Law, Medicine and Ethics, chief lobbyist for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and director of education for the American Social Health Association, the nation's oldest nonprofit organization providing information and education on the subject of the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases. During that time he served as liaison between ASHA and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as the federal government initiated its national AIDS information and education program.

Mr. Raines continued to work in the area of public health during his service at Ogilvy & Mather and Powell Tate, where he was a founding principal. At the Hawthorn Group, he oversaw the company's strategic planning.

He is survived by his wife, Angela T. Thimis, of Washington; a daughter, Brooke Raines of Mooresville, N.C.; and a sister, Rhea Edwards of Bartow, Fla.

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Desperately seeking diversity.

Happy New Year. My neighborhood in DC has turned into some kind of non-diverse Orwellian-H.G. Wells Mother of all BetaFests where most guys talk and act like Mr. Rogers. I’m starting to sashay here. How about your ‘hood? What’s happening in the Midwest and South?

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December 29, 2019

Heroes: Karl Llewellyn.

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Karl Nickerson Llewellyn

You expect me to tell you that you should be earnest about your work, and get your back into it for dear old Siwash, and that he who lets work slide will stumble by the way.

The above of course is from the opening chapter of the The Bramble Bush: On Our Law and Its Study (1931), which sprung from a series of introductory lectures Karl Llewellyn (1893–1962) gave to first-year law students during the 1929-30 academic year, when he was appointed the first Betts Professor of Jurisprudence at Columbia. The book's title is from a poem "The Bramble Bush" by Robert Penn Warren, excerpted here:

There was a man in our town
and he was wondrous wise:
he jumped into a bramble bush
and scratched out both his eyes--

and when he found that he was blind,
with all his might and maine,
He jumped into another one,
and scratched them in again.

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December 27, 2019

John D. Hull III (May 17 1928 - Dec. 27 2012): "There's not a man in a carload of you...."

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“Best day’s work I ever did was marry your Mom.”


Obituary in Ohio, Indiana and Florida papers December 31, 2012:


John D. Hull, of Cincinnati, Ohio, and Marco Island, Florida, a longtime executive of the Procter & Gamble Distributing Company, died on December 27, 2012 in Marco Island, Florida. He was 84. The cause of death was sudden cardiac arrest.

He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Arlene “Penny” Hull, and their children, J. Daniel Hull of San Diego, David A. Hull (Maureen) of Cincinnati and Rebecca Gorman (David) of Atlanta, daughter-in-law Pamela Larsen (Dan), and seven grandchildren: David Hull, Jr., Kelley Hull, Katie Hull, David Gorman, Jr. (Erin), Chris Gorman, Carrie Gorman, and James Gorman. He is also survived by a sister, Nancy Hull McCracken, of Robinson, Illinois.

John was born in Springfield, Missouri in 1928. His parents were J. Dan Hull, an educator, and Alene Oliver, a home economics teacher. John graduated from Indianapolis’s Shortridge High School in 1945. He attended Wabash College, and DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, graduating in 1949. In both high school and college, he excelled in varsity football and basketball. At DePauw, he met Penny Reemer, his future wife. John and Penny were married in 1950.

After graduating from DePauw, John began a 41-year career with Procter & Gamble in sales. When P&G purchased the Charmin Paper Company in 1959, John played a key role leading the integration of Charmin into P&G. He stayed in the Paper Division for the balance of his career in several executive roles. He trained, coached and mentored many P&G people throughout his career. He was known for his unpretentious management style, and willingness to share his knowledge and experience with others. John Hull had an impact on countless P&G people over the years.

During the Korean War, and between 1952 and 1954, he served in the U.S. Army, and was honorably discharged.

John and Penny raised their family in Aberdeen, Maryland, Chicago, Grand Rapids, Detroit and Cincinnati. All his life, John was a sportsman who loved lakes and the sea. He was a dedicated fisherman and was especially enthusiastic about fishing trips to Central America, Alaska and lakes and streams in the U.S. where smallmouth bass ran. He enjoyed golf, and was an avid tennis player. John and Penny were members of Cincinnati’s Kenwood Country Club.

John Hull was known to everyone he met as a larger-than-life personality, curious about the world he lived in, and an engaging storyteller.

A short memorial service celebrating John’s life will be conducted by family and close friends at Marco Island on New Year’s Eve. In the Spring of 2013, on a date to be announced by the family, there will be second memorial service in Cincinnati, and John’s ashes will be interred at Old Armstrong Chapel Cemetery in Indian Hill, Ohio.

--Dan Hull, David Hull, Maureen McHale-Hull and Nancy Hull McCracken

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The Holy Surprises of Handwritten Thank You Notes.

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The Governess, 1739, Jean-Baptiste-Simeon Chardin (1699-1779)

In case your Governess never told you, you're from Utah, or you were stoned all seven years at Choate, do know that when thanking anyone for something important--a meeting, a dinner, a referral of a customer or client--always do it with a handwritten thank-you note.

Yes, handwritten. With a pen. On paper. And promptly.

We all fail here from time to time. But no valid excuses exist for not saying “thank you” in your own unique hand. Not one. No, the informality of electronic communications and the internet doesn’t give you a pass. No, handwritten thank-you notes are not the sole province of new brides, Southern debutantes and the New Canaan Junior League. Yes, everyone should do it. And yes, there are rewards.

Too few of us practice gratitude, in either in our personal or professional lives. Most of us, in our better moments, understand that gratitude outside of work is good for the soul. But it’s good for business, too. For revenues. And for business good will. I recently conducted my own unique business etiquette study (of sorts) on the rewards and benefits of handwritten thank-yous and the results were nothing less than astonishing. Even executives and professionals with modest standards and questionable taste--youngish American males who resentfully still wear socks to important meetings or court--declare to a man or woman that no handwritten thank-you note means no class--as harsh, low-tech and medieval as that may sound.

Sure. Typed thank-you notes in regular mail or (God forbid) email and are better than nothing. But handwritten is always better. Much better. Much more personal. Much more appreciated by your thankee-reader.

Use good stationery. I suggest Crane's on the lower end, or something better, like stationery from Tiffany's or a Tiffany’s-style knock-off, on the higher end. A "studio card", maybe. Plain. Simple. Initials on it at most. If you get personalized stuff, have a return envelope address to a home or business--but without the business mentioned. Again, it's personal. Leave Jones Brothers Ball Bearings off it.

Here's another way to look at handwritten thank-you notes. If you DON'T send them, bad things will happen.

1. No one will give you any more business, or invite you to The Hamptons.

2. People will say mean things about your dog, your wife, your girlfriend, or about all three. Worse, they trash you.

3. If you went to Brown, snide people will remind you and your friends that Brown used to be the safety school for the Ivies.

4. If you were at Duke, they'll re-float the completely untrue story that Duke exists only because Princeton had too much honor and class to accept Buck Duke's filthy tobacco money and re-name Princeton Duke.

5. If Princeton, they'll just say you were always kind of light in the Cole Haans, too, and were once even seen dancing at an "alternative lifestyle" bar in the city--dressed in full leather biker garb--so what can you expect?

You get the idea. Thank people in writing. In your own hand. Do it every time and right away.

If by now you are not convinced that handwritten thank-you notes are noticed and appreciated (they are), pretend that I know more than you (I do), and do it anyway.

You can thank me later.

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December 26, 2019

Euripides: On Slavery.

“This is Slavery: not to speak one’s thought.”

— Eurípides (480-406 BC)


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World Famous, Soulful and Accurate 12 Rules of Client Service.

1. Represent only clients you 'like'.

2. The client is the main event.

3. Make sure everyone in your firm knows the client is the main event.

4. Deliver legal work that changes the way clients think about lawyers.

5. Over-communicate: bombard, copy and confirm.

6. When you work, you are marketing.

7. Know the client.

8. Think like the client--help control costs.

9. Be there for clients--24/7.

10. Be accurate, thorough and timely--but not perfect.

11. Treat each co-worker like he or she is your best client.

12. Have fun.

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Copyright 2005-2019 J. Daniel Hull.

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December 25, 2019

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from generations of American Hulls, Holdens, McQuittys, Bondurants, Riemers, Pattons and Olivers. And J. Dan Hull, Jr., the boy standing tall in the middle. My hero. 1906 photo.

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