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May 29, 2015

Michael Tennesen's 'The Next Species': After the Earth's next mass extinction, what will life here look like, anyway?

There have always been mass extinctions since Earth started out--about six so far--and Earth needs to have them. In his new book The Next Species: The Future of Evolution in the Aftermath of Man, my friend and science author Michael Tennesen gives us an intriguing and yes somewhat frightening set of straight-science scenarios to answer to the above question on what will life look like after the next one. Other immediate questions of course are when exactly is the next extinction and, no matter what things look like after it, what it all means for the planet on a, gulp, going-forward basis?

Buy this important book for the answers. I can tell you that the database of "The Next Species" is, for lack of a more depressing term, compelling. Simon and Schuster sent Tennesen packing--literally--to do hundreds of interviews in the last few years with the main scientists who study this planet and our millions of morphing interconnected life systems. Tennesen also accompanied many of them on trips all over the globe as they do their work and make sense of what they find.

People do pipe up in support and even rave a bit about this book. I'm also told even "difficult" and "nitpicking" people who have read it even love this book. My Duke physics professor liked it. Two of my smarter, more sober Ohio high school buds who still say "super" a lot really do admire it. In County Cork, my uncle, Silas, an Oxford-educated life sciences jack-of-all-trades--n.b., Uncle Silas believed if for only six months that he was 'King of America'--liked it very, very much. Even wonky and pretend-wonky reviewers at sites like Goodreads like it. Amazon reviewers probably like it--but I never check there anymore due to obvious mini-scam-gaming there, if you know what I mean.

Buy it. The Next Species: The Future of Evolution in the Aftermath of Man. 360 pages, Simon & Schuster, March 17, 2015.

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Posted by JD Hull at 06:35 PM | Comments (0)

May 28, 2015

Fear and Loathing in Zurich: Ms. Lynch busts FIFA.

Copy of FIFA indictment courtesy New York Times. Some 40 years ago thought 18 USC sections 1961-1968 had a limited utility and cross-border reach. See Roger Cohen in New York Times today. Reuters yesterday: DOJ Details Federal Investigation Of World Cup Corruption Scandal.

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Posted by JD Hull at 06:14 PM | Comments (0)

May 23, 2015

Anthony Burgess, Polymath: Clockwork Orange, novella or Kubrick movie, is besides the point.

Anthony Burgess's frightening 1962 dystopian novel Clockwork Orange and satire is not my favorite book. Its spectacular 1971 adaptation to Hollywood blockbuster, starring Malcolm McDowell as the sociopathic droog leader Alex DeLarge, is not my favorite Stanley Kubrick movie, either. But Burgess, a Brit who died in 1993, was a simply amazing human being who may have regarded what his now most famous work as simply a short if odd detour in his career. Burgess (1917-1993), in addition to being a celebrated writer, he was an accomplished playwright, critic, producer, linguist, translator and composer, with over 200 musical scores to his credit. Polymath--the term some of us use when Renaissance man would be an understatement, may be the right category for Burgess.

God did not make many of them.

When I was a junior in college, I went to hear Burgess, then in his mid-50s, talk extemporaneously to maybe 250 undergraduate students and answer questions. He was up there for an hour at most. He was, hands down, the most fluent, articulate human being I had ever heard speak the English language. Burgess did this without pretension, glibness or any apparent awareness of his gift for seizing exactly the right word for every nuance and sentiment out of his mouth. And his speech, rhythms and inflections were the same fielding our often precocious questions as when he was speaking continuously without notes for the first 45 minutes at the Page Auditorium lectern.

"Natural" is too wimpy and understated a word to describe what he was doing. "Symphonic" maybe? That suggests that he was somehow being carried with the sound or import of his own voice. He wasn't. I can't summon up any right words for what Burgess could do. And, of course, I am not Burgess. I've still heard no live speaker with the quality of the command of the English language Anthony Burgess had. (I heard William Buckley speak twice the following year and, as brilliant as Wild Bill was with words, it just wasn't the same.) I wish I had an audio tape of that fall evening. Burgess was joy to see and hear.

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Posted by JD Hull at 10:55 AM | Comments (0)

May 22, 2015

The aroma of a life lived in harmony with high ideals.

I am proud of 3 things in my life:

1. I've never been to Las Vegas.

2. Except for jeans and my tux, all my pants are tastefully cuffed.

3. Until yesterday I'd never heard of Josh Duggar.

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Sing, everyone.

Posted by JD Hull at 11:14 PM | Comments (0)

May 17, 2015

Happy 87, Big John.

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Happy 87th, Big John. May 17, 1928 - December 27, 2012.

A stick in me hand and a tear in me eye
A doleful damsel I heard cry,
Johnny I hardly knew ye.

--1800s Irish war tune

Obituary for John Daniel Hull III
Cincinnati, OH and Marco Island, FL
January 1 , 2013

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 was 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 [May 16, 2013], there will be second memorial service in Cincinnati, and John’s ashes will be interred at Old Armstrong Chapel Cemetery in Indian Hill, Ohio.

Posted by JD Hull at 05:31 PM | Comments (0)

May 13, 2015

Think your own thoughts. Revel in the joy of language. Resist Western wankspeak.

Let's nix professional, corporate and academic wankspeak and start speaking like human beings who value originality in language. Examples of wankspeak: empower, next level, unpack that, core competency and calling garden variety problems "challenges." Get the net, folks. We are starting to sound like Anita Hill or Steve Covey on acid. We can do better.

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Posted by JD Hull at 09:07 PM | Comments (0)

May 09, 2015

What would this old German-American farmer say?

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To us, in our lapsed estate, resting, not advancing, resisting, not cooperating with the divine expansion, this growth comes by shocks. We cannot part with our friends. We cannot let our angels go. We do not see that they only go out that archangels may come in.

We are idolaters of the Old. We do not believe in the riches of the soul, in its proper eternity and omnipresence. We do not believe there is any force in to-day to rival or recreate that beautiful yesterday. We linger in the ruins of the old tent.

--R. E. Emerson (1803-1882), Essays, First Series, "Compensation" (1841)


Middlebrook, Augusta County, VA (near Charlottesville ). Population about 250. In my tribe you can live a long life if you don't drink too much or work at the wrong jobs. Working near here this week here I detoured to visit this grave, and this time found it without difficulty. This Daniel Hull (1768-1854) was my great-grandfather's great-grandfather, then a first generation German in the U.S. There is no picture of him; photographs were, however, taken of his children and all the next generations. I know some but not enough (85 years, what wonderful stories will never be told...) about this fellow, a farmer who was the last of my line to die in Virginia, shortly after the family changed the spelling from Hohl to the more English-like Hull. His son, also a Daniel, moved to the Ozarks where every one of these John Daniel Hull creatures afterwards were born since save me. I just know I owe him and need to promise him that every generation gets better as life in America becomes easier. Are we doing that? Is that happening? Or do we armor ourselves with conformity and settle for ordinary, even though we know it's not enough? Or, as Emerson would ask, are we happy to be "idolaters of the Old." What would this old German-American farmer say?

Posted by JD Hull at 11:09 PM | Comments (0)

May 05, 2015

What if the Internet was just an important tool--but not the main event?

If you ever feel that way--I do almost every day--consider reading Tom Keen's The Internet is not the Answer. This is an honorable if imperfect book.

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Posted by JD Hull at 10:16 AM | Comments (0)

May 04, 2015

Writing and publishing: What about crowdsourcing?

Authors who have tried but failed to get published--including current legions of brilliant writers no one will ever read if publishing industry models stay the same--might consider this new online publishing service platform: Double Bridge Publishing. Double Bridge is publishing first-time fiction and non-fiction authors by using a crowdsourcing model. Unlike traditional brick and mortar publishing houses, Double Bridge, now only in its tenth month, relies on crowdsourcing for virtually all if of its publishing functions. Its first 5 titles will be released later this month.

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Double Bridge founder and CEO Richard O'Brien

Posted by JD Hull at 02:23 AM | Comments (0)

May 01, 2015

Mindfulness, Law Day and the Politeness Police.

Good morning, and Kumbayah in the Highest, everyone.

Let's shoot another duck, another well-meaning but spectacularly clueless article purporting to be about the practice of law. Quickly now, as it's barely worth our time. Please read or skim "Happy Law Day! Can We Bring Civility Into Law?"* by Jeena Cho, and appearing yesterday in Above The Law.

Finished? Great. Thanks for reading. For obvious reasons, it is one of the most naive, silly and lightweight articles related to the law profession you will ever read. Let's never forget--the overture here screams--that lawyering is all about the care, feeding, mental health of the lawyers and otherwise how the lawyers experience lawyering, including other lawyers. Most of the comments to the Cho article--as is the custom at super-blawg Above The Law where it appeared--are the usual rude but often funny cries for help you get from the ATL commentariot. And in this case the impertinence is well-deserved. Here's one:

I think Jeena would be the perfect person to teach CLEs on civility, as such a role requires someone self-delusional enough to actually think that anyone is going to walk in as an asshole and walk out having done a complete 180. As if they're going to slap themselves on the forehead and realize, "So I've been the shithead this whole time?!" Like seminars on the importance of diversity, the very concept is based around preaching to the choir.

I commented, too. Which I rarely do anywhere, especially at Above The Law.

A spectacularly naive and lightweight piece--and one of the worst and frankly misleading writings you could see in the growing category of "it's all about the lawyers" profession literature. The author needs to take a deep breath and re-think the nature and goals of this law thing. It's sad to see an article like this in ATL. Would be wonderful to see more feature stuff on lawyering--its gritty and often difficult details--and serving sophisticated clients.

The most on-point remarks given the circumstances, however, were arguably by my friend Partner Emeritus. Certainly, his comments were the funniest assuming that, like me, you still value wit and the First Amendment, and you deplore PC culture. Consider PE's approach to having the author of the article consider other lines of work.

Ms. Cho, your people are very good at imparting relaxation techniques. Back when I was a practicing lawyer, there were times I would exit the complex on Centre Street with knots on my shoulders and other limbs. I would take a stroll up to Mulberry Street and an Asian woman would be able to bring me instant stress release in 5 minutes. It was the best $20 I ever spent as a New Yorker. Alas, these establishments were eradicated in the wake of the Giuliani Era. Ms. Cho, if you are ever in New York, please contact me as I may require your services. Namaste Ms. Cho.

*In case you are interested, this piece on professionalism is how I would approach the "civility" issue.

Posted by JD Hull at 04:32 AM | Comments (0)