Monday, April 30, 2012


"The North Vietnamese called this strategy the 'Blooming Lotus.'  It has deep roots in Asian military thinking, and its applications go far beyond war.  Instead of focusing on an enemy's formidable front, on capturing key points in the periphery of its defenses, and finding a way through them (the traditional Western approach), the Lotus Strategy aims first and foremost at the center...The soft and vulnerable parts within. The goal is to funnel soldiers and confederates into this central area by whatever means possible and to attack it first in order to spread confusion.  Rather than trying to penetrate defenses, it infiltrates them.  This includes the minds of the enemy soldiers and officers -- strategizing to get under their skin, to unbalance their reasoning powers, to soften them from within.  As with the lotus flower, everything unfolds from the center of the target."
-Robert Greene, The 33 Strategies of War

Sunday, April 29, 2012


"A mind captivated by a story is relatively undefended and open to suggestion.  Readers barely notice that in reading these stories, they are absorbing ideas."
-Robert Greene, The 33 Strategies of War

Saturday, April 28, 2012


"First, it is wise to pick a fight with an enemy you can portray as authoritarian, hypocritical and power hungry.  Using all available media, you strike first with a moral offensive against the opponent's points of vulnerability.  You make your language strong and appealing to the masses, and craft it, if you can, to give people the opportunity to express a hostility they already feel.  You quote your enemies own words back at them.  To make your attacks seem fair, almost disinterested, you create a moral taint that sticks to them like glue.  Baiting them into heavy handed counterattack will win you even more popular support.  Instead of trumpeting your own goodness -- which would make you seem smug and arrogant -- you show it through the contrast between their unreasonable actions and your own crusading deeds.  Aim at them with the most withering charge of all -- that they are after power while you are motivated by something higher and selfless."
-Robert Greene, The 33 Strategies of War

Friday, April 27, 2012


"Nothing in life happens in isolation; everything is related to everything else and has a broader context."
-Robert Greene, The 33 Strategies of War

Thursday, April 26, 2012


"Ignore the conventional wisdom about what you should or should not be doing.  It may make sense for some, but that does not mean it bears any relation to your own goals or destiny.  You need to be patient enough to plan several steps ahead -- to wage a campaign instead of fighting battles."
-Robert Greene, The 33 Strategies of War


"I further know that if God has something special for you, you have a knowledge of it inside you, which causes you not to be satisfied with anything that is not that thing."
-Leonard Cheshire

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

John Paul

"In the Designs of Providence, there are no mere coincidences."
-Pope John Paul II

Monday, April 23, 2012


"But to do this he must have spoken?" [said of the mute invalid M. Nortier.]
"He has done better than that -- he has made himself understood."
-Exchange between M de Villefort and the Count of Monte Cristo, The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexander Dumas

Sunday, April 22, 2012


"We might say in passing that, on this earth where nothing is perfect, being blind and being loved is one of the most strangely exquisite forms of happiness.  To constantly have at your side a woman, an unmarried woman, a sister, a wonderful person who is there because you need her and because she cannot do without you, to know that you are indispensable to the one you need, to be endlessly able to measure her affection by the amount of presence she grants you and to say to yourself, "since she devotes all her time to me, that means I have her whole heart"; to see her thoughts, if not her face, to weigh one being's faithfulness when the rest of the world has been eclipsed, to detect the rustling of her dress as though it were the sound of wings, to hear her coming and going, going out, coming back, talking, singing, and to know you are the center of every step she takes, of every word, of every song, to manifest your own gravitational pull every minute of the day, to feel yourself all the more powerful for your infirmity, to become in darkness, and through darkness, the star around which this angel revolves-- few forms of bliss come anywhere near it!  The ultimate happiness in life is the conviction that one is loved; loved for oneself--better still, loved in spite of oneself. And this conviction is what the blind have.  In distress, to be waited on is to be hugged and kissed.  Is there anything the blind man is deprived of?  No.  Having love means not losing the light.  And what love!  Love entirely pure.  Blindness does not exist where there is certainty.  The soul gropes for another soul -- and finds it.  And this soul found and tried and tested is a woman.  A hand supports you, it is hers; lips brush your forehead, hers; you hear breathing right next to you, it is her breathing.  To have all of her, from her devotion to her sympathy, never to be abandoned, to have that sweet frailty that succors you, to lean on such an unshakable reed, to touch Providence with your own hands and hold it in your arms.  God made palpable--what rapture! The heart, that dark celestial flower, bursts into mysterious bloom.  You would not trade such shade for all the light in the world.  The angel of the house is there, is always there; if she goes away, it is only to return; she fades like a dream only to reappear like reality.  You sense her approaching, and there she is.  Your cup runs over with serenity, gaiety, ecstasy; you are a beacon of light in the night.  And the countless little shows of thoughtfulness!  Little things that are enormous in the void.  The most heavenly tones of the female voice are employed to soothe you and make up to you for the vanished universe.  You are stroked with soul.  You may see nothing, but you feel adored.  It is a paradise of darkness."
-Victor Hugo, Les Miserables


"The mountains, the forest, the sea, make men wild.  They bring out the fierce side of human nature, but often without destroying the human side."
-Victor Hugo, Les Miserables

Saturday, April 21, 2012


"A Superpower should never shout, never bray 'We're Number One!'  If you're number one, you don't have to."
-Peggy Noonan, Patriotic Grace

Thursday, April 19, 2012


"Reading is the collection of intellectual income; writing the spending of it. You need to read to write, you need to take in other people's words and thoughts and images.  If you want to be a good conversationalist, you must both talk and listen; if you want to be a good writer, you must both read and write."
-Peggy Noonan, On Speaking Well

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


"But you know it's true:  When the battle is over and the ground has cooled, well, it's then that you see the opposing General's valor."
-Ronald Reagan, in tribute to John F. Kennedy, On Speaking Well

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


"A good case well argued and well said is inherently moving.  It shows respect for the brain of the listeners.  There is an implicit compliment in it.  It shows that you're a serious person and understand that you are talking to other serious persons."
-Peggy Noonan, On Speaking Well

Monday, April 16, 2012


"True Believers are what you want.  Expertise and impressive resumes matter less than character and the capacity for sacrifice."
-Robert Greene, The 33 Strategies of War

Sunday, April 15, 2012


"All lives on a battlefield are equal, and a dead rifleman is as great a loss in the eyes of God as a dead General.  The dignity which attaches to the individual is the basis of Western civilization, and this fact should be remembered by every commander."
-General Matthew Ridgeway, as quoted in The Coldest Winter, David Halberstam

Saturday, April 14, 2012


"'You are mistaken, my friend' replied the Abbe, 'God may seem sometimes to forget for a while, whilst His justice reposes, but there always comes a moment when He remembers.'"
-Edmund Dantes, as an Abbe, The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexander Dumas

Friday, April 13, 2012


"You who are in power have only the means that money produces -- we who are in expectation have those which devotion prompts."
-M. Nortier, The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexander Dumas

Thursday, April 12, 2012


"[Lincoln] had his hopes and desires, but he did not commit the strategic sin that Napoleon described, of 'making pictures' of the world as one wishes it to be, rather than as it is."
-Eliot Cohen, Supreme Command: Soldiers, Statesmen and Leadership in Wartime

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


"The language of love is simple because love is big. And big things are best said - are almost always said - in small words."
-Peggy Noonan, On Speaking Well

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


"Fleets do not work unless fed, clothed, equipped, and encouraged. They require, in other words, both a sense of their own dignity and a conviction that they are agents of freedom."
-Adam Nicholson, Seize the Fire: Heroism, Duty and the Battle of Trafalger (p.33) 

Monday, April 9, 2012


David Halberstam is one of my favorite historians.   He's written about many topics, and is often an insightful critic of US engagement abroad.  His sweeping knowledge of America and powerful storytelling abilities allow his histories to come alive.  He had a keen insight into our nation. 

Thus did [America] begin an almost unwanted ascent to superpower status.  That the ascent has been more unwanted than desired is critically important to understanding how America responds to crises in foreign policy, why it does this more slowly and more awkwardly than other nations, but when finally aroused, does it with a certain finality.  Our instinct, born of geography, is to be apart.  We are a vast country, with all kinds of different ethnic factions and regions and class; we do not lightly--it is I think, in the long run, a source of both strength and tolerance -- respond too quickly for any one single purpose.  We have other preoccupations."
-War in a Time of Peace: Bush, Clinton and the Generals


"Never tell people how to do things.  Tell them what to do, and they will surprise you with their ingenuity."
-General George S. Patton