221b: Kubrick, Reputation, Star Trek, Time, & Observation


Filmmaker extraordinaire Stanley Kubrick had 12 rules posted in every room in his house. They were simple yet effective. They were…

  • If you open it, close it!
  • If you turn it on, turn it off!
  • If you unlock it, lock it! If you break it, repair it!
  • If you can’t fix it, call someone who can!
  • If you borrow it, return it!
  • If you use it, take care of it!
  • If you make a mess, clean it up!
  • If you move it, put it back!
  • If it belongs to someone else, get permission to use it!
  • If you don’t know how to operate it, leave it alone!
  • If it doesn’t concern you, don’t mess with it!


Lord Beaverbrook resigned his post as Air Minister for Britain three times by the start of 1941. Though he was a bit more serious about it each time, Churchill was able to persuade him to stay on; Churchill’s patience, however, was waning.

In response to his third resignation attempt, Churchill replied, “My Dear Max, I am very sorry to receive your letter. Your resignation would be quite unjustified and would be regarded as desertion. It would in one day destroy all the reputation that you have gained and turn the gratitude and goodwill of millions of people to anger. It is a step you would regret all your life.”

Reputation takes a lifetime to gain and a second to lose.

Star Trek

Lieutenant Uhura, a proud citizen of the United States of Africa, was fourth in command aboard the spaceship Enterprise in the show Star Trek. The actor, Nichelle Nichols, tendered her resignation with the show’s creator, Gene Rodden, after the first season. Devastated, Rodden asked her to take the weekend to think it over.

That weekend just so happened to host an NAACP civil rights fundraiser, and a coordinator for the event told Nichols that “one of her biggest fans” wanted to meet her. That fan was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Margot Lee Shetterly, writing in Hidden Figures said that Nichols appreciated Dr. King’s effusive praise of the show but let him know she had decided to leave. Before she even finished, King said, “You can’t leave the show…We are there because you are there.”

Shetterly continues:

Black people have been imagined in the future, he continued, emphasizing to the actress how important and ground-breaking a fact that was. Furthermore, he told her, he had studied the Starfleet’s command structure and believed that it mirrored that of the US Air Force, making Uhura–a black woman!–fourth in command of the ship.

On Monday morning, Nichols marched into Rodden’s office and asked to tear up the resignation letter.


In 1908, philosopher Arnold Bennet wrote one of the most practical guides on time management ever published. The ideas are simple, but Bennett’s setup on the importance of time management is crucial to understand. “Now that I have succeeded (if succeeded I have) in persuading you to admit to yourself that you are constantly haunted by a suppressed dissatisfaction with your own arrangement of your daily life,” Bennett writes, “and that the primal cause of that inconvenient dissatisfaction is the feeling that you are every day leaving undone something which you would like to do, and which, indeed, you are always hoping to do when you have ‘more time.’”

Dissatisfaction is caused by many things in life: stress, busyness, work, and so much more. One pertinent cause is the feeling of regret that you lost your chance at what could’ve been. True, some things are probably said and done, but some aren’t. If you want to change your career, take some classes online. If you want to run a marathon, start training for it today. I’m sure you’re incredibly busy, but you can find 30 minutes here or there to start. It’s important to start now because you’ll never have “more time.”

A quote on my mind

"The world is full of obvious things which nobody by chance ever observes."

– Sherlock Holmes


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