Quan (Jackie Chan) is a London restaurant owner and British citizen of Chinese descent. His only family left is his teenage daughter. She gets killed in a terrorist attack, presumably by the Northern Ireland resistance movement, when she simply finds herself at the wrong place at the wrong time. When Quan seeks revenge, he comes head to head with a British government official (Pierce Brosnan). Quan, with a history of special forces training and memories of cruelty against him and his family, launches a one-man-army-like attack against a corrupt and complex establishment.

This movie brings to the forefront the complexities of British history as it relates to Northern Ireland and illustrates the senselessness and brutality of terrorism motivated by religion and government.

The story is confusing and the plot difficult to follow, but that may be due to the complexity of the subject matter itself. The best part about the movie is the uncharacteristically subdued performance of Chan, who portrays a humble man who has set his mind to getting justice.

This is the view out of my parents’ living room on March 18, 2018. It’s been icy-cold and snowy. This is not a black and white photograph. It’s in full color. Go figure.

In May of 1940, more than 300,000 British soldiers were surrounded by the Nazis on the French beaches near Dunkirk. There was no way out, and the British Navy didn’t have the ships to come to their rescue. A backstory to this is provided by the movie The Darkest Hour.

In Dunkirk, we follow the frantic lives of just a few men, on the sea, in the air, and trapped on the beach. Through their eyes we see the horror of senseless war and the agony it brings to so many people.

There is little dialog, just a lot of graphic cinematography to tell the story. The haunting score of Hans Zimmer accentuates the relentless action and keeps the heart pounding.

The story at Dunkirk happened almost 80 years ago in World War II, yet now, these images are more important than ever.

Today we have pudgy, entitled men with inherited status and wealth, men who have never served a day in the military in their lives, “lead” us. We allow them to send the sons and daughters of other fathers into “conflicts” overseas to fight for what? For the right of other rich men to plunder the oil, and to support their own self-aggrandized notions of worth and value.

Watch Dunkirk and then ask yourself: How do they expect us to treat them with any respect?

Some time ago I posted this about a disallowed showerhead in my house in California. And several years before that, here is the story about Sorpresa Huevos, also too dangerous to ship to us.

Well, here is another one:

We wanted to get a nice set of fireplace tools for our fireplaces. I went to the local Home Depot and couldn’t find anything. They told me I had to buy them online. Amazon had a nice selection, and when I tried to order, it didn’t allow me to ship it to California. Neither my work nor my home address worked. I figured out that there must be some kind of regulation against fireplace paraphernalia in California. I can only assume that the state wants to discourage the use of fireplaces (and burning of wood), so they figured they’d make it hard or impossible to buy fireplace tools.

I tried to google for answers, but could not find anything.

I ended up having the set shipped to our office in Ohio, and then I picked it up on my next trip there and checked it as luggage.

If only I had asked to have AR-15s shipped to me, I am sure that my constitutional rights for firearms would have ensured delivery. But “fire” arms is a different thing than a dangerous and insidious set of “fire” place tools.

Now there is contraband in my house.

Trump killed the publishing of tax returns by presidential (and other) candidates. I predict that no candidate will ever again publish his or her tax return.

I certainly would not, were I to run for office.

I do not see in religion the mystery of the incarnation so much as the mystery of the social order. It introduces into the thought of heaven an idea of equalization, which saves the rich from being massacred by the poor.

— Napoleon: In His Own Words” (1916)

In English: Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich.

Shoes and Guns

In 2001, one nutcase tried to bomb an airplane with a shoe bomb. Nobody got hurt or killed. However, since 2001, everyone boarding an airplane in the United States has been forced to remove shoes at screening stations. With 2.25 million air travelers every day in the U.S. alone, that’s 13.99 billion times people have taken their shoes off.

Gun violence kills about 84 people a day in the U.S. We have taken no significant regulatory steps on the federal level since then.

For Shoes – one threat on no deaths causes massive regulation inconveniencing 13 billion people traveling.

For Guns – 84 deaths a day and we don’t even blink, let alone act.

I can’t find anything about shoes in the Constitution.

I saw this coming when I read Fire and Fury last month. Here is my full review, and here is the relevant excerpt:

Here is an excerpt, an email written by Gary Cohn, who is serving as the Director of the National Economic Council and chief economic advisor to Trump. He was formerly the president and chief operating officer of Goldman Sachs from 2006 to 2017:  

It’s worse than you can imagine. An idiot surrounded by clowns. Trump won’t read anything—not one-page memos, not the brief policy papers; nothing. He gets up halfway through meetings with world leaders because he is bored. And his staff is no better. Kushner is an entitled baby who knows nothing. Bannon is an arrogant prick who thinks he’s smarter than he is. Trump is less a person than a collection of terrible traits. No one will survive the first year but his family. I hate the work, but feel I need to stay because I’m the only person there with a clue what he’s doing. The reason so few jobs have been filled is that they only accept people who pass ridiculous purity tests, even for midlevel policy-making jobs where the people will never see the light of day. I am in a constant state of shock and horror.

— Wolff, Michael. Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House (p. 186). Henry Holt and Co.. Kindle Edition.

Gary Cohn himself, the only person there with a clue of what he is doing, is now leaving.

Who will turn the lights out when it all ends?

Room with a View


[click to enlarge]

San Francisco Hilton – Financial District – 27th Floor with Balcony

Alcatraz  in the background left, a docked cruise ship on the right and the Coit Tower in the middle.

I don’t know if you all remember, but Mnuchin was one of the raiders that personally benefited from the real estate crash of 2007 that wiped out the savings and homes of millions of Americans. What leadership we have!

Winston Churchill was a pivotal figure in the 20th century, and, had it not been for his presence and dogged perseverance, the world might have turned out quite differently.

If Hitler had not lost the war, my parents would never have met, and I would not have been born. I would not be here to write this review.

The Germans could have been stopped before they took over Austria and made their first forays into France. Their military was not ready for a major war. But the British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, didn’t put pressure on Hitler when he could, and we all know the outcome.

Winston Churchill came to power when the Germans had encircled the entire British army of about 300,000 men near Dunkirk in France. (There is a separate movie of the same name about this backstory, that I have not seen yet, but must now go and see).

In the face of severe pressure to negotiate with Hitler and save the British army, Churchill steadfastly believed that this was the wrong approach.

The Darkest Hour chronicles those weeks in British history. When I walked out, I had learned more about who Churchill was than I had from all the history books I had ever laid eyes on. A very rewarding film.

I never pay for first class tickets on airlines, but due to my elite status with the airline I am often upgraded. I am one of those people you see sitting in first class as you board the plane for coach and you wonder how I am willing to pay those prices. Well, I don’t. Usually I pay less than you do, but I get better service. This is one of the benefits of the huge amount of travel I do.

In first class, you get a drink as soon as you board. Usually I don’t bother, but sometimes I will take a cup of coffee. The other day, around eight in the morning, a passenger behind me asked the flight attendant: Is champagne on the menu? Sure, he said, and a minute later the passenger was sipping champagne while the poor folks in coach were still boarding – at 8 o’clock in  the morning.

I don’t think of champagne as something I would ever want to drink on an airplane. It belongs to a toast on New Year’s Eve, or maybe in honor of the bride and groom at a wedding. But on an airplane? While boarding?

Who are these people?

Then again, I am sitting in seat 4A on a flight that left at 7 o’clock in the morning from Boston, and the man next to me is already done with his second Bloody Mary.

I am taking another sip from my coffee.

It was on January 24, 1776:

In the cold, nearly colorless light of a New England winter, two men on horseback traveled the coast road below Boston, heading north. A foot or more of snow covered the landscape, the remnants of a Christmas storm that had blanketed Massachusetts from one end of the province to the other. Beneath the snow, after weeks of severe cold, the ground was frozen solid to a depth of two feet. Packed ice in the road, ruts as hard as iron, made the going hazardous, and the riders, mindful of the horses, kept at a walk.

— John Adams, by David McCullough – opening paragraph of the book. See my review here.

When John Adams embarked on a journey from Boston to Philadelphia in the winter of 1776, he faced over two months of travel on horseback. He had to leave in the bitter winter to be there in the spring for the session of the Continental Congress that year. He could make such a journey only once a year at best, and while he was gone, his wife and children at home had to fend for themselves.

Along the journey he had to find shelter every night in an inn or private home. Not only did he need to find room and board every night for himself, but he also needed to take care of stabling for his horse. The expenses for such a trip were enormous, and the physical hardship of being on horseback outside, in the winter, in all weather, on terrible “roads” must have been crushing. But John Adams did it, and certainly thousands of other travelers along the route did too.

This morning at about 6:30am I boarded a flight from Boston to Philadelphia. Once airborne, the flight took one hour and four minutes.

If I could have told John Adams that I would, some 240 years hence, enter an aluminum tube with about a hundred other passengers, which would travel at close to the speed of sound at 30,000 feet of elevation, high above the clouds, he would not have been able to believe me. Yet, here I am, writing this blog post, with a hot cup of coffee next to me. I am warm, comfortable, and even a little sleepy.

To John Adams, this would have been indistinguishable from magic.

Trisha and I went on a Jeep ride today with Chris (of Piper and Heath) and Roy (a wildlife photographer) in the backcountry of San Diego County. We went out in two Jeeps (for redundancy) and spent the day cruising places otherwise completely inaccessible.

Here is Chris driving down a steep section of rocky trail while Roy spots him. Trisha is the passenger.

Later in the day, Chris, the wilderness guide per excellence, served up a perfect picnic complete with wine and gourmet salads:

If you are ever looking to travel to Africa with expert guides, call Piper and Heath, and I promise, they will take care of you with first class service.

Thanks to Chris and Roy for great outdoors adventure today.

Here is a post I wrote on April 8, 2013 – note that this is almost five years ago, before Trump was even on our horizon as a serious candidate. I called it them. Guns in school won’t make children safer. Then – or Now.

Norbert Haupt

Here is a picture posted by Marc Sonnenberg.

It was taken 2 seconds before Reagan was shot. He was surrounded by Secret Service agents, who are some of the most finely trained gunmen and security experts we have in this country.

Reagan Shooting

Hinckley fired a Röhm RG-14 .22 cal. blue steel revolver six times in 1.7 seconds, missing the president with all six shots.The first bullet hit White House Press Secretary James Brady in the head. The second hit District of Columbia police officer Thomas Delahanty in the back of his neck as he turned to protect Reagan.Hinckley now had a clear shot at the president,but the third overshot him and hit the window of a building across the street. As Special Agent In Charge Jerry Parr quickly pushed Reagan into the limousine, the fourth hit Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy in the abdomen as he spread his body over Reagan to make…

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