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Michael J. Fox negotiated the deal for “Family Ties” (1982) from a phone booth outside a now defunct Pioneer Chicken restaurant in Hollywood because he had no phone at home. He was told the network would need to call, and he said he was only home between the hours of four and five. He waited for the call, and fortunately he was there to answer it and secure the “Family Ties” (1982) role.

 

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In the video above (at location 2:40) Tara Dowdell quotes Trump as stating the U.S. contributes 90% to NATO, and the actual number is only 22%. There are some misleading statistics at work here that need more analysis.

[chart credit: NATO]

There are direct and indirect contributions to NATO. Direct contributions are made to finance requirements of the Alliance that serve the interests of all 29 members. They are not the responsibility of any single member. Costs are borne collectively, often using the principle of common funding.

The chart on the left shows direct contributions by NATO country. So here is Dowdell’s 22% figure. Germany, with 14%, carries the second largest burden.

But that does not represent the correct picture, and I believe that Trump didn’t refer to direct contributions. Trump often speaks inaccurately or imprecisely, to say the least, but I am sure that when he said that the United States contributes 90% of the cost of NATO, he meant the sum of the military spending goals of each country. So let’s analyze those separately.

I have been on record many times in this blog with posts about military spending of the United States. In this post of 2016 I show that the United States spends more on defense than the next nine countries combined. Trump’s increase of military spending this year of more than $70 billion alone is more than the entire military budget of Russia.

For NATO, the member countries agreed to spend at least 2% of their GDP on defense. So the chart below is another matter entirely, and it shows the defense expenditures by NATO country as a share of the GDP in percent.

[chart credit: NATO]

This chart is pulled from the NATO website where there is a wealth of information and many charts.

Here you can see that the United States is the only country that far exceeds the 2% mark. Only four countries are above this guideline. Besides the United States, those are Greece (surprisingly), the United Kingdom, and Estonia. Everyone else is below or way below 2%. Note that some countries, like Romania, Latvia, Lithuania and Canada has significant increases since 2014. Trump tried to take credit for those increases recently, even though he had nothing to do with them. They were prompted by Obama pressure, and mostly by voluntary military buildup in the Baltic nations, which are close to Russia and feared Russian aggression after watching the Ukraine debacle.

Those are just percentages. When looking at the real numbers per country, the United States military spending in 2017 was $685 billion. The military spending of all other NATO countries combined was $271 billion. This means that the United States spent 71.7% of all military dollars of NATO. Not quite the 90% of Trump’s exaggeration, but a quite staggering amount.

Trump has said that “Germany owes the United States a trillion dollars for its defense.” This statement is obviously ludicrous. Nobody put a gun to the head of the United States and made it spend more on military than all other NATO countries combined. This has been going on for more than 70 years now. We all know about the $600 hammers and $10,000 toilet seats. I have been vocal in this blog about our defense budget and the price of a single F-35 fighter. Here is an interesting example about a $1200 coffee cup. The United States just loves its military and loves spending vast amounts of money on that military. Others simply can’t keep up, or don’t want to keep up.

NATO was created to form an alliance where all other members stand up for each other when one of them is attacked. After the end of World War II, that was critically important for the safety of Europe. After the breakup of the Soviet Union, I am sure it irked Russia that many of its satellites quickly switched sides and joined NATO, including Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, the Slovak Republic and Hungary. It didn’t look good for the Soviet ideology, and it does not look good for Russia today.

But in all those years the spirit of NATO was invoked only one time, and it was surprisingly in the defense of the United States after the attacks of September 11, 2001 and what transpired after that.

The United States started what many consider an illegal war in Iraq, and many of the NATO allies came to support America. NATO members spent massive amounts of money and many of their soldiers died in Afghanistan and Iraq in alliance with the United States.

So who owes whom money?

The United States spends massive amounts of money on its military presence in Europe and Europe has started taking it for granted. I remember growing up as a boy in Germany in the 1960s. I lived in a city with a large American military presence. As post-war children, we never really understood why the Americans were there. To us, it had always been that way. Today, almost half of all Germans want the American army to leave. They don’t see the point anymore. I suspect the same is true in many other European countries.

Trump says that the current arrangement “is unfair to the American taxpayer.” Well, it may be unfair, but it’s not Germany sticking it to the American taxpayer, it’s the American Congress and the administration, and the past administrations, all spending way too much money on military – and thus taking value and prosperity away from the taxpayer. But then, of course, there is the military industrial complex, which feeds a large sector of our economy. Maybe war is good after all?

With our current commander-in-chief, I wonder if the United States would honor its NATO obligations if Russia were to suddenly invade the Baltic states, or Poland? Talk about a world crisis!

In the end, perhaps NATO has run its course. Trump may be on to something. Maybe it’s time to let it fizzle out.

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Thinking of translations from German has reminded me of The Panther – so I repost it here. I find it phenomenally difficult to translate a poem to another language. It’s a unique art form that way – very culture bound, unlike literature, music and visual arts.

Norbert Haupt

When I was in grade school in German class, my teacher had us memorize poems. One of the poems I can still recite flawlessly today. It is “Der Panther/The Panther” by Rainer Maria Rilke, written in 1902, and it goes like this:

Sein Blick ist vom Vorübergehn der Stäbe
so müd geworden, daß er nichts mehr hält.
Ihm ist, als ob es tausend Stäbe gäbe
und hinter tausend Stäben keine Welt.

Der weiche Gang geschmeidig starker Schritte,
der sich im allerkleinsten Kreise dreht,
ist wie ein Tanz von Kraft um eine Mitte,
in der betäubt ein großer Wille steht.

Nur manchmal schiebt der Vorhang der Pupille
sich lautlos auf –. Dann geht ein Bild hinein,
geht durch der Glieder angespannte Stille –
und hört im Herzen auf zu sein.

Poetry, as always, is exceptionally difficult to translate, if not impossible. Here I found a surprisingly good translation, credit Wikipedia

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Came across this 3-year-old post about sloppy paintings by the masters. Thought I should repost it.

Norbert Haupt

tea-in-the-garden-1919 Source WikiArt [click to enlarge] Last week I visited the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and saw the original Tea in the Garden by Henri Matisse. I love Matisse, and most of his contemporaries including van Gogh (my favorite), Monet, Manet, Gaugin, Cezanne, Seurat – and many others of the period. When I go to an art museum, I usually seek out those artists first, before I wonder off into rooms with the older European paintings.

Often it strikes me how “unfinished” the paintings of the masters are. I saw many versions of van Gogh’s irises (Google it and you will see) where there is bare canvas between brushstrokes indicating leaves.

Recently I visited my friend (PG) in Germany, who loves the expressionists, and is a hobby painter himself, and we talked about how crappy some of the paintings of the masters are. Sections of the paintings obviously don’t fit together and were completed…

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I stumbled upon this old post and thought it would be worth refreshing.

And while we’re talking about Africa, here is a bit of trivia that may surprise you. What is the U.S. state closest to Africa?

Maine!

Norbert Haupt

The size of Africa, being in the center of the world map, often is distorted to its disadvantage. Greenland, Alaska and Siberia look huge, Africa just looks big. How big really is it?

size of africa Size of Africa [click for picture credit] As you can see on this map, Africa is bigger than most of Europe, the United States, China, Japan and India combined.

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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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One of my friends (JCV) inserted a little slip of paper into the gift envelope with this inscription:

illi non minus ac tibi
pectore uritur intimo
flamma, sed penite magis.

Catullus, Wedding Song

I must admit, my Latin was nowhere near up to the task. But here is a translation:

A flame burns no less ardently in his innermost heart than in yours, but secretly, even more so.

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Some very interesting musings about free speech, a topic dear to me, too, and a segment about Trump and transgender people in the military. Nice post!

athicketofmusings

If you haven’t yet read about the Google employee who was fired for questioning the company’s diversity policy, then you need to do so immediately.  I couldn’t care less what your opinion is on this man’s statements (they’re actually pretty mild in my opinion), but it’s obvious to me that the company’s reaction to this was way out of proportion to the “crime” committed.  It’s already been proven that Google has far Left political leanings & isn’t afraid to exploit its power to try to sway public opinion.  This was evidenced when analyses found that Google’s suggested searches on Hillary Clinton were largely positive while its suggested searches on Donald Trump were largely negative.  But that’s a story for another day.  voltaire quote

The heart of the matter here is that free speech is under attack in this country like never before in our history.  The Left has so brainwashed…

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Trump, his bankruptcies, and 35% of the population rooting for him and not caring that he is taking money right out of their pockets. Making America great!

Ends and Beginnings

Gold Platted

“Stop saying I went bankrupt. I never went bankrupt but like many great business people have used the laws to corporate advantage—smart!” – Donald Trump 9:30 AM – 19 Jun 2015

It is a well-known and documented fact that Donald Trump companies have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection six times. For those of you unfamiliar with this process, a company can remain in business while wiping away most if not all of its debts. A bankruptcy court approves a corporate budget and a plan to repay any remaining debt while shareholders and or investors lose all if not most of their equity. Think of Chapter 11 bankruptcy as a pardon, past sins are erased, the slate is clean and in the case of Trump’s Taj Mahal Atlantic City casino ready for another bankruptcy one year later.

If you want to know what this Russia, fake news thing is really all about these…

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The Latin Corner – a reblog. Before Wolfgang’s Latin contributions, I had this 2012 entry, which gets occasional hits from Internet searches. Worth a reblog.

Norbert Haupt

On the way home from Home Depot a bumper sticker on the car in front of me caught my eye:

Cogito Ergo Deus Non Est

I venture to say that 99% of Americans cannot read Latin. I only know one other American I know who can, and I know more than 100 people. I might have missed one or two of you that are clandestine Latin readers, if so, please correct me.

No matter how small the percentage actually is, the efficacy of this bumper sticker is severely limited.

Here is what it says:

I think, therefore there is no God

.

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Hiking Mt. Marcy

Even though this post is over 7 years old, I still get nice comments from readers from all over the country. I was planning on going back to the Adirondacks this week after a conference in Saratoga, but didn’t make it this year. Things got too busy at work. I miss the Adirondacks, and here’s to share some of its adventure!

Norbert Haupt

I finally hiked Mt. Marcy, with 5,344 feet the highest peak in New York, and an adventure it was. I am a West Coast hiker. I am used to blue sky, heat in the day, cold at night, the need for sunscreen, high altitude trailheads and even higher peaks. And I am used to switchbacks.

The Adirondacks are a whole different beast. Mt. Marcy has a number of reasonable trails reaching it, the shortest of which starts at the Adirondack Loj (spelling intentional by its builder, Melvil Dewey, who was an advocate of “simplified spelling”) at Heart Lake. The trail is 7.2 miles long. Marcy is therefore a fairly remote hike. I can do 7.2 miles one way, no problem. But the trail up Marcy is not different from the trail up Algonquin and Ampersand. Straight up, all the time.

You can click to enlarge the map above. The trail starts…

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Source: Cosmic Quote #80

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Oh, yes, let him talk and tweet. Like the old saying goes: Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt. Trump is removing all doubt, every time he opens his mouth. The embarrassment-in-chief.

Ends and Beginnings

“James Comey better hope that there are no “tapes” of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” – Donald Trump tweet 5-12-17

“First obstruction of an investigation. Now witness intimidation from the Highest Office. A sad moment for even this White House. Unhinged?” – Rep. Gerry Connolly tweet 5-12-17

I started working on a post yesterday about what a Circus this White House is but then I watched the head Bozo’s interview with Lester Holt and stopped writing. Our President wanted to talk so Mr. Holt handed him a shovel and let him talk.

“First of all, when you’re under investigation you’re given all sorts of documents and everything.” – Donald Trump to Lester Holt

Yes The Donald did what he does best talk, and then start a fire, multiple fires.

“I just sent a letter to Lindsey Graham from one of the most prestigious law firms in the country that…

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None of us elected 36-year-old Jared Kushner for any position, but Trump has just elevated him to what I’d call co-president. At inauguration night he told him that if “you can’t bring about peace in the Middle East, nobody can.” Aha, a 36-year-old smartypants with no government experience who may have met a Muslim or two is going to do what Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush and Obama could not do in two generations. Easy! Why didn’t we bring in Kushner long ago?

According to Bloomberg:

Kushner is chipper about his new assignment, and, given that his entire experience in public administration can be counted on two calendar pages, a wee bit precious as he dispenses advice.

“We should have excellence in government,” he allowed. “The government should be run like a great American company.”

Kushner and his father-in-law haven’t run the White House like even an average American company thus far, but with the Trumps, hope springs eternal.

Kushner’s new Office of American Innovation will reportedly showcase a number of corporate titans, including Apple’s Tim Cook and Microsoft’s Bill Gates, all of whom, among other things, will make recommendations about how to make government more tech-savvy and more data-centric.

It’s hard not to get behind any plan that makes government more effective and tries to use data instead of, say, raw ideology to help craft better policy decisions. So let’s wish the White House success.

Ah, there it is again, the government should be run like a great American company, like Trump Airlines, perhaps, that went bankrupt, or Trump Wine, or… And I keep saying it, these guys really believe a government is a company. A company is an autocratic institution where the CEO can do anything, as long as it’s legal. And if the CEO doesn’t know what he’s doing, the company goes under. That’s not how a democracy works. Democracy means “governed by the people.” Not by the CEO! These guys don’t seem to get that. I am looking forward to seeing what happens when Kushner makes a mistake, but Trump can’t very well fire the father of his grandchildren.

And then there is the matter of making government data-centric. Ah, like studying the data about climate change and making decisions based on that data, rather than what fossil fuel company has paid off what stooge recently? Like building a statistical model to represent the safety of our citizenry, which will show that it’s more likely to be killed by lightning than by a radical Islamist terrorist, or worse, it’s more likely to be killed by a redneck American ideologue than by a Muslim terrorist?

Oh, I am looking so forward to the models that Bill Gates and Tim Cook will show Kushner. Then Kushner will show them to his science-illiterate dad-in-law who will then simply tweet:

Fake News! Nobody knows science better than I do! Sad.

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One of my readers (RC) from Australia just shared with me the list of books he has read or will read based on my reviews. He and I have exchanged book recommendations from time to time, and I have never been disappointed. He had recently read City of Dreams based on my recommendation – see the full review below, and reminded me that it was part of a quadrilogy. I didn’t know, Ray, and now I have three more books to read. But for those of you who are interested in New York and its history (you might have guessed that I love New York), here is a book to read.

Norbert Haupt

City of DreamsIn the 1660s, Nieuw Amsterdam was a rough and primitive settlement of a fort and a few houses on the southern tip of Manhattan Island.

Here is what the settlement looked like in 1664, a view looking north toward the tip of Manhattan.

Nieuw Amsterdam 1664 Gezicht op Nieuw Amsterdam by Johannes Vingboons (1664) This is an early picture of Nieuw Amsterdam made in the year when it was conquered by the English under Richard Nicolls. [click to enlarge] In 1625, when the town was founded, there were only 270 people who lived there. The population may have grown to a couple of thousand by 1661, when our story starts with Lucas and Sally Turner, who stumbled off their small wooden ship onto the island. They had spent eleven brutal and utterly exhausting weeks at sea. Peter Stuyvesant, the colony’s director-general, ruled the settlement with an iron fist.

Lucas Turner was a barber and a surgeon. As luck would have…

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