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I am reading Michael Cohen’s book right now, and one of the most revealing and interesting chapters to me what Chapter Ten – How to Fix a Poll. It’s not a widely known incident or story, but it tells more about Trump than many of the other stories and scandals that we have heard about.

In 2014, Trump was starting to get serious about running for office, and he wanted his image to be one of a highly respected and famous business man and real estate developer. Around that time, CNBC was celebrating its 25th anniversary as a network, and to do so it was conducting an online poll to determine the twenty-five most influential business people alive. The poll stated that “he or she should have altered business, commerce, management or human behavior – in other words, the person should be responsible for ushering meaningful change, with business being the primary sphere of influence.” Trump was one of the two hundred business people listed as contenders.

Inside the Trump organization, his secretary emailed everyone she could to click on the hyperlink to elevate the boss’ profile.

That is ludicrous to begin with. If I did that in my company, my employees would laugh at me.

But it seems to have been normal at the Trump Organization. They figured that if everyone “inside” were to vote on their computer, their phone, their tablets, the tablets of their kids, etc., it would be enough to get him into the top 10. When CNBC first started publishing results, Trump was near the very bottom, like 187 out of 200. Trump was reportedly pissed. He printed out the results grid, marked it up with a Sharpie and called Cohen: “What can we do about this poll? I am at the bottom of the fucking list. Check into this immediately and let me know.”

Cohen called an IT friend for help. His company knew what to do. They bought several batches of IP addresses to hide the fake polls, and inserted the votes to drive up Trump’s numbers. Their goal was to get him to number 9. Trump wanted number 1, but they thought nobody would believe it and it would create too much scrutiny. The IP addresses cost $7,500 for batches of 100,000, and they needed several. Trump approved the purchase.

They pulled it off, and Trump made number 9 on the list. He was all excited, had hundreds of copies of the list printed, sent it to all his friends and contacts to gloat, and distributed it to his visitors in his office.

Then CNBC completely removed him, no answers given. While Cohen never did find out what happened, CNBC had the right to do so. Being an IT guy myself, it’s obvious that CNBC figured out the fraud and without making much fanfare about it, which they could have, they simply removed him completely.

Trump was furious. He ended up not even paying the consulting firm that had pulled it off. He stiffed them for their services and for the purchases of the IP addresses. After all “they didn’t deliver the objective” so why should he pay them?

He was so incensed, he wanted Cohen to call the president of CNBC and tell him they’d sue him if they didn’t restore his rightful slot.

Think about that for a minute. Here is a business man that is so obsessed with his image that he is willing to openly cheat in a poll. Then he “wins” and is delighted. That’s like a boy scout stealing a trophy and showing it off as his own. Then, when the fraud is discovered, and the trophy is taken away, he is indignant, actually personally offended. The world has it out for him. He obviously believed himself that he “deserved” that award and it was taken away from him. Not only did he cheat, but he himself believed that he earned it.

If any school boy between age six and twelve did this, we would reprimand him.

But Donald Trump did this in 2014. That is the kind of man we elected for President of the United States.

When her husband dies in a terrible car accident, Libby’s life falls apart. Her two young daughters give her the reason to continue. She packs up the minivan and moves out to the country in Central Texas, where her aunt runs a struggling goat farm.  She offers her room and board in exchange for help on the farm.

The kids adapt to life in the country quickly, but it’s harder for Libby. There are secrets in her family, and her overbearing mother and her aunt aren’t exactly helping her uncover her past. There is also a cantankerous farm manager who does the work around the farm, teaches the girls some very practical skills and slowly gets Libby’s attention as well.

The Lost Husband is a story of life’s hard knocks in contemporary rural Texas, where life on the farm is everything, and where city slickers are frowned upon.

The movie is an adaptation of the book The Lost Husband by Katherine Center. I have not read the book, but saw some reviews that state that the movie follows the book closely. It’s a feel-good family movie, with something for everyone, but it does not go too deep. A lot of reviewers on IMDb gave it 10 out of 10 stars, which seems strange to me. The Lost Husband has some of the feeling and sentiment of Fried Green Tomatoes, but it’s no Fried Green Tomatoes.

Timestalkers is a time travel science fiction flick of the worst kind. Surprisingly, it was made in 1987, and I thought it was more like 1967. I watched it because I could not sleep the other night after midnight, so I got up and flipped through the channels and Amazon Prime thought I’d be interested in this.

Scott (Willam Devane) is a history professor in California in 1986 and an Old West aficionado. He likes to go to auctions and pick up antiques and curiosity items from the 19th century. He comes across a photo from 1886 where he notices a handgun that appears to be an anachronism.  Through his research he attracts a woman (Lauren Hutton) who eventually turns out to be a time traveler from the year 2586. She is on a mission to stop another rogue scientist from her time (Klaus Kinski) who is back in the Old West trying to change history. As the two battle, Scott is drawn into the conflict, resulting in a shootout at a robbery of a stage coach that carries U.S. President Grover Cleveland.

Timestalkers is bad from the credits on and all the way though. The acting is terrible and the story lame. Obviously, they didn’t have the special effects we are used to now in movies, so the time travel episodes and scenes are hokey and annoying.

There is nothing of value here, nothing that adds to the genre of time travel stories or movies, and definitely nothing you want to devote an hour an 40 minutes to, unless of course, it’s after midnight, you can’t sleep, and you’re a time travel buff like me.

 

Lufthansa, Germany’s largest airline and the second-largest in Europe, recently announced that it is retiring all eight of its Airbus A380 planes. Emirates operates 115 such planes, the largest fleet in the world, and it predicts the “end of the era.”

While the large planes are comfortable, they are not efficient, are too costly to maintain and to fly. Smaller widebodies, like the Airbus A350 and the Boeing 787, both with only two efficient engines, are much more economical, and being smaller, more versatile. This trend started long before the start of the pandemic, but with air travel now just being a shadow of what it once was, the fate of the world’s largest planes is sealed.

The Boeing 747 had a life of over 50 years and 1,558 were built since 1968. According to travel data firm Cirium there are about 500 747s still in service, of which only 30 are flying passengers. More than 300 fly cargo and the remainder are in storage.

Airbus only built a total of 242 A380s, about half of which went to Emirates. Airbus has already retired the plane.

I have never flown on an A380, and now I probably never will.

I have flown only three times on a Boeing 747. One was my first ever flight when I was just 18 years old. The second time was in England in 1989, on a short-hopper from London to Manchester. Yes, a commuter trip of less than an hour on a 747. It was full of commuting businessmen. And the final trip was in 2012 on British Airways from London to Chicago, and I reported about it here.

To put this into perspective, I am a very frequent air traveler, and I have flown constantly since my youth at a rate of 100,000 miles a year or more. With American Airlines alone I have logged more than 2.5 million miles, and that’s just one airline. If in all these thousands of flights I have only THREE flights on superjumbos, and if I am a good example, it’s not surprising that the era of the large planes is over.

Farewell, A380.

President Trump actually said at a rally yesterday that “Covid affects virtually nobody.”

Tell that to the parents and siblings of Adeline Marie Fagan, a 28-year-old Medical Doctor in her 2nd year of residency, treating COVID patients. She died on September 19th.

From Facebook:

Adeline was doing wonderfully for the last few days. Last night was no different. Around 10:00 we called and got a good report. As we settled down for the night 30 minutes later, the phone rang – Houston, TX. There was a problem and we needed to decide about performing a procedure to relieve the pressure of a massive brain bleed. The nurse came into her room for a routine task and noticed Adeline was not responsive. They immediately rushed her for a CT scan which showed the extent of the damage. The neurosurgeon said it was a “1 in a million” chance she would even survive the procedure, but that Adeline would have several severe cognitive and sensory limitations if she did survive. Of that the doctor was sure. Everyone was crushed by the events, the nurses, the doctors, and, of course, us. The doctor said they have seen this type of event in COVID patients that spend time on ECMO. The vascular system is also compromised by the virus, resulting in bleeds. We spent the remaining minutes hugging, comforting, and talking to Adeline. And then the world stopped…***

Check the GoFundMe page for more details.

Covid affects virtually nobody.

— Donald Trump

 

I recently had my American Express card replaced. Rather than the customary plastic, I received a heavy card that felt like metal. Then, a few weeks later, I received my new Hilton Honors card, which definitely seems to be made out of metal. These cards feel heavy, so heavy, that I am not willing to put them into my wallet.

Here is a quick 5 second video that gives you a sense. I put the stickers on to obscure my card numbers, since this is a public post.

Did you hear the clanking, particularly of the Hilton card? Heavy metal all the way.

I brought out my postage scale and weighed a normal plastic credit card: it was between 0.10 and 0.15 ounces.

The American Express card was 0.50 ounces.

And the Hilton card — drumroll — was 0.60 ounces.

A few of those in my wallet would make the wallet noticeably heavier, which I don’t need. So I quickly decided to leave them at home in a drawer. I have hiker friends who do long-distance hikes. They cut off the handles of their plastic tooth brushes to save a few hundredth of an ounce of weight by not carrying the superfluous handles. They would be aghast if they saw these cards.

These cards, in a breast pocket, will stop a bullet. But I don’t expect to be in any gunfights, so I am leaving them at home. I am much happier carrying my old pastic Capital One card.

What’s in your wallet?

 

 

This is a report from a friend of my daughter in New York City. She is mid-thirties. I have redacted her husband’s name to XXXX for privacy. These are her words:

Back in March XXXX and I were both sick for 2+ weeks each with what is presumed to be Covid-19. While our cases are considered mild (meaning we did not go to the hospital, we were not able to get tested due to extreme shortages, and were advised via telehealth appointments) it was still the scariest time of my life. Taking care of XXXX while the world reeled and the city fell totally silent, riddled with this mystery illness and mounting deaths, was isolating and awful. Although we did not go to the hospital, this was the sickest I had seen XXXX and our symptoms were beyond the kind we are familiar with caring for at home-like recurring circulation issues and chest pain bad enough to wake me up at night.

We have recovered but up until last month, five whole months later (almost half a year!), we continued to have days of extreme fatigue and recurring lung and chest pain. We would walk the dogs or unload the dishwasher and have that pinching feeling in our lungs, like we had just gone for a marathon run. In May we ventured out for a meandering 3 mile walk. We stopping half way to sit down. It was a sunny WARM day and when we got home, we were both so cold and fatigued we began to shiver and had to take long hot showers just to warm up.

Despite clear sinuses, I completely lost my sense of smell at the start of April. It took nearly two months for it to faintly return and even today it’s still not the same. Today I read this article and it was so comforting to know it wasn’t just me. For me the phantom smell is akin to a disgusting, slightly sweet, stale garlic breath. Like a bad practical joke, mint smells like this, as do many cleaning products, laundry detergents, and some foods. I smell it everyday, multiple times a day. For a while I even thought it was me that smelled. Just last week I started to really lose my patience and complained about it to XXXX, telling him it was as though a spectrum of scents have fallen off in my brain and they now register as old garlic breath. I wasn’t totally wrong.

I am thankful this is all we have to report but I worry for those who are hit harder and I try not to think too much about the unknowns, such as any future health complications that may surface as a result….

It is possible to find comfort in uniting against this and doing the right thing by others. The virus is real. It’s worse than the flu. I know it’s hard and we are all suffering from fatigue (or much much worse) but please wear a mask, practice caution, and be mindful.

And this is why I remain in quarantine.

I didn’t know what The Old Guard was about when I started watching it. For the first half hour I was completely confused and I was not able to follow the plot. I was close to turning it off when it finally came around.

Andy (Charlize Theron) leads a group of highly trained fighters and mercenaries who have obviously worked together for a long time. They only take on jobs that are for the good of mankind, or so it seems. What is odd about them is that they are immortal. They get shot or stabbed, and literally, within minutes they start healing rapidly, get up and fight right on. They are the ultimate weapon. Nobody knows how and why they have this gift and why it works. They also have a telepathic connection, where they sometimes can feel and see each other’s dreams.

When a pharma tycoon finds out about them, he sets a trap to capture them in order to study them and hopefully extract the secret of immortality. Suddenly their mission is not to save someone else, but it’s to get themselves out of the clutches of the murderous scientist who will stop at nothing to get his will.

The Old Guard has a slow start and is characterized by extreme violence and brutality. At times it feels like a video game rather than a movie. The plot is complex and confusing. When I was done watching, I felt like watching it again to appreciate it more and fill in the many blanks. The end sets it up nicely for a sequel.

 

Alice Cooper is known as the “godfather of shock rock.” Here is a performance of his hit Elected, done in 2016 over 44 years after the song first came out, just before the showdown between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, the fateful election of the two most unfortunate choices in American history.

I was 16 when Elected came out and it influenced my taste for Rock ‘n’ Roll. Alice Cooper was never a rock hero to me, but he still was involved in building the memory foundations of my youth. His music brings back that time of my life.

In 2013 Alice Cooper did an insightful AMA (“ask me anything” session) on Reddit that is very much worth reading. Contrary to what his stage personality portrays, he seems to be a smart, level-headed, articulate and sensitive person with a lot of history and deep insight into show business.

And of course – School’s Out for Summer, School’s Out for Ever is all too true in the age of the Coronavirus.

 

Nick is a young scientist who has always been obsessed with building a time machine. He was first in his class in high school, went on to study physics and lives in a modern house in the suburbs in Michigan. His focus is on his job, and he neglects his friends, and most importantly, Jess, his wife. She has stood with him and supported him through five years of courtship and another seven years of marriage, when by 2019, she has had enough. She leaves him, and the day she serves him with the divorce papers, she also brings a box of stuff that belongs to him.

Most notably, it contains a pocket watch she gave him on their 5th anniversary of their relationship, the day he had proposed to her. That’s the watch he’s holding up on the movie poster above. When she brings it back to him along with the divorce papers, he calls it “junk” since it hardly works, they get into an argument, and she smashes it with a hammer before she leaves the house .

That very night, federal agents from the Department of Energy bust into his house, act like they’re going to arrest him, and eventually make him an offer to buy his time machine. It’s not clear how they knew it was working, and it’s also not clear how Nick would be so obtuse about that fact with his wife, who has spent years of her life supporting him in this quest. Eventually, he leads the feds down into his basement. The lead agent is Dr. Kent, a physicist who, upon seeing the time machine, seems to immediately understand how it works, and within minutes Nick and Kent are on their way seven years into the past.

Through some amazing coincidence, they arrive in his basement seven years earlier just before his anniversary party, to which he has invited some of his friends and sister, without telling his wife, because he wants to mark the occasion by proposing marriage to her with his friends present. The arrival of the time travelers pops the breakers in his house in the basement, and Nick from seven years ago comes down to check on what’s going on. Nick meets Nick, and things get complicated fast after that.

Let me just say that the busted pocket watch serves a plot need, similar to how the watch in the classic time travel movie Somewhere in Time made us all marvel: where did the watch come from?

Making Time is a cute time travel movie, but the acting is sophomoric, the plot silly and oversimplified, and the entire story is therefore not credible. The federal agents are outright caricatures, the cast of friends somewhat confusing, and the two-scene structure of now and seven years ago is too obvious for a simple plot skeleton without enough meat on the bones. And the depiction of the time machine is comical and ridiculous.

As I said: Cute. But if you’re a time travel story buff like I, you gotta watch it.

 

A friend forwarded to me the commentary below, which I printed here verbatim.

The question remains for me then: In order to hate liberals, you have to know how to recognize one. What is a liberal, versus, for the sake of argument, a conservative? Or a non-liberal?

I consider myself fairly conservative, but I am usually labeled a liberal. I don’t own a single firearm. Does that make me a liberal? I do not believe in corruption in government. Does that make me a liberal?

I wonder if there is a definition.

The question was posed, “Why do people continue supporting Trump no matter what he does?” A lady named Bev answered it this way:

“You all don’t get it. I live in Trump country, in the Ozarks in southern Missouri, one of the last places where the KKK still has a relatively strong established presence. They don’t give a shit what he does. He’s just something to rally around and hate liberals, that’s it, period.

He absolutely realizes that and plays it up. They love it. He knows they love it.

The fact that people act like it’s anything other than that proves to them that liberals are idiots, all the more reason for high fives all around.

If you keep getting caught up in “why do they not realize this problem” and “how can they still back Trump after this scandal,” then you do not understand what the underlying motivating factor of his support is. It’s fuck liberals, that’s pretty much it.

Have you noticed he can do pretty much anything imaginable, and they’ll explain some way that rationalizes it that makes zero logical sense?

Because they’re not even keeping track of any coherent narrative, it’s irrelevant. Fuck liberals is the only relevant thing.

Trust me; I know firsthand what I’m talking about.

That’s why they just laugh at it all because you all don’t even realize they truly don’t give a fuck about whatever the conversation is about.

It’s just a side mission story that doesn’t matter anyway.

That’s all just trivial details – the economy, health care, whatever.

Fuck liberals.

Look at the issue with not wearing the masks.

I can tell you what that’s about. It’s about exposing fear. They’re playing chicken with nature, and whoever flinches just moved down their internal pecking order, one step closer to being a liberal.

You’ve got to understand the one core value that they hold above all others is hatred for what they consider weakness because that’s what they believe strength is, hatred of weakness.

And I mean passionate, sadistic hatred.

And I’m not exaggerating. Believe me.

Sadistic, passionate hatred, and that’s what proves they’re strong, their passionate hatred for weakness.

Sometimes they will lump vulnerability in with weakness.

They do that because people tend to start humbling themselves when they’re in some compromising or overwhelming circumstance, and to them, that’s an obvious sign of weakness.

Kindness = weakness. Honesty = weakness.

Compromise = weakness.

They consider their very existence to be superior in every way to anyone who doesn’t hate weakness as much as they do.

They consider liberals to be weak people that are inferior, almost a different species, and the fact that liberals are so weak is why they have to unite in large numbers, which they find disgusting, but it’s that disgust that is a true expression of their natural superiority.

Go ahead and try to have a logical, rational conversation with them. Just keep in mind what I said here and be forewarned.”

I just downloaded Rage – by Bob Woodward.

I am at 17% with Disloyal – by Michael Cohen

I am at 40% with The Room Where it Happened – by John Bolton

I haven’t started reading Donald Trump v. The United States – by Michael Schmidt

Too many books, too little time.

So many deaths. We have the most deaths of all countries. Some of these people were great people, terrific people – on both sides. We have a 9/11 every four or five days now. Horrific numbers. In America, we like big numbers, tremendous numbers. No country has numbers like we do. Of course, people tell me that not all of these deaths are virus deaths. Some of these people were old and would have died anyway. That makes them fake deaths. It’s not our fault that they died, some of them. Nobody could have expected this. It’s not our fault.

We get the newspaper, the San Diego Union Tribune, in hardcopy only on Sunday. The comics are in color. My two favorite sections are the front page and then the comics, in that order. I don’t read all of them. Some just don’t interest me at all. But I noticed that over the years, my ability to connect has changed.

Dilbert – I was able to relate as a young computer programmer.

Baby Blues – Having babies and raising kids, oh yeah!

Zits – Kids are getting older, taking them to club volleyball and soccer, and teaching them to drive.

and now —- drumroll —–

Pickles

[click image for credit and website]

That said, I always like Doonesbury, but I understand it only a third of the time.

Too many books, too little time!

I have never before written an “interim book report” but I found necessary to do so this time.

John Bolton’s book about his time in the Trump White House came out a month and a half ago, and I bought it on the day it came out and I started reading it.

But it’s a long (LONG) book, not the kind of work you can skim fast, so when Mary Trump’s book Too Much and Never Enough came out, I paused, read that, reviewed it here, and went back to The Room Where it Happened.

But now, I picked up Melania and Me – by Stephanie Winston Wolkoff (reading now) and Donald Trump v. The United States – by Michael S. Schmidt, and on Tuesday I am looking forward to Disloyal, Michael Cohen’s book. There are too many books to read and review before the election, but I need to fit them all in.

Too many books, too little time!

And that brings me back to John Bolton’s book and this is the actual start of the Interim Book Report. I am “only” 40% into the book, but I found it a much more insightful and convincing book than I would have expected it to be. I will do a final book report, with excerpts and a rating when I finally finish it, but I thought some of my readers would appreciate my thoughts on it before the election.

Trump and his enablers fought hard to stop Bolton’s book from getting published. And I can see why. But my take away is very different from what I expected it to be. I thought it would be a tell-all book, making Trump look bad, written by a disgruntled former staff member. At least that’s what the White House made it out to be. I also have to admit that I never really “knew” John Bolton. I took the word of pundits and critics who called him a hawk. I remember when Bolton first got appointed to be the National Security Advisor, my heart sank, since I thought that what could be worse than an incompetent president enabling a war hawk for the security of our world?

Bolton’s book is not sensational at all. It’s almost dry. If you are into foreign policy and world power politics at the highest level, kind of the Henry Kissinger level, then Bolton’s book should be required reading. Bolton must be keeping exact journals of what he does every day to be able to write that book. He does not disparage others. He observes, and intersperses his observations and opinions. He tells world history of the small slice where he was actively participating as part of the Trump administration, he tells it as it unfolded. Yes, it makes Trump look bad, but not because Bolton says so, but because we observe what Trump says and does in the room where it happened, over and over again. Bolton puts us into the room. We get to be flies on the wall, listening to what goes on, and what comes out of Trump’s mouth is “not pretty.” Make no mistake about it, the book makes Trump look bad, because Trump is making himself look bad, every day, over and over again.

Now a word about Bolton. I have to admit that I actually like Bolton. Knowing now how he thinks, and particularly what he knows, and how vast his experience on the world stage is, yes, the world was in safer condition while he was in the White House. Bolton understand world politics, and knows how to play the international game. He knows how to make and keep America strong, and still “do the right thing.”

I don’t agree with all of Bolton’s opinions and attitudes, but as much as one can ascertain this from reading a man’s book, I like the man. And now I am going to say the most controversial thing in a long time: Biden, once president, would do himself a favor and bring Bolton back right where he was: National Security Advisor.

It would be a brilliant move.

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