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Is Brett Kavanaugh guilty of sexual assault? I don’t know. I just watched an entire day of Senate Testimony on that very topic and I still don’t know one way or the other. Should Brett Kavanaugh be on the U.S. Supreme Court? No. If ever I had any doubts as to that judgement, today’s testimony […]

via Just Say ‘No’ to Kavanaugh! — northierthanthou

 

This “boys will be boys” excuse that is now all over the media is insulting to me. You can take your boys will be boys, Mr. Kavanaugh and Mr. Trump. I don’t know about you. But I myself can unequivocally state that I have never:

  • Assaulted a girl, whether in high school or later in life verbally or physically
  • Pinned down a girl on a bed intending a sexual encounter
  • Turned up the music in the room to mask out screams
  • Put my hand over her mouth to keep her from screaming

In my opinion, whether the person that does this is a 14 or 17-year-old boy, or a 60-year-old man, this person is committing attempted rape.

Boys who hold down girls so they can obtain sexual gratification are called rapists, and rape is a crime.

The boys may forget about the instance, but the girl won’t, for the rest of her life.

I am the father of a daughter. If a boy, or a man, had raped my daughter, and I had found out about it, I would have spent the rest of my life hunting down the rapist.

So don’t give me this boys will be boys or locker room talk bullshit. We’re not buying it, and no man or woman with self-respect should vote for any politician who thinks this kind of behavior is ok and normal, and should be acceptable.

Last night, from 5:00 to 11:30, we spent at Petco Park downtown San Diego with what I estimate were 40,000 of our best friends at a triple header concert, headlining The Eagles.

Here you see The Woman in front of the poster. The stadium was packed. It seats 42,445 people for ballgames, but for the concert configuration there were some sections empty behind the stage, but then there were thousands of people on “the field” in front of the stage. Those tickets went for over $1,000 each, and I am not going to tell you what ours cost.

It started out with the Doobie Brothers, a staple band whose songs transported me back to my senior year in high school. I found myself reminiscing about sitting in the yellow school bus rolling through snowy Lakewood, New York, with

Old black water, keep on rolling
Mississippi moon, won’t you keep on shining on me?

playing on the speakers.

After the 90 minute set of the Doobie Brothers, they brought on the Zac Brown Band. While everyone around me cheered and sang along, I must admit that somehow Zac Brown had not been a name or band that I had ever consciously heard before. I am not much of a country music listener. They played a high energy set of rock and country, with an amazing rendition of the Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen, something I had never heard before in a live concert. I concluded I need to listen to more Zac Brown. They also promoted one of the charities they sponsor, the Camp Southern Ground:

Camp Southern Ground is located on over 400 acres in Fayetteville, GA and will serve children ages 7-17, from all socioeconomic backgrounds, races and religions, with activities to challenge, educate and inspire campers. As an inclusive camp, Camp Southern Ground will bring together typically developing children, children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, learning and attention issues, social or emotional challenges, and those with family members serving in the military.

Then, by 9:00pm, The Eagles finally came on and played for a solid two and a half hours.

One of the founders, Glenn Frey, died in January 2016 of complications from rheumatoid arthritis at the age of 67. To our surprise, his 24-year-old son Deacon Frey, has taken his father’s place and played front and center all night. Here is a picture of him shot in zoom with my iPhone off the big screen. How amazing it must be for him to play on the main stage with his father’s friends from the Seventies!

The Eagles played many of their staples, but also some songs or renditions I had never heard before. But it really kicked in with the encore, when they thundered out a powerful version of Hotel California.

The picture above is the best shot I could get zooming into both screens showing Joe Walsh and Don Henley, having the time of their lives, passionately pounding out Hotel California, one of the most iconic songs in rock history, right up there with Like a Rolling Stone by Dylan.

Walsh and Henley, both 71 years old, obviously had a great time performing in this concert and made 40,000 people rock and reminisce. It is amazing to think that two “old men” could fire up an audience in a rock concert, but these guys are some of the masters in the field. It’s no surprise that Walsh’s net worth is around $75 million and Henley’s over $200 million. I guess that’s what happens when talented musicians dedicate their entire lives to their craft.

The Eagles concert was worth every penny we spent on it, and Hotel California right here in California seemed just right on every level.

…must be Ben Carson. I haven’t seen or heard anything from him or about him in a long time. When there are cabinet group pictures, or when they all line up behind Trump, sitting at the Oval Office desk, he is sometimes there, the only non-white in sight.

But seriously, while there have been reports of incompetence, or all-out ridicule about most other cabinet members, there really hasn’t been much reporting about Ben Carson.

So therefore, because there are no scandals and no gaffes to report, and since Trump hasn’t belittled him on Twitter in any way, I vote Ben Carson “the Most Successful Cabinet Secretary” in the Trump Administration.

I guess it’s not pediatric neurosurgery.

The Original Starbucks

Yesterday I was at a conference in downtown Seattle. In the afternoon I had some free time so I walked down to the pier to the famous Pike Place Market. Seattle has more Starbucks stores than any other city. You can literally step out of any building and look around in all direction and you will likely see a Starbucks. Here is a fun little article that illustrates my point. 

When I got down to Pike Place Market, I was in for a treat. Because that’s where the original Starbucks store is.

The first Starbucks store was established in 1971 at 2000 Western Avenue where it operated until 1976, when it moved to 1912 Pike Place Market in downtown Seattle. So this address, while still hosting the original Starbucks, is actually the second location for the chain.

There are now 27,339 Starbucks stores worldwide.

As you can see in the picture above, there is a line going into the store. While it is not visible in the image, the line continues along the sidewalk to the left and goes all the way down the block.  There were probably a hundred or more people lined up – to get a cup of Starbucks in this store. I was not in the mood.

But I enjoyed a bit of coffee history and took this photograph.

My plan was to visit the Seattle Art Museum, just a few blocks down the road, but unfortunately, it was closed Monday as Tuesday, as museums are wont to be. Perhaps another time, after a good cup of coffee.

I am currently reading Fear: Trump in the White House, by Bob Woodward, and much to my surprise, I have come across quite a few passages where I find myself agreeing with Trump.

For instance, he was a staunch adversary of our “endless” war in Afghanistan. As far back as in March 2012, he tweeted: Afghanistan is a total disaster. We don’t know what we are doing. They are, in addition to everything else, robbing us blind.” Then in 2013: “Let’s get out of Afghanistan. Our troops are being killed by the Afghanis we train and we waste billions there. Nonsense! Rebuild the USA.”

When he was president, Trump was tired of his generals and their “plans.” He wanted to hear from soldiers on the ground. He called several soldiers, non-officers, to the White House and asked them what was going on in Afghanistan. Here is what he came away with:

“Unanimous. We’ve got to figure out how to get the fuck out of there. Totally corrupt. The people are not worth fighting for… NATO does nothing. They’re a hindrance. Don’t let anybody tell you how great they are. It’s all bullshit.”

— Fear: by Bob Woodward, page 123-124

I agree with every word above. If I were in the White House, I would also force my team to come up with a way to get the fuck out, and fast. It pains me to see American cash, our taxes, to be passed around by the handfuls to Afghan warlords who are taking our money and think we are idiots. I cringe when I think about American soldiers getting killed there — not for our freedom, not to defend our country, but for the bullshit we have allowed ourselves to get sucked into. This is very wrong and it needs to change.

We are idiots.

Now there is some Trump news we don’t get on the Rachel Maddow show. Thanks, Bob Woodward!

We the Animals is the story of three brothers of a Puerto Rican family in the U.S. who have a strong bond amongst each other. Manny and Joel are the older ones (somewhere between 10 and 12 years old) and Jonah is the youngest at 10. Jonah is different. He is more sensitive, and likes to draw. To avoid ridicule, he does it when hiding under this bed where he has stashed his notebook inside the bottom of the mattress. Their father, Paps, is loving and supportive to them, but abuses his wife and from time to time abandons the family. Their mother, Ma, is very young and tries to shelter the boys, particularly Jonah, from the world. But she is not very successful, as she descends into depression and virtually abandons her care of her kids for days on end. The boys are left to fend for themselves, by stealing, by scavenging, and by sticking to each other. We the Animals!

This is a thought-provoking film with interesting, refreshing cinematography, quite a bit of fantasy, that gets into the heads of the boys. Their acting is superb. But I found the movie hard to watch, due to the disturbing subject matter.  After a while I felt I knew what the story was, and I just wanted it to be over. I was bored. It ended abruptly after 92 minutes, but if it had ended after 60 minutes, I would not have missed anything either.

When I was a 12-year-old schoolboy, my German professor (W.I.) once ruminated about the longevity of various types of music. He was a lover of the classics, we all knew, and his point was that the classic composers like Beethoven and Mozart created works that lasted centuries – probably millennia. Pop music on the radio, according to him, would last months in comparison, perhaps a few years.

Well, time has shown that it’s not quite true. Fifty years have gone by, and when I listen to the rendition of Sounds of Silence in the video below I get goosebumps. I am transported back to my youth instantly, and the feelings, the passions and the memories flood back, and I drift in timeless reveries. The Ageless Sounds of Silence will live on at least as long as those of us who listened to it when we were young are still here to testify.

Go on, have some goosebumps!

Norbert Haupt

52 years after it was first released

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Movie Review: Alpha

Set in the last ice age in Europe, a tribe of Cro-Magnon men goes on a hunting trip. Keda, the chief’s son, comes along for the first time. His proud father is teaching him how to hunt, and how to be a man. But during the hunt things go horribly wrong, a buffalo charges Keda and throws him off a steep cliff. The hunting party can only assume he is dead and eventually they leave, the distraught father almost being dragged away by his friends.

Miraculously, the boy survives and must now fend for himself, fight off predators, and somehow find his way home, before winter comes and makes travel impossible. When a pack of wolves attack him,  he barely escapes into a tree, but he injures one of them. The wolf and the boy reluctantly form a bond and protect each other as they try to journey home. He calls the wolf Alpha.

Alpha is a survival movie. We see and feel how prehistoric people lived and survived. The landscape didn’t look like Europe 20,000 years ago to me, but rather more like South Dakota, but that is a minor point. I liked the fact that the tribe didn’t speak English. That would have been too easy and too distracting. They spoke their own language, accompanied by easy to read subtitles. This helped make the film more realistic.

I marvel about prehistory, and how unlikely it was that men survived at all, and how amazing it is that we’re all here today, descendants of these very Cro-Magnon men. If you have ever speculated how humans first started domesticating dogs, this is the movie to watch.

To Tip or Not To Tip

Many foreigners can’t figure out the tipping system in America. I actually like it. Every time I go to another country where tipping is not customary like it is here, I remember why I like it. It just makes customer service better. Going to a restaurant in the United States is by far a different experience from going to a restaurant in a European country, where the waiters are paid “a living wage” to use a Bernie Sanders phrase. The waiters, all too often, simply don’t care, and the service is sloppy and slow. Often the staff is unfriendly and sometimes even condescending.

When a significant portion of your income depends on how the customer feels taken care of, the quality of service goes up.

I believe in tipping, and I usually tip well, but only where the tip has an effect on the service I am getting. I do not believe I should be tipping when there is no direct relationship between the service and the tip.

For instance, I believe in tipping in the following service relationships:

  • Waiters in restaurants – they cater to me, both in making me feel comfortable, providing good advice on the menu, bringing me the food and acting like they want me there. My tip will reward them in proportion to the service. It’s a true interaction.
  • Staff at events – recently we went on a hot-air balloon ride. It takes a whole crew to get a balloon launched and landed safely. The staff works hard and they make the guests feel safe, comfortable, and enhance the experience.
  • Shuttle drivers – from hotels, rental car companies, parking garages to airport terminals, etc. The drivers work hard, they carry my luggage, they drop me off and pick me up when I need them.
  • Doormen – people who hail cars, check your luggage, coats, open your doors, help you in and out of cars.
  • Food delivery people – the pizza man, or anyone bringing food to my house.
  • Installers at my house – Recently we had a fan installed at my house. The installer worked had, cleaned up after himself, and I know he was just a laborer, working for a company. I gave him a generous tip.

I don’t tip in the following service relationships:

  • Hotel housekeeping staff – this is controversial. Many people leave tips on the pillow for housekeepers. I do not, except when I am at a resort for multiple days or a week, and it’s the same housekeeper that cleans up for me day after day. When I spend one or two nights at a hotel, I never see the housekeeper, and I do not create a service relationship. The service is provided in advance according to expectations set. Whether I leave a tip at the end or not does not affect the service. It makes no sense to me.
  • Owners or managers – If I am getting a service from a business owner, say a caterer, and the caterer is the boss, and I am already paying for that service, I do not think I should be expected to tip them.
  • Tip jars at the coffee shop – The servers behind the counter work hard, yes, but what they do is pour a cup of overpriced coffee into a paper cup, put on a lid, and take my money. I don’t believe after paying two dollars for a cup of coffee I should put money into a jar on the counter. These people are doing the minimum necessary to give me my product. I don’t think a tip is appropriate. I ignore the jar.
  • Tip jars anywhere – If someone just sells me something, there is no reason for a tip.
  • Cab drivers – even though I do sometimes tip when I have to give cash to a cab driver, I never like it. They are driving me, for goodness sake. What’s so special. Now I don’t use cabs anymore, I use Uber, and yes, I usually don’t tip Uber drivers.

I am curious if my readers have input into this subject.

 

President Trump has been blowing his own horn about having GDP growth rates of over 4.2%. That is correct, he has.

The chart below (source) shows the U.S. GDP growth rate not adjusted for inflation.

The interesting fact is that Obama shows a growth rate of over 4.2% in six out of the 32 quarters of his presidency. When you look at where he took over – right after Bush’s market crash – he really did inherit a mess, unlike Trump, who came in when things were going swimmingly.

However, Obama’s growth rate, on average, was slower than Bush’s, if you for a moment forget about the crash, and Trump’s.

This has been common knowledge. Obama’s growth or recovery rates were slower than they could have been. I attribute that to his being bent on regulation, both in the financial sector, as well as in energy. I considered him responsible for the health of the citizenry and the long-term health of the globe. I do think that climate change is anthropogenic, and I do believe that Obama took responsible actions. We were paying for it by less than optimal growth rates.

In the end, however, Trump is making claims that he is some superstar of growth, which he is not. Bush’s numbers were better than his, and Obama’s not that much worse.

Date Rate President Average
30-Jun-18 5.44% Trump 4.44%
31-Mar-18 4.58% Trump
31-Dec-17 4.49% Trump
30-Sep-17 4.19% Trump
30-Jun-17 3.85% Trump
31-Mar-17 4.09% Trump
31-Dec-16 3.40% Obama 3.07%
30-Sep-16 2.56% Obama
30-Jun-16 2.30% Obama
31-Mar-16 2.44% Obama
31-Dec-15 2.89% Obama
30-Sep-15 3.45% Obama
30-Jun-15 4.57% Obama
31-Mar-15 5.07% Obama
31-Dec-14 4.42% Obama
30-Sep-14 5.17% Obama
30-Jun-14 4.74% Obama
31-Mar-14 3.22% Obama
31-Dec-13 4.43% Obama
30-Sep-13 3.64% Obama
30-Jun-13 3.01% Obama
31-Mar-13 3.43% Obama
31-Dec-12 3.56% Obama
30-Sep-12 4.27% Obama
30-Jun-12 4.23% Obama
31-Mar-12 4.80% Obama
31-Dec-11 3.65% Obama
30-Sep-11 3.40% Obama
30-Jun-11 3.82% Obama
31-Mar-11 3.83% Obama
31-Dec-10 4.19% Obama
30-Sep-10 4.57% Obama
30-Jun-10 3.99% Obama
31-Mar-10 2.27% Obama
31-Dec-09 0.47% Obama
30-Sep-09 -2.80% Obama
30-Jun-09 -3.06% Obama
31-Mar-09 -1.75% Obama
31-Dec-08 -0.83% Bush 4.64%
30-Sep-08 2.07% Bush
30-Jun-08 2.94% Bush
31-Mar-08 3.11% Bush
31-Dec-07 4.59% Bush
30-Sep-07 4.81% Bush
30-Jun-07 4.60% Bush
31-Mar-07 4.45% Bush
31-Dec-06 5.29% Bush
30-Sep-06 5.51% Bush
30-Jun-06 6.51% Bush
31-Mar-06 6.60% Bush
31-Dec-05 6.47% Bush
30-Sep-05 6.82% Bush
30-Jun-05 6.61% Bush
31-Mar-05 7.06% Bush
31-Dec-04 6.40% Bush
30-Sep-04 6.36% Bush
30-Jun-04 7.04% Bush
31-Mar-04 6.59% Bush
31-Dec-03 6.30% Bush
30-Sep-03 5.23% Bush
30-Jun-03 3.85% Bush
31-Mar-03 3.66% Bush
31-Dec-02 3.86% Bush
30-Sep-02 3.74% Bush
30-Jun-02 2.79% Bush
31-Mar-02 3.02% Bush
31-Dec-01 2.12% Bush
30-Sep-01 2.68% Bush
30-Jun-01 3.42% Bush
31-Mar-01 4.70% Bush

I didn’t grow up as a boy in America, so I didn’t actually know the story of Christopher Robin and his stuffed animals, including the iconic Winnie the Pooh, the donkey Eeyore and of course, the piglet.

Watching this movie has caught me up. It’s a story about the boy Christopher who grew up in the Hundred Acre Wood, access to which is through a magical tree.

The movie is portrayed to be “not just for children” and so The Woman talked me into going to see it with her. Ok, yes, it was heartwarming, not even as corny as I expected it to be, and the acting was actually pretty good.

But I have to say – this is a movie for children – really. It’s about important lessons in life.

Take your kids!

Gail Francis hiked the Pacific Crest Trail and wrote a book about it. Unlike some other books about the same subject that I have read (or partially read), Bliss(ters) is not about driving the demons from the writer’s life. Gail Francis rights in simple prose and just tells her story. As the hike progresses, she describes her experiences, her thoughts, and the ups and downs that inevitably come along during such an epic experience. There are not a lot of superlatives, and there is not a lot of emotional mumbo jumbo.

Gail Francis simply takes us along for the hike, allows us to participate in the highlights, and we are spared the pain, the fatigue, and all the hard parts.

Just fun reading all the way. Here is a small excerpt, telling us about shopping in a store along to trail where there was no a lot of selection:

As I browsed the stunted aisles trying to piece together enough meals to last me a couple days, I noticed that the bags of chips appeared to have all been opened already, and then taped shut. When I asked the cashier about it, she explained that when they drive the chips up the mountain, the pressure change makes all the bags pop, so when they get to the resort, they have to tape them all shut again. She said it sounds like guns going off in the back when they start popping and that it is great fun to have an unsuspecting new person make the drive.

— Francis, Gail. Bliss(ters): How I Walked from Mexico to Canada One Summer (Kindle Locations 1605-1609). Kindle Edition.

Bliss(ters) is the best trail hike book I have read, and I would recommend it to anyone interested in hiking.

Duncan Hunter is the congressman for my district. Despite being indicted for the use of campaign funds for per personal vacations and other uses, and an impending trial (after the election), he is still being favored as the likely winner in the upcoming election.

This is staggering to me. People’s money has been used for personal gain by the congressman. Yet, they still support him? I call this corruption, and I am not willing to tolerate it. But many apparently are.

Regardless of that, I just received this personal (form)letter from the congressman. It shows how one deflects from a scandal with grace. I am actually commending him here:

Our president has shown us how to use bully tactics when he is criticized or attacked. He lashes out like a 5th grader in a school yard. That, in my opinion, makes him look weak and insecure. Pathetic even, considering he is the President of the United States.

In contrast, Congressman Hunter just moves right on with business as usual, and invites his constituents to visit him in Washington and get a tour of the White House. That’s actually elegant, classy, and most likely very effective.

Congressman Hunter, you do not have my vote, but you have my respect for your grace and creativity in a time when there is little of that to be found in politics.

The president spends a quarter of his time in office playing golf, after stating during the campaign that he would not have time to play golf, he’d be too busy working for the country.

Please note that Air Force One costs over $200,000 per flight hour. So when the president travels to Florida, and the trip takes two and a half hours, that’s a half a million dollars each way.

Of course, the plane was just as expensive when Obama and Bush traveled in it. No difference there. But this president has told veterans that we need more cuts to VA programs and we can’t give federal workers COLA raises, because we need to save the nation’s money.

 

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