Crack in the Larsen C Shelf [photocredit: NASA/John Sonntag] [click to enlarge]

We went to see The Big Sick because I heard from a friend that she “had laughed so hard” and it was one of the funniest movies in a long time. In addition, it was rated 98% in the Tomatometer. Look, the poster says “gut-bustingly funny!”

So we went and knew nothing about what we were going to see. Usually I check the reviews, or at least a trailer, but not this time.

It wasn’t funny. I didn’t think it was a romantic comedy. I didn’t think it was a comedy at all.

It is a film about a true story of culture clashes. Kumail Nanjiani (played by the writer of the movie Kumail Nanjiani, playing himself) is a budding stand-up comedian, Uber driver, and son of Pakistani immigrants who first meets Emily (Zoe Kazan) when she heckles him at a gig in a bar. After a one-night-stand they decide to meet again.

Kumail’s mother is trying to arrange a marriage for him and invites an endless stream of women to dinner for him to meet and hopefully pick for marriage. Emily is a graduate student in psychology, with bigoted parents and no idea what she is getting into when she gets involved with Kumail. The unlikely pair slowly, steadily and delightfully falls in love.

But as it is with courtships across cultures and races, they sometimes come apart, and the two break up. Then Emily, unexpectedly, gets very sick with a strange illness that nobody seems to be able to identify. She is in a medically induced coma for a good part of the story, while Kumail and Emily’s parents Terry (Ray Romano) and Beth (Holly Hunter) form an unexpected bond while they spend their time in hospital waiting rooms.

While it wasn’t gut-bustingly funny at all, I did chuckle from time to time and I was amused. The Big Sick is a timely movie, as it addresses some of the Islamophobia that we experience now. It shows that these strange people from Pakistan are not all terrorists, but people with feelings, with emotions, with love and dedication, like all of us. It brings us all a bit closer.

The two main actors do a wonderful job, and Ray Romano makes a great hapless dad for Emily.

We enjoyed two hours away from our world in a story of culture clashes and the rise of the human spirit.

Trump stated that he won’t own the Affordable Care Act and its success.

What would have happened if Nixon had said he didn’t own the Vietnam War he inherited?

What if Obama had said he didn’t own the economy that was in free fall when he took office? What if he had said that Bush had caused the massive unemployment rate and the unprecedented collapse of real estate values that was underway in 2007 and early 2008?

What if Obama had said he didn’t own the Iraq and Afghanistan wars he inherited?

As compared to Trump and his national inheritance, Obama really did inherit a mess when he took office. Not once did we hear him blame Bush for it. He just did what he had to – and it caused massive deficits and debt, but we’re all here, and our real estate values are almost back to 2007 level (yippee!), the unemployment rate is down and the stock market is booming. Trump didn’t make those things happen. We Americans did, under Obama’s steady leadership, calm demeanor, and stubborn responsibility-taking.

Trump apparently thinks the United States, its economy, and the health insurance for millions of Americans is another Trump Taj Mahal. When it doesn’t work anymore, the doesn’t own it anymore, and he files Chapter 11.

Please make note, while Trump says filing Chapter 11 is “using the laws of the country brilliantly – smart”- I don’t agree with him. Filing Chapter 11 is walking away from the responsibilities you took on when you signed up for deal, it’s stiffing your creditors who have spent their own money and labor into making your projects happen and then not paying them, it’s walking away from the commitment you made to the employees you hired, and it’s walking away from the banks (and apparently Russian oligarchs) who funded your projects.

When things don’t go well for Don Donald, he walks away.

He is treating our country like he treats his own businesses. While he can suck money out of them, he will. When they wear out, he “doesn’t own them anymore.”

I have been a business leader all my life. I have learned early that to have a chance at success, I have to take personal responsibility for everything that happens. If a deal goes sour, it’s my responsibility because I didn’t negotiate proper terms, didn’t research it sufficiently in advance, didn’t seek good counsel from my staff, or didn’t estimate the job properly. It’s my problem, and I own it. If an employee makes a mistake, I will show the employee the mistake so he or she can learn from it, and then I proceed to fix the mistake as best I can. I will own it.

Trump took over a trite soundbite of the GOP: “Repeal and Replace.” Obviously, Repeal is easy. You just undo the work somebody else (Obama, the Congress, and their experts) did many years ago. When you repeal something, you make it so it is back to what it was before it was done. Obviously, going back to the state of healthcare in 2007 is not solving any problem. It’s just going back to that time. We had a problem we were trying to fix with the Affordable Care Act.

Since Repeal by itself does not work, it has to come with Replace. And there lies the rub. While the GOP was trumpeting Replace for seven years, they apparently never spent any time working on a real plan that might be successful. They are now not getting votes because they can’t show what they are going to do. If you have no plans, eventually people will figure it out. The lack of the emperor’s clothes is obvious now.

That’s why Repeal and Replace didn’t work. The president, in his laziness and quest of dumbing down the country took up the trite phrase and “promised” the American people they were going to have such great healthcare and massively lower cost. There was no substance to this statement, just like there appears to be no substance to anything Trump says.

It was easy to stand there at the podium, rally after rally, and shout “Repeal and Replace.” But it turned out to be work, very hard, complicated work, to actually come up with a plan. Rather than rolling up his sleeves and getting to work with Republicans and Democrats together, Trump took the lazy way out:

“I won’t own it.”

Now he blames the lack of votes from the Democrats for the failure. The Democrats would have been totally willing work on improvements to the healthcare system, had they been ask to help work on the plan. But there was no plan.

Trump is misleading the American people, he is too lazy to do the hard work of governing, and he does not have the backbone to stand up and get to work for the country when things get tough. He is not willing to do the job of President of the United States.

He won’t own it.

Unbridled demagoguery has driven the GOP to an inflection point from which there is no turning back. If a populist prevails in the primary, as appears increasingly likely, the party faces either devastating defeat in the general election or a new, unrecognizable identity. In either scenario, a large swath of the GOP electorate will be forced to eat crow and reevaluate its affiliation. Call it, if you will, a moral debt restructuring, one caused by the reckless behavior of a man who knows a thing or two about bankruptcy.

— Anthony Scaramucci, January 13, 2016, Fox Business

Punctuating each word — one by one — the U.S. Navy admiral said, “I will not violate the oath that I have taken in the 36 years as a commission officer.”

Rogers’ face hardened and his voice cracked as he added: “I won’t do that.”

— ABC News

Trump supporters will call this “Fake News” but fortunately, there is nothing fake about a United States military officer standing up for the oath he took. This is the kind of man we need in a leadership position in our country.

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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Ok, let me get this straight:

You get yourself elected, make sure you have both houses of Congress in your party’s control, and then you can do anything you want, profit from the presidency, sell out the country to the highest bidder, launder money for the Russian mob, install your unqualified and unelected kids into high government positions, appoint cronies who are not qualified for their positions, and then commit crimes – say shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue – and then pardon yourself – over and over again.

Trump, with his infinite power, could revoke the 22nd Amendment (Hitler playbook), gerrymander the districts and make sure he gets reelected. If any strong opponents surface, he just has them whacked (Putin playbook).

When he dies, he installs Donald Jr., so we start a dynasty of Trumps for the next 75 years (Kim Il-sung playbook).

That’s what happens when a president can just pardon everyone, including himself.

Meanwhile, America, its values and its institutions, are rapidly going down the tubes. The United States of America is becoming an oligarchy at an alarming rate.

Trump supporters seem to not mind that. Don’t they see this guy is completely corrupt? How is that good for America?

Trump, eight months after winning the election, looks increasingly illegitimate with every day that more information trickles out. Whenever bad news surface, he deflects and questions why we’re not going after Hillary and her emails. Because Hillary is now a private citizen, she isn’t mucking with our country, she isn’t dismantling our environmental protections, she isn’t selling favors to the highest bidders, she isn’t undermining our health insurance system, and she isn’t systematically dumbing down our country.

Go ahead, investigate Hillary all you want. It has no meaning to the county! Hillary has ridden off into the sunset.

It’s Trump that’s doing damage to our country that will take decades to clean up. That’s why we’re interested in his apparently criminal career and current obvious abuses of power.

Don’t even tell me I am just mad that Hillary didn’t win. I am way over Hillary. But I, for one, want my country back.



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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Richard Nixon with John McCain [picture credit: unknown]

One thing you can say about Trisha – she knows how to have fun. This afternoon, she treated me to a ride in a biplane over San Diego. What better thing is there to do for no particular reason at all?

Here is the plane. As in all photos in this post, you can click on it to enlarge. Everyone who lives in San Diego has seen this blue and red biplane in the sky at one time or another. The plane was built in 1927. It is thirty years older than I am, and by far the oldest plane I have ever been in. Think of it. The Wright Brothers first flew in 1903. This plane was built just 24 years after that!

We’re gonna fly!

Here we are over the ocean, looking back to the Torrey Pines glider port. The cliff was swarming with paragliders. We stayed offshore so we didn’t get too close to any of them. If you zoom in and carefully look by the red arrows, you see a couple of them.

Below at the blue arrow is the infamous San Diego Blacks Beach. Do you see any of the nude sunbathers? I looked, but they were too far away.

We turned around and headed for La Jolla. Here is a quick video looking over the hood.

Speaking of La Jolla, here is a good look down at the famous La Jolla cove. You can see all the people on the beach.

And here is a view of the little cove (upper right) where there is a lot of controversy because it’s been taken over by seals. Some want to ban the seals, because they pollute the beach. Others say it’s their beach. Leave them alone.

Looking back, you can see our pilot. How in the world he can see anything back there is beyond me! He pretty much flies the plane looking sideways and down. At one time he pointed out a school of dolphins in the water near the beach and pointed the wing down at them was we circled over the spot checking them out.

Heading back inland now, here is a great view of Mission Bay.

Here is one of the San Diego canyons, with downtown in the back on the left.

Snoopy was also busy taking pictures. All that was missing was her scarf flying behind her in the wind.

Finally, our approach back to the runway. The plan just dive bombed down for the approach. The landing took what seemed just a few seconds.

And that was a superb way to spend a Tuesday afternoon. It’s called an “Adventure.”


Russia, under Putin, is practically a nation run by an organized crime ring, inside and out. Putin’s regime has been accused of eliminating any opposition by arresting the opponents on made-up charges, and there are many accusations of killings of opponents of all types. Read Bill Browder’s book Red Notice for a harrowing story about Putin’s regime. In it, you will learn how the Magnitsky Act came about, the very legislation in the U.S. that was enacted to counteract Russian human rights violations. The Magnitsky Act is also related to the Russian orphan adoption program that recently made headlines when Trump Jr. deflected to discussions about adoptions in the infamous June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower with the Russians. Senator John McCain had a leading role in the Magnitsky Act.

Russia is a nation run by organized crime. It kills opposition inside, and it sows corruption outside. Since Trump took office, Russia now spreads corruption in the United States.

The Trump regime, in my opinion, is nothing but an organized crime ring, installed in the Oval Office. Nepotism abounds. Don Donald installed his relatives in key positions, whether they are qualified or not. Clearly, none of them were elected. Trump unabashedly profits from the presidency. When Jimmy Carter took office, he was accused of somehow having his peanut farm profit from the office. That was a scandal at the time. Don Donald’s conflicts of interest are not even news anymore. It’s a new normal. Rod Blagojevich, the former governor of Illinois, is serving in prison in Colorado for openly trying to profit from his office and selling Obama’s senate seat. But Trump can try to repeal Obama’s sanctions against Russia so he can continue with his real estate projects in Moscow. All he has to do is tell us often enough that the Russians are our friends, and the American public starts accepting it as reality.

We do not have an administration now. We have a regime. We have joined the likes of Russia, and Iran, and Syria and all the banana republics that came and went. Criminal activity goes unchecked in the White House, and the Republican Party just goes along with it, in the name of power.

The Republican Party has stopped serving the country. What’s best for the country does not seem important to them anymore. Instant gratification is what matters.

It may be that we have to wait until the midterm election before we can throw them all out. With Don Donald and the Trumpashians swept out of the White House, Pence will take office.

Pence is a man who I believe would never have been able to win the presidency on his own. Pence’s ideology is 180 degrees opposing to mine. I don’t agree with his policies. I don’t agree with his decisions.

But I will be relieved. He will bring decorum and dignity back into the White House. He will turn what was a regime back into an administration. We will once again at least not have to be embarrassed about boorish remarks, sleazy public comments, leering behavior against wives of world leaders and personal Twitter attacks against private American citizens from the President of the United States.

Pence will serve for two years, and then he will lose the re-election campaign in 2020.

If I had dealings with Russia, or Iran, or North Korea, and I got caught, the FBI would arrest me and I’d be charged with treason.

Republicans have dismissed Trump Jr.’s email smoking gun with “he made a rookie mistake, no big deal.”

It’s still a crime, folks, when you collude with a foreign government to attack the United States.

If I got caught with my dealing with Russia, or Iran, or North Korea, I’d be going to prison, and if I told the judge or the jury “sorry, I didn’t know what I was doing, it was a rookie mistake,” they’d simply laugh.

And I’d rot in prison.


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