Category Archives: Uncategorized

Water is on at Rancho San Antonio!

I went for my bi-weekly six-mile run at Rancho San Antonio (RSA) today. It’s the hottest day this year for running and I was thirsty by mile 5. Finally I could drink and douse myself with cool water. RSA has drinking fountains at strategic locations, but those have been turned off for months. First for COVID safety they bagged and taped them, but people just ripped through the bags and drank anyway, so then they turned off the water completely. The bags and tape are long gone. It’s been like that for months. I’ve checked them a few times and none of them worked until today.

I parked in the Horse Trailer Lot. I didn’t check the fountain by the rest room since I was at the other end by the trailhead. There is one drinking fountain right at the trailhead where the stretch bars are, but that one had no water pressure. It just dribbled.  The one at the beginning to the Permanente Creek Trail coming out of the main parking lot, however, had plenty of good, cool water. There is also one at the west end of the farm, which is also on. I’m not sure when the change happened, but at least there is water available on the trail.

Varsity Blues forfeiture question

A few days ago I posted an update on the Varsity Blues college admissions scandal. The data I saw confused me. Four defendants were sentenced to forfeiture in addition to their fines. Combined they totaled over $700,000.

Only one of the four defendants was a parent trying to get her child into school. The rest were bribe takers or otherwise involved in the scheme. That makes sense. They profited and were required to give up their ill-gotten gains. My question is, what was the parent forfeiting and why? The Department of Justice (DOJ) press release says in her case it was forfeiture of the $400,000 she paid to get her child in. Why not do that for all the other parents? Perhaps her case was unique in that the government was able to seize her money before it was received or before the check was cashed. It still seems odd.

Despite the recommendations by the DOJ for restitution in every case, no judge has imposed restitution as part of a sentence in the case. The reason seems obvious: to whom would they make restitution? The universities weren’t hurt, and in some cases benefited financially. The real victims were the kids who didn’t get admitted because the slots were given to undeserving kids. But there’s no way to know who they were. You’re likely to see some inaccurate reporting on this issue. Typically, the parent agrees to plead guilty and the U.S. Attorney recommends restitution, then the newspeople report that the defendant has agreed to X days in jail, a fine of such and such amount, and restitution, all of which is true. Sometimes they even say the defendant received this sentence. But the judges have disregarded that part of the plea bargain and declined to include restitution. Check the DOJ website if you want to know the true sentence.

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz

Magpie Murders (Susan Ryeland, #1)Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Susan Ryeland (randy, sensual?) is a book editor for a small London publisher. She receives a manuscript of a murder mystery from her star author. Only it’s missing the last chapters. A mystery without the ending is worthless. We are then given the manuscript to read ourselves. In it Atticus Pund is a German refugee turned private eye who takes on a last case before the inevitable end he knows he is facing based on bad news from his doctor. He travels to a small town in England and we find out about more than one death. But we are left hanging because of the missing chapters. When Susan seeks the missing pages, she is shocked to learn that the author himself has just died under suspicious circumstances. When she travels to his home town, a village much like the one in the book, she finds striking similarities between the book and real life. We are left to try to solve the book mysteries and the “real life” ones. That’s all I can say about the plot without spoilers.

If you haven’t figured it out already, that “randy, sensual” remark is an anagram of Susan Ryeland. Wordplay is sprinkled liberally throughout the manuscript, although that’s not obvious at first. I really enjoyed that part. The book as a whole was very fun even if the ending(s) wasn’t all that I had hoped. The author has produced too many suspects on both levels and could have picked any at random to be the guilty party, so it’s not a fair mystery for the reader to solve. That dropped it a star for me. Still, he writes very well and I was thoroughly entertained through most of the book. It has a real wit to it at times, too.

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Varsity Blues update

If you haven’t yet watched the new Netflix show on the Varsity Blues college admission scandal, you should. It’s excellent. Here’s a short update on the status of the defendants. Forty-two of them have pled guilty. Here’s the list. All are parents trying to boost their kids’ chances unless otherwise noted.

Diane Blake
Todd Blake
Elizabeth Henriquez
Manuel Henriquez
Douglas Hodge
Michelle Janavs
Lori Loughlin
Mossimo Giannulli
Felicity Huffman
Augustin Huneeus, Jr.
Davina Isackson
Bruce Isackson
Peter Sartorio
Stephen Semprevivo
Devin Sloane
Gordon Caplan
Gregory Abbott
Marcia Abbott
Jane Buckingham
Robert Flaxman
Marjorie Klapper
Toby MacFarlane
Jeffrey Bizzack
David Sidoo
Xiaoning Sui
Karen Littlefair
Peter Dameris
Robert Repella
Mark Hauser
Rick Singer (ringleader)
John Vandemoer (Stan. Coach)
Michael Center (Texas Coach)
Igor Dvorskiy (test admin)
Rudy Meredith (soccer coach)
Mark Riddell (test tutor)
Martin Fox (middleman)
Laura Janke (soccer vcoach)
Ali Khosroshahin (soccer coach)
Steven Masera (Accountant)
Jorge Salcedo (soccer coach)
Mikaela Sanford (Singer aide)
Niki Williams (exam admin)

Most of the above have been sentenced, but for some, like Singer, the sentencing will wait until their cooperation is secured in any pending trials.

15 others have been charged but not yet tried. They are:

Joey Chen
Amy Colburn
Greg Colburn
Wm. McGlashan
Marci Palatella
Houmayoun Zadeh
Robert Zangrillo
John Wilson
Gamal Abdelaziz
Elisabeth Kimmel
Amin Khoury
Gordon Ernst (tennis coach)
William Ferguson (volleyball coach)
Donna Heinel (athl. Dir.)
Jovan Vavic (water polo coach)

What3words dominoes

Here’s a game you can have fun with: What3words (W3W) dominoes. It works like this.

  1. Pick a famous or historical site and enter it into the what3words.com website.
  2. Pick any square on that site and record or remember the three word address given.
  3. Search the adjacent squares by clicking on them to find a neighbor that begins with the same first letter as the last letter of the original three words. A common side or corner counts, so there are 8 neighbors.
  4. Keep going until you can’t find any further adjacent squares meeting rule 3. You can’t reuse any previous square.
  5. Start over to see if you can find a longer chain, but the starting point must be on the same site. As long as the starting square is on the site, it’s okay for the chain to go off the site.

As an example I chose the Golden Gate Bridge across San Francisco Bay. The longest chain I could find in about 15 minutes of searching was five squares:

chats.blast.tame
entry.tune.onions
spring.wishes.bills
shin.lions.fats
sing.inspector.eggs

See if you can beat that. Post your best result in the comments below. I’ll put this on Facebook, too, so you can post there if you prefer. Here’s a hint: S seems to be a good letter to look for both at the end and beginning.

Wreck Wreak Reek

Yesterday I heard one of the nation’s top health experts on national television say the pandemic has wrecked havoc on the economy, etc. That’s wrong and I hear it often, but you’d think a top doctor would be better educated. It has wreaked havoc. The havoc isn’t wrecked at all; it’s the normalcy (not normality!) that’s been wrecked. The havoc is doing just fine.

Wreak sounds just like reek, but one can’t reek havoc since reek just means stink. I suppose you could say it stinks to have all the havoc wreaked, so in a way it reeks, but reek is an intransitive verb. I’ll throw in that grammar lesson for free: intransitive means it doesn’t take an object.

The Forgers by Bradford Morrow

The ForgersThe Forgers by Bradford Morrow
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Our narrator and main character, Will, whose name is first mentioned about 100 pages into the book, is an art forger. He considers himself a master, but the police and the art world consider him a convicted felon. He doesn’t forge paintings or checks. His specialty is calligraphy. He buys legitimate first editions of rare books and adds forged inscriptions to enhance their value. He’s in love with Meghan, a bookshop owner but her brother Adam disapproves. Will swears off forgery after his conviction and vows to be true to honest Meghan. Then Adam turns up dead one day and Will suspects another forger named Slader, a rather nasty character. But there’s no proof.

Morrow writes with a literary elegance, although he can at times lay it on too thick. He used cerulean twice, once describing the sky as a cerulean dome and the other referring to Meghan’s eyes. Cerulean is a word to be used only once in a book. There are other words for blue. He used hynagogic and hynopompic in the same sentence. Another long word, pretentiousness, comes to mind while reading this. Even so, it’s an enjoyable read, with lots of goodies for those enamored of all things literary and outdated – calligraphy, inks, manual printing presses with gothic print slugs and fine bond paper, and, of course, Irish poets and the like.

About halfway through the book a jarring turn of the plot had me scratching my head and turning a sour eye on the author’s abilities. It just didn’t make sense … unless …. well, I hoped he wouldn’t go there, but he did. It may have resolved the strange turn, but it didn’t make the overall reading experience better. In the end, I can say it was a worthy read even if the author took a lazy route in a couple of ways.

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Pit / Stomach

Here’s another word usage bugaboo of mine. I saw a television show recently where a character said he had a pit in his stomach. What he meant was that he had a bad feeling in the pit of his stomach. I’ve heard this mistake before and it grates.

The stomach is mostly empty space, like a hole in the ground. The deepest part of it is the pit. Strong apprehension can cause a tension or uneasy feeling of tightness in the pit of the stomach. One cannot suddenly develop a pit in the stomach since it is always there already. Saying you had a pit in your stomach is like saying you had strands in your hair or a hole in your nostril. Your hair is strands and your nostril is a hole. Unless you meant you just swallowed a peach pit or something like that, stick with a feeling in the pit of your stomach.

Pangrams – NYT style

The New York Times daily newsletter has a feature they call a Pangram. They provide a honeycomb arrangement of seven unique letters (six around a central one). The reader must find a pangram, that is, a standard English word that uses all the letters shown in the puzzle, and not containing any other letters. However, you may use letters in the puzzle as many times as you want. For example, if the letters were VELD you would solve it with DELVE, DELVED, LEVELED, and LEVELLED. Not acceptable are words with too few or extra letters such as LEVEL (no D) or DRIVEL (I not in puzzle letters). I’m not going to limit the length to seven letters. There may be more than one correct answer.

Here are a few examples for you to try your hand at. Scroll down for the answers, which will be written backwards so they are not immediate spoilers. Letters are shown in alphabetical order.

  1. DFILUY
  2. FLORSUWY
  3. CHOPST
  4. ABIORST
  5. CELMPSU
  6. AFILMORTY
  7. DEINQRTU
  8. CDGILMNOY
  9. ELNOTV
  10. ACILNOPRS

See answers below:

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    1. YLDIULF
    2. YLLUFWORROS
    3. HCTOCSPOH
    4. SROTARTIBRA, (S)TSAORBIR, (S)TSIROBRA
    5. (S)MULUCEPS
    6. YTILAMROF
    7. DETIUQERNU
    8. GNILDDOCYLLOM
    9. ETTELEVON
    10. (S)NOILLACSPAR

The Chinese Typewriter by Thomas S. Mullaney

The Chinese Typewriter: A HistoryThe Chinese Typewriter: A History by Thomas S. Mullaney
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I found this non-fiction account of the development and history of the Chinese typewriter to be fascinating and well-researched, but I cannot recommend it to most people (more on that later). The title itself is both a simple statement of the subject of the book, yet is also misleading. There is no such thing as the Chinese typewriter, just as there is no such thing as the American automobile.

There have been dozens of different devices made or at least proposed to serve as Chinese typewriters, at first by Americans and Europeans, but later by the Chinese and then Japanese. They have taken many forms: with and without keys; using slugs or discs or cylindrical rack trays; with ~10,000 characters of less than half that many; with or without Japanese or Roman alphabets, and so on. All of these are explored in depth and generously illustrated with photos, charts, and other graphics. I enjoyed the book greatly.

My hesitation to recommend lies primarily in the author’s inexcusably pedantic, pretentious, and comically convoluted writing style. He never uses a two-syllable word if he can find a four- or five-syllable one to take its place. Some of the words and phrases you should prepare yourself for include: orthopraxy, referential paratechnologies, technosomatic ensemble, machinic, and semiotic substrate. His sentences are often so long it is obvious the publisher made no effort to use an editor. Here’s an example:

To the contrary, once China and Chinese characters had been reconceptualized as a communicative problem — a puzzle in need of a solution rather than a medium of communicative possibility — this opened up a new, exciting, and lucrative possibility for Japanese and Korean inventors, one in which Japan and Korea could be transformed from the beneficiaries of Chinese cultural inheritance to sites where the puzzle of East Asian technolinguistic modernity might itself be solved.

Your assignment, class, is to diagram that sentence. When I read that to my wife, who used to be the Assistant Director for a Stanford PhD. program and who proofread doctoral theses, she asked if it was a parody because she couldn’t believe anyone could seriously write a general market book that way. When I told her the author was a Stanford professor, she snorted and said she could believe it after all. Despite this, the writing is content-rich and relatively concise compared to other academic works I’ve read lately.

Another warning: I may be the ideal reader for this book. I’ve spent a year each studying Japanese and Chinese (Mandarin). Although I can’t actually read either, I know a few hundred characters and I am already very familiar with the concepts of radicals, kana, and reduced character sets (e.g. toyo kanji). I’m also a long-time cipher and cryptology nerd with extensive experience with issues such as alternative methods of ordering letters and words, CTC encoding, and so forth. If these are all foreign concepts to you, the book is likely to be a tough slog for you. The author does a good job of explaining these things, but there’s a lot to take in. There is a great deal of Chinese political and social history mixed in with the central topic as well. It would be helpful if you had some knowledge along those lines.

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Pandemic long-term effects

We can all agree that the Covid pandemic is devastating in many ways both in terms of loss of life and health and the economic hardship on so many. Even so, it will eventually be over. Even before that happens, various interest groups will analyze what about it is good or bad in the long term based on their own criteria and agendas.

Let’s start with economics. It will certainly have effects on the insurance and related segments like Social Security and pension systems. Pension systems including Social Security will benefit since the lifespan of a significant number will have been shortened and they will stop paying out sooner than projected. Similarly, contributors to those systems, both corporate and governmental, will be able to reduce their contributions to those systems for a while. Once the economy is back on track, this could help balance the national budget as fewer subsidies will be needed. Similarly, the life insurance industry will suffer somewhat in the near term because the death rate has increased significantly. The premiums have stopped coming in and they need to make payouts in greater number. However, the stock market, where so many assets of the pension systems and the life insurance industry are invested, has done great during the pandemic despite the faltering economy. The gains from these assets will probably offset the short-term losses for the insurance companies.

On a larger scale, there will be a sudden generational shift in wealth. The disease mostly kills old people. Their assets are rapidly being transferred to their children and others. In fact, it would not surprise me if this was a major motivating factor to a few of those who refuse to wear a mask or practice social distancing. No one will admit it, but I think it is possible that some of those anti-maskers are actually trying to infect their parents or grandparents in order to inherit. Perhaps I’m too cynical. The same effect will apply in the workplace, with a number of older  executives or small business owners will have died or forced to retire due to bankruptcies or other business failures. This will open up many opportunities for younger workers and entrepreneurs. The new businesses will not be tied so much to old paradigms like large office buildings and personal meetings. They will be more adaptable to work-from-home, hybrid, gig, and other modes of working. From a national and world economic perspective this is good (if we can set aside the personal tragedy). The most efficient economic system is one in which each person works until he or she is no longer productive and then dies, no longer consuming food or other resources. I’m not suggesting any government should strive for this; quite the opposite. But I do think the economy will eventually emerge in a revitalized state.

We can’t pass over the political fallout. It is unclear how the pandemic and its handling will affect voters in the sense of assigning blame. Our American political landscape is split and so poisoned with false information that I won’t venture a guess on that score. On the demographic side it is also unclear. The death toll struck the elderly, a very conservative group, the hardest, suggesting the Democrats would benefit. Yet minorities, a mostly left-leaning group, were hit the hardest when examined on a racial, not age basis. However, minorities tend to be more concentrated than the elderly. In other words, even if the minority population, mostly in the cities, is reduced by, say, 5% more than whites, that is unlikely to change the Democratic dominance. The local Congressmen, mayors, city councils, etc. will probably remain heavily Democrat in most places with large minority populations. The elderly, though, being more scattered, could affect those districts where there is a closer balance such as suburbs. A 5% shift there could tip the scales to the left. I’m sure political analysts are already cranking the numbers.

For small brick-and-mortar businesses, I’m afraid things will be bleak or at least very different. Consumers have adjusted to staying at home. Movie theaters, restaurants, hotels, barbers, nail salons, etc. will all see reduced demand even after the pandemic is long gone. I bought hair clippers and will probably never go to a barber shop again. People are learning or re-learning the joys of cooking and DIY home repair and maintenance. The pandemic will usher in a new era in personal lifestyle, not just economics. The problem of uneven wealth distribution will be exacerbated. We will have to find a way to redistribute it or see skeletal citizens living and dying in the streets. We are living through history.

Most popular dog breeds (other than Labs and German Shepherds)

The map below shows you which dog breeds are popular in which states. But unlike other such maps it does NOT show the most popular breeds in each state. This is because in all but six states that would be Labrador Retrievers. Also, almost every state has German Shepherds as among the top three, usually in second position. So I have shown the most popular breed in each state other than Labs and German Shepherds. Beagles are especially popular in states with a lot of hunting. The data is taken from published  reports of the American Kennel Club (AKC) as of 2017, the most recent I found online. There are other sources with very different results based on other sources such as the American Veterinary Association, queries in dog breeder forums, and so on. Of course the vast majority of dogs are mixed breeds or “mutts.”

The legend font is a bit small so here is what it says:

[Green]  Beagle
[Gray]   Bulldog
[Orange] French Bulldog
[Blue]   Golden Retriever

Tie Die by Max Tomlinson

Tie Die (Colleen Hayes, #2)Tie Die by Max Tomlinson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Colleen Hayes is an unlicensed private eye in San Francisco in 1978. She’s also on parole after serving nine years for killing her husband, who was molesting their daughter. She’s contacted by Steve Cook, a former rock star who fell on bad times and now works construction, a man she happened to be gaga over back in the day. Cook’s daughter has been kidnapped and he doesn’t want police on the case. Hence the call to Colleen.

The plot is solid and the action just about right – not too little, not too much. Much of what Colleen does is very much believable and what a real P.I. would do based on my experience in law enforcement. I say much, not all, because that statement rings less true as the case develops. I’m giving it a solid four stars because the book did its job in keeping me entertained. Having lived through the 60s and much of the 70s in the Bay Area, the retro nostalgic touch was fun for a while, too.

Having said that, there are problems. The author overdoes the retro stuff by a long way. The first time he mentions Colleen’s Princess phone and flared pants, it’s a bit of fun. Buts it wears thin with constant repetition. Wide belts, wide lapels, tie dye T-shirts, ad nauseam. Okay, we get it. It’s 1978. It’s your shtick. You don’t have to call the answering machine a “one of those fancy new answering machines” or mention putting a dime in the pay phone a dozen times or explain how Colleen calls the operator and asks to be connected to the police instead of dialing 9-1-1 or every time she crosses legs mention the flared jeans. It’s clunky and distracting. More important than that, though, is that all the characters, Colleen and the kidnap victim included, are not very likeable. They mostly seem to be heavy boozers who smoke constantly and dump their butts all over the ground among other unpleasant traits. I’d have been happy if they all died in a plane crash at the end. There’s also a plethora of plot problems, like how does Colleen, a convicted homicide felon on parole, on one day’s notice hop on a plane to England on what is said to be her first international flight? How is it she has a valid passport and visa coming out of prison and never having traveled abroad, and isn’t she violating parole? How is she even listed as a private eye without a license? I could pick at it some more, but don’t lose sight of the fact that it did keep me reading and keep me guessing. I can recommend it mildly.

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FBI Director Wray’s message to former FBI agents

Dear FBI Family,

It’s with a very heavy heart that I’m writing to tell you that this morning, Special Agent Daniel Alfin and Special Agent Laura Schwartzenberger of the Miami Division were shot and killed in the line of duty. They were executing a federal court-ordered search warrant in a violent crimes against children investigation in Sunrise, Florida. Three other agents were shot and wounded, two of whom suffered injuries requiring hospital care, but both are now in stable condition. The third injured agent did not require hospitalization. The shooter is deceased.

Days like this are among the darkest days we face in the FBI. We’ve lost two of our very own. We’re all heartbroken – particularly our colleagues in Miami who are reeling from this unthinkable loss. All of us across the FBI, in offices and divisions who worked with the special agents, and colleagues who have never had the chance to meet them, are all trying to also come to terms with this tragic loss. And yet, our grief cannot compare to that of the families of these two special agents. Today, they’ve lost the people who meant the very most to them.

As many of you have heard me say, it takes an incredibly special person to answer the call and do the heroic work of an FBI special agent.To sacrifice self for service. This morning, Special Agent Alfin and Special Agent Schwartzenberger left home to carry out the mission they signed up for – to keep the American people safe. It will take us a long time to process the grief that we all feel for the loss of our own. But we’ll be forever grateful for their commitment and their dedication – for their last full measure of devotion to the people they served and defended. We will always honor their ultimate sacrifice. And we’ll continue to stand by our FBI Family, and the families of these special agents, in the days to come, bringing every resource we can to get through this together.

We’ll continue to share more as we’re able to.

Calvary vs. cavalry

A mistake people often make both in speech and writing is using Calvary when they mean cavalry. This is one I find surprising, since to me the words sound quite different. After all, people don’t mistakenly say calvarier for cavalier. Here are the definitions.

Calvary: a site near Jerusalem where Jesus was crucified. It is also known as Golgotha.

Cavalry: soldiers who fight mounted on horseback. In modern armies it refers to those fighting in tanks or similar fast-moving land vehicles. A cavalier is such a cavalry soldier.

Google Trends: Gorman v. Gaga

I noticed something interesting about Americans’ Google search trends recently. These two Google search trends cover the last seven days.

For those who are out of touch, Amanda Gorman is the Youth Poet Laureate for America and recited a poem at Biden’s inaugural. She is black. Lady Gaga is a white singer and certainly better known than Gorman prior to January 20th. As for the second map, it seems almost reversed from the electoral map, with blue states colored red and vice versa, although of course there are exceptions. It seems Democrat-dominated states are more concerned with the insurrection while the Republican ones are more concerned with Trump’s impeachment.

Molly: The True Story of the Amazing Dog Who Rescues Cats by Colin Butcher

Molly: The True Story of the Amazing Dog Who Rescues CatsMolly: The True Story of the Amazing Dog Who Rescues Cats by Colin Butcher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Molly is a mischievous and adorable cocker spaniel trained to be a scent detection dog, specifically, to search for cats. Her owner, the author, runs a private detection business but specializes in finding missing pets. He bills himself as a pet detective. This book tells the story of how Molly was discovered, trained and her many adventures and misadventures finding pets. I can’t say the book is very well written. The editor needed a sharper blue pencil. It is crammed with treacle and puffery, but ultimately, its merit falls on the heart-warming stories of frantic owners being reunited with missing pets. No, not all the stories have a happy ending. I was most impressed with the amount of work that went into acquiring and training Molly and Butcher and the degree of difficulty required in many of these lost pet cases. Experience and knowledge of cat and human behavior were essential in many of the cases. Molly and Butcher are located in England, and there is a lot of British slang and local knowledge, such as London geography and familiarity with British TV shows, which can be charming to some, but at times is a challenge for the American reader. I think any dog or cat lover would enjoy the book if you can overlook a few stylistic peccadilloes.

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Don’t blame Trump; blame his voters

Let me clarify: Donald Trump is responsible for the insurrection in the Capitol and should be held criminally and civilly liable. In that sense he should be blamed. But he’s like a rabid dog. He can’t control himself. The ones to blame are the people who voted for him. They knew what he was and unleashed the rabid dog on the public.

Let’s examine what voters knew about Trump. Before he even ran for office he started the fake Birther movement even though he knew full well President Obama was born in the U.S. The details are well spelled-out in Michael Cohen’s book Disloyal, so I won’t do so here. In short, Trump is and was a white supremacist who couldn’t stand the idea of a black president. It was also clear that he was willing to lie to challenge the legitimacy of a fair and honest election. He was also so stupid (and so were his followers) that he/they thought it would make a legal difference if Obama was born in Africa. It wouldn’t. He was a natural born citizen since his mother was. Then Trump ran for president and his main slogan in referring to Mexicans was (exact quote): “They’re bringing in drugs. They’re bringing in crime. They’re rapists…” He also ranted about the Chinese, but not the Russians who were the more dangerous enemy (and also white). So voters knew already that he hated black, brown, and Asian people. A typical white supremacist.

Next he bragged about being able to shoot someone on Fifth Ave. and be able to get away with it. Shortly after that he said maybe the 2nd Amendment people would take care of Hillary. So he made clear that he was willing to use deadly force against his enemies, and in fact tried to get his opponent assassinated. This, too, is confirmed in Cohen’s book; just read the first page. It was no joke. He was emulating the New York mob bosses he admired. Don’t order a hit; just let your minions know what you’d like to see happen. That’s to avoid criminal prosecution. Just expect them to follow up. That technique goes back as far as King Henry’s  line “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest,” thus sealing Thomas Becket’s fate, not that Trump is likely to know who Becket was.

Then came the Access Hollywood tape where Trump confessed to being a serial sex offender. He said he that liked to grab women he met by their “p****”.  Later he claimed this was “locker room talk” and “only words,” but multiple women have confirmed that it happened. Cohen describes at least one such incident that he had to take care of as Trump’s fixer. His close aide Omarosa has also confirmed Trump’s sexual predation in her book.

So even before the 2016 election voters knew he was a violent, white supremacist and sexual predator who tried to incite people to kill an elected government official and to hate and fear people of color. He wasn’t elected despite that; he was elected because of that.

Since he’s taken office he has called the Nazis of Charlottesville “very fine people” and called Haiti and Africa “sh**hole countries.” The only thing linking those two countries is that black people come out of them, so that certainly shows what he thinks black people are. I didn’t hear him say this myself, but both Adam Schiff and Kevin McCarthy have confirmed that he did and neither Trump nor any of the Republicans in the room have denied it, so I think it’s safe to believe. Cohen also says that Trump used to say things like that all the time in private.

Next came the child separation at the border. I didn’t believe it could be as bad as the news said at first, but I watched the documentary Immigration Nation on Netflix, a film made by White House approved documentary makers embedded with ICE and Border Patrol. The filmmakers were never heard on the film. All the dialogue was the ICE officials, immigrants , and people directly involved telling their own views in their own words. Two officials confirmed that they were ordered by the White House not only to separate the immigrant children from their parents but also to torture them so as to deter future immigrants. The word torture wasn’t used. The one official said the instruction was to “cause maximum pain,” but that’s a pretty good definition of torture. The separation from the parents was by itself torture to a young child, but they did a lot more than that, keeping the kids in open cages in 100 degree heat without adequate water or shade, telling them they would never be returned to their parents, that they would be sent to foster homes and never be loved or part of a family again. Despite a court ordering the return of the children to their parents, his administration is still holding over 500. I have two Mexican grandchildren I’ve never seen in person, only in photos and video. If Trump were to have been re-elected, it’s likely they couldn’t come to see me without risking being taken from their parents, tortured, and never returned. So in addition to everything else, voters knew he is a child torturer.

Then he ramped up the violence. When the Black Lives Matter demonstrations started, he encouraged his followers to believe the demonstrators were violent. To be sure, some looters and vandals were in the crowd. But the only killers were the Boogaloo boys hiding in the crowd who shot three officers: two federal officers in Oakland and one Santa Cruz policeman. Two of  them died. One shooting took place on the steps of the Oakland federal building, a place I worked on a few occasions. That could have been me on those steps if I was still in the FBI. The killers were caught and confessed that they did the shootings to support Donald Trump. They were trying to fulfill the false narrative Trump was spouting, hoping the public would fear the peaceful protesters rather than the real killers: Trump supporters.

There’s so much more I could cite: the draft dodging, hiring someone to take his SAT, the “anti-terrorist” bill he signed January 31 last year banning immigration from six nations whose people were all people of color (who’d never had a terrorist act against the U.S.), the bankruptcies, the pardons of criminal cronies, the phony investigation of Hillary, ad infinitum. He also made clear throughout his presidency that he would never admit he lost an election and that he would never agree to a peaceful transition of power. So his voters knew in 2020 that he was a serial sex offender who tried to get an opponent assassinated, encouraged cop killers, tortured children, and would use violence to keep from leaving office. Millions of people voted for him anyway, or, more likely, because this is what they wanted. Hillary Clinton grossly underestimated when she said half his followers were deplorables. Double that. And people pretended to be surprised when he incited the mob to attack the Capitol when he lost the election. Don’t buy it. His voters expected it, wanted it, and still want it.

I will never see a Trump voter and see anything other than someone who thinks my grandchildren are drug smugglers and rapists and wants them tortured. You will never be my friend.

 

Cryptic clues explained

First, understand the conventional rules that govern cryptic crossword clues. Every clue must contain a true definition or equivalent of the word or phrase in the puzzle grid, and that must be either at the beginning or the end, not the middle. However, that definition may be obscure and will usually be given in a misleading way by the rest of the clue. The remaining parts of the clue also provide a valid definition of or clue to the word, but in a non-standard way, such as by an anagram, by breaking the word into parts, etc. With some exceptions for readability, every word in the clue should be pointing to something to help you solve the grid word. See the examples below to understand how this works. These are the answers and explanations to the puzzle in the previous post. The format is Answer (i.e. word in grid); Clue given; explanation of the clue.

Across

9. ADELPHI; Hip deal unraveled private New York University. Adelphi University is a private school in New York, so the last four words are the real definition. Hip deal is an anagram of adelphi. Unraveled is what is known as an indicator or anagrind. It signifies that what comes before or after is an anagram. Any word that suggests a mixing or incorrect spelling, such as wacky, strained, etc.,  can indicate an anagram.

10. LULLABY; Bull lay carelessly, heard soothing music. Bull lay is the anagram, carelessly the indicator, soothing music is the real definition. Heard is an extra word this time to pull the rest together.

11. IFOLLOW; Got it! Oil flow is interrupted. Got it! is the definition, i.e. a synonymous phrase. Oil flow is another anagram with the last two words the anagrind. Note that the word lengths (1,6) are shown in the clue when it’s more than one word. I’ve followed that rule in this puzzle, but it’s not always followed by others. Some publishers show it even if it’s one word, others, never.

12. NATASHA; Russian woman has a tan, unexpectedly. Russian woman is the definition, has a tan the anagram, unexpectedly is the anagrind. Now let’s move on to different clue types.

13. COPYRIGHT; Replicate just to get form of protection. Replicate = copy; just = right. Put them together to get a form of protection, the definition of copyright. Defining the individual parts in this way is very common in cryptics, often splitting a word into smaller groups, not at natural breakpoints like here.

15. ECOLI; Severe colic: it could make one very sick. The last six words provide the true definition. The word itself appears hidden in the phrase severe colic. This is another common cluing technique, and using lots of irrelevant words as camouflage is considered legitimate. I chose to treat ecoli as one word since that has become common usage.

16. FRIABLE; Crumbly snack can be cooked in oil, it sounds like. Crumbly is the definition. The phrase “it sounds like” is another type of indicator. It means the adjoining word or phrase is a homonym of the real word, or in this case sounds like it should mean capable of being fried – i.e. fryable, although there may not be such a word. Look for indicators like “they say” or “I heard”. The word snack is irrelevant, there to connect the parts sensibly.

19. NAIVETE; Savvy Kenai veteran eschewed credulity. Credulity is the definition. The word appears in Kenai veteran.

20. ADDLE; Sidesaddle designed to confuse. Addle appears in the word sidesaddle and to confuse is the definition.

21. ALONGSIDE; Beside the hypotenuse. Beside is the definition while the hypotenuse is a legitimate definition of “a long side,” an alternate reading of the letters.

25. TRUNNEL; Passage through mountain takes right, Peg. A trunnel is a wooden dowel or peg used in construction, so Peg is the definition. Passage through mountain defines tunnel, “takes” is an indicator that one thing is contained in another. Here the word right represents the letter R, which often signifies right as opposed to left. Using one word to stand for a single letter in this way is also quite common in cryptics. Look for other indicators of containment like swallows, protecting, surrounds, enters, etc.

26. TAFFETA; Heavy returned cheesecloth; Heavy = fat. Returned is an indicator to read in reverse, i.e. TAF. Other indicators of this type are words like back, reversal, or in the case of vertical words, up, skyward, etc. Feta is a cheese. Here the legitimate definition, cloth, is connected to part of the alternate definition for additional misdirection, but it is there at the end, so it is fair.

28. POLECAT; Staff kitty is a real stinker. Since a polecat is another word for skunk, real stinker is the definition. Staff = pole; kitty=cat.

29. PIEBALD; Multi-colored pizza with no topping. Multi-colored is the definition. Pizza=pie; with no topping = bald.

Down

1. MANIAC; A crazy man I accept. A crazy man is the definition. Maniac appears in the clue. Note that the word man appears both in the real definition and in the alternate one.

2. RECOUP; Obscure couple regain what was lost. Recoup appears. Final four words define.

3. OPAL; I hear German car is a real gem. I hear is a homonym indicator (of Opel, a German car), the rest defines opal.

4. BIGWIG; Dolly Parton? This type of clue is called a double definition. Dolly is indeed a bigwig in music/show business. A big wig is also one of her defining characteristics. Reportedly, when asked how long it takes to do her hair, she replies “I don’t know. I’m not there when it happens.”

5. PLANKTON; Exercise heavyweight protozoa. Plank = an exercise; ton = a heavy weight; protozoa is the definition.

6. BLITHERING; Carefree call to be kind of idiot. Blithe = carefree; ring = call. A blithering idiot is one kind we’ve all heard of. This is probably my favorite clue in this puzzle.

7. GASSTOVE; Vast egos cooked only on a kitchen appliance. Vast egos is the anagram; cooked is the anagrind. The rest defines. Note the two word lengths are indicated with the clue.

8. DYNAMITE; Boomer made tiny composite. Boomer = definition (it does go boom, you know). Made tiny = anagram; composite = anagrind.

14. RUBBERNECK; Observe masseuse kiss and cuddle. Observe = definition; masseuse = rubber (one who rubs); kiss and cuddle = neck.

16. FLATTOPS; Haircuts popular in 50’s aircraft carriers. Double definition. Flattops were a popular style for boys in the 50’s and aircraft carriers are also called flattops.

17. INDOUBLE; Adjust one; build twice as much. Adjust = anagrind. One build = anagram. Twice as much = definition.

18. EPAULETS; Driving sleet overwhelming most of apostle wearing ornamental shoulder pieces. Driving is the anagram of sleet which “overwhelms” Pau_, most of apostle Paul. Shoulder pieces = definition. This clue has two indicators: one for the anagram and one to indicate a word inside another. Using the L in both sleet and Paul is generally considered unfair. Each letter or group of letters in the alternate definition should be separately treated.

22. OCTOPI; I coopt spineless creatures. I coopt = anagram. Spineless creatures = definition. The word spineless may double as an anagrind, or perhaps the clue doesn’t have one. They are usually, but not always, provided. Some puzzle makers don’t use them at all.

23. IPECAC; Ripe cactus can be used as a purgative. Ipecac is contained in clue. Purgative = definition.

24. ELANDS; Horny Africans slander recklessly without initial regret. Elands are African antelope with large horns, so the first two words are the definition. Slander is the anagram (with an extra R); recklessly = anagrind. Without initial regret is the indicator to remove the initial letter of the word regret from the anagram. You will also see indicators like “last of” or “center of”.