I’ve done a fair number of things in my career that I’m proud of. I’ve also done a few that I’m trying to forget – but developing Rancho Santana, a resort community on the Pacific coast of Nicaragua, is not one of them.

Click here to read some of the latest Rancho Santana news.

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“How to Bleed in the First Line” by James Altucher

“I like to study first lines,” James writes. “They have to be powerful: a few simple words that compel us to read the next 300 pages. How do the authors do it? How can I do it?”

He goes on to give us 12 of his favorites. A few examples:

* From The Stranger by Albert Camus: “Mother died today. Or maybe yesterday; I can’t be sure.”

* From 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez: “He’s facing the firing squad. How did he get there?”

* From Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut: “All this happened, more or less.”

* From A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan: “It began the usual way, in the bathroom of the Lassimo Hotel.”

* From Beloved by Toni Morrison: “124 was spiteful.”

Click here to read James’s entire essay.

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The latest issue of AWAI’s Barefoot Writer

In this issue:

* Write About Real-Life “Happy Endings” and Get Paid $1500 to $2000 per Project

* Celebrating the “Anti-Goal” Could Bring You Bigger Writing Wins More Often

* The Writer’s Freedom Ladder for More Sunny Days and Checks En Route

* The “Non-Salesy” Steps I Took to Grow My Case Study Work

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Fox 8, a novella by George Saunders

Fox 8 is an illustrated (line drawings by Chelsea Cardinal) story whose protagonist is a talking fox.

Saunders is a huge favorite of mine. His stories are emotionally compelling, darkly humorous, and wokely-smart. Formerly  a geophysical engineer, he has published four collections of short stories, the novel Lincoln in the Bardo (for which he won the Booker Prize), and a beautiful commencement speech: “Congratulations, by the Way – Some Thoughts on Kindness.”

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The latest issue of Independent Healing

What medical care is safe during the pandemic? In this issue, you’ll learn about the 8 kinds of medical appointments you may be able to skip until the coronavirus threat passes… and 4 types of care you should never delay.

Plus:

* The one type of medical facility most likely to spread COVID-19

* 7 questions about coronavirus safety you should ask before going to an appointment

* The surprising coronavirus-Alzheimer’s connection

* If you have achy knees, you should never let your doctor give you this common treatment

* Contrary to what doctors have been saying for decades, eggs actually improve heart health

And much more…

Click here to read the July issue.

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The Bridge Over the River Kwai by Pierre Boulle 

First published in French in 1952, then in English translation in 1954, this is a page-turner about British POWs building a bridge for their Japanese captors in Burma in 1942. (The author – who later wrote Planet of the Apes – was held in captivity by the Japanese during the war.)

From The Japanese Times: “Under harsh conditions and the haughty perfectionism of Colonel Nicholson, the men rally to the labor of construction, turning the bridge into a symbol of work ethic and national honor, ‘a masterpiece which was to prove the superiority of the West.’”

Notes from our book club discussion: A critical account of both English and Japanese cultural views and prejudices during WWII… Heroics and hubris.

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How Dumb Can Our Experts Be?

A friend tells me that I have to wear a face mask now. Florida, like so many states, has made it mandatory.

The reason?

The coronavirus is spreading! According to The Washington Post:

“Public health officials are increasingly concerned about coronavirus spreading, especially in the South and West. The head of the Centers for Disease Control says antibody tests show that infections are likely 10 times higher than what’s been reported.”

Gee whiz! How surprising!

From CDC Director Robert Redfield:

“Our best estimate right now is that for every case that’s reported, there actually are 10 other infections. Using that methodology pushes the tally of US cases to at least 23 million. Redfield said the larger estimate is based on blood samples collected from across the country that look for the presence of antibodies to the virus. For every confirmed case of COVID-19, 10 more people had antibodies.”

And how can we possibly explain that?

“Redfield and another top CDC official said that young people are driving the surge in cases in the South and West,” The Washington Post said on Thursday. “They attributed that to the broader testing of people under 50. ‘In the past, I just don’t think we diagnosed these infections,’ Redfield said.”

Duh!

Now get this:

According to the venerable Post, Redfield also estimated that “92 to 95 percent of the US population is still susceptible to the virus.”

Holy Moly!

Okay, we didn’t out this CDC mouthpiece (and The Washington Post) for screwing up the first bit of arithmetic – forgetting that 10 + 1 = 11, not, 10. But this new calculation is right out of Alice in Wonderland.

Let’s review his math. 100% minus 10% is 90%. How the hell did he end up with 92% to 95%?

I can think of only one explanation: He’s subtracting 23 million from 328 million, which gives you 305 million. 305 million divided by 328 million (the population of the US today) gives you 92.9%.

Are you laughing yet? Are you curled over laughing? Or are you shrieking with fear that the CDC’s top guy is such an imbecile?

What I’ve just told you is just the beginning of the idiocy. There are at least three more howlers that are coming your way,

Maybe next week, when I stop laughing, I will explain to those that don’t understand all the ways this report – and all the other reports you’ve been hearing from The Washington Post and The New York Times and the rest of the mainstream media – is logically and arithmetically impaired.

In the meantime, wear that face mask (except for protesting, of course). Otherwise your state governor and the state Gestapo will come and get you.

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