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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“Words Used by Nabokov Quiz”

Vladimir Nabokov is among my favorite writers. Russian born, he wrote in several languages, but his English work astounds me. It is so eloquent and so chock full of wonderful English words that only a Russian could really appreciate. Click here to take a fun quiz of 11 words taken from his writings. (It’s not easy. I usually ace these things. I got 8 right and guessed on one of them.)

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The latest issue of AWAI’s Barefoot Writer

In this issue:

* 15 Ways to Reshape Your Brain and Propel Your Creativity Into the Stratosphere

* Become a Google “Influencer” and Reap Near-Infinite Rewards

* Are “Shiny, Flying Squirrels” Sabotaging Your Writing Career?

* If You’re Having Trouble Getting Leads and Subscribers…

* “Stealth Satisfaction” for You and Your Clients

Click here to read the June issue

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On Friday, I wrote an essay trying to make sense of the senseless killing of George Floyd. As part of that essay, I told three stories about my personal experience with racism and police brutality. One of those stories, in particular, generated a lot of feedback from readers, many of them wondering if there was more to it than what I was able to convey in that brief amount of space.

There is more to it. There’s actually a lot more that I remember about that incident…

I was sitting in a police station in Washington, DC, handcuffed to a chair… 

I had been arrested because I had interfered with what I thought was a rape. The woman in the car was screaming “Rape!” It turned out the man she was accusing was a cop. So I got arrested for interfering with his arrest.

As I was sitting there waiting to be booked, three patrolmen brought in a middle-aged black man in handcuffs. The black man was well dressed and wore what looked like expensive glasses.

I don’t remember what he was charged with. I wasn’t paying that much attention. I was looking at the three other handcuffed men in the room, who, like me, were seated and waiting. Two were black. One seemed to be Latino. One of the black men was young, like 16 or 17. The other one was about five years older than me, in his early 40s. The Latino-looking guy looked to be in his 20s. They all looked scraggly, tough, and poor.

To me, they all looked GUILTY. But since I had been, in my mind, wrongly arrested, I wondered if they might have been wrongly arrested too. I felt a warming kinship to them. But I could see when they looked at me, a clean-cut white man in a suit and tie, that feeling of brotherhood was not reciprocated.

This little anagnorisis was interrupted by the stentorian voice of the desk sergeant. “I don’t like your tone of voice,” he admonished the middle-aged black man in front of him.

The black man stood there, silently but with his head up and the slightest trace of a smile on his lips. It was a posture of careful defiance.

The room was quiet now. The policemen that had been milling around in the background stopped talking.

The desk officer took the bait, beginning with a foray of small insults. I remember one –  repeatedly calling the black man “four eyes” – because even back then it seemed so puerile to me. And thus a verbal fencing match began.

I don’t remember how long it lasted. It felt like half an hour. It was probably less than three minutes. But the battle wasn’t the least bit fair. From the start, the black man had the advantage.

In a crescendo of anger and frustration, the desk officer hurled increasingly juvenile insults at the black man, who remained calm, but was now responding, basically lecturing the cop as you might lecture your adolescent son about the advantages of keeping his temper.

I was, and still am, impressed by how stoically this handcuffed black man was standing up for himself at a moment when he was so clearly in danger. As a young man that disliked authority, I had many times found myself in situations similar to the one he was in now, and had learned from experience how well meekness works when confronted with an adversary with a handgun.

So I was at once astonished and awed by the courage of this man who, I realized, was much closer to me in terms of affluence and education than our three fellow detainees. But I was also afraid for him. I remember thinking: “Is this the first time he’s ever been arrested?”

Sure enough, moments later, the desk sergeant got up from his seat, came around from his desk, grabbed hold of this man that had just made a fool of him, and dragged him past me and down a corridor to the holding cells.

The only sound in the room was the shuffling of shoes as the three arresting officers followed their sergeant down the corridor and out of view – or so they must have thought. I had a clear view of the corridor and even a bit of the inside of the cell into which they pushed the black man.

The sergeant went into the cell. The three cops stood at the door watching as the enraged and humiliated loser of the debate beat the shit out of the victor.

The sergeant emerged from the cell and locked it. The other cops followed him back up the corridor. I noticed, for the first time, that one of them was black. I studied his face. It seemed troubled. But so did the other two faces. Maybe it was my imagination.

As the sergeant neared me, he realized that I had probably seen the entire obscene (literally, obscene… look it up) performance. He grinned at me,  dust-clapping his hands as if to say, “Well, I guess I showed him.”

Since this show was directed at me, the drama had shifted and I was now an actor in it. This was act two and the audience was watching.

So I said – because I couldn’t stop myself from saying it – “You must be proud. You’re a real tough guy.”

He glared at me and I imagined the headline: Journalist Hangs Himself in Jail Cell. Then he lowered his eyes a bit… and walked past me.

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“The Economics of Murder”

(from Bill Bonner’s Diary)

“Since the bottom of the Crisis of ’08-’09, the 20% of the population at the bottom of the heap – largely young and/or Black – has lost 25% of its wealth.

“The next and biggest group, those with more than the bottom 20% but less than the top 40%, are essentially even. That is, they hit bottom in March ’09… and never recovered.

“That makes 60% of the population worse off than it was in 2007. Meanwhile, the top 1% has seen an increase in its wealth of nearly 150%.

“Were these developments just the free market at work? Did they ‘just happen’? Is this ‘okay’?

“According to press reports, poor George Floyd was handcuffed… and then killed… because he tried to pass a $20 bill that was counterfeit.

“On that same day – as on every day for the past three months – the Federal Reserve has passed out $1.5 billion worth of them.

“And now, fueled by the pure oxygen of $3 trillion in new counterfeit money, the S&P 500 has been boosted back up over 3,000.

“Meanwhile, the U.S. economy in which Mr. Floyd tried to make a living has been struggling for air.

“The Fed’s giveaways to Wall Street – including its artificially low interest rates – discouraged saving and stifled the kind of real business investment that might have created good-paying jobs.

“Instead, corporate boards decided to borrow… pay themselves bonuses… and buy their own shares to jack up their prices.

“Often, in times of war, counterfeiters will print up billions in fake currency, to try to destroy the enemy’s economy and promote civil unrest. Now, we do it to ourselves.

“In short, the feds are operating the biggest, most destructive counterfeiting ring in all of history.

“But there have been no arrests. No perp walks. No trials. No demonstrations. No window breaking and no looting.

“The average man knows nothing about it. And who would tell him? Wall Street? The president? The Fed? The press?

“Instead, he is told that the geniuses at the Fed are doing their best to ‘stimulate’ the economy.

“And both sides – Democrat and Republican… The New York Times and Fox News… support the counterfeiting rip-off. They want to keep it going as long as possible.

“And for the moment, the feds can pass out trillions of dollars… to their crony friends and to the voters… with no apparent downside. Get it while you can.”

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The latest issue of Independent Healing

 In this issue:

* Why most people will fail if they try to lose “pandemic pounds” with a traditional diet

* The coronavirus risk factor every man needs to know about

* 4 ways to stop COVID-somnia

* How a special diet plus vitamin C fights hard-to-treat cancers

* A promising natural treatment for Alzheimer’s

Click here to read the June issue.

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