Friends generally fall into tiers, like those old food-pyramid posters in the school cafeteria, except in this case, the tiny triangle at the pinnacle is where the good stuff is, your best friends who provide the most nourishment. The broad base of the pyramid represents the acquaintances, the kinda-friends, the friends of friends and amiable whoevers that, like matcha cupcakes or pigs in a blanket, are great to sample at a party, but do not make a full meal.
I Want My Friends. But How Many? Alex Williams
“The two most important days in your life are the day that you were born and the day you found out why.”
“Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.”
This country is in the midst of a 5 alarm fire, & so many of the democratic leadership, the media, & much of the general population don’t get it, can’t believe it, or think someone else will stop it. If you don’t see where we’re headed in 3, 5, 10 years, your head is in the sand.
As I do for the first time in my 62 years, my biggest worry is for my country. But the darkness on the edge of town has spread to the main roads and highways and neighborhoods. It’s now at the local bar, and the bowling alley, at the school board, and the grocery store. And it must be acknowledged and answered for. Grown men and women who swore an oath to our Constitution, elected by their constituents possessing the kinds of college degrees I could only dream of have decided to join the mob and become something they are not while hoping we somehow forget who they were. They’ve decided to burn it all down – with us inside.
Brian Williams on his final MSNBC telecast
“You know, look, one thing that nurses also told us is that not only are they treating these people, but these people come in and ask like it’s Starbucks there. No, I don’t want that treatment. I want ivermectin. I want this, I want that, I want all these other things I’ve heard about,” said Marquez. “And the hospital has to actually fight their own patients to give them the treatment that actually works!”
Reporter on Covid treatments at Sparrow Health System Michigan
Expectation is the grandfather of disappointment. The world can never own a man who wants nothing.”
— Aphorisms for Thirsty Fish
“Here is a formula for staying young well beyond the days of youth…
“Grow old in a place where you do not think you belong. You will feel like an adolescent, because adolescents always consider themselves outsiders. Then, after decades, just as you have gradually habituated yourself to your surroundings, pack up and leave. It is time for another, perhaps the final beginning.”
I am a voracious reader. This year I have read 64 books so far and I will probably read another 2-3 books by year end. I tend to be picky as to what I read and I am somewhat reluctant to recommend books to others given my “eclectic” tastes. Over 80% of what I read is non-fiction though I did recommend two fiction books that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Here are my Top 10 books of 2021 and two extra recommendations..
I have read many of the Trump presidency books. I find that the one written by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa is the best. Peril also covers the candidacy and early administration of Joe Biden and the comparison between the Trump and Biden administration is compelling. I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump’s Catastrophic Final Year by Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker is also excellent and the title is self explanatory as to the story within the book. Most of the book details Trump’s failure with managing the Covid pandemic.
1940: FDR, Wilkie, Lindbergh, Hitler—the Election Amid the Storm by Susan Dunn documents the leadership, judgment and foresight of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the year before we entered World War II. Many Americans wished to remain isolationist and did not want to support Great Britain even as its cities were attacked by German bombers. Wendell Wilkie was the unsuccessful Republican candidate for President in 1940. Wilkie ran an unconventional campaign but unlike many Republicans today accepted the results of the election and supported FDR’s policies about the impending war.
Corruption, bad judgment, mismanagement, suicides, deviant behavior, treachery and Donald Trump, all this and more in Dark Towers: Deutsche Bank, Donald Trump, and an Epic Trail of Destruction. This is a business book that reads like a novel, a huge international bank plagued by scandals.
If you are an Eagles fan, you will thoroughly enjoy Ray Didinger’s Finished Business. Lots of great stories about players, owners and coaches. If you are a basketball fan, Three Ring Circus by Jeff Pearlman about the Los Angeles Lakers team from 1996-2004 is very entertaining and provides some great insights into the rocky relationship between Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal. Amazing how a very dysfunctional team was so successful. For baseball fans, October 1964 by David Halberstam is a bit of a dated book but an excellent read. It covered the 1964 seasons of the New York Yankees (with Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris and Yoga Berra) and the St Louis Cardinals (Bob Gibson, Tim McCarver, Stan Musial). Interesting personal portraits of many of the players were provided. Phillies fans, take note, the Phillies collapse towards the National League pennant is documented!
Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher about a crotchety, sarcastic Creative Writing teacher Jason Fitger was very funny. I would keep my wife awake with my laughter as I read the book in bed. Maybe the Fitger character reminded me of someone else who did not suffer fools gladly in his corporate life? I enjoyed the adventurous tales of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday in Epitaph by Mary Doria Russell. Interesting stories of the Wild West beyond the fight at the OK Corral.
The Bomber Mafia: A Dream, a Temptation, and the Longest Night of the Second World War by Malcolm Gladwell was an uncomfortable story. It detailed the thinking and strategies about how to close the wars against the Germans and the Japanese. There were two lines of thought. One was to bomb military and manufacturing targets primarily. Second, bomb population centers and destroy the morale of citizens. The decision on whether to drop the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki also created moral dilemmas.
The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win by Maria Konnikova is primarily a story about a woman learning to play poker and also compete (and win) in big money tournaments. The bigger picture contains the lessons that she learns about psychology, luck, focus, risk and control that are useful as to how we conduct our lives, careers, finances and relationships.
Two extra recommendations:
Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America by Ijeoma Oluo (Title is self explanatory. I did not agree with some of her analysis but this book was very well presented and written.)
Zero Fail: The Rise and Fall of the Secret Service by Carol Leonnig. Eye opening expose about the management and performance of the Secret Service. Interesting anecdotes about some of our Presidents and their interactions with the Secret Service.
Two days of infamy. The first we commemorate on its 80th anniversary today, the attack on Pearl Harbor by Japan. The second day of infamy, 1/6/2021 was when our democracy was attacked in plain sight by a crazed and violent mob at the U.S. Capitol provoked by incendiary speeches by a desperate and defeated President and his delusional sycophants.
The Pearl Harbor attack was met with a declaration of war by the President and Congress. A nation became united in its determination to win a war and defend its democracy. Men signed up for the military, women took over jobs in industry and manufacturing to help in the war effort. Americans sacrificed so that needed resources and materials would go to our military. Maybe more importantly, we had a leader, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who had prepared the country for war. Roosevelt covertly aided England to help in their national survival. During an election year (1940), FDR reinstituted the draft knowing it could hurt his re-election chances. He placed the interests of the country before his personal interests.
The Capitol attack was met by indifference and denials by the Republican party, even though its Vice President was a target by the mob. Instead of a united country, there was significant support for the insurrection. In 1941, Congress united and declared war. In 2021, many Congressional members ran from their responsibility with the same alacrity as they ran from the mob. Some members of Congress who aided the mob are still in office. Instead of action, a Congressional “commission” was created to investigate what clearly happened that day and who was clearly responsible for incitement and violence.
History calls Americans alive during the 1940s as the “Greatest Generation.” What will history call the Americans living in the past five years based on our political discord and antipathy to science and reason? One generation dedicated to saving democracy; one ready to abandon it.
Note: Photo taken of FDR was by Harry Podlinski, my father-in law and amateur photographer.