Landsberg’s Law

The Book of the Week is “Landsberg’s Law, a Journey of Discovery” by Mark Landsberg, published in 2006.

Born in Los Angeles at the tail end of December in 1937 or 1938 (the author provided references to various of his birthdays throughout the book as though to remind himself of his age, and was vague about other dates), Landsberg chose the hedonistic life of playing poker on the beach as often as possible, when he wasn’t living abroad.

While attending college in California, Landsberg worked for the U.S. Postal Service. His employer ignored him when he tried to tell them of an idea that would save them millions of dollars. “One of the drawbacks of Civil Service is that it stifles initiative.” Other places the author encountered a similar frustration were: in the Navy, and at University of California at Berkeley. “Thinking must be painful since so many people go to such lengths to avoid it.”

Along these lines, it might be recalled that for a time, the CBS network had the 1980’s promotional slogans for its TV and radio “news” divisions respectively:

“Americans. We like straight talk. We want hard facts. We demand the truth. We know who we are, and we know who we trust. Dan Rather. CBS Evening News.” and “Don’t let anyone tell you what they said. Hear them say it. CBS News.” True story.

In the late 1990’s, when the World Wide Web was in its infancy, certain content-creators had good intentions. They knew that the world reaps untold benefits when people freely (at no charge and with no censorship) exchange information and ideas. They sincerely believed in educating people in an unbiased manner. Unfortunately, roughly twenty years later, most website administrators cannot afford to exist unless they allow their sites’ content to be dictated by political hacks, including, it appears, Wikipedia.

Throughout history, humans have engaged in endeavors whose original purpose was fun. Money has corrupted those endeavors: all kinds of amateur activities in art, music and sports, science fairs, and many others. Over the past half century, even areas in which people used to make a modest living while enjoying themselves, have become pressure-cookers of greed: the medical industry, professional sports, publishing, Hollywood, the music industry, etc. With the evolution of all systems, the profit motive takes over.

Greed will also fuel the country’s economic recovery in an ironic (!) way. Most of the distressed assets resulting from this pandemic will be bought by the “one-percenters” who will create new, enterprising entities that will move the country forward. Also, Americans who are in a position to do so, will move to the places that offer them the most freedoms and/or economic opportunities. The nation’s most oppressive regions will suffer capital flight and brain drain.

Anyway, back to Mr. Landsberg. Around 1970, some Scrabble players formed a club in Beverly Hills, California. They were forced to call it a “Word Club” because Selchow and Righter (S&R), the then-owners of Scrabble’s intellectual property rights were possessive of the game’s name. Anyway, Landsberg and his friends were a few of the first players to formulate counter-intuitive strategies for winning at Scrabble.

The author even produced a manuscript called “Championship Scrabble Strategy” but of course was forced to request permission from S&R to publish it. Through 1972, the two parties had months of serious discussions but the latter put it on the back burner. By the following year, S&R had hired a college dropout to publish a book on-the-cheap using Landsberg’s material without telling him.

Landsberg’s federal lawsuit demanded $25 million from S&R. Read the book to learn of how the author fared in his court case, which included the causes of action of: breach of contract, and plagiarism.

ENDNOTE: In general, some might say that the U.S. government has breached its contract with the American people, and that the president committed plagiarism by taking a page out of Nixon’s playbook (not that other politicians have not also done so). Sadly, on both sides, bashing is all the rage these days: Trump-bashing, Obama-bashing, China-bashing, Cuomo-bashing, FBI-bashing, Biden-bashing, Republican-bashing, Democrat-bashing…

But wait. We’re all in this together! And Americans can trust CBS, and everyone else. True story.

Political Woman

The Book of the Week is “Political Woman, The Big Little Life of Jeane Kirkpatrick” by Peter Collier, published in 2012.

Born in 1926 in Oklahoma, Kirkpatrick and her family moved to Illinois when she was twelve. Although her father had higher hopes for her younger brother and gave him more opportunities in life because he was a boy, she became a career academic– teaching, publishing and lecturing in the area of political science. Although she was a Democrat, she was not amused by president Jimmy Carter’s actions; in fact, she was glad she had not been hired to work in his administration. By 1980, she was leaning Republican.

President Ronald Reagan appointed Kirkpatrick to a high government position– ambassador to the United Nations, beginning in February 1981. She got more attention than otherwise for being female. But for her gender, her name would have faded from the public’s memory by now.

Nevertheless, Kirkpatrick turned around the United States’ standing as a doormat, in the United Nations (UN). Voting blocs of UN members enjoyed ganging up on the United States (U.S.) via resolutions the way high school cliques bully each other. However, there were serious human rights abuses in many Third World countries run by brutal dictators, and oppression as usual in the former Soviet Union.

Of course there was hypocrisy galore. The Arabs launched a campaign to oust Israel as a member, but Kirkpatrick foiled their plot by threatening to withhold U.S. funding from the UN if they did so.

Kirkpatrick clashed with secretary of state Al Haig, who sabotaged her via “… infighting and backbiting and damaging leaks” because he needed complete control of American foreign policy.

Seems there’s nothing new under the sun.

And now, breaking news, this just in, and shocking revelations!

But first, a Presidential Candidate Application Form

WARNING: SPOILER ALERT

Please answer the questions below without waffling, and include inconvenient facts. Or else.

NAME:

AGE:

REAL EDUCATION:

CITIZENSHIP:

How would you best describe yourself?

( ) A long-winded, exaggerating speechmaker

( ) A sexy alpha male with boyish good looks

( ) An egotistical attention whore

( ) A Twitter junkie

( ) Two or more of the above

Do you have any detectable vestige of presidential qualifications, besides your assets, contacts, attorneys and public relations team inherited from your daddy; or besides your assets and contacts resulting from your abuse of elective office?

( ) YES ( ) NO

Would it bother you to be the target of unrelenting hatred?

( ) YES ( ) NO

“I can’t wait to be a patronage pig, nepotist and profiteer as president.”

( ) YES ( ) NO

How many times have you declared business bankruptcy, and how many times have you been disciplined by law enforcement for illegal activities you committed in any public office you’ve held?

____________

____________

Do you hate or love illegal immigrants?

( ) HATE ( ) LOVE

List three ways you would deal with them.

  1. _________________________
  2. _________________________
  3. _________________________

Choose an appropriate nickname for yourself:

( ) Slick

( ) Tricky

( ) Crooked

( ) Sleepy

( ) Racist

( ) Dictator

Choose an appropriate image for yourself:

( ) Religious right-wing libertarian crazy

( ) Obese

( ) Law-and-order, xenophobic, corrupt hypocrite

( ) Little discernible brain activity; hate reading

( ) Socialist, bleeding-heart-liberal, global-warming political hack

( ) Two or more of the above

GOOD LUCK with your propaganda war. Remember, plausible denial and willful ignorance are your friends!

One more hint for winning, especially for the incumbent:

Charisma wins the day, regardless of what you did. It might be recalled that when president Ronald Reagan’s naughty behavior was exposed, his charisma mitigated his culpability. Besides, he got away with the senility defense because he was telling the truth when he testified that he remembered nothing, at the Iran-Contra hearings. Previous presidents who got into trouble remained lucid and sane, to their detriment. Pesky facts got in their way, but their charisma too, mitigated their culpability!

And now, the real SPOILER ALERT.

IN GENERAL, the United States’ current political situation resembles that of the waning months of the Nixon administration. The president has become toxic like Nixon, or else the Republicans wouldn’t be throwing in with the Democrats. The Republicans HATE the Democrats. They should be fighting the Democrats’ alleged tyranny tooth and nail, as usual. Instead, they are keeping all past president-related actions under wraps.

The Republicans know the incumbent can’t be reelected because he can’t win without mudslinging, and there’s way, way too much mud on him.

ALL of the government’s leaders might say they don’t want the current president to engage in any more dirty tricks that could lead to a total dictatorship before a new president comes to power. However, it is becoming apparent that a nationwide lockdown was actually completely unnecessary. The Republicans went along with it only to save face because it kills them to admit that they never liked the president, but they know it’s time for him to go.

The two ways the president has squelched practically all bad publicity in connection with his wrongdoing include: paying people to shut up and go away via nondisclosure agreements; and labeling government documents “classified” because they relate to national security matters and allegedly might reveal state secrets if publicized. The president might not resign, but his reign will end sooner than he would like.

Now, back to the regularly scheduled Book of the Week.

In later years, fans of Kirkpatrick tried to draft her to run for office, as she favored the Equal Rights Amendment, was pro-choice and was strongly pro-Israel. She became wealthy from speaking and writing, although her 1990’s writings contradicted her previous UN attitude.

Kirkpatrick, pursuant to her neoconservative ideology, was worried that America would be “… drawn into ever more ‘expansive, expensive’ global projects, along with fear left over from the 1970’s, [– as] rushing to impose utopian values on the world usually wound up adversely affecting America’s interests.”

She harshly criticized president Bill Clinton for his attempts to help achieve peace in the world’s hotspots through working with the UN rather than sending in American troops and aid the way Reagan did– and she approved of everything Reagan did.

Read the book to learn of Kirkpatrick’s views and actions in connection with her loyally following Reagan’s policies in Central America, the USSR and Grenada; and her flip-flopping on her hawkishness in the Clinton era, the period just after 9/11, and long after.

OPTIMISTIC POST

There must be a significant number of Republicans who are done with this president. Sure, they’re half-heartedly defending him, but they must think that it’s worth it to go along with the Democrats in punishing the whole country in order to replace him. It’s a real nightmare for everyone, but the government would NOT go through so much trouble for nothing. There are millions of secrets they are keeping from the American people in order to stay in control, but in the long run, they believe that it’s for the best.

One show on YouTube that provides context for why people do not like the president, is “Last Week Tonight” with John Oliver. Here are links to various relevant episodes. Warning: some language.

In one episode, the host mentioned that the American way of life would be threatened if the president started attacking our institutions. That might be why they think it’s time to get rid of him. Just a thought.

Patriot Number One

Americans believe in the two-party system. One on Friday, one on Saturday.

Insanely enough, Americans are not allowed to have parties anymore. Because, ironically, America is becoming like China!

The following is an excerpt from a China-bashing opinion piece penned by Newt Gingrich for the Fox News website, dated April 30, 2020. However, every occasion of “Chinese” has been replaced with “American” and “Communist” with “Two-Party” and vice versa.

“Chinese and their allies seem to forget that the heart of the rise of the American Two-Party [system] was a deep dedication to effective education and propaganda. They have had nearly a century of experience at waging intellectual and psychological warfare as the necessary foundation of winning and keeping power.”

The following is a quote from Bertrand Russell: “There is something feeble and a little contemptible about a man who cannot face the perils of life without the help of comfortable myths. Almost inevitably some part of him is aware that they are myths and that he believes them only because they are comforting. But he dare not face this thought! Moreover, since he is aware, however dimly, that his opinions are not rational, he becomes furious when they are disputed.”

During the Cold War, America always stoked the fear that all countries had the potential to fall to Communism like dominoes. Currently, the local leaders of this country, America (!)– have fallen into line like dominoes. At any time, either major American political party has possessed the power to reject this oppression, but instead, both parties have collaborated to encourage it. Because they are comprised of people who will say or do anything to get elected or reelected in the event there continue to be free and fair elections.

AS IS WELL KNOWN, A SIGN OF DEMOCRACY IS FREE AND FAIR ELECTIONS. IF THE INCUMBENTS ALMOST AUTOMATICALLY WIN THIS FALL, IS THAT FREE AND FAIR ELECTIONS?

From the early 1960’s into the 1970’s, only men of military age had reason to fear the power of the government. Currently, every man, woman and child has reason to fear. It is not just the president who has the potential to wield outrageous power, but all government leaders across the entire country, not unlike in China.

The United States is now at a turning point in its history. Either it will become even more like China in its totalitarian ways, or its leaders will get back to restoring its citizens’ freedoms.

It might be recalled that Chinese Communist dictator Mao Tse Tung took the following steps, among many other steps, in acquiring more and more power:

  • Land reform– seizing private property from wealthy capitalists and landlords to redistribute it among everyone else (but this actually resulted in famine in which tens of millions of people died; famine is probably one thing Americans won’t suffer from)
  • nationalizing businesses
  • having a state-approved, heavily armed military force roam the streets, arbitrarily violating peoples’ civil rights
  • Inviting citizens to air their grievances, and then arresting, jailing and torturing them for speaking out against the government
  • Eliminating free speech, freedom of the press, and the right to assemble, and
  • Reducing the number of China’s political parties to one: The Communist Party, and forcing people to join it or be even more oppressed

For more information, see the following posts:

  • The Most Wanted Man in China
  • The Man on Mao’s Right
  • Colors of the Mountain

Is the above what America wants to be??

One more thing– ironically, China is in the stage of its economic development that the United States was in, about a hundred years ago: industrialization and operating factories galore (of course, China also has modern electronic technology). But the poorest of China’s citizens have yet to form labor unions to protest unjust working conditions. Some people in the United States government are pushing for a return to American manufacturing, strangely enough.

Anyway, the Book of the Week is “Patriot Number One, American Dreams in Chinatown” by Lauren Hilgers, published in 2018. This book described the Chinese immigrant experience in very recent years for a rural-village couple who are now in their thirties, and a student, who settled in the Flushing section of New York City, in Queens county.

Born in 1983 in the rural village of Wukan near Shenzhen, Zhuang Liehong grew up in a poverty-stricken family. His father was a sometime crab fisherman. He was handed off from one extended relative to another in Hong Kong beginning when he was about six years old.

Zhuang ended his formal education with middle school, not wanting to impose the financial burden of high school tuition on his family. In the 1990’s, his hometown became the victim of eminent-domain abuse of sorts, when investors invaded with infrastructure and modernization projects as a result of Deng Xiaoping’s 1980’s economic initiatives.

Zhuang was elected to a seat on Wukan’s village council, and became a political activist. Autumn 2011 saw common farmers and former landowners protest in the streets against the local government’s stealing their properties in the name of money. However, they themselves weren’t entirely innocent of law-breaking, as they had engaged in illegal building on their former land, or had been “smugglers, gamblers, ticket scalpers.”

As is very common with such unrest, the local authorities bashed some heads, rounded up the worst offenders and sentenced a few of them to a few years in jail, and trampled on what would be considered “due process” in the United States.

A few years later, after Zhuang (and his wife) had executed his carefully planned scheme to flee to the United States, the local government also set up a bribery scandal that involved the village council, prompting more oppression of the community.

A possible legal way, then, for Zhuang to move permanently to the United States, was for him to apply for political asylum. More people from China than from any other nation apply for political asylum, followed by Guatemala, El Salvador and Egypt.

Read the book to learn of Zhuang’s family’s adventures in the United States, and of the adventures of a young female student who became friendly with Zhuang’s wife.

Where Have All Our Leaders Gone?

WHERE HAVE ALL OUR LEADERS GONE?

Sung to the tune of “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” with apologies to the estate of Pete Seeger, and Joe Hickerson.

Where have all our leaders gone?

Secretly scheming.

Where have all our leaders gone?

Plotting revenge.

Where have all our leaders gone?

Planting stories, every one.

Can we trust anything?

Can we trust anything?

Where has all the money gone?

Profits and patronage.

Where has all the money gone?

Honor among thieves.

Where has all the money gone?

Stimulus was two seconds of fun.

Aren’t we the guinea pigs?

Aren’t we the guinea pigs?

Where have all the candidates gone?

They’ve stopped campaigning.

Where have all the candidates gone?

They’re attorney-huddling.

Where have all the candidates gone?

No more substance from anyone.

Do we know anything?

Do we know anything?

Where have all our freedoms gone?

Fallen by the wayside.

Where have all our freedoms gone?

We don’t know.

Where have all our freedoms gone?

MORE SURPRISES IN STORE, SO HOLD ON.

ISN’T HISTORY CYCLICAL?

ISN’T HISTORY CYCLICAL?

Pertinent Post

“P” post.

Present pandemic’s politics produced:

  • propaganda
  • president-promotion
  • provisions-portioning predicaments
  • panic
  • profiteering
  • paranoia
  • patronage pigs
  • pissed, persecuted people
  • poseurs
  • puerile politicians (petty power plays)
  • pained physicians
  • problematic prescriptions
  • pressured paramedics
  • pestered practices
  • poor populations
  • plus, predictably:

POPPYCOCK.

Ingrid Bergman, My Story

The Book of the Week is “Ingrid Bergman, My Story” by Ingrid Bergman and Alan Burgess, published in 1972.

Born in 1915 in Sweden, Bergman lived with extended relatives after her mother and father passed away, when she was three and thirteen, respectively. The father’s successful painting and photography-supply businesses were taken over by the family. When she was fifteen, a couple of friends in high places– and of course, passion and hard work– allowed her to get accepted to the Royal Dramatic School. Nevertheless, she quit to become a movie actress in Sweden.

David Selznick in America heard about her talent, and his wife set her wise as to Hollywood’s ways. Her advisors therefore negotiated a one-film contract rather than a seven-year contract. Bergman was the opposite of a prima donna on the set. Selznick was impressed and had his public relations people hold her up as a paragon of virtue and modesty. However, she refused to be typecast, insisting on playing all different kinds of roles.

Bergman wrote, “Another Hollywood thing I hated was the power of those two women, Louella Parsons and Hedda Hopper, the gossip columnists. Their power shocked me, and I thought it very wrong that the film industry had allowed them to build up to such an extent that they could ruin people’s careers and lives.” Sadly, there is nothing new under the sun in that regard. Gossip in American society has been used more often for evil than for good, especially in politics.

Anyway, in autumn 1946, Bergman got slammed for saying she wasn’t going to return Washington, D.C. because the theater there in which she was performing, banned blacks. Perhaps she was not a racist, but her immaturity in her personal relationships caused her first husband and first-born daughter endless anguish.

Read the book to learn of Bergman’s dream role, whether she got to play it, other roles she played, and about her families.

BONUS POST

WHO’S GETTING PAID

Sung to the tune of “For What It’s Worth” with apologies to Buffalo Springfield.

There’s politics happening here.

The truth is nowhere near.

There’s a propagandist over there.

For what he says, I no longer care.

Isn’t it time we stop, drinking the Kool-Aid?

Everybody look– Who’s getting paid?

There’s been panic spread everywhere.

We’ll be totally oppressed if we don’t grow a pair.

Only the powerful can change their minds.

No apologies for covering their behinds.

Isn’t it time we stop, drinking the Kool-Aid?

Everybody look– Who’s getting paid?

Why haven’t the 60’s been brought to bear?

No one protesting anywhere.

People are too panicked not to obey.

They think they’ll get sick and need a hospital stay.

Isn’t it time we stop, drinking the Kool-Aid?

Everybody look– Who’s getting paid?

We think our freedoms are deep.

But we’re letting them go without a peep.

When anger reaches critical mass

The country will stop this Halloween nonsense and get back to work!

[Never mind the last choruses]

HISTORY WILL UNFOLD AS IT SHOULD.

Nicholas Winton’s Lottery of Life

The Book of the Week is “Nicholas Winton’s Lottery of Life” by Matej Minac, published in 2007.

By chance, Nicholas Winton’s friend, Martin Blake suggested that Winton come to Prague instead of going on a ski vacation in Switzerland, to work on an interesting project on the eve of WWII.

Winton eventually gave up a good job in London at the Stock Exchange to rescue Czech children from the Nazis. He valued human lives more than South African gold. His belief was: “People often say that something can’t be done before they even try to do it, which is just an excuse to do nothing! Most things that seem impossible can actually be achieved by hard work.”

Winton must have enjoyed the challenge of overcoming obstacles, because the burden was on him to arrange the logistics, raise the funds and complete the paperwork.

There are a few ways that Winton’s situation is analogous to this nation’s current situation:

Winton was one of countless unsung heros during a time of multi-national turmoil. His major goal was to save lives, not to make money. Countless Americans on the “front lines” are making great sacrifices to save others– without hitting the social media to brag or push their opinions on the world. The people who truly want to help others are just doing their jobs.

Creatively, Winton did an end-run around British bureaucracy at the Home Office by founding a fictional organization to speed up glacial processes. It had to be super-discreet, though, because there were spies everywhere. Ironically, Americans have unlimited free speech through texting, email, and social media, but their every electronic utterance is recorded by the powers-that-be (who are all as politically entrenched as ever), so that communications are just as insecure as they ever were!

Obviously, Winton’s communications couldn’t always be completely honest if he was to save lives. It was wartime, after all. However, Americans with ulterior motives are pushing specific proposals that will likely benefit them financially, politically or both. Incidentally, with his overwhelming power and influence in certain circles, president Donald Trump is the new Oprah Winfrey. When he mentions a company or product, its stock or the product sells like hotcakes the same way that, when Oprah featured a book on her show, it sold like hotcakes.

Prior to vaccines, Americans accepted the fact that they might become ill or even die from diphtheria, whooping cough, measles, mumps, etc. In the last fifty years or so, money has corrupted medicine. A continuous propaganda campaign– the profit motive in the guise of life-saving treatments– has convinced Americans that it’s now inexcusable to die from disease.

Winton convinced Czech parents that everyone was in imminent danger and at least their children’s lives could be saved, as the Germans had total control of all the Czech regions by early 1939. Winton wasn’t lying when he told Czechs their lives were at risk due to wartime occupation by an evil enemy.

It’s impossible to prove that shutting down the entire United States would reduce the number of deaths from a pandemic. Especially when projected deaths have been, at best, incompetently calculated, and at worst, an object lesson in how to lie with statistics.

Clearly, WWII required there to be myths and misinformation in the media to avoid revealing state secrets to the country’s enemies. But that shouldn’t be the case with the pandemic. Yet it is.

Actually– myths and misinformation have always emanated from news sources from the beginning of time. In the last century, communications sources have only appeared to be more credible than now, because their language used to be more formal, more grammatical, and better written and formatted. The sources slanted information and got facts wrong just as often as now, due to pressure on them to get a story first, and make it entertaining and persuasive. The only slight difference is that currently, a larger percentage of content is opinions rather than information.

Winton eventually compiled a list of five thousand children to be rescued. Read the book to learn of the actual number of children he saved, what happened to them, the later fates of some of them, and what happened when a Czech documentary filmmaker found Winton about sixty years later.