January 6th 2019

Donald J Trump. A president like no other. Conrad Black.

Donald J Trump. A president like no other. Conrad Black. 2018. ISBN 9781621577881.  Well Black does take on unpopular biographies ( Nixon and now Trump).  He is always well spoken, careful and detailed in his language.  By following a chronological method – from Trump  ancestors roots and his own personal and business development, Black does put Trump into a context.   The strongest section for me was the detailing of how Trump was able to recognize a deep seated unhappiness in the populous and harness it into a steady base and build a swelling momentum prior to and during the race for the Presidency.  Black was one of the first to recognize this coming of the demagogue and was not surprised with the result.   With this chronology approach you can see how very long Trump has developed the attitudes he has and espouses.  Also you  are led to recognize the failures of the prior four presidents and their entourages which opened the door for  Trump coming on the scene.  Black has no time for the Democrats nor a do nothing partisan Senate and Congress.  He is acerbic toward the national press and  Washington commentators- so color Black well within Trump’s Republican/conservative aura.

This book will not make you like Trump any more then before and you will still cringe at his looseness with language and malapropisms.  However Black may let you be a little less terrified of Trump daily and perhaps recognize his negotiation tricks learned in New York and now being attempted internationally.  The book moves quite well , will occupy the East – West airflight and halfway back. Reading it is not time wasted.

December 18th 2018

Jake Needham books. Samuel Tay and Jack Shepherd series

Jake Needham books. Samuel Tay and Jack Shepherd.  Needham writes about crime in Asia . Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Macau.  Samuel Tay is a steady Hong King detective who like DCI Banks in England may be thought to be long in the tooth, but his doggedness and human appeal gets him to solve the nasty crimes that others can’t.  Jack Shepherd is lawyer/fixer who seems to get mixed up with less than sterling clients despite his reluctance to stay law abiding.  Both  series are replete with curious characters, numerous bad guys and sleazy neighbourhoods. However the author keeps the plots rolling and ensures that the readers interest remains high.  Recommended if you wish a change form US or British based detective stories. Needham is good with his location descriptions and will take you on a bit of a travel guide to Asia.

November 2nd 2018

Quick trip to the Republic of Ireland. Oct 22.2018

Quick trip to the Republic of Ireland. Oct 22. 2018. This was a pleasant and very enjoyable tour of parts of Ireland.  The weather was fantastic – blue skies and warm.

A complete trip description is on my wife’s blog . This is my short form.

Dublin was a hoot and we would like more time there. 

We went to Galway – which is the cultural center of Ireland – lots of music in the streets .

Great lunch in a cozy pub!

Then to the Coast – the cliffs of Moher .  We followed the WAW. Wild Atlantic Way – Highly recommend it

Limerick – which is cool and included a Medieval concert/banquet in a castle!

Quick stop in Adare. Very pretty 

Then off to Kerry . The Ring of Kerry is a do not miss  drive)   Great lunch with a view

 

Lovely country

 

Next Killarney.  

This is a pretty town – which for us includes a jaunty ride with great tales from our driver.

And another castle

Had to stop at Blarney – I was struck dumb after the stone kiss. My wife did not see much improvement however.

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Waterford ( remember the crystal? ) was next – Needed deep pockets for this stuff.

Much happier.

 

Last stop in Ireland – Tramore

which included a song and drinks at Aggies pub, (300 year old mudwalled)

Great singer Richie Roberts

Local brew Beamish – like Guiness.

Then catch the ferry to Wales from Rosslare, Irish Ferries is surprisingly good – good food too!

We ended up in Cardiff– which is very scenic, compared to the devastation of Western Wales from English industrialization. 

Liked Cardiff castle. 

 

That evening a Welsh dinner and concert at the Millenium Hall. Fantastic.

 

Next day Bath my maternal  grandfather’s home. I have always liked this town.

Roman Baths

Georgian terraces

Of course Stonehenge – with its hordes of tourists – still pretty neat.

One of the pesky tourists spoiling the shot.

And we end up on London.  Whether we are there for a few days, a week or longer,  we just can not get enough of London. The Brits do tradition so well.

That evening we had a Thames cruise- recommend it

 

Lots of poking around still to do.

You do not go on this tour  for the cuisine.  If you seek out the fresh fish special (not deep fried) its usually superb. The full Irish breakfast can get tedious.  The Irish are so friendly, social and hospitable that it makes the trip. The Guinness is always fresh – damn fine. The country views are outstanding, and the cities are so walk-able and interesting.  If you have not been – bucket list item for sure.

 

 

 

October 22nd 2018

Nemesis. One man and the battle for Rio. Misha Glenny.

Nemesis. One man and the battle for Rio. Misha Glenny. 2015. ISBN 9781448181575. A sympathetic story about one man’s journey from working family man to eventually become head of one of the largest criminal favella syndicates in Rio. You read about the crushing poverty of the favella residents, the smothering corruption of the Brazilian public sector and the harsh justice dealt out by the warring criminal gangs/police. Contrast that with the very few criminal Dons like Nem who see their role as protectors of the poor, when the state does nothing. Its a strong light shone on Rio’s dark underbelly that its politicians just hope would go away.

October 15th 2018

Tiger Trap. America’s secret spy war with China. David Wise.

Tiger Trap. America’s secret spy war with China. David Wise. 2011. ISBN 9780547553108.   The US fixated on Russian spies and pretty much did not pay attention to the slow but huge penetrations by Chinese spies in America. They stole secrets from everywhere in the country, including the nuclear and defense programs. Read this this to find out about some of the biggest thefts most of which never lead to arrests and convictions. Learn why the Chinese are vastly different in their spying from Russia and the US.   Good useful read.

September 17th 2018

A Carnival of Losses. Notes nearing ninety. Donald Hall.

A Carnival of Losses. Notes nearing ninety. Donald Hall. 2018.  Hall is considered a notable US poet, author,  editor and critic. The book is exactly as noted,. He goes through his life and comments on various way points in it as well as poets/poetry he has known.  The prose is clear, lucid  plus he states it now takes him a long time to write anything at 89.  A very good introduction to decades of poets ( US mostly) plus he has written notable stories. His self deprecating approach is quite appealing as are his stories about his younger late wife.  I confess poetry has never taken with me and despite this interesting book, I feel I am a lost cause.

September 10th 2018

The Grantchester Mysteries. James Runcie

The Grantchester Mysteries. James Runcie. 2012- 2018. Six books in the series about Sidney Chambers a jazz loving vicar of a small Anglican parish, near Cambridge in England in the 50s. There was an enjoyable English  TV series Grantchester based on some of the books.  The vicar is single, handsome and unable to stay away from solving a variety of murders that occur near him.  The books ( or series of short chronological stories)  are populated with a variety of typically English characters who are delightfully eccentric including notably attractive femmes.  The author based the vicar on his father who was in the Church.  Quite delightful, and worth the read. One book would be good for a four hour flight.

September 3rd 2018

Scot Harvath series . Brad Thor.

Scot Harvath series . Brad Thor.  A 17 novel series about a black ops specialist Scot Harvath.  A bit more extreme then the Vince Flynn series but it is of a type of  rah rah US nationalism, manly servicemen,  Islamic fundamentalist fears and various state sanctioned worldwide conspiracies. The research can be a bit weak if you know the specific subject discussed. The idealism may get a bit in your way, but the action is fast and the books move right along. The later books are less detailed than the first and one could even think that the author reaches a point where he just says , time to wrap up and its over, which can make the ending disjointed.  That said each book is not a bad use of a 4 hour plane ride if wish a bit of escapism. The author is taking a run at Donald Trump in 2020.

August 20th 2018

Peers Inc. How people and platforms are inventing the collaborative economy and reinventing capitalism. Robin Chase

Zipcar

Peers Inc. How people and platforms are inventing the collaborative economy and reinventing capitalism. Robin Chase.  2015, ISBN 9781472233394. The author founded Zipcar and then sold it to Avis. She has become and advocate for the sharing economy.  This book is a very good precis of what is happening, why it should happen and what we need to do to help it.  She talks to economic inequality, the 1% issue, carbon tax necessity, global warming, climate change refugees. Blockchain and so much more.  A very interesting read , still topical and full of opportunities for us to take advantage of.  This is a round trip coast to coast read.  I took so many notes.

July 16th 2018

Mitch Rapp series. Vince Flynn

 

English: Photo of author Vince Flynn taken by ...

Mitch Rapp series. Vince Flynn.  Flynn wrote a lengthy series of books featuring his character Mitch Rapp, who becomes one of the CIA’s ultimate weapons for the war on terrorism.  The books are fast paced, full of detail in and out of the corridors of power.   Flynn is equally harsh on legislatures, politicians, traitors and the  Middle Eastern terrorists.  Not the most politically correct author, yet he retains a belief in the power and competence of US military groups like Delta Force, Seal and Rangers . If you like stories action packed with lots of interesting characters, try this series out.  Flynn died at quite an early age.