Monday, September 26, 2016

Preview: Lester Holt's debate questions for Clinton and Trump

The first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump takes place tonight at 9 p.m. ET at Hofstra University on Long Island and will run for 90 minutes, without commercial interruption. Around 100 million people are expected to tune in -- Super Bowl numbers.

Per the Commission on Presidential Debates, which sponsors the presidential debates:
The debate will be divided into six time segments of approximately 15 minutes each on major topics to be selected by the moderator and announced at least one week before the debate. 
The moderator will open each segment with a question, after which each candidate will have two minutes to respond. Candidates will then have an opportunity to respond to each other. The moderator will use the balance of the time in the segment for a deeper discussion of the topic.
Lester Holt, moderator of the first 2016 presidential debate, has selected the topics for that debate. Subject to possible changes because of news developments, the topics for the September 26 debate are as follows, not necessarily to be brought up in this order: 
America's Direction 
Achieving Prosperity 
Securing America 
What specifically will Lester Holt, the anchor of NBC Nightly News (and a registered Republican), ask the candidates? Here's a preview of some of the questions. [NB: Questions are not listed in the order they may appear.]

To Secretary Clinton: Do you feel America is headed in the right direction?

To Donald Trump: Can I have one of your "Make America Great" hats?

To Secretary Clinton: How would you handle illegal immigration?

To Donald Trump: What's your favorite color?

To Secretary Clinton: What specifically would you do to help improve the economy, to help those people who have lost jobs or are earning less than they did eight years ago?

To Donald Trump: How great is your plan to help America -- great, or really great?

To Secretary Clinton: How would you solve the situation in the Middle East and stop terrorism?

To Donald Trump: Remind us, what did Vladimir Putin say about you, that you were a genius?

To Secretary Clinton: Doesn't your role in Benghazi disqualify you from being President?

To Donald Trump: Running the Miss Universe pageant must have given you a lot of insight into international relations. Can you share some of the lessons you have learned?

To Secretary Clinton: Why did you use a private email server -- and why do you continue to refuse to share those speeches you gave to Goldman Sachs?

To Donald Trump: Do you feel the American people really need to see your tax returns?

To Secretary Clinton: What concerns you most about Donald Trump?

To Donald Trump: What concerns you most about Crooked Hillary; emails, Benghazi, or her terminal illness?

Feel free to suggest other questions via the Comments (which are also moderated, albeit not by Lester Holt).

Friday, September 23, 2016

If Donald Trump was your doctor

My friend, Amy, posted this video, from Informed Citizens, on Facebook a little while ago, and I thought it important to share.

Killer Surgeon from Informed Citizens on Vimeo.

You would never hire a surgeon with no proven experience, or a track record of repeated failure, to operate on you or a loved one, would you?

Well, maybe some of you would, because you hated the woman doctor with years of experience and the proven track record, because she came across as a know-it-all and your buddies Rush and Sean and Roger said you can't trust a girl doctor, especially an old, ugly one, cause, ya know, everyone knows boy doctors are smarter than girl doctors. And this guy Trump said he would totally make your mother better, and that was good enough for you, even though the guy had a whole bunch of medical malpractice suits filed against him and he admitted he had never performed this operation before, but, you know, how hard could it be?

And speaking of Trump, or really Trump supporters, here's a piece from GQ by Drew Magary (whom I enjoy reading over on Deadspin) worth a read.

Here are some of my favorite (printable) lines from the article:

"YOU are the people who want to revolutionize the way America does business by voting for its worst businessman, a disgusting neon pig who only makes money when he causes problems for other people instead of solving them."

[There are so many awesome names for Trump, many of which can be found over at Balloon Juice.]

"YOU are the people willing to overlook the fact that Trump is an unqualified, ignorant sociopath because DURRRR HILLARY IS BAD TOO DURRRR."

[I'm so tired of false equivalence. Aren't you?]

"You are handing the most important job on Earth to Napoleon from Animal Farm." 

[I just love a good literary allusion.]

And I thought it was in the Drew Magary article, but I guess it was in some other one, where the author theorized that a number of people would vote for Donald Trump just to stick it to their liberal sister-in-law, which I do not doubt for a second. But it's kind of like cutting your nose off to spite your face. Only you won't just lose your nose if you voted for Trump.

Of course, none of this -- no facts, no arguments -- will dissuade Trump supporters from believing his lies and voting for him, because... neuroscience. But writing these posts (aka venting) makes me, like Drew Magary, feel a teeny bit better.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Donald J. Trump, Looney Tune?

There is a classic Bugs Bunny episode from 1955 titled "Hare Brush" where Elmer J. Fudd (millionaire and Bugs Bunny protagonist and archenemy) suffers from serious mental illness. Alarmed, the board of directors of the Elmer J. Fudd Corporation  -- a group of conservative white men -- consider Fudd a threat to the organization and have him committed (to the Fruitcake Sanitarium, which is "full of nuts").

Fast forward a bit and we see that Elmer has convinced Bugs Bunny to trade places with him in the sanitarium -- and the psychiatrist trying to convince Bugs Bunny that he is Elmer J. Fudd, millionaire businessman, by having him repeatedly state "I am Elmer J. Fudd, millionaire, I own a mansion and a yacht." Which does the trick.

(Apparently if you emphatically state you are a millionaire with a mansion and a yacht enough times, you will believe it, even if it's not so.)

Elmer J. Fudd remind you of any other delusional millionaire* you know of?

No? Try substituting "Donald J. Trump" for "Elmer J. Fudd."

Even their signature buildings bare a striking resemblance!

Also, like Donald J. Trump, Elmer J. Fudd was obsessed with offing his opponent.

Today, however, instead of getting put in a sanitarium for his crazy behavior, our cartoon millionaire stands to get put in the White House. Now that's cwazy.

UPDATED 1/26: In his first major TV interview, with ABC's David Muir, which aired last night, Trump, who became our 45th president on January 20th, went full-on Looney Tune, spouting crazy, paranoid nonsense. Like Elmer J. Fudd, Donald J. Trump is a man obsessed -- and believes the press is Bugs Bunny.

*Until Trump produces his tax returns, I refuse to refer to him as a billionaire.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Maybe Hillary should learn how to assemble an AR-15 rifle blindfolded

For those who haven't yet seen this brilliant ad by Jason Kander, a former Army captain who fought in Afghanistan, who is running against Roy Blount in the Missouri Senate race, it is a must see:

[H/T Balloon Juice]

Kander, who is a Democrat, created the ad in response to Blount and the NRA calling him weak on Second Amendment rights. (Meanwhile numerous polls have shown that approximately 90 percent of Americans support gun control measures, including expanded background checks.)

The good news is, you don't need to know how to assemble a rifle in order to stop Donald Trump from becoming President (though it probably wouldn't hurt Hillary Clinton if she could). You apparently just need a vagina.

[H/T, again, to Balloon Juice]

Women outnumber men in the United States and more women than men have voted in recent elections. (See this and this and this.) So ladies, if we want to send Trump back to his Tower, go out and vote for Hillary on November 8th. And bring along your husband -- or boyfriend or brother or male neighbor -- and have him vote for Hillary, too.

EXTRA EXTRA READ ALL ABOUT IT!  For those not keeping score, here is a handy cheat sheet of Donald Trump's various scandals. Also, be sure to check out the Cosmo interview with Ivanka Trump on her/her father's maternity leave policy, which is quite an eye opener (for those who had their eyes closed, fantasizing about Trump's busty blonde eldest daughter).

Of course, none of this -- or any facts -- is going to change the minds of Trump supporters or Hillary haters. But I felt like it was time to chime in.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Yet another reason to hate the New England Patriots

Let me just state for the record, I hate Tom Brady*, and I hate the New England Patriots** (even though I live in New England). And I did not shed a tear when Tom Brady was suspended for four games this season. Nor did I believe that Tom Brady not playing would stop the Patriots from winning the AFC East again. Because the New England Patriots don't play fair. In fact, I'm not sure their players are even human. Don't believe me? Look who Bill Belichick replaced Tom Brady with, Superman!

Superman, who can change the course of mighty football games, throw footballs with his bare hands, and who, disguised as Jimmy Garoppolo, mild-mannered quarterback for a great New England football team, fights a never-ending battle for first downs, touchdowns, and the American Football Conference.

I call foul!

(Also, what's with the cleft chins, New England Patriots?)

Look, I am not one of those women -- or "football babes," as my brother-in-law used to (still?) refer to them -- who watches football just to ogle a bunch of cut guys in tight pants. (Though if a guy happens to look good in his football uniform, who am I to complain?.) But how are Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Jets supposed to compete with that?

Just bring back Tom Brady. Or maybe the Jets should recruit their own superhero.

*Even though I think he is one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game -- certainly the greatest in my adult lifetime.

**Or, more specifically, Bill Belichick.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Maybe I missed my calling as a dominatrix

I am always amused by the recommendations I receive from sites like Amazon and eBay. But this email I recently received from etsy, which bills itself as "your place to buy and sell all things handmade," may take the cake (one with a rock-hard icing and a cream filling, apparently).

What I found so interesting about this email (other than the obvious, which made me laugh out loud when I received it -- and immediately forwarded to the spouse and two of my girlfriends) is that when I clicked on the link to "view this email online," the web version was filled with pretty lapis rings -- no sign of a cut guy in leather bondage gear anywhere. 

Also, while my memory may be a bit spotty of late, I am 99.9 percent sure I never purchased or even searched for a leather men's harness, on etsy or anyplace else, though I did buy the spouse two lovely handmade leather belts on etsy a while back -- from an Amish company. (And I'm pretty they just use those buggy whips on horses.)

Monday, September 5, 2016

Fall 2016 Book Recommendations

I started this post back in April and got a bit overwhelmed by how many summaries I had to write (not having written a Book Nook post since December 2015). I've also been a bit discouraged by the lack of feedback I have received about these posts, which take a lot of time to write. (Are those tiny violins I hear?)

Then yesterday two people told me that they found one of their favorite books reading one of my Book Nook posts. So I decided to sit back down and tackle the list again. Of course, being a voracious reader, I have read dozens more books since I first started composing this list. So it's a bit longer than usual (though contains only a fraction of the books I've read since the end of last year). The good news, though, is there are lots of good books for you to choose from -- spanning several genres.

Enjoy! And please share the title and author of any notable books you've read recently via the Comments.

(NB: As per usual, books are listed alphabetically by author.)

The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende. Fiction. I am a longtime fan of Isabel Allende's books, though I hadn't read one in a while. And if you are looking for magical realism, you will (probably) be disappointed. That said, The Japanese Lover is a lovely little book, ostensibly the story of Alma Belasco, a Jewish World War II refugee, who, as a child, was sent to America to live with her wealthy relatives in San Francisco, falls in love with the son of the family's Japanese gardener, but winds up marrying her cousin. But this isn't just a story about forbidden love. (Well, it sort of is.) It is a story about -- and excuse the cliches -- love and loss, friendship and understanding, and learning to trust. (If you read the book you will understand.) Also, the writing is beautiful.

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald. Fiction. The title of this book is a bit misleading as there are not many readers in the small Iowa town of Broken Wheel, at least when the shy bookworm from Sweden, Sara, the protagonist, first gets there to visit her pen pal, Amy, an elderly fellow book lover whom, we quickly find out, has died while Sara was en route to visit her. Despite her shyness, and not knowing anyone else in town, Sara decides to stick around Broken Wheel and open a nonprofit bookshop with Amy's books, which leads to all sorts of complications, amusing scenes... and love. To use yet more cliches, this is a heartwarming, charming first novel (from a Swedish writer) that bookworms (and others) will relate to.

Making of Monte Carlo: A History of Speculation and Spectacle by Mark Braude. Nonfiction. The fascinating early history of the famous resort town and casino, featuring many notorious characters of the early part of the Twentieth Century. Alas, the book does not go much beyond World War II, but for those who have visited Monte Carlo and/or were curious to know how this fairy tale casino-resort-kingdom came to be, Making of Monte Carlo is a good read.

The Immortals by Jordanna Max Brodsky. Fantasy/Fiction. What if the Greek gods we all read about in school were not myths but here walking among us, in New York, albeit deprived of their godly powers? And what if someone was trying to restore their powers, by sacrificing virgins? This is the premise of Jordanna Max Brodsky's The Immortals, the first book in her Olympus Bound series. Having practically memorized D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths as a child, and being a fan of fantasy novels, I thoroughly enjoyed this modern-day Greek myth murder mystery set in New York City (where I was born and raised) and I believe other fans of Greek myths, fantasy, and mystery will, too.

Hotel du Lac by Anita Brookner. Fiction. I first read Hotel du Lac many years ago, in the 1980s, long before I met and married my husband, and I didn't really get or appreciate it then. Reading it now, however, after many years of marriage and with a great deal more life experience, I was better able to understand and empathize with (and felt sorry for) Edith Hope and the other women she meets at the small Swiss hotel. These women are described as "casualties of love," living in a time when women were supposedly not fulfilled, or not really anything, unless they were successfully married. While the book would not or could not be written now -- times and attitudes towards women and marriage have changed -- it is worth reading, especially for women who have, at one time, felt poorly used by a man or society.

Idiot Brain: What Your Head Is Really Up To by Dean Burnett. Nonfiction. To quote the Amazon summary, "A neuroscientist's delightful tour of our mysterious, mischievous, entirely fallible gray matter." That pretty much sums it up (better than I could). So if you, like me, are curious about why we do, or think, the things we do, pick up a copy of Idiot Brain -- a fascinating, fun read.

The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee. Historical Fiction. The tale of famed (fictional) "French" opera singer, Lilliet Berne, toast of the Continent, whose past remains a mystery -- until someone threatens to expose it. The story takes readers from mid-1800s Paris back to the American frontier, unraveling or recalling Lilliet's rise from sharpshooter to circus performer to Empress's maid to opera star. Fans of historical fiction, especially francophiles, will enjoy this page turner. (I know I did.)

Something Missing by Matthew Dicks. Fiction. I loved this amusing tale of a slightly (?) OCD petty thief who steals toilet paper, detergent, and other everyday items from people's homes -- and winds developing protective feelings for his marks, whom he repeatedly (albeit very carefully) steals from. In fact, he winds up becoming so mentally involved in these strangers lives (though he doesn't feel like they are strangers) that he winds up becoming physically involved in one couple's life, risking his career and his heart to protect them. Funny, heartwarming, one of my favorite reads of the past year. Highly recommend. 

Smarter, Faster, Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg. Nonfiction. In the same category or genre as Freakonomics and The Tipping Point (both of which I greatly enjoyed). Filled with interesting anecdotes that help illustrate eight productivity concepts, including Motivation, Goal Setting, Decision Making, as well as some advice on how to be more productive (and not just in business).  

Fool Me Once (A Tarot Mystery) by Steve Hockensmith with Lisa Falco. Mystery/Fiction. The followup to The White Magic Five and Dime. An entertaining mystery set in a run-down occult/tarot shop near Sedona, Arizona, filled with quirky characters. The perfect light read for mystery lovers.

The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry: Love, Laughter & Tears in Paris at the Worlds Most Famous Cooking School by Kathleen Flinn. Memoir. Yet another memoir from a thirtysomething woman who dreams of moving to Paris (and studying cooking) -- and winds up enrolling at Le Cordon Bleu (after she is let go from her middle management job), where she encounters a cast of quirky characters (including the stereotypical harsh/demanding French chef who turns out to be soft-hearted) and suffers the slings and arrows... eventually triumphing (graduating) and finding true happiness... back in the States. (Can you see my eyes rolling?) Despite the cliche nature of this book (seriously, how many books about thirtysomething women finding themselves in Paris does the world need?), I actually found myself liking The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry. Maybe it was the descriptions of food. Bon appetit!

Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars by Nathalia Holt. Nonfiction. Again, I am just going to quote the one sentence Amazon summary: "The riveting true story of the women who launched America into space." That pretty much sums up Rise of the Rocket Girls, one of the best, most interesting books I've read this year. Holt is a talented (science) writer who brings the personal and work stories of these "human computers" to life in a way that reads like the best fiction. Highly recommend, especially for fans of the space race.

Girl on the Golden Coin: A Novel of Frances Stuart by Marci Jefferson. Historical Fiction. The fascinating, mostly (somewhat?) true story of Frances Stuart, whose beauty, charm, and innocence seduced both Louis XIV of France and Charles II of England and was the model for Britannia on England's golden coins.

How About Never? Is Never Good for You? My Life in Cartoons by Robert Mankoff. Memoir. For everyone who has ever wondered how those cartoons get into The New Yorker (are chosen) or wanted to be a New Yorker cartoonist. And did I mention there are lots of great New Yorker cartoons?

My Mrs. Brown by William Norwich. Fiction. A gem of a book about an introverted, mild-mannered older woman in small-town Rhode Island whose imagination and heart is captured by the classic black Oscar de la Renta suit she discovers while inventorying a recently deceased famous socialite's things -- and decides on the spot to somehow save up enough money to go to New York and buy one for herself. A beautifully written story about love (and loss), friendship, perseverance -- and taking chances. Loved this book.

Stoned: Jewelry, Obsession, and How Desire Shapes the World by Aja Raden. Nonfiction. Less a story about jewelry than about what jewelry symbolizes (beauty, desire, wealth, greed). A bit verbose and off-topic at times (I wanted more about jewelry), but still an engaging read, filled with interesting anecdotes that tie jewelry into historical events and people.

The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild. Fiction. Chick lit meets the London art world with a dash of art history and food and a cast of quirky characters (including a talking painting). I am pretty much a sucker for books about art and/or food (this has both), especially ones with a touch (or more than a touch) of romance and a mystery to solve. A fun, quick read (and you don't have to be a chick to enjoy it, though I'm guessing women will enjoy the book more than most men will).

The Winter Palace: A novel of Catherine the Great by Eva Stachniak. Historical Fiction. The fictionalized story of the rise of Catherine the Great of Russia, a German princess named Sophie who marries Peter III of Russia, as seen and told by a young Polish woman who becomes Catherine's servant (and is used as a spy by Russia's nefarious Chancellor, Count Bestuzhev). A swiftly moving tale of intrigue set in 18th Century Russia.

52 McGs: The Best Obituaries from Legendary New York Times Writer Robert McG. Thomas Jr. Nonfiction. Pretty self explanatory. A fun, fascinating look into the lives and deaths of 52 people you probably never heard of (or didn't know their names) that will make you want to read the Obituary section of The New York Times more regularly.

Books that I didn't love but many of you would probably like (or enjoy)...

The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain by Bill Bryson. Memoir. A follow-up to Bryson's Notes from a Small Island. I used to be a big Bill Bryson fan -- I loved In a Sunburned Country (probably my favorite Bryson book) and enjoyed A Walk in the Woods and I'm a Stranger Here Myself. But I haven't really enjoyed one of his books since (and I've read or attempted to read nearly all of them). I find him too whiny and curmudgeonly and dark of late -- and while reading this book, I often wondered if he was suffering from the early stages of dementia. That said, I did find parts of this book amusing and no doubt diehard Bryson fans will enjoy it more than I did.

Yes Please by Amy Poehler. While I did laugh (often out loud) at parts of comedian Amy Poehler's memoir, I often found myself rolling my eyes and gnashing my teeth at other parts. As those of you who know me, or read my book posts, know, I am not a fan of memoirs. I find most of them to be self-indulgent -- a literary therapy session, for the author, not the reader. (Seriously, some of these people should pay their editors and us readers for putting up with their BS.) And Yes Please definitely fit into that category. That said, I think fans of Amy Poehler's and people who like reading memoirs by semi-neurotic, successful working moms who are kind of humble bragging while kvetching about their pretty amazing lives (Poehler does a lot of name dropping) will enjoy this book.(My 18-year-old daughter, who is a big-time Parks and Recreation, fan loved it.)

For more great reads, click on the BOOK NOOK label below.