Critiques & Commentary

Welcome to Midas Watch – A Mission Statement

For the last two or three years, I’ve used FB as a sort of blog, sounding- and bulletin-board and forum. I posted stuff I thought my friends might be interested in reading and thinking about. But I’ve grown sick of FB in almost every way. I’m sick of the intrusions: the ads, the puffery, the come-ons. I’m sick of the dialogue, the trolling, the cloying compliments, the unremitting delectations of the self-evident and the obvious. So I’ve decided to launch this website. If you’re looking for me, here’s where I’ll be.

I’ve given this website the title of the column I wrote from October 1987 until early 2009 for The New York Observer. Certain principles abide. I started by what the Brits call “taking a view,” and so I plan to continue. As I saw it, we had entered a new Gilded Age, dominated by what I thought of as “the Overclass”, a money-based oligarchy that was despoiling the public and private institutions of the country .  This Overclass was exhibitionistic, ruthless, shameless, solipsistic, humorless, with little concern for the sensibility or situation of those less plugged in. If you spoke to these people of noblesse oblige, you were greeted with a look that combined moral blankness and contempt. I had grown up in and with relative affluence; what I began to see ran in the face of every way I had been taught to behave, I found myself agreeing with Dorothy Parker’s famous quip: “If you want to see what God thinks of money, look at who He gives it to,” and that’s how I wrote about them. They didn’t like being made fun of, being tagged with schoolyard nicknames like “the Prince of Swine” or “the Wee Haberdasher.” I have always believed the bad guys and idiots have names – and I had no compunction naming them.

Not that I made any difference. The despoilers are more in control than ever – and not only thicker on the ground, but more contemptible and self-regarding. In 1993, Random House contracted and paid me for a nonfiction book about The Overclass (that was the working title), but for reasons that remain obscure didn’t publish it. I guess it was ahead of its time, and in American life, nothing has less cash value than that.

Speaking out – saying what you think – can cost you friends. It cost me, especially when more and more people I had been close to in younger days began to discover how much they really loved money, and to organize their social lives and acquaintanceships around the indubitable truth that wealth loves wealth. Or, as they used to say on Wall Street, friendship can’t buy money.

That sort of thing made me angry back then, but no longer. I was 51 when I began the Observer column. I had much to look forward to – or so I thought. My fuse was much shorter. Now I’m 80, and my thoughts turn mainly to the past. When shit happens – and it does – I find I’ve become surprisingly philosophical. I must also confess that after nine novels and a few false starts (including The Overclass), the inclination and mental stamina to write another book has all but petered out. Writing is great fun – but being published (or not published) is torture, and after the way my recent novel Fixers was received (raves in The Washington Post and Wall Street Journal, but no other major reviews. None), what’s the point? Still, once opinionated, always opinionated, once a writer always a writer. So here we are.

And so it goes. I should end this overture as overtures should, on a joyous note. The day this website launches is the birthday of my darling wife Tamara Glenny and my grandson Cooper Thomas. He’s turning 25; Tamara’s a tiny bit older. And tomorrow, my youngest son Francis turns 30; he had just turned 1 when I began “The Midas Watch”; readers of the Observer column knew him as  “Master Francis”. My family is my greatest blessing.

One final note: I’m not trying to make debating points. here. Trolls need not apply. People whose reactions I care about can post on FB or reach me by email at [email protected] or any other address you already have.


Remarked on everywhere is how Trump dominates our awareness of what’s going on. It is striking, but not as remarkable as one might think, when you consider that among people who care passionately and vocally about such things, 50% hate and fear the guy and 50% worship and trust him, which by any standards is amazing market penetration. I follow Naked Capitalism closely; every day the site posts a number of links (as I do) to stuff thought worthy of attention. Today, NC lists 49 links. Of these, 12 are related to Trump! For a site like NC, that’s a big number.

I think this gets it right: For the complete run:

These people really are nuts. Any organization with an iota of principle should stay away from the Correspondents Dinner. Well (it’s Sunday now), an institution (the Presidency) currently in an iteration utterly without principle, has announced it/he will not be attending the WHCD – so I guess that solves the problem. Of course, this is a guy who may be thinking about contracting ISIS for a suicide bomber or two come the big event. You can be sure Bannon is.




Start with this. I always thought that Isherwood was twice the critic Brantley is.

For the umpteenth time, students, if you’re going to use Orwell to interpret Trump, the book for you isn’t 1984, it’s Animal Farm:

Last night T and I and her daughter Margie went to a “friends and family” soft opening of the new Blue Ribbon Federal at 84 William Street just a block or two from where I toiled happily and then unhappily at Lehman Brothers in the 1960s and early ’70s. T’s son Sam Ehrlich is the wine guy at Federal. He knows his stuff; the Rioja he recommended went wonderfully with my bavette,  a type of skirt steak you don’t see everywhere. Everything was delicious, and service first-rate. Not sure exactly when BRF will open, but I urge you to sign up now. This place is a winner!

I’m going to check this out.

No Comment:

The chatterati and chinstrokers keep expressing wonderment at how it could be that so many people, in voting for Trump, voted against their own best interests. I think an analogy that works might be with another of the blahblahblahyadayada set’s favorite targets: the lottery, which Very Serious People condemn as a fraud committed on the less-advantaged (less-connected), given the astronomical odds of winning the jackpot. But I would submit that when it comes to the prospect of economic or social betterment, given a choice between SOME chance, however minuscule, and NO chance, people will opt for the former, no matter what the elites’ algorithms argue.

I think this should be read by anyone who, prompted by generational or intellectual concerns, asks “What’s with these video games, anyway?” The author’s answer, in a word: happiness.




For something of this genius, $100,000 seems hardly adequate. Thoughts of the amazing Mac-Ray achievement prompt a reflection on an aspect of Trump that until now, with talk of eliminating NEA, PBS etc., hasn’t really been commented on as much as it should be and may prove as broadly toxic as his other qualities (sic): his depthless philistinism. This man epitomizes “ny kulturny” as his Moscow chums might say. Culture has played zero role in his life, even less than courage. He did go to Wharton/Penn, but that hardly qualifies as an education. Let us hope that the Treasury Secretary’s father, Robert Mnuchin, a former GS top trader who left to become a distinguished art collector-dealer, can have a word with his son on the importance of the arts and all our cultural institutions, and that Mnuchin2 can pass this along to his boss.

I used to go to London once or twice a year, sometimes more frequently. No longer. Age has something to do with it, but more to the point is my impression, from reports coming in from all sides, including old  London friends, is that the capital of Great Britain – England – bears no resemblance to what it was. Tanya Gold, who wrote this, is the restaurant critic for The Spectator. I think Cavafy got it wrong: the barbarians are never  a kind of solution.

This is about as effective an advertisement for napalm as I can imagine.

George Saunders Lincoln in the Bardo  starts off as #1 on NYT bestseller list. I’m predicting that over 3/4 of the people that buy this book won’t finish it.




I’m a big fan of Kunstler, but I think he’s going off the track with this “oil dependency” obsession. There is enormous wealth piled up around the world (real wealth, not the kind produced by taking the closing price of 100 shares of FB and multiplying that number by the total number of FB shares outstanding) that will eventually be distributed through investment, taxation etc. There’s the urbanization (or, if you will, the desuburbanization) that’s reducing the automobile>petroleum dependency he’s fixated on. And so on…and so on.

1.Fortune Editor Alan Murray’s Daily Letter:

Good morning.

The quick collapse of Kraft Heinz Co.’s $143 billion bid for Unilever over the weekend has sparked lots of analysis about what went wrong. Some say Kraft, which is backed by the Brazilian private equity firm 3G and by Warren Buffett, was surprised by Unilever CEO Paul Polman’s vehement opposition to the deal. Buffett has a well-known aversion to hostile bids. Others cited cultural differences between the two companies.

I think Julian Birkinshaw of the London Business School has it right when he says this one represented not just a culture clash, but a clash of two distinctly different models of capitalism. The Kraft Heinz model focuses ruthlessly on providing profits to owners by slashing costs, as my colleague Geoff Colvin chronicled in this Fortune cover story last month. Polman believes his obligation is not just to owners, but to society as a whole, as Vivienne Walt showed in this story in the most recent issue of our magazine. Both stories are required reading for anyone trying to run a business in today’s world.

Which model is right? Birkinshaw argues we need both: “Take the 3G model to extremes, and people become narrow, short-term, and greedy. Take the Unilever model to extremes, and people become unfocused, comfortable, and complacent.” Polman can no longer afford to be complacent; he now faces the challenge of showing he can deliver shareholders greater value than the Kraft Heinz bid promised. That won’t be easy; the stock dropped 8% Monday after the bid collapsed.

Separately, Bill Gates told Quartz he’s sympathetic to the idea of putting a tax on robots, to raise money to retrain people displaced by automation.

More news below.

Alan Murray
[email protected]

2. In an Op-Ed in today’s NYT,  financial journalist Eric Uhfelder points up something that has bothered me for years: this idiotic business a sticking a few units of “affordable” housing into luxury developments rather than taxing these developments and using the proceeds to improve housing in other less affluent neighborhoods. More bang for the buck.  “Affordable” must involve neighborhoods as well as individual housing units.

3.David Brooks’s Op-Ed in today’s NYT about “The Broken Century” reads as very reasonable – although I wondered about some of his statistics. Just came across this.

4.A useful taxonomy-cum-lexicon:

5. The compulsion to be in on what’s currently “hot” exceeds the bounds of idiocy: This idiocy is funded by too much money.

6.Last night we had a lovely family dinner at a restaurant called “Next Door”, located on Emmons Ave. alongside the inward finger of Sheepshead Bay. Everything good: food, service, booze. A menu unlike many restaurants today in that everything on it sounded good to eat and what we chose, was. The wine list did, however, remind me the four great wine scams of my lifetime, “scams” in the sense that certain wines developed a snob appeal that induced aspirational bibbers – both the predecessors of today’s “foodies” and the sorry present Millennial lot – to pay premium prices for wines that weren’t much above generic. The four were: A) La Doucette Pouilly Fume, which Francoise and Oscar de la Renta put on the snoot map; B) Sta. Margherita Pinot Grigio: I played golf with this wine’s importer; he couldn’t believe what he was getting away with, pricewise; C) Domaines Ott Rose – any rose priced at more than $20 in a store is a heist; (D) And Now: Whispering Angel Rose. Bullshit wine of the Decade! I dined a while back with a real connoisseur – rich, buys his wines at auction the way real pros do- and when WA was poured he demanded of his wife: “What is this shit?”  These wines constitute what you might call “oenological claptrap for the groundlings.”

7.To close, I met a lot of BS-spouting assholes in my thirty years around Wall Street, but none bigger than Steve Forbes:









Readers know that I am fond of citing what’s called Hanlon’s Razor, which holds that one should not attribute to malice that which can as plausibly be explained by stupidity. Watching our president, I’m tempted to put into play what we might call Hanlon’s Razor 2.0: one should not attribute to stupidity that which can as plausibly be explained by insanity.

No comment.



Not going to do much today, but WSJ columnist Bret Stephens’s Daniel Pearl Memorial Address this past week at UCLA is brilliant, no other word for it. Here’s a sample: “I personally think we crossed a rubicon in the Clinton years, when three things happened: we decided that some types of presidential lies didn’t matter; we concluded that “character” was an over-rated consideration when it came to judging a president; and we allowed the lines between political culture and celebrity culture to become hopelessly blurred.”

My friend NY Post columnist/film critic Kyle Smith (he also does first-rate theater criticism for New Criterion) decries comparisons of Trump administration with George Orwell’s 1984. I think he’s right. I may have noted this before on this site, but to my mind the correct Orwell novel for comparison purposes is Animal Farm – in which the pigs take over.


Today’s MUST MUST MUST READ is the review by Martin Filler of Lynne B. Sagalyn’s Power at Ground Zero: Politics, Money and the Remaking of Lower Manhattan along with two other books on the post 9/11 rebuilding of the WTC area. In addition to detailing the waste, manipulations and territorial skirmishes that are integral to any big NYC project that melds (sic) private interests with public wealth, Filler voices his own criticisms of the mediocre architecture of what has been built so far, especially Calatrava’s soaring (brochure word) transit hub. What I found most interesting was how unsuccessful were the efforts of the Bloomberg administration, usually regarded as highly partial to corporate interests, to get a handle on the overall project and prevent it from becoming a nosh pit for swine like Larry Silverstein and the litigation community. Sagalyn’s book sounds like it should go on the shelf right next to Robert Caro’s immortal study of Robert Moses, whose ghost must have beamed up approvingly from where it surely resides at the goings-on downtown.

Here’s a stunning reminder that no one does “tacky” better than the English:

From today’s Naked Capitalism, link with comment: The Rise of the Weaponized AI Propaganda Machine Scout. Chuck L: “This is positively frightening.” One implication: you either need to stay off Faceborg OR use a buddy’s account to access the few times you must OR mess up your profile in a big way, such as liking things that don’t represent you and don’t go together, like Hello Kitty, Nascar, fine dining somewhere you don’t live and never go, high end cruises and Dollar Store-ish sites, PETA and pro-meat lobbying groups. Readers, can you add specific suggestions for underming Faceborg’s understanding of you? Please circulate this article and encourage friends and family to corrupt their Faceborg profile deliberately and see what fun results!” One reason I got off FB and a good motive for being inconsistent and unrepetitive.

For much less money, you can stay at the Fountainebleau Hotel and meet an altogether better class of people. Can you imagine having to look at Bannon over breakfast?

All this yadayada about FB controlling people strikes me as vulnerable to an argument similar to “guns don’t kill people…” Nobody is forced to go on on FB – other than by their Id, their ego or their desperate need to look significant.

And, as always:

This will be out shortly. I pre-ordered it back in August when I first heard about it. From the review: “America would turn into a place where people ‘wear themselves out in trivial, lonely, futile activity’, (Tocqueville) predicted.” Speaking of FB….

Just got back from seeing the Classic Stage Company’s production of Corneille’s “The Liar.” Absolutely sensational! It’s on through 2/26. if you can go, do! Everything about this production is five-star, starting with the text by David Ives, which combines bits of everything from Corneille’s alexandrines to the Bard to modern slang – and all to wonderful effect. The cast is terrific. At the risk of being arraigned for second-degree pot-kettleism, I’m compelled to report that on the basis of those I saw around me, a good portion of the audience may have been present at the play’s opening night in Paris in 1643. For my own part, I felt I was back at Exeter in 1952, involved in “Les Cabotins,”  the PEA French Club, presided over by two professorial paragons: Georges Roncalez and DeVaux Delancey.

Too good not to conclude today’s harvest with:








Apropos of yesterday. I have absolutely no idea whether any of this has a basis in fact. But that’s not the main point as I see it – which is that it’s time for people in positions of sensitivity to go back to their landlines or to find some means other than computer-to-computer for conducting potentially radioactive exchanges. In today’s WSJ, Peggy Noonan makes sense: “Nothing about the story of Mr. Flynn is satisfyingly clear. Most people would say discussing the views of the incoming administration with the Russian ambassador would be an anodyne act—harmless, maybe even helpful. But few know exactly what was said. That he misled the vice president about discussing sanctions is bad. That the vice president later vouched for him is embarrassing. That Mr. Flynn’s phone conversations were subject to surveillance is strange. That information about the call or calls was leaked to the press is unprecedented.”

One of the aspects of modern life that I find as disgusting as it is amazing is the complete disregard we (I’m using the rhetorical “we”) have for privacy, our own as much as anyone else’s. Trolling our way through our lives, we go public whenever we can with whatever we think we’ve got.  One reason I left FB was exhaustion with stuff people put up in which not only did I have no interest, but was somewhat shocked to see put on display. What happens in Las Vegas no longer stays there, but is disseminated around the world pronto.  I feel badly for Jacob Bernstein of NYT, who was ratted out for the sort of offhand dinner-table remark, involving Melania Trump and the word “hooker” that in a civilized era would have gone nowhere. We still don’t know if what he said was on the order of “Melania Trump looks like a hooker,” or “You know, there were reports she worked as a hooker” (in current parlance “escort” equals “hooker”). In the event, he dropped this casual observation in the presence of one Emily Ratajkowski, who immediately spread it on the internet as an instance of arrant anti-feminism. Ms. Ratajkowski was unfamiliar to me – I thought she might be that young woman, an alleged victim of campus rape,  who has been dragging a mattress around the Columbia U. campus in the way Diogenes toted his lantern through the ancient world – so I looked her up on Google. Well, racing fans, I tell you! Ms. R. is a publicity hound if ever I saw one. Sorry – that’s a masculinist-chauvinist misuse of canine nomenclature. Strict gender correctness – presumably applicable to our animal friends as well as our human enemies – would probably require describing her as a publicity bitch.  Her Wikipedia entry is longer than Abraham Lincoln’s, and includes a complete listing of her magazine cover appearances as well as 231 footnotes! Somehow this gives the impression that the entry was written either by Ms. R. herself, a publicist in her employ or the Ford Agency, which represents her. I doubt the latter, because the first image of Ms.R on the entry is hardly flattering: sort of a C-list Lady Gaga unmade up. Anyway, poor Jacob Bernstein had to abase himself in a series of tweets (imagine if Martin Luther had had to post his 95 Theses on Twitter!) and his employer, in another of its almost-daily displays  of its need for a complete spine transplant, scolded him several times over. Here’s a proper feminist take:

Today’s Naked Capitalism is chockablock with great stuff. Start with this, from Jeremy Grantham, one of the few real intellects I encountered in all my years on and around Wall Street: 

I found this article interesting, especially by comparing  North American big-game practice to Africa. Also because the villain-protagonist of my 1995 novel Bakers Dozen has scored his “Grand Slam of American Sheep”: Rocky Mountain Bighorn, Dall, Desert and Stone.

And yet we are told over and over again that the world produces more than enough food to feed its entire population:

No comment:

In a world dominated by bad guys, let’s hear it for a good one. And watch the embedded video!

This is what being a dad & granddad really means: two wonderful daughters and their fantastic four kids in Madonna del’ Campigli, Italy (daughter #1 lives in Italy)! Wish I still skied!






2/16/17…Reflections on this Flynn/Russia/Hacking/Trump business

Last Monday (2/14/17) NYT front-paged a story with this ominous-sounding headline. 

Trump Campaign Aides Had Repeated Contacts With Russian Intelligence

Underneath, however, were paragraph after paragraph of yada yada of the kind journalists employ to convince readers there’s a story here when in fact there isn’t.  Finally, well down inside the paper we come across: “The officials would not disclose many details, including what was discussed on the calls, the identity of the Russian intelligence officials who participated, and how many of Mr. Trump’s advisers were talking to the Russians. It is also unclear whether the conversations had anything to do with Mr. Trump himself.”

This is what I call “non news,” and it bothers me almost as much as “fake news.” Misleading is at the heart of both types. The efficacy of “fake news” correlates with the ignorance of the recipient. “Non news” tends to correlate with the ego of the writer; it leads essentially nowhere; it is the breathless account of a dead end. What we expect to be about something turns out to be about nothing – in the best Seinfeldian sense. In other words, how much more that really matters did we know when we finished the NYT article than when we began? Essentially zilch. In this instance, what matters is what was actually discussed and where might these discussions have led? Or, to put it crudely: did money change hands? Were electoral databases hacked and altered?

I’m not alone in my skepticism. But in the material I’ve searched out so far, only my former Observer colleague Joe Conason gets to the point.

Mostly what we’re presented with is “non-news” squared. Here’s an example: it purports to explain and yet ends up more or less exactly where it started:  ttps://  This article does mention a purported KGB/FSB offer “to help” a Bill Clinton campaign – but what we want to know, if this assertion is to have any teeth, is what exactly is meant by “help”? Are we talking $$$$? Or blackmail (if there has ever been a president riper for a “honey trap,” it would have been Clinton, with his supersonic zipper). Or registration records hacked? Was Moscow responsible for the disappearance of all those Brooklyn registrants?

We’re told that Russia “meddled” in the recent elections, but of what did aforesaid “meddling” consist?  If you’ve read Fixers, you know that it jumps off in early 2007, with an offer by a Wall Street big shot well aware of the mess in the mortgage and derivatives business and apprehensive that if there’s a crash there’ll be regulatory hell to pay, to infuse the just-announced presidential campaign of an ambitious midwestern Senator with big money, funding sufficient to put him on an even footing with his “sure thing” primary opponent, the wife of a former president. This premise was inspired by the early (barely two weeks after 2008 election) leak that Obama’s finance team would be headed by Summers and Geithner, which suggested to me that something funny – and to voters like myself, very discouraging – was going on in the realm of “Hope and Change.” If I was starting that novel today, with the election at issue that of 2016 instead of 2008, I might well use the same plot kickoff – but this time with the campaign manager of a 2016 candidate even unlikelier than was Obama in 2007 being offered a deal by a Russian intermediary, denominated in post-Citizens United billions rather than the comparatively measly sum my characters had to work with in 2007.

I’m going to take a break now but will return later with reflections on l’affaire Flynn. 


I’m not upset and I’m certainly not outraged by Flynn’s conversations during the interregnum with the Russian ambassador regarding sanctions. These were hastily imposed during Obama’s headlong rush to create a “legacy”  for his niminy-piminy, heed-what-I-say-not-what-I-do, two-term administration, but I’m not sure what they were supposed to punish Moscow for. Well, I do, actually, at least I know what we’ve been told. Here’s CNN:

The administration described Russia’s involvement as “Significant Malicious Cyber-Enabled Activities” and sanctioned four Russian individuals and five Russian entities for what it said was election interference. The administration also ordered 35 Russian diplomats to leave the country and two Russian compounds are being closed.
“This is the first time the names of Russian officials involved in the hacking have become public on the sanctions list.
“Russia’s cyberactivities were intended to influence the election, erode faith in US democratic institutions, sow doubt about the integrity of our electoral process, and undermine confidence in the institutions of the US government,” a White House statement said. “These actions are unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”

This is just BS. What the Kochs got up to was twice as destabilizing. Maybe the Russians opened up HRC’s emails for all the world to read, but they sure as hell didn’t write them. Why bother when useful idiots like Podesta and Huma existed to do the heavy lifting?

Anyway, when there’s major regime change, policy changes are expected, and people who know each other will often get together to discuss what’s next. Flynn has a long history with Moscow. He wasn’t an official of the government although I’m sure he knew he was likely to be asked to serve. He made no commitments. So what’s the big deal? Anyway, this just came up online.

This reminds me of a similar episode in my own life. Back around 1974, the controversial Broadway producer David Merrick started buying stock in 20th Century-Fox, of which I was a director and handled the company’s investment baking. Darryl Zanuck, then Fox CEO, had a shitfit. I decided I’d go see Merrick and try to get a line on his plans for Fox, to see what he was up to. Not that I was out to save Zanuck’s ass; he was one of the 10 worst people I’ve ever known, with zipper problems to challenge Bill Clinton (we’d just spent $6 million to make Hello, Goodbye, a clunker starring DFZ’s then-squeeze, Genevieve Gilles, that “grossed $600K domestic,” as we say in The Industry), but Merrick didn’t rank far behind in the shithead sweepstakes. And Fox at that point was hardly in a position to endure the expense and distraction of a proxy fight or hostile bid. So I had dinner with Merrick at “21” and came away knowing little more than when I’d sat down, although as I recall I assured Merrick that I and my firm would do what we could to avoid a destructive and distracting corporate war. A week or two later, I was summoned to the office of Fred Ehrman, Lehman’s then executive partner/CEO. Ehrman was a world-class prick in his own way, and a misanthrope in the bargain, which put the firm in the interesting position of being a people business run by a people-hater. Ehrman told me that he’d had a call from Zanuck alleging that I was conspiring with Merrick to take over Fox, and that unless I quit the Fox board (and account), and Lehman replaced me with another partner, Zanuck would take his investment banking elsewhere. “Tell him to shove it up his ass,” I replied tactfully. “He has no business to give out. No one on the Street’ll touch him.” But I knew Ehrman, and I could see a certain word light up in his mind, because back then, to people Ehrman’s age (late 60s), “Hollywood” meant that part of the female anatomy where our new president by his own account likes to grab ’em. I was cooked. I bowed to pressure and – guess what! – my place on the Fox board was taken by Ehrman.

Now none of this means that I’m a Flynn fan. I think there’s a lot of funny business going on here. For instance: David Ignatius’ Curious Role in the Mike Flynn Story . My impression is that Flynn is extremist to the point of borderline nuts, but that wouldn’t bother Trump, who operates on the principle “it takes one not to know one.” We’re probably better off without Flynn on the poop deck – I can’t say that without noting that my all-time favorite gay porn double-feature, glimpsed years ago on the marquee of a Times Square speciality art house, was “Poop Deck” paired with “Rear Admiral” – but this business with the Russian ambassador strikes me as just so much hysterical persiflage.

Speaking of which, this just in:

Finally, to change the subject, another nail in “legacy” coffin:





From now on, the website will display in a larger font for readers whose eyes are my age.


1.Sunday night, a line in “Midsomer Murders,” recalled Terry-Thomas’s immortal pronouncement: “The man’s an absolute shower.” And he didn’t even know S. Schwarzman! T-T should be part of every thinking person’s comedic vocabulary. In “Man in a Cocked Hat,” he’s told by the Foreign Secretary that he must travel immediately to a distant part of the globe to prevent life on earth being destroyed in a nuclear holocaust. T-T shows himself to be in the moment. “But that means I shall miss Ascot,” he objects.

2. From an online site peddling cheapie ebooks, I’ve downloaded a mystery written by the Lockridges featuring husband-wife detectives Mr. and Mrs. North. I read a bunch of these in the summer of 1947 in Nantucket when I had mumps (or was it measles?) They were a riot then. Curious to see how they stand up now.

3.Don’t tell me “High Castle” isn’t taking over my mind! I’ve always addressed my wife as “Trade Minister.”

4. Even Nixon, when caught,  deferred to a higher conception of his office. Not this president. Here’s a good take from Naked Capitalism (link to Politico, comment by Yves Smith):  President Trump Has Done Almost Nothing Finally, some official confirmation of what NC has been saying: “Tune out the noise coming from the White House. So far, very little has actually happened…So far, Trump has behaved exactly like he has throughout his previous career: He has generated intense attention and sold himself as a man of action while doing little other than promote an image of himself as someone who gets things done.” The hysteria about Trump is way out in front of events. The MSM has fallen down either by accident or design by screeching about every executive order rather than parsing which have real legal impact, which are basically just press releases, and which are a mixed bag.

5.Strong thoughts. It is from The Guardian, however: