After the Assault on the Capitol: Trump ‘Concedes,’ But He Still Has Blood on His Hands

Hi, there, Dear Reader. It’s late morning here in New Hometown, Florida on Friday, January 8, 2021. Right now the temperature is 63˚F (17˚C) under cloudy skies. With humidity at 77% and the wind blowing from the west at 8 MPH (13 KM/H), the feels-like temperature is 63˚F (17˚C). Today’s forecast: partly sunny skies and a high of 67˚F (20˚C). Tonight, we can expect partly cloudy skies and a low of 46˚F (8˚C).

The past few days have been unlike any other in the history of American presidential transitions since 1861. On Wednesday afternoon, after being egged on by President Donald Trump, Donald Trump, Jr., Eric Trump, and Rudy Giuiliani – just to name a few speakers at the MAGA “Stop the Steal” (or whatever Trumpistas are calling it) rally – thousands of armed and violent supporters breached the U.S. Capitol – something that has not happened since the British burned parts of Washington, DC during the War of 1812.

This was not a peaceful demonstration gone wrong. The participants were already primed to go berserk and to participate in an act of seditious insurrection if the U.S. Congress certified the results of the 2020 Presidential election. Many of the Make America Great Again/Keep America Great movement were armed and dressed as if they were going to war rather than to peaceably assemble to support their lame duck President. All they needed, beyond the words of the Trumps and Guilliani, was a spark to set off the keg of gunpowder they brought to Washington with them.

That spark, apparently, was Vice President Mike Pence’s refusal to overturn the 2020 election results. The President, who for 64 days had claimed that he, and not Joe Biden, had won the election had asked Pence to do this, even though the Vice President has no unilateral authority to overturn the election results.

Keep in mind that Trump had addressed the crowd for an hour before Congress started to tally the Electoral College votes. At one point in his speech, the President said this:

“Because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.”

Per NPR’s timeline of events:

1:11 p.m. President Trump’s speech to supporters on the Ellipse outside the White House ends. During the roughly hourlong speech, Trump urges his followers to march to the Capitol and says at one point, “You will never take back our country with weakness.” Trump says he will be there with them but never joins the crowd.

1:13 p.m. Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar files the first objection to state Electoral College certification, from his home state. Democrat Joe Biden won the state by 10,457 votes. The objection needs to be joined by a U.S. senator, which it is. The objection could then be debated for up to two hours. Republican House members and senators threaten to do this for up to half a dozen states. The tactic amounts to not more than a delay, however, as the end result will be President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris being declared the winners — again.

2:07 p.m. The mob of Trump supporters breach the steps on the east side of the Capitol.

2:16 p.m. The first scenes of the rioters inside the building.

This act of sedition did not go well for Trump or his followers. Vice President Pence – for once, anyway – did the right thing and refused to go along with the President’s demands. And by breaching the Capitol and trying to intimidate the Congress into undoing the 2020 Presidential election, the self-described “patriots” not only showed that they don’t believe in the Constitution, representative democracy, or a multi-party system, but they also caused five deaths.

Per a story on KRON in San Francisco, here are the names of the dead – four Trump supporters who should be labeled “domestic terrorists” and one law enforcement officer:

  • Ashli Babbitt, 35, of San Diego, CA. Trump supporter
  • Rosanne Boyland, 34, of Kennesaw, GA, Trump supporter
  •  Kevin Greeson, 55, of Athens, AL, Trump supporter
  • Benjamin Phillips, 50, of Ringtown, PA, Trump supporter

U.S. Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick died of injuries he received while responding to the breach at the Capitol. According to a story by KRON-TV in San Francisco, “The death of Officer Sicknick will be investigated by Washington D.C. Metro Police’s Homicide branch, the USCP and other federal agencies.”

As I have said in previous posts about the events of January 6, this wasn’t a patriotic act gone wrong. It was an act of sedition, armed insurrection, and domestic terrorism. And I think that Trump’s last minute “change of heart” last night – he tweeted a lukewarm concession speech that was both unenthusiastic and pathetically hypocritical – was less of a recognition that he had caused the events to unfold the way that they did and more of a “cover-his-ass” move. After all, he could be held liable for the five deaths on the grounds that he instigated a MAGA riot.

Sources:

Timeline: How One Of The Darkest Days In American History Unfolded

These are the 5 people, including officer, who died in the U.S. Capitol riots

US Capitol Police officer dies from injuries in riot, federal homicide investigation opened

After the Assault on the Capitol: SecTrans Chao, Other Officials Quit in Wake of MAGA Rioters’ Attack on Congress

Elaine Chao, Secretary of Transportation, announced her resignation in the wake of yesterday’s violent assault on the U.S. Capitol. (Official Department of Transportation photo)

(A Trump nomination) “would be an utter, complete and total disaster. If you’re a xenophobic, race-baiting, religious bigot, you’re going to have a hard time being president of the United States, and you’re going to do irreparable damage to the party.” – Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), December 2015

One day after an armed mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters breached – for the first time since the War of 1812 – the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, some members of the embattled Administration – including one Cabinet member – have tendered their resignations to express their distaste for the 45th President.

Today, Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, who is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced that she is stepping down from her post effective January 11.

In a message to Department of Transportation staff that she also shared on Twitter, Chao, one of the GOP’s most influential and wealthy women (with a net worth of $24 million), said that yesterday’s attempt by the President’s supporters to reverse the election had troubled her.

Image Credit: Twitter

“Yesterday, our country experienced a traumatic and entirely avoidable event as supporters of the President stormed the Capitol building following a rally he addressed. As I’m sure is the case with many of you, it has deeply troubled me in a way that I simply cannot set aside.”

Chao, who had previously served as President George W. Bush’s Secretary of Labor, is thus the highest-ranking member of the outgoing Trump Administration to resign since yesterday. Also departing are:

Stephanie Grisham (Official White House photo)
  • First Lady Melania Trump’s chief of staff, Stephanie Grisham
  • Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Matthews
  • Deputy National Security Adviser Matt Pottinger
  • Special U.S. Envoy to Northern Ireland Mick Mulvaney

According to Reuters, National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien briefly considered leaving, but now “has no plans to quit.”

Per Reuters: “Further departures are especially likely at the NSC, one of the officials said. It coordinates U.S. foreign policy among federal agencies and maintains close contacts with foreign governments, so the loss of key staff could raise questions about national security as the new administration takes over.”

Sources:

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election-resignations/u-s-transport-chief-foreign-policy-advisers-among-resignations-after-capitol-violence-idUSKBN29C0C9?fbclid=IwAR0sdSxEWSF7Onb7MhBiFmDgEpty6U0HLb4yvE3WVkXbKHxR4iIlM7Nj38c

https://www.cnbc.com/2021/01/07/mick-mulvaney-resigns-from-trump-administration-expects-others-to-follow.html

After the Assault on the Capitol: An Open Letter to My Trump-Supporting Friends

Photo Credit: Saul Loeb / AFP – Getty Images via NBC News

To my Trump-supporting friends:

If, after what happened in Washington yesterday, you still support Donald Trump, you should be ashamed of yourselves.

I, along with many other Americans who oppose Trump, including respectable conservatives like George F. Will and Jennifer Rubin, tried telling you that there were better, smarter Republicans than Donald Trump out there. You ignored us. You called us “libtards,” “Communists,” “Demonrats,” and other ridiculous, insulting names.

For me, a guy who started voting in 1984 as a young and naive pro-Reagan independent, it was never a matter of Republican vs. Democrat when it came to Donald J. Trump and his ability to be President. It was a matter of moral character, intelligence, and leadership skills. And Trump failed in all of these areas.

Photo Credit: Irish Daily Mirror

Never in the history of the United States has a President successfully created what amounts to be a cult of personality….until Trump was elected. And never before had a sitting President sowed seeds of distrust in our political system by claiming – even before an election – that there would be massive voter fraud and insisting that voters go to the polls in person during a global pandemic. That is, until Trump came along.

And never before has one Presidential transition process been disrupted by violence in our nation’s Capitol, until Trump supporters breached the “People’s House” to interrupt a joint session of Congress and stop the certification of the election results.

As a result of this assault, four American citizens are now dead, and the world is goggle-eyed in shock (and in some places, like Moscow, delight) at our present state of Trump-inspired divisiveness and distrust.

This was not a case of “false actors” impersonating Trump supporters. Antifa was not behind this. BLM was not behind this. It was Trump supporters, egged on by Trump, his sons, and Rudy Giuiliani, who acted violently yesterday. Not the “violent left,” like many of you love to post on your timelines, but the violent right.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

This was not a peaceful protest gone wrong. It was armed insurrection. It was a riot.

Even worse, this was an attempt to reverse a presidential election.

And the consequences have already started to manifest themselves.

Already, Lindsey Graham broke ranks with your President.

Vice President Mike Pence refused to overturn the election, per Trump’s request. (He has no Constitutional authority to do so anyway.)

Already, senior White House staffers, including the First Lady’s chief of staff, the deputy National Security Adviser, and the deputy White House press secretary, have resigned. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao is reportedly going to resign, as well.

Transportation Secretary (and Mrs. Mitch McConnell) Elaine Chao is reportedly resigning in protest over Trump’s post-election behavior. Official U.S. Government photo.

I have always found it sad that some of my Cuban-American friends are champions of liberty and freedom when it comes to what President Kennedy once called “that imprisoned island.” They hate dictatorships of the far left, and rightly so. But they are fine with right-wing authoritarianism, which is what Trumpism is really all about.

So if after yesterday’s attempt to reverse a free and certified election you STILL say “Trump 2020” and think he was a great President, you should be ashamed of yourselves

Musings & Thoughts for Wednesday, January 6, 2021, or: Hasta la vista, Kelly Loeffler!

Official U.S. Senate photo

Hi, there, Dear Reader. It’s early afternoon here in New Hometown, Florida on Wednesday, January 6, 2021. Currently, the temperature is 68˚F (20˚C) under sunny skies. With humidity at 30% and the wind blowing from the south-southeast at 5 MPH (8 KM/H). the feels-like factor is 68˚F (20˚C). The forecast for the rest of the afternoon calls for partly sunny skies and a high of 70˚F (21˚C). Tonight, we can expect partly cloudy skies and a low of 49˚F (9˚C).

Well, it looks like Democratic voters in Georgia managed to elect at least one of the two Democratic challengers of Republican incumbent Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue. As I write this, it is clear that Loeffler – a political appointee chosen in January 2020 by Georgia’s Republican governor Brian Kemp to replace  Republican senator Johnny Isakson, who resigned on December 31, 2019 – lost a special runoff election to Democratic candidate Ralph Warnock. (The other Senatorial race, between Republican incumbent David Perdue and Democratic challenger Jon Osoff, is still too close to call at press time.)

Both of the incumbents in Georgia are wealthy entrepreneurs and Trump loyalists. Perdue has worked as a management consultant and a high ranking executive at Reebok and PillowTex. Before running for the U.S. Senate in 2014, Perdue was chief executive officer of Dollar General. His net worth is $15.8 million (as of 2018).

Loeffler is perhaps the better-known Republican candidate, not just because of the headlines she made last spring after she and her uber-wealthy husband, Jeffrey Sprecher, sold off stock in companies that would be adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and bought stock in others that would increase in value because of the lockdown and the need for people to work remotely from home.

Per an article on CNN by Chris Cillizza, Kelly Loeffler’s disastrous Senate term:

Appointed Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler’s loss at the hands of Rev. Raphael Warnock (D) on Tuesday brings to an end one of the most ignominious Senate terms in modern memory.

Yes, there have been shorter tenures. (Georgia Democratic Sen. Rebecca Latimer Felton served for only a single day!) And, yes, plenty of other appointed senators have lost when they ran for election in their own right. (Like Arizona’s Martha McSally, who lost in November.) But few — if any — appointed senators have so tarnished their personal reputation as Loeffler did in the year she spent in the world’s greatest deliberative body.

After pointing out that Governor Kemp chose Loeffler as a moderate Republican voice with a reputation for running a business and as part of the Atlanta community (she’s one of the owners of the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream), Cillizza writes:

In her earliest days in the Senate, Loeffler tried to position herself as just that: A successful businesswoman bringing some much-needed outsider perspective to Washington. In an ad she ran soon after being appointed, Loeffler touted her mantra “hard work and results really matter.”

That plan appeared to go out the window in the spring of 2020, when Loeffler (and her husband) found themselves in the middle of a massive controversy regarding a series of stock sales just before the coronavirus pandemic shut down the American economy.

As CNN wrote at the time:

“Loeffler and her husband sold 27 stocks between January 24 and February 14 at a value of $1.28 million and $3.1 million, according to Senate financial disclosure records. They also purchased three stocks for between $450,000 to $1 million, including shares in Citrix, a software company used for teleconferencing that’s one of the few that’s gained value amid the coronavirus outbreak. Citrix’s stock was $122.03 on February 14, the day it was purchased, and closed at $125.31 on Thursday.”

Amid questions of whether her position in the Senate gave her advance notice of the coming catastrophe, Loeffler told Fox News at the time that she was “not involved in the decisions around buying and selling” of her stocks. While she continued to insist that she had done nothing wrong, Loeffler announced in April that she and her husband were selling off all of their individual stocks.

Perhaps believing that Donald J. Trump truly represents the future of the Republican Party, Loeffler has since veered from the moderate center of the GOP to its far right wing. Angered by the criticism aimed at both her husband and her, Loeffler lashed out against the “liberals” and the media, tossing out her favorite epithet, “socialist,” for good measure.

Per Cillizza:

That episode seemed to mark a clear turning point in how Loeffler positioned herself politically. As questions were raised about the stock trades, Loeffler turned to accusations of socialism, of all things, to defend herself. This comes from a Fox News interview in mid-April:

“This was a political attack designed to take away from the issue at hand. And to use this outbreak to play politics. We have addressed this and taken extraordinary measures to make sure that we can’t be attacked for our success. This gets at the very heart of why I came to Washington, to defend free enterprise, to defend capitalism. This is a socialist attack.”

Uh, what?

So this near-billionaire whose net worth is $800 million not only likes to play the “socialist” card, but she is now one of Trump’s staunchest supporters. Since the November election, Loeffler has jumped on the lame duck President’s “stolen election conspiracy” bandwagon and milked it for all it’s worth.

Loeffler clearly deserved to lose this runoff. Not only did she become a Trump sycophant, but some of her early pre-runoff rallies were veritable COVID-19 super spreader events in which she rarely wore a mask, and most of her supporters never did.

Per Wikipedia’s entry on Loeffler:

On November 20, 2020, Loeffler spoke without a mask at a rally in Canton, Georgia, 46 days before the runoff. Later that day, she tested positive for COVID-19; the result of a test she took the next day was inconclusive. She had intermittently worn a mask while campaigning.  Attendees at her rallies tended to go mostly maskless.

As Ice Cube says in Friday (and many people use as a meme on the Internet), “Bye, Felicia!”

Updated to Add: And it’s official – the race between David Perdue and Jon Ossoff has been called. Ossoff wins, and Georgia’s two Senators are Democrats.

Sources: Kelly Loeffler’s disastrous Senate term, Chris Cillizza, CNN (January 6, 2021)

Kelly Loeffler, Wikipedia page

Musings & Thoughts for Tuesday, January 5, 2021, or: Winter Chills in Florida…and ‘The 40-Year-Old Virgin’ Joins My Blu-ray Collection

The park near the house where I live. (Photo by the author)

Hi there, Dear Reader. It’s just past noon here in New Hometown, Florida, and by the standards of the Sunshine State, it’s a wee bit nippy. Right now the temperature is 66˚F (19˚C) under sunny skies. With the wind blowing from the north-northwest at 4 MPH (7 KM/H) and humidity at 49%, the feels-like temperature is 66˚F (19˚C). It’s going to warm up a bit by late afternoon, but not by a lot; the high today is expected to reach 69˚F (21˚C) under partly sunny skies. Tonight, the forecast calls for mostly clear skies and a low of 42˚F (6˚C).

Photo by Luis Cont on Pexels.com

I have, of course, lived in or visited places where the climate is not in the subtropical category. From 1966 to 1972, my mom and I – and after the spring of 1969, my older half-sister – lived in Bogota, Colombia, which is that South American nation’s capital as well as its largest city. Because it is located on a plateau in the Andes Mountains at an average of 2,640 metres (8,660 ft) above sea level (thus making it the third highest capital city in the world, after La Paz and Quito), Bogota has a cool, often chilly climate year-round. When I lived there, I was used to the cold temperature – we rented homes or apartments with fireplaces, plus we ate an average of five meals a day and dressed in layers.

And, of course, even though the south of Spain has Mediterranean climate and isn’t as cold as Bogota year-round, I happened to participate in the College Consortium for International Studies’ Semester in Spain program in Seville during the fall semester of the 1988-1989 academic year. When I got there on September 21, 1988, it coincided with the first day of autumn. The days were nice and warm, but the evenings were, as they say, crisp and cool. And as we got closer and closer to winter, the skies were often cloudy, and I got caught in several torrential downpours on my way home from class in October. By late November, Seville had days when the temperature was like today’s here in my corner of Florida; 66˚F (19˚C) was often as high as the mercury rose then, and because the apartment I shared with two Spanish guys had no central heating, it was like living inside a refrigerator.

If I had managed to keep my townhouse and not moved here, I would probably turn on the heating at night to ease the chill a bit. I hated the “smells like something’s burning” scent that permeated the two-story house where I lived from February 1978 to April of 2016, as well as the higher-than-usual electric bill that comes with using central heating, so – taking a page from my mother’s playbook – I only turned it on a few times during my last winter in Miami. Mainly at night so I could sleep better and not have to get undressed to take a shower in a cold house!

Here, the Caregiver does not use the central heating, not even when the mercury drops to the near-freezing point. She, too, hates the smell given off by what I assume is the hot insulation material, as well as that weird dry-air feel. And since I have been demoted from being The Boyfriend to The Guy in the Smallest Room in the House, I have no say in the matter even though I am the only other adult living here who contributes to the house finances. If I did have a say, I’d suggest that we turn on the heater during the night so it wouldn’t be freezing in the morning. I don’t….so I think that I will probably end up buying a smallish space heater for my room.

(C) 2005, 2008 Universal Studios

Today I’ll be getting the Blu-ray of Judd Apatow’s The 40-Year-Old Virgin from Amazon. I bought it for slightly less than $11 to add a comedy to my Blu-ray collection, which – when it arrives – will consist of 363 high-definition (HD) Blu-ray titles (313 feature films and 50 TV seasons) and 23 4K ultra-high definition (UHD) 4K Blu-ray discs. All of the UHD titles sets are upgrades to HD titles I own, but pretty soon I’ll do what I did when HD Blu-rays were the new format in town and DVDs were the old format: I’ll stop ordering new releases in HD-only packages – unless I have no choice – and just order 4K sets that include HD Blu-rays as a bonus.

Screenshot of my Collection page on Blu-ray.com

I bought The 40-Year-Old Virgin on DVD in 2006 – according to my Amazon order history – when my half-sister Vicky (who hates computers, does not have an Internet account, and distrusts online shopping) asked me to order it for her. Apparently, one of her co-workers or friends told her the movie was funny and that she should get it. She could have just driven to FYE at the Dolphin Mall and bought it herself – why she had me order it I have no idea. (Judging from the January 30, 2006 order date, it wasn’t a birthday present request, as her birthday is March 10.)

At the time, Vicky and I were still on civil terms, so I bought it for her. For some mondo bizarro reason, she wanted it to be delivered to Mom’s house (it wasn’t legally mine then) rather than to her address, and since she didn’t visit us every day – she was working at the now-closed and unlamented Metropolitan Hospital in Miami – the DVD would be in the house till she went to pick it up. Mom asked her if we could watch it before Vicky took it home, and my half-sister agreed to let us watch it first.

Now, I had mixed feelings about watching The 40-Year-Old Virgin with my mom; I knew it would not have any explicit sex scenes, but it does have lots of raunchy Judd Apatow-style humor, much of it centered on sex and sex acts. I had no idea how Mom, who was then 77 years old, would react. She wasn’t a prude like my grandmother – her mom –  and she tolerated my collection of Playboy magazines without complaint, but…yeah…I was skittish about watching the movie with my mother.

As it turns out, my mom laughed just as much as I did to such bits as:

Cal: You’re gay now?

David: No, I’m not gay. I’m just celibate.

Cal: I think… I mean, that sounds gay. I just want you to know this is, like, the first conversation of, like, three conversations that leads to you being gay. Like, there’s this, and then in a year it’s like, “Oh, you know, I’m kinda gonna want to get back out there, but I think I like guys,” and then there’s the big, “Oh, I’m… I’m… I’m a gay guy now.”

David: [smirks] You’re gay for saying that.

Cal: I’m gay for saying that?

David: You know how I know you’re gay?

Cal: How? How do you know I’m gay?

David: Because you macramed yourself a pair of jean shorts.

Cal: You know how I know *you’re* gay? You just told me you’re not sleeping with women anymore.

David: You know how I know you’re gay?

Cal: How? ‘Cause you’re gay? And you can tell who other gay people are?

David: You know how I know you’re gay?

Cal: How?

David: You like Coldplay.

Oddly enough, as much as I enjoyed The 40-Year-Old Virgin, I never got around to getting my own copy on DVD or Blu-ray…until now.

At last report, my copy is listed as Out for Delivery, so I should be able to watch it tonight.

Well, I don’t have much else to report about today, except to say that the government deposited my $600 stimulus payment into my bank account over the weekend. Some of it already went out to pay bills, especially the credit card payments for my new UHD 4K TV and the few Christmas presents I bought last month. Other than that…no hay novedad, folks. At least not in my personal life.

This is as good a place as any to close this post from lovely New Hometown, Florida, so stay safe, stay healthy, and I’ll catch you on the sunny side of things!

Book Talk: My Favorite Alternative History Books

Bending History: My Favorite Alt-History Books

Hey there, Dear Reader. It’s Monday, January 4, 2021, and it is almost noon here in New Hometown, Florida. A cold front must have passed through the area last night; the current temperature is 57˚F (15˚C) under sunny skies. With the wind blowing from the north-northeast at 5 MPH (9 KM/H) and humidity at 55%, the feels-like factor is 57˚F (15˚C). Today we can expect a high temperature of 68˚F (20˚C) and sunny condition. At night, the skies should be clear, and the low will be 43˚F (6˚C).

Do you like “alternative history” fiction, Dear Reader? I do, although – speaking as a history buff and long-time reader – I think creating a story based on “counterfactual” twists and successfully getting a reader to suspend disbelief is incredibly difficult. In all my years as a reader – since the mid-1960s, if family lore about my aptitude for reading is to be believed – I’ve come across quite a few “alt-history” books that take a famous event in history – a battle in a major war or other pivotal event, like JFK’s assassination, usually – and tweak it so that the outcome is different than in reality.

If memory serves, the first book I read in the genre was Alfred Coppel’s 1983 novel The Burning Mountain: A Novel of the Invasion of Japan. In The Burning Mountain, Coppel – a World War II veteran who wrote political thrillers along the lines of Thirty-Four East (1974) as well as many science fiction novels and short stories.

Cover art by Paul Bacon. (C) 1983 Harcourt Brace Jovanovich/Charter Books

As I wrote in my Amazon review of The Burning Mountain back in 2004:

July 1945: As the scientists and military men who have built the atomic bomb prepare to test the ultimate weapon, an unexpected thunderstorm arrives at the Trinity test site near Los Alamos, N.M. Lightning strikes the tower where the first bomb — code named “Fat Man” — is tethered, and in a literal flash, history is changed. There are still two nuclear weapons left, but until the more complex plutonium bomb can be tested, their use is postponed until 1946. In the meantime, the conventional operation of the Japanese home islands, code named DOWNFALL, is launched as scheduled on Nov. 1, 1945.


With this almost Shakespearean touch, novelist and World War II veteran Alfred Coppel (Thirty Four East, The Dragon) begins his “what-if” account of the invasion of Japan in 1945 and 1946.


Instead of covering the entire two-part campaign (OLYMPIC, the landing on Kyushu, and CORONET, the final landing on Honshu) in the main body of The Burning Mountain, Coppel starts his tale by dispensing with the aftermath of the failed TRINITY test with an “excerpt” from a history of the 1941-46 Pacific War, covering the strategy and tactics used by both sides up to and during the OLYMPIC campaign.


The bulk of The Burning Mountain centers on the March 1946 landings as seen through the eyes of various Japanese and Allied participants, including a Marine sergeant who is unsure that his platoon commander will perform well in combat, a B-17 crewman who finds himself in dire straits when his bomber is shot down, an American Ranger officer whose connections with a Japanese family begin to affect his perception of the war the closer he gets to places he knew as a child, and the Japanese soldiers and civilians who desperately fight to defend their homeland from the invading “gaijin.”

The map from Fatherland.
Original U.S. first edition cover, (C) 1992 Random House

For years, The Burning Mountain was my favorite alternative history novel. Then, in 1992, I came across a review in the Miami Herald of Robert Harris’ Fatherland, a detective novel set in a 1964 in which Nazi Germany won the Second World War and is both entangled in a Vietnam-like guerrilla war in the Eastern front and in a Cold War with the United States. Now, the two nuclear-armed powers are tentatively moving toward détente as President Joseph P. Kennedy announces that he is going to Berlin for a face-to-face summit with a 75-year-old Adolf Hitler.

This is the backdrop for Fatherland’s main plot, in which Berlin Kriminalpolizei detective Xavier March investigates the murder of an elderly man who turns out to be a high ranking Nazi official. Like many American film noir detectives, March is a dogged investigator with a cynical view of the world that is shaped by his wartime experiences as a U-boat commander in the Battle of the Atlantic. His refusal to join the Nazi Party and his lack of enthusiasm for Hitler have resulted in a divorce from his more politicized ex-wife and a strained relationship with his son Pili. And when March’s investigation uncovers a conspiracy that threatens to unravel Hitler’s regime before the summit, the stubborn detective and his unlikely ally, American reporter Charlotte Maguire, find themselves targeted by the Nazis’ murderous security forces.

The cover of the 60th Anniversary Edition, (C) 2014 Frontline Books

I also read Peter G. Tsouras’ 1994 “faux history” book Disaster at D-Day: The Germans Defeat the Allies, June 1944, a more action-packed story in which – as the title clearly states – the German defenders at Normandy prevail and the Allies’ Operation Overlord fails.

Again, I refer you to a short review that I wrote for Amazon back in 2003:

On the sixth day of the sixth month of 1944, elements of six Allied infantry divisions and three airborne divisions began the assault on Hitler’s Fortress Europe. Within 24 hours, despite horrible losses at some points, the first wave of invaders breached the German line and a huge Allied host began pouring ashore.


Peter G. Tsouras, tweaking history’s reality by presenting a plausible chain of alternate events, paints a chilling picture of a German victory over the invading Allies. In Tsouras’ fictional history, German armored units destroy the Omaha Beach landings, Hitler and his generals react much faster than they actually did, and nothing the Allies attempt to do in order to save Operation Overlord works.

Unlike Fatherland and The Burning Mountain, Tsouras does not tell a conventional fictitious story set in the historical backdrop of the Normandy campaign with a huge cast of fictional characters mixed with historical figures. In fact, Disaster at D-Day reads like a conventional military history book – complete with photo inserts, maps, and footnotes, many of which are attributed to real quotes from books such as Cornelius Ryan’s The Longest Day, as well as to many fictitious books written in an alternate reality in which the participants have different outcomes than they did in real life.

(C) 2002 New American Library
(C) 1996 Tor Books

Currently, I’m reading two novels in the alt-history genre, both of which are products of Harry Turtledove’s imagination. The Two Georges: A Novel of Alternate America, 1996 is a collaborative effort between Turtledove and Oscar-winning actor Richard Dreyfuss. In that novel, we are transported to a world in which the 13 American colonies and Great Britain averted the Revolutionary War, and the course of history took a vastly different turn.

The other, Ruled Britannia, is by Turtledove alone and is set in Britain a decade after a successful invasion by the Spanish Armada. In Ruled Britannia, we meet a cast of characters that includes many of Europe’s great playwrights of the Elizabethan era, including Christopher Marlowe, Lope de Vega, and William Shakespeare in a plot full of literary allusions, high-stakes political maneuvering, espionage, and a people’s struggle for freedom under foreign occupation.

They both are well-written and interesting, although I inexplicably set aside Ruled Britannia so I could read and review other books I purchased over the past year and a half.

If you read alt-history novels by Turtledove or other authors, let me know in the Comments section if you like the genre (or not) and if you have a favorite novel (or a least favorite one) in which history takes a different turn.   

Musings & Thoughts for Sunday, January 3, 2021, or: My Sunday Reading Adventures

Photo by Element5 Digital on Pexels.com

Hi, there, Dear Reader. It’s almost noon here on Sunday, January 3, 2021, and it’s a gray, chilly day here in New Hometown, Florida. Currently, the temperature is 61˚F (16˚C) under cloudy skies. With the wind blowing from the north at 3 MPH (5 KM/H) and humidity at 100%, the feels-like temperature is 61˚F (16˚C). Today we can expect scattered rain showers and a high of 70˚F (21˚C); tonight, we’ll have partly cloudy skies and a low of 48˚F (9˚C).

I woke up early – 5:35 AM  Eastern – again. I didn’t want to get up at that ungodly hour, but apparently my internal body clock has decided that sleeping till 5:30 AM is going to be the new normal. I tried to go back to sleep, but I didn’t succeed. I didn’t want to sit at my desk in front of a monitor all day, and since my room is situated between two occupied bedrooms, I also didn’t want to turn on my TV that early in the day lest I wake up the Caregiver’s kiddos.

(C) 1996 Tor Books

Instead, I decided to start reading The Two Georges: A Novel of an Alternate America, 1996, a 1996 book co-written by actor Richard Dreyfuss and Harry Turtledove, the Hugo Award-winning author of The Guns of the South and Ruled Britannia. In this suspenseful alternate history, Dreyfuss and Turtledove show us a world in which the American colonists and King George III worked out their differences in 1760 and avoided the War of Independence – thus creating a world in which history took a different turn than it did in our reality.

In The Two Georges – which is a detective story that focuses on the politically-motivated of a fictional painting by Thomas Gainsborough from which the novel derives its name – the United States does not exist. Instead, the territory it occupies is – along with Canada – is part of the North American Union, which in turn is part of Britain’s global Empire, and the globe is divided among Great Britain, the Franco-Spanish “Holy Alliance, the Russian Empire, the Austrian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, Sweden and Holland and its overseas colonies, while Germany exists – as it did before 1870 – as a gaggle of minor principalities in Central Europe.

So far, The Two Georges is a fun and interesting read; I like the protagonists, Colonel Thomas Bushell of the Royal American Mounted Police, and Dr. Kathleen Flannery, the museum curator of the beloved painting. The painting was just stolen, presumably by a separatist movement known as the Sons of Liberty; based on what I’ve read so far, I’m going to enjoy following Bushell, Flannery, and Bushell’s second-in-command, Captain Samuel Stanley as they try to recover The Two Georges and discover who the mastermind behind the painting’s theft.

Other than that….

(C) 2020 Taschen Books and Lucasfilm Ltd.

Well, after giving it some thought, I decided to order a copy of Paul Duncan’s The Star Wars Archives: Episodes I-III, 1999-2005, even though it will have to be the expensive ($200) edition, since Taschen Books does not have a compact and less pricey edition like the one for The Star Wars Archives: Episodes IV-VI, 1977-1983.  I wasn’t going to bother with it; I’m more of an Original Trilogy fan even though I’m not a “Prequel basher” like quite a few Star Wars fans are.

But then I saw that the Treasury Department had deposited the second (and smaller) COVID-19 stimulus payment in my bank account, and since I don’t go out anywhere or do anything fun with the Caregiver anymore, I said to myself, “The hell with it. I’ll get the second book in the duology and be done with it.”

From the Taschen Books website:

Famous First Edition: First printing of 10,000 numbered copies

From the moment Star Wars burst onto the screen in 1977, audiences have been in equal parts fascinated and appalled by the half-man/half-machine hybrid Darth Vader. In 1999, creator George Lucas began the story of how Anakin Skywalker grew up to train as a Jedi under Obi-Wan Kenobi, found love with the Queen of Naboo, Padmé Amidala, before turning to the dark side of his nature and becoming more machine than man.

After driving the development of nascent digital technology, George Lucas perceived how he could create new creatures and new worlds on a grander scale than ever before. He created the first digital blockbuster and met fierce resistance when he pushed for widespread digital cameras, sets, characters, and projection – all of which are now used throughout the industry. He essentially popularized the modern way of making movies.

Made with the full cooperation of George Lucas and Lucasfilm, this second volume covers the making of the prequel trilogy — Episode I The Phantom Menance, Episode II Attack of the Clones, and Episode III Revenge of the Sith — and features exclusive interviews with Lucas and his collaborators. The book is profusely illustrated with script pages, production documents, concept art, storyboards, on-set photography, stills, and posters.

I actually ended up getting the book from a third-party seller (Book Depository US) for slightly less than Taschen Books’ retail price of $200[1]) on Amazon; I probably won’t get my copy this week – it’s slated to be shipped between January 27 and February 5 – but at least I’ll have a limited first edition book and the complete duology of The Star Wars Archives.

Other than that, Dear Reader, I don’t have anything to report. I’m not sure what I feel like doing with the rest of my Sunday. I might continue reading from The Two Georges, or – now that everyone is awake – I might watch TV in my room. I feel a bit misanthropic today, so I’ll just take a shower, change into clean “street clothes” – even though I’m not going anywhere – and see what develops.


[1] Book Depository US’s price is $186.65 plus Florida sales tax, which added up to $202.52. If I’d ordered it directly from Taschen, it would have been a bit more than that.

Musings & Thoughts for Saturday, January 2, 2021, or: Meet the New Year…Same as the Old Year

Photo by Olya Kobruseva on Pexels.com

Hi there, Dear Reader. It’s Saturday, January 2, 2021, and it is early afternoon here in New Hometown, Florida. Right now, the temperature is 81˚F (27˚C) under mostly cloudy skies. With humidity at 66% and the wind blowing from the south-southwest at 8 MPH (13 KM/H), the heat index is 83˚F (28˚C). Today’s forecast calls for partly cloudy skies and a high of 83˚F (28˚C). Tonight we can expect light rain and a low of 65˚F (18˚C).

Illustration Credit: Pixabay

Well, here we are on the second day of 2021 and the first weekend of the New Year. So far, the situation in the United States is the same as it was when 2020 – the Year from Hell – ended. Donald Trump, objectively the worst President in the nation’s history, still refuses to concede defeat in the recent Presidential election and continues to pollute Twitter with such absurdities as:

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump

·2h    Why haven’t they done signature verification in Fulton County, Georgia. Why haven’t they deducted all of the dead people who “voted”, illegals who voted, non Georgia residents who voted, and tens of thousands of others who voted illegally, from the final vote tally?


Donald J. Trump  @realDonaldTrump

·2h….Just a small portion of these votes give US a big and conclusive win in Georgia. Have they illegally destroyed ballots in Fulton County? After many weeks, we don’t yet even have a judge to hear this large scale voter fraud case. The only judge seems to be Stacey’s sister!

And the worst thing about these tweets isn’t just that they are false – Twitter even goes to the trouble of adding disclaimers – such as Election officials have certified Joe Biden as the winner of the U.S. Presidential election. – beneath any tweet Trump posts with false claims about voter fraud. Trump’s lies are bad enough. But what really matters is that Trump’s supporters (around 60-70 million Americans) profess – at least in public – their belief that the President’s claims are true.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, some ambitious Republican politicians, especially Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and incoming Congressman Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) have announced that they will try to contest the 2020 United States presidential election results when Congress counts the Electoral College votes in January, echoing Trump’s false claims of widespread voter fraud.

Image Credit: COVID-19 Dashboard by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University (JHU)





Then, of course, there’s still the rising death toll from the COVID-19 pandemic, which as of this writing has killed 1,831,857men, women, and children worldwide, including 348,617 in the United States.

I’ve already written extensively about the pandemic and its death toll, so I shan’t repeat my thoughts about the selfish, entitled yahoos who still deny that the pandemic is a major public health crisis[1]. I mention it here merely to explain why I am not talking about the New Year’s celebration I participated in (there wasn’t any party here, for one thing).

 Yesterday I spent much of my day writing a review of the compact – and more affordable – edition of Paul Duncan’s The Star Wars Archives: Episodes IV-VI, 1977-1983, a recently published oral history of the creation of the first three Star Wars films. After that, I didn’t do anything New Years-like; I attempted to play the Cold Waters scenario Junks on Parade,[2] then I watched Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens in my room till I got sleepy and went to bed.

As for today…I don’t have anything planned. I might try to watch something later, or I could probably read a couple of chapters of The Two Georges: A Novel of an Alternate America, 1996, a novel by actor Richard Dreyfuss and alternative history writer Harry Turtledove, author The Guns of the South and Ruled Britannia.  Or I might try the Junks on Parade scenario again and see if I fare better than I did yesterday afternoon.

Since I don’t have anything special to add, I’ll end this post here. As always, Dear Reader, I hope you stay safe, stay healthy, and that you will be kind to others. I’ll catch you on the sunny side of things!  


[1] Here’s a typical comment from a conservative COVID-19 denier that I came across on Facebook. This guy, a man named Bob, posted this on his profile page on December 31, 2020:

So…here we are almost one full year of TERRORISM against the American people.

In 2019, there was NO Covid-19: The number of TOTAL USA deaths: 2,854,838

PER THE Center Of Disease Control

As of Dec.29, 2020, a supposedly catastrophic virus pandemic raging the past 10 months, the number of TOTAL USA deaths stands at: 2,882,500

less than 28,000 more dead than last year, which is only reflecting the population increase of .35%.

time to PUT UP OR SHUT UP!!!

or should I say….CATS OUT OF THE BAG!!!

[2] I didn’t do well this time around; the scenario takes place in the Taiwan Straits, in an area where the water is quite shallow. Attack subs are ill-suited for combat in shallow coastal waters, and even in the best of cases where I’ve beaten Junks on Parade, my boat almost always suffers one or two torpedo hits, usually from the Chinese helicopters that accompany the surface fleet in the scenario. Yesterday I sank all of the Chinese warships and one of the “merchies” that I had to destroy, but a single enemy torpedo struck my boat – USS Seawolf – amidships. It didn’t destroy me outright, but the flooding caused by the torpedo hit sent my sub to the bottom and I got stuck there.

Book Review: ‘The Star Wars Archives: Episodes IV-VI, 1977-1983 (40th Anniversary Edition)

(C) 2020 Taschen Books and Lucasfilm Ltd.

In the beginning, I was struggling with the plot, just figuring out what it was going to be. I had a sense of what the Force was, how it worked, and they could do with it, but the story didn’t have room for that – yet. – George Lucas to Paul Duncan, explaining how the concept of the Force evolved, The Star Wars Archives: Episodes IV-VI, 1977-1983

On December 13, 2020, Taschen Books published The Star Wars Archives: Episodes IV-VI, 1977-1983, author Paul Duncan’s history of how George Lucas and his team of collaborators at Lucasfilm Ltd. created the original Star Wars Trilogy (Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, and Star Wars Episode VI; Return of the Jedi) and began a multimedia franchise that continues to expand Lucas’s space fantasy saga set “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.”

In the early Seventies, George Walton Lucas, Jr. was a young filmmaker who – along with Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Brian De Palma, and Steven Spielberg – were trying to fill the creative void in the film industry caused by the end of the old studio system and the growing influence of big corporations in Hollywood. Like most of his peers, Lucas – a graduate of the University of Southern California’s film program – sought to make movies that had his own personal stamp and didn’t necessarily cater to the whims of the studios’ “suits.”

In 1971, shortly after Warner Bros. released Lucas’s first feature film, THX-1138, the young writer-director began working on a space-fantasy film aimed at young audiences. At first, Lucas wanted to do a straightforward adaptation of Alex Raymond’s sci-fi pulp comic strip Flash Gordon; the copyright owners refused to sell him the rights – they wanted a big name director (Federico Fellini) to bring Flash Gordon, Dale Arden, and Ming the Merciless to the big screen.

Undeterred by this rejection, Lucas – who thought kids longed for a modern monomyth with heroes they could root for and villains they could hiss at – persisted. If he couldn’t adapt Flash Gordon, he reasoned, he would create his own space-fantasy – which in one draft was set in the 33rd Century and was called The Star Wars – with elements borrowed from old 1930s film serials Lucas had watched on TV  as a kid in 1950s Modesto, California, Errol Flynn films such as Captain Blood and The Adventures of Robin Hood, Westerns, Akira Kurosawa “Easterners” – including The Hidden Fortress ­– and World War II movies such as The Dam Busters and 633 Squadron.

A publicity photo taken in London flanks the title page of The Star Wars Archives: Episodes IV-VI, 1977-1983. (C) 2020 Taschen Books and Lucasfilm Ltd.

Star Wars exploded onto our cinema screens in 1977, and the world has not been the same since. After watching depressing and cynical movies throughout the early 1970s, audiences enthusiastically embraced the positive energy of the Star Wars galaxy as they followed moisture farmer Luke Skywalker on his journey through a galaxy far, far away, meeting extraordinary characters like mysterious hermit Obi-Wan Kenobi, space pirates Han Solo and Chewbacca, loyal droids C-3PO and R2-D2, bold Princess Leia Organa and the horrific Darth Vader, servant of the dark, malevolent Emperor.

Writer, director, and producer George Lucas created the modern monomyth of our time, one that resonates with the child in us all. He formed Industrial Light & Magic to develop cutting-edge special effects technology, which he combined with innovative editing techniques and a heightened sense of sound to give audiences a unique sensory cinematic experience.

In this first volume, made with the full cooperation of Lucasfilm, Lucas narrates his own story, taking us through the making of the original trilogy―Episode IV A New Hope, Episode V The Empire Strikes Back, and Episode VI Return of the Jedi―and bringing fresh insights into the creation of a unique universe. Complete with script pages, production documents, concept art, storyboards, on-set photography, stills, and posters, this is the authoritative exploration of the original saga as told by its creator. – Publisher’s blurb, The Star Wars Archives: Episodes IV-VI, 1977-1983

In The Star Wars Archives: Episodes IV-VI, 1977-1983, writer and film historian Paul Duncan follows the 12-year-long saga of how the first three films of the Skywalker Saga were created. Based on extensive one-on-one interviews with Lucas and other key personnel – including sound designer Ben Burtt, special effects creators Richard Edlund and Dennis Muren, editor Richard Chew, producer Gary Kurtz, the late director Irvin Kershner, screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan, and composer John Williams – The Star Wars Archives: Episodes IV-VI, 1977-1983 delves into the challenges Lucas faced to make the first Episode, as well as the growth of Lucasfilm Limited and its special effects company, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) from a small core of young film industry upstarts to one of the most successful and influential production companies in Hollywood history.

For Greedo, the thug who faces Han Solo in a showdown in the bar and whose speeches were subtitled, we invented a gibberish based on ancient Incan. – Ben Burtt, Academy Award-winning sound designer, The Star Wars Archives: Episodes IV-VI, 1977-1983

Duncan, whose other titles for Taschen Books include The Star Wars Archives: Episodes I-III, 1999-2005, Stanley Kubrick: Eyewitness, and The Godfather Family Album, was granted access to Lucasfilm’s treasure trove of archival interviews. Thus, The Star Wars Archives: Episodes IV-VI, 1977-1983 not only derives its information from Lucas and other personnel who are still available for interviews, but also from recordings and transcripts of interviews with Ralph McQuarrie, John Barry, John Mollo, and Stuart Freeborn, all of whom died before Duncan could interview them.

This is the 40th Anniversary edition, which is more compact (and affordable) than its original $200 edition.

My films have a tendency to promote personal self-esteem, a you-can-do-it attitude. Their message is: “Don’t listen to everyone else. Discover your own feelings and follow them. Then you can overcome anything.”— George Lucas, The Star Wars Archives: Episodes IV-VI, 1977-1983

My Take

Published in early December of 2020 as part of Taschen Books’ 40th Anniversary (and in tandem with the $200-per-copy book about the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy, The Star Wars Archives: Episodes IV-VI, 1977-1983 is a fascinating account of how Episodes IV-VI were made that not only traces the evolution of the story that began life as The Star Wars – with characters named Annikin Starkiller, Kane, Deak, Mace Windy, and the Jedi Bendu – and became the beloved trilogy that gave the world Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia Organa, Han Solo, Chewbacca, Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi, Artoo Detoo (R2-D2), See Threepio (C-3PO), Darth Vader, Emperor Palpatine, and Grand Moff Tarkin.

Illustrated with a mix of production sketches, on-set photographs, publicity stills, and poster art, The Star Wars Archives: Episodes IV-VI, 1977-1983 also includes fragments from various documents, including story treatments and early drafts of the scripts. This gives the reader a glimpse at the development of the characters, settings, themes, and plots from rough draft to the finished film version.

Paul Duncan poses with the coffee table edition in the Taschen Books publicity photo.

(Sharp-eyed readers with keen memories and an encyclopedic knowledge of the saga will note that many of the planet and character names Lucas invented in early versions of The Star Wars – such as Mace Windy, Valorum, Starkiller, and Utapau – were later used in the Prequel Trilogy, albeit with alterations; Mace Windy became the imposing Jedi Master Mace Windu, and the Imperial warlord known as General Valorum morphed into The Phantom Menace’s luckless Supreme Chancellor Finis Valorum. Utapau, a planet name Lucas came up with in an early draft of A New Hope, would later be used in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.)

Some of the stories in The Star Wars Archives: Episodes IV-VI, 1977-1983 will, of course, be familiar to Star Wars fans who have watched Empire of Dreams: The Making of the Star Wars Trilogy, listened to the various audio commentaries in the DVD and Blu-ray home video releases of the films, or read J.W. Rinzler’s books on the making of each individual film in both the Original and Prequel Trilogies.

Other anecdotes and snippets from the various story treatments, first-draft scripts, and interviews will, of course, be new to even the most knowledgeable Star Wars junkie.

And although Lucas is Duncan’s principal interviewee, we also get, either through present day conversations with still-living participants or via archived recordings, the perspectives of many important creative contributors, including Empire director Irvin Kershner, who died on November 27, 2010 at the age of 87.

Here’s what Kershner had to say about Anthony Daniels’ character, the fussy, always-complaining protocol droid See Threepio, and Peter Mayhew’s Chewbacca:

I wanted to make Chewie show a lot more emotion, and I wanted C-3PO to be a real pain in the rear. With Chewie, I wanted the audience to see him angry and frustrated, to hear him laugh and cry. C-3PO, when you come right down to it, is a real pill. Sure, he’s a cute robot, but I wanted to get across the idea that if you knew a person like C-3PO in real life, you’d turn and run in the opposite direction.

Teschen Books published this book in two versions. The first edition of The Star Wars Archives: Episodes IV-VI, 1977-1983 is a coffee-table type (extra-large) hardcover that costs $200.  The 40th Anniversary Edition, which is the one released in December, is a standard-sized hardcover that measures 6.5 x 1.75 x 9 inches and weighs 3.12 pounds. That’s the edition that I own, and its 512 pages are replete with intriguing facts, fascinating insights, and a plethora of storyboards, production paintings, poster art, and stills from all three films of the Original Star Wars Trilogy.

If you are new to the Star Wars franchise, or if you are a longtime fan who can claim to have seen the first Star Wars film in May of 1977,  The Star Wars Archives: Episodes IV-VI, 1977-1983 is definitely a book worth adding to your personal library.

Musings & Thoughts for Thursday, December 31, 2020, or: Adios, 2020…And Good Riddance!

Photo by Olya Kobruseva on Pexels.com

Hi, again, Dear Reader. It’s mid-afternoon here in New Hometown, Florida, where it’s 81˚F (27˚C) under mostly cloudy skies. With the wind blowing from the east-southeast at 8 MPH (13 KM/H) and humidity at 58%, the feels-like temperature is a bit warmer: 82˚F (28˚C). As the afternoon progresses, we will see the temperature drop gradually to the 70s (lower 20s) and eventually reach the forecast low for tonight of 67˚F (20˚C).

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Well, as I said in my previous post, we in the Eastern Seaboard of the U.S, are watching as the clock winds down on 2020, a year that I’m sure not many people will look back at with fondness. The COVID-19 pandemic (including the 1,813,087 worldwide deaths and the social disruptions caused by the impact of the virus)…a defeated U.S. President who refuses to concede the recent election….political division and social unrest in the U.S. and other countries…the rise of disruptive populist leaders in Brazil, the Philippines, and elsewhere…. Truly, 2020 will not be remembered as a very good year.

My December 31 has been a dull, frustrating, and altogether unhappy one. I woke up early – as is my habit – with the family dog happily curled up next to me.  I waited for the Caregiver to get up and make breakfast for everyone – not just me – as is her habit on her days off from work. Alas, the wait was in vain; apparently she and her new boyfriend got drunk last night and she – at least – woke up with a hangover. I can’t cook in this house – it has a gas stove, and I can’t use it, at least not very well – so if she doesn’t make breakfast, I have to make do with a bowl of cold cereal, toast – I can still use a toaster! – and several cups of coffee.

And that, Dear Reader, is what I did, albeit a bit later than usual; the Caregiver’s daughter made breakfast for herself and her boyfriend, so I had to wait till they were both out of the kitchen so I could make my coffee and toast and grab a bowl of Cocoa Pebbles.

Now I’m in my bedroom, listening to Pops in Love, nursing a mild headache, and trying to figure out how to spend the rest of New Year’s Eve 2020. I don’t want to spend any time with the Caregiver and the guy she dumped me for, so I think I’ll just stay in my room and either watch TV or read a book while I play classical music on Amazon Music.

(If I had Roku in my room I could binge-watch The Mandalorian on Disney+. I don’t have Roku, though, so I can’t do that. The next best thing I have is Netflix, so if I can’t make up my mind about what movie to watch from my stash of Blu-rays and DVDs, I’ll probably try to find something on either Amazon Prime or Netflix.)

(C) 2018 Slitherine Games/Matrix Games

I could also game for a while; I already started a session of Strategic Command WWII: World at War – the campaign titled Triumph & Tragedy 1944 – as the Soviet Union. So far the war is going all right for the Allies, but the Germans did give my forces a bloody nose on Turn Two – I lost several armies to German counterattacks in south Ukraine, and even though I purchased replacement units, they will not be ready for another couple of months – in game time. I saved the game in case I feel like resuming it later.

China and Japan are locked in a life-and-death struggle in the China-Burma-India Theater of Operations.

Other than that, I don’t have anything to report. I don’t know what the Caregiver has in store for dinner; I don’t see either anyone in the kitchen cooking, nor do I have any clue if someone will order pizzas or if we’ll have to eat leftovers from last night.

So, on that note, I will close this last post for 2020, wishing you and yours a happy, healthy, and better New Year in 2021.