hankrules2011

Book reviews, health, hockey, publishing, music

Tennessee Vols #1!!!

Posted by Scott Holstad on January 21, 2019

A rare college basketball sports post. My undergraduate alma mater, the University of Tennessee, has the #1 men’s basketball team in the country this week! This hasn’t happened in a decade, & it may not last long — things change quickly — but it sure feels good for the moment. It’s time for a UT National Championship. Go Vols!!! 

ESPN:  http://www.espn.com/mens-college-basketball/story/_/id/25817310/tennessee-moves-no-1-ap-top-25-duke-drops-no-2 

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Cool – My Newest LinkedIn Connection

Posted by Scott Holstad on December 31, 2018

As I’ve written about a few times this year, I’ve spent the year building my LinkedIn network in both quantity and quality, but focusing on quality in particular. At this point, I now have 15,500 connections, about 50% of whom are senior executives. I have the top executives at most major corporations in virtually every commercial industry that exists, as well as numerous high-level executives throughout the US military & federal government, including virtually every major agency, Congress, and the White House, as well as hundreds of international companies, dozens of international militaries and governments, as well as NATO, the UN, etc. And I have some pretty famous and some pretty influential connections. I don’t say all this to brag — it’s merely factual, and I’m setting up what I’m about to write.

I received several new connections today, one of whom is uber famous, a household name (in the US), and one of the most influential and powerful connections I now have: (Ret.) General David Petraeus, who also served as Director of the CIA! Cool, right??? I have probably over 100 connections who are generals, admirals, etc, even members of the Joint Chairs, and a few Assistant Secretary of Defense connections. But even though they’re important people, they’re not necessarily household names like General Patraeus. So I just wanted to share my enthusiasm, and I’m posting a screenshot to prove it.

LI-Patraeus-Connection-12-31-18

 

See? Wasn’t making it up. And you might notice we share over 500 mutual connections. Also cool.

In addition, I just received my much-anticipated copies of China’s National Defense University’s “The Science of Campaigns – Volume 2,” The Academy of Military Sciences of the People’s Liberation Army of China’s classic, “The Science of Military Strategy,” and the one I’m most excited about, PLA Col. Qiao Liang & PLA Col. Wang Xiangsui’s formally “secret” classic, “Unrestricted Warfare (China’s Master Plan To Destroy America),” and I’m very excited! I can’t wait to dive into these. Straight from the CCP’s mouths (no matter what the official story)…. Frankly, I don’t anticipate learning a great deal of new information, so much as just adding additional confirmation to certain things.

Finally, have a great New Year’s Eve and a great New Year’s!!!

 

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My Year In Books: 2018

Posted by Scott Holstad on December 29, 2018

Every year, I participate in the Goodreads annual Reading Challenge. At the beginning of each year, you set a goal for how many books you’ll read that year. Goodreads keeps track of your running total and then lets you know how you’ve done and what percentage of your goal you met. You can also see other participants in the Reading Challenge. Every year until now, they’ve provided an end of year webpage, showing your stats, how you did, etc. For some reason, this year they did not. I am very irritated by this, so I’m doing the next best thing. I’ve taken a few screenshots of 1) what they show as your “Year in Books,” a similar webpage showing how many books, pages, etc, you read that year, the average length of the book, etc., 2) my 2018 Reading Challenge results, and 3) my Reading Challenge results for the last five years. I’m going to post these screenshots for you to see. If you want to see the actual books I read this year, you can go to my Goodreads profile and see the section on the left middle part of the page. You can find my Goodreads page here.

And now, a few screenshots of my year in books and my reading challenge(s)!

 

Goodreads-2018-Reading-Challenge-Results

Goodreads-Alltime-Results-Reading-Challenge

 

My-Year-In-Books-Goodreads-2018

 

That’s it! If you participated in the Reading Challenge, let me know how you did. Also, what is your 2019 goal? Cheers, everyone!

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Book Review: The Tragedy of U.S. Foreign Policy: How America’s Civil Religion Betrayed the National Interest

Posted by Scott Holstad on December 17, 2018

The Tragedy of U.S. Foreign Policy: How America's Civil Religion Betrayed the National InterestThe Tragedy of U.S. Foreign Policy: How America’s Civil Religion Betrayed the National Interest by Walter A. McDougall

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I didn’t like this book. And my criticisms are probably unfair, because the author most likely accomplished what he set out to do. I think I merely misinterpreted or misunderstand the primary thrust of where the thesis was going. I had been hoping for a general history of America’s “civil religion” over the years through the present, but especially focusing on the Reagan years through the present, and I guess I expected some analysis which would frankly be somewhat critical of the present situation.

Now before you jump on me to tell me that that is exactly what happened in this book, let me admit that I gave up and stopped reading before I got too far in. So if the author did what I expected, it’s my own fault for giving up. However, I literally have hundreds of books here waiting to be read, and I’m in the middle of reading over 100 at the present, so I really don’t have the time or patience for authors who micromanage their topics to death, particularly when a layman’s book is being somewhat treated as an academic book. Because this was detailed freaking history starting in the 1600s, going excruciatingly slow, unbelievably boring, and to be honest, while it’s fine for historical authors to be objective and not have an agenda, on the whole, the very title of this book implied a definite agenda, one with which I’d probably agree. Yet, for the life of me, I couldn’t tell what the author felt, believed, perceived, was advocating — nothing!!! — as he proceeded to regale the reader with amazingly boring trivial shit! And trust me, I don’t claim to be the smartest person around, but I’m not entirely dumb either. For instance, I’m presently reading books in fields such as public policy, nuclear engineering, religion (especially the primary theistic ones), atheism, philosophy, history, business, blockchain technology, network engineering, espionage, biographies, science, fiction, poetry, cryptography, culture, international relations, think tanks, hardware, software development, health, machine learning, AI, electronic warfare, limited nuclear warfare, radar signal processing, management consulting, quantum mechanics & quantum computing, among other topics. Trust me — I can handle details, I can handle boredom, I can handle a lot of “difficult” material. Sometimes I want to quit reading a couple of these other book — one nuclear engineering book is killing me, and one book on microwave RF design is boring — but I rarely have any questions as to the thesis of the books, the authors’ stances or where they stand on issues, what their agendas are, etc. And while I obviously know sometimes you have to work hard to reach certain points, this damn book simply seemed pointless to me. Mere American religious and political history. Ho hum. Pretty much know those fields already. By heart. I thought this would be a little more cutting edge, and again, perhaps it is, but dammit, give me a reason to reach the point in your book where you venture into uncharted territory! Otherwise, I’ve got better, more educational, more stimulating, more challenging books to read — piles of them. So for those of you who read this book in its entirety and came away impressed, please enlighten me as to why I am mistaken in my response to the book. In any event, I can’t possibly recommend this book. I’m sure there are alternatives that do a much better job. I’m extremely disappointed. Two stars.

View all my reviews

 

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Certain Comments For China-Watchers

Posted by Scott Holstad on December 13, 2018

I published a new article on LinkedIn today and some of you may find it interesting, particularly those interested in foreign relations, and most especially China.

What has gotten the Chinese government so anxious, so upset about Michael Pillsbury’s controversial book, The Hundred-Year Marathon,​ published several years ago, that they would publish an op-ed last week attacking it and defending themselves?

I’m going to print the URL for the article here, and make it a hyperlink. Obviously, I would be grateful if anyone read it, and ideally, liked it and/or commented on it. Thanks so much!

Certain Comments For China-Watchers

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/certain-comments-china-watchers-scott-holstad/?published=t

 

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Important! Quantum Computing

Posted by Scott Holstad on December 9, 2018

This is a brief post about a very important subject. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t really know just how important it is, let alone know anything about it at all.

Listen please! This is a very important & urgent topic. I strongly support US government-funded research in quantum science & quantum computing. And perhaps most importantly, encryption capable of reliably standing up to the power of those using such computers against others, etc. Quantum computing is technically here. And it’s unreal! Current encryption standards are about to become obsolete & useless to those who possess this technology. As this article states, “Quantum computers pose a significant risk to encrypted devices & communications. Due to many current encryption methods being based on a complex series of math equations, encryption becomes more vulnerable to quantum computers which can process up to 100 million times faster than a traditional computer. As such, even quantum computer prototypes have the ability to invalidate many forms of cybersecurity.” And while the technology is already here, & as it’s likely to be broadly available in the next 5-10 years, the truly worrisome thing is that most experts feel that sufficient security technology to protect against such systems is 20 years away. By then, it won’t even matter anymore. Please educate yourselves on this crucial topic & support serious research. It’s truly critical.

A brief, reader friendly article that addresses this can be found here:  https://thehill.com/opinion/technology/419810-the-united-states-needs-better-quantum-science-as-a-national-policy.

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Tom Wilson Is A Hypocritical Pansy!

Posted by Scott Holstad on December 7, 2018

Here’s an article showing Ryan Reeves being discriminated against because the hypocritical cheap shot artist Washington Capitals and their fans complained about a photo of him standing on the ice looking down at poor Tom Wilson, laid out on the ice after a perfectly legal, but hard hit. Poor baby got a concussion and people feel sorry for that asshole! All he did was break Zack Aston Reece’s jaw in the playoffs against Pittsburgh last year, which was obviously intentional and premeditated and was shown to be a cheap shot, and that was only the 3rd or 4th time that year that he had been found guilty of trying — and succeeding — in injuring other players. This year, he’s been suspended too for injuring a player, I believe, even though he missed the first 14 games of the season for repeated illegal and injurious hits. And the damn Caps have the GALL to complain about this photo??? Here is a link to the story with the photo in it:

http://www.espn.com/nhl/story/_/id/25474313/ryan-reaves-autographed-photos-hit-tom-wilson-destroyed

Not only is Tom Wilson a cheap shot artist who intentionally tries to injure many other players, but the Caps endorse it with their culture. A couple of years ago, one of their defensemen, a former Penguin named Brooks Orpik, laid out another Pen in the playoffs — Oli Maata — with an obvious premeditated cheap shot to the head, resulting in a serious injury to Maata. Orpik was suspended for three games, but neither he nor his team apologized or made any entreaties to the effect that they were sorry about it. In fact, I recall their former coach, Barry T, routinely made excuses “justifying” the cheap shots and resulting injuries his players committed, not only endorsing them, but one must conclude, coaching them to do that. The fact that they actually got past the second round in the playoffs last year and became one of the last teams (in existence some failed 42 years) in the NHL to win its first Stanley Cup is an indication of what a consistent failure the coaches, players, and organization has been throughout the team’s history, and unfortunately shows that playing dirty can win. I recall Philly’s Broad Street Bullies of the 1970s…

Pittsburgh used to have a player like Tom Wilson a decade ago: Matt Cooke. Just like Wilson, Cooke was so notorious for cheap shots, big penalty minutes, injuring other players, that he was finally given an ultimatum by the league to clean up his game forever, or with one more suspension, he would be permanently banned from the NHL. And it worked! He became a damn angel for the rest of his career. Why the hell this hasn’t happened to Tom Wilson is beyond me, is not remotely fair, and indicates Washington ownership is either paying off, colluding, or providing taboo sexual favors to the leaders in the league office. Tom Wilson has been suspended for some 4-5 times in a little over a year, and has proven he hasn’t learned his lessons, doesn’t care about injuring people, doesn’t care about suspensions, has no intension of modifying his play, and needs to be given the same ultimatum Cooke was. The fact that the NHL has essentially outlawed serious fighting and enforcers with their new draconian laws circa 2005 to make the game more family friendly and marketable to pathetic Americans, yet puts up with this bullshit, proves the league is just as hypocritical as the Caps. Reaves is old school. He’s a former Penguin. He’s seen Wilson go after his teammates and he and Wilson have gone after each other before. I’ve been hoping that something like this would happen to Wilson this year, not only once, but for each time he’s done it to someone else, and more. It may be the only way to get it through his damn stupidass brain that maybe it’s time to make a change. I’m proud of Reaves and I bet at least 75% of the NHL players are elated and support him. And I’m hoping more tough guys around the league take out Wilson again throughout the year, because obviously his team endorses his criminal behavior, and the league won’t force him to stop, so it’s time for other players to “enforce” the law, just as in the old days, and make him pay for his cheap shot play. Frankly, the Pens owe Wilson a broken jaw, what he did to us in the playoffs last year, and I’m disappointed that our management apparently doesn’t believe in fighting or tough guys, having gotten rid of Reaves, Ian Cole, and some of our other bigger/tough guys, so it’s highly unlikely we’ll get payback against him, but I’m praying to the universe that somehow, some way one of the Pens will lay Wilson out just like Reaves did. He deserves that and more. And I love the fact that he can dish it out but can’t take it. Total pansy ass bitch! He sucks and the Caps suck! One of the biggest all time sports team chokes of all time. They were one of I think four NHL teams to have never won a Stanley Cup last year, and had been in existence infinitely longer than the other few. It took them some 42 years or so to actually win their first championship! Until last year, they were 1-9 all-time against the Pens in the playoffs, the same Pens who have won more Stanley Cups than any other post-Original 6 expansion team, the most successful, and winner of three Stanley Cups in eight years. They are the ultimate winning organization, unlike Washington. Go Pens! Yay Reaves!!!

 

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Some Short Book Reviews

Posted by Scott Holstad on November 25, 2018

I have a ton of books to review, ideally as many as possible before the end of the year. And my health has been extremely bad, so it’s hard for me to find the time, energy or inspiration to write any. However, today I got a few knocked out, leaving me with just over 150 more (!), so I thought I’d post them all here in one blog post, as they’re all fairly short. Cheers!

 

Forged: Writing in the Name of GodForged: Writing in the Name of God by Bart D. Ehrman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I found this a fascinating book and really loved it. Much of it was new to me when I started, but for some reason, I set it aside for awhile while I read other books. And some of these other books went on to assert some of the same things I found Ehrman referring to when I later picked up the book to finish. That doesn’t diminish the research or quality of the material, but it does mean some of it isn’t as “original” as I had previously thought, which is the reason I’ve knocked it down from five stars to four. Still, if you want to learn the “real” story of many of the books of the Bible, particularly the New Testament, when they were actually written, who did and did not actually author so many of the books, this is an excellent source. Definitely recommended.

View all my reviews

 

God Needs To Go: Why Christian Beliefs FailGod Needs To Go: Why Christian Beliefs Fail by J.D. Brucker

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This short book is decent, not bad, and makes good and legitimate points. The author’s sections include 1. The Absence of Eternity, 2. The Birth of Ignorance, 3. The Flawed Logic in Modern Miracles, 4. The Error in Faith-Based Morality, 5. The Myth of Intelligent Design, 6. The Imaginary End, and 7. My Fall from “Grace.”

While I enjoyed reading it, however, I couldn’t help but think that these are largely issues that have already been addressed, mostly in more detail, depth, and intellectual mastery, by other authors out there, so aside from my feeling good about seeing another (reader-friendly) atheistic book on the market, I don’t feel like it truly contributes too much, certainly little new. Thus, while again I enjoyed it, I can’t help but view it as an average book, and am thus giving it three stars. If you have not yet read Barker, Hitchens, Dawkins, Harris, and some of the others, this may be a good intro, but I would quickly move on to the meatier resources out there. Cautiously recommended.

View all my reviews

 

The Templars: The Secret History RevealedThe Templars: The Secret History Revealed by Barbara Frale

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s hard for me to decide what I think about this book. For virtually my entire life, I’ve heard and read rumors, stories, and myths about the mysterious Knights Templar, and most people know about the Holy Grail and have heard stories that the organization continues to secretly exist to the present day. When I got this book, I wasn’t exactly looking for or expecting to find these stories were justified. However, while I admittedly did enjoy learning about how the Templars were founded, and for what reasons, and the qualities one had to have and the sacrifices one had to make in order to become one, this book then quickly turned into basically a dry textbook of history, places, several events, politics, culminating in a very disappointing (for me) end to what had been an admirable organization, complete with confessions tortured out of the Templars who had been arrested due to political BS between the King of France and the Pope. It was further disappointing to learn that at least some of the confessions were true, as in the Templars’ secret initiation rites, which I cannot believe were original, had degraded into something undeserving of the name and purpose of the organization, and personal requirements and standards had been lowered to recruit new members, thus making for a lack of morals in some that would have probably gotten an original Templar killed by his fellows. It was also disappointing to learn of such a once-splendid organization’s demise, and as the primary author was granted access to the “secret” Vatican files, it’s highly likely that the reports of its termination as an organization are and were indeed true, thus destroying my youthful fantasies of a super-secret organization existing over the centuries to the present, exercising power in all sorts of areas. Like I originally stated, I knew that was essentially a myth, but it was still disappointing to read the historical truth.

This is a well-researched, and professionally written history of a fascinating organization that was quite powerful for several hundred years and which still interests numerous people til this day. The writing gets fairly dry at times, even boring, but there’s enough good details and history in it to make it worth reading. I’d give this book a solid four stars and state that it’s recommended.

View all my reviews

 

Sid Gillman: Father of the Passing GameSid Gillman: Father of the Passing Game by Josh Katzowitz

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I’ve always heard about Sid Gillman my whole life, and about how he “invented” football’s passing game. Yet when the great coaches are mentioned, he’s rarely, if ever, included. I’ve always wanted to know why, and I’ve always wanted to know some real details about him. Thus my excitement when I found this book some time back. I held on to it, like it was a treasure, waiting for the “right” moment to break it open and revel in its contents. So I finally did break it open, after waiting a very long time. And didn’t finish it. Because I didn’t enjoy it. I found it, and Gillman himself, tremendously disappointing. It was frankly a disillusioning read.

Gillman does indeed deserve credit for “inventing” the passing game, and he revolutionized the game of football forever. He quite possibly was an offensive genius. He was a lifelong workaholic. He tutored assistants who went on to amazing careers, like Don Shula and Chuck Noll. You could see elements of his game in the way they coached and won. So why isn’t Gillman typically included in discussions of the great coaches? Maybe it was because he never won a Super Bowl, which is a legitimate point, although he did a good deal of his coaching before Super Bowls existed. Maybe it’s also because he was a giant asshole of a person, unlikeable to almost anyone who ever met him. I hated him from about the 10th page on. And in terms of this book, I felt it was boring, redundant, didn’t exactly go to great lengths to argue for his greatness, although it made some efforts, and it kind of felt like the book went out of its way to ensure I’ll never include Gillman in a discussion of the greatest coaches, and nor will anyone else. I don’t know if that was the author’s intention – I tend to doubt it – but that’s what happened with me. I feel the book could have been a lot better, and possibly if a more experienced, more talented writer had been writing such a book, perhaps the outcome could have been different. However, the best I can do is give it two stars and state that I definitely do not recommend this book at all.

View all my reviews

 

 

Well, that’s all for now. I had hoped to do more today, but I feel terrible and I’m glad I got to do any at all. However, some of the ones I have lined up are on Japan at the end of WW II, religion, theism, the NSA, changing American military power and foreign policy, nuclear weapons, Biblical archaeology and how much of the Bible it supports as well as shows to be false, atheism, hockey, the history of Rome, the current and future status of the US and China, spies, American classism, the spread of theistic religions, Sparta, nuclear politics, think tanks, and much more. I hope to get to as many of these as I can. Please bear with me and be patient, and thanks for reading what I put down here. I truly appreciate it. Cheers!

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The Chair of the Joint Chiefs Wants Money & Has Some Interesting Comments To Make. What Are To Be Made of These?

Posted by Scott Holstad on November 24, 2018

(Note: I originally published this on LinkedIn on 11/23/18. The URL may be found here:  https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/chair-joint-chiefs-wants-money-has-some-interesting-comments-holstad/.)

U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford wants some serious budgetary money from Congress to “maintain its [the US military] eroding military edge against Russia & China — but also to start innovating.” Interesting, & interesting choice of words. I have many questions, among them being … why haven’t we started innovating already? Funny, but I was under the distinct impression that we have been innovating recently & in some cases, for awhile. I remain under the impression that we’ve committed to EW & have been making some new, “innovative” progress in that field. And with Cyber Command’s new directive & “rules of engagement,” again I was under the impression that we’ve been moving in the innovation department there for awhile with major plans to proceed at lightening speed. Moreover, I research, read & am exposed to a number of various types of information implying or outright stating that, with the help of the increasingly numerous defense contractors, new technology with new capabilities, & new weapons systems are well under way, not only in R&D, but in actual production. So, I guess what I want to know is are my beliefs & assumptions wrong or did General Dunford simply utilize a somewhat unfortunate & potentially misleading choice of words in his statement?

Dunford further goes on to say “U.S. alliances would provide a decisive advantage in any major conflict. The U.S. would not lose a war with Russia or China, but such a war would be lengthy. And the U.S. has the edge today.” Again, interesting. Much of the information to which I am exposed suggests that the US does NOT have the edge today & moreover both Russia & especially China have surpassed us over the past couple of years. Indeed, China has doubled down on its R&D & technologies budget while allegedly, America’s R&D investment budgets have been slashed! Are we really that confident that in 3-5 years, the US would NOT lose a war (presumably cyber) with either country, particularly China, as that country has done more in the past two to three decades than what no country in the history of the world has done, in terms of the overall advancements it has made with its continuing commitment to Asian leadership, if not the world’s, as the US withdraws into nationalistic isolationism?

Please forgive me if I sound skeptical, jaded, sadly naïve or anything else that a number of you may not appreciate. My purpose in commenting on these issues is sincere. I truly DO want to know if I misunderstand current & future facts as they seem to appear, or if my understandings & assumptions are simply wrong – or perhaps a combination of both. And perhaps right as well. I have a great deal of respect for the Joint Chiefs & have many, many connections there, at the Pentagon & even with certain individuals who are or have been on the actual Joint Chiefs. I listen to the things they say – as well as to the things they don’t say. And I have numerous connections throughout the military & foreign policy communities. I have heard a great deal of worrisome predictions, beliefs, facts, data & statistics, & I find it difficult not to assume certain things, & my particular personality is one in which I hope for the best while planning for the worst. Additionally, while I do not presently have time to address this topic, I am curious to which “US alliances” the Chairman is referring. Such things are subject to change at any time, as we have seen & will likely continue to see….

The Chairman makes some additional interesting observations & statements, which I really do not have the time to address at the moment. And I do realize most to all of you in these respective industries are not at liberty to comment or address them. But I would welcome communication from any who wish to discuss these & related topics, who wish to share my concerns or correct my understanding of certain things, etc. Feel free to contact me. I promise to keep our communication confidential. As I tend to stay tremendously busy & am regularly deluged with hundreds of messages & emails, it may take me awhile to respond, but I shall certainly try to as best I can. And if anyone does care to publicly comment on these & related topics, that would also be welcome.

Finally, the article that inspired this post may be found at https://www.defensenews.com/congress/2018/11/17/saving-americas-military-edge-will-take-money-and-new-ideas-dunford-says/. I’ve always found DefenseNews to be a solid, reliable source of information & appreciate the job the people there do on a consistent basis.

I strongly support our military & the strides & efforts made throughout its branches, as well as joint efforts. But for too long, I have been worried about the seeming trend in which we fall behind other growing powers, particularly in technology, R&D & cyber. Space too, for that matter. And I am anxious to see new & greater commitment to these & other substantial areas, as many of us believe many real threats do exist & will certainly grow, most likely fairly quickly. And I’m determined we regain our lead & remain in the lead in new & expanding theaters & branches. This is my stance. I like to believe it is shared by many. Thank you.

Scott C. Holstad

November 23, 2018

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Australia’s Prime Minister Slowly Realizes Trump Is a Complete Idiot

Posted by Scott Holstad on November 15, 2018

This is not really a post, so much as just a hyperlink to an article that once again proves that Donald Trump is undoubtedly the most stupid politician at any level in the history of America. One could even say he’s possibly the most stupid person/citizen in the history of America. Or dare I say world? Read this article in New York Magazine about a conversation Trump had with Australia’s prime minister, complete with numerous quotes, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that Trump is an absolute idiot!

http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2017/08/australias-pm-slowly-realizes-trump-is-a-complete-idiot.html?fbclid=IwAR0r9TI3rlkDILdqb3PmdYaZ_dzqw01W1ZfqN8aIPNcW8Bo_GDZY7BIWjJ4

 

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