Thursday, April 20, 2017

Self-Driving Cars and More, the Georgia Election, Not Answering your Phone, Thoughts of LaoTzu and tRump Supporters Just Don't Care!

Arms -  Instruments of Evil

There is much wisdom in "The Way of Life" by Lao Tzu.  It is the basis of Taoism, one of the world's great religions. Here is a verse from his wisdom.  Lao Tzu is said to have been born in 604 B.C.  (This taken from the translation of Lao Tzu's 81 "sayings" by Witter Bynner.  This is number 31.)

                                                      Confucius Meeting With LaoTzu

Even the finest arms are an instrument of evil,
A spread of plague,
And the way for a vital man to go is not the way of a soldier.

But in time of war men civilized in peace
Turn from their higher to their lower nature.
Arms are an instrument of evil,
No measure for thoughtful men
Until there fail all other choice
But sad acceptance of it.

Triumph is not beautiful.
He who thinks triumph beautiful
Is one with a will to kill,
And one with a will to kill
Shall never prevail upon the world.

It is a good sign when man's higher nature comes forward,
A bad sign when his lower nature comes forward,
When retainers take charge
And the master stays back
As in the conduct of a funeral.

The death of a multitude is cause for mourning:
Conduct your triumph as a funeral.
JL


Self-Driving Cars, Smart Cars and Solutions

I read the other day that computer and mobile apps enabling people to order their groceries on line, and then have them delivered to their door, have not been as successful as their developers, including some supermarket chains, had hoped.   Other than in big cities, where people shop on foot rather than by car, thereby limiting the extent of their purchases, these apps have not been big hits.  The conclusion the article made was that, given a big supermarket with plenty of parking a short ride from one’s home, people actually enjoy the experience of shopping for food!  That’s why the online food shopping apps are usually not used by these people.

Which brings us to self-driving cars, in regard to which as I see it, the same problem exists.  Many people like to get behind the wheel and drive their cars.  Just look at the drivers in the carmakers’ TV commercials.  They’re smiling and certainly not ready to give up the pleasure they get from driving their vehicles.  Incidentally, when you apply for automobile insurance, one of the questions always asked is how much of your driving is for business, and how much is for pleasure.  Get that … “pleasure” … just like those folks enjoying (or at least not hating) shopping in a supermarket.

Of course, there are exceptions.  Driving in big city traffic or commuting to work on overcrowded highways is definitely not a pleasure.  But are self-driving vehicles the answer to that?  I don’t think so.  The next time you’re on the road in your car, notice the number of cars capable of holding four passengers but with just one, the driver.  If all those drivers are using their car for is to get to work, it should be replaced by a one or two seat “smart car,” like the ones popular in Europe.  


Traffic Jam

That would somewhat relieve highway overcrowding and work in the direction of making driving more pleasurable for everyone.
 
Even better would be using rapid transit, bus or rail, to commute to work, with smart cars being the vehicles of choice to get to and from the rapid transit locations.  And smart cars used for this purpose need not be privately owned, either.  They could be picked up and deposited in lots just as the rental bicycles now available in many downtown city areas are.  Right now companies (Uber is an example) are developing plans to do this kind of thing using self-driving cars for the limited trips to rapid transit.  

And the user can still keep a traditional car in their garage for more pleasurable kinds of driving, including trips to the supermarket.

My most recent driving experiences, in Manhattan and in downtown Miami, neither of which was a pleasurable experience, convinces me that congested city driving is perhaps the only place where self-driving cars would work.  Contrary to human drivers, the self-driving vehicles would always obey the law.  They won’t run red lights. They won’t double park illegally nor enter an intersection unless they can get all the way through it. And as in the commuter scenario discussed above, these vehicles could be provided by a rental service, with the driver of the traditional pleasure vehicle leaving his car at the edge of town, where the self-driving car, which would not be limited to smart cars in size, could be picked up.

But in areas with plenty of parking spaces and uncrowded roads, no one has any need for a self-driving car.





In big, crowded cities, however, look forward to this combination of accessible rapid transit, smart cars and self-driving vehicles. It's something which our society, in partnership with our technology, will be developing over the next twenty years or so.  We will, like it or not, have to change our ways.

Jack Lippman


tRumpers Just Don't Care

Democrats and others concerned with the erratic behavior, the unpredictability and the shallowness of the President should not be hopeful that these shortcomings will reduce his support.  Failure, at least thus far, to repeal Obamacare, to bring about a travel ban, to get Mexico to pay for a wall on the Rio Grande and to return outsourced jobs to America have not affected the passion of his supporters.  I don’t see the treaty with Iran being torn up yet either, but that doesn’t seem to bother them.  His becoming a fan of China and less of one of Russia, and getting into the kind of foreign involvement he campaigned against has not deterred them.  Neither has his inclusion in his administration of more Wall Street people, some of whom are Democrats, than even Hillary Clinton dreamed of appointing. And his practically abandoning the White House for Florida and its golf courses gets a pass too! 


Whatever “conservative” victories he has managed (Gorsuch, Sessions appointments) are greatly magnified in his supporters’ eyes.  Read all about this in a recent New York Times article by clicking here.
JL



Why You Should Answer Your Phone

In the event of a truly dire emergency, such as the outbreak of nuclear war, an approaching tidal wave of enormous proportions, a sudden category 4 or 5 hurricane or dangerous tornado bearing down on an area, wireless telephones will start ringing all over the place. 

And many people will not bother to take the call, and as a result, suffer consequences which may be fatal (as they caution in some of the drug commercials on TV).  

That’s because we have become used to ignoring unwanted phone calls from unknown numbers from all over the country.  Despite the government ‘do not call’ list, such calls continue to harass people, who have learned to tune them out.  As more and more people abandon “landline” phones (which usually don’t provide these warnings) for the mobile variety (which do), this danger of people ignoring a ringing phone and being unaware of impending disaster increases.  Legislation to stop unwanted calls is needed.  When your phone rings, there should be no reason for you to ignore it!
JL

Georgia's Nationwide Congressional Race

Although Jon Ossoff was the leading vote getter in the Georgia special election to fill the seat vacated by Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Pryor, long-time foe of government involvement in health insurance (who was appointed to head the Department managing it), he didn't cross the 50% barrier which would have made a run-off unnecessary.  

The two top candidates, Ossoff and Karen Handel, will be in a run-off on June 20.   Rounding off the numbers, Ossoff received 48% of the votes, Handel received 20% and the other three Republicans received a total of 28%.  That shapes up as a dead-heat party-wise, promising a tight race in the run-off.  The 4% which were spread over thirteen other candidates, and those who didn't vote in the special election last week will decide who will be the Congressperson from Georgia's 6th Congressional District, covering several suburban counties north of Atlanta. 


Jon Ossoff and Karen Handel

Ossoff is a political novice and Handel has held many State positions.  But that won't matter.  The June election really will be a referendum on how well Donald tRump is doing in the eyes of Republicans, with national ramifications.  Remember that this district, once represented by Newt Gingrich, gave Mitt Romney a 23 point margin in 2012 but only gave tRump a 1 1/2 point edge over Hillary Clinton.  Handel didn't make an issue of supporting tRump in her campaign, although the President did chime in with several anti-Ossoff tweets.  
JL




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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

North Korea, Syria, United Airlines, Education Cuts and Mnuchin Strikes Again


The Real Crisis
While the headlines are dominated by the perpetual crisis in Syria, the infighting in the White House and the continuing investigation into Russian interference with our 2016 election, less attention is being paid to the problem of North Korea, which can be far more serious than any of the aforementioned items.

We have a nuclear-armed battle fleet steaming toward North Korean waters.  That country, headed by an unpredictable leader, Kim Jong Un, who didn’t hesitate to murder his half-brother last month, possesses basic nuclear weapons and is attempting to develop sophisticated delivery systems for them.  He makes no bones about his intention to be able to drop nuclear bombs on the United States.  Right now, the only leverage we have is China’s proximity to and relationship with North Korea, which exports coal to China and imports almost everything else.





If we lob a few Tomahawks at them to get them to stop their aggressive posturing, they very well might attack neighboring South Korea, conceivably with nuclear weapons, which in effect makes South Korea their hostage, not to speak of the almost 30,000 American troops we maintain there.  They are crazy enough to do that! 

Logic and reason are both in short supply in North Korea, making negotiations with them difficult at best.  That’s why they are so dangerous, and why we must maintain good relations with China, which is in a far better position than we are to exert pressure on Kim Jong Un.
Jack Lippman

Syrian Solution

Okay, so we shot 59 missiles into Syria, just to show President Assad that he cannot get away with brutally murdering his people, most of whom just want the slaughter to end in their country.  He has been murdering them for some time now, but using poison gas crosses a line and it is good that we have shown him that line. Barack Obama had showed him that line verbally but Donald tRump did in much more dramatically with missiles.  Whether or not the two approaches differ depends on what happens next; whether tRump's approach is more productive than Obama's. This is yet to be seen.  The damage inflicted to the Syrian airbase is far less of an issue than the message it brought and the response, or change in Syria, if any, resulting from it. A sidebar to it is the effect it might have had on the North Koreans and the Chinese.

Syrian Airbase Attacked

The Syrian tragedy is based on the ancient Sunni-Shia division in Islam.  Assad is an Alawite Muslim, which is a variety of Shia.  Hence, he has the political and military support of Shia Iran which would love to dominate the Fertile Crescent stretching westward from it across Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.  There are two obstacles to this.  The Sunni Muslims in these countries don’t want that to happen because of their almost twelve century-old feud with the Shia.  In fact, they are so against it that some of them support the Sunni Islamic State (ISIS) which is the other obstacle to Iranian ambitions, and which has parallel ambitions of its own involving the same territory which it calls its Caliphate. 

Opposition to Assad in Syria, beside coming from ISIS, also comes from rebels, mostly Sunni, who oppose him.  His murderous attacks have been primarily directed at them.  His destruction of Aleppo, which was basically a rebel city, well illustrates this.   And of course, Russia, playing this geopolitical game, has taken the side of Assad and the Iranians, ostensibly in battling ISIS, but never ignoring its own interests, which include a Mediterranean port in Syria at which its naval vessels can refuel. 

Our role in this quagmire has been to support the Sunni nations, like Jordan, the Gulf States and Saudi Arabia, and the Iraqi army which is primarily Shia, in their struggle against ISIS.  Unfortunately, the Saudis and some of the Gulf States also are cozy with ISIS at the same time as they are our allies.  We also have supported the Kurds who have fought with some success against ISIS and who want to be free from control by Iraq, Iran and of course, ISIS.  We support the Kurds, but in doing so, alienate our ally, Sunni Turkey, who fear an independent Kurdistan would spread into Kurdish-populated areas of Turkey.

It’s no easy task to figure out what we should do next, now that we’ve suggested to Assad that he cannot get away with murdering his own people with impunity.  Remember, a single attack is not in itself a strategy.  But here is my advice to our decision-makers in Washington.  Listen carefully.

(    1. We must first work together with the Russians and the Iranians to defeat ISIS.  They are better partners than the Saudis and other Sunnis in combatting Sunni ISIS. 

(    2. Once that is done, or they are at least reduced to a minimal threat to the region, we must convince the Iranians and the Russians to send Assad packing to a lovely retirement somewhere on the French Riviera. 

(   3. Naming a Shia-friendly government to succeed him will satisfy the Iranians and cater to their geopolitical ambitions, and the Russians as well just so long as they have a place to dock in the Mediterranean.  We just must make sure that the new Syrian government is not as bloodthirsty as was Assad’s and recognizes the rights of Sunni Muslims in Syria.  With diplomatic pressure from us, in terms of economic sanctions, the Iranians could help make that happen.   The Shia government in Iraq, a country which contains both Shia and Sunni, is an example of how this might work.

Of course, better relations between the United States and Iran will not make Russia happy.  Once ISIS and Assad have been taken care of, they will become concerned with a more powerful Iran on their southern flank, an Iran that might be willing to work with the United States in preserving Middle Eastern peace, on its own terms.  This would not be an ideal solution for the United States, and the remaining Sunni nations, but nevertheless it could be a peaceful one.  Achieving it is an ambitious, demanding long-term assignment for the diplomats of the nations involved, particularly those of the United States, Russia and Iran.

Now that you have my take on a solution for Syria, let’s see what a real expert says about it.  Courtesy of BloombergView (online), read the words of Professor Hal Brands. a Henry A. Kissinger Distinguished Professor of Global Affairs at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.  He knows more than I do.   Just click here to read what he has to say!
JL

Git Outta Dat Seat!

What businesses in this country sell customers non-existent products?  Airlines!  Every day they might sell 104 tickets on a plane that seats only 100, assuming four customers won’t show.  Unless it were due to late connecting flights, these “no-show” customers usually don’t get refunds, or pay a hefty penalty if they reschedule, but assuredly, the airlines don’t lose money on them.

The recent United Airlines incident is illustrative, although overbooked seats were not the issue.  United needed to immediately move four employees from Chicago to Louisville.  This problem was the airline’s, not its customers’.   They asked for four volunteers to change flights (and be rewarded for doing so).  Three did and one didn’t and had to be violently removed from the aircraft.




I believe that if there were no seats on the plane, United should have found another way of getting the employees to Louisville.  It was their problem.  Taking back something you already sold to a customer, under the license provided in the very small print on the ticket, should be out of the question. 
 
The solution is to sell only the number of tickets as there are seats on the plane.  If an airline wants to reserve three or four for eventualities such as this one, let them do it, like those excellent “house seats” at Broadway shows, held back for some bigwig who decides at the last minute to see a “Hamilton,” for example.  (We once got last minute seats for a sold-out show in London  which probably had been held in reserve for a member of the Royal Family, if they had decided to come:  fifth row center on the aisle.)  If there are no need for them, they could be put on sale at the gate, along with the tickets for the “no-show’s” seats.  With most airline flights flying at capacity these days, they will not go unoccupied.  And if this solution has to result in a small increase in ticket prices, so be it.

But throwing a person who paid for a ticket off of a flight to accommodate the movement of the airline’s employees?  No way, Jose (Ho-say).

JL

Skool Daze

The Republican administration’s proposed budget slashes funds for the Department of Education by 13.5 percent, or $9.2 billion.  While merely a blueprint for Congress to act on, it shows the direction in which the government is going.


tRump’s budget plan would remove $2.4 billion in grants for teacher training and $1.2 billion in funding for summer and after-school programs. It also curtails or eliminates funding for around 20 departmental programs “that are not effective, that duplicate other efforts, or that do not serve national needs.”  Although decreased funding for the Education Department will have repercussions for students and educators across the country, low-income students are particularly vulnerable.

In addition to eliminating Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG), which offer need-based aid to around 1.6 million low-income undergraduates each year, the tRump administration wants to “significantly” reduce Federal Work-Study. Although work-study programs have been criticized for disproportionately aiding private institutions, they are have been successful helping students graduate and find employment post-college.

The budget proposal also calls for around $200 million in cuts to federal TRIO programs, which benefit low-income, first-generation, and disabled students, and GEAR UP, a program that helps prepare low-income middle and high-school students for college.

Overall, this decreased funding will make resources available for one of tRump’s top education priorities, school choice. Under the new budget, the Republican administration wants to spend $1.4 billion to expand vouchers in public and private schools, leading up to an eventual $20 billion a year in funding.  Education Secretary DeVos, a leading advocate of charter schools, certainly is smiling.  Thomas Jefferson, a strong advocate of public education, wherever he is, is not.

I suspect that such an attack on public education, particularly in the area of teacher training, will have the long-term effect of dumbing down the American population.  Republicans are obviously enthusiastic about this since a gullible electorate, not properly educated to think for themselves and voting against what is in their own interest, is key to their party’s survival.  It worked in 2016 and they do not intend to abandon this tactic.
JL


Meaningful Movie Review

Saw an amusing movie last weekend, “Going In Style,” about three elderly gentlemen (Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Alan Arkin) in need of cash who decide to become bank robbers.  It’s a remake of a similar film done 38 years ago.  This time, Michael Caine is in dire financial straits because of a “teaser rate” balloon mortgage refinancing he secured from an unscrupulous bank and is about to lose his home to foreclosure, as many like him did when the real estate market collapsed in 2007.  That was the engine that moved the plot of the movie.

Caine holding Forclosure Notice in Mnunchin Movie

Now get this!  The Executive Producer (that means he put up a lot of the money for it) of “Going In Style” was none other than Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin, whose banking activities over the years earned him the nickname of “the Foreclosure King.”  So just as this tRump appointee made a lot of money from real foreclosures like the one which threatened Caine in the movie, he will also profit from that film’s criticism of exactly those activities.  How do you beat these guys?  But see the movie!  Lot of laughs for everyone … and an occasional tear for those of Medicare age.
JL



HOW TO BE ALERTED TO FUTURE BLOG POSTINGS.
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Jack Lippman 


Thursday, April 6, 2017

Newspapers, Foreign Policy, tRump's Diversions and an Idea for a Screenplay

Don't Overestimate Newspapers

There is more thoughtful opinion in most daily newspapers than is readily available on TV or on the Internet.  And much TV and Internet content is dependent on those newspapers.  Note how often the participants on TV news shows are full time newspaper people.  And newspapers aren’t interrupted by repeated commercials.  TV is.  Now here’s the bad news.

The daily circulation of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel is about 106,000 copies.  The daily circulation of the Palm Beach Post is about 71,000 copies, adding up to about 177,000 newspapers distributed each day in Broward and Palm Beach Counties.

Amazing, isn’t it.  That’s a real small number!  Add to this an estimate of the number of daily readers of out-of-town papers like the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times in both counties, and most generously, the total number of newspapers distributed in these two counties is probably around 225,000 at most.  (Let’s ignore the fact that some of these two newspapers go northward to Martin County and Southward to Miami-Dade County, so the numbers for Palm Beach and Broward are probably somewhat less.)

The combined population of Broward (1,815,000) and Palm Beach (1,356,000) Counties is about 3,171,000.  This translates into the fact that only about 7% of the folks in these two counties receive a daily newspaper. Even If we assume that each newspaper distributed may be read by more than one person, and somewhat greater circulation for the Sunday editions, the percentage of people here who read newspapers is still pathetically low.  Hopefully, more and more people are reading online editions of these two papers, but I believe such readership is sporadic at best.  I know because I read the online Post when I am out of town.  It’s not easy.

These leads to the question of what sources the rest of the people, the ones who never see a newspaper, are accessing to get their news.  I suspect this is a nationwide situation, not one just limited to South Florida.  The answer, of course, is TV and the Internet.

Let’s face it.  Those two sources just are not as journalistically responsible as are daily newspapers.  What standards are maintained by TV outlets such as CNN, MSNBC, FOXNews, PBS, Bloomberg, etc.?  Online, where are news sources like Politico, RealClearPolitics, the Beast, Newsmax, KOS, Breitbart, Mother Jones, the Drudge Report, and thousands more, coming from?  How objective are they?  Do they have an agenda? 


Readers and viewers have to be very careful these days when facts may not be facts and the questions raised by journalists and pseudo-journalists (like me) may be answered obliquely with unverifiable information.  With that in mind, I occasionally include links on this blog to opinions of those I believe to be reputable journalists.  I hope that people read them, particularly if they don’t have the opportunity to be exposed to them in a daily newspaper.

Right now, here’s a column written by Michael Gerson, a Republican who writes for the Washington Post and is syndicated nationally. It deals with sexism in the workplace as recently brought into the limelight by activities at Fox News.  Just "click" right here to read it.    Here’s a brief excerpt from the article to perhaps whet your appetite.
 
“The ethos of a newspaper, cable network or website influences the final product. At The Washington Post — reflecting its investigative self-image — the new motto is “Democracy Dies in Darkness.” At Fox, this ethos has involved, according to The New Yorker’s Margaret Talbot, “the fetishization of hot female news presenters.” And this, it seems, has doubled as a kind of conveyor belt for bright new faces. Can it really be a coincidence that feminism is often dismissed on Fox News as so much political correctness? Can a news organization deal adequately with women’s issues when you would never allow your own daughter to work there?”

I urge you to read the entire article by clicking right here.  Without newspapers, where would we be?  (The Palm Beach Post carries a Gerson column once a week.)
Jack Lippman

tRump's Diversionary Strategy

The more Donald tRump attempts to divert the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation of possible connections between the Russian Government, or its agents, and individuals involved in the Trump 2016 Presidential campaign organization, the more suspicious Americans should be.  Also involved in investigating this are the FBI and the Senate Intelligence Committee.  tRump may be able to “divert” Congressional committees but he will not deter the FBI.

It is clear that the United States Government practiced surveillance of Russians during this period as a “normal” part of intelligence operations.  In doing so, Russian contact with some Americans was incidentally discovered, and where necessary, the identity of these Americans became known to the investigators, and apparently appears in certain documents.  This led to tRump’s inaccurate charge that President Obama “wiretapped” Trump Tower in New York.  The FBI has categorically denied this and tRump has backed off by saying that surveillance indeed did take place, (which in his simplistic mind is inseparable from wiretapping) and contends that this was illegal, particularly in that Americans who were in contact with Russians were identified.  To him, this is a far greater offense that the basic purpose of the investigations, possible connections between the Russians and his Presidential campaign. 

Most recently, his attacks have turned toward Obama Security Advisor Susan Rice, again aimed at her handling of the identity of those whom the Russians had contacted, contending she did it in a criminal manner.  Of course, a National Security Advisor has the power, within the purview of her job, to do a lot of things when they are in the interest of national security.  This is a very difficult concept for tRump to grasp.  But the only reason he is going down that path is to divert the nation’s attention from the real purpose of the investigations.  He is very much afraid of where that might lead.   

He is flailing around, trying to change the subject of the investigation, diverting it from its designated purpose to an investigation of how information obtained through surveillance of the Russians was handled.  The more he does this, the greater is my suspicion that the information involved is of such import that if revealed, it will destroy his Presidency, possibly resulting in criminal action against some of his team.  

In a recent interview, John Dean, who provided candid testimony during the Watergate investigation during the 1960’s, resulting in Richard Nixon’s resignation from the Presidency, commented that it probably is now time for some people who were connected to the tRump campaign organization to “lawyer up.”



With each diversionary move on tRump’s part, the likelihood of these investigations coming up with real evidence connecting the Russians to his 2016 campaign grows more possible. That’s why he is trying so hard to divert the investigators.  What also grows is the likelihood that the full story of what happened, when it is discovered, will be classified in a manner that will prevent its disclosure to the public for years.
JL




Foreign Policy to the Forefront


Taking action against Syria’s President Assad for his horrendous behavior means going up against his supporters, Russia and Iran, as well.  If tRump want to do this, to cross Obama’s “red line,” he must do so delicately.  It might be best to ally the United States with these two powers in acting against Assad, but that is extremely unlikely.  And also, to some extent it would mean that we would be on the same side as another critic of Assad, namely ISIS, which includes itself among Assad’s Syrian rebel opponents. 
  
And as for North Korea’s nuclear program, tRump must act in cooperation with China to get anything done.  Acting on our own is not an option.  A “one shot” response, beside what retaliatory damage it might cause to our South Korean ally, will not be enough.  Of course, China will have its price which might not be in conformity with tRump’s views on trade and monetary policy.

These are both problems which I doubt tRump is capable of handling, let alone fully understanding.  Advisors like General McMaster and Secretary of Defense Mattis might offer advice, but will the President will listen to them? Who knows?   And acting without putting many, many American lives in our armed forces on the line makes it even more difficult.  The country will not stand for casualty lists.  These are serious times.  They are not part of a “reality” show.
  

And as I said earlier in this posting, keep reading newspapers.  Don’t count on the Internet nor TV, especially Fox.  
JL


Idea for a Screenplay

Jack Lippman
So there’s this senior citizen rich guy, a widower, who begins to feel that he is finally losing it and decides to retire from the hands-on management of his life. Two of his daughters agree to split his real estate holdings and investment portfolio in exchange for a promise to take care of him in his declining years. His other daughter, somewhat of a free spirit, won’t have any part of what she sees as a sleazy deal on the part of her sisters. Dad promptly disinherits her and she runs off to Paris with a Frenchman.

Before long the two daughters are fighting over which one can do less for Dad and finally, fed up with them both, he sneaks out of the house in the middle of the night in a driving rainstorm. One of his old buddies, whom he doesn’t even recognize, manages to get him out of the torrent into a cheap motel and tries to convince him to go back to his daughters, but the old guy refuses. He realizes that he was wrong in disinheriting his third daughter and his old buddy tells him that she is actually coming back from Paris to help him, having heard of the shoddy treatment her sisters were providing.

While this tragic story was unfolding, a retired senior executive of the rich old guy’s former business was having his own family problems with his two sons, one of whom was a real bastard who spent his time lying, cheating and trying to convince his father that he was a better son than his brother. It’s clear that he’s after the full inheritance. This father also got involved in attempting to shelter his old boss when he was out in the rain storm. For doing that, the sadistic husband of one of the old man's daughters brutally beats and tortures him, blinding him in the process, to which his bastard of a son quietly acquiesces, allying himself with the two sisters who are just as greedy as he is! 

Meanwhile, the sisters, tipped off as to their kid sister’s return from Paris and fearing that they might lose their inheritance, heed the advice of their new-found friend, the one whose father had been tortured and blinded, who helps them call in some tough guys to take care of the situation. By then the third daughter had found her father at a Motel 6, but sadly, the bad guys capture them both. One of them chokes the girl to death, but the old man manages to clobber him with a two by four and escape.


Then, mustering his last bit of strength to carry her body out of the place in his arms, he dies. How sad.

As for the sisters, one of them had lost her husband in a fight with a servant over how she was treating her father. The other sister’s husband files divorce papers after he finds that she was having an affair with the rotten bastard whose father was blinded. The two girls end up fighting over him before he is deservedly killed by his brother. Finally, one of the sisters poisons the other and then commits suicide. 

A few weeks later, we find the old man’s old buddy and the surviving son of the blinded man, also dead by this time, in a sleazy bar. After commiserating with each other over a few drinks, they agree that life sucks and wonder if they should tell this whole sad story to their writer buddy, Bill, who might even use it for the plot of a screenplay or something.

(Okay!  Bill loved the idea, wrote the screenplay ... which no studio would touch ... and ended up putting it on stage at a dump called the Globe Theatre in London.  Did you catch it there, or at any of the other places where it has turned up since?)


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Jack Lippman