Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Poems Churchill Loved – The Clattering Train

Finest Hour 131, Summer 2006
Page 28

See also, which states, "Britain is in desperate need of a driver who can seize control of the clattering train."

By Edwin J. Milliken
Edwin James Milliken01.jpg
Milliken image from Wikipedia

Quoted in reference to 1930s appeasement in The Gathering Storm. WSC's great memory recalled it from Punch, 4 October 1890, following a train wreck blamed on a sleeping crewman.

Who is in charge of the clattering train?
The axles creak, and the couplings strain.
Ten minutes behind at the Junction. Yes!
And we’re twenty now to the bad—no less!
At every mile we a minute must gain!
Who is in charge of the clattering train?

Why, flesh and blood, as a matter of course!
You may talk of iron, and prate of force;
But, after all, and do what you can….
Man is in charge of the thundering train!
Man, in the shape of a modest chap
In fustian trousers and greasy cap;
A trifle stolid, and something gruff,
Yet, though unpolished, of sturdy stuff….

Only a Man, but away at his back,
In a dozen cars, on the steely track,
A hundred passengers place their trust
In this fellow of fustian, grease, and dust….

The hiss of steam-spurts athwart the dark.
Lull them to confident drowsiness. Hark!
What is that sound? ‘Tis the stertorous breath
Of a slumbering man—and it smacks of death!
Full sixteen hours of continuous toil
Midst the fume of sulphur, the reek of oil,
Have told their tale on the man’s tired brain,
And Death is in charge of the clattering train!

Those poppy-fingers his head incline
Lower, lower, in slumber’s trance;
The shadows fleet, and the gas-gleams dance
Faster, faster in mazy flight,
As the engine flashes across the night.
Mortal muscle and human nerve
Cheap to purchase, and stout to serve.
Strained too fiercely will faint and swerve.
Over-weighted, and underpaid,
This human tool of exploiting Trade,
Though tougher than leather, tenser than steel.
Fails at last, for his senses reel,
His nerves collapse, and, with sleep-sealed eyes,
Prone and helpless a log he lies!
A hundred hearts beat placidly on,
Unwitting they that their warder’s gone;
A hundred lips are babbling blithe,
Some seconds hence they in pain may writhe.
For the pace is hot, and the points are near,
And Sleep hath deadened the driver’s ear;
And signals flash through the night in vain.
Death is in charge of the clattering train! 

Image result for crazy train conductor
image from

Image for the day

President Donald Trump at a White House ceremony honoring the 2018 College Football Playoff National Champion Clemson Tigers on January 14, 2019.

From Mike Snider, "Burger King trolls Trump on including 'hamberders' in 'massive' fast food order," USA Today

President Donald Trump may be the Twitterer-In-Chief but Burger King, known for its flame-grilled burgers, served him up a sizzling salvo on the social network.
The president amassed a fast food smorgasbord Monday night with servings from Burger King, McDonalds and Wendy's for a visit from the Clemson Tigers football team, which last week won the college national championship.
On Tuesday morning, Trump tweeted about the event. “Great being with the National Champion Clemson Tigers last night at the White House,” he tweeted. “Because of the Shutdown I served them massive amounts of Fast Food (I paid), over 1000 hamberders etc. Within one hour, it was all gone. Great guys and big eaters!”
At some point later, Trump deleted that tweet, apparently because of the misspelling of "hamburgers," and replaced it, but the damage had been done. 
Burger King, known for its quirky commercials, quickly offered a fresh, humorous take with its response that "due to a large order placed yesterday, we're all out of hamberders."
The tweet has gotten more than 300,000 likes. Meanwhile, the president's restructured tweet led to more than 131,000 likes and more than 20,000 retweets with some also poking fun at him.

Several drew an analogy between paying the football champs' fast food dinner bill and paying for the southern border wall. "I'm going to make Taco Bell pay for it all," the potential meme declared.
Professional zinger-throwers including Jimmy Kimmel couldn't help themselves either. During Jimmy Kimmel Live Tuesday night, the late night host addressed the initial tweet's spelling mishap: "How does that happen? The 'e' and the 'u' aren't even near each other on the keyboard! It's like in the middle of tweeting he had a stroke or something," he said. "Or is it possible he thought they were called 'hamberders' until today?"
Kimmel also jokingly questioned whether Trump actually paid and noted Trump himself said there were 300 hamburgers among the fast food served on silver platters.
"He has to lie about everything, he can't help it," Kimmel said. "Or maybe he ate the other 700 hamberders himself."
Follow USA TODAY reporter Mike Snider on Twitter: @MikeSnider.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

F.B.I. Opened Inquiry Into Whether Trump Was Secretly Working on Behalf of Russia

image from

"Mr. Trump had refused to criticize Russia on the campaign trail, praising President Vladimir V. Putin. And investigators had watched with alarm as the Republican Party softened its convention platform on the Ukraine crisis in a way that seemed to benefit Russia."
JB Comment:
When I read that Manaford had pushed for a clause in the National Republican Convention re Ukraine, my ex-diplomat-in-Eastern Europe-for-years/ears, thus accustomed to meaningless official news in that part of our small planet, I suddenly woke up: WHAT? CANCEL UKRAINE?
In my modest opinion, would this "clause" not be a crucial point in foreign "interference" in USA elections?
Just askin', as a non-lawyer/investigator.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Photo for the Day

Image from, with caption: The Bezoses in 2004.Credit Jean-Paul Aussenard/WireImage, via Getty 
Images; for NYT article on the Bezoses's divorce from which this photo is taken, see

Who Is MacKenzie Bezos?

JB suggested subtitle:  "The Subject for a 21st-Century Update of  The Great Gastby"?

Jonah Engel Bromwich and Alexandra Alter, The New York Times, Jan 12, 2019; original article contains additional illustrations

On the Princeton-inspired (in part) novel, The Great Gatsby, see. On Ms. Mackenzie, see also, which notes: "MacKenzie S. Tuttle was born on April 7, 1970, in San Francisco, California, to a financial planner father and a homemaker mother. In 1988, she graduated from Hotchkiss School in Connecticut [Bezos earned her bachelor's degree in English at Princeton University with highest honors in 1992. She studied under writer Toni Morrison, who said Bezos was 'one of the best students I've ever had in my creative writing classes.' " Note:  Her now-former partner also went to Princeton (see below).]

In her 25 years of marriage to Jeff Bezos, MacKenzie Bezos has been a loyal ambassador for Amazon, the company that made her and her husband the richest couple in the world.
She was an integral part of its origin story, driving to Seattle in 1994 while Mr. Bezos sat in the passenger seat, working on the nascent company’s business plan. She was Amazon’s first accountant and was involved in its transformation from a small online bookseller to the e-commerce behemoth it is today, the second company in American history to be valued at over a trillion dollars.
Ms. Bezos, 48, is a novelist. But Amazon has defined her public image almost wholly. The announcement this week that she and her husband would be getting a divorce may soon change that. A statement signed “Jeff & MacKenzie,” which was first posted to Mr. Bezos’s Twitter account, read: “After a period of loving exploration and trial separation, we have decided to divorce and continue our shared lives as friends.”
The couple, who have four children, wrote that they see “wonderful futures ahead, as parents, friends, partners in ventures and projects, and as individuals pursuing ventures and adventures.”
Over the last few decades, as Amazon grew, Ms. Bezos appeared with her husband at some high-profile events, including Vanity Fair’s Oscar parties and the Golden Globes; in 2012, she was a host of the Met Gala. (Amazon also underwrote the event.) But for the most part, Ms. Bezos has guarded her privacy, preferring to focus on writing and her children. She could not be reached for comment on this article.

MacKenzie and Jeff Bezos attended the Met Gala in 2012 and the Vanity Fair Oscar Party in 2018.CreditEvan Agostini/Associated Press
CreditEvan Agostini/Invision, via Associated Press
She has made infrequent forays into the public eye to promote her books and to defend her husband’s company. In 2013, she posted a scathing one-star reviewon Amazon of “The Everything Store,” a book about Amazon by Brad Stone, to say it was plagued by “numerous factual inaccuracies” and “full of techniques which stretch the boundaries of non-fiction.” (Mr. Stone is a veteran technology reporter. Michiko Kakutani, reviewing his book for The New York Times, said he told “this story of disruptive innovation with authority and verve, and lots of well-informed reporting.”)
Little is known about Ms. Bezos, a private woman who may be awarded one of the largest divorce settlements to date.
MacKenzie Tuttle, an aspiring novelist, met her husband at D. E. Shaw, a New York hedge fund where Mr. Bezos, a computer scientist by training, had become a senior vice president.
She told Vogue that she took the position of administrative assistant to pay the bills while she worked on her novels, but she soon found herself enamored with the laugh of the man who worked in the next office over. As Ms. Bezos put it in a 2013 interview with Charlie Rose: “It was love at first listen.” 
Within three months of dating, the two were engaged; they married shortly thereafter at a resort in West Palm Beach, Fla. Mr. Bezos was 30; Ms. Bezos was 23.
She often described herself as a bookish introvert, especially compared with Mr. Bezos, a swaggering, infinitely expansive businessman whose chief romantic desire, he told Wired in 1999, six years after his wedding, had been to meet someone “resourceful.” (That type of attraction seems to be mutual. In 2017, at a Summit panel, Mr. Bezos said that one of his wife’s sayings is: “I would much rather have a kid with nine fingers than a resourceless kid.”)
Ms. Bezos’s literary ambitions began early. According to interviews and her author biography on Amazon (where she coyly notes that she “lives in Seattle with her husband and four children”), she started writing seriously at age 6, when she finished a 142-page chapter book titled “The Book Worm.” It was later destroyed in a flood; Ms. Bezos has said that she now meticulously backs up her work.
At Princeton, she studied creative writing under the Nobel Prize-winning novelist Toni Morrison, who hired her as a research assistant for the 1992 novel “Jazz” and introduced her to her high-powered literary agent, Amanda Urban.
In Vogue, Ms. Morrison hailed Ms. Bezos as a rare talent, calling her “one of the best students I’ve ever had in my creative writing classes.” In 2005 she gave Ms. Bezos a glowing blurb on her debut novel, “The Testing of Luther Albright,” calling it, “a rarity: a sophisticated novel that breaks and swells the heart.”
After graduating from Princeton in 1992, six years after Mr. Bezos graduated from the same university, Ms. Bezos took the job that introduced her to the future e-commerce titan. The couple married in 1993 and moved to Seattle in 1994, the same year Amazon was incorporated. 
Quickly, Ms. Bezos’s identity became enfolded into her husband’s company, even as she sought to make her mark in a publishing industry that he worked tirelessly to upend.
From the start, Mr. Bezos knew he wanted to disrupt traditional retail businesses using the internet. He quickly established Amazon as a successful internet bookstore and then began to diversify, selling music (when that was still viable), videos, medication and other consumer goods.
His vision, as told to Chip Bayers and published in a 1999 Wired profile, was prescient. Mr. Bezos predicted that in 2020:
The vast bulk of store-bought goods — food staples, paper products, cleaning supplies, and the like — you will order electronically. Some physical storefronts will survive, but they’ll have to offer at least one of two things: entertainment value or immediate convenience.
MacKenzie Bezos, who first lived with her husband in a rented home in an East Seattle suburb, was heavily involved in the business at the start: In addition to working as an accountant, she helped brainstorm names for the company and even shipped early orders through UPS, according to “The Everything Store.”
“She was clearly a voice in the room in those early years,” Mr. Stone said in an interview for this article.
The Bezoses in 2004.CreditJean-Paul Aussenard/WireImage, via Getty Images

The Bezoses in 2004.CreditJean-Paul Aussenard/WireImage, via Getty Images
In 1999, they moved into a $10 million mansion in Medina, Wash., and Ms. Bezos became pregnant with their first child. As they rapidly accumulated wealth, the Bezos family took pains to preserve the trappings of normalcy.
Ms. Bezos often drove the four children to school in a Honda, and would then drop Mr. Bezos at the office, Mr. Stone wrote. 
As the company flourished, Ms. Bezos stepped back and focused on her family and her literary ambitions.
“Business wasn’t her passion, and when Amazon took off she wasn’t as involved in the day-to-day business,” Mr. Stone said.
She spent a decade on her first novel, often getting up early to write, and signed with her mentor’s literary agent, Ms. Urban at ICM Partners, who also represents Cormac McCarthy, Haruki Murakami and Kazuo Ishiguro.
“The Testing of Luther Albright,” which was published by Harper in 2005 and was widely embraced by critics, tells the story of an engineer whose professional and home lives begin to unravel in the 1980s.
In a review in The New York Times, Kate Bolick called the novel “quietly absorbing.” The Los Angeles Times named it one of the best books of the year, and Publishers Weekly praised Ms. Bezos’s “subtle imagination and a startling talent for naturalism.”
In 2013, Ms. Bezos published her second novel, “Traps,” which follows the journey of woman named Jessica Lessing, a reclusive film star, as she emerges from hiding to confront her father, a con man who has been selling her out to the paparazzi for years. Jessica drives to Las Vegas to meet him, and encounters three other women: a teen mother, a dog-shelter owner and a former military bodyguard, who become her allies. 
“I would say the biggest theme in the book is the idea that the things that we worry over the most in life, the things that we feel trapped by, the mistakes we’ve made, the bad luck that we come across, the accidents that happen to us, the paradoxes — in the end, oftentimes those things are the things that we’ll look back and be the most grateful for,” Ms. Bezos said of the novel during an interview with Charlie Rose. “They take us where we need to go.”

Throughout their marriage, Mr. Bezos was an enthusiastic supporter of Ms. Bezos’s fiction, and would clear his schedule to read drafts of her novels, Ms. Bezos told Vogue. In the acknowledgments of “Traps,” she called him “my most devoted reader.”
But Ms. Bezos’s literary career may have been complicated to some extent by her high-profile husband, who has done more than perhaps any individual in recent history to transform and sometimes destabilize the book-selling business. Many independent booksellers, publishers and agents blame Amazon for building a monopoly that has put independent stores out of business and poses a dire threat to once thriving chains like Barnes & Noble.
Even though Amazon splashily introduced its own publishing imprints, Ms. Bezos still chose traditional houses for her books: Harper and Knopf. (When asked by an interviewer why Ms. Bezos wasn’t publishing her books through Amazon’s fiction imprints, Mr. Bezos jokingly described his wife as “the fish that got away.”)
Sales of her books have been modest: The novels have sold a few thousand print copies, according to NPD BookScan, which tracks some 85 percent of print sales. Some independent booksellers refused to stock Ms. Bezos’s novels, according to a publishing executive who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Ms. Urban, Ms. Bezos’s literary agent, declined to comment for this article.
The Bezoses were the richest couple in the world; their divorce exists at a level of wealth that is virtually unprecedented. There have been billion-dollar divorces, like that of Steve and Elaine Wynn who owned casinos together, and certainly, technology entrepreneurs have been in and out of divorce court — most notably Larry Ellison, a co-founder of Oracle who has been wed and unwed four times. 
But there has never been a divorce with a couple worth an estimated $137 billion, as Mr. and Ms. Bezos are.
Little is known about the couple’s financial arrangements. Divorces are governed by state law, and the Bezoses’ primary residence and business are in Washington state, a community property state where any income earned or wealth created during the marriage is to be divided equitably between spouses.
But some lawyers think it is unlikely that Mr. and Mrs. Bezos will adhere to that guideline in a predictable manner. If they were to split assets equally, Mr. Bezos could find the 16.1 percent of Amazon stock he owns halved.
The Bezoses at the Allen & Company conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, in 2013.CreditKevork Djansezian/Getty Images

The Bezoses at the Allen & Company conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, in 2013.CreditKevork Djansezian/Getty Images
“I’d imagine they didn’t fight at all over how much wealth each other gets,” said William Zabel, a founding partner of the law firm Schulte Roth and Zabel, who has handled many high-profile divorce cases but not worked with the Bezoses. Probably, he said, “they fought about control.”
Mr. Zabel represented Wendi Murdoch and Jane Welch in their separations, and said he thought the Bezoses would almost certainly negotiate a way to split the value of the Amazon shares while allowing Mr. Bezos the leverage he might need. The length of time such an agreement remains in place would be part of the negotiations.
Ms. Bezos has kept a low profile in recent weeks, and has not been photographed since the divorce was announced. (Mr. Bezos, by contrast, has continued to appear publicly and was pictured this month at a Golden Globes after-party with Lauren Sanchez, a former television anchor he is reportedly seeing.) 
It is unknown what Ms. Bezos will do next, and how the divorce will play out.
There will be inevitable questions, for instance, about her plans regarding philanthropy. The Bezoses’ charitable contributions have been modest in the past. In 2011, they donated $15 million to their alma mater to create a center to study the brain. The following year, they gave $2.5 million to support a same-sex marriage referendum in Washington.
In 2017, Mr. Bezos asked his followers on Twitter for ideas about how better to give, and in September he and Ms. Bezos announced a $2 billion fund to help homeless families and start a network of Montessori-inspired preschools. But Ms. Bezos could pave her own philanthropic path, like Laurene Powell Jobs, who started her own foundation, the Emerson Collective.
And if Ms. Bezos continues to write and publish, perhaps she could find a more receptive audience among independent booksellers. Some publishing executives, who declined to be quoted on the record, spoke gleefully, at least, of the blockbuster potential if Ms. Bezos decides to write a memoir.
Vanessa Friedman and Paul Sullivan contributed reporting.

Jonah Bromwich is based in New York. He writes for the Style section. @jonesieman
Alexandra Alter writes about publishing and the literary world. Before joining The Times in 2014, she covered books and culture for The Wall Street Journal. Prior to that, she reported on religion, and the occasional hurricane, for The Miami Herald.