Saturday, December 31, 2016

"The agony of hope", the Holiday essay from The Economist

Catching up on magazine reading today, this article finally was read.  As it is the December 24th issue, newstands are not likely to have it now.  It is a six page review of and commentary on the Presidency of Barack Obama.  It is well written and allows the reader the room to have opinions. While it will probably not be liked by the obsessives on much of the right or the fringe far left,  it was a thorough and thoughtful review of a thoughtful but politically aloof president, or as much as can be done in six pages of the magazine.

It does not end on an optimistic note.  Obama was aware of the limitations of power and it is not clear that our country is at the moment.  The first family was a model of good behavior.  The coming change is already evident, and many are bracing for it.  The popular wisdom says that our institutions are much stronger than any one person.  That may be tested soon.

Happy New Year?   Yes, Happy New Year must be said.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

"Shoe Dog", a memoir by Phil Knight

This book is a history of the founding of Nike, originally Blue Ribbon, in 1964 until its initial public offering in 1980.  It is also a life story of the founder Phil Knight.

This is a straightforward and easily readable look back .  Knight is trying to both tell his story and the company's story, and it starts off a bit awkwardly.  The beginning details an around the world trip taken by Knight after graduation from business school at Stanford when he did not know what he wanted to do with his life. He discusses the many interesting places that he saw and lists the books that he read along the way.  This must be why in the positive comments on the book's back cover by Andre Agassi he refers to it as "literary".

After that beginning, the book starts the real story.  On that post college trip Knight began his quest to build a sports shoe company by visiting a few manufacturers in Japan.  When he returns home months later he works on an arrangement to import shoes from Japan and distribute them.  That start begins with no office, a lawyer, Knight's college track coach, and a couple of his friends selling on commission.  It advanced to a point of having an office/storeroom in a big room with broken windows to having a small core of employees, Knight, another former college track friend, a track devotee who became a paraplegic in a car accident, and a CFO, an in-house counsel, and a head of marketing each of whom weighed over 320 pounds, working for a fitness company.

It's the story of the culture of the company and the somewhat eccentric group that created it.  It would be a perfect airline or train read, not too intense, while interesting and informative.

While reading, I wondered about a co-writer or someone who helped shape the style.  There is no doubt here that Knight was the source of the book.  There is a continuity that suggests help and there was some.  In the acknowledgements section at the very end, Knight mentions J.R. Moehringer "whose generosity and good humor and enviable storytelling gifts I relied on through the many, many drafts of this book."  Moehringer played the same role with Andre Agassi for his book "Open".  Moehringer's own writing includes a highly successful book about a local pub about a mile away from here called "The Tender Bar".  It should be noted that Knight appears to have audited writing classes with a professor at the University of Oregon which suggests diligent preparation.

This book worked here.  It's definitely being sent to a former cross country runner who has three young children and no time to read it, but he will sometime.  Completely coincidentally I gave him five shares of Nike stock for a Christmas present many years ago, maybe when he was around 10 years old.

A beautiful pair --- Donald Trump and Don King

It was nice to see the President-elect and the former ostentatious boxing promoter/hustler outside of Trump's Florida resort for photos.  King, the of course widely admired, socially conscious, and honorable businessman, is certainly a voice that will be important during this busy transition period. As Trump said, pointing during one of his rallies in front of one his typical crowds during the campaign, "Where is my black man over there?"  Yesterday he was on his front porch.

Monday, December 26, 2016

"Tex McCrary", a life and a book of opinionated history, politics, relationships, and gossip

The subtitle of this rambling and entertaining book is "Wars . Women . Politics     An Adventurous Life Across The American Century".  It was published by Hamilton Books, a self-publishing company, in 2009 and written by Charles J. Kelly who became a friend of Tex in the 1990's when they were trying to draft Colin Powell to run for President.  Apparently Kelly, who is little known, thought that Tex should write his memoirs, Tex didn't want to focus on the past, and Kelly met with Tex many times to write the story himself.

Born in 1910, McCrary had a busy and active life as is detailed in the book.  It is in some ways a story of the old boy's networks that existed across the country and across borders in his era.  Born and living until his early teens in Texas, John Reagan McCrary went to Exeter and Yale and often stayed in Manhattan with the proverbial rich uncle.  He somehow early on became close friends with the much older Bernard Baruch.  Tex, nickname earned at prep school, became a journalist, a risk taking war reporter in World War II and in Korea, and between 1946 and 1951 an early days talk radio host and then pioneering television personality with his wife the model and actress(and Miss Rheingold) Jinx Falkenberg.  He was an early supporter of his former boss Dwight Eisenhower for President, and with his wife raising early funds and having the first major rally for Eisenhower at Madison Square Garden.

This part of the book, more than half, is fascinating even if not written like other history books.  An astute editor would have been helpful.  The rest of the book has Tex staying involved in politics and having contacts with major leaders, but on the periphery.  While remaining interesting, the book becomes a little bit of a "where's waldo" tale, with the writer always placing Tex in the middle of events.  It seems that he always was around them.  At 9/11 he was living in an apartment building at Battery Park in Manhattan and, when the planes hit, he at age 90 with his reporter's motivation went out on the streets to take photographs. When the first of the buildings collapsed he was blown into unconsciousness, and woke up in a hospital in New Jersey where the injured were taken across the river.

The interest in this book started with the unexpected death of my friend Paddy McCrary, Tex's older son, several months ago and a few day's before his 70th birthday.  The last time we saw him was in the town Rite Aid as we stood in line waiting for prescriptions, maybe a year ago.  We chatted with him and he seemed perfectly fine.  I have no idea what happened.

 He was my older daughter's first instructor at the area tennis academy, and went from being an acquaintance to a good friend around town. He had grown up at a house on the nearby Whitney estate.

This book is not for everyone, but it was enjoyed here.  The opinionated history was found to be refreshing even if not always agreed with.

Friday, December 23, 2016

This is just impossible...

When the President-elect talks on Twitter about upgrading nuclear warheads, it seems beyond the fringe.  After trying to back off and accepting what has happened, this man is no representative of a life that is known for my family.  What is this going to mean.  He seems to be intent on initiating his most extreme campaign positions.  Is there a reason to be afraid, as in the silly learn how to hide under the desks in elementary school.  That was more real than we knew.  What about this reckless man?

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Christmas coming...

As always at this time of the year, food is plentiful here, not too much as it can be spread out over the holidays, but definitely more than usual.  There are two boxes waiting to be delivered upstate, and there are more cookies around than we can eat at the moment.  They are wrapped so can wait.

Cards have arrived, more than last year.  Fortunately the card sending tradition here cannot stop, and almost everyone has been covered.  Still, each day's mail can arrive with a surprise or a news update.

Deciding on tips to those who provide services here is the usual source of angst.  Too little, too much, what a waste of mental energy.  It is unavoidable and should not be an issue.  The goal is to reward well but not ostentatiously.  Why should giving be difficult.

It is not that way with charities, but the research needed to decide is daunting.  That leads to fallbacks like MSF and local community funds in this town and hometowns.  That is still being decided. Certainly charity should not be driven by tax time, but the documentation of it is required.  Not a strong suit here so under reporting is a tradition as no problems are wanted.

Just a holiday note from here of little consequence...

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Ad selling on fake sites

The business section of today's NYT had a lead article about fake internet sites and ads sold on them. It is clearly a problem.  The bigger problem only tangentially focused on by the article is that some search engines seem to enable this knowingly.  Yahoo is the major culprit seen here.  For historical reasons it is a screen site here with various personal attachments.  There are no passwords or other secure data attached knowingly, but the site itself is rife with trash.

Their formulas for determining what should be seen here have always been wildly off base.  In the past golf stories showed up constantly for little reason.  Now the site is radically worse.  After a lead story or two that are legitimate, many items opened lead quickly to unwanted and unknown sites, without any action by the user.

Yahoo is not only fading.  It is corrupt.  Buyer beware.  That means that Verizon must continue extreme due diligence.  And, can we finally close the book on so many trying to make excuses for Marissa Mayer's abysmal performance.  She is surely attractive looking, but is that why the scrutiny of her management skills has been so lax.  Does the media go out of its way not want to penalize her for being attractive. It seems that she still gets a pass.  There should be no question that she has not done well.

While the stock has greatly appreciated from the lows that she created three years ago and we caught that move here, the firm is not attractive now.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016


A few crisis events here and there, in our home and around the world, and little has been posted here recently.  Last night, Woody Allen's "Cafe Society" was watched, which was an entertaining break. Jesse Eisenberg actually plays the Woody Allen role to a tee --- intonations, gestures, and body language that lead to the conclusion that the writer and director no longer needs to be on screen.  He has created his image.

Yesterday's terrorist events in Berlin and Ankara are beyond concerning.  Little events start big events unexpectedly.  The assassination of the Russian ambassador at a photography exhibit in a museum, an exhibit that was meant to highlight a connection between Russia and Turkey, was brazen madness on film for the world to see.  This does not rise to an Archduke Franz Ferdinand moment, but reminds us that something could.  The Berlin festival murders are more alarming, as the German right wing is already calling what happened to those festive shoppers "Merkel's dead".  Those types of pop up Christmas shops and food venues at Union Square and Columbus Circle were favorites here in Manhattan for many years.  Today they were no doubt fortified.

Meanwhile, back at the U.S. financial ranch, the news networks cannot get enough of the possibility of a Dow 20,000.  It's a news event and not a financial event.  It could easily happen this week absent any consequential news, and that will be followed at some point by the hedge fund shorts moving in later to wipe out the enthusiastic retail investors and the prospectus constrained mutual fund managers and drive the market back down.  So it goes.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Financial markets freeze

With the exception of some givebacks that were obvious and a few gains that were justified, the equity markets in the U.S. were stable today.  "Stable" is not a word that comes to mind to many investors whose worry is palpable.  The issue is, "where is the safe move?'

Some see the President-elect as a boost to the economy.  Even among those who doubt that, it is the ruling thought for the moment.  Go with it incrementally the market is saying, and there are few sellers now.  Everyone just sits.  Buyers just pick off weak bids for good companies that are out of favor.  That overall picture is not leading to robust activity, even as the robo-traders keep volumes up.

Here, gains are so obvious over the last three years that there are few losses to take for tax season. That's a welcome problem.  It's also a vexing one.  It is a reason for a pause, and a reason to what...

 A Trump presidency could be market destroying.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Nitpicks, or more

---Kanye West showing up at Trump Tower and looking somewhat miserable as he left with Donald Trump is explicable.  A serious talent, popular musician, and black entertainer who, by all accounts is psychologically troubled of late, is embraced by Trump in his lobby as a "very long time friend".  Put an adjective on this.

---Earlier here last year, Lester Holt was endorsed by this writer as a replacement for his egomaniac automaton predecessor.  Now he is a news reader automaton as well.  That was ok at the outset, but now he seems to be grasping at the opportunity in a way that would make his predecessors in the past gag. Not only does he read the news with no hint of understanding, he hosts a weekly show, Dateline, that highlights horrible murders, assaults, and grisly events.  The constant advertising is "Don't Watch Alone".  This persona would be anathema to the anchors of old.  If this is his price for being an anchor, he should be pushed out.  He is clearly not a serious person.

---There is an Alzheimer's Foundation that solicits donors.  We have been contributors in the past. The leadership of this organization should be investigated for their salaries and their governance. Needless to say, many people support their supposed mission.  As former donors, we now receive at least two letters each week, no exaggeration, requesting contributions.  The charity has a current fund raising television advertisement on nightly news programs, not cheap to pay for out of donations, saying "Be the first to benefit from a cure." Alzheimer's and the variations of dementia do not have a cure underway.  All reputable neurologists concur.  The onset of these diseases begins well before their acute manifestation.  For this "charity organization" to suggest that contributions could lead to a "Be the first" outcome is reprehensible.  They are exploiting this horrible condition for some benefit. That is the assumption here, and they should be watched. Their leaders salaries and benefits should be a focus. They have an easy target as their beneficiaries and caretakers want any good news and the researchers, as doctors, are presumed to be indiscriminate in their view of sources of funds.

---John Allison for the Fed?  Cato leader from North Carolina elites?  Born into a family of small town banking wealth and Ayn Rand self serving blindness.  This type of entitlement in the south is too well known here.  Opinion here is that he is not a person who has earned any position of government responsibility.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Books of the Year

The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and other publications have been in "book of the year" mode this week.  What is somewhat odd to see from this perspective is that fiction is completely overshadowed by non-fiction.  Really well done literate fiction is preferred here, but nothing stands out at the moment even as all of the lists are read.  There must be something being missed here.  Non-fiction is well represented by books that are entertaining, informative, or influential enough to be required.

Among those non-fiction highlights are "Evicted"(uncontested exceptional), "The Fractured Republic"(thoughtful for the most part), "Shoe Dog"(entertaining business story with interesting characters),  "Hillbilly Elegy"(both thought provoking and self serving but necessary to read given attention paid to it by so many), and "Dark Money"(as unfortunately expected, but well delivered).  Some of the broader fiction lists include "The Noise of Time", "The Sympathizer",  "White Sands", "Nutshell", and "All That Man Is", books read here with interest, but none of these knocked my socks off, so to speak.  A great fiction book of 2016 seems to be missing. There is not even a genre book that did the job completely.

Are these observations at all widely held?  Time will tell.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

A look at the past... New Orleans first time

New Orleans holds a special place in my life.  My first time there was when my friend Rob and I decided to take a trip driving around the South in June of 1970.  We were both on summer break from college and my tennis teaching job didn't start until July.  The trip was more or less random, but the idea was to drive south to Florida, then west along the gulf coast through the Panhandle, Alabama, Mississippi, to New Orleans, back north to Memphis, to Louisville, to Cincinnati for baseball, and then back home to southern Virginia.  All of that was accomplished, but in a time frame that was somewhat abridged, as once in New Orleans we stayed for over a week.

We drove into New Orleans early one evening and found our way to the French Quarter, sight unseen.  At the time driving was allowed on Bourbon Street and we crawled along the street at maybe 3 miles an hour.  Then the unexpected.  On the sidewalk, there was a guy with long curly red hair hawking an alternative newspaper of some type.  He was yelling "Buy the NOLA Express.  Learn how to spell LSD."  The "unexpected" being that he was Ed, a friend of mine from Georgetown, always the joker, who had dropped out of college the year before and seemingly disappeared.

We yelled hello and found a parking place on a nearby street, which was still possible then.  Then we met up with him and he said that we could stay with him if we wanted.  We wanted.  He lived in a typical shotgun quarter frame house on St. Peter, a block and a half from Bourbon.  His place was the attic.  This was June in New Orleans and the water heater was in that attic.  It was unbelievably hot, so that meant that we stayed out at all times, until around 3 or 4 in the morning, late at night until the attic had cooled down to moderately miserable.

New Orleans never shut down so there was no problem finding music to hear, free clubs to enter, and street friends of Ed's that we met, the most constant one being a friendly professional hustler of sorts named Fraho.  He was always good for a laugh or a direction for a new place to go.  He would order and we would pay, a reasonable trade really.

The atmosphere in New Orleans for "hippies" at that time was not tolerant.  While Rob and I did not have especially long hair or any outlandish appearance, we wore the standard jeans and dressed neatly, but since we were young and from elsewhere we were suspect.  We were told that run-ins with the police were common and they were.  Once when the cops were beating the crap out of a long haired guy with their sticks just off Bourbon Street, I ran over.  I was shoved up against a wall, face into it, and told to go away.  Another time when we were driving uptown, my car was stopped and searched extensively.  The cops found nothing but they were not pleasant.  As we were leaving the city at the end of our stay and we threw our trip bags into the trunk, a police car pulled up and asked why we had closed the trunk so quickly.  Searched again, roughed up a little, and we were finally glad to be leaving.  New Orleans cops were notoriously bad.  Always have been and still are.

Other than that, most people in the city were really hospitable.  Most I say, as some of my tennis students at a camp in North Carolina lived in the Garden District.  I called one of them who was all of 12 and he said come visit.  We wanted to see that area anyway, so ok, we went to his house.  We were not allowed in by his mother.  It must have been my silver grey boots.  We shot some hoops in his backyard and left.

One highlight of living in the quarter was going to the Buster Holmes restaurant that was a short walk from Ed's attic.  For 30 cents there was red beans and rice, a slice of French bread, and a glass of cold water.  For 40 cents more there was a piece of smoked sausage.  What a deal when we woke up in the late morning.  The other culinary treat that was easily affordable was at the famous Cafe du Monde, where a coffee and a beignet allowed relaxed reading, people watching and meeting out of the sun.

I was back in New Orleans a few weeks later to pick up more than 20 campers and tennis players, and escort them on the Southern Crescent train to Brevard, North Carolina, and then I took them home six weeks later.  Both times I found my way to the quarter and old and new friends there.  When Mardi Gras in February 1971 arrived, I convinced four of my college housemates that we should go, and off we went in the middle of the night.  Two more cars followed.  Our meeting spot was Burgundy and St. Peter.  We all arrived, eleven students that had mid-terms approaching, within an hour of each other and a raucous few days followed.

That was the beginning of a long relationship with a unique city.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Comet Ping Pong, a pizza joint that obsesses appointed National Security Adviser Flynn and son

It's fortunate that the National Security Adviser role is a presidential appointment and does not require Congressional approval, fortunate for former General Flynn it should be said.  Among the many bizarre stories accompanying Donald Trump into his President-elect status, this is one for the record books.  Some media wags even accepted the alt-right name of the accusations as Pizzagate. Now this term has become widespread.

Less than two months ago, Comet Ping Pong was neighborhood known bar, pizza restaurant, and ping pong emporium on Connecticut Avenue in northwest D.C.  Their thin crust pizza was highly regarded, wine by the glass or carafe listed 12 choices on the menu with a chardonnay and a pinot noir looking especially attractive.  Esoteric beer choices in bottles or cans were available.  Ping pong tables filled more than half of the industrial looking space and local art adorned the walls.  It was for all practical purposes a community center for hipsters.

Then somehow fake news stories linked the spot to Hillary Clinton and her senior staff and a pedophilia sex trafficking ring that was supposedly based there at the pizza parlor.  It was baseless, it was false, but it was out there on Twitter and on some websites devoted to alt-right trash.  Among those who perpetuated this fake news was both former General Michael Flynn and his 33 year old son.  Both have held positions on Trump's transition team, big Flynn as a player and his son as an aide.

Even after the restaurant was attacked by an armed gunman who drove up from Salisbury, NC to deal with it on Sunday, the younger Flynn continued to retweet messages supporting the allegations, saying that the mainstream media was trying to "normalize pedophilia".

This afternoon the younger Flynn's association with the transition team has apparently ended.  His father's mental health should be questioned as well.  He certainly should not be in a critical government position advising an incoming President with little foreign policy or intelligence experience.

This would all be laughable if it was not taken seriously by so many.  The media will be intimidated into letting this pass it seems, but Flynn is clearly too unhinged for his new role.  Obviously.  His kid was making his father proud.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Articles that begin pushing the rock back up the hill

As many of us are just beginning to come to terms with November, there were two articles, one yesterday and one today, that had some helpful observations.  There was nothing earth shaking about them, but they did articulate thoughts well, and in a way that made sense and did so with a historical perspective.

The first was in the December 4th New York Times Sunday Magazine.  With the title "Exit Wounds", the piece by Ian Buruma discusses the election results from the perspective of the United States and Britain.  Its subtitle is the starting point.  "For seven decades, the United States and Britain defined and defended a vision of democracy and freedom that profoundly shaped the global order.  What happens when their own citizens opt out of it?"  Buruma's succinct writing deals with complex issues in an intelligent way.

The second was in the December 5th online New Yorker.   "The Frankfort School Knew That Trump Was Coming", written by staff writer Alex Ross, looks at Europe today and its political revisionism and compares it to what has just happened in the U.S.   A thought of consequence was "the combination of economic inequality and pop-cultural frivolity" had the effect of  "mass distraction masking elite domination".  There is much more to the commentary in this opinion piece based on ongoing events.

They both were worth reading here.

U.S. equity market advance continues, as does anxiety among some

On November 20th, there was a post here entitled "U.S. equities at highs but...".  The commentary looked for a "significant correction" at some point but added "when is unknown".  That is still the thought here but the "when" keeps get putting further out.  It is a bit unsettling although how can "you fight the tape", as is said by traders.

The most alarming aspect of our current dilemma in thinking about this situation is the ongoing deterioration in global politics.  Add to that the impulsive statements by the President-elect that are defended by his servant the Vice President-elect with mind numbing explanations, and the message to the world is not reassuring. Here's the rub.  If there is any type of international incident that requires attention, who will take charge?  As is his right and obligation, it should be President Obama.  Will Donald Trump try to step in and give conflicting signals?  Will spokesperson's for Trump jump in with comments?  This could be awkward.  Trump has no awareness of boundaries.

One can do all of the work they want on equity valuations, and they will be meaningless if there is a sense that the U.S. is fractured in its actual approach, rather than bluster, to an international issue of immediate consequence.  Markets broadly will sell-off.  As an investor, it is unsettling to be living on this type of edge.

The market may continue to rise but safe harbors will be popular as well.  There is no good hedge for this screaming unknown here.  Long term investments will be maintained, new smidgens will be sought, but to continue the tune in the preceding post here on this past Thursday, "Gimme Shelter".

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Demagogue in Chief

At just after 8pm tonight and flipping through channels, I landed on CNN and there was Trump beginning a speech.  Listening but half paying attention, my thought was "why are they replaying one of Trump's old campaign speeches?" and flipped the channel.  A few seconds later, remembering Trump's "thank the voters" tour that was beginning, I returned to CNN.  It was "now" in Cincinnati, and President-elect Trump was engaging in the same, if not accentuated, demagoguery that he used in his most unhinged moments of the campaign.

"Demagogue --- an orator or politician who gains power and popularity by arousing the emotions, passions, and prejudices of the people."

 Tonight he was attacking the press with abandon calling them "dishonest and ugly people" and mocking them, pointing to them, as he boasted about his victory.  His self-adulatory speech tonight was a catalogue of his misleading "facts" from the campaign trail.  His statement that he, yes he, would restore all of the industrial jobs lost in the Rust Belt since the year 2000 was oblivious madness.  Has he no concept of technology and its ongoing impact.  Does he want to continue to raise hopes by saying things that are impossible to accomplish?  How cynical is that?  This was painful to listen to, but masochistically I continued, hardly believing that he was not moving on from campaign rhetoric to comments that are more thoughtful and aspirational, while being just a touch realistic.

There was so much to his comments that were was cringe worthy.  There was a rant about how well "we" did with Blacks, with Latinos, with women, as if they were all huge supporters.  When an audience member apparently reacted vocally to his comment about women's support, and was in the process of being removed from the event, he commented "where do these people come from?  They should send her back to mommy."  This is a President?

Trump was immensely relishing his role as entertainer and rabble-rouser, as a celebrity playing to a willing crowd.  He loves attention.  We know that.  One could expect something better than that, but they would be wrong.

As Trump finished his half hour of bombast, the Rolling Stones song "You can't always get what you want" began on the speaker system.  That was the one completely true aspect of the presentation from a superficial point of view.  Does he have the Stones permission to use their music as an anthem for his stage persona?  Has he ever listened to the words beyond the title and the refrain?   Has he heard the words "practiced at the art of deception"?  The answer is almost certainly "no" to each of these questions.

The comment here is not a political party comment.  It is a comment about our democracy.  Trump is not part of our American tradition.  He has no understanding of it, none it sadly seems.

"The Trip to Echo Spring"

This book's additional title is "On Writers and Drinking".  It is written by Olivia Laing, a British journalist who has worked for "The Observer" and writes for "The Guardian", "Granta", and other publications.  It was published in 2013, so this comment is late to the party.

While many writers are mentioned in this book, it focuses primarily on six --- F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, John Cheever, John Berryman, and Raymond Carver.  There is interesting commentary about the lives of these writers, their relationships, their travels and domiciles, the arc of their careers, and the situations that led to their finest writing.

The common theme connecting this tale is the alcoholism of each of them.  They all were fueled by and tortured by the condition.  Only two ever reached any lasting recovery, and that was late in the lives of Cheever and Carver.  Hemingway and Berryman were suicides, Fitzgerald died of a heart attack at an early age, and Williams of alcohol and pills after surviving in a diminished state until his early seventies.  In general, their lives were difficult despite their success.  That is an understatement.

The author, Laing, intersperces stories of her own life and the travels that she took across America while doing research for the book.  At times, her story became intertwined with the theme of the book in an unusual way, occasionally almost confusing and at other times extremely well done and entertaining.

For those with an interest, this is an informative and insightful work.