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I do not know which of our afflictions God intends that we overcome and which He means for us to bear.  But this is certain:  Some I have overcome, some I continue to bear.
  —  Jean Toomer
[Another (2022) COVID Update:
This update is being written on 5 June 2022 (for posting on 12 June).  There have now been:  1,003,803 total deaths;  247 average deaths per day;  84,565,697 total cases (about 1% fatality rate);  97,611 new average for daily cases;  and, 258,747,147 vaccinations (at least one dose and over 5yrs old) – for a rough 83% of the (eligible) population.  Over 90% of hospitalizations and deaths are of those who have not been vaccinated.  I have not been able to determine if the (remaining) less than 10% are fully vaccinated and current with their booster(s).
What do we know?
Surprisingly little (IMHO) at the end of 18 months…  The early prediction was a fatality number of 2.2 million in the first 18 months IF WE DID NOTHING.  We temporarily shut down a significant portion of society (NOT the economy).  We halved the total deaths to date, but not the rate of deaths per cases.  The economy (and society) are roughly back to “normal”.  Most people can (do) now work from their offices (and / or homes).  Stores and restaurants / bars are mostly opened, but business levels have not recovered.  Most importantly:  we still have little to no publicly available information about the rates or effects of “long-term” COVID, the number of folks with current boosters, or the duration of the vaccine (or booster) effectiveness.  We DO know there is a general decrease in the vaccine(s) effectiveness – hence the recommendation for boosters.  We don’t know the breakdowns by factors such as age, gender, over-all health, etc.  I’m not saying the number(s) isn’t (/ aren’t) out there somewhere or that someone, somewhere isn’t tracking this data – only that I can’t find it readily available.  And, here we are:  “Only time will tell…
As a side note:  much is being made about the pandemic’s effect on the economy – past and current.  While we (in the U.S.) have accepted deaths and illnesses as a “cost” of returning to a “normal” economy, the world’s manufacturer (China) has not.  They continue to impose local and wide area shutdowns to prevent the spread of COVID whenever there is another surge.  Our (U.S.) demand continues to grow back to normal rates (pent up and current demand).  Goods are not being made / delivered to meet demand – so prices increase.  They will continue to do so until supply (roughly) matches demand.  No matter what the Federal Reserve does to interest rates to “cool” inflation, it will have little effect until the manufacturing / delivery conditions change.  How long will that be?  How long is a piece of string??  You never know until have it’s been finally cut (until it’s over).    —    KMAB]
Original post (from 2020):
[This is an unusual post for me.  This post is being written on 28 May, three days after the Memorial Day weekend.  Yesterday, the U.S. passed 100K in deaths due to COVID-19.  We are dying at just under 1,000 lives per day.  We are engaged in a great social experiment testing whether we can open our economy without a plan to deal with the virus.  This post is scheduled to go online roughly 15 days after the holiday weekend.  If the President’s gamble was correct, the average death rate will be at or below 1,000 per day.  If his gamble (with our lives) is incorrect, the death rate will be higher – and potentially much higher.  Only time will tell.   —   KMAB]
(2021) Follow Up to Last Year’s (2020) Post (115,000+):
The “post” above is from one year ago.  It is still too early to tell how good / bad a gamble President Trump took with the health of the nation.  Partly because it is still too soon to have had academia take a look at the data and partly because a number of states – mostly (but not exclusively) with Republican governors (Florida) – are using their office / administrations to hide the true / accurate numbers of illnesses and deaths for political reasons.  We do know that since the Inauguration, the vaccine count has gone from under 50 million to over 300 million.  Over 50% of the U.S. population has received at least one dose of vaccine.  Part of this success is attributable to a competent President / Administration and part to the manufacture and distribution of the various vaccines ramping up.
As for our losses, the current “rolling” weekly death average is under 500 per day.  A few weeks ago, the CDC also updated the information on their site to “confirm” that not only are the vaccinated unlikely to get seriously ill and die (still 5 – 10% chance of illness, and less than 1% chance of death), you are also unlikely to become infected and ill at all (15 – 20% illness rate once vaccine period is completed).  Again, it’s too early to KNOW the exact numbers, but in this case it’s because (it is my understanding) “illness” is being self-reported.  Still, this is “good” news and we should see the economy and society begin to return to normal.  We’ve dodged a bullet this time folks.  I am not making light of the individual losses to family members and friends, but the virus could have been a lot more lethal and we still have a considerable way to go on getting the rest of the way to herd immunity.  Let’s hope we are better prepared for the next epidemic…
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On This Day In:
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[Another LONG post…  You’ve been warned!  (LoL)    —    KMAB]
The Third World War:  August 1985  (1978©)   —   book review
This review is for the fictional portrayal (as a “future history”) of a “realistic” invasion of NATO allied European countries by the Warsaw Pact in August of 1985.  The book was “written” primarily (et al) by (Ret.) British General John W. Hackett in consultation with a number of experts gathered to discuss how such an invasion might occur, what might lead up to it and what might be the end-of-war results.  The “advisors” were listed as:  John Barraclough (Air Chief Marshal), Kenneth Hunt (Brigadier), Ian McGeoch (Vice-Admiral), Norman Macrae (a deputy editor at “The Economist“), John Strawson (Major-General), and, Bernard Burrows (British Diplomatic Service).
The book was a best-seller in England back in 1978.  It was published in the U.S. in early 1979 as a hardback and then released as a paperback in 1980.  I initially read the paperback version.  I believe it was shortly after I was released from the Active Reserves, but my memory isn’t that precise anymore.  In any case, this review is of a re-reading of the book after my reading of “2034: A Novel of the Next World War” earlier this year.  (review here:  A Novel War).  The author of that book, (ret) Admiral James Stavridis, cited this book as a primary inspiration for his work.  This prompted my re-interest in the original…
During my (almost) two years in the Reserves I was assigned to a unit which tested and evaluated the readiness of National Guard units from California, Arizona and New Mexico.  The officers would establish “war-game” scenarios for the Guard officers and I (as an NCO) would embed with the line units to evaluate actual field performance.  We were artillery evaluators, so I watched Guard batteries fire cannons / howitzers, but I gained an understanding of scenario development and large scale tactical war-gaming.  This led to a post-service interest in military style board games which carried on for most of the ’80s.  I lost interest when gaming shifted to computers and became “mostly” shoot-em-up’s instead of (IMHO) about strategy.
Basically, the plot of this book is the leaders of the USSR feel their position as a superpower is being threatened by political and economic factors which are worsening (for them).  They feel there has been a significant / progressive decrease in NATO’s readiness over the last decade and this may be their last / best opportunity to remove a potential military threat (NATO) and further subjugate the buffer countries of Eastern Europe who are members of the Warsaw Pact.  The plan is a crushing invasion of Western Europe (West Germany and the low-lands) which leaves the USSR in command up to the border of France.  The invasion fails because in the years between the book’s publishing (1978) and the date of the “future-history” event (August 1985), Europe (specifically Great Britain) comes to its senses and reverses the general military decline of the late ’60s to ’70s.  The NATO forces are able to slow the advance of invasion (without the use of tactical nuclear weapons) and allows reinforcements to arrive from the U.S. just in the nick of time.
In a striking foreboding of the current (2022) invasion of Ukraine by Russia, the invasion portrayed fails because of (in no particular order of importance):
1)  an inability to dominate the air despite superior numerical assets;
2)  a failure of logistics (fuel and ammunition) by the Warsaw Pact, (it is believed the invasion will take less than two weeks AND there will not be enough time for the U.S. to resupply NATO forces);
3)  resistance by the native forces (in this case, the West German army / reserves) is surprisingly effective;  and,
4)  the centralized command and control characteristic of authoritarian political systems, does not promote the flexibility / initiative of junior officers (and NCOs) to seize military opportunities when they arise, so opportunities for significant breakouts are lost.
When the war quickly (the “war” lasts weeks) devolves into a war of attrition, failure is viewed as inevitable and hard-liners in the Politburo decide to consolidate their gains for future armistice negotiations by the use of a limited (against only one city) nuclear strike.  The result, however, is not fear and negotiation, but instead, fury and retaliation via a similar limited nuclear strike by Great Britain and the U.S. against a Russian city;  (and like falling dominoes) the Warsaw Pact allies turn on the USSR to avoid nuclear annihilation;  the Soviet military / security services stage a coup, over-throw the hardliners, and cease further combat;  the non-Russian border states (the “-stans”) declare independence from the USSR;  and, the rest of the world struggles with the effects of a new world order.  The “war” is barely a month old before it is over.  Because the book is written as a “recent” history of past events, it does not attempt to forecast / describe long term results of the war except to relate the world has to deal with unaccounted for Soviet nuclear weapons / warheads and large stocks of conventional weapons scattered around the global (mainly Africa).
Is this a “good” book?  Is it realistic as a predictor of future conflict (lethality, if not participants)?  Is it entertaining or interesting?  Do I recommend this book?  With the exception of the final question, the answer to all of these is (are):  yes to so-so…
The book is not a “good” novel.  There are no specified individual characters driving the action, so you cannot (as a reader) identify and grow with anyone.  In this sense, although fictional, the book is written with more of an academic or journalistic feel.  It is very much an military style “after-action” report.  If you are comfortable with this writing style, you will enjoy the writing / book.  If you are not, you will not.  I did.  Was the book able to realistically describe combat and the results (devastation) of war?  Yes!  Although, saying this, there was an obvious Western bias of vivid description of the destruction of the British city and virtually nothing about the similar (or much worse) destruction of the Russian city.  (Very much:  “Yeah, we took out one of theirs as payback…”)  Is the book entertaining or interesting?  This is the toughest question because every reader’s tastes varies so much… I was not “entertained”;  but, I did find the book interesting.  I particularly “enjoyed” the parts the authors get terribly wrong, because as a reader I (we) have 40+ years of hind-sight.  There is no China – Japan alliance;  the Shah is no longer in charge of Iran (or, rather, wasn’t in 1985);  South Africa did not fall to external forces;  and, East Germany did not resist consolidation with West Germany after the fall of the USSR.
Final recommendation:  strong recommendation.  I think most veterans (particularly my age group) will find this book relatable.  I think most civilian “military” readers / historians – and quite a few regular historians – will, too.  For political science readers, the “states” interests, goals, and stances will seem Machiavellian / Kissinger-ian (is that a real word?).  Yet, they ring true – even 40 years later.  It is entirely obvious why this book could seem as an inspiration for a future – updated version (a la “2034“), and I believe (I read) this book served as a similar inspiration for several of Tom Clancy’s works which followed.  At any rate, I do remember “enjoying” the initial read from “way-back-when”, and don’t feel the re-read was less so.  My reaction to “2034” was reinforced:  this version is much better than the more recent book.  If you have read “2034“, I recommend you read “WW3:1985” for the comparison value, if nothing else.
Final disclaimer:  I purchased this book at normal / sale price (for an old / used book) and no compensation has been provided to me by anyone for my opinions in this review.
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Make happy those who are near, and those who are far will come.
    —     Chinese Proverb
[Hopefully, this is what China advised Putin before he invaded Ukraine.  If they did, he should have listened to their advice.  (And, no, I don’t really think they said this to him.)    —    KMAB]
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2034: A Novel of the Next World War”  (2021©)  —  book review
The book subject to today’s review was written by Elliot Ackerman, James Stavridis Admiral USN (ret.).  Ackerman is a former White House Fellow and decorated Marine veteran.  Stavridis is, of course, best known as a four-star Admiral and former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO.  Ackerman is a working journalist / opinion writer and both are authors of multiple books.  That’s pretty much their bonafides for writing a “future – history” about world war / combat.
This novel is set thirteen years in the future.  Putin is still in charge of Russia.  The U.S. has a female President from an Independent party.  And, we don’t really know much about anyone else in charge around the world.  We know China is pushing its claims in the northern Pacific, yet Taiwan remains an independent “nation” state.  India has somehow “resolved” the Pakistan issue in its favor, but we don’t know what that means for either India or Pakistan.  NATO is in disarray without strong U.S. leadership.  And, finally, Iran has had some success against Israel.  What isn’t exactly made clear, except Iran has somehow “freed” the Golan Heights.
Background:  The first third of this book was published as a special “full dedicated issue” recently in Wired magazine, which I subscribe to.  I have read EVERY issue of the magazine since inception back in 1993.  The company I worked for back in 2000 had all of the back issues on a shelf and I would “borrow” them one at a time, read cover to cover and then bring them back.  As far as I know, no one else EVER read any of them, as once I was hired, I kept the current ones on my desk and no one ever asked for them.  Shortly before leaving the company, I got a personal subscription and have continued reading them for the last 20 years.  Anyway, Wired‘s issue left you hanging with the promise of a future novel publication in March 2021.  My review is of the full publication.  This book was one of two I received as a birthday present from my wife.
And,…  This book is about a military conflict between China and the United States.  Supposedly, China is an ascending world power and the U.S. is a descending / failing world power.  China stages a confrontation in order to demonstrate its military superiority – and the world slips into war.
Is the book interesting?  Informative?  Entertaining?  Accurate – technologically, politically or militarily?  Is it worth the time to read it?  To be honest, the magazine promised more than the book delivered.  The answer to all five of those questions is mostly so-so…
It is a fast read at barely over 300 pages.  The problem is there isn’t much there – there.  I don’t know how much (if any) current military capability Ackerman has access to.  It is a given (to me) that Stavridis would have had nearly unlimited access (pre-retirement anyway).  The problem is, of course, the book would have had to be submitted to and cleared through State and DOD before it was published and neither agencies (nor the authors) would have been inclined to offer much useful information in a novel.
With nothing but the most general capabilities described we get a lot of implausible “magic” technology under the guise of “AI” (Artificial Intelligence) which seems to work perfectly and then not at all.  We get very poor strategic decisions / action by the U.S.; we get some oversimplification of other technologies (overseas internet cabling);  side tracks by Russia and Iran, which seem to have been added to make the conflict global rather than China vs. U.S.;  and then we get a couple of miracles at the end by India to conclude the novel / war.  That pretty much covers the “informative and accuracy” portion of this review.
What about interesting and entertaining?  Again, so-so…  There are five main characters: female American Admiral, male American fighter pilot, male American (Indian immigrant) NSC advisor, male Iranian officer (he ends up with various ranks), and the main Chinese (half-American) Admiral.  The story is told from each of their viewpoints.  (Yes, there are also another handful of secondary but important characters, but this is really about the big five.)
The problem I had was the number of characters made for a long, deep story which developed each character to the point where you cared about them without giving away too much plot / ending.  Unfortunately, this book is neither long nor deep, which meant you almost cared, but not quite.  And, again unfortunately, it was almost entirely predictable and therefore, while I finished feeling entertained, I didn’t feel satisfied – emotionally or intellectually.
Then is it worth your time, then?  Yes!  It raises the interesting question if military technology is useful if it is subject to (can be negated by) a less expensive counter-measure.  In this case, the apparent answer is that if the elephant is blinded, it is still an elephant and not easily overwhelmed.
Final recommendation: moderate to strong.  This is not Tom Clancy or Sir John Hackett level political, military or strategy writing, but I did find it entertaining even if not informative or militarily consistent.  I’m grateful to have received it as a present, because I’d have waited for the paperback or a very reduced price before buying it myself.  So I got to read something almost literally hot off the presses…
Final disclaimer:  I purchased this book at normal / sale price and no compensation has been provided to me by anyone for my opinions in this review.
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2012 Spherical Knowledge Of Hamsters
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Today I am offering up a special prayer for the people in central China.  The “Three Gorges Dam” is one of the largest dams in the world.  It spans the Yangtze River.  It is at flood stage and has been going through emergency release procedures for a number of days as the area has experienced torrential rains.  Thousands are currently being evacuated for reasons of safety and have already been flooded from their homes.  If the dam should collapse, the effects will be devastating for tens of millions with the potential to reach 100 million.
For any readers who might say:  “What’s China got to do with me?”  You should be aware that the central region of China is one of the main manufacturing centers in the world and they produce a significant portion of the personal protective equipment (PPE) – masks and gowns, worn by the medical staff and first responders around the world.  Even if the worst (dam collapse) is avoided, there is still a high probability of shortages and delays in the manufacture and delivery of PPE for the next few months.
Climate change, pandemics, global trade…  We really are ONE world and I encourage everyone to think positive thoughts / offer prayers for the people of China.
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[Note: almost all of the “facts” in this post are taken from the Wikipedia article:  COVID-19 pandemic on USS Theodore Roosevelt .  The conjectures are solely mine.]
The story so far… 
Sometime in November / December 2019, a virus makes a transition from an animal host to a human host.  We currently believe this happened in the Wuhan area of China.  This is a new virus to the human species and (presumably) the host begins transferring the virus to new human hosts while in the incubation / infectious period.  Multiple people get infected and pass on the virus to others.  As many hosts either show no symptoms or very mild symptoms, this transfer can go on undetected for some time.  Eventually, the virus hits one or more hosts who are not able to survive the infection.  People begin to go to the ER and to die.  The infectious period is presumed to be two to three weeks long, and because we live in an age of jet transportation, the virus gets spread all around the world efficiently.
At some time in late February / early March, the virus is carried aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt by someone (presumably a crew member) and begins to spread to other crew members.  [The ship was ported in Vietnam between 5-9 March and the first crew member was tested positive on 22 March –  13 days after departure from Vietnam.  This puts the detection near the end of what we’ve been told is the incubation / infectious period (14 days).]  By the end of March 2020, over a hundred of the crew have tested positive for the virus.  The crew is between 4,500 and 5,000 strong.  On 27 March, the ship is ported in Guam and the crew is restricted to the ship or to the immediate pier area.
On 13 April a crew member dies of COVID-19.  He is the only one (so far).
As of 20 April, 94% of the crew have been tested for the virus, with 678 positive and 3,904 negative results.  About 60% of the people who tested positive did not have symptoms.  [Presumably, by now (18 May), the Navy has tested 100% of the crew.  This means we have an almost completely isolated control group for analysis.  Presumably, this is being done by both the CDC and the Navy.]
Sailors kept testing positive for the virus even after 14 days of isolation; some who tested positive had previously tested negative.  [It is not clear if this means “new” crew are testing positive after being placed in isolation, i.e. crew who tested negative but were put in isolation for two weeks because of contact with infected crew, or if it means crew who tested positive but showed no symptoms for 14 days continued to test positive, or crew who tested positive AND showed symptoms who were isolated, continued to test positive.  ANY of these guesses / conditions implies the isolation period (14 days) is insufficient to result in a “safe” return-to-duty status.  Alternatively, there may be “something” about this population – age and general good health – which naturally resists the virus and therefore takes it longer to establish in an individual host or which somehow otherwise extends the incubation / infectious period.]
In early May sailors who had completed quarantine began returning to the ship.
As of 5 May, 1,156 crew members have tested positive.  That’s over 20% of the crew.
On 15 May, five sailors on the ship developed symptoms and were found to test positive for the virus for the second time.  They had previously completed a 14-day quarantine and had tested negative at least twice before being allowed to re-board.  The sailors were removed from the ship along with some of their contacts.  Officials said it was not clear if these cases reflect actual relapses or problems with the test.
This last part is what I particularly don’t understand.  Mainly because it implies things (to me) which I don’t feel are being reported on by either the government or by the news media:
1)  Did the five show additional symptoms or did they simply get false positives on their initial tests?  Have the samples (all three at least) been retained and can they be retested with an alternate test methodology to determine if they were accurate or if the first test was a false positive?
2)  Was the test used initially (which gave a positive result) the same test as given for the two negative times.  Have these samples been retained and can they be retested with an alternate test methodology to determine if they were truly negative or if either or both were faulty?
3)  If the five crew were infected, isolated and recovered, who did they contact who might have re-infected them?
4)  If they were re-infected / relapsed, were they showing the virus anti-bodies prior to the relapse?  If no, why not?  If yes, is their level of antibodies different from those who’ve recovered but not relapsed?
5)  If they are showing the same level of antibodies as others who’ve recovered but not relapsed, what does this mean for the rest of the general populace?  My first instinct is that if the antibody levels are the same (or higher) as those who’ve not relapsed, we have a much bigger problem as this means we don’t understand the acquired resistance to this virus.  Either there is none, or the virus is mutating and re-infecting hosts – which is virtually the same thing as having no resistance.  In which case, “Houston, we’ve got a problem…
So, I’m left wondering…  Do we have bad tests or does surviving exposure fail to create resistance?  Please…  Somebody talk me off this ledge!   “What am I missing?
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Below are two charts representing Corona Virus (COVID-19) fatalities in Italy and then the United States (below that).  The line on the Italy graph represent where the United States is now (between 500-700 deaths).  It also represents the projection of where we can expect to be in two weeks.
When looking at these charts please recall the Italian government called a national shutdown which is now going into the third week.  Notice the plateau at the far right of the Italy chart.  This shows the number of citizens who died is not zero, but the rate of deaths is no longer increasing.  We (the U.S.) have yet to impose a national shutdown.  In fact, if we do not maintain (increase) the shutdown we are almost guaranteeing we maximize the number of deaths from the virus.
The two following graphs show the COVID-19 death rate by age and then a comparison with the “standard” flu.  If you are young, you might be saying: “Well, it’s mostly old people dying.”  Yes, it is significantly more deadly if you are older.  BUT, before you say who cares, observe that COVID-19 is 10 to 20 times more lethal at every age group.
Finally, a chart showing the rate of deaths for the U.S. versus all significant occurrences world wide.  We are tracking almost parallel to Spain.  The problem is Spain has less than 50 million population and the U.S. has over 330 million population.
My suggestion is that you make NO plans to attend Easter services this year…
If we are VERY lucky, we will have herd immunity by the end of September.
We have a choice.  We can self-isolate…  Look after each other – family, friends and neighbors – while keeping a safe distance.  We are all in this together.  Stay well.
Chart sources are:  CDC (U.S.), CDC (China), Business Insider and MSNBC.
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Any excuse will serve a tyrant.
     —    Aesop
In war, truth is the first casualty.
     —    Aeschylus
[President Trump is at war with “the truth”, “the Press”, and with every decent “value” America has tried to “stand for” for almost 250 years.  He will do anything (legal or not) and say anything (lying or even a rare truth) to get re-elected.  Senator Mark Rubio (Florida) and Representative Jim Jordan (Ohio) are “defending” President Trump’s publicly asking China to “investigate” the Biden family as a “joke” and an attempt to “chide” and “outrage” the press and liberals.  Let’s make NO mistake about this…   #TrumpIsACriminal was not “just kidding” when he was dangling a favorable trade negotiation / tariff deal with China in exchange for an “investigation”.  The President was OPENLY soliciting aid for his own re-election from a foreign power —  which is against the law   —  because he did NOT want his offer to be misunderstood (by ANY foreign power)…  We have absolutely no reason to believe the President is lying when he says he is willing to commit a Federal crime – when it is in his personal interest to do so – and EVERY reason to believe he is being honest in his criminal offer.  ANY Republican who purports to be supporting / defending the President with this blatantly specious excuse (“he’s kidding”) is being equally treasonous in condoning this Federal crime.  I won’t say they are “accessories” to the crime, but they are getting very close to it (being an accessory).  Senator Rubio should be ashamed of himself for initiating this “defense” because he knows first-hand how unfit for office this President is.    —    kmab]
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X+Y” (2014)  —  movie review, released in the US as “A Brilliant Young Mind” (2015)
Today’s review is for the 2014 / 2015 movie “X+Y“, aka:  “A Brilliant Young Mind“.  The movie stars Asa Butterfield as Nathan Ellis (autistic math genius), Rafe Spall as Martin Humphreys (Nathan’s tutor), Sally Hawkins as Julie Ellis (Nathan’s mum), Eddie Marsan as Richard (UK tutor), Jo Yang as Zhang Mei (Nathan’s love interest), Martin McCann as Michael Ellis (Nathan’s dad), Jake Davies as Luke Shelton (mocked math genius), Alex Lawther as Isaac Cooper (mocking math genius), Alexa Davies as Rebecca Dunn (Piano girl / jealous crush).
There is something called the “International Mathematics Olympiad” (IMO) which brings together all of the maths geniuses from around the world to compete on their respective national teams.  It seems China is the historically dominant power at this event.
Nathan is an autistic maths wiz.  The only person he is close with is his dad who dies in a car accident.  The accident makes Nathan even more reclusive / eccentric than he was before.
Nathan’s mum (the fish lady / maid in “The Shape of Water“) is not able to relate with her son and finally gets a piece of relief by shipping him off to compete in the IMO.  Nathan’s tutor (Martin) is himself a “failed” maths prodigy and slowly builds a relationship with Nathan and his mum.  Eddie Marsan plays the UK team manager who’s only concern is for the team to beat the Chinese team. Zhang Mei is Nathan’s “love” interest.  He slowly pries Nathan from his turtle shell.  Martin McCann is Nathan’s dad and is the only one who sees him as special and not weird.  At least that is how Nathan feels.  The final three main characters (Luke, Isaac and Rebecca) are other “kids” on the IMO team who are meant to demonstrate some other levels of autism or to act as a kind of alternative love interest.
Is this movie any good?  Does it say anything about math?  Does it say anything about kids?  Does it say anything about autism?  Yes, a little, nothing new, and I don’t know.
I really enjoyed this movie.  I got interested in it a while back when I saw Butterfield in “Ender’s War” and thought I’d look out for any of his other work.  (I’ve seen the previews for this film and the bits and bobs available on YouTube and have been waiting for this movie to become available on cable or on Vudu.)  Now I’ve seen him in two very good roles and it will be interesting to see if he develops into a good adult actor or if he fades.  As with “Ender“, Asa plays the straight role well and the emotional role almost as well.  I don’t really understand autism, so I can’t say how accurately he portrayed the ending transformation.  My gut feeling was it was too Hollywood and not realistic, but that just may be me.
The movie relates math to various aspects of the real world:  pattern recognition, music, art, architecture, philosophy and love.  They were not main points of the film though, so if you blink, you may miss a couple of them.
I don’t think this movie says anything original about kids.  Certainly nothing you couldn’t get from a half-dozen other movies starting with “Lord of the Flies“.  Yes, kids are mean and pick on other kids who may be viewed as somehow “different”.
As mentioned above, Nathan is “transformed” at the end of the movie.  I doubt autism is cured on the road to Damascus, so I didn’t care for the resolution / summing up.  It just seemed too tidy for my taste.  Apparently, the movie is based on a real-life person and his reaction to viewing the film was:  I am a maths wiz.  I am not a rain man.  For me, to the extent the movie related Nathan’s love for math, I felt it stood on firmer ground.
Final recommendation:  very strong to highly.  I do have an “unusual” fondness for movies with even the slightest math / science / computing theme, so you have to take this recommendation with the normal grain of salt you take my reviews…   (LOL)  I’m not usually a big fan of hazy / distorted filming to represent the perception of genius, but in this case, it worked pretty well.  I liked the acting, the story and loose correlation of math to music, color, flow and pattern recognition.  I will watch it again in the future.
One final note:  I got to see this movie for free!  I joined my local library (re-joined) and they have a pretty interesting selection of movies you can stream just for being a member of the library.  It saved me having to purchase a movie I really wanted to see.  They do limit my viewing to eight per calendar month, but it still seems a great deal to me!  Who knew??
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On This Day In:
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2017 Don’t Forget
2016 I Was A Percentage Man
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2014 Unknown
2013 Explaining Love?
2012 Echoes of 1%
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Four days before Trump’s isolationist Inaugural Address, Xi made his first trip to the gathering of the globalist elite at Davos.  “We should commit ourselves to growing an open global economy,” he said.  “Pursuing protectionism is like locking oneself in a dark room.  While wind and rain may be kept outside, that dark room will also block light and air.”
   —    Xi Jinping
China’s Chairman of the Communist Party
Quoted by:  Karl Vick and Charlie Campbell
In their article:  “China’s Leader Vies For Global Dominance
Appearing in:  Time Magazine, dtd:  17 December 2017
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On This Day In:
2017 It’s Even Dimmer When You Don’t Have It
2016 Inconvenienced By Degree
2015 Sincerity
2014 Prayers For Junior
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2013 Interesting Drink
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2012 Smile
2011 Come Forward

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