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The funniest Rosh Hashanah story. Not so-funny Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump

Industries NOT to buy shares in (updated)

+ Bitcoin or initial coin offerings (ICOs).

+ Marijuana

+ Retailers (Toys “R” Us just filed for  bankruptcy following a tradition of failed retailers, including F.A. O Schwartz and a zillion others. Go to Wikipedia to have your brain blown click here. 

+ Miners

+ Oil producers (despite the slight rise in the price of oil)

+ Biotech companies (despite occasional, but rare, successes). Biotech is too hard.

Yet another nag on freezing

Once, again, I remind you: You need to freeze your credit reporting with the four (not three) credit reporting companies.

You should freeze whoever in your household has a social security number — that includes your spouse and your children.

You should do your freezing in the middle of the night, since their computers are over-loaded.

The four companies are:

+ Experian. Click here.

+ TransUnion. Click here.

+ Equifax. Click here.

+ Innovis. Click here.

You should NOT sign for a credit reporting or credit alerting service that will cost you a monthly fee that they will charge forever. These companies are now trying to make big money off the Equifax data breach. Don’t fall for the fancy offers with the fancy names. You don’t need any of them.

Most freezing is free, but in some states it costs money. I don’t know why. I live in New York State and I frooze for free. (I like the alliteration.)

What does Equifax mean for The Cloud?

I have been insistent that you should not rely on the cloud. Use it. It has advantages. But don’t rely on it for backing up your entire records — personal or company. Keep a backup off-site — even as simple as a $50 flash drive.

Here’s what InfoWorld wrote about Equifax:

What we know now about Equifax is that Equifax was aware of the breach well before it announced that hackers had gained access.Hackers made off with Social Security numbers, birth dates, and addresses of 143 million people. That’s enough to steal your identity. A few Equifax people resigned, but that does not fix anything.

Like the other major breaches that have occurred in the last few years, a tool betrayed Equifax: an unpatched vulnerability in Apache Struts, used to support an online dispute portal, provided the hackers with access to the website and attached data.

Harry’s comment: We know that Equifax knew about the Apache Struts patch — but they just didn’t apply it. They were too lazy, too incompetent. who know? They were certainly 100% irresponsible.

InfoWorld continues:

So, could this happen in the cloud? That’s not likely, considering that the cloud providers are more proactive with patches and fixes than the typical in-house IT department, especially when it comes to security exposures.

However, despite what you may hear from some cloud vendors and consultants or the press, being in the cloud does not make you immune from breaches. For example, cloud users themselves could make key mistakes in a single-tenant environment (hosting, for example), so applications running in the public cloud are not completely immune from breaches.

For more, click here. 

Bloomberg did a piece:

Here’s what your identify sells for on the Dark Web.
The price tags on our personal data may surprise you.

Click here.

The iPhone 8 or 8 plus is no great shakes

You can order the iPhone 8 or 8 plus now. But I wouldn’t. The iPhones have received tepid reviews for ordinary users — like you and me. Better to wait until the iPhone X arrives at your local Apple store so you can check them side by side.

I only have the iPhone 6 and it’s perfectly fine. Today I’ll upgrade it to IOS 11 — that’s a free upgrade, and has some big pluses. (More on them tomorrow.)

Hold off on the new GPS/cellular equipped Apple Watch. Battery life is short. Cell connection is unreliable. For more, read today’s Wall Street Journal. Click here. 

Do you find this grifting as distasteful as I do?

U.S. President Donald Trump is using money donated to his re-election campaign and the
Republican National Committee to pay for his lawyers in the probe of alleged Russian interference in the U.S. election, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Following Reuters exclusive report on Tuesday, CNN reported that the Republican National Committee paid in August more than $230,000 to cover some of Trump’s legal fees related to the probe.

To read the entire story, click here.

I learned a new word — it’s grifter. It’s a person who engages in petty swindling — as in billing personal expenses to government or to company accounts. The word was most recently used in reference to our Treasury secretary  Steven Mnuchin. For details, click here. 

 The Vietnam War continues this evening. 

Tonight’s episode is two hours.

VietnamWar NewEpisode

Try to watch the episodes from the beginning. Tonight is the fourth episode. For more on the series and downloading, etc. click here. 

Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) begins this evening at sundown

This is the best Rosh Hashanah story. It’s long but worth it.

The Talking Parrot

Meyer, a lonely widower, was walking home along Delancy Street one day wishing something wonderful would happen in his life, when he passed a pet store and heard a squawking voice shouting out in Yiddish,”fQuawwwwk…vus machts du?”

Meyer rubbed his eyes and ears. Couldn’t believe it. Perfect Yiddish.

The proprietor urged him, “Come in here, fella, and check out this parrot…”

Meyer did. An African Grey cocked his little head and said: “Vus? Kenst sprechen Yiddish?”

In a matter of moments, Meyer had placed five hundred dollars on the counter and carried the parrot in his cage away with him. All night he talked with the parrot. In Yiddish. He told the parrot about his father’s adventures coming to America. About how beautiful his late wife, Sarah, was when she was a young bride. About his family. About his years of working in the garment district. About Florida .

The parrot listened and commented.

They shared some walnuts.

The parrot told him of living in the pet store, how lonely he would get on the weekends. They both went to sleep.

Next morning, Meyer began to put on his tfillin, all the while saying his prayers. The parrot demanded to know what he was doing and when Meyer explained, the parrot wanted to do the same. Meyer went out and had a miniature set of tfillin hand made for the parrot.

The parrot wanted to learn to daven and learned every prayer. He even wanted to learn to read Hebrew.

So Meyer spent weeks and months, sitting and teaching the parrot, teaching him Torah. In time, Meyer came to love and count on the parrot as a friend and fellow Jew.

One morning, on Rosh Hashanah, Meyer rose and got dressed and was about to leave when the parrot demanded to go with him. Meyer explained that Shul was not a place for a bird, but the parrot made a terrific argument, so Meyer relented and carried the bird to Shul on his shoulder.

Needless to say, they made quite a spectacle, and Meyer was questioned by everyone, including the Rabbi and the Cantor. They refused to allow a bird into the building on the High Holy Days, but Meyer persuaded them to let him in this one time, swearing that the parrot could daven in perfect Hebrew.

Thousands of dollars were bet that the parrot could NOT daven, could not speak Yiddish or Hebrew.

All eyes were on the African Grey during services. The parrot perched on Meyer’s shoulder as one prayer and song passed. Meyer heard not a peep from the bird. He began to become annoyed, slapping at his shoulder and mumbling under his breath, “Daven!”


“Daven..parrot, you can daven, so daven…come on, everyone is looking at you!”


After Rosh Hashanah services were concluded, Meyer found that he owed his Shul buddies and the Rabbi over four thousand dollars..

He marched home, so upset he said nothing to the parrot.

Finally several blocks from the Temple the Parrot began to sing an old Yiddish song, as happy as a lark.

Meyer stopped and looked at him.

“Why? After I had tfillin made for you and taught you the morning prayers, and taught you to read Hebrew and the Torah. And after you begged me to bring you to Shul on Rosh Hashanah, why? WHY?!? Why did you do this to me?”

“Meyer, don’t be a schmuck,” the parrot replied.

“Think of the odds we’ll get on Yom Kippur!” (Ten days from now.)

Harry Newton, who tips his hat to Stanislav Petrov, the former Soviet military officer who is credited with saving the world from nuclear oblivion.


Petrov was a 44-year-old lieutenant colonel in charge of an early warning radar system on September 26, 1983, when an alarm signaled that intercontinental missiles from the United States were headed to Moscow, leaving him to decide whether the attack was authentic or a false alarm.

A total of five missiles had been launched, according to the system, leaving just 30 minutes for the Soviets to decide to retaliate and only 15 minutes for the military officer to make his determination to relay to senior officers.

Petrov’s seat immediately felt like a “red-hot frying pan.”

“I felt like I couldn’t even stand up,” he said. “That’s how nervous I was when I was taking this decision . I’ll admit it, I was scared. I knew the level of responsibility at my fingertips.”

Petrov decided the warning system had malfunctioned.

Soviet satellites had mistaken sunlight reflected off clouds for missiles, generating the false alarm.

Petrov, whose role in history was detailed in the 2014 movie “The Man Who Saved the World” starring Kevin Costner, was actually reprimanded at the time for not completing a service journal connected to the decision, despite the fact that he had saved the world.

Petrov died in May. You can read more here.

I highlight this story because I worry about the impetuousness of Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un and what they could do if they got even more crazy. Kim’s motives understandable. He wants to stick around. Hence his weaponry. He eyes the U.S.’s history of removing leaders it didn’t like — from the 1953 Iranian CIA-inspired coup which overthrew the democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh in favor of the monarchical rule of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi (the Shah) to Qaddafi, to Saddam Hussein, etc.

There’s even a Wikipedia section called United States involvement in regime change. Click here. 

As to what Trump’s motives are… your guess is as good as mine. A recent New Yorker article on North Korea (in which the reporter actually traveled there) concluded:

To go between Washington and Pyongyang at this nuclear moment is to be struck, most of all, by how little the two understand each other. In eighteen years of reporting, I’ve never felt as much uncertainty at the end of a project, a feeling that nobody — not the diplomats, the strategists, or the scholars who have devoted their lives to the subject — is able to describe with confidence how the other side thinks. We simply don’t know how Kim Jong Un really regards the use of his country’s nuclear arsenal, or how much North Korea’s seclusion and mythology has distorted its understanding of American resolve. We don’t know whether Kim Jong Un is taking ever-greater risks because he is determined to fulfill his family’s dream of retaking South Korea, or because he is afraid of ending up like Qaddafi.

To some in the Trump Administration, the gaps in our knowledge of North Korea represent an argument against deterrence; they are unwilling to assume that Pyongyang will be constrained by the prospect of mutually assured destruction. But if the alternative is a war with catastrophic costs, then gaps in our knowledge should make a different case. Iraq taught us the cost of going to war against an adversary that we do not fully understand. Before we take a radical step into Asia, we should be sure that we’re not making that mistake again.