Books On Bikes: Michael Wolff: Fire And Fury

  • Best enjoyed: On a long ride
  • Enjoyment rating (1-10) : 8
  • Distraction level (1-5) : 2

I general I want this site to be apolitical. But to give an honest review of this book I need to say up front that I’ve always been a social liberal (and a fiscal conservative), and if your leanings don’t match mine you won’t be able to relate to what I write here.

I understand how people on The Right in my country are unmoved – or trying to be unmoved – by the various character and behavior flaws that the media has unearthed in Trump, and paraded around in front of everyone for years. The Right wants the focus to be on political actions in office, not hijinks in past bedrooms, and I can see their point. But meanwhile, people on The Left, including myself, were wound up into a frenzy by the seemingly endless scandals about the man, and the humiliating disaster of his being actually elected. We believed – and almost all of us still believe – that Trump is so maladjusted and inept that he will eagerly destroy the country from the top down. That’s a lot of fear, and we need to deal with it.

And that’s why I say: Thank goodness for this book. I feel so much better after reading it. Not because of the fears it confirmed for me, but because of the suspicions and fears it has laid to rest.

All that crazy Alt-Right stuff? That was Bannon. Trump barely cares about it, and now Bannon is persona-non-grata to the White House. The executive order banning travel? That was Bannon failing to understand government, wanting to cause hand-wringing amongst The Left and make a personal splash. Which it did. The Left ate it up. Was it a shot across the bow to signal a strong, rigorous follow-up? No. It was exactly what it looked like: Half-baked incompetence, from a man in a hurry.

All those unfilled positions in cabinets? That wasn’t the beginning of a big, determined, “disassemble the apparatus of the state” push. That was the fallout of the Trump campaign so thoroughly expecting to lose that they had no plans in place of any kind for a transition of power, then remaining so dysfunctional that they could not assemble a plan before day one. Or for months afterward. Can you imagine Trump sitting down, perhaps with a piece of paper and a pen, and saying “Okay, let’s make a plan?” And then sticking with it? You can’t. And for good reason.

It’s true that Trump does not, will not, read anything longer than a few lines, unless he’s acting via a teleprompter. Not one-page memos, not policy papers. Lectures bore him. Presentations have to be slide shows, with splashy images, and no nuance. He cannot become even halfway informed about any complex subject on the presidential desk, and the people around him know this, and they spend all their time “managing” him. That might seem like a threat – he would be eminently exploitable – if he wasn’t thoroughly unpredictable and occasionally irrational.

I think Trump wanted the title, but not the job. He wanted to glad-hand and play golf, throw fits and fire people and lob insults, and have all cameras pointed at him all the time. That’s how he saw the presidency. The rest is bean-counting crap that he’d rather avoid. Better if he had not been elected, but the silver lining is that any other Republican candidate would have given the Republican congress far more power. Instead, they have spent a year feuding and lobbing insults.

I’ve already turned my attention away from any media he generates, and almost all media about him. I’m convinced that this presidency will spin its wheels and get nothing done for four years, and when the door hits Trump’s butt on the way out, he will be abandoned to auditors and lawyers like a chicken bone to dogs. There is a lot of panic these days that Trump’s kind of politics and relationship with the media is a new normal, but I see him as a correction: He’s the shirt-ripping self-sabotaging one night stand that the nation is having, after our steady boyfriend Obama broke up with us and tried to pawn us off on his friend Hillary and we rejected her in an angry display of pique. We don’t want your boring old scraps! We want fire, and fury!!

And here it is.

This book made me laugh out loud a dozen times. It was brilliant stress relief, and had plenty of food for thought. Government is too established, and full of too many sane people, for one grumpy old man to tweet it apart, and I really don’t have to worry so much.


  • First you try to do anything
  • Then you get ready to do everything
  • Then you try everything
  • Then you try to do the right thing
  • Then you realize there’s more than one right thing, and you try to do the right right thing.
  • Then you try to make sure the thing stays done
  • Then you do whatever you want.
  • Then you do whatever you can remember
  • Then you do whatever you can
  • Then you don’t do much of anything
  • Then you’re done

NZ Day 26: Moseying around town

A relaxing day, eating thai food and hanging out in the sun.

A final bus ride from Taumurunui to Te Kuiti to New Plymouth:

Groovy photos as the sun went down:

Last day on the road in New Zealand

Greetings from the iPhone

Let there be light! Kablaaam!


Welcome to Poking Things With Sticks, a ridiculous personal blog I’ve cobbled together with hacksaws and bandages, and bits of fluff, and those little iron nails that cobblers always use for cobbling things.

I’m a pretty technical guy, but getting everything to work was still much harder than I expected. This is what setting up a blog is like:

  1. Order a printing press in the mail. Set it up in your front yard.
  2. Go to a farmyard and steal a tractor. Drive it home, then rip all the controls off. Weld them onto the printing press.
  3. Borrow a moving van. Wait until nightfall, then detach all the mailboxes from the houses on your street. Throw them in the van.
  4. Rent a flatbed trailer and a winch. Haul the printing press up onto the trailer and attach it to the moving van.
  5. Acquire a used houseboat. Knock down some of the rooms, then drive the van onto the boat.
  6. If the whole thing doesn’t sink, cast off and float around.
  7. Fire up the printing press and stamp out 50,000 copies of the first thing that pops into your head.
  8. Cram 1000 copies into each mailbox.
  9. Drive the van off the houseboat, into the water.
  10. Congratulations, you have just blogged.

That’s what it’s like. Except it’s even more complicated, time-consuming, and ridiculous. … And of course, that hasn’t stopped me. So here is where I shall document the effects of poking Various and Sundry things with sticks of Differing Character. Also, the adventure of riding my bicycle between the things.

I’ll be posting here using an iPhone or a laptop, whatever’s appropriate, depending mostly on whether I’m pedaling the bike, or stopped somewhere, poking something with a stick.

Here’s the route I will be taking for this adventure:

It’s approximately 1600 miles, and a whole lot of it is downhill. Check out the elevation graph:

I hear the wind blows West to East across the plains, and that will help as well. I’ve budgeted for 50 miles a day. Am I being too optimistic? We shall all find out together!

Australia and Tasmania: Leaving Tasmania way too soon