I have walked 1000km while playing that Harry Potter Wizards Unite game.
(That milestone doesn't capture the fun of the game, but it's something that folks can understand even if they don't know the game's rules. Like… if all you care about is how far you've walked, just use an app that keeps track of your "steps". Harry Potter Wizards Unite does something that those apps don't do: occasionally, it shows you a cute animation of a baby hippogriff flapping about. I don't know how to get my phone to screenshot that baby hippogriff animation for you, so instead you just get to see this screen with a 1000KM at the bottom.)
*Here, by "everything", I mean scissors.
This biography tells the story of J. Paul Getty, oil tycoon. Getty made his millions the old-fashioned American way: his father was an oil tycoon. Reading about his early years as he lucks into a fortune will make you want to bring back the estate tax. (You think I'm overly harsh about this guy, but he might have agreed with me: In his various divorces he was reluctant to pay child support for the kids he'd fathered.) He comes off as clueless about things outside the world of oil and finance. He had a thick FBI file because he praised the Nazis and Hitler long after it was clear they were bad news. (It was sufficiently clear such that the FBI would take notes of public praise.) When you read the praise, he seems to have missed the substance of what he was seeing a la wow, that Hitler guy's speechifying sure got the audience excited.
He did better at world politics where oil was concerned. Negotiating for rights to drill in the neutral zone between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, he offered to pay something like what those rights were worth. This caused great consternation amongst other drillers in the area, who had historically gotten away with much much lower prices. Since these other drillers had gotten their rights through postcolonial-powers connections… it was not a good look. (At least nowadays? Maybe back then, folks still took that kind of patronizing colonial verbiage seriously?)
Anyhow, he seems to have been a difficult person to know. But a good person to study if you want to find out a bit about how the world got into its current state.
My local branch library has a big sign that says NO DEALING / NO HOLDING DRUGS / NO USING DRUGS. All these years, I thought the sign was there because that library's a block away from a stretch of Haight Street that's basically an open-air drug market. But BUT that library sign is actually a copy of a historical sign at the Free Clinic—I should have kept reading to the next few items that said NO ALCOHOL / NO PETS / ANY OF THESE CAN CLOSE THE CLINIC. Why did the clinic need that sign? Police would barge in, looking for druggies. If that made someone scared to visit the clinic even though they were overdosing—well, that's the trade-off law enforcement was supposed to make back then. And AND drug pushers were also barging in—here was a great gathering of potential customers, right? Thus the sign. The Clinic saved a lot of people under remarkably hostile conditions.
In the news lately: the Clinic's shutting down. Not so many "customers" as there used to be. Let's hope that means that the city is taking care of its residents better, even poor residents suffering from unexpected side effects.
So… I learned some local history. And I learned that I'm not as much of a bad-ass for visiting my local branch library as I thought I was.
Election security enthusiasts might enjoy reading up on Jim Jones' organization pre-Jonestown. There's a description of a large-scale voter fraud effort, falsely registering followers from other towns as San Francisco residents, then busing them in to vote on election day; my back-of-the-envelope estimate is maybe 1000 fraudulent votes. It sounds like there weren't enough votes to change the election winner (it sounds like that to me…but that's my estimate from reading the words of someone in the Jones cult who says that their fraud did change the winner, so… who knows). But add up those fraudulent votes together with votes by Jones' followers who genuinely did live in San Francisco, and maybe you do have the Jones organization swinging elections.
Fans of voter fraud conspiracy theories won't like the story, though. Unlike people in the conspiracy theories, some of Jones' volunteers didn't keep the secret… as you'd expect when you're involving almost-enough conspirators to swing an election.
Nobody really likes the Jim Jones story. It's pretty horrifying.
This book is full of horrors and helpers. As a San Franciscan, I found it pretty interesting. You might like it, too. Do let yourself take breaks, though. Things got pretty intense back then.