1.17.2023 – these illusory

these illusory
and ridiculous promises
never understood

My feeling that writers who write about economics get to use the best multisyllable words was reinforced by the NY Times opinion piece, The Crypto Collapse and the End of the Magical Thinking That Infected Capitalism, by Mihir A. Desai, a professor at Harvard Business School and Harvard Law School.

Mr. Desai gets to use wonderful $5 words when he writes:

Pervasive consumer-facing technology allowed individuals to believe that the latest platform company or arrogant tech entrepreneur could change everything. Anger after the 2008 global financial crisis created a receptivity to radical economic solutions, and disappointment with traditional politics displaced social ambitions onto the world of commerce. The hothouse of Covid’s peaks turbocharged all these impulses as we sat bored in front of screens, fueled by seemingly free money.

For me, this opinion piece was summed up in two sentences.

The first, These illusory and ridiculous promises share a common anti-establishment sentiment fueled by a technology that most of us never understood. Who needs governments, banks, the traditional internet or homespun wisdom when we can operate above and beyond?

Not only does it explain, for me the bitcoin fixation but most of the aspects of the covid era.

What I found fascinating was that Mr. Desai linked two worlds together for me.

There is this group, right, that for the most part, boiled down to its essence DOES NOT TRUST GOVERNMENT.

Vaccines, elections, gun rights and border control.

This group does not trust the government and wants the government out of their lives.

Who are these people?

As Mr. Desai pointed out, they are ANTI-ESTABLISHMENT.

They are the 1960’s HIPPIES come to life as 2020’s conservatives.

And at their core, just like the hippies, they are against everything.

As Brando said when asked, “ Hey Johnny, what are you rebelling against?“, replied, “Whadda you got?

Who needs governments, banks, the traditional internet or homespun wisdom when we can operate above and beyond?

And really what do these people want to accomplish?

Don’t ask me.

these illusory
and ridiculous promises
never understood

Not only did Mr. Desai explain identify this New Hippie Era to me, he also explained the mystery of cyber currency for me.

Mr. Desai writes, “Speculative assets without any economic function should be worth nothing.”

I feel that way and I am not a professor at Harvard Business School and Harvard Law School.

May I paraphrase and say, something without value is should be worth nothing!


What to do?

Of late James Garner’s tag line from that goofy old western, Support Your Local Sherriff, keeps coming to mind.


I am just passing through on my way to Australia.

these illusory
and ridiculous promises
never understood

1.14.2023 – people want to think

people want to think
everything’s back to normal but
going take longer

There is always something lately seems to be the new way to look at things.

Orange is the new black was the thing to say for a while.

Not following fashion too much, I have a 5 pairs of pants, khaki khaki’s, black khaki’s and 3 pairs of blue jeans, I am not much sure about what the old black was.

Black, maybe?

And trying to nail down the origin of the phrase, the closest I could find on the Google (after .6 seconds of searching) was that it showed up in the late-’70s, when the New York Times stated: “Colors are the new neutrals.”

Back in the day, when I lived in Grand Rapids, Michigan and the hoi-polloi said they lived in EAST Grand Rapids, folks who couldn’t get property in EGR started saying Rockford was the new EGR.

(For fun just say hoi-polloi of Grand Rapids, Michigan out loud.)

I went around saying, that Sparta, it’s the new Rockford, just to watch Rockfordians get upset.

Its a Grand Rapids thing so don’t worry if you don’t get it.

In an article about New York Theater, ‘It’s a hard time’: why are so many Broadway shows closing early?, Mr. David Smith writes:

“People just got used to staying home and getting people back out and remembering how amazing live theatre is is taking time. Also people are still suffering and dealing with the trauma of the last few years. People want to think everything’s back to normal but it’s going to take longer for all people to feel normal after two and a half years of tragedy.”

I have to agree.

People want to think everything’s back to normal!

And I agree that it’s going to take longer for all people to feel normal after two and a half years of tragedy.


It’s the new normal.

Tempora mutantur.

Times change and we change with the times.

And as Mr. Churchill said, or was reported as saying, “To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.”

If Mr. Churchill was correct, and in saying that it is important to keep in mind that FDR said ‘Winston has 100 ideas everyday but only one is good. That’s okay as he will have another 100 ideas tomorrow, but as I was saying, if Mr. Churchill was correct, with all the change we have experienced in the last 2 and half years, we must be coming close to perfection.

There is that definition of perfection to worry about though.

7.24.2022 – inflation rising

inflation rising
everything, pizza, rent, nightlife
is taking a hit

From the line “Inflation has been rising at the fastest rate in nearly four decades, affecting the prices of almost everything, from pizza to rent. Amid the surge, nightlife is taking a hit.” as it appears in the story, Nightlife Inflation: The Cost of Going Out Is Going Up, by Anna P. Kambhampaty, in the Feb. 28, 2022 NYT.

7.23.2022 – people sat at home

people sat at home
doing nothing and they thought
do something instead

My Saturday morning reading started with an article in the Guardian about a trip to the Suffolk region of Great Britain.

The writer, Sarah Perry, author of the Serpent’s Tail books, was tasked with chronicling a “typical UK summer’s day” and she wrote about a visit to a World War 2 museum and a tea break at a local pub in Suffolk.

Ms. Perry names the pub, the Buck Inn at Flixton, but maddeningly, did not name the museum.

I guess travel columns are not her forte.

I will have to do some searching but I want to find this place about which Ms. Perry wrote, “We find ourselves in a place in which something strange or interesting occurs every few feet.”

At this unnamed museum, Ms. Perry encountered a volunteer, also unnamed. Maybe basic journalism is also not in her forte.

Ms. Perry identified the volunteer as “A man in a blue tabard. “

I had to do the google on tabard and it turns out to be a smock or one of those long, below the waist coveralls worn by church nursery workers across the United States.

Ms. Perry described the man as, “A man in a blue tabard reading ‘I CAN HELP’. ” 

Ms. Perry writes, “A man in a blue tabard reading “I CAN HELP” explains the pandemic was rather good for the museum, which is run by volunteers.

I had to stop and think for a sec.

The pandemic was rather good for the museum.

Well, I thought, that’s one positive thing from covid.

It got volunteers to volunteer at the place in which something strange or interesting occurred every few feet.

Then Ms. Perry quotes the unnamed man in the blue tabard reading ‘I CAN HELP.’

People just sat at home doing nothing,” he says, “and they thought, I could be doing something, instead.

Now in the third summer of covid, malaise has set in.

I was down near the tourist center of my little oceanside community the other day and the lack of spark, the lack of vacation excitement, the lack of adult joy of being a little kid again, was overwhelming.

I can sit upon the ground and tell sad stories of the deaths of Kings.

Or I can think I could be doing something.

Beyond thinking is the doing of doing something.

I’ll better go to the beach.


7.5.2022 – combination of

combination of
silence panic upheaval
that I didn’t choose

Adapted from the line:

There was a lot of big talk during the pandemic as we used that eerie combination of silence and panic to re-evaluate our priorities. Fear of change evaporates when everywhere you look there is upheaval you didn’t choose.

In the article, Let’s leave the city! Let’s get a dog! Let’s get a divorce!’ Do we regret our pandemic life changes? by Zoe Williams.

Ms. Williams writes, “To regret that a decision wasn’t made sooner can be seen as reverse “what if?” thinking; even while it is painful to think of time wasted and bad situations endured, it is psychologically protective in that it reinforces the decision.”

1.27.2022 – I saw a penny

I saw a penny
picked it up, all that day …
wondered about change

I saw a penny in the parking lot the other day.

Bright and shiny, I knew it had to be new.

I checked first to make sure it was face up.

You do not pick up any penny that is face down.

I guess like an upside down horseshoe, all the luck runs out.

This one was face up so I picked it up.

I looked at Abraham Lincoln.

He has been there on the penny a lot longer than I have been here.

Mr. Lincoln has been on the penny since 1909, the 100th anniversary of his birth.

That was the first time a US President’s likeness went on a coin.

I read somewhere that the likeness of Abraham Lincoln on a penny is supposed to be the most viewed representation of any work of art in the history of the world.

Back in 1976, Braniff Airlines commissioned Calder to design the color scheme of one of their Boeing Airliners for the Bicentennial.

This red white and blue flying work of art was unveiled at Dulles International Airport and then flown on a tour of United States airports that included Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Grand Rapids had always been a bit Calder nutz and the First Lady, Betty Ford, (this story is fun and you can read the documented high level government discussion) would be part of the ceremony in Washington so Grand Rapids was added to the list of cities for the debut flight and the plane was added to the Braniff fleet.

At some point after that, Braniff issued a press release that this painted plane was the single most viewed work of art in history.

I think the numbers included anyone and everyone who ever looked up and said, “The plane, The plane” whether they knew what they were seeing or not or even if they were aware of the plane was painted by Calder.

I mean fly it over New York City and you can count 8,000,000 views.

I think Braniff accounted for their paying customers the same way which is why you don’t hear about Braniff anymore.

But Mr. Lincoln tops the list over total views of any artistic likeness, counting all the times that likeness has been reproduced and viewed.

I looked at the penny for a second or two.

It was dated 2021.

It hit me that this was the first time I had seen a 2021 penny.

Maybe even the first time, that I remembered anyway, that I have seen a penny with a date in the 2020’s.

Is it really 2021?


How DID that happen?

When did that happen?

In 2020 there was a feeling that the month of March lasted about 12 weeks.

I feel like 2021 never really took place.

Wasn’t out of the house often.

Rarely had situations where I bought or paid for something other than gas or a meal.

And never ever did I use paper money.

As for coins.

You don’t see change much anymore and so much has changed.

And I do feel changed somehow.

Or at least disconnected from the time before Covid.

I also don’t much like to look at pennies.

It was the writer, Jim Harrison, who once wrote that you aren’t old as long as keep finding pennies that are older than you in your pocket.

I used to carry a 1959 penny just for insurance.

But I can’t find it.

I haven’t thought about it years.

And now that it is on my mind, I am going find a 1959 penny.

After all, since moving to Hilton Head, where the median age is 59, I became middle aged all over again.

PS – According to what you can learn online, when Braniff went bankrupt, the Calder planes were sold at auction and the paint was sand blasted off. One website where they keep track of such things, says that the specific Boeing 727 that had been painted Red White and Blue was used as a prop in the movie Bad Boys and the last time anyone sees that specific (without the Calder Art) plane is at the end of the movie when it is blown up.

12.17.2021 – real night of the soul

real night of the soul
it’s always three o’clock
on a dark morning

It was F. Scott Fitsgerald who penned the lines:

… and in a real dark night of the soul it is always three o’clock in the morning, day after day. At that hour the tendency is to refuse to face things as long as possible by retiring into an infantile dream – but one is continually startled out of this by various contacts with the world.

It is called covid fatigue.

One medical website states:

It’s real and it’s strong. We’re tired of being cooped up, tired of being careful, tired of being scared.

This same webpage says, “This is a real challenge. There are no easy solutions.

The other morning on one of the TV news programs, the morning anchor interviewed a bunch of seven year old’s.

What do you miss the most of the pre-covid days?”, she asked.

She was met with a lot blank stares.

For seven year old’s, this was normal.

That thought hit me in the real night of my soul.

Then I started to think about what I missed.

I was shocked when I realized that pre-covid was so far away.

My thoughts about pre-days seemed to be in the same folder as memories of growing up, summer times long ago and books I haven’t read in years.

I thought of something Alistair Cooke wrote about the American West.

Writing about the ghost town of Bodie, California, Mr. Cooke said, “[Founded in 1876] For four years the place was roaring with life and death: one killing a day, fifty-six saloons and gambling joints, twelve thousand people brimming with sap and mischief and vice. By 1883 it was mostly abandoned, and in 1932 a fire browned it off. Today, it is a graveyard up among the rolling cumulus clouds. It is as forgotten and forlorn as the Plains of Troy.

Pre covid days, forgotten and forlorn as the Plains of Troy.

Maybe its best as, pre covid days, forgotten and forlorn.

3 o’clock on a dark morning.

At that hour the tendency is to refuse to face things as long as possible.

8.28.2021 – little perils of

little perils of
routine living, no escape
in the unplanned tangent

Adapted from the final lines of the short story, A NOTE AT THE END, from the book, My Life and Hard Times by James Thurber.

Mr. Thurber writes in perhaps a presentiment of the COVID era:

In the pathways between office and home and home and the houses of settled people there are always,

ready to snap at you,

the little perils of routine living,

but there is no escape in the unplanned tangent, the sudden turn. 

8.24.2021 – a symbol, a tool

a symbol, a tool
of history people find
very attractive

Growing up, in my house there was a complete or near complete set of the Random House Landmark books.

If we missed any the library at my elementary school and the local branch library had the rest.

The Voyages of Christopher Columbus, The Landing of the Pilgrims, Pocahontas and Captain John Smith, Paul Revere and the Minute Men, Our Independence and the Constitution.

According to Wikipedia, Landmark Books children’s book series published by Random House from 1950 to 1970, featured stories of significant people and events.

Wikipedia states, “David Spear, writing in the American Historical Association’s news magazine, says that the series “lured an entire generation of young readers” to the history discipline, “including many of today’s professional historians.”

Sign me up for that.

Understand that a lot of history in these books was, for lack of better word, sanitized (?) or maybe, politically correct FOR 1950.

The book on Custer’s Last Stand for example presents a fairly unfair image of the Native American cause.

It also ends with the General Custer and his brother Tom as the last two men standing and that they are killed together and fall into each others arms.

As Director Raoul Walsh said of his movie, ‘They Died with Their Boots On,’ on the same topic, “It wasn’t the way it happened. But it was the way it should have happened.”

(That being said who cannot be stirred in the early scenes of the movie that takes place during Custer’s Civil War career, leading the Michigan Calvary Brigade at the Battle of Gettysburg with Errol Flynn yelling, “Ride You Woverines!”)

Those books stayed with me in my brain and some are on my bookshelf today.

One that I read several time was Captain Cortés Conquers Mexico by William Weber Johnson.

One modern review states, “Without posing the question of the rights or wrongs of the Spanish conquistadores, Mr. Johnson has presented the figure of Cortes, conqueror of Mexico, in as favorable a light as possible.”

I’ll go along with that.

I will say on my own behalf that I kept yelling at the Aztec’s to just send everybody and attack, you got them outnumbered 200 to 1.

You can just smother them.

Reading and re-reading the account of La Noche Triste I liked how the Aztecs chased Cortes out of Tenochtitlan even when I knew Cortes was coming back.

I remember that the author pointed out again and again that the conquistadores all carried swords made of the FINEST TOLEDO STEEL.

The author referred to these swords like they were wonder weapons.

The weapons that made the conquest possible.

This thought came to mind when I read this morning that “Toledo’s last swordmakers refuse to give up on their ancient craft”.

The article recounts the trials and tribulations of artisans as they strive to maintain the Toledo Sword.

The article sub title reads, “Famed since Roman times, the Spanish city’s artisans are all but extinct. But a reprieve is at hand from the TV and film.”

The article ends with a quote from one of the swordsmiths, “It’s a symbol, it will always be a symbol. It is a tool of history that people find very attractive.”

I found this interesting as the world just passed the 500th anniversary of the fall of the Aztec capital Tenochtitlán.

Just last week in the same online newspaper was the article, “Don’t call us traitors: descendants of Cortés’s allies defend role in toppling Aztec empire.

The article states, “The conquest is a singular event in Mexican history, seen both as a moment of national trauma and the founding act of the nation – and it remains deeply controversial.”

It remains deeply controversial.

No kidding.

Unfortunate truths.

I believe that was Mr. Al Gore’s movie.

Social History or the history of how people lived in their day to day lives making a living as swordsmiths versus narrative history, the history of the great road scrapper that made and remade the world every day or the history of how those swords were used.

I guess we can be happy that the craft needed to create a sword to the high standards of 500 years is kept alive.

The sword, we can recognize, as a symbol, a tool of history.

A tool that people find very attractive.

But tool that a played a key role in a deeply controversial conquest.

Two sides, maybe more to every story.

Maybe someday people will go to the Smithsonian and in the window marked 2020s there will be some face masks.

The text with the masks could read, “In the Covid Era Decade of 2020, these masks were embraced as a way to protect yourself and others from Covid and at the same time rejected as an expression of Government intrusion and over reach of authority.”

I doubt that any artisan will be making masks the way they were made in 2020.

And I am sure that a mask will be a symbol and it will always be a symbol.

I am sure it will be a tool of history that no one will find very attractive.

PS – AL Gore DID NOT invent the internet NOR did he say that. He did say that “I took the initiative in creating the internet.” Which is true so far as he was on the committee that funded early efforts of a PUBLIC INTERNET and in the big picture I got no problem with what he said so far as everyone who voted yes on the committee for funding can say the same thing. That being said saying what he said shows the fundamental lack of understanding between the internet and the world wide web.

When the first 6 or seven computers were created, scientists realized that people were up and awake at Harvard when they were asleep out on Berkeley and if the computer could be connected or ‘net worked’ or on an inter net, folks out east could use the computers out west. So the INTERNET (Hardware, computers, cables and such) has been around since day one pretty much. Back in the day when I worked at the Grand Rapids Public Library almost every library collection in the world could be connected through our terminals. When the GRPL local database went down I would tell patron’s that I could tell them what was on the shelf at the Sorbonne in Paris, I just couldn’t tell them what was on that shelf over there. I have to add that when we connected those terminals to other libraries the message PHONE RINGING would display on my screen. I loved connecting to libraries all over the world thinking there is a phone ringing in a basement in Berlin right now. If the connection was not accepted it would time out and stop. One night I was trying to connect to Oxford and the connection would not shut down. Not knowing what to do at the end of the night I turned off the terminal and weeks. It was weeks before I stopped worrying that I was going to be given a bill for a 24 hour long long distance phone call. It has to be pointed out this goofy interest and waste of time is a direct line connection to that job I have now.

The World Wide Web came around in the 1990 and its the content that LIVES on the internet.

8.23.2021 – ordinary life

ordinary life,
simplicity, respect for

Adapted from the passage:

“… it was the caring about little things — the faith in ordinary life;

the simplicity that made you break up a bit of bread into a paper bag, walk down to the beach, and throw it to the gulls.

It was this respect for triviality which he had never been allowed to possess; whether it was bread for the seagulls or love,

whatever it was he would go back and find it

Written by John le Carré in The Spy Who Came in From the Cold: A George Smiley Novel. Penguin Books (Kindle Edition).

I should point out that the word triviality, from trivial from trivia does not have to mean small or meaningless even though the Online Merriam Webster states, “unimportant matters : trivial facts or details”.

I was taught that the word trivia is a Latin word, the plural of trivium.

The related Latin trivialis, meant “common or ordinary.”

But the literal meaning of the Latin trivium is “a place where three roads meet.”

Some sources then state that as three roads came together, there was lots of odd little bits of knowledge or trivia exchanged between people on the roads.

Thus crossroads came to be known as distinctly public, or common places where inconsequential or trivial things were said and done.

I was taught the ‘place where three roads meet’ were NOT real roads, but the three paths of study of grammar, rhetoric, and logic.

If you take in everything covered by grammar, rhetoric, and logic, you will have lots of odd little facts.

All this really for nothing really because all I want to say is that I like is what le Carré may have been going for with the line respect for triviality.

I love that.

A respect for triviality.

And …

Faith in ordinary life.

At this time in the world, these two concepts may be more important than the city shining on a hill.

More important and harder to get.

Whatever these are, where ever these are, faith, respect, ordinary, triviality, I going to go find them.