Mar

28

 "Editorial wiseacres," says Mr. LeRoy, "may preach that such efforts as Hubbard made are of no great immediate value to the world, even if successful. But the man who is born with the insatiable desire to do something, to see what other men have not seen, to push into the waste places of the world, to make a new discovery, to develop a new theme or enrich an old, to contribute, in other words, to the fund of human knowledge, is always something more than a mere seeker for notoriety; he belongs, however slight may be his actual contribution to knowledge, however great his success or complete his failure, to that minority which has from the first kept the world moving on, while the vast majority have peacefully travelled on with it in its course. The unpoetical critic will not understand him, will find it easy to call him a dreamer; yet it is from dreams like these that have come the world's inspirations and its great achievements."

from The Lure of the Labrador Wild, by Dillon Wallace

I just finished the book regarding the above event which ended with this quote. Though not on as grand a scale as the Shackleton story which we got into in a big way a number of years back (I still possess about a dozen copies of the special edition Vic had printed up), it still made a good read. I'm mentioning it not as a recommendation but as one of the benefits I've accumulated while lurking on this site.

An overwhelming majority of our commentary (understandably) regards the probability, markets, economics, politics, foreign affairs, etc. I've read much of it, understood a little, learned a little, misunderstood a lot, and, if anything, have become not a better investor but a more cautious one.

The real benefit has come from the many posts that touch on unrelated or distantly related topics. I can't tell you of the several times Stefan has driven me crazy by rebutting an argument by beginning with "You must understand that (fill in the blank) was a constitutional scholar…" His rebuttal, (and to be fair, those of others) were steeped in legalisms that seemed contrary to apparent "original intent."

Subsequently, I purchased a copy of the Anti-Federalist Papers as well as the Federalist Papers, "The Skeptics Guide to American History," and "Great Debate: The American Constitution" (both from TLC). Still other site topics resulted in buying "Understanding Complexity," "Power of People: Classical and Modern Political Theory," "Questions of Value," and others. In turn, these led to interests (some permanent, others passing) in Voltaire, C.S. Lewis, Homer. and other names I had constantly seen referenced but which I had never made the time to read.

I'm not attempting to list achievements but to lament the many years I wasted not inquiring into these and other topics. And it's not that I was unaware of this. Years ago, in the Chicago Daily News, Sydney Harris wrote five columns a week — usually about 500 words each. I really had little in common with Harris' view of the world, the theater (his always caustic reviews were credited with killing big stage productions in Chicago for years), or his politics. But, brother, could he write a great essay.

My favorites were headlined with "Things I Learned on the Way to Looking Up Other Things." And that's the point I want to make here: this List had led me down paths, which have branched into other paths, that I never would have been aware of. One of those "paths" led me, most recently, to Project Gutenberg which most everyone is familiar with. However, I discovered they offer a daily RSS feed…and on any given day (save Sunday) they add anywhere from 35 to 70 new titles.

I've discovered there are many very good books out there which are largely unknown and out-of-print; many deservedly so, but some which really deserve to be read. I'm passing this on only as a point of information The List has opened many new non-financial vistas which I greatly appreciate. My only regret is starting so late.

Nov

5

 Today's little relief mission to the hard hit Rockaways area was very telling. Fema and NYC relief crews were nowhere to be seen, and everything was being run by a local city councilman and an army of volunteers.

The folks who run the public library down there had decided to turn it into a makeshift relief center, and we were able to get them a much needed generator and some other supplies. The most relief was provided by millionaire hedge fund manager Roy Niederhoffer, who in 1 day managed to put together an army of people to bring down cars and even a 26 foot u-haul truck with enough pre-sorted food to support 100 families of 4 people for days. Note he didn't just write a check, but he actually quarterbacked the entire operation (for the second day in a row).

Oh, and when we were leaving trucks for the New York Daily News (owned by billionaire Mort Zuckerberg) rolled up to drop off much needed blankets.

I wish Mitt Romney had written a check for $10 million bucks and called up his other wealthy CEO buddies who run companies like Costco or Home Depot and had them divert a bunch of trucks down to the hart hit areas. That would have been the best answer to the constant ridicule by liberals that he's just too darn rich.

Mick Tierney writes: 

Just to provide a little balance to the "1% big government" post, here's a story I heard just this morning.

Our 73 year-old pastor takes three weeks off every Spring and Fall to re-visit small churches in Virginia, West Virginia, and North Carolina (a routine he established about 17 years ago). He takes another four weeks each summer for a church/school/medical facility he has established in Haiti (a project begun about 20 years ago).

This year he was asked to make a first visit to a small church (35) in the vicinity of the SETI Institute — obviously in the middle of Nowhere, WV. While there he and his wife were invited to dinner by one of the church members. After discussing various local issues, he asked if his hosts had ever met any of the SETI staff.

They replied that they had receive one visit. Late one afternoon a gentleman knocked at their door and announced that he had a heating blanket for them. They thanked him kindly but refused as they already had one.

He informed them that he was aware of this, but that their current blanket had developed a short. They checked and discovered he was right - without explanation he gave them the blanket and left.

Now you can return to the possibilities of election day computer hacking.

Sep

23

 Although I'm not at all happy with this Prez's on-going criticisms of the Supreme Court and the nature of several late-Friday-afternoon Executive Orders, I believe we're in danger of over-emphasizing the power of the presidency. He (whoever he is or might be) has little power to create jobs, damage or improve the economy, improve test scores, bring honesty into government, or bring about peace.

If any of the foregoing good things do occur, he will take credit, if some of the bad things occur, it will be Congress's fault - Bill Clinton is still taking full credit for "balancing the budget" and curbing welfare payments, few recall and none mention that Republicans controlled both houses. Mr. O doesn't believe he should be tagged with late '08's and early '09's spike in unemployment as they were Baby Bush's responsibility– both houses of congress were controlled by Democrats and any actions, good or bad, have their fingerprints all over them.

Poor old Mitt. The guy hit the nail on the head and is being crucified for it. Rather than running from the mischaracterized "gaffe", he should embrace it. We are on the verge of a "poor" majority — one which will approve almost any legislation (and legislator) that increases their monthly stipend. It's been forecast for quite some time and its just about here. I expect my 401k (and yours) to be tapped sometime early next year. Why should Mitt stick with his statement? Remember Jimmy Carter and his "malaise speech." Go back and read it - much of what he said was, and is, true. Romney could have been similarly "vindicated" if hd'd only hung in there.

Personally, I'm promoting a "Vote for the Other Guy" campaign. Anybody who is truly a loyal Democrat or a loyal Republican should hope, pray, and steal votes for the candidate of the other party. Like several other List members, i see some real hard times in the near future - and, I believe, they will last for a lengthy period. The party of the man sitting in the White House will be blamed - unjustly, of course. Hoovervilles will be replaced with Romeyvilles or Poverty Baracks and one unfortunate party will be consigned to minority status for a long time.

Before signing off I want to quote another notable politician, this one form 1957: "I can prophecy that your grandchildren in America will live under socialism…Our firm conviction is that sooner or later Capitalism will give way to Socialism. Whether you like it or not, history is on our side. We will bury you."

I have two grandchildren, one 12, the other 3. Will Nikita be proven correct?

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