Trump’s Calculus

I know, I know, I should be writing about the vulnerability of the Golden State Warriors, or competitive parenting nonsense, but I just can’t quit the politics.

Trump’s calculus is that you are quite dumb and he can control what you think if he continually repeats simple and clear messages long enough. The most obvious example being “WITCH HUNT”. If we had a national drinking game based upon those two words, all of us would be continually sloshed.

Today, on Twitter, where else, he displayed his talent for simple messaging by using the phrases “Open Border Democrats” and “Border Deniers”. One problem, it turns out there are some “Open Border Republicans” who then of course are also “Border Deniers”. I wonder, what happens when some of your team stops drinking the kool-aide?

If you’re saner than me, meaning you don’t pay any attention to Trump on Twitter, you may not be aware of his most insidious phrasing of late. It’s not concise, but way more outlandish than WITCH HUNT and everything else that has preceded it.

….a man who is considered by many to be the President with the most successful first two years in history

Now that you’re conscious of this worst Trumpism of all, you will hear it repeatedly.

If you count yourself among the “many”, you won’t mind at all. If you are not, you will understandably curse me. In which case, please consider that I can’t help it if I’m a man who is considered by many to be the blogger with the most successful record in history of calling the President on his bullshit.

It’s a public service I will continue to provide from time to time.

Double Your Money—Guaranteed

The worst of the Humble Blog’s 1,504 titles fo sho, but stick with me.

One morning, a few weeks ago, I was listening to National Public Radio’s Marketplace show. They were telling the story of a 20 year old dude who discovered that his Legos, collecting dust in plastic bins in his parent’s house, were worth a lot of money. Why? Because (mostly) men in their 30s and 40s are nostalgic for their childhoods. Thus began a small online business with his mother who cleaned the Legos and readied them for sale. The two of them thus began buying discarded Legos on Ebay and then cleaning and reselling them for twice what they paid.

Which got me thinking. About alternatives to stock and bond index funds and certificates of deposit. What about investing in nostalgia.

My question for you is buy and hold WHAT for decades? I forgive you if you’re thinking I may not have decades, because life is fragile, so suggest something my daughters wouldn’t dread inheriting. Which of course complicates things because they may not be as enamored as me with men’s watches, air cooled Porsches, Ping putters, or late 80s Toyota Landcruisers. The car references raise another issue—storage and ease of transport considerations. Let’s assume my heirs may not have a detached garage like me and that they’re going to move from time to time.

With those parameters I turn to you loyal readers. I rarely ask anything of you, but what say you on investing in nostalgia? Where should I put my spare change to work? The only thing I ask is that we at least double my money*.

*goes without saying, adjusted for inflation

 

 

An Anxious Aristocracy

From the Business Insider:

  • Hollywood actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin are among 40 people indicted by the FBI and US attorney’s office in Boston in an alleged college admissions scandal.
  • The scam allegedly involved parents having their children pose as athletes regardless of athletic abilities to get accepted into Division-1 universities.
  • Parents are also accused of paying to have a man take ACT and SAT tests for their children.
  • Schools involved include Georgetown, Stanford, University of California, Los Angeles, Yale, University of Texas, University of Southern California and Wake Forest, according to NBC Boston.

Care to comment Alexis Nedd?

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Stupidity Is a Bigger Threat Than Socialism

And it’s not even close.

Conservative Republican opinion leaders, winners in life’s lottery, worship at the altar of free markets. In their minds, merit explains their relative success, not privilege. Acknowledging privilege would require them to admit markets are fallible, a thought that would consider a total reconsideration of themselves.

American exceptionalism is largely explained by blind devotion to free markets as if they are ordained by God. Literally. We are better than other countries because our markets are freer. Never mind our prison numbers, our opioid epidemic, our gun violence, our homeless crisis.

To conservative Republicans, taxes are always too high. The government uses its tax system to unfairly take what is rightly ours. Government, as if it consists of some insidious “others” instead of our neighbors, friends, and fellow citizens; is incompetent and wasteful. We know much better than the diabolical government what to do with our own damn money. Left to our own devices we would naturally fund private equivalents to Head Start, public libraries, Social Security, Medicare, and federal highways because they so obviously improve our quality of life.

Given that context, I probably shouldn’t be as exasperated as I am by the depressing quality of the initial 2020 campaign conversation about competing economic systems. Yes, through flawed messaging, some on the Left have contributed to the problem; but that’s no excuse for the Right’s complete unwillingness to talk about the crippling consequences of widening inequality on everyone and how it’s in our enlightened self interest to make greater (and proven) public investments in the common good.

Instead, deathly afraid their taxes will go up, those on the Right scream VENEZUELA and CUBA and demean Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as “just a 29 year old bartender”. As if the Left wants to replicate life in Venezuela. How is it that many of the most virulent anti-socialists are formally educated and yet seem completely unable to think about subtleties, nuances, and complexity?

To those virulent anti-socialists, there’s a huge middle ground between Milton Friedman and Maduro.

To the army of Presidential contenders, I don’t want to waste time talking about Venezuelan socialism. I want a critical conversation about how best to improve our economics and politics so that many more people experience the promise of our ideals. More specifically, I believe it’s in my enlightened self interest to make more investments in public schooling, in public libraries, in single payer health care, and in infrastructure. And by “more investments” I mean moderately higher taxes. Millions of others think similarly, enough to get elected.

And once gain, this is where the national conversation devolves to the point of embarrassment because my Conservative Republican friends predictably say, “Okay, go ahead and write a larger check to the Internal Revenue Service than you owe” as if the penalty for critical thinking about the status quo is having to compensate for the mindless purveyors of it.

An extra serving of ignorance in a conversation marked by mind boggling stupidity.

 italics=sarcasm

Don’t Yell

From the Associated Press, “Peeved pets: Iditarod lead lost as dogs quit.”

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Musher Nicolas Petit lost a huge lead in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Monday when his dog team refused to keep going after he yelled at one of the animals.

A dog named Joey had been fighting with another dog on the team and jumped it during a break on the way to the Bering Sea checkpoint of Koyuk.

‘I yelled at Joey, and everybody heard the yelling, and that doesn’t happen,’ Petit told the Iditarod Insider website. ‘And then they wouldn’t go anymore. Anywhere. So we camped here.’

Several mushers passed Petit’s team on the trail, erasing his five-hour lead in the race. Petit said his dogs are well-fed and there’s no medical issue keeping them from getting up and running.

‘It’s just a head thing,’ he said. ‘We’ll see if one of these dog teams coming by will wake them up at all.’

Weekend Assorted Links

1. Trump flip-flops fly off the shelf. To the creative go the spoils. (thanks DDTM)

2. Best iPhone photos from around the world.

3. Try doing nothing for awhile.

4. The Seattle Mariners lead the league in this every year.

5. I turned 57 a few weeks ago. This reflection on “the spiritual black hole of upper middle age” couldn’t hit much closer to home. (thanks SMW)

6. How to adapt this to upper middle agers?

7. At what level of wealth do you lose your soul?

How To Transform Sports Television

Some tech savvy person in sports television is going to make millions as a result of reading the following few paragraphs. My decision not to apply for the patents myself is just one more example of my amazing selflessness.

Here’s the problem with televised running, swimming, and cycling races. Let’s take running as our primary example, but remember the same phenomenon applies to swimming and cycling.

The camera zooms in on ten East Africans mid-marathon and their 4:45 per mile pace looks almost effortless. What’s needed is some sort of computer generated avatar of a recreational runner superimposed on the same course to begin appreciating how insanely fast the elite runners are going. With smart televisions of the near future, we should be able to program personal avatars, whether we’re watching running, swimming, or cycling. I’d program my runner to hold 8 minute miles; my swimmer, 1:30 per 100 yards; and my cyclist, 20mph. Once programmed, we can sit back and marvel at how quickly and often we get overtaken.

Case in point. Last week a 22-year-old Ethiopian star, Yomif Kejelcha, broke a 22-year-old indoor world record in the mile, running 3:47:01 at a meet in Boston.

When I’m rested and running with purpose I can hold 7:40 miles for an hour or two. If I set my avatar for a 7:35-7:40/mile pace on the same 400 meter track at the same time as Keljecha, in just four laps, he would pass me for the second time just before crossing the finish line. Twice as fast. I’m no burner, but probably less slow than 85-90% of recreational runners.

Long story short, if you watched Kejelcha run four laps in the time it takes me to run two, you’d have a much, much better appreciation for his freakish speed.