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All the old history was written for the amusement of the ruling classes.  The lower classes couldn’t read, and their rulers didn’t care about remembering what happened to them.
    —     Francis Zappa
As quoted by his son:  Frank Zappa
From his book:  “The Real Frank Zappa Book
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On This Day In:
2021 Together Forever
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2020 Still Learning
2019 Almost Hallmark
Beyond All Reason
2018 Daydreams And Wanna-Be’s
Or Work For #45
2017 Summer Pale
2016 Ain’t It Funny
2015 At Both Ends
2014 Whiner(s)
2013 Just Passing Through
2012 Dog-gone Heaven
2011 Occasional, Sad Results

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It was recognized that free trade in goods, though to be continued, was likely to be much less important to rich countries in the future than freedom for international and transnational telecommunications.  Now that factories (except in low wage areas) were bound to become more and more automated, people in the rich northern one-third of the world would mostly be in white collar jobs where they would be working with their imaginations rather than their hands.  But people in such jobs would not necessarily need to live near their workplaces.  What should be the nationality and tax position of a Belgian dress designer who lives in Monte Carlo and St Moritz in the winter, at Stratford-on-Avon in the spring, and Corfu in the summer, and does his work by daily telecommunication through a portable console to colleagues and computers at the largely automated textile factory at Volgograd where he works – who becomes, in fact, a telecommuter?
    —     General Sir John Hackett (et al)
From: “The Third World War: August 1985
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On This Day In:
2021 Still A Work In Progress
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2020 Three Stooges
2019 #Impeach45: Halt The Slide Into Tryanny
2018 Expecting Profit
2017 In Spite Of The President
2016 And Sets
And My God For His Graces
2015 About Character
2014 Your Gain
2013 Look Up
2012 Count Me In
2011 Pirates Four, Three Songs
Sir Charles
Look First, Not Last
2010 Par-a-diddle

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The wars of the late nineteenth century – the American Civil War, for example and the Franco-Prussian War – were wars of the railway, the telegraph, breech-loading small arms and tinned rations.  The seas were dominated by the ironclad.  At the beginning of the twentieth century the Russo-Japanese War show to any who cared to learn the dominance on the battlefield of the spade, barbed wire and automatic weapons.  The First World War rammed home the same lesson, in a war in which the internal combustion engine, artillery, the submarine, air power and armoured vehicles became the dominant features.  The Second World War was one of worldwide mobility on land and sea and in the air, of total mobilization of population and industrial reserves, of sea power and of air forces.  It ended in the shadow of the nuclear weapon.  The Third World War was widely expected to be the first nuclear war – and perhaps the last.  It turned out in the event to be essentially a war of electronics.
    —     General Sir John Hackett (et al)
From his book:  “The Third World War: August 1985
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On This Day In:
2021 The Correct Answer Will Be In The Form Of A Question
Listen Up
2020 Testing To Open The Economy Safely
2019 Or Thought I’d Thought
2018 Go And Dare
2017 And Wealth A Poor Substitute For Ability
2016 Neither Darkness Nor Shadows
2015 It Took Roots
2014 Hard Evidence
2013 Full Participation
2012 Roving (Again)
Ooops, Again
2011 Why Not?

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Russia is still contending with the collapse of the Soviet Union.  Russia can meddle in Ukraine at the margins, but threats to fully invade and occupy a country of more than 44 million people aren’t credible.  That big a move would cost too many Russian lives and too many rubles for a chronically weak – and weakening – Russian economy.  In recent months, Belarus provided the latest example of the post-Soviet demand for fundamental change and the need to shoot people to keep protests under control.  In the most recent presidential election in Moldova, a Harvard-educated economist toppled a pro-Kremlin incumbent.  Last year, Turkey’s backing for Azerbaijan dealt a humiliating defeat to Russian ally Armenia in a region that Russia once dominated.  Beijing is increasingly competing for influence with Moscow among the former Soviet Central Asian states.
    —     Ian Bremmer
From his opinion piece:  “The Risk Report: What game is Putin playing?
Appearing in:  Time Magazine;  dtd:  21/28 June 2021
[It seems the “threat” of invasion was a little more “credible” than Mr. Bremmer believed (the editorial was from 2021).  IF the West continues to support Ukraine and IF Putin doesn’t resort to tactical nukes, it appears Mr. Bremmer will ultimately be proven correct that Russia bit off it bit more than it could chew (let alone conquer).    —    KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2021 Or Faith In A Creator…
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2020 Nearer My God To Thee, By George
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2019 Laugh With Me
2018 Both Sides, Mr. President?
2017 Republicans Better Wake Up
2016 Truth Telling
2015 To Be Effective In The Modern World
2014 A Little Cover
2013 Binding
2012 Lift
2011 Another Good Movie, Another Excellent Book
miSFits
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In absolute terms, moreover, the mass and volume (to say nothing of the cost) of all that was required, particularly in fuel and munitions, to maintain an army in field operations at an intensive rate against a similarly equipped opponent, was now very great.  It had taken a quantitative jump since the Second World War.  Warfare in the Middle East in the seventies had shown this very clearly, if on relatively small scale.  It was just no longer possible, at the rate at which stocks could now be exhausted, to sustain intensive operations of war for months on end.  Head – and equipment – counts were no longer the true measure of an army’s capability.  Formation in large numbers could be a liability rather than an advantage unless they could be kept effectively in action.
The Soviet war-fighting philosophy, from whatever origins it may been evolved, was in the circumstances of the 1980s exactly right.  It enjoined the initiation of total and violent offensive action, swiftly followed through to the early attainment of a valuable objective.  The position of military advantage thus secured would then be exploited by political means.  Speed was everything. The corollary was that failure to secure the objective in good time must result in a thorough-going reappraisal, in which to continue to press towards the same end might very well be the least sensible course.
    —     General Sir John Hackett (et al)
From the “future-history” novel:  “The Third World War: August 1985
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On This Day In:
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2020 #IncompetentTrump And His Pandemic Briefings
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2019 I Hope So
2018 Painted Into
2017 Prayers, Miracles And Lottery Tickets
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2016 Dignity And Grace
2015 Is It Warm Enough For You
2014 What The Right STILL Wants
2013 Embrace Serendipity
2012 Your Order, Please
2011 Well Enough Anyway

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The Fed has had almost no success gently bring down inflation once an economy has started to overheat.
The long-run threat (facing the economy) is that we will cease to be one effective country.  Whether that’s a failure of public investment in everything ranging from collecting the taxes that are owed – where there will be $7 trillion in taxes that are owed but not paid over the next decade;  that is a huge loss to the government  …  [and] a huge source of injustice because most of the nonpayment comes among the highest-income Americans.  Whether it is the fact that at the early stage, we were dependent on other countries for masks, and we were not well prepared for a pandemic, despite the fact that there had been repeated warnings that a next pandemic would come.  Whether it is the fact that it takes half an hour longer on the schedule to fly from Boston to Washington that it did when I first started taking the trip regularly 40 years ago.  This falling-apart of society is our greatest long-term threat.
I think another important part of the calculus is that when governments lose control over money, people tend to lose confidence in them.  Progressives need to ponder the fact that when they’re not able to keep inflation under control, they can pay a very large political price.
    —     Larry Summers
Former Secretary of the Treasury
In an interview with / by:  Eben Shapiro
The interview was titled:  “The Leadership Brief: Inflation worries are keeping Larry Summers up at night
Appearing in:  Time Magazine;  dtd:  21/28 June 2021
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On This Day In:
2021 Questioned By Life
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2020 Trying To Grow Pearls?
2019 Instantly Turned
2018 Sitting
2017 No Right Way
2016 Still Ticklish
2015 Maybe Sooner Than You Think
2014 The Path Of Mastery
2013 Love’s Ignorance
2012 Here’s To Enjoyment
2011 Not Just The Facts, Ma’am

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Every day, in countless ways, the competitive position of each of our businesses grows either weaker or stronger.  If we are delighting customers, eliminating unnecessary costs and improving our products and services, we gain strength.  But if we treat customers with indifference or tolerate bloat, our businesses will wither.  On a daily basis, the effects of our actions are imperceptible;  cumulatively, though, their consequences are enormous.
When our long-term competitive position improves as a result of these almost unnoticeable actions, we describe the phenomenon as “widening the moat.”  And doing that is essential if we are to have the kind of business we want a decade or two from now.  We always, of course, hope to earn more money in the short-term.  But when short-term and long-term conflict, widening the moat must take precedence.  If a management makes bad decisions in order to hit short-term earnings targets, and consequently gets behind the eight-ball in terms of costs, customer satisfaction or brand strength, no amount of subsequent brilliance will overcome the damage that has been inflicted.  Take a look at the dilemmas of managers in the auto and airline industries today as they struggle with the huge problems handed them by their predecessors.  Charlie [Munger] is fond of quoting Ben Franklin’s “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  But sometimes no amount of cure will overcome the mistakes of the past.
    —     Warren Buffett
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On This Day In:
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2019 Never Let ‘Em See You Sweat
2018 Just Two?
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2016 At This Moment
2015 Still Dreaming
2014 Good Wins
2013 Before
2012 Look To This Day
2011 One View Of Man

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Conversations about democracy, technology and the economic dominance of surveillance capitalism are now inseparable.  Looking ahead to the year 2030, I put my bet on democracy because it’s the best idea humanity has ever had, despite all of its obvious imperfections.  When I wake up every morning, I’m thinking about what I can do to contribute to this so that our societies mobilize to double down on democracy.  This begins with saying out loud that the current state of affairs is intolerable.  As citizens, we begin by joining together in our communities, organizations, associations, political networks to demand an end to commercial surveillance.  Our lawmakers hear from the tech lobbyists every day.  They need to feel us at their backs instead.  We are poised at a new beginning, and not a moment too late.
    —    Shoshana Zuboff
From her interview:  “Living up to the promises of the digital age
Appearing in:  Time Magazine;  dtd:  1 / 8 February 2021
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On This Day In:
2020 Still On The Obstacle Course?
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2019 Expecting A December Correction
2018 Dominoes II (Update From Last Year’s Post)
2017 Dominoes
2016 Itchin’
2015 In The Not So Distant Future
2014 Sources
2013 Three Essentials
2012 Just Looking
2011 Religious Lessons
2010 View From Under The Bus… (A mid-term report card on the Obama Administration. Long, but still worth reading for historical perspective.)

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Personal autonomy and democracy are under assault from surveillance capitalism.  And yet today’s tech industry is largely unregulated, having emerged in the midst of an era of deregulation and defunding of enforcement agencies.  This has allowed tech giants to behave as unelected governments.  Their communications systems have become central to our way of life, as the impact of this week’s Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp outage underscores, but they have their thumb on the scale, amplifying content that triggers fear and outrage because doing so maximizes profits.
The sad truth is that the unregulated tech industry produces products that are unsafe.  Congress has faced the challenge of dangerous products in the past.  When the food and medicine industries were unsafe, Congress created the Food and Drug Administration.  When petrochemical companies dumped toxic waste indiscriminately, Congress approved a series of environmental laws.  Just like tech companies today, the affected industries claimed they would not be able to operate with regulation, but that turned out to be wrong.  Now we need something like an FDA for technology products, designed to prevent harmful technologies from coming to market.  For qualifying products, it would set safety standards, require annual safety audits and certification as a condition for every product, and impose huge financial penalties for any harms that result.  There should also be amendments to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to create better incentives for Internet platforms.
Congress also needs to protect people’s privacy from relentless surveillance.  My preference would be for Congress to ban surveillance capitalism just as it banned child labor in 1938.  (The many industries that employed child labor complained then that they could not survive without it.)  At a minimum, Congress must ban third-party use of sensitive data, such as that related to health, location, financial transactions, web browsing and app data.
The third area for legislation is competition, where Congress needs to update antitrust laws for the 21st century.  The six-hour outage of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp illustrated for many one downside of monopoly:  absolute dependence on a service.
All of this may be true in Mark Zuckerberg’s mind, but the design of Facebook’s business model suggests that growth and profits are the only factors driving “the company we know.”
Based on the evidence of the past five years, one might say that Internet platforms have launched an attack against democracy and self-determination.  It is a battle they will win unless voters and policymakers join forces to reassert their power.  We have been losing the battle since 2016, but I would like to believe that this week was a turning point.
We have the power.  The question is whether we have the courage to use it.
     —     Roger McNamee
From the article:  “Facebook Will Not Fix Itself
Appearing in:  Time Magazine; dtd: 25 Oct / 1 Nov 2021
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2018 #PresidentBoneSpur
2017 My Staggering Confusion
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2016 And Bloggers?
2015 Ethical Energy
2014 Are You Likely To Defend It?
2013 Might As Well
2012 The Long And Short Of It
2011 Bravery

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“We cannot ignore the effect of rapid development of the local economy on the loss of wildlife habitat,” Professor Zhang Li, a renowned expert on Asian elephant migration at Beijing Normal University, wrote on his Weibo page.  “Clear waters and green mountains are as valuable as mountains of gold and silver.  A healthy and complete ecosystem is the cornerstone of sustainable economic development.”
    —     Charlie Campbell
From his article:  “China’s herd of wandering elephants may be climate-change migrants
Appearing in:  Time Magazine;  dtd: 2-9 August 2021
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On This Day In:
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2017 And Some Of Us Have Books
2016 I See No Proof
2015 Whither Tea Party?
2014 Nothing Is Known Absolutely
2013 Decoration Time
2012 The Beatitudes
2011 Good Fences Make Good Neighbors
2010 Back On The Asphalt
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The value of a telecommunication network is proportional to the square of the number of connected users of the system.
    —    Robert Metcalfe
(aka:  “Metcalfe’s Law“)
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On This Day In:
2020 I Hadn’t Thought Of That
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2019 Knocking On Impeachment’s Door
2018 Do You Remember?
2017 Choose Life
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2015 No Less
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2013 Running To
2012 Suddenly
2011 Liberal Washington
2010 Giants Advance To NLCS!!

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Derivatives are dangerous.  They have dramatically increased the leverage and risks in our financial system.  They have made it almost impossible for investors to understand and analyze our largest commercial banks and investment banks.
    —     Warren Buffett
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On This Day In:
2020 Explaining And Gilding
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2019 Lead To Action
2018 Listen And See
2017 The Big Illusion
2016 What Are You Thinking About?
2015 What The Framers Chose
2014 Lost Anything Lately?
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2013 Serve The World
2012 Acquaintance, n.
2011 On Why His Father Was A Great Teacher
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Leaving the question of price aside, the best business to own is one that over an extended period can employ large amounts of incremental capital at very high rates of return.  The worst business to own is one that must, or will, do the opposite – that is, consistently employ ever-greater amounts of capital at very low rates of return.  Unfortunately, the first type of business is very hard to find:  Most high-return businesses need relatively little capital.  Shareholders of such a business usually will benefit if it pays out most of its earnings in dividends or makes significant stock repurchases.
Though the mathematical calculations required to evaluate equities are not difficult, an analyst – even one who is experienced and intelligent – can easily go wrong in estimating future “coupons.”  At Berkshire, we attempt to deal with this problem in two ways.  First, we try to stick to businesses we believe we understand.  That means they must be relatively simple and stable in character.  If a business is complex or subject to constant change, we’re not smart enough to predict future cash flows.  Incidentally, that shortcoming doesn’t bother us.  What counts for most people in investing is not how much they know, but rather how realistically they define what they don’t know.  An investor needs to do very few things right as long as he or she avoids big mistakes.
Second, and equally important, we insist on a margin of safety in our purchase price.  If we calculate the value of a common stock to be only slightly higher than its price, we’re not interested in buying.  We believe this margin-of-safety principle, so strongly emphasized by Ben Graham, to be the cornerstone of investment success.
    —     Warren Buffett
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2016 But, It’s Such A Simple Mistake
2015 Crawl Towards The Light
2014 Sweet Songs
2013 The Wife Of An Ordinary Man
2012 Three Words
2011 Know Anyone Like This?
2010 Apoplexy??
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Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living.  The world owes you nothing.  It was here first.
    —     Mark Twain
[Whether we leave it habitable or not is a different question…    —    KMAB]
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On This Day In:
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2019 The Far Side
2018 Hold On
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2017 Why Don’t You Tell Us What You Really Think?
2016 Discontent
2015 Do You Know Me?
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2014 Tough Journalism
2013 Things I’ve Learned
2012 Abstainer, n.
2011 Rain, Rain, Rain
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2009 End the mistakes…

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In the long run, the aggressive civilizations destroy themselves, almost always.  It’s their nature.  They can’t help it.
    —    Carl Sagan
[Does anybody else remember when being a conservative Republican meant supporting the troops, law and order and an efficient, cost effective government?  Now, Republicans criticize the commander of the Joint Chiefs, support insurrection in the Capitol Building and are threatening to ruin the “good faith and credit” of the United States by refusing to raise the debt ceiling.  Let’s recall, the current budget (which Congress agreed to) was signed by a Republican President.  These are debts the Republicans ALREADY committed to owing when they passed last year’s budget.    —    KMAB]
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2018 Does Smiling Count?
2017 Giving Much
2016 Sounds Like Class
2015 Inert Ideas
2014 Worth Anything?
2013 Bruises Before Bed (Or Why You Didn’t Answer)
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2012 Extra Gears
2011 Say What?
2010 Hello Frogs…

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