Monday, April 18, 2022

Playing with fire, poking the Russian bear

 From current news:  https://news.yahoo.com/amphtml/russias-debt-default-one-hardest-080000031.html

I was asked - Is this war, a path to war?

I think the news is credible but it is not war, yet. The US is pushing to bankrupt Russia and Putin may start a war as a way to stay in power, so our neocon crazies are playing with fire. Continuing to play with it as they have done with Ukraine. But, as we saw with Argentina and Chile in the 80's and 90's default does not create wars. It forces a government change via either a public vote, or revolution, or a military coup. Russia is more likely to have a  military coup than anything else, so no gain for the pain in the end - thank our neocon fools. 

 Banks, US and EU, would take huge losses if there is no negotiated settlement, so before default, there will be a negotiated settlement that inflicts enormous pain to the Russians to save the banks. That's what happened with Greece in 2015.  The people pay the price for the games US neocons play (see Afghanistan, Iraq, Lybia, Syria).  See my post on Greece from 2015 http://marcomessina.blogspot.com/2015/07/a-simple-view-of-greece-and-grexit.html  That forecast is true today  Something similar will happen to Russia (barring Armageddon) but the added risk is: Russia has nukes and Greece did not. Different stakes same fools in charge. Fingers crossed.

A sobering update from 4/18/22 9p MST  https://www.newsweek.com/putins-iskander-missiles-are-battle-tested-can-carry-nuclear-warheads-1698559?utm_source=PushnamiMailing&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=automatic&UTM=1650324671734&subscriberId=5efd004a23994a6b8781312b


Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Sic Semper Tyrannis

11/2/21 

Did you notice last night, on whatever channel you watch the news, the emblem of Virginia? Sic Semper Tyrannis - "This way end all tyrants" (under the image is of young maiden standing on the throat of the tyrant). Well it could have not happened in a better place. The anti-woke revolt may have started.

As one of the anchors said "Let's go Brandon" - BTW if the expression means nothing to you, get hip and read the meaning and funny origin here. (ingenuity of American crowds and media).
Like all revolutions, it took time and a lucky accident (and blessings from above) to get the needed steam, but the optimist that I am, I can see the Cultural Revolution that I fear starting to fade away (maybe). A friend in France told me yesterday "America seems to be on the razor's edge, will it come back before it's lost?". Maybe. 
Sic Semper Tyrannis
https://www.washingtonpost.com/elections/election-results/virginia/

Thursday, October 28, 2021

von Mises saw it coming

 This post is a 2018 reprint by the Mises Institute of a speech given by the economist Ludvig Von Mises in 1950 in NYC

His forecast of what was to come is simply amazing and frightening. 
Were it not for the short interlude of the Regan and Thatcher administrations the US and UK would be where the rest of Europe and much of the world are today, but judging from current economic policy proposals we seem to be on track to follow after all.
The case is made so simply and clearly that a child could get it. It would seem that naivete, wishful thinking and/or the propensity to appropriate someone else's wealth are too strong for most humans to resist.

Pass this on in case we can still change enough minds before our children are abandoned to a future of a Chinese-style existence.


The Middle of the Road Leads to Socialism

TAGS Socialism

01/11/2018Ludwig von Mises

The fundamental dogma of all brands of socialism and communism is that the market economy or capitalism is a system that hurts the vital interests of the immense majority of people for the sole benefit of a small minority of rugged individualists. It condemns the masses to progressing impoverishment. It brings about misery, slavery, oppression, degradation and exploitation of the working men, while it enriches a class of idle and useless parasites.

This doctrine was not the work of Karl Marx. It had been developed long before Marx entered the scene. Its most successful propagators were not the Marxian authors, but such men as Carlyle and Ruskin, the British Fabians, the German professors, and the American Institutionalists. And it is a very significant fact that the correctness of this dogma was contested only by a few economists who were very soon silenced and barred from access to the universities, the press, the leadership of political parties and, first of all, public office. Public opinion by and large accepted the condemnation of capitalism without any reservation.

Monday, August 16, 2021

Perspective from my 70th birthday

 Yesterday I turned 70. The world could care less. A few dear friends did and threw me a party in case I do not make it to 71. Fingers crossed.

Today the world is different: America is legitimately embarrassed by the incompetence of our leaders - watch Suday 8/15/21 videos of people falling off airplanes escaping from Kabul. How could we come to this? Some would say: Simple. History repeats itself: elect an incompetent like Carter (Biden) as a knee-jerk reaction to a personally objectable President like Nixon (Trump) and your fate is sealed. History is not kind to amateurs and incompetents.  Carter should have stuck to Habitat charities, Biden to credit card lobbying.  As with Carter (a real nice person but unfit), we are set for inflation, recession, "malaise" and geopolitical embarrassment (Iran then, Afganistan now), energy dependence (Biden just begged OPEC for help - to his credit Carter knew better than that). Our chief general Millie (Gen. Woke, also the mastermind of Afgan Army and Police training since 2003) was more concerned with promoting LGBTQ and gender studies in our military than in winning strategies and limiting losses getting out of Afghanistan.

I see the world through an old and odd lens foreign to today's younger crowd: 

I grew up in an Italy rebuilding after WWII destruction, I saw the power of a free economy destroyed by socialism and communism in 68-75, - yes, Italy, it has the largest communist party in non-USSR western Europe countries and to this day the highest unemployment outside of Greece in the EU. When I came to the US (legally) in 1970 I saw Black Panther riots in the US and the Student for Democratic Society and associated terrorism, I applauded the welcome sacking of Nixon, the catastrophic electoral response electing Carter. After immigrating legally a second time, I saw the recovery of America with Regan (the "Regan recession" was most painful to me personally, but it worked for the country. I believe that the Regan/Thatcher economic policies are the reason for the difference in today's economies and standards of living of US-UK vs. the rest of Europe). Then I witnessed the corruption of national finances and character brought by Clinton, then Bush's disastrous extension of the Afgan War and the conning of the country to go to war in Iraq, on and on.

From those experiences, I conclude that history is a sequence of ups and downs. Biden has just shown us one of the most costly downs in recent history. Incompetence does not come close to describe it, but should have been expected. The criteria for a person's selection to a task are no longer competence, just woke-fitness. So we, Americans, pay the financial cost (interest on Afganistan and Iraq wars is estimated at 6.5 trillion by 2050 - the kids will pay for it). Afghans will pay a personal price and in the geopolitical future untold numbers will see their world upended.

It is not what I had hoped to enter the end of my days

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Logotherapy - Part Psychiatry Part Philosophy

In my continuing search for answers to the riddle of life, I took the online course Introduction to Logotherapy a subject that has held my curiosity for years since reading Victor Frankl's  Man's Search For Meaning. The course is taught by Batya Yaniger PsyD at the Viktor Frankl Institute of Logotherapy in Israel. The course has been an awesome experience.

As it is my habit to really learn anything I read, I developed a mindmap of the main concepts in each chapter of the second part of the book - Logotherapy In A Nutshell, my crumbs trail to go back and search through.  Search away, I hope you find half of the answers I found.

Another presentation of Logotherapy is by Dean Theophilos, MA, LCPC, CRADC, LPCC, LADC, NCC -Licensed Therapist - The Mansio Center, Inc.499 Anthony St. Glen Ellyn, IL 60137


Wednesday, September 4, 2019

The Road to Serfdom

In the mid 1940's, as a result of WWII won with the use of centralized economic planning, many US citizens began to believe the centralized planning with a socialist bent was the more efficient way to go forth into the future. Today as we look for concerted action on Global Warming, conflated with a new search for economic justice, the popular thinking seems to be going in the same direction.

The idea that a benevolent bureaucracy elected by and responsive to the people could more efficiently direct society toward salvation, wellbeing, social equality, and morality than individuals pursuing their crass economic interest, is easy to buy into. But I lived through the destruction of industry and productivity in Italy during the mid 60's to mid 70's (lasting to this day) that birthed social democracy and included various experiments in many cities with socialist and communist administrations. To this day, economic opportunity, wellbeing, benevolent public bureaucracies are still to be found. With that history, I understood the warning that Nobel-Price Economist Friedrich Hayek offered in "The Road to Serfdom". 

His book and warning, however, would have been too academic, pedantic heavy-lifting for most readers. In a stroke of luck, the Reader's Digest, the most read magazine of that time (still barely available today in airports' bookstores) published a summarized version of it in April 1945. Millions read it, millions got the point, and America's short love with socialism ended at the ballot box. Most countries in Europe, at some point in the 40's to 90's flirted with the socialist experiment and with few exceptions still pay a high price with economic stagnation, bloated government bureaucracies and loss of their most educated and motivated citizens to other countries.

With this experience in mind, I publish here my extract of The Reader's Digest condensed version of The Road to Serfdom contained in the complete IEA publication below.

The complete version, with more background, introductory notes, references to publications of the time, etc as published by IEA is available HERE

iPhones and Androids have free apps that can read a pdf file to you. After you open the link above you can download the pdf and listen to it at your convenience.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Must Read: from Ryan Holyday of DailyStoic.com

https://dailystoic.com/

If You’re Angry, You’re Part of the Problem, Not the Solution

Here is my latest post on Medium...
It’s ironic that the only thing we all seem to agree on lately is that there’s a lot to be angry about.
On the left, we have the insurgent anger of “resistance.” Race, gender, police brutality, immigration, the environment — unspeakable wrongs are happening right in front of us, they argue — and anyone who can’t see that is complicit. The other side has just as much rage. Just a few weeks ago, Sohrab Ahmari, a Catholic convert and editor for The New York Post became a hero on the right for arguing that the stakes of the culture war are so high that it’s time for conservatives to do away with Christian kindness and civil discussion in favor of seeing “politics as war and enmity.”
If you’re not outraged, they both tell us, “You’re not paying attention.”

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

One more for the bucket list

Somewhere in my bucket list, one item has been outstanding a long time: To publish a novel that I had started writing in 2006. It started as science fiction and a test of whether I could write a novel almost 100% dialogue. It was fun in the beginning, dreaming of the future and imagining a conversation with my grandchildren. Alas, finding an end proved to take years and almost became a challenge beyond my patience. Then, one day, it came to me and I finally wrote "The End".

Finishing a draft of a short story and publishing it are universes apart I discovered. Editing is harder than writing, proofreading is mindlessly hard. Even when you are done with months of all of that, how do you publish an ebook? I ran aground again. Then on my birthday, I decided it had to be done no matter if less than perfect. As Facebook admonishes its staff "done beats perfect", and so it was.
Amazon was the first channel for the Kindle version of The Yoda Machine. It was easier than I had imagined, quick, and free.  You can find it here. Soon I discovered that despite the supposed popularity of Kindle, none of my friends had it. Kindle Reader is available free for every possible mobile device and OS, but getting family and friends to install it appeared to be too heavy lifting.
Draft2Digital was the next platform I tried for the Epub version of The Yoda Machine. Not nearly as automatic as Amazon to format correctly, but still quick and easy and free. It automatically submits your ebook to a multitude of publishers (Kobo, Scribd, B&N and more), it collects royalties and it generates ebooks in various formats (epub, mobi, pdf) that you can download in finished form for whatever purpose you wish.

(2018 update) In time I hired a professional editor to review and advise. To one raised Catholic mortification cannot ever be a surprise. Well, it was. Starting from scratch on something very different seemed to be the message heard. Time passed, mortification subsided, as it always does, and The Yoda Machine remained published, in need of a 2nd edition, all to happen someday.

So, one more is off the bucket list. Now back to writing software a clearly more appreciated endeavor.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Beware easy answers and political dynasties

I am tired of the litany of insults. I am not uneducated (MBA), not a misogynist (women friends will attest to it), not retarded (can prove somewhat above 100), nor violent (I am for guns controls and have none). Still, holding my nose and with all my fingers crossed, I will vote for Trump as the lesser of two evils. Here is why:
1. I trust the American political system enough to keep a buffoon from doing much damage. The Congress shackled Obama for eight years to do little, and only one party was at it. With two parties in opposition, President Trump will do little other than talking big and delivering less. The Founding Father designed the system to do just that. ANd based on current count of friends, few cronies and lobbyists should be able to come to the through to collect.
2. Conversely, the election of another Clinton who believes that the law does not apply to them is the beginning of a political dynasty.
2. I firmly believe that ANY political dynasty is a recipe for disaster. A lesson we should have learned with the Bushes' gifts of the Neocons and Iraq.
But just in case we need education from the experience of the rest of the world, here it goes:  In all cases (after WWII) where spouses followed spouses in a similar position of power (may not be the same title), corruption reigned supreme. But the issue is not the wives, there are even more examples in the more general sense of a close relative following a close relative. In ALL cases, to the best of my memory and research, they resulted from, or advanced, corruption of their respective political systems. In many cases the results were catastrophic, as n GW Bush. One can easily conclude that dynasties corrupt political systems either because a ruling class fosters cronism or because the cronies of the first leader elect the second to retain and advance their position.
Look at the world. Exceptional as America may be, it would be hard to escape the pattern:
a  Juan and Isabel Peron in Argentina in the 70’s (husband and wife)
b  Kirchners in Argentina in 2000’s (husband and wife)
c  The Aquinos in the Philippines (husband would have been president if not assassinated, Corazon, the wife, became President, her son became President too)
d  Nehru and Gandhi in India (Mother Indira Gandhi followed her father (Nehru) and son Sanjay virtually ran the country under her administration)
e  GHW Bush and GW Bush in the US (father and son) already mentioned for thegift of the Neocons and Iraq
f  Mandelas in South Africa (husband and wife controlled the ANC gorvernment) raised corruption to a science
g  Imelda Marcos Provincial Governor while husband Ferdinand was President
h  and in 2016, the ultimate, Nicaragua's Ortega is running for a third term with his wife on the ticket (Bill Clinton might have called it "two for the price of two")

After her great speech performance of the last few days, may we expect Michelle Obama to take a cut at it? But if Hillary gets it, my money is on "Chelsea for 2020", by then, maybe, with her husband)

Beware political dynasties was good advice for ancient Rome and for the Founding Fathers, and still is today. Of course, there is the risk of passing up on a very qualified leader along the way, but history would show it to be well justified to avoid the risk of walking into dynastic politics which have never been dislodged without a violent upheaval.
Beware the easy answer.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Exorcising a ski run

This story is an attempt at an exorcism of sorts. I'm writing it with the hope of getting out of my mind the experience I had skiing with some friends yesterday at Park City/Canyons.
Two days before Darlene, Linda and I had skied Grande, a double black rated run off the Tombstone Chairlift. The snow had been great, not untracked, but nice and soft. The run is challenging because it requires skiing in tight trees to reach an open bowl that is quite steep but easily manageable. Above the bowl is a is rocky face un-skiable by anyone with a working brain. Last Friday, the rock face was roped off and with a yellow sign with an arrow pointing to skier's-left to avoid the rocks. With deep snow, it is a great run.
Yesterday at the end of a great ski day with Darlene and Linda, we decided to ski Grande again as our closing run. We entered the run too far at skier's-right without noticing that the rope above the rocks was missing. As we started traversing to the left looking for more familiar terrain I found myself on the rock face with Linda closely behind. I barely managed to bushwhack my way above and out of that mess, back to safer terrain. There, I noticed that we were well below the familiar yellow arrow-sign above the rock face and that the orange out-of-bounds rope had been pulled and thrown behind a tree by some irresponsible fool. Linda, instead, was still stuck on the frozen rocks with her skis tangled in barbed-wire-like low bushes of scrub oak. In the hope of freeing herself from the bad spot,

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Memories From A Tech Startup (back in the stone age)

My story, below, was prompted by reading that an Atari video game cartridges from a 1980's landfill sold for $37,000.  The past rushed back at me as I re-lived an earlier very dramatic time of my life. Brace yourself.

If your first video game console was a Nintendo, this story might as well be about dinosaurs or the Roman Empire or The Middle Ages.  If you are older than that you might find some memories and may notice that little has changed since those times except the absolute speed of change (the relative speed of change has not and more of that later). In hindsight, the risks of high-tech startups do not seem to have changed much and the planning to deal with it requires the same considerations today as it did then. The roman-candle story of RomLabs Inc. may give us a glimpse into it.

The business environment

It's 1983, the first "video games bubble" has been running since 1980-81 and it was a classic "bubble" unbeknownst to all industry participants.  The key players of the second generation of video games devices included video game console (VGC) makers Atari, Intellivision, Coleco (also Commodore, Radioshack, Texas Instruments) and third party developers (game software only) Imagic, Activision and Electronic Arts and a host of other minor participants.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Ryan Scobby - Musician

We had waited a long time for our son Ryan to find time and means to come and visit us in Park City.
 Finally, hurrah! he came. It was to be a visit of learning and discovery.

Let's start with the learning part: shortly after his arrival I jokingly asked Ry if he had already found a hook up in town using Tinder.
[Side bar: That was my opening to tell him what I had read about Tinder in a post on Vanity Fair,
which presumably would make me look current and well informed. I had read the story describing the users of Tinder and the fast hook up culture in NYC, which, shared with my late middle-age women friends at a recent party, had generated great surprise, curiosity, laughs and, for some, horror]

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Can we learn to die purposefully?

Read this article.  "Slipping Away" It is a terrifying life log of a young man with an incurable disease. See yourself in one of the two main roles of the story. Take a very long breath. Hope that your life will not make you live either role, then read my thoughts born out of imagining that nightmare.

Naturally, genetically we are programmed to live, almost at any cost. We spend all our life even before day one practicing staying alive. In most culture the "will to live against all odds" is glorified. If one said "life is overrated" one would probably be judged either suicidal or mentally unbalanced. But, perhaps, could we learn to be less attached to our own life to be better people, better siblings, parents, children to our counterparts in those relationships? If we could learn to value our lives less for ourselves and more for them?

It is lost in the darkness of history and of the history of phylosophy, forgotten in our modern cultural make up, but this is not a new idea. The Stoics beginning in the 3rd century CE elaborated a concept of a "virtuous life" where self sacrifice is ethically appropriate under specific, objectively definable circumstances.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

I feel like a total idiot

I am here at my laptop reading the usual daily dose of posts on science, technology, medicine genetics, food science, etc. that make me the eternal optimist that I am. Earlier I finished my daily reading of geopolitics, global economics, Grexit, Iran, ISIS, Middle East, oil shortages, famines, US Presidential Elections, etc. that sorely test my belief in optimistic outcomes.

Along the way, with whatever I read, I code posts for subject, interest, and whatever keywords may help me find the post at some later date. I've done it for years. Unable to remember correctly all details I encounter, I resort to coding all I read for retrieval to recall and quote correctly. Some friends think I have a great memory - I wish. I just have a retrieval system designed to support my curiosity of virtually anything that the internet provides. That's a lot. But, I just found a simple system that helps my mediocre memory look smart to those that do not look behind the curtain.

Monday, July 6, 2015

A Simple View of Greece and Grexit

This was originally written for my grandchildren to explain the messy world we live in, It's a terribly simplified view, but why not see what the world thinks.

Who pays for Greece's past follies? To greater or lesser degrees we all will. The farther we are from Greece the smaller the impact. Just as waves that hit us coming from a pebble dropped in a pond. In the US, we are far from the pebble, in Europe the waves will be bigger. To the citizens of Greece they will be monstrous, crushing and their personal pain will be long lasting. But INFLATION is the ultimate solver of tragic imbalances between countries and the world and it will handle this one too. How?

We live in a global financial world that could be finite, but is not. It could be finite if all governments stopped printing currencies. Inflation would be 0 but we'd have difficulties to adjust to trade imbalances and making economic adjustments because "the pie" is getting bigger. We need tiny inflation for slack and room to grow.