Thursday, March 2, 2017

Penguin Random House Makes a Huge Investment

One time POTUS B.Hussein Obama and his queen Michelle have made a deal with Penguin Random House to publish books that are yet to be written. Publishing figures say that the two are likely to receive in excess of $65 million for their literary efforts. It would seem to be very optimistic that an advance of this extent would be profitable for the book company but it's their money.

On the other hand, by showering the couple with greenbacks, the publishing giant has less money to spend purchasing the works of other, less notable writers. Maybe readers should be upset that such a financial commitment has been made to what will surely be a limited output of verbiage, regardless of its wisdom. This sort of thing shouldn't be encouraged. Furthermore, it seems likely that the income from the sales of other expensive books will be used to subsidize the Obama tomes should they fail to be the blockbuster hits they're projected to be.

In response to this deal normal readers should try to stay away from not only the Obama books themselves, which will, of course, be available in libraries and thrift stores soon after release, but also other books published by the conglomeration. Just say "No" to Penguin Random House. 

Sunday, February 26, 2017

G. M. Trevelyan on Life Under The Stuarts

Every age has methods of its own peculiarly attractive to those who prefer to intrigue for a fortune rather than to work for a living. In those days a young man of more wit than modesty had only to attach himself to some Lord at the Palace, be found by the King in raptures in his picture gallery and by the Queen in thoughtful attendance in her antechapel and he might soon look for shares in a monopoly that was the hope of the Treasurer and the despair of the City.
A Parliament man, speaking the mind of the nation in the day of reckoning, thus describes the patentees of this period:

 It is a nest of wasps, or swarm of vermin, which have overcrept the land, I mean the monopolers polers of the people. These, like the frogs of Egypt, have got possession of our dwellings, and we have scarce a room free from them: they sip in our cup, the dip in our dish, they sit by our fire; we find them in the dye-vat, wash bowl, and powdering-tub; they share with the butler in his box, the have marked and sealed us from head to foot....They have a vizard to hid the brand made by that good law in the last Parliament of King James; they shelter themselves under the name of Corporations.

Life Under the Stuarts, G.M. Trevelyan, University Paperbacks, 1965; pg. 154.

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King James I

Friday, December 30, 2016

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Traffic Lights Cause Car Accidents!

That's the opinion of the Minnesota's Ramsey County Commissioner Jim McDonough in a controversy over local residents' request for a traffic signal at a busy intersection on St. Paul's east side: "He said Ramsey County found that a four-way signalized intersection could actually lead to an increase in the number of crashes because drivers speed up to beat the lights. . . . "A light will not make that intersection safer. It will cause more harm than anything else.” Further information on this interesting situation can be found here.

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If this is indeed true, then why are traffic signals needed at any intersection? The locals feel that the county's logic is being influenced by financial considerations. It's said that a traffic signal at the intersection would cost about $300,000. That's difficult to believe, a third of a million bucks for a traffic signal? Let's see a breakdown of the budget for such a project. In fact, if that were the case, wouldn't the traffic lights in even a mid-size city like St. Paul be worth about a zillion total dollars?

Monday, December 12, 2016

Miami FBI Headquarters

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This building is the headquarters of the Miami office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

According to the FBI itself:

 Located at 2030 SW 145th Avenue, Miramar, FL, 33027 on a 20 acre site, the new building complex will achieve initial operating capability this week and be fully operational by the start of the new year. Beginning today, the new main line phone number to FBI Miami will be (754) 703-2000. The 330,000 square foot facility can seat more than 1,000 employees and includes surface and enclosed parking for 1,075 vehicles. It is LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environment Design, a green building certification program) certified gold for its interiors and a top-rated platinum for its core and shell. The move consolidates a number of local FBI facilities into one central location that provides FBI Miami employees with a state-of-the-art work place.

Designed by Chicago architecture firm Krueck+Sexton and constructed by Colorado-based Hensel Phelps Construction Co, its cost was said to be $156 million.

Additionally, a $750,000 wood sculpture by  German artist Ursula von Rydingsvard installed in the structure was found to have caused a dozen employees to be hospitalized for allergic reactions. Removing it to Maryland raised the total bill for the artistic end of the project to $1.2 million.

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"Cedrus", the 3/4 million dollar sculpture that became Kryptonite for the FBI.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Each Vote In 2016 Election Cost $13.16

According to these people, Mrs. Bill Clinton and her allies spent $1.2 billion on her failed attempt at winning the presidency and Mr. Donald J. Trump and his supporters spent $600 million to garner the most electoral votes. This site says that the total number of votes cast in the election  were 136,737,920. That means that in aggregate each vote cost $13.16. The individual cost would be slightly larger in view of the small amount spent by fringe candidates like Jill Stein and Gary Johnson, whose votes are included in the total.

Of course the individuals voting didn't receive the money. It was spent on television time, marketing, polls, signage, newspaper ads, etc. A quadrennial  Keynesian fiscal stimulus that goes right to the bottom line of the media, since they don't need to pay the actors.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016


In the current battle between the civilized West and the medieval Middle East, news accounts are quick to point out the barbarous behavior of ISIS toward its enemies. One of the most unspeakable crimes committed by these monsters is the beheading of their enemies.

There’s several dimensions to this issue. In the case of beheading, it seems that there’s been a change in attitudes toward the practice. A few hundred years ago beheading must have been regarded favorably in the West. First of all, we know this from the history of western art. Two of the most frequent subjects of European art, when its focus was on religion, were the stories of David and Goliath and Judith and Holofernes.

Countless paintings and sculptures were made of the combat between the heroic Israelite champion David and his giant Philistine opponent Goliath. Many of these art works depicted the immediate aftermath of the conflict, David holding the severed head of Goliath. This beheading was apparently seen as a positive event by Christians. 

Gustave Dore', David and Goliath 1866

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One of the great heroines of the Old Testament and Christianity was the widow Judith. She offered herself to the Assyrian leader Holofernes and after catching him in a weak moment decapitated the fellow, turning an Israelite defeat into victory. This was the subject of European art works for centuries.
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The English used beheading for even fairly mundane crimes during the late medieval as well as for more serious offenses. Henry VIII wanted to be shet of his wife Anne Boleyn. She was accused and convicted of adultery and treason and lost her noggin to the axe on 19 May 1536.

 Perhaps the most consequential English beheading was that of King Charles I in 1649. It was a seminal event in the English Civil War and after the Stuarts, in the person of Charles II, returned to power, three of those that had signed the king's death warrant and died in the interim were disinterred, hung and beheaded. Lord Protector, Oliver Cromwell was one of them. His head was displayed in public on a pike for eighteen years afterward.

The last English beheading was of Simon Fraser,11th Lord Lovat, in 1747, although the punishment was a part of UK law until 1973.

At some point, however, beheading must have lost its lustre. Maybe after the French Revolution, since the Guillotine, a mechanized head removal device, was invented then to speed the process along. In the case of judicial capital punishment, beheading was never popular in the American colonies, hanging being the preferred method. In fact, killing without intentionally disfiguring the victim became the norm. This was reflected in the shock and dismay displayed by Americans when it was revealed that native Americans routinely dismembered US cavalrymen killed in battle, cutting off their arms, legs and genitalia. Even now Yankees are upset by the desecration of their fighting men while being little disturbed by members of either side being blown to smithereens by artillery, bombs or even atomic weapons.

As in all funereal practices, it's basically a scientific fact that nothing that's done to a corpse can be felt by the former owner, no matter if it's believed that the individual is on his way to paradise or the depths of hell. Beheading then is an affront to the sensibilities of the living. That's why the bad guys  do it. To offend the survivors, and intimidate them. It seems to be working.