Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Few Days in the Dark City

The Dark City is Washington, DC, aka the Dark City in the Swamp.  Last week I spent a few days there on a fancy tour connected to the Civil War and Ken Burn's series on same.  The tour was very good, showing us many fine sites that a normal visit to DC would surely miss.  The Frederick Douglass house leaps to mind, as does the National Building Museum and the Ben Lomond house near the Manassas battlefield.  The tour guides and docents were all excellent, as was the food.

On the tour, we visited a number of DC neighborhoods on the way to sites.  Gentrification is rampant.  The prices of smallish townhouses in districts that were ghettos a few decades ago are now in the upper six figures.  The more central areas in the NW sections are reminiscent of New York City's upper east side.  And numerous building cranes were evident.

As the rest of the nation slogs through the endless recession - and very slow growth - the Dark City is roaring.


That place and its surrounding suburbs are sucking the blood out of the rest of the nation via taxes & regulations: regulations necessitate major corporations to hire high priced lobbyists, whose spending goes on to fund the Dark City.  And all those government employees don't have to worry about layoffs or pay cuts.  Nope.  They just get more and more.

And then the contractors - all those firms who get Federal contracts.  They proliferate in the DC suburbs and one even hears radio ads for their services.

All this smells of swamp gas to this small town boy.  The Dark City needs the light of day to shine onto its corruption and greed.  The Federal government needs to be decentralized NOW.

This palace culture has to be gutted. Send all those agencies to the small towns and cities across America.  With the Internet, there is no need, and much downside, in centralizing everything to the Dark City.  People and employees there are completely out of touch with the common man.  They don't know how people live and work and deal with the problems in their lives. 

Our Senators and Representatives live there almost full time, too.  Their children go to school there and their wives work there.  This culture of the King's Court is sickening to an outsider, to the common man.

De-Centralize DC NOW!

Word of the Day

"Witter" - verb, intransitive [$10] British colloquial
Witter means to speak tediously on trivial matter.
Sentence:  I am always infuriated when financial news "talking head" witter rather than speak on serious matters. Air time is precious - use it wisely.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Back in the Saddle

I've returned from the Dark City in the Swamp (aka Washington, DC), where I was attending a fancy tour event related to the Civil War.  The tour was connected to Ken Burns, who made that marvelous and artistic Civil War series.  We saw some of the usual suspects, but also some sites that are a bit hard to see and hard to understand fully without a good guide.  The Frederick Douglass house in the outer zone of the city was particularly good as it is fully preserved.

Next week: my impressions of the Dark City.


Ms. Market is being a bit flighty and flirtatious, leading us on and then slapping our faces when we get too bold.  Running the numbers for Krypto this morning, I see that for all the turmoil, the spreadsheet has changed very little from last Friday.  My guess is that I missed a weak buy signal in European and Emerging Markets stocks midweek.  Sighhhhh.  Time marches on, though.  For now, Krypto is snoozing on a fine sheepskin on the couch.


Mrs. B wanted me to stop posting the fact that I am away for security reasons:  I obeyed, hence the absence of any activity here all week.  When there is no post with at least a Word of the Day, you should assume that either the Google blog site is a mess or I am traveling.  I rarely travel for more than one week.

Word of the Day

"Veristic" - adjective [$10] from "Verism" - noun [$10]
Verism means a realism in literature or art.
Veristic means related to or having a quality of verism.
Sentence:  By using photographs of actual people and places, and letters they wrote at the time of the events, Ken Burns produced a highly veristic film about the Civil War not possible with other methods.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Facebook Folly

In my very humble opinion, Facebook is a bit of a fad.  I am on it, but don't use it much.  Finding old friends from high school seems to me its principal value, and keeping in touch with friends in other parts of the nation/world is a useful secondary value.

Facebook could be quite useful in organizing movements, whether political or societal.  I doubt its commercial benefits, though. Most people value privacy, and Facebook wants to feed on every digital connection of a person has to sell its ads.  Yuck.

Re LinkedIn, I have no opinion as I am not a user.

Word of the Day

"Gratulation" - noun [$100] a T. S. Eliot word.
"Gratulate" - verb '$100] archaic.
Gratulation means 1. a feeling of joy; 2. the expression of joy.
Gratulate means 1. to hail with joy, express joy at; 2. to congratulate; 3. to express joy.
Sentence:  [T. S. Eliot in "What is a Classic?"] "That is not in itself any more a matter of regret that it is for gratulation."

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Thought on a Thursday

I'd guess that in a couple decades, the vocabulary of the average young person will be in the toilet, as reading of books - good books, classic books - is collapsing.

Word of the Day

"Armory" - noun [$10] meaning #1, not connected to weapons.
"Armorial" - adjective [$10]
Armory means heraldry.  This word is used several times in the classic American novelette, The Scarlett Letter.
Sentence:  While in Dublin, Mr. & Mrs. Bunkerman purchased a number of splendid linen tea towels, including a couple festooned with armorial splendor.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Checkup

Krypto got off the couch to check her market model at the request of a commentor.  She sees that with a further pullback overseas (or dollar strength), that a weak buy signal for both European and Emerging Markets stocks could be generated.  Nothing else is close.

She's climbing back onto the couch to snooze.  Good doggy, here's a treat.

Word of the Day

"Nugatory" - adjective [$10]
Nugatory means 1. futile, trifling, worthless; 2. inoperative, not valid.
Sentence:  Program trading and high frequency trading by computers has rendered most old technical indicators, such as various market volume and advance-decline numbers, nugatory.  How can one use actions of computers to infer human decision?  Obviously no way, no how.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Today's Word of the Day is a term that you'll see when reading books about life in 17th Century British life.  I heard it while listening to "The Scarlett Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Word of the Day

"Beadle" - noun [$10]
Beadle means 1. (British) a ceremonial officer of a church, college, etc.; 2. (Scottish) a church officer attending on a minister; 3. (British History) a minor parish official dealing with petty offenses etc.
Sentence:  The Beadle led Hester Prinn from jail wearing the Scarlett Letter to bear three hours of public opprobrium for her "sin".

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Beginning of the End

Recent Climate Change

I have written in the past about intriguing, very strong correlations between measures of solar activity and the global temperature.  A new Danish experiment now adds a causal connection.

Solar activity modulates the magnetic field in space, which strongly affects how much cosmic ray flux reaches the Earth.  The new experiment shows that flux strongly affects cloud cover on Earth.  See this link ->


More cosmic rays means more clouds; clouds are 10x more efficacious in cooling than CO2 is for warming.  More solar activity means LESS clouds, as the magnetic fields in space shield the Earth.  Guess what?  Solar activity was strong for recent decades, while the global warming knaves were pontificating about their computer models (which ignore solar affects).

During known cool periods on Earth, such as the 17th century, solar activity is know to have been very weak or nil.

The computer models costing untold billions are all wrong.  All the blather about humans causing global climate change (warming) are wrong.  The Sun is doing it, and has done it for thousands of years.


Remark on Last Week's Problems

On Friday the blog sponsor (Google) had serious problems and lost a few posts; posting was not possible Friday.  I believe the lost posts of late last week are restored.

Word of the Day

"Commonplace" - noun & adjective [$10]
Commonplace means (adjective) 1. Not of any special quality or type: ordinary; something customary or regular; 3. lacking originality, trite; (noun) 1.a. an everyday saying, a platitude (uttered a commonplace about the weather); 1.b. an ordinary topic of conversation; 2. anything usual or trite; 3. (archaic) a notable passage in a book etc. copied into a commonplace book.
Sentence: [Cambridge Companion to W. B. Yeats, p. 199] "Indeed, the fictiveness of Yeats's Irish Enlightenment period is a crucial commonplace." [For def'n of "fictiveness", see post of last Wednesday, May 11.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

A Happy Dog

I've tried to post a photo of Lucky Star, near the daffodils, after bringing me her ball to toss again, but the Google blogger photo capability seems to not work today.  Just visualize it!

Oh, the dogs frolicking in the spring grass among the flowers, such a life!  My old professor of Greek Literature at Harvard used to weave such visions into his lectures;  he was speaking of the dogs in Harvard Yard, playing on & off all day.  I think a dog likes simple things:  playing outside, watching one work while lounging around, a good kuddle and a bowl of food.  Perhaps we should consider how was can simplify our leisure activities.

Word of the Day

"Hypotactic" - adjective from "Hypotaxis" - noun [$10] Grammatical.
Hypotaxis means the subordination of one clause to another.
Sentence: [from Pen of Iron by Robert Alter, p 84 bot]"Faulkner's syntax, on the other hand, is spectacularly hypotactic, spinning out, as Aiken's image suggests, in complicated coils ... "
Alternate:  Legal writing often is stunningly hypotactic, requiring layers of numbered clause indices to keep the references understandable.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Whatnot Wednesday

Nothing is happening.  The usual blather/bloviation/blabbing out of the Dark City and their media sycophants.  The security-mongers want money to protect the rail system.  Uh ... have they ever watched old shows of Hogan's Heros?  Attacking trains is rather easy.  I'd guess they just want to move the US along towards a crypto-fascist state where we have to show our papers to take a crap.

Word of the Day

"Fictive" - adjective [$10]; "Fictiveness" - noun
Fictive means 1. creating or created by imagination; 2. not genuine.
Fictiveness means the state or quality of being fictive.
Sentence: [from Cambridge Companion to W. B. Yeats, p 199] "Indeed, the fictiveness of Yeats's Irish Enlightenment period is a crucial commonplace."

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tidbits on a Tuesday

Prices in Dublin are about the same as Manhattan, New York City.  I guess my "global purchasing power" is holding up, as far as Europe goes.  I did not go into the countryside or any small towns, hence no data on those prices vs. US small towns.

Newspapers and TV in Ireland had enormous coverage of the bin Laden operation.  The comedians were hilarious in joking about the changing US "story" of the details, etc. 

From several books I read as backup for the trip, old Irish society structures were much like the old social structure of India with various "castes" and a strong intellectual class.  The writer thought that was related to both being on the outer fringe of the Indo-European expansion across Eurasia.

I ordered some books on the Irish language, thinking that I will learn how it is pronounced and the basic grammar.  Irish is reported to be quite difficult, but how hard can it be compared to Polish?

In the 7th and 8th centuries, Irish culture was the intellectual pinnacle of western and north central Europe.  Irish monks spread over Europere, taking much knowledge and learning skills along that provided a seed for Charlemagne's later efforts.


My language program will be re-started after a year's respite.  The goal is literacy, not fluency, in all the great languages of Europe.  My grey cells need more stimulation.

I will include Irish now, too, as the Celtic cultures had huge impact on Europe over the centuries.

Word of the Day

"Torpid" - adjective [$10] from Hawthorne's, "The Scarlet Letter".  Also "Torpor" - noun [$10] and "Torpefy" - verb, transitive [$10]
Torpid means 1. sluggish, inactive, dull, apathetic; 2. numb; 3. (of a hibernating animal) dormant.
Torpor means torpidity.
Torpefy means to make numb or torbid.
Sentence:  A torpid mind is a wasted mind.  Use your head!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Back in the Saddle

I've returned to the USA from a few days in Dublin, Ireland ... bringing home a bottle of a Jameson's finest Irish Whiskey, viz., a blend of its rarest and finest whiskies purchased in the duty-free shop in Dublin Airport.  Dublin is a fine city to visit, very walkable with plenty of history and art.  A taxi was required just once for the trip to the Guinness Storehouse for a tour showing how that fine product is made ... and a fresh pint of draught in the circular, glass-windowed bar on top of the factory.  The Jameson Distillery exhibit was also worth the trip - very informative ... and tasty.

I'll write more about Dublin, the history of Ireland and its meaning for Americans later this week.


Ms. Market took a break from dancing on the tables and is resting awhile in a chair.  Silver and gold also dropped significantly.  Hmmm ... both events occurred just after Krypto sold lots of silver and lots of stocks.  Perhaps certain doubters should re-assess their opinions of Krypto as an asset allocation whiz?



Word of the Day

"Rubicund" - adjective [$10] from David Copperfield
Rubicund means (of a face, complexion, or person in those respects) ruddy, high-colored.  Used describing a man's red-colored face.
Sentence:  The pale Irish complexion can become quite rubicund when a bit of stress occurs.

Monday, May 2, 2011

What's Wrong With America's Economy?

The cover of The Economist magazine asks that question.  The answers [sic - plural] are staring everyone in the face; all that is required is the courage to recognize them.  Here are six primary problems.

1.  The US overtaxes jobs via the Social Security tax, Medicare tax and numerous state & local employment taxes.

2.  All levels of government puts innumerable layers of red tape and requirements on businesses that employ people, particularly ones that employ more than 50 people, both at creation and in ongoing operations.

3.  Trillions of dollars of the rich is invested in hedge funds that prefer to trade paper securities rather than make long term investments in businesses.

4.  Foreign production and services provided to US corporations pay nothing to support American society; consumers of foreign goods and services pay nothing, either.

5.  Employer-based "benefits" systems both raise the cost of good jobs and lock people into jobs they would prefer to leave; the system is a form of tax and red tape combined.

6.  The Ruling Class uses corruption of all kinds and levels of severity to extract benefits for itself and hurt the common man and woman:  this is done both via the Federal and state & local governments and via the legal system.

Bin Laden

Kudos to Barry for taking off the handcuffs and getting Osama bin Laden.  He was being sheltered in Pakistan for nearly a decade and protected by its ISI spy agency.  Barry, NOT BUSH, started the huge increase in drone attacks and putting more CIA people into Pakistan who were not disclosed to ISI.  That CIA guy who was subject of the deportation dispute shows what was being done.

Bush lied to the people right after 9/11 saying no country could provide a sanctuary.  Pakistan did that and Bush & Rumsfeld refused to push the matter.  Bush & Rumsfeld let him escape Afghanistan.  Barry got him.  Good job!

Now what?  Look, the US did not declare war on Afghanistan.  Time to move out and let them wallow in their own 11th century values or fight for their own freedom.

Word of the Day

"Peripeteia" - noun [$10] a Big Al word
Peripeteia means a sudden change of fortune in a drama or in life.
Sentence:  The War on Terrorism takes a peripeteia on the killing of Osama bin Laden.  Time to re-assess what's been going on and what will be done in the future.