Saturday, December 4, 2021

The Real Danger of Inflation

I filled my gas tank yesterday and realized it costs 33% more to do so than when I bought the car five years ago. 

A lot of the price increase has come recently.

I'm as wary of inflation as the next guy.

But the real danger of inflation isn't to our pocketbooks.

It's to our republic.

As columnist David Brooks observed this week, run-of-the-mill, white-shoe Republicans are in a lather over federal spending, and will vote for Trump simply to damper it.

They're unaware of the evil Trump and his followers embody.

To these naïfs, he's just a good Republican. 

If inflation becomes chronic, they'll rally to him.

You'll recall from your history books a troubled time in Germany after World War I. 

The government had been forced, by the 1919 Treaty of Versailles, to pay war reparations to the Allies.

To fund that debt, the German government printed money—tons of it—sparking runaway inflation.

At one point, German housewives burned piles of Reichsmarks, because they were worth less than firewood.

The inflationary spiral gave rise to extremist political leaders and movements, in particular Hitler and the Nazis.

Burning money soon gave way to burning books and, eventually, to burning people.

Don't think for a minute it can't happen here.

It can.

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Money is in the Air


Five of the six Catholics on the Supreme Court seem ready to chop up Roe v. Wade. But what do I know? I'm not a lawyer. I'm a painter.

So when it comes to current events, stories about paintings get my attention.

One such story concerns a Banksy that the owner is about to chop up.

A near-iconic image, Love is in the Air depicts a Palestinian peacenik. It first appeared in 2003 as a stencil on the West Bank wall.  

While many versions of the image exist—including paintings on cardboard and wood—the version in the news is a 2005 painting on canvas.

The owner, Loïc Gouzer, plans to chop it up, or, in his language, "fractionalize" it. 

He will resell the fractionalized painting in the form of 10,000 NFTs, which he calls "particles." 

Each particle will represent a section of the painting.

Once it's factionalized into NFTs, Gouzer will tour the original Love is in the Air nationwide. 

It's currently on display at Art Basel Miami Beach.

Gouzer paid $12.9 million for the painting; he'll sell the 10,000 particles next month for $1,500 each, yielding an immediate 16% profit. 

If the particles are later resold by their new owners, Gouzer will receive an automatic cut of the resale price. He'll pay no income tax on those profits—and he gets to keep the original painting.

Artful deal!

Gouzer claims he is "collectivizing" art, "because pure enjoyment of art is not complete until you feel you own it."

The entrepreneur in me agrees completely.

And so, in honor of Banksy, I'm making you the following offer:

Buy my original painting Judging Amy (above) and enjoy owning it; fractionalize it, if you want; or resell the whole piece. Whatever you do, I will donate 100% of my profit to the Repro Legal Defense Fund.

The Repro Fund covers bail and attorneys' fees for women targeted by police for ending their own pregnancies.

Above: Judging Amy. Oil on canvas board. 10 x 8 inches.

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Living Large


I have had a life which, for variety and romance,
could hardly be exceeded.

— Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, retirees spend more of their time sleeping and watching TV than anything else.

How sad.

I recently attended a memorial gathering for a friend who died last year from Covid-19.

The people who gathered—mostly strangers to one another—were encouraged to share anecdotes about our departed friend and, though aware of his polymathy, were surprised to learn how wide in fact it ran.

In his eighty+ years, we learned, our departed friend had been a marine, a laborer, a spy, a sailor, an economist, a filmmaker, an amateur historian, a long-distance hiker, and a world traveler.

I admire people who live large.

Another of them was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, best remembered as the creator of Sherlock Holmes.

Irish-Catholic and Jesuit-educated, Doyle became a surgeon at the age of 22. While still in medical school, he published short detective stories that mimicked his favorite writer, Edgar Allan Poe; and seven years out of school, the first Sherlock Holmes adventure, A Study in Scarlet

While in med school, Doyle also took a post as ship's surgeon on a whaler that circled from England to the Arctic and back, a voyage that gave him a lifelong taste for exotic travel.

Although the Sherlock Holmes stories—60 in all—made him wealthy and famous, Doyle longed to be a "serious" writer, like Charles Dickens, and so wrote another 17 adventure, mystery, historical, and sci-fi novels during his lifetime, including The Lost World, the 1912 forerunner to Jurassic Park. (Jurassic Park was written 78 years later by another polymathic doctor-turned-author, Michael Crichton.)

At the same time, Doyle became a student and proponent of spiritualism, writing and lecturing on the topic worldwide. He also volunteered to serve as a surgeon in the Boer War; ran twice for political office; took up golf, hot-air ballooning, and body-building; and began to write and produce stage plays. 
When World War I erupted, he became a war correspondent.

Not to rest on his laurels, Doyle also took up the study of landscape photography, publishing 13 articles on the subject for the British Journal of Photography, designing and building a large-format camera, lens, and tripod, and organizing photo expeditions; and learned how to ski. His efforts to popularize skiing—previously unheard of outside Northern Europe—are credited with making the Alpine sport mainstream. 

Today, 110 million people in more than 80 countries ski, thanks to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Now that's living large!

NOTE: Sherlock Holmes was born on this day in 1887.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Forever Young


What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Psychotherapist Carl Jung called him the puer aeternus.

The eternal youth.

The adolescent who never grows up.

Peter Pan.

Bro.


Living the couch surfer's life, and without an inner senex (old man) to tell him to check his childish impulses, the puer aeternus soon becomes the slacker, the hooligan, the terrorist, and, eventually, the fascist destroyer of societies.

Jung had two pieces of advice for these neurotics: get a job and deal with your mommy issues.

Meantime—as the neurosis reaches epidemic proportions—what will we grownups do?

Monday, November 29, 2021

Pardon My French


When I see certain social science theories imported from the US, I say we must re-invest in the field of social science.

— Emmanuel Macron

Merde alors!

Something stinks. 

The French, believe it or not, are complaining about the "American" export they call wokisme.
 
President Macron complained last year that wokisme is undermining the whole nation

And now French grammarians are complaining that wokisme is corrupting the French language.

Putain!

The French rather conveniently forget that wokisme originated in—of all places—France!

French philosopher Michel Foucault concocted it. 

In the late 1970s, Foucault's radical beliefs vent viral, spreading in less than a decade from the cafes of Paris to the classrooms of America—doubtless making Foucault the single-most influential French export since Coco Chanel.

A disciple of the German Nihilist Friedrich Nietzsche and the French Marxist Louis Althusser, Foucault saw the world in the starkest of terms: as a endless warfare between the powerful and the powerless; between oppressors and the oppressed

Foucault interpreted culture—in the broadest sense of the word—to be the club the powerful wield to assure their power. 

And culture surrounds us. Turn over any rock, you'll find the same thing: the people in power subjugating everyone else.

Foucault's idea informs almost every aspect of the "American" woke movement.

And now the chickens have come home to roost.

Or, as we used to say in grammar school, he who smelt it, dealt it.
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