I’m back from my latest wanderings in the Argentine outback, a trip that included far too many evenings of imbibing far too much wine in the agreeable company of the community growing up around La Estancia de Cafayate.
While it’s always nice to be back in the New England ski resort that serves as worldwide headquarters for Casey Research, I am already looking forward to our next trip to Cafayate, especially given that New England and Argentina are located in opposite seasons, allowing us to live life in perpetual sunshine should we wish to (and, in time, we will).
That is the longer-term plan, but for now we hunker down: stacking the wood, testing the back-up generator, putting away the hoses, summer furniture, etc. in anticipation of winter.
At a glance, the need to make such preparations seems as obvious as it did when listening as a child to Aesop’s story of The Ant and the Grasshopper.
Yet it’s a bit more complicated than that because of the unique tendency of us humans to create alternative realities. In fact, with seven billion people on this planet, it might be said that there are seven billion different realities. And many of these realities include possible future outcomes that people feel the need to prepare for, though few are as predictable as winter.
Of course, many of those realities are of no real consequence – for instance, if you believe that the color blue is somehow lucky, it may cause an unnoticeable blip in the color of shirts sold by your favorite online retailer.
Other alternative realities, however, have far broader acceptance and therefore, profound consequences. Let me try to explain.
Back in time, when tribes coalescing into small villages were the primary organizing structures for the human apes, I suspect the number of realities were rather more limited than they are today.
For instance, in addition to the certain knowledge that winter was coming, the villagers understood certain basics required to live off the land. For example, the best methods for bringing down game, the optimal times to plant and harvest, when the floods would come and so forth.
But, side by side with those hard realities, there were other commonly accepted realities – for instance, that angry deities periodically took aim at earth with lightning bolts. Or that by jiggling around the communal fire whilst bedecked in furs, one could ensure a more successful hunt.
Over time, of course, humanity reproduced and went forth, morphing into an almost endless number of cultures as they did. During this period, the hard realities remained mostly unchanged – other than the tools and practices developed and found to be more effective at harvesting beasts and crops, starting fires and so on than those used previously. But the number of alternative realities exploded exponentially.
While many of these alternative realities included benign beliefs and rituals – a bit of face paint or placating prayers – others not so much. Thus the Aztec’s gory temples or, in more modern times, the Salem witch burnings, a practice that still goes on in Africa.
But all of that is to state the obvious.
Today the alternative realities extend well beyond the obvious. For example, to…
Art and literature, where people habitually attribute deep meanings to a particular brush stroke or the interplay of characters. Illustrating the latter, Ernest Hemingway himself negated the profundities of legions of academics who, pipe in hand and nestled comfortably in old tweed jackets, have pontificated endlessly about the real meaning of his classic The Old Man and the Sea. And I quote:
There isn’t any symbolism. The sea is the sea. The old man is an old man. The boy is a boy and the fish is a fish. The shark are all sharks, no better and no worse. All the symbolism that people say is shit.
Ernest Hemmingway in a letter to Bernard Berenson, 1952
The sciences. Dr. Matt Ridley, author of the excellent book The Rational Optimist (a must-read, in my opinion), recently gave a fantastic lecture that was reproduced in its entirety on the WattsUpWithThat.com website. You should read the entire thing, but I will share his opening comments and bullet points, as they do a good job summarizing the line between hard realities and the intangible alternatives:
It is a great honour to be asked to deliver the Angus Millar lecture.
I have no idea whether Angus Millar ever saw himself as a heretic, but I have a soft spot for heresy. One of my ancestral relations, Nicholas Ridley the Oxford martyr, was burned at the stake for heresy.
My topic today is scientific heresy. When are scientific heretics right and when are they mad? How do you tell the difference between science and pseudoscience?
Let us run through some issues, starting with the easy ones.
In the case of the sciences, the effects of alternative realities can often be quite serious. As just one of a billion possible examples, a friend of mine, having been diagnosed with prostate cancer, traveled the world far and wide in the pursuit of alternative remedies, just like Steven Jobs did following his diagnosis of liver cancer, wasting precious time and, in the end, needlessly costing him his life.
In addition to the human cost of these alternative realities, there is a serious societal cost as massive resources are wasted on too many unproven leap-of-faith forms of snake oil to even begin to recount here.
Human interactions. It never fails to amaze me how two people can receive the exact same input and come to diametrically different interpretations. While much of this sort of thing can be harmless, the shores of planet Earth are stacked high with the dried bones of broken relationships, ruined mega-bands, shattered marriages, collapsed business partnerships and more – all due to alternative realities derived from viewing the same events through different lenses.
Government. Today’s intensely activist governments will hastily assemble a congressional committee and four or five subcommittees, to thoroughly investigate and then legislate in order to mitigate every new sensationalized story (I can’t imagine how much money was spent investigating the baseball player steroid scandal). As a consequence, each new widely publicized alternative reality is now given its due – along with its own bureaucratic hierarchy and generous budget. And so it comes to pass that the dystopian alternative reality of the end of humanity due to anthropogenic global warming engenders a slew of new government meddling. Repeat this scenario dozens, even hundreds, of times and the real economy becomes bound up like a fly in a spider’s web.
Of course, few greater fictions prevail than that the government has a panacea for all that ails, even though they would like you to think they do.
Law. While this section could be combined with the one immediately above, it’s worth separate attention. In its purest form, the law provides a consistent set of rules for polite society to operate under. As has been so well documented by Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto, rock-solid laws protecting private property rights are essential to capital accumulation, and capital is essential to economic growth. Likewise, hard-coded laws on the limits of the government to interfere with life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – not to mention taxation and the operations of business – are essential to a smoothly functioning society and the economy that supports it.
In the current world, however, anything resembling principles has been thrown out the window and along with it, virtually all certainty of how the next precedent-setting legal case will be decided or what new law or regulation will be passed in an attempt to “solve” some wrongly perceived or greatly exaggerated threat. That makes it immensely challenging to plan for the future.
The police and military, which are almost indistinguishable at this point. From the beginnings of society, power-seeking individuals have overstated threats in order to create an alternative reality in the minds of many that the proverbial Huns are mustering at the gates. They have done so in order to scare the sheepizens into flocking together under the power-seeker’s protective cloak. This has always been a problem, but never more so than today, where the world’s policeman – the USA – has marshaled a truly stunning amount of military power that is now regularly projected both externally and internally.
Doug Casey just wrote a small book on the topic, which will be published as a special report and sent out next week to readers of The Casey Report, but I wanted to share just a couple quick observations of my own to underscore just how large and sophisticated the war machine has grown in response to the alternative realities spun out of 9/11.
The first is a video sent by my friend and fellow Hawaiian, Ron. It shows a two-person, Nevada-based team of drone operators carrying out an execution on the other side of the planet. Forget law, forget national boundaries – all that counts is that someone in the military hierarchy has decided that the folks in the white truck need to die in order to head off an attack envisioned as part of the government’s alternative reality. Here’s the video.
The second is an excerpt from the book Top Secret America by Dana Priest and William M. Arkin, perhaps the single best piece of reportage done in a decade. In the book, they roll up their sleeves and – using by-the-book, old-fashioned journalism – manage to penetrate the mind-bogglingly complex network of national security agencies and subcontractors that were spawned after 9/11. Only by reading their book can you even begin to appreciate how far things have gone since 9/11 and how far out of control they are. This excerpt, from their description of the security coverage provided for Obama’s inauguration, will give you just a scintilla of what’s going on underneath the cloak of secrecy.
As Obama stood at the podium at the base of the U.S. Capitol, he faced a sea of hopeful citizens stretching well beyond the towering figure of President Abraham Lincoln, watching from his giant marble memorial at the end of the National Mall. But between the new young leader and his supporters were five tons of bulletproof glass, and beyond that 20,000 uniformed guards and 25,000 law enforcement officers enveloping him in a security blanket that spanned from New York to West Virginia. Beyond that, an invisible classified universe of top secret agencies and programs and weapons systems and surveillance capabilities and legal authorities and strike forces and pursuit teams assembled to keep him safe… […]
[John Perren, FBI security coordinator for the inauguration] went back to his task of keeping the new president and his supporters safe. His job that day was to track everything trackable within the FBI’s authority: incoming foreign intelligence reports transmitted through CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, intercepts and wiretaps, undercover intelligence squads mingling in the crowds, chemical weapons teams collecting air samples, sharpshooters with high-powered telescopes stationed miles away along I-95 North and I-95 South to spot anything unusual heading into the nation’s capital.
He, and the FBI, were not, of course, alone: within the U.S. Secret Service in the lead for the inauguration, fifty-six federal, state, and local agencies drew on their most sophisticated technology and skilled personnel. Bomb squads and HAZMAT units from a dozen organizations were ready to deploy, as were SWAT teams, crisis negotiators, and even behavioral analysts to scour intelligence and news reports for hints of trouble. Automatic license plate readers recorded and checked the license plate numbers of virtually every vehicle nearing Washington, DC, from incoming routes through Virginia and Maryland. Even particles of dust floating through the city were captured and analyzed at split-second intervals by navy plume assessment teams and the Department of Homeland Security’s pathogen detectors, mounted onto standard air-quality monitors to sniff out anthrax, tularemia, and other deadly substances. The local Washington government had squirreled away nearly a million respirators and over 2.5 million surgical masks for medical personnel in case of an outbreak. […]
As all this was going on, dive teams and Coast Guard boats patrolled the Potomac and Anacostia rivers while, overhead, layers of aircraft capped the largest protective bubble in the world: Air Force F-22 Raptor fighters and Air National Guard RC-26 surveillance aircraft flew above Customs and Border Patrol Blackhawk helicopters, while even higher, surveillance drones relayed real-time, full-motion video back to the dozens of stationary and mobile command centers that were lashed up with the military’s many geospatial Google-Earth-like data feeds.
Top Secret America, Dana Priest and William M. Arkin, Little Brown, 2011.
It goes on and on… but that’s enough to make the point of how one particular alternative reality – a construct of overinflated threats that have painted the shadows of swarthy assassins lurking around every corner in the minds of many Americans – has changed the nation, and the world.
Is that to say there isn’t a real threat from radical Islamists? No, 9/11 clearly showed there is. But the scope of the threat, and the scale and nature of the response – a response that has now transferred trillions of dollars into the military-industrial complex – borders on mass insanity.
While it may be a forlorn hope, we better hope that these new capabilities won’t be used against the citizenry following the next 9/11-type event.
(Ed. Note: The November edition of The Casey Report, the table of contents which is shown here, focuses on the impending smash-up of China’s economy and its investment implications. It was released just yesterday and you can read it, as well as Doug’s report Learn to Make Terror Your Friend, with a full money-back guarantee if you aren’t impressed. Details here.)
Given that I typically write these musings on the same day they are published, there is no time to go into all the many reasons why alternative realities appear. Pull up the roots, though, and I suspect you will find an entirely natural human desire to explain why things are the way they are and, when the explanations are found to include future threats, to protect ourselves.
The unscrupulous, which among others includes mass media, rent-seekers and power grabbers alike, well understand the buttons on human emotions and push those buttons relentlessly in the pursuit of their self-interest.
Weather a bit warm this year? Well, let me tell you what, it’s global warming. And it’s not just global warming, it’s manmade global warming, and it’s going to get much, much worse. So bad, in fact, that in the proverbial blink of an eye, we’re all going to be twisting like the poor souls on the 6th Circle of Dante’s Inferno. But we can head it off, yes we can. Just send your donations here, or work with our company to start up a carbon exchange, or give us a grant to study the subject really, really thoroughly over the next ten years or so. And while you are waiting for us to publish our results, you might want to pick up a copy of our latest terrifying book on the topic.
Part of an organization? Well, for a modest five-figure fee, we’ll be happy to provide the dinner speaker. Oh, and I know you immediately want to stop being a part of the problem, so here are a number of useful products you’ll want to rush out to buy, starting with these fluorescent light bulbs and this hybrid car.
This sort of nonsense might have been spotted in the aforementioned small village, because people had learned from his early years that Goofy Gore or Moon Boy McKibbon were prone to exaggerations and artifice in order to earn an extra cut of the communal antelope. In today’s distributed societies, however, the commercial media and largely social Internet have become poor proxies for first hand knowledge and so are far more susceptible to manipulation.
It reminds me of the studies done that found that even when an actor playing a doctor in a commercial is identified as an actor, they were still viewed as far more credible than an actor not wearing a white coat and stethoscope. Back in the village, you’d actually know who the doctor was… even if it was a witch doctor.
In today’s world, anyone – no matter how ill-informed – is capable, with the right amount of window dressing, of appearing knowledgeable on any topic. And the media is able to turn virtually any tempest in a teacup into a full-blown typhoon in the imaginations of millions. And with the imaginary typhoon looming large on the horizon, the unscrupulous with their newly fooled constituency of useful idiots in tow leap into action, each with their own self-serving agenda.
A quick glance at the clock shows me I’m beginning to get squeezed for time, but I will plow on anyway, albeit with a bit more alacrity.
When it comes to separating hard realities from those that are substantially less so, you really have only your own powers of observation to fall back on. But there are some broad guidelines I would mention.
If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Check it out, thoroughly, before you become fully invested in it – psychologically or financially. A friend of mine has made a small investment in a company that claims to have perfected, against known laws of physics, a machine that essentially creates energy from nothing. While I remain a big skeptic, importantly, so does he. He knows it’s a long shot but is willing to spend time and some unimportant money thoroughly evaluating it – because the upside is so big. That’s a world of difference from falling in love with an alternative reality, in this case, endless inexpensive power, and throwing all caution to the wind.
Be skeptical of dire predictions for the future. While people will take any number of actions in the quest for personal gain, they will get to it twice as fast if they are convinced that some dire risk to life and property is right around the corner. The marketers and politicians understand this and so rarely hesitate to play the end-of-the-world card. Earlier I mentioned Matt Ridley’s book, The Rational Optimist. Read it, as it offers important perspective on just about everything important. Summing up his basic thesis: With the more or less steady advance of human progress, why should we now expect that progress to shift into reverse?
That’s not to say there aren’t going to be periods of crisis – we’re in one now. But most people will muddle on through, and in no time at all, in the historical context, things will be humming along, better than ever. To get a sense of how quickly things change and will continue to change, answer the question: When was the first Apple iPhone offered for sale?
The answer: Barely over four years ago, in June 2007. The world is going to change for the better, even faster than you can imagine it will.
Don’t believe anything a politician tells you. It’s in their interest to tell you what you want to hear, and that can be a wide margin away from reality and most likely is. Sorry, Herman Cain fans – if a woman is willing to step into the docket of public opinion by saying that Cain offered her help getting a job in exchange for sex, and there are four others saying pretty much the same thing, it’s probably true. Did you actually expect him to 'fess up any more than Clinton did when confronted with his Lewinsky moment?
Be doubly skeptical about threats that require further increases in the security and military apparatus. Lately we’ve been treated to a number of painfully pathetic attempts by the government to railroad mentally deficient individuals by getting them to agree to participate in faux terrorism plots that the government itself arranged. Call me a skeptic, seriously, but I suspect that these setups have a lot more to do with ensuring a continued high level of funding, rather than actual security threats.
The hard reality of the situation is that the military and law enforcement apparatus of the US is already so juiced up on the steroids of unlimited public money that it could literally take on the rest of the world at the same time, with one hand behind its back, and win decisively. And, yes, evidence to the contrary, it can even win against the Afghan and Iraqi insurgents, too… It’s just a question of a couple of nukes and a complete, versus partial, disregard for collateral damage.
Don’t fall in love with bloggers. Anyone who can write reasonably well can now project themselves into the public discourse. People who can actually think, on the other hand, are another thing altogether. Learn to tell the difference.
Follow the money. If someone, or some company, tells you something the solution to which directly or indirectly benefits them, be cautious. That’s not to say that a company that offers products or services that solve various real problems won’t be truthful and genuinely helpful. But when you read something by some guy ranting against gold ETFs and then find out the guy’s a coin dealer, an extra dosage of salt in your diet is required.
Find trusted sources, but even then keep your skeptic's hat close at hand. In the face of the onslaught of information – true or otherwise – there are opportunities for honest and impartial companies to do the hard research to help others get to the facts. When you think about it, that’s largely what we here at Casey Research do, and we think we do it well. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t continue to question us at every turn. While I believe that we will always put your interests first, that doesn’t mean that somewhere along the way we can’t slip up or just get something terribly wrong… at which point the world we are helping subscribers prepare for may prove to be illusionary and reality something entirely different.
In the final analysis, it’s your life and your money – and that means you have the most to lose by picking the wrong path forward.
Those are just a few thoughts off the top of my head. All of which brings me to the opportunities that can be had by arbitraging realities.
While all of this may seem like my usual ramblings, and pretty much is, there are, I hope, some useful takeaways.
First and foremost, given the open-ended nature of government these days – where no corner of society is off limits and no expense too great – any number of alternative universes, which I would define as being largely fictional and even fantastical – can evolve into legislative and regulatory policies with real consequences. That all the world’s major economies are now bankrupt but continue to spend apace is not an accident, though the consequences will be akin to an economic train wreck. Rather, it is the inevitable result of trying to manage far too many alternative realities instead of focusing on the hard realities of how things actually are.
It takes as much energy to produce a gallon of ethanol as that gallon of ethanol produces. Think about it.
Regardless, as this paradigm is not going to shift anytime in the foreseeable future, you can continue to bet that the promises of politicians to stop their wasteful spending and cut back on their meddlesome regulations will turn out to be empty.
Across the pond, given the deep structural flaws in the Eurozone, you can expect the euro as it is currently constituted to come to an end within a relatively short period of time – months, not years. Should your current version of reality, and portfolio structure, include the expectation that the Eurozone will come through this intact, then you are setting yourself up for losses – though hopefully not as bad as those that put MF Global out of business on that same bet (more on that topic further on).
Likewise, given the command nature of the Chinese economy and that government’s energetic spending, much of it wasteful, in the hopes of not disappointing the new middle class – the end of the country’s economic miracle (that word alone should always activate your skeptic's radar) now seems both inevitable and probably imminent.
Viewed from the perspective of the speculator, the out-of-control debts of the US, the cracks in the foundation of the Eurozone and the fading miracle of an “unstoppable” Chinese economy all represent opportunities to arbitrage the alternative realities with the hard realities that, political pronouncements to the contrary, this crisis still has a ways to go before the book is closed on it.
There are risks to be avoided as well, for example to industrial commodities as the world’s economy takes another dive, but also a lot of opportunities.
You can do your own research or take us up on a fully guaranteed trial subscription to The Casey Report, or any of our other services where we track these opportunities.
Regardless, honing your skills at sorting fundamental truths from the multitude of fictions that dominate the societal landscape will put you way, way ahead of the masses who are prone to blind acceptance of virtually any half-baked notion that comes down the pike.
The news was out this week that Germany and France have been discussing remaking the Eurozone.
According to the Reuters story…
"France and Germany have had intense consultations on this issue over the last months, at all levels," a senior EU official in Brussels told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the discussions.
"We need to move very cautiously, but the truth is that we need to establish exactly the list of those who don't want to be part of the club and those who simply cannot be part," the official said.
While other officials denied such talks, evidence that the talks were real and substantive came from none other than the European Commission president himself. Again quoting the Reuters article.
In Berlin, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso warned about the economic costs of any splits in the euro zone. Germany's gross domestic product could contract and its economy would shed one million jobs, he said in a speech.
The implications of the end of the eurozone are complex and multi-faceted. In no particular order, I would expect them to include:
Interesting to me is what sort of euro will emerge. If it were truly made up of the firmer core countries, I'd have to think the “new euro” could have a nice run before it, too, collapses in the fin de fiat siècle and is replaced by something more tangible.
For how close we are to the end of the current euro, there is this…
How will you know that the Eurozone’s days are numbered? By watching the actions of the European Central Bank (ECB). So far they have resisted calls for the sort of open-ended money printing advocated by many locked in that cage fight.
Here’s the latest such call, from Bloomberg today, quoting Portugal’s president.
The European Central Bank can stop the spread of the continent’s financial crisis with “foreseeable, unlimited” purchases of Italian and other government bonds, Portuguese President Anibal Cavaco Silva said.
“The European Central Bank has to go beyond a narrow interpretation of its mission and should be prepared for foreseeable intervention in the secondary market, not as the central bank has done up to now,” Cavaco Silva said yesterday in an interview at Bloomberg headquarters in New York. He said government leaders are unlikely to move fast enough to find solutions.
“It has to be able to be a lender of last resort,” said Cavaco Silva, 72, who as Portugal’s prime minister presided over the 1992 signing of the Maastricht Treaty, which cleared the way for the euro common currency. “It has to be a foreseeable, unlimited intervention.”
Should such an “unlimited intervention” be announced, it would be akin to a doctor walking into the room, x-ray in hand, to announce that the euro’s condition is terminal. It might not pass away immediately, but anticipating its end, I’d be very surprised if gold didn’t break decisively above $2,000 per ounce.
And with that, I’ll run upstairs for a glass of water and turn the page over to Aaron Bedrick, one of many of the sharp young analysts on the Casey Research team.
By Aaron Bedrick
The headlines for the past two weeks have been filled with accounts and speculation on the demise of Jon Corzine’s clearing corporation, MF Global. While many pundits have been quick to draw comparisons to Lehman’s collapse in 2008, there are, of course, some big differences: notably that MF Global was not even close to Lehman’s size (MF had assets of $41 billion compared to Lehman’s assets in the hundreds of billions), and the starkly different specialties and business models of the two.
That’s not to say there aren’t any similarities. The most obvious is that both were primary dealers (primary dealers are the largest banks in the world and are permitted to bid directly in Treasury auctions). Perhaps the most important similarity was the surprise factor of the bankruptcy announcements.
In Lehman’s final hours, it was shopped to a multitude of different buyers at fire sale prices, but without government support, none were willing to assume the risks associated with the company’s toxic books. On the chopping block, MF was engaged in advanced talks with Interactive Brokers for a takeover bid, rumored to be pennies on the dollar. Interactive Brokers backed out of the deal just before the market opened on October 31, and MF went into bankruptcy, leaving the world of finance in disarray. Sure, the stock prices had been hit hard in the weeks and months prior to the announcements, but the customers and counterparties of both were taken by surprise.
My office is in the New York Mercantile Exchange, and I know many traders who clear MF Global. On October 31, MF Global traders and brokers were escorted off the NYMEX and CME trading floors by security. The discovery process of just how interconnected MF was in the clearing business is now underway, but I have heard estimates that 50% of futures traders cleared MF Global in some capacity. Indeed, my desk cleared CME products through MF; for the week beginning October 31, we were unable to trade currency, stock index and bond futures.
There are some traders still stuck in their MF Global positions. As a consequence, traders I know with large positions in bond and equity index futures have not been able to make a change to their risk exposure during the volatility caused by the recent Papandreou and Berlusconi referendum news flow. These are extremely volatile times, and large-position traders are stuck with excess risk, a trader’s worst nightmare.
The straw that broke MF’s back had to do with European bonds it was holding for short-term trades. When it was hit with a call to post more collateral for its positions in the week before the bankruptcy, it couldn’t come up with the money and was unable to borrow more because the counterparties had gotten cold feet. The full details are yet to be released, but this is a harrowing story to any broker-dealers who handle European debt, even for extremely short periods of time.
MF Global is far from the first clearinghouse to go under. Traders who have been working since the 1980s have seen five sizable clearing corporations blow up, the most recent being REFCO. In all of the other cases, there have been alternative buyers waiting to scoop up assets at discount prices. MF Global itself has previously played the vulture feasting on the meat of fallen competitors (REFCO included). Now the king is dead, leaving behind a distinct aura of uncertainty that permeates the futures trading profession. After all, trading is really about risk management; if one’s clearing corporation can blow up and leave traders stuck with positions – and unable to touch funds frozen in their clearinghouse account – there is no way to mitigate the risk and no precautions that can be taken.
The full implications of the demise of MF Global will come out in time, but for now the story has left the professional trading community awash in uncertainty. It is now riskier not only to make a bad trade but to trade in general. A rule of thumb in finance is that those in charge will do their best to manage the expectations of the markets. When that guideline is neglected, something larger is often amiss behind the scenes. It should be duly noted that this was indeed a surprise, and there were no buyers to be found when the hammer dropped. No matter what the headlines say, those who relied on MF Global had no idea how close to the brink the clearing firm was, and many are still paying heavily for their trust in the firm.
David again. The following is the transcript of a conversation I had this morning while writing the Daily Dispatch. Only the names have been changed to protect the guilty…
Yeah, Joe from Joe’s Chimney Service. So, what's going on?
You mean, since we talked the day before yesterday?
Yeah, I guess.
Well, you said you were coming here on Tuesday.
Who am I speaking to?
Oh, maybe I thought I was speaking to someone else.
I've got a lot going on.
So, I'm coming up there on Tuesday?
Dear gawd, man, you must have smoked a LOT of pot when you were young.
Yeah, I did.
As an aside, growing up in Hawaii, with a stint in Berkeley, California in the 1960s, I’m no stranger to the smoking of pot, but was that was long ago and I was always very modest in such things. While I am completely for the legalizing of pot – and every other drug, for that matter, because that is far better than the consequences of the current prohibition – I do have to say that based on my personal observations, those who overindulge really do seem to inflict some damage to the functioning of parts of their brains. Of course, that’s true of any drug.
Which is why I always say, moderation in all things, including your excesses…
Creative Commercial of the Week
There is almost nothing I love more in this world than human creativity. The following commercial involves 148 hardcore biker types in a movie theater, leaving only two open seats for unsuspecting latecomers. Watch what happens then.
Some Politically Incorrect Jokes…
With apologies to any easily offended Irish readers, though in fairness it was an Irish friend who sent these along to me…
Six retired Irishmen were playing poker in O'Leary's apartment when Paddy Murphy loses $500 on a single hand, clutches his chest, and drops dead at the table. Showing respect for their fallen brother, the other five continue playing standing up.
Michael O'Connor looks around and asks, "Oh, me boys, someone got to tell Paddy's wife. Who will it be?"
They draw straws. Paul Gallagher picks the short one. They tell him to be discreet, be gentle, don't make a bad situation any worse.
"Discreet? I'm the most discreet Irishman you'll ever meet. Discretion is me middle name. Leave it to me."
Gallagher goes over to Murphy's house and knocks on the door. Mrs. Murphy answers and asks what he wants.
Gallagher declares, "Your husband just lost $500 and is afraid to come home."
"Tell the worthless S.O.B. to drop dead!" says Murphy's wife.
"I'll go tell him," says Gallagher.
Into a Belfast pub comes Paddy Murphy, looking like he'd just been run over by a train. His arm is in a sling, his nose is broken, his face is cut and bruised, and he's walking with a limp.
"What happened to you?" asks Sean, the bartender.
"Michael O'Connor and me had a fight," says Paddy.
"That little O'Connor," says Sean, "he couldn't do that to you, he must have had something in his hand."
"That he did," says Paddy, "a shovel is what he had, and a terrible lickin' he gave me with it."
"Well," says Sean, "you should have defended yourself. Didn't you have something in your hand?"
"That I did," said Paddy, "Mrs. O'Connor's breast, and a thing of beauty it was; but useless in a fight."
An Irishman who had a little too much to drink is driving home from the city one night and, of course, his car is weaving violently all over the road.
A cop pulls him over. "So," says the cop to the driver, "where have ya been?"
"Why, I've been to the pub, of course," slurs the drunk.
"Well," says the cop, "it looks like you've had quite a few to drink this evening."
"I did all right," the drunk says with a smile.
"Did you know," says the cop, standing straight and folding his arms across his chest, "that a few intersections back, your wife fell out of your car?"
"Oh, thank heavens," sighs the drunk. "For a minute there, I thought I'd gone deaf."
Mary Clancy goes up to Father O'Grady after his Sunday morning service, and she's in tears.
He says, "So what's bothering you, Mary my dear?"
She says, "Oh, Father, I've got terrible news. My husband passed away last night."
The priest says, "Oh, Mary, that's terrible. Tell me, Mary, did he have any last requests?"
She says, "That he did, Father."
The priest says, "What did he ask, Mary?"
She says, "He said, Please Mary, put down that damn gun..."
As always, it was great spending time with so many of you in Argentina over the last week. It never fails to amaze me just how philosophically sound our readers are. It’s a bonus that you are so much fun to hang out with.
There’s hardly a dry twig in the lot, quite the opposite – all in all, the group is robust, full of energy and brimming with intelligence. If you couldn’t make the trip this time, the next event will be sometime in mid-March. You may want to pencil it on your calendar as that event will revolve around the annual grape harvest, always a special time.
And with that I will sign off for the week, thanking you for reading and for being a subscriber to a Casey Research publication as I do.
Don’t forget, you can immediately access the November edition of The Casey Report today, and receive Doug’s special report on terrorism and 4G warfare when it’s released next week… then cancel the very next day (or up to three months later) for a full refund. It’s the best offer we can make; don’t let it slide by.
Until next week!