Monday, December 14, 2009

New book by David Walker

What could be more significant to us all:

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Muslim Prayers Fuel Spiritual Rebuilding Project by Ground Zero

We came across this rather remarkable story in the NY Times:
"Muslim Prayers Fuel Spiritual Rebuilding Project by Ground Zero."

On this subject, may we recommend to you Walid Shoebat's GOD'S WAR ON TERROR? It is, quite simply, a revelation.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Free Tibet

Trekking in Tibet I meet the Dalai Lama.
Hello Dalai. Hello David. After some
Hesitation and small talk, I ask him
What kind of washer-dryer combination
To buy. He says, “What is your universe
Of choices?” Basically, it’s down
To ASKO, the Swedish import, and Maytag,
The quality American product. The snow
Contrail winging off Chomolungma turns
East toward Bhutan. A sign? I explain
That the ASKO duo is friendlier to all
living things -- uses less electricity, water,
bleach, detergent -- and gets clothes cleaner,
Purples, purpler, but costs twice as much.
The Maytag is spartan, righteous, renounces
Superfluity, cleans O.K., but throws repairmen
Out of work. The Dalai Lama nods, sips
his yak-butter tea, and eyes a fisky dzo
in the yawn of Tingri Plains distance. I
consider his silence. Is this a reproach?
While waiting, and waiting, for his answer
I ponder his baggage: the Swedes had come
Through with the Peace Prize, overdue,
but still. Plus he’s quite green, definitely
pro-planet. Is a dear object more material
than a cheap one? Would the “Buy American”
motive be dismissed as empty nationalism?
And yet who rides higher, astride his kiang,
With the banner of the nation-state, than he?
The huge head of Richard Gere, a tsonga
In his hair, comes floating like a Macy’s
Parade balloon above the snowcapped summit
of sacred Kailas. The Dalai Lama coughs,
reaches for a peppermint lozenge not yet
spoiled by the Chinese occupation, and says,
“Sometimes a belonging that doesn’t work
properly creates suffering for us.”

David Breskin


To be known is to be in the know. Superb feature via Bloomberg and

Read the Time cover story this week on president of the Ohio State University for a full 3D, technicolor, big screen realization of the quote.

And to confuse things just a bit, a quote from Baudrillard on the "other side" of networking:

It is forbidden to unplug yourself, and not only in active, interactive social life, but also on your deathbed: it is forbidden to tear out the tubes, even if you want to. And this is not criminal because it is an attempt on your own life – who cares about that? – but because it is an attempt on the life of medicine, and of high technology, which must ensure their own salvation first. The network principle carries with it the absolute moral obligation to remain plugged in.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

All the news that fits

Islam's -- the "religion of peace and love" -- Chop Chop Square
Koran 47.(4) When ye encounter the unbelievers, strike off their heads, until ye have made a great slaughter among them; and bind them in bonds: And either give them a free dismission afterwards, or exact a ransom; until the war shall have laid down its arms. This shall ye do: Verily if God pleased, He could take vengeance on them, without your assistance; but He commandeth you to fight his battles, that He may prove the one of you by the other. And as to those who fight in defence of God's true religion, God will not suffer their works to perish...

Great journalism here at the NY, as usual and very thought-provoking feature on America's gladiators, and their disturbing fate

"Extraordinary Comebacks: 201 Inspiring Stories of Courage, Triumph, and Success"
Tuesday, October 27, 2009 10:37 AM Sales Rank: #94,564 in Books (See Bestsellers in Books)
Popular in this category: (What's this?)

#86 in Books > Health, Mind & Body > Psychology & Counseling > By Topic > Motivation

Monday, September 14, 2009

Smile, smile, smile

Felix Lloyd Powell (23 May 1878 – 10 February 1942) wrote the music for " Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit Bag and Smile, Smile, Smile", a WWI marching tune. It was regarded then as one of the the most optimistic songs ever written.

But the effect was lost on its creator. Powell committed suicide in 1942, shooting himself in the heart using his own rifle.


True story, Word of Honor:
Joseph Heller, an important and funny writer
now dead,
and I were at a party given by a billionaire
on Shelter Island.
I said, "Joe, how does it make you feel
to know that our host only yesteray
may have made more money
than your novel 'Catch-22'
has earned in its entire history?"
And Joe said, "I've got something he can never have."
And I said, "What on earth could that be, Joe?"
And Joe said, "The knowledge that I've got enough."
Not bad! Rest in peace.

Kurt Vonnegut, May, 2005, New Yorker

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Something Better Than The Internet Genie

"My son met her in an Internet café in Katmandu. Isn’t she beautiful?"

Indeed, she was.

Though I had met him on his lawn, just three minutes earlier, my new host had swept me and the wife up in a whirlwind and was now showing me around his home. His no. 1 pride and joy: pictures of his son, his new Nepalese wife, and their young children. His son is a freelance photographer living in Nepal. He was also extremely resourceful. He had made 7,500 bricks, by hand, and was about to begin construction on his new home.

Just as his dad, Nicholas Prokos, 75, my guerrilla host, before him. Nicholas had built his own home behind the dwelling he owned and rented out at 1698 First Street, Highland Park, Illinois, and we could see he loved to show off every immaculate, well-designed inch.

It was the last Sunday of August, 2009, and the huge and ever-expanding Port Clinton Art Fair was in full swing. The long string of exhibits ran south, right to his lawn, where he was showing his stoneware, and I struck up a conversation with him.

“They brought the fair to you,” I said.

“Why pay $700 for a booth!?!,” said the dapper older gentleman, attired in a spiffy new black golf vest. We chatted briefly, and within minutes he said, ‘come and see my house, it’s in the back, I built it myself.’

“When you say ‘built it myself….’,” I said.

“That’s right, with my own hands.”

So off we went.

The spry old gentleman was nothing if not handy – quite literally. A ceramics professor at Michigan, School of the Art Institute, Barat College, he made his living with his hands and teaching others to do likewise. At 75, (he appeared younger), he was now retired, and playing golf, when he wasn’t crafting magnificent stoneware.

Did he have a website? “No, I don’t need more work!,” he laughed. “I have to have time for my golf!”

His walls were decorated with arresting sketches and impressive art from his students over the years, some of whom he had stayed in contact with. A large fiber work hung over his dining room. He described in detail how it was made. Pictures of his family were all around.

He showed us the beautiful secluded patio, his kiln (“I built it myself.”)

Floored by his easygoing and natural-as-pie hospitality, I realized something:

I spend too much time on the Internet. Way too much. And too much time with the alphabet news teams: CNN, FOX, CNBC, HLN, and all the rest. Email is great. The web is great. But you begin to mistake it for face-to-face communication – which it’s not. You miss the inflection, the intent, the gesticulation, the enthusiasm, the….well…humanity.

Our host said he talks to his sons (another lives in N. Mexico, also a professional potter) on Skype all the time. We did the same with our daughter when she was studying in the Far East. It’s a marvel, a modern magic, and no one would ever willingly give it up. Not even my tennis friend who lives nearby, but insists on calling me and hitting me up for a chat on Skype. And our new friend’s son met his wife in an Internet café after all.

No -- the Internet genie is out of the bottle, and he’s not going back in.

But every once in a while, you have simply got to leave behind that apparition and choose, instead, to be with people. Especially people as warm, genuine and colorful as Dr. Nicholas Prokos, master builder, potter, and instant friend and host.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Fighting the good fight

Our friend John Terry has brought his new book to our attention:

Christian Martial Arts: The Passion, The Calling, The Journey: How To Effectively Incorporate Faith-Based Principles Into Your Martial Arts Practice.

Christian and martial arts, you say, isn't that a contradiction in terms? The author shows here that it's not. In today's society, predators seeks out children and women as victims; self-defense is no longer an option, but a must.

He de-bunks the myth that karate originates from Eastern mysticism. His chapter on marketing will make you think about how you can get your message out in less self-serving, more effective ways. In a day and time where "Christian" conveys "weak" to many, Terry provides a the antidote -- but in a caring, intelligent, spiritual way.

One caveat: this book may catalyze a desire to run out and sign up for a Christian martial arts class.

About the Author
John L. Terry, III is the founder and executive director of the Christian Martial Arts Council. He is an ordained minister, martial arts and self-defense instructor, and a “Kid-Safe” and “Women-Safe” community advocate. John holds a black belt in Okinawan Karate and Kenpo. He is both a member of, and has served on the boards of, several professional martial arts associations. John has a degree in Business from Arkansas Tech University and has been a sales and marketing consultant since 1988. Contact him directly at where he provides a daily email review of Bible prophecy topics.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

New calculus: USA interest soon to = SS + Med + Defense

What is the cost of the "stimulus package," the deficit spending to break the Greater Recession? In just four short years, author C.H. Smith paints a scenario in which the interest the US pays on its debt will equal the payments it makes for Social Security, Medicare and Defense.

He calls it the Road to National Insolvency. Surely a must read. What to do? Start with a visit to IOUSA, watch the 30 minute film, write your representatives.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Financial meltdown catalyzes suicides

German billionaire Merckel

Frenchman and investor Thierry Magon de la Villehuchet

And, more recently, an attempted suicide by Marcus Shrenker.

Even if they didn’t opt for the ultimate and most permanent of solutions, like Messrs. Merckle and Villehuchet, with the SP500 down almost half in 2008, the average investor and/or 401K holder was feeling plenty blue as 2008 wound down.

Small consolation, but things have also been as tough, sometimes much tougher, percentage-wise, for other legends of business and finance. It appears none will miss lunch, as a result, but still, they felt the cold slap of ignominy right in the chops, along with all the other “long term” investors. For many, the blow is coming at the end of a long and illustrious career.

Even the “Babe Ruth” of investing was not immune.

Warren Buffett, 78, and his Berkshire Hathaway stock did not escape from the meltdown. The stock declined from approximately $151,000 per share, to $74,100 at its low ($99,700 per at this writing). That doesn’t make him particularly unique in an environment when the SP lost half its value. The strange twist here is that the creator of the phrase “derivatives….weapons of financial mass destruction” himself was an avid participant in the options market, generating a loss of an estimated $3.7 billion. He sold LEAP puts on some $37 billion of equities with maturities ranging from 2019 to 2027 – exercisable only at maturity, not before.

Maybe it’s a clever strategy to sell puts for a time in the future when you may or may not be around, but still, they get marked to market, and have apparently created a real short term difficulty. Some opine that this is the reason Berkshire invested in Goldman Sachs, the broker for this transaction. Goldman counterparties were concerned about their counterparty risk, the thinking here goes, and demanded more collateral in case of continued stock decline (even though the original bet did not require any collateral due to the seemingly impregnable state of BRK finances, impregnable to this point, at least). As a result, Berkshire Hathaway credit default swap rates climbed to five full points, from one-half point earlier in the year. Could the decline in stocks last a decade or more?

Sheldon Adelson, developer of the Las Vegas Sands, injected some $525 million of his own funds to keep his gambling empire from defaulting on its debt and going into bankruptcy. Additionally, he converted $475 million in convertible notes into common stock. To raise another billion, he more than doubled the number of shares outstanding, sold them at $6, and massively diluted the holdings of existing shareholders. That left him with 51% of the company, versus an earlier 69%. At the time of the announcement, the stock had traded down from $145 to the $4s over a 12 month period. As recently as Sept. 2007, he was the Forbes No. 3, with an estimated net worth of $28 billion. At this writing, with a stock price of some $5.50, market cap for LVS was approximately $2 billion; Adelson’s half worth now just $1 billion, a loss of $27 billion in one year.

Kirk Kerkorian, 91, saw his MGM Mirage stake fall in value from $14 billion to $2 billion, a loss of $12 billion. The company owns approximately half the rooms on the Las Vegas strip. Additionally, he is selling his $1 billion stake in Ford (6.4% of the co.) for 2/3rds less, a loss of $700 million since the summer. He bought the shares because the company had a good quarter earlier in the year and he had confidence in the Ford CEO Alan Mulally. Kerkorian reportedly told friends recently that he had “lived one year too long.” Kerkorian was No. 27 on the Forbes 400 when his net worth was listed at $11.2 billion.

Sumner Redstone, 85, via his holding company National Amusements sold some $233 million of stock in Viacom and CBS after he breached a $1.6 billion loan provision which catalyzed a margin call from lenders. As recently as early October, the shares were worth $420 million, creating a paper loss of $187 million. Few knew he had so much debt, and fewer still that it was tied to stock values at CBS and Viacom. Additionally, his 25-year investment in a video game maker, Midway Games (and its predecessor), has cost him between $500 and $700 million, according to one analyst. Midway makes the game Mortal Kombat; it hasn’t been profitable since Q2 2000. Over the past three years alone, it has lost $258.9 million in operations. In 2005, shares in Midway were $23; recently, they sold for less than one dollar. Redstone’s life has been described as a soap opera, with turbulent divorces (including one now in real time), estrangements from his daughter and son, and employees, including the likes of Tom Cruise, who he excoriated in the media after his erratic behavior on various high profile media outlets. Some speculate Redstone could lose control of his media empire, but the octogenarian has already survived worse: the protagonist once saved his life during a hotel fire by crawling out on a ledge until help arrived. He underwent 30 hours of surgery, and was not expected to survive. He was 56. He did indeed survive. On Nov. 11, Redstone told media he promised to forego any further sales of CBS or Viacom stock. Analysts weren’t so sure; some said the situation may be beyond his control. The Harvard graduate was recently No. 25 on the Forbes 400.

Aubrey K. McClendon, Chesapeake Energy Corp.’s CEO, was forced by a margin call to sell most of his shares in his firm. He received some $620 million for shares that earlier in the year were worth $2.3 billion: loss: $1.68 billion. In October, 2008 published a press release that said he had "involuntarily sold substantially all of his shares of Chesapeake common stock over the past three days in order to meet margin loan call." It went on to say: “I am very disappointed to have been required to sell substantially all of my shares of Chesapeake. These involuntary and unexpected sales were precipitated by the extraordinary circumstances of the worldwide financial crisis. In no way do these sales reflect my view of the company's financial position or my view of Chesapeake's future performance potential. I have been the company's largest individual shareholder for the past three years and frequently purchased additional shares of stock on margin as an expression of my complete confidence in the value of the company's strategy and assets. My confidence in Chesapeake remains undiminished, and I look forward to rebuilding my ownership position in the company in the months and years ahead." He was recently No. 134 on the Forbes 400.

Iceland’s former billionaire, Gjorgolfur Gudmundsson, 67, with his son, owned a large stake in Landsbanki. One year ago, the stake was worth $3.1 billion. Now, zero. His son, Thor, 41, had a net worth three times that of his father as of March, 2008. But in October, 2008, his investment firm had to sell a stake in a Finnish telecom for $310 million to pay debts. He still had stakes, however, in a Polish telecom group, and an Icelandic generic drug firm.

Three Russian oligarchs felt the pinch, too. Oleg Deripaska, Alisher Usmanov, and Kostyantin Zhevago, lost $600 million, $2.1 billion and and $515 million, respectively.

The aforementioned luminaries were captains of industry, builders of corporations. Even though their losses are staggering, breathtaking, none may be described as “plungers,” like the spectacular speculator from the 1920s and 1930s, Jesse Livermore, on whom the famous Reminiscences of a Stock Operator was modeled.

Now, unfortunately, some are meeting his same fate.

After surviving those tumultuous decades, and making and losing several fortunes, Livermore, 63, suffering from depression, ended it all with a shot to the head in the cloakroom of New York’s Sherry Netherland Hotel in 1940. He left an eight-page suicide note

(“My dear Nina: Can’t help it. Things have been bad with me. I am tired of fighting. Can’t carry on any longer. This is the only way out. I am unworthy of your love. I am a failure. I am truly sorry, but this is the only way out for me. Love Laurie”).

Strangely to some, he left behind approximately $5 million in capital which was apparently tied up in trusts and cash. In the final analysis, it’s all “left behind,” some point out. With that thought in mind, suffice to say, no necessary motivation to hasten the process oneself. It will happen, all by itself, and soon enough......

Byron Wien: $1200 gold for 2009

WESTPORT, Conn. - (Business Wire) Byron R. Wien, Chief Investment Strategist of Pequot Capital Management, Inc., today issued his list of Ten Surprises for 2009. Mr. Wien has issued his economic, financial market and political surprises annually since 1986. The 2009 list follows:

1. The Standard and Poor’s 500 rises to 1200. In anticipation of a second-half recovery in the U.S. economy, the market improves from a base of investor despondency and hedge fund and mutual fund withdrawals. The mantra changes from “fortunes have been lost” to “fortunes can still be made.” Higher quality corporate bonds, leveraged loans and mortgages lead the way.

2. Gold rises to $1,200 per ounce. Heavy buying by Middle Eastern investors and a worldwide disenchantment with paper currencies drive the price of precious metals higher. In a time of uncertainty, investors want something they can count on as real.


Monday, January 05, 2009