Tuesday, September 2nd 2014
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To The Point News
REPLACING FILTHY MONEY Print E-mail
Written by Richard Rahn   
Tuesday, 08 April 2014

Paper currency is dirty and is a major transmitter of disease as it goes from unwashed hand to unwashed hand. It is easily lost and stolen, and can be easily destroyed by getting wet or burned.

It physically wears out in a short time and is costly and troublesome to replace. So why do we still use the filthy stuff in the electronic age?

When given a choice, people find credit cards, debit cards and bank account electronic payments more convenient than cash. In many parts of the world, payments can be made from cellphone to cellphone, with the phone companies serving many of the functions of traditional banks. Money can be stored and transmitted from and to almost any form of computer.

Some 15 years ago, I wrote a book forecasting the demise of paper currency. I expected paper currency to gradually disappear like paper checks have. However, I was wrong. Rather than disappearing, the demand for paper currency is rising faster than inflation or population, albeit not by much, but the total quantity of paper U.S. dollars in circulation is roughly double what it was a dozen years ago. The question is: Why?
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HOW TO APOLOGIZE Print E-mail
Written by Dr. Joel Wade   
Wednesday, 09 April 2014

In 399 B.C., Socrates defended himself in the court of Athens against charges that he had corrupted the young and did not believe in the gods of the city. Though his attempt was unsuccessful, and he was shortly put to death, Plato recorded his great teacher's performance that day as his Apology. The title of this account uses an older definition of the word apology: "A defense especially of one's opinions, position, or actions."

Though the modern definition of the word is quite different, in some ways, I think we have culturally reverted to this older definition of apology - at least when it comes to politicians and other public figures.

We rarely hear publicly a genuine acceptance of responsibility for hurtful acts. It's more common to hear either a defense of one's actions, a displacement of responsibility onto the listener such as, "I'm sorry you feel badly about this," or a diffusion of responsibility into the ether through the use of the passive voice such as, "I'm sorry that happened."

That's how not to apologize.  Here's how to do it right.
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SHERLOCK HOLMES COULD NOT SOLVE THE MYSTERY OF MH370 Print E-mail
Written by Matt Ridley   
Thursday, 10 April 2014

On Tuesday (4/08), we learned that "crews searching for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 have failed to relocate the sounds previously heard deep in the Indian Ocean, raising fears that the batteries in the plane's black box may have died."

The tragic disappearance of all 239 people on board flight MH370 in the Indian Ocean has one really peculiar feature to it: none of the possible explanations is remotely plausible, yet one of them must be true.

The usual rule on these occasions - choose the simplest explanation or, as William of Ockham taught, make the fewest assumptions - simply does not work. There is no simple explanation. Whether the cause was an accidental decompression, a terrorist act or a suicide, all three require us to assume that an outlandish and bizarre sequence of events happened.

I don't know about you, but I have had conversations about MH370 with many people recently, some of whom were fairly confident that they knew what had happened. Yet every story they told was baroque in its contrivance to the point of implausibility, requiring a chain of events that stretched my credulity. Yet, as I say, one such story will turn out to be right.

Consider the sequence of events.
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WILL GERMANY DESTROY THE EURO? Print E-mail
Written by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard   
Thursday, 10 April 2014

The eurozone debt crisis is deepening and threatens to re-erupt on a larger scale when the liquidity cycle turns, a leading panel of economists warned in a clash of views with German officials in Berlin.

"Debts above 130% of GDP for Italy and 170% for Greece are a recipe for disaster once we go into the next downturn," said Professor Charles Wyplosz, from Geneva University.

"Today's politicians believe the crisis is over and don't want to hear any more about it, but they have not tackled the core issues of fiscal union and public debt," he said, speaking at Euromoney's annual Germany conference.

Ludger Schuknecht, director-general of the German finance ministry, insisted that the debt-stricken states of the eurozone are well on the way to recovery, ending their EU-IMF rescue programs successfully one by one. There is no need for any major shift in policy. "The strategy has been right. We need to bring down debt and this is now consensus," he said.

This optimism is sharply at odds with the view of almost every foreign-based economist attending the event. Charles Dallara, former head of the International Institute for Finance and chief negotiator for global banks in Greece's debt-restructuring, said little has been done to put the eurozone on a viable footing, even if sovereign bond yields in southern Europe have fallen to record lows.
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PUTIN VS. OBAMA Print E-mail
Written by To The Point News   
Friday, 11 April 2014

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HALF-FULL REPORT 04/04/14 Print E-mail
Written by Joe Katzman   
Friday, 04 April 2014

We Are Called To Action


We're going to open this week with Ted Cruz at Liberty University. Why? Because he reminds me of Lincoln's comment regarding Grant: "I cannot spare this man. He fights."



Cruz is an interesting study. You'll notice that his speaking ability isn't quite good enough to have his asides, jokes, etc. come off well, but his willingness to stand his ground and act makes up for it. His comments about getting in the wheelbarrow, and doing something concrete for your beliefs today, exactly mirror the difference between Gen. Grant and Gen. McLellan, who was excellent at preparation but never seemed to get around to going after the enemy when it mattered. Remind you of anyone in Washington?

If you're here, I know which general you'd rather be. Take Cruz's advice. TTP is here with news, tips, insights, and stories about others who are fighting their own courageous fights.
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SIBERIA AND THE SOUTH CHINA SEA Print E-mail
Written by Dr. Jack Wheeler   
Thursday, 03 April 2014

[Note:  I am off to Socotra and beyond.  Jack Kelly is also away on a well-deserved vacation.  In our absence, Joe Katzman will man the HFR ramparts.  He is asking TTPers to send him their suggestions for what recent events of note deserve inclusion in the HFR. "Send your suggestions etc. to our new [Half-Full Report email address ] at gmail dot com, the "person" is TTPHFR" - Thanks, and thanks, Joe!]

Here's an interesting question:  Do Russians and Chinese exist?  Obviously yes in an ordinary sense.  But do they possess any individual identity beyond being simply members of their tribal collective?

Human beings seem genetically hard-wired to be tribal.  Just about all of us derive at least part of our self-identity via membership in one or more tribes.  But most in the West do not submerge their identity into the tribe. 

An exception might be a substantial fraction of American Blacks, for whom being "black" overrides everything else.  This, of course, is racism, but all forms of racism are merely a variety of tribalism.

For most of us, however - and this includes a great many American Blacks - what we see in the mirror is an individual human being distinct and separate from others.  Our participation in the welter of groups and tribes to which we belong is something more of choice than necessity, something that we could withdraw from without feeling at a loss to know who we were.

This is not the case with the great majority of Russians and Chinese.  Having little sense of individual empowerment, the average Russian gets a frisson whenever his government pushes other governments and countries around.  They want Russia to be a bully.  They want other people to be afraid of them because they are Russian.
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WHY THE DEMS CAN'T TAKE KENNY ROGERS' ADVICE Print E-mail
Written by Jack Kelly   
Tuesday, 01 April 2014

The secret to surviving, The Gambler told Kenny Rogers, is to "know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away, know when to run."

It's time for her fellow Democrats to fold their Obamacare cards, says pollster Celinda Lake.

"In terms of Obamacare, don't defend it, say it was flawed from the beginning, and we're going to fix it," Ms. Lake said at a poll briefing hosted by the Christian Science Monitor March 25.

This "mend it don't end it" strategy was followed by Alex Sink in the special election for a House seat in Florida March 11.  It failed, as will other Dem attempts.  Here's why.
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ARONOFSKY'S NOAH DESERVES AN OSCAR FOR BEST COMEDY OF THE YEAR Print E-mail
Written by Erik Erickson   
Tuesday, 01 April 2014

I just saw Noah. The film is a remarkable display of special effects. It is also one of the funniest comedies I have seen in a very long time.

Aronofsky deserves a great deal of praise for turning a serious subject into a non-stop laugh fest of techno-electro music, orchestral scores, blasting special effects, and even rock monsters.

The ad campaign tried to ease Christians' nerves that all would be well, artistic license was taken, but the movie would be faithful to the story. If they hadn't tried to con Christians into the movie, I wouldn't have a problem. It was a pretty awesome sci-fi spectacle complete with Ent-like rock monsters, a super-powered Methuselah, Adam and Eve as glow in the dark space aliens, and Hermione Granger.

I am not kidding.
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GREECE PROVES HOW OVERSPENDING CAN RUIN AN ECONOMY Print E-mail
Written by Richard Rahn   
Wednesday, 02 April 2014

Athens, Greece.  How far can a modern economy sink?

The Greek economy is entering its fifth year of decline. Nominal gross domestic product is about 28 percent lower than it was four years ago. The official unemployment rate is 27.5 percent (as though the decimal point matters, given the poor quality of the data).

The unemployment rate for young people is about 60 percent. Nonperforming loans continue to rise. The privatization program continues to fail, in part because of an absence of bidders.

In a paper posted earlier this month, leading Greek economist Yanis Varoufakis of the University of Athens and the University of Texas at Austin argues Greece is "a failed social economy." The following are several of his examples:
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HOW TO MASTER YOUR EMOTIONS Print E-mail
Written by Dr. Joel Wade   
Wednesday, 02 April 2014

This week I want to go into more depth about emotions. If you can master them, you will more fully own your own life. The quality of personality that this grows is conscientiousness, and it happens to be one of the most important qualities for your overall health and longevity.

Sometimes our emotions make life worth living: love, joy, ecstasy, delight, curiosity... Our emotions bring us these experiences and fill us with the meaning and motivation of life.

Sometimes our emotions can throw us into the worst that humanity can endure: pain, sadness, horror, grief, anger, fear, terror, depression... When this is what we feel, life can become overwhelming and, conversely, when life feels overwhelming, sometimes these are the feelings that come to dominate.

There are tools that can help us master our emotions, even when times are very, very hard.  Here are some of those tools.
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A WHOLE NEW MEANING Print E-mail
Written by To The Point News   
Friday, 04 April 2014

This is the true story of the time Jay Leno went into the Tonight Show audience to find the most embarrassing first date that a woman ever had.
 

The winner described her worst first date experience.  She said it was midwinter...snowing and quite cold... and her date had taken her skiing in the mountains outside Salt Lake City, Utah.

They had fun on the slopes all day, then headed back to Salt Lake late that afternoon.

They were driving back down the mountain, when she gradually began to realize that she should not have had that extra après-ski cappuccino.
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HALF-FULL REPORT 03/28/14 Print E-mail
Written by Dr. Jack Wheeler   
Friday, 28 March 2014

Is this the most fabulous 30-second political ad you've ever seen in your life?

 

Joni Ernst is a 43 year-old state senator, a Lt. Colonel in the Iowa National Guard who served in Iraq, and a rock-solid conservative - see her issue positions - who is a Republican candidate for the US Senate.

On Monday (3/24), she released the ad above that's been hailed by NRO as having "The Greatest Opening Line in the History of Campaign Commercials."  To wit:

"I'm Joni Ernst... I grew up castrating hogs on an Iowa farm, so when I get to Washington, I'll know how to cut pork."

On Wednesday (3/26), the front page headline in Iowa newspapers was "Sarah Palin Endorses Joni Ernst." 

That evening, Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show showed the ad in his opening monologue, then commented:  "I don't know what she's running for but just give her the job."  On Comedy Central, Stephen Colbert endorsed her, explaining:

"Joni, you had me at 'castration.' Folks, it does not matter what else she stands for. I'm pulling for her whole-hog, or whatever is left of the hog when she's done with it."
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WAS SEIZING CRIMEA WORTH WRECKING THE RUSSIAN ECONOMY? Print E-mail
Written by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard   
Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Capital flight from Russia has spiked dramatically since President Vladimir Putin first sent troops into Crimea and may reach $70 billion over the first quarter of the year, prompting fears that the country may soon have to impose capital controls to stem the loss.

"It is shocking," says Bartosz Pawlowski from BNP Paribas. "Markets have been extremely complacent, fooling themselves that Russia is invulnerable because it has almost half a trillion in foreign reserves. But reserves can become almost irrelevant in this sort of crisis."

Lars Christensen from Danske Bank says the authorities may resort to some form of financial coercion to lock down funds in Russia. "Capital controls are a serious risk, and should not be discounted. Whatever now happens, there has been permanent damage to the Russian economy because investors are not going to forget this lightly."

The US and the EU are ratcheting up the pressure each day following a spate of sanctions last week on Mr. Putin's inner circle. The latest example came Monday (3/24), when....
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THE TWO LAWSUITS THAT COULD DESTROY OBAMACARE Print E-mail
Written by Jack Kelly   
Thursday, 27 March 2014

"The ordaining of laws in favor of one part of the nation, to the prejudice and oppression of another, is certainly the most erroneous and mistaken policy," said Benjamin Franklin. "An equal dispensation of protection, rights, privileges, and advantages, is what every part is entitled to, and ought to enjoy."

But it's been tough sledding for equal protection of the laws these last five years.

The president alters at his whim laws passed by Congress, exempting some, but not others, from Obamacare provisions.

His attorney general won't prosecute civil rights offenses -- if the victims are white.

Pennsylvania's attorney general won't prosecute bribe-taking politicians -- if they are black.

The scofflaws could be reined in -- if plaintiffs prevail in lawsuits which got hearings in courts in Washington D.C. last week.
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