Log Entries

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“Putin Has Knocked the Pieces off the Board”

The Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, explains what we can do about it.

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Killing Fewer Patients

Doctors insert tubes–catheters–into patients’ veins about 5 million times a year, sometimes with lethal results. A simple checklist has caused the infection rate to plunge.

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Maybe Things Aren’t All That Bad

Objective conditions have improved in recent decades. Life expectancy is up, poverty and crime are down, the rule of law is spreading, and life is getting better in other ways.

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Jargon Central

The (London) Times Literary Supplement likes to hold up gobbledygook for contempt. Here are some examples.

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The Most Horrible Consistory on Record

As we contemplate the approaching consistory to elect a successor to Benedict XVI, it is consoling to read about the one that elected Celestine IV in the thirteenth century as Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick, besieged Rome. Abusive guards herded ten Cardinals into a dilapidated room, without proper food or doctors.

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Dressing the Part

Just before the 1974 crash, and again in the 2000s, young folk who were getting richer by the minute saw no reason to dress up or to look serious. Now, the dress-down phenomenon is starting to fade again. Handling other people’s savings is a serious matter, and those who do it should try to look their part.

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Vampires

By Francie Train (Partially excerpted from her book “In Those Days”)
When I was about 10, I was a precocious and voracious reader and, urged on by my devilish older brother, George, I devoured, if that is the appropriate word, the entire book. Now, more than 70 years later, many scary details… are still vivid in my memory… I will have to read the book again, first collecting some talismans in case “John Train” tries any funny business.

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Letter to a Grandson

Dear Henry, At your christening the other day, I told a story that I asked your godparents to repeat to you at the right time. A Miss Gresham of Richmond Virginia, who was a friend of the family, once described for me the christening of her father, in about 1870. During the ceremony, General Robert […]

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The Great War Loan Conversion

Flooding the market with cash has not yet led to inflation, because the recession created a Grand Canyon of underutilized capacity to be filled first. When it is, though, expect inflation, and lower prices for long-term bonds. For a parallel situation, consider The Great War Loan Conversion, described in my Famous Financial Fiascos, where bond investors lost 99% of their money.

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Flamenco

Duende is the effect that flamenco, the national dance of Spain, seeks to achieve – a particular emotional impact. Suddenly in the room there’s a collective rapture.

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Up Mount Nemrut

In October I ascended Turkey’s Mt Nemrut, partly by vehicle and partly by mule, to reach a huge conical tumulus of stones protecting the tomb of King Antiochus I, descendant of Darius and Alexander the Great who awarded himself the title of “Theos,” “God,” and thus felt entitled to a glorious resting-place.

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The Executor’s Job

An individual should hesitate before accepting a position as sole executor of an estate. This advice is as sound today as it was in 1983, when this list of an estate executor’s tasks appeared in Preserving Capital and Making it Grow.

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