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STOCK MARKET CHARTS  tell a story. Of course on the surface, most chart styles show a continuous map of prices over a period of time. But what a chart actually depicts is a series of collective (investor) responses to the flow of new information about the earnings potential for the companies involved (e.g. DOW or S&P 500). OK, so what? Well during the evolution of a mania or bubble, there comes a point when prices are driven not by the potential for earnings but by the price action itself. In other words, more emphasis is placed on the rising prices than on the reasoning behind them. Perhaps my favorite definition of a bubble is purely psychological – as it should be: a bubble happens when

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She is Winter      by William Hecht Deep December night and she is spent. She is consumed–like the fields after a greedy harvest. She slumbers—as does the world. Only her essence is sentient, aware. It is a spell: cast in the light of the great moon, it will break with the first rays of the equinox sun. Her hair is black. It is a wave of boreal night that flowed through the glass, swept down her  cheek, and spilled on a pale shoulder.  Things made of night are smooth–and softer by far than anything made from day. She dreams—as does the world–of light and warmth, of aromas and twitching roots, the vibration of launching sprouts: calls to life. If I could dream with her, I would

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About 30 months ago, I left Arizona after having lived there more than half my life. I had grown up in Racine, Wisconsin, and when I left for Arizona to go to graduate school, I had just turned 26.  A marriage, a divorce, and a couple careers later I was 55; my work-life was changing and my father’s health was failing. The decision to move back to Racine was made easier through a series of ever-longer visits back “home,” to the same house I grew up in, the nearby Great Lake, the change of seasons, the mix of industry and farming, and the community that somehow still knew me. Twenty years ago, in conversation with  Karen P______, an AA friend, I heard some words that

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      I WAS A FAN of Matthew Rhys from having watched The Americans series and then had no choice but to rave about him in Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. His typically somber and introspective character is perfect for the tone of this series. The measure, for me, of the strength of a series is how deeply I pine for the next episode and I pined (silently) like a hound for the chase. This Perry Mason genesis story has all the things I like: it’s a period piece, it’s noir,  has good casting with several plot points converging. At a time in our country when Justice and Truth are struggling to take a form we can all recognize, what better way to put them into

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    [This piece, taken from the writing collection of the same title, is re-posted as an anniversary tribute. Dad died on August 12, 2013. ]       The Eighth Day by Thornton Wilder is my favorite book. It is probably also the most underrated novel of the last century. I never merely re-read it; every few years it summons me, and like a somnambulist I turn to the bookshelf and reach for my copy. A novel such as that is a conjurer’s orb: your hands surround and caress it, your eyes peer into its depths and… a voice sounds. The voice wields the kind of authority that dismisses fiction. The images, the characters—the story chronicles a series of events so rife with Truth

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In my mother’s kitchen, and taped to the door of a cabinet where cups and plates are kept, is a laminated Catholic Diocese card. The card is divided into two distinct sections. The top part is titled The Corporal Works of Mercy. The “works” are ministrations to be made and observations to be kept in caring for –to name some of them–the poor, the sick, and the dead. The lower part describes The Spiritual Works of Mercy. This section addresses, among other items, forgiveness toward the wretched and prayers for the dead.  The Diocese card made it clear that Mercy took the form of both Thought and Deed. Earlier this week, after a spate of cool, damp weather had broken and given way to a

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  [Authors Note: With the calamity-induced emphasis on teaching remotely, I remembered, fondly as with special friendships or past celebrations with family, a short story I wrote about teaching online and perhaps about “connecting” in that context.  It occurred to me to dust it off and share it with readers of this blog.  Because it is longer than the usual fare,  I attach the PDF.]   MORE CERTAIN THAN HOPE10  

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  NOT BECAUSE I JUST EMERGED from long hours indoors during the Wisconsin winter, but rather because of the self-quarantine brought on by the Digital Age and social media, I find it ironic that many people today will easily adopt to their new lives under government-ordered quarantine: after decades of mass human migration toward self-confinement inside the virtual world, a decree, for many, would be a mere formality. Meanwhile, in the same fashion that a virus in your computer can completely disrupt a computer network, the novel coronavirus shut down society. But that’s not the point. The point is whether or not the virus can be removed and the network and data saved relatively quickly, or whether the equipment is useless and the data lost.

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IN EVERY introductory economics class, it becomes clear from early on that specialization is the source of greater efficiency or productivity; in the division of labor and in free trade, the secret sauce is “specialize.” In other words, everyone should stop doing what they used to do and begin to do only the things they do best. It even works if they only do the things they do least poorly. This sounds great and all the textbooks have nice charts, pictures, and examples of how much we all benefit from this miracle. The books almost insult us for thinking that we might do things any other way. As a result of the consistent application of these principles over time, a country or an integrated global

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IMPORTANT SPIRITS FROM OUR PAST summoned their experiences, perspectives, and talents to deliver blessings and admonitions—invaluable gifts–to posterity. Homer, Shakespeare, Dickens, Hugo, Sappho, Simone De Beauvoir, Ursula Le Guin are just a few that come to mind. They used books, plays, and poems to craft messages and warnings that would be relevant for millennia. After all, the human drama is nothing if not a series of remakes and sequels. Because human group behavior is so repetitive, many such messages and warnings have the clarity of a premonition or a revelation. I just finished reading the George Orwell (his real name was Eric Blair) classic 1984 for about the seventh time. I have read it every four or five years since I was in college and

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AS WITH THE ELECTION PRIMARIES, with the Academy Awards a lot of people pay attention to who has been “hot” with the earlier voters. Unfortunately, that can make for a boring show. For example, Best film, actress, actor, supporting actor and actress, and Best director are already strong favorites. With that in mind, for the major categories at least, identifying possible upsets will make the awards more exciting or give you a chance at winning the pool. So, here goes. Best Film 1917 but Parasite a serious upset chance. Best Actress Renee Z in Judy has won and won and won. Maybe Charlize Theron of Bombshell a longshot to play spoiler? Best Actor Joaquin Phoenix has been scooping up the awards for Joker. A shock

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    WITH THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION less than nine months away, the plot couldn’t get much thicker. Trump’s approval hit a new high of 49%, and the Dems seem to be struggling to identify a candidate and agree on a platform. The pundits mostly focus on two things, namely a) who can get the Democratic nomination, and b) will that person be able to beat Trump. Little of this is new information. But really, the spoiler in the whole business may not be a candidate at all. As I pointed out in an earlier post, the economy has to hold for Trump to win;  without the economy, he would lose 20-30% of his current supporters. The candidate best suited to unseat the president might be the

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