Browse Month

April 2017

Ted Cruz: Mensch!

Reading Time: 1 minutes

If you read my blog, you know I’ve had differences with Senator Ted Cruz. But the Senator has stepped up. Bigly! Only a gentleman would do what Cruz just did with his El Chapo bill.

Remember the GOP race? Cruz and Trump went at each other like nobody’s business. Wives and all. While Cruz couldn’t bring himself to endorse Trump at the convention, Ted has stepped up a lot since the election.

The biggest step-up to date: this El Chapo bill. Via Breitbart News:

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) introduced a bill calling for the use of $14 billion seized from cartel drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman to be used to pay for the President’s border wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

Trump’s most prominent issue in the campaign starting June 2015 was the Wall. You remember the rallies, don’t you? “And who’s going to pay for that big, beautiful wall?”

M E X I C O!!!!

Senator Cruz has no reason to help Trump solve his number one issue. None. No one would think less of Ted Cruz if he continued to pursue his personal goals, paying no attention to President Trump’s agenda.

But Senator Cruz has gone total mensch. He’s taken it upon himself to find a way for Mexico to pay for the Wall. A solution NO ONE can possibly object to. Making a Mexican drug lord pay for it.

Brilliant!

My hat is off to Senator Cruz. Now, if we can get some Missouri NeverTrump Republicans to step up and put America before their own egos.

Democrats Ruin the World (f-bombs included!)

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Picture this.

Every time you leave your teenage kids home alone for a weekend, you come back to stink-eyes from your neighbors, a living room that’s a sea of empty beer cans, a yard filled with cigarette butts, and a pregnant cat.

Pretty soon, you’d stop leaving those kids to their own devices, wouldn’t you? If you had to leave town, you’d find a sitter. Maybe a retired Marine uncle. Or a friendly cop to send a car by the house every half hour during the dark hours. But you wouldn’t let the behavior continue.

Now, think about how Democrats fuck up the world every time they get into the White House.

  • Kennedy/Johnson left Vietnam for Nixon
  • Carter left the Soviet Union, Afghanistan, and Iran Hostage Crisis for Reagan
  • Clinton left North Korea and al Qaeda for Bush
  • Obama left a nuclear North Korea, Syria, Russia, China, Libya, Egypt, Ukraine, and a dozen other geopolitical nightmares for Trump

What’s worse is we elected those Republicans (excepting Nixon) largely to deal with problems at home. But each of those presidents had to spend his first term on foreign policy. Not because they wanted to. Because Democrats had actively fucked up the entire world while they were in charge.

Face it: international relations is just too complicated a subject for a Democrat’s brain. They’re not equipped for the challenge.

Democrats handle geopolitics like a cat handles an iPad. Sure, they can stomp on the icons and make sound come out, but the cat thinks it’s stepping on bugs when it’s actually tweeting out your online banking password. But you get million YouTube views for the video, so it all evens out.

Maybe you don’t want to think about foreign policy. Maybe you don’t want to deal with the fact that we are closer to nuclear war than we’ve been . . . ever. Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter managed to help North Korea get nuclear weapons and ICBMs. Carter told Kim Jong-un’s grandfather, Kim Il-song, to do whatever he wants; we’ll bring the casserole.

Now, Il-song’s deranged, inbred grandson has nukes and a million bottles of inherited Hennessy. He’s murdered his wife and her band, his brother, uncles, and thousands of others. He holds 100s of thousands of people in concentration camps. And he has a hard-on for using those nukes Grandpappy Il-song left him.

Two of my kids are within range of Kim Jong-un’s weapons. One is on shore duty with the Navy on the island of Guam. The other serves in the Navy with a helo combat squadron assigned to the USS Nimitz. So, I have some skin in this game. But this isn’t about my fatherly worry. It’s about my responsibility as a voter. And yours.

As a voter, I’m kind of like the government’s parent. As a parent, I won’t leave Democrats home alone again. They’re irresponsible, immature, and kind of stupid. That’s why they’re drawn to safer careers like acting, journalism, and university professorships. Those are good jobs for irresponsible, stupid people.

Respect the planet. Don’t ever vote Democrat.

You Might Be Thinking About ‘Passion’ All Wrong

Reading Time: 3 minutes

You hear people say “follow your passion.” It sounds nice.

Then you hear wildly successful people say “do NOT follow your passion.” Mark Cuban is in this camp. So is Dilbert creator Scott Adams.

So which is it? Do you follow your passion or not?

My answer might disappoint you. Because it’ll sound evasive. But I’ll give it a shot. I’ll need you to help out here, though. Think of this as an exercise. When I ask you to write down your answer, please do that. Write it down. Commit your answer to paper. Use a pen. Don’t erase.

What Do You Mean By “Passion?”

First, write down what you mean by “passion.”



Next, what do you think it means to “follow your passion?”



Have you written your answers? Good. Now, no matter your religious background or beliefs, you probably know that “the passion of Christ” refers to Jesus’ betrayal, persecution, crucifiction, and death. Write down how that series of traumatic events fits with the definition of “passion” you wrote above. I’ll give you more time for this one, because a  lot of people might have to fit the square peg of their definition into the round whole of crucifiction.





What Passion Really Means

Here’s what passion really means: suffering for love or purpose.

Notice that. It’s not about doing what makes you happy. Passion is doing what makes you miserable. For a higher purpose. Or for love.

Mark Manson has written one of the great books about following your passion: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. Mark doesn’t use the word “passion” a lot, but he’s talking here about the same thing:

Who you are is defined by what you’re willing to struggle for. People who enjoy the struggles of a gym are the ones who run triathlons and have chiseled abs and can bench-press a small house. People who enjoy long workweeks and the politics of the corporate ladder are the ones who fly to the top of it. People who enjoy the stresses and uncertainties of the starving artist lifestyle are ultimately the ones who live it and make it.

This is not about willpower or grit. This is not another admonishment of “no pain, no gain.” This is the most simple and basic component of life: our struggles determine our successes. Our problems birth our happiness, along with slightly better, slightly upgraded problems.

I like sitting in bars and drinking, having boisterous conversations filled with loads of uproarious laughter. I can do that without an ounce of struggle. And many people tell me I’m great at it. People love hanging out in bars with me.

But that’s not my passion. It’s not a struggle. If anything, the struggle and pain come as a result of that, not in the pursuit of it.

And that’s the key difference. Passion means you suffer through the process to achieve some greater good.

Happy hour heroism is the reverse of passion. It’s maximizing immediate happiness in pursuit of a less-satisfying future. It’s living on credit. It’s borrowing from your own future and from the future of the world.

Answers

Mark Cuban is wrong if Mark knows what “passion” means. But if he uses the popular meaning, which is something like “do whatever makes you happy while you’re doing it,” Mark is dead right. Scott Adams is right, too. They both think of “passion” the way popular culture thinks of passion: hitting all the happy hours you can.

Here’s the answer key.

  1. Passion means suffering for love or purpose, or both. It’s having the hangover first, then getting to drink because of it.
  2. Follow your passion” means suffering for a higher purpose. It’s doing things that are painful, boring, and even dangerous. But doing them makes you and the world better. Lifting heavy weights hurts, but the practice makes you stronger, healthier, and braver. Picking up dog dirt stinks, but it means little kids can run around barefoot without accidentally putting on a crap-sandal.
  3. Christ’s Passion: He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into Hell. In other words, he suffered for love and purpose. We are his love and purpose.

Go ahead and follow your passion. We all should. But know this going in: if your passion is worthwhile, following your passion means going through hell in the process.

Happy Easter.

P.S. If you’re wondering why I’d choose such a profane book for an Easter post, there’s a reason. It’s called “pacing and leading.” In fact, Mark’s entire book practices pacing and leading. It’s one of the most effective tools of influence and persuasion you can use.

False Flag or Not

Reading Time: 8 minutes

The contemporary term false flag describes covert operations that are designed to deceive in such a way that activities appear as though they are being carried out by entities, groups, or nations other than those who actually planned and executed them. [Wikipedia]

Think of a time when you acted on false information. You knew it might be false, but you acted as if it was true. Why did you do that?

As absurd as it seems, people do this all the time. People behave as if something were true even though it might not be true.

Think about runaway stocks. Remember the Iomega Zip Drive stock surge of the 1990s?

A lot of people thought Iomega would become bigger than Apple or Microsoft. I know of a man who sold all of his investments in 1995 to buy Iomega and only Iomega. He said at the time, “this will be the most valuable company of all time.”

Was he right?

From a technology standpoint, no. I was a techie back then, and I knew that Iomega Zip Drives would have a short life expectancy. Maybe two or three years tops. Rewritable CD-ROMs and massive online storage would soon make the Zip Drive a clunky burden. The Zip Drive would die fast.

But in 1995, everybody knew Iomega was the king. In fact, the Zip Drive remains to this day the number one selling computer peripheral of all time.

Because the mid-90s were the peak of nerd-worship, anyone in the tech business learned what everyone thought about technology. At family gatherings, everybody wanted to talk to me about computers. People wanted to know more, and they saw me as an expert. They also wanted to share with me their knowledge. So I learned what people were thinking.

That’s how I learned that a senior vice president at a very large corporation, a man with an MBA from a school you’ve heard of, took his life savings and bought Iomega.

Well, Motley Fool also bought a lot of IOM in 1995. And the value of their Iomega stock rose 1,500% in the next 13 months.

I ask again, did my acquaintance make the right move on IOM?

To answer the question, you need more information. You also need an understanding of the game theory concept of “common knowledge.” For that, I’ll let genius Ben Hunt of Salient Partners explain:

Your feelings about a stock, as opposed to your feelings about a company, should be completely determined by your beliefs about other investors and their feelings about the stock. In the lingo … your preference functions for stocks qua stocks are entirely exogenously derived and epiphenomenal. There is no rational internally-developed preference for one stock versus another stock, any more than I prefer a $5 chip from Harrah’s to a $5 chip from Caesar’s Palace. The only thing I care about is whether other investors, for whatever reason, will value the Harrah’s chip at $6 tomorrow.

Common knowledge is something everyone knows and everyone knows everyone knows. It’s information on which you can expect other people to act a certain way.

For example, imagine that on a Thursday NOAA and the local weather fearmongers bombard St. Louis with news of the “winter storm of the millennium” scheduled to begin the following Tuesday. You can bet store shelves will be devoid of bread, milk, eggs, and rock salt by midday next Monday. It doesn’t matter whether the prediction is right. What matters is that most people will behave as if it’s right. If you need bread or milk, you better get it on Sunday.

Except . . . other people will also think ahead, so you better beat them by shopping on Saturday. But what if a lot of people also think about shopping on Saturday? So you decide to shop on Friday.

Until . . . you think of all the other people who might be reasoning backward like you are. So, you stop at Schnuck’s on your way home from work Thursday and find bread, milk, and salt already running low. You buy three gallons of milk, three loaves of bread, and 100 pounds of rock salt. The perishables will go bad before you finish them, but that doesn’t matter. You beat both the storms and the common knowledge game. And if worse comes to worst, you can always sell your excess milk and bread to desperate, short-sighted neighbors at a high price.

That’s common knowledge. Again, it doesn’t matter whether the forecast is right. What matters is what everyone else will do in response to the forecast.

Now, back to Dr. Hunt and the old newspaper beauty queen contests:

[The 1930s was] the heyday of the Miss America contest and “bathing beauty” pageants everywhere), less so to us. Here’s how it works.

A newspaper would run a page of photographs of pretty girls, and readers were invited to mail in a ballot with their choice of the prettiest. If you picked the girl who got the most votes, you were entered into a drawing for some sort of prize. Voting for the girl you think is the prettiest is what Keynes would call the first degree of decision-making.

Now it doesn’t take a lot of thought before you realize that choosing the girl who you truly believe is the prettiest is probably not a winning strategy. To win, you need to choose the girl who gets the most votes as the prettiest, and your personal preferences aren’t nearly as useful in that task as figuring out who everyone else is going to vote for as the prettiest. Voting for the girl you anticipate more people will consider to be the prettiest is what Keynes would call the second degree of decision-making.

But there’s a big problem with the second degree. It assumes that everyone else is making a first degree decision, that everyone else is making a choice “on the merits” of the photographs and you’re the only one smart enough to think about the average preference of the group. As a result, you quickly realize that everyone will be thinking exactly like you are, so you need to make a third-degree decision – who will get the most votes when all the voters are basing their votes on who they think will get the most votes? This is the Sentiment game!

Note that this third-level decision probably has nothing to do with the relative or objective prettiness of the girls. If “everyone knows” that the brunette with the biggest smile tends to win, then that’s where you should place your vote regardless of your personal preference or your knowledge of everyone else’s personal preferences. It’s the “everyone knows” component of the contest – regardless of what the contest is fundamentally supposed to be about – that determines voting behavior and contest winners. To get beyond the third degree of decision-making requires a superior identification of whatever it is that “everyone knows”. As Keynes wrote, “We have reached the third degree where we devote our intelligences to anticipating what average opinion expects the average opinion to be. And there are some, I believe, who practice the fourth, fifth and higher degrees.”

Just like shopping for staples before the snow storm, winning these beauty pageant contests required knowing what everyone else knows and anticipating their behavior.

My friend with all the Iomega stock was smart to buy when he did. If he sold near the peak, he was brilliant. If not, he might have lost a lot. Either way, though, he bought Iomega for the wrong reason. He bought Iomega because he loved the company, not because he expected everyone else to buy the stock. He wasn’t playing the common knowledge game. He was playing the corporate strategy game. My guess is he held onto the stock all the way to bottom. Unless he learned about game theory before the crash.

When you’re in a game like stocks, shopping for stables, or geopolitics (and geopolitics is a formal game), common knowledge must determine your moves. And common knowledge means you must behave as if everyone else will behave as if the key information were true even if it’s not.

Which brings us to Michael Savage and the Syrian sarin gas attack.

Dr. Savage has determined that the sarin gas attack was a false flag. Dr. Savage is not alone.

Now, let’s pretend Dr. Savage is right. Let’s just pretend that the sarin gas attack was a false flag. In other words, let’s pretend the Russians were right and there was no gas attack. Instead, anti-Assad forces staged the whole thing.

Remember, this is just make-believe, so don’t assume I’m a false-flagger. And don’t believe I’m not, either. Instead, ask yourself this: should the US response be different if Savage is right?

Your immediate answer will probably be, “Yes, of course.” You will probably tell yourself that, if the sarin attack was a false flag perpetrated by the rebels, then we should punish the rebels instead of Assad. That’s the logical and moral answer.

But is that the game theory answer?

Well, how many people besides Michael Savage and a few others believe the sarin attack was a false flag? Of those people who believe in the false-flag theory, what is their role in the game of geopolitics? Are they heads of state or of government? Do they have armies? Are they in the mass media, broadcasting into billions of brains 24/7?

Dr. Hunt reminds us what’s most important in the common knowledge game:

But the more precise answer is that the role of the Missionary is served by any signal that is propagated widely enough and publicly enough so that everyone thinks that everyone has heard the signal. The important thing is NOT that lots of people actually hear the signal. The important thing is that lots of people believe that lots of people heard the signal. The power source of Common Knowledge is not the crowd seeing an announcement or a press conference. The power source of Common Knowledge is the crowd seeing the crowd seeing an announcement or a press conference. This is why sitcom laugh tracks exist. This is why American Idol is filmed in front of an audience. This is why the Chinese government still bans any media mention of the Tiananmen Square protests more than 20 years after they occurred. The power of a crowd seeing a crowd is one of the most awesome forces in human society. It topples governments. It launches Crusades. It builds cathedrals. And it darn sure moves markets.

Geopolitics is a different game than national or local politics. But it’s still a game like stock markets. Geopolitics influences local politics, and vice versa. But it’s not a direct influence. And it’s imbalanced. Geopolitics has an immediate and ubiquitous effect on local politics, while local politics has a very slow, very gradual, and muted effect on geopolitics. Until those local events reach a tipping point.

WWII was a geopolitical event that affected the local politics of just about every country in the world. But WWII resulted from local political developments over the previous 30 years. It took a long time for local events in Germany and Japan to hit the world stage. And those local events in two countries had little influence on local politics in the USA. Until December 7, 1941, of course. Then everything changed.

Just as we stipulated that Savage was right about the false flag, let’s stipulate that all of the players in the geopolitical game will behave as if Savage was wrong. They might all know he’s right, but they also know that all the other players will behave as if he’s wrong. Like the beauty contest players, picking the prettiest girl isn’t the game. Picking the girl who will get the most votes is the game.

In Syria, the crowd saw the crowd seeing Bashar al-Assad gas babies, little babies. And that’s all that matters.

The US response, then, must be appropriate to a game in which all the other players will behave as if Assad gassed his own people. Who actually did it, if it was done at all, matters morally but not strategically.

If this story leaves you feeling dissatisfied. I’ll give you a thought experiment. What would happen if Trump had acted as if the Savage was right? How might that game unfold?

You may have your say in the comments below.

P.S. Even if you’re not interested in stocks, markets, and investments, Ben Hunt’s Epsilon Theory is a must-read site for anyone who likes to learn and think.

 

What Do I Mean By “Narrative”

Reading Time: 3 minutes

“I don’t agree.”

Some folks disagreed with my instant assessment of the Syrian strike. My assessment: Trump’s surprise military attack will shift four narratives in Trump’s favor:

  • Trump is Hitler: dead
  • Trump is a Russian agent: dead
  • Trump is incompetent: dying
  • Trump is a lightweight among world leaders: dead

In other words, it took 59 cruise missiles to blow up the left’s anti-Trump narratives.

But my friends disagree. That’s okay. I don’t hang around with “yes” people.

Still, I figured I should at least explain what I mean by “narrative.”

Narrative, in this context, is the story we tell ourselves. It’s not the stories we are told. And the narratives develop from information that reaches the brain, often without awareness. (See the video below to learn just open you are to suggestion.)

Check this out first.

Right now, I am sitting in a cafe. One end of this cafe is huge atrium with glass on three sides and above your head. Looking out through the glass I see blooming trees. Those budding leaves are laboring to blot out the bright blue sky beyond. Those leaves want all that sunlight to themselves.

That’s the narrative in my head about what I see outside. Thirty or so other people can see the same world beyond that atrium. But I am pretty confident no one else sees the leaves conspiring to block my view of the sky (what color is the sky?). Each person has a slightly different narrative about those leaves.

If I were to stand up and announce my narrative, some people would adopt it as-is.

But most of those people would, instead, become aware of the view beyond the atrium. Their minds would conjure up a story about that they see. Their stories would be influenced by my bizarre outburst. They would not simply adopt my narrative. They would form their own narratives under my influence. And their narratives would influence everything they see through the atrium’s glass.

Until something else happens—some new influence—alters that narrative.

Now, back to the Syrian air strike.

Here you are reading my blog. You pay more attention to politics than most people do. You are more informed than many people, don’t you agree?

So think about the people who pay only slight attention to politics and world events. How do they fill their days? How do their brains craft narratives about the world?

Those people’s narratives form just like the people in the cafe looking out the atrium. Their brains pick up bits and pieces of someone else’s narrative to form their own.

CNN is on everywhere. In airports, restaurants, doctors offices, and even in this cafe where I’m writing. For months, those people have picked up narratives about “Hitler,” “Russia,” “clown,” and “isolationist.” Even without people knowing it, they’d formed a narrative in their own minds about President Trump. However they voted, if they voted at all, those narratives were influenced by CNN’s words. That’s simply how the brain works.

And those narratives got stronger and stronger every day. Until something caused people to re-evaluate their won private narratives. Something big enough, emotional enough, to make people pay attention for a moment.

Dying babies—babies!—gets their attention. Now, they’re listening.

And this is what they’re hearing:

“No child of God should ever suffer such horrors.”

“When you kill innocent children, innocent babies — babies! — little babies, … that crosses many, many lines. Beyond a red line, many, many lines.”

“Tonight, I ordered a targeted military strike . . . “

These are the words of President Trump. Trump’s biggest enemies—the people who have helped shape those scary narratives—repeat these words. They repeat Trump’s humanitarian, decisive words again and again. That’s high information density combined with high emotional intensity. The recipe for narrative change.

Imagine sitting in this atrium with your narrative about the trees. You’re not aware of that narrative. It’s deep inside your brain. You only recall it when you need it for some reason. As you sip your coffee, you don’t need your narrative. Then . . .

CRASH! A tree branch the length of a telephone pole crashes through the atrium.

The danger alerts your attention. Your brain pulls that old narrative out of cold storage. Then your brain updates that narrative. The shattering glass is new information. Whatever your old narrative might have been, it’s different now, guaranteed. It’s a different narrative now.

When President Trump crashed Assad’s slaughter party with 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles, he shattered a lot of atriums. Today, people are writing new narratives. And most of those new narratives involve a bold and decisive leader who can’t stand seeing babies slaughtered.

Everything has changed.

Now for that video I promised.

 

Trump Launched 59 Cruise Missiles at Leftist Narratives

Reading Time: 2 minutes

No child of God should ever suffer such horror.

—President Donald J. Trump

The most powerful weapon in the world is narrative.

The most powerful weapon in the world is narrative.

That’s another way of saying the pen is mightier than the sword.

The most powerful weapon in the world is narrative.

Tonight, President Trump blew up four narratives of the left. And he made America great again in the world.

First, the Hitler narrative is dead as a doornail. A few people really believed Trump was the reincarnation of Hitler. By launching a Navy cruise missile strike on Syria, Trump used US weapons to protect and defend and avenge Muslim babies. Hitler didn’t do that. Humanitarians do what Trump did. Humanitarians. Trump just moved from Hitler to Mother Teresa. Narrative destroyed.

Second, the Russia narrative is dead as a doornail. Dead. Over. You will never hear about Russian complicity again. Trump attacked a Russian ally in living color. He punched Putin in the nose. The Russian narrative is done. Forever.

Third, the incompetent narrative is dead as a doornail. Incompetent people telegraph their moves. Trump shocked the entire world by bombing the hell out of a Syrian air base seemingly without warning. He knows what he’s doing, and that “incompetent” narrative is now dead.

Fourth, the “Trump is a lightweight” narrative is dead as a doornail. Don’t forget that commie Chinese dictator Xi is in Mar-a-Lago. Today, Xi was the senior statesman. Tomorrow, Trump will be the big bull in the room. Xi knows it. Trump just took the lead on the world’s stage.

I’m not going to debate the details of Trump’s action. Because details don’t matter. Ever. Narratives matter, because narratives are the most powerful weapons in the world.

Trump just made America great again. He made us the big kids on the block, where the block is the world.

Geopolitics is back. Realpolitik is in. America is in charge. And 18 months of leftist, anti-Trump narrative is dead as a doornail. Dead as doornail.

What is North Korea thinking now? What is Iran thinking now?

Tired of winning yet?

P.S. Two of my children are in harm’s way in the US Navy. My thanks to them for their dedication and professionalism.

UPDATE: This image and message will sink deeply into the American psyche>

New York Times emphasizes the same Trump pull quote as I did:

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