The Roman writer Aelian, in his Varia Historia (X.5) credits the following parable to Aesop the Phrygian, although I have never heard it mentioned in collections of his stories. He said that a pig squeals when it is touched by man for a good reason: it does not produce fur or milk for human use, as a goat or sheep, and has nothing to offer except its own meat.Continue reading
The Roman writer Aelian, in his Varia Historia (III.44), conveys the following anecdote. Three young friends, he says, were traveling to Delphi in order to consult the oracle. Along the way, they lucklessly encountered some bandits. In the melee that followed, some of the robbers were killed.Continue reading
As we become older, we are more conscious of the limitations of knowledge. Nothing is so frustratingly difficult as its attainment. It is like trying to look up at a star or planet in the night sky. Every time we look directly at one of these points of light, it seems to disappear; only by shifting away our eyes can we perceive it.Continue reading
There is a scene near the beginning of the film The Departed (2006) in which the character played by Martin Sheen, a police captain, asks Leonardo DiCaprio, a potential recruit for undercover work, a pointed question. The question is this: “Do you want to be cop, or do you just want to appear to be a cop? It’s a legitimate question. Some guys just want to appear to be cops.”Continue reading
By what means can the imagination be activated? By what artifice may its secrets be coaxed to the surface of our consciousness, and made capable of articulation, as an enterprising fisherman might lure a rare specimen from deep waters to the surface? Are there tried techniques, or is it simply a matter of random inspiration? These are questions worthy of consideration.
There has been a big surge in online scammery and con artistry in the past two years. Economic hardship and desperation have been contributing causes, but this kind of activity has been with us since the dawn of time. And con games will always be with us, because they are rooted in the timeless and predictable ingredients of human nature.
We will examine the consequences of treachery and betrayal. Zahir Al-Umar Al-Zaydani (ظاهر العمر الزيداني) was a charismatic regional potentate who managed to carve out a fiefdom for himself in Palestine during the waning centuries of the Ottoman empire. Born around 1690, he achieved ascendancy through the usual mix of piety, maneuvering, and ruthlessness; and by the 1730s he had acquired such power in Galilee that the Turkish authorities in Istanbul knew they needed to find a way to clip his wings.
The best advice in the world will be of meager service if it is not conveyed in a way that enhances the likelihood of its acceptance. Knowledge is one thing, and communication of that knowledge is another. What is hard-won on the battlefield of experience may be dissipated in its conveyance to another. He who wishes to render advice, then, should be aware of the snares and pitfalls that lie in wait for him.
Of all the cereal grains I like barley the most. It has a smooth consistency and a nourishing quality that one does not find in other grains, such as rice or oats. One reads of its ubiquity in ancient Rome, when it was a true food staple, and found its way into the bowls of gladiators, soldiers, scholars, scribes, and aristocrats. It could be pounded into a porridge, baked into a bread, and fermented; added to soups or stews, it acted as a fortifying agent.
I’m certainly not a finance person. At least I don’t consider myself one. I am just a country lawyer. I have no magic formulas for anyone, unless common sense and my own experience can be considered a magic formula. I have no magic wands, no hidden secrets, no rabbits to pull out of a top hat for you. But I do have some modest experience in dealing with my own money and investments. I’m also a practicing bankruptcy attorney–a job I’ve been doing for over 20 years–and have represented a very large number of individuals and businesses. I’ve seen what things get people into trouble, and what things do not. One begins to notice recurring patterns, and I have tried to distill these into cautionary principles. The result is what follows.