Ron Burgundy: Discovered by the Germans in 1904, they named it San Diego, which of course in German means a whale’s vagina.
Veronica Corningstone: No, there’s no way that’s correct.
Ron Burgundy: I’m sorry, I was trying to impress you. I don’t know what it means. I’ll be honest, I don’t think anyone knows what it means anymore. Scholars maintain that the translation was lost hundreds of years ago.
Veronica Corningstone: Doesn’t it mean Saint Diego?
Ron Burgundy: No. No.
Veronica Corningstone: No, that’s — that’s what it means. Really.
Ron Burgundy: Agree to disagree.
? “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy” (2004)

 

Ron Burgundy: Boy, that escalated quickly … I mean, that really got out of hand fast.
Champ Kind: It jumped up a notch.
Ron Burgundy: It did, didn’t it?
Brick Tamland: Yeah, I stabbed a man in the heart.
Ron Burgundy: I saw that. Brick killed a guy. Did you throw a trident?
Brick Tamland: Yeah, there were horses, and a man on fire, and I killed a guy with a trident.
Ron Burgundy: Brick, I’ve been meaning to talk to you about that. You should find yourself a safehouse or a relative close by. Lay low for a while, because you’re probably wanted for murder.
? “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy” (2004)
Priest: It’s horrifying. If men don’t trust each other, this earth might as well be hell.
Commoner: That’s right. The world’s a kind of hell.
Priest: No! I believe in men. I don’t want this place to be hell.
Commoner: Shouting doesn’t help. Think about it. Out of these three, whose story is believable?
Woodcutter: No idea.
Commoner: In the end, you cannot understand the things men do.
? “Rashomon” (1950)

 

Commoner: But is there anyone who’s really good? Maybe goodness is just make-believe.
Priest: What a frightening…
Commoner: Man just wants to forget the bad stuff, and believe in the made-up good stuff. It’s easier that way.
? “Rashomon” (1950)

 

To be an artist means never to avert one’s eyes.

? Akira Kurosawa (1910 – 1998)

 

If the Emperor had not delivered his [15 August 1945] address urging the Japanese people to lay down their swords — if that speech had been a call instead for the Honorable Death of the Hundred Million — those people on that street in S?shigaya probably would have done what they were told and died. And probably I would have done likewise. The Japanese see self-assertion as immoral and self-sacrifice as the sensible course to take in life. We were accustomed to this teaching and had never thought to question it.

? Akira Kurosawa (1910 – 1998)

Kurosawa’s Rashomon is the defining movie of an Epsilon Theory world, where Narrative dominates and Truth with a capital T is nowhere to be found. The bandit, the wronged woman, the dead samurai, and the woodcutter witness all testify at trial, and the only certainty, as unsatisfying as it may be, is that we the jury will never know what truly happened in that forest. Such is life. Such is history.

I think Kurosawa is spot on with his assessment of Japanese political culture, by the way. No anti-status quo Trump or Brexit votes there. Just the resignation of self-sacrifice and the long slow slide into irrelevance.  

To Counterfeit is DEATH.

? Ben Franklin (1706 – 1790), from a 15 shilling note of his design

For 600 years, from the 13th century to 1870, the punishment for counterfeiting in Great Britain and its colonies was the same as for high treason — to be hanged, drawn, and quartered. First you’d be slowly hanged, so that you came close to asphyxiation but couldn’t end the suffering by breaking your neck, then you’d be castrated, then you’d be disemboweled, and THEN you’d be killed by beheading. And then for good measure your headless body would be chopped into four pieces.

British counterfeiters during the American Revolutionary War were known as “shovers” for their efforts to “shove” fake dollars into circulation and destabilize the Colonial government. One infamous shover, David Farnsworth, was arrested with more than 10,000 counterfeit dollars, a not-so-small fortune in 1778. George Washington called for Farnsworth to be tortured to death, but Farnsworth got off easy and was simply hanged.

The largest counterfeiting operation in the history of economic warfare was Operation Bernhard, a German plan during the Second World War to destabilize the British economy by flooding the global economy with forged Bank of England notes. The forgeries are, for all practical purposes, indistinguishable from the originals.

Alves dos Reis, instigator of the Portuguese Bank Note Crisis of 1925 and my choice for the greatest counterfeiter of all time. ADR didn’t print fake Portuguese currency. He printed fake instructions to the official banknote printers (famed London firm Waterlow and Sons) to print REAL notes equivalent in value to almost 1% of Portugal’s nominal GDP, and ship them to him directly.

 

It may please your majesty to understand, that the first occasion of the fall of exchange did grow by the King his majesty, your late father, in abasing his coin from six ounces fine to three ounces fine. Whereupon the exchange fell from 26s 8p to 13s 4p which was the occasion that all your fine gold was conveyed out of this your realm.

Sir Thomas Gresham (1519 – 1579), letter to Queen Elizabeth I

Gresham’s Law: bad money drives good money out of circulation.

Hunt’s Law: fake news drives real news out of circulation.

 

What is unexpected about medieval houses, however, is not the lack of furniture but the crush and hubbub of life within them. Households of up to twenty-five persons were not uncommon. Since all of these people lived in one or at the most two rooms, privacy was unknown. How did people achieve intimacy under such conditions? It appears that they did not. Medieval paintings frequently show a couple in bed or bath and, nearby in the same room, friends or servants in untroubled, and apparently unembarrassed, conversation.

? Witold Rybczynski, “Home: A Short History of an Idea” (1986)

In 1215, the Fourth Lateran Council of the Catholic Church decreed that everyone, king and commoner alike, should practice individual confession. In a very real sense, the IDEA of privacy — the concept of an internal life of the mind as a social good — did not exist in the West before this pronouncement.

They say the Nile used to run

From East to West

And you know I’m fine

But I hear those voices at night

Sometimes

The star maker says it ain’t so bad

The dream maker’s going to make you mad

The spaceman says everybody look down

It’s all in your mind

 ? The Killers, “Spaceman” (2008)

Illustration of a wolf trap from Le Livre de la Chasse (c. 1407). An entire pack could be captured by laying a blood trail through a one-way wicker door in a circular fence built around a central pen with a scared, bleating sheep. The design ensured that individual wolves could not see each other until it was too late, each wolf believing that it was on a uniquely rewarding path. I’m pretty sure this painting now hangs in Mark Zuckerberg’s office.

On December 30, the Washington Post published a story claiming that Russian hackers had “penetrated the U.S. electric grid” through an “attack” on Burlington Electric, a Vermont utility.

In a statement that night Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin (D) said, “Vermonters

1, 2345  - View Full Page