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Profile Information

Name: Tom Conroy
Gender: Male
Hometown: CT
Home country: USA
Member since: Sat Mar 6, 2021, 07:56 PM
Number of posts: 6,420

Journal Archives

Bank of America announced a plan to raise the minimum wage for employees to $25 per hour

by 2025. Pretty remarkable. I'd link to the story if I could do links. It's up on Bloomberg news.
Sometimes the news is good.

"Metropolitan" on TCM at 8:00PM

Whit Stillman's masterpiece from 1990. Long live the U.H.B.! And the Sally Fowler Rat Pack!

That road to Key West.

Nothing like a medical issue to focus your concentration on life. I always wanted to take that drive from Miami to Key West. Anybody have any suggestions for places to stay, places to eat? Key Largo? Key West? Anywhere in between? I know about Capt. Tony's. Where do you buy a parrot head?

Sometimes I think about the words of a Republican President.

The times were more frought than today. And of course it ended as badly as it could have. Maybe it just doesn't apply today.
" I loathe to close. We are not enemies, we are friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature."
I have lived through a lot of battles for the soul of the country. The other side was wrong, but at this point in my life, I guess I regard them as my fellow citizens. Not evil, just wrong.

Would you have stormed the Capitol on 1/6 if the election had been stolen by Trump?

I don't mean to excuse the insurrectionists. I think all of them need to do a little jail time. And some need to do a lot of jail time. But I can't help but think about what could have happened. I was absolutely convinced that those Republican legislatures were going to send their own set of electors to Washington. Kavanaugh had apparently written an opinion giving state legislatures a roadmap to overturning a democratic election. Only because of some unknown Republican office holders was democracy upheld.
If Trump had actually succeeded in his vile scheme I don't know what I would have done. I think I would have done something. I'm 66 years old, in lousy shape, but I wouldn't have let our democracy be stolen. I wouldn't have used bear spray and I guess would have been prepared to do some time.
We came so close to losing our democracy. It still makes me angry.

My wife's encounter with Justice Scalia

This goes back a decade or so. My wife is the classics translator Sarah Ruden. You can google her. In her world she is famous. (I guess for the sake of the story it is worth knowing that she is a Quaker pacifist.) At this time she was a visiting scholar at Wesleyan University in Connecticut. It had been announced that Justice Antonin Scalia would be visiting the university to give an endowed lecture before a crowd of several hundred people at the university chapel. One day she got an email inquiring if she wanted to attend a small luncheon the university would be throwing to welcome Scalia in the afternoon. Sarah immediately replied that she wanted to go, only to be told that the invite had been sent in error to way too many people. Sarah wrote back saying that they really should invite her. She and Scalia did the same thing. They interpreted ancient texts. Well, her pitch worked (Probably along with the fact that she was the only Guggenheim Fellowship winner on campus). She got the invitation to the lunch.
At this time I was working as a public defender. └lthough I'm sure Scalia rightly has a terrible reputation as a jurist among most readers of this site, it was a bit different for criminal lawyers. Scalia had authored some seminal opinions vindicating the rights of defendants, particularly in the area of search and seizure law. I gave Sarah a copy of a case of his called Crawford v. Washington. Simply put, it raised an objection based on hearsay to the level of a constitutional violation of the right to confront witnesses. It changed what lawyers do in the court room. Instead of saying "Objection, hearsay", you say "This evidence violates the Confrontation Clause of the US Constitution (and it's hearsay).
The day came for the lunch. There were maybe 35 people attending. First there was a reception. Sarah remembers several people inviting Scalia to a concert where someone had written a new piece of music celebrating the Bill of Rights. Scalia politely indicated he would rather be water boarded.
Anyway, it came time to sit down for lunch. Through clever maneuvering Sarah was seated on the corner, one place away from Scalia. The lunch proceeded about halfway through with a variety of conversational gambits, none really catching fire. Then there was a pause and Sarah took her chance:"My husband is a public defender. He wanted me to thank you for Crawford v. Washington". Well, that got his attention. They talked about the case a little bit. Sarah said how impressed she was by a reference he made in the text to Star Chamber Assemblies. Scalia told her "My clerks put in a lot of that stuff". Then he added: It's true, I really should be a centerfold pinup for the criminal bar. His final word on the subject was: The worst part of my job is that I have to do favors for groups of people I can't stand, like criminal defense lawyers!
Sarah then went to the real reason for attending the lunch. She proceeded to explain what she did for a living and proceeded to tell him about a theory popular in the world of bible translation called Dynamic Equivalence. The essence of the theory, as I understand it, is that you can not just translate a text word for word. You have to translate it in a way that will have meaning for its readers. The original intent of an author is difficult to know. The important thing is the effect the text has on its audience. Of course Scalia, the original Originalist, would have none of it. The conversation went back and forth, Sarah citing examples of how you would translate bible stories for an African villager, Scalia saying she was all wrong. You could explain things in the footnotes. He didn't agree, but he did find the subject interesting, particularly since it touched on religion. By now everyone else in the room was just listening. The argument ended in a friendly draw and the conversation moved on to a number of other subjects, in particular, there was a discussion of a mutual love of vacationing at the South Carolina shore. He knew Pawleys Island well.
When it came time for the lunch to end Scalia invited Sarah to walk out with him to his waiting limo. When they reached the car he threw his arms around her and gave her an enormous hug.
The other night when I was going over the story with Sarah so I could tell it here, she suddenly paused and asked me "Why aren't they like that anymore?"
I really don't know.

The best investment book I have ever read

Is a book by Burton Malkiel and Charles Ellis called 'The Elements of Investing'. It's a short book, only about a hundred pages. It's theme is that anyone can be a successful investor. It is a skill that can be learned like any other. It is best read when you are in your twenties. With the magic of compound interest, if you start out young, becoming wealthy in retirement is not difficult. I wish the book had been around when I was young. It took me many years to figure out what I was doing with my money.
When our nephew was in college we gave him a copy of the book. His reaction was 'Is this a joke?' We said 'No. You have had earnings from a job this year. We are going to fund a little IRA to start you off. Now just read the book so you will know what to do with it'. I don't know if there is a connection but he graduated, worked for a few years and paid off his college loans, and now has just been accepted at the Wharton School of Economics at Penn. We made the same offer to our niece but she wanted the money to pay down her loans. We'll try again when she is in the working world.
The lessons of the book are pretty simple but often hard to follow in real life. You will never be rich unless you save. You will never save unless you spend less than you earn. Ninety percent of profesional money managers can not consistently outperform the S & P average. Dollar cost average. Stocks are the one thing people don't want when they are on sale. To the long term investor the bear market is your friend. Buy low cost index funds. You can't control the direction of the market. You can control what you pay for an investment.
I lived through the bear market of 2000-2003. I was working for myself. Every month I had to write out the checks myself. Imagine, you put money in every month and your balance just keeps going down. I really didn't know what I was doing but for some reason I kept writing the checks. The smartest thing I did was eventually I just stopped opening the statements from T Rowe Price. I didn't realize it at the time but I was doing what you are supposed to do. I was buying low. When the crash of 2008 came along, I had figured it out. It was the greatest buying opportunity of my life time. By then it was easy. I was working for the state. I just had them take a bit more out of my pay check.
Malkiel and Ellis quote Warren Buffett on long run Investing': If you are going to be buying hamburgers your whole life, you want hamburgers to be cheap. The same with buying stocks.
I just think the book is valuable for all of us whose retirements are dependent on our 401ks and our own Investing' skills. You don't need an investment advisor or high priced fund managers. You just need to master a few Investing' lessons.

Start packing your bags!

I saw the New York Times is up with a lead story tonight: The European Union is going to allow fully vaccinated American tourists to travel virtually everywhere in Europe this summer.
Bit by bit, the lights are coming on again (at least in the EU).
Now I'll have to start looking for a cheap flight.

Connecticut to end all covid restrictions May 19 (except for indoor masks)

Governor Lamont announced a few days ago that covid restrictions are coming to an end in a few weeks. Outdoor masks will go by the boards, bars and restaurants will be 100% open, the six foot distancing rule will end. It could be that the indoor mask will be a recommendation, not a requirement.
This comes about because Connecticut has one of the highest vaccine rates in the country. It is expected that 70% of state residents over 16 will have received at least one shot by the end of April.
This is Connecticut folks, not some right wing nut job state. It wouldn't be happening if it wasn't safe.
The end is in sight. Our liberation is near.

Mr. Clarke's Wonderful Bar

Maybe the end of the plague is in sight. It gets me in mind of trips to New York City which often as not would end up at the legendary bar P. J. Clarke's. The place has survived since the 1880's and the front bar room must look pretty much the way it did when the place opened. Stories about the place are legion. Johnny Mercer wrote the song 'One for My Baby, And One More For the Road' while sitting at the bar one night. Billy Wilder recreated the interior on a Hollywood set for the movie The Lost Weekend. Jackie Onassis was a regular for lunch when she worked in publishing.
Long ago, by custom or law, unaccompanied women could not sit alone at the bar. One day in the late 1960's a group of women grabbed seats at the bar and demanded to be served. The bartender hopelessly looked to the owner and said 'What do I do?' The long time proprietor Daniel.Lavezzo thought for a second and then said "Oh pour them a drink. I gotta go make the Daily Double at Belmont Park". Out the door he went and thus human progress was made. The food was usually decent and for New York the prices were reasonable.
I looked at the website and they will send you an email when the place is ready to reopen. The six foot rule will have to go by the boards. When will it be? The summer? Surely by the fall. I for one can't wait to strike a blow for Liberty in P. J. Clarke's wonderful bar.
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