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How I learned about Shinola

This is the way that the story was told to me, it is the way I remember it and the way it made sense, it still does.  I don’t know this actually happened or not, but it doesn’t matter, it puts the lesson into perspective. It will tell you the tale in the same exact way; after all it is one of the most important rules of all time.

The story of shit and Shinola.

The stock market crash of 1929 and the great depression that followed was undoubtedly one of the most horrifying and impacting things to happen to a people, ever. By 1933 it had reached its peak.  Most of the pictures that we are familiar with from the “Great Depression” were taken during this time; the soup kitchens, the lines of unemployed people seeking a meal, the apple vendors.  1933 was indeed a very bad year for many. Not everyone was affected, however.  “Most” of the rich from Wall Street is not the same as “all” of them.  There were a few who weathered the catastrophe and they may not have been as wealthy in 1933 as they were in 1928, but they were still “people of means”.

The story takes place during this time.  Among the hardest hit were shoe-shine boys.  No one thinks about this much, but shoe shine boys were as much a fixture on Wall Street as stockbrokers and bankers, after all, during the 1920’s, walking was still the method of transportation of choice and on Wall Street, this meant looking sharp; a tailored suit and shoes that were shined to a mirror gloss on a daily basis by the army of shoe shine boys lining Wall Street.

In 1929, to be exact, a new product was patented and put to market.  It was called Shinola.  It was a shoe polish with a wax base that gave birth to the “spit shine”.  Within a year of being introduced, even during and after the crash, it became the only shoe polish desired by anyone who could still pay for a shine.   By 1933, however, the army of shoe shine boys sat idly, their shine boxes, rags and brushes ready, but not one cent with which to buy Shinola.  They simply did not know what to do and so they took to assembling in the mornings near the Northwest end of Wall Street, where it meets Broadway.  They assembled quietly and just sat throughout the day; during the time that they would normally be shining shoes.  At the end of the business day, they would head back to wherever it was they called home, with nothing more than what they had in the morning.

By the same token, the few wealthy Wall Street gentlemen simply went without their beloved “shines”.  One day, during this time, one of the shoe shine boys decided to not walk up the street to where all of the others would be waiting with an ominous silence. On this day, this one particular shoe shine boy decided to walk the other way, and he walked.  He walked until he got to the Brooklyn Bridge and kept walking.  Back then, there were still cow pastures in Brooklyn, even though it is hard to imagine nowadays. The shoe shine boy walked until his feet hurt and then he sat down.  He put his shine box on the ground as sat on it like one would sit on a crate.  It was only then that he looked up and realized how far he had walked.  He looked in the direction from where he had come and could see the Manhattan Skyline.  He turned to look around and realized that he was in a vacant lot with some grass and a few cows.  The cows looked at the boy with a bored expression as they chewed.  Directly in front of where the boy had put his box on the ground, he saw a fresh, steaming and aromatic “cow patty”.  For a moment, he thought that if he had taken two more steps before stopping and sitting down, he would have stepped right into the pile of dung.  He sat and stared at the pile of shit; there was nothing better to do anyway and this way he did not have to share his misery with anyone, he could take the full brunt of how bleak life was.  So he sat, for an immeasurable and uncounted period of time, just looking at the pile of dung and then suddenly, like a bolt of lightning, he had a strange thought.  In some ways, the cow manure reminded him of the one thing he so needed and desired; the instrument with which he practiced his craft; Shinola.  He stared at it and stared at it and thought;
-“They’re almost the same color, and from here they could even have the same texture.”

That’s when it occurred to him.  He looked left and right so as to make sure no one was watching and reached out.  He grabbed a handful of the cow shit and swished it around in his hand, thinking.   He wasn’t sure exactly what he was thinking just yet, but he was thinking.  After a while, he just couldn’t take it anymore, he had to try and see what would happen so he scooped up some of shit in his Shinola tin, took his rag, dabbed it in the brownish goop and shined up the tip of left shoe (it was all that was left that could be shined).  He used his best moves and lo and behold, the poop gave a great shine, in fact it was so good that for just a moment, he could swear it was the shine that only Shinola could muster and for just a moment, he believed it.  That was all it took.  He filled up his tin and two empty cans he found in some trash and whatever else he could fill with cow dung.  Once he had all he could carry, he made his best effort to cover up the smell and ran back towards Manhattan, as fast as his feet could carry him.

The next day, the boy’s cries of
-“SHINE! GET YER SHOE-SHINE RIGHT HERE! ONLY FIVE CENTS!” greeted the rising sun, to the great surprise, and joy, of many.  Within seconds, the first man to get a shoe shine on Wall Street in almost 3 years, stepped up to the boy and said:

-“Well!  Just in time, too!  Looks like I’m first!”  The man boasted as he hoisted himself up onto one of the high stool-benches that were placed by the very patrons of the shoe shine boys, so that everyone walking by could see them and know that it was they whose shoes were being shined.

-“Coming right up, sir!”  The boy smiled back.  He took out his rag and his Shinola tin and got to work as if ne’er a day had passed since he last shined a pair of leather uppers.  The boy had let the cow dung dry out a bit during the night, and covered the tin quickly after dipping his rag so the smell wouldn’t give him away.  Once it was on the shoes, no one could tell the difference.  The boy was good; hunger is an excellent teacher.  In no time at all, the gentleman’s shoes where like two mirrors, gleaming in the morning sun.

-“There you go, sir.” the boy said, shyly and just for a moment, he almost hesitated, but he didn’t; he reached his hand right out, palm up where a shiny dime landed firmly, almost as if choreographed.  A dime!  A dime for a five cent shines!  None of the boys had EVER been given an entire nickel as a tip before!  The boy’s entire face lit up almost as much as his benefactor’s, who slowly got up from his perch, ruffled the boy’s hair and said: -“See you tomorrow, kid.” before continuing his walk; much slower now and making sure to greet everyone he passed.  Word spread quickly and by noon, the boy’s hands hurt.  He huddled backwards into a niche between buildings, and emptied out his pockets.  He had nearly three dollars!  THREE DOLLARS!  That would feed him, his parents and his two brothers for a week, and it wasn’t even high noon!  By the end of the day the boy added another two dollars to his daily total and it was only then that he realized that he has shined one hundred pairs of shoes and could expect the same every day!  He loved that cow manure!

One by one, the other boys approached him, simultaneously in awe and shock.  The boy looked at his friends coming towards him and reacted; covering up his tin and protecting it, like a prized treasure.  One boy asked:  “Where’d you get the Shinola?”  The boy hugged his box tighter and said “Leave me alone, all of you!  You’re not going to take it from me!”  He ran off like a bolt, straight home and fell right to sleep, exhausted.

The next morning, he gave his mother $4.50 of the $5.00 he had made.  People say that she cried tears of joy for a solid month. He kept fifty cents, thinking to buy a supply of Shinola and continue his journey towards his good fortune.  On the way to the general store, he thought; “Wait a minute!  Nobody knew the difference!  Why should I spend this money on real Shinola when the cow shit is free, after all, they do the same thing!”  He turned the other way and went to the Candy Store and had himself a Malted Milk with two scoops of ice cream for breakfast!  He had actually believed his own lie.

The boy shined another 100 pair of shoes that next day, and 100 more for each day after that for 5 days.  His grin was so wide it challenged the great breadth of Broadway itself.  Everyone was HIS regular customer and he was only shoe shine boy on Wall Street, all thanks to cow’s four stomachs and what they left behind.  He would run to the field in the late afternoons, filling up his tin with more of the precious brown goo that had made him so happy.  Yeah, it wasn’t really Shinola, it was better than Shinola!  He laughed to himself all the way back across the Brooklyn Bridge.

Now, all of this took place in late July, did I mention that?  Oh, yes, it was the dead of summer – and a hot one.  Manhattan was hotter than anyone wanted to even guess at, and then some.  The few rich men who had been getting their daily shines from the boy paraded themselves back and forth on Wall Street; to their meetings, their lunches and dinners, their offices and their homes.  None of them were the wiser; no harm, no foul thought the boy.  The summer sun thought otherwise however, and after five days and five layers of cow shit on all of those shoes it began, to cook – actually to bake.  Baked cow shit on leather; I don’t know if I can even imagine what that would smell like.

On the fifth day after shining his first pair of shoes with the manure, the benefactor of that shine was having a luncheon meeting with another businessman together with their respective wives.  They were in the fanciest restaurant around, high noon on a Wednesday.  The place was packed with the few businessmen left in a country gone bankrupt.  At exactly 12:07 pm.  The caked on dung on that first man’s left shoe, where the first dab of cow shit was so carefully applied five days before, finished baking and cracked, a slim plume of heat escaped from the crack, rising higher from the ground.  In seconds the other shoe also cracked and a plume of shit-steam began to rise from it as well – and then another, and another!  In ten minutes, the restaurant smelled like an outhouse.  When it no longer became possible to ignore, it was that first man to have his shoes shined who spoke first.  He threw his napkin on the table in a fit of rage and gave his lunch companion the foulest stare he could muster and blurted:  ”Well, Sir!  I never…”  The sheer insolence of the accusation brought the other man to his feet immediately and he retorted “What say you, man?  Me? Look to your own loins for the source of the stench, non to mine!”  Almost immediately, the same scene played out at virtually every table, and the few rich men left in America, found themselves having a knock-down, dragged-out bar-type brawl in the fanciest eatery on the Lower East Side.

Back to the first man, the one who got the first shine and who started this brawl, he received a jarring left hook that floored him.  The man landed with a THUD, right at his opponent’s feet.  After recovering his wits, he realized he was no more than two inches from the man’s shoes and saw the cracks that had formed where earlier there was the shimmering mirror-like shine.  The man took in two enormous breaths of the stench before recognizing it and screamed; “Bull Shit! This man shined his shoes with bull shit!” and laughter roared from his belly.  It spread quickly too, calming heated tempers with the thought of a man resorting to bull shit to shine his own shoes!  That lasted for about thirty seconds before every other man realized they were in the same predicament.  The laughter suddenly came to a screeching halt and a dumbfounded silence hung in the air – no one knew what to say, they had all played the fool that day.  Once again, it was the first man who spoke:  “The shoe shine boy!  We all got our shoes shined from him; he’s the only one out there!  He’s made fools of all of us.”   The men stormed out of the restaurant and straight towards the boy’s spot on the side of the road.  When the boy saw the literal stampede of men coming at him, he didn’t have time to even react.  They were upon him at once and literally kicked the boy’s ass all the way to the Brooklyn Bridge where they warned him to never show his face on Wall Street again or they might just forget he was a boy.  He was never heard from again.   His first customer was ridiculed by all of his peers for being the first sucker to buy the cow shit shine and the ensuing lambasting ruined him and few others as well.  These were tender times, after all, there was a Great Depression going on – but not so great that an entire city couldn’t stop to laugh at one man who could not tell the difference between the cow shit that was used to shine his shoes and the Shinola that he thought adorned them.   Sure, you could hardly tell the difference in the shine.  In the end, they both shined your shoes, but one of them is SHIT.   No one is allowed to make that mistake, ever.  And so it was that it came to be that to know the difference between shit and Shinola is one of the more important things, literally or metaphorically, that we must all never forget.

That is how I head the tale, one warm day in December in 1973; I now give it to all of you.  Share it if you like, remember it or forget the story, but never forget the lesson.  Shit can imitate many things, but in the end, its shit and we know this from the onset.  Remembering this will save your life; more than once, without fail.

I always say that we can do better.  Maybe this is a start.   I love you all; all 7 billion of you.


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That which has value

The whole of human existence has become blindly obsessed with the issue of having possession of, if not the right to possess (by virtue of debt) those things that have value, specifically; money.  No thing has any more or less value than what we assign it and it is woeful to contemplate that we would, individually or collectively, assign a higher value to any thing than what we reserve for ourselves, yet we have.

In the universe, there are only two values, these being the same ones we should concern ourselves with, lest we lose all reason and rationality:  There is that which is TRUE and that which is FALSE and to count them as two values is only insofar as there are two different words to count, for they are in essence, opposite views of the same value; its validation and its negation.  The only actual and real value that exists is truth which is simultaneously the only thing of value, yet we have come to value money more we value ourselves and even more than truth, and because of these we are all but lost in our own lie.

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It has always been generally considered that our modern globe-spanning Western Civilization chose Greece to be the place to herald its birth.  Now, all of a sudden, it might just be that it also chose Greece to be the place where it lay down to die.


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The price of excellence

In today’s world we try to teach our children to excel and to do their best and we believe this, therefore it is fair to say that this is true. At the same time, whenever anyone excels or does their best or does something that is considered valuable or important and is recognized for doing what we have instilled in them since childhood, what follows the recognition is a barrage of envy, resentment, exclusion, rejection and even mistreatment on a personal level; not by everyone, but by almost everyone. If each individual instance of this negative response was to be analyzed and dissected, one would see that the reason and cause for it boils down to the simple thought: “Why couldn’t it have been me? Why did it have to be him/her?

So widespread has this phenomenon become, and so used to it have we become that it is not only expected, but has become that which is desired, for which one of us can stand in front of a mirror and deny that some, or all of the motivation or inspiration that we may have to accomplish anything is based on how much others will envy us for being recognized and financially compensated.

It is very possible that this very real aspect of humanity may be the reason why so many arrive at the conclusion that it is futile to excel or contribute for any reason other than the financial benefit, the latter having become the only motivation we may have left. It is also very possible and quite probable that many people have actually solved this equation and concluded that the only way to not experience this phenomenon is to be mediocre.

If we look around, we can see that what we actually teach ourselves to aspire to is mediocrity, for what greater accomplishment can there be than to “not attract too much attention?” Just ask any celebrity.

An exceptional thought, action or creation born of any one of us requires the good will, acceptance and simple courtesy of the rest of us; for what benefits one of us, benefits us all. We already know this.

Isn’t it time to forgive the past and build a future? We’ve made enough mistakes to learn from them instead of repeating them.

We can do better.


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Playing the odds

What we once mostly called the “economy” or at times the “financial infrastructure” at other times the “fiscal structure” and every once it a while we would call it the “banking structure” or the “commercial structure” of the world, or to be more general; the systematic functional management and administration of wealth and value – ended, or died, or disappeared or was replaced some time ago.  It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when, but it doesn’t really matter at this point.  If anyone might ask the question:  “If this is true, then what has existed in its place since?”  The answer to that would be a casino, with the only exception being that there is no house.

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How to talk like THEM.

Have you ever wondered how they do it?  I’m referring to any of THEM (or “they”, you know; the same ones who “say” – ‘They say the economy will get better.’) who stand in front of large groups of people and give speeches.  It doesn’t have to be any particular one of them; it could be any one of them; politicians, corporate tycoons, millionaires, dictators and the like. How is it that they are able to stand up there for such a long time and talk as much as they do and say NOTHING at all, yet leave us in awe and impressed with the superlative oratory that we were fortunate enough to witness.  How is it that they do it?  They’re not THAT charismatic or charming or spellbinding, so how can so few talk so much crap and have it result in our applause, admiration, donations or votes? I’m not implying that an impressive and impacting discourse is never genuine, there are those who have the presence, power and passion to communicate a message to a large group of people and succeed with an impeccable power; it’s just there are far too many of them that don’t have any of these talents who manage to get away appearing as if they did every time they open their yapper and I think it’s about time a cat or two is let out of a bag or two.  Impressive, impacting, breathtaking and moving speeches can be made by anyone, with the assistance of a little math.  In this case; linguistic math. Would you like to learn how you can easily and simply give a knock-out speech that says absolutely nothing of any significance yet leaves the audience impressed, applauding and vowing life-long loyalty?  Let’s have some fun.

Below is what I call a ‘linguistic speech matrix’.  It breaks down key sections of sentences that contain words to which we are programmed from birth to respond to.  This is no joke, try it and you will be blown away.  The matrix is in the form of a table, with rows and columns.  There are four columns, numbered 1 through 4 which represent sentence segments.  These segments are interchangeable with other sentence segments containing the same component key words.  The matrix also has several rows and these are indexed by letter, alphabetically (A, B, C, etc).   Here’s how you use it: Starting with column 1, pick any row you like for the first part of what will be a 4-part sentence and then pick a different row for columns 2, 3 and 4 to form a sentence.  For example; you can start off with F1, D2, G3 and E4.  This gives you the following sentence, in this example the content of each cell has a different color font to help identify them: “The burden of daily life proves that the present structure of the organization facilitates the creation of new propositions.”  Afterwards, simply continue mixing and matching columns and rows, as long as they are in column sequence 1-2-3-4.  The more sentences you form, the longer and more impressive the speech sounds.

The matrix also has a bonus: it is flexible and adaptable so that it can mimic relevance.  It accomplishes this with column 4, which contains the wording which is the pivotal object of the sentence.   All of the rows in column 4 contain key words that sound important but mean nothing, however you can replace the words in column 4 from the matrix with something current, as long as it can follow “of” in terms of sentence structure.  Let’s use the same example as above but in this case, we’ll replace what is in E4 with something current and on the minds of many people, like the economy.  You can modify it like this: “The burden of daily life proves that the present structure of the organization facilitates the creation of a new global economic infrastructure.”  You can insert relevant topics into the column 4 segment here and there and voila! You’ve just made a top notch, expert level and knock-their’s-socks-off-speech.  Just imagine how much fun we could have with this knowledge!    Give it a try, it’s the real deal.  Now you not only know how to put together a world-class speech, you also have a tool to help you differentiate between an talented speaker and someone who is using a matrix: content.   Maybe this will level the playing field some, who knows?  Enjoy!







My fellow citizens, In order to reach the goals of the program We are obligated to perform a detailed analysis of the existing financial and administrative conditions.


On the other hand and given the present circumstances the complexity of analysis performed by management plays an essential role in the structuring of the development directives for the future.


Therefore. the constant increase in the quality and quantity of our activities demand exact precision and the complete support of the main participating system.


Regardless, we can not forget that the present structure of the organization assists in the preparation and completion of the member’s attitudes towards their unavoidable duties.


Similarly, the new distribution of duties of the organization guarantees the participation of an important group in the formation of new propositions.


The burden of daily life proves that the continuous development of different types of activities complies with important obligations in the determination of the learning curve, in terms of pogress.


It is not an absolute necessity to argue the complexity and the meaning of these problems, given that our activity and progress in the areas of information and propaganda facilitates the creation of the structure of programs that relate to specific needs.


A diversified base of meaningful experiences teaches us that the reinforcing and development of the structures prevents the appreciation of the importance of the conditions of the appropriate activities


It is the eagerness of the organization and also that the advice of of several militants offers us an interesting opportunity to test the validity of the development model.


Superior ideological principles are what allow that the beginnings of the process of forms the new attitudes which implies the process of reconstruction and modernization of the various types of action.


Additionally, we could very well dare to suggest that a specific re-launching of all the implied sectors will have to indicate an authentic starting point of the basic premises as adopted.


It is obvious to point out that that the overcoming of outmoded ways of thinking will, in any case, specify the fundamental basis of an actual wide-spectrum casuistry,


But we would commit the sin of insincerity if we were to avoid the fact that an indiscriminate application of conclusive factors assures us, in any case, of having a sensible investment process of the resulting elements.


Finally, and as a definitive final statement, it is necessary to add that the consensual process of various and other concurrent applications is derived by overcoming the indirect occurrence of a whole series of ideologically systematized criteria sharing a common front of regenerative acts.
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A most interesting modification to the solution of the global economic crisis…

I most definitely hope to be able to say that I “spoke too soon” if I waxed a bit too critical in yesterday’s post: The solution to the global economic crisis.   I don’t have all of the details yet, but I just now learned that there is a “Global Insolvency and Restructuring Conference”.  From what I have seen so far, these conferences are occurring at regular intervals, given that the web page I just looked at was about the 17th Global Insolvency and Restructuring Conference.   Perhaps some of us are looking at possible ways to restructure after the present insolvency bottoms out, and at a good pace too!  They’ve already had 17 of them!  They must have these conferences on a weekly basis, or possibly on a monthly basis; the last 17 months have been the hardest so far.

What confuses me a little is that the web page for this conference lists the last one in May of 2011.  There should have been at least 3 more since May, if not 12.  It must be a typo; I mean, come on; there’s no way that this could have been the 17th annual Global Insolvency and Restructuring Conference, could it?  That would mean that they have known about the insolvent state of the world for at least 17 years, perhaps more.   That couldn’t be possible, could it?  17 years ago; in 1994; there was no clue that the massive hammer punch we took in 2008 would happen or that any of these economic “bubbles” that exploded would exist; right?  I mean; if this were the 17th annual Global Insolvency and Restructuring Conference, then. . .  have we been insolvent since then or did we know that we would become insolvent?  Since 1994?

Excuse me for a moment, I just got a headache; I’m going to take an analgesic.

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A quick bit of reality.


The constitution prohibits the establishing of laws based on a religious belief or religious law; it is the fundamental basis of the separation of church and state.  The constitution makes no such prohibition, nor virtually any other of any kind, to the private sector.  That is to say that a private company can base its policies and procedures and/or operating guidelines on religious law and/or religious belief.  This is guaranteed by the bill of rights (freedom of religion/freedom of speech).

The Meat and Potatoes:

The concept of “Lending Money” is one so absurd and ridiculous that it belies all logic, yet it is just one more “impossible” scenario that we make a part of our daily lives.  Our civilization, as it stands in 2011 could not function at all without the lending of money, after all it is how money is created; you deposit your money in a bank, let’s say $1000.00.  The bank, under the pretense that you will not withdraw that money immediately, can take a portion of it; let’s say $500.00 and lends it to someone else as if it were theirs and charges them interest on it.  By accepting the loan from the bank (of your money) the beneficiary of the loan now has $500.00 dollars of your money that they bank lent them, but you also have the same $500.00 in your account; you’re just not using it right now.  By doing this, the bank created $500.00 dollars, or at least that’s what we believe.   In this post, I will not write any math intended to demonstrate how or why money can’t be borrowed or lent, because even though it can’t; we do it every day. In this post, I’ll stick to our present reality – to the last detail.

The lending of money is based on an analysis of credit risk. The function of credit risk analysis is to establish a person or entity’s creditworthiness. Creditworthiness is established by companies like FICO who assign a score in relation to a person’s creditworthiness.  In order to determine this score, FICO’s slated objective is to predict the likelihood that a consumer will go 90 days past due or worse in the subsequent 24 months after the score has been calculated.  Barring the fact that it is not possible to predict the future, the commercialization of predicting the future is officially classified as fortune-telling.  Fortune telling is recognized in many states as a legitimate business as evidenced by the ability to obtain an occupational or business tax license to operate a fortune telling establishment (with a disclaimer that it is for entertainment purposes only).  The reason that fortune-telling is classified as a legitimate business category is that fortune-telling is considered an aspect of witchcraft and witchcraft is officially recognized as a RELIGION in the U.S.A. and is therefore protected by the constitution.

In conclusion, even though the lives of every person in the country and most of the world, even governments are determined by their creditworthiness, there is no law regulating creditworthiness, credit scoring or credit rating, if there were, the law would be invalid because it would be based on a religious premise (witchcraft). At the same time, determining a person or company’s creditworthiness is technically an attempt to predict the future, which technically; is an act of witchcraft.  When this is applied to the general public, we are able to glimpse our reality: Every person who has a loan, mortgage or credit card or in any way has borrowed money has (whether they know it or now) technically practiced witchcraft.  There, that should light a fire or two under someone’s butt; they can’t argue the facts, however.  Banks lend money by trying to predict the future of a person’s creditworthiness.  The lending of money is the principal financial mechanism of the world’s economy; it is also the active practice of witchcraft, in reality.

It doesn’t get much more real than this.

We can do better.

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Q:        Why are there many of us?

A:        Because it is necessary, otherwise there would be only 1.

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Can you Imagine?

If all the world’s women suddenly declared that they would only have sex with men that have six testicles in their one scrotum, and everyone believed it; no one would have any more sex and the human race would disappear within a generation.

If the last step of purchasing a new car were to precisely recite the smell of the color blue, as dictated by an Ancient Eskimo Chief to his son, who died without keeping a record of the description, and everyone believed it; no new cars would be sold.

If the world’s financial authorities declared that the sum total value of all money, gold, silver and other wealth possessed by all of the people on the planet totaled $34 Trillion and that the total amount of debt owed by all of the people on the planet was valued at $84 trillion, and everyone believed it, then money and wealth would be meaningless and worthless, no one would ever actually be able to own anything and everything in life would be measured by what you owe instead of what you are.

 Oh shit, wait a minute.  That last one’s an actual fact.

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