PARIS – Scene in a Paris restaurant last night…
A middle-aged man – balding, French, with a grumpy look – sat down at a nearby table. Then we heard a screech coming from the front door. A boy, about five years old, was being dragged by his mother toward the table where the man was sitting.
“Shush…” the woman said.
The boy put up some fight, but went along… sat down… fidgeted… occasionally letting out another yelp or whine.
Mother and child looked almost exactly alike… and nothing like the man they joined. Black hair, sharp noses, olive skin, dark eyes – the mother and son reminded us of people we had seen in an illustrated history book.
Parthians? Scythians? Assyrians? Strange-looking people.
The woman had an intense, slightly off-putting expression, as though she could pull out a curved knife and slit a throat at any moment. Neither smiling nor frowning, she showed no emotion – not when trying to manage her child or when talking to the man in front of her.
A little later, a girl and her mother came in. The girl was about 15 years old and looked exactly like the man at the table next to us – blond, blue eyes, squarish face.
The mother was about 50 – a little overweight but still attractive. Reddish hair. Glasses. The two groups exchanged pleasantries. Then mother and daughter sat at a nearby table and ordered their meal.
When the first group had finished, the Parthian mother and son got up and left. The man got up too, but before leaving went over to the table where the red-haired woman and daughter were sitting.
For the first time, he smiled…
He and the woman talked about parking tickets and phone bills. He kissed the young girl and then left.
“What was that all about?” we asked Elizabeth.
“Wasn’t it obvious? The man took up with that young, dark-haired woman and had a child with her. Now he regrets it.”
Life is full of regrets. Regrets give you experience. Experience helps you avoid mistakes.
Alas, life is too short. Some mistakes – like suicide bombing and wrecking dad’s car on prom night – you get to make only once.
And what a delight it is to have a wife at our side to explain it to us.
What follows comes from our archives. It is an account of one of our trips together:
God Only Knows
Elizabeth has joined me on this trip to London – a business trip!
It is a pleasure to have her with me; we work so well together. What couple ever divided its labor more exquisitely?
I earn; she spends. I write; she reads. I listen; she talks. She is sunny; I rain. I worry about the important things: money, politics, global warming, war. She thinks about the trivial problems of everyday life: what we eat, where we live, how we spend our money, and how the children are getting along.
We make such a perfect team… as though designed to fit together by nature… or God Himself.
Elizabeth chose a play for us last night – God Only Knows, written by a fellow named Whitemore – that promised cultural and intellectual enrichment.
The two couples, relaxing one evening while on vacation in Italy, are interrupted by the arrival of an Englishman… a man on the run.
Who is he? What is he running from? What has he done?
It’s soon revealed that the man, Humphry Biddulph, is a scholar who has been working on some old documents in Rome. Into his hands has come a particularly explosive piece of paper – a letter from a Roman senator, written in 110 A.D.
The letter – the authenticity of which is uncertain – reveals that the senator’s grandfather had participated in what, if true, would have been the biggest con of all time.
He claims the Romans staged the resurrection of Jesus by getting a look-alike to pose as the Nazarene after the crucifixion.
Why would the Romans do such a thing?
Because they found it difficult to keep their subject populations – Jews, Gauls, Britons, Levantines, Arimatheans – under control. (They never got control of the Parthians.)
To a group of people who were the enemy of so many other groups, “love your enemy” had an appealing ring.
And so, according to the senator, the Romans conspired to pull off the greatest scam in history: the phony resurrection for the man who preached turning the other cheek.
And what a spectacular success!
The martyred Jesus was a big hit – bigger than Che Guevara or Abraham Lincoln. Within a few centuries, Constantine the Great made Christianity the religion of the Roman Empire.
Now the sandal was on the other foot: The Roman Catholic Church, to which your editor owes qualified allegiance, began to persecute nonbelievers and suppress contrary opinions on the divinity of Christ.
Man on the Run
“But what does this have to do with you? What are you afraid of?” asks one of the vacationers.
“Ah, glad you asked. I made the nearly fatal mistake,” explained the man on the run, “of revealing the letter to a Roman Catholic priest.”
“Don’t you see?” he continues.
“If the letter is authentic, no resurrection. No resurrection, and the whole of Christianity rests on a lie.”
The owner of the letter died in a mysterious car crash days later. And now, “they” are out to get our hero…
Don’t you see, dear reader?
Whitemore spends the second half of the play telling us that Christianity is all a big lie. And that the Roman Catholic Church has been ruthlessly suppressing the truth for 2,000 years.
“Jesus could not have been born when they say he was born,” explains Biddulph.
“And there is no historical evidence for the Massacre of the Innocents. Besides, King Herod the Great was dead four years before Jesus was supposedly born.
“And the virgin birth? Completely made up. The word used in the original testaments meant ‘young woman,’ which was mistranslated into Greek as ‘virgin.’”
“Transubstantiation, the Holy Trinity, celibacy, and papal infallibility – all of it invented by the Roman Catholic Church. And all of it nonsense.”
“Faith,” he continues, spitting out the words, “is just an excuse for cowardice and irresponsibility. People don’t want to face up to the truth.”
Facing the Truth
If the Truth were so easily faced, blabbing Trotskyites, blustery patriots, and self-assured playwrights could produce reams of it – enough to overwhelm whatever secrets might be hidden in Vatican vaults.
But truth is as hard to confront as it is to suppress. Even in the 21st century truth does not expose herself readily. She hides as easily in a mountain of information as a desert of ignorance.
Even in the Information Age, dear reader, there are questions for which the World Wide Web hath no answers… and problems for which not even Janet Yellen – the best known public servant since Pontius Pilate – hath no solutions.
For every tiny fragment of truth you find, there are some dozen bloody fools who went bankrupt and mad… were crucified by their own hands… and now rant in some particularly sweaty corner of Hell.
The vacationers offer only token resistance. “Religion is useful,” says one. “Without it there would be moral anarchy.”
“I don’t care what you say,” says another. “I still believe.”
What a pity. As for the Truth, God only knows. But it would have been such a better play if the others had put up a good fight.
Catholic scholars and Bible thumpers alike have been debating these points for centuries. Surely they could have given the know-it-all Mr. Whitemore a good thumping. They’re very good at it.
“What that play needs is a good Jesuit,” Elizabeth remarked.
We have reached a turning point in history…
Most people don’t know it, but our lives are about to radically change. Artificial intelligence (AI) has advanced to the point where computers can start learning from their own experiences.
Now, this might not sound like much, but it is extraordinary. Let me explain…
As humans, we often repeat our mistakes. AI never makes the same mistake twice. It corrects, and then it never happens again.
But it’s even better than that. You see, anytime an AI recognizes a mistake, or learns from experience, every other AI in the network learns from that experience… and they ALL never forget.
The learning process is exponentially fast. Every experience is captured and leveraged by the network of AIs. And this will bring profound changes faster than you can imagine.
Take electric carmaker Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA). It recently launched an early version of a self-driving car. In Tesla’s system, a driver acts as a “trainer” for the AI system, and the AI learns what to do and how to do it… and it learns very quickly.
Already owners are impressed with the system’s ability to self-improve.
Social network company Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) is also working on an AI product called “M.” This is Facebook’s new personal AI assistant. At the moment, it is being beta-tested only in the San Francisco area. But it will be launched widely in the coming months.
For now, Facebook is using humans to check all of M’s communications with users. If M’s proposed response isn’t correct, the Facebook employee will adjust to a more appropriate response, teaching the system in the same way human drivers train Tesla’s self-driving system.
As a result, M is learning in real time with the assistance of human direction.
There are a number of other big AI assistant initiatives in the works: Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) with Siri, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) with Cortana, and Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) with Alexa.
We use Alexa in our Delray Beach office…
It’s not just the big tech companies that are focusing on this space. AI-related venture capital investments exceeded $600 million in the last 12 months.
One of the lesser-known companies that I’m tracking is called Viv. It was established by many of the same people who built Apple’s Siri… and they are developing a more versatile AI for a variety of other uses.
Viv’s motto is “radically simplify the world by providing an intelligent interface to everything.”
The market for AI-enabled digital assistants will approach $10 billion in less than 10 years. Needless to say, fortunes will be made in this space, and this technology will literally transform… and improve how we live our daily lives.
P.S. I’m getting ready to launch my new investment advisory,Exponential Tech Investor. If you want to be among the first to learn to uncover tomorrow’s world-changing technologies, follow this link.
Paris Attacks May Spell the End of Bitcoin
The European Union is planning a crackdown on virtual currencies, such as Bitcoin in a bid to tackle terrorism financing after the Paris attacks, a draft document seen by the news agency Reuters said.
Wall Street Titan Sees U.S. in Recession in 2017
The U.S. could fall into a recession within two years, according to Blackstone Group president Tony James. Most of the industrial sector is already in recession. The rest of the economy may not be far behind.
Analyst Reveals Pattern That Predicts Market Direction
A veteran analyst discovered a simple market pattern that appeared five days before the last S&P 500 crash… two days before oil prices dropped 35%… and a few hours before the Chinese market collapse.
Bill’s argument in yesterday’s Diary, that ISIS is a monster the West created, has split opinion among readers:
I am sure I am not the first to tell you that you are a weird dude.
While some of your clash of societies musings may have some validity, you fail to realize that the aggressor (fanatical Muslims) sets the rules of engagement. And weakness, when projected, results in aggression and death.
Europe subscribes to your thoughts and will cease to be a functioning modern economy in short order. I assume that you believe that police forces in places like Baltimore are a provocation – they should be shut down because all they do is enrage the criminals. When you are in a hole, stop digging. Luckily, I don’t read you for those parts of your personality that are twisted and irrational – I can weed through the inane to the useful.
Try to get back to the useful soon.– Scott I.
Vehemently disagree. Arguably, our and many other countries’ own “invasions” date back way past George Bush. Your statement seems rather predictable.
Other than that, love the newsletter and your multifaceted market knowledge.
Thank you for your opinion. Free countries value that.– Daniel B.
Spot on! Bonner, you are a patriot of truth… Keep it up.– Timothy F.
I’m with you on this one, Bill. Also, with Rand Paul, as it happens – seemingly the only sane candidate on either side of the aisle on this issue!– David B.
I enjoy Bill’s writing and rants; he has quite the style. I also appreciate his Libertarian approach to the economy and world affairs.
However! While I did not support the Iraq War, his stating that “we” created al-Qaeda is totally wrong. Al-Qaeda formed in the 1980s – not in 2003 – and formed as a result of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, not the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
But what exactly is the correct response to terrorists? Turn the other cheek?
They will always have a grievance – whether it is cartoons or Gitmo (ha!) or some more personal gripe. I neither absolve the U.S. for its imperial (mis)adventures, nor the terrorists for their lack of humanity.
But if the French slaughter is too small for Bill, I’d advise him to simply wait a bit. There is always hope the next attack will be significant enough for his tastes, whether contemporaneous or historical.– Hillard G.
Hey, don’t blame ISIS on American military might. France chickened out, and it didn’t do them much good, did it?
It made them look weak, and that’s why they got hit on the 13th.– Lois W.
Best work to-date. Thanks. Peace and grace be yours in abundance.– Rick W.
I totally agree with your comments on the Middle East. Thoughtful people realize that statements such as “fighting for our freedom” and “keeping us safe” are slogans that ring hollow.
The neocons and other powers involved in this were going to have their war, no matter what the excuse. The invasion of Iraq (and Afghanistan) is the greatest “blunder” in American history, and the people of the United States are paying the price and will continue to suffer for it.– George S.
Bill Bonner Letter readers will hear even more about the root cause of all this terrorist activity in their next issue – due to hit inboxesnext Wednesday. Hint: It begins in Washington, not in Mecca.
To find out how you can take a risk-free trial of The Bill Bonner Letter, watch Bill’s special presentation about an even greater threat to our way of life.
In Case You Missed It…
Porter Stansberry, the founder of Stansberry Research, just released his first-ever feature presentation.
Porter says we’re just months away from the biggest opportunity to make money in the bond market in more than a decade. And he’s sharing the investment strategy he’s already used to makes tens of thousands of dollars.