YOUGHAL, IRELAND – We left the warm and friendly west coast of Central America on Friday. Now, we are on the south coast of Ireland. Still friendly, but less warm.
We are here to check on Home Sweet Home… our new home in Ireland, that is.
It’s being renovated. And here it is:
Bill’s new home in Ireland still needs some work…
Uh oh. We’re supposed to move in in April. It doesn’t look like it will be ready. But we’re meeting the builder later today; we’ll see what he has to say.
Since we have been traveling, we should probably take a moment to look up at the stars and get our bearings.
And before that… it is only fair to stop and warn you, dear reader. Normally, we don’t ask much of you, just a few minutes of your attention. But the next day or so may be more demanding than usual – of reader as well as of writer.
So, if you want to get off the bus here, there will be no hard feelings. First, because the going might be rough. And second, because you might not like it very much when we get there. And third, because once you get there, you may not be able to ever come back. This is a one-way ride.
“Oh, people are funny,” said our driver, bringing us from the airport to the hotel. It was a long way, giving him plenty of opportunity to express himself.
“See that highway…” He pointed to a turnoff. “It’s the road to Limerick. The engineers had all done their work. The planning was done. Contracts were let out. The bulldozers and trucks were all lined up. And then a local farmer asked: What about the fairy tree?
“Now, you ask anyone and they’ll tell you they don’t believe that nonsense… about fairies and the spirit world. But down deep we all believe.
“So, they had millions and millions of euros already set aside to build the road. But nobody would cut down the fairy tree. I can just imagine the conversation.
“‘Sean… you cut it down.’ ‘No… Paddy, you cut it down.’ ‘Nooo… Ronan, you’re a good man with a chainsaw… go ahead and cut the damned tree down.’ ‘Look, if you want it cut down… you cut it down yourself.’
“Nobody wanted to cut it down. Because there would be a curse on whoever did. In the end, they had to reroute the road.
“And probably, on some level, they don’t really believe in the spirit world. But nobody wanted to put it to the test.”
“That’s the way it is with a lot of things,” our driver continued. “What we say we believe is not always what we really believe.
“You ask people in Ireland if this Brexit thing makes any difference. They’ll say they don’t care. But you just wait until they put that border back.
“Deep down, we Irish consider Ulster [the northernmost province, now part of England’s United Kingdom] a part of Ireland. And now that we can come and go [there are no border controls between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland] there’s a truce. An armistice, if you will.
“But I wouldn’t want to be the first English customs officer who stops the Irish from going to the north. ‘Cause he’s going to die.”
These were strong words. But people have strong emotions. And often, it is hard to square them with what we consider right and reasonable.
A “hard” border – with razor wire, and armed guards – would be inconvenient for travel and commerce.
Apart from that, would it make any real difference? Would the quality of food or housing decline? Would lovers’ kisses be less sweet? Or, their breakups less bitter? Would roads be more bumpy or shaves less smooth?
We Americans can look upon this Brexit battle with equanimity and humor. Like the crucial soccer match between England and Ireland, on Saturday night, we don’t know what is going on… and hardly care.
But it might have been the crucifixion of Christ to the Irish in the hotel bar. They cheered each Irish goal as if they had scored it themselves… and then, when the end came, and England had pulled ahead, it was as if all their favorite dogs had been run over… and the bar had run out of Jameson.
Young Men in Trenches
Last night, on TV, was a documentary on WWI, “They Shall Not Grow Old.” The filmmaker had taken old footage from the war, slowed it down and colorized it, so that it looked modern and realistic. The resulting show was heartbreaking.
So many young men, blown to bits… mutilated… or sometimes just drowned in the mud. A million of them – on the British side alone (including 37,000 Irishmen) – died between 1914 and 1919. And for what?
None of them could say. The young men in the trenches didn’t know. And as old men, interviewed decades later, they still didn’t know.
But it was “us” vs. “them.” No other explanation was necessary.
And here, dear reader, we come to the hard part.
Whence cometh these strong feelings… these desperate longings… these fatal attractions?
From careful thinking and right reason? Is that how we decide whom to love, how to vote, and whom to kill?
Tune in tomorrow for a very important insight.
TECHNOLOGY INSIGHT: EXPONENTIAL Artificial Intelligence (AI)
By Jeff Brown, Editor, The Near Future Report
Recently, I told Diary readers about the first coast-to-coast trip by a self-driving car. A modified Toyota Prius left San Francisco and made it all the way to New York City. The driver didn’t touch the steering wheel once.
The secret to the trip’s success was artificial intelligence (AI). The car “learned” how to drive safely, thanks to an AI algorithm that “studied” millions of miles worth of data and adjusted the car’s performance.
This would have been impossible only a few years ago. But that’s the nature of exponential growth in technology. One minute, it seems light-years away. The next minute, it’s right on your doorstep.
That’s what’s happening with artificial intelligence.
AI is hitting an inflection point right now… and every single aspect of our lives will change because of it.
What’s more, AI will impact every industry in the world, reshaping the workplace forever.
And this won’t happen decades from now.
But you wouldn’t know that based on what most of the “experts” are saying.
It all started back in 1997, when IBM’s Deep Blue computer, powered by AI, defeated world chess champion Garry Kasparov. Kasparov had never lost a match prior to his game with Deep Blue – yet Deep Blue beat him handily.
But Deep Blue’s dominant performance in that match was not consistent. Chess grandmasters went head to head with computers over the next 10 years, sometimes winning and sometimes losing.
It wasn’t until 2005, eight years later, that computers could consistently beat the best human chess players.
But the experts were skeptical of the technology. Chess was a simple game, with a limited number of possible moves. And with enough computing power, every possible outcome of the game could be analyzed.
Experts didn’t think an AI could compete with humans at more complex games, such as the ancient Chinese game of Go, which allows for an exponential number of moves and strategies.
The game has so many possible outcomes, in fact, that there currently isn’t enough computing power to analyze all possible outcomes.
As recent as December 2015, most scientists said that AI was decades away from beating the top human players at Go.
Then, just three months later, DeepMind’s AlphaGo AI beat Go grandmaster Lee Sedol – considered the best Go player in the world – in four out of five matches.
And let me share one more detail with you to show you the exponential growth in AI.
A few years ago, I attended an exclusive technology conference. I was in the room with 200 other “techies.” The subject was artificial intelligence.
The presenter said the technology was promising, but it was moving very slowly. Just incrementally. The algorithms are improving “only” at a rate of 5-7% per month.
Slow? Incremental? I thought EXPONENTIAL.
After all, if an AI is improving at 5% a month, where will it be 12 months from now? It would be 79% better than a year ago.
But what about two years later? It would be 222% better.
What about three years? That’d be 479% better.
Need I go on? That’s exponential.
It is happening now. Right now.
– Jeff Brown
P.S. There’s one last thing I’d like to put on your radar. It’s a technology trend that I believe will be the biggest investing story of 2019. But 99% of investors will miss it entirely. Don’t be one of them. Go right here.
Wall Street’s Safest Trade Could Be Getting Risky
With the recent sell-off in the broader market, investors are looking for refuge. Their destination: Stocks with historically low volatility. But these supposedly safe havens are now getting crowded… and risky.
The Origins of Fear and Greed
Fear and greed are two of the biggest emotional factors in all of investing. Can I get rich? Will I lose all my money? They might seem like opposites. But these emotions originate from the same place…
Why China Is Buying Gold Miners
China is on a spending spree. The country is snapping up gold miners as quickly as it can find them. Why? And what does it mean for you? Dave Forest, Casey Research’s resident commodities expert, has the story.
In the mailbag, more discussion on what’s quickly become dear readers’ favorite topic: Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez…
One more time, Bill, if the top wealthy Americans have a $4 trillion stash and you divide it by the 360 million population, each would get $11. I am sure that the idiotically math-ignorant AOC cannot even divide… There is no greater danger than an incapable person with initiative… except one of those who has political power.
– Manuel E.
Dear Mr. Bonner, I hope that you will give Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) as much slack as you have given Agent Orange in your comments. Just because she might suggest eating a rich person or two does not mean that her opinions are worse than Donald Trump’s. In fact, I could even get behind that one easier than a useless wall. Just asking for a little leeway in your condemnation of her policies. I always like an underdog, as I know you do, too. Keep up the great work!
– William U.
Dear Mr. Bonner, I’m a 79-year-old former federal prosecutor who begs to differ. Wasn’t the marginal individual federal income tax rate under Reagan somewhere near 80%? I seem to recall that. And don’t other industrialized countries have zero medical bankruptcies, because all their residents have a right to medical care?
Except for those at the top or near it, the U.S., within my lifetime, has become in many respects a third-world country. For everyone’s children and grandchildren, in addition to my own, I would like my country back. Congresswoman AOC, in my view, is correct in how to do it.
– Sarah M.
Someone, out of pity, should explain to Ocasio-Cortez that socialism is no longer a radical idea. It’s been put into effect many times on many continents, and to date, exhibits less than stellar results.
From pilfering fellow workers’ gratuities as a barkeep, to $175,000 a year in D.C., all in about 18 months. Indeed, we’ve lost a good waitress… God bless America.
– John W.
Your concerns about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, aka Alexandria Occasionally-Coherent, are on point. She is pleasantly ignorant of economics, geopolitics, and American (and world) history. But she is willing to speak out on issues she believes in so passionately that her (apparently just as ignorant) constituents support her. My concern is that, as the next crop of less knowledgeable and uninformed voters integrates itself into the democratic process, we will continue to see a decline in our nation’s traditional freedoms in favor of more statist legislation at the cost of individual freedoms we now take for granted. Demagogic and truly ignorant elected politicians like AOC present a much more long-term danger to our republic than the Trump haters can ever imagine The Donald doing during his tenure.
– Doug L.
I couldn’t care less what your private feelings are regarding politics, everyone is welcome to their own thoughts in that regard, but I sure don’t want that nonsense jammed down my throat. I find this most disappointing. At least Ms. Ocasio-Cortez is not suggesting that we yank babies and children out of their parents’ arms and put them in concentrated camps on our border. There are more important values in our country than making ourselves rich.
Who votes in June? AOC supporters. Of 215,000 registered Dems in that district, only 28,000 voted (13%), and she won by 4,000 votes. Her shoe leather and internet campaign and moxie won, and we can blame the incumbent for inflicting this moron darling of CNN and MSNBC upon us. Interesting to see if the Dems will allow another to run against her in the primary in two years. We’ll see if she self-destructs. Like Elizabeth Warren, she is her own worst enemy.
– Jerome C.
Well, Bill Bonner, I quote your question and offer an answer – “Got healthcare issues? She would offer Medicare for All. Need a job? She proposes a Job Guarantee. Want to go to college? Get ready for Tuition-free College. Worried about global warming? How about a large-scale ‘green infrastructure’ program?” Answer… Ask Denmark where lifespan is longer and people are healthier and not on the backs of the working poor.
The 70% is on income above $10,000,000 only. How can we expect those folks to pay their bills? Second – Our economy’s best performance was when the top marginal rate was 90% and corporate rates were high, too. Maybe you should slum a little and begin to care some about those with incomes less than $10,000,000 a year.
– Malcolm J.
TAKE A LOOK AT THIS PICTURE…
It might not look like much, but this barren strip of land holds a secret. In fact, Dave Forest recently was recently able to make 5,205% in two months by unlocking this secret.
The secret revealed… right here.