I read a ton throughout the week. It’s my personal belief that one of the biggest problems with America is we live in a time of information overload, but most people take little if any time to actually read the information that’s out there. Instead most people read headlines, might skim articles, and then fall back on what they think they know which really is little and is mostly emotionally driven.

Overload isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you know what you’re looking for. There’s so much great content out there, it’s literally the greatest time to be alive if you like to learn.

Anyway, I read so much I never have found a good way to share it, and I’m starting to get a little tired of social media. It’s really not a good way to disseminate information to others as it leads to echo chambers and promotes people not reading. Many would just rather argue about the headline. So, I thought using my blog would be a great way to catalogue my week of reading, offer others a chance to pick and choose some articles from here that might interest them, and filter out what I think is and isn’t important from what I’ve read.

How do I read so much?

I thought I might share what I think to be one of the greatest tools ever made. You hear lots of negatives about how smartphones have ruined mankind for eons, but any tool is only as good as the person using it.

The greatest app ever made in the history of all apps is called Pocket. You can check it out over at GetPocket.com.

Pocket is, as the name suggests, a place for you to pocket everything you come across online, then you can come back and read it. The killer feature of Pocket is that the app will actually read articles to you. On Android, it uses Google’s text-to-speech function and reads the article back at a rate that you choose. So, when I’m doing laundry, housework, going to the store, laying down to go to sleep, you get the idea, I have my Bluetooth headset on and I’m actually “reading” the articles I don’t have the time to sit and front of a computer and read.

I call it “leading”.

It’s allowed me to consume an insane amount of information over the last two years. According to Pocket, I’m in the top 1% of all users of the app. In 2017, I read 2,862,158 words which equated to 61 books.

I’ve also started using Audible which is an audiobook app, and I still try to find time when I can to read an old fashioned paper book. I tend to listen to Audible when I drive as I don’t like to fidget with my phone and it keeps me away for using it unnecessarily.

I get it. You’re busy. So am I. I still find time to read, a lot. It just looks a little different than it used to.

So with that out of the way, here goes:

Most Important Articles of the Week:

Trump: ‘Take the guns first, go through due process second’ by Brett Samuels

I do not like Trump. I did not support Trump. I did not vote for Trump. Trump knows nothing about the Constitution and is not a Constitutional conservative or a Liberty minded individual. This is disturbing. If you’re on the right and still defending this behavior, wake-up, Trump is not some highly intelligent negotiator playing some 4 dimensional chess game. Due process matters. The Constitution matters.

“I like taking the guns early, like in this crazy man’s case that just took place in Florida … to go to court would have taken a long time,” Trump said at a meeting with lawmakers on school safety and gun violence.

Voters vow to elect a Congress that stands up to Trump, poll shows by Susan Page & Marilyn Icsman

The Republicans are going to get their butts handed to them in November. The consequences of that terrify me as Trump will only start to worry about himself. We’re probably going to get stuck with a ridiculous amount of ignorant Democrats, but I can’t say they don’t deserve it. Republicans have totally abandoned their principles with only a few exceptions.

Having said that, I really don’t think that’s the most important thing from this article. Go read the quotes of the American voters. If large amount of voters on either side are really this stupid, we’re in deep trouble.

Steel Yourself for Metallic Trade War by Patrick Watson

Looks like Trump could finally get his trade war. There’s nothing good about this. NOTHING.

The Foolishness Of Trump’s Steel Tariffs In One Simple Chart by Mike Shedlock

You won’t bring back steel manufacturing jobs. The US is producing 7.7% more steel than in March of 1990 with over 48,000 fewer workers.

“I created that Chart in Fred by totalling steel workers in Indiana, Ohio, Texas, and Pennsylvania. Those are the only states tracked now. If there were more states tracked in 1990, the decline in workers is even greater. There is production in other states but it is minimal.

Don’t blame NAFTA. Steel employment went on a deep dive nearly four years earlier.”

Everything Else…

Confessions of a Russiagate Skeptic: Why I have my doubts about whether Trump colluded with Moscow by Blake Hounshell

Intellectually honest Editor-in-Chief of Politico says what needs to be said. This whole Trump collusion thing isn’t all that convincing. Nice to see someone from the mainstream press with some courage.

As Russian Bot Narrative Unravels, Even Liberals Say Enough Is Enough by Tyler Durden

“So, as the Russian bot narrative implodes – the lens of history will mock the legacies of those who fell on their sword defending it to its last breath. Based on the murky evidence surrounding the Russian hacking claims, we expect it to suffer a similar fate. More importantly, the message from cooler heads on both sides of the aisle is clear: time to move on.”

THE RUSSIAN ROLE IN THE NUCLEAR WINTER THEORY by Matt Ridley

“A defector says the KGB boasts about starting the now-debunked scare.”

The #1 reason Facebook won’t ever change by Om Malik

My dislike of Facebook grows by the day.

“Facebook’s (much deserved) media nightmare continued this week when it came under criticism for spamming members who signed up for two-factor authentication. This was followed by charges that its Protect VPN software (based on its Onava CDN) was essentially corporate spyware. The collective outrage over Facebook and its actions might result in a lot of talk, but it won’t really change Facebook, its ethos, and its ethics. Let me explain!”

Live by the algorithm, die by the algorithm: How LittleThings went from social publishing darling to shutting down by Lucia Moses

This is marketing related, but a little concerning, especially for small businesses that use Facebook. I once thought Facebook could be an incredible tool for businesses, I’m losing confidence by the day.

The case for ending Amazon’s dominance by Tim Harford

Yeah, not an Amazon fan either. Good comments about Amazon, typical poor solution. Anti-trust law is not the answer, educating the consumer is.

Amazon Made $5.6 Billion in Profits Last Year and Reportedly Paid Zero American Dollars in Federal Taxes by Emma Roller

I hate the tone of this article, it’s overly leftist and anti-business, but there is some valid points made about Amazon.

It’s Time to Say It: Retirement Is Dead. This Is What Will Take Its Place by Thomas Koulopoulos

Love this piece. Retirement is a bit of a fiction, you just think it isn’t. The sooner we start to accept this, the sooner we can start to solve some major financial problems.

“The tired old notion of retiring is absolutely the wrong way to think about the most important part of your life.”

Why It’s so Hard to Actually Work in Shared Offices by Nicholas Hune-Brown

WeWork shared work spaces sound like Hell on Earth. Overvalued, stupid idea of a business if there ever was one.

More Americans now support a universal basic income by Annie Nova

I know it sounds strange, a Libertarian who actually is intrigued by the UBI concept, but the reality is I’ll never convince most of you of completely ending welfare. So, my theory with a UBI is we dump everything else, food stamps, public housing, Medicare, etc., and we try this. The problem with most Americans is, I suspect, they’d keep all that stuff that’s failed and add this on top.

Schools safer today than in 1990s, study on shootings says by Dave Boyer

Not that the ardent anti-gun crusaders care about facts, reason, or debate, the reality of it is all of this anti-gun stuff is being pushed by the absolute worst the political left has to offer. Trump is a “tyrant”, but they don’t want anyone to have guns… Yeah… That makes sense.

“Researchers at Northeastern University say mass school shootings are extremely rare, that shootings involving students have been declining since the 1990s, and four times as many children were killed in schools in the early 1990s than today.”

Saudi Arabia is building a $500 billion mega-city that’s 33 times the size of New York City by Leanna Garfield

Economically backwards to do this, business builds cities, not the other way around, but interesting nonetheless.

What Powell won’t say to Congress: The Fed has funding challenges by Richard X. Bove

Kind of a big deal, and the fact we’re not hearing more about this is concerning.

The financial crisis in 2008 changed this arrangement. The Fed needed what ultimately was $3.6 trillion to buy assets to resolve the financial crisis. Without going into too many details it obtained the bulk of the money it needed from the nation’s banks.

They deposited up to $2.8 trillion at the Fed. What this meant is that bank deposits supplemented currency as the core source of Federal Reserve funding. Consequently, by the end of 2014, the nation’s banks were providing over 62 percent of the money the Fed needed to fund its activities and currency was down to 28 percent (other borrowings and equity provided the other 10 percent).

The problem at the moment is that the banks seem to want their money back. They have taken close to $600 billion out in the last three-and-a-half years. If the Federal Reserve Board was a normal bank, a “run” of this magnitude would have put the organization into liquidation. But, the Fed is not a normal bank so it increased its money printing activities and borrowed money in the open market to pay the banks the $600 billion they wanted back.

Total Student Debt In America Now Exceeds The Cost Of Iraq War by “Tyler Durden”

The greatest failure of American public education is that so many Americans are financially illiterate.

Bank of America: This Is The Only Number That Matters For The Market by “Tyler Durden”

When it comes to his recent forecasting track record, BofA’s Michael Hartnett is – as of this moment – a force to be reckoned with. Exactly one month ago, the bank’s Chief Investment Strategist warned clients that the bank’s “Biggest sell signal in 5 years was just triggered” and warned of a correction as much as 12% in the coming 3 months. Just a few days later, he was proven right as the S&P tumbled 10% the very next week.

The US Government Lost $1.2 Trillion In 2017 by Simon Black

America is basically a failed state in waiting, the sooner we admit this, the better.

The Middle of an Era by George Friedman

After 10 years, its outline is already clear. It is a time of economic dysfunction, defined by slow growth and unequal distribution of wealth, leading to domestic political tension and deep international friction. Countries will be focused on their own problems, and those problems will create trouble abroad. It is a world that is best described as parochial, tense and angry. There are worse things that it can be. But much depends on how rapidly the United States matures into its role as the single-most powerful country in the world. Likely the emergence of the U.S. from its internal rages will be the major feature of the next era.

Twenty years means nothing in history, but it means everything in our lives, so our tendency to convince ourselves of the permanence of the present era is understandable. But history didn’t end in 1991, and it didn’t end in 2008. For better or worse, this too shall pass.

Worsening Lumber “Supply Crisis” Is Driving Record Home Prices Higher by “Tyler Durden”

Lumber prices started climbing last year thanks to wildfires destroying prime forest land along the Pacific Northwest, as well as a worsening trade spat over softwood lumber that dates back to the Obama administration. While US media was preoccupied with the California wildfires, Canada’s Pacific coast saw its worst wildfires on record, too. Furthermore, Trump last year slapped tariffs on most types of lumber, with the highest rate at 24%, one of several protectionist moves against its northern neighbor.

“Kids Are Going Hungry” – Teachers’ Strike Continues As W.Va. Lawmakers Reject 5% Raise by “Tyler Durden”

I’m a little fascinated at how the media isn’t talking more about this. It’s kind of a big story and I think it has implications for some of the coming social chaos we’ll experience in the next 5-10 years. Our public spending in this country is UNSUSTAINABLE. You can whine and cry about it all you want, by math doesn’t have emotions.

“This Is Madness”: New Jersey Raises Expected Pension Fund Return To 7.5% by “Tyler Durden”

Again, our public spending in this country is UNSUSTAINABLE. I swear believing that it is has become a new public religion, the greatest worshipers of the mythology are the Democrats.

The Myth of America’s “Stingy” Welfare State by Ryan McMaken of The Mises Institute

Now, if by “stingy” one means, “poorly administered,” “ineffective,” or “counterproductive,” then one would be on to something. But if by “stingy,” one means “underfunded,” well, there’s little evidence of that.

Trump Slams Bush: Iraq Invasion “Single Worst Decision Ever Made” by “Tyler Durden”

As I said above, I don’t like Trump and never supported him. I’ll always like him more than any Bush. Always.

Charles Nenner: “We’re Totally Out Of Stocks, What’s Coming Is Big” by Greg Hunter

Nenner says, “When unemployment is low, it’s the end of the bull market. Last Sunday, I published a chart that shows every time the unemployment is around 4.1% or 4.2%, and you can see this in 1973, 1987, 1990 and 2007, and you can go on and on, and now, also, you have a market crash. I find it amazing that people can come on television and say things that are totally wrong factually, and you can prove it is wrong.”

“Avoiding The Mistakes Of Our Parents” – Only A Third Of Millennials Have A Credit Card by “Tyler Durden”

Somewhat encouraging. Although, I have no problem with responsible credit card use. Just pay the damn thing off every month.

Science Related Stuff

With DNA from a museum specimen, scientists reconstruct the genome of a bird extinct for 700 years by Sharon Begley

I love science. This is just interesting.

The Age of Abundance vs. the Abundance of Age by Patrick Cox

The risk to our future is NOT automation, it’s an aging population and its unbelievable economic cost. The solution is not better health care, it’s biotechnology, any belief to the contrary is an uninformed opinion.

Human brain still active minutes after heart stops beating, new research finds by Chelsea Ritschel

Another interesting one…

Neurologists studying the brains of nine patients as they died have found surprising information about what happens to your brain after it dies.

According to the new study, death is marked by a final wave of electrical activity in our brains called “spreading depression.”

This “spreading depression” is a final flurry of activity that occurs in the brain before it finally shuts down, according to the experts.

What Am I Listening to on Audible?

A Man for All Markets: How I Beat the Dealer and the Market by Edward O. Thorp

The incredible true story of the card-counting mathematics professor who taught the world how to beat the dealer and, as the first of the great quantitative investors, ushered in a revolution on Wall Street.

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I’ve been somewhat taken aback by the absolutely vitriolic and borderline psychotic response that many in this country have had from this school shooting down in Florida.

I wrote this the other night on my personal Facebook page and thought it worth sharing here:

I haven’t said much about the recent school shooting. I just don’t have enough time to comment on stuff like I used to, but this one keeps bugging me. There’s nothing more demonstrative of the complete lack of critical thinking in our society than the response to something like this that we’ve seen by many in our society.

It’s undeniably tragic, but so are hundreds of other stories and experiences that happen on a daily basis in our country. Tragedy is a normal part of the human condition.

The statistical reality is this:

Odds of being struck by lightning 1 in 1,000,000
Odds of being shot in a school shooting 1 in 7,800,000
Odds of dying from a gunshot are 1 in 15,000,000

Odds of dying in a car crash 1 in 6,000.

Statistically violent crime is at a 40+ year low in the United States of America.

You’ve never been safer.

In one sense, I get that many Americans response to this is simply to want to create an even safer society. I’ll be the first to admit, free and open ownership of firearms adds a level of danger into society, BUT, it’s just one of the many dangers we all face on a daily basis.

I’m sorry, but the world isn’t safe, nor will it ever completely be. Bad things happen to really good people. People die when they shouldn’t. That’s normal. That’s a historical norm realized throughout mankind’s history.

It’s a danger that I’m more than willing to accept, even with my own children and wife. And there’s a specific reason for it.

Firearm ownership is a fundamental component of self-defense which is a fundamental component of Liberty.

Few stop to think, but there’s a damn good reason why the Second Amendment is the SECOND Amendment to the Constitution. It follows the First Amendment because it’s the only way the populace can guarantee itself that primary right of speech, assembly, and religion. Tyrannical regimes will always first move to squelch speech and assembly before more extreme and violent actions begin.

I know it seems foreign in our modern times and our leisure filled world to think that this still matters, that we, as people, should have to be concerned about self-defense against our own government. Surely we’ve moved past those problems of a far less civilized and earlier man.

You’re incredibly naive if you truly believe this. By all means, ask the millions that were slaughtered by their own governments around the world throughout history if self-defense against a government was pertinent. Oh, wait, you can’t ask them, they were killed by their government.

Just look to our south and Venezuela and see what has transpired over the last couple of years. The only people that own the guns in Venezuela right now are the criminals and the government.

Oh, but that could never happen here. If you believe this, you’ve not spent enough time reading and understanding history and mankind to understand that the one constant of man’s history is that there is never any guarantee of stability. There never will be.

I personally think the future of mankind is quite bright, but I do think any future of mankind must be buttressed with a fundamentally important civil right. That is a right of self-defense. That right of self-defense is best guaranteed by my access to firearms. I would go as far to argue that our right to own firearms in the United States actually has a far more positive effect to the potential of the growth of Liberty in the world than anything else.

I’m more than willing to have a mature, grown-up discussion about what we can do to address the causes of mass shootings as I believe there are some that are definable, but admittedly difficult to solve. I will tell you up front there is not one component of that discussion with me that will have anything to do with restrictions on ownership of firearms of any kind, because “shall not be infringed” is crystal clear in my mind.

Fast-forward six days, and one of the things that’s becoming glaringly obvious is that the real thing to blame here was a complete failure of government.

Take the following into account:

Four Broward Deputies Waited Outside School as Children Were Massacred

The four Broward Sheriff’s deputies, including fired High School Resource Officer Scot Peterson, had their pistols drawn from behind the safety of their vehicles, and “not one of them had gone into the school,” according to shocked Coral Springs police.

The Coral Springs officers, meanwhile, entered the building soon after they arrived on scene to confront the shooter, while the four Broward County Sheriff’s deputies remained outside until two more officers arrived on scene along with an officer from neighboring Sunrise city.

BSO

Well, you may be a squad car and a mouse click away, but you’ll get there…eventually. Shocker for you, Israel was elected and is a Democrat. Of course, he was busy blaming the NRA the other night.

And then you have this.

Florida school shooting: Sheriff got 18 calls about Nikolas Cruz’s violence, threats, guns

Broward County deputies received at least 18 calls warning them about Nikolas Cruz from 2008 to 2017, including concerns that he “planned to shoot up the school” and other threats and acts of violence before he was accused of killing 17 people at a high school.

The FBI is desperately busy accusing Russian nationals of buying Facebook ads, but they seemed to have missed something here.

FBI Tipster Transcript Leaked: Cruz Will “Get Into A School And Shoot The Place Up”: Full Text

A person close to Nikolas Cruz, the teenager accused of killing 17 people at a Florida high school on Valentines day, warned the FBI she was concerned Cruz would “get into a school and just shoot the place up,” according to a leaked transcript of her call to the bureau’s tip line one month before the massacre.

“You know, it’s just so much,” said the caller. “I know he’s—he’s going to explode.” The woman said she was making the call because she wanted a “clear conscience if he takes off and, and just starts shooting places up,” according to the transcripts which were reviewed by the Wall Street Journal.

Read that article, if the shooting wasn’t so tragic, the failure would almost be comical.

And last but not least, we could mention the fact that he went through 13 years of public school and apparently never found anyone that attempted to find him the resources he needs. I say we could, because I don’t think that’s completely fair as some kids are incredibly challenging to help for numerous reasons.

But never mind all that, never mind the fact that people who are hired to protect the community didn’t protect anything, this was all the fault of guns, if only we did something about guns…

I’m so sick of incompetent people in government.

One of the things that continues to fascinate me is how bad the US debt really is. It’s not the often reported $20 trillion.

There’s $222 trillion dollars in outstanding liabilities out there when you figure in everything that’s been kept off the books. These included Social inSecurity and Medicare and other such things.

The greatest tragedy of the GOP is we know the Democrats spend like drunken sailors and think that debt and deficits don’t matter.

There’s no more excuses for the GOP. They have control of the House, they have control of the Senate, and they have the Presidency. Day 1 of President Trump’s presidency was the day that the conversation should have been started. Budgets should have been slashed, reform should have been initiated, no matter the electoral consequences. With rare exception, the conversation hasn’t happened.

Now we’re in grave danger, and it grows worse with each passing day. That’s not being overly dramatic. We can’t pay for this. Hell, my son’s generation probably won’t be able to pay for it.

$222 trillion is THREE TIMES THE WORLD’S GDP!!!!!

Only people that suck at math think we can grow (most Republicans) or tax (most Democrats) our way out of this.

The most fascinating thing about human beings is how we can construct our own realities. The reality of the world of math tells us that it’s time to wake up.

This is an interview of Laurence Kotlikoff on RT. (Yeah, I know, it’s RT, get over it. It’s a great interview.) Kotlikoff  is William Warren Fairfield Professor at Boston University.