Friday, July 31, 2015
More About Travis McGee
I just finished reading the first 10 of the 21 Travis McGee
novels by John D. MacDonald. The books are extremely interesting from many perspectives.
Do we use phone booths any more? How about making long distance calls within
a state or from state to state? Tracking down information without the Internet was pretty tough back in the 1960s, not
to mention our current capability to search the world's data bases from a smart phone or a tablet computer. The clerks
and massive filing cabinets of the past are mostly gone today. How about the use of reel-to-reel tape recorders for
playing music at home? I don't think we can carry certain items in our hand luggage on airplanes today the same way
it was done in the 1960s.
different are people today than they were almost 50 years ago. Clearly a smaller percentage of people are smoking today
then they did then. Is there less drinking of alcohol now? Did MacDonald's novels reflect the reality of drinking
during that period? I think so but since I don't drink I am not a very good person to make a judgement. Will people talk to a stranger like Travis McGee about the private information
of another person during a phone call if they think the call is legitimate?
How much have people really changed during the past 50 years? These are some of the
questions I ask myself as I read the novels. The world has changed and continues to change but have people really changed.
Do we have more good guys and less bad guys today or the reverse?
It is time to start reading another novel about the adventures of Travis McGee.
Friday, July 24, 2015
Why Return to the Moon?
Various entities within the aerospace industry and the US government
have been advocates for programs that would return manned spaceflight to the moon. Every time I read an article or listen
to an interview on this subject with "experts", I ask myself "What is the motivation of these people?"
Why does the United States government need to return to the moon? Why does nation with huge debts and a declining
long term fiscal outlook need to invest billions of dollars so that a very small number of people can travel from point A
to point B? What more is there to be gained that is fundamentally different from what was learned from the Apollo program
in the late 1960s and early 1970s?
an individual that spent most of his working career in the space business I understand how interesting and challenging the
task is to launch men and material into space to achieve mission objectives. I also understand that aerospace industry
is always looking for new missions so it can get paid well for making projects happen. Why should this mission be a
priority of the US government? I am not against exploring the universe with unmanned probes. I want our nation
to be a leader in science and develop new technology. But what substantive benefit is achieved if the United States
sends men to the moon via rocket systems that are extremely difficult to develop and operate with costs that reflect the difficultly.
If a private company desires to send a man to the moon I have no issue with letting that company develop the technology
that is required. If the goal is to make a profit from the project, no problem, let them attempt to make a profit.
If one searches the Internet you can find videos and web sites where people claim
that the US government has been sending people from the earth to the moon for decades using advanced propulsion systems. Some
people claim that that a space base has been built on the dark side of the moon. I watched a couple of videos last night
where a gentlemen claimed to have been transported by alien spacecraft to the moon for a meeting that included members of
the US military. Was this man lying? Was he delusional? Was he telling the truth? The videos are being
marketed on Facebook! I would rather spend some of our government's money trying to determine how much truth there is
to all the UFO stories rather than build a new transportation system from the earth to the moon based on rocket technology.
We don't need to return to the moon,
Tuesday, July 21, 2015
The Return of Travis McGee
The world has no shortage of interesting topics to keep
every blogger or reporter busy 24 hours per day, seven days a week. The US nuke deal with Iran, the 2016 US Presidential
campaign, the Greek debt bomb, drought in the US west, and refugees and immigrants trying to escape political or economic
repression all over the world are just some of the topics I could write about. Or I could continue to read books about
history, economics and many other interesting topics, add them to my library and comment on them. I decided to do something
45 years ago I bought my first book authored by John D. MacDonald, a noted American writer of novels and short stories who
was active from the late 1940s to the mid 1980s. I selected one of MacDonald's Travis McGee novels as a random purchase.
I totally enjoyed the book and over the next 15 years or so I purchased and read the entire series of 21 Travis McGee
novels. Many were already in print when I started reading the series and I bought each new novel as it was published.
I ended up with 17 paperbacks and 4 hardbacks and have kept them as part of my personal library during all the changes
that have happened during my life. A few weeks ago I decided that I would reread the Travis McGee series in order of
publication, something I never did when was younger, and take a break from real life oriented books.
MacDonald's Travis McGee is a character that leads a life and has
an attitude towards life that are completely different from my own. Maybe that is why I liked the series so much when
I was young and continue to enjoy the books today. Perhaps I attempted to put myself into a character that was about
as far away from what I was in my youth, and what I became as a mature adult, as one could get. It has been very interesting
to reread books written back in the days before personal computers, cell phones, the Internet, GPS and the intrusion of the
information age into our daily lives. The early Travis McGee books also provide a reference point for the massive monetary
inflation that has taken place between the mid 1960s and today through financial discussions that take place in some of the
I am not sure
when I will finish reading all of the Travis McGee series but I expect to finish reading all 21 books later this year. I
plan to take a break from McGee in a couple of weeks and pursue some other topics. And maybe I will write some blogs
about some of the big issues happening in the world. But in the meantime I will continue to enjoy rereading one of the
best series of books ever published. I salute John D. MacDonald for his great works about the life and times of Travis
McGee. Here are the books in the Travis McGee series with copyright dates.
The Deep Blue Good-by - 1964 Reread 2015
Nightmare in Pink - 1964 Reread 2015
A Purple Place for Dying - 1964 Reread 2015
The Quick Red Fox - 1964 Reread 2015
A Deadly Shade of Gold - 1965 Reread 2015
Bright Orange for the Shroud - 1965 Reread 2015
Darker than Amber - 1966 Reread 2015
One Fearful Yellow Eye - 1966 Reread 2015
Pale Gray for Guilt - 1968 Reread 2015
The Girl in the Plain Brown Wrapper - 1968 Reread 2015
Dress Her in Indigo - 1969
The Long Lavender Look - 1970
A Tan and Sandy Silence - 1971
The Scarlet Ruse - 1973
The Turquoise Lament - 1973
The Dreadful Lemon Sky - 1975
The Empty Copper Sea - 1978
The Green Ripper - 1979
Free Fall in Crimson - 1981
Cinnamon Skin - 1982
The Lonely Silver Rain - 1985
A highlight of the summer of 2015 is the return of Travis McGee
to my reading list.
Friday, July 3, 2015
Greece and Puerto Rico
The big economic and financial news this week concerned the inability
of Greece and Puerto Rico to make scheduled payments to their debt holders. Greece and Puerto Rico are very
different situations. Greece is a sovereign nation that is part of the Eurozone. Puerto Rico is a territory of
the United States. There are similarities between these two that we should understand and appreciate.
In both cases the governments and government agencies of these political entities borrowed more money than they could possibly
ever pay back to maintain a standard of living for the people that was artificially high (not derived from the real
earning power of the people in the global economy). Like many individuals, families, political subdivisions (cities,
states), corporations and nations before them, they borrowed money to consume or invest and failed to match the debt
service requirements with the income or revenue needed to service the debt. This is not a new phenomenon.
Nations of the world have gone into debt and failed to pay back their debt from time to time for at least 2000 years.
Since we live in a world that lives minute to minute in a media frenzy these two have been the media darlings of the
past few days.
In the case of Greece
a national economy is at stake. On Sunday the people get to vote on a referendum that will either help
or hurt the Greek government's effort to negotiate the nation's Euro debt and provide additional financing so Greece will
have even more debt that it can't back. The other possibility is that Greece leaves the Euro currency and reestablishes
the drachma as its own currency and crumbles into extreme poverty. A new Greek currency will have little value
in international markets initially. It is possible that the Eurozone will forgive a major portion of Greece's Euro debt
and effectively restructure the nation from a financial perspective. But it appears this is an unlikely outcome.
The bottom line is that prior Greek governments borrowed to much money for the size of the Greek economy and spent the
money in unproductive areas. The time has come for the Greek people to fully accept the impact of its governments prior
People are moaning about austerity
in Greece. Greece will pay the price for its financial stupidity one way or the other, unless the Eurozone decides
to forgive a major portion of the debt, which appears unlikely. There is no outcome that doesn't include more economic
and financial pain for the Greek people. The people the Greeks need to blame are themselves. They elected
the people that made the decisions to borrow the money they can't pay back. The Greek people enjoyed the benefit
of the money when it was spent. Now it is payback time no matter what course is chosen. While the different scenarios
will not result in identical outcomes the ultimate macro impact is the same. The Greek people must accept a lowered
standard of living because of excessive debt they can't service or pay back which is a normal course of events in these
There are about 3.5M
people living on the island of Puerto Rico. The local economy is in a shambles and can't generate anywhere near the
tax revenue necessary to meet the debt service requirements. The Puerto Rican government will have to be allowed
to declare bankruptcy and restructure its debt in some manner. The exact method of doing this is still to be determined.
The bankers that sold all of the Puerto Rican debt and the buyers of the debt deserve some of the blame because
it has been obvious for many years that Puerto Rico was on this path and the Puerto Rican government kept selling
more debt, increasing, not solving the problem. The bottom line appears to be is that debt holders will lose
some of their investment and will extract some measure of pain from the Puerto Rican government for the debt that remains
to be serviced. Exactly how the pain is shared will be determined in the months ahead.
I hope that everyone learning a little about the Greece and Puerto
Rico debt problems understand that when any group spends more then it takes in and borrows to sustain an unaffordable
lifestyle, there is a difficult price to pay when the borrowing and/or money printing ultimately stops. Your standard
of living declines when you can't pay your debts or meet your financial obligations. It is time for all governments,
including the US federal government, to defuse their debt bombs.
Wednesday, July 1, 2015
The Middle East Conflict Updated
I have updated my article, The Middle East Conflict, http://thepurplemuse.com/id4.html,
after reading Ari Shavit's New York Times bestselling 2013 book, My Promised Land - The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel.
The book is extremely well written and explains how the state of Israel developed from its Zionists roots through its 1948
War of Independence to the current day. The book addresses the evolution of Zionism over more than a century since it
has changed direction many times due to world events. Shavit directly addresses Israel's Palestinian and Arab conflicts and pulls no punches in describing Israel's misdeeds.
Shavit also explains the complexity of Israel's society today and its significant problem in governing itself.
I have been fortunate to visit Israel twice on cruise ships in past five years
for a total of five days. I have seen some of the areas that Shavit discusses in his book and discussed some of my thoughts
about my visits on this blog.
expect there to be any long term political solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Israel was initially created
by war, expanded by war, and maintained by war and the threat of war. If you care about the Israel - Palestinian conflict
or the long term future of the state of Israel I suggest you read My Promised Land.