One Upsmanship…

Watching the Olympics has been a blast for me. I am blown away not only by the sheer physical talents but also the demeanor which seems to be almost childlike. Of course Bob Costas wants to attach deep philosophical significance to every move. Personally I like Vince Scully. If someone hits a dramatic home run he just says nothing and lets the roar of the crowd do the talking. In this case let the athletes and adoring parents fill the gaps.

The kids have kids and spouses and significant others. The swells and glitterati seem to be backstage in the Green Room. I hope they don’t get called to the set. The young’uns are doing just fine. Simone Biles at 4’8” is beyond incredible. Beyond her performances is a wonderful character underneath. There is friendship so deep among teammates you just wish you could bottle it. But somehow I don’t think that is our way.

I ruminate often about this thing called competition. We chant USA. USA and that is fine but what about the kid from Peru in lane 8 that no one knows. Maybe she or he has spent endless hours in the pool or gym floor only to come in DFL.( For the uninitiated in sports that is Dead F—ing Last). Is there virtue and consolation in that? It depends on whose eyes you are seeing it through.

Now don’t think I am going soft in my old age. I still love to win a $2 Nassau at golf but I wonder if we have gone over the top. There is such a fine line between all out effort and victory and yet we are so prismed to think the only outcome is winning. If you don’t, you are a loser, plain and simple. Sports, politics, business and perhaps even marriage are a fight for supremacy. The only real competition you don’t want to lose at is war but I still think that is highly overrated.

Pondering further it seems that it is really a struggle between dominant and subjected people. We always want to be the leader, the conquerer. Four of a kind when someone is showing a full house. If you are not the lead dog the view is always the same. We don’t take the victory in stride but want to jam it down the vanquished throat.Akin to the gladiator standing over the fallen hero or animal to the wild huzzahs of the coliseum. Oh baby, am I cool or what? Really?

We do it in even more subtle ways. We hate deficiency or handicap of any sort. Sorry for your malady or loss but it makes me better than you. We will even try to categorize individuals into groups or dare I say stereotypes. All blacks are lazy while I work my ass off. Women? Ha! They should be home, barefoot and pregnant and leave the heavy lifting to us. They have no place in business. A Harvard or Stamford education will beat St Olaf’s every time. Every step of the way I have put you in your place.

Think this is nuts? Think again. If I have the latest Ferrari or Porsche then I am better than you. My big house towers over yours and even if it does not, it has more goodies inside like a full court gym for my kids. Mine is bigger than yours takes on all sorts of new implications. Is it primal or an acquired taste? I dunno. We all want to do well. We all want to use our God given talents. But we always want to keep score somehow even if only mentally.

Is it me or are we blocking out a lot of life’s joy by our obsessions? I think we fret as much about losing as winning. Okay you did not make the shot at the buzzer or you fell off the beam. You missed the three foot putt for a win or you lost a big deal in business. You are apoplectic, depressed,suicidal and self loathing. You kick the dog and break furniture if you or your team loses….and that is in the first hour or so. Over days that loss gets in your gut so bad you become visceral at the thought.

We have become so enamored with outcomes that we totally ignore the process. I am not so foolish to think we don’t undergo pain and the inevitable reruns in our brain as we toss and turn in bed at night. But how did you get up at the plate to start with? There was some sort of selection process where you proved yourself worthy to be considered. If you nuke a five iron over the green don’t curse that you used he wrong club but revel in the fact you hit the crap out of that little white ball.

What if instead of a brief encounter with winning or losing this is your lot by virtue of your place in society? A kid in the barrio or ghetto is forever taught they are less. Women have eternally fought for their place from suffrage to the board room. You don’t speak my language? You are low life Mexican even though you may be from Spain or Costa Rica. All the little things that make me superior and you inferior.Have to feel good about me.

In your eyes you are right and I am wrong. Nice bottle of wine TTG but I have one better in my cellar. Your kid is cute but mine is handsome. Let me tell you how to do things the right way. The only problem is you will never be satisfied. You will be on edge to make sure things are just perfect. People, places and things all have a pecking order and your spot is at the top. You think it is fun. I think it is sad.

Compete but enjoy. I am not espousing participation trophies for all but get a grip. The odds your kid is going to make it into pro sports are slim and none. It doesn’t make them bad. It captures the essence of humanity.
One up? Very rarely is it forever. Life has its twists and turns and that is what makes it a beautiful and beguiling thing.

As always
Ted The Great


Leo Durocher coined the phrase,”Show me a good loser and I will show you a loser”.

Mark Twain said,”We are all perfect. Just at different things”

Jim Carrie,”Behind every great man is a woman rolling her eyes”.

“People who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do.” Isaac Asimov.

‘If you embrace the winner take all philosophy then it makes working with others impossible” Unknown.

“If you score a touchdown don’t showboat. Make it look like you have been there before” Lou Holtz

“I never did say that you can’t be a nice guy and win. I said that if I was playing third base and my mother rounded third with the winning run, I’d trip her up.” Leo Durocher

Defining Space….Ungrateful Bastards

Writer’s Note: I wrote a blog last week but never sent it. Thought it was just one more voice. Rethought my plan and “Ungrateful Bastards” is at the end of “Defining Space” if you dare. Take two,drink heavily and call me in the morning. TTG

It is intriguing that we all go to enormous lengths to protect our own space but as a civilization we want to go to Mars and Jupiter as if it is ours to take. Before going lunar I have to cogitate on how we have become so rabid about space and turf and walls. Be careful who you let in, either physically or emotionally.

These barriers are quite fascinating. Animals have them. One would only have to happen upon a bee hive or bear’s den to understand the concept very quickly. Some might say it harkens back to our survival instinct. Get’em before they get you. No crossbreeding lest the species be vulnerable to a fatal mutant something. In so doing, we say we are doing just what comes naturally.

Are we beings that are just meant to merely coexist or is interaction really the ultimate goal of a good life? I got to thinking about this on the Fourth. It is good to note that the forefathers were perfectly happy to be independent as long as you were white,male,heterosexual, Protestant and of means. Not trying to be unpatriotic just stating the facts maa’m.

Evolution is the growth and adaptation to one’s environment. Times change and so do we. In the early years we made blacks 2/3 of a person and then a whole human being, eventually gave women suffrage, accepted Mediterraneans and even made it okay to be Asian after World War II. Some might consider that flexibility over time and others may think we are control freaks. We give in but only under duress.

As a whole we crave constancy. Unpredictability or ambiguity are really disconcerting. They make us feel uncomfortable and cranky. I like my eggs done a certain way every day at the appointed hour. Routines and my type of people make the world a comfortable warm and fuzzy place. Inherent in this is you better see things my way. Diversity? Not in my world. One side says Kumbaya and the other says f__k ‘em. Tough finding middle ground there.

Our sentiment seems to be towards the abrasive. Not everyone is a Trumper but think about it. We protect our homes with fences and locks. We don’t want our schools test scores to be brought down by admitting dumb kids because you will then find only dumb teachers that want to be employed there. We want to gentrify poor neighborhoods because that’s where there is money to be made but please don’t ruin our neighborhood by moving here. Why should I pay for screwups like floods, hurricanes and forest fires? Do what you want but leave me alone.

We want state’s rights and for the most part abhor the federal government but when it comes to the USA,we are of course #1. China wants to build Battery Park Cities in the South China Sea and Putin thinks Europe should have SSR after every nation. We have Brexit, Fraxit, and Italexit. I think we should make public urination lawful because after all that is how all animals stake out their territory.

Maybe competition is the real villain? We embrace the soccer match, bull fight or Daytona 400. There has to be winners and losers. I understand. The CAV’s have reincarnated a whole city and made Cleveland worthy again.Was that tantamount to their existence? Aah, the fighting spirit. It’s beyond “mine is bigger than yours”. People can seek improvement for a variety of reasons. But when we take it to the extremes with makeovers and facelifts and we are defined by what we have and not who we are have we really lost it?

In 71years I have seen arms races and space races. The US was in a state of depression when the Russian Sputnik was the first thing in space in 1957. That spurred us to hit the gas and we surpassed the Hammer and Sickle over time. That created incredible breakthroughs in technology. Unfortunately it also gave us rocket capability to launch ICBMs with doomsday results. There were offsetting balances then but not now the North Koreans and whom knows who has the keys to the kingdom. Competition can be great if it is healthy but we don’t always have the luxury of sanity.

Getting back to that unease thing if we are constantly keeping score there is always going to be someone with more or less. Why does it matter? If we are comfortable in our own skin we don’t have to prove anything to anybody. That goes for the rich as well as the poor. I want to get better but I also have a pretty good idea of what my limitations are. Hubris and egotism sour the broth.

I think it comes down to not your or my space but OUR space. If we are so wrought up in our own designs we will never find a way out. Jews, Muslims, Catholics, Brits, Africans, Asians, Whites, Blacks Hispanics, North and South. We all feel that we are not respected unless we shake a fist or cut each other off in cultural and global road rage. Think about the incidents that go on every day? I am not sure if people want clout or just an equal seat at the table. I guess we perceive that one must precede the other and therein lies the rub. Might is right.

We can say this whole space thing comes back to survival. Maybe it does in more ways than one. Let’s try this. We should do what’s necessary for us and our own. Ownership not stewardship will be our creed. It is a lot simpler if I don’t have to reach out to you. We will never understand each other. Good luck with whatever happens to you. I can see your pain but I don’t have to feel it. Sorry. It’s just the way the ball bounces. That’s fine but it doesn’t sound like a plan for survival but rather one for extinction.

As always
Ted The Great


Multiculturalism definition. The view that the various cultures in a society merit equal respect and scholarly interest. It became a significant force in American society in the 1970s and 1980s as African-Americans, Latinos, and other ethnic groups explored their own history.

Nationalism definition is the belief that your own country is better than all others. Sometimes nationalism makes people not want to work with other countries to solve shared problems.Patriotism is a healthy love of country

Largest Homes in United States:
Asheville NC 175,000 sf George W Vanderbilt
Sagaponack,NY 110,000 sf Ira Rennet
Sands Point,NY 100,000 sf Jay Gould
Windermere, FL 88,198 sf David Siegel (Under Construction)

The smallest house on the San Francisco market, coming in at 363 square feet in the Mission District, sold recently for over its asking price.Landing on the market in March at $495,000, the hidden home at 444 14th Street sold for $550,000.

Small House you can order Escape Traveler
Size: 269 square feet (160-square-foot and 319-square-foot models are also available)
Cost: $66,600 (base price)

Guttenburg NJ .densest city in the US 57,116. people per sq mile

Least dense states…Alaska 1.3 people per sq mile, Wyoming 6 per and Montana 7.1 Now that is space.

Ungrateful Bastards….

The unpredictable cobra of democracy has recoiled its ugly head. The Brits left their future up to their fellow countrymen last week and it was not a pretty sight. Amazing what happens when you have an “either or” referendum. There is no such thing as a win win situation. The victor in this case takes all. In the aftermath invective is hurled and everyone has a reason why it happened and why they missed all the warning signs.

Our world is chock a block with theories and their attendant “experts.”
We crave predicability and prognosticating. It seems no matter the analyst or chartist whatever is happening in our world has been seen dozens if not hundreds of times before and we know just how to make it work. Being a practitioner of off the wall thinking I take offense to two things. The mere possibility of someone exercising their free will which may run counter to mine is exciting in a purely intellectual way. The second is the concept of elitism.

With reference to the latter I am not talking the 1% financially but rather a cadre of the cognoscenti that says just shut up and let me do the thinking. I was watching an interview with writer/psychologist Andrew Solomon and he said in a most arrogant way he liked talking to articulate people. Bully for you but the implication was that he had no use whatsoever for the unwashed masses. Here is a man who admits his bouts with depression. I think I can give him some causality.

Economics is a wonderful field of study. Sooner or later the practitioners turn out to be right. It may be a matter of years or decades but they are quick to point out we don’t look enough at the broader term and bigger picture.

My former classmate Roger Altman took them to task in the WSJ this week. At this point all the sages said we would be at an interest rate of 3-4% Oil would have a range of somewhere between $150 as a high and the absolute floor would be $85-90 per barrel. The IMF predicted a 3% growth rate worldwide. Brazil and Russia would be the leading economies in this decade. Never have so many been so wrong. He ascribed the complexity to money looking for a home. There is currently $75 trillion under management looking for the next latest and greatest investment. They love’em and leave’em. And for the most part you and I are left holding the bag for money on the move.

Now you will say this is capitalism at its best and you may be right. Reenter the 1%. We have to look for efficiencies and profit margins. The obligation to give our investors ROI can heal a multitude of guilt for laying waste to burghs and nations that are no longer profitable. Find the cheapest place to get things done and tell the governments they better pony up the incentives to keep you there…until the next political group opens the kimono a little further. Nice knowing you.

Jilted lovers feel the burn…no play on words. The town of Boston, England is one of the most vivid examples. This seaside center of shipping has existed for centuries, both physically and culturally. It also has become home to Poles, Latvians and Lithuanians who have immigrated to GB. There was a promise to the locals that they would see increased commerce and prosperity by opening their arms.

They came in droves but rather than assimilating they kept to themselves. They opened food stores that were ethnic in nature and entire neighborhoods were taken over. The foreign population is at about 15%. I am not saying that immigration is not healthy for a rapidly aging demographic. They will provide the taxes to support the pensioners and welfare states but that logic does not always get through. How do you think they voted?

It is actually one of the real paradoxes of Britain but it can be applicable in our own U S of A. The city of London has for centuries been a melting pot as those in the far flung British Empire have come to work there from India, South Africa and the like. They never ventured forth to the countryside because there was no real work there. Today overcrowding and overpricing in the urban core has caused the newcomers to seek their fortunes in the rural regions. Ergo, the rub.

Jump across the pond and the same drama is being played out on Long Island, New Jersey and Connecticut in the New York metropolitan area. Go to Miami, Phoenix and even Alabama and Tennessee. They are carpetbaggers and interlopers to the locals. Economics be damned. They sense they have not gained ground but lost it. And they are probably right.

Last week a good friend chastised me for presenting problems but not solutions. Guilty as charged. Simply put, we don’t have the ability to find solutions. Those would require us not dealing in our own self interest but in the common good from our politicians to the titans of industry to the common man. Sound too lofty? Think about it.

In DC the politicians know we need tax reform, heavy lifting on our infrastructure and deep cuts to our entitlement programs. Tough decisions aren’t going to sit well with the electorate and it would probably cost them their jobs. They look at politics as a growth industry not a time of service.

On the corporate side the pay for the top is obscene. I am not opting for a redistribution of wealth or socialism but a little discretion. What I am saying is a common sense approach to compensation at higher levels and a “sharing of the wealth.” Do you see this happening?

On the worker bee side there has to be dose of reality. Much of the economic woe is a result of downsizing and relocation. But also a great part of it is in what one considers a decent life. Housing, transportation and over all cost of living can be looked at as a necessity or as a symbol of success that one has made it.

All of the above require realism and a dedication to our fellow man and woman. Think not me, but us. To my friend I say therein lies the solution. For now we are all Ungrateful Bastards and that is our Achilles Heel and ultimate downfall. Too bad.

As always
Ted The Great

There are no facts just theory.


This whole thing with ISIS has got me thinking. I O’Ded watching talk shows that I have taped starting with my favorite, Charlie Rose. I wanted to hear from a bunch of different perspectives that were calm and deliberative rather than the nightly insanity of obscene tours of terrorists apartments and inane interviews with the neighbors.

Whether you were for it or against it this thing started with the invasion of Irag in 2003. Osama and his band of Al Quaedas were holed up in Tora Bora while we went hell bent for leather towards Baghdad. When we arrived Louis Paul Bremer III was our man in charge. He was a decent diplomat but hardly a top flight manager. The first thing he did was fire 300,000 of Sadam’s soldiers. Seems on the surface to make sense but the absurdity was these guys were making about $200 a month. For $6 million a month we could at least keep them under a watchful eye.

They became the Genesis of ISIS. They were trained, had a command structure and did not exactly turn in all their weapons upon departure….and most of all were out of a job. Unemployment being what it was they literally had nothing to do. Now some enterprising radicals approached them with a better idea. And they were off to the races. Slowly at first but picking up steam. It is a theme for ISIS recruitment today. They go to the unemployed and disenfranchised and promise them notoriety under the guise of religion. You can be something. We will even let you rape women and chop off heads to boot. What’s not to like?

So we started off with a good idea and it blew up in our face. Please don’t go on about whether we left too early or all we need is a little more time. Somehow it seems if ten years and $2 trillion couldn’t do the trick then I think we have to cut bait. Worse is the fact that I don’t think we really thought through what a power vacuum would be created and their idea of democracy was not really simpatico with ours. Outcomes became nightmares.

Let’s get off wars and get to something more fun. The Internet. It happened almost by accident. People wanted to send messages in a simple way and the rest is history. As it grew exponentially we graduated from laptops to smartphone to tablets and we were all connected electronically. Very cool. But wait a minute nobody told me that my life would be subjected to scrutiny, sexting, parsing by major companies and of course Lord Snowden blowing the whistle on the NSA.

This marvel of media or shall we say social networking had an incredible capacity to let little known people become famous. You could publish a book, musical composition or even a manifesto on line without the hassle of corporate America. But wait, you mean you can steal downloads of music and movies without paying for them? You can reach millions just by Facebook or Twitter? Damn, if I am a radical or malcontent I now have a voice. Hmm, I don’t think we thought of that.

I love to hack around but I never thought my life would be invaded by what you call hackers. These guys can steal your identity, trade secrets, access to our power grids and even the Department of Defense. Was that really in the cards at the onset? Why weren’t some of these geniuses really thinking ,”What hath God wrought?” There is always tomorrow.
Back in 1965 we put in a little thing called Medicare. It was supposed to ensure that old people would not go without medical help. No one was living that long so it seemed like a palatable and even cheap solution to a problem. Now the government figured for Part A hospital expenses in 1990 would come in at $9 billion. It was actually $67 billion. For physician services the number today was to be $500 million. Sadly the actual number is $168.3 billion.

It actually gets worse. Many of the medical advancements today are the result of government funding in a round about way. It never argued about high priced procedures and exorbitant drugs. The bigger and better, the more we paid. Now these treatments helped people have a longer if not questionably a better quality of life. We were discovering new and better ways to prolong life for a mere 3-6 months at the cost of Who cares? That sounds harsh but it is a dilemma that only grows more complex by the year. We may someday have to pay this bill in full and nobody will know how we got here. You know ,”The guy behind me is paying.”

Nobody could have foreseen these things but the real question is should they have? The Industrial Revolution put millions of people to work and created a financial bonanza that has lasted over 150 years. Now that we have developed our ways of life around a manufacturing society how do we make the transition to a technological society? Should somebody have thought that through or was it even possible? I think when we look at these things they evolved through that marvelous thing called man’s ingenuity and creativity. It just seems to me now that we are traveling at such a warp speed we may just go off the cliff without even knowing it.
Nobody has a faster hair trigger than me. I can take an idea and run with it without carefully considering the consequences. Don’t bug me with naysaying and pragmatism, I am on a mission. I am an innovator. And that is where the practical has to come into play as much as I hate to admit it. We should develop the ability to temper both. Yin and Yang. If it was 500 years ago it would not be so complex.Today? Oi Vey. Somebody should turn the music down so we can at least take a break at this party. You are right. That is an outcome that will probably never happen. Hey, I tried.

As always
Ted The Great.


Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been one of the most debated fields of science. Simply put we are trying to endow a machine with all the attributes of the human mind. The most difficult part has been ethics,empathy and sensitivity. It is projected that by 2050 AI will enable a machine to be smarter than man. Thank God I don’t think i will be around for the outcome.

Space travel and its science has created a wonderful array of products from freeze dried foods. memory foam mattresses, cochlear implants,water purification, solar cells. Unfortunately contrary to common belief it was not responsible for Tang, Velcro, nor Teflon

Robotics is simply the use of machines to perform human tasks. There have been usages in physical therapy by helping people with missing limbs to walk. The self driving car can be considered one. Ditto drones. The development of robots in every aspect of our life has created the reduction in the manual workforce manyfold. Some jobs will never exist again.

Good ideas with bad outcomes.”The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry”.(idiomatic) A proverbial expression used to signify the futility of making detailed plans when the ability to fully or even partially execute them is uncertain. I concur.

New Year’s Special

New Year’s Special

Dr. Jekyll…Mr. Hyde


I am really lost so I decided to write to all of you. I know I said once a week but this is keeping me up at night.  I have a personality disorder. I don’t know who I am. I am hexed, vexed, perplexed. Please help me.

There is this deep divide on who I want to be. Yin and Yang. Republican or Democrat. Liberal or Conservative. Let’s take a few of the burning issues on the horizon this year. Let me tell you both sides.

First and foremost is healthcare. The humanitarian side of me says no one in this great country should be without. We have technology and staff in every major city and burg. If someone is dying or in incredible danger we should reach out our hand, no matter what. Insured or not.

But wait. The sheer numbers make it impossible. We will have a $23 trillion unfunded liability in Medicare alone. Medicine and treatment at its current rate will bankrupt our country. People go out and abuse their bodies in so many ways. Death defying tricks. Overeating. Overdrinking. Overdosing. And then they come to the hospital’s door and say “heal me”. And they can’t or won’t pay. They won’t take positive steps to improve their life. This does not seem right.

Immigration. You sneak in and start raising your family here. You faced destitution and maybe starvation in the old country. You walked across miles of desolation to get here. You work hard. You will do anything. You live in hovels. But it is so much better than where you came from.

But there are people who have been waiting years. They have played by the rules. They are productive under visas. They go through the paces we have set up. They are many times well educated and well financed. They pay their way. They are not a burden on society. They are a plus. But they wait.

My religion tells me to do unto others. Be God fearing. Love one another. But my religion also tells me it is the one true religion. It is the way the truth and the life. It is the only way to heaven. Everyone else is wrong.

Your religion says the Messiah hasn’t come. Or yours says that Muhammed is the true prophet. How about Buddhism? Hinduism? Am I really supposed to tell a good Muslim or Buddhist that he isn’t going to make it? Even though he might be a much better person than me.

Foreign Relations. We are the world’s most powerful country. We are the supercop. We want to proselytize democracy throughout the world. We want to make it a better place for both humanitarian as well as strategic reasons. We spend billions in foreign aid and yet many of those countries despise us or laugh behind our backs.

Maybe we should spend those billions on our homeland? Our roads? Our schools? Our hungry and bereft? Developing technologies. How many countries have furthered their own interests while we are trying to bring peace to the world?

Maybe you have all the answers. Maybe you know how to solve our deficit without raising taxes on anyone and just maintaining even 2008 spending levels. Maybe you can vote in lockstep with the ideological bent of your party without giving a thought to the other side’s position. Here’s to you if you can.

I can’t. I will have to seek a middle ground that may necessitate me compromising  but not necessarily sacrificing my long held principles. I won’t do so in a huff. I won’t glare you down. I will just say that maybe we all have a say. Maybe we are all a little right. Maybe I will just listen.

I guess I will have to learn to live with both the good doctor and Mr. Hyde. Maybe they are both a part of me and deep down a part of all of us. I really can’t go hard left or hard right. It’s just not in me. Can you say with absolute certainty it is in you?

As always

Pondering the Imponderables

Ted  The Great