THE NAME GAME

Word Association in a Land of Confusion.

the name game

“The people’s silence is a tyrant’s greatest advocate. The less captives talked, the less they knew; the less they knew, the more they feared; and the more they feared, the more easily others could manipulate them to their own ends, the more easily the captives could be controlled.”

― John Kramer, Blythe

The socio-economic, geopolitical field is dominated by billionaires and multi-millionaires who have used their wealth and influence to seize power over the common man. Having reached the limits of control in their modern Game of Kings, these leaders of men will stop at nothing to further their goals and remain in power. The right person in power will lead a nation to prosperity, just as the wrong one will destroy all that is great. In 2016, the people spoke up and banded together to place a Washington outsider in office to ‘drain the swamp’ and take back power for the people. Since the upset against the liberal left in 2016, President Donald J. Trump has been working hard to undo the damage done by prior administrations.  The result has been lower taxes,  higher wages, the lowest unemployment  levels in decades, and unprecedented job creation.  His reward from the vocal minority has been constant criticism and insults.  The man has been doing a phenomenal job and being called every name in the book by confused fools who do not comprehend  that what he’s doing is for the good of the nation.

There are many different ways to control people, but perhaps the most insidious method is by confusion.   The less educated and intelligent a person is, the easier it is to be manipulated.  First off there is a difference between education and intelligence.

Education is the process of receiving or giving systematic instruction, especially at a school or university.
Intelligence is the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills.

Our entire life is a learning experience, and knowledge doesn’t end at formal education. There are also various life skills and things that are not taught in school that one must acquire throughout one’s life in order to be successful and happy.  Unfortunately not every person is born a genius. Likewise there are few true morons born, and a vast number of average intellects. Public education attempts to mainstream and provide an average education of approved material. So the knowledge that is being disseminated to students is approved by a committee school board, and these board members are elected. As more and more leftists have taken over schools both as educators, and school board members, what has been being taught in school has changed drastically. The common core method of mathematics teaching is an abysmal mess that has produced a generation that can’t do basic math without a calculator.

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“The Feeling of Power” is a science fiction short story by American writer Isaac Asimov. The story first appeared in the February 1958 issue of If: Worlds of Science Fiction. Although written over sixty years ago, this is a chilling cautionary tale of the distant future humans who live in a computer-aided society and have forgotten the fundamentals of mathematics, including even the rudimentary skill of counting.  A similar work of fiction “The Marching Morons” is a science fiction story by American writer Cyril M. Kornbluth, originally published in Galaxy in April 1951. In this tale, a present day man awakes from suspended animation to discover the world is 99.9% populated by morons, and the few smart people are trying to keep things running.  This second tale of the great dumbing down of society was the basis for the movie Idiocracy (2006).

Children are the future of society, and this is why every tyrant from Hilter to Kim Jong Un has focused on educating and indoctrinating the lest wise members of society so they can be better controlled. Liberals in the USA have been covertly using this same principal of brainwashing by subtlety changing words and confusing arguments. It’s all a power play to determine who’s  minding you   in a nanny state that has stripped you of freedom by tricking you into giving it away. The exceptions are NOT the rule.

The USA is the longest lasting Constitutional Republic in the history of the world. It is NOT a direct democracy, because direct democracies do not last, and fall victim to mob rule.

Democrats want to amend the  Constitution to eliminate the 2nd Amendment,  because they believe guns are dangerous, and you really don’t need one. Instead of focusing on mass shootings, they advocate gun control. If you ban guns, only criminals own guns. The 2nd Amendment protects the rest. Since most gun crimes are perpetrated by Democrats, perhaps we should bar Democrats from owning guns?

The 1st Amendment guarantees freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Democrats really hate this one.  Whenever you disagree with them, the label it ‘hate speech’, call you a fascist, or a racist bigot. You can’t argue with liberals because they are convinced that they are right, and nothing you say will change their minds. Christianity is the backbone on American society, and liberals want it muzzled at all costs. They label passages in the Bible as hate speech for condemning homosexuality and abortion. Both are sins, and God hates sin. All sin. The Bible only contains truth. It is 100% free from error and the most successful and content people read it daily.

There is a constant stream of FAKE NEWS broadcast by left-leaning liberal media. It applies not only to the content of newscasts, but also popular  TV shows and movies which have taking on a stronger and stronger anti-conservative bias.  There was no Russian collusion, yet the liberal media continues to broadcast editorial opinions disguised as fact to further confuse viewers. They want to examine every word, and now every pause in a sentence. Yet they still find nothing while screaming the same narrative.

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Recently the left-leaning ‘fact check’ site Snopes came up with a new definition of truth,  the “factually inaccurate but morally right” fact check result for claims they don’t want to debunk because they coincide with Snopes editors’ worldview. First whose morals?

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Atheists do not understand Christianity, and morals are not the same as ethics.  You can’t change the definition of a word to fit a narrative and call it truth. Lies are still lies. Morals are absolutes based on Biblical scripture, whereas ethics are situational and based on accepted societal norms and laws. This is why abortion is such a hot topic.  It’s not unethical because   it’s not illegal, but it is totally immoral despite being legal.  The fact that it was legalized to begin with is based on bad science and lies. Women were told it wasn’t a baby, it was a blob of tissue. It wasn’t a person. It wasn’t alive. It’s an IT not a he or she.

Only Christians understand Christianity. It comes from Bible study. You can’t take words out of context, and change meanings to fit your narrative.When you hear people swapping out one term for another and changing the conversation mid-topic, beware. When you try to explain a question they ask you, and talk over your answer, they do not want to hear your response. Liberalism is a mental disorder. You can’t confuse someone with facts. If they are a confused person , no fact in the world will make sense to them. The Bible has some sound advice for arguing with fools.

  • Proverbs 23:9 – Do not speak to a fool, for he will despise the wisdom of your words.

  • Proverbs 26:4- Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him.

  • Proverbs 29:9- If a wise man goes to court with a fool, there will be raving and laughing with no resolution  

  • Matthew 7:6- Do not give dogs what is holy; do not throw your pearls before swine. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.

Electing Donald J. Trump was the first step towards healing our lend. When America blesses God, God will bless America, land of the free, because of the brave. InstantCoffeeWisdom .com will return in June. Happy Memorial Day Weekend and as always, I wish you success and happiness!

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Who’s Minding the Food?

Junkfood junkies!

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“Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what’s for lunch.” ― Orson Welles

The Standard American Diet is about 2,200 calories per day, with 50% of calories from carbohydrates, 15% protein, and 35% fat. It is very different from those of our forefathers.  

Since the start of the industrial revolution, the everyday lifestyle of mankind has changed in many ways.  When the United States was founded in 1776, the vast majority of its citizens lived in an agrarian society. We farmed and grew our own food, or worked for those that did. Once industry took hold, and large cities began to spring up, we shifted to a largely metropolitan society. In 1870, almost 50 percent of the U.S. population was employed in agriculture, today it is less than 2%. Farming is neither glamorous, nor easy. 

This shift has resulted in a two-fold negative lifestyle impact on the people in our nation:

One – We must buy processed and preserved food from supermarkets.

Two– We no longer endure the physical labor needed to burn off the calories in the food we eat.

“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”– words of Jesus Christ from  Matthew 7:9-11 NIV

We in the USA may take it for granted because our nation has never known long-term widespread famine, or food shortages, but food is perhaps the greatest way to control a country. Laws ,economics, and education  may restrict your life in a myriad of ways, but cut off your food and water long enough and you’ll die. Poison the food supply, and you slowly sicken, weaken and given enough time, kill the people who eat it.  All food is made of up to three components: Fats, proteins, and carbohydrates (carbs for short).  Carbohydrates are just the scientific word for sugar, and comes in two forms, complex and simple. Simple carbohydrates are made up of just one or two sugar molecules. As such, it doesn’t take much for your body to break them down and absorb them (as glucose) into the bloodstream. For this reason, simple carbohydrates raise blood sugar much faster and usually higher than complex carbohydrates.

According to a study printed in The BMJ (formally called The British Medical Journal) in an average American diet,  about 57.9% of the daily caloric intake of about 2200 kcals is coming from ultra-processed foods, 9.4% from processed foods, 2.9% from processed culinary ingredients. Only a mere  29.6% (less than a third) of our food intake is from unprocessed or minimally processed foods.

There are more than 38,000 processed food products on grocery shelves in the US. This includes the so-called ultra -processed foods which accounts for 90% of the added sugar in the Standard American Diet .  Additionally the majority of these items contain chemical additives, dyes, and preservatives that are unhealthy to say the least. High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) often takes the place of refined sugar, but is far worse. The human body can’t process this artificial sugar made by converting starch into fructose. HFCS has been added to many products to ‘make them taste better’. Whenever you see ‘new improved’ on a box, automatically think added sugars and fat. Any calories you consume that you don’t burn off daily are stored in your body as fat.

 The Standard American Diet is SAD indeed.

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Feed The World?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock your entire life, it should come as no surprise to you that billionaires (and to a lesser extent multi-millionaires) control the world. They are the modern day equivalents of kings, and world domination is a game of kings. As such, these contemporary would-be rulers reign over almost every aspect of our lives. They may not officially own the country, but they do control either the food supply, or the distribution chains for it. (I’m not even going to get into restaurant chains. Americans may be eating-out more than ever, but restaurants are still just a luxury, not a necessity.)

Of the 38,000 processed foods on the shelves in food stores, more often than not we go for a trusted name-brand. All of the major supermarket chains have an in-house brand that’s comparable or sometimes superior to the national brand. They may even have similar packaging and be placed side-by-side on the shelf.  Many of these knock-offs or, no-frills alternatives are manufactured by the same exact factories as the recognized brand.  All of the official brands in the world are owned by just ten corporations as shown in this infographic from Oxfam.   

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Additionally most supermarkets stock all major brands. There are few exceptions such as the Trader Joe chain which stocks nearly 95% of their store brand instead. Trader Joe is an American company which specializes in organic health foods.  Their groceries are top-notch, and cost a few pennies more. You get what you pay for. The top-selling supermarket company in the world is Kroger.

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Top 10 Supermarket Companies in 2018

(Sales in billions)

  • The Kroger Co., $105.10
  • Albertsons, $57.39
  • Royal Ahold Delhaize USA, $43.20
  • Publix Super Markets, $34.56
  • Aldi, $25.86
  • H-E-B Grocery, $21.94
  • Neighborhood Market/Marketside (Walmart), $17.04
  • Wakefen/ShopRite, $16.30
  • Whole Foods Market (Amazon), $15.40
  • Southeastern Grocers, $10.63

We are what we eat!

There are countless diet cooks, cook books, and health books in print and on line, yet two out of three Americans are overweight.  This is senseless!  Food is necessary for life, but not everything we are able to eat is good for us. Sometimes it’s a matter of the ingredients, other times it is portion size. The times of day and the frequency of which we eat can also play a part. Some people eat to live while others live to eat. Of all the addictions in the world, food addiction is the worst because you need to eat to live. Junkfood may taste wonderful, but all things in moderation. The quality of life of a morbidly obese person is far diminished from that of a person leading a healthy, active lifestyle. The bottom line is that health is far more important than wealth if you want to live a successful and happy life.   No one can force you the eat healthier, that decision rest sole with you. As always I wish you success and happiness!

Who’s Minding The Market?

Is the game rigged?

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‘The key to success is to focus our conscious mind on things we desire not things we fear.’ —Brian Tracy

You’ve probably heard the old cliché ‘the rich get richer while the poor stay poor (or get poorer)’. Although this truism  is often used by the media as a way of stirring up class warfare, it would be more accurate to say, ‘you get what you pay for.’  Success expert and motivational speaker Brain Tracy often remarks that the real reason people are poor is because they haven’t decided to be rich. The truth hurts, but facts are facts. Facts may offend, but facts are incontrovertible, transcendent of whomever says them. Rich people didn’t get rich by making poor people poor, for the most part, they did it by fearlessly investing their money somewhere. 

Knowledge is power

There is a lot of fake news out there, and our society has never been more plugged in and connected. Unfortunately there is a big difference between reading something and understanding it. Not every bit of information being relayed to you is for your benefit. Some information like advertising contains subliminal messages to entice you to purchase their product. Is that flashy new model automobile really that much better than the car you own, or than the dozen other advertisements from other car companies all of which claim to be the best and most reliable on the road? At the end of the day, you can only drive as fast as the posted speed limit, and few people are impressed by your car for very long, if ever. A 17-year old Hyundai Accent that still runs will get you to work just as fast as a brand new one.

Subliminal messages appear in just about every piece of information presented to you. It is a hidden suggestion in the content intended to sway your opinion to their side of the issue.  Someone is pulling your strings, and you won’t even know it unless you learn to read between the lines.  The poor are exploited by the rich because the rich have power, and the poor lack it.

Money is power

Financial freedom is one example of power that the rich have. When you have enough money, you can do anything and go anywhere.  With the possible exception of the nouveau riche, all rich and successful people invest in the stock market. Poor people do not invest in the stock market for a variety of reasons.

  • The most overused excuse is that they lack money. The reality is that they waste money on junk.
  • The next excuse is that they don’t want to lose their money. The reality is your money is gone the moment you spend it on any consumable item. Try getting your money back for the pack of cigarettes you smoked.
  • Stocks are very expensive.  Amazon may sell in excess of $1860 a share, but there are literally thousands of ‘penny stocks’ that cost less than a pack of smokes or even a can of soda.
  • They don’t understand it. That is a valid excuse. A fool and their money are soon parted. However, it is a limitation which can be easily overcome by study and time. Leaders are readers!

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“It’s my own desire

It’s my own remorse

Help me to decide

Help me make the most Of freedom and of pleasure

Nothing ever lasts forever

Everybody wants to rule the world.”   – song Everybody wants to rule the world by Tears for Fears (1985)

Power is power

The rich have knowledge, money, and power. This allows them to control various aspects of our lives.  Some rich people like President Donald J. Trump root for the common man and want every citizen to achieve whatever goals and dreams they aspire to. Others like Bernie Sanders want to control every aspect of our lives from cradle to grave. To warped frustrated old men like Sanders, we are not people, we are cattle. Unfortunately many young mush-heads believe the socialist garbage being spooned down their throats. America is a great nation because of Christianity and capitalism.  No nation on Earth is perfect, but the USA is the greatest bastion of freedom, liberty, and opportunity in the world, and there are powerful men that are working hard to change that. The current generation, known as millennials, are the first generation born in the USA not to be richer than their parents.  They were duped and manipulated by misinformation, fake news, liberal teachers, and mass media.

Is the stock market being gamed?

All media outlets are ultimately owned  by the rich, and they can use these media outlets to influence the thoughts and behaviors of the masses.  If a financial expert on a top news program  suddenly proclaims that the bull market is nearly over, some people panic and sell their shares because the price drops. A short while later, the stock rebounds to new heights. Not only has the skittish investor  lost on their initial investment, but they also missed out on potential gains had they held on to their shares.  An important book to read on this topic is Unshakeable by Tony Robbins. It is impossible to ‘time the market’ and a wise investor knows that bull markets are around long, and bear markets only last a short while. The key is to stay the course. The market is not rigged, but there is some level of manipulation being used against unseasoned investors to exploit their fears. As Warren Buffet would say, ‘when everyone’s selling, he’s buying’.

Facebook Stock is currently trading at $178.28 as of  April 18th 2019. The 52 week high was $218.62 and the low was $123.02. If you panicked and sold it at $123, you would have missed a nearly 50% gain. If you sold at $218, you could have locked in any gains you made, and reinvested it at a later time buying something else, or buying shares at the current $178 price in the hopes of future gains. If you had bought Facebook in 2012 at its IPO of $38, you would have made out like a bandit in either case. Imagine how the people feel who sold their shares a week after the IPO when the stock plunged to about $26 per share and so-called experts were calling it a bad investment! Better yet, imagine if you had brought AMAZON in 1997 for its IPO at a mere $18 a share. A $10,000 investment in that company alone would have made you a millionaire today.  What you hear about a company on the news may cause you to panic and sell at the wrong time, or encourage you to buy at the wrong time, or worse yet never even buy at all. Past performance is no indication of future performance.

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Inside, OUT!

You may have heard of Insider trading, where sensitive information about a company is clandestinely shared with an individual so that they can gain an advantage over the average investor. This is against the law, MOSTLY. There are exceptions to this rule for certain people, and possibly even ways to theoretically circumvent the laws if you are rich and powerful.

What exactly is insider trading? In order for a person to be considered an ‘insider’ they need to have either a 10% stake in that company, or access to valuable, non-public information about that company.  CEOs, presidents, vice-presidents, and board members  are all considered insiders.  In order to LEGALLY trade on shares  IF YOU ARE AN INSIDER,  these transactions must be properly registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and are done with advance filings. It is also illegal to share insider information to protect friends and family members who might own stock in that company.  That’s what happened to Martha Stewart in 2001 when she found out  her friend’s company ImClone’s new cancer drug was being rejected by the FDA, and she suddenly sold all her shares days before the official announcement.   Attempting to save $250,000 landed her in jail. Illegal is still illegal even if you don’t like the law. Had she just waited until news of the rejection of the new drug was publicly aired, she might have taken a little or no loss, avoided jail, and would have been able to write off any losses as a tax credit. Greed can get you in trouble fast.

The bottom line

You will never be able to spend your way into prosperity. The only way to get rich quick is to do it slowly. Rich people run the world, and they got rich because they made the proper choices, took risks, and invested their money. They earned their money the old fashioned way, they worked for it. The good news is that opportunity exists everywhere if you are willing to look for it, and do the work. As always, I wish you success and happiness!

Is It Legit?

Beware ‘professional ‘ beggars.

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He who is generous will be blessed, For he gives some of his food to the poor. Proverbs 22:9

The United States of America is the wealthiest nation in the history of the world, and  more charitable donations per capita flow from the US than from other nations.  As a country we are blessed with both the largest percentages of Christians and millionaires. These two groups donate more money to charities than any other according to numerous reports. Because of this abundance of wealth, there are numerous scam artists who prey upon the charity and good will of the generous by flipping the script to take advantage.

Earlier this year, you may have heard this heartwarming story in the national news media about this poor woman who was trying to make it home,  but her car broke down when it ran out of gas on I-95 outside of Philly. A homeless vet gave her $20, enabling her to get the much needed petrol for her car. In gratitude, her and her boyfriend befriended the man and set up an online GoFundMe donation account to help this wonderful homeless veteran. As the story went viral, donations poured in and the account grew to more than $400,000. A wonderful story.

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Except that’s all it was, a story. The entire account was a fiction, and all three parties were involved in the scam. The vet was indeed homeless, but the couple Mark D’Amico and Kate McClure, conspired with homeless man Johnny Bobbitt  and solicited his help as the face of their campaign. The plan backfired when the amounts received from good-hearted donors spiraled out of control. Greed over the size of the split of the ill-gotten gains is what ultimately undid the trio. Bobbit felt all the money belonged to him, as he was really homeless. Mastermind Mark D’Amico believed Bobbit was only entitled to a portion of the money, so Johnny Bobbitt got a lawyer and sued.  As a result of the legal action and the resulting media attention on the high-profile case, the elaborate plot unraveled and all three were jailed and charged with theft by deception. GoFundMe has agreed to refund the donations collected.  

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“There are eight million stories in the naked city. This has been one of them.”

The Naked City was a TV crime drama broadcast  from 1959-1963 and based on a 1948 film of the same name. Each episode ended with the iconic line about the eight million stories, a reference to the location, set in New York City, and implying that everyone has a story to tell. As I stated before, the USA is the land of plenty, and we do have homeless and poor, but no one staves in this country except by choice, or by malice. There has never been a famine our country, but there are many stupid people who make bad decisions and then want to blame others for their misfortune, or at least make them feel bad.  It reminds me of a biblical account of a famine in ancient Samaria found in the second book of Kings.  

2 Kings 6:26-30

26 As the king of Israel was passing by on the wall, a woman cried to him, “Help me, my lord the king!”

27 The king replied, “If the Lord does not help you, where can I get help for you? From the threshing floor? From the winepress?” 28 Then he asked her, “What’s the matter?”

She answered, “This woman said to me, ‘Give up your son so we may eat him today, and tomorrow we’ll eat my son.’ 29 So we cooked my son and ate him. The next day I said to her, ‘Give up your son so we may eat him,’ but she had hidden him.”

30 When the king heard the woman’s words, he tore his robes. As he went along the wall, the people looked, and they saw that, under his robes, he had sackcloth on his body.

That’s a pretty terrible tale, but it points out poor decision skills, taking advantage of both stupidity and of wealth, and while you feel sympathetic for the victims there are some people that just can’t be helped. It’s not totally clear exactly what type of help the woman is soliciting, but it is implied that she is seeking justice against the woman who scammed her.

Jesus said we will always have the poor among us. I’m not into the so-called ‘Prosperity Gospel’ which preaches that God wants us to be rich and successful, because by becoming wealthy we are in a much better position to help others.  There is some truth in this logic, but remember that even the Devil can quote scripture and twist it’s meaning to suit his purposes. There’s a scam out there for every legitimate cause, and they prey upon your sympathy.  A ‘church by mail’ called Saint Mathews Churches of Tulsa OK is one such scam that sends out mailings splattered with scriptures and religious iconography promising great blessings in return for ‘seed offerings’.  Some televangelists also fall into this category.

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Sometimes it’s hard to separate ‘the wheat from the chaff’. Sometimes it’s impossible, so don’t feel bad if you gave in error to a fake one. Live and learn, and move on.  Good people want to help others, and every organization needs SOME funding for its own overhead.  Some organizations are just ‘squeaky wheels’ that exist to cry for donations while little of the funds reach their intended targets.  I’m a firm believer in supporting LOCAL organizations. The best nation-wide charities like The Salvation Army  https://www.salvationarmyusa.org   or Toys For Tots   https://www.toysfortots.org  can get by on a minimal razor-thin operating budget and have LOCAL offices that cater to the LOCAL community. 

If you have any concerns about a charity, you can see how they rank up to similar charities by using the https://www.charitynavigator.org/  website. Charity Navigator is the largest and most-utilized evaluator of charities in the United States providing data on 1.8 million nonprofits.  

This doesn’t mean that every need has an accredited 501-c charity that exists to back it. Sometimes, legitimate needs do ‘pop-up’ unexpectedly, due to tragedy or stupidity, or both. Many of these hard luck cases turn to GoFundMe.com  There are many true needs out there that need to be met, but like the couple and the vet who scammed over  $400,000 some of these ‘needs’ might be fake. Whenever you donate money, never donate more than you can afford to, never feel bad if you have to say ‘no’, and never, ever, EVER donate money if you feel like you are being FORCED to give. Extortion is just as illegal as theft by deception. I have heard of people who used GoFundMe to raise funds for funerals, medical expenses, and because they lost their home in a fire. I once even donated money to a homeless Superman impersonator who had been mugged, had his teeth knocked out, and was robbed of his cape and super-suit. I have also heard of  people who used   GoFundME because they felt they were entitled to lots of money for their upcoming birthday, or who needed rent money because ‘they just didn’t have it’.  Sometimes bad things happen to good people. Sometimes people are just stupid and make bad decisions.  All things come from God and you are the steward  of the riches He has bestowed upon you. How you choose to distribute from your bounty is a matter of your heart, and only God can judge you because He knows the truth behind ever human heart. As always, I wish you success and happiness.  

At Face Value!

Even a penny is a treasure!

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One of my earliest memories of my father involved him giving me a small metal treasure chest filled with old coins. In actuality, this was a just a metal coin bank, but unlike the usually piggy bank shape, this one was shaped like a stereotypical pirate chest one might see in an old movie, or in an illustration from a book on pirates. Although I was quite young at the time, I do remember three things about the incident.

The first thing was that my father originally told me a tall tale about finding the treasure chest buried in the yard by pirates. Not quite the right thing to say to a young impressionable boy with a vivid imagination. My first impulse was to grab a shovel and start trying to dig up the yard in search of more buried pirate booty. Upon realizing his mistake, retrieving the shovel and re-filling the holes in the back yard, my father confessed to making up the whimsical pirate story in jest to have a bit of fun at my expense. A kid will believe anything, they’re too young to know any better.

After a long explanation that pirates like Long John Silver and Blackbeard were not part of the modern world,  the second thing I remember was being delighted that the coins all looked different from contemporary money. I was old enough to know the difference between pennies, nickels, dimes, dimes, quarters, half-dollar, and dollar coins. A lot of the coins were from the 1800’s. This was my father’s coin collection, and he wanted me to have it to encourage an interest in both saving and collecting money. This is something which has stuck with me my whole life. A year or so later, my father died suddenly as a result of kidney failure.

The third thing I remember about the treasure chest of coins was that sometime after the death of first my father, and then my step father, my mother sold the coins to a dealer without my knowledge. It’s not like I looked at them every day, and we had to move quite a bit after she sold the house. Things ‘out of sight’ were always said to be ‘packed away in storage’ until I forgot about them. My mother only understood two things about money, she could spend it, and she never had as much as she’d like.

Bringing home the bacon.   

The origin of the piggy bank is disputed by different sources. Some say  that early coin jars in the middle ages were made of a type of clay called pygg. This word sounded like pig, and an English potter mistakenly created a pig-shaped bank when someone asked for a pygg money jar. There is little evidence to support this widely believed myth.  What is known is that sometime about 1900, the first modern Piggy Banks were sold in the USA, and they cost 25¢. Billed as a new novelty, these early clay banks didn’t have the removable stopper on the bottom of the bank. If you wanted to remove the coins, you had to smash the bank, or kill the pig, so to speak. Even to this day, whenever I empty my coin jar and take a bunch of wrapped coins to the bank, I say to the back teller that I killed the piggy bank.

I never quite understood the charm of a piggy bank, or of giving them to children to teach about saving. A coin jar works much better. It’s my humble opinion that parents who encouraged children to save money in piggy banks did so because young children have a nasty habit of putting everything they can grab into their mouth.  By making a game of putting the penny in the piggy bank, it helped keep the coins out of the mouths of babes. Of course, I may be mistaken, but that’s the nature of opinions.

The next time I became excited about coins and money was 1976, the USA bicentennial.  There was a lot of hoopla concerning our great nation reaching its second century. Tall ships sailed into NYC, there were extra fireworks around the 4th of July, a lot of patriotic symbols on all kinds of novelties could be had. And the money changed.  The  quarters, half-dollars, and dollar coins all had a special bicentennial obverse and a double date. Likewise, after a ten year absence, $2 bills were reintroduced with a bicentennial themed back depicting the signing of the Declaration of Independence. I had never seen a $2 bill. My mother was very excited. That was when I suddenly remembered about the long-unseen treasure chest of coins, which I then asked for, only to be told that that was ‘lost in the move’. As a consolation, I was given several specimens of all the new bicentennial money, including several $2 bills. I’ve had a love of $2 bills ever since.  I even have some Canadian $2 bills, both the obsolete paper money and the two loonie or toonie coin. Canada stopped printing $1 and $2 paper money back in 1986. Canadian dollar coins have a loon (a common Canadian waterfowl) on the obverse. They were nicknamed loonies. Some Canadians even started referring to piggy banks as loonie bins. In the late 1980’s Playtoy Industries of Toronto Canada manufactured a Giant Loonie Bank. Sadly, according to a recent news article, Canada says that currency which is no longer being printed will cease to be legal tender in the near future, and will become worthless paper.

looniebin2

This takes us back to collecting coins and money in general. For the most part, money is the one collectible item that always retains its face value.  The USA considers all US currency to be legal tender. If you take a 1937 ‘Mercury Dime’ to your bank, you can deposit it into your account as 10¢. Once a bank gets a hold of old money, it takes it out of circulation never to be seen again. If you took it to a coin collector instead, you’d get more than face value. The silver content alone is worth more than a dime.  To collectors, the condition of the money and its rarity give added value beyond that of the face value. I save all kinds of old money. Some of it is for sentimental reasons, like my $2 bills. Others like my Indian Head pennies are rare. Some coins I have paid slightly above face value to get an entire set in ‘uncirculated’ condition. To collectors, uncirculated coins and collector proof sets command high value. The US Mint sells these collector proof sets for way above face value. The 2018 proof set has ten coins all bearing the ‘S’ mint mark from San Francisco with a frosted, sculptured foreground set against a mirror-like field. You get the five America the Beautiful Quarters, the Native American $1 coin, Kennedy Half-dollar, Roosevelt dime, Jefferson nickel, and Lincoln penny.  Face value, it adds up to $2.91. The US Mint sells it for $27.95 +S/h.   To me, it’s not worth the extra $25.04 for super-shiny, uncirculated coins. Some people buy these  proof sets every year for their children and grandchildren.  I’m not saying that they won’t increase in value among collectors, just that they only are worth face value if you spend them.  I can’t tell you the exact number of times some teenager came in to the convenience store I worked at back in the day with a horde of old coins. In my mind, I just knew that someone had raided grandpa’s coin collection, but the money was legal tender, and I was simply speculating on how it was obtained.  I would buy out the rare monies once they left, replacing the antiquities with contemporary counterparts from my wallet.   

I’m probably never going to cash in my coin and paper money collection, but it is a comfort to know that if something terrible were to happen, I could at least spend it for face value even if I couldn’t locate another interested collector willing to obtain the collection for a premium.     

“Loose Change” AKA “Penny Song”

Lyrics by Andrew Peterson

I’d give you all of me to know what you were thinking

And if I had one wish I’d wish I wasn’t sinking here

Drowning in this well, oh can’t you tell?

I can’t pick myself up off the ground,

Well I’ve been face down and pushed aside.

Well you know I’d rather just turn tail and run

than lie here in the sun and watch you pass me by

Cause I ain’t worth a dime.

(yeah yeah, oh yeah) Yeah, yeah (yeah yeah)

But If only I could stand up straight, I wouldn’t have to lie and wait,

I could up and roll away, never be ignored

I’ve got a feeling that I’m something more

than just a piece of copper ore, turning green and looking for

The reason I was born.

I’ve been around since 1964, in banks and bottom drawers

And on railroad ties. I’ve been passed around and cast aside

Skipped and flipped and flattened wide, Spun around

And thrown away and left alone to lie

But If only I could stand up straight, I wouldn’t have to lie and wait,

I could up and roll away, never be ignored

I’ve got a feeling that I’m something more

than just a piece of copper ore, turning green and looking for

The reason I was born.

(yeah yeah, oh yeah) Yeah, yeah (yeah yeah) na na na na na

But I heard about a penny found, lying underneath the couch

By a woman who was kneeling down, looking for some change.

Then the woman danced around and called her friends all over town

Told them what was lost is found, it’s another penny saved.

And so I find that all this time beneath the surface I could shine

Like all the gold a king and queen could measure

You see even a penny is a treasure

(yeah yeah, oh yeah) Yeah, yeah (yeah yeah) na na na na na

The 1987 movie Throw Mama From The Train stars Danny DeVito  and Billy Chrystal as Owen and Larry. Middle-aged Owen lives at home with his overbearing mother. He seems like he might be a little slow.  Larry is his writing teacher at the adult continuing education program he attends. There’s a scene that is genuinely emotionally touching  when Owen wants to show Larry his coin collection. Larry doesn’t want to see the coins, but Owen makes him feel bad when he says he’s never shown them to anyone before.  Owen slowly pulls out coins saying “This one is a nickel. And this is one is also a nickel. And here’s a quarter, and another quarter, and a penny.” Larry is annoyed at this, as the coins are all seemingly contemporary currency, and not worth anything more than face value. Owen then proceeds to explain how each coin is special to him because they were the change his Dad gave him during various father-son trips.  It’s a collection of coins from change his dad gave him, and that’s where their value lies.

Although the original coin collection my father gave to me is long gone, the special memory of the gift remains. Like any successful person who faces a setback, I started over, and in time I slowly began to amass a new collection of coins.  As my financial situation improved, I started adding things like old paper money, silver certificates, foreign coins, uncirculated coins, you name it. At face value, my collection is worth thousands. To a collector, it’s worth even more. As far as I’m concerned, it’s priceless, and not for sale. Someday, I too hope to pass my collection to my son, when I finally have a  son. Hopefully he will be able to keep it longer than I did my father’s. In either case, you can’t take it with you when you go, and a good man provides for his children, and his children’s children. Money is nice to have, but the memories we make with our loved ones are worth more than all the gold in Fort Knox. As always, I wish you success and happiness!   

Gone Phishing?

Beware of Cyber Scams.

gone phishing

Back when I was a young boy and living with my aunt and uncle in Woodhaven, I remember this one day when my late uncle John got very excited because of a letter he received in the mail. It was from Publishers Clearing House informing him that he was in the top 5 to be entered in a drawing for $500,000! He happily showed the letter to my Aunt Arleen, who promptly grabbed it and proceeded to quickly tear it into little pieces. My uncle was devastated.   

It amused me greatly. At 13 years old, even I knew that the letter was a scam designed to entice ignorant people into subscribing to magazines in the hopes of winning that big cash prize. The one that some ‘lucky winner’ was guaranteed to receive. I could never fathom how some people could be so gullible as to fall for such things. Unfortunately the elderly are the ones who  fall for such scams quite often.

Not born yesterday.

You may have heard the sad tale of Richard Overton, the oldest man in America and a World War II vet who at 112 years old had his entire bank account drained by thieves who managed to use his social security number to gain access to his bank account in June 2018.

Newsflash! Your bank is NOT going to call YOU on the phone and ask YOU to verify YOUR information.  Even in the event that YOU call your financial institute for some reason or other, they only usually ask  for the last four digits and your date of birth if they ask at all. Yet time and again, people fall for such scams.  The number of scams that exist today is so extensive that entire books have been written on the subjects of cyber crimes, phishing, and identity theft.

You’ve got a friend in Nigeria!

One of the most well known internet scams involves receiving an e-mail from the relative of a member of a royal family who was murdered during a civil war somewhere in Africa. This person will cut you in for a percentage of their vast wealth IF you can help them recover their inheritance by sending them a little now money to help them accomplish this task.  Over six billion people live on this planet, and this person you’ve never heard of in a country you’ve never been to has sent you an e-mail asking for help? Does this make any sense at all? It’s hard to believe that people can be that stupid, yet for years that scam circulated from one e-mail account to another and  dumb people fell for it over and over.

Anyone e-mailing you asking for money, pretending to be in trouble, or informing you that you’ve won some fantastic prize or lottery and need to send a ‘processing fee’ is trying to scam you.  

How do you spell that again?

Another popular scam involved either misspelled website addresses, or using the wrong domain extension at the end of a web address to confuse people into visiting a bogus website and thinking it was legit.  Back in the early days of the internet, the default extension for a website domain was ‘.com’ but there were others, such as ‘.net’, ‘.org’ and ‘.gov’ which some people were unfamiliar with when the home computer boom took off in the early 1990’s. Scammers used to buy up domain names to create fake sites that seemed legit. One early fake site started in 1997 was whitehouse.com,  the real site is whitehouse.gov  with the extension .gov used by government agencies in the USA in place of the popular .com. The fake site used to redirect clueless victims to a porn site. Today whitehouse.com is an anti-Trump site,  protesting everything that’s good about the USA including our president.

Today there are over 1000 top-level domains (TLDs) for internet addresses, covering everything from ‘.abb’ to ‘.zw’.       

A popular trap that many people fell into was visiting these seemingly legitimate sites that were in no away affiliated with the real site.  Take the American post office for example. There are people looking for jobs, or  maybe there are people that have moved and want to change their mailing address. There are scam sites that pretend to be the United States Postal Service that are totally bogus and will charge exorbitant  fees for both of these simple procedures. The REAL website is http://www.USPS.com and they charge $1.05 to change your address. Employment and the required exam are BOTH FREE.

 Your computer is infected!

There’s nothing more alarming than having a pop-up window open telling you your computer is infected with a million viruses and that the ONLY way to fix this is to BUY this antivirus NOW from this site.  Malware and ransomware  will destroy your computer if you fall for this scam, and you’ll probably need to cancel your credit card if you were foolish enough to type it in and purchase this ‘cure’. I know of at least one former friend whose know-it-all teenage son fell for this.

Your mystery date is waiting.

I’m sorry, but from what I’ve seen internet dating sites are bad ideas to be avoided altogether whether they are scams or legit. Even the REAL sites are polluted with fake profiles, so why bother.  

In summary, there’s many ways to fool yourself into believing pie in the sky claims, but in the end pipe dreams are just that.   There’s an old adage, “if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.” You shouldn’t have to be reminded of this fact over and over again. As always, I wish you happiness and success!