The Blues

Ted Lewis was the godfather of British crime fiction—Raymond Chandler, Jim Thomson, and Mario Puzo rolled into a single Brit. There have been plenty of others since, but the entire genre in Britain traces back to Lewis. He’s less well known here in the US than in England, perhaps because English noir is so bound up with the particulars of the landscape, argot, and style. Nevertheless, many Americans will know Mike Hodges’ memorable 1971 film adaptation of Lewis’s 1970 novel “Jack’s Return Home” entitled “Get Carter”, starring Michael Caine (The novel was later re-published in 1990 as “Get Carter to match the movie.”)

Even today, fifty years later, the vicious milieu of Guy Ritchie’s films hearkens directly back to Lewis, much as every movie about the Mafia one way or another must acknowledge Mario Puzo, even if only to reject him.


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Work Like an Egyptian

The Great Pyramids of Giza

Photo courtesy of Ricardo Liberato

I just saw yet another documentary on building the pyramids. Once again, it was the age-old question of how they got all those blocks up there. It’s been a favorite of archaeologist and crackpot alike since the return of the scholars who went to Egypt with Napoleon’s army in 1798. Why people still care, more than 200 years later, is a mystery in its own right because the building of the pyramids presents much more interesting problems, but it is fun to think about if you’ve ever moved anything heavier than a couch. Continue reading “Work Like an Egyptian”


The previous long post about the Bitcoin bubble was already going out of date by the time I spell checked it. I was inspired to write it a week ago when the price was almost $17,000, but by the time I finished it, spell checked it, opened a WordPress account, and posted it, a week had slipped by, and the price had gone up to almost $20,000 and then dropped to it’s current $13,500. It dropped by more than $400 just while I was writing this—what, 20 minutes? It’s December 23 2017 at 2:58 PM.


In an abstract way, I hope it collapses to the ground before even more sheep transfer their hard earned money to whales, but I don’t have a dog in the fight. That must sound mean spirited, given all the people who will get hurt, but every hour it lives, the number increases only increases. It’s mathematically impossible for the total amount of pain to go down or even stay the same. Continue reading “Update”

The Bitcoin Frenzy


A couple of people asked me this week if they should be investing in Bitcoin. I didn’t quite know what to say but I get why they’re asking. The price of a Bitcoin jumped from $1000 to $17,000 this year. It was up almost 20% last week alone. (I wrote that a couple of days ago, and today it’s almost $19,000.) If you Google Bitcoin you’ll see a ton of links celebrating its arrival as a serious investment, telling you how to make millions on it, imploring you to shift your IRA to Bitcoin, (1)

The short safe answer to the question is, if you have to ask someone like me, then don’t do it unless it’s a pure lark—a trip to Vegas. The long explanation is below. Meanwhile, for God’s sake, don’t bet the retirement account.

Continue reading “The Bitcoin Frenzy”