JS Bach – Spiritual Leader

The violinist was hired to play Christmas music in the atrium of Capella Tower in Minneapolis over lunch, but he clearly felt he could add a personal touch. He placed it up above the crowd where it echoed off the glass and marble, the light hand on a single violin piercing consciousness with the Prelude from Partita #3 by JS Bach.

I walked over slowly, bowed my head, closed my eyes, and allowed myself to be transformed. For a moment I wasn’t there or any place with earthly cares – there was this tremendous sound, the man whose craft propelled it into the air, and myself. When he was done I quietly, almost apologetically said what I could. “Thank you.” It wasn’t enough, but it was all I had. His response, equally respectful of the moment, said more. “My pleasure.”

This was a meeting not between any two people but between the two of us who, I am sure, share a religion. It is a sense of spirituality that comes from the gut strings of a fiddle and echoes not just through marble halls but through our hearts and minds every moment we can allow it. This is a sense of faith in the order of the universe given to both of us, skilled and unskilled, by JS Bach more than 260 years ago.

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Culture War Meets Cyber War

The news broke over the weekend, confirming everyone’s worst fears. The 2016 election of Trump and the Brexit vote were indeed engineered by one firm, Cambridge Analytica, which used millions of facebook profiles to build, then manipulate, psychological profiles of voters ready to be led like sheep.

It’s terrifying. It’s everything George Orwell warned us about. And it may be completely legal.

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Irish Pride

The big party known as St Patrick’s Day is upon us.  Saint Paul, like many cities, more or less shuts down for a day as the town is painted green and flows with rivers of Guinness that wash celebrants down the streets from one bar to another.  The theme of the party is Irish Pride, something that seems like a cheap excuse for a lot of drinking to most people.  The Irish aren’t a people who stand out most of the year, blending in as part of the great majority of our culture here in the US, Canada, Australia, and all the other places we’ve settled.

But it wasn’t always this way.  The reason we still have a party isn’t just a big drunk as we wait for Spring.  Irish Pride was earned the hard way, like fraternity hazing.  It’s a standard that nearly all ethnic groups have had to go through as generations move from being immigrants to mainstream citizens.

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Dynamic, not Chaotic

Our world appears more chaotic by the day. Some people enjoy the chaos, especially those who are looking for cover for their own misdeeds. Others are horrified by it, as they rely on a stable world to manage their vulnerabilities and look after their family.

What has caused this chaos? In a certain sense, it’s globalism. A world closer together is a world with seven billion neighbors and a lot more complex than a small town of 10,000. But globalism, as a concept, is a big word which easily hides important details. It’s a cop-out, a big term that shades more than it illuminates.

I have come to believe that what causes chaos is the move to a genuine market-based world from an industrial world. Attempts at understanding and controlling the world using old industrial models are failing terribly. The move to marketism is not defined by globalism, as it was, but defines globalism and the increasing irrelevance of nations as we know them.

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Order vs. Chaos

This is a repeat from last year.  It’s far too simple and it doesn’t get to the heart of what is changing.  A year has brought some clarity, but I wanted to first present this as a starting point for a discussion this week.

There seems to be some greater conflict in the world, Everyone has a theory as to where the batle lines are drawn – liberal versus conservative, white versus non-white, Muslim versus infidel, young versus old. Not all of these can be right at the same time, which brings to mind two questions:

What is the “real” conflict? And why is it not obvious?

The battle, if there is a real one, is primarily a matter of general anxiety. It’s an internal conflict within many people who have lost a sense of hope for a better tomorrow. But outwardly, it manifests itself into a battle between stability and chaos – a conflict between the preservation of what order exists and a desire to wash it away in order to make way for something, anything else.

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Jobs Are Good!

Good news! The economy added 313k jobs in February!

Like all news, we need some kind of reality check first. Did it really? The long and short of it is that, as always, the ADP employment report is less noisy and thus more accurate. It had a gain of 263k jobs in February, which is probably the right number. Still very good news all around.

But is good news actually bad news? Along with the jobs report we have the increase in wages, which stands at a modest 2.6% over the last year. Does that mean inflation is tamed? We will see what the markets think.

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