The Spirit of Scientific Inquiry

"Did the earth move for you too?" 

That was what the ladies of Aiken asked each other on Saturday morning.

"What a night it must have been," we said to no one in particular. 

Friday was St. Valentine's Day. In the evening, the restaurant at the Willcox Hotel, in Aiken, South Carolina (where we had been holed up during the recent snowstorms) was full of couples dining … recalling when they first met … their first date … their first kiss … their first, well … 

Candles lit the tables. Eyes gazed into misty eyes. Hands held hands. The old coals of love, gone gray and chilly with time, were raked … stoked … fanned …  At first, it must have seemed hopeless to some of the geezers in the room. After so many years, the cinders were so lifeless – as cold as a corpse. But lo … soft words … soft hands and soft liquor can work miracles. Soon, the sparks were flying … the coals glowing … and even bursting into flame.


Except for the couple next to us. The man couldn't seem to get fully into the spirit of St. Valentine. He was holding back … perhaps protecting himself from the wounds of true love … perhaps just checking his Amazon short position. In any case, his hand held not the warm appendage of his blond companion, but an iPhone. He regarded it fondly … as though it meant something to him … while his paramour grew impatient and then, sullen. 

An attractive woman walked into the room. The blond's eyes narrowed. After the meal was finished … the bottles of Ruffino or Stag's Leap drunk to the last drop … perhaps followed by an Irish coffee or a bowl of ice cream … it was time to leave. The love-warmed couples retired to their rooms. Soon after, the earth shook … 

"Did you feel it," the guests asked each other at breakfast. "Oh yes, honey … the bed shook … the window panes … even the chandelier. The most exciting St. Valentine's I've ever had." 

When we first heard this we were amazed. We had never heard people speak so openly of their private love bouts. It seemed like much too intimate a matter for public conversation. But then we were raised an Episcopalian. We've always been astonished by what Baptists and Lutherans will say to one another. As for Roman Catholics – ooh la la. 

"It was 4.4 on the Richter Scale," said one guest. This was even more astonishing. It was the first time we had ever heard of measuring the intensity of an orgasm with a seismometer! But what the heck. The spirit of scientific inquiry – like the NSA – reaches into the bedroom as into everywhere else, we guess. 


What Money Can't Buy

US markets were closed on Monday in honor of dead presidents. Like every other nation, Americans remember their scoundrels and forget their saints.

But that is the way the world works, and who are we to argue with it? Because yesterday was a holiday, we have no market moves to report. We spent the day coming back from South Carolina, and ruminating on St. Valentine's Day …

We turned to Elizabeth to suggest an idea: 

"After a certain point, it really doesn't matter how much money you have. It won't change your life in any way. You don't need a bigger house or a fancier car. It really is the things that money can't buy that matter most. "Speaking for myself, I would be happier with much less. Really, all I want is a cozy house with a big fireplace … a good chainsaw … and a fertile vegetable garden." 

Still, people always want to have more – your editor included. Maybe it makes us feel more secure. More likely, it's just a way of keeping score in life. And we want to win. It's an instinct closely related to Valentine's Day.

"What is the ultimate, most fundamental form of winning," we asked Elizabeth. "Gaining wealth? Winning the love of others? Status? Power? Or simply reproducing?" 

Marco Polo, traveling in what is today the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh found a man who had it all: 


“The king possesses great treasures. And wears upon his person a great store of valuable jewelry. This king has some 300 wives; in those parts the man who has the most wives is most thought of.”


But what does the poor man do on St. Valentine's Day?



The above article is from Diary of a Rogue Economist originally written for Bonner & Partners.

Bill Bonner founded Agora, Inc in 1978. It has since grown into one of the largest independent newsletter publishing companies in the world. He has also written three New York Times bestselling books, Financial Reckoning Day, Empire of Debt and Mobs, Messiahs and Markets.





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