Friday, July 13, 2018


She wanted to try turning off the security program to see if that eliminated the problem.  She found that turning off the security required a special password. Now what was that password, anyhow?  Well, she keeps a list of passwords in the safe. Now what was the combination for the safe?

We are a sort of life forms that need food, shelter and clothing, plus water, air, and amusements but even when those are supplied, we age.  Enough aging and we die. That's not a very secure situation. Take care of yourself and you won't die for a while - probably. Well, unless you get hit by a bus.  Or, a bull. Or, a bullet. Or, the wrong bacterium.

Seems like the best we can do is take some basic precautions but not overdo it.  I read about WWII German forces being slowed down by their need to destroy extensive files that had been created for security and back-up purposes.  A famous seeker of security is Hamlet:

To be, or not to be: that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing end them?

Hamlet, Act III, Scene I [To be, or not to be] by William Shakespeare ...

What is Hamlet saying in his To Be or Not To Be soliloquy?

Hamlet is basically contemplating suicide on and off throughout his soliloquies. In this soliloquy, he compares death to a little sleep, which he thinks wouldn't be so bad. ... Of course, we'd escape a lot by being dead, like being spurned in love. This is that whole "slings and arrows" bit is all about.

Albert Camus (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

"There is only one really serious philosophical problem," Camus says, "and that is suicide. Deciding whether or not life is worth living is to answer the fundamental question in philosophy. All other questions follow from that" (MS, 3). One might object that suicide is neither a "problem" nor a "question," but an act.Oct 27, 2011

Most people would rather not commit suicide just to reach a secure state.  It is better to seek a balance between secure, secure, locked-up, barred, guarded security and careless hanging the safe combination and the security password on the office wall.

Thursday, July 12, 2018


The first church, Sunday school and summer Bible school I can remember was the First Baptist Church of Pimlico, Baltimore.  Later, my family attended the First Unitarian Church of Baltimore. I have attended Lutheran services with my wife many times.  When she became a Quaker, I attended their Meeting. Most of the time, I don't currently have anything to do with churches, organized religion, and any other type.

However, the annual Society of Friends (formal name of the Quakers) Gathering can be fun and instructive and inspirational.  Our friend Judy once drove with us from the Minneapolis airport to Tacoma, Washington for Friends General Conference. This year, it was held on the spacious campus of the University of Toledo.  Not being much of a church person, I chose Gail Thomas's Psalms workshop and I am very glad I did.

This is a picture of our classroom.  It probably doesn't look like a holy place but at times, it is.

There were several times when reading or commenting, one or more of us would feel emotions strong enough to interfere a little with speaking.  One of the lovely passages in the Psalms is

Psalm 139:13-14 New International Version (NIV)

13 For you created my inmost being;

   you knit me together in my mother's womb.

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

   your works are wonderful,

   I know that full well.

It is wonderful, no?  We were knitted together in our mothers' wombs and we are wonderfully and fearfully made. And that was just the beginning.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Mindfulness and a little update

Here is what I wrote about mindfulness five years ago:

Mindfulness everywhere

What is mindfulness, anyway?  Discussions often equate being mindful with being aware.  When you think about it, most everybody is aware of SOMETHING all the time.  Does that mean that most everybody is mindful? No, because the quality meant is something like a second order of awareness.  Not the first level, the road that I am driving on, not the blog post I am writing but more of an awareness of my own mind, what it's doing, what it's feeling while I am driving or writing.

Doubters, scholars, investigators are likely to mentally step behind assertions to ask "Where did this assertion come from?"  Who is the author of this statement? I can think of that sort of source awareness as a form of attention being paid to the background or motives or contributing influences of a statement or source of information.  The Mindfulness Revolution is about similar awareness of and attention to the background of one's mind, one's thoughts and feelings as they occur.

The best known methods for increasing one's awareness of one's own mind are meditation practices.  Focused attention on a given anchor is the crux of most modern, popular methods for increasing one's mindful attention to what a person is doing with her own mind.  Intending to keep one's attention on a given resting point is involved in the practices of many religions. Once I commit myself to five or ten minutes of steady attention to something to look at or listen to or attend to such as my own breathing, I have a way of noting when my attention has slipped off my intended focus.  When I note that my attention has slipped, I bring it back to my focus. As Jack Kornfield notes, the actions and steps involved are very much like house-training a puppy. Keep bringing my attention back, over and over, and pretty soon, I notice more immediately when it has slipped.

The most developed practices, the most extensive discussions and writings about developing and using mindfulness are associated with the Buddhist religion.  But, as Jacob Needleman shows in "Lost Christianity" and the writings of many Sufis and Jewish mystics show, practices that increase one's awareness of what one is doing with one's attention, have been an important part of the practice of many religions, especially among the more devoted adherents and followers.  The idea was probably Hindu before it was anywhere else.

Nowadays, the practice of increasing one's sensitivity to one's own mental workings is being shown to matter in virtually every field of human endeavor.  From medicine/nursing/healing to police training to improving student performance, mindfulness training is everywhere.


Here is a little updating to that post:

It can be helpful for moderns interested in using their minds better to practice 5-10 minutes of steady concentration on a given target, visual or their breath.  Everytime one notices one's attention has slipped from the target, calmly return to the target, the intended focus. Do that daily and notice in a couple of weeks more awareness of what is on the mind.  Better judgment about whether the mind is being used as desired.

It can also be a help to realize that no one can be aware of everything.  There is too much. Movement in the peripheral vision attracts our attention but these days, we don't have to be quite so alert to predators.  No matter what, we can't attend to everything, in the mind or out of it.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Table crashes and joy

I am a fan of the tv show "3rd Rock from the Sun".  It is a comedy that is imaginative in my view, even when it is silly and not too funny.  Four aliens are sent to Earth to learn about life here and report back to the leader , "the Big Giant Head".  The characters, earthlings and aliens, are exaggerated but clever.

Last night we watched episode 22 in the 4th season. The only woman, the out-of-it guy and the teen (actually the eldest of the crew but required for their mission to be a teen in a teen body) go out to a restaurant.  The host wants to sit them at a different table but they want their usual one. While they argue, a huge chandelier crashes the usual table, destroying it and its chairs. This sheds instant light for our group on what we would call "mortality" and the appreciation of life.  Suddenly, they grasp the value of being alive, of having each other. They can see the beauty in a paper clip and in just seeing and hearing at all.

John Lithgow plays the main character and his character cannot stand to miss out on anything, especially when he sees the others are transported by the charms of this life.  His speciality is becoming obnoxious rapidly and he does, while fretting over what he can't seem to see or feel about a paper clip and anything else he is already "familiar" with.

This morning, I got my first look at "The Book of Joy", a NY Times bestseller by the Dalai Lama, Bishop Tutu and Douglas Abrams.  It was recommended by Susan Hopkins in the Quaker workshop on the Psalms. The Chinese-American Google engineer Chade-Meng Tan has a book called "Joy on Demand" and it is about just that: how to feel real joy whenever you want.  

Episode 22 of season 4 shows that you will do better if you relax and if you don't expect to be in a state of joy all the time.  Generalized joy is great, but so is getting the dusting done and the grass cut. So is commiserating with your friend who has suffered a serious loss.  Was it Jesus who advised moderation in all things?

Monday, July 9, 2018

Fwd: Significant Digits For Monday, July 9, 2018

I should get something more original written sometime today.  Bill

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: FiveThirtyEight Newsletter <>
Date: Mon, Jul 9, 2018 at 9:50 AM
Subject: Significant Digits For Monday, July 9, 2018

18,632 state employees

A FiveThirtyEight email

Monday, July 9, 2018


You're reading Significant Digits, a daily digest of the numbers tucked inside the news.

18,632 state employees

Turkey fired over 18,000 state employees — including teachers, academics, police officers and members of the military — and canceled their passports, for "alleged links to terrorism groups." The country has been in a state of emergency since a coup attempt in July 2016. [Associated Press]

29,000 homes and businesses

Tens of thousands of homes and businesses in the Los Angeles area were without power as of Sunday following a triple-digit heatwave. It takes a lot of energy to keep people cool, and peak megawatt usage there surpassed the power department's estimates. [Los Angeles Times]

$650 a night

New Yorkers brag about their efficiency with regard to at least two things: leaving the city for the weekend and spending money. These two skills can now be efficiently combined with glamping (that is, glamor camping) which is now available on Governors Island in New York Harbor. It's between $220 and $650 per night, there's a bar, foam mattresses, "Turkish towels," birdsong fills the air, the views are great and it's all without a doubt nicer than my apartment, which is, you know, indoors. [The New York Times]

1 year old

A 1-year-old boy, occasionally asking for "agua," appeared before a Phoenix immigration judge, where he was asked whether he understood the proceedings. That child, from Honduras, is one of hundreds of children who must be reunited with their parents after the Trump administration separated them from their parents while crossing the border. [Associated Press]

100 volts

Since at least the days of of Darwin, we've known that spiders could fly, miles up and hundreds of miles away. They don't have wings, but they can thrust out strands of silk and float away. It was thought that their silk caught the wind, like a kite. But, in fact, it seems that spiders take advantage of Earth's electric field — spiders can sense it and the air can be charged with as little as about 100 volts, which launches them. To recap: Spiders, flying hundreds of miles, fueled by the high voltage of thunderstorms. Got it. Sweet dreams. [The Atlantic]

69 percent

According to University of Chicago researchers, owning an iPhone is the most reliable indicator of whether someone is rich. "Across all years in our data, no individual brand is as predictive of being high-income as owning an Apple iPhone in 2016," they wrote. Previous brands that occupied this dubious role were Land O' Lakes butter in 2004, and Grey Poupon Dijon in 1992. Pardon me, do you have any iPhone? [Gizmodo]

If you see a significant digit in the wild, please send it to @ollie.

The Morning Story


How The World Cup Semifinalists Match Up

Read more



Thursday, June 28, 2018

Audience size

I realize the number of followers, fans, supporters, readers, listeners matters.  When we look at YouTube videos and see that a given person has 100 followers and someone else has 1 million, of course that means the two people are quite different. Most people involved with large audiences of one kind or another are professionals whose livelihood or a large part of it comes from their work with audiences.  

I have had distance education classes on television that can reach large audiences.  Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) can include 20,000 students or more. Similarly, books can be purchased by small numbers of buyers or by millions.  

I am writing to advocate for the idea that it can be helpful to ignore audience size.  When I had large online classes, I invited students nearby to come to the classroom during the scheduled class time if they wanted to.  Since all the materials for learning were online, few did. However, once in a while a student would show up in person, sometimes out of curiosity and sometimes out of academic need.  With one or two students, I could get very specific about their knowledge, their questions, their reactions to the class.

I know that many people feel very challenged by speaking to a group and that means that preparing a talk for a presentation is often a scary job.  Putting one's heart into a presentation, working carefully on every sentence and every slide is likely to make the creator happy if a large crowd shows up.  However, the way life works, one listener, one note-taker, one student or audience member who takes what is said seriously can make a world of difference.

It can be depressing to be an instructor.  I taught in college for 37 years and I had many students during that time.  Some watched canned lessons from tape or DVD. I never saw them. There are times when someone says,"I had you as an instructor."  Since I taught a wide range of classes, I ask, "What course did you take?" About half the time, the student, now decades older, can't remember.  They can't remember what they learned from me.

Maybe I did them some good and maybe I didn't.  Neither of us can remember every instance where my teaching helped.  We can't ever remember what my teaching was about. So, I advocate for delivering the best material possible and not worrying about audience size.  You never know who is going to really benefit or when.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Pain Science

This week's New Yorker has an article "The Neuroscience of Pain" by Nicola Twilley.  It focuses on the British scientist Irene Tracey's work on getting an objective measure of pain and what could happen if such a measure were to be obtained.  Brain imaging offers some hope of better understanding pain. Part of the problem is that pain seems to be located in several parts of the brain, not just one.  Another part is that attitude, anticipation and other mental states have a strong influence on one's experience of pain.

The article touches on people who cannot feel pain and their plight:

While in Oxford, I met one of her frequent collaborators, the neurobiologist David Bennett, whose research involves patients who, because of rare genetic mutations, cannot feel pain. "You might wonder, Why are humans born with this system where they have to feel pain?" Bennett said. "And these patients give you the answer to that very quickly, because not feeling pain is a health disaster." Often, he told me, such people die young.

Bennett said that patients of his have chewed off the tips of their own tongues and scratched their corneas. They suffer hearing loss from untreated ear infections, unwittingly rest their hands on hot surfaces, and walk on broken legs, which leaves their limbs deformed. In an evolutionary context, Bennett explained, it makes sense that we are built in anticipation of pain: we are soft, and the world is a dangerous place. Undergoing an extremely unpleasant response to harm helps us avoid further injury in the moment and teaches us to reduce its likelihood in the future.

When I suffered attacks of painful diverticulitis, I found that if I stayed in bed and concentrated right on the pain, I could make it stop.  Many of the pains I experience seem to be reminders or notifications from my body. The pains tend to occur on the edge of my awareness, as though I am not supposed to forget about a condition.  When I focused steady, undivided attention to the pain, I didn't need a notification and temporarily, I had no pain.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Deploying little gray brain cells

I want to write about "deploy".  It is a word I had never heard over decades of using American English.  Then, I heard that the Pentagon, our military headquarters, would "deploy" troops or ships or planes or supplies somewhere.  I could have look the word up and one of these days, I will, but I inferred from the context that it means "send" or "distribute" or "place" or "ship". The word might be a good example of language change, a process that goes on all the time and sometimes surprises people.  

I had planned to write and think more about "deploy" but I just read the Harvard Medical News newsletter and an item that caught my eye says that a tuberculosis vaccine seems to be doing a good job helping people with Type 1 diabetes with their problem.  I think that as humans get a worldwide food supply that is tasty and reliable, diabetes emerges as a danger. Type I, being born with a body that doesn't handle carbs well, is a very severe disease, I guess. Type II, growing older and less able to handle carbs, especially the concentrated energy of sugar, can result in blindness and amputations.  Progress in handling either disease matters very much.

I recently found out a little about who James Clapper is.  The man is 75 years old now and has been the head of US intelligence.  I have been interested in intelligence (spying and calculating important factors about a country's enemies and rivals) for years.  Clapper has a book called "Facts and Fears: Hard Truths from a Life in Intelligence" and I am curious about it. But, I am curious about too much.  I can see that more in-depth knowledge about national intelligence or politics or cell biology or car mechanics or air conditioning has its limits. I will use the same strategy I have used before and wait.  I have some kind of knack for remembering what I should forget about and reminding myself periodically to buy the book or borrow it from one of our libraries.

Staying away from intricacies of politics or science or math or intelligence might be a good thing for me.  I am confident that my sense of wonder at the world gets refreshed very well every time I see a little kid. Digesting the probability of this or that, or the reliability of that group or this, can use energy and time that results in very little after a few years.  I admire those who help us all by juggling the ifs and maybes, but I may continue to focus on my corner of the world. In writing this post, I was searching for information that was hot and desired at one time but then faded from importance. Sometimes, last month's news or last week's weather report fit that description.  Since the World Cup tournament is being played now, I thought maybe some old scores from previous years would be an example of once-exciting news that has lost its relevance.

This Wikipedia description of jockeying and sport politics for the first World Cup in 1930 might once have been hot news but seems like a good example of backshelf info now:

In an attempt to gain some European participation, the Uruguayan Football Association sent a letter of invitation to The Football Association, even though the British Home Nations (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales) had resigned from FIFA at the time. This was rejected by the FA Committee on 18 November 1929.[5] Two months before the start of the tournament, no team from Europe had officially entered.[6] FIFA president Jules Rimet intervened, and eventually four European teams made the trip by sea: Belgium, France, Romania, and Yugoslavia. The Romanians, managed by Constantin Rădulescu and coached by their captain Rudolf Wetzer and Octav Luchide, entered the competition following the intervention of newly crowned King Carol II.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Michel, Michael and barn boots

I am not a barn boots guy.  But Michael Perry keeps them on my mind.  Perry lives in Wisconsin and writes about life there.  He often writes about farming, the type Wisconsin soil, climate and rainfall support.

My wife is a potter and pottery is heavy.  So, the other day, she asked me to carry a crate of her pieces to the Q Gallery on Main Street as part of her exhibit.  I spotted Perry's latest book "Montaigne in Barn Boots" in the window of the Kindred Spirits bookstore. I couldn't believe the simultaneity of his book launch.  My philosophy friends and I are using Sarah Bakewell's look at Montaigne's essays in her book "How to Live".

I try not to buy books in paper since they are usually more expensive than Kindle books, more trouble to handle and house, and more trouble to highlight.  But I am grateful to Kindred Spirits for showing me the book's existence. I gave them one dollar less than the cost of a paper copy to ease my feelings.

Perry's Montaigne book shows signs of spying on me and how I behave:

In Montaigne's time, memory and intelligence were seen as one, and the phrase "he has no memory" meant "he is stupid." "When I complain that my memory is defective [people] either correct me or disbelieve me, as though I were accusing myself of being daft," says Montaigne, referring to every person who ever said, "We just talked about that!" "We went over this yesterday!" Or, "Why don't you just write yourself a reminder?"* Trouble is, many of these failures occur within time frames and situations in which writing one's self a note is impractical. In the category of driving off with things on my car roof I count one wallet (circled back and found it in the Culver's drive-through; celebrated my good fortune with a second order of curds), one iPhone (heard it thump the luggage rack, then watched in the rearview mirror as it pinwheeled down the highway), and an infinity of coffees, each of which I placed on the roof "just for a second" only to forget it in two.

Perry, Michael. Montaigne in Barn Boots: An Amateur Ambles Through Philosophy (p. 65). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Mushrooms, LSD, research and society

I didn't expect to read a book on mushrooms with strong effects on the mind and LSD.  I certainly didn't expect to read it aloud to Lynn. I didn't expect that the book would be such lovely, gripping writing.  And, I didn't realize how far the topic reaches.

"How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression and Transcendence" by Michael Pollan is a powerful book that covers a wide range of topics and shows how they are related.  I am not tempted to smoke anything, nor "vape", nor get "high". I am a somewhat plodding person who gets a big kick out of plodding along, happily, merrily, contentedly. It seems unlikely that I will ever eat "magic" mushrooms or "drop acid" or visit the toad.  That last bit is something I only learned about yesterday. Certain toads with certain glands can, I read, be squeezed just so and one can catch the chemical that those glands expel on the surface of a mirror. Allowed to dry and crystalize, the bits can be smoked and somewhat like LSD, psilocybin and mescaline, they can produce very unusual thoughts, mental and sensory sensations.  

I think anyone would be impressed with a professor of journalism and author of several books on plants and foods who conveys his experiences trying out psychedelic drugs so beautifully.  I didn't feel before reading that I wanted to try them myself but now, halfway through the book, I feel that Pollan has done so for me. Pollan has not, so far, said much about the role of mind-affecting drugs on ancient societies and some current ones who make use of such chemicals for religious and spiritual purposes.  He does a fine job, though, showing that from the late 1930's and on, the drugs have had a place in chemistry, medicine, politics and social movements.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

The big persuasive lie

Sometimes, I hear Goebbels, the Nazi propaganda chief, quoted about the big lie:

If you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it, and you will even come to believe it yourself.

When we are frightened by a tyrant or a group of them or simply hooligans and thugs, we can see that speech has power.  Our speech, their speech, victims' speech, perpetrators' speech - they all have power. Thus, lies have power, including some persuasive power.  I suppose that anyone who has a parent or ever had a parent, a child or ever had a child, a partner or ever had a partner, has a feeling for the power of others' speech, beliefs and habitual actions.  

But I want to point out to all involved that the statement refers to "A" lie.  In today's high communication arenas, we have messages zipping back and forth in great numbers.  The statement above refers to an older situation, one in which, believe it or not, public media other than writing, was a new thing.  Heck, it is still a new thing. What with a good portion of the world being without electricity, television, internet, Facebook, email, Instagram, Pinterest, many parts of the world right now are relatively free of life with lots of messages.  However, some of us really live in a communication jungle, overgrown with vines of lines, waves of wags, corps of communicators, piles of propaganda. We have ads, notifications, texts, reminders.

Yes, when Mommy told me something over and over again, and I didn't see any conflict between her statement and my daily experience, I believed what she said.  As a teen, I did come to question a few things, but I was mostly busy questioning my own thoughts, my feelings, my readings, my teachers. I had little reason to doubt what she said.   Adults sometimes worry about what the schools are teaching their kids but usually without reflecting on how much of what they "know" is what their own parents were


A shortcoming in the US today, at least the part I experience, is repetition.  In other words, many things are not reliable. What I see and hear today is not what I saw and heard yesterday.  New, ??better?, ??improved? is what many things and people claim to be.

You might be able to convince me of a big lie but you are going to  have to stick to it. I only have a limited capacity. If you have a big truth, you better repeat it and only it.  You better not throw in a few auxiliary ideas. Sorry, but you have to concentrate and stick to a few lines. It is going to be difficult since what is reliably the same is easy to question and doubt, but that is the best you can do.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Fwd: Numlock News: June 22, 2018

This is the writer who used to write "Significant Digits" for the Nate Silver website, "538".  He launched his own weekday newsletter about numbers in the news.  This one strikes me as one of his best "Numlock" issues so far.  It is free if you are interested. Bill
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Walt Hickey <>
Date: Fri, Jun 22, 2018 at 5:00 AM
Subject: Numlock News: June 22, 2018

By Walt Hickey
Due to the switch to the new format, there were some problems with a few links in yesterday's newsletter. Click to read the original stories about "Gotti," smoking, Fox, Puerto Rico and guns. I'm sorry for the transition issues!
Americans appear to be waking up to the fact that it's extremely weird for grown ups to drink milkshakes randomly in the middle of the day, as Starbucks' Frappuccino sales are down 3 percent year-over-year to date. Revenue growth has been slimming over the past three years as people presumably take a long look in the mirror and admit that adding some coffee flavor to a chocolate milk shake does not make it part of a nutritionally balanced breakfast. ​
Sarah Halzack, Bloomberg
Northern Europe has been hit with a carbon dioxide shortage at the worst possible time. Food-grade CO2 has lots of important uses, including extending the shelf life of meat and putting fizzy bubbles in soft drinks. In Europe, 45 percent of the carbon dioxide comes from ammonia plants, with the gas a by-product of fertilizer production. A European heat wave, increased booze consumption for the World Cup and cheap ammonia from outside the E.U causing fertilizer plant downtime have all conspired to bring about an extremely tough supply problem in the European bubble biz. 
Joana Sampson, gasworld
A new survey of Americans found that many groups did not think that the president had respect for people like them. For instance, 81 percent of black respondents said President Trump has not too much or no respect at all for people like them. Other subgroups where majorities believe the president does not have respect for them include women (57 percent), Hispanic people (67 percent), women aged 18 to 49 (62 percent), people aged 18 to 29 (57 percent) men and women age 50 or higher (51 percent), Catholics (53 percent) and black protestants (81 percent). ​
Pew Research Center
Trafficked Turtles
WE GOT HIM: Steven Verren — described by prosecutors as "ringleader of an international syndicate of wildlife smugglers" — has pleaded guilty to smuggling 46 turtles in 2016. Verren's grift was based on the fact that both American and Chinese customers were dissatisfied with their native turtles and wanted turtles from the other nation, which is super illegal. Investigators believe he sold American turtles to Chinese customers and Chinese turtles to Americans. This is his second guilty plea for smuggling turtles after getting nabbed for trafficking the majestic reptiles from exotic South Carolina to buyers in the lawless and troubled region of Florida.​
The Associated Press
Famed New York Jets quarterback Brett Favre has thrown his support behind an Illinois bill that would make it illegal for kids under 12 years old to play tackle football. The iconic Vikings player's support of the Dave Duerson Act to Prevent CTE could push it over the top. Favre was only formally diagnosed with concussions three or four times in his career but has since estimated that over the course of his time behind center he may have suffered thousands of the head injuries. 
Charean Williams, ProFootball Talk on NBC Sports
Sales Taxes
The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that states can collect taxes on goods sold online from entities that don't have any physical presence in their state. Gosh, that must have been some distressing news for, say, somebody poised to roll out a membership option for a nation-spanning newsletter operation in just a few weeks. This 5-4 decision — which, full disclosure, might affect me — won't cause too many issues for big sellers, as the top 100 online retailers already pay an estimated 90 percent of the state sales taxes they'd owe. The Government Accountability Office estimated states all told collect 75 percent of the potential taxes from online purchases, and estimated the untaxed portion could total $13 billion per year. ​
Richard Wolf, USA TODAY, and Matthew Townsend, Bloomberg
Handbag Money
Privately-held Chanel Ltd. has for the first time opened up its books in an attempt to quash rumors of a takeover. The French fashion house made $9.6 billion last year, with sales up 11 percent. This is higher than previous estimates, and means Chanel's sales beat Prada ($3.6 billion), Hermes ($6.4 billion), Gucci ($7.2 billion) and are just shy of Louis Vuitton ($10.8 billion). The reveal also upped Bloomberg's estimate of the net worth of owners Alain and Gerard Wertheimer and makes them the fourth and fifth richest people in France. ​
Robert Williams  and Katya Kazakina, Bloomberg
A Pile of Money That Could Be Spent On Other Stuff If We Had Literally Any Campaign Finance Laws In This Country
Political independent and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg announced he will contribute at least $80 million this coming election. Bloomberg's got a long history of supporting members of each party, and will support both Republican and Democratic gubernatorial candidates, but his primary goal this cycle is to aid Democrats winning the 23 seats necessary to retake control of the House of Representatives. ​
Dominique Mosbergen, Huffpost
Thanks for bearing with me through one whole month of Numlock News. I really appreciate it. There are more exciting things to come!
If you're enjoying the newsletter, forward it to someone you think may enjoy it too! Send links to me on Twitter at @WaltHickey or email me with numbers, tips, or feedback at

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