Hello! Welcome to MarkFord.net
This is the open-for-inspection half-way home for my writing!
What you’ll find here are essays, stories, book chapters, poetry, and journal entries, as well as words and images from others that I want to share.
The bulk of the essays will be about business, wealth building, and personal productivity. But there will also be things I’m equally or more interested in, such as art, education, economics, physics, philosophy, psychology, neurobiology, fitness, and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Since much of what you’ll be reading here will be early drafts of work meant for publication I welcome any comments or suggestions you might have that will help me strengthen them.

oil on masonite, 1966

By Arturo Pacheco Altamirano (Chile, 1903-1978)

Arturo Pacheco Altamirano was one of the most recognized Chilean artists of the 20th century. His paintings of ports and marinas illustrated the universal appeal of life in coastal environments.

Early in his career, Altamirano had exhibitions in Chile, Argentina, Peru, and the United States (Washington, D.C., and New York). He made the leap to Europe in 1952 when he was appointed cultural attaché at the Chilean Embassy in Paris. While in France, he met other artists and was introduced to the European avant garde scene. What he saw – everything from Impressionism to Cubism and Surrealism – was reflected in his later work.

Word for the Wise

Pinguid (PING-wid) – fat and oily. Here’s a lovely sentence from The Bunsby Papers by John Brougham that includes it alliteratively: “Peter was pinguid, plump, and plethoric – she was thin to attenuation.”

Did You Know… ?

If you add up all the numbers from 1 to 100 consecutively, the total is 5050. Keep that in mind. You never know when it will come up in conversation.

Principles of Wealth: #5 of 61

Wealth and income inequality are realities that exist in every economy – even those committed in principle to the distribution of wealth. Many people today, believing that equality is an intrinsic and achievable good, seek to flatten financial inequalities through government programs and social action. A smaller group, sympathetic to the notion of equality but less trusting of governmental solutions, seek to create substantial personal wealth and then distribute some of that to others. Still others are dubious that financial inequality is intrinsically good and practically achievable. And a final group is sure that equality is intrinsically bad and can only be partially achieved and that only by severe repression.

My view is that human nature is innately opposed to equality. You can, by force, make a community financially equal for a moment in time. But an hour later, individuals within that community will get to work recreating inequality. Some will seek to have more. Some will be satisfied with what they have. And some will seek to have less.

This is the fundamental reason why history has shown us that the goal of achieving financial equality has never been achieved or even attempted.

From my book How to Speak Intelligently About Everything That Matters https://smile.amazon.com/Speak-Intelligently-About-Everything-Matters

Shakespeare is said to have contributed (by far) more words to the English language than any other person in history. He has also contributed some of the best loved and most often repeated quotations. Consider the following:

“All that glisters is not gold.” (The Merchant of Venice)

“Something wicked this way comes.” (Macbeth)

“Though this be madness, yet there is method in’t.” (Hamlet)

“It was Greek to me.” (Julius Caesar)

“Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.” (Henry VI, Part II)

“Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon ‘em.” (Twelfth Night)

“The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” (Henry VI, Part II)

“I smell a rat…” (Hamlet)

Look at This…

Racing Through Edinburgh

Consult an expert, if you like experts. Talk to your broker. Read your broker’s “research” recommendations.

But don’t ask me what you should be doing with your money right now.

I have no qualifications as a financial advisor. No certificates. No degrees. I’ve never taken a single class in economics or accounting…

I’ve read a few books – ones that came highly recommended.

And yes, I was an advisor to and publisher of investment advice for nearly 40 years….

Which gave me an inside view on how the business works and a contact list of several dozen of the best-known stock analysts in the world. I know how they work and I’ve seen the results of their work, good and bad.

I keep tabs on the best of them. And incorporate the recommendations of a few. But when it comes to making decisions about what do with my (now my family’s) money, I follow my own rules.

My rules are not for everyone. So you may decide that they are not for you.

But if, like me, you are a timid investor…

If, like me, your fear of losing money is greater than your greed…

And if you are willing to work hard to make sure your active income is always increasing… every week and every month and every year…

Then you may be interested in knowing some of these rules that I follow and what, in particular, I plan to do with my money this year.

I have several dozen rules. Here are 10 of them:

  1. I don’t Invest in anything I don’t fully understand.
  2. If I am determined to break rule number one, I admit to myself that what I’m doing is gambling, not investing. And I proceed fully expecting to lose every penny I put on the line.
  3. I would never put all my savings into stocks or even into a portfolio of stocks and bonds. I have my money allocated in at least a half-dozen asset classes at all times.
  4. I don’t try to get from any asset class (stocks, bonds, real estate, commodities) or subclass (blue chip stocks, growth stocks, etc.) more than 10% to 20% of its natural (historic) rate of return. When someone recommends an investment “sure to” do much better than that, I steer clear.
  5. Before investing in anything, I have a Plan B in place. A proper Plan B is a pre-set (and if possible automatic) protocol that cashes me out of the deal as quickly as possible and with the least amount of damage.
  6. As a rule, I don’t invest in growth stocks. I prefer buying shares of world-class, income producing, Warren Buffett type companies that I feel confident will still be strong in 20+ years. And I do not sell these stocks in market downturns. I often buy more of them in order to “average down” my buy-in price.
  7. I devote the largest portion of my portfolio to income-producing real estate properties and use a trusted partner to manage them.
  8. The next largest slice of my investment pie goes to private businesses – either in stock or debt or convertible debt. When considering such investments, I ask myself how well I understand it and whether I have some control or at least influence on management should they take actions that seem wrong to me. (And I have my Plan B.)
  9. I don’t “invest” in hard assets or currencies because I don’t consider them investments. (They have little or no intrinsic value, do not produce value, and do not earn income.)
  10. I never invest more than a very small portion of my net investible wealth (net worth minus my house and other things I don’t intend to sell) in any single investment. (Long ago, my limit was 5%. Now it’s 1%.)

Now it’s time to tell you what I’m doing with my money this year.

Click to continue… What I’m Doing With My Money Now and for the Rest of 2018


The Theory: There are two energetic impulses in the universe: contraction and expansion. All our technical, artistic, and philosophic achievements are reflections and results of these impulses. So is all the waste and war and death we have caused. (For a detailed explanation of the theory, go here.) https://www.markford.net/a-theory-of-life-3

 Example 9. Romantic Love and Other Delusions

Some of your friends in the neighborhood get together to play a game of softball. Joey Dambrozio just had his first child. You ask him how that feels. “It’s amazing,” he says. “I’ve loved my parents and I’ve loved my wife. But the way I love my kid is different. It’s the first time I can honestly say that I love someone more than myself.”

You look across a crowded bar and see a young woman with a beautiful face. Suddenly, she is looking at you, smiling. And in that smile you see the completion of your life. Everything that you lack or yearn for is there. You fall in love. It is an overwhelming love. The kind of love that feels like it can lift you up in the air and carry you away.

And, wonder of wonders, your feelings are returned. Everything that heaven can be can be given to you through this one person. You are enthralled by this love. Crushed by it. You treat one another like gods.

Years later, that feeling is gone. You don’t like the way she keeps shutting off the lights. She doesn’t like your habit of leaving the toilet seat up. You are jealous of the lilt in her voice when she talks to her friends on the phone. (You once thought that lilt would be only for you.) And she doesn’t like the jokes you make when you’ve been drinking.

In The Road Less Traveled, one of the most popular and least understood books about personal growth ever written, M. Scott Peck lays out a brilliant challenge to conventional views of love. He argues that there is a big difference between falling in love Hollywood-style (romantic love) and true love.

Romantic love, says Peck, is part animal attraction (cathexis) and part emotional delusion. Romantic love initiates a destructive and futile cycle of dependency, with each partner looking to the other for happiness and completion.

True love, on the other hand, is selfless and spiritual. It can evolve from cathexis, but only after it gets beyond it. True love is not a state of being, but an action. The intention of true love is the betterment of the loved one, not of oneself. If you expect to be fulfilled by the person you love, Peck says, you will be disappointed.

Peck’s argument, in a nutshell, is that romantic love is an unhappy and unhealthy idealization of another individual. Healthy love, in contrast, is the act of working hard to improve the other person’s life experience.

It’s possible to view Peck’s argument in terms of energetic impulses.

Romantic love, it can be said, is a very concentrated impulse. A person in the throes of cathexis feels an intense desire to attract the other person. He will do everything he can to win the loved one’s affection. Every word the lover utters, every gesture she makes is experienced intensely. The prospect of losing the other person is as fearsome as the prospect of losing one’s life.

True love is, as Peck defines it, is the willful effort to resist the desire that cathexis arouses. It requires a relaxation of the ego so that attention can be directed toward the benefit of the loved one, not toward the egoistic pleasure of being loved.

A seldom discussed but very interesting idea presented in Peck’s book concerns the nature of God. He says that God resides in the unconscious mind. Or, more exactly, that the unconscious mind is God. This is getting close to Zen Buddhism. We will get to that later.

Recommended Reading

March 11, 2018 in Blog,Good Reads

 South and West: From a Notebook

By Joan Didion

2017, 160 pages

Not a novel. Not a memoir exactly. More a series of notes about a trip Didion took with her husband through the South and some notes she made during the Patty Hearst trial that turned out to be about privileged young women growing up in California. The thesis of the book, if there is one, is that the culture of the South, however backwards we feel it is, is steeped in history and likely to endure, while that may not be true of California’s very different culture. It is really well written: sparse and precise and at times poetic.

This shouldn’t matter in evaluating a writer, but it affected my judgment: Didion was a very attractive young woman who grew up wealthy and well connected. I believe I wanted to dismiss her as trivial before I read her. I could not. She’s a serious thinker and a very smart and skillful writer.

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