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As to the perception that unarmed blacks are killed more often by police than unarmed whites… I assumed that was true. I looked it up. It’s not true.

From 2016 to 2019, there were 208 killings of unarmed people by police. That’s an average of 52 per year. Of that group, 62 (about 30%) were black. 100 (48%) were white. Last year, there were 41 deaths of unarmed people by police. Of that group, 20 were white and 9 were black.

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  • June 8-June 12, 2020

a look back at this week’s essays…


The End of Intimacy, Trust, and Love


I’ve been thinking about how the world has been coming apart lately…


Click here to read more.



The End of Real Knowledge


“When I take over the world the first thing I’m going to do is abolish social media,” I announced.


“Yeah, right,” my sister said.


“Not funny!” my niece shouted.


“You can abolish Facebook, but don’t touch my Twitter,” my daughter-in-law warned.


We were joking. Sort of.


Click here to read more.



Fine Art As a Long-Term Investment


In my first essay in this series, I made the broad case for why you should consider investing in art…. Today, I’m going to explain why so many ordinary, “amateur” art lovers – people who are not necessarily financially savvy – have, nevertheless, seen their art holdings appreciate amazingly, leaving them and their heirs immensely rich.


Click here to read more.



quick quiz


  1. How much do you remember about this week’s “Words to the Wise”? Use each of these words in a sentence:


*  anagnorisis (6/8/20)

*  cursory (6/10/20)

*  acumen (6/12/20)


  1. Fill in the blanks in this week’s quotations:


* “When I got my first _____, I stopped caring so much about having close relationships.” – Andy Warhol



* “The simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most _____ man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what is laid before him.” – Leo Tolstoy (6/10/20)


* “There’s something to be said about the art-industrial complex, the collectors who recognize that your work has some sort of future _____ value.” – Kehinde Wiley (6/12/20)


  1. Are these statements True or False?


*  The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics states that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. (6/8/20)


*  According to James Clear, author of the book Atomic Habits, social connection can actually be more helpful to your daily life than understanding the truth of a particular fact or idea. (6/10/20)


* Michael Jordan makes more money from Nike each year than all the Nike factory workers in Malaysia combined. (6/12/20)




recommended links from this week’s blog


* If you don’t approve of the looting, but are horrified by the murder and want to do something actionable that is consistent with your moral and political views, you might want to contribute to this guy. (There are hundreds more like him. You can locate them if you look.) Here


* “How to Change the World by Doing This One Thing Every Day” by James Altucher – a good thought piece. To read it, click here.


* This short WSJ video reports on what some believe schools will be like in the future. I don’t believe it…Here


 * “Full Bore” – a quick, amusing read by one of my favorite essayists in Taki’s Magazine. Click here.


* I’ve watched 50+ interviews with doctors and scientists on COVID-19 and the lockdown. This doctor does the best job in explaining the facts in a way that anyone should be able to understand. Here




Your Question:


I liked your “Free Is Bad” essays.  What you said in Part 1 of this series is a reminder of what we learned in direct mail and have forgotten as we’ve moved into the electronic age. A buyer’s list was always worth more than an enquirer’s file. Also, you can cross-sell much more to a file that bought an expensive product, than you can to buyers of a cheap product. You just have to work harder to get the first sale.

The current trend to get a “small purchase first and then build on this,” I believe has been invented by people with very little direct-mail experience and never fully tested.

I don’t have any experience running charitable foundations, but all your comments in Part 2 made sense.

Will there be  a Part 3?


My Answer:


To your comments about free offers, I would add this: When the direct-response industry shifted from snail mail 20 years ago, there was a five- to six-year window when anyone could make a killing using the free-to-paid model. The Agora, my primary client, was probably the world’s leader of this model back then. Many people still call it the “Agora” model.

But even back then it was clear to my partner and me that those days of easy pickings were not going to last. Because the barrier of entry was so very low, thousands of new companies were flooding into the market and steadily pushing up the cost of acquiring “free” names.

That’s ancient history now. But there are still countless internet marketing gurus out there in cyberspace promoting this antiquated notion. And, yes, it still works – but barely.

The competition has returned to product quality and salesmanship, where it should be.

What many don’t understand about free-to-paid marketing is that amassing a huge free file today is not a meaningful marketing event. It is not a sale. It is merely a digital version of renting a direct-mail marketing list.

As JSN told me a hundred times when I worked for him: “The business doesn’t start until you’ve made the first sale.” Persuading a prospect to sign up for a free product is not a sale. It’s a marketing expense.

The magic happens when the sale is made. And making a sale today is not easy.

Re your question: Yes, there will be a Part 3… and probably a Part 4.



Your Question:


In reading your June 5th blog, you state that “last year there were 41 deaths of unarmed people by police.  Of that group 20 were white and 9 were black.”  I can’t find that statistic anywhere on the web.  Can you send me the source?



My Answer:


The numbers came from The Washington Post’s Police Shooting Database. (Since 2015, the Post has created a database cataloging every fatal shooting nationwide by a police officer in the line of duty.)

Following are some additional numbers. Note that the ratio of black to white deaths has been getting smaller every year since 2015. Next week, we will be publishing a longer essay on this issue.


201594 Total

32 White

38 Black

19 Hispanic

5 ‘other’


2016 – 51 total

22 White

19 Black

9 Hispanic

1 ‘other’


2017 – 70 Total

31 White

22 Black

13 Hispanic

3 ‘other’; 1 ‘unknown’


2018 – 58 Total

25 White

23 Black

8 Hispanic

1 ‘other’; 1 ‘unknown’


2019 – 55 Total

25 White

14 Black

11 Hispanic

5 ‘other’


2020 – 24 Total

10 White

7 Black

3 Hispanic

1 ‘other’; 3 ‘unknown’


Totals (2015-2020)

352 Total

145 White

123 Black

63 Hispanic

16 ‘other’; 5 ‘unknown’


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For a look back at the stock market, click here.



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