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.

K and I are spending a few days at the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel in Yellowstone National Park.

The hotel is run by a private operator that has, our tour guide told me, a long-term concession from the federal government. That pretty much amounts to a government-run business, so I wondered what it would be like.

From the outside, the old hotel was inviting – a rambling, wood and stucco building painted lemon yellow and set among pine-covered hills. Just a few hundred yards away were the oddly beautiful hot springs that looked like the dark side of the moon.

Once we stepped inside the hotel, that inviting feeling began to evaporate.
The lobby was an undecorated box of a space, randomly “furnished” with small, cheaply made booths. One booth sold coffee and cake, one was covered with brochures, one sold souvenirs, and another turned out to be the reception desk. In between the booths, people of every ethnicity (presumably patrons of the hotel) sat at formica tables.

I took it all in, thinking, “Whoever designed this place must never have been inside a beautiful hotel.” (In fact, I wondered if he had ever been in a hotel at all.)

“Perhaps the lobby is being renovated,” I told myself. “The rest of the hotel must be fine.”

After spending 15 minutes acquiring our room key from a pleasant young woman who didn’t seem familiar with the computer she worked at, we set off for our room. I was happily anticipating a quaint mini-suite with spectacular mountain views.

My anticipation dissipated in the hallway – an eerily dim corridor that had been spray-painted with that pebbly paint that was so popular in the 1970s. Ugly, incandescent lamps illuminated the ancient plumbing that ran along the ceiling. Doors peeked open as we passed. The experience was disturbingly reminiscent of The Shining, where Jack Nicholson prowled a similarly creepy hotel.

Click to continue… Hidden Dangers in the National Parks

Three rules of wealth that everyone should memorize:

1. You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity.

2. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.

3. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.

Alexander Green has written a fantastic essay on General Robert E. Lee, over at SpiritualWealth.com.

I’ve included a passage here:

When the war broke out, Northern newspapers branded Lee – a distinguished officer who turned down Lincoln’s offer to lead the Union army – a traitorous lowlife, a Benedict Arnold who believed one man could own another as he might own a horse or a set of dishes.

Yet this perception is wrong. For starters, the Civil War was not just about slavery. Abraham Lincoln – who failed to carry a single Southern or border state – campaigned on a platform of not interfering with slavery anywhere it was legal, even pledging to maintain it if it would preserve the Union. Not all slave states joined the Confederacy. And almost ninety percent of whites in the South did not own slaves.

Yes, the Civil War was partly about slavery, but it was also about states rights and the limits of a still-young and newly ascendant federal government. In his conversations and letters, Lee – a committed Christian – consistently condemned slavery as unnatural, ungodly, impractical and morally abhorrent. Nor did he support the Southern states right to succeed, calling it “nothing less than a revolution.” 

So why did he turn down Lincoln’s offer to lead Union forces? After all, this was America’s highest field command, an opportunity to earn not just the President’s gratitude but unparalleled reward and national glory. 

The answer can be found in Lee’s deep Virginia roots. His father, “Light Horse Harry Lee,” was a Revolutionary War hero who fought beside George Washington and was later the state governor and a member of Congress. Yet when Harry defended a friend who published a newspaper opposing the War of 1812, he was attacked by a mob and nearly beaten to death. Disfigured and permanently disabled, he abandoned his wife and children for Barbados, leaving his son to raise his siblings and care for his invalid mother.

Robert was eleven at the time. He quickly learned how to handle responsibility, went on to graduate second in his class at West Point and distinguished himself during the Mexican War in 1847. The American general in chief, Winfield Scott, called Lee the finest soldier he had ever seen. 

Yet Lee said he would not raise a sword against his fellow Virginians. As the war approached, he resigned his commission in the U.S. Army to head the Virginia state militia, taking command of Confederate troops only after Virginia later voted to secede.

You can read the rest here.



Liam O’Reilly, a recent graduate from the University of Maryland, told The New York Times that he had applied to 50 employers. He was looking for a job as a paralegal or as a researcher for a policy organization or as an administrative assistant. He got a few interviews and no offers. So he took a minimum-wage job selling software.

“Had I realized it would be this bad,” he said, “I would have applied to grad school.”

My Number Three Son was due to graduate this year. But when he got accepted into a five-year BA/MBA program at his school last month, I encouraged him to do it. Like Liam O’Reilly, his prospects for employment are limited. They might not be better next year, but at least he can approach the market with another year of learning and an MBA to boot.

In 2006, when I wrote Automatic Wealth for Grads… and Anyone Else Just Starting Out, the economy was still bustling, American businesses were going strong, and unemployment was low.

Back then, any kid fresh out of college could have his pick of good jobs in preferred locations with plenty of perks.

Today, the economy is a mess, businesses are floundering, and unemployment is record high. As a result, college graduates are taking what they can get.

Many, not finding jobs, are forced to continue living with their parents.

(The situation is considerably better for kids with engineering and computer degrees, but otherwise the landscape looks bleak.)

Recently, I received this e-mail from a young reader:

“My name is Eric Ryczek. I am a sophomore at Drake University in Des Moines, majoring in International Business and Finance.

“I am currently reading your book Automatic Wealth for Grads — which my uncle bought for me as part of my 18th birthday/graduation present — and am loving every minute of it. And last week, he forwarded me an excerpt from your book The Pledge, and I am eager to read the rest of it.

“But I’m wondering if I am still too young for The Pledge, even though I am trying to do everything I can and gain as much knowledge as I can now to invest in my future. And I am hoping you will tell me that the book is beneficial for anyone, no matter how old they are.

“I know you have millions of e-mails to respond to, so if I do not get a response I will purchase the book anyway. I think it will be a good investment for my future.

“Hope to hear back from you.”

I’m worried for Eric’s generation. They are facing, without a doubt, the worst job environment since the Great Depression.

The economy is in shambles and, despite what the government is saying, it’s not getting better. In fact, it will get worse. Possibly a lot worse.

Click to continue… How to Get a Good Job Now… Even If You Are Fresh Out of College

Fresh Air 2

August 14, 2012 in Humor

Terry Gross and Mike Birbiglia spend some time together…

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