Swimming Downstream


In the real world, we marvel at how salmon swim upstream, back to their own birthplace, in order to perpetuate their species’ life cycle

Then they die.

As opposed to a long ago blog article about Michael Dell, but just as easily could have been about Jerry Yang, Ted Waite and some others, it’s really hard to go back home, unless you’re Howard Schultz or Steve Jobs.

In general, it’s always easiest to go with the flow and become one of the crowd, unless you’re a lemming.

Lemmings on ParadeThey take exactly the opposite approach of the salmon. They go with gravity and are disciples of Thomas Malthus, thinking that their species would have its best chance of survival without them taxing the limited resources available to the next generation.

I saw Meatloaf in concert a couple of years ago, in a relatively small venue. Bat out of Hell, arguably one of the greatest rock albums ever, dared to ask the querstion “What’s it going to be boy? Yes or No? Yes or No?”

And that was the question for me on Thursday. Be a lemming or be a salmon.

The problem with that analogy is that either way you die and they both depend on some strange fascination with herd mentality.

The real question then becomes: “Go with the flow or fight the tape.”

In general, those are the two basic categories in society. Are you a Goth or a preppy?

There’s no question that the tape has been decidedly up the past few days, even if a few of those were limited to only the closing hour. But ever since that boring 300 point Dow down day on the day that the NYSE commemorated the 10th anniversary of 9-11, there have been only good feelings.

Market Kumbaya with everything being carried upstream as there’s an expectation for less than horrific news coming out of the European Union has been the rule. That was definitely the case with Thursday’s trading as the market nicely bounced back from an early day retreat of gains and went on to close at highs.

In general, I tend to be an optimist as far as the longterm direction of the market goes, but right now my longterm horizon is limited to the end of the options cycle, which happens to be today.

Based on what I’ve done the past couple of days, including the sales of call options on Dow Chemical, Textron, Home Depot, Transocean and more Freeport McMoran during the first phase of Thursday’s rise, it says that I don’t expect follow through for the last day of the cycle.

Now that’s a pretty stupid position to take, trying to predict market movement for a specific day in the absense of any real news and in the face of an obvious trend.

I base that on one thing and one thing only.

Watching Chrisitne Lagarde, the new head of the International Monetary Fund, I realized that she looked just like comedian David Brenner’s older brother.

There’s was just no way I was going to be soothed by economic forecasting from her once I couldn’t get David Brenner’s vision out of my head.

Any of you of my generation understand the difficulty of balancing thought and action when something displeasing is part of the equation. That’s precisley why sex counselors used to advise men suffering from premature ejaculation to think of Willie Mays at critical moments.

With that in mind, I decided to keep swimming downstream into the face of a gusher. At least when it came to stocks.

When it comes to those UltraShort Silver ETF’s, I decided to go with the flow and exercised judgement based on greed. No matter what our stock market does in response to the EU crisis, I expect gold and silver to give up much more of their entirely unwarranted gains. So there was no way I would sell call options on those holdings. The reward of picking up a few more crumbs wouldn’t even remotely cover the costs of missing out on the plunge, thanks to the gift of ETF levereging.

Today may turn out to be the day that might Austria gives its thumbs up to the EU plan to bail out Greece, so there may be even more of an upward bias to come and then the obligatory letdown.

The plan, if approved, gives Greece a few more months before defaulting, by freeing up some $8 Billion Euros to help its banking rescue.

Sounds like a great idea, mostly because I missed hearing the word “traunches” repeated every fifth word.

The problem will become obvious though when the rest of Europe sees that Greece ends up using that first traunch to buy cigarettes and book vacations to Thailand to make up for the vacation time missed while striking.

In the markets the only real news was from Netflix which lost nearly 20% of its value. They showed just how easy it was to swim downstream today. But they had good company in gold and silver, although their density alone made it much easier to work against the upward stream.

Although I neither hold shares, nor use Netflix’s service, I’m beginning to understand the madness behind their model change and increasing dependence on, coincidentally enough, “streaming” media.

Just imagine if you were a Netflix user. You could have been streamed the bad news well ahead of when basic cable investors would have gotten it. Talk about a great advantage.

Obviously JP Morgan gets its news the old fashioned way, as it decreased its price targets after the 20% drop.

You’d think that for whatever advisory fees they’re paid by their clients, they’d at least be streaming Netflix.

After the close, Research in Motion joined Netflix with a 20% drop in the after hours trading once their disappointing earnings were released.

I’m not really certain that you can call anything RIM does these days “disappointing”.

A few short years ago bad news from RIM would have cast a pall over the market. It’s not too likely that will be the case as the market opens on Friday. But at least RIM has been consistent regardless of short term market direction. Since its last earningss report, its been all uni-directional.

On a positive note, the RIM executive officers were certainly able to much more easily and quickly e-mail news of the disappointment, owing to the great Blackberry keyboard. Imagine how much more time it would have taken to disseminate the bad news on, say an iPhone. 

Say what you will, but there’s something refreshing about a technology company basing its fortunes on a mini-keyboard.

The way I see it, RIM has gotten the best of all worlds, as long as those worlds place a heavy emphasis on oblivion.

It’s definitely in a lemming march, yet it’s also trying to swim upstream. No matter how you look at it, that’s a losing combination.

Sort of like the European Union.






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Kicking the Can Down the Road


The other night, the NFL record for longest field goal was tied for the second time.

I still remember when Tom Dempsey, the otherwise unheralded kicker for the 1970 New Orleans Saints, beat the Detroit Lions with his 63 yard field goal.

What I remember most about that is Alex Karras, the Detroit Lion defensive tackle, who was a oretty funny guy, appeared on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show and put a great comedic touch on describing the tragedy of that kick in his team’s eyes. Mind you, his team’s eyes were also seeing the fact that Dempsey, who had a congenitally malformed foot and wore a special kicking shoe, had less than an athletic physique.

Tom Dempsy’s professional life span didn’t last much longer following that kick, but it’s been an inviolate part of football lore for more than 40 years.

The nice thing about have a finite lifespan is that kicking things down the road is a great strategy.

It works for people and governments, too.

Kicking the CanMy guess is that people that can kick the can down the road without any real guilt probably extend their lifespan by greatly reducing stress. At the point that they realize that the “jig is up” and the end of the road is figuratively approaching, its time to literally approach the end of the road and kick the can.

People that are protected from the overhang of stress usually make better decisions, as well.

Maybe not better decisions when assessed with regard to the longterm, but at least better decisions for them, which in turn leads to even less stress.

Talk about a real win – win situation.

There have been lots of movies made about people returning to earth from the after-life to make amends for the lives they’ve lived.

Although I’m not a cinematic expert by any means, I don’t think that any of those movies have ever examined the guilt associated with taking advantage of passing your financial responsibilities to your unseen great-grandchildren’s grandchildren.

My personal hero is the father of a friend of mine who actually took out school loans in his son’s name, used the money for himself, and then saddled his son with the debt.

How is that not a great strategy?

It’s so good, in fact, that governments and leaders, whether elected or otherwise do exactly the same thing, finding great inspiration from the alternative life form band, Devo.

Dependence on foreign oil? Kick it.

Social Security Trust Fund problems? Kick it good.

Rising deficits and debt? You must kick it.

Chinese own too much of our debt? Issue more, preferably a long Sebastian Janikowski kick on that one.

So when I heard Treasury Secretary Geithner this morning at the Seeking Alpha Conference sponsored by CNBC, emphatically say that the European Union would not see a repeat of Lehman Brothers, it gave me great cause for concern.

He seemed to be saying that the problem wouldn’t get kicked down the road and that tough, but responsible actions would be taken by the world banking community to ensure that  the Lehman debacle wouldn’t repeat itself.

As you look around the European Union that can has been kicked around alot, but it always seemed to end up in Germany’s backyard. But then again, we’ve had some bad experiences when Germany’s ventured out of its backyard in the past, so maybe it’s for the best.

Yet, just when it seems that there will be some way to quench the flames without a great deal of hardship, you get Finland, flexing its influence and introducing such responsible banking concepts as “collateral”.

Actually, if Finland really had any influence, you’d see Nokia phones being used by others than just unemployed elves. As Finland realized it really didn’t have quite the bandwidth it thought, they acquiesced, besides how much feta per capita did they really need, anyway? Given Finland’s location, just about anything can qualify as a much needed chill pill.

The market then tanked earlier today when word came out that the other EU powerhouse, Austria, was against the Greek bailout. It’s no coincidence that chill pill and buzz kill rhyme.

Funny thing about those Austrians and their language. Apparently, it’s hard to understand those Germanic languages, as somehow Austria’s intentions were not reported properly and when clarification was made the market started a voracious climb.

My own experience with that group of languages is that it’s much easier to comprehend when it’s being yelled at you in very close proximity to your face. Even if you don’t quite understand the words, the tone gives the real message.

Austria needs to scream more. Maybe even some hand gestures.How do you say “Nein” in Austrian?

When everyone eventually realized that Austria, in fact, didn’t come out against a bailout, only delaying until Friday some sort of vote, the market did a 400 point turnaround.

With options expiration on Friday I looked for more opportunities to pick up some crumbs and there were plenty as the price trend was going higher.

So I took the opportunity to sell call options in DuPont, British Petroleum and Riverbed Technology.

On top of that, I sold some more January 2012 Sirius-XM Satellite Radio Puts.

Although I’m not likely to get all of my remaining positions hedged, I’m reasonably happy, as my shares have been handily outperforming the S&P 500 during this recent 3 day climb.

I was especially happy to see that my troika of environmentally disasterous stocks, British Petrolueum, Transocean and Halliburton have also fared nicely, especially in the wake of today’s report which scolded all three for last summer’s rig disaster.

As the afternoon started wearing on I began having some doubts about foraging for crumbs, because the market had climbed 270 points and suddenly every talking head was exuberant about the market’s future.

Well, wouldn’t you know it, just as the unbridled enthusiasm got on the air, the market cut its gains in half during the last 30 minutes of trading.

I didn’t mind. For me, the ideal end of an options cycle is having my positions close out right near their exercise prices. For my part, I wish this had been Friday.

I love kicking the same stocks right over into the next options cycle and then selling at the money options on them.

For me, kicking them down the road is a strategy that can never go wrong, regardless of life expectancy.

On the other hand, things may start getting serious in Europe. They may actually address the issues instead of kicking them down the road. That raises the questions as to whether our markets have already discounted that and will drop upon the reality occuring and whether precious metals will reverse their climbs, as fiscal responsibility enters our vocabularly.

Nah, that’s not going to happen. No one ever  got re-elected by making the responsible decision.

The EU should just follow the lead of Americans everywhere in dealing with financial crises.

They need to get a new credit card and take those 0% Cash transfer offers




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See a sneak preview of Chapter 1.  hoco blogs

More about the book and purchase options. Scroll down and read the Szelhamos Rules blog, updated every weekday.

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Crumbs, Anyone


It’s that time of the month again.

No, I’m not being visited by Aunt Flo, as the euphamism would go, if indeed it were germane.

CrumbsNo, it’s the end of the September options cycle in just a few short days. Time to see if there are any crumbs left out there just waiting to be taken. And you do have to act quickly, because before you know it those crumbs get smaller and smaller, before they disappear entirely.

I suppose that since I now try to find as many weekly options opportunities as possible, that third Friday of each month has lost a bit of its significance. Now its more or less like any other Friday.

I’ve never had a visit from Aunt Flo, but I can’t imagine that her dropping by on a weekly basis would be very good.

In a way, I guess that’s as sad as when you know that Aunt Flo won’t be visiitng anymore. Fortunately, that single long hair on my chin that popped up after Flo disappeared is obscured by my full beard.

By the same token, most people I know no longer deal in euphamisms, anyway. They get right down to brass tacks, no sense beating around the bloody bush.

Hmm, now I’m not certain if the preceding itself was a euphamism for something, but no matter, I just like using uniquely British adjectives.

As I looked back at the monthly statistics for the past few years, I should have been tipped off that this wouldn’t have been the kind of month to e-mail home about.

It seems that the month following what turns out to be my best options premium month of the year is a dog.

And that was this month because that was last month.

Since options premiums keep me afloat, I have a need to trade, but times like these offer the biggest dilemmas.

Holding on to so many positions that are significantly below their purchase prices, it’s hard to justify trying to optimize options premiums by writng near the money contracts when their assignment would result in meanigful capital losses.

Although I always check my spreadsheets to see how much in accumulated premiums each position has captured, I still have a reluctance to take the loss, even when it is mitigated or even fully offset by those premiums.

I’m not beyond rationalizing my actions, though.

On days such as the first two trading days of this final week, you see the clock ticking away on the one hand, but you also see the possibility of that silver lining in depressed stock prices, or at the very least the lack of support in silver prices, as I own unhedged shares of an UltraShort Silver ETF.

Will there be some good news coming out of the European Union sending our markets for a nice climb? I sure wouldn’t want to miss out on recouping some of those paper losses, but those crumbs, those 0.5% options premiums, do I really want to leave those on the table?

The answer to those questions are “who knows” and “not really”

The full answer to the latter question is actually “not really, but I don’t want to feel like a schmuck”.

But you do have to eat, you can’t really let pride get in the way. As small as they may be, those crumbs can add up.

And so, in a measured reaction to a meandering day, I did get the opportunity to sell call options on JP Morgan, Freeport McMoRan, Halliburton, Williams-Sonoma and the Triple Q’s.

Actually, with the exception of Williams-Sonoma, if the others do get assigned, I’ll still be taking capital gains on the underlying stocks, so the risk will be determined by how wildly they may explode upward between today and Friday’s close.

Opportunities potentially lost. That ends up being the performance metric, but since I don’t harbor regrets, I also rarely learn lessons. You can fool me over and over again as long as those premiums add up and losses have some strategic value in reducing tax liability.

When I did add the crumbs up it was worth the risk, given the reward and the need to be able to feed Laszlo the Dog.

It’s either crumbs or go back to work, not to mention the shriveled carcass of a wiener dog.

Hmmm. Weiner dog.

If anyone reading this is old enough to remember Bob Denver’s character, Maynard G. Krebs, you would know my reaction to the very thought of “work”.

Whatever optimism there’s been in the markets during the last hour of each of the two past trading sessions it’s a little frightening to thank what it’s been based upon.

First, the rumor of Chinese intervention to buy Italian debt turned Monday’s market on a dime.

But you know that we’re really in trouble and living a life of deep delusion if we think that Chinese benevolence is going to be the remedy that saves the European Union’s financial systems.

Today’s good news was that there wouldn’t be a Greek default.

At least not today.

The other good news was that somone had interpreted something that Angela Merkel said as being of a positive note, regarding satisfying Finland’s need for Greek collateral.

When I wrote about what was wagging the dog the other day even in my wildest dreams I never would have guessed Finland.

But Finland, too, was just in search of crumbs. Whatever assets Greece actually has rights to, Finland wants it. After all, with its dying Nokia enterprise, what else does it have going for it? And besides, those reindeer need to eat, too.

So I know the feeling.

Wherever you can get those crumbs, get them.

Tomorrow? Who knows what tomorrow brings. New rumors, maybe some actual news, maybe not.

No matter. This week ends in a few days and a whole new world of opportunities comes along.

This time, I’m hoping for the whole loaf and will gladly take the crumbs, too.




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Sometimes it Pays to Wait


Patience paysToday was the kind of day that it paid to be patient.

Sometimes it’s worth hanging around to see how the story will end.

As it turned out there were so many twists and turns that had I fallen for the first one and gone with that as inspiration for this blog entry, I’d have missed the real story.

As it turned out, the downgrade of Societe Generale was just an irrelevant way station.

Same with the next series of twists and turns. It was just that kind of day. One with no unifying hypothesis, just a series of crumbling European economies and maybe a reluctant German savior.

So I patiently watched and waited for some message that might signal the opportunity to take action. Buy something, sell something. Anything. After all, I’m not making any money by blogging. I need to trade something now that I’m out of Beanie Babies.

I tend to be a fairly patient person with most things, although Sugar Momma has just come to the realization that I’m much more nervous than I let on. Those two may be connected.

If that’s true, she’s really patient, because it took her more than a quarter of a century to say anything.

Although the words “uber” and “cool” have never been used in juxtaposition with my name, the only possible explanations for taking such a long time to make that diagnosis is that she was blinded by love.

Or maybe she just never paid attention.

I guess she was just waiting for the right time and it somehow popped up when I found myself watching a football game that I had absolutely no interest in, but nonetheless, must have been exuding some pretty obvious stress.

What stressed me out was how the place kicker, who was the son of a past professor of mine, might get cut once again, this time because it didn’t appear as if he made any real effort to tackle the kick off return guy enroute to the end zone.

Steve Hauschka, late of the Baltimore Ravens, in fact, the guy that made Matt Stover expendable, is the son of Peter Hauschka Ph.D who was a giant of a man and one time placekicker for the Dallas Cowboys. He was also one of my favorite professors and was every bit as nice as he was big.

But still, I like to think of myself as being patient and above the stress that makes most people have moist underarms.

This weekend, even before the meaningless football game, my patience was tested.

Each year the past 10 years or so we have belonged to the Columbia Film Society and have dutifully gone to the newly renovated Howard County Community College auditorium, for what may be one of the best entertainment bargains around.

They are obviously doing something right as this season is their 43rd.

With each year comes the wonderment of how the campus has changed during an impressive expansion. Beyond that, there’s also the wonderment that they just keep adding more and more showings each season as more and more people want to see films with sub-titles.

Now, even the English speakig films will have sub-titles, although admittedly, some of the Briitish films have been nearly unintelligible.

Somehow, despite the consistent increase in membership, we still seem to be the youngest in the crowd, although that may be a skewed observation as we now go to the early bird Friday showing.

This years’ premiere movie was “Of Gods and Men”, a French film set in Algeria, following the conflicted lives of a small group of monks who grappled with the dangers of Islamic fundamentalism invading their peaceful village and cloister.

The movie was terrible, unless of course you’re a fan of Gregorian like chanting and multiple crescendoing scenes that have no crescendo.

I’m guessing that the $3.9 M in box office receipts wasn’t matched by CD or bobble-head sales and almost definitely was the least favorite Happy Meal Toy of 2010.

But patient as Sugar Momma usually is, she just couldn’t stand sitting and watching any longer. She actually walked out after a bit more than an hour.

I stayed.

Until the bitter end.

But I didn’t stay because I was patient. Nor did I stay because I had an unjustifiable sense of optimism.

I certainly didn’t stay for the singing or the consistent disappointments as various scenes seemed to be approaching a signifcant turn and twist.

I stayed because I don’t understand the principle of “sunk costs”.

For some reason I have a difficult time admitting that I’m wrong and moving onto something else.

Maybe even something better.

Otherwise I would have written this blog after the first 100 point drop in trading, moaning about how the European banking system was dragging us down with them.

Or maybe I would have written about how that drop was erased for about 30 seconds about an hour into the trading session.

But I stayed and lingered, watching the ticker descend further into the territory that we’ve known all too well lately.

But then it changed. The crescendo came and it didn’t disappoint.

All it took was a rumor to turn things around, and we really didn’t see this one coming. Almost like an M. Night Shymalan kind of twist, at least back when he knew how to twist.

The rumor was that China was seeking to purchase Italian debt. Despite the fact that it seems that Greece is going to be the nation to default on its debt, the Italian economy is so much bigger. Additionally, the fear of contagion is lessened if an intermediary block is fortified.

The problem is that while the market made up about 200 points, as it did a number of times last week, this time it was based on a rumor. That’s even more stressful than when moves are based on nothing at all.

I’m preparing myself for the “Breaking News” announcement that Chinese officials were actually meeting with Italians not to purchase debt, but rather to discuss 1300 years of back royalty payments owed for the Chinese patent on pasta.

But no matter. It was worth waiting to see how this day would play out.

I’d thought of selling some call options on Halliburton, JP Morgan and some others as the market was recovering, but as I kept watching the market build on the rumor I decided that this story may go into the next trading day.

Unlike “Of Gods and Men”, which never did get any better, I’ve got high hopes for Tuesday’s market.

I have no stress about the outcome, nor do I lack in patience. I know that sooner or later things will get better. I’m not walking out on this one.

At the very least, maybe gold and silver will take their rightful paces with the other bottom dwellers that I currently own. Since I’m on the short side of those precious darlings, days like today, with another $40 drop in gold and $1.40 in silver helped to ease the day, even when the rest of the market was decidedly down.

Unfortunately, I can’t say the same about “of Gods and Men”. It’s never going to get any better. It’s not very likely that there’ll be any pre-quels or sequels in my lifetime. By the time the next Columbia FIlm Society film rolls around, the South Korean “Poetry”, I will not have learned anything.

I’ll still sit through the entire showing and will still wait for an ending that will justify the time investment.

When it doesn’t work out that way, I’ll just shake my head and tell myself that next time it will be different.

It won’t be.

But at least I pulled it off today. I waited and it paid off.

Oh, and see you at the 44th season.





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See a sneak preview of Chapter 1.  hocoblogs@@@

More about the book and purchase options. Scroll down and read the Szelhamos Rules blog, updated every weekday.

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When is 300 Points not 300 Points?

The answer is easy.

This past Friday the market closed down 300 points.

For some reason, it just didn’t seem that way. That sense of disbelief and denial just wasn’t there, but I don’t think it was desensitization or numbing.

Although news is no longer pre-requisite for big moves, we did have news that was painted as being the root cause of the drop. That was the resignation of Jeurgin Stark from the European Central Bank, ostensibly over a disagreement between northern and southern European nations over how to handle the Greek crisis. This came on the heels of the German Supreme Court ruling that it was constitutional for Germany to participate in a Greek bailout.

Of course, Stark’s announcement pointed to health considerations.

For me, I thought that Juergen Stark was a character in the 1960’s cult comedy “Get Smart” ad that the market had 40 years to respond to that news. So much for that worthless aphorism that the market looks forward by 6 months and discounts the future.

Also turns out that was “Shtarker”

American FlagMaybe the day didn’t seem like any other 300 point drop day because it was the day that the NYSE commemorated the tenth anniversary of the September 11th tragedies.

There were moments of silence preceding the opening bell and then throughout the first 2 hours of trading, each representing a specific event on that horrible day.

There were many of those events, each one more unbelievable than the preceding and still hard to believe could actually happen to us.

Or to anybody.

Throughout the weekend there were ceremonies and special broadcasts.

The human mind may forget some of the details of that day, 10 years will do that, but the emotions were still there each and every time that the fall of the Towers was replayed.

Beyond that, the poignant personal stories in New York, the Pentagon and aboard United 93 still evoke tears. There’s no numbness, it’s still very fresh and painful to think about those personal stories.

Nearly everything elicited moist eyes. Paul Simon’s slow and somber rendition of “Sounds of Silence” was perfectly appropriate and gave an opportunity to interpret the meaning of each and every word.

I didn’t know anyone that was directly impacted by the death of a loved one or friend that day. I know that fellow high school and college alumni were victims that day, but I knew none of their names.

I happened to be in New York of September 10, 2001, having driven up early that morning upon receiving news that my mother had a stroke.

I’d made that 200 mile drive many times, very often as a day trip.

As it turned out that day was no different, as the stroke was relatively minor and I felt confident enough to return home, while already beginning to map out our family’s next steps.

I still recall seeing the Twin Towers as I entered New Jersey on the return trip home, but just quickly glanced at them, as I had always done, never lingering, unless traffic was stalled.

This time, the glance was perhaps less, as I recall being on the phone with a friend, trying to stump him with a piece of baseball trivia. I knew he would know the answer, since he was a sports trivia savant, even more so when it came to the Pittsburgh Pirates, his boyhood hometown.

The question was whose pitching record was Roger Clemens seeking to break for best winning percentage in a single season.

I just needed someone to talk to and joke with after a long day. He was just the tonic. The trivia question was just an unnecessary excuse.

He’s gone now, too, but I can still recall every word of that converstaion, coincidentally etched in time.

As it turned out, Clemens never broke Roy Face’s best winning percentage record, but who cares?

The next day, of course, is now one of those very few of our collective experience that people will always remember where they were and what they were doing as the news came through and then unfolded.

Two weeks later I was back in New York, this time to move my mother down to live with us.

The Towers weren’t there on the horizon and the air was still thick. That was the very last time she’d ever see New York, the city that gave her refuge. Freed from the Nazis, freed from Soviet Communists, orphaned and alone, but like so many others, discovered incredible inner strength and helped to defeat evil.

Now it was time to escape, one last time.

Thinking about a 300 point drop reminds you how meaningless some things are. Most things we can recover from. In fact, a 300 point loss, for most people, is just an event marked on paper. Unless you close out positions in panic, they’re just unrealized losses.

Not so for the events we’ve just commemorated. Even if there is no direct connection, there is a direct connection and a grief that will never go away.

Following Friday’s 300 point loss, there’s every reason to believe that the market will return to life on Monday, every reason to believe that at least there is a potential for rebirth.

For those that perished on that day that potential has been extinguished. Yet, much has been said about what that horrible day and its events has given us as a nation and as a people.

3,000 victims murdered on a single day, 2,000 orphans, 1,000 children that never met their father, another 5,000 military fatalities and, yet, Americans have rebuilt their lives and nation.

Amazingly, there never really was an endemic sense of panic. There was the immediate “fight or flight” adrenaline rush of those that due to their unfortunate destiny to be in a certain place at a specific time, but that’s a response that we’re wired for.

When it came right down to a rational assessment of the immediate hour and then the future, it is incredible how quickly individuals, businesses and our government started to move forward.


We still disagree. Just look at how long it took to get any kind of agreement over the New York memorial and rebuilding project, but we’re wired to do that as well.

In free societies, that’s what people to. They express themselves. Human expression is the bane of evil and of those that seek to promote evil.

Buildings get destroyed, innocent people are murdered, but our basic wiring is unchanged and we don’t cower in caves or behind women and children. We don’t attack places of worship, soft targets on non-combatants.

For me, watching thousands gather to commemorate the lives of those lost and the physical evidence of our monuments in respect of their lives and contributions is a greater victory than the death of a miscreant terrorist leader.

Bin Laden will be remembered as he died, even by those unwilling to admit the vision of him aged and prisoner in his own home. He grew old and pathetic. Our ideals and national spirit have not. They’ve become renewed, strengthened and resolute.

At first, I thought that a 300 point down day occuring on the day that we were commemorating the tenth anniversary of victims was an affront to their memory. Couldn’t we do better?

But then it dawned on me that the absence of panic and the focus on things far more important is a small, but fitting tribute to the legacy of those that have helped to carve out our newly strengthened national identity.







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