For a Few Thalers More…


I almost never carry cash anymore and I’m not alone. A 2014 survey found that 2 in 5 Americans have less than $20 on them on a regular basis while 9% carry none at all. Over the next few decades banknotes will become extinct and we’ll pay for goods and services with a thumbprint, retinal scan, or by farting into a plastic tube (fingers crossed).

That day has not yet arrived though. The dollar bill is one of the most recognized objects in this country and all over the world. Want a snack from a roadside vendor in rural Ghana? Show him a dollar bill and chances are his face will light up like a Christmas tree. The plain ol’ greenback is a potent symbol but where did we get the word “dollar”?

Joachimsthaler, 1525

In the early 1500’s a rich vein of silver was discovered in St. Joachim’s Valley in the Kingdom of Bohemia (today the Czech Republic). Local authorities minted coins from the silver, calling them joachimsthalers, thal (pronounced like “tall”) being the German word for valley. The first skeleton of a Neanderthal was found in the Neander Valley near Düsseldorf in the 19th century.

Over time the name shrank to thalers (literally “from the valley”) and entered into other European languages. A popular Dutch coin, the leeuwendaler or “lion dollar”, became well known and much-used in the American colonies and after independence “dollar” was chosen as the name for our currency.

A hundred years from now “singles”, “C-notes”, and “sawbucks” will be museum pieces but no matter how we pay for that cup of soylent green, it will still be in dollars.

What is going on in Yemen? Hint: Nothing Good.

yemen destruction

The US has not only gotten itself involved in yet another foreign conflict but we are almost single-handedly keeping the fight going with wide ranging aid to our “allies” in Saudi Arabia. We’ve been involved in the Middle East for over 60 years now and yet the region is still a mess with numerous civil wars, failed states, and a cavalcade of dictators, monarchs, and kleptocrats that would make Stalin proud.

Yemen is a mess and I wish I could accurately and neatly sum up just how bad it has gotten in this long forgotten country in the southwestern corner of the Arabian Peninsula. What I can say (I’d rather yell it) is that while the US did not start this mess, we are the primary reason for its continuation. I’m ashamed of my country and all Americans should be too. I’ve put together a brief overview of what is happening, who’s involved and why, and the humanitarian catastrophe unfolding.

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Cromulent Manifesto?

cromulent logo


First of all, “cromulent manifesto” is a nonsense phrase taken from a Simpsons episode over 20 years ago and if you get the reference…here’s an imaginary cookie. This site is my experiment with a website heavy on history and particularly why the past matters. Oh, and also random opinions and ramblings about God knows what.

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