10 December 2013

Santa and Coca-Cola

For God, Country, and Coca-Cola by Mark Pendergrast, 1999, Excerpts

Coca-Cola bottlers had always known that they had to snare the next generation of drinkers early, regardless of the taboo on direct advertising to those below twelve. One approach directed at children wound up reshaping American culture through the art of Haddon Sundblom. A hard-drinking Swede whose work was brilliant but usually late, “Sunny” made himself indispensable, regardless of his habits, by creating the classic Coca-Cola Santa Claus in 1931. Sundblom’s Santa was the perfect Coca-Cola man – bigger than life, bright red, eternally jolly, and caught in whimsical situations involving a well-known soft drink as his reward for a hard night’s work of toy delivery. Every Christmas, Sundblom delivered another eagerly awaited Coca-Cola Santa ad. When his first model, a retired Coca-Cola salesman, died, Sundblom used himself. While Coca-Cola has had a subtle, pervasive influence on our culture, it has directly shaped the way we think of Santa. Prior to the Sundblom illustrations, the Christmas saint had been variously illustrated wearing blue, yellow, green, and red. In European art, he was usually tall and gaunt, whereas Clement Moore had depicted him as an elf in “A Visit from St. Nicholas.” After the soft drink ads, Santa would forever more be a huge, fat, relentlessly happy man with broad belt and black hip boots – and he would wear Coca-Cola red.


18 November 2013

President John Kennedy - 22 Nov 1963

Whether the Federal Reserve creates debt money, or the Treasury creates fiat money, its about control of who gets to create money. However, who gets to control the creation of money is a definite source of contention with potentially deadly results.

Crossfire, The Plot That Killed Kennedy by Jim Marrs, 1989, Excerpts
Another overlooked aspect of Kennedy's attempt to reform American society involves money. Kennedy apparently reasoned that by returning to the Constitution, which states that only Congress shall coin and regulate money, the soaring national debt could be reduced by not paying interest to the bankers of the Federal Reserve system, who print paper money then loan it to the government at interest.

He moved in this area on June 4, 1963, by signing Executive Order 11,110 which called for the issuance of $4,292,893,815 in United States notes through the U.S. Treasury rather than the traditional Federal Reserve System. A number of "Kennedy bills" were indeed issued but were quickly withdrawn after Kennedy's death.

Considering that the battle over U.S. monetary control by a monolithic central bank is an issue that dates back to the founding of the Republic, some assassination researchers believe Kennedy's little-noted efforts to reform the money supply and curtail the Federal Reserve System may have cost him much more than just the enmity of the all-powerful international bankers.

JFK, The Movie

I won't name names or tell you who or what I represent.
Except to say you're close.
Closer than you think.
Everything I'll say is classified top secret.
I was a soldier, Mr. Garrison. Two wars.
A secret Pentagon guy, supplying the hardware:
Planes, bullets, rifles...

...for what we call "Black Operations."
Black Ops. Assassinations. Coups d'├ętat...
...rigging elections, propaganda, psych warfare.
In World WarIl, I was in Rumania, Greece, Yugoslavia.
I helped evacuate part of Nazi intelligence at the end of the war.
And we used those guys against the Communists.
In ltaly, '48, we stole the elections.
France '49, we broke the strikes.
Overthrew Quirino in the Philippines, Arbenz in Guatemala...
...Mossadegh in Iran. We were in Vietnam in '54...
...Indonesia, '58, Tibet, '59.
Got the Dalai Lama out. We were good.
Very good.
Then we got into the Cuban thing. Not so good.
Set up an invasion to take place in October, '62.
Khrushchev sent missiles to resist. Kennedy didn't invade.
We just had our dicks in the wind.
A lot of pissed-off people, Mr. Garrison.
I'll come to that later.
So, 1963....
I spent much of September of '63...
...working on the Kennedy plan to get all US personnel...
...out of Vietnam by the end of 1965.
One of the strongest plans issued by the Kennedy White House...
...National Security Memo 263...
...ordered home the first 1,000 troops.
But in November, a week after the murder of Vietnamese President Diem...
...and two weeks before Kennedy's assassination...
...a strange thing happened to me.
I was sent by my superior, we'll call him "Y"...
...I was sent by General Y to the South Pole...
...as military escort for a group of international VIPs.
I was on my way back, in New Zealand...
...when the President was killed.
Oswald was charged at 7:00 p.m., Dallas time...
...with Tippet's murder.
That's 2:00 p.m. the next day in New Zealand.
But already their papers had the entire history...
...of this unknown, 24-year-old Oswald.
Studio picture, detailed biography, Russian information...
...and were sure that he killed the President alone...
...although it took them four more hours to charge him with that crime in Dallas.
It felt to me as if...
...a cover story was being put out.
Like we would in a Black Op.
After I came back...
...I asked myself, why was l, the chief of Special Ops...
...sent to the South Pole to do a job...
...many others could have done?
I wondered if it could've been because...
...one of my routine duties, if I'd been in Washington...
...would've been to order additional security in Texas.
I checked it out and found that someone...
...told the 112th Military Intelligence Group at Fort Sam Houston...
...to stand down that day, over the protests of Colonel Reich.
I believe it's a mistake.
It's standard procedure, especially in a known hostile city like Dallas...
...to supplement the Secret Service.
Even if we hadn't let him ride with the bubble-top off...
...we would've put 100 to 200 agents on the sidewalk without question.
A month before, in Dallas, UN Ambassador Adlai Stevenson was spit on and hit.
There had been attempts on De Gaulle's life in France.
We'd have arrived days ahead, studied the route...
...checked all the buildings.
Never would've allowed open windows overlooking Dealey. Never!
Our own snipers would've covered the area.
If a window went up, they'd have been on the radio!
We'd be watching the crowd: packages, rolled-up newspapers, coats.
Never would've let a man open an umbrella.
Never would've let the car slow down to ten miles an hour.
Or take that unusual curve at Houston and Elm.
You'd have felt an Army presence in the streets that day.
But none of this happened. It violated our most basic protection codes.
And it is the best indication of a massive plot in Dallas.
Who could have best done this?
Black Ops. People in my business.
My superior could've called Col. Reich and said:
"We have another unit coming for security. You'll stand down."
That day, some Army Intelligence people were in Dallas.
I don't know who or why.
But they weren't protecting clients.
And Oswald. Army Intell had a Lee Harvey Oswald on file.
Those files have been destroyed.
Many strange things were happening.
Oswald had nothing to do with them.
The entire Cabinet was in the Far East.
A third of a combat division was returning from Germany...
...in the air above the United States, at the time of the shooting.
At 12:34 p.m., the Washington telephone system went out for an hour.
On the plane back to Washington...
...word was radioed from the Situations Room...
...to Johnson that there was only one assassin.
Sound like coincidences to you?
Not for one moment.
The Cabinet was out of the way.
Troops for riot control were in the air.
Telephones were out to stop the wrong stories from spreading.
Nothing was left to chance.
He could not be allowed to escape alive.
Things were never the same after that.
Vietnam started for real. There was an air of...
...make-believe in the Pentagon and CIA.
Those of us in Secret Ops knew the Warren Commission was fiction.
But there was something...
I knew Allen Dulles well. I often briefed him in his house.
But why was he appointed to investigate Kennedy's death? The man who fired him.
Dulles, by the way, was General Y's benefactor.
I got out in '64.
Resigned my commission.
I never realized Kennedy was so dangerous to the establishment.
Is that why?
That's the real question, isn't it? Why?
The how and the who is just scenery for the public.
Oswald, Ruby, Cuba, the Mafia...
...keeps them guessing, like a game.
Prevents them from asking the most important question: why?
Why was Kennedy killed? Who benefited?
Who has the power to cover it up? Who?
In 1961...
...right after the Bay of Pigs, very few people know this...
...I participated in drawing up National Security Action Memos 55, 56, 57.
These are documents classified top secret.
In them, Kennedy told Gen. Lemnitzer, chairman of the Joint Chiefs...
...that from here on, the Joint Chiefs would be wholly responsible...
...for all covert paramilitary action in peacetime.
This ended the reign of the CIA.
Splintered it into 1,000 pieces, as JFK promised he would.
And now he was ordering the military...
...to help him do it. Unprecedented!
I can't tell you the shock waves this sent along the corridors of power.
This and the firing of Allen Dulles...
...Richard Bissell and Gen. Charles Cabell.
All were sacred cows in Intell since World War II.
They got some very upset people.
Kennedy's directives weren't implemented because of...
...bureaucratic resistance.
But one of the results was...
...the Cuban operation was turned over to my department...
...as Operation Mongoose.
Mongoose was pure Black Ops.
It was secretly based at Miami University...
...which has the largest domestic CIA station...
...budgeted annually for hundreds of millions of dollars.
Three hundred agents, 7,000 select Cubans.
Fifty fake business fronts to launder money.
They waged a non-stop war against Castro.
Industrial sabotage, crop burning, etc.
All under the control of General Y.
He took the rules of covert warfare he'd used abroad...
...and brought them to this country.
Now he had the people, the equipment, the bases...
...and the motivation.
Don't underestimate the budget cuts that Kennedy called for in March of 1963.
Nearly 52 military installations in 25 states.
Twenty-one overseas bases.
Big money.
You know how many helicopters have been lost in Vietnam?
Nearly 3,000 so far.
Who makes them? Bell Helicopter. Who owns Bell?
Bell was nearly bankrupt when First National Bank of Boston asked the CIA...
...to use the helicopter in Indochina. How about the F-111 fighter?
General Dynamics of Fort Worth, Texas. Who owns that?
Find out the defense budget since the war began. $75 going on $100 billion.
Nearly $200 billion will be spent before it's over.
In 1949, it was $10 billion.
No war...no money.
The organizing principle of any society, Mr. Garrison...
...is for war.
The authority of the state over its people resides in its war powers.
Kennedy wanted to end the Cold War in his second term.
He wanted to call off the moon race and cooperate with the Soviets.
He signed a treaty to ban nuclear testing.
He refused to invade Cuba in 1962.
He set out to withdraw from Vietnam.
But all that ended on the 22nd of November, 1963.
Since 1961, they knew Kennedy was not going to war in Southeast Asia.
Like Caesar, he is surrounded by enemies.
Something's underway, but it has no face. Yet, everybody in the loop knows.
Forget about combat troops.
He told McNamara he would pull out the goddamn advisors!
He fucked us in Laos and now he will fuck us in Vietnam!
He can't afford to implement it before the election.
I hear the NSC meeting was a real barn burner.
I wouldn't have missed it for the world. Heads will roll. Hear about Lemnitzer?
Kennedy rubbed Lem's nose in shit.
Said if we didn't go into Cuba, which was so close...
...why go into Vietnam which is so far away?
There he goes again.
Got his hand on the chicken switch.
Lem said that the Chiefs still think we should go into Cuba.
Money's at stake.
Big money. $100 billion.
Kennedy bred voting districts for defense dollars.
He gave TFX fighter contracts only to those counties that will matter in '64.
The people in the loop fight back. Their way.
We have to control the intelligence from Saigon.
We just don't let McNamara stick his nose in this thing!
Every time he goes over to Saigon for a fact-finding mission...
...he comes back and scares the shit out of Kennedy!
Now I want Max Taylor on him night and day...
...like a fly on shit.
You control McNamara, you control Kennedy.
I think it started like that.
In the wind.
Defense contractors, oil bankers. Just conversation.
A call is made. Maybe to someone like my superior officer General Y.
We're going. We need your help.
In the fall. Probably in the South.
-We want you to come up with a plan. -I can do that.
Everything is cellularized.
No one said, "He must die." No vote. Nothing's on paper.
There's no one to blame.
It's as old as the crucifixion.
Or the military firing squad.
Five bullets, one blank. No one's guilty.
Everybody in the power structure...
...has a plausible deniability.
No compromising connections except at the most secret point.
But it must succeed.
No matter how many die or how much it costs...
...the perpetrators must be on the winning side...
...and never subject to prosecution for anything by anyone.
That is a coup d'├ętat.
Kennedy announces the Texas trip in September.
At that moment, second Oswalds pop up all over Dallas...
...where they have the mayor and the cops in their pocket.
General Y flies in the assassins.
Maybe from the special camp we keep near Athens, Greece.
They'd be locals, Cubans, Mafia hire. Separate teams.
Does it matter who shot...
...from what rooftop?
Part of the scenery.
I keep thinking about that Tuesday...
...the 26th of November.
The day after they buried Kennedy.
Gentlemen, I am not going to let Vietnam go like China did.
I'm committed...
...not to take our soldiers out of there till they know we mean business in Asia.
Lyndon Johnson signs National Security Memo 273...
...which reverses Kennedy's withdrawal policy...
...and approves covert action against North Vietnam...
...provoking the Gulf of Tonkin incident.
Just get me elected, I'll give you the damn war.
In that document...
...lay the Vietnam War.
I can't believe they killed him because he wanted to change things.
-ln our time, in our country! -They've done it throughout history.
Kings are killed. Politics is power, nothing more!
Don't take my word for it. Do your own thinking.
The size of this is...
...beyond me.

Could the US get a $1tn platinum coin?
09 Jan 2012
A petition urging the creation of platinum coin worth $1tn (£624bn) has attracted nearly 7,000 signatures and the support of some heavyweight economists such as Nobel prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, and Philip Diehl, the former director of the United States Mint. Experts say the plan would be lawful and should allow the government to keep spending if President Barack Obama fails to convince lawmakers to raise the "debt ceiling" - a cap, set by Congress, on the US government's borrowing ability. This brinksmanship could threaten the US's credit rating if the country's debt reaches or breaks through this ceiling. Walden said he feared the practice would be "very inflationary".

13 October 2013

An Alternate Form of Money

One may speculate on alternate forms of money, such as electricity. Electricity is a primary societal need. Everybody is wired to electricity. To not have electricity would severely disrupt society. The intrinsic value of an electrical unit, measured in kilowatt-hours, is uniform and measurable. One root of all comparative valuation could be a kilowatt-hour, kWh. A 100 Watt bulb on for 10 hours is 1 kWh.

Since the storage capacity of electricity is still negligible, the extraction rate of electricity equals its consumption rate. For the most part, what’s produced is consumed immediately. Though the extraction rate and the consumption rate may increase, they increase proportionately. As long as the storage capacity of electricity is negligible, the result is a zero growth rate of money. A zero growth rate does not facilitate the application of interest. Society will restructure itself to accommodate a zero growth form of money.

The relationship of a kilowatt-hour with its energy source would become primary societal knowledge. Oil, natural gas, coal, nuclear, and hydro are the predominate sources of energy used in the production of electricity. Solar, wind, and bio are still ancillary energy sources. Oil, natural gas, and coal are finite resources with extremely low replenishment rates. To ‘save money’ would be to save electricity, perhaps enough to eliminate the need for nuclear and foreign fossil fuels immediately.

The immediate source of money would be the utility serving the local power grid. In California, PG&E would be the utility for Northern California and Socal Edison would be the utility for Southern California. The production of electricity comes from many sources contracted with the utility; however, the distribution of electricity through the grid is centralized and controlled by the utility. The management of money would go from global to regional while still maintaining a global form of money. Eventually and perhaps quickly, more independent ways to produce electricity would be creatively found.

The logistical details of how an actual transaction occurs using electricity as a form of money becomes the project deliverable. It takes a lot of people to run the utility and they have needs like everyone else i.e., the basis of trade with others.

Money by Edwin Walter Kemmerer, Princeton, 1935
Money is a comparatively modern device. Our earliest record of coin dates back to the eleventh century before Christ in China, although at that time man had been on the earth probably a million or more years. Goods were exchanged long before money existed, and the origin of exchange was in gifts. One would make a present to another in the hope of obtaining a present in return. Our modern customs in regard to Christmas and birthday presents are reminiscent of these primitive forms of exchange.

Mammon by Robert Graves, Annual Oration, London School of Economics & Political Science, 1963
Let us go back farther in ancient history, to the idea of barter; and beyond that to the idea of obligatory gift-exchanges; and beyond that, to the still purer idea of unconditional gift. What we now call ‘finance’ is, I hold, an intellectual perversion of what began as warm human love.

A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn
Everyone could share the routine but necessary jobs for a few hours a day, and leave most of the time free for enjoyment, creativity, labors of love, and yet produce enough for an equal and ample distribution of goods.

28 August 2013

Money Defined

Money - World Book Encyclopedia
Money is anything that is generally accepted by people in exchange for the things they sell or the work they do. Any object or substance that serves as a medium of exchange, a unit of account, and a store of wealth is money. To be convenient, however, money should have several qualities. It should come in pieces of standard value so that it does not have to be weighed or measured every time it is used. It should be easy to carry so that people can carry enough money to buy what they need. Finally, it should divide into units so that people can make small purchases and receive change.

A unit of money is the lowest common denominator for comparative valuation among many persons. Money allows the exchange of goods and services to be conducted in interregnum transactions. Something of value is exchanged for an amount of money, and that money is later exchanged for something else of equivalent value with someone else completely unrelated to the first exchange. That is the simplicity and beauty of money.

A History of Interest Rates by Sidney Homer, Rutgers, 1963
A study of primitive money catalogues some 173 objects and materials which in ancient and modern times have had monetary attributes in one or more places and at one or more times. Those most frequently mentioned include beads, cattle, cloth, copper, gold, grain, iron, rice, salt, shells, silver, skins, slaves and tobacco.

Commodities, some more than others, have an intrinsic value that is uniform, storable, divisible, and transportable. Cattle sufficed as money for large transactions, but obviously not smaller transactions since cattle are not divisible. However, cattle sufficed so well for larger transactions that the term pecuniary, which means 'related to money,' is derived from the Latin pecuniarius, meaning 'wealth in cattle.' What does and does not qualify to be called ‘money’ is not cut and dry.

For discussion purposes, all persons who use the same form(s) of money comprise a ‘society’. The valuation process increases in complexity as the number of different forms of money in coexistence increases, to such a degree that no more than a handful would most likely coexist at the same time within the same society. Which commodity transforms into or out of the category of ‘money’ is a Darwinian selection process determined by the Market.

The mere logistics of gathering, manufacturing and handling each form of money significantly shapes the culture of a society, impacting the way and manner a society interacts. All those who use the same form, or forms, of money have something in common with each other. Any change in the form of money will impact societal interaction as a whole and individually. When a society changes or alters its form of money, societal changes occur in proportion to the magnitude of the change or alteration.

11 August 2013

The Market

Market (Random House Dictionary)
A meeting of people for selling and buying.

Trading allows one specialty to be exchanged for another specialty. Each specialty has its own nuances and learning curve to overcome. Nobody can cover all the required specialties of life, hence the need for trade. Specialties develop economic efficiencies, which saves work, time, and resources.

The intrinsic value of each form of money is comparative to the intrinsic values of all other forms of money. All factors affecting the valuation of each and all forms of money are inclusive in the Market. The Market checks and balances the valuation of each form of money in relation to everything that is valued. The valuation process is comparative, variable, corrective, and ongoing in the Market.

The relational complexity of the Market is analogous to the complexity of the weather system. Modern weather forecasting is still limited in accuracy to less than a few days. In fact, the weather itself can significantly alter Market valuations by drought, flood, etc. and is therefore a significant component of the Market. The complexity of the Market is all inclusive.

Barter is the process by which valuations are mutually achieved. Whether one takes the price as is or haggles over it, it is still part of the barter process, with or without money. Money merely facilitates the barter process.

Transactions of categorical sizes, large to small, use different forms of money, with overlapping of all categories, which allows the Market to make comparative valuations among the various forms of money. All forms of money cannot be perfectly proportioned throughout a society, which creates societal distinctions based on the proportional use of each form of money. Historically, metals had been established forms of money long before written history. Large transactions used gold, small transactions used copper, and transactions in between used silver, all overlapping in use. The metals are still represented in today’s coinage, though not in substance.

05 August 2013

Minting Money

Any form of money can be minted into Monetary Units: packaged units of money of specific quantity and quality. The Monetary Unit is a reliable and convenient store of value, simplifying the valuation and logistical process of barter. The Minter guarantees the content of each Monetary Unit, such as a stamp, and keeps a portion of the minted material, called seigniorage, to cover the expense of minting.

The Monetary Unit is equivalent to a standard weight and measure. A meter is a fixed length, and a liter is a fixed volume. Once defined, the standard should never change. A changing standard is societally disruptive. As an example, if the meter or yard were to be redefined, the impact upon science, engineering, and the trades would be severely disruptive. In the same manner and same magnitude, redefining the Monetary Unit disrupts comparative valuations, negatively impacting the Market and Society.

The minting of money is very ancient in origin.

Moses, Prince of Egypt by Howard Fast (Fictional History)
Yet a sort of money there had to be, and among the Phoenicians pearls and precious stones became the units of trade and measure. The Sea Rovers of the Achaean islands used balls of tin and gold and silver, and the people of Hatti used the most precious metal man had ever found, iron, in cubit-long bars. Among the Egyptians, yardage of linen and sacks of wheat had become too cumbersome for the ever growing commerce of the City of the Ramses, and finger-rings and bracelets of copper, tin and gold were becoming set units of value. Nowhere on all the known earth was there a place where the Egyptian ring had not found its way, and there was no movable product of the earth that had not been unloaded at the stone docks of Ramses.

The legacy of the ancient metals as forms of money lingers today in modern coins. Such pieces of metal have been excavated in Troy, Asia Minor, Babylonia, Assyria, Syria, Egypt, and Iran. The first public building constructed by the new government of the United States, well before the Capitol or White House, was the Mint.

29 July 2013

Rich as Croesus -- Origination of Legal Tender

Money is commonly credited to have originated in seventh century BC; however, money has been in existence long before written history, and metallurgy had long been at an advanced state by seventh century B.C., advanced enough to make rings, swords, shields, jewelry, and such. Creating small, circular disks of metal to be used as money would not have been a technological nor conceptual breakthrough. Minters stamping ingots of copper or silver to certify a coin’s weight and fineness had been practiced long before in Babylon. So what significant event happened to money in seventh century B.C. to confuse it with the origination of money itself? Answer: the origination of Legal Tender.

In sixth century BC, the first Legal Tender coinage was stamped in Lydia, a leading gold producer, a country in what is now western Turkey. King Croesus of Lydia [560-546 BC] is credited with this development of Legal Tender, often confused with the birth of money itself. In the process, Croesus became fabulously wealthy.

Croesus (Random House Dictionary)
1. died 546 B.C., king of Lydia 560-546: noted for his great wealth. 2. a very rich man.

The History of Money by Jack Weatherford, 1997
"As rich as Croesus" is a common expression in modern English, Turkish, and other languages around the world.

A Man in Full by Tom Wolfe, 1998
He was Old Family and Piedmont Driving Club all the way, and he was rich as Croesus.

The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas, 1844
However, when he served the dinner given by d’Artagnan and saw him take out a handful of gold to pay for it, Planchet thought his fortune was made and thanked heaven for having placed him in the service of such a Croesus.

Martin Luther, 1517
In 1517, Martin Luther posts his 95 Theses protesting the sale of indulgences by the pope in order to raise money to build a basilica to shelter the bones of St. Peter. “Why doesn’t the pope build the basilica of St. Peter out of his own money? He is richer than Croesus."

Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James, 2012
Honestly, fancy falling for a man who’s beyond beautiful, richer than Croesus, and has the Red Room of Pain waiting for me.

The name Croesus has passed the test of time for defining wealth. By what mechanism was this wealth obtained?

Though two gold coins may be of the same quality and weight, only a coin stamped by the State is considered Legal Tender, and therefore a valid payment for taxes and debt. If one coin is not stamped Legal Tender, it may be rejected by the State or Creditor as a valid payment, throwing the Taxpayer or Debtor into default, evoking eviction, seizure, and/or slavery clauses. Since the State monopolizes Legal Tender, all Taxpayers and Debtors are motivated to sell a portion of their goods and services to the State, directly or indirectly, in order to obtain the Legal Tender required to avoid tax and debt default. The State is in a position to pay less than Market value for the goods and services received, skewing wealth towards the State at the expense of the Taxpayer and Debtor.

The use of Legal Tender spread throughout the Greek States. Greek architecture has overwhelmingly adorned the institutions of Law and Money. The first public building constructed by the new government of the United States, well before the Capitol or White House, was the Mint.

Legal tender is a derivative form of money, not money itself.

Legal Tender (Random House Dictionary):
Currency that may be lawfully tendered or offered in payment of money debts and that may not be refused by creditors.

Legal Tender (Dictionary of Cultural Literacy):
Any form of money that a government decrees must be accepted in payment of debts.

Croesus and the Delphi Oracle

The Delphi Oracle was renowned both for the ambiguity and the occasional plain accuracy of its answers. Croeus, king of Lydia [560-546BC], wanted to test the most highly regarded Greek oracles. He sent messengers to each one of them with instructions to ask, after exactly 100 days had passed, the following question: “What is the king of Lydia doing today?” Five of the oracles were wrong. A sixth was close. The oracle at Delphi replied as follows:

Lo, in my sense there striketh the smell of a shell-covered tortoise,
Boiling now in a fire, with the flesh of a lamb in a cauldron.
Brass is the vessel below, and brass the cover above.

As it happened, Croesus was, at that very moment, cooking a lamb-and-tortoise stew in a brass pot. Convinced of the oracle’s accuracy, he questioned it about the weightier question on his mind, namely the Persian Wars. The answer was that a great army would be defeated. Taking this for a good omen, Croesus sent his army into battle against Cyrus the Great. Again the oracle hit the mark, but it was Croesus’ army that was defeated.

The Delphic Oracle, 1899, John William Godward [1861-1922]