Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Let them eat .. crow

During the reign of Louis XVI in France, the staple food of the French peasants (who likely made up more than 47% of the population) was bread. Incredibly, the purchase of bread consumed as much as 50% of their income.

When his wife, Marie Antoinette, learned that there was a bread shortage during one of the famines that occurred during her husband’s reign, she has alleged to have said, “let them eat cake”.. Her disdain for the working class ultimately proved to be very costly to her personally, as she became a victim of the guillotine on October 16, 1793.

If you dig a little deeper into the history of Marie Antoinette’s comment, you’ll discover that there’s a bit of “urban legend” in her story, but it makes for a good segue into another topic, the 2012 Presidential election. Since by now we’re all very tired of politics, and glad that the whole thing is over, you’ll be relieved to know that politics will only get a brief mention in this article.

One of the fascinating components of the English language are the idioms that are part of our everyday language. One of those idioms is “eating crow”, and it is defined as suffering humiliation by admitting wrongness after having been proved wrong after taking a strong position. Although the phrase could be used in any number of situations, its application seems to be more common in the areas of sports, investments - and politics.

The phrase came to mind recently when I read an opinion column by a conservative columnist named Wayne Allen Root on November 1, where he predicted that Mitt Romney would win the Presidency by a landslide. You can read his reasons, and watch his video, by clicking on the link below:


You’ll also be interested to know that CNBC’s stock analyst Jim Cramer recently predicted that President Obama would win by a landslide. That’s closer to the truth, if you consider the electoral college vote, but way off the mark if you’re looking at Obama’s razor thin popular vote margin of victory.

Since I enjoy “stirring the pot” occasionally, I’m going to have a little fun with these predictions, mainly at the expense of Wayne Allen Root. Thanks to the magic of Google, I was able to find some recipes for cooking crow. I’m sending him a copy of the recipes, along with a copy of his column of November 1.

The most famous political gaffe in the last 100 years was the headline in the November 3, 1948, Chicago Daily Tribune that declared the Dewey had defeated Truman.

Inevitably, there was a modern version of this headline in June of 2012, when both CNN and FOX erroneously declared that the Affordable Care Act had been overturned by the Supreme Court.

Most people would consider Fortune magazine to be a fairly good predictor of investments, but their predictions for the decade of 2000 to 2010 were way off the mark..

The best example of “the experts being wrong” was the investment strategy of the Hunt brothers in the early 1970’s. By the end of the 1970’s, the Hunt brothers (and their Arab partners) owned roughly 50% of the world’s supply of silver. By the time the silver market had collapsed, in 1987, the Hunt brothers wound up losing a very ugly $1 billion.

There are many contenders for the worst sports predictions, but the list posted below is worth considering:

are you sure about that?

If you veer away from politics, investments, and sports, you’ll find that predictions, in ANY AREA, are fraught with peril:

who the hell wants to hear actors talk?

Since we’re only human, ALL of us make mistakes from time to time. Take a few minutes, and reflect on YOUR favorite mistake. When you’re done, I’d recommend watching the video shown below, since it describes

the favorite mistakes - of a Crow.

For the rest of the day, though, be very careful. After all, every day is a winding road.

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