Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Gold In Fort Knox; Mortars and Pestles and Mortars

1. Ron Paul questions whether there's gold at Fort Knox, NY Fed

By Michael O'Brien - 08/30/10 10:21 AM ET
Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) said he plans to introduce legislation next year to force an audit of U.S. holdings of gold.
Paul, a longtime critic of the Federal Reserve and U.S. monetary policy, said he believes it's "a possibility" that there might not actually be any gold in the vaults of Fort Knox or the New York Federal Reserve bank.

The Kitco News, a website tracking news about precious metals, that an audit was necessary to determine how much the U.S. maintains in gold reserves in case the government were to use gold to back the dollar.

“If there was no question about the gold being there, you think they would be anxious to prove gold is there,” he said.  
“Our Federal Reserve admits to nothing, and they should prove all the gold is there. There is a reason to be suspicious and even if you are not suspicious why wouldn’t you have an audit?

“I think it is a possibility," Paul said when asked if there was truth to rumors that there was actually no gold at Ft. Knox or the New York Fed.

Paul had been one of the Republicans to spearhead a broader audit of the Fed as part of the Wall Street reform bill passed through Congress this year. The provision, which was weakened somewhat in the final version, found Paul joining with a number of Democrats to require the Fed to open its books and outline its assets and liabilities.

The gold reserves, which Paul's new bill would audit, are generally seen as a guarantee on a nation's currency, but the U.S. moved the dollar away from being tied to the price of gold in 1972.

Paul stopped short of calling for the reinstitution of the gold standard and instead called for the government to allow the use of hard currency — gold and silver tender — alongside the use of the dollar.

"If people get tired of using the paper standard they can deal in gold or silver,” he said. 

Note to readers:  The above item interests me because of my lingering concern that Facebook
is possibly the realization of the oft-mooted "Communist plot" they always told us about in our youth to take over the world.  In my paranoid version of this plot, the enemy ties its adversaries (us) up in pointless activities consuming all time and attention (Facebook) while stealing a march on Fort Knox.  As the old SCTV quip goes, "makes you think" (at least a little bit).

2.  Mortars and Pestles and Mortars 

I wanted to write about something that makes me a little sad.  A long time ago, I attended graduate school in art history at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University.  My principal field of concentration was Islamic art and I was fortunate enough to study under the great Islamic art scholar, Richard Ettinghausen, a pioneer and giant in the field and a lovely man and inspiring teacher.  

My first big paper for Dr. Ettinghausen was a study of various inscribed bronze Islamic mortars and pestles. What basically interested me about these three-dimensional , "everyday useful" objects (which might be considered examples of Islamic sculpture, a sort of non-existent field) was that, typical of Islamic art (I think this generalization is correct and permissible even though Islamic art is a giant field in terms of time and geography covered), they reflected a blurring of "high" and "low" art distinctions and that the artists who created them were animated by the same concern to imbue their works with spiritual meaning and beauty as were the architects, miniaturists and calligraphers.  In other words, apart from their aesthetic qualities, they reflected a world where art was "lived" and was not "apart" and put on a pedestal for admiration and celebrity/commercial purposes.
I wanted to revisit Islamic mortars and pestles on this blog and when I started doing the research on Google (which seemed the quickest route to images and information; I'm no longer a scholar with ready access to the right reference books and periodicals) by typing in "Islamic mortars" as a search term, the overwhelming number of entries were to contemporary weaponry, current military conflict and terrorism.  I shouldn't have been surprised, I suppose, but I was.  Nothing I can say will solve anything.  Nothing anyone can say, apparently, can solve anything.  In any event, please see above and below several views of a very nice example of an 11th century AD bronze Persian mortar and pestle. 


  1. I was in Fort Knox a couple years ago for a camp field trip.

  2. Wow. I find that amazing. It's like a mythical place to me.