This economy is a what?
Replaying 1929: Business, Financial, and earth change news
Updated: Saturday June 28, 2008 07:55 CDT
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Bear with us: A Stock Mortem
STOCK MORTEM - From the Ureism, after the Friday close..
"It could have been worse" is about the best face that can be put on it, and even that would take a couple of shots of Jack with a beer chaser to blurt out without choking up for most folks, especially among the nearly 'grays' who have bought into paper assets as a means of holding value long-term. A dodgy proposition, at best, as I've mentioned.
Wrong on much of his work, at least Marx got 'owning the means of production' right. This was not a good week for the sheep of cannibal capitalism...
Besides breaking a 34-year trend line from the 1970's (varies by who's doing the counting, but it's around there), the closing Dow of 11,346.51 compared with last Saturday morning's 11,842.69. That's just 3.82 points from being a 500-point loss for the week. Close enough for a Saturday morning chat.
The truth of the matter is there's a simple reason for this week's rout: More sellers than buyers, a condition exacerbated by the end of quarter jockeying as fund managers want to show something other than the truth of this year's performance. And that is?
On December 31, 2007, the Dow closed at 13,264.82, so if you're pushing calculator buttons and worried about your retirement plans going "Poof!", you ought to come up with a drop of 1,918.31 for the year-to-date. That's only a 14.46% decline in the Dow, but I should remind you (if I can with a straight face) that dividends by the Dow 30 would soften that a bit. You may have figured out that's about as useful as KY with a locomotive.
On the other hand, flipping over to the www.Kitco.com chart site, and not to rub salt around in it, but the close of the 'yellow dog' was $833.30 on December 31, 2007. That same chart set reveals 926.80, although they may be having an issue with updating. www.ino.com reports the last trade on August gold was at$930.90 or $931.30, depending if you wand 100 ounces from the CBOT with an August delivery, or a NYMEX August contract.
Even using the Kitco figures, lowest of the group and closest to spot, you'd be looking at an 11.2% gain for the year to date.
The Blame Game
The conventional wisdom - shunned around here - is that a bear market is a decline of 20% - and to be sure, this market is there,; it's a bear.
Recall the 52-week Dow high is showing as 14,280 and the requisite 20% off that would put the Dow around 11,424...and since the Dow closed well under that this week, you're probably wondering where headline writers are getting their gumption to refer to this as the "brink of bear market" as in the Bloomberg headline "U.S. stocks slump, Pushing Dow average to brink of bear market".
"Gee, George, Maybe they are talking about the S&P, or something..."
Yah think? Let's test that theory, shall we? 52-week high for the S&P 500: 1,576.09 so 20% off that would be...1260.87. Take a gold star...that's why it's not officially a 'Bear".
Think the market can lose 1.4% next week? Think McDonalds might serve a burger today?
End of quarter portfolio cleaning aside, what's at fault? Take your pick of the headlines:
On this last, it's the worst levels since April and May of 1980. But, maybe it was actually worse in the last Depression. They only started measuring in 1952.
Yes, the mortgage market has problems, yes oil is expensive, and yes, the dollar is still overpriced relative to the goods and services produced by America and traded with the rest of the world - especially if you drop out financial products from the mix. Might want to save some for paper mache, though.
Is there a long term fix and a way to get America back on a sound footing? Oh sure. Go to a real currency with direct convertibility, and I'm not talking gold and silver. This weekend for Peoplenomics.com subscribers I explain how a BTU-based currency, set initially based on purchasing power parity and featuring a deliverability attribute, would thin down the Fat Cat Bankster system in no time.
Delivery clauses honesty, and without it you end up with things like....oh, the ABX maybe?
We're in a world where BTU's are the most important underpinning of society, whether they come from oil, wind, solar, gas, or cord wood and food. A calorie or BTU-based currency system with absolute deliverability solves a lot of problems, unless of course, you live in Midtown and are a calorie sink. You might consider honest work, for a change...
Packaging financial product with a side order of carbon credits just perpetuates the banker class. What the world needs is honest trade and a BTU/caloric system with deliverability would thin down the banking model which has been on a Ponzi-like run for a long time - but more on this for subscribers.
More proof that BTU's rule? Oil hit over $142 this week.
Linguistics: Hugging of the Queen
My commodities broker JB called all excited Friday afternoon to report "I think this is it! The hugging of the queen in the web bot run...it's a big temporal marker!" Oh, where metals go climbing and such? Uh...yeah, sure seems to fit, especially when reports include wording like:
It may be close enough, a check with the time monks this weekend may be in order, but they're on break with the crunch time for the next run, which will focus on coming events out to May of 2009 starts late this coming week - and they deserve some down time to catch up on things before going back to computer screens for 12-hour stints.
Other Memes, Other Themes
'Them rains' (as we told you were due for a long 3-4 month run linguistically) are making headlines like "More rains hit flooded US Midwest; corn at record. " Sadly, looks like we ain't seen nothing yet. Never too late to plant a garden, though.
A few readers seem surprised, or at least impressed with the predictive work:
Well, er, uh...Yeah kinda, sorta, would seem so. Along with the NE Power Outage, 9/11, the recent Chinese quake, the space shuttle disaster, anthrax attack, and the Banda Aceh quake, Dick Cheney's shooting incident and how many other's I've forgotten...and now this, but hey! This is a garage enterprise. Only for entertainment.
Next BIG 'entertainment possibility' is the window around July 7-9 where a major (read: you don't want to be there if you don't have to when it happens) western US quake might fit the word shifts...but we shall see...water for three weeks and food ready, in case it's right? No downsize to being prepped that I can think of...
Car Insurance Nightmare
'Hail damages up to 30,000 new VW's" in Emden on Germany's north coast. Wonder if the hail killed any geckos?
Anthrax Suit Settled
An "Ex-Army scientist to get $5.8 million in anthrax lawsuit". That could be a little misleading, though. The Justice Department gets to buy a 20-year annuity to pay off $3-million of that, which cuts the taxpayer cost quite a bit less. Assuming a 5% rate for an annuity, the actual cost to the government for that $3-million chunk is likely a bit under $2-million. Even less if a higher rate is assumed.
Travel for the Rich / Elite Department
The headline "Deeper cuts to come in U.S. airline service" has me thinking that more and more companies will go to video-conferencing - Skype and WebEx anyone?
I can just see what this brings: X-rays and cavity searches before hitting the web...via house calls maybe?
All that's missing is a terror-scarer citing 'terrorist use of the web' for government's worldwide to seize and license web use.
I knew I liked Spaghetti Department
The headline "US checks if tomatoes caused Salmonella outbreak" has me appreciating locally grown produce from the farmer up the road. And, I'm reminded why I like simmering a pot of spaghetti on a low boil for hours...
Forget RFID tags for animals under the bureaucratic NAIS hype. Let's get to the real culprits in agricultural health! RFID tomatoes and spinach!
You got questions, we got answers...
Pass the Popcorn
"Nuclear missiles could blow-up 'like popcorn' thanks to a design flaw in British warheads. Quick! Call Orville Redenbacher...
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Coping: Readers 'Getting It'
The average reader of this site has an extremely high GIQ ('getting it quotient'). Some examples:
We have to get this reader another cup of coffee...I had already mentioned that I bought that book plus the book on how to build an earth-sheltered greenhouse, as well...still, worth mentioning again.
And the best of the morning is this one:
And speaking of planting thing...
We are So Screwed Department, III
Oh, the troubles in America, these days. "Nevada brothels feel pinch of higher fuel prices, report fewer customers" reports Channel 2 up in Reno.
Never to be stumped by marketing problems, some "Nevada brothels trying to boost business offer a new enticement - gas cards" headlines the San Jose Merc.
I'd offer an alternative explanation for the slowdown in the brothel business. Maybe it's not really a lack of disposable incomes or high gasoline prices at all.
Maybe it's because we're getting enough of a screwing from the bozos inside the Beltway who look to the past to solve tomorrow's problems, and along the way trample the fine path the Framers laid out for us. Government is to serve The People, not t'other way around.
Send snip and save ideas to email@example.com.
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Around the Ranch: Protecting America
A friend and long-time reader, a career military officer, is off this morning to his new posting in a far away place where he'll be posted to a US Embassy. I'd just like to wish him a safe journey and tour...as well as my heartfelt thanks to the men and women who leave friends and family to keep America safe.
We owe them an unpayable debt, and we have a responsibility to deliver them the highest quality leadership at home. I'm vexed by the question: Are we failing them?
Spreadsheet School: Gas Cost Impact Estimator
For a typical family that was able to save $150 a month on an after-tax household income of $3,600, an increase in the price of gasoline from $4.00 to $5.00 could result in them having to draw down $94.40 per month from savings, and further, with savings of just $6,500, this typical family would be out of savings in 68.9 months. How'd I figure that? Aha! This week I've written up a quick spreadsheet template so you can plug in your own household budget numbers and make an intelligent estimate of how long before you run out of savings if the price of gas goes up or down. Along with it I've included a super-short introduction to spreadsheets and design notes on how to tweak the model this way or that... (More for subscribers - click here)
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Tell Your Friends
UrbanSurvival has a very interesting business model - one that depends on growth. This busin4ess model is a lot like capitalism in that growth is required, but of course we won't ever get to cutting down the rainforests. So even if you don't subscribe to our premium newsletter at www.peoplenomics.com, please tell everyone you know about this site. The more this site grows, the more time and content will show up on the free site... Click here to send 'em an invite... Thank you!
"Live on $10,000" Updated
There's now a single-page website devoted to my little ebook "How to Live on $10,000 a year (or less) at www.liveontenthousand.com. Yep - still possible. I also took a bit of additional material that was pertinent from recent issues of Peoplenomics and included them. The whole thing runs about 65 pages, but it gives you a vision of how to not only live on the aforementioned dollar amount, but also how to migrate up the economic foodchain if you make a little more than that and do some active savings... Click here for the page with more details on it.
I promised Elaine that I would unload some of my equipment, so if you're looking for ham gear, especially the older tube-type (EMP resistant) type, send me a note and I will send out the list of what I'm selling off when I get it together. Click here to Put Me On Ham Gear List.
Friday June 27, 2008
With the market now down 137 on the Dow, would the people who were calling Robin Landry a pessimist when the Dow perked up a bit lighten up early? He looks like an optimist about now...
$142 Oil is NOT the Really, Really Bad News...
Now and then, this here web site has been called by various deniers of fact, a 'doom and gloom' site. The reason goes to the idea that "No one in their right mind would focus on 'worst case' outcomes unless they were a little crazy." If that's your opinion, your welcome to it, because the study of non-traditional economics I practice is no different that dozens of other professions, most of which are considerably more 'respectable'.
Take airline pilotry, just as a for instance. Do you want to be driven from point A to point B by someone operating at the precise limit of their abilities on a ceiling and visibility unrestricted (CAVU in hanger-talk) day? Is there a group of pilots that really train for the worst? You bet! They all do. I'd opt for the PIC (pilot in command) being an ex-fighter jockey turned sky bus driver who still gets up and wrings out a Citabria on weekends, or my person favorite, the A152 Cessna Aerobat, thanks.
Or, would you like to be operated on by a surgeon who was operating (on you) at the limits of his or her professional training, not knowing having any tricks up their sleeve in the event they "Ooops! Nicked an artery there, hemostat, please?" Again, even if it's minor surgery, I would take the doc who has 4-years of front line combat experience, or someone who's put 5-years in as a trauma doc in a high volume big city ER, over the "artiste" who is genius-level in specialty but lacks breadth and exposure to the worst of the worst-case possibilities. Stuff happens even, or maybe especially, in OR's.
Yet, somehow, when we get into the area of finance, and the now 11-year weather-eye this site has cast toward the storm clouds on the financial horizon, training for the worst somehow suddenly turns into a bad thing and I'm labeled an alarmist. (Nutjob is better, thanks)
Folks don't want to read the fine print that stocks and bonds can and do lose money, which you may have figured out by checking your account balances last week and today. And the few who read that don't want to believe or act on it. Go figure.
Several weeks ago in one of my subscriber Peoplenomics newsletters, I outlined a "worst case" view for readers. I opined that we should all be setting up contingency plans for Dow 7,400. I reiterated that my long-time broker friend Robin Landry had gotten his managed accounts out of stocks and into bonds or cash on the sidelines two months ago based on his market models.
I've even gone so far as to admit that Jas Jain is right about rolling into bonds, but he may have been early. Time will tell on that, especially if we get one last serious bounce before the MOAC arrives this fall. (The MOAC I refer to is the "mother of all crashes" if you dozed off during earlier reports).
With that in mind, I talked Monday after the close with Robin Landry about what he expects this morning - and going forward...
Landry's view may be that of an optimist compared with a knowledgeable market player in Europe who has shared some outlooks with me from time to time. As this morning's headline suggests, his really, really bad news is that the worst case now brings a Dow under 2,000 into view. Yes, you read that right - the MOAC would have 7,400 as a bounce point on the way to the near 'death of stocks'...
Oh, oh. One of the interpretations of the predictive linguistics that have reminded us that October 7th at 7:10 is the center point for an emotional event that seems to be largely economic in content - the MOAC kind of thing) is that 7,400 this summer, then a bounce and fall collapse scenario which could push the Dow under 2,000 would fit perfectly with the expectation of this European contributor.
Needless to say that with subscriptions open to the next predictive linguistics run from www.halfpasthuman.com ($240 for what's usually a 7-part 7-8 week run) we'll be watching closely as immediacy values build getting closer to the 'event' and share what we are allowed from the series.
One macro-level view: The reports have been labeling 2009 as the year of 'transformation'.
It doesn't take too many brain cells to figure that a Middle East Mistake, with resulting $500-$1,000 oil, and a Dow of 2,000 would do a fair bit of 'transforming'.
Social fallout of this approach to 'transformation'? Oh, yeah. I can almost see the Billy Bob Thornton character reading a year-end brokerage statement this fall and saying "Yep, yep, yep..." as he reaches for....
$141 means $30 bucks from me, huh?
Peoplenomics.com subscribers recently got a spreadsheet called the "personal collapse planner" so they can model the longer-term impact of rising gasoline prices on their household budgets.
When a report comes out like the one this morning that oil has soared over $141 a barrel, we can plug in the numbers and figure out what the impact of this will be on a family budget.
Using a household income of $3,600 monthly, and a $950 monthly food budget, the rise from $136 to $141 a barrel pencils to a 3.6764% increase in gasoline, or enough to push gas up about $0.15 at the pump. This pushes through the simple household model as a $36.66.
In other words, each $1 increase in the cost of crude will pass through to your personal checkbook as about $7.32 a month in higher bills if you drive 1,000 miles per month. However, parking the car won't matter because even saving the $160 in fuel costs (basis $4 gas and 25 MPG) you'll still get whacked with a $30.66 increase as energy prices impact food, power, gas bills, and what have you. Did I mention that reality sucks along in here anywhere?
If you estimate that each $1 move in crude will cost you personally $5 to $10 a month (depending on individual variables) on your middle income family budget, you might be close enough for government work.
If you have a job, that is. Hopefully you're not one of the 7,500 mostly mortgage jobs that Bank of America plans to cut when the Countrywide deal is closed. Although the company is planning to spread this out over a two-year period, their planning horizon on a much more orderly than the world-shaking one than the one we see popping in before year's end.
The government's Disposable Person Income report is out this morning. Check this out:
There are two statistical sleights of hand in the report, one of which is confessed to down the page a bit:
Care to bet on the other sleight-of-hand that I've got to inquire about? How much of the increase in DPI is due to no longer having big mortgage payments after all the foreclosures?
But hey! Like Jim ("The Long Emergency") Kunstler says "It's all good..."
Inflation's the Plan?
Japan, which preceded the US from its real estate bubble by some 18-years - they peaked in 1989 and have been papering things over ever since - is reporting that inflation is at a 10-year high - a measly 1.5% per year, but enough to cause policy jitters.
While the news that California's first hydrogen station opened is interesting, I hold to the view that a pair of Vasque trail boots will get you better range - not to mention save you piles of money.
Your tax dollars at work...
A while back I told you that linguistically the outlook (and therefore the personal planning option) included a fair chance of 3 to 4 months of unusual rains in the Midwest, with the resulting disaster for food/encounters with scarcity.
As always, the linguistics we hope are wrong, but the headlines keep pushing that way with "Midwest downpours keep residents out of homes" in Missouri. And what we don't need is heavy rains moving toward Joplin this morning.
We don't make the future - for the technology to pick it up, it's already cast in stone, or so it seems.
Call Smokey, II
Another thing we're looking for, speaking of future-bespoke things, is the satellite imagery which was predicted a couple of months back which would show 'smoke over two continents' as range/forest/grasslands burn. Well, here's your first one...
I Keep Forgetting to Mention Department
Not to drive the future into your head too hard, but a reader reminds me of this, too, as long as we're telling you what's up:
And there's that earthquake window for the Western US opening one week into July...but enough of this!
Climate Shock: Ice-Free North Pole?
A report from the UK's Independent claims there's "No ice at the North Pole" this year.
Quite a change from the first human appearance in a submarine up there, as told in the classic "Nautilus 90 North" which I assume is in your military classics book collection...
The Supreme Court decision yesterday was a pleasant surprise: DC can't outlaw private gun ownership. Is private gun ownership safe? Not hardly - the NRA is now suing Chicago...
Will there be more cases announced today? Click here for the SCOTUS web site around 10:10 Eastern time this morning.
Seeking New Vistas
Microsofties might find this headline interesting: "Should Steve Ballmer be the One Quitting Today?" over at Tech-Ticker.
(sorry, no snip and save section this morning - too much big stuff popping)
Thursday June 26, 2008
Urgent Update: A Chat with Mr. Pucker
OK, here's the word from Robin Landry - who at the moment might be called "Mr. Pucker":
So we all swallow hard and watch the tape... Landry's office number is 405-275-6162.
Economic State Check
The final Q1 revisions to the GDP were released a few minutes ago by the Bureau of Economic Analysis:
Then there's the matter of corporate profits:
I can help but notice that the news is being taken as positive for gold and silver, with gold popping up more than $20 within minutes of the figures coming out.
Pardon me while a while a bit: My July $25 commodity options in silver expired worthless (yesterday was commodity option expiration for July, so this morning's pop in the metals may be related to that, as well as the inflation outlook), but hope springs eternal for my Sept. 25's...
More likely: If prices are going up at 4%, and unemployment is increasing, then an increase in GDP of only 1% annualized means what? Inflation!
The Labor Department's Mass Layoff report last week didn't get as much coverage as it deserves, in my view. When you take the n umbers and throw them into a chart as I've done, it speaks volumes about the overall condition of the economy:
Drivers? Oh, I suppose the crashing real estate market, layoffs in the financial sector, outsourcing to other countries, and a general downturn in consumer spending might have something to do with it. Yah think?
Worried about the titanic battle between inflation and deflation in the world? I mean, if you don't already have enough personal stuff on your plate to worry about,...
What's maybe more significant is that in Europe, Belgian inflation has posted the steepest rise in 24-years, up to 5.8% annualized.
Real Domestic Inflation
While the government continues to report inflation rates that don't seem to bear a close relationship to what we spend, here's a link to actual price inflation reported by the Cattle Network...information which farmers and ranchers already know.
The only that's that had gone down in the past year was bacon (down 0.38%), oranges, pears, strawberries, tangerines, cucumbers, and carrots. If you wanted to save money you'd have a bacon and cucumber stir fry with an orange, pears, strawberry, tangerine and carrot compote, I figure.
On the other hand, the BIG price increases included celery (+106%), lemons (+155%), lentils (+147%) and flaxseed (+134%).
Curiously, beef is only up under 2% YoY, but that's because it takes a lot longer to work through increases in feed prices due to gestation periods and time to market.
Investment idea of the day (if you eat meat) Buying a quarter or half now, before the field crop prices come through. Corn's up 46.7% YoY, wheat up 80%, sorghum up 41% and soybeans up 73%.
Hats off to the Cattle Network for compiling this information - a sincere "Thank you" on behalf of readers...
In last week's report, I told you that the time monks of www.halfpasthuman.com were predicting, based on language shifts around the internet that we would have 90-120 more days of unusually heavy rainfall/flooding in the Midwest bread basket of America.
You're welcome to be skeptical of the technology, but there's not much denying this particular headline: "Heavy rains again soak parts of the flooded U.S. Midwest." The outlook from Madison Wisconsin's Capital Times: "Severe weather, heavy rains coming".
It's not like we're the only country with heavy rain: "Heavy rains soak Japan, with landslide killing one".
A new study says there are dozens of undersea volcanoes spewing under the Arctic seabed..
How this will play into global warming could be a long - and inconclusive - discussion. Might make oceans rise, though...
Taking Back Texas
Elaine came by the office yesterday (not an unusual event, because my 'office' is a 40 x 40 building next to the house) to tell me "I just saw a crawler on Bloomberg that says "Texas Release Estate Slump lets Mexicans Take It Back.". Someone besides us seems to have figured out that the CFR-promoted lowering of barriers between our country and Mexico, not to mention www.spp.gov, the NAFTA/jobs highway, and the strength of the peso relative to the buck will have its impact, with our without approval of the North American Merger scam by our elected officials who abdicated somewhere during the Bush/Clinton/Bush coup de elites.
Look, I'm as into protecting America from terrorism as anyone. Sniffing a battery? No problem there.
But do these power-thirsty, warrantless search advocates seriously believe that terrorists from the land of algebra haven't figured out what FTP is? Or for that matter, mailing a DVD? Fer cryin' out loud, who frigging silly...catch up with the times! Or, is this really part of the mind-control program of the elites? Irrational/stupid behavior on the part of non-elected government sure drives the conspiracy theorist's case, now, doesn't it?
Next thing you know, the powercrats will want FedEx and the Post Office to watch/read every DVD shipped or mailed... Where's a shot of Jack?
You'd think that winning (on appeal) a major tanker contract would send Boeing shares soaring. Not so. Goldman has reduced their rating on the stock and as a result, it's hit a two year low. A number of readers have asked if this isn't in-your-face-manipulation. Maybe, but seems to me more likely that it's just "buy the rumor, sell the news."
Actor's Strike Planning
The City of Burbank is bracing for a hit if actors go on strike. Not that it's a city full of actors. 9-10th's of a movie is the part you don't 'see' on screen. It's the writers, set makers, grips, lighting crew, sound crew, post production houses, Foley artists, voice-over talent, and all the rest. That's why Burbank is worried.
If you're a local, keep an eye on a couple of our favorite haunts from our time there: The Elephant Bar and the Smokehouse. If you can get a table either place with no wait on a Friday or Saturday night...then you know it's really bad in Burbank.
Biggest Story of the Day?
The Supreme Court is expected to finally get its long awaited handgun ruling out today - that's the one where the District of Columbia is trying to ban private handgun ownership, for reasons that are still murky to me. The key thing I'll be watching for is the wording because the largely Bush/Clinton/Bush appointed court will probably give us an indication of just how far they are willing to go in dismembering the Constitution. Just so you can refer to it, there are two versions of the Second Amendment which read either:
The second interpretation is where an anti-gun Court could find a hole big enough to drive a decision through. You see where version #2 references "State"? Well, technically an attorney might argue that the District of Columbia is not a 'state' per se - it's more like a protectorate under the control of the politicrats. Ergo, a hole large enough to play King Solomon and the Baby. We shall see, but the language of the Second Amendment is really plain to regular folks who haven't had common sense schooled out of them.
Big win for Exxon which had it's Alaska Oil Spill damages reduced to $500-million from a $2.5 billion penalty. Did I hear someone thinking "He who pays the pipe calls the tune"? Tisk, tisk.
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Coping: Early To Bed....
Part of a reader email caught my eye this morning:
Mine/ours too. In fact, I'd love like hell to be rich and retired at some point so I could become expert in thinking and not doing. My stomach dictates otherwise, however. So does my reliance of electric lights, which also don't seem to manifest for free.
This gets to the point that most folks get up earlier and work hard for someone else than they do for themselves. It's strange, but seems to be true. So with this being Thursday, you've got today and tomorrow to get a bunch of 'little stuff' off the plate so you can spend the weekend working on big projects of a personal nature that will move you toward your objectives in life.
Reader's Writes: Email of the Day
From a reader:
The alternative answer would have been "Compared to what?" with a link to those lyrics in Les McCann's great song "Compared to what?"...
Or, if you're into movies, not jazz, it would help to explain that this site is for people who are living their own version of "The Bucket List" every day - before we get the ultimate bad news that this part of life doesn't go much past 100-years, usually. More likely: just 18-thousand days.
Make 'em count.
National Positioning Statements
Submissions of note:
This brings us to a discussion of how America's leadership may have been overcome by "instant gratification" suggests another reader:
And that was the point of the 'national positioning statement' and 'national goal' discussion. Seems like the country really needs a pole to look at...t
Trying to make it real compared to what?
Send snip and save comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
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Around the Ranch: Chill'uns of Skinner
I was laying in bed this morning, listening to the coffee maker burble through its magic and conducting my first-of-the-day self-assessment when it dawned on my why yesterday's column dealt with the topic of "Pick a War, Any War."
And then it occurred to me that I have been engaged in a private 'war' this week that I haven't mentioned. Our somewhat trusty old Daewoo has been sitting in my shop, tilted up on its side while an assortment of wrenches, air tools, and a couple of cans of WD-40 and I have been endeavoring to remove the steering knuckle so that I could replace the right front wheel bearing.
In seven words: "I have been at war with the car." How so? Well, the car is a 2000 which at some point will pass the end of its useful life. Since the only major service item it's had is a new timing chain, I figure I'll see how much service I can wring from it. So far, we're at about 120,000 miles, and except for the front wheel bearings growly, it still gets 35'ish MPG's on the highway, so it's worth keeping.
Back in my semi-comatose state, I resolved to mention why some mornings I go off on this tangent, or that: It's often because of things going on around the ranch which I don't mention.
All of which goes to demonstrate, best I can tell, that radical behaviorist B.F. Skinner was probably more right than wrong in many of his writings; my 'at war with the car this week' may have spilled over a bit.
The battle of the steering knuckle was finally won last night - and in the victory there's one practical garage tip to pass on:
This tip is based on the not-purely-tongue-in-cheek home handy-bastard's adage that "Any shop project worth doing involves bloodshed."
Sure enough, as I gave the last mighty heave that separated the cranky lower ball joint from the steering knuckle, I managed to get a nice 2 inch gash on my right forearm. Bled like a stuck big, and I figure if I had been taking anticoagulants, or even a daily half-dose of aspirin, the bleeding around still be dripping.
The bloodied shirt aside, this is one of the most auspicious of signs from Universe: It means that the project has passed muster and completion is assured with a favorable outcome.
It's also a wink and nod from the U that confirms, once again, that when linguistics carries a lot of references to blood or other body fluids spilled, or bleeding of any type, that deep down in the archetypes that we should pay close attention to.
It's almost like bloodshed is the way the Universe signifies
that this 'war' or that will turn out a particular way. So
if you're looking for a first-hand experience with "As above, so
below" consider home auto repair projects; have a bottle
of peroxide, some Neosporin, and some butterfly Band-Aids at the
ready. The Universe is way ahead of Skinner on operant
conditioning theory and has published quite a number of books on
the subject over the past few thousands of years, all of which
make fine companions to the Daewoo shop manual .PDF.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Urgent Update: Fed Takes a Pass
Here's the text of the FOMC Decision just out this afternoon:
The immediate market reaction included a drop in the US Dollar on the foreign exchange markets, gold not noticing that and staying down about $6, and the Dow which had put in a modest gain prior to the announcement looked to hold gains, at least for a while.
In essence: No one was surprised. Which is how they plan these things. Now, go back to your nap.
Pick a War - Any War
Ernie Pyle I'm not. But I enjoy writing, believe myself to have a decent perspective on contemporary affairs, and because I'm not inclined to start doing hard physical type work at 5:30 each morning, this web site is what happens.
This morning it occurs to me that it would be interesting enumerate the multiple levels of 'war' that are going on around us. If there's a meme/thought virus that's apparent but not often discussed as a widespread behavior, "war" or the "at war" mindset is certainly there and obvious with a moment's inspection. It's what the linguistics team would call a 'meta data layer'. A 'bit bucket' with much to go in it.
In a sense, the World War going on today is WW IV if you count WW III as being the long-running, and I think record setting spending/waste, that was the Cold War. Most accounts figure that war ran from about the end of WW II until the early 1990's, when this new war got rolling along in earnest.
When I was younger, I remember learning about the "Thirty Years War" (1618-1648) and thinking to myself, "Wow - how could countries be so stupid as to be involved in a conflict that ran so long and would be so draining on the population of the participants?" My thinking had been colored because as a product of the 1950's "duck and cover" generation programmed to think the next War would be a push-button affair measured in minutes and millions, it didn't seem reasonable.
Yet, as the cloud of conditioning lifts as the years go by, and I've learned to trust my own observations about Life and Circumstances far more than the MSM drone, I have to admit we've gone the Thirty Years War one better with the Cold War - we managed to wring 45-years of participation out of that one - a 50% improvement over Thirty Years conflict.
What's better than a 45-year War? A multi-generational War. We already have one aspect of the current World War spelled out as a multi-generation conflict - because the promoters of the War on Terror have told us that we're in for generations of conflict.
While I reject the simplistic "If you're not with us, then you're against us absolutism presented by the promoters (Can I check the none-of-the-above box, please?) I'm not a complete idiot. I can count. The length of a generation in the US is placed at 25.2 and in the UK at 27.4 years. If the War on Terror lasts just two generations, we're looking at either 50.4 years in the US, OR 54.8 years in the UK.
If we can stretch WW IV/ the WOT and others that I'll list in a moment out for 67.5 years, we will have gone even the Cold War 50% better.
Admirable progress as a species, isn't it?
There may be two important angles or factors to the length of War which would go beyond the scope of this morning's short epistle.
I use the term 'epistle' to get you in the mood for considering the role of religion in all of this, which is my first point. Just as the Thirty Years War began as a battle between Protestants and Catholics in the Holy Roman Empire, the Cold War was couched in terms of religionists of the West in conflict with those Godless communists. The WOT has been tuned in such a way as to steer The West (Christian Judeo worldview) into confrontation with the Middle Eastern (Islamic/Muslim) worldview.
The design pattern here: If you're gunning for a long war, a strong religious component makes sense.
The other, and less subtle thing needed is a fiat currency or simple theft of resources. Without the inflatable money game, the Cold War would never have gone on as long as it did - we'd have been out of gold and silver specie long before the Berlin Wall came down. And in the current state-of-affairs, I reckon we'd have spent what specie there was just with Gulf War One.
So the second design pattern I see is this: If you're going to have a long-running war, then you need to have a paper money scheme in place and widely promoted. Even better? Get off paper completely and install a completely intangible monetary system so that when the next War is rolled out (that would last a saeculum or longer), the digital currency is in place to support it.
The third design pattern is to get as close everyone in the world involved in some manner, as possible. In the present state of World War IV, we've done a masterful job of that, having indigenous peoples cutting down their rain forests so that we can print more paper to sell overseas, including the banks and investment houses on the other side of the religious collision.
Again, I stand in awe of how creative humans are, yet at the same time, I'd just like to get back to being a strict Constitutionalist American. Minimal foreign commitments, looking out for our neighbors, and helping the rest of the world with genuine humanitarian intent. That would include the promotion rof education, restoration of the environment, voluntarily reducing population, and working toward a sustainable world. It would not mean institutions being set up by US Defense industries to fund Foreign Military Sales, and it would not mean the systematic dismantling of our borders as is presently promoted by the Constitutionally ignorant power-trippers at the helm.
Don't get me wrong - I'm willing to defend freedom, but that starts at home, and that's where another aspect of WW IV is going on.
I mentioned yesterday that the current penchant of our "rulers" (who we are supposed to be ruling by the way) is to usurp Constitutional authority by issuing Executive Orders right and left. I asked the question rhetorically whether such Orders could apply in Texas because the State Constitution makes Texans '...subject only to the Constitution of the United States..."
Turns out that another front in WW IV is coming into view - besides the West vs. Middle Eastern stuff that's splashed all over mainstream. It's brought to our attention by a reader named Tom in Oklahoma, who sees the return of States Rights surfacing there:
Not only do we have global conflict, but the key issue of the Civil War - states rights - is coming around again, thanks to the less than impressive respect for the Constitution displayed in New Orleans, and more recently in some Midwest flood areas by "authorities".
Most of the Wars underway in the world today - sub-wars of the World War IV meta war - could be easily ended if one side demanded of the other fair pay for natural resources. If we deplete something someplace, it seems to me that the indigenous people deserve a fair shake in return.
Instead, we offer them paper. Astoundingly, they accept it.
With this admitted odd (but at least somewhat rational) outlook, based on observation of the facts sieved of high opinion and emotional triggers, we can now look out from our commanding viewpoint overlooking the rims of our coffee cups.
Pick a War - any war...this is WW IV:
#1: Middle East Sub-War
#2: Afghanistan Sub-War
#3 Pakistan Sub-War
#4 The Korean Peninsula
#5 The African Sub-Wars
#6 Sri Lanka Sub-War
#7 South America Sub-War
#8 Philippine Sub-War
#9 Environment Sub-War
"Copper River Salmon is now $29.95 if you can find it" (first hand report from the PNW)
#10 Financial Sub-War
#11 Mexico Invasion Sub-War
If there's a certain pattern (or rhyme) emerging out of the headlines, it might be that there's a war meta-layer to the world's news events. Violence of one sort or another.
Thus, when the headlines come out about America's Consumer Confidence numbers, "American's loss of confidence: Worse even that it looks", I can only shake my head in disbelief at the MSM's feigned surprise. What would reasonable people in an irrational world be expected to feel?
We're most all of us living in a war zone, of one sort or another. Whether it is those wars listed, or the ones I didn't have time to enumerate - the one on private home ownership, the one on States rights, or any of a dozen others that could be fitted neatly to the context, then net result of thousands of years of human history distills down to this.
Somewhere from above the physical plane, this must be one hell of an ant farm to watch. Pick a war - any war. "Watch them ant go..."
Look, Up in the Sky" Department
Reports coming out about a group of 13 UFO's being seen last Friday are interesting to me. Why? Go see my personal "missing time" report Friday night/Saturday morning of last week. (Click here and scroll down to "Around the Ranch: Missing Time?)
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Coping: Where to Hold Value?
In light of this morning's context, the question of holding on to value comes up. A note from a reader gets to the point:
Our 7 G's approach may be thought of as God (or Universe, if you please), goats, grains, guns, gold, gumption. and gratitude.
Look Up In the Sky Department, II
Good reviews of "Exodus to Arthur: Catastrophic encounters with Comets" points out our Canadian Bureau Chief Tim B:
Notice also that the actual orbital period is 2354 + 1348= 3702 years?
Get that man some coffee and get that calculator away from him!
I haven't had time to sort through them all, but here's a pretty good one submitted by a reader:
We're working on it...just takes a little time...
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Send snip and save notes to email@example.com
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Tuesday June 24, 2008
Leading Edge: Encounters with Scarcity
It's not the lead story in the national news because it's not a pretty, or simple, or big enough story to report, yet I'm compelled to bring it to your attention this morning because it seems likely to be the leading edge of something that could blossom later into a much bigger problem, at least based on the recent linguistics run. I tend to watch such things carefully.
The specific story is headlined by the AP as "Scuffle breaks out in line for Wis.(consin) food vouchers" and it comes out of Milwaukee and occurred at about this time Monday morning..
The key thing to note is that:
For more than a year, we've been looking to this summer as the beginning of larger troubles of governance because of the ever-increasing gap between the 'haves/PTB/corpgov/sheep-with-jobs' and the 'have-nots/disenfranchised/foreclosed upon/unemployed/hungry' which seem to be increasing in numbers, if not in government statistics, at least by anecdotal reports of tent counts at freeway underpasses and such.
To be sure, the MSM is not completely ignoring the changing terms of the social compact that ties the nation together. Another AP story, this one headlined "L.A. seeing more people living out of their cars" as reported on the International Herald Tribune site, certainly demonstrates that well enough.
But the actual mechanics and the scale of human suffering only comes into focus if you have the gumption to go looking for it, and then, once found, taking the time to weave things together into a coherent picture.
A typical "dot" worth connecting - but which will never make 'prime time' is the headline in the Connecticut Courant which advises us that "Connecticut Marshals Make Millions Serving Foreclosure Papers." Some disturbing points:
And the story continues from there.
Again, not making the top of the MSM news, we read in Silicon Valley's "The Merc" as locals call it, that "Food banks see huge increase in clients". A relevant quote:
That "everything else" they refer to is the huge squeeze on consumers who are faced with resetting home loans, soaring food costs, and increases in gasoline that in some cases have pushed American families 'over the edge'.
At some point - and linguistically it will be over summer - the snowball begins to roll as the dynamics of the social pressure begin to feed upon one another. A recent MarketWatch headline sums it up this way: "Shaky job market threatens housing recovery: Housing slump rivals deepest slowdowns in 60-plus years: Report"
Since this site is primarily about longwave economics, although lately a good dose of predictive economics, too, I want to draw your attention to the use of the term "60-plus years. The math says that would be 1948. But, housing was not collapsing in 1948 - servicemen were coming home for WWII and following that plus sign back further, there was not housing collapse to speak of in WWII itself, so what seems to be implied (after applying a little thought) is that this is the worst housing mess since the last Depression. It's just this one isn't called by its proper name yet. Doing so might spook the herd.
It is against this background that the Federal Reserve begins two days of meetings today which will likely result in no action other than a hawkishly-worded statement about the returning danger of inflation; one of those Home Simpson-like "Doh!" outcomes that errant policies bring.
Not that I'm the only one expecting this come 2:30 Wednesday when the Fed statement is due. "Fed seeking finely tuned message to ward off inflation" says and AFP report.
But the Fed's in a box. Lower interest rates might bail out some homeowners, but in case you haven't noticed, the big banks have been busy keeping their credit card rates high, ostensibly because they need to make up for the losses incurred by mountain default rates. It's a circular reference.
The banks, for their part, seem to be busily writing the new Housing Bill so that it will have maximum benefit, or at least mi0nimal damage to the banks involved in the housing mess. Outrageous reports are circulating widely on the 'net today that "Bank of America May Have Influenced Dodd-Shelby Housing Bailout Package".
Quick, look surprised, It's just one more reason that Chris Dodd is on my "People never to vote for" list, along with the growing list of powercrats, such as what's-her-name, who seem to think socialism for the rich and corporatized indentured servitude for the rest of us is the Natural Order of the Universe. If it wasn't for the Constitution, I fear what conditions would become.
By the way, that brings up an interesting question - if you have a legal mind or practice. You know that the President (the office, not the guy in office) has been using Executive Orders for years to create laws without the involvement of Congress, as required by the Constitution.
But, I didn't see until yesterday when I happened to thumb through the State of Texas Constitution, that the only laws Texas is required to follow are only what's in the Constitution of the United States:
I can only assume that when a KatRita-sized event happens, that Governors trying to follow the letter of the law - which doesn't mention anything about States having to follow Executive Orders - find themselves in a showdown with the more heavily armed Central government. Or, more accurately of late, the Washington Politburo/ Politicheskoye Buro.
Remind me again, who won the Cold War?
So there you have it - the stew-of-the-day recipe that seems to be simmering over there on the back burner. Two weeks from our earthquake window, waiting for the regional power outage, the Middle East mistake to come, and all the rest of what's ahead from the linguistics, we have just witnessed an important message to the PowersThatBe delivered by hungry Americans in Milwaukee.
This one calmed down quickly. I'm not so helpful out 'next ones.' There is a message from Milwaukee.
The next predictive linguistic run is open to new subscribers over at www.halfpasthuman.com. People who have been involved in earlier runs are no doubt watching the fires of California with good cause for alarm - another leading indicator of what's ahead, which like the 'encounters with scarcity' will slowly evolve into everyday consciousness over summer.
For now, I suppose it's enough to mention that "Lightning sparks 800-plus fires in California" but there's likely much more to come, and other continents to keep and eye on. We'll let youi know when the satellites pick up the imagery we're waiting for...
The report that "US retailer Goody's wants to begin closing stores" should be a wakeup call.
If it isn't, then you probably also missed the NY Times story in their "Arts" section describing how theaters and bookstores were falling on hard time, too. I assume you've had enough coffee to figure out that this is the kind of thing that begins the snowballing of the employment collapse, do I?
Here's a new one: Using nano-tech to encrypt pharmaceutical pills to prevent counterfeiting. No jokes about this being hard to swallow, please.
Meanwhile, in Zimbabwe
Gwynne Dyer's assessment of the outcome of Zimbabwe's million percent inflation rate seems spot on to me: "Only revolution in the streets will topple tyrant Mugabe".
If you're wondering why the US hasn't sent in liberators to wind up the social disaster and impose purple-fingers on the folks, a trip to the CIA's World Fact Book releases that Zimbabwe's natural resource list includes "coal, chromium ore, asbestos, gold, nickel, copper, iron ore, vanadium, lithium, tin, platinum group metals "
You don't suppose no oil equals no help, now do you?
Waiting for the Iran War
The same CIA World Fact Book informs us that the natural resources of Iran include "petroleum, natural gas, coal, chromium, copper, iron ore, lead, manganese, zinc, sulfur." Ah, that's more like it - these are people who urgently need freedom .
As I told you yesterday, former UN ambassador (for reasons I still can't fathom) John Bolton is predicting "Israel 'will attack Iran' before new US president sworn in."
Europe is moving too, with European nations moving to freeze assets of Iran's largest bank.
That leaves us with only one question: How will the world slice up Iran's oil? Russia warned last week against the use of force. I understand that Steve Quayle has heard about some real eye-to-eye military signifying between the West and Russia, so you might want to check his site later today to see what he can go public with.
GM is raising their 2009 prices an average of 3 1/2%. Deflation? Where?
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Coping: Planning Global Warming
There are three major issues in my life right now where I am not sure of the outcome. One, which are argue with Jas Jain about, is how fast inflation or deflation will show up. The second is the reality of Peak Oil, and the third is global warming.
In case you haven't noticed my personal strategy to deal with these issues, it can be summarized as simply plotting the course which ensures a 'happy outcome' no matter what.
Most folks are conditioned from the ground up to look at a situation, make an estimate of the outcome and then implement a strategy that results in maximum gain. My approach is a little different. I implement a strategy which is designed to minimize risk.
If I thought runaway inflation would occur, I would put a huge mortgage on my home and use the refi proceeds (if I could find a lender!) to buy gold and silver. But, if deflation was a sure thing, I would pay off the house and buy things now which would not be available in the future.
On Peak Oil, the reality seems to be that a broad peak is forming, but I've got a window of between now and October to decide and implement partial solar, some wind generation, and maybe an underground / earth-sheltered guest house which would be the ultimate energy cost price-fighter.
And then there's the matter of global warming. Here, in case you haven't noticed, a top "NASA warming Scientist (says): 'This is the last chance'.
But, counterbalancing that is the report that the "Southern Chile volcano erupts with renewed strength" which reminds me that volcanoes can result in 'years without summers' which would bring in the global cooling side of things.
The impact of other natural disasters, such as the flooding in the Midwest can be seen coming, by looking at long-range weather forecasts, paying attention to linguistic predictions. And things like a 'regional power outage' tip in advance allow each of us to make our own best operating plans and tweak them daily based on new information.
Something I'd suggest as a Saturday morning with a cup of coffee exercise, would be to sit down and ask yourself extreme questions about how to survive whatever comes next.
If we really have global warming, what might that do to water? To energy? And to everything else you presently take for granted?
Or, if the opposite occurs and we flip into massive cooling, what would your food plan be?
And, if oil goes to $500 a barrel, which would imply $15 gasoline, what then?
By making lifestyle decisions that will work at extremes, the odds seem to be that life anywhere in the 'middle' outcome range would be best served.
It's way different than the flip & grow rich kind of mindset, but as street level economics, it makes sense.
The operating cost of your life depends on what kind of footprint you choose. Transportation is a simple cost per seat mile calculation. Housing cost is a per square foot calculation, and food is a calorie, nutrition, and level-of-processing calculation.
I haven't read the book, but there's one from Greenwood publishing that I came across this morning titled "You Can Do the Math" and it gets into using math to make better decisions in life.
The only caution I would extend is that when you take up the challenge of becoming a logic-run human, that you learn to habitually push things to absolute extremes when modeling your future condition. I can't tell you how many books look at investing, just to pick an example, and assume that paper assets will survive as a class. They might not. There's a full-scale attack on cash underway now with a pressure by banks to have everyone in digidollars.
Frightful terms like 'money-laundering" and 'terrorism' are applied easily and frequently, yet at its core a design pattern of 'attack on cash' could be construed.
The same thing with food. At what price do you have to grown your own food just in order to live some minimal diet?
Even things like your water supply are taken for granted.
Set out a matrix of things you aren't absolutely positively sure of, and then just for the intellectual challenge of it, try to construct a lifestyle and personal operating plan that will offer you the least chance of failure.
Extreme leverage or jumping early into extreme positions is fine if you're willing to die striving for maximum gains, and in this context the unabashed pursuit of bling makes sense. That's the path of power/control, domination and so forth.
But somewhere between the tortoise and the hare, you'll find me - poling along at a comfortable pace, and enjoying the scenery.
Life and the news are just the cultural workout of nominative group theory, and the normal distribution theory suggest that extreme players will be impacted first, which may give me time to avoid their mistakes. You too.
The practitioner of UrbanSurvival is always looking ahead and behind, adjusting the rate of advance. By diligently checking the hares (house flippers) and the tortoises (who may get into bonds too early) some of us just might make it to Abilene yet. But no point trying to be first, if we're fuzzy on the reason for the trip...
Send snip and save contributions to firstname.lastname@example.org
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Monday June 23, 2008
Owning Rain and Other Problems
Lest you wake up on this fine summer morning thinking all is right with the world, government has only our best interests at heart, and yada, yada, yada, I feel compelled to point out that in Washington State - perhaps one of the best known wet spots in the Universe, state officials are busily making up rules to govern the collection of rainwater.
Call me a riparian radical, if you will, but to my way of thinking, if rainwater falls on my property, then it's my rainwater to do with as I will. Simple as that.
This is precisely the kind of overreaching that government has been edging toward ever since the 1930's when Congress let the FCC assert licensing authority over the electromagnetic spectrum in the Communications Act of 1934, which as amended with the Telecommunications Act of 1996 runs about 333 pages.
The value of government licensing spectrum has admittedly been a mixed blessing. Radio stations are neatly organized every 10 KHz on the AM band, and every 100 KHz on the FM band - which is all good. But, I'd argue that the free market would have evolved some kind of structure anyway.
The flip side is that what we have thanks to the FCC's (especially under Powell) urge to relax group ownership rules which has largely eliminated variety and breadth of choice from local airwaves to the point where you can drive across the country and hear the same radio station playlist delivered by satellite and automation systems, and hear only one political viewpoint (e.g. the one promoted by the PowersThatBe).
Seeking out an alternative view has been relegated to the bottom of the FM band, the so-called 'education sub band'. NPR and a few college stations provide a wider choice of content, but the viewpoints contributing to American socioeconomic discussion, would make a wide-ranging news magazine which included the top 10 from each major format (rock, easy listening, country, etc.) and a wide range of political thought impossible today. I suppose that's why NBC's weekend magazine show "Monitor" went by the wayside in 1975.
Let's put the FCC aside for a moment to consider the broader design pattern here, as there was another group set up by Congress in 1934, which is trying to grapple with rules and regs which will impact many of us -- that's the SEC - the Securities and Exchange Commission.
We might look at the setting up of the FCC and the SEC in 1934 - deep in the heart of the last Depression, and wonder "What are the dangers in today's declining economy, that promoters of big government will use the occasion of our economic misfortune, which will arrive in spaced from October onward say our predictive linguistic friends, to submit even more to the acceptance of control foisted on us 'for our own good'?
Web Worker Daily has an interesting report out saying that 49% of people in a recent survey were in favor of expanding the FCC's mission to include internet regulation, while 35% understood that regulation is a nicer word for power/dominion over others, and that in turn is a nicer word for slavery.
Freedom is like pregnancy - you either 'is or isn't'. I'd like to thank Washington State for pointing out again that given a chance, government will take all of what used to be 'rights', shuffle the deck according to lobbying contribution size, and then redistribute those former rights as privileges tightly regulated by the PowersThatBe through their local proxy government.
As evidence of how the PowersThatBe have hijacked the decision-making process, I have only to point out the recent experience of how the FCC fumbled what was a clear and simple technical decision on how a new technology called "Broadband over Power Lines (BPL) would mess up communications for a lot of spectrum users.
Not very long ago, American Radio Relay League (the national ham radio operator's club) took the FCC to court because BPL is such a bad idea as promoted by the corporate folks behind it. There, the "Court Finds FCC Violated Administrative Procedure Act in BPL Decision" and told the FCC to stop stacking the check to get the decision that was being promoted by their higher-ups.
Those darn noisy ham radio guys are looking out for their spectrum interests, but what may escape you is that BPL also has the potential to wipe out shortwave broadcast reception - which would be a great thing from the standpoint of the PowersThatBe because it would further stifle dissent, alternative viewpoints, and all the other dangerous stuff that thousand of Americans have fought and died for.
Given that they've demonstrated how they stack the deck (withholding technical data that goes against the desired outcomes of the 'higher ups' ) would you really trust the FCC, or any other branch of government with regulation of free speech?
These are difficult. fundamental questions that we ought to be asking.
The ARRL win over BPL forces brings an old George Carlin saying to mind: "“Just cause you got the monkey off your back doesn't mean the circus has left town.”
I'm sad to pass on that George Carlin has died, at age 71. True that none of us get off the planet alive, as Carlin said "Death is caused by swallowing small amounts of saliva over a long period of time"
He's also known for saying "I have as much authority as the Pope, I just don't have as many people who believe it."
So as we begin the first day of summer, two weeks from out July earthquake window, less the wise counsel of Carlin, and as Washington State's regulators try to regulate rain, and as the MSM pushes to socially engineer the idea we need someone to regulate the net, I'm sure you'll follow Benjamin Franklin's advice:
"If your head is wax, don't walk in the sun."
The Runs: McCain's Contest
In a speech for later today, presidential wannabe John McCain will be outlining a $300 million contest idea to promote a generations-ahead battery for electric vehicles. Borrowed idea from the CNBC contest?
On the other side of the marketing aisle, we see "Obama moves to reintroduce himself to voters."
Contests, relaunches, web sites, outbound telemarketing, direct mailers, buttons, banners, yard signs...If you're a grad student in marketing, you're no doubt scratching your head thinking "What's left?" Never fear, because Mr. Ure's management consulting practice always has another marketing plan for the wannabe's at the ready. Here it is, ready?
How about presidential 'scratch & sniff cards? You can probably guess what they would smell like, right?
War Plans: The New Window
The saying "When you ain't got nothin', you ain't got nothin to lose..." comes to mind as I read the headline "Bolton: Israel Will Attack Iran After U.S. Election But Before Inauguration, Arab States Will Be ‘Delighted’.
So, one way to read the time libretto would be markets crashing in early October, democorps in the election, and as a going away present, the neocons get their last-ditch war.
I assume you understand the complexities of the whole Iranian nuclear arms inspection issue? Recall that the five nuclear powers basically self report. Then, you've got India, Israel, and Pakistan which mostly run their own self reporting with limited inspections of limited facilities under INFCIRC/66, and then there's everyone else who signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).
Iran (in 2003) signed the NPT and I'm not aware of any 'unsigning' process. The neocons have been claiming that Iran has a weapons program and the fear being stoked is that they signed the NPT in order to buy time for more development.
Saudis Firing Blanks?
The price of oil is back edging up this morning despite the Saudis saying that they would raise prices. As soon as someone besides me figures out that it's a refining and distribution problem as much as anything, then we should get a screaming last-ditch blow-off commodity/metals top, then rates going up this fall...
Good article on the relationship between a barrel of oil and an ounce of gold here. If oil stays high, might it drag gold up?
Durable Goods on Wednesday, Personal Income and expenditures on Friday along with my favorite - "core inflation' which no one seems to be able to live on... Two weeks to next big earthquake...uh...yeah, that's enough for now Pakistan's mess still almost two months off, so yeah, that's enough to ponder this week.
Subscription period is open for the next predictive linguistics run - see www.halfpasthuman.com for details. $240 for the first run and then $70 each thereafter. NOT recommended unless you have the kind of money to actually do something about future moves though.
There's a report that Citigroup is planning to ax a reported 6,500 jobs or so. May start today...
Long Term Damage
The floods in the Midwest may have caused/are causing long term economic damage - like we didn't already suspect it...
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Coping: Cost Pass-through's
I've been mentioning this for a while, but it's starting to come into focus now at the grocery store. "Record corn prices mean more expensive meat, dairy..." The interesting output from the spreadsheet for Peoplenomics subscribers (see below) was that even if you cut your driving to zero the higher price of gas and diesel can add hundreds to your budget over time as power costs, food costs, utilities, and all the rest go up.
Elaine keeps reminding me to get new tires on the truck before they go completely ballistic. She noticed that Bridgestone raised tire prices in Europe a week back and is betting Firestone and others will follow suit here. It's on my honey-do list.
Another thing to be aware of is that there is a diesel crisis south of the border. Not making headlines in the USA yet, but this relates to the cost and availability of food coming north...
And the Real Problem is...
Explained in this email:
The problem, I think, is that America needs a change. But, in order to get to "change" we need a vision. I don't know about you, but for me, airport searches and $5 gas is not a vision substitute.
I've worked for some kick-ass companies and if there is one single defining characteristic shared by the CEO's who have turned start-ups into multi-million and billion dollar companies. it is that the leader at the top has a vision and then actively shares the vision so that each member of the team contributes to its realization.
The all-time brilliant marketing book "Positioning: The advertising battle for your mind" (Jack Trout and Al Ries) [online preview here] asserts that great companies use positioning statements in order to become what they wish to be.
Quick: Which airline flies 'Friendly Skies"? Which car company said "Quality is Job 1"? Which car rental outfit "...Tries Harder"? And which NYSE giant formerly run by Jack Welch has the vision that "We bring good things to Life?" Or that airplane factory devoted to "Bringing People Together".
Marketing and Management 101 stuff. But not at the government/leadership level. What we lack in the USA is not the framework. What we lack is not the money, nor the resource.
What we lack is the vision and its thoughtful articulation of the vision and then we lack the tracking, reporting, accountability to ensure we get where we're saying we're going.
I put before you a simple question - yet one of utmost importance: What is America's vision at the moment and what is the honest positioning statement that sums us up in totality as a country?
Are we "Debtors to the World"? "Paper Asset Magicians"? "Oil Killers"? Or, are we "Caring and Sharing World-wide".
As a project this week, I'd ask you, one American to another, to put a few brain cells into the vision and positioning question.
Our leaders (of both of the me-too parties which I call corpgov) don't seem to 'get it'. They are bureaucrats and paradigm defenders, so maybe that's why.
Maybe somewhere, someone has the 'vision' and the 'positioning statement' of not more than seven words, that sums us up.
The vision must be great. It must embody everyone young and old, and it must be measurable and achievable.
Sometimes I fear that's why we have periodic crisis in the world - because it gives us a chance as humans to show off our stuff - to be, as the US Army's positioning statement puts it, to "Be all that you can be".
Send your positioning statements and vision to email@example.com
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Before the chart, a little background:
Once upon a time, a long while ago, I observed during my quest for 'truth' in economics, that the powers That Be, the talking heads on the teeve, and the other information sources that actively engage in the programming of humans not to think, had conveniently swept several trillions of dollars that disappeared in the Internet Bubble's bursting (since spring 2000) under the rug. Surely, it wasn't unnoticed by the thousands of people who called brokers and said "Where is my money?" "Gone, but hang in there as you're a long term investor!" was about all they heard back.
But, the truth of the matter is that this chart shows what your account would look like if you have taken a few thousand dollars and invested equal amounts in the Dow, the S&P 500, and the NASDAQ Composite in the waning days of 1999. It's not a very pretty picture, and it sort of gives away the other side of the story. You know, the one that no one has an interest in telling, because it's a truth which shows the amazing coincidence of the timing of 9/11, the disappearance of naked shorting evidence and all, along with the impact of The Wars which have managed to keep the economy out of an earlier depression than the one expected by me by late 2008.
No, it's not a perfect replay of 1929, but history doesn't repeat exactly, it only rhymes. So think of this as the rhymes and the crimes chart:
Write when you get rich,
George Ure, The People's Economist
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